The smell is what told Victor that he was in the hospital. That distinctive, metallic-chemical blend of bleach and machinery, underlaid by the faint powdery note of latex gloves. He lay motionless—he didn't even know if he could move, and he wasn't eager to find out—and let his senses glean all the information they could.
Various tones of hums and whirs, of course, and a tiny dripping noise that must be an intra-venous drip. A steady beep throbbed right by his ear; most likely heart monitor, he figured. In the background, a medley of muffled intercoms and pages, the tinny rattle of mis-aligned gurney wheels, a muted chorus of voices ebbing and flowing as people walked down the hall. He didn't hear anyone moving or talking in his room, so it startled him when a gloved hand picked his up.
“Mr. Henriksen...Mr. Henriksen...” The voice was soft, female, professional. “Can you hear me, sir?” Her hand firmly patted his as she spoke. “Try to open your eyes if you can. Or squeeze my hand if you can't.” She sounded gentle but authoritative.
He struggled to obey—damn, how could little eyelids weigh so much? He managed to get them open and a sliver of light stung his over-sensitive eyes. He let the lids drop again, tears pooling under his lashes.
You have the curliest lashes...seems so unfair for a man to have them, his wife used to tease. His first wife. Ex-wife now; another casualty along the way, a sacrifice to duty and country. The Bureau had won that round. And the subsequent two rounds after her.
Right now, it looked like he was a casualty himself at the moment. What happened? Why am I here? The query stayed inside his brain, though, as somehow his mouth wasn't working.
“That's fine, Mr. Henriksen, you did just fine.” The...nurse? doctor? patted his hand reassuringly again. Soft beeps as she apparently entered something into her tablet. “You're doing great. Just rest some more and we'll be back to check on you shortly, okay?” Footsteps snicked on the floor, and the door clicked shut.
He gave a half-heart twitch, a weak test just to see what worked and what didn't. The wave of pain it evoked throughout his body brought fresh tears to his eyes, and his lips quivered as salty lines streaked down to his pillow.
Victor didn't remember how he got to Sam and Dean Winchester's cell. All he knew was the sheriff lay on the floor, dead.
“I...I shot the sheriff,” he said, bewildered.
Dean smirked. “But you didn't shoot the deputy,” he replied. Sam glared at him.
“Five minutes ago, I was fine, and then...” He couldn't figure it out, his mind was clouded.'
“Let me guess—some nasty black smoke jammed itself down your throat?” asked Dean knowingly.
Sam looked at Victor calmly, but great intensity. “You were possessed.”
Victor stared uncomprehendingly at him. What...? “Possessed, like...possessed?”
Sam nodded grimly. “That's what it feels like. Now you know.”
He'd been right. A demon had invaded Victor, taken total fucking control of him. With it gone, he felt...violated. Angry. He wanted to get that sucker.
Everything the Winchesters said--it was all true. Black eyes, black smoke, salt lines, exorcisms over the loudspeaker. Victor was a practical man, a pragmatic man, and while he possessed great intuition, this was a world he had no conception of. Seeing that demon carnival play out in front of him in black, white, and red, punctuated by shotgun blasts and decorated with disjointed bodies left him no choice but to believe what the Winchesters told him.
Victor re-surfaced from the haze of ugly memories to awareness of his hospital room. The pain had abated; he assumed the morphine drip had accelerated in response to his earlier paroxysm. He concentrated on breathing slowly, keeping his heartbeat even, his body as relaxed as it could be in its current damaged state.
So that had happened. All of it. Undeniably. And on top of the world order turning topsy-turvy around him, the two men he'd spent so much time and effort chasing, the wily Winchester brothers, had turned out to be the fucking good guys in the end. The world Victor thought he knew was turned upside down, where right was wrong and wrong was right, and everything in between was gray. He couldn't even fathom the ramifications of that yet.
None of that answered how he had ended up here, lying in a hospital bed hooked up to a bunch of monitors. When the demon battle was over at the Monument police station, he'd still been standing, one of the lucky ones. He'd shaken hands with Sam and Dean, looked at them with a respect he wouldn't have thought possible a mere week ago. He'd been grateful for them, their knowledge, skill, strength in saving as many people as possible, and because of that gratitude, he'd told them to disappear—that the Bureau would be informed the Winchesters had died in the helicopter crash.
And then they had left. Another fight, another monster, required their attention.
Minutes later, a woman and a little girl had entered the police station. The girl was an innocent little thing, brown hair in a white hairband, angelic white dress under a pink coat. She'd spoken so sweetly when she'd asked about Sam and Dean.
And then--and then...
Monitor alarms blared around Victor as his body spasmed and screams tore from his throat.
Victor's mind swam sluggishly upward, pushing through the heavy swirls of darkness and fear. He heard voices, and as he fought to consciousness, they became louder and clearer.
“I don't know, Doctor. He was resting just fine, and then all the alarms went off and he was screaming like a...like a banshee.”
Banshees? Are they real too? Probably. Victor grunted with the effort of waking up.
“He's coming to. Push the Valium, I don't want him upset again. I hope he didn't rip out any stitches.” This voice was a little deeper, more authoritative. Doctor, Victor thought.
The doctor addressed Victor directly. “Mr. Henriksen, can you hear me? I need you to stay quiet—you've had a lot of work done and I don't want you to make me do it all again, okay?” The voice lifted with a humorous tone. “You're going to be just fine, sir. Just rest. Denise here will watch over you.”
“I sure will,” said the original voice, a little lighter in comparison to the doctor. “Dr. Feldon has done all the heavy lifting, but I got you now.” She squeezed his hand.
Limp with Valium and a momentary sense of security, Victor slept.
Every day, more came back to Victor. Most of it, he knew enough to keep to himself. His boss came in to see him, his department chief, ATF, so many others, all asking questions. </i>What happened? What did you see? How did the helicopter explode?</i> Victor heard his feeble answers, half-assed deflections and protestations of ignorance. He knew he wasn't giving them what they wanted, what they needed. What was he supposed to say?
Oh, well you see when my Director, Steven, got there, he was already dead, and a demon was driving his body. He shot Dean Winchester and tried to kill both Winchesters and then me. The helicopter—that was more demons, they blew up the gas tank to cut off any escape. Uh-huh. That would go over real well.
Who's responsible for blowing up the police station? How are you the only survivor?
Tears filled Victor's eyes as he recalled the sweet, brave secretary, Nancy Fitzgerald. She'd just survived the worst thing she'd never dreamed of—a demon invasion, during which she'd nobly volunteered to be a virgin sacrifice to save them all. When it was all over, a woman had come in with a pretty little girl.
“Excuse me. I'm looking for two boys. They're brothers. One is really tall, and the other is really cute.”
Nancy had knelt with a big smile. “What's your name, sweetie?”
“My name is Lilith.”
And then her eyes had flashed blinding white, and the station blasted itself into smithereens.
Whatever remained of Nancy was mingled in with the ashes and debris.
Henriksen turned his head away from his questioners. There was nothing he could say to them—no conclusions he could give. At least...none that they could understand.
“Don’t thank me. Lilith killed everyone. She slaughtered your precious little virgin, plus a half a dozen other people. So after your big speech about humanity and war, turns out your plan? ” Ruby's eyes flashed with anger and her blonde hair flew with the angry motions of her head. “Was the one with the body count.”
Dean and Sam sat frozen, eyes glued in horror to the 21-inch television screen. Flames danced through the police station where they'd been just hours ago, followed by screen shots of faces and names of the newly dead. “Sheriff Melvin Dodd, Deputy Phil Amici, and secretary Nancy Fitzgerald as well as three FBI agents, identified as Steven Groves, Calvin Reidy, and Victor Henriksen,” intoned the news anchor.
Dean's chest ached when Nancy Fitzgerald's picture flashed onto the screen, her large, dark eyes and soft smile now immolated forever. He glanced at Sam, saw a similar grief in his brother's face.
The days went by, and Victor's body slowly healed. Hospital life had a soothing routine. Breakfast, sponge bath, PT. Consults. Lunch. Visitors, if he had any, or sitting in the garden. Co-workers came by sometimes, spoke awkward sentences at him, left a plant or some cookies. More PT, more appointments. Dinner and television. Bedtime, which was kind of a joke when you spent most of the day in bed to begin with. In the beginning, his body still sought the oasis of sleep for recuperating, but as he improved physically, his nighttime hours turned into long stretches of time filled with replays of death and destruction.
The more Victor reviewed that horrific night, the more he began to re-evaluate his past encounters with the Winchesters. He had a completely new perspective now. Discovering that the Sam and Dean were not delusional cultist psychopaths, but in fact unsung heroes left Victor askew to his previous entire world view. Who else had he possibly misjudged? What other gross errors had he perhaps made?
And that shiny new world view now included horrors he'd never remotely regarded as conceivable. Monsters of every kind, evil spirits, supernatural beings...demons. Demons. What else had he never seen? What other unknowns had dogged his every step, and what did that ignorance say about his life? He'd sacrificed so much for his career; divorced more than once because he was always gone, no children, only field teams and co-workers instead of real friends. For what? Everything he knew was wrong.
And what still lurked out there?
Victor shivered in his hospital room, his thin sheet and blanket inadequate to the chill of newly-discovered fear.
A therapy appointment was part of his daily routine. An “opportunity” to sit and talk about the trauma he'd experienced, “processing” and “reconciling his reality.” Victor snorted. It was ridiculous. What was he going to say? ”Hey, so monsters are real and I was fighting some demons, real bad-ass ones.” Or, “I met these guys, and I used to think they belonged to a cult. Real crazy-makers. But turns out they were telling the truth and it's all real, and some demon bitch blew up the police station.”
Yeah, that would all go down real well. Victor had no desire to spend his days in the booby hatch. He evaded and prevaricated, allowing little tendrils of truth to come out disguised as sarcasm, but it was never enough to really fix him. The schism he'd been through was beyond fixing.
Instead, he lay awake late into the night, moments and scenes of horror playing through his mind. His boss, lying dead on the floor after some evil dark smoke-shit had jetted from his mouth. The helicopter lying crashed and burning on the parking lot, its slaughtered crew sprawled around it in pools of blood. The empty, black eyes of the demon horde as they pressed in through the doors, panting to kill.
How was he supposed to “process” that? How did one “reconcile” that with the 'normal' world? Who would ever believe him?
How could he believe it himself?
Another night of darkness and dreams, another morning where Victor would wake with dried tear tracks on his face and his palms studded with half-moons from where his nails had dug in.
“You know,” said Sam one day, idling over breakfast. They were sitting in Mabel's Pancake Shack, yet another forgettable diner, so of course Dean had ordered pancakes along with his eggs and bacon and sausage. Sam had stuck to a short stack with blueberry syrup, which Dean turned his nose up at.
“I know lots of things, Sammy. For instance, blueberry ain't proper syrup. Only maple counts.” Dean shoveled a drippy, maple syrup-drenched forkful of pancake into his mouth. “What is it I know in particular?”
Sam watched his brother with distaste. While he considered Dean to be exceptional in the looks department, that didn't mean he wasn't a pig sometimes.
“We never actually saw if Henriksen died that night. You know, at the police station.” Sam laid his fork down as he spoke.
Dean stopped chewing for a moment to consider. “No, I guess we never did. I pretty much assumed he had, from the extent of the explosion. Didn't they say there were no survivors?” He resumed eating.
Sam shook his head, pushing his plate away, his appetite vanishing. “They did, but what if they just assumed everyone in there died? They think we died, but we weren't in there.” He sipped his coffee. “Or what if they just didn't say anything about him as a protective FBI thing?” He put his mug down and leaned forward, dropping his voice. “It just suddenly occurred to me, what if he made it? Where would he be right now? What would he be doing? Maybe he's spilling his guts about the supernatural to the Feds.”
“More likely he'd be sitting in a locked room rocking back and forth.”
Sam shot his brother a look. “Nice, Dean. Great compassion.”
Dean slurped some coffee. “Call 'em as I see 'em, Sam. Not a lot of people coming through that are going to end up on the right side of the funny pages.”
“I think we should check it out.” Sam set his mouth resolutely.
Dean wiped his mouth with a paper napkin. “Something get your back up about this? Dream, vision, magic 8-ball?”
Sam shook his head slowly, eyes fixed on his coffee cup. “No, nothing like that. Just...a feeling. A hunch, I guess. Like somewhere there's a thread tugging.”
“Well, that's some interesting thoughts there. I suspect if he did blab about the supernatural, they'd have him locked up in a psych ward pretty quickly, but we can't know for sure from here.” He drank some coffee, ate half a strip of bacon. “Okay, let's check it out. If he did make it, he's gotta be pretty freaked out with everything that happened, and if he did start blabbing to his Fed heads, that could be trouble for us. Either way, he might need some help.”
He stood up, throwing some bills onto the table. Sam followed him out the door.
It was good to be back home, Victor thought. The rest of the world was still shaky, but his condo was as much of a stable base as it could be. To most people, it probably looked halfway like a hotel room, with a minimum of personal effects—there were no pictures of family or friends, and tchotchkes were not Victor's style. He traveled so much that he had a cleaning service in on a weekly basis to keep things tidy. Victor abhorred mess, despite his chosen field, or perhaps that was one reason he'd chosen it. Clean up the messes; dispose of the cause, no matter what it was. Here in his bit of sanctuary, there was no clutter, no papers, no overfilled wastebaskets, no dishes left dirty in the sink.
Victor could get around on his own now, able to take care of himself. Physical therapy continued twice a week for his left ankle and right wrist; he didn't need a crutch or cane anymore, although he still wore a support on his ankle. His ribs were healing, down to twinges when he coughed or sneezed, and while he ached more than he liked, on the whole, he knew he'd been extremely fortunate. Almost...miraculously so.
He didn't really even know how he was alive and kicking. Apparently the blast had thrown him behind a metal desk, and that had given him shelter. Victor was grateful—he was alive, after all. He was relatively in one piece. Life was moving on, and no one was asking anymore about what happened in Monument.
Except Victor himself.
The phone call he'd half been expecting, half been dreading finally came.
“Henriksen! How are you doing?” Nelson Wardell's voice boomed from Victor's cell. He didn't wait for a reply. “I've got your latest reports from your doctor here, and I'm pleased to say it looks like you're ready to come back on desk duty!”
Victor knew this had been coming, but to hear the words was still slightly shocking. He didn't feel particularly ready. “Really? They...signed off on this?”
“Sure did. Apparently you have the constitution of a horse!” Nelson chuckled. “Hey, you have to be going stir crazy, right? I know what a go-getter you are! What do you say you come in tomorrow and we'll start getting you set up? Just office work at first—you'll have to wait and pass your gun range test and so on down the pike, but this will get you back on your feet and into the loop.”
Victor breathed a sigh. It would be good to get out, get back to something closer to normal. Maybe some of his shadows and nightmares would recede as he picked up the trappings and routines of his life, his job. “Sure, Nelson. I'll be glad to get back to work. I'll stop by tomorrow.”
They finished up with setting a time, and Nelson said how it would be good to have Victor back on the team. “Yeah, man,” he agreed, ignoring the uncertainty in his stomach. “Looking forward to it.”
He held his phone for several minutes, staring blankly at its wallpaper, a generic cityscape scene.
Do monsters live in the cities too?
Why wouldn't they?
He put the phone down resolutely and went to check out his clean shirt situation.
Black eyes. Everywhere he turned, black eyes looking at him. Not just black irises, but eyes gone totally black, no white to be seen. It looked so wrong, so disturbing; Victor's skin chilled, and he turned and turned trying to get out of the black-eyed crowed surrounding him. They pressed him forward, driving him down the hall and into the main room of the police station. Nancy was there, slim and modest in her dark skirt, pink sweater vest, white blouse, rosary in her hand. The other police agents clustered around her desk, nervous hands holding shotguns. Sam and Dean were there too, talking with some blonde chick who looked really pissed off, frowning and gesturing as she spoke inaudibly.
“Help,” Victor tried to say. “Guys, look out--” But his voice wasn't working properly, or maybe no one could see him, because everyone ignored him. Victor Henriksen of the FBI was not a man used to being ignored, so he gathered himself together and forced himself to bellow, “Hey! The demons are here!”
He woke up with the word 'demons' still hanging in the air. Sweat drenched his body, and his bones ached. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Victor sat up and covered his face with his hands. It had been so vivid, like he was right back there; the noise, the tension, the smell of the coarse road salt spread in thick lines across the doors and windows.
“Great. Just what I need the night before I go back to work. Fucking nightmares.”
He shook his head and got up, going into the kitchen for a glass of water. A bottle of Xanax stood on the shelf at the side of the sink—the doctor said it would be good to have on hand as he continued to decompress from the trauma. One three times a day as needed, no refills.
Victor hated drugs, didn't care for anything that messed up his mind. His mind was sharp like a scalpel, precise as a Swiss watch. Sure, he drank sometimes, but that was when he chose to blur the edges, not because he had nightmares.
He put the Xanax back and grabbed the whiskey instead, pouring a stiff two fingers and shooting it down. Returning to his room, he grabbed the remote and found some inane movie to watch.
Tomorrow was going to suck.
It did suck.
When did the FBI get so clogged with fucking paperwork? With endless, unproductive meetings? Jesus, he felt like there was no air in any of the stuffy rooms, and his back ached from sitting in uncomfortable office chairs. Was it just because he was so used to being in the field? He was accustomed to coming and going on his own call, not a schedule filled with block after block of meetings.
By 3:00 p.m., he needed to escape for at least a few minutes. And it wasn't just the meetings and files—it was the chatter. Victor would be the first to admit he was not the most social guy in the world, but he was always pleasant with co-workers, had his favorites—not quite friends, but close. The tedium and fatigue would often be lifted by sharing stories of amusing ops, weekend revelries, and the like. He appreciated that.
But oh good God! The endless inquiries about his well-being, for instance. He was here, right? Didn't that say it? He knew it was only concern for him and he should be grateful, but he just kept saying the same things over and over. Yeah, I'm fine. Doing good, thanks. Yeah, I was lucky. Dodged a bullet, man.And beyond that...the subtle presses for more information. Man, what the hell happened out there? What was that all about? Real militia crazies? Cultists? C'mon, you can tell me. On and on and on, and it wasn't like he was forbidden to discuss it. There was just nothing to discuss. Half of it, no one would believe, and the other half...crap, he himself had absolutely no fucking idea what it all meant.
Dodge, bob and weave, repeat. It fucking exhausted him.
Just getting down the elevator and outside took a couple of exchanges, but then Victor was able to take great lungfuls of fresh air. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back, feeling the warmth of the Virginia sun on his face, sensing his nerves stilling from their day-long jangling. Okay. He was okay. He would be okay. He breathed in again, smelling the heat and the near-by flower banks, letting the breeze caress and calm him.
“Hey, Henriksen.” Deep voice. A little raspy.
Victor opened his eyes and looked into the deep green of Dean Winchester's eyes.
The Rustic Pig was more the Winchester's style of bar than Victor's. Sticky floor, battered wooden tables, booths with that dark red fake leather, all cracked on the curves. Servers dressed in faux-bandana tops in a rainbow of colors, little denim skorts or cut-offs. Their waitress, Christie on her name tag, had dark-brown hair tied back with a thick elastic band that matched her hot pink top.
“Dos Equis for you, PBR for you, and Amber Bock for you,” she said, dealing the beers out to Sam, Dean and Victor in turn. “Anything else for now? Wanna look at the appetizers?” She waited, eyes flicking between the three men.
Victor realized he hadn't eaten since breakfast. Probably a good idea to throw some ballast in there before serious drinking commenced. “Yeah, leave the appetizer menu, thanks.”
“And when you come back, bring three shots of Jack.” added Dean.
“Sure thing!” Her ponytail bounced away. Dean took a moment to watch her round little ass wiggle appreciatively.
Sam elbowed him. “Focus, Dean.”
Dean snorted. “I am focused. I'm focusing right on that delectable--” He broke off at Sam's glower. “All right, all right. Jeez.” He gulped some beer. “Man can have a little fun, Sammy-boy.”
Victor watched the by-play, bemused. This was a Sam and Dean he didn't know; brothers kidding around, teasing each other, just...guys. Regular guys. Not blowing shit up, not elbows deep in blood and grave-dirt. Just ogling pretty girls and having a beer.
It was a little surreal. He kept blinking to dispel the superimposed images of their last time together from what was right in front of him. Shades seemed to skitter away from his eyes into the darker corners of the bar, like when you try to look at a floater in your eye.
Snapping back into the here-and-now, Victor saw both Winchesters looking at him curiously. “You okay?” asked Dean gruffly.
“Yeah, yeah. Just, uh, hungry, I guess. First day back, kinda disorienting. Plus I skipped lunch.”
“I hear ya. Here's Christie back, let's order up some grub.” Dean took charge of ordering, and apparently was getting one of almost everything on the appetizer list. “And extra queso, because that shit rocks!”
“No problemo!” She winked. “I'll put this order in pronto. Y'all enjoy your shots, let me know when you're ready for more!”
Reminded of the liquor sitting before them, the three men picked up their shot glasses, leaving wet rings on the table. “What are we toasting to?” asked Dean.
Victor cleared his throat, suddenly tight. “To Nancy,” he said quietly.
“To Nancy,” said Sam and Dean, just as gravely. They clinked together and tossed the whiskey down their throats.
Victor didn't quite lose track of the shot rounds, but he was a little hazy. Five? Six? At least by the second one, the food arrived, and they all dived into nachos and hot wings, fried pickles, french fries, and of course plenty of queso and chips. Beer went down cold and refreshing, and whiskey went down hot and smooth. As good as the food in his belly was the feeling of finally relaxing, letting taut muscles and strained mind ease and release.
“Okay, that's it. I gotta go back to work again tomorrow. You jackasses can do whatever the hell you please, but I still gotta answer to Uncle Sam.” Victor grabbed two or three napkins, mopping off his fingers rather unsuccessfully. The tissue-thin paper shredded onto his sticky skin.
Dean and Sam appeared more unfazed that Victor felt. “Hey, we pull our share of early mornings and all-nighters,” Dean said. “You wait up until three a.m. and then dig up the grave of an angry spirit.” He threw a balled-up napkin and bonked Victor in the face. “Besides, not our fault you're a wage-slave.”
“Hey, watch the slave humor when you're talking to a black man,” riposted Victor, and almost fell off his bar stool when he tried to stand.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” cried Sam, supporting Victor with a long arm. “You okay there?”
