Warnings/Tags: violence, squick, gore, horror, graphic discussions of torture, mentions of rape…possibly a swear or two?
Spoilers: "No Way Out," "No Way Out II: The Evilution of Frank," and "Nelson's Sparrow." General spoilers for both shows, but for both Supernatural and Criminal Minds, this story is not tied too closely to either timeline. If it really bugs you, this takes place somewhere in the back half of season 10 of both shows (kind of eps 15-16ish, but I'm not going to be talking about the Mark of Cain, or Cas's Grace, or Hotch's breakup, or any of that. The only story arc element that gets touched on is the recent death of Jason Gideon (*sniff*). Beyond that, no major story arc connections.
Disclaimer: Criminal Minds and everything associated with it was created by Jeff Davis and is the property of CBS Television Studios. Supernatural and everything associated with it was created by Eric Kripke and is the property of Warner Bros. Television. No money has changed hands and no copyright infringement is intended or implied.
Author's Notes: The title of this fic refers to the Criminal Minds episodes "No Way Out," and "No Way Out II: The Evilution Of Frank." There are not two preceding fics and this is not part of a series. Sorry if there's any confusion.
I am an American, writing about American characters. I make no apologies for the cultural references. Though I do welcome any questions, and I have explained some of the ones that might be a little abstruse in the author's notes at the end.
Also, for anyone easily squicked out, let me be absolutely clear: the warnings are not a joke or a precaution. Despite its penchant for unhappy endings, Supernatural has never been even remotely close to as dark or violent—even during mid-season cliffhangers or season finales—as Criminal Minds is every damn week. That is a show that routinely plumbs the depth of human depravity, which is a very deep well. While, yes, the SPN side of this fic is present and accounted for, I feel that it does achieve CM-appropriate levels of horrible. This bad guy is very bad and he does very bad things, which I am going to spell out for you in exactly so many words, and I will not be pausing in the flow of the story to give you a heads up. This is your last warning!
It was late afternoon in Letona, Arkansas. The sun was at that just-about-to-set place that made everything look a little bit gilded. And Heather Owens was enjoying it as much as she could from her place behind the bar. She didn't dislike her job, really, more than anyone would. AFB was a clean place, the regulars tended to tip well, her schedule was fair, and they didn't get too many rowdy or handsy drunks. On the whole, not much to complain about, really. But when outside looked as glorious as it did now, anyone in the world would want to be anywhere but work. Especially since the news on the radio wouldn't shut up about that missing girl. Not that Heather wasn't sympathetic, but there was nothing she could do and she wasn't really into spectating on somebody else's tragedy. And that girl had gone missing from a good ways eastward, which meant there was even less Heather could do.
Heather was responsible, though, so as tempting as it was to play hooky, she had no plans of actually doing it. Still, there was no reason she couldn't at least step out back for a second. Besides, that trash can really did need to get emptied. She had the bags swapped and was headed out to the dumpster behind the bar in a second.
The sun through the tree leaves in the back really was gorgeous, although the smell from the dumpster somewhat dampened the effect. But happy hour wasn't for another half-hour, so she had a second or two to enjoy the fresh air. Heather pulled out a cigarette, fishing in her apron for her lighter when a pick-up she'd never seen before pulled up beside the dumpster. There was a man in the driver's seat. They spoke briefly, then the man stepped out of the car, and backhanded Heather roughly across the face.
She fell back against the dumpster, before trying to struggle to her feet. The man raised his hand again, this time not touching her. But he held his hand up and she was dragged forwards by her neck anyway, touching or no touching. The man hit her again and again until her head lolled on her shoulders. Then he threw her in the passenger's seat of his truck before fishing out a very full plastic bag, tied shut. He threw the bag into the dumpster, then got into the driver's seat and drove away. The entire encounter took less than one minute.
Heather Owens. Thirty-five-year-old white female. Missing person.
Sam Winchester awoke to the smell of sausage biscuits and coffee. He groaned and levered himself off the motel bed (not one of the better ones he'd slept on and damn but he'd slept on enough to know).
"Mornin' sunshine," came Dean's entirely-too-cheerful voice from somewhere over near the window. Ish.
"Shut up," Sam replied.
"Don't be grumpy. I brought you breakfast."
He made bleary-eyed grabby hands for the coffee until Dean surrendered it. After downing his first sip and letting the caffeine soak into his tongue, he finally decided to give some thought to making peace with being awake.
Sam would be the first to tell you, he wasn't exactly a morning person. Dean liked sleep as much as the next guy, but he'd always bounced out of bed exactly when he needed to. Sam had managed to adjust, but he was never happy to be getting up early.
Today, however, even he had to admit he was snarlier than usual.
It was the ghost's fault, of course. They'd come out to Tennessee on a salt-and-burn case. Nothing that exciting, or even terribly difficult, really. Finding the right grave wasn't hard, so as soon as the cemetery had closed, they'd snuck in and started digging. Sam had been taking a turn with the shovel when their ghost made an appearance. And Dean was covering him, of course, but the shotgun had jammed. No rock salt rounds to save him this time. The ghost had thrown Sam bodily across the graveyard, and he'd managed to slice his shoulder open on a rock when he landed.
Of course Dean had taken over digging while Sam kept the ghost occupied, so it was toast a few moments later, and he'd only needed four stitches. It could have been a lot worse. Of course, "could have been worse" didn't really help him much now, waking up stiff with his bruises having bruises.
Sam slowly worked his way through the biscuit and coffee and watched as Dean examined their shotgun.
"So what jammed it?" Sam finally asked.
Dean huffed and handed the gun to Sam. "Check out the barrel."
Sam cracked open the shotgun and looked inside. And winced. The inside of the barrel was full of scrapes and scratches. It was a miracle this gun hadn't broken down long before now.
"Yeah, I don't think a cleaning is gonna fix that," Dean said, responding to Sam's wince.
"We could replace the barrel," Sam said. But as he ran through the action on it a couple times he wasn't sure it was worth it. The foreend felt like it was catching on something, the sight was bent, and the entire stock felt like it was loose and sitting wrongly on his shoulder.
"I'm thinking this one's about had it, Sammy," Dean replied, agreeing with Sam's thoughts and shaking his head.
"We'll need another one, then. I'll start tuning up some clean IDs."
"I'll check the local laws," Dean agreed.
Buying new guns was a constant hassle. Hunting was a full-contact profession. Rock salt and iron pellets were hard on a gun barrel. Smashing the butt end into a demon's head or having the guns constantly flung around rooms and into things by ghosts… Well, all of that was hard on the rest of the gun. The shotguns in particular, tended to get banged up, since they were in pretty heavy rotation. And, of course, a shotgun would almost never jam when used correctly, but beating up ghosts was hardly covered by the warranty.
It was possible to get an illegal gun from a dealer, but Sam had never felt comfortable handing money to people who sold automatic weapons to the MS13s, and Dean tended to agree. Plus, it was expensive (a lot more so usual gun prices), and there weren't a whole lot of street dealers who kept 12-gauge shotguns regularly in stock. Not to mention that breaking the law as little as possible was a good way to stay off the grid.
On the other hand, walking into the nearest Gander Mountain meant that they had to pass a background check, and possibly even surrender fingerprints, depending on the state. Which, given their history, was a fairly tall order.
Plus, just because a licensed dealer was less expensive, that didn't mean guns were cheap.
So, Sam started in on building them a couple of IDs that would pass a background check while Dean grabbed the computer and started hunting up the state laws on gun buys.
It was about an hour-and-a-half later when Sam sat back and said, "Okay, my eyes are starting to cross."
"Tennessee's a no-go anyway," Dean answered. "But I found us a case in Arkansas, so we can pick up a new shotgun while we're there."
"What? No, Dean, we just finished a case! We're going back to the Bunker," Sam protested.
"Three women abducted, one in Tennessee, two in Arkansas. Second one taken on the day the first one turns up dead," Dean began. "Third girl went missing last night."
"That's a serial killer, tip the FBI," Sam said.
"Right rib bones missing from each body, both still being recovered, in pieces" Dean continued as if he hadn't heard Sam.
"Definitely a serial," Sam continued, suppressing a shudder. Pieces? Really?
"And the first girl was found over fifty miles west of where she was abducted."
"Absolutely none of this is not a serial killer."
"And, get this," Dean finished, "all of that is identical to the signature of serial killer Frank Breitkopf, and he's been dead since 2007."
Sam blinked. He hated to admit it, but that was kind of weird. Still… "Copycat."
"This guy was not a celebrity serial. He didn't have groupies, he didn't make waves. He wasn't the sort to attract copycats." Dean took a breath. "Maybe you're right. Maybe this is a copycat serial killer. But let's swing by and make sure."
Sam scowled at his brother. "Fine. We'll go make sure."
As they drove, Sam finished the mock-ups for their clean IDs, so that he could put them together at the local Kinko's. Dean had already fished out some Fed creds, so that when they made it in to Letona, Arkansas—after a brief stop to change into their suits—they were able to introduce themselves to the owner of the AFB Bar & Grill as Special Agents Meredith and Warne. Sam gave Dean the Meredith ID. Dean pretended that his manhood was threatened mostly out of habit, but it amused them both anyway.
The sign by the door proclaimed "AFB" to stand for "Another F#¢≤ing Bar," and claimed—in colorful letters—"Free Beer, Topless Bartenders, and False Advertising!" Under other circumstances, Sam thought this might be a fun place to kill a few drinks and score some cash hustling pool. As it was, they didn't learn anything very much about the victim's disappearance. Heather Owens, totally reliable until her disappearance, reasonably good at her job, generally well-liked, boring, boring, boring.
"And there's nothing else you can tell us about the night she disappeared?" Sam pressed, about ready to call this interview and demand that they make for Lebanon.
"Well, the dumpster smelled a little weird. Like rotten eggs. Which is strange, 'cause we don't use that many eggs in our cooking, so we don't buy that many and we use 'em up when we do. They never have time to go bad," the man replied.
Dean shot Sam a triumphant I-told-you-so look behind the owner's back. They asked a few more routine questions, but it was obvious they weren't going to learn much from this place, so they were walking back to the Impala a few minutes later.
"Sulfur," Dean said.
"So this is a case."
"Looks that way."
They reached the car, and Dean paused to look at Sam across the roof. Sam tried not to, but he couldn't help but glance at his brother.
Dean's expression was predictably gleeful and smug. "Shut up," Sam said, pulling the door open.
"I didn't say anything," Dean replied.
"Yes, you did," Sam returned, sliding into his seat.
Dean took up his place behind the wheel with a grin. "You thought this was a serial killer!"
Sam buried his head in his hands.
The very best of the Devil's tricks is to persuade you that he does not exist.
– Charles Baudelaire
Morgan entered the BAU headquarters in Quantico, headed for his office. It was still early in the morning, and he wasn't done with his coffee yet. And he was disappointed to find Reid and Garcia at Reid's desk, squabbling over something.
He loved them both like family, but it was too damn early to deal with whatever nerdy thing—
"Let's ask Morgan!" they both said, practically in unison.
And there it went.
"Ask Morgan what?" he said with a smile on his face, because he hated himself and had no regard for his own well-being.
"Why it is that you think zombie apocalypse fiction is so popular? Garcia claims it's due to the inherent fear of loosing our humanity, but I think its current upswing is tied to the economic recession," Reid explained.
Morgan looked between the two, blinked, and finally said, "I don't want to take sides here."
Reid and Garcia just smiled at him, obviously not having expected him to say anything—possibly because they were wonderful—and Garcia said, "Smart move, my chocolate delight."
Morgan gave her a wink and started up the stairs for his office.
"Briefing room in five," Garcia called after him.
It was actually a good idea to start the briefing in something of a good mood. Because the kinds of cases Garcia showed them were guaranteed to bring anyone down, and today's was no exception.
Garcia started by clicking through photos of dismembered body parts (refusing to look at the screen as she did so) found along the roads in western Tennessee and eastern Arkansas and talking them through the features of the crimes as they were aware of them so far.
