Sam and Dean. PG. ~3000 words. Minor spoilers up to 2.07.
Five people that know Sam and Dean, but don’t.
They gather around scarred formica, thick white plates piled high with recycled grease. Around a mouthful of a half-pound burger, Kevin mumbles, “It’s not like Sam ever talked about him, you know?”
“Yeah, I don’t think he ever said two words about his family,” Chris adds, eyebrows raised and voice pitched low, vaguely menacing, like the guy from Mystery Television. He catches Maggie’s gaze, leans forward, playing up the drama for all he’s worth. She rolls her eyes and he rolls on. “I mean, if I had a psycho killer for a brother-”
“God, man, are you still going on with that shit?” Ruddy-faced from the kitchen’s heat, Nathan drops his tray onto the table. His apron is a study in modern art, cherry-pie red smeared into doughnut-batter brown.
Maggie scoots over, squishing Kevin against the window to make room. Kevin oofs in protest before realising he’s got a reputation to live up to and changes it to a theatrical moan. Her half-hearted, dutiful, “Shut up,” is lost in the clamour for Nate’s fries, thick wedges of potato piled high with the works.
“The guy wasn’t even there when it happened,” Nate points out. “He dropped me a postcard from New York a couple days before.”
“He said he was in New York,” Chris says. “Can you read the postmark?” At Nate’s shrug, he says, “See? Could’ve lied.”
“Come on, guys,” Maggie says. “We’re talking about Sam here. Even if his brother is a sociopath, it’s not like he is.” Shifty glances skitter around the table like rats. Maggie’s eyes make another trip skyward. “Oh, come on.”
“Hey.” Kevin holds up his hands, palms out, placating. “You don’t think it’s weird his place went up in flames two days after his long-lost brother shows up? And the cops are after the same guy for the crap they tried to pin on Zach?”
“That’s sick, man,” Nate complains. “Sam’s fucking brother didn’t murder Jess and he sure as hell didn’t help the guy cover it up.”
“They couldn’t determine a cause of death,” Chris says, and his voice softens just enough for Maggie to hate him a little less for bringing it up again and again. “Not enough left.”
Maggie jabs a fry in the spatter of mustard on her plate. “Sam’s not like that.” Kevin shares a long look with Chris. “Seriously, guys. Do you really think that he’s out there helping his deranged brother chop up little old ladies for their social security cheques?”
Kevin has the decency to look guilty. Chris mutters, “It’s just fucked up.”
“He had to get away for awhile,” Nate says. “Man, wouldn’t you?”
Colson is a shifty scab of a man. Ben has heard of people starting to look like their pets, even seen a few good examples of it, but never their job. This guy looks more like he should be on a slab than standing next to one.
Ten minutes is all he can spare for a bite to eat and a recharge, and he’s not sure he wants to do that with Colson as company. So instead, he waits outside the lab for results from the pileup on 53rd or the double homicide over at the park to save him from Colson’s stale breath.
“I’m not even sure it was him, right?” Colson says, fixing Ben with a dull-eyed look. His fingers are spider legs, twitching and restless as they shuffle through the wrinkled pages of an old report. “I’m just sayin’ it looked like him. I watch the news.”
“Yeah, so say it was him,” Ben says, wishing Colson would just get on with it. “What was he doing, looking for one of his?”
“Nah. He came in, started rootin’ through the drawers. Didn’t know I was here.” Colson pauses, licks thin lips. He’s more animated now, leaning forward, eager to share. His eyes have gone from corpse-glassy to addict-bright. It’s probably the first time someone’s ever stood still long enough to start up a conversation. “I was gonna scare him, thought he was one of those thrill-seekin’ kids. You know.”
Sighing, Ben tosses a glance through the viewing windows and gets a shrug from Dana in return. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to get out of this without hearing the full story, and truth be told, he’s a little curious.
