A/N Thanks guys, so much, for all the reviews and encouragement! It took me a year, but this is it.

Everything came surging back, Dean coughing as a burning volatile chemical smell invaded his mind.

His eyes peeled open, coughing again, he became aware of the cold air in the room, and from his vantage point—he realized he was tied down to the table like the previous man had been, shirt opened so that his chest was exposed.

"What the hell is this? He was human, wasn't he?" Dean demanded, fighting against what he could now see were plastic bindings and duct tape around his body, his shirt ripped open to expose his chest.

"His name was Craig Dotter. He was a rapist and murderer," Dexter said coolly, "I verified his identity for myself. And there's no doubt as to his guilt. He very recently got away from a potential death penalty case on a technicality."

"So of course, you went out of your way to kill him," Dean sputtered, his tone disgusted as he tried futilely to move.

"Yes. I killed him. It had to be done. He attempted to abduct another young woman just as I intercepted him." Dexter explained, his tone calm as if what he'd just done was perfectly reasonable.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Dean breathed, his voice ragged.

"Nothing. Nothing's wrong with me, if I can use it," Dexter replied, looking down the blade of a knife he held at Dean.

"Use it? Killing people? Because this shit sure as hell, is not something we taught you. In fact, we've dealt with killers like you before. Not cause we wanted to, but coz we had to. And damnit if there ain't a fucking difference," Dean exhorted.

"Truth be told? I kill killers, rapists, child abusers, people the world's better off without. And now monsters of other persuasions, too." Dexter said nonchalantly, a small smile growing on his lips that made Dean shudder.

"Yeah, but you fucking like it." He hurled the accusation.

"Like you don't? You'd rather have killed me when I first came back to confront you and been done with it," Dexter shrugged.

"That is not the same thing at all," Dean protested, the muscles of his chest standing out as he struggled, trying to move uncomfortably beneath the tight duct tape and plastic bindings. "I've only ever done what I had to. You, though, you go looking for it, and you really like it. Now, that's just sick."

"I don't just like it. I need it," Dexter said.

"Like that fucking matters?!" Dean sputtered, now openly fighting against the bindings, his movements, though tightly restricted, frantic.

"You can stop trying," Dexter asserted, looking down at Dean as he rustled ineffectually on his table. "You're not getting out of that anytime soon, and even if you did, you're weak from the sedative. No chance in a fight."

"What the fuck is with you, though?!" Dean snapped. "What's your excuse, huh? What'd your conscience take a look at the fucked up shit you do and hightail it?"

"I woke up four inches deep in my own mother's blood with my brother, locked in a shipping container for days." He looked away at the plastic-draped wall as he spoke, glancing back to Dean to analyze his reaction.

"Oh, so I see, this is one of those sob stories. I was made this way, I can't help it—"

"No," Dexter shook his head. "I was made this way. My adoptive father taught me to kill. He thought it was inevitable. So…here I am, and here you are. I wasn't born a psychopath, in fact I don't entirely fit the clinical profile, so I don't pretend to use that as some excuse. Rather, I was brought up this way, believing I was this, and it's all I know. It's all a little too late now that I know better, though. I already am what I didn't have to become. So, I just use it as I see fit."

"Yeah, sure coz that makes it all OK." Dean said bitterly, his voice layered with sarcasm. "Trust me, I got one of those stories too. My family's been ripped apart by demons since before I was born. Turned out it was all a plot to and possess me and my brother. Lucifer wanted Sam and Micheal wanted me. They expected me to kill him so that they could shit on the world with the apocalypse. Fucking heaven and hell conspiring against us. But guess what? We found a way out. There's always a choice. So don't tell me that bullshit. I sure as hell am not buying it. We know better than that."

"It doesn't matter so much now, though, does it?" Dexter asked, his tone philosophical.

"What the hell are you going on about?" Dean replied, his voice dripping derision.

"What we were, doesn't matter. We are what we make ourselves…."

"Speaking of," Dean snorted, "What sort of shit game were you playing, trying to make yourself into with all that 'I'm a mercenary no I'm a biologist' bullshit?" Dean asked, tone harsh.

"You're right about that. Just a cover story. I was a blood spatter analyst. Before my sister who was a cop died in the line of duty, before that and my wife and…my life, falling apart, well, after that I had to run. There was nothing there for me anymore in Miami, so I came to Oregon, fell trees for awhile before the universes broke or, whatever it was that brought me here …"

Dexter shrugged. "Anyway, aside from that attitude, you seem like a reasonable enough person, not that different from me—"

"Fuck you! I am different! I don't kill people for shits and giggles!" Dean shouted.

"But you kill. You hunt. It's all you know, and in your own way, you like it. Now, I don't typically kill normal people, but, you? You know, and see, that's a problem."