"…So, all of these things match, for the most part, the signature of Frank Breitkopf, who most of you remember died by jumping in front of a train in May of 2007," Garcia finished up.
Morgan blinked in surprise. "Breitkopf has a copycat?"
"It's highly usual, considering copycats are usually attention-seeking," Reid commented, sounding more subdued than his usual self, "but Frank Breitkopf went undetected for years, and his signature includes several very effective counter-measures." He paused for a moment and then said, "Gideon suspected he killed a few people between their confrontation in Golconda and Breitkopf's murder of Sarah Jacobs. But even being aware of his methods, Gideon wasn't able to locate any potential victims. It's incredibly rare for a copycat to choose to emulate a serial killer who is not well-known."
"Well-known or not, Breitkopf killed almost two hundred people. Maybe this copycat thinks they should copy from the best," Rossi said.
"So far, all of the victims are women," Callahan said. "Possibly the copycat has a sexual motive where Breitkopf didn't?"
"The police in Arkansas have already invited us in," Hotch said. "They're hoping that they are being over-cautious, but if they're right, we need to get on top of this. Wheels up in thirty."
They reconvened on the plane with copies of both the current case file, and some copies of the original case against Frank Breitkopf.
Callahan nudged Morgan's elbow. "Tell me about Breitkopf. It seems to be really getting to Reid."
"Frank Breitkopf made it personal with Gideon. We profiled him as a team, but he focused on Gideon. With someone copycatting him so soon after Gideon died… It's kind of getting to me too," Morgan admitted.
Because it was. Any second now he expected to hear Gideon step in with that slow, thoughtful voice and explain how they shouldn't focus on Breitkopf, but come up with a profile for their new killer.
"So, what's different in the copycat?" Hotch asked, possibly hearing Gideon's voice in his own mind saying the same thing.
"Breitkopf took care to dispose of the victim's bodies in ways that would go unnoticed," J.J. said, still looking over the photos from her seat. "This copycat wasn't nearly so cautious. In fact, it appears that they simply discarded the parts wherever it was convenient. Both arms, and the majority of the torso were discovered by busy, well-lit roadsides that were heavily traveled."
Just then, the video monitor on board came to life and Penelope Garcia's face filled up the screen. "Greetings, my lovelies, I come bearing gifts. The ME has some preliminary findings on the body parts recovered so far. Still no hits on the victims' DNA, and the bottom half of the second torso hasn't been recovered. However, the first victim's lower torso was intact, and the ME confirmed the presence of semen, along with tissue damage consistent with a rape. DNA is running now, I will contact you if there are any hits."
"So, that's different," Morgan said. "Breitkopf didn't rape his victims."
"The ME's report also says that the missing rib bones appear to have been broken off manually by the UNSUB," Garcia finished.
Jaws dropped all over the plane at that. "He tore out her rib with his bare hand?" Rossi said.
"According to the ME," Garcia replied.
Rossi blinked. "That would take a lot of brute force, even if the victim was already dead."
Garcia frowned. "No such luck, I'm afraid. For reasons that are icky, so I didn't read them, the ME believes the victim was alive through the rib removal, but died shortly afterwards, before the UNSUB…cut her up. Which the ME says was done using a manual saw."
Garcia's face was going a little pale, so Morgan offered her his biggest ladykiller grin. "You know we couldn't do this without you, Baby Girl."
Garcia glanced at him through the video monitor, which was actually away from the camera, and did seem to relax a bit. "Thank you, hot stuff. I'm going to regroup with a few kittens and then dive back in to trying to find our first victim."
"Thank you, Garcia," Hotch told her. Garcia terminated the call, and the team shared an uneasy look. An UNSUB who could yank a rib bone out of a living human chest was physically strong on a level Morgan didn't care to contemplate. He was the fittest person on the team and he couldn't do that on his best day. And the UNSUB had apparently gone straight from tearing out a rib bone to manually sawing the body to pieces, which was another physically demanding task. Morgan hoped that the local LEOs had some really big guys on the force. It was beginning to sound like they'd need at least four of them.
Letona was a painfully small town, so all of its police work was handled by the White County Sheriff's Department located in Searcy. It was about a twenty minute drive, and Sam had finished all the in-the-car busywork he could do, so he was started in doing research on Frank Breitkopf.
"Okay, Frank Breitkopf," Sam said, reading off his discoveries out loud for Dean, "born to a Mary Louise Breitkopf in Manhattan. Traveled slowly across the United States, east to west every year. Credited with…whoa."
"Whoa what?" Dean asked.
Sam realized he'd been silent for several moments. "Sorry. He's credited with 178 known murders."
"Yeah," Sam agreed. "Anyway, had two confrontations with the FBI, both over a woman named Jane Hanratty. Hanratty was a woman he abducted and was going to kill early on in his career, but he spared her for some reason. Apparently he fell in love with her."
"I don't think a guy like that loves anybody," Dean said.
"Well, he got as close as he could get, supposedly," Sam shrugged. "He'd visit her in Golconda, Nevada every year. And he would leave wind chimes for her made out of human rib bones."
"Yeah, that's what his sheet says. Rib-bone wind chimes," Sam said.
Dean huffed out an annoyed breath. "Demons I get."
"People are crazy," Sam nodded, finishing their old stand-by. "Eventually the FBI caught up to him, so he hijacked a bus full of seven-year-olds and told them that if they didn't give him Hanratty and a clear shot out of town, then he wouldn't tell them where the kids were and they'd all die."
Dean scowled as they pulled in to town. "I hate this guy already."
Sam took a breath and kept going. "The next time he crossed paths with the feds was when Hanratty had run away from him. So, he murders an FBI agent's girlfriend and tried to set-up some kind of scenario where they had to let him go again, this time at a train station. Only, something went wrong. So, he and Hanratty—who wasn't the most mentally stable person in the world—jumped in front of a train."
"Seriously? The guy offed himself with a train?" Dean asked, double-checking the traffic at a stop-sign before pulling on to a road to the police station.
"Yeah. He and Hanratty just stepped right in front of an engine right at the last second. There are some pictures, but they're sorta messy," Sam said.
"No, thanks," Dean said. They were silent for a few moments. Finally, Dean said, "Okay, so he was clearly an awful person. Other than that, what would make a demon want to borrow his killing style? That's not usually a demon thing."
"Get somebody's attention? Scare somebody? Who knows," Sam shrugged. "Maybe the local cops will have some info that points us in the right direction."
They were turning into the White County Sheriff's Department as he said this, so Dean pulled the Impala into a guest parking space, and they slid out and strode confidently inside.
He and Dean had been bluffing their way into police stations for years. It was ordinary, easy, and—at this point—almost boring. Sam pretty much knew what to expect by now. But he would never never, at all, in a million years have imagined that the sergeant on duty would look at their badges and say, "Oh, we didn't know you'd arrived yet."
"One moment, please," the police sergeant continued blithely, not catching Dean's slight blink, or Sam's hand clench. After a brief phone call, another cop came striding down the hallway and shook their hands.
"Gentlemen. I'm Detective Max Smithers," he said, motioning them to join him, headed back the way that he'd come.
Dean and Sam gave their fake names again as they started down the hall.
"Where's the rest of your team?" Smithers asked.
"They're on their way. We were in the area on another case," Sam said smoothly. Rest of the team?
"We've got your room all set up for you just like you asked," Smithers continued, "and I'd like to thank you again for coming so quickly."
Sam exchanged a glance with Dean. The only way this man could've already been expecting them is if there were actual FBI agents on the way. They'd have to make this quick.
"The Bureau takes this matter very seriously," Dean assured the man. "Have the first two victims been identified?"
"Not yet," Smithers said. The hallway opened up into a large room, with cubicles in the middle and offices along the sides. The typical law-enforcement "bullpen." But Smithers bypassed the cubicles and led them straight to one of the offices. There they had several copies of the case file, a couple computers along the edge of the room, and three caseboards, one of which had a map tacked over it with a set of colored push-pins in a box on the ledge at the bottom. Sam couldn't fault the set-up.
"I'll be your liaison while you're here. Anything you need, you just ask. You've got the run of the place."
"We appreciate that," Dean said with a reassuring smile.
"Very much," Sam added.
"All right, I'm going to let you get to it. Call me if you need anything," Smithers told them. And with that, he left.
Sam looked at Dean. "They actually called in the FBI."
"Let's do this part really fast," Dean agreed.
"This part" consisted of going over the police evidence to see if they could get a sense of what the demon might be after. Sam ended up sliding on a pair of gloves and tacking the push-pins to the appropriate places on the map to see if he could see any patterns. They had dump sites for each of the body parts, and the abduction site for the latest victim, Heather Owens, but Sam didn't think there was anything here other than random locations.
"I'm not seeing a whole lot we can use here, Dean," Sam finally said.
"Me either," Dean agreed. "Apparently our demon yanked out the rib bones with his bare hands, though. Then used a manual saw to cut the victim up."
Sam winced. "Most demons aren't this…hands on."
"I know," Dean nodded. "This guy… He really likes pain."
"They all like pain."
"No, but he…like, really likes it."
Sam wrinkled his nose. "That's disgusting."
"No kidding. Who gets off on tearing up girls?"
"Demons, apparently," Sam shrugged. "We need to get out of here before our window closes. Let's go take a look at the body and then get out of the way."
Dean slid a copy of the case file into the briefcase he'd brought. Then, he started uploading a program Charlie had made for them to the computer. Sam hated to use it on a bunch of cops, but they didn't have a lot of options here. While Dean dealt with the computers, Sam strode out and knocked on the side of Detective Smithers door.
Smithers looked up curiously. "Can I help you Agent Warne?"
"We'd like to examine the remains, if that's possible," Sam told the man.
"Sure thing," Smithers nodded. "They're with the coroner at the Powell Funeral Home."
Sam raised a brow at that.
"Small county," Smithers shrugged. "The coroner is also the local funeral director. But he runs a tight ship. His autopsy lab is top-notch. Did you need an escort?"
"No, just an address," Sam answered with a smile.
Smithers rattled it off, and Dean and Sam were out the door as fast as they could go without running. Wherever the FBI was, they wanted to be somewhere else.
The funeral home was a few minutes away, and when they arrived it was to discover that David Powell, the coroner, was meeting with a family about funeral plans and therefore unavailable. But the polite receptionist made a quick call on her intercom, and soon they were greeted instead by a gorgeous woman with dark brown hair who introduced herself as Rebecca Curran.
"Nice to meet you," Dean said, managing a professional smile. Sam gave her a nod.
"I'm sorry Dr. Powell can't meet you, but you can ask me any questions you need. I participated in the autopsies of the two victims, and I'm happy to help in any way I can," she said, as she began leading them down a hallway.
Sam stepped up beside her as they walked. "The reports said that the rib bones were removed by hand?"
Powell Funeral home was about what you'd expect. Elegant, but muted, color scheme. A subdued green carpet, cherry wood paneling halfway up the walls. And every now and then, an alcove had been built into the wall where an enormous flower arrangement had been placed on a Greek-style pedestal. All designed to impress visitors with how tastefully and thoughtfully handled their loved ones' final arrangements would be.
Curran nodded in answer to his question. "That's correct." She opened an expensive looking door and led them through it. "I've never seen anything like it."
On the other side of the door, the elegance immediately vanished. They had entered a totally bland stairwell. The walls were a functional white, the floor unremarkable tile, the stairs had black rubber covers on the edges, and same chalky smell found in school hallways or lower-level government office buildings was layered over everything. Sam almost smiled. Obviously this portion of the building wasn't meant for impressing anyone. As they descended the stairs, he started to smell embalming fluid as well.
Curran opened the door at the bottom of the stairs, and led them out into another hallway. On one side of the hall there were three doors. Two were labeled as preparation rooms and the third bore the label of "OFFICE." On the other side there were two doors. Another OFFICE and a room with no label. On the very far end, at the back of the building, was a door with a glowing green sign labeled EXIT. Curran led them into the unlabeled room.