“Yeah. Ankle is still a little wonky, gives out easily. One reason I'm not cleared for field duty yet.” Victor put some cash down. He figured it should cover his share and more of the evening's consumption. “Listen, do you guys need a place to crash? My apartment is small, but we could--”
He saw a look go between Sam and Dean, a somewhat mystifying look, but there was too much whiskey in his brain to think about it. “No, thanks, we're good. We're actually just up the road here at a motel.” Dean gestured vaguely at the door.
“You just go home and get some sleep. We didn't mean to get you trashed your first day back,” added Sam.
“Naw, not trashed. Buzzed for sure.” They all laughed. “More just feels good to, actually, I don't know...relax, I guess. Like I haven't since before--” He stopped.
They all knew before what.
“How about we drop you at your place then?” Dean dropped some money on top of Victor's. He was a little surprised Sam didn't as well, but maybe they were traveling with shared resources.
“That'd be great.”
The next morning was a little rough. It had been a while since Victor had tied one on like that. His head pounded, and his mouth tasted like small furry animals had nested in it, possibly while procreating. A round of toothpaste and mouthwash, a bracing shower, some coffee and a protein bar, and it felt like his return to humanity was possible after all. Despite the current discomfort, he had to admit he'd had a lot of fun.
Today Victor kept noticing the fluorescent lights everywhere in the Fed building. His office was in an older wing of the building, which was fitted with old-fashioned fluorescent fixtures rather than the energy-saving 'daylight' ones in the newer wing. They bled a little color out of everything, rendering objects and people alike into slightly washed-out versions of themselves. A little duller, a little flatter; faces a little shadowed, eyes a little emptier.
It actually felt a little creepy.
Victor told himself to buck up. So he was a little hungover. So he'd met the spooky side of life. Get a grip, he told himself firmly. You've got a job to do. You da man.
Unfortunately, most of his job at the moment was clearing some cold case paperwork and catching up on old files. Hard to get excited or feel dynamic doing that. Hard just to stay awake. He fought to keep his eyes open.
He wondered if he'd be seeing Sam and Dean again that evening. Stepping out of the building at 5:30, Victor couldn't help looking up one side of the street and down the other.
No exceptionally tall men loitering anywhere.
He glanced at the nearby parking lot.
No sleek black cars visible.
Victor sighed and went home, picking up some food along the way. He left half of his take-out burger and salad on the kitchen counter, still in its Styrofoam cradle, washing what he had eaten down with a couple of beers. Fatigue from the night before still wound achy tendrils throughout his body, prompting him to crash early.
Despite that fatigue dropping him quickly into sleep, he woke up abruptly at one-thirty a.m., sweaty and with limbs entangled in his sheets. Glancing at his watch, he saw it was 3:15. Fuck. Didn't make it through the night again.
Groggy yet on edge, Victor blearily looked around his bedroom. Nothing seemed amiss, only the quick beat of his heart and the sweat cooling on his skin. He freed himself from the snarl of sheets and lay back, trying to regulate his breathing. Closing his eyes, he sought to ease back into sleep.
Minute after minute he lay there, watching shadows inside his eyelids chase themselves. Were his eyes even closed? He opened them, confirmed by the hint of ambient light from outside his window. Closed. Open. Closed. Open. The more he did it, the more the two blended together. Black swirls inside and outside of his eyelids, abstract patterns revolving, his eyes darting around trying to follow them. His breath shortened as he tensed until he felt like a board lying on his mattress, ready to spring up at a moment's provocation.
Victor threw in the towel, rising and padding into the bathroom. A quick pee, some water on his face and down his throat, and he headed out to the living room, put the television on. The sound was too low to hear the words, but enough he could hear the voices, and their banal humanity eased some of the tension from him, enough to finally lull him back to sleep.
“You think we should have told him we were leaving?” Sam asked musingly.
“Told who what?”
“I dunno.” Dean bit into a doughnut, scattering cinnamon sugar across his lap. “Why? He's a big boy.”
“Because not so long ago, the whole can of worms just spilled all over him. He almost died from a shit-storm he had no idea existed. A lot of people have trouble dealing with that.”
Dean thought for a moment while he finished his pastry. “We don't usually stay for the aftermath. Get done and get gone, find the next bastard to gank. Besides, he's already used to a lot that most people aren't, being a big bad Fed and all.”
“Not monsters. Not the kind of evil we face.” Dean could feel Sam's eyes studying him. “Seemed a little strung-out that night we had drinks. Just wondering is all. He's a good guy.” Sam looked out the window. “Could almost be one of us.”
Yeah, Henriksen had seemed on edge, Dean had to admit that to himself. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Once Henriksen learned the truth, he turned out to be a decent guy, someone who could be a real ally. Dean bore him no ill will for his previous pursuit of the Winchesters, he'd just been doing his job as he understood it. And while Dean was not the bleeding-heart his brother was, nonetheless he did have compassion for those wounded along the way. They just usually didn't have the time or resources to do anything about it.
“How about we check back after this hunt? Just see how he's doing?” Dean glanced over and saw Sam's look of approval. That look always made Dean warm inside...and down too. Oh, he was so going to get a little road-head out of this...
“Stop it! I can tell what you're thinking, and I'm not sucking you off while we're heading down the highway!” Sam punched Dean in the shoulder.
“You call it 'sucking off', I call it a little thank you for your brother's admirable consideration, Sammy!” Dean cackled as he hit the accelerator.
He felt so drained that he didn't even feel the urge to jerk off anymore. He snorted to himself, sitting on his hard plastic Metro seat. That pretty much had to be the nadir of a man's existence, right? What healthy male didn't feel the need to clear the pipes, have himself a little happy moment? He couldn't remember the last time he'd even had an erection, except for his morning pee woody.
Unlocking his door, he dropped his jacket and briefcase on the couch before kicking off his shoes. After a few weeks back home, he decided he couldn't eat take-out all of the time, so he'd started having groceries delivered weekly, trying to keep some fresh food in the house. The only problem was actually having an appetite to eat it. Judging by his belt, he'd lost a few pounds. Well, thank goodness for prepared meals and bag salad. He popped pre-seasoned fish into the microwave, dumped some salad in a bowl.
Ah, beer. And once dinner was ready, there'd be a little drink alongside too. Then the knots in his shoulders and neck would finally untie themselves, the constant churning of his brain subsiding. A couple of relaxed hours before bedtime and the struggle of sleep began.
He picked at his fish, ate half the salad. Stared at the television uncomprehendingly. One more beer, two whiskeys, a little buzz to take the edge off. He didn't dare go harder than that. There was a drop-off ledge right out there, hiding under the dark water in his head, and he didn't want to get lost. It wouldn't take much, he felt so unmoored these days.
Well, most of the time he didn't want to get lost. Sometimes...he just wasn't sure anymore.
What was the difference, anyway?
“Aw, come on! Think of it as the ultimate acid test! We make it here, we can make it anywhere!”
“I think that's New York,” Sam huffed. “Come on, I thought we were here to check on Henriksen, not prove how great our fake I.D.s are, or how much chutzpah we have.”
“Jesus, fine.” Now it was Dean's turn to huff. “Text him to meet us at that bar, the one with the bandana-boob tops.”
It was already half-past four, so Sam texted to just meet whenever Henriksen was done. His answering text said another half hour, so Dean got his PBR and Sam ordered a Belgian Fat Tire. “Stupid craft shit,” grumbled Dean. “It's ruining the beer industry.”
“Actually, it's revitalized it,” Sam replied. “There's an unprecedented rise in craft breweries and independent labels, as well as a marked swell in the creativity of said breweries.” The server delivered their beers, and Sam smiled at her as he sampled his ale.
“Well, I wanna get some food, but let's wait for the big H.” Dean amused himself by winking at all of the servers in their little bandana print tops. Sam sighed and picked at his beer label. Suddenly Dean's hand covered his, warm and strong. “You okay, Sammy?”
“Sure, just wondering how things are.”
Dean looked at Sam seriously. “You know I'm just flirting here a bit, right? Not going home with anyone, or even off to the storeroom.” His thumb ever-so-briefly caressed Sam's knuckle before withdrawing.
Dean's moments of openness always made Sam's heart beat a little harder. He knew it didn't come naturally to him; that Dean had to really pry open the vault every time, and that the list he'd do it for was incredibly short.
But it always had Sam on it.
Dean kept uncharacteristically quiet. He drove with his eyes intent on the road, flicking them to Sam's face every few minutes. He could feel his brother's unspoken concern; it could almost have been irritating, but he knew the concern was real and under-laid by love, and that made it feel like balm on his tattered nerves.
It seemed to take no time at all to fall back into life on the road. The dingy motel rooms, the crappy food, the pursuit of all things creepy and dangerous, all with his brother at his side. Sam perused arcane texts in even more arcane languages, dug up graves, sympathized with grieving families, researched in dusty county libraries. He and Dean drank in dive bars, shooting tequila and whiskey, washing the liquor down with beer, falling into their respective beds to pass out. It was just like the earlier phase of his life, only now the drinking was legal.
Dean got double queen rooms wherever they stopped, and Sam noticed but didn't comment. What they had done together before he left for California—well, that was a lifetime ago. Of course he'd outgrown the infatuation he'd had about Dean, and Dean was busy fucking any woman that caught his eye these days, he sure didn't need to pity-fuck his brother.
They were only a couple of weeks out from Stanford when the first nightmare hit. Sam woke screaming, thrashing, and then Dean was there. “Shhh, Sammy, you're okay. It's okay,” he said over and over, holding Sam tight, letting his own warmth bleed into Sam's chilled flesh. “It's okay...”
It wasn't okay for a long time, but having Dean close helped immeasurably. And it didn't take long before Dean's reassuring whispers and strong hugs, Sam's grateful embraces and pleas for comfort, all melded and morphed together. Bodies twisted together, hands sought skin, lips begged for kisses, and more.
By the middle of the second month, Dean skipped the double queen and got a single king instead. Sam still didn't comment, but he gave a little smile as he gazed out the window.
The jolt of pleasure he felt was completely unexpected.
He stuffed his surprising reaction down while shaking hands and ordering a beer. Dean was already perusing the menu, ordering a bacon cheeseburger and a blooming onion, while Sam got a Caesar chicken salad and a side of fries. Henriksen didn't care what he got, food all tasted like sawdust anyway, but he went for the black & Bleu Cajun burger. Shots materialized—Cuervo this time—and they toasted each other's health and safety.
The evening passed in a pleasant blur of tequila, good food, and laughter. The Cajun burger rocked, Victor enjoying every spicy bite of meat and tangy crumb of blue cheese. Through the agave-induced haze, he felt some curiosity as he watched the brothers interact—certainly they enjoyed hazing each other, knew what buttons to push. Still, there was some as-yet-unrecognized dynamic at play, and as an analytical, observant man, Victor was both puzzled and intrigued.
It felt so good to relax; to enjoy a meal, to have companionship where he didn't have to pretend anything. Pressure fell from him like unwanted pounds, and he felt light, filled with air instead of dread. He still knew what was out there, but it was like they were cavemen drawn to the bonfire, warm and safe for a moment, backs turned to the cold and hostile environment outside.
God, why couldn't the rest of his life feel like this?
They ordered food and drinks, and it didn't take long for Henriksen's demeanor to lighten. He attacked his burger like he hadn't eaten in a week, and tossed the tequila down as if it were the elixir of life. Maybe it was, because he certainly revived as the evening went on. Sam nudged Dean's knee under the table, excusing himself to the men's room. Dean followed a few minutes later.
“What the fuck, man?” Dean leaned against the counter in the men's room. “He looks like shit.”
“Yeah, he does. He already looks better now, but he can't be eating or sleeping for crap.” Sam washed his hands. “And it sounds like being on desk duty is pretty soul-crushing boredom-wise. That can't be helping.”
“Nope. He's used to be out on the road, like a hunter. Imagine me on desk duty, Sam?” Dean shuddered. “Bad enough when we have to hole up in a fucking library for research.”
“Yeah. Not a good sitch.” Sam sighed. “We better get back out there, he's going to wonder what's going on.”
“Hey, wait a minute there...” Dean grabbed Sam's neck, pulled him in for a sound kiss, tongues pushing together, taking only moments to make them both breathe harder.
“You prick, now I'm going out there with a hard-on,” Sam grumbled.
“I'll take care of that later,” Dean leered.
Rolling onto his back again, he shoved his boxers down and palmed himself, just enjoying the warmth of his hand against his cock, then rolling his balls and gently squeezing them. “Aw, fuck,” he moaned again. His other hand drifted to his chest, thumb teasing his nipples into hardness, pinching them as he began to jerk his dick more seriously. Clenching his ass, he pushed his cock through his fist, breathing hard now with each thrust.
It felt so good to be turned on, to feel the force of his arousal in his hand. Every flick of his nipples was a little hot spark, every flex of his ass fueled the next; beads of moisture seeped from his slit, and he smeared them down his shaft, relishing the slickness.
Random images ran through his mind—he was pretty buzzed, which made focusing on any particular spank bank scenario a little difficult. Breasts floated by, round and jiggling, little hard nipples atop them. Victor loved breasts, loved holding them, squeezing them, sucking on them. He gave a little gasp, balls tightening up. Yeah, boobs, all the boobs, bouncing as he fucked a faceless form, someone riding him and those beautiful fun-bags rising and falling as his cock slid in and out of a hot, tight pussy...
Wonder what a cock feels like, ran through his mind. He started, but the train was running and that wasn't enough to derail it. How's it get in there, doesn't it hurt? Something must feel good or no one would ass-fuck...
Wonder what Sam's dick looks like? He's fucking huge...Dean's pretty big too, bet they both are hung. What would it feel like in my hand all hot and hard, big and dripping in my mouth--
He shouted as he came, dick jerking in his hand, balls tight, come spurting like crazy over his hand and belly.
He fell back on the pillow, gasping and panting, his hand still loosely cradling his spent cock, tremors running through him.
What the everloving hell...
“Dean?” he mumbled, patting his hand across the bed. Finding the muscular shoulders of his brother, Sam sighed again contentedly. He rolled onto his side so he could nose into Dean's collarbone, planting soft kisses along the way.
“Shhh, sleep,” Dean whispered, hand drifting down Sam's back and squeezing one cheek. “Sleep more, then breakfast. Bacon and coffee.”
“Okay,” agreed Sam. He pillowed his head on Dean's shoulder and fell back asleep.
Good to actually feel like rubbing one off though, he thought, soaping himself thoroughly. Been a while. A half-smile flitted across his face as he recalled last night's self-pleasuring.
He firmly pushed away the fact that he'd gotten off to a fantasy about cocks. In particular, about cocks belonging to Sam and Dean. That bit of information didn't bear further analysis at the moment.
Throwing on a comfy t-shirt and some track pants, Victor headed out to a little diner nearby, Big City. He ordered coffee, hash browns with onions, and a mushroom and cheese omelet. Something good and nutritious, protein and veggies. Yeah, that was the ticket. Time to start taking a little better care of himself.
He did feel better; it was hard to argue with the fact that a solid orgasm did a body good. Endorphins? Increased blood flow? Whatever, it worked. Just...what did Sam and Dean's appearance in his fantasy mean? Was it just that Victor felt so isolated right now? That they were the people he felt most connected to at the moment? Did that really transcend the fact that they were guys, since he'd never thought about guys like that? Victor Henriksen was strictly a tits & pussy man; he hadn't even done ass play with women, and he'd never thought about having a woman do that to him.
Man, life was really fucked up right now.
His food arrived, and he downed a cup of coffee as he inhaled his omelet and hash browns. Sitting back to digest, he slowly sipped his next cup while trying to pick apart just what the hell was going on in his head and with his libido.
Fact: he'd been through hell. Pretty much literally. That was bound to scramble a guy's brain.
Fact: he hadn't been in a relationship in a really, really long time, and he wasn't generally a one-night-stand kinda guy. While there'd certainly been one here and there, they had been few and far between; afterward leaving him feeling more alone than anything else. It had been a while since he'd experienced physical release with another body. He probably just hadn't noticed how pent up he'd been getting.
Fact: Sam and Dean were about the most handsome men he'd ever seen. He was willing to bet that would be anyone's opinion. Their code name, when they'd been the target of FBI hunts before, was Zoolander.
So maybe it wasn't so outrageous that his imagination had taken liberties. Maybe it was just a matter of being far too lonely and way too horny. Sure, that was it. Had to be.
Pleased with his analysis of the situation, Victor got a cup of coffee to go and headed back home.
Dean finished chewing his bacon and drank some coffee while Sam waited. He knew better than to rush Dean over breakfast.
“Well, the Everglades is pretty much close to Hell on earth as far as I'm concerned. Who goes there anyway? I vote we leave the southern Sasquatch the fuck alone. I like the chupacabra—we haven't had a chance to nail one of those toothy suckers yet—but I guess the poltergeist is closest and quickest. Let's go put down that sucker and then re-evaluate the chupacabra thing.”
“Sounds good to me.” Sam put the newspapers away. “Listen, I had a thought.” He cleared his throat, unsure about how Dean would react to his suggestion. “What if we took Henriksen with us? On the poltergeist hunt?”
Dean stared at him, fork frozen in mid-air. “Say what?”
Sam toyed with his silverware, poking them around with his fingertip. “What if we took Henriksen with us? Showed him--”
“No.” Dean's voice was hard. He reached for his wallet, put some cash on the table with a thump. “That's a fucking stupid idea.” He got up and walked away, making the diner's door-bell tinkle angrily as he left.
“Well, ooookay then,” muttered Sam, rising and following his brother.
Ride up and down in the elevators, little moving boxes of despair. Go in and out of smeary glass doors, through the buzzing metal detectors. He bought tasteless food, threw half of it away uneaten. Lying awake in bed half the night, or actually go to sleep and then wake up before dawn, sweaty amid his rumpled sheets. Even when he did sleep, his dreams were dark and ugly, sapping any true restfulness away.
Victor put his hands down, spread them out on his desk. They were strong hands, capable hands. He knew this, knew what they could do, yet he felt helpless and handcuffed. Drained.
I can't, he thought bleakly. I cannot do this anymore. It's going to kill me if I don't do something and get the fuck out of here.
He thought he would feel anxious at these renegade thoughts, fearful at the prospect of throwing in the towel on a job he'd once loved, a career he'd worked hard to achieve. He should feel those things, right? After all, what the hell was he doing? What was he going to do?
But instead he suddenly felt calmness descend over him, like he'd stopped trying to swim against the current and instead let himself start floating. This was right. This is what he needed to do.
Victor stood up and got his suit jacket. Opening his briefcase, he took out a stack of folders and put them on his desk before picking up the few things that meant something to him. His teak pen set, a gift from an old partner. A couple of plaques and awards, credits to his years there. There wasn't much else. Snapping the briefcase shut, Victor left his office without a final glance.
He rapped on Nelson's open door, entered at his wave while he was on the phone, waiting quietly just inside the doorway for the conversation to conclude.
Nelson hung up the phone, smiling and gesturing to the chair in front of his desk. “What's up, Victor? Do you have that report on-”
“I quit.” Victor didn't bother to sit down. It wasn't going to take that long. “I'll email you my resignation letter within the next twenty-four hours. You can have my unused vacation time in lieu of notice.” He laid his I.D. and service gun on Nelson's desk.
“What? Victor, what on earth--” Nelson stammered, standing up and coming around his desk. “What are you doing? Think about this! Let's talk about it!”
“I'm done. Thanks for everything.” Victor turned and exited, leaving a stunned Nelson behind him.
Departing the building for the last time, Victor took a great breath in, savoring the fresh air and sunlight outside. He felt freer than he had in years, the constraints of the FBI falling from him like chains. He laughed and raised his arms, thinking that it was a wonder he didn't just float away on the breeze.
Dean drove a couple of hundred miles before pulling into a motel that was a couple of levels above their usual shit-shack. Sam looked at him questioningly.
“Come on, Sammy, we're taking a little break.” Dean grinned and got out of the car. He knew Sam wouldn't have an issue with a night off.
They got a room and settled in, Dean ordering beer, a bottle of Knob Creek, and Chinese food, all to be delivered.
Sam blew Dean while they waited for the food and alcohol to be delivered. After the food was consumed and the Knob Creek was a third gone, Dean reciprocated. They took a break for a couple of beers and shots, lying on the bed shoulder-to-shoulder watching TV, after which Sam pounded Dean's ass while his brother growled and whined, hands gripping the headboard until his knuckles were white. He loved it when Sam went all Neanderthal on him, holding his hips in a bruising grip and working his massive cock like a porn star.
Later, after a final round of fucking—Dean's turn to top--followed by a leisurely shower together, they relaxed in the big bed, so much more comfortable than their usual. Dean's arm snaked under Sam's neck and Sam's hand splayed on Dean's stomach. “So what do you think, good night off?” murmured Dean, pillowing his head on Sam's shoulder.
“Best,” agreed Sam.
He was good at being a Fed. Using that as a starting point, Victor began listing his assets.
3. Good intuition
4. Pattern recognition, and the ability to extrapolate
5. Excellent at firearms and hand-to-hand
6. Calm under pressure
7. Unfazed by extreme situations
He read it over. What kind of resume did that make?
Perhaps thinking over a beer would help. It was only mid-afternoon, but hey! He didn't have to worry about going back to work!
Chuckling to himself, Victor went back to The Rustic Pig. It felt like his personal neighborhood bar now, sticky floor and busty chicks and all. The fact that he'd never have frequented a dive like this in the past had long been forgotten. He chose a back booth so he could people-watch. Damn, he should put that on his list—top-notch people-watching skills. Surveillance! He chuckled wryly at himself.
Today's bandana-clad barmaid was in turquoise, her round boobs threatening to overpower the tiny buttons of her top as she breathily asked for his order. His eyes lingered on her cleavage a moment before he ordered a beer, getting a couple of their pulled pork sliders along with it. He might not be working, but he wasn't going to get sloshed midday.
She brought his beer right away, the bottle icy cold. He drank half of it in one go and caught her eye to order another. Closing his eyes, he leaned back against the booth wall and sighed in what passed for contentment these days.
“How'd we know we'd find you here?”
Victor looked up to see Sam and Dean sliding into the booth.
“Hey! What are you guys doing here?” He waved the waitress over, and Dean's eyes latched onto her boobs while Sam ordered for them.
“Damn, those are some fine tits! Whoa!” Dean shook himself. Sam rolled his eyes while Victor snickered. “Come on, Sam, you cannot deny those are fantastic breasts!”
“Whatever, Dean. We didn't come here to ogle breasts, fantastic or otherwise.”
“Breast ogling can happen anytime, anyplace!” Dean huffed. “I am a master multi-tasker.”
“You're a master bait--”
Victor quickly interrupted Sam. “So what are y'all doing here? No hunts? Or is there one around here?”
