Fandoms: Criminal Minds/Supernatural
Characters Emily Prentiss, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester
Pairings: slight Dean/Emily
Word count: 3,014
Spoilers: Vague S5 for Criminal Minds, S3 for Supernatural
Warnings: Descriptions of violence
Disclaimer: Criminal Minds and Supernatural belong to their respective creators, who are not me.
A/N: Thanks to brighteyed_jill for betaing.
Summary: Emily Prentiss receives an e-mail from a dead man that changes how she sees the world around her.
“Victor Hendrickson is dead.”
Prentiss looked up sharply at Morgan as he made that announcement. “What?”
“Victor Hendrickson and Carl Reidy are dead. There was a gas explosion at Monument, Colorado police station; they were there picking up a couple of suspects.” He was scrolling through the online agency newsletter, a frown on his face as he looked through the newly-posted article.
Prentiss kept up her expression of concern, not wanting to let it go to fear, not yet.
“You know Hendrickson, didn’t you?” Morgan said.
“Yeah, I did a profile for him for a couple of guys he was chasing.” Her heart raced, her mouth was dry. She sipped her coffee automatically and tasted nothing.
“According to this, his two perps died in a helicopter crash a couple hours before the explosion. Damn,” Morgan said, shaking his head.
“I… He would have rather they’d gone to jail. His wife--,” Prentiss stopped herself, realizing she was starting to babble. She shook her head in acknowledgement of the futility of trying to change the past. Morgan sighed as he scanned through the rest of the newsletter. Prentiss excused herself quietly. She snagged her phone and went to the bathroom, locking herself in a stall. Bringing up her e-mail, she opened the letter she had read just this morning. The one that had her rearranging her entire worldview.
Emily, I hate to tell you this, but you were wrong, and that’s on me. I had you make a profile for me on the Winchester brothers, but I didn’t know the half of it. None of this is your fault. You gave me the best damn profile you could with what I gave you. Here’s the truth of the matter – all that bullshit those two fed me about monsters and ghosts and demons? They weren’t hallucinations.
Monsters are real.
Dean picked up his phone, looking at the caller ID. Restricted number. Either a telemarketer that was in for a real surprise or… something very bad. He’d about had it up to here with bad things. He answered the phone, but kept his mouth shut.
Female, not young, not old, businesslike, calm. Cop, fed, lawyer, someone who sounded like they knew their shit. “Yeah, who’re you?”
Sam looked over at him, and Dean gestured sharply at him to be silent.
“A friend of Victor Hendrickson.”
Dean sat up straight. “He’s dead. How did you get this number?”
“I know he’s dead. He sent me an e-mail before he died.”
That’s my password to the case file, take a look with fresh eyes. Because those two sons of bitches weren’t lying. I just spent the strangest night of my life having that proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt. I was possessed by a demon, then they unpossessed me, and we just spent the last half-hour fighting of a hoard of demon-possessed townies.
No, I wasn’t that tired. No, I wasn’t drugged. I just had pure evil force itself down my throat, and I couldn’t have imagined that. I don’t expect you to believe me. Hell, I’m not sure I believe it myself, except I lived through it. Do me a favor, stock up on salt and holy water, because we’re going to need that a lot more than bullets and badges.
“And you just believed him?” Dean peered out the corner of the motel window, looking for the tell-tale signs of advancing undercover police. Sam returned from the back with a quick shake of his head: no one sneaking up on them that way. Maybe this chick was actually legit.
“Victor Hendrickson was a lot of things, but he wasn’t known for flights of fancy,” she said.
“Touché. Why’d he give you my number?”
“Because he thought I should learn from you. Because he completely reversed his opinion of you. Because he wasn’t sure he was going to live out the night.” Her voice went flat at the last statement, and Dean felt a stab of guilt. “Because Victor was skeptical, thorough, and dedicated, not to mention the last time I talked to him he wanted you both put in solitary confinement to rot. Anything that could get him to write an e-mail telling me to talk to you if he died is important.”
You and your team go up against monsters every day. But I just learned some of those monsters have a little extra help from Downstairs. You’re going to need the edge if these evil sons of bitches start turning up in your area. That’s Dean’s cell number below. Give him a call if I can’t convince you, or if I don’t make it back, and see if you can get him to teach you what he knows.
I know I should tell you all this to your face, but the way things have gone today this might be my only chance. Call me paranoid, but I needed to get this info out to someone I can trust. If I manage to beat your callback, then I guess I made it home all right.
Hope you don’t decide I’m too crazy,
There was a long moment of silence from Dean’s end of the phone, with some muttering in the background. Dean’s brother, Sam, had to be.
“Why trust us?” That was a different voice. Definitely Sam.
“Judging from what I know about you, setting off a gas main to destroy a whole police station isn’t your style. If you wanted Victor dead, you would have just shot him,” Prentiss said.
“And how much do you know about us?” That was Dean’s voice again.