Smithers had been right. It was everything Sam expected from an autopsy morgue. On the far end of the room was a set of numbered doors, which Sam knew would have long trays on which to store bodies behind them. There was a small desk with a computer in the corner, probably for notes. In the middle of the room were two stainless steel gurneys. Each was covered by a sheet that dipped in odd places. Dean and Sam both pulled out some gloves and slid them over their hands.
"We've seen your report," Dean said, "but could you go over it for us? Just to make sure we understand it?"
Curran nodded. "We've had some new discoveries as well, since sending the preliminary results to the police."
Sam waved his hand, giving her the floor.
Curran pulled one of the sheets back. "Victim number one, is an African American female, in her early- to mid-twenties. We have part of one leg, most of another, and her torso up to about here." Curran held her hand up to her own side, right beside her breasts. Then she moved to the second gurney. "Victim number two, Caucasian female. Early forties. For her, we have both arms, not including hands, and upper three-quarters of her torso." She pointed to some of the skin on the second victim. "These marks here are ink, probably from an ordinary Sharpie marker. The killer used them as guidelines to cut the victims up, although he did it…unusually."
"How so?" Dean asked curiously
"Most people, when they dismember a body—human or otherwise—cut it along the joints. It's just easier to do. This guy, though, came across the middle of rib cages, or cut some of the long bones in almost random places. It breaks the victims down to smaller parts, but it doesn't follow any kind of physical pattern," Curran explained. "That takes a lot more strength."
"Why would someone do that?" Dean asked.
Curran got a troubled look. "Well, if the victim were alive for even part of this, it might be more painful. It's hard to gauge that for certain, obviously, but…"
"Why the trouble putting names to them?" Sam asked, making sure to keep his tone curious rather than accusatory.
"You're looking at it. Neither body has a head, or hands. We can't match them for fingerprints, dental records, or photo IDs. We sent their DNA to our lab, of course, but if they're not in the system, there won't be anything to match it to," Curran sighed.
Sam and Dean both gave her understanding and sympathetic nods, so she kept going.
"Both are missing a significant portion of the sixth right rib. The bones have a jagged edge, rather than a smooth one, there are no tool marks, and one of the killer's fingernails broke off in the torso of the second woman indicating that the bone was torn—we're running his DNA, too, but if it matches the semen we found then we already know he's not in the database. Based on surrounding tissue, we know the victims were alive when this happened."
"Poor girls," Dean muttered.
"It gets worse," Curran sighed.
"Worse?" Sam asked in surprise.
"The remains of the first victim show signs of violent sexual assault. She resisted, or at least, she tried to. And the tissue on the edges of the remains indicate that they were alive for at least some of their dismemberment."
"That is worse," Sam agreed.
Curran shook her head. "I wasn't finished. See, our initial assumption was that the victims were raped, had their ribs torn out, and then were dismembered. But…" She trailed off, looking uncomfortable.
"You don't think that's the case anymore?" Sam pressed.
She sighed. "The indications are that all of these events, the rib, the rape, the dismemberment… They all occurred very close in time. Possibly concurrently."
Dean's eyes went wide. "Please tell me you don't mean what I think you mean."
"We can't be 100% sure, of course. But our conclusion is that the killer may have raped the victims while he tortured them," Curran told them.
Sam turned away from what was left of the two women before them on the trays.
"Whoever your guy is, he's one sick puppy," Curran told them.
Morgan never really liked landing for a case. Between the jet lag and the climate changing, it always felt weird. Arkansas was no different. It was an hour slower than Quantico, and drier, too. He and the team hauled their bags towards the Bureau SUVs waiting for them on the edge of the tarmac.
The nearest FBI field office was in Little Rock, and Morgan had a feeling these vehicles were borrowed from the fleet there. He was briefly grateful to whoever it was that had made sure they had them as he slung his bag into the back.
Hotch's voice snapped him out of his musings.
"All right, if this copycat is truly following Breitkopf's pattern, he's most likely still traveling west. We may not be here for very long. Rossi, Morgan, the two of you go to the coroner's office, see if there's anything the bodies can tell us. The rest of us will go to the station, and try to determine where the UNSUB will go next."
Morgan nodded, and he and Rossi climbed in to one of the SUVs. As they pulled away from the tiny airport that served Searcy, Rossi said, "So, you were there for the Breitkopf case. You actually met him, didn't you?"
Morgan nodded. "I did. Slippery son of a bitch. Always in control."
"Does this feel like the same UNSUB to you?"
Morgan glanced at Rossi, who ignored him in favor of watching the road. "Frank Breitkopf is dead." Morgan said.
"A good copycat always makes you wonder, though. Even when you know they're dead," Rossi replied with a smile.
Morgan nodded. "Well, in that case, no. This doesn't feel like the same UNSUB. Breitkopf was organized, controlling, and methodical. He took forensic counter-measures. He manipulated law-enforcement into allowing him to escape. This UNSUB… He just doesn't seem to care. He's taunting us by being so obvious."
"Then why go through all the steps of emulating Breitkopf, even superficially?" Rossi mused. "It almost feels as if he's just going through the motions for show. Or habit."
"Some kind of dominance display, maybe? The UNSUB is obviously very physically fit. Maybe he's also displaying his prowess as a killer by taking signature of one of the most prolific serial killers in history, but doing so in the most physically dominant way he can," Morgan suggested.
Rossi nodded. "What if…he's just not a copycat?"
"Taking the rib is a pretty specific part of Breitkopf signature." Morgan was silent for a moment. "You're right, though. This UNSUB is more aggressive than Breitkopf ever was. Maybe we should stop looking at this as a copycat killer."
"I agree," Rossi said. "Even if the UNSUB is trying to be a copycat, he's obviously pursuing his own needs first."
Morgan exhaled sharply at that.
Rossi glanced at him. "What?"
Morgan smiled a bit. "That's exactly what Gideon would've said."
Rossi kept his eyes on the road, but he looked sad. "I know. I miss him, too."
The rest of the ride to Powell Funeral Home went quickly, and soon they were pulling into the parking lot of an elegant building with an irregular cross-shaped layout.
The two agents entered the building, quickly locating a smartly-dressed receptionist.
"Hello," Morgan smiled. He and Rossi held up their badges. "We're here to look at the autopsies on the two Jane Does."
She gave them a brilliant smile. "Oh, they're expecting you in Autopsy. Let me give Rebecca a buzz." She picked up an intercom and pushed a button. "Agents Rossi and Morgan from the FBI are here." Whatever the reply was, the receptionist nodded, then hung up. "She'll be right up to escort you."
Sam paused in taking pictures of the remains of the victims when the intercom on the wall rang. Curran moved to pick it up, nodded once, and then said, "I'll be right up."
She hung up and turned to Dean and him. "Looks like the rest of your team has arrived. Will you two be okay on your own for a couple minutes?"
"Sure thing," Dean nodded, from where he was reading over the notes on the two victims. He barely looked up, appearing totally unconcerned. "We'll be fine."
Curran nodded and stepped out.
"Time to go, Sammy," Dean said as soon as the door closed. He pulled out the tiny USB stick he'd used on the computers at the police station and plugged it into the computer on the desk. He counted to twenty before removing it. Meanwhile, Sam snapped a few last pictures. Then they seized the case file and bolted out the door and down the hallway.
It was only a few moments before a young woman emerged from the stairwell and came up to Rossi and him with a big smile on her face.
"SSA David Rossi, and this is SSA Derek Morgan."
"Ma'am," Morgan nodded.
"Very nice to meet you both," she said, shaking their hands. "My name is Dr. Rebecca Curran. I was just going over our findings with the other agents."
"Other agents?" Morgan and Rossi asked together.
"Yes. Special Agents Lynn Meredith and Joel Warne,"she told them.
Rossi and Morgan both drew their guns. "Ma'am," Morgan said, "those men are not FBI agents. Where is your autopsy room?"
"Downstairs, first door on the right side of the hallway," she replied.
"Don't come down until we give you the all clear," Rossi told her.
They yanked the door open and headed down the steps.
Sam slammed into the crash bar of the exit door as they heard footsteps coming down the stairs. The door led to a concrete stairway up to ground level. He and Dean raced upwards, taking them three at a time.
Morgan and Rossi exited the stairway just in time to see the exit door on the far end swing closed. They ran down the hallway and through the door.
There were footsteps fading away from the concrete steps. Morgan rushed upwards in time to see two men—both pretty big—ducking into a gorgeous black classic car.
"FBI!" yelled Rossi, raising his gun.
"Stop right there!" Morgan shouted, bringing his own gun up.
The men ignored him, slamming their doors closed. The engine roared to life.
Even running at top speed, Morgan didn't get close enough to get so much as a partial on the license plate. And the car was out of the parking lot and onto the main road without the men glancing back so he could see their faces.
"Are they following us?" Dean asked.
"Doesn't look like it," Sam said, checking the mirrors.
"Awesome." Dean pointed the Impala forward and said, "Let's not be in town, huh?"
"Good idea," Sam agreed. He crawled into the back seat and sprawled out on the bench (if the police were tipped off to look for a car with two males, it would be better if only one of them were visible). Dean drove as fast as he could without attracting attention, with no destination in mind other than away.
Morgan and Rossi returned inside, frustrated. Rossi's phone rang, and the man's clipped voice told Morgan that he was going to be sarcastic for most of the day. When he hung up, he turned to Morgan and said, "They were at the station, too."
"They wandered into a police station posing as FBI?" Morgan asked in surprise.
"And were confident enough in their bluff that the Sheriff's Department bought it. They invite the FBI in, and FBI agents show up," Rossi mused. "Everything reads as routine."
"So, what did we lose?" Morgan said.
"They're assessing that at the station now," Rossi replied. "Our job is to look over the bodies and see if anything is missing here."
This time Curran accompanied them down to the lab. And the whole way there, she was very apologetic. "I'm so sorry. I honestly thought…" She trailed off, opening the door to the autopsy room for them to enter.
Rossi shook his head as they passed through. "These men fooled the entire Sheriff's Department into thinking they were FBI. They're clearly very good liars. Just tell us what you told them."
Curran frowned. But she showed them the bodies and told them everything. The weird dismemberment, the torture, the rape, the timing of all of it.
"Did they seem interested in the torture? Maybe…too excited?" Morgan asked.
"No." Curran scowled. "They seemed genuinely disturbed by it. They had trouble looking at the bodies for a few moments."
"Did they do anything unusual?"
"No. They wore gloves, asked all the right questions. If you hadn't told me they weren't, I would've assumed they absolutely were law enforcement," Curran answered.
When they arrived back at the station, it was to a lot of angry police officers, who were more than ordinarily thorough when checking their credentials. The office that had been initially set aside for their use was now full of forensic techs, and Hotch was speaking with a police detective who looked more than slightly ashamed.
Reid met them. "They've moved us over the far end of the bullpen," he said, pointing to an area with several desks that had been cleared off.
"What do we know about our imposters?" Rossi asked as they moved over to their temporary space.
"Two white males, in their thirties, both tall and fit. They identified themselves as Special Agents Lynn Meredith and Joel Warne. Garcia's running the names now, but it's almost certain they were aliases. They carried authentic-looking credentials, as well."
Rossi was picking over the information on the desks. "And where are the surveillance photos?"
Reid shook his head. "The building's surveillance system was infected with a virus just before the suspects left. Five minutes after they uploaded the virus, the entire system was reformatted. All of today's data was destroyed, both indoor and outdoor cameras, and the system is non-operational at the moment."
"So we don't have a single image of these guys?" Morgan asked in frustration.
Reid shook his head. "Garcia couldn't resurrect even one. Detective Max Smithers—the one Hotch is talking to—is liaising with us and interacted with them the most. He'll be sitting with a sketch artist after Hotch is done with him."
The three of them looked over to where the two men were conversing, and Smithers' eyes barely left Hotch's shoes.
"I'd hate to be him right now," Rossi said.
"It's embarrassing," Reid admitted, "but not surprising, really. The department invited the FBI in, they expected FBI agents to arrive, and two FBI agents came. According to Smithers they claimed to be part of the team and were waiting for the rest of us to arrive."