"You want to kill me, freak?" Dean spat, "Go ahead. All I can say is I will be pissed as hell when I come back. And you don't want to deal with Sam, either. Or Cas. And they will find you, maybe even before I come back, and they will kill you, and you'll burn in Hell. Shit, if you ever come back as a demon, I won't mind killing you again."

"Sorry to hear that," Dexter said nonchalantly, turning away for a moment to reach for something.

"Cas-" Dean shouted, taking his chance.

"Oh, no, you don't," Dexter hissed, plunging something sharp deep into his neck.

As the world began to blur, Dean made out the rustle of wings as Castiel appeared—then there was a blinding golden flash and the angel disappeared as if swept away by a wind. As his head lolled to the side, his muscles giving way, the last thing Dean saw was Dexter standing beside the wall, the plastic pealed back to reveal the crimson smears of Enochian sigils that he'd pressed his bloodied hands to.

"Ah, fuck," he wheezed, his eyelids sagging loosely down over his eyes as the last weak words passed his lips.

"Fuck's right," Dexter echoed, shaking his head to himself as he put away the syringe he'd emptied in to Dean's carotid.

Choices like this, Dexter groaned to himself. He looked at Dean, passed out on the table. It would be so, so very easy to end it right here. The one person in this universe who knew, dead. A blade across the neck, laying open the jugular and carotid, or a deft jab with knifepoint to the vena cava just beneath the ribs was all it would take. He traced the curve of Dean's sternum with a forefinger, recalling another time in which he'd not have hesitated to do so. Just a couple slashes, and that was it. The life would drain away. But then, things had changed, in every way possible, since then. Dean, he thought, is a hunter. There aren't many of us out there. And if there really are that many monsters, we need all the hunters we can get, he thought, double checking for a pulse as he weighed his options.

He found it, somewhat sluggish but present, as he expected owing to what was now a double dose of the sedatives in his system.

Alive, for now. Dead men didn't talk, but all else aside, Dean Winchester was no ordinary man…

A sudden noise shattered his contemplation. He whirled as he heard an engine pull up, and the dull thud of a car door shutting, panic mounting. Someone's coming, he thought, ducking away behind another plastic-draped table out of view of the doorway, from which direction the noise had come.

Heavy footsteps came, and with them, a voice. "Oh, my god."

Dexter chanced a glance at an angle from behind his cover.

Sam. He was running towards the table where Dean lay now.

"Dean!" He gave him a jostle, which brought no response. A look of horror grew on Sam's face, his voice flooding with panic. "Dean! Oh, my god, Dean!"

He took in a sharp breath, pressing two fingers to his brother's neck, probing for a pulse. He pulled them away when he felt something wet. Blood, he saw, running his thumb over the crimson fluid that seeped from one of two small but fresh punctures at his brother's neck.

He startled as arms encircled his shoulders. He didn't have time to even resist before he felt the punch of something sharp at his neck as a burning sensation forced its way through his arteries.

"What the hell is going on—" he choked out as he began to lose control of his limbs, slowly losing altitude as his muscles began to give out.

Dexter eased him back against the table for a moment, looking him dead in the eye. "Your brother burst in on me while I was busy. You can stop worrying, he's just drugged, but understand, if you follow me, it will not be that way next time."

"D-Dean was righ—" Sam slurred, "You're twisstehh—"

"No," Dexter sighed. "No more than—" He cut himself off as he dove to catch Sam, who abruptly slid off the edge of the table, fully unconscious now.

He grabbed him by the back of the shirt, bracing as he momentarily supported the full weight of the hunter's body, which he let hit the floor in a somewhat more controlled fashion, grabbing his arms to slow the descent of his upper body once his rear was planted firmly on the floor.

He allowed Sam's head to go back more slowly, sighing as he turned away. As he grabbed his tools, he paused, turning.

"Really though, don't follow me," he exhorted to the unconscious brothers.

With that, he alighted out the door into the darkness.

The first thing Sam was aware of was how horribly uncomfortable he was. Something hard pressed into his back, and his head was pounding. He tried to sit up, but everything spun.

"Whoah, there, Sammy. Slow down." Dean's voice cut through the massive haze that blotted out his senses, his vision turning a strange dull tan as he tried clumsily to open his eyes.

"Chill a minute, dude. That stuff's nasty. Takes a while to wake up." Dean again, his hands pressing Sam gently back to the surface he lay on.

Something rustled as he settled back, a strange, paperish feeling surface against his hands as his fingers instinctively searched for something to grab.

"Wh—" He groaned, trying to put words to the sensations that whirled about, nameless in his mind.

"Freak drugged us both," Dean supplied succinctly. "You came looking, I guess, if you got my text, and he jumped you too. Comes up behind you when your back's turned, right? Don't feel like you have to answer that right now. Don't spose you really can—anyways, looks like we have another monster on our list."

"Nuhhh," Sam gurgled, the sound strange as it came through is lips, still clumsy from the drugs.