“Just coming back from putting down a poltergeist,” said Sam. “Took a little...r&r break.”
It was Dean's turn to snicker, and Victor watched in surprise as Sam's face flushed, two red circles burning on his cheeks. Sometimes he could not figure out what was going on with these two.
“So, did that go okay?” he asked.
“The poltergeist or the break?” asked Dean, and Sam choked in the middle of drinking his beer. Dean thumped him hard on the back until Sam punched his shoulder.
“Um, the poltergeist?” Victor stared at them both. They were acting so odd, and that was saying something with the weird life of the Winchesters.
“Oh yeah, that went fine. A few well-placed hex bags and done.” Dean smiled as the server brought his and Sam's beers as well as Victor's sliders. “Hey sweetheart, give us two orders of those as well, and some cheese fries, thanks.”
“So, Victor, you're starting happy hour early.” Sam toasted both men with his beer. “Early release today?”
Victor laughed. “Early release every day, Sam.” He paused briefly to build up their anticipation before continuing. “I quit. I am no longer employed by Uncle Sam.”
Dean and Sam both slammed their beers down, then cursed in unison as they foamed over. Sam got up and grabbed a bunch of napkins from the server station, and they busily mopped up for a moment. Once resettled, they resumed staring at Victor.
“Dude! You quit? Like, quit quit?” asked Dean.
“Yep. I am a Federal agent no more. I've become a man of leisure.” Victor half-laughed, half-snorted. “A rapidly-getting-bored man of leisure.”
“What are you planning to do?” asked Sam, looking very serious.
“I don't know yet. I was trying to list my skills and such for a new resume, but it all sounds pretty half-assed.” He reached into his back pocket where he'd folded and stuffed the paper with his list. “See? I mean, with my background I guess I could go into private security pretty easily. Good money, but I'm not really interested in bodyguarding some rich asshole. I'm too used to working on my own; even under the auspices of the FBI, I had a lot of autonomy, so I don't see going into management or anything like that.” Victor bit into a slider, savoring the tangy barbecued pork. Dean looked enviously at his plate, but then the server arrived with the sliders and cheese fries for him and Sam.
Dean dug in immediately, while Sam sipped more of his beer first. He looked rather pensive, and Victor wondered if he was upset about something. Sam elbowed Dean to get his attention from the slider he was devouring, and Victor watched as the two brothers exchanged a long look. Sam nodded, and Dean raised an eyebrow. Sam nodded again, more emphatically, and Dean sighed, turning back to Victor and putting his half a slider back on the plate. Sam finally picked his food up and began to bite into it, as if he'd discharged his concern onto Dean and was now free to eat.
It's like they have a hidden language, thought Victor. What an asset that must be while they're hunting.
“Victor, first off let me say that this barbecue rocks. Good call, man.” Dean popped the last of his first slider into his mouth, licking a smear of sauce off his bottom lip. Sam fidgeted in his seat, his eyes fixed on his brother's face.
“Second, there's something Sam and I would like to discuss with you, but it calls for greater privacy that even the back booth here can provide. How about we finish our beers and food, then get us a good bottle of something and head back to our room?”
Victor was intrigued—probably the first thrill of curiosity he'd felt since his convalescence. “Yeah, that sounds great.” He spread his hands wide. “I got nothin' else going on.”
They all laughed and waved for another round of beers.
Victor sat on one of the two chairs flanking a small table. Sam put down the bag with their bottle of Jack, some disposable plastic shot glasses, and Dean put down the six-pack they gotten to accompany it. Victor looked around at the faux-beachy rustic décor of seashell print curtains and bedspreads, and some little beach paintings apparently of the paint-by-number school of art hanging on the bleached panel walls. Something out of place was niggling at his mind, and he scolded himself for being rusty at observation. Before the explosion, nothing would have escaped his keen eye.
“Okay, so you already know the hard part.” Dean pulled out beers, handed them around. Sam cracked the bottle and poured three shots. “You know about what we do, and what's out there. You've seen it for yourself.”
Victor couldn't repress a small shudder at the memory of black eyes and concentrated evil, and Sam patted his shoulder awkwardly. “Don't worry about it. Anyone with half a brain would feel the same way,” Sam said. He handed Victor a shot glass, and the three men silently toasted and sent the liquid down their throats.
Shaking his head after the whiskey, Victor took a sip of cool beer. “Okay, so what's next here? What did you want to say?”
Sam and Dean exchanged yet another of those enigmatic looks. This time, Dean nodded to Sam, who turned back to face Victor.
“How would you feel about coming to hunt with us?”
But bound to be damn exciting too. And if anything, it would return him to his core mission—to help people. To weigh in on the side of good and justice. He smiled at how corny it sounded, but it was true. He'd joined the FBI in the first place to be a good guy, help tip the scales in the world the right way. He'd been doing that, but on a vastly smaller scale , and surrounded by a sea of rules and paperwork.
Well, this would sure do that. As long as I survive anyway. Victor had no illusions about just how hard and dangerous this would be. He knew hunters didn't count on longevity.
“Dude, you're halfway there already,” Dean had said. “Look at that list you made—it's like a hunter's shopping list. Sure, you need to learn a lot about how to hunt this or that kind of creature, but that's the easy part. You already know how to research, shoot, fight, track.”
“No pressure,” Sam had added. “Take your time to decide. Once you go this route, it's hard to ever come back from. It just seems like you don't have much else going on, and like Dean said, you're well-suited already. It's entirely up to you.”
They'd had some more Jack, talked about other things. Victor had bid them goodnight and had gotten himself home before he got too liquored up. He'd showered and fallen into bed, and now just replayed the conversation over and over in his head, pondering his choices.
He closed his eyes now and saw Sam and Dean sitting in their room, Sam on the other chair and Dean on the unmade bed, both looking at him earnestly.
So...had they slept together in the one bed? Why? They were both big guys, surely having their own bed would have been--
Or not. Or they're sleeping together. Like...together-together.
Victor blew out a long breath. Were the Winchester brothers...lovers? Really? Was he going overboard with the suppositions? It seemed so Flowers in the Attic, but...apparently it was a real possibility.
Well, if that were the case, he'd better decide if he was okay with it, if he could deal with them. If he was going to be their hunting partner, he had to take them as they were. Their lives would all depend on that acceptance.
He lay back and closed his eyes again. Images of Sam and Dean floated behind his lids, clothed and naked alike. He gritted his teeth, trying hard not to imagine the Winchesters cuddled together like puppies.
It was even harder not to touch himself at the same time.
Victor shook his head. “I got some cousins, but I haven't seen them in years. My parents have already passed away, no siblings.” He felt more rueful than he expected as he said, “Nobody really to miss me.”
“It sucks, but that's an asset to a hunter.” Dean smiled happily at the plate of eggs and various breakfast meats placed before him. “Mmm, scrapple!”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Gross, Dean. Pig parts all smushed together?” He shuddered and shook his head before munching on his cantaloupe wedge. “I know he lacks social skills, but he means well.” he said to Victor.
“It's okay. He's right, I can see it.” Victor poked at his omelet, bacon and cheese this time. “So, what do I do first? It's not like I have to get a license or anything, right? Like fishing or deer hunting.”
“Nope, no license. Go through your stuff, decide what you really want to keep, what you want to bring with you, and get rid of the rest. Cancel the lease on your apartment. Decide what you want to do about your car. You might want to ride with us for a while as you're learning, you're welcome to, so figure out if you want to store yours or sell it. Tie up any loose ends hanging around here.” Dean talked as he plowed through his food. “You don't want stuff left undone that's going to make someone come looking for you.”
“Okay. That shouldn't take too long, but I can't just leave tomorrow. It'll take a couple of weeks at least.” Victor's food was delicious, but his appetite was flagging with the laundry list of tasks to consider. He drank some coffee instead.
“No rush. Do what you need to do. We'll stick to some local hunts so we're around for when you're ready to go, okay?” Sam patted Victor's shoulder. “It's a big decision, and a big move. Take your time.”
Victor nodded. The excitement of last night's decision paled in the morning light, with the caffeinated reality of coffee overtaking the haze of booze. “Thanks. I...think I need a little time to get it squared away in my head, you know?”
The Winchesters both nodded. “We get it,” replied Sam. “We grew up this way, but making a conscious choice like this? It's got to be hard.”
“You chose,” said Dean. His words surprised Victor. Dean caught his look and clarified, “When Sam went to Stanford. Well, actually when he left Stanford. He decided to keep hunting, instead of going back to school.” Dean covered Sam's hand and squeezed it for a second before moving it away. “It was hard for him too.”
The intimacy of the gesture made Victor momentarily speechless. Sam shot a nervous look at him, but Victor promptly stuck a large bite of his omelet in his mouth so he had an excuse for silence.
“Okay, so me and Sammy here are heading out after this. You do your shit and text us, if we aren't back by the time you're ready.” Dean sighed with pleasure, patting his full stomach. “I will never mind coming back here for breakfast, that's for sure!”
Am I really doing this? he thought, looking around his apartment and noting how alien it looked now, how empty and devoid of any sign of him. I'm going to go hunt monsters; going to drive all over the country with a possibly incestuous pair of brothers and live a life that's totally under the radar.
Fuck, I must be crazy.
The truck from the shelter pulled up, and Victor showed the driver and his helper everything to be loaded. They started moving the furniture into the truck efficiently, waving away Victor's offer of help. Victor felt his chest tighten—it had been a pretty barren home, but it had been home nonetheless. His sanctuary, such as it was. And now it was disappearing.
He was disappearing. Vanishing into thin air, as far as the rest of the world knew.
Dean stood in the door, big and solid and reassuring. Sam joined him, adding, “It's done. Save yourself the brooding and wondering if you did the right thing.”
“Yeah, you always have the middle of the night on a monster stake-out for that,” Dean guffawed. “Nothing like the wee hours in a cold graveyard to wonder about life.” Sam cuffed the back of his head.
“We'll be in the car,” Sam said, laying a warm hand on Victor's shoulder and giving it a light squeeze.
The driver and his helper finished with the furniture and started on the pile of boxes. Victor took a deep breath. Why am I watching this anyway? It's like watching an autopsy. I don't need to see the scalpel at work. He shook himself, picked up his bags, and walked out the door to the Impala.
Victor could never have anticipated the amount of time he would spend in the Impala. Hours upon hours, days upon days, trekking back and forth across the country in a myriad of quirky angles and corkscrews and squiggles. The supernatural world had no regard for efficiency or gas mileage, so they might be hunting boggarts in Maine one day, then heading down to Texas for coyote kitsunes. North, South, East, West, and every direction in between; endless miles unspooling under the tires of the Impala, demarcated only by gas stations, shabby motels and seedy bars, punctuated by bloody fights and burning corpses.
When Victor had originally thought about joining Sam and Dean, it had been on a theoretical level; he knew there were nasties to kill, people to save. It turned out that there was also a constant level of gruntwork that he'd never realized before. Grave-digging was probably the most frequent thing; unsettled spirits needed to have their bones dug up and their remains doused with salt and gasoline, then torched. What he didn't know was that the average grave took four or five hours to dig up--that was four or five hours of sweaty, back-breaking labor. It was no wonder that Sam and Dean had the muscular physiques that they did.
Of course Victor had many useful skills already, courtesy of his FBI training. He was a crack shot, familiar with many different weapons. He understood the value of research, the techniques for interviewing witnesses, the science of extrapolating theories from information. Despite that, there was a lot for him to learn.
For the moment, Sam and Dean only took on the simplest hunts as they introduced Victor to their world, choosing salt and burns, planting hex bags to dispel poltergeists, things of that ilk. Dean didn't want to take on anything as strong as a black dog or a werewolf. “Werewolves and vampires are crafty as fuck and crazy strong; I don't want you to tangle with them just yet,” he explained to Victor. “Best we stick to the lower level stuff for now, let you get acclimated.”
Fine, Victor thought rebelliously. I am only a fully trained and accredited Federal agent, after all. He felt Dean was being a little over-protective, but it wasn't his call. He'd agreed to follow Sam and Dean's direction, and he was going to stick to his agreement.
Victor was used to research, having spent hours investigating profiles, case histories, working with field operatives' reports and federal databases. Under Sam's tutelage, he learned to read various weather charts and agricultural reports, checking out things like thunderstorm activity, crop death, and cattle mutilations. While he'd been used to online databases, now he had to use micro-fiches in little county libraries, and sit around in diners and bars to sift out information in local papers. When he spoke with witnesses, he learned to soft-pedal his inquiries rather than come in with the aggressive persona he was used to, flashing his badge and knowing a cadre of men backed him up. Sam showed him how his no-nonsense federal agent approach scared and intimidated rural and small town inhabitants, how using a little charm and ingenuousness instead could coax information from skittish or reluctant sources.
It was clear to Victor that Sam and Dean each had their own different strengths and styles. Dean was a little more direct, had a little more subtle authority to wield—he didn't intimidate unless he meant to, but you absolutely took him seriously with his gruff voice and no-nonsense look. Sam, by contrast, was all puppy-dog eyes and soft voice, patting hands and nodding sympathetically. “You have to find what works for you,” Dean told him. “It'll come to you. Sometimes you're going to want that full-out Fed authority, but other times, it'll be overkill.”
Every so often, they took a break, spending a night or two without a particular destination. Any likely-looking town, a bar with a pool table, a reasonably clean motel with a diner nearby sufficed. They'd go out for drinks, stay up late, enjoy a moment of respite. The next morning they'd nurse hangovers over greasy breakfasts and a pot of coffee. Maybe they'd find a laundromat and wash their grimy clothes, or Dean might do a little work on the Impala. The next day, they'd head out again, following the call of the hunt.
The motels were always small--sometimes little cabins, other times a just a strip of half-a-dozen tawdry rooms planted in the middle of nowhere. Even his extensive traveling as an agent hadn't prepared Victor for the kind of places they stayed. If it wasn't the haphazard cleaning and cheap, sketchy linens, it was the eye-searing range of décor, some of which was so horrendous that it appeared to be from an alien planet. Sam and Dean always ordered a room with two queens, and Victor got his own room. With so many hours spent in the Winchesters' company, he valued his little time of privacy.
He tried to not notice if both of the Winchesters beds were slept in or not, with varying success. More often than not, only one was.
One night where a large amount of tequila was involved, Victor blurted the question out.
“What's with the single...I mean, your room, it only...” Victor's voice trailed off quickly, but the question hung in the air. He wished he could take it back, but nobody ever said drunk and smart.
Sam and Dean both stiffened, loose hands curling into fists. “What are you asking?” rasped Dean, green eyes fixed on him intently, despite the amount of liquor he'd consumed.
“I just...uh, nothing. Nothing, man.” Victor shook his head, flapping a hand in disavowal. He might be curious, but he didn't want to antagonize his partners. It didn't even matter to him, he was just curious.
Sam got up and walked off toward the men's room, back still stiff. Leaning close, Dean said, “Think about this, dude, and about how much you really want to know. You can't unring the bell.” He got up and followed Sam. Victor studiously didn't watch them, instead wondering what would end up happening now that he'd flapped his gums like that.
He sat there for a while, finishing his beer and throwing back another shot before he wondered where the Winchesters had got to. He got up to look around, not that the bar was all that large. They weren't at the pool table, they were obviously not at the bar itself, and so finally he went to the men's room, half to look for them and half to relieve his full bladder.
As soon as he pushed the door of the men's room open, he could hear both of them. Sam was panting, and his tousled dark brown hair could be seen above one of the stall doors, flopping around rhythmically. The rough voice urging him on could only be Dean. Eyes dropping down, Victor saw two pairs of legs inside the stall, one with jeans pooled around his spread ankles, the other with a belt dangling undone. Victor couldn't see more of Dean than that, but he could clearly hear him grunting above the smacking noise of flesh slapping against flesh.
“Gonna come, baby,” Dean's rough voice growled. “Come with me, come on...”
Sam uttered a soft, high cry, and the smacking stopped. Victor pictured them grinding together as they spent themselves, biting his lip to stay silent himself. Pressing his hand down on his sudden erection, Victor left the men's room, hurrying back to their booth to hide his arousal under the table. He signaled for a round of shots, and they arrived just as the Winchesters returned.
“Hey, good job, man!” Dean spoke approvingly, clapping Victor on the shoulder. He seemed perfectly normal, no longer pissy and definitely not at all like he'd just banged his brother in the men's room.
Sam looked a little the worse for wear, with his hair still messy, cheeks pink, as he sat down rather gingerly. Victor tried very hard not to think about how tender Sam's ass must be right now, but it was difficult and he found himself fidgeting as he tried to shift his ramrod-hard dick into a more comfortable position. Dean peered at him curiously.
“You okay there, Vic?”
“Yeah, just umm...jeans a little tight. I must be gaining weight with all the beer we're drinking.” Victor stumbled over the lie.
Dean winked at him. “Or maybe you see something you like here tonight, got a little boner going on? Dude, you got your own room, don't hesitate to grab a little action. Right, Sammy?” He thumped Sam's chest, dropping his hand down and apparently squeezing his brother because Sam suddenly yelped. Dean withdrew his hand and laughed.
He just fucked his brother. His crazy-hot, built like a brick shit-house brother. It should bother me, but all it does is make me feel is horny as hell. Victor grabbed his beer and guzzled some, desperate to change the topic from sex to anything else in the entire world, like perhaps nuclear destruction. His cock gave a little traitorous jump.
“So, uh, what's up? I mean, where are we heading next?” Victor stuffed a chip in his mouth before he said anything more stupid.
“Eh, dunno. Nothing's showing up right this second. I vote we sleep in tomorrow and see what the wind brings.” Dean ruffled Sam's hair. “What do you think, Sammy? Wanna sleep in?”
“There's bound to be something turn up tomorrow. We don't have to rush anywhere for the moment, so yeah, let's catch up on a little...sleep.” Sam's last word ending in a yelp again, and Victor realized that Dean's hand was missing from the table.
Fuck me...he's feeling Sam up under the table... Victor's disobedient dick blurted out pre-come, soaking a spot into his boxers. He stood up abruptly, clattering the glasses on the table. “Okay! I'm gonna go now! To sleep! Yeah, so...good night!”
He hurried away, anxious to get into his solitary room and free himself from his clothing, eager to take himself in hand and jerk off. He ignored how he was getting used to masturbating to thoughts and images of Sam and Dean.
And now, he could add their sounds. He shivered and walked faster.
Victor woke to loud banging on his motel room door. He jumped out of bed and looked through the peephole, where a green eye stared back at him. Grabbing a t-shirt to hold over himself, he unlocked and pulled open the door, revealing a grinning Dean.
“Rise and shine, Vic my man! Breakfast is calling! Get dressed and meet us at the diner. Sam's already there.”
“Okay, yeah, be right there. Order me some coffee!” Victor replied with false heartiness. He shut the door and looked around for his clothes, kicking his soiled boxers from the night before out of the way and pulling a fresh pair from his bag. Brushing and rinsing hastily, he grabbed his tablet and walked across the street to the diner, where Sam and Dean already had appropriated a booth.
Sliding into the empty side of the booth, Victor gratefully sipped the coffee Dean had ordered for him. The waiter came over and they gave their orders, relapsing into a pleasant silence as coffee was ingested all around.
“So what do we have?” asked Victor. The sluggishness he'd felt at first getting up began to dissipate with the hot caffine. His body was still moving slowly, but his mind was getting online.
“Eat first,” said Dean gruffly.
“How'd you sleep?” asked Sam. He looked particularly relaxed this morning, Victor thought casually. He promptly clamped down on that train of thought before he started pondering about the causes of Sam's relaxed mood.
“Fine, fine. Guess all that tequila helped.”
Dean laughed. “Yeah, that was a good night last night. What do you think, Sammy? You have a good night?” He elbowed Sam in the side, and Sam elbowed him back.
“Stop it, you oaf.” Sam huffed and crossed his arms to barricade himself from further attack.
“Sure thing, princess,” said Dean, mimicking him prissily.
Victor watched the display of brotherly bickering and tried to tell himself he'd imagined everything else. Maybe it really had been all that tequila. Agave-induced hallucinations. Yeah, that was it. Mexican madness.
Breathy panting filling the air. Skin smacking wetly on skin. Dean's hoarse voice exhorting Sam to orgasm.
No, definitely not a hallucination. All too vividly, Victor remembered his own body's eager response; his abrupt need to retire, his subsequent urgent jerk-off session as he lay on his lumpy mattress, his mind's eye filling in all that the stall doors had hidden from him. Wiping himself off with his boxers, belly messy from his ejaculation, muscles lax in post-orgasmic relief.
I have to stop this. It's ridiculous. I'm getting obsessed with them. Victor rubbed his face and shook his head to clear it. Looking up, he saw both Sam and Dean regarding him quizzically.
“You okay?” Dean asked. “Food's here. Looks like you need to eat, man.”
Victor looked down and saw the steaming plates. “Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Just, uh, you know, just hungry. Must be a little hungover.” He dug in, faking a hearty appetite he didn't really feel. The food was good, though, and true hunger kicked in with the next few bites, letting him eat steadily and move past the urges and emotions of last night.
They went back and packed up their stuff afterward, reconvening at the Impala and stowing their bags in the trunk. As usual, Victor got in the back seat, which happily was full-size and had plenty of leg-room. “Can't beat an older car for space,” said Dean, and Victor gratefully agreed. At some point he'd have his own car again, but he wasn't ready to solo yet. The Impala's back seat was about as spacious as the front, so he was traveling comfortably.
“So where are we headed? What's up?” asked Victor, eager to begin the next hunt as well as get out of his own head.
Sam answered, “We're headed to Minnesota. Town near a lake has had some mysterious disappearances.”
Victor felt a little rush of excitement. “Not just a salt and burn, then?”
“Nope. You're graduating from beginner to intermediate,” said Dean, grinning into the rear view mirror.
“Do you already know what it is?”
“We have a guess, but we gotta do the legwork when we get there. Interview the families, research the history of the area. You know the drill.”
“Yeah, I got it. What's your guess, though?”
“Kelpie? What's a kelpie?” That was a new one for Victor. He was sure it wouldn't be the last.
“Consider this a practice run. Look up kelpies, see what you can learn about them, and we'll make our plan when we get there.” Sam nodded at Victor. “There's a couple of books I'll get out of the trunk for you at the next stop, and you can use your phone as a wi-fi hot spot for your tablet.”
“Okay, I'm on it.” Victor felt pleased that they were on the move, and that they were moving up to a bigger, more dangerous hunt. He felt ready.
And maybe just a little nervous.