"He says something, and they play along. Smooth," Rossi mused.
"What's truly strange is their behavior since arriving," Reid said. "These two men don't appear to have left any physical evidence behind, but they were genuinely interested in the case, asked typical law-enforcement questions, and appear to have started a rudimentary geographical profile. Despite the damage to the surveillance system, the rest of the department's systems are fully functional. Computer records show that the suspects only accessed information about the case. And one of our hard copies of the file is missing."
"That's…new," Rossi said, apparently stunned for a moment.
"No kidding. UNSUBs will inject themselves into the investigation all the time, but to participate in it?" Morgan said.
"Everyone who spoke with them described them as polite, self-assured, and focused. They didn't appear to have access to information that the UNSUB would know," Reid said.
"You don't think they're the killers," Morgan said.
"I do not."
Morgan shook his head. "Then who the hell were they?"
"I don't know," Reid told them.
Morgan saw J.J. exit an office near the entrance and come over to join them. "Everyone is on board with keeping the story out of the press. Even Dr. Curran at the funeral home seemed to understand the need for discretion."
Callahan came over from another area and said, "I just finished talking with one of the techs. They're not hopeful about finding any usable fingerprints. Looks like these guys wore gloves any time they touched anything here."
"And nobody thought that was unusual?" J.J. said with a frown.
"FBI agents wearing gloves when they might be handling evidence?" Rossi said. "No, I doubt that raised any eyebrows at all."
"In any case, if they are our UNSUBs, that's a pretty bold move," Callahan said.
"No social anxiety from these two, it's true," Rossi said, "but I tend to agree with Reid. These guys aren't the UNSUB."
J.J. and Callahan looked to him with curious expressions.
Rossi shrugged. "The UNSUB is taking these women and torturing them while he travels. He must have some kind of RV or trailer in order to work. I didn't see a trailer hitch on that car. Did you, Morgan?"
"Then they're probably not our UNSUB," Rossi said. "Unless they've got a second vehicle somewhere."
Morgan sighed. "At any rate, they're gone now. Let's focus on what we learned from the coroner."
"Was there news?" J.J. asked.
Rossi told them about the timing of the rape and torture. And there was quiet for a few moments while Reid, J.J., and Callahan absorbed this new information.
Finally, Callahan said, "Okay, so he's sadistic, he's misogynistic, he's very confident. So…?"
"Other than the obvious, that the UNSUB enjoys inflicting the maximum amount of pain possible, it suggests that this offender is more disorganized than not," Reid said. "He doesn't have the patience to go through each of these elements in sequence, which would allow him to spend a longer period of time enjoying the victim's pain, and he lacks the skill to keep the victim alive during a prolonged ordeal. So instead, he just…does everything all at once."
"If the goal is to inflict the maximum amount of pain, but the UNSUB doesn't have the patience to enjoy that pain…," J.J. said slowly, "I think that could indicate that he is totally indifferent. He feels like he is above the entire human experience. Pleasure, pain, remorse, fear… He enjoys the torment, but simultaneously feels disconnected from it."
"That's a pretty deep mental fracture," Rossi said, sounding worried.
And Morgan could appreciate why. "An UNSUB like that is going to start devolving rapidly. We may be looking at a spree very soon."
"He's abducted three women in less than a week and two of them are dead and in pieces," Callahan said. "We're looking at a spree already."
Hotch came over to join them. "Local patrols have reported a number of cars matching the description you gave us, Morgan. Unfortunately, classic cars seem to be relatively common in the area."
"I'm telling you, something with a body along the lines of a Camaro, Impala, or Thunderbird," Morgan said.
"Well maintained, too," Rossi agreed. "I'm almost jealous."
"Then they're definitely not the UNSUB," Reid nodded. "Our UNSUB's disorganization wouldn't allow for the patience to spend on more than basic upkeep on his vehicle. He'll most likely be driving a truck or SUV, it will be a common, easy-to-obtain make and model, probably dirty."
"Whoever our intruders were, they were right about the map. The UNSUB is moving from east to west, and is probably out of town by now," Hotch said.
"For causing so much mayhem, these guys are awfully helpful," Rossi said.
"I suppose we can thank them when we find them," Hotch said.
Callahan scowled. "And then give them some new bracelets for impersonating federal agents."
Morgan felt his phone vibrating. He pulled it out of his pocket to see "Baby Girl" on his caller ID. He couldn't help but smile as he answered it. "Hey, Mama."
"Hello, Lover," Garcia replied. "I've got some good news for you."
"Let me put you on speaker," he said. He laid the phone on the desk and tapped the speaker button. "Okay, go ahead, Sweetheart."
"Another part of the first victim's body has turned up," Garcia told them, "her right foot. And while this is super icky, it's also super helpful because there was a tattoo on it. It took me a couple minutes, but I was able to track her name down as a Kelly Struble from Savannah, Tennessee. Her information has been emailed to your tablets."
"What have you got on our fake team members?" J.J. asked.
Garcia actually laughed at that. "As we suspected, no Lynn Meredith or Joel Warne is employed in any capacity by any part of the Bureau. However, those are both names of two of the founding members of Kansas."
"The band?" Hotch asked in surprise.
"The very same, my liege."
J.J. looked puzzled at this, but she didn't say anything.
"We'll send you the sketches as soon as we have them. Keep us posted," Hotch told her.
"Will do, boss." Garcia disconnected the call.
Morgan opened Garcia's new email and downloaded all the attached information. "Kelly Struble, age 22. Bears…no resemblance whatsoever to Heather Owens."
"We already knew the first victim was black and the next two were white, but even beyond that, they're very dissimilar," Reid agreed. "Facial structure, body type, and socioeconomic class are all very different. Struble was a law student with excellent grades, while Owens was a 35-year-old bartender. And our Jane Doe was in her early forties, meaning she likely wouldn't fit the same type, either."
"So this UNSUB is targeting women, but doesn't care who they are beyond that," Hotch said. "He views all women as equally disposable."
"Very egalitarian of him," J.J. said wryly.
"I think it supports your theory, though," Callahan said to her. "This UNSUB views himself as outside of humanity and better than it. He doesn't care who he kills because he hates everybody."
"So any woman who encounters this man is in danger," Rossi said. "Even if he doesn't interact with her, just seeing her on the other side of the street could make her a target."
The team glanced over to where the forensic techs were wheeling the map that the fake FBI agents had used out of the office. Morgan noted the vast amounts of ground west of where the last push-pin was. That ground represented millions of women.
Sam looked over to where Dean was cutting the Meredith-Warne creds into tiny pieces. They'd picked the lock on an empty room and holed up in another of their usual motels, a good forty miles away from Searcy. Dean hadn't even been picky about trying to find one with magic fingers this time since they'd only be staying an hour or so at the most. While Dean destroyed all the paperwork from those aliases, Sam checked to see how far the hack they'd planted in the police station had gotten and double-checked that they'd made a clean get-away.
"How'd we do?" Dean asked.
"Locals have a BOLO out on the car," Sam said, "but they're not looking more than ten miles out, and they think it's a coupe instead of a sedan. Our descriptions are accurate as far as they go, but so vague that they're worthless. We're good for now, but there are sketches on the way."
Sam shook his head. "That was only the good news."
"What's the bad news?"
"The feds they called in on this? It's a team called the Behavioral Analysis Unit. They're profilers," Sam told him, skimming over the brief bios and contact information listed for the FBI team.
Dean looked at him curiously, but didn't say anything.
"They're good. They study criminal behavior, work up a profile of their suspect, and use that to catch bad guys. Apparently they usually work with the really bad cases. Serial killers, serial rapists, cults…"
"The kind of bad guys we usually avoid, you mean?" Dean said, shuddering.
"The kind of bad guys they think we are. And their close rate is through the roof. Way above the average, even for a team. These guys are smart, and really good at their job," Sam said. "And two of them saw us. They're gonna come after us, too."
There was a long silence. "Maybe we should drop this one," Dean suggested at last. "Tip off another hunter, and make them some trap cuffs? I don't like the idea of getting locked up."
Sam looked curiously at Dean. "That's usually my line."
His brother was quiet for a long moment. After a while, he just shrugged. "What can I say, man? I just really like living at the bunker."
"Do you want to call it?" Sam asked.
It was a weird role reversal. He'd protested taking this case at first, but now that they were on it, he wanted to see it through. Still, Dean had a point. They might be better off to drop it and send someone else in. Someone the cops didn't have a line on yet.
Dean was quiet for a moment, as he dropped the remains of the creds they'd burned into the trash can—thankfully metal—and set fire to them. They watched the flames for a moment before Dean said, "No. Let's finish this."
Sam nodded. "In that case, it looks like the first victim has a name now. Kelly Struble, 22 years old, law student abducted about a week ago from Savannah, Tennessee." He turned the computer to show Dean her picture.
Dean nodded. "Are we thinking she's actually the first victim, or just the first we know of?"
Sam frowned. He did some quick searching on the news. "I'm gonna go with first," he said after a moment. "There was a women's book club in Savannah, Tennessee that is reported to have committed some kind of ritual suicide during one of their meetings a day before Kelly Struble went missing. And look at the pictures the news released."
Dean came and peered over his shoulder and then groaned. "Always with the witches, damn it."
They were unmistakably looking at an alter, with candles, a pentagram that Sam guessed was probably aligned perfectly southwards, and some kind of fluid, that Sam didn't think was water. It wasn't blood either, because the blood spatter was easily distinguishable on top of the whole mess. He didn't want to imagine any of the other available options.
"So the coven summons a demon for some reason," Sam said, "only the demon doesn't want to play along with their plan and kills them, then…starts a murder spree?"
"Eh. It's a demon. They like killing," Dean shrugged.
"Yeah, but most demons don't do that for no reason," Sam argued.
"So, let's catch him and cut the answers out of him," suggested Dean. "I bet these witches had some kind of meatsuit all set up for their new friend to ride."
Sam did another quick search. "Here we go. Keith Hummer, 27, vanished the same day the book club died. He's suspected of their deaths because…one of the members was his mother."
"She sacrificed her own son to be a demon's meatsuit?"
"Yeah, she sounds like a real peach." Sam ran a quick search and said, "The last activity on Keith Hummer's credit cards was the same day the demon jumped him, and it was to max out his withdrawal limit. He hasn't touched 'em since."
They were quiet for a few moments until Dean finally said, "I've been looking at the info from the Breitkopf case."
Sam nodded. "Me, too. The demon is copying him pretty hard."
"Yeah, and that doesn't make sense," Dean said. "Demons are way too arrogant to crib from somebody else."
Sam frowned. "But this one obviously is, so…?"
"No, no. Hear me out. What if it's not a copycat?"
It took Sam a moment to figure out what page Dean was on, but when he did… "You mean, a demon serial killer?" He did not want to admit it, but as a theory, it made a lot of sense.
Dean nodded. "H.H. Holmes was a serial-killing ghost. Why not?"
Sam nodded slowly. It did make sense. "So, we're thinking…?"
"Frank Breitkopf, serial-killing asshole, dies in a showdown with the FBI in 2007," Dean said, warming to his theory. "Because he's a serial-killing asshole, he gets an express ticket downstairs, and his eyes start going black."
Sam scooped the pages on Breitkopf out of their stolen case file and paged through them thoughtfully. "Okay, so then these witches summon up a demon for some reason, but…they're not exactly the brain trust. They can only get newbie Breitkopf. And even him, they can't control."
"But he's a serial killer. So he kills them, and then he figures that he's topside. May as well do something fun with his time." Dean finished with a flourish.
"If that's true…" Sam began paging through the case file as a thought came to him. "The BAU first encountered Breitkopf in January, oh-seven. They did a profile on him." Sam dragged that sheet out of the file. "If this demon is the same guy, then the original profile might actually still help us. I mean, we'd have to account for him being a demon, of course."
"What do we do about Heather Owens?"