“I know you’re going to need more than Victor’s last report to keep you two dead,” she said. She had to offer them something to keep them engaged, because they probably weren’t going to keep talking to her just out of the goodness of their hearts. Whether or not she kept up her end of the unspoken bargain would depend on what they could tell her.
“Hate to break it to you, but there are enough spare bodies charred to a crisp to pass for us,” Dean said. He was being deliberately callous, but Prentiss could hear the defensiveness in his tone. Whatever had gone down in Monument hadn’t been planned, hadn’t been good, and had cost them high.
“Not that, about staying off the grid,” she clarified.
“Lady, we’ve been doing that practically since we were born,” Dean said shortly.
“You can use different names, fake credit cards, and all the false IDs you want, but if your same kind of crimes keep popping up, someone’s going to put it together eventually. And this time it might be my team.”
“What’s so scary about your team?”
“I’m the one that gave Hendrickson the tips for hunting you down in the first place.”
There was ten seconds of dead silence on the line, then another few minutes of muffled conversation. Finally, Dean came back with, “What do you want to know?”
Prentiss heaved a silent sigh of relief at hearing his capitulation. It was time to see if the Winchesters were anything like what Victor Hendrickson had claimed. His e-mail couldn’t have come at a worse time for setting her off-balance, and it was letting her honestly think that contacting probable criminals was a good idea. Because her job was always hard, but now it was getting to the point of minor madness. She fought evil: that was her job description. But there had been cases recently that even she couldn’t explain away by a subject’s tragic upbringing, mental illness, or deliberately twisted morality. There had been crimes that had come out of nowhere, suspects that claimed they didn’t know what they were doing or couldn’t stop themselves. There had been far more than the usual claims of possession, and a lot of them from people with little to no religious background.
It had been far-flung enough to first make her wonder, then worry, and finally want to find an alternative explanation for what was becoming truly inexplicable.
And Victor had provided that with his unwitting final words.
“Tell me about demons.”
Dean put the phone on speaker and set it down on the bed. Sam had pulled this stunt more than he had, explaining about the real world to civilians, so he let him start. Dean put in his own anecdotes, but mostly he was listening to her (the agent? She hadn’t given her name) responses. He had to hand it to this lady, she took their unbelievable life without scoffing, without laughing, and without freaking out. She listened, she asked questions, she backtracked to try to find inconsistencies.
And under all that hard-baked professionalism, Dean thought he could hear fear. Maybe she was some kind of FBI specialist, but it sounded like she’d just had one thing too many happen to her. She was ready to think about something other than the “normal” explanations, and that was freaking her out. Dean knew that kind of fear, the kind that made you doubt your own sanity. He’d been experiencing that most of his life too.
If they were very lucky, maybe they’d be able to save her before whatever demons were tracking the FBI decided to put her on the menu. That might just make up for what they hadn’t been able to do for Victor.
Two weeks later…
Emily took a deep breath as she took a small bottle from her purse. Deftly she unscrewed the cap of the water bottle Reid has requested for their suspect, and poured a small amount of clear liquid inside. After another five seconds the small bottle had returned to the depths of her handbag, and she’d tossed the water bottle to Reid. Then she joined him in the interrogation room, remaining standing as Reid handed the water to the grim-faced suspect. Despite the dark expression, there was nothing in Mark Abraham’s record or any interviews with friends or family to explain why he’d suddenly gone on a three-day killing spree in such a spectacularly gruesome manner. Nothing. Not an e-mail, no changes or stresses at work or home, no changes in behavior.
The only thing different was his dog’s unease about him. And the traces of sulfur around the crime scenes. If Sam and Dean were wrong, then nothing would happen, and Mark Abraham would go to jail for being caught in the act and laughing about it. But if Sam and Dean were right…
Abraham glared at Reid, smiling very tightly as he and Emily came back, and took the water as if it were his just due.
“Can you tell me why you killed Miranda?” Reid asked, spreading out picture of the latest crime scene.
“She was a nice chick,” he said, unscrewing the cap. “Shame about that.”
Emily held her breath as the water touched his lips.
And let it all out again as Abraham jumped back, choking and smoking at the mouth.
Emily grabbed Reid by the collar and shoved him out the door, looking back long enough to see Abraham’s eyes had gone solid black, and his face was twisted with hatred she’d never seen before, not on the most emotional psychopath, not on the most remorseful killer.
The Winchesters had been right.
Hotchner and Morgan were yelling as Emily slammed the door shut behind her, drawing their guns, but she ignored them as she grabbed the container of table salt by the microwave. She liberally poured salt across the windowsill and doorway, and breathed a sigh of relief as Abraham stopped trying to pound his way through them.
Reid watched her with wide eyes as Emily cast the salt container aside, and Hotchner and Morgan were silent for sixty stunned seconds.
Then they opened the floodgates on her.