It was indeed a kelpie, a malevolent water spirit manifesting as a beautiful horse; in this case, a black mare. The kelpie lured children out into the water, where they were drawn to pet the pretty horsie. Unfortunately, when they petted it, their hands stuck to its magically gluey skin. Then the kelpie returned to the depths of the lake, taking the doomed children with it.
What Victor found that he wasn't ready for was a protracted fight in the freezing waters of Lake Carafell. It took all three men working together to take the kelpie down. While Victor had read that a silver bullet would dispatch the equine spirit, he didn't know how hard it would thrash and fight, making it difficult to get a clear shot. Dean and Sam finally were able to lasso it from opposite sides, wrangling it in place enough for Victor to make the kill shot. At least they could just let the body slip back into the lake.
Back at the Impala, they stripped off their wet clothes, heedless of their nudity, and got some dry ones on right then and there, throwing the wet things into plastic bags. Victor might have thought about sneaking a side glance to check out the naked Winchesters, satisfy his pervy curiosity, but really he was too focused on peeling off sopping wet, freezing fabric and getting on dry clothes. Even with that immediate changing, they were all shivering and chilled by the time they found a motel.
Of course it had a water theme, what with the proximity to the lake. Dean snorted at the “Lakeside Lodge” and “An Ocean of Water Fun” signs, both decorated with sea serpents. “Wrong beast,” he commented dryly. Sam barked a laugh, and Victor clamped down on any incipient laughter before he lost control from exhaustion and adrenaline.
Alone in his room, Victor took a long hot shower and dressed yet again, donning his heaviest sweater. The cold seemed to have sunk right into his bones. He texted Sam that he was heading to the restaurant down the block for something hot, and Sam answered that they would join him shortly.
'Shortly' turned out to be an hour. Victor tried very, very hard not to imagine what they were doing to warm up, with limited success while he nursed a mug of Irish coffee. Despite his best efforts, his thoughts warmed him up enough to take off his heavy sweater and be comfortable in his two layers of shirts.
Sure enough, Sam and Dean both had flushed faces and faintly damp hair when they arrived. “Had to take a hot shower, couldn't get warm,” Dean said, eyes flicking to Sam before meeting Victor's with a guileless look. Sam flushed pinker, studying the menu with unneeded intensity.
Victor groaned internally. The last thing he needed was more suggestions of Winchester intimacy, this time with a hot sexy shower involved. He already spent an inordinate amount of time visualizing his partners in various states of undress and activity.
“Think I'll get some soup,” said Sam. “Still kinda chilled inside.”
Dean snorted derisively. Victor thought he was going to lose his mind with one more innuendo. He jumped up from the booth.
“I...forgot something in my room. Be right back.”
He fled to the privacy of his room, fighting the urge to stick his hand down his pants and jerk off. He frowned at himself in the mirror. “Jesus Christ, I am a grown fucking man, I am not jerking off every second like a goddamn teenager!” He slapped a hand against the wall. “Get a fucking grip, Henriksen!”
He splashed some cold water on his face before returning to the diner. Dean and Sam looked at him with concerned faces.
“You all right, dude?” Sam inquired sincerely.
“Too much lake water? That stuff can make you sick as a dog. Ton of crud in there,” added Dean. He pushed a glass of water toward Victor.
“Yeah, that must have been it,” agreed Victor. Coming back to see their genuine concern for him soothed his hormonal flare. “Kinda went right through me.” He gulped the water.
“Ready for some food? Sam's getting soup and a grilled cheese, I'm going for a burger.”
“Yeah, soup sounds good.” Victor relaxed in his seat, happy to be in the relatively cozy company of men who understood what really went on in the world. Even if they did drive him a little crazy.
With the kelpie hunt successfully concluded, Dean deemed that Victor was ready for more intense hunts. He asked Sam what he thought one night, curious about his viewpoint.
“He did really well with the kelpie, that's for sure. He's got great focus—once he digs in, he doesn't quit.” Sad nodded his approval.
“True fact. Shoulda remembered that from his persistence chasing us,” Dean chuckled. “Funny to have that on our side now.”
“Exactly!” Sam handed Dean a fresh beer, clinking the bottle with his own. “He's already been kinda chomping at the bit. I understand we don't want him rushing into stuff he doesn't know yet, but yeah, I think we can step it up.”
“Cool. We'll take a day here and look for a bigger hunt.” Dean sighed. “That means we step up our pace too. Not so much lollygagging around.”
Sam nodded again. “Not that it hasn't been nice though.”
“Yep.” Dean put down his beer and bounced onto the bed. “What do you say, Sammy—shall we make the most of it?”
Sam drained his beer in one long pull and slammed the bottle down. “My thoughts exactly!”
In accordance with that resolve, the faintly vacation-like feel of their travels ended. Dean always knew that it would be short-lived, but it had been a great break; reduced pressure, easy hunts, time to take things a little slower. Their lives didn't often lend themselves to cruising in the slow lane.
They took a day to recuperate from the kelpie and look for a new hunt. Dean brought Victor up to speed on the new plan, and he eagerly agreed, clearly pleased that Dean thought he was ready for more. Dean took the afternoon to look the Impala over, doing an oil change and various little tweaks to make his Baby happy while Sam and Victor did a laundromat run. Dean figured they might as well refresh and recharge as much as they could before hitting the road again.
That next morning, there was no leisurely breakfast in the diner, no sitting around and lingering over coffee. They threw their bags in the Impala and made a quick stop at a convenience mart for breakfast burritos and coffee, then headed right off down the road with Sam scanning the newspapers and Victor checking out odd police reports online.
Sam scored a lead first. A small news story at the bottom of the Norfield News page three reported that neighboring town Moorsgrove was afflicted with several cases of unexplained vision problems, up to and including blindness. Some cases were accompanied by hearing loss as well. Speculation was that something had contaminated the local water source, and health officials were investigating.
“I never heard of contaminated water causing blindness,” Victor mused. “There was a case on House where water contaminated with bird guano caused neurological issues, but I don't remember any actual senses being affected.”
“Me either,” agreed Dean. “Well, it's not the most dangerous thing I ever heard, but a town full of blind and deaf people isn't so good either.”
“It's only a couple of hours away. Couldn't hurt to check out while we keep looking for something bigger.” Sam folded the paper up.
“Agreed. Moorsgrove, here we come.” Dean pressed firmly down on the Impala's gas pedal.
Arriving in Moorsgrove by early afternoon, the three hunters checked into the Blue Sunflower motel, whose décor lived up to its name with large blue flowers splattered across the bedspreads and walls alike. Dean saw Victor looking around in amazement, but Sam and Dean, both hardened veterans of motel-decorating misfires, merely shrugged.
They had plenty of time left in the day to change into their Fed suits and head into town for some information gathering. The plan was to start with asking questions while posing as investigators from the Water Safety Commission. Dean chose the local doctor as their first stop, his office housed in a small white Cape Cod, complete with white picket fence and a rustic-style signboard announcing “Dr. Neil Velo, M.D.”
Entering the lobby, Dean took the lead. He addressed the young blonde woman sitting behind the desk reading a magazine, “Excuse me, Miss. I'm Lars Ulrich from the Water Safety Commission, and these are my teammates, Hammett and Burton. We're checking out some reports of possible water contamination in this area. We'd like to speak to Dr. Velo immediately.” He winked at her, giving her his second-best smile. “I'm sure a pretty and capable young lady like yourself can help us with that.”
She smiled warmly, bubble-gum pink lipstick all shiny. “Of course. One moment, let me tell the doctor you're here.” She got up and went through the door labeled 'Patients', painted in the same rustic style as the doctor's sign outside.
“What is it about the heartland that renders people devoid of taste?” murmured Victor. Sam muffled a laugh behind his hand. Dean was about to comment back, but the door opened and the blonde receptionist beckoned them inside. She took them down the hallway, past doors on either side that Dean assumed were exam rooms, and left them at the door with a Peanuts “The Doctor is IN' sign on it.
Dean rapped on the door and a voice called “Come in!”
Dr. Velo was an older man, white hair thick on his head, rail-skinny in a navy blue button-down shirt and khakis with his lab coat billowing around him. He shook hands with all three men, smiling amiably and fairly radiating goodwill. “Gentlemen, very nice to meet you. What can I do for you today?”
Dean plunged right in. “Doctor Velo, I'm Lars Ulrich from the Water Safety Commission. My team and I are here investigating these reports of sudden blindness and deafness in the area. We're concerned that the water may be contaminated in some way, resulting in these afflictions. Can you tell us what's happening to your patients?”
“No, I've never come across anything like this before. Some residents are only experiencing blurred vision, but others have it to the point where their vision has been occluded significantly or even completely. The hearing loss is rarer, but it's total.” He shook his head, his face solemn. “Damn shame. I don't have any clue how to correct or prevent it yet.”
Sam asked, “Is age a factor at all? For instance, is there a greater percentage of older patients?”
“Nope. It's all across the board age-wise. I've got a fifteen-year-old and a sixty-five-year old that are both affected, and every age in between. No kids below teens, though.”
“Where is the town's water source located? Perhaps we could go check that out.” Victor's voice carried all the calm assurance of his agent-persona. Dean nodded approvingly.
“Of course. It's a reservoir, down Roosevelt Street until you pass the town limits, then it changes to Sanctuary Road. You'll see the fencing on the left, and the signs of course.”
“Okay, we'll be right on that then. Thank you, Doctor. We'll do our best to help clear this up. We'll get back to you when we know something,” said Dean briskly. All three men shook Dr. Velo's hand again as they departed.
They returned to the motel, changing out of their suits and into jeans and boots, anticipating a hike around the reservoir. Guns were stashed in pockets and waistbands, and Dean carried a duffle with several other sundry weapons along with salt, matches, and the like.
Finding the reservoir was easy—the town was not large, and the roads were just as the doctor had described. The countryside was pretty enough with sprawling green fields, the occasional clump of maples and oaks, and various wildflowers along the side of the road.
They parked near the fence gate, taking the duffle with them as they scaled the fence, preferring not to cut the chain lock. A walk of a few yards brought them to the water's edge, dark green and lapping at the rocky edge.
“Doesn't look bad—I don't see any dead fish or anything,” observed Victor.
“No unusual or unpleasant smells either,” added Sam.
“You two head around that way a little bit, I'll look over here. Stay in voice contact,” ordered Dean. He went left and the other two went right.
Dean looked back, checking on Sam and Victor's progress, and was relieved to still see them, albeit further ahead up the edge of the reservoir. Turning to address his own path, he saw...something ahead. He squinted to get a clearer view, but the figure remained unclear.
“Okay, just what the heck are you now?” he murmured, walking cautiously up to where the figure had just been. Nothing remained there—no matted grass, no trace of footprints, no trail.
He texted Sam. Something weird here. Humanoid figure, but blurry. No tracks.
Sam responded, We saw nothing here, but let's fall back and confer. We thought we heard something too.
Okay, meet back at Impala.
Dean turned and hastened back to the car.
“This is often the most dangerous part of a hunt,” Dean explained to Victor as they sat over drinks later. “When you've spotted or discovered that something is in fact wrong, but you don't know what it is yet. When you don't know what's going to happen next or what your target is capable of, things can get very tricky very fast.”
“Yes, it's easy right now to underestimate or miss something crucial. More importantly, something dangerous.” Sam's face was serious. “Now we dig in and try to find out what we can. We'll hit the local library, the internet, use what clues we've found--”
“I know how clues work,” said Victor, letting impatience color his voice. “Research is research, no matter the subject or the resources.” Generally he'd been content to let the Winchesters set the pace, but he'd been on second string long enough, and it was getting annoying.
He didn't miss Sam and Dean's exchange of glances. “Look, we get this has been moving slowly, probably much more slowly that you're used to,” admitted Sam. “But we have two goals here. One is to give you a cohesive kind of training, which most hunters usually don't get, and the other—”
“The other is to keep you from getting killed because you didn't know something you needed to know.” Dean's tone was gruff. “So suck it up, buttercup. You walk when we say walk, and you run when we say run.” He swallowed the shot that appeared before him. “This is not a democracy. This is staying alive.”
Victor looked down and saw a shot in front of him too. He regarded it a moment. Could he keep doing this? Go at their dictated pace, take their orders, after being an independent agent for so long?
Shit, he knew they weren't even up to the gnarly stuff yet.
Memories of the destroyed Monument police station rose up in his head. Rubble, fire, ashes, and bodies. Lots and lots of blood.
“Okay. I get it,” he said, and downed his shot as well.
Researching the town's history showed the usual deaths and scandals that all small towns dealt with. There were lovers' quarrels, illicit births, curious deaths, and the like; Sam sighed as he scrolled through micro-fiches of local news. Nothing looked particularly odd or out of place.
Dean had already thrown in the towel on library time and was out talking to people, seeing if he could suss out anything likely. After checking in with Sam, Victor went back to the hotel room to look through the lore books they had with them.
Sam scrolled through another newspaper fiche and abruptly stopped. A mysterious death, sure, but this time out at the reservoir itself. Betsy Meyers, a twenty-three year old piano and chorus teacher at the local high school, had been found dead on the grassy bank that ran alongside the reservoir. Ligature marks on her neck turned out to be made from piano wire, and her ears and eyes were bloody from being clawed. Her killer had turned out to be a love-crazed teenager, a boy besotted with her, who—having been rejected by the object of his affections—had subsequently turned on her in rage. Not satisfied by simply strangling her, he'd then tried to claw out her eyes and ears so that she could not see or hear anything in heaven without him, according to his subsequent confession.
Crazy people, Sam thought. He printed out the article, reading it over again on paper. What they do for love.
He laughed sardonically at himself. Who am I kidding? I'd do...I've done...for Dean...
He wouldn't let himself finish his own thought, instead texting Dean and Victor that he had a lead and to meet him back at the motel.
When Sam finished relating Betsy Meyers' sad story, Victor snapped his fingers. “I think I found something that works with that.” He rummaged in the pile of books on the rickety table. “Something about death and music and what they referred to as—oh here, yeah. 'Passionate death.' A crime of love, mixed up with the passions of music and art.”
“What happens?” asked Dean, popping the cap off a beer with his ring. He handed the bottle to Sam, did the same again and gave it to Victor before finally opening one for himself.
“So sometimes they just become a ghost, like usual. But sometimes they become something even more lost in between planes called a blurr, spelled with two Rs. They appear as a blurry figure and leave no traces.” Victor sipped his beer.
“But what about the blindness and deafness thing?” asked Sam. “How does that tie in?”
“The killer clawed at her eyes and ears,” said Victor. “He took her senses even from her corpse. So...”
“So now she's blinding and deafening others.” Dean clicked his tongue. “I bet we look into our victims, they'll have some thread in common about love and the arts.”
“Okay then. We have a theory. Next question—what do we do about Blurry Betsy?”
“I vote we do a salt and burn. Just because she's a different flavor of ghost doesn't mean she isn't a ghost. I bet she'll respond to the regular ghost take-down.” Dean got up and stretched. “Victor, you and Sam find out where ol' Bets is buried and we'll toast some bones tonight.”
Victor didn't even mind looking up Betsy's grave-site, he was so pleased to have solved his first supernatural case. Sam evidently understood, as he clapped Victor on the back.
“Nice work. Just guess who's going to end up digging.” He winked at Victor.
Even that prospect didn't deter Victor's satisfaction.
The salt and burn of Betsy Meyers went as well as could be expected. Digging up a grave was never fun, and Victor had dug enough by now to know how much work lay ahead of him. Sam dug in the beginning as well, but once the hole was a few feet deep, there was really only room for one digger. As the new man on the team, that often fell to Victor. He figured it was part of the price of his apprenticeship.
In the meantime, Dean and Sam kept an eye out for Betsy. Victor had also done enough salt-and-burns by now to know that spirits and ghosts did not appreciate having their space invaded, and were prone to throwing shit around. Shit like rocks, and weapons, and heavy objects that hurt like hell as well as being potentially fatal. The hunters always had salt rounds and iron crowbars handy to dispel any such angry visits.
Betsy followed the usual pattern of belligerent resistance. She swirled dirt and rocks around threateningly, but Sam and Dean were alert and kept dispelling her manifestations before anyone got hurt.
“If we're lucky,” Sam said as he threw salt and gasoline on Betsy's remains, and Dean dropped a lit matchbook, “the blind and deaf effects will disperse when she's gone, and everyone will be back to normal. It's not a guarantee, but we've seen things like that happen.”
“That would be fantastic.” Victor felt hope for the afflicted townsfolk rise inside his chest.
“Yeah, but it doesn't happen all the time, so be prepared,” Dean said grimly.
With Betsy appropriately dispatched, they dragged themselves back to the motel. Dean made Victor sit on a towel so he didn't get dirt all over the back seat of the Impala. He took a quick shower back at the motel, the water making him initially feel like he was coated with mud. Clean and exhausted, he fell into bed immediately.
Sadly, no news of any miraculous recoveries greeted them in the morning. The three men exchanged somber looks over coffee and toast; no one had an appetite for anything more. They were in the Impala and heading out of town within the hour.
While pleased about putting down the blurr, Victor could see that Sam and Dean shared his dismay about Betsy's disposal not eliminating the suffering of the victims. Sam, Dean, and Victor sat around in the bar a dozen towns away, drinking beers slowly while they attempted to make their peace with that.
“So, a lot of the times, when you gank the creature in question, the ill effects they've inflicted are reversed,” explained Dean to Victor. “Your curses, cursed objects, a lot of witchcraft and spells, and so on, that's what happens. But sometimes whatever they did stays done, even after they're killed. Unfortunately, the blurr fell into that category.”
“Which sucks. Although at least we stopped it from harming anyone else,” added Sam, picking at the label of his beer. His mouth turned down at the corners, and his face looked drawn, making his cheekbones even more pronounced.
“So we lick our wounds tonight and tomorrow we find a new hunt,” said Victor, forcing a confidence he didn't entirely feel. He'd learned a lot on this last hunt, but he was unhappy they hadn't been able to help actually cure the victims. Still, Betsy Meyers had been laid to rest.
“Yup,” said Dean, draining his beer. “Time for a little r&r. I'm gonna get us some drinks, and maybe chat up that cute little redhead who's been giving me the eye. Check out that ass!” He got up, taking his empty bottle with him, and sauntered over to the bar.
Victor watched him with surprise. He knew that Dean used to be a pussy-hound in the past, but figured that had ended whenever he and Sam had started...whatever their thing was. He glanced at Sam, concerned for him, but Sam appeared relaxed and unconcerned.
“So, is Dean really going to pick her up?” Victor asked, deciding to test the waters. He usually preferred to leave his questions about their relationship unasked, but tonight his curiosity got the better of him.
“Probably,” said Sam casually. “He better bring our drinks first though, before he decides to disappear for a while.”
Doesn't this bother Sam at all? Victor slugged his beer down, apprehensive about a confrontation erupting between Sam and Dean, especially a drunk Sam and Dean. He'd seen enough wrangling between them to know there would be blood, broken furniture, and possibly broken bones too. “I'm hitting the head.”
Sam nodded in acknowledgment. Victor wound his way between the tables and chairs to the men's room. As he pushed past the bathroom door, that image of Sam and Dean fucking in a stall surged unbidden back into his mind, and he bit his lip as he tried to push it back out.
He closed the stall door behind him and leaned against it, cool metal against his hot forehead. “What the hell is going on with them?” he asked himself quietly. “What. The. Hell. And why do I care? It's not my business.”
Undoing his fly, he went ahead and relieved himself. It's not your circus, man, he told himself sternly as he zipped up and went to wash his hands. But since they worked together and essentially lived together, it was hard not to be concerned on their behalf. Or his own behalf. Or pissed. Or...a little turned on.
Why isn't Sam pissed? Am I missing something? Is it a gay thing?
Re-entering the bar, he glanced first at the bar itself. No Dean. Maybe he wised up? Maybe Sam said something after all? Relieved, he went back to their booth, where Dean, Sam, and six shots of tequila, a shaker of salt, and a bowl of lime wedges were waiting.
“Vic! Pony up, man. Don't keep the liquor waiting.” Dean pushed a shot glass at him.
“You got it,” Victor answered, smiling and picking his glass up. They clinked and shot, then clinked and shot again. Jose Cuervo burned down his throat and immediately sparked a glow of well-being inside him as he bit into his lime wedge.
“Don't wait up,” Dean said, standing up and winking at them both. He returned to the bar and the little redhead, who Victor did have to admit had not only a great ass, but sweet tits and a pretty smile.
“Sam?” Caution warred with tequila in Victor's mind.
“Yeah, what is it, Vic?” Sam was looking at his phone.
“Nothin'. Never mind. I'm, uh, gonna get a beer. You want?”
“Sure, thanks.” Sam didn't even look up.
Fuck. Maybe he is pissed. Victor walked to the bar. Am I really going to get in the middle of this? Be cool, man.
The memory of finding one of his not-yet-then-ex-wives naked in their bedroom with a neighborhood friend still seared in his mind, despite the five or six years of time that had passed. He hadn't thought about that in a while, but the burn of the moment still stung nonetheless.
“Yeah, guess I'm gonna do it,” he said to himself. “Here goes nothing.” He went up to Dean at the bar, nudged him while signaling for service.
“Dude, you mind? Little busy here.” Dean frowned at him, one arm curled snugly around the redhead's waist.
“Can I talk to you a sec, man?”
Dean rolled his eyes, but whispered in Redhead's ear. She giggled and said, “I'll just go use the little girl's room.” Kissing Dean, she added, “I'll be right back, lover boy.”
Both men watched her sashay off to the restrooms, that ass swinging hypnotically. Victor had to applaud Dean's taste, if not his tact.
“I have to ask, man. What is going on?” Victor accepted his and Sam's next beer from the bartender.
“What are you talking about?” Dean looked at him quizzically.
Victor sighed. Bending his head close to Dean's ear, he whispered, “Dude, I know. Like, I know. About you and Sam. So why are you seducing little miss redhead there?”
Dean pulled back, looked at Victor in surprise. “Oh. Well, okay then. We were trying to keep it on the down-low, but--”
“Not that low,” Victor hissed. “Believe me. I got eyes and I got ears. So why are you chasing pussy here? Right in front of him?”
“Because I like pussy.” Dean snickered and took a pull at his beer. “It's sweet and tight and delicious, and why not? Don't you know the saying? “If God didn't mean for us to eat pussy, he wouldn't have made it look like a taco.”” Dean threw back his head and laughed at his own joke.
Victor ignored Dean's ribald comment. “What about Sam?” He couldn't help staring daggers at Dean. Didn't he get it?