Sam brought up a map on the computer. "The demon—Breitkopf—is moving west and slightly north, avoiding freeways. If he keeps to his timeline, Heather Owens is already dead. He'll be dumping her tomorrow and looking for a new victim. Our best bets to find him before then will probably be somewhere on one of these roadways. If he bothers to stop anywhere, that is." He pointed out several roads leading away from Letona, heading west or north, or both.
Dean stood back with an unhappy expression. "That's a lot of ground to cover, Sammy. But… is it possible she's still alive?"
"Maybe? But…he doesn't even know we're here, Dean. He has no reason to change his schedule yet."
It was pointless. They both knew she was dead. "We'll go over that profile thing in the car," Dean finally said.
They were going to try to find her, and they were going to fail, and someone would start finding pieces of her tomorrow or the next day. But they gathered up their things and went to the car to try anyway.
Morgan exchanged an annoyed glance with Callahan as they walked out behind the bar where Heather Owens had disappeared. "I'm really starting to hate these two imposters," Callahan said.
It had been disappointing to find out the bar owner couldn't really tell them anything helpful. It had been downright demoralizing to find out that "Agents" Meredith and Warne had beat them to the interview by several hours and raised absolutely no red flags with anyone. Morgan was looking forward to bagging them.
The only things behind the bar were a dirt lot that passed for extra parking and a dumpster.
"So, according to the manager, Owens came out here and never came back in," Morgan said. He glanced around. "It's isolated. Hard to see anything but the dumpster from the main road."
"So why did the UNSUB come back here?" Callahan said. She looked around. "Maybe he came for the dumpster and just happened to spot Owens here? He has been on the road. He probably has trash that needs throwing away."
"And Owens is in the wrong place at the wrong time," Morgan agreed. "That suggests he's a little more organized than we thought, though. Messy with his victim disposal, but more thoughtful in how he keeps his vehicle, and how he abducts his victims."
"He hasn't left any witnesses at any of these abduction sites," Callahan said, "which would support that conclusion."
Morgan eyed the dumpster thoughtfully, then pulled on his gloves, hoisted himself up to the edge, and said, "It doesn't look like they've had a trash pick-up yet."
Callahan's eyes got big and round and Morgan offered her an enormous grin. "Let's see. The black trash bags are the restaurant's…and…here we go!" He fished out an ordinary plastic shopping bag with a Walgreen's label stamped across it. It was totally full, and tied closed. "Let's find out what our UNSUB threw away."
They pulled on gloves and opened the bag.
"Okay, packaging for forceps, a scalpel, medical scissors…" Morgan trailed off as he realized what he was listing off.
"An old Beethoven CD?" Callahan said, pulling a cracked case from the bag and opening to reveal a scratched disc.
"And a receipt showing that he bought a new one to replace it."
"Did we release Breitkopf's profile publicly?" Callahan asked.
"Yes," Morgan said. "It isn't one of the more popular profiles, though."
"Whoever our UNSUB is, they've read it," Callahan replied, still holding the CD.
Morgan nodded. "Time to get back to the team."
When they arrived back at the sheriff's department to confer with their team, it was to find that the office they'd been assigned initially had been released to them. The forensics lab had put a rush on processing the prints they found and every single one recovered had belonged to someone at the station. Other than starting on their map, the two imposters had left no usable evidence whatsoever.
But J.J. had seen the sketches and she was practically vibrating with the urge to talk about them.
Morgan picked up a sketch and scowled. "These look like…"
"The Winchesters," J.J. agreed. "Hotch, this is Dean and Sam Winchester."
Everyone turned to her.
"The Winchesters are dead," Rossi told her. "They were confirmed dead by the sheriff, and medical examiner, in Ankeny, Iowa. We've all seen their file, and I know Henrickson begged you to put us on the case after we gave him a profile, but they're dead."
J.J. shook her head. "I knew Victor Henrickson a little bit. A few of our potential cases overlapped with his investigation now and then. He was…obsessed, is probably the kindest word, with catching the Winchesters. But he mentioned to me that the Winchesters have faked their deaths before. Several times. There is a body in St. Louis, Missouri, still buried under the name 'Dean Winchester.'"
"It's awfully hard to fake being cremated, though," Reid pointed out mildly.
Morgan blinked. Reid and J.J. were usually the best of friends. He'd all but challenged her to accuse an entire Iowa sheriff's department of corruption.
J.J. glared at him. "It is possible the sheriff's office collaborated with the Winchesters. They were known to be a close-knit team. But we'll never know for sure because most of the sheriff's deputies, the sheriff, and the medical examiner—who, it's worth mentioning, was the sheriff's daughter—died the same day the Winchesters were in custody there. The only one who survived did so because he was off-duty."
"They killed a whole department?" Morgan demanded in shock.
"Actually, those deaths took place after the Winchesters were declared cremated," J.J. explained. "By several hours. Killing those officers served no purpose for the Winchesters. They had already been declared dead, so if they were faking it, they were in the clear."
"Then who killed them?" Rossi asked.
"The case is still active," J.J. answered. "No suspects have ever been named."
There was a long quiet. Morgan and Callahan finally broke it to tell the rest of the team what they'd found. They watched as their colleagues digested this new information. After which Hotch said, "Reid, call Garcia. Tell her to send us our files on the Winchesters. We need to give the profile."
Sam kept darting his eyes from the paper in his lap to the horizon as they drove. "Okay, the original profile on Frank Breitkopf had him down as a white male, mid-to-late fifties, left handed, tall, with a medium build."
"Well, we can throw that out," Dean said. "He's in Keith Hummer, who's 27, right handed, average height, and kinda skinny. I mean, he's white, but the demon doesn't care about that."
Morgan looked out over the assembled officers of the White County Sheriff's Department and listened as Hotch began giving their profile.
"We believe we're looking for an extremely physically fit male between the ages of 25 and 33. He has targeted both white and black victims, making his race somewhat uncertain, but we suspect him to be white. He targets women at random, tortures them, dismembers them, and disposes of their bodies along roadways."
"Breitkopf also used ketamine to keep his victims awake but unmoving while he tortured them," Sam said. "And he would cauterize their injuries while he dismembered them to keep them from bleeding out and dying."
Dean shrugged. "He doesn't need any of that now. He's a demon. He can use his powers."
"Clean freak, well-maintained vehicle, and kept notes on his torture," Sam read off.
"Probably still does all that," Dean shrugged. Predictably, they still hadn't found anything, but he showed no signs of wanting to stop, so Sam kept scanning the road, just in case.
"Although we initially believed him to be too disorganized to keep a clean space, his actions during his abduction of Heather Owens suggest that this is not the case. He is driving a van or RV, or a truck or SUV with a towed camper or mobile home. He uses this space as a mobile torture chamber. His vehicle will probably be a common make, model, and color; clean, and well-kept. Likely without any decals," Morgan told the group.
"In fact, the only ways in which he is disorganized is that his selection of victims is nearly random, and he is careless in his methods of disposal," Callahan added. "This indicates that he views himself as an outsider to humanity. Anyone who crosses his path is a potential target."
"Although he has only targeted women to this point," J.J. said, "given his unpredictable victim selection, it's possible he may begin targeting men as well."
"Breitkopf had a camper that he towed and he would torture his victims inside it," Sam said, scanning his way down the profile.
"Does Hummer own one of those?" Dean asked.
Sam was already hunting through something on the computer, before saying, "There was a camper that Joseph Hummer, Keith's father, just reported as stolen." He rattled off the description to Dean.
"At least we know what we're looking for," Dean huffed, eyes still on the horizon.
"This man believes himself to be connected in some way to the serial killer Frank Breitkopf, who killed nearly two hundred people from the 1970s until his death in 2007," Rossi said. "As a result, we believe the UNSUB will copy at least some of his mannerisms, such as listening to Beethoven and recording his torture. It's even possible the UNSUB will wear similar clothes, so look for someone with a corduroy jacket."
"Despite his belief in their connection," Reid said, taking up the tale in his turn, "we want to emphasize that this UNSUB is not a copycat in the traditional sense. Although he is borrowing elements of Breitkopf's signature, the UNSUB is more interested in satisfying his own desires than he is in emulating someone else's manner of killing. The patterns of his kills will not grow to more closely emulate Breitkopf's. Instead, he'll most likely deviate further as he progresses."
Sam thought about Dean's last statement. "What they were looking for." Out of the car windows was a heavily wooded winding road. They couldn't see that far in any direction, and there were more than a few back trails and unmarked dirt roads and there was just no way to search them all. The sun was headed for the horizon, and their visibility would be even further reduced after dark. The search was pointless.
"Don't say it," Dean snapped from the driver's seat.
"I wasn't going to," Sam replied tightly, feeling the frustration set in. Owens was dead. The demon had probably finished carving her into pieces by now. They'd already lost her and they both knew it.
It pissed him off.
A hand rose in the back of the room.
"Yes?" Hotch said.
"What about those two guys who invaded our station?" a uniformed deputy asked.
"The two men here earlier fit the description of Dean and Sam Winchester, a serial killing duo with a tendency to seek out unusual events that they believe to be paranormal or connected to the occult," Rossi replied.
"The Winchesters are officially believed to be dead," Morgan said, "but they have faked their own deaths before as a method of evading law enforcement. It is possible their deaths in Iowa were also falsified."
"If it was the Winchesters, these two men are known to be extremely violent and dangerous, and we must emphasize that you consider them to be armed at all times, and use caution in any attempt to apprehend them," J.J. said. "However, they do not fit the same profile as the UNSUB, and we do not, at this time, believe them to be responsible for the dismemberment deaths."
"That's all we have for you at this time," Hotch said, wrapping up their profile. "Agent Jareau will take any questions you have. Thank you."
Except for J.J., the BAU went back to their office. Morgan frowned, trying to figure out what they should do next. Thankfully, he was spared having to come up with an answer when Hotch's phone rang.
It was Garcia, who Hotch put on speaker.
"I called the Walgreen's that issued the receipt you found in the dumpster behind the bar," she told them. "The good news is that they do have a surveillance system inside the store, and we got a pretty clean shot of the UNSUB's face, which I have sent to your tablets."
There was a flurry of activity as the team all dove for their devices to get a look at who they were chasing.
Morgan always got a weird thrill off of the first look at an UNSUB. It was both exciting to be one step closer to bringing them in and horrifying to see a face capable of so much evil.
This UNSUB looked almost thirty, white, with dark hair that was mostly covered under a ball cap. He was obviously fit, but he didn't look even close to as big as they'd been expecting. In fact, he was a little on the skinny side, and only about 5'10". Physically, he wasn't that much bigger than Reid.
"Are we sure this is the right guy?" Morgan asked. This suspect just did not look capable of tearing a human bone apart by hand.
"I checked the time-stamps twice," Garcia said. "Either we're working off the wrong trash, or this is our UNSUB. And I have some bad news. His face is not in any database, and none of the angles are right to run it against drivers' licenses, so I can't tell you his name. And the outside camera only covers the area in front of the door, so we still don't know what he drives."
"Thank you, Garcia," Hotch said, moving to hang up.
"Mon capitaine, I wouldn't call you just for that," Garcia said, sounding sultry and disappointed. "I went over the profile you sent me and it occurred to me that if the UNSUB is in a camper or RV, he'd need a place to park it. Now, if he has an off-the-grid set-up, we'll be out of luck. But if he doesn't, he'll be spending the nights in RV parks or campsites with water and power connections. I've made a list of everything that fits that bill for one hundred miles north and west of Letona, but… Sir, it's a long list, and I can't make that many phone calls fast enough."
"Split the list up and send us what you can't cover," Hotch ordered. "Good work, Garcia." He hung up and turned to the team. "Callahan, tell J.J. to start circulating the picture with the profile. As for everyone else, let's make some phone calls."
The afternoon and night went exactly like Sam had known it would. They didn't find a thing and were pissed off and irritable with each other because of it. When Dean nearly drove off the road at 3:30 AM, Sam finally made him surrender—angrily—to calling it a night. They got a motel in a place called Higden, and Sam went out on a food run while Dean put up wards and salt lines in their room.