“Took me a hell of a lot of fancy verbal footwork to convince them I’d seen signs of some kind of demon possession fantasy and just hadn’t had time to tell it to the group. I stuck a devil’s trap transparency under the mattress in his cell, so he isn’t going anywhere.”
Dean grinned into the phone, not minding that the lady agent had called during dinner. “Yeah, I guess it’s a little harder to BS when you got steady co-workers.”
“No kidding. You have no idea how hard it was to figure out a way to get those anti-possession medals into their holsters too.”
“So, we pass your test?” Dean asked. “You believe Victor now?”
“With flying colors. I believe you.” She paused for a long moment, and Dean could hear the agony of hesitation as she took a further step down the rabbit hole Dean had been living in most of his life. “I sure as hell believe you. How’s that exorcism ritual go, exactly?”
One month later…
“Hey, heads up,” Sam said, trying to look nonchalant as he subtly gestured towards the cordoned-off crime scene.
Dean didn’t turn until he’d heard the sound of footsteps heading in his direction, just in time to meet the eyes of the black-haired lady in the power suit who’d just ducked under the tape. He tried to remember which ID he had on him, because she looked like she wasn’t going to go away until she’d grilled each and every person around the “arson site.” Ok, so it actually was arson, but there just weren’t that many ways of getting rid of vampire bodies discretely, and they’d been in a rush. How the hell were they supposed to know that the old fire alarm had been hooked up? Or that the police had been in the area and had gotten the road blocked off before they could split?
“Gentlemen, mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Dean took a double take. And then a triple take for good measure. Because the face didn’t ring any bells, but he’d heard that voice before. How the hell had she…?
Emily smiled when Dean suddenly guessed her identity. “Nice mug shots, Dean, Sam.”
He grinned briefly before dropping into an appropriately sober mien for a federal agent questioning a bystander.
“Yeah. They got my good side,” he said, with a sideways wink that showed how he’d managed to con his way through the necessities of life. “Nice to meet you Agent…?”
Emily brought out her ID, gratified to see the Winchester’s eyes bug slightly. “SSA Emily Prentiss, FBI.”
“So that’s what the real deal looks like,” Sam muttered.
“I’m more interested at what the real deal inside that warehouse is going to look like,” Emily said. “Because I just spent the last month exorcising a half-dozen suspects, and I’m running out of excuses.”
“Depends on how you feel about vampires,” Dean said cheerfully.
Emily put her face in her hand for a second, wondering if she could find a convenient wall to beat her head against. “Are werewolves real too?”
“And so are ghosts, ghouls, shapeshifters, and a lot of other things that go bump in the night,” Dean promised. “I’ll mail you the short version on all the major nasties.”
She looked up again, feeling remarkably calm at his calm. She did have an ally, make that two, in all of this insanity. “Make it something I can tell the others, will you?”
“Hey, it’s up to you if you want to pull the curtain off for them. You made your choice,” Dean said. “You sure you want to make theirs for them?”
Emily shook her head, wondering if she could ever explain. Considering the way things were going, they’d probably figure it out on their own before she managed to figure out a way to broach it herself. “I owe you. Thanks.”
“Hey, uh, anything to help,” Dean said, shoving his hands deep into his pockets and looking down at her with a faint smile.
“You know,” Emily said, looking over Dean’s shoulder at the oil-black, mint-condition vintage Impala, “You couldn’t have a car more likely to spike on the radar unless it was red and covered in flames.”
“The car’s a deal-breaker; Dad gave her to me. My baby goes with me,” Dean said almost instantly, as Sam made frantic negating gestures behind his head at her.
Emily looked over the at the car and remembered that the Winchesters had no fixed address, no real place to sleep except for endless strings of motels and the occasional friend’s couch. That car was probably the closest thing they had to home. For a girl that hadn’t spent more than a year in a single place growing up, Emily could relate. Her return smile was bittersweet, and Dean lost his defensive edge.
“I said I’d help you, and I meant it. But if the car is a no-go, then I have something else for you.” Emily pulled out the two stiff IDs, carefully crafted during a “training exercise,” and handed them over under the cover of a handshake. “Drop the rock-band cover names.”
Dean flipped open one ID to find his own face staring back from a clean FBI identification, and his eyes widened.
“It’s not going to pass hard scrutiny, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the ones you were using. Be careful out there; I’m going to have a lot more questions. I’ll call when I can,” Emily said, and started to turn away, knowing her team was going to start wondering why she was talking to these two for so long.
“Hey,” Dean said, catching her elbow briefly. “You don’t have to wait to call. I mean, you never know how things are gonna go.”
For a minute, Emily could see past the bravado and right to the part of him that said: I’m living on borrowed time. I fight monsters for a living, and every day could be my last one.
“I’ll be in touch,” she said, catching his eyes. And she knew that, for a minute, Dean could see the same in her.
Prompt: Pairing: Dean/Prentiss (gen or romantic), hope.