“Oh Jesus, Vic. Okay. Come on over here.” Dean got up and pulled Victor off to the side, talking into his ear with a low, intense voice. “Listen, Sam and I—we're together, yes. Together now, together forever. We can't not be together. We belong together in every way. It may be sick to the rest of the world, and it may be wrong and what the fuck ever to everyone else, but that's just how it is. It's not wrong for us--it's how we work best together.” He looked fiercely at Victor. “You have to decide for yourself if that's a problem for you. It isn't for us. And while we do keep it quiet, it's just because the rest of the world won't really understand.”
Victor felt relieved to finally hear it out in the open. “I got it. And no, it's not a problem for me. I get that not all the regular rules apply here, and I get what's between you. I see it and I understand. But then, why her? Why go chasing that?” He nodded toward the bar, where Redhead had returned. “Not that she's not a hot ticket, but...” Dean nodded and smiled at her, holding up a finger to say one minute.
“I love Sam. I love having sex with Sam. But sex is not all that our relationship is built on. And that means once in a while, I like a nice, juicy pink taco on the menu. The same goes for Sam. He has a type, and it's not me, so sometimes he needs to...satisfy that urge.” He nudged Victor. “In fact, looks like he's going to tonight.”
Victor looked over and saw Sam still sitting at their table, but no longer alone. A curvaceous blonde sat with him, laughing and trailing her finger down his arm. Sam himself was laughing, and Victor marveled at the unaccustomed lightness in his expression, his dimples flashing in full force at her. They stood up and Victor saw she was tall, busty with a trim waist. Something tickled at his memory; there was something familiar here, someone he'd seen.
He sucked in his breath as he connected the dots.
“Jessica,” he breathed. “She looks like Jessica.” Dean nodded.
“Every so often, he finds someone that reminds him of her. And me? I let him.” Dean's expression was sober now. “I know where we are. I know he's mine and I'm his. But sometimes he needs to...revisit that moment where his life was almost normal with a beautiful, tall blonde girl. And I'm cool with that. Just like he gets that I need to play every so often. It's not a matter of gay versus straight. Sex—it's more fluid than that. And this? In the end—it makes us stronger.”
Victor watched Sam and the tall blonde leave the bar. Dean nodded. “There ya go. So now, I'm going to go back to my date, and Sam's going to go with his date, and later we'll have our own special date. So, you're off duty tonight, Vic. Go ahead and find a date of your own if you want.” He slapped Victor on the back and returned to the redhead, who greeted him with open arms and an open-mouthed kiss.
Victor returned to the booth, sitting down and drinking his beer. Dean had given him a lot to think about. Victor had always considered himself heterosexual, had never really thought about any other possibility. Until now, when living with two strapping, hot men who were dicking each other had apparently introduced some new desires for Victor. He'd never given any thought to having sex with a man before, but now?
Would I really...go there? Do that? Or is it just fun to think about? Victor had to think about it seriously, because...damn. This train of thought was both disturbing and arousing, judging by the way Not-so-little Victor was perking up. He wondered if just being celibate for so long was leaving him on the edge. Maybe...
“Maybe I just need a little mud for my turtle,” he murmured, chuckling at the phrase one of his old team-mates used to use. “Maybe I need to take Dean's advice.”
He looked around the bar. Being in an unfamiliar place, he was mildly reluctant to hit up a white girl—it was hard to know the attitudes of a small town, and he didn't want any potential trouble. The only ladies of color, however, were clearly with someone, and for sure he wasn't going to poke any hornets' nest there either.
Someone slid into the booth seat across from him, and Victor started. He hadn't even noticed the man approaching him.
“Hey, easy there, dude.” Chocolate eyes set in a handsome, cocoa face calmly looked into his. “I saw you scoping out the place, and thought I might inquire as to what kind of entree you were looking for.” One thickly-lashed lid dropped in a slow wink. “Thought perhaps you might like chicken and steak, if you catch my drift.” He slid a hand over Victor's wrist, soft pink palm resting warm on Victor's skin.
“Oh, uh...” Victor felt flustered. He'd never been picked up by a guy before. “I'm not sure, I never--”
“Ah, you never ordered tall, dark and handsome before?” A rich chuckle, and Victor felt a pleasant shiver down his spine. “Well, baby, I can help you with that. You're quite the fine-looking man, and I'd be happy to introduce you to a...whole new world.” Another squeeze on his wrist, and Victor's dick twitched. Clearly it approved of this flirtation.
“I think...I'd like that, if you don't mind taking it slow,” Victor said. “I'm Vic.”
“Hey, Vic. I'm Dennis, and it is positively delicious to meet you.” He stood up, tugging gently on Victor's hand. Dennis was a little shorter than Victor, with a trim, compact body, and he suddenly found himself curious to explore what lay beneath Dennis's long-sleeved knit shirt and dark, snug jeans.
“I have a room at the motel down the street, if you like to join me there for a drink?” Victor put some money under his beer bottle for the waitress.
“I do like.” Another wink, and Dennis turned toward the door, giving Victor an eyeful of perky round ass. “Come on, Vic.”
“Yeah, baby! Ride that dick!” Dean hollered as Piper squealed and writhed above him, her hips gyrating as she straddled Dean's cock. He gave her ass a smack before gripping her thighs to keep her locked on firmly against his upward thrusts. “So hot and tight, sweetheart! Damn!” She moaned loudly, nails scratching his chest, boobs bouncing deliciously. Dean couldn't resist releasing one hand and reaching up to play with those jiggling tits, relishing their round, soft weight in his palm. He tugged a pebble-hard nipple and Piper squealed again and came, squeezing his cock and pulling his orgasm from him. He gasped as he pulsed into the condom, his balls tight and his brain short-circuiting into a blissful haze.
After Piper had rolled off him and Dean had disposed of the condom, he cuddled her briefly before making his excuses. She pouted, but kissed him goodbye enthusiastically all the same. Getting into the Impala, Dean was already thinking about telling Sam all about it. Of course, Sam would bitch, saying he didn't want to hear about Dean's sordid conquests—Sam's words—but Dean knew that was a crock. By the time he'd finish recounting it to Sam, his brother would be hard as nails and ready to go.
Dean already couldn't wait.
Sam lay on his side, propped up on one elbow as he ran his fingers through Shelly's long blond hair, watching it fall to fan out in silky strands across the pillow. “So pretty,” he murmured, bending down to kiss her sweet pink lips. She made throaty 'mmm' sounds, winding her finger through his hair and tugging on it, licking teasingly at his lips. He turned her around and held her against his chest, his cock snugging into the cleft of her lush ass. Running his hand down her body, he savored the curve of her hips and the swell of her breasts, adding a little pinch to one nipple, flushed dark pink against her fair skin. His cock pressed against her ass, his hips moving of their own volition. Her skin felt smooth and soft against his dick, her body plush under his palms, so different from what Sam was used to. So much like Jessica.
“Come on, Sam. I'm a big girl. Fuck me—I want it. I'm ready, baby.” Shelly rolled her hips hard against him, opening her thighs in invitation, and he slipped his dick in to find her pussy already slick. She reached down and guided him into her; they moaned simultaneously as his thick cock nosed its way up her channel. “Come on,” she urged. “God, you're so big, wanna feel all of you.”
Sam growled, tightening an arm around her ribs, his conscious thoughts receding under pure lust. Shelly gasped when he began pistoning his hips, fucking hard into her damp pussy while he nipped and bit at her shoulders and neck. His free hand roamed across her breasts, roughly squeezing the soft pale flesh, landing random hard pinches on her nipples, relishing the ripe globes.
Shelly whimpered, but still pushed back against him to meet his thrusts. She arched her back, pushing her tits into his grasp, uttering broken moans at every squeeze and pinch. Sam left off fondling her, instead sliding his fingers between her legs, rubbing over and around her tender clit as he kept fucking her. She came quickly with a release of wetness over his fingers and balls, her muscles tightening through her climax and then lax as Sam continued to drive in and out of her, lost in his own need.
She came twice more before Sam was done; he fucked her through one more orgasm on his dick, this time pushing two fingers into her alongside his cock to massage her G-spot, and again when he licked her clean after he'd painted her pussy and belly with his come. She was asleep in minutes, leaving Sam able to silently dress and slip out of her room. He didn't have anything to say to her—he'd given her everything he could.
Victor felt unaccustomedly nervous shutting the motel room door behind him. Dennis looked around and then turned to Victor, one eyebrow raised. “Uh, yeah, this isn't my usual, uh, style,” Victor said, seeing the shabby room anew. “Drink?”
“Sure,” replied Dennis, sitting down at the foot of the bed.
Victor poured them both a shot of tequila. “Afraid I don't have any salt or limes here.” He handed a glass to Dennis.
“That's okay, sugar. I've got something else in mind for a chaser.” Dennis dropped one eyelid, and Victor almost choked on his shot.
Dennis gracefully shot the liquor down, replaced his glass on the table, and sank to his knees in front of Victor before he quite knew what was happening. “Since this is new for you, let's just take a little edge off first, shall we?” Dennis purred, opening Victor's fly. Pushing his jeans and boxers just past his ass, Dennis cooed at Victor's cock, already erect by the time it was freed.
Victor felt dizzy from his blood going south so fast, and he fumbled at the edge of the table to lean back against. Dennis wasted no time, his mouth effortlessly sinking down on Victor's dick, tongue running its iron length while Dennis' hands roamed over Victor's thighs. “Mmmmmmmmmmm,” crooned Dennis, cupping and massaging Victor's sac, and between those wicked hands and the vibration on his cock, Victor promptly came.
Gasping and with boneless legs, he felt like a raw teenager, but Dennis was unfazed. “See, I knew you were ready to pop right off,” he said, standing up and wiping his mouth delicately. “Now we got a little time to play around more.” He quickly undressed, then chuckled at Victor still standing dumbly. “Here, baby,” Dennis said. He held Victor's face between two soft hands and kissed him before helping him also undress.
That's me, Victor thought, tasting the bitter-saltiness on Dennis' tongue. I'm tasting come. My come. It was almost a little gross, but also exciting, and he grabbed Dennis back and kissed him harder, sweeping his tongue around until Dennis was moaning and rubbing his cock against Victor's hip.
“I think you're getting' it, darlin',” Dennis drawled seductively. “Now let's get in this bed and have a little fun.”
Victor's body was totally on board with that suggestion, his skin tingling and his dick already starting to fill again. He couldn't help hesitating though. “Uh, I'm not sure if I—if I'm ready for--”
Dennis grinned as he pulled Victor down onto the mattress. “That's no problem, sugar. We don't gotta fuck to have fun. I'm gonna show you a thing or two and we'll both have plenty to scream about.”
He pushed Victor onto his back and slid over him, kissing him messily while teasing his nipples, hips slotting together so their dicks rubbed against each other. No woman in Victor's life had ever touched his nipples during sex, and he was astounded at how sensitive they apparently were, little zings skittering over his skin with every rub and pinch. He didn't even know how to make sense of feeling another cock against his, except that it was fucking amazing, and he never wanted to stop.
Dennis...was not a liar. There was a good bit of screaming.
Victor felt uncomfortably self-conscious the next morning as he slid into the Impala's back seat. Did Sam or Dean know? Had they seen Dennis go in or out of Victor's room, or heard them through the thin wall? Did it show somehow?
He started when Dean hollered at him. “Vic! Earth to Victor!” Dean looked at Victor in the rear view mirror. “What is up with you this morning?”
“Sorry, sorry. What's up?” Victor pushed thoughts of last night aside. “What do we have?”
“Not sure yet,” replied Sam. “Couple of missing people, which could be anything. Have to look into it when we get there.”
Muscular planes beneath his hands instead of soft breasts. A man's body pressed against his, chocolate and cocoa skin decorated with white spatters and lines. Soft, deep voice talking him through new acts and sensations.
“Okay.” Victor sat back, gazing aimlessly out of the window.
Victor marveled at how flat Iowa really was. He'd been in the state before, but just via plane, touching down briefly in airports and then moving on. Driving through the state was a whole different experience; mile after mile of flat, green fields, punctuated by water towers that looked like giant tin men and faded billboards proclaiming the best corn and pork products around.
When they pulled in to the motel—the Corn Husker Inn, a painted wooden sign bristling with cobs—Sam got out and arranged for the rooms. Victor went through the bright yellow door of his single room and plopped his bags onto the bed. A quick look around showed that the décor lived up to the name—yellow and green dominated the room, with the bedspread featuring jumbled corn cobs accented with husks, and bad oil paintings of cornfields on the walls.
While they had driven to the town of Early, the three men had decided that they would suit up and talk to the police first, get the official reports and look them over. They could better plan how to proceed after that. Victor hoped they were still looking for missing people, but knew they had to be ready to shift into a murder investigation. Somehow death seemed so much more personal now that it was when he was an FBI agent. Back then, there'd been so much procedure and technology and pressure from the agency that he'd lost touch with the actual humanity of it. Being a hunter seemed to have reset him, scraped away that insulating calcification and brought him back in touch with people—victims and others--in a much more personal way.
It was more painful this way, more wearing on him, but he also felt...connected. Like he himself mattered, the victims mattered, everyone mattered--a great web of interconnected human strings. And that felt right, even in the crazy world in which he now moved.
Putting on a suit felt kind of strange to Victor nowadays. Funny when he considered how that had been his daily uniform for so many years. Now he was more likely to be in jeans and a t-shirt or Henley, although he drew the line at the plaid flannels Sam and Dean favored. Pulling on the thin navy dress slacks, feeling the weight of the jacket, the constriction of a boldly striped tie—he'd come a long ways from that.
Driving to the police station, Dean said, “I'll take point, get things rolling. Sam, you be ready to handle any teary relatives and line up the research, and Vic, you keep an eye out for anything hinky.”
“Got it,” both Victor and Sam replied.
Three people were missing that the Early police were aware of. Twenty-six-year-old Bridget Henderson, history teacher at the local high school. Thirty-two-year-old Anselm Wagner, area carpenter and handyman. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Trotter, average high school student. The obvious link seemed to the high school; Bridget taught at Natalie's high school, and invoices had revealed that Anselm had done renovation and repair work there.
That was as far as Karl Middleton, detective, had been able to get. A big man with a ruddy face and a clear appreciation of food, his brown suit was well-worn and wrinkled. He rummaged around on his untidy desk and dug out the pertinent files from a sloppy stack, handing them to Sam, Dean, and Victor. Karl was clearly frustrated at having such a strong connection between the victims, but still being unable to put together anything beyond that.
“Any other weird things going on?” asked Sam. “Animal mutilations, grave desecrations, anything like that?”
“Even unusual weather, like lightning storms, cold snaps?” added Dean.
“You think it's some kinda would-be serial killer?” Karl shook his head. “No animal bodies anywhere. But now that you mention it, there was a couple of graves disturbed at the Pleasant Repose cemetery, other side of town.”
The three hunters exchanged looks. Dean said, “If you don't mind, we'll take a look at that. We'd also like to check out the homes of the missing people.”
Karl nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sure, sure. I can give you the addresses. Bridget and Anselm each lived alone, but Natalie lived with her dad still. Her mom passed five, six years ago.” He shook his head sadly. “Man's a wreck now.”
“Thank you, Detective. You've been a big help already,” Victor said, shaking the man's beefy hand. “Please know we're going to do all that we can to solve this.”
“Okay, let's split up. Someone's got to head over to, uh, Pleasant Repose and look at the disturbed graves. Then we have Bridget's apartment, Anselm's house, and Natalie's dad. Sam, you take the dad. Victor, why don't you start with Anselm, and I'll take the cemetery and Bridget's place.” Dean drew a little map on a napkin. “Nothing is real far from each other, so this way we can cover more ground and decide on what's happening.”
Victor couldn't help feeling a little pleased that he had a solo interrogation to do. The days of him running his own team seemed a lifetime ago. This felt like being a rookie advancing to the big leagues all over again. “I'm on it.”
“Everyone text the others soon as you learn anything.” Sam checked his phone. “Signal seems pretty good here. Rendezvous at the motel by five p.m., if we don't confer sooner.”
They all chimed agreement and headed off their separate ways.
Victor walked up the path leading to Anselm Wagner's front door. The house was a beige bungalow with a tiny porch, but it looked very well-cared for. “Guess if you're a handyman, it wouldn't do to let your house get shabby,” Victor commented to himself. He admired the well-pruned bushes, the sturdily-built steps, and the decorative woodwork around the door frame. Clearly the man had regarded his house as an advertisement for his skills.
Unlocking the door with the key Detective Middleton had provided, Victor entered the bungalow and began to look around. The inside of the house was as tidy as the outside—no sloppy bachelor living here, Victor thought. Nothing appeared missing or out-of-place, including in Anselm's bedroom, where the bed was made and no laundry lay on the floor. Victor opened the dresser drawers, where neatly folded shirts and socks lay. “Okay, now this guy's getting creepy,” he said aloud with a laugh.
Moving to the nightstand, the bottom drawer revealed some skin magazines, but all mainstream titles like Playboy. “Dude, you gotta live a little, only I guess it's too late for that, huh.” Victor shook his head.
He went back downstairs, giving one last look around. He noticed a shed in the back yard and decided he'd better check that out too. Crossing the well-manicured lawn, he quickly broke the cheap lock on the door and swung the door open. Lawnmower, leaf blower, weed whacker, all rust- and dirt-free. A pile of tarps lay in one corner, and Victor nudged them with his foot.
A hand, severed messily at the wrist, fell out onto the floor.
“I'm so sorry to bother you. This is a terrible thing.” Sam modulated his voice to be soft and sympathetic. He genuinely felt for the bereaved father sitting before him; the man's face was pale with grief, his eyes darkly shadowed. “Mr. Trotter, anything you can think of would be helpful. We all want to find Natalie.”
“I expect she's already dead,” Ed Trotter replied in a hollow voice. “I know the statistics. Been gone over forty-eight, she's already dead.”
Sam sat quietly, giving the man a moment before pressing him further. “We're hoping for the best still, and that's why I'm asking you to tell me about the last day before Natalie disappeared.
Ed rubbed his face with his hands, sighing deeply. “Pretty much normal. She went to school, came home, did her homework. I made dinner, she did the dishes.” His face creased in obvious distress. “She asked to go to her friend Pam's house, and I said no, stay and finish your homework.” A tear trickled down his cheek. “Maybe if I'da let her go when she asked, she wouldn't have snuck out later.”
Sam leaned forward. That hadn't been in the police report. “She snuck out? How do you know she didn't run away?”
Ed shook his head. “Didn't take anything with her. And Pam admitted that Nat had snuck out, gone over there. She only stayed half an hour and left to come home. Only...she never made it home.” More tears dampened his face.
Sam made appropriately commiserating noises, reaching to nab a box of tissue and offering it to Ed. He was eager to get back to the motel and compare notes with his partners, especially now that he had a lead, small as it was.
Bridget Henderson had lived alone in a second story, one bedroom apartment in an old house. Apparently her taste ran to stuffed animals, particularly pigs and ducks, judging by the assortment arranged on her bed. Dean looked at the plushies sourly. “And this, my friends, is a woman who never got laid.” He shook his head and gave the bedroom a final glance. He'd already gone through the drawers, the closet, and under the bed, but had found nothing more ominous than a pirate duck, complete with its own parrot on its shoulder.
Returning to the living room, he sighed as he surveyed the room. Here too, he had gone through and under every piece of furniture—nothing. At least the rug and sofa were more neutral colors, but the pig and duck assault still made their presence felt. Dean shuddered, thinking that pink and yellow—never his favorites to begin with—were now permanently ruined.
“Bridget, Bridget, Bridget, where is your diary? Your innermost thoughts written in perfect cursive with a feather pen? I know you had to have one,” Dean swiped a couple of pigs off the couch to sit down, snorting as they bounced on the floor.
Except the one that went thud.
Dean grabbed the too-heavy pig and crowed with delight when he felt the notebook inside. Of course she'd kept it in one of the rotund animals. He found the zipper and—as he liked to think of it—eviscerated the pig, extracting a pink journal from its fluffy innards.
He skimmed the entries, thumbing through the pages. A lot about her job as a high school history teacher, dealing with kids who didn't care that much about history or school, the few gems that did. She'd been active in the town, participating in church and charity events. A small town like this, community events were frequent and a big deal, comprising most of the social life. No hint of a significant other/boyfriend/girlfriend. Not an unhappy life, but perhaps a bit lonely in the personal sense.
Dean closed the journal, thinking over what he'd read, visualizing Bridget as she moved through her days. Re-opening it, he flipped to the last couple of entries.
The Methodist church's Under the Sea charity dance is this weekend. I'm chaperoning, of course, but I wonder...perhaps there'll be something more this time. I don't want to even write it in case it jinxes things. Just...hoping. Maybe I'll find a treasure for myself under the sea.
And the next one—the last one.
I'm walking on air. I was asked to dance--me! It was...wonderful. Strong arms, his Polo cologne (my favorite!), following his lead around the floor. I'm going to meet him tomorrow for a date. A DATE! I'm already looking forward to writing about it afterward! A little starfish with hearts around it dotted the last sentence.
Dean shut the journal, musing over what he'd just read. Who had Bridget's mysterious date been? And was he the suspect for these disappearances? And was it just some crazy-human shit, or something supernatural?
Standing up, he replaced the journal and zipped the pig shut. He took a minute looking around again; while he still loathed the stuffie-palooza, he could feel sympathy for lonely Bridget, who'd just thought she found someone, only to disappear. Dean vowed to find her...he just hoped she was still alive.
He shot off a quick text and headed back to the motel. They could check out the cemetery after a quick pow-wow.
“Okay, pizza order first! I'm starving!” Dean announced when he got back to the motel. “I can't do any planning without food.”
“Yeah, yeah, and beer, right? Let's just get everything all at once. I think we all have some info to share, so let's get supplies and hunker down.” Sam stripped off his suit jacket and started unbuttoning his cuffs. Dean allowed himself a leisurely look—he always appreciated Sam in a white dress shirt, sleeves rolled halfway up his muscular forearms.
Victor cleared his throat, and Dean flicked his eyes away. Knowing that Victor was aware of Dean and Sam's relationship made things a little easier, but it didn't mean they had a license to blatantly ogle. He took off his jacket as well, carelessly throwing onto the floor. Sam picked it up with a frown, glaring at Dean while he hung it up next to his own suit in the tiny closet.
“Okay, I'm already changed, I'll go pick up food and beer and be back in a few.” Victor paused at the door. “No funny business either! I don't want to be struck blind when I get back!”
The door shut loudly behind him. Sam and Dean looked at each other in surprise; Victor had never been so open about them. Dean repeated, “Funny business? What are we, twelve?” and they both cracked up.