“So, he had a gun, right? He didn’t jab it in my face or anything, but he had a gun. Saw it while he was pokin’ around. And he was all smiles and jokes and actin’ like it was no big deal, just a prank.”
“Doesn’t sound much like a serial killer,” Ben says.
Colson barks out a laugh. “They’re all charismatic assholes, ‘course it doesn’t. You hear the stuff he’s done? Grave desecration. I bet he wasn’t in here for no blood.”
Ben has a pretty strong stomach. In his line of work, you have to. But right now, between Colson and that creepy kid, he’s glad he skipped lunch. “What the hell’d he want blood for?”
“Beats me.” Colson shrugs. “Cops were askin’ me the same thing, like the psycho they’re chasin’ cross-country is gonna tell me why he wants some dead guy’s blood.”
“Jesus,” Ben says.
“Offered me a solid fifty bucks for it, too.”
“You sold it to him?”
Colson’s gaze jumps about the hallway. It’s late but the place is hopping because of the accident, and if Ben were Colson, he wouldn’t be telling anybody except the cops about it.
But Colson’s riding high on his brush with the unhinged, and with the shittiest pokerface outside Ben’s own, Colson says, “Told him to just take it.”
“Yeah.” Ben shoves off the wall, hand on the door ready to go collect his evidence. “Yeah, if Dean Winchester showed up in the middle of one of my autopsies, I’d probably tell him to take what he wanted, too.”
One quarter of a ratty corkboard in Baltimore PD is leaden with the Winchesters. Newspaper clippings, photos, bits and pieces photocopied from witness statements and reports.
Tim’s desk is smack dab under all that craziness so even though he never worked the case, wasn’t even here when the Winchesters were, he knows it backwards and forwards. He’s taken to spending his downtime poking through it, letting more immediate concerns roll around in the background while he gives his brain a rest and reads up on the latest articles.
Ambi wanders by to hand him a steaming mug of black gold. The lines around Ambi’s eyes are deep, dark, and Tim gestures for him to have a seat.
“So,” Tim says, the way these exchanges always begin. “You think the BAU is all over this?”
Snorting, Ambi roots around in his pocket for some sugar packets, tossing a couple across the desk for Tim. “Of course they are. And I bet you they’re not going to tell us a thing.”
“Not that we’re asking,” Tim says.
“Not that we’re asking.”
“Got to say, it doesn’t make much sense to me.” Shuffling aside a few things to make room, Tim plucks one of the heavier sheaves off the board and plops it on his blotter. “You’ve got your dead mother, your ex-military father and childhood trauma.”
“All the trappings for a sociopath, if they’re predisposed,” Ambi says.
Tim’s lost track of how many times they’ve gone over this. Neither one of them is trained for it, the theories they come up with fuelled by Tim’s choice in library books and Ambi’s indulgence. It’s just something they do.
“Sam makes a go of it,” Tim says, “Dean cavorts across America with John. Picks up the tricks of the trade.”
“John dropped off the radar round about the same time Sam quit school.” Ambi blows on his coffee and shakes an extra sugar in for good luck. “I still think that was all Dean’s idea.”
“Yeah, I know you got him pegged as a dependent, but I’m telling you, Sam’s the submissive partner.”
“Oh, so now you’re bringing out the lingo.”
“Damn right,” Tim says. “See, what I think happened is John dumped the kid, or tried to, and Dean killed him for it. He spent all those years following John’s orders and he got sick of it. Why follow when you can lead?”
“Right, right,” Ambi says.
“And Dean’s got a brother out there, one that lived under John’s thumb for years. But now Dean’s the man of the house, and he’s practical. If John could control Sam, then so can he. Murder’s always easier when it’s not a solo act.”
“So, Dean shows up at Stanford, murders Sam’s girl–or makes him do it–and that’s that.” When Tim nods, Ambi shakes his head. “Feels off.”