"Oh, just shut up," Dean groaned, "Coz if I didn't know better, sounds like you're trying to say no. The drug's still talking, obviously."

Several long, dizzy minutes went by as Sam's body came back to him. His eyes peeled open to a too-bright room flooded with light by utility lamps that stood in the corners, the furniture, floors and walls covered in opaque white plastic sheeting, except one area, he noticed, where it was ripped back to reveal sigils smeared onto the walls in blood.

And there, kneeling on the floor beside him, was Dean, staring down expectantly.

"Alright, I guess you can sit up, now," he shrugged, noting Sam's purposeful gaze. Dean offered him a hand, which he took uncertainly, heaving himself up on his elbows with his brother's help.

Sam sat up for a few minutes, Dean waiting silently beside him.

"Alright, you ready to try to get up, man?" he asked.

"I guess," Sam assented, rolling into a kneeling position as

Dean steadied him by the arm.

Standing shakily, Sam found his way to his feet, which felt as if they were made of lead. He stumbled a few steps, following Dean out to the car, where they climbed in.

"We have to find him," Dean muttered through gritted teeth as he gunned it in reverse, turning tightly around the building as they roared off back toward the road.

"Yeah," Sam muttered, reluctance to agree tinting his voice.

"What the hell dude, you sound like you wanted to say no. Did you hit your head or something?! He's a monster—"

"Yeah, but…why would he let us go?" Sam replied earnestly, giving Dean a look.

"Doesn't matter, he's a sick fuck and he needs to be put down-"

"I mean, it just doesn't make sense to me—"

"What the hell does that matter? Sickos don't do stuff because it makes sense-"

"It doesn't, not really. I'm just saying, he had the chance to kill us, easily. It would have been to his benefit, he had to know that. And he didn't."

"Yeah, sure, that's great for us. But What about the next person, huh?!' Dean snapped, "They may not be so lucky!"

"I know, I don't like it either, but what do you want to do? He's gone."

"Find him!" Dean fairly shouted, flinging up a hand from the steeringwheel to gesture his exasperation.

"Dean." A deep voice came from the back seat, startling both brothers. They both looked back to see Castiel.

"Damn, Cas," Dean snapped, giving the angel a harsh glare in the rearview where their eyes met. "We talked about the whole personal space and the sudden come sudden go thing ages ago, didn't we?"

"Yes," the Angel muttered, "However, if you're finished commenting on my travel habits, I was going to say, I was extremely worried given what happened back there."

"Yeah, I was too," Dean replied angrily. "But more to the point, we have to find him."

"About that," Castiel replied grimly. "I tried, but it seems I can't track him."

"Shit," Sam muttered. "He must have lifted one of our hex bags…"

"Yeah, that would do it," Dean nodded his agreement. "Although we wouldn't be in this mess if it wasn't for your how-to-be-a-hunter boot camp."

"I know, alright?" Sam muttered, irritation edging into his tone. "Knowing this, I wish I hadn't trusted him either."

"Yeah, you had to go trust the serial killing psychopath with some of the most important information we have," Dean spouted.

"Hey! How were we supposed to know—" Sam began.

"Oh, I dunno, dark twisted soul, maybe?!" Dean suggested.

"It's as much my fault as either yours," Castiel admitted solemnly. "I could not read him definitively, and I'm sorry you paid for that."

"Yeah, well, you could've at least taken my word for it, Sam," Dean griped, sending his brother a withering look.

"I know!" Sam sputtered, shaking his head. "I was wrong. OK? I get it. What more do you want?"

"His head, on a plate," Dean jibed.

"Yeah, sure," Sam muttered, "That might the best idea for everybody involved. If we knew where he was…"

Two men stood in an alley, exchanging blows, one hissing as he caught the hand which held the machete the other struck with.

"What are you, a hunter?" The vampire taunted as he tried to wrench the machete from Dexter's grasp, but failed, taking a knee to the chest instead.

"Yeah," he grunted as he planted another blow to the creature's temple, this one with his left fist, rearing back his right arm with the bush knife to take a swing—at least until the vampire caught his elbow, using the momentum from the swing to jerk Dexter around so that he was backed up to the wall. He tried to squirm away, but failed.

"But you're not a normal hunter. Admit it." The vampire hissed, leaning in heavily from where he had him pinned with his back against the rough bricks, gloating with a cold smile of enjoyment at the expected fear, which Dexter refused to supply. "Oh, come on, you enjoy this." It accused, snarling boredly with displeasure at his lack of apparent terror.

"You're right," Dexter choked out as he wrenched free, his machete hand hooking back to make a hard swing. "There are monsters to fight," he said as he grunted from effort as it connected, grinning with satisfaction at the final look of shock at his blow that twisted the vampire's face. He jerked the blade free as the head fell away.

"Monsters bigger than me."