It felt good to laugh in the middle of the case's misery.
The atmosphere was much more serious when they pooled their results. The two pizzas were mostly gone, and they were into the second six-pack of beer before they got down to work. Dean told Sam to take notes of everything so they could look it over.
What they ended up with was the common link of the high school, with three separate events that stood out. Natalie had wanted to go to Pam's late and never returned; Bridget had had a mysterious date; there was a severed hand in Anselm's shed.
That last one provoked a round of head-shaking. Victor couldn't help feeling proud of bringing in the most disturbing fact, like they'd had some contest of the macabre. Then he remembered seeing the dismembered hand plop onto the floor, and just felt rather ill. Maybe he shouldn't have had that last piece of meat lover's pizza.
Sam weighed in first. “Well, this all is significant, but we don't have enough yet to tie it all together, or identify our killer. I think we should still go ahead and visit the cemetery, check those graves out.”
“I agree, but I also think we need to look at the school. Talk to the principal, maybe a couple of other teachers—Bridget's friends, for instance, and Natalie's. Something there is the key to this, and we need to find out what it is.” Victor had no problem speaking up now and offering his viewpoint to the Winchesters. He felt like he was back up to par with his FBI days, and that he and the Winchesters were operating much more as equals now. His apprenticeship was nearing its end.
“Okay, so let's split up again. Dean and I will take the cemetery, and Vic, you talk to the principal and see how the school looks.” Sam looked at his watch. “I suggest we go early in the morning, when we have daylight to examine the area, but not have a lot of people around.”
“I don't think there are a lot of people in this town that will be cruising the graveyard,” said Dean dryly. Sam rolled his eyes.
“I'll plan to be at the school by eight in the morning. Guess I'll turn in now.” With those words, Victor stood up and bade Sam and Dean goodnight, so that everyone could be ready early in the morning for phase two of their investigation.
Sam and Dean walked down the concrete path that wound through the Pleasant Repose cemetery. It looked pretty much like the average cemetery: the odd stone mausoleums dotted randomly around; rows of headstones large and small, recent and ancient; big graceful weeping willows and wide-spreading old oaks. The lawn was mostly green, with some browning showing a need for rain. Sam always found the surface of cemeteries peaceful, although he hated the underside of them. At least they didn't have to do any digging at the moment.
“Everything's looking pretty copacetic here, dude. Not sure what those reports were about,” Dean said, looking around as they strolled.
“Yeah, I have to agree. We're not done yet though, the map shows some plots around that clump of trees.” Sam referred to the print-out they'd gotten from the police department, showing the lay-out of the cemetery. “Let's just check that out to be sure.”
“You got it! But I call a coffee run after that, I'm dry.” Dean tossed his empty cup into a nearby trashcan.
They walked to the clump of trees and then past them, following the path as it curved to the left. A large section of lawn was only half-filled with headstones and two mausoleums, showing it to be a newer section. Sam and Dean split up to comb through the sites, looking for any signs of disturbances.
Dean called to Sam, and he looked up from the grave he was checking out. The serious look on Dean's face was all Sam needed to see. Dean had found a disturbed grave. He nodded back at Dean and hurried to finish looking over his area. He was almost done when he saw it—a grave that had to have been dug up and re-turfed. The edges were slightly raised from the rest of the lawn, and the grass itself had a rumpled appearance from being sloppily relaid.
Sam took his phone out and clicked a picture of the headstone and another of the grave itself. He pulled out the student list from the high school that Middleton had given them. Running his finger down the page, he stopped at Royce, Steven. Looking up, he read Steven Royce, b.1995 d.2011. Be at Peace with Our Lord.
Dean looked over Sam's shoulder, having come over from his disturbed grave. “High schooler?” Sam nodded, and Dean sighed. “Mine too. Let's go see what Vic's turned up.”
He marched off across the lawn, ignoring the path. Sam turned to follow, but turned back for a moment. He laid a hand on the crest of the stone, letting himself feel the sorrow that, even dead, someone had had to be accosted like this. The stone was cool and rough under his fingers.
The front entrance to Robert Lucas High School was a massive set of double doors. Victor noted the lack of metal detectors, so prevalent in larger city schools. It gave the school an old-time feel, like they'd jumped back to the 'fifties. He pulled one door open and strode into the lobby, where a sign immediately directed him to the main office on the right. He entered it and spoke politely but authoritatively to the woman on the other side of the tall counter. “I need to speak to Principal William Bennett, please.”
She regarded him with an air of authority, her crisply permed hair and sensible dark blue dress conveying that she was not to be trifled with. A brass desk plate read “Diane Foster”, with “Senior Administrator” beneath it. “Do you have an appointment? What is this regarding? I don't recognize you as a parent here, and we have a no-sales policy in the school.” Her pale hand tapped on the counter's brown mottled laminate surface, and Victor thought of the hand lying on the floor of Anselm's shed. It lent a little added steel to his voice.
“No, I do not have an appointment. Detective Karl Middleton of the Early police department sent me over. I'm working on the investigation of the missing residents, including a teacher and a student at this school.” His eyes bored into her. “Now, may I please see the principal?”
She visibly wilted, the stiffness draining from her spine. Picking up the phone in a slightly shaky hand, Diane said, “I'll buzz Principal Bennett right now.”
“Thank you.” Victor moved away from the counter to let her regain her composure. He crossed to the opposite wall and looked at the obligatory glass case full of shiny trophies. Every school had one, a metallic tribute to past glories frozen in time. It was both triumphant and a little sad. A colorful, clearly hand-painted poster extolling the Lucas Lions--playing a home game tonight at 7:30 p.m.--was posted on the wall at one side of the case.
“Principal Bennett be right here.” Diane materialized at Victor's elbow. Touching his arm hesitantly, she asked, “Will you find them? All of our students are family, and Bridget—she was a friend.”
Victor could see the sheen of unshed tears in her eyes. He took her hand with both of his. “We're going to do our best. I promise.”
Principal Bennett's blue and brown plaid sport coat stretched over shoulders that said former high school quarterback, while the straining waistband of his khaki pants boasted his love of beer. His wispy hair still showed a ginger tint atop a ruddy scalp. He approached Victor and shook his hand in a hearty manner, his voice resonant. “Good morning! Hendrikson, is it? Pleasure!”
“Good morning. It's Henriksen, actually, no 'd'. Karl Middleton sent me over, I'm assisting in his investigation.” Victor disengaged his hand from Trotter's beefy paw, warm and faintly moist. “All three missing persons are connected to the high school, so I wanted to see if there was anything you'd noticed during the last month or so, anything out of the ordinary.”
Bennett ran his hand over his scalp, leaving a wake of ginger strands going every which way. “I can't say that I did. We run a pretty tight ship here-I won't tolerate disruption or talking back. Since I'm the principal, it runs my way. I'm the boss!” He walked out of the office and started down the hallway, beckoning to Victor. “We're a small town, everybody knows everybody else. There's not a lot of strangers coming through, and crime is pretty non-existent around here. Mostly things like lawnmowers gone missing, mailboxes knocked over, petty stuff. Kids getting beer and partying in someone's field, maybe a little rough-housing.” He grinned broadly, pink cheeks underneath small eyes. “Guess we all had our hi-jinx when we were kids, huh?”
Victor looked at Bennett with some distaste. The brashness of the man was mildly offensive to him; Victor could easily picture Bennett pushing smaller kids around in the locker room, swaggering down the hallway regardless of who was in his path. He'd seen the type a thousand times.
“Well, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. The Early PD will keep you posted.” Victor quickly shook Bennett's hand, repressing the desire to wipe his palm on his pants afterward. At least where the man could see it.
“Good luck, Hendricksen!” Bennett walked off, and Victor shook his head. He headed back to the office, where he stuck his head in to let Diane know he was leaving, but instead entered when he heard a muffled sob.
Walking up to the counter, Victor looked over its mottled surface to see Diane sitting on the floor, knees pulled to her chest with her skirt draped over them. She clutched a couple of tissues, swiping at her eyes and dabbing at her nose as she tried to stifle her crying.
“Ms. Foster! Are you all right?” Victor ducked under the pass-through and knelt beside her. He saw the tissue box lying nearby and handed it to her.
She looked at him with red, wet eyes, her nose pink and raw. “It's just—Bridget was my best friend. We did everything together. At first they said she went somewhere, but she never would have done that without telling me. And now it's been a couple of wee-ee-eeks!” She warbled the last word with fresh tears. She took a fresh tissue and wiped her eyes. “She's dead now, isn't she? It's been too long?”
Victor's chest tightened. He hated to break her heart, but he didn't really have any false hope to give. “We don't know anything for sure yet, but...I think you should prepare yourself,” he said softly, one hand gently stroking her hair.
Diane nodded, lips pressed tightly together. Victor said, “I have to ask you a couple of questions, if I may. I'm sorry that there isn't a better time, but we've got to keep investigating.”
She nodded again. “I understand.”
“Is there anything you've seen, or heard, or noticed? Anything that seemed...off, kind of strange. Any strangers around, weird noises, cold spots?”
She stared at him, head tilted. “Cold spots? What on earth?”
He gave her a half-smile. “Never mind. Here, let me give you a hand.” He slipped a hand under her elbow and helped her to her feet. “Can I do anything for you? Call anyone? Principal Bennett?”
“Pfft, that blowhard!” Victor couldn't help laughing at her unexpected reaction. Diane tossed her head. “He has his head up his ass half the time. Forget academics, it's all about the sports. Everything's football, basketball, baseball. No manners either. His clothes are god-awful, and he's always slopping on them. Just the other day, he came in with a big red streak down his tie! Said it was barbecue, but I never saw barbecue that color. A real deep red, you know? I thought maybe it was wine, like he went out drinking at lunch.”
Victor stared at her while she nattered away, readjusting her hair and wiping her face with a clean tissue. A red streak down his tie? Come on, Vic, it probably was just barbecue, or maybe ketchup, he tried to tell himself. But combined with the unpleasant feeling Bennett had already given Victor, he couldn't brush it off. It was like a low-grade alarm buzzing in his head. The buzzing had saved Victor a lot of times—he wasn't about to ignore it now.
“Thank you, Diane. I am so sorry again, and I'll hope to have news for you soon.” She waved good-bye as he left, his pace quickening until he was practically running down the front steps of the school.
“A red stain on his tie? Really?” Dean looked at Victor, eyebrows raised. “I mean, that's not a lot to go on.”
“I know, but he just—the man is off. I can't explain it, I just know it. I can feel it. I've been around enough creepy bastards to know one when I meet one. When you add in the stain—it's not a lot, I'll admit it, but it was out of character enough for Diane to comment on.”
Sam mused, “We add in the hand and the disturbed graves, I think we have a viable candidate. I think we're possibly looking at a ghoul.”
“Fuck!” yelled Dean. “Those things are repulsive! If the flesh-eating or blood-letting isn't gross enough, there's the charming way they wear meatsuits of their victims.” He shook himself and made a face of disgust. It almost made Victor laugh.
He looked between Sam and Dean. “What's a ghoul?”
“Like a revenant—a dead being. They feed off corpses, sometimes draining the blood before they eat the flesh, and then they take on the appearance of their last victim.” Sam shuddered. “Creepy is right. I hate those things.”
Dean came over and sat next to Sam, rubbing a hand on his back. “Sammy here got nabbed by a couple of ghouls once. They tied him up and were bleeding him out when I got there.” He thumped Sam's back. “Good thing he's a big strong boy, he wouldn't have made it.”
Victor leaned forward eagerly. “Okay, so suppose it—Bennett--is one of these ghoul things. How come he's always Bennett? Wouldn't Bennett go missing too, after he ate someone else?” His body thrummed, the thrill of the chase possessing him. He could sense that they were close.
“You'd think so,” said Dean. “I think we should check out what's happening at the Bennett house. Anyone know when he won't be around?” He looked between Sam and Victor.
“Yes!” Victor jumped right up off the bed, standing in the middle of the floor. “I saw posters at the school today! There's a football game tonight, a home game. Diane—the office lady—said Bennett is a huge sports supporter, so he's bound to be at the game.”
“Okay, we have a winner! What time is the game, Vic?” Dean stood up, rubbing his palms together briskly. “We get this guy tonight, drinks are on me!”
Sam crouched in the azalea bushes lining the back of Bennett's yard. It wasn't too cold yet, there was just a nice seasonable coolness in the air. He thought about all the high school football games he'd attended, usually sneaking away since John Winchester would think they were a colossal waste of time. In fact, they were a nexus of teen social activity, where players, fans, and cheerleaders met and mingled in a burst of band music, kleig lights, and the dull clump of shoulder pads and helmets running full tilt into each other.
He'd never really been involved, but he'd enjoyed it all the same.
Now he was just waiting for the all-clear from Victor. They'd decided Victor would knock and see if Bennett was home under the guise of further investigation. Leaving out, of course, that it was Bennett himself who was under investigation.
The back porch light flashed twice. That meant Victor had determined the coast was clear and picked the lock. Dean was one block over in the Impala.
Sam ran around the yard's perimeter as silently as possible, ducking in the back door once Victor swung it open. “Good job, man,” Sam said, clapping Victor on the shoulder. Moments later, Dean entered as well.
“Split up and search. No stone unturned here, all right?” Dean ordered, and they all nodded.
Sam went for what must be Bennett's home office. Computer, a little file cabinet, printer, monitor. He looked around; without hacking into the computer itself, there wasn't a lot to see. Only...something was wrong. He looked again, more slowly this time, noting everything that his eyes fell on. Computer. Monitor. Printer. File cabinet. A couple of wall shelves with magazines and trophies.
Computer. Monitor. Keyboard. Covered with a fine white patina of dust.
Who doesn't use their computer to the point there's that much dust on it? The computer itself was pretty new, so Bennett certainly had invested some money into it. Then why the dust?
Sam went back into the living room, then the kitchen. Victor was already there, jotting notes down on his phone. “What's up? Find anything?” Victor asked.
“There's dust all over his computer, like he hasn't used it on a long time. Just strikes me as...weird, you know? It wouldn't be such a thick layer if he's using it regularly.” Sam scratched his head, puzzled. “You?”
“Nothing really. He has a brand-new Food-sealer—the box is still here. Guess he likes to keep foods fresh.” Victor made a face. “His closet is a fucking mess though, clothes flung everywhere. He probably just needs a maid, but still—what a sty.”
Sam poked at the Food-sealer. “Hey we just saw that on an infomercial the other night. Pretty swanky. Seems a little out-of-character for a bachelor like Bennett.”
Dean leaned in from the door frame. “Okay, I think I might have something. Come on down to the basement with me.” He turned and led Sam and Victor to the door that opened onto the basement. They tromped down, their steps echoing on the unfinished wooden stairs.
The basement was semi-finished; half of it was carpeted in faded swirly green, with a couple of big chairs and a couch positioned on it facing a low-end flat-screen television on a very dated cabinet.
In the un-carpeted area, a wide stainless steel counter ran across the wall, ending at a utility sink bolted into the concrete. At the head of the counter stood a black and red metal tool chest, about three feet high with a multitude of narrow drawers. 'Sears Roebuck' was stamped into the metal top.
“Okay,” said Sam. “It's...a tool chest.”
“It's a locked tool chest. In his basement. In No-Crime Small Town.” Dean crouched down. “And look at this.” He pointed to a red smear on the lip of one drawer.
Victor said, “It could be he just nicked himself with a screwdriver. Or...”
“Or he's a slice and dice maniac.” Dean straightened up. “We need to see what's in here.” Taking a screwdriver out of his pocket, Dean popped the lock out in under a minute. “Okay, here we go.”
He reached out to the drawer with the smudge and pulled it open. They all fell silent.
Inside the drawer were an assortment of cutting devices. There was a small saw, a couple of cleavers, and a pair of kitchen shears. Dean quickly opened another drawer. This one had a dozen scalpels and a bone saw. One more, this time filled with hammers and pliers.
All of the tools had red smeared over their metal surfaces. Strands of hair were stuck on some of them. The drawer with the hammers and pliers had some loose teeth rolling around in it. The conclusion was easy to draw.
Sam had seen a lot in his day, and this wasn't the most horrific thing by a long shot. Nonetheless, he felt a little sick at the thought of these implements at work on innocent, helpless people.
“Back upstairs,” he choked out. “Gotta be something else up there.”
“Wait!” Victor had wandered under the stairs, and was calling them to join him. “He's got a freezer.”
They paused, each of them drawing a deep breath and sharing a tense look. Sam already knew what they were going to find inside.
Victor pulled the freezer door open. It looked like a butcher's paradise inside. Big cuts of meat were wrapped and sitting on the bottom shelf. The next two shelves were piled with plastic packages of meat, juicy red in their clear vacuum packaging. On the top shelf, plastic cylindrical containers were filled with thick red fluid. Everything was labeled with Sharpie. Sam saw 'Bridget' among the smaller packages. A number of them were labeled 'Bennett'.
Victor paled, turning ashy under his rich dark brown skin. Sam thought he might puke, and when he glanced over at Dean, he noted how pale his brother was. This was...appalling. Cold-blooded. And yet, methodical in a way Sam wouldn't expect of a ghoul. “Maybe we're wrong. Maybe it's something else. I've never seen a ghoul do anything like this before.”
Victor replied, “Why are they labeled like that?”
Dean's voice was hoarse. “So he knows who is who. This is how he managed to stay Bennett when he wanted. He could eat whoever, but then have some...Bennett and be back in character.”
Sam was aghast, feeling his stomach churn. He could see that the other two felt as horrified as he was, but there was no time to talk about it. A rattle of keys and a door banging open announced that William Bennett had returned home early from the football game. The three men raced upstairs to confront him.
Apparently Bennett had picked up a snack at the football game. A member of the Lions marching band was slung over his shoulder, hanging limp and quiet. The teenager's yellow and brown uniform was wrinkled, and his hat was missing. Bennett had one arm keeping the kid in place, and he held the other held out towards the hunters, hand open. “Hey! Hey! What's going on here? Why are you in my house?”
Dean advanced a couple of steps. “What are you doing with that boy?” he asked belligerently. He sniffed. “Anyone smell something piney?” He leaned closer to Bennett and sniffed again. “Pine, a hint of tobacco--is that...Polo?”
“Oh, Lennie? He wasn't feeling well, so I thought I'd bring him here, let him rest a bit.” Bennett shuffled sideways away from Dean.
Sam said, “Dean, I think we have more important issues that his cologne right now.”
“No, we don't, Sam. Because Bridget mentioned it in her journal! Polo cologne. Which means you, Bennett, were her mystery date before you butchered her!” Dean's voice rose to a roar by the end of his words.
“What? What are you talking about?” Bennett's eyes flicked nervously between his three accusers. “Hey, you broke in here, you dicks! I know I locked up when I left.”
“Yeah, why is that? I thought this was a town without robberies and crime,” Victor asked. “And why didn't you just take him home? Wouldn't he be better off with his parents?”
“Uh, his parents are out-of-town.” Bennett started edging down the wall toward the basement door. “I'm just going to take him downstairs, he can lie down on the couch.” The hand holding Lennie kept twitching, the sausage-like fingers squeezing the boy's back.
“Aw, fuck this,” said Dean resignedly. “We know about your little butcher shop downstairs, you fucking ghoul, so no way is Lennie going down there. You, on the other hand--” With that, Dean leaped at Bennett, knocking Lennie to the floor as Dean shoved Bennett against the wall.
Sam and Vic yanked their guns out, training them on Bennett. Dean and Bennett struggled, Dean raining punches on him. What Bennett lacked in fighting skills, he made up for in supernatural strength, landing clumsy punches of his own and shoving Dean into furniture and the wall. Sam cursed--the wrangling made it impossible to get a clear shot in.
“Head shot! Gotta be a head shot!” yelled Dean.
“I know, Dean!” Sam yelled back, cursing again as Dean and Bennett crashed around the room.
A gunshot sounded and Bennett dropped like a stone, red pouring from one side of his head. Dean stared at Bennett, giving him a resounding kick in the gut to make sure he was dead. Sam whirled to face Victor, who was just lowering his gun. “What the hell! You could have killed Dean!” Sam yelled, gesticulating angrily.
“But I didn't. And if I thought there was any chance I would have, I wouldn't have fired.” answered Victor firmly.
“That was a helluva shot, man. I think we underestimated your sharpshooting skills.” Dean stepped over Bennett's lifeless body. “Shut up, Sam. He did the right thing and he did it better than either of us.” He patted Victor's chest. “And trust me, I don't say things like that lightly.”
Dean relished the heat of tequila spilling down his throat. He'd eschewed the salt and lime, although Sam and Victor had kept to the traditional method. Closing his eyes, Dean savored the distinctive agave flavor as well as the warmth in his belly. God, it felt good to relax.
“Like that, old man?” Sam's tone was amused. He bumped shoulders with Dean.
“Yes, I do indeed. And I like it most after we've taken care of some son-of-a-bitch. Like tonight.” Dean burped. “How are you doing, Vic my man?”
Victor's teeth creased white across his dark face as he grinned. “I am excellent.” He looked around quickly, and Dean appreciated how aware Victor was of their surroundings even now. “I put down a creepy-ass monster and saved a kid.” He swigged his beer. “I am just fine.”
They all laughed. Dean cleared his throat and picked up the next shot, leaving a wet ring of condensation on the table's scarred wood. He motioned for the other two to do likewise. “We've grown into an awesome team,” he said, “And I just want to acknowledge that fact.”
Sam and Victor nodded, and they all downed the shot. “Guys, I gotta tell you—this has been the wildest, hardest, and most intense months of my life,” said Victor, looking at them with dark, serious eyes. “After Monument, I didn't know what I was going to do--”
“Okay! Enough chick flick moments! I'm gonna hit the jukebox. Vic, you get us another round. Sammy, hold down the fort!” Dean bounded out of the booth and hurried over to the jukebox, bending over it to peruse the choices.
He stared at the labels unseeingly, taking deep breaths to calm himself down. He appreciated what Victor was about to say; hell, he totally understood it. Only thing was, part of the armor he wore—the armor that let him fight the monsters they did—relied on not treading in the softer emotional regions. Sam knew this, understood it at a visceral level, and had learned to communicate without spelling things out.
Dean focused enough to feed a few quarters in, punch in a couple of song codes. He headed back to the table and joined his Sammy. “How you doing there, Sammy boy?” He let his eyes drift around the bar as he listened to Sam's rich voice purr in his ear.
“I'm good, Dean. We got the bad guy. Victor did awesome. If anything, I'm thinking about how at some point, he's going to be ready to leave us. He's going to want that freedom.” Sam sighed.