The nearest WalMart was a good forty minutes away, but Sam deliberately wanted one that was a good distance away from their room for the stunt he was about to pull. Dean would probably kill him tomorrow morning, but losing this victim was really under his skin. So he picked up beers and microwavable breakfast and pie and some snacks for the road.
And a disposable cell.
It was just after four in the morning, and the moon had gone down. It was nearly pitch black, but for the occasional lights in the parking lot when Sam tossed the groceries in the trunk of the Impala, and activated the cell phone.
Then, cursing himself for ten kinds of idiot, he called the number he'd seen when he was looking up the BAU earlier.
The phone rang. Then rang again. It was picked up mid-third-ring and a sleepy, but efficient-sounding voice said, "Hotchner."
"Your killer's name is Keith Hummer. He's from Savannah, Tennessee," Sam told him.
"Who is this?" the agent demanded.
"Special Agent Joel Warne."
There was a deep silence on the other end of the call. Finally, Hotchner said, "What do you want?"
"The same thing you want: to stop the murders. Your murderer's name is Keith Hummer. He's 27 years old from Savannah, Tennessee," Sam told him, kicking himself for doing this. Dean was going to kill him.
"Why are you telling me this?" Hotchner demanded.
"You can find him faster than we can. Listen, when you do, don't go close to him. Just…don't. He's more dangerous than you realize."
"And how dangerous are you, Sam Winchester?"
Sam sucked in a breath. "Damn."
"I find it hard to believe that you really care about a few murders. You being the kind of man you are," Hotchner said.
Sam scrubbed a hand through his hair. "I'm not who you think I am. All I want is for the killer to go down." It would be so much easier if they could just tell people the truth about what was out there. How to stay safe.
"Then stop interfering in our investigation. You'll only slow us down."
"Good night, Agent Hotchner. Sorry for waking you up."
Sam ended the call, scrubbed his fingerprints off the cell, and then put it into the basket of one of the carts in a nearby corral before he slid into the seat of the Impala and drove away. If Agent Hotchner called the police on him, Sam didn't see any the whole way back.
Dean was snoring quietly when he tiptoed into their motel room, and Sam frowned. He'd give himself a twenty-minute nap before waking his brother up. He took off his shoes and jeans, and then slid into the other bed without any further hesitation.
Twenty minutes. Because he wasn't stupid enough to think those FBI agents would listen. They were going to go after a demon. And he would just have to hope that he and Dean could get there fast enough to save them.
Morgan felt his jaw fall but he was too astonished and too sleepy to care very much. "One of them called you?"
"Did he make any threats?" "Where was he calling from?" "Did he say anything about why he was doing this?"
The questions flew in so rapid-fire that Morgan didn't notice who they were from. He was too busy being shocked, in any case.
They had gathered in Hotch's and Rossi's room, everyone quickly shaking off their sleepiness when Hotch announced that he had received a phone call from a living Winchester brother.
"He claimed to know who our UNSUB is. Keith Hummer, 27, from Savannah, Tennessee," Hotch told them.
Morgan started calling Garcia without being consciously aware of doing so until her groggy voice was angrily cursing him for daring to wake her up.
"I know it's early Baby Girl, but one of the fake FBI agents called Hotch. And he claimed to be Sam Winchester."
From the sound of things, that slammed her into wakefulness. There was some noise from the other end and then she said, "Okay, I will be at the office in ten minutes. Give me ten minutes. I'll call you back."
While they waited for Garcia to call back, the team got dressed and packed their bags before convening in the parking lot near the bureau SUVs. Whatever happened next, they weren't staying here.
They were all more than ready when Garcia called them back.
"Okay," she said, sounding a lot less sleepy, and more than slightly annoyed, "the call to Hotch's cell was made from a burner, paid in cash, which is currently still active in the parking lot of a WalMart in Herber Springs."
"Send local PD," Hotch's voice ordered, "though it's unlikely they'll find anything. He probably ditched the phone. The suspect claimed our UNSUB is a man named Keith Hummer from Savannah, Tennessee."
"He…did?" There was a pause, and Morgan heard keys clicking. "Okay, he…might actually be right." Garcia sounded shocked. "I'm sending all this info to your tablets, by the way." She took a breath and said, "Okay. Driver's license of Keith Hummer issued by the Savannah DMV looks like it could match the photo of our UNSUB taken at the Walgreen's. And before Kelly Struble—the first victim—went missing, earlier that same day, there was a women's book club in Savannah that all died, including one Danielle Hummer, mother of Keith Hummer. The living room was covered in occult symbols that local PD assumed was part of the book they were reading. Some kind of old book about demons and magic. Son disappeared the same day, along with a towable camper belonging to the Hummers, making him the early lead suspect in their deaths." Another few keystrokes and then she sounded surprised as she said, "Charges were dropped yesterday afternoon when all the autopsies came back as heart attacks."
"What?" That came from Callahan who was standing beside Morgan as they crowded around Hotch's phone.
"It's true. All five women died of massive cardiac events, all occurring simultaneously," Garcia told them. "The locals are totally stumped, but whatever happened, they're starting to rule out murder. However, Keith Hummer maxed out his withdrawal limit and skipped town without calling the police to report his mother's death. He may not have killed them…"
"But he matches our UNSUB's description and he knows something," Hotch's voice agreed. "Do we know where Hummer is now?"
"We…don't. We do not. No cell phone, no credit card activ—hold on. I have an idea."
They waited, listening to Garcia work on something on the other end of the line before she came back on.
"Kelly Struble's withdrawal limit for the day was maxed out at a 24-hour ATM in Pangburn five minutes ago, and if we are very, very lucky… I found him! I have the Hummer's missing camper on a satellite feed. I'm sending the video and coordinates to your tablets," Garcia said.
A video feed showing a birds-eye-view of a blue pick-up with a towed camper appeared on Morgan's tablet.
"Thank you, Garcia," Hotch said before hanging up and moving towards an SUV. "Everybody get in. He's moving, and we're already a good twenty minutes behind him."
"You did what?"
Sam had been prepared for Dean to be angry. But he was beginning to think he hadn't been prepared enough. "They're going to find him faster than us," Sam said.
"They're going to go after him!" Dean yelled. "FBI agents are going to go after a demon! There is no way that ends well!"
"Well then," Sam snapped, "I guess we'd better go rescue them."
Dean glared at Sam before seizing his computer and angrily typing something into it. "Their phones are all active and moving. They're leaving Searcy, on a road headed…towards the middle of nowhere. Get your stuff and lets go."
Sam grabbed their bags while Dean set up his computer to run on a hotspot, so they could track the Fed phones while they drove. They pulled out of the motel in under two minutes.
As they drove, Sam periodically giving Dean directions from the map, he could practically feel his brother seething at him. Dean managed to hold it in for ten whole minutes before exploding.
"What the hell were you thinking, man?!"
"I was thinking she was alive yesterday morning!" Sam shouted back, surprising both of them with his anger.
Dean blinked, casting him a split-second glance before looking back to the road.
"Heather Owens was alive yesterday, and yes, the demon was probably torturing her, but she was alive and we lost her! I'm sick of losing people, Dean! The Feds are going to find him faster than we will, and we can follow them and keep him from hurting anyone else," Sam said.
"Mmm." Dean took a breath. "And what if we lose them? How will that make anything better?"
Sam didn't have an answer for that one.
Dean sighed. "Fine. I get it. Just…you know you can't pull stunts like this."
Dean made an irritated turn. Sam didn't even know how that was possible and he was watching it happen.
They were coming up on the camper. Once it came in sight, the team—following the lead of the SUV Hotch was driving—flipped on their lights and had the driver pull over to the side of the road.
The sun was just creeping over the horizon at this point, as the members of the BAU all got out of their vehicles, guns loose in their holsters. Something about this situation was setting Morgan on edge. Perhaps it was that they weren't really near any towns or back-up. Garcia had notified the Cleburne County Sheriff's that they were pursuing their suspect into the new county, but with six FBI members and only one driver in the truck, there wasn't really much call—on paper—to send any more units.
Maybe it was that Garcia had lost the truck on the satellite and they'd hit a severe dead zone. They weren't even picking anything up on their police scanners. Morgan knew Garcia would've called the county dispatch as soon as they hit the dead spot, of course. But now there was no exact fix on their location, and this road was very isolated, and very heavily wooded. If they ended up needing help, it could take hours to reach them.
Possibly it was just that all the birds and bugs had gone eerily quiet. The only noise Morgan could hear was the cooling noises from their engines and their soft footsteps over the pavement. Whatever the cause, Morgan could feel himself tensing for a fight as he approached the truck.
"Is that…Aaron Hotchner?" called a voice from the driver's window.
Hotch glanced to Rossi. "Keith Hummer?"
"Who? Oh, yes, the meatsuit." There was a long pause and then, without prompting—further setting off Morgan's alarm bells—Keith Hummer descended from the driver's side of the pick-up.
He looked exactly like the picture of the UNSUB from the Walgreen's, right down to the ball cap. And, sure enough, he was wearing a corduroy jacket. This had every one of the team drawing their weapons. But it was equally clear that their estimation of how big he was had not been down to bad camera angles. Hummer was just not very big. Either he had a partner or, somewhere along the way, they had missed something very, very important.
Morgan was seriously worried it was the second. Even the solid feel of the SIG in his hand was not as reassuring as it usually was.
Hummer glanced around at all of them with an oddly distant manner. Like he was vaguely surprised they'd found him, but not really all that interested in it. "I suppose I should've expected you. You did catch me the last time."
"Mr. Hummer, we'd like to ask you to come with us. Ask you some questions," Rossi said.
For the first time, Hummer's attention focused on a single subject. He gazed at Rossi with a curious expression. "I don't remember you. Where is Agent Gideon?"
"Do you know Agent Gideon?" Reid asked.
Now Hummer's eyes lit up. Morgan was put in mind of the expression on a predator's face when they'd settled on just what they were going to chase down for dinner. "Come now, Agent Reid. You profiled me. You know how I know."
"I know you think you're connected to Frank Breitkopf," Reid replied slowly. "Why don't you come with us and explain how?"
Hummer looked at all of them thoughtfully. "I'm not going to go with you," he said slowly.
Morgan felt his heart drop. He wasn't sure where this was going, but he was positive he wasn't going to like it when they got there.
"On the other hand, I can't just let you leave, either," he said.
Hummer didn't move. He didn't so much as flinch. But somehow, unbelievably, Morgan felt his gun wrenched from his hands and away. He looked around to see the rest of the team had also been disarmed—including the spare on Hotch's ankle—and all their weapons were now lying at Hummer's feet.
Morgan's eyes bugged out.
J.J. started to say "How did you—" She cut off in a strangled gasp. She was rising in the air, although nothing and no one was touching her. Morgan wanted to move to help her, but he found that he had been lifted off the ground, too.
Hummer flicked his head, and the next sensation Morgan felt was being slammed into the side of his camper. Hard. He fell to the ground, trying not to give in to the black spots dancing in front of his eyes.
Hummer walked over to Hotch and grabbed him by the hair, yanking his head up. "You really should've left this one alone, Agent Hotchner. Now you're going to die just because I wanted to cull the herd a little bit."
No matter what he did, Morgan couldn't manage to move more than just to swing his arms, uselessly. Hummer lifted them all, again without touching them, and loaded them one by one through the door of the camper, stripping all their electronics from them as he did so and smashing them to bits. All somehow accomplished without any physical contact.
When Morgan was through the door, he was slammed all the way across the space and hard into the opposite wall. Then whatever force had been holding him up disappeared and he fell.
His arm landed on something that felt a little rubbery. He looked down and immediately wished he hadn't.
On the floor, neatly sealed in a plastic bag and laying right where his arm had landed, was another arm. This one was detached from body or hand, though. It began at the wrist, and ended at around the top of the bicep muscle. White skin. And while his precise side knew they would need a test to be officially certain, there wasn't really any cause for him to question it. Especially given the AFB tee shirt, stained with blood, that was hanging neatly from a hook on the wall. The arm belonged to Heather Owens.