“Dean. Either they cut Sam loose or he broke away and managed to stay gone for-”
“Right, four years. What doesn’t sit right is why you’ve got Dean dragging Sam right back to it.”
Chin puckering with a frown, Tim sits back. “How do you figure?”
“Look at the phone records, and that report from Jericho.” Ambi leans back to have a look for it, his back twanging uncomfortably when he twists too far. “Anyway,” he says, giving up, “most of the calls we’ve got originated from Dean’s end. And when the sheriff nailed them back then, Dean gave himself up to give Sam time to rabbit.”
“Protecting Sam,” Tim says.
“Comparing Dean’s record to Sam’s, not doing a half bad job of it, either. Dean needs Sam so bad he’s redefining self-sacrifice.”
“Okay,” Tim says. He thinks it over for a few minutes, flipping pages and not really reading the words. “Okay, but that doesn’t mean Dean’s the submissive partner.”
“No, because that means Sam would have to be the dominant, the driving force in Dean’s actions. A replacement for John. Sam laid low for four years, remember.”
“Maybe John and Dean, or just Dean, dropped by to say hello.”
Tim lifts his mug, surprised to find nothing but cold dregs touch his lips. “Maybe. Or maybe they’re as co-dependent as we are and it’s my turn to get the coffee.”
Ambi laughs, a deep belly-rumble of sound. “Alright, we’ll say co-dependent and call it a night. I’ve got a dealer cooling his heels in Five, you want to sit in?”
“Sure, bit of old fashioned crime will do me good.”
On her way to the bathroom, Jess stops to poke her head into her brother’s room. The place is a cave, dank and stinking, tiny spatters of rainwater spotting the floor by the propped-up window.
Justin is plunked in front of the computer, something loud and obnoxious screaming out of the crappy speakers.
“You’re gonna go blind, Jay,” she says, picking her way carefully through the toxic waste of dirty laundry to lean against the back of his chair.
Jess flicks his ear. “YouTube again?”
“Nope.” Justin shoves against the seatback to get her to back off, not really seeming to care when it doesn’t take. “Blogs.”
Curious, Jess leans closer to read the cramped text, muttering, “Hey,” when Justin scrolls down too quickly. “You found fansites for them? Geez, Jay.”
Justin shrugs. “Murder groupies, sis. You know all those cons got ‘em.”
“Check it out.” With a few clicks and some quick typing, Justin calls up what looks like a site listing out possible murder weapons in each of the Winchester cases right from Google. “Some of this came straight from police reports.”
Unable to help herself, Jess reads the caption underneath a half-moon knife with a jagged edge. It looks completely impractical, ridiculous, sort of like the props from Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy remake.
“That’s gross,” she says.
Justin shrugs again. “Sure it’s gross. But it’s kinda cool.”
“To a weirdo.”
“Come on, you don’t think it’s at least a little bit cool?” Justin swings around, grinning like an unrepentant loon when his knees knock into hers. “The FBI’s stumped. They’ve even got some cops believing they’re the good guys.”
Jess props a hand on her hip and stares him down. “It’s pretty tough to be a good guy when your hobby is torturing girls to death, Justin.”
Justin waves that away. “This Sam guy’s practically a genius. Word is, he was acing all his courses at Stanford. In prelaw, Jess. That’s pretty awesome.”
“Sure, real smart to dump that and start killing people.”
Impossibly, Justin’s grin widens. “The cops figure Dean’s the one doing that. He’s the whackjob with a crusade to save the world.”
“Yeah, from what?”
“Dunno. Probably all in his own head so I guess it wouldn’t make sense, anyway.”
“Like it makes sense now?”
“Sam’s girlfriend’s name was Jess, you know.”
Something cold, a little thrill like the fear inspired by big-budget Hollywood horror, slinks down Jess’s spine. “Are you making that up?”
“Nope, it’s right here.” Justin swings back around and dives straight into the disorganised mess of his bookmarks. “I bet Sam was going for law ’cause of Dean. Can’t help who your family is, right?”