“Yeah, I know.” Dean saw Victor standing at the bar, ordering drinks and paying the bartender. “That's what happens. Gotta grow up and leave the nest.” He kept staring. Had Victor's ass always looked that good? So...well-shaped and full? Victor turned, and Dean thought, God damn, I think the boy is packing. His dick jumped inside his jeans.
“Dean,” a low voice said in his ear. “Are you staring at Victor's ass?”
Dean started. “No! What? No! I was just...uh...”
Sam's lips pursed in what Dean liked to call, Bitchface # 24. “'Fess up. You know I don't care if you look. You know I don't care about you picking up a woman. Hell, we both do that. But be honest with me. Don't try to fake your way out of it.”
Dean sighed. “Yeah, our boy there? He's pretty damn hot. That skin, those eyes...that ass. And he's turned out to be the terrific hunter we thought he could be, and that's fucking hot too.”
“It sure is. Dude, I'm on the same page as you.” Sam tugged Dean's hand below the table, and Dean chuckled at the ridge in Sam's jeans. “Some of this is for you, but some of it is from checking out Vic.”
Dean looked intently as Sam. “We've never slept with other men, much less shared one. Are we talking about this?” His dick thought it was a great idea, but Dean knew Sam was too important to risk on the whims of a randy cock. They had to be completely open about this.
“It's certainly a new thought, but...I think we could. If he's open to it, of course. I don't know if he's thought about men like this.”
“Ha!” Dean snorted. “I think he's done a little wick-dipping. That night you went off with that Shelly, and I was with the hot redhead? I heard some very suspicious sounds from his room, but it was hot, dark, and handsome who left in the morning.” Not-So-Little Sammy jumped under his hand, and Dean chuckled again. “Oh, you like that...” he growled softly, giving a good squeeze to the bulge in his hand. Sam moaned softly.
“Okay. Tonight might be too soon, but we'll find the right time. Let's have a few more drinks, and then there'll be some righteous ass-pounding back on our room, my brother.” Dean winked at Sam, giving him a final squeeze before removing his hand. “We can rock-paper-scissors for bottom!”
Another morning sitting in another diner, Victor thought as he nursed another mediocre cup of coffee, wishing he could sleep some more. He looked at his hunting partners, noting the shadows under Sam's eyes and his unshaven face, and how Dean's usually carefully-styled hair was sticking up in unruly tufts. They'd been pursuing back-to-back hunts for days now, quelling a rash of supernatural activity in a tri-state area, and the fatigue was telling on all of them. Victor was not only tired, his muscles were stiff from digging and running, and besides accumulating a myriad of scrapes and bruises, he'd just burnt a couple of fingers on his left hand handling a hot lighter during a salt-and-burn.
They ordered their food and sat in tired silence again. Dean's eyes drifted idly around the diner, while Sam focused his attention intently on the laptop. He sighed and shut the lid, shaking his head as he guzzled more coffee.
“What is it?” asked Victor. He knew Sam's tells for finding a hunt by now.
Dean's eyes snapped to Sam, eyebrows raised questioningly. “What'cha got, Sammy?”
Sam shook his head again. “It's not great. Especially with us all worn down like this. We really need a couple of day's rest.”
“Which I suspect we ain't gonna get, so out with it.” Dean smiled at their waitress, causing her to blush and spill a little coffee as she refilled all their cups, assuring them their food would be out in just a few minutes.
Sam sighed again. “Werewolf.”
“Dammit.” Dean's mouth was a thin line that turned down at the corners. “That is not what I wanted to hear.”
“What?” asked Victor, dumbfounded. While he'd become accustomed to a lot of strange and creepy shit, there were still things he struggled to believe were real. “Really? They're real? What are they like?”
“Big, hairy, smelly, and vicious as all get out,” said Dean.
“And smart,” added Sam. “Very cunning.”
Their breakfasts arrived, and they all dug in, hunger overriding the dismay over Sam's news. Victor had learned to eat a good meal when he could, since sometimes they were few and far between, and preferably before there were gory or disgusting details to discuss.
Empty plates finally pushed aside, they sat over a last cup of coffee, chatting idly, feeling somewhat revived by food. Victor was consumed with curiosity about the werewolf and what that entailed for a hunt, but figured he'd have to wait until they were back in the Impala and had more privacy.
Sure enough, once they were back on the road, Sam filled him in more. “Werewolves are animals when they're in their wolf form, but they still have a lot of human intelligence. The wolf gives them enormous strength and speed, so the combination of animal and human makes for a very dangerous opponent. Most hunters will team up in pairs and trios to hunt werewolves rather than attempt to do it by themselves—it's very ill-advised to hunt one by oneself.”
“But if they're human—I mean, we don't hunt people.”
“Not usually,” Dean said. “But they aren't really human anymore. They're like a shapeshifter, except there's only one thing they shift into, and their shifting is controlled by the cycle of the moon. And when they're not wolfed out, they don't remember what they did while they were a wolf. So it's not like they remember eating Aunt Edna.”
“Raw deal,” said Victor. “They didn't ask to get bitten. It's not their fault that they're a monster.”
“Nope,” agreed Dean, eyes fixed on the road. Victor looked at Sam, who was staring out the side window, his jaw clenched tight. The air felt palpably tenser and colder, leaving Victor confused about what just went sideways. Clearly something was up, but he had no idea what it could be. Deciding silence was his best option for the moment, Victor shut up until he could ask one of the brothers what the issue was. He'd found that Dean was more direct, but that Sam was more open about emotional topics. Talking to one or the other, though, was often simply a matter of opportunity, with the limited privacy hunting together afforded. Victor would take whoever he got the chance to talk with.
At their next gas stop, Sam stalked off to the men's room without a word. Victor therefore seized the moment to talk with Dean.
“What's going on? Is there something else I should know about weres? Did Sam have a bad run-in with one?”
Dean locked the pump to fill the Impala's tank. “Sort of, but not like you think.” Dean's mouth tightened, his eyes not meeting Vic's. “He fell for a girl in San Francisco.” Vic saw a dimple pop with Dean's wistful smile. “She was something—beautiful, smart, apartment full of books, just how Sam likes. We were there hunting a were, and it turned out she'd been attacked. Bitten.” Dean unlocked the pump and hung it back up, snapping the gas tank shut.
Victor waited, unwilling to interrupt Dean's reverie.
“Sam locked her in a closet all night while we waited to see if she would wolf out during the moon.” Dean chuckled. “Man, she was so pissed at him. She did shift, though, tore that closet up with her claws. We thought that killing the were that turned her would cure her.”
“Did it work?” asked Victor, curious but apprehensive of what he was going to hear.
“We thought it did. Stayed up all night with her and nothing. So Sam and her—Madison—they had twelve hours together, hot monkey sex and everything. She knew what we were, what we do, and it didn't bother her, so...some real hope, you know? Only--” Dean's voice stopped, and chills went down Victor's spine.
“Only it didn't work, did it? And you guys—you had to--” He couldn't say it.
Dean's jaw muscles flexed, and his voice was a little huskier as he finished the story. “She asked Sam to put her down, that she couldn't do it herself. Said she didn't want to hurt anybody, and someday she would.” He cleared his throat. “I told Sam I'd do it, but...” He coughed, a cough Victor knew hid a sob. “That's it.” He walked off, skirting the paved area to walk the gravel lot where a couple of battered picnic tables sat.
“That's enough. Fuckin' more than enough.” Victor's eyes were moist, his chest filled with grief for a girl he hadn't known, but who hadn't deserved her fate. And for Sam, who'd had to destroy someone he'd loved, however briefly.
Victor rested his forehead against the polished roof of the Impala. Nancy Fitzgerald's image welled up in his mind; he hadn't dreamed of her for a long time now, but here she was in her white blouse and sweater vest, tiny cross around her neck, rosary chain glinting in her hand. “Sorry, Nancy, so sorry. You find Madison and keep her company, okay? Watch out for each other.” He closed his eyes, the pressure of his lids forcing a few tears to fall. “And if you could watch over us too, please? I think we're going to need it.”
He straightened up and ran the back of his hand over his eyes. Taking a deep breath he walked into the gas station, where he blindly picked up a cold water bottle and a couple bags of snacks. Sam was fixing a cup of coffee at the coffee station, and Victor joined him, pouring coffee, milk, sugar into a cup silently at Sam's side. Snapping a lid onto the cup, Victor turned and looked at Sam, noting his pale skin and reddened eyes, He patted Sam's shoulder awkwardly, giving it a little squeeze before saying, “This one's on me, dude.”
Sam looked askance at him, but followed him as they approached the register, where Dean was also waiting with his haul.
They didn't discuss werewolves for the rest of the drive.
“You Can't Beat Our Beds!” proclaimed the neon sign outside the Friendly Motel, or rather, “ u Can eat u s !” with all the missing letters. Victor wasn't sure how friendly that was—did they mean cannibalism or sex? He snickered to himself. There was a lot of funny shit out there on the road, and sometimes you just had to laugh.
The location of the motel was good; close enough to town for food and booze, far enough from town for privacy, and backed by a large section of woods. The countryside's set-up was perfect for the wolf's hunting, with the woods extending to and surrounding the town itself, affording a lot of cover.
“We're going to have to search for its possible lair during the day, but we won't be able to hunt it until after moon-rise. It could still be living its human life in the daylight.” Dean unpacked the weapons duffle and began to strip and clean the guns. “We'll go out tomorrow morning and see what we can track.”
Victor nodded and retreated to his own room, where he opened one of the beers they'd bought earlier and tried to watch a movie. What it was, he couldn't have said; he couldn't focus worth a damn, his mind wandering hither and yon. He finally threw in the towel and went to bed, which was not as great as advertised. Sleep eluded him--all he saw were girls running through the woods, chased by gray-brown furred animals too large to be dogs.
They didn't find a lair the next day as they explored the woods, but they did come across a pile of dead animals. Half a dozen carcasses lay in a heap, most of which turned out to be skin and bones with the flesh stripped off. “All wildlife—they're making do. Not as good as long pig,” said Dean, poking at a carcass with his hunting knife.
“But enough for it to get by,” added Sam.
“Long pig?” asked Victor. “What's the hell is that?”
“Man.” Dean said portentously, looking rather proud of himself. Sam rolled his eyes.
“It does mean that, but ignore him. He likes to think he's special.” Sam cuffed Dean's head as he walked by. “You're a moron.”
“You're a moron!” Dean tried to get Sam into a headlock.
Victor couldn't help laughing at the scuffle, but then his jeans started to get a little tight. Watching Sam and Dean wrestle, clothes straining over thick muscles and rucked-up jackets affording tantalizing glimpses of skin, was more than a little distracting. “I'll look around, move a few yards out. See if there's any more carcasses.” While the prospect of Sam and Dean getting it on right here in the woods in broad daylight—and on a hunt—seemed slim, Victor wanted a little space to recompose himself.
They staked out the offal pile, and sure enough, the werewolf returned to it, tossing a couple of rabbits onto it. Silver bullets hit the were from three angles, piercing head, heart, and belly. The werewolf yowled and fell, body seizing from the silver as much as the actual mortal wounds, but it quickly fell still and silent.
“Well, that went well,” said Dean. “They aren't always as smooth as that, but goddamn, I'll take it.” They stood over the body, Victor staring at it in bemusement. It looked mostly like a wolf, thickly furred but with longer limbs and vaguely hand-like front paws, as well as a rounder cranium.
“What do we do with it now?” he asked.
“Burn it,” said Sam, already scavenging for brush and branches.
They cleared around the body and threw the offal onto the fire as well. The heavy smell of roasting meat and charred fur filled the air. Victor thought he might gag at the odor. He knew they had to wait until the body was all consumed, then throw dirt on the ashes and make sure there was no chance of fire spreading in the woods, besides hiding what remained. He just hoped he wouldn't hurl before they were done.
“I vote for beer and shots,” said Dean, poking a stray animal limb back into the blaze. “Maybe pizza. I don't feel like a burger somehow.”
Victor and Sam both snickered, breaking the solemn mood before nodding in agreement.
They enjoyed beer and shots that evening, after taking showers and changing into clean clothes. Both Victor and Sam passed on the ribs that Dean surprisingly chose and happily devoured. “What?” he asked, barbecue sauce smeared on one cheek. “They're delicious!” Instead, Sam went with a chicken Caesar salad and Victor got a cheese quesadilla. Neither of them could face a meal of red meat right then.
Victor's dreams that night were filled with growls and flames, making him toss and turn restlessly. Finally he sat up and switched the television on. Faint noises from the other side of the wall made him turn the volume up a little. Apparently Sam and Dean were having a little celebration by themselves, and Victor didn't need to be visualizing what that might be as he sat all by his lonesome. He watched two or three episodes of Modern Family, chuckling at the quirks and antics of the Pritchett/Dunphy families. Finally he dozed back off.
When he left his room the next morning, though, he was taken aback to see scratches on his door and window sill. Long scratches that looked like--
“Claw marks.” Dean and Sam stood next to him.
“What? Like a bear?”
“No, like another wolf.” Sam's face was grim, and Dean frowned.
“Well, shit. Guess we aren't leaving just yet. We gotta find that other wolf. We can't leave an angry were roaming around.”
They spent the day back in the woods again, hiking everywhere, following every likely-looking track, but coming up dry.
“This sucks. It's gone to ground somewhere. We're going to have to stay out here tonight and get this fucker, we can't risk it attacking someone.” Dean's mouth was set in an angry line. “I'm guessing it had a mate. We should have looked for a fucking den. Goddammit!”
They went back to the motel, where they checked and re-checked their weapons, replenished their ammo, and packed up their heavy jackets along with water, and protein bars.
“Stay alert. You saw last night how fast they can be. If you feel you're dozing off at all, text one of us,” Dean ordered. “Don't be a sitting duck.” Victor nodded. The adrenaline of a hunt washed through him, but he knew that in the middle of the night, that rush would fade and it would be all to easy to doze off.
Just before sunset, they set up as they had previously, positioning themselves in a triangle and using the burnt site as their center. If the wolf was angry, then presumably it might lurk or check out that spot again, seeking its mate.
It was cold after the sun went down, and eventually even in his thick jacket and layers of flannel and t-shirt, Victor felt the chill seeping into his body, bit by bit. With the cold came lethargy, and he caught himself nodding off. Text them, don't try to be a fucking hero, he thought to himself. Dean was talking about this, warning us. He peeled off his gloves, but his fingers were already stiff from cold, and he dropped his phone. Cursing to himself, he patted the ground trying to find it, but only turned up dried leaves and twigs.
“Shit,” he whispered, standing up and scanning the ground around his feet. Surely it couldn't have gone far.
A train hit him, slamming him to the forest floor some feet away from where he'd been standing. He couldn't breath for a moment, the very air knocked from his lungs, and just as he gasped, searing pain ripped across his torso. A scream flew from his throat unbidden, and he thrashed on the ground.
Another lash of pain, this time across his back, and Victor flip-flopped helplessly like a fish. His weapon was gone by this point, he couldn't say when he'd even lost it; his mind was wrapped up with the agony of his wounds and the panic about where the fuck his unknown assailant was.
The train hit him again, straight on into his chest this time, and again he couldn't breathe. Fire erupted across his thighs and he fell flat onto the ground, crying out in agony.
Fuck, I'm gonna die.
A shotgun blasted over him, then more gunshots blasted through the night. Something uttered blood-curdling yelps and whines. More shots, and Victor felt something huge and heavy fall across his body. He screamed at the unbearable weight, his body already wracked with pain from his wounds. It stunk foully, and one hand could feel the rough fur of the were now crushing him.
“Vic! Vic!” Shouts echoed through the trees that Victor dimly recognized as Sam and Dean's voices.
“Vic! Stay with us!”
He passed out.
It was the smell that told Victor he was in the hospital. That distinctive, metallic-chemical blend of bleach and machinery, underlaid by the faint powdery note of latex gloves. He lay motionless—he didn't even know if he could move, and he wasn't eager to find out—and letting his senses glean all the information they could.
Deja vu. I've been here before, he thought. Am I dreaming or is this a memory? But that time, there had been an explosion. This time--
He tried to move and cried out in pain, lashes of burning pain striped across his body and legs. What...?
“Mr Henriksen...Mr. Henriksen. Here, take this.” A hand slid a smooth plastic egg-shaped thing into his palm. “There's the button for your pain relief.” His thumb was positioned onto a toggle. He pressed it, sighing as the worst of the pain eased off.
“You've been injured, Mr. Henriksen. Nothing broken, but some wild animal attacked you, and you have a lot of stitches, including some internal sutures. Now just rest, and I'll let your friends know you're awake.”
Victor passed out again.
Dean and Sam took Victor out of the hospital after a week, signing him out AMA. The doctors tried ordering him to return in another week to get his stitches removed, but Dean waved a hand at that, saying he and Sam could take care of it.
Ultimately there would be scars—the wounds would resolve to thin pink and white lines trailing across Victor's dark brown skin. Right now, they were bumpy, scabbed ridges dotted with the black thread of the sutures. Four ran across his midsection from side to side—two inches down, and he'd have lost some intestines. Another four across the middle of his back, more diagonal this time from his left shoulder to right waist. And the last ones were across the tops of his thighs, fortunately low enough that they had left his junk intact. He knew he had a lot to be grateful for.
“Ladies love scars,” leered Dean. “Trust me on that.”
Victor had to laugh, cursing as he did because it still hurt. “What about men?” he asked.
“Eh, men don't care so much, but it's sure not a deal-breaker,” Dean replied casually.
“Good to know.” Dean shot him a piercing look, but Victor pretended to ignore it.
They retreated to a cabin that Dean and Sam knew about, deep in some woods. Victor was hazy about the location, drifting in and out of unconsciousness during the drive there. “It's kind of a safe house for hunters,” explained Sam. “We can rest here, let you recover for a couple of weeks.”
As Victor had experienced during his recovery from the Monument explosion, there were trauma-induced nightmares. In fact, the ones from the explosion returned, now with added werewolf goodness. Victor found himself waking up in a cold sweat, feeling helpless, petrified, alone in the dark. Trails of fire seared across his body and arced up into the darkness. Glowing eyes encircled him, only to erupt in gouts of flame as shrapnel rained down around him.
Victor tried to stay quiet. The cabin only had one bedroom and he'd been set up in there. The Winchesters were sleeping in the living room, taking turns between the couch and a pallet on the floor. He didn't want to wake them, instead clenching his fists and gritting his teeth to stay quiet. They heard him anyway as he shivered under a quilt, blinking tears out of his eyes and biting off tiny moans.
“Shhh,” soothed Sam, wiping Victor's face with a cool washcloth. “You're okay. You're safe.”
“S-s-s-sorry,” Victor chattered. Tears leaked from the corners of his eyes, and he hated himself for being so week and needy.
Dean came up with another blanket to put on him. “'S okay, man. Don't worry about it. We've both been there and done that.” He sat at the end of the bed, putting Victor's feet on his lap and gently rubbing them. “Sammy, get him another antibiotic and a couple of pain pills, would ya? Then go back to bed. I'll stay here.”
Sam went back to bed after delivering the meds. Victor, now warm and more relaxed, dozed off after swallowing them, Dean's strong hands massaging his feet.
The next morning Sam made them all breakfast. Victor moved stiffly to the couch, where he was able to recline with pillows propping him up. He gratefully drank the coffee he hadn't had in a few days, savoring the rich taste and aroma.
“So, I have a suggestion,” Sam said, bringing plates of eggs and bacon out to the living room.
“What?” asked Dean as he grabbed his plate and stuffed a strip of bacon into his mouth. Sam smacked the back of his head. Dean just grinned.
“What if we all sleep on the bed tonight? It's huge even for me, and that way we're right there for when Vic has a nightmare. Maybe he won't even have one if he's not alone, but tucked in with us there. If he does, we're right there to help.”
Victor stared at Sam. The generosity of his offer was amazing, but Victor was concerned about cramping them with his presence, or keeping them awake half the night with him.
“Great idea, Sammy.” Dean forked eggs into his mouth.
“Vic?” Sam looked at him questioningly.
“Are you sure I won't, uh...be in the way? What if I wake you up?”
“Vic, understand one thing about us—we don't ask anything we don't mean.” Dean waggled a fork at him. “We don't play that kind of shit game.”
Victor couldn't deny the feeling of warmth and reassurance the offer gave him. “Okay...maybe just a night or two?” Victor finally ate a few bites of eggs, which turned out to be delicious. “I remember having nightmares like this after—after the explosion. But they faded eventually.”
“Long as it takes, buddy.” Sam patted him on the back—staying clear of the stitches—and they ate without further discussion of sleeping arrangements. Victor was mildly surprised that he finished all of his eggs and toast, leaving him comfortably full and ready for a nap.
That night, Victor felt awkward all over again. 'What ifs' ran through his head as he brushed his teeth and carefully took off his sweat pants. He was sleeping in a t-shirt to protect the stitches, as well as his boxers. What if he work up yelling? What if he woke up crying? What if the boys slept naked? What if he popped a boner? What if they popped a boner?
It turned out Sam and Dean also slept in t-shirts and boxers, or at least they did that night, and as far as Victor could tell, no one got an erection. He did have the beginning throes of nightmares a couple of times, ugly shades invading his dream state, but no sooner did he moan or stir in distress than strong hands and arms around him reassured him that he was safe, allowing him to settle back into sleep.
After a week, Victor felt much better. His pain overall had subsided substantially, he was moving easier, and didn't need to nap as much. His stitches were healing well with no sign of infection. Clearly the solid sleep he was getting at night was helping his recovery. The nightmares were already subsiding, and Victor could only think it was the effect of Sam and Dean's constant presence and reassurance.
Sam carefully removed the sutures, doing it in three sessions so it wouldn't be too much irritation on the wound-sensitive skin. Victor felt some pinches and tugs, but Sam's hands were both gentle and deft, wielding tweezers and tiny scissors with a skill that spoke of long practice.
A few days after the stitches were removed, a nightmare seized Victor while he slept. Amid thoughts of claws and rough fur and hot animal breath, a heavy weight seemed to be pinning him to the mattress. Victor gasped in panic and awoke, sweating and heart pounding, trying to push the weight were? Please not a were... off.
It turned out to be Sam, or rather Sam's arm and leg that had flopped across Victor. He closed his eyes in relief before gently pushing Sam's limbs back to him. Breathing more freely, nonetheless Victor found he kind of missed their warmth.
“You okay?” whispered Dean, lips brushing softly across the shell of Victor's ear. He could feel Dean's heartbeat, smell his sleepy warmth, and it made Victor shiver. The intimacy of the moment flooded his mind with images of skin and touching and Dean. That boner Victor had been worried about a week ago made its sudden appearance, and he tried to twist his hips away in case Dean felt it.