They'd found the UNSUB.
Sam frowned at the computer. "Their cell phones have gone dark, Dean. I lost the signal."
"How far away are we from the last position?" Dean asked.
"Only a couple minutes," Sam answered.
It was about five minutes later when they found three FBI SUVs parked neatly on the side of the road, all with the lights on and the motors running. There were footprints all around, and an odd little semi-circle of handguns that Dean and Sam put into the seat of one of the SUVs, but no sign of the camper or the demon.
Dean kicked one of the SUV tires. "They could be anywhere by now!"
Sam gazed across the road to a dirt track that headed off into the woods, catching Dean's arm when he realized what he was looking at. "No, Dean. They couldn't."
Dean followed his gaze. Then he nodded. "Fresh tire tracks. Big vehicle towing something. It's not nothing. Let's go."
The drive down the road was slow and agonizing, following the tire tracks down the dusty lane. And then they actually turned left onto a smaller dirt road that Dean and Sam followed, before they reached a place where the road turned right. The tracks continued, so they hadn't gotten lost. But after exchanging a glance, Dean killed the engine and they got out. The Impala didn't run quietly, and they didn't want to announce their arrival.
Sam unlocked the trunk and they loaded up. Devil's trap bullets, iron crowbars, the colt, the demon knife, spray paint, the devil's trap handcuffs, and as many bottles of holy water as they could carry. He had a feeling they were close, and he really wanted to find this demon.
They walked quietly down the dirt road—really more of a trail now—for about a hundred yards until the trees opened up to a clearing with an old barn in the center. Why someone had decided to build a barn way out in the middle of a bunch of woods was something Sam would wonder about at a later date. For now, he and Dean were focused on getting in without the demon spotting them. Because this was definitely where it had holed up. There was a blue truck and a camper parked beside the barn.
They'd found the demon.
Morgan was sure now that this was going to be it for them. There was no way out. Whatever Keith Hummer's motivation was, he was doing things that Morgan absolutely couldn't explain. Tossing the team around without touching them, tying them up without touching the ropes, and now—now that he had pulled out a long, wicked-looking hunting knife and was eyeing each of them speculatively—he'd somehow managed to turn his eyes completely black.
Morgan, at this point, was just hoping that Penelope said something nice at his funeral. He was never going to see her again.
He'd obviously brought them here to kill them. He needed the space because he planned to take his time. And he was now just deciding who to start with. Even though it was now totally, utterly pointless, Morgan couldn't make the profiler side of his brain just shut up.
"It is good to see you again, Aaron. Derek. Spencer. Jennifer."
Morgan glanced to Hotch. He still wasn't sure what to do with the fact that Hummer addressed them like they'd met before.
"No, you won't recognize me. Sorry about the face. But he was available, and there's nothing wrong with this meatsuit, as far as he goes," Hummer said.
"Meatsuit," Rossi said.
It was an odd turn of phrase, Morgan had to agree. And Hummer had used it more than once, which indicated it meant something to him. Calling his body a "suit," though, suggested that this guy thought he actually was…
"Frank Breitkopf is dead," Hotch said.
"Yes, I did die," Hummer answered. "You were there. You saw it. In some ways, you drove me to it. Of course, I didn't understand how worthless human life really is, then. Oh, I grasped it a bit. I had an inkling. But I didn't really understand." He knelt down and held his knife right up to Hotch's shoulder. "You really are such fragile, pointless creatures. I don't understand what God was thinking, making you. Let alone saying He loves you. You're so…meaningless, in the grand scheme."
He pressed the knife into Hotch's shoulder, pulling a groan of pain from the man. Morgan felt himself start shouting, but even he couldn't tell what words he said.
Hummer yanked the knife back out. Hotch took a deep breath, ignoring the blood oozing from his shoulder, and said, "And what is that grand scheme? What is it that you understand?"
Morgan struggled against the chains. Hotch was going to try and keep Hummer talking as long as possible, to try and give them as much time as they could wring out of him. The longer they stayed alive, the better their chances of rescue.
Granted, however long this took, their chances were still terrible.
Hummer answered them with a smile that Morgan absolutely was not going to admit reminded him of Breitkopf. Because he was dead. "Where is Agent Gideon?"
"He's dead," Reid said, drawing Hummer's gaze. "He died not long ago."
"Too bad. I would've loved to make him watch this." Hummer moved towards Reid, pulling the knife back threateningly, but just at that moment, there was the sound of a deep creaking from the barn door.
Everyone's head turned to see…no one at all.
Hummer frowned. "Now who do you have shadowing you?" He cast a smile at all of them. "I'll be right back, Aaron. I still have things to show you." Hummer walked confidently out of the barn and Morgan breathed a bit easier. For about three seconds.
Because then something happened that managed to make everything worse. A man, impossibly tall, holding a handgun with the same precision Morgan would expect out of any FBI agent, stepped out of a deep shadow by the door. He was wearing jeans, a brown jacket, and heavy workboots. And Morgan recognized him right away. How could he not? Aside from the sketches and the phone call, there was a time when his BOLO had been updated every week.
He really was unbelievably tall. All the dossiers had always said he was very tall. And while the multiple layers of clothing obscured it, the broadness of his shoulders indicated that he was probably still just as solidly built as he had been the last time he was arrested.
Sam Winchester really was back from the dead again.
J.J. had been right. Their deaths in Iowa had been faked. And now, one of them had just walked into a room full of thoroughly restrained FBI agents. Winchester had to know he would be recognized at once. And the Winchesters were much more pragmatic than Hummer. They wouldn't prioritize enjoying a kill over risking a capture. Morgan knew the math on that equation. He struggled against his bonds in utter futility. They weren't going to budge.
Thank goodness Garcia was still in Quantico. She would be devastated to lose her team, but at least she was safe. She was safe and alive and far, far away from what was about to happen to them.
Winchester saw him.
Morgan ran down what he knew of the Winchesters from his brief glance over their profiles yesterday. They were a team of sadistic torture-murderers. Although Dean Winchester was the dominant partner, Sam was by no means submissive, and their relationship had survived multiple falling outs, making them uniquely dangerous among serial killing teams. Ordinarily, ego—or worse—got in the way of a functional partnership, but not so with these two. Both of them were also intelligent, Sam particularly so, having won a full scholarship to Stanford. They were focused, understood law enforcement, and ruthlessly practical. They were one of the most nightmarish killing teams mankind had ever produced.
And one of them was looking at him right now, holding a gun.
Winchester's face fell at seeing him. But, to Morgan's surprise, he didn't raise his gun to them. Instead, he just looked sad.
Calloused hands seized his bindings from behind and dragged him quickly back out of the center of the floor. Morgan managed not to yell in surprise and looked around to find himself inches away Dean Winchester, the older brother.
He was nearly as enormous as his younger brother, although he looked smaller in comparison. But with Dean Winchester right there, it was hard to ignore how imposing he was in person. There really just wasn't space to be any more scared than this.
Now the whole team was struggling, however pointless it was. Hummer apparently believed he was some kind of resurrected Breitkopf, and the Winchesters were standing here, totally healthy and alive. Morgan was having trouble imagining a worse combo of back-from-the-dead scenarios.
But, like Sam, Dean didn't seem like he wanted to threaten them, either. Instead he just looked to his brother, who was now using a compass to orient a symbol he was spray painting on the floor.
"What's the over/under on them not knowing who we are?" Dean asked quietly, dragging the rest of his team over next to Morgan.
Sam gave a derisive huff and kept painting.
"And now they know we're alive. Still glad you told them who the bad guy was?" Dean challenged.
To Morgan's surprise, Sam's only response was to turn to Dean and glare at him. It was an extremely irritated glare, but given the fact that the two were serial killers, it was an amazingly restrained response. And then he went right back to painting.
"You'll only make things worse for yourself by killing us," Rossi told them.
"Then it's a good thing we don't want to," Dean told him, patting Hotch—who he'd just finished moving—on the shoulder.
Then, to Morgan's absolute shock, Dean paused. "Did Breitkopf get you?" He ran his fingers over Hotch's shoulder and noted the injury. Then, while the entire team watched in amazement, he pulled the hole in Hotch's shirt open and checked out the wound.
"That's not bad. Probably hurts like a bitch, but it won't kill you. It's barely even bleeding. You're okay." Then, conversationally, he went on. "I'm sorry about dragging you guys into this. It was Sammy's idea. He's really got his teeth into this case, but he shouldn't have told you anything. You did find the guy faster than we could've, but now you're in the middle of all this crap."
Hotch stared at him in shock.
"Not what you expected, am I?" Dean said with a smile.
There was a deep pause. "No," was all Hotch said.
"How do you know about Breitkopf?" Reid asked.
"We looked him up," Sam replied, still busily painting a design that was now taking shape as a complex pentacle, with odd glyphs in between the points of the star. "I mean, demonic serial killer is actually pretty weird. Even for us. But it fits."
"Breitkopf is dead," Rossi snapped, sounding supremely irritated.
"Well, sure," Dean shrugged. "You can't turn demon unless you die first. Apparently that's a rule."
There was a deep pause as they absorbed that statement. "Of course not," Rossi finally said.
Dean actually laughed a bit at that. "If I were you, I wouldn't believe me, either. No hard feelings."
"Good to know," Callahan said cautiously.
"Of course, I'm about to piss you off again," he told them. "See, I only moved you folks so Sammy could paint the devil's trap over there. But we need someone to bait Breitkopf into it with, and he already has a yen to kill you. So, you're gonna be our bait. Sam and I will be right here, and we won't let him hurt you, but I get it if that doesn't make you feel better."
"It's awfully quiet in there!" came Hummer's voice from outside.
Dean Winchester dragged Hotch over to sit behind the edge of the painted symbol while Sam raced over and quickly pulled the rest of them against the wall, farther away from the middle of the barn.
Dean joined them a moment later and the two brothers crouched down to watch.
"You're not going to kill us, but you are going to let Hummer do it?" Callahan said, glaring at the nearest Winchester, who happened to be Sam.
"Shut up," the two chorused in angry whispers.
Hummer stepped inside, and saw Hotch. And only Hotch.
He raced forward, over the symbol that Sam had painted, then he reached the other end and seemed to hit an invisible wall.
So hard, in fact, that he actually stumbled backwards.
"Quick-dry spray paint," Dean said out loud, drawing Hummer's gaze as he stood and walked towards the man. "One of the best inventions on God's green earth."
"Winchesters," Hummer said, sounding very like he personally hated them.
"What? Do they actually teach about us in baby demon school?" Dean said.
Sam, who had also stood, didn't even glance backwards. He did, however, draw a short knife from his jacket. The blade was covered in strange markings. He advanced on Hummer with murder in his eyes, ignoring the shouts from Morgan and the team.
"Sammy, wait!" Dean suddenly called.
"He's a demon. We kill those," Sam snapped, looking at his brother.
"Look at the meatsuit," Dean ordered, moving over towards his brother and gesturing towards Hummer.
Morgan exchanged a very confused glance with J.J. Absolutely nothing about their conversation was making sense. He couldn't even figure out where to begin to unravel it.
Sam looked him over, then blinked. "Hey! He looks like he might actually be…still alive." Then, in a turn of events that probably ranked as the most bizarre (if arguably the least terrifying) in their incredibly strange morning, he got an oddly superior smile and then started to speak. In Latin.
"Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas…"
Morgan leaned over to Reid. "What's he saying?"
Reid glanced at him, surprise all over his face. "It sounds like an exorcism."
Hummer was beating on an invisible barrier now, looking desperate to get to the Winchesters. And Morgan could see that he wasn't just miming. His hands were genuinely hitting something, because he could see the impact, his skin turning red. But there was nothing there. He looked like he was in pain.
"Let us loose and we'll arrest him!" Morgan shouted.
Sam Winchester ignored him, still chanting in Latin. "Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica…"
Dean, on the other hand, came and crouched down beside him. "Sammy won't touch the guy. If we can save this kid, we're gonna."
"You're going to save a serial killer?" Rossi scoffed. "What is this? Honor among bad guys?"