Behind his back, Jess rolls her eyes. “Right.”
Almost walking on a crusty dinner plate, Jess inches back to the computer to look at Jessica Moore circa September 2005. The background is Stanford campus, somewhere near a basketball court, everything but Jessica’s face slightly out of focus. She’s smiling widely, the laughter dancing in her eyes clear even in a scanned copy of the original picture.
“Creepy, huh?” Justin says. “Sam’s friends are all saying they’re on a road trip. Dean showed up and Sam just dropped it all.”
“It sounds like Dean’s an ass,” Jess mutters, more than a little unnerved by it all.
“Sounds like Sam would do anything for him.” Twisting around again, he gives Jess a toothy grin. “I’d totally drop outta school for you, Jess. You just let me know when you want to hit Fiji.”
Mae’s eighty-third birthday is coming up next week. Her daughter is flying in from Houston and her sons from New York and they’re going to have one heck of a party out in the back plaza. They’re not letting her have much of a say in the proceedings, talking about how it’s her birthday so she should relax instead of play hostess all day. She thinks it might actually be because they’re afraid of how old she’s getting, but it makes them happy so she keeps quiet.
“Wheel of Fortune’s coming on, Mae,” Brady says, scooping up the little china teacup on Mae’s footstool. “Not too tired to watch, are you?”
“‘Course not,” Mae says, appreciating all the work Brady does for her–she’s a fine girl, worth every penny, and pleasant company, too–but she wishes Brady wasn’t quite so neat. A house doesn’t look lived in if everything is in its place all the time. It just isn’t proper.
“Like those boys,” Mae says. “You remember those boys that stayed here last fall?”
From the kitchen, Brady calls, “Which boys?”
“Those two Winchester boys. Always yes ma’am, no ma’am, polite as sunshine and rambunctious little devils to boot.”
Brady comes back with a fresh cup of tea and settles on the couch, pulling out a worn paperback before flicking through the channels for the show. “I don’t think that was last fall, Mae. I don’t remember them.”
“The fall before, then,” Mae says. “The littlest one, he was a scoundrel. Followed his brother around and got them both into all manner of mischief.”
“Mm,” Brady says.
“Sammy, that was his name. Always after that Dean. Dean loved that boy. I bet you any money Sammy’s still chasing after him, not like my boys.”
Brady puts a finger between the pages of her novel to hold her place. “They’re coming home for your birthday next week, aren’t they, Mae?”
“Those Winchesters?” Mae laughs. “My goodness, no. Mind you, if those boys came back to visit me, I’d gladly let them stay. Be good to have children around again.
“Sammy, though, he had some awful night terrors.” Mae nods, remembering. Little Sam’s screams echo clear in her mind as if it’d been only yesterday. The pound of her heart, the pound of Dean’s feet on the hardwood, the way she tried and tried to comfort that poor boy and had finally stood aside, aching and helpless. Dean crawled into the narrow bed, gathered Sam close and those horrible, hiccupping sobs eased.
They moved Dean’s things from the guest room at the top of the stairs the next day. Three nights later she woke again to the sound of Sam’s panicked wail. She’d barely made it down the hall before she heard Dean’s quiet whispers calming him, easing his fears of fire and burning yellow eyes. Each time it happened, she hovered at the edges, waiting to be needed. She never was.
“Didn’t like cats,” Mae says.
Absently, Brady says, “Neither do you.”
Mae thinks about how chill it was that fall, how she’d worried every morning when Dean tromped off with Sam in tow and the strength of her relief when he dutifully tromped back, well before sunset with Sam still at his heels.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if those boys visited again?” Mae sinks a little deeper into the cushions to rest her tired shoulders. “I’m Sam and Dean, he told me the first time we met,” Mae says. “Dean said, ‘I’m Sam and Dean and real pleased to meet you.’”