Dean snickered softly. “No worries, Vic. It's gonna happen, dicks gotta mind of their own. I'll take it as a compliment.” He kissed Victor's cheek gently and in seconds, he could hear Dean's breathing deepening back into slumber.
As soothed as Victor was, some time passed before he could fall asleep. His cocoon built of Winchester skin and bone and muscle shifted from being protective and reassuring into being actively sensual and desirable. Victor had already found Sam and Dean attractive and hot in a theoretical sense, but theory now fell to the wayside with a crash, leaving him metaphorically naked and wanting in a very, very visceral way.
He lay very still with his eyes closed and hands clasped over his stomach, resolutely ignoring his dick, until sleep finally reclaimed him.
Sam came out of the bedroom, yawning and stretching as he walked into the kitchen. Dean was at the coffeemaker fixing a new pot. Sam came up and kissed the back of Dean's neck, encircling his waist and snuggling up closely behind him. He always liked when Dean was still sleep-warm and soft.
“Hey there,” Dean greeted him, voice still whiskey-rough from sleep. “You sleep okay?”
“Yeah. Did you guys wake up last night? I thought I heard something.” Sam stepped back, giving Dean's perky ass a squeeze. He leaned against the counter, watching coffee drip into the carafe.
“Vic woke up, I settled him back down.” Dean gave a dirty chuckle. “Boy got wood and was all embarrassed. I told him hey, it happens.” He looked at Sam with a wink. “He's definitely packing.”
Sam felt his cock twinge in his sleep pants and shifted his legs. It felt a little awkward to get hard in front of his lover when discussing another man's equipment.
Of course, Dean noticed. “Sammy, no harm in appreciating our partner's assets. I felt just the same way.” He turned to face Sam, and the bulge in Dean's pants was obvious. “In fact, I feel the same way right now.”
Giving a sigh of relief, Sam said, “Thank God. Dean, you are the love of my life, but I'm not going to lie, Vic is damn hot. Half of it is the hunter he's turned out to be, but half of it is that the man is just fucking gorgeous.”
Dean moved in close, wrapping his arms around Sam and nibbling at his lips. “You aren't wrong, Sammy. I'm gettin' hot and bothered just thinking about it.” Dean pushed his hips against Sam's, rubbing his bulge against his brother's. “Need to do a little fishing today.”
Sam pulled his head back, giving Dean a puzzled look. “Fishing? There's no lake around here.”
Dean laughed low and dirty. “I wanna catch me some trout...trouser-trout!” He kissed Sam hard, pressing him against the counter, one hand on Sam's neck to hold him close and the other sliding down the front of his pants. Sam moaned and grabbed Dean's ass with both hands, kneading and squeezing the plump cheeks.
A loud cough broke them apart. Victor stood in the kitchen doorway, a half-smile traced on his full lips. “I can, uh...come back later. It's just this is where the coffee lives.”
Sam could feel his cheeks flush hotly, but Dean just threw back his head and laughed. He stepped back from Sam, apparently casually ignoring the tent he was sporting, and waved for Victor to enter. “Sorry, Vic, I couldn't ignore the call of the wild Sammy.” Victor rolled his eyes and Sam snickered. He hastily poured some coffee and sat down at the table to hide his own tent as quickly as possible.
Victor walked over to the coffee pot and poured a mug, adding a little sugar and milk. He was only in track pants, and Sam was pleased to see how well the scars across his back were healing; no longer puffy or scabbed, they were smooth, narrow clean lines, white against his dark brown skin. “Listen, guys—I'm in pretty good shape now. I don't see why we can't hit the road again,” Victor said, joining Sam at the table. “At the very least, y'all could get your privacy back.” He winked at them and stretched before picking up his mug.
While Sam had seen Victor shirtless before at the hospital, among other places, it had been as a hunting partner and sometimes a field doctor. Now, Victor sat relaxed and easy at the table, and Sam could allow himself a chance to simply...observe and appreciate. Observe Victor's smooth chocolate skin, the light scruff across his pecs, black and curly. Appreciate those firm well-shaped pecs, the lean muscular torso, the broad shoulders and thick biceps. Sam had always known how handsome Victor was, and then what a capable hunter he'd become, but adding that body in—well, no wonder he was giving both Sam and Dean wood on a regular basis.
Sam looked over at Dean, catching his eye. He raised an eyebrow. Dean too had been staring at Victor, who continued to sit unaware of being observed while sipping his coffee. Sam nodded at Dean. Dean smiled and nodded back. Sam stood up, and in unison with Dean, approached Victor's chair. Sam took Victor's coffee mug and put it down the table, and Dean slipped a hand under Victor's elbow, tugging him upright.
Victor looked back and forth between them, a clear question in his eyes. “Uh, guys, what...”
Dean leaned forward and kissed him. Sam watched his brother's lips moving on Victor's; if he had an erection before, now he had a steel bar in his pants. Dean broke the kiss, licking his own plump lips as he nodded to Sam. Sam gently took hold of Victor's chin and turned it, noting both his blown pupils and the shiny moisture from Dean on Victor's pink lips before leaning in to kiss him.
Sam pressed his mouth firmly against Victor's, closing his eyes at this first caress. Sam's initial impression was how soft Victor's lips were before continuing and brushing his tongue over those lips. Victor opened up to him immediately, his tongue pushing eagerly against Sam's, one hand easing into Sam's hair and holding his head close while they kissed.
This time Victor broke it off, his breathing heavier, hand still entwined in Sam's hair. He and Sam both looked at Dean, whose eyes showed only a narrow rim of green around huge black pupils and whose hand was clutching the front of his pants.
“Sam...Dean...are you sure? I don't want to...upset anything.” Victor spoke in a soft, husky voice. Sam wanted to swallow all those words down, show Victor just how much he had come to mean to Sam and Dean both.
“We're sure. This is new for us too, but we're agreed on it.” Sam reassured him.
“Just—no pressure, man. You don't want to, we're fine. Free and clear,” Dean's voice was firm.
Victor threw back his head and laughed. “Are you nuts? You know how long you boys been driving me crazy? Yeah, I'm in! Fuck yeah!”
Victor felt like he was floating in a bubble of sensation. Emotion and pleasure wrapped themselves around him, his neurons buzzing blissfully. Thankfully the bed was huge, since it was currently filled with three large men who were busy kissing and touching each other in every way possible. Skin was everywhere Victor looked—pale freckled skin, tan skin dusted with dark hair, coffee-dark skin. They all looked beautiful contrasting with each other, surfaces shiny with sweat, intersecting limbs wrapped around their bodies.
Sam and Dean had distinctly different styles in bed, Victor quickly learned. He knew he himself was on the quiet, intense side, having been told so by past partners. Sam was also intense--Victor had expected no less--but Sam was surprisingly louder and gruffer that he'd anticipated. Victor found Sam prone to manhandling, moving his partners where he wanted them, almost roughly at times. The pairing of intensity with assertiveness was immensely exciting. Victor hadn't ever thought he'd be turned on by someone more domineering or stronger than he was in bed, but it turned out he sure as fuck was.
On the flip side, Dean was more lighthearted and playful. While that did not overly surprise Victor, what he did find unexpected was the immense tenderness Dean exhibited along with that playfulness. He was gentler than Sam; he worshiped his partners with mouth and hands, and oh holy fuck, that was hot.
Between the two of them, Victor thought he might just fucking spontaneously combust. He'd had good sex in his life, even great sex, but he'd never experienced anything like making love with these two men turned out to be. This was...mind-blowing.
The three men gave and took naturally between them, the innate teamwork they'd developed as hunters bleeding into their joining as lovers. Not a lot of actual speaking went on, but there was plenty of heavy breathing, panting, moans, grunts and groans, and breathy, blurted utterances and exclamations.
Soon as they were naked in bed together, Sam crawled down to the end of the bed and promptly swallowed Victor's dick down deep, humming around his thick mouthful and driving Victor slightly crazy. Meanwhile, Dean kissed Victor passionately, trailing his lush mouth and skillful tongue down to lick Victor's neck, chest, and little ebony nipples. Dean took hold of Victor's hand, placing it on his dick and using their entwined fingers to stroke it. Victor moaned at the thick cock filling his palm, sliding their hands up and down it, moving lower to caress and tug his balls. Sam stretched one of his hands up to encompass theirs, whereupon Dean promptly lost it and christened them with his climax. They all laughed, but Victor came right after, as turned on by the sight of their co-mingles hads as by Sam's wicked mouth and tongue sucking and teasing his dick.
Later, Sam and Victor lay on their sides, head to foot with their cocks in each other's mouth. Victor knew he couldn't take all of Sam in—the man had a beast between his legs—but he sucked and tongued as much as he could and wrapped his hands around the rest. Everything about Sam's cock inflamed Victor; the size of it, the hardness cloaked in softest skin, the swollen spongy head resting on his tongue, all drove Victor a little crazy. Between the party in his mouth and the party on his own dick as Sam licked and teased it, Victor thought he was going to short-circuit from pleasure.
Dean moved up behind Sam and hefted his leg up onto Dean's shoulder, opening Sam up for Dean's cock. Sam moaned and whimpered while Dean fucked him, hips pumping hard and fast, the rhythm driving Sam's mouth even deeper onto Victor's dick. The more Sam moaned, the more vibrations resonated through Victor until he cried out and came, clinging tightly onto Sam's sweaty body. Sam fell over after him, striping Victor with thick white lines of come on his face and chest. Dean gave a yell of triumph and then ground himself hard into Sam, hips churning. Still lying with his face in Sam's crotch, Victor watched Dean's balls move up to empty themselves, groaned as a thin white trickle seeped out from between Dean's dick and Sam's hole. Surprising himself, Victor licked the rim of Sam's hole and suckled Dean's balls clean, making both men shout and Sam's dick try urgently to shoot again.
Sam showed Victor how to open Dean up, using lube and fingers to play with his hole and stretch him out while Dean wriggled and cursed. Once Dean was ready, he got on all fours, presenting himself to Victor with one hand pulling a cheek wide. Victor slowly pushed into Dean's sweet round ass, feeling that tight muscular channel for the first time, his dick being squeezed in a way he'd never experienced before. Moaning in pleasure at the heat and tightness, Victor watched Sam slide underneath Dean, guiding his pretty pink cock in between Sam's flexible red lips. Fucking Dean was incredible, but feeling he was driving Dean's cock into Sam's mouth was an additional intoxication.
Sam's hand gripped his own massive cock, dark red and swollen, jerking himself roughly until he yelled, spraying white all over his own belly and chest. Dean yelled in turn, Sam swallowing Dean's release with loud slurps. Dean's hole rippled and squeezed Victor, sending him over the edge in turn. Victor pulled out, his dick pulsing hot fluid all over Dean's ass. Dean licked Sam's chest and belly clean, pink tongue and swollen lips working over that tempting caramel skin, Victor watching avidly as he rubbed his own nipples with one hand and stroked Sam's hair with the other.
They rested briefly between rounds, waiting just until desire and dicks rose again. Victor had never felt so wanted, so lusted after, with every inch of his body explored, kissed, tasted. Aware as he had been of the bond between Sam and Dean, he was honored and humbled to see it in action. Every move between the brothers, every kiss and touch, spoke not just of their sexual connection, but of their love and respect for each other. To be invited to join that, be some part of it, touched Victor deeply.
Finally they fell asleep, exhausted but replete with satisfaction and love.
They fell into a relaxed routine, the solitude of the woods lending itself to setting their own pace. They took turns cooking breakfast, lingered over coffee. The stronger Victor felt, the more training they did. There was always shooting practice and knife throwing, the latter a completely new skill for Victor. The Winchesters had been keeping up with running and sparring practice, and as Victor continued to regain his strength, he began to join them. Evenings were spent cleaning guns, cooking dinner, maybe having a few drinks. There was a shelf of old paperbacks, and Victor was a little surprised to see Dean sitting down with Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House. “What? I read!” he said huffily, walking outside to sit on the rickety porch.
Victor felt sheepish. “I didn't mean to offend him,” he confessed to Sam. “I just didn't picture him as reading for pleasure.”
Sam shook his head. “I know. He knows too. He's just spent so may years being pigeonholed as 'the pretty one' or not as academic as me that he's a little sensitive about it. Don't worry, he knows you respect him. Don't say anything, just let it blow over.”
Victor didn't bring it up again, but that night he gave Dean a particularly enthusiastic blow job, including cleaning him up with soft kitten-licks afterward. Dean pulled Victor's head up to his and kissed him soundly. “We're good.” Dean cuffed Victor's head lightly. “But you're doing all my dishes the rest of the week.”
Victor laughed. And did the dishes.
Dean volunteered to do the weekly supply run that Thursday. Victor offered to go along—he kind of loved the cabin and the woods, but he wouldn't say no to seeing something else for a few hours. Plus Dean always got a lot of snacks and forgot some of the real things they needed. Although somehow he always remembered coffee, beer, liquor, and bacon.
They drove off, Sam reassuring them he'd enjoy a couple of hours alone. “He just wants to look at porn,” Dean said, rattling faster over the dirt road than Victor would have.
“I thought that was you,” Victor replied, resolutely not watching branches whip past the window.
“Oh yeah, that is me,” said Dean, crowing with laughter.
They reached the town and gathered what they needed. Loading up the car, Dean drove to the outskirts before pulling over. “We don't get a signal back there, so when we come into town, we check messages. Hunters know we're not yet back on active duty, but there's still information sharing and such. We arranged it with Bobby before we got here that we'd check every Thursday.”
Dean spent several minute scrolling through his phone, muttering under his breath at times, making faces at it. Then he got very still, a serious look on his face, and Victor felt a little nervous.
Dean shook his head. “Let's get back home, I'll tell you and Sam at the same time.” He headed out of town, and Victor sighed, impatient to know what the news was, but resigned that Dean wouldn't say anything until he was ready.
Sam came out to help unload the Impala, immediately catching on that something was up. He didn't even bother asking, and Victor was again impressed at how well these two knew each other and how smoothly they operated together.
Once the groceries were stowed (and the beer in the fridge), the three hunters sat down.
“There was a message from Bobby,” began Dean. “More signs are cropping up that are connected to Lilith.”
Sam and Victor remained quiet. The name alone struck a chill in Victor, and for the first time in a long time, the images of flames and a crashed helicopter surfaced in his mind.
“It looks like things are ramping up,” continued Dean.
“Ramping up to what?” asked Sam, leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees.
“No one knows yet. Just the frequency of supernatural events has sped up. So,” Dean said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Bobby's decided to call a meeting. A...summit, if you will.”
“A meeting of who?” asked Victor.
“Of hunters. All the hunters he can contact and gather. He thinks if we all get together, we can share our various contacts and intel, maybe come up with a plan to deal with Lilith.”
Quiet fell again. Victor mulled the news over. It made sense to him. When the Bureau had a major threat of some kine, whether it was a serial killer or a terrorist, they mounted a task force. Pool the resources.
“It makes sense to me. I'm in,” he said.
Dean nodded. “I thought you might be, but it's your decision. Sammy?” He turned to look at his brother, eyebrow raised.
“Of course. We have to go.” Sam's face was as serious as Victor had ever seen it. “We have to stop Lilith now, otherwise—we'll face something even worse.”
Victor stared at him. “Something...worse? What the hell is worse?”
“That's just it,” answered Dean. “Hell. To be specific, Lucifer.”
Victor felt his jaw drop. “Lucifer. Like...the Devil. That Lucifer.”
Sam nodded grimly. “That Lucifer.”
“Fuck me,” blurted Victor.
The Winchesters solemnity fell away as they burst into laughter. “Damn, Vic, right now?” said Dean with a grin.
Victor laughed with them. “Uh, no, that wasn't what I meant. Just—damn!!!”
“Damn indeed. All right, gentlemen, pack it up. We leave at dawn.” Dean paused by Victor, a hand on his arm. “Are you feeling okay? You up for this?”
“Damn straight. Try to keep me out of it.” Victor put a hand over Dean's. “But thank you.”
They went around separately packing up their things. After a quick dinner, they had a couple of shots before turning in. All three of them knew they needed to sleep before hitting the road in the morning, but they found themselves having a short session of slow, easy sex. It was soft touches, stifled moans and whispers, a sharing and giving of themselves to each other. Victor felt both loved and grounded, and that made facing the day a whole lot easier.
They didn't quite leave at dawn, but they left pretty damn early. A last pot of coffee was poured into go mugs, and they planned stop for breakfast sandwiches on the way. Dean stopped in town to gas up the Impala, and then they hit the open road.
Victor had never met Bobby Singer, but he looked forward to it. He'd head endless stories about Bobby, although prior to becoming a hunter, they were not necessarily favorable. It was clear how important the man was to the Winchesters, and how much they respected his knowledge and his skills, as well as the hunter community at large.
Two days of driving and a overnight in a sleazy pay-by-hour motel, and Victor finally saw the sign for Singer Salvage. A large, somewhat dilapidated house sat in a huge open area, with various barns and sheds dotted around and what appeared to be a gazillion old cars. Dean pulled right up by the house, and the front door opened with a big hound galumphing out.
“Rumsfeld!” cried Dean, petting the dog. It ran back and forth between Dean and Sam, bounded over to sniff at Victor, and then ran to the door as its owner emerged.
“Well, well, well, look who decided to grace us with their presence,” said the man dryly. He was older, Victor could see gray mixing in with the brown of his beard, and was dressed in the usual flannel and jeans, with a cargo vest over the plaid and a battered ball cap on his head. “Come'ere, ya idjits.” He hugged Sam, who immediately dwarfed the older man, then turned to Dean and hugged him too.
“Bobby, good to see you,” said Sam, grasping Bobby's arm, his eyes affectionate.
“Sure is, Bobby,” Dean's face was wreathed in a smile as he approached for a hug.
“All right, now, don't get all sentimental on me.” Victor smiled at Bobby's mock-acerbic tone. “So you must be Victor Henriksen, formerly of the FBI.” No handshake was proffered yet.
“Yes sir, I am. Only now I'm Victor Henriksen, hunter.” Victor held his eye squarely. He knew Bobby had no reason to trust him; the man would just have to take his measure as he chose. “It's a pleasure. I know how much Sam and Dean respect you.”
“Uh-huh.” Bobby looked into Victor's eyes a moment, then jerked his head toward the house. “Everybody come on in now, no point standing around out here.” He stomped up the stairs with all three hunters following.
Other hunters had already arrived, and more arrived after Victor and the Winchesters. The house was full of hunters—mostly men, but a few women—milling around drinking beer. Victor thought this was where plaid flannel went when it died. Plaid of every colorway and description abounded; Victor almost felt the odd man out in his Henley.
He was introduced around endlessly. Most people were ignorant of his past history at the FBI, and he was content to let that be. It was mentioned several times that he was the sole survivor of the Monument blast, but even that was mostly acknowledged with a “Really?!” or “Wow!” and then conversation moved on. That was just fine with him. He preferred blending in.
Finally Bobby called everyone together in the dining room, with people also clustered in every doorway into the room. The dining room table and chairs itself had been cleared, and Bobby stood in the middle of the room addressing the crowd.
“Okay, we got to do some serious talking here. And when I say talking, I mean planning. Something's moving out there, and it's pretty bad. We need to stop it, because if we don't what comes after it will be even worse.”
“What's that?” Someone spoke from the crowd.
“Lucifer.” Bobby shut his mouth with a snap and waited for the inevitable hubbub to die back down.
“Okay, now I know you might think this is all moonbeams and fairytales, but it's the truth. Lilith is here to prepare the way for Lucifer, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we don't want to fight the Devil. So let's fight Lilith and stop the whole shebang now. Let's pool our knowledge and our resources so we can figure out how to stop Lilith and thereby stop Lucifer.”
He stopped speaking again., letting his eyes roam the hunters packed around him. Victor saw heads nodding, even though he also saw expressions of shock or disbelief.
“Sam and Dean Winchester are here today. Sam, Dean, come on up.” They'd been standing behind Victor, and he felt them shift as they moved around him and walked up to Bobby.
“Now these two are about the best hunters around, bar none. They were raised in the life, and I know they've saved a lot of y'all and helped y'all. I'm delegating them as co-captains of this motley army, as there'll be too much for one man to do. Sam's going to be in charge of lore and research as well as his own fighting division, and Dean's going to handle tactical planning and strategy. They'll talk to each of you, find out where best to place ya. Understood?”
A noise of assent rolled through the room. Victor looked around. He felt scared about a battle he knew nothing about, with forces that used to be Bible stories but now were real. He also felt inspired. Bobby might be an older good ol' boy with a pick-up truck and a beer belly, but clearly a sharp mind lurked inside that baseball cap, and a valiant heart beat beneath that cargo vest.
Sam and Dean towered over Bobby, and they looked every bit the heroes—tall, handsome, strong. Victor felt his heart lurch inside his chest. Do not tell me I'm falling for those big lugs, Victor scolded himself. They are their own world. Someday I'm going to have to leave, and they will continue on together forever. Don't do it.
He knew it was too late to warn himself, and when the time came, he'd have to deal. It's not yet, though. Not for a while.
Victor could be content with that.
Sam and Dean came up to him. “Last chance, Vic. I know this isn't what you originally signed on for, so no foul if you want out.” Dean's face was grave, his back stiff.
“That's it. No one is going to blame you—” Sam joined in.
“Oh, shut the fuck up already. I'm in. Now lets go get out stuff from the car, okay?” Victor punched Dean in the shoulder and elbowed Sam.
They laughed, a moment of humor and affection in the shadow of the oncoming war. Heading out to the Impala, Victor took the momentary break from the crowd to tug on Sam's and Dean's sleeve.
“Listen, since we're having the serious talks today—I just want you to know, I'm in for as long as you want me. I know the day may come—probably will come—when we'll want to or need to split up. But until then...I'm with you. I'm yours.”
Victor searched their eyes, hazel and green. Both pairs looked back at him, speaking of affection, trust...love. “We know. We feel the same way.”
They hugged, arms around each other in a tight little circle, shutting out the tension and noise around them. Victor positively felt a current of emotion go through them all; the circuit was complete.
“Okay! Enough with the chick flick!” Dean broke the circle, releasing the trunk and propping it open with a sawed-off. They removed their duffles and backpacks, then Dean lifted the false bottom. Victor never failed to be impressed with the breadth of the arsenal the Winchesters carried.
In silence they surveyed the gear, each man arming himself with his chosen weaponry. With a thump that echoed across the bones of the old dilapidated cars, Dean slammed the trunk closed.
“Come on. We've got work to do.”