Dean actually looked fairly tolerant of this comment. His only reply was, "We're not who you think we are."
"Exorcisms have been known to cause severe injury, or even death, even when practiced by trained church officials," Reid broke in, speaking quickly. "What you're doing is highly dangerous."
"It is?" Dean said. "Sam's just saying Latin at him. Are you really convinced we're gonna hurt him with words?"
Morgan didn't have an answer for that. Sam continued steadily speaking ("Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis homanæ salutis…"), but it was clear he was making no physical contact with Hummer. In fact, there were several feet between them, but the man was writhing and snarling as if he were in severe physical pain.
"Whatever you're doing to him, it's…it's…" J.J. broke off in shock. "What is that?"
Morgan looked to Hummer and he stopped trying to get out of the chains for a moment. Because this was even more of a shock than an invisible barrier made of paint.
Hummer looked like he was about to throw up. But rather than vomit or bile, thick black smoke was dripping (dripping smoke?) from his mouth, but then sliding back in with each breath.
"I'll kill the meatsuit!" Hummer shouted.
Sam ignored him. "Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine…"
Hummer reached into his jacket. Morgan felt his blood run cold. Dean was suddenly on his feet, racing for Hummer's position.
"Don't do it!"
Sam started speaking faster. "Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias…"
Hummer had a gun in his hand. "I'll kill them!"
Hummer aimed the gun. At Morgan. Or…no…to his right.
The gun went off. Reid jerked backwards, blood spilling out of a wound in his chest.
"Audi nos!" Sam shouted.
The black smoke that had been dripping out of Hummer's mouth now came flowing out of him in a spiraling, ugly mass. The smell of rotten eggs assaulted him so strongly that Morgan barely saved himself from retching. He felt the floor under his feet rumble as the smoke passed down, through it, and away from all of them. Hummer's body collapsed to the ground.
The sight and smell and general unbelievableness of it all had been so shocking that Morgan had actually looked away from Reid for a moment. He felt incredibly guilty over this until he looked back and saw that Reid was staring at Hummer too, wide eyes and shock layered under pain. The two Winchesters were bent over him.
"Was that…? Was that a real—?"
"Real demon? Yeah," Dean said. He had pulled off his jacket and was now stripping out of the plaid shirt he'd been wearing under it. Sam had both hands pressed hard against Reid's chest.
"And you really just exorcised it," Reid breathed.
"He's gone for now," Sam said. "Let's focus on you."
"Reid?" J.J. said, sounding both angry and uncertain at once.
"That his name? Reid?" Dean asked, hands expertly checking over the injury, probably to make sure it wasn't worse than it looked. Reid looked like he was about to pass out, and Morgan felt his stomach clench until Sam pressed sharply against his chest and he cried out in pain.
Despite their bindings, the entire team was slowly inching closer to Reid. Morgan knew he was trying to get as near as he could. Reid had to be okay. There just wasn't another option.
"Listen, kid, you may be skinny," Dean said to him, "but if the Feds gave you a badge, then you ain't weak. You have exactly one job right now. Stay awake. You can sleep when we get you some help, but for now, you have to stay awake, okay?"
"Stay awake," Reid said with a weak nod. His face was pale, but determined.
J.J. was trying to get as close as possible. "Untie us! Let us help him!"
"He doesn't have the time for that," Dean said. He looked to his brother. "Sam, we need to get him to the hospital now."
"Did I do that?" asked a quiet voice.
Morgan looked back to see Keith Hummer—now demon free?—staring at Reid in shock. The two Winchesters exchanged a glance and then Sam picked Reid up, and ran, carrying him for the door of the barn. Dean walked over to Hummer and said, "The demon riding you did that. But you can help us now. Is there a cell phone in your truck?"
"Okay. Put it inside the barn. You can stay if you want, but the cops will arrest you for what the demon did, so I'd be as far away as I could, if I were you," Dean told him. The two headed for the door of the barn, still speaking quickly.
A few moments later, Keith came back and left a cell phone next to Hotch. "Apparently, the demon was the thing causing the cell blackout. It should work now. I'm going to call in a tip to trace my cell phone in a little while. They'll come for you."
And then he left. A few moments later, Morgan heard his truck start up and drive off.
And then, there was nothing to do but wait.
To Sam's shock, the nearest hospital was only about twenty minutes away, according to the GPS. The way Dean was driving, they were going to get there a lot faster.
Meanwhile, he was in the back, trying to keep Spencer Reid—according to the creds in his pocket—from passing out.
"Demons are real?" asked a quiet voice.
"A lot of things are real," Sam answered.
"Angels?" Reid broke into a slight cough on the word.
"Yes." Sam looked at their passenger oddly. Most people didn't immediately go for that question.
"A man once tortured me, only he said he was the angel Raphael. Was he?"
"When did this happen?" Sam asked.
"Then…it's possible, but probably not. Raphael was assigned to guard…never mind. He just probably was doing something else. Or maybe even still in Heaven at that point. And if you saw a man doing it to you, Raphael would've needed a vessel, and those can be hard to find," Sam told him.
"Being possessed by an angel," Sam explained.
"That can happen?" Reid was managing to get the words out, but Sam was not liking the way his breathing sounded. Like he was having to work for air.
"Only if you agree to it," Sam replied, just trying to give the poor man something else to focus on. "It doesn't matter how you agree, you can be tricked or forced. But you have to actually say yes."
"Oh." There was a pause. "How many people have we arrested who were possessed?"
"Probably none," Sam answered. "We go looking for this sort of crap, but it's not actually that common. If you're going to go over your old cases, look for reports of sulfur. Demons smell like Hell."
"How uncommon is it?" Reid asked.
"There aren't any statistics," Sam replied.
"Then it could be more common than you think. If you've never measured the frequency of demonic possessions, it could be happening all the time." His voice was getting slurred. Sam's hands were drenched in blood.
"Dean," he said, looking to the front seat. "Drive faster."
They pulled into the parking lot of Baptist Health Medical Center a few minutes later, but Reid had already passed out. Dean drove them to the doors of the ER.
Sam hauled Reid out of the seat and carried him into the Emergency Room. "This man has been shot," he announced to the nearest nurse.
This had precisely the effect Sam expected. About two orderlies and three more nurses seemed to materialize out of thin air with a gurney to lay Reid on, all of them asking questions that Sam answered as best he could.
"He was shot about twenty minutes ago, once, to the upper torso. He's been having trouble breathing; I think the bullet caught his lung. He only lost consciousness a minute or two ago. I don't know if he's allergic to anything."
The nurses took all this information in and were about to say something to one of the security guards when Sam heard Dean's voice behind him.
"My wife is in labor! Help! Please help!"
His voice was clashing with a woman's voice, though. "What are you doing? Who are you? I'm not even pregnant!"
Then there was a crash and a lot of shouting. Sam looked back to see a filing cabinet on the floor, about six people throwing punches, and Dean ducking at least two guys, looking for all the world like he wasn't the one who'd started things.
Never underestimate Dean Winchester's penchant for causing mayhem.
The resultant chaos of the nurses and hospital security trying to sort out just what was going on at the entryway gave both of them enough time to race out the door and into the Impala.
Although they didn't discuss it, Sam was sure that he and Dean were satisfied that their physical presence was no longer needed for this case. Dean pointed the Impala towards Lebanon. They'd sleep somewhere in Missouri, but they were done sticking around. They were gone before the hospital staff even thought to start checking security videos.
They never did manage to get that replacement shotgun.
It was about an hour before the BAU got out of the barn. It was only a few seconds after that for them to find out where Reid was. Apparently the Winchesters had actually taken him to the nearest hospital, where they had practically shoved him into an OR and then run away in the confusion. Or, at least, that was what the Cleburne County deputies said as they untied the remainder of the team.
The SUVs were where they had left them, untouched. And, bizarrely, all of their guns were sitting in a neat pile in the driver's seat of J.J.'s. Which, considering all that had happened—and it wasn't even 8:30—kind of made a demented sort of sense They'd nearly been murdered by the demonic version of a dead serial killer. Sure. Why wouldn't their guns just be hanging out in J.J.'s front seat?
Shrugging it off, and gratefully accepting back their weapons, they hurried to the hospital where Morgan grabbed the first phone he could get his hands on and called Garcia to tell her what was going on.
That conversation took several minutes, and Morgan couldn't wait to get back home and get his arms around her. He could tell by her voice that she'd been convinced they were all dead. He didn't bother telling her how close she'd come to being right. She knew.
By that time, Reid had been moved to a hospital room, and he was stabilized. According to his chart, it had been a textbook surgery. One of his lungs had needed blood drained and a reinflation, and if he hadn't been rushed to the ER, they'd be putting his picture on the wall at Quantico. As it was, he was not only projected to make a full recovery, but would probably only need minimal rehab.
It was a few days before they were all—Reid included—on the jet, flying back to Virginia. Hotch and Rossi were still arguing about just how to write up the reports on this one. "UNSUB turned out to be black smoke, and possibly a demonic version of Frank Breitkopf" was likely not the right way to go with it.
Morgan, meanwhile, kept watching the same video over and over and over. One suspect, younger in the recording than he had been a few days ago, but dressed much the same way began his video confession with an unusually frivolous introduction. "My name is Dean Winchester. I'm an Aquarius. I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach, and frisky women. And I did not kill anyone."
The cop in Morgan wanted to slap the smirk off of Winchester's face. The friend remembered the way he'd called Reid "skinny but not weak" and wanted to shake his hand. And the profiler… That side of Morgan was entirely convinced that despite how outrageous the claims that followed the introduction, everything Winchester said was absolutely true. He'd seen that black smoke. He had Winchester on tape now, claiming to have investigated a "vengeful spirit," and there was no more escaping the conclusion he'd spent half his life ducking. There really were higher powers. And lower ones, too, apparently.
Hotch's phone rang, but Morgan ignored his voice until he said, "Just a moment, let me put you on speaker."
Morgan leaned forward as Hotch laid his phone on a table in the middle of the cabin. "Hello, Mr. Winchester."
"Agent Hotchner," Sam Winchester's voice said, sounding amused.
"How's the skinny kid?" This was the older version of the voice on that confession. Dean Winchester. Apparently they were on speaker as well.
"I'm all right, thanks," Reid said. "Very sore."
"Hey, Skinny! Glad you're okay," Dean said.
"I'd like to ask you more about demons, if I may—"
"Breitkopf can still come back." Sam's voice cut right through Reid excitedly winding up for a long geek-out session.
"What?" Morgan demanded.
"Exorcising a demon is only temporary," Sam said. "Now, it's a long temporary, sure. It might be decades, or even centuries, before he can come back. But he can come back." He paused and then added. "And if he's summoned directly, like he was this time…"
"Hell, if that happened, he could come back tomorrow," Dean finished when Sam trailed off.
"Why tell us?" Rossi asked.
"Because you can get rid of him for good," Dean told them. "Listen, all a demon is is a corrupted human soul. So you can banish the younger ones like a ghost."
"How do you banish a ghost?" asked Callahan.
"Find their remains, salt them, then burn them. And you have to burn them completely. Any remains at all, and they can come back," Sam told them. "It's okay to use an accelerant on the bones, but the salt and the fire are the critical parts."
"Why only younger demons?" Reid asked.
"At some point, most human bodies completely decompose. Bones turned to dust and all that. Past that point, you can't kill a demon by burning their remains. Or, if the person was burned before they became a demon. That's another loophole. But if there are remains to burn, you can do it," Dean said.
"Breitkopf only died in '07. He still has remains," Sam agreed. "Unless you guys cremated him."
There was a long silence. Finally, Hotch said, "Why are you telling us?"
"We figure he's gonna be buried in some prison graveyard somewhere, right?" Dean asked them.
"He is," Rossi agreed.
"Well, the thing is," Dean said, "I like you. I like all of you, actually. But you're the sort of people who would arrest us, even if you do believe in demons now. If we try to burn Breitkopf, you throw us in jail. I don't like you that much."
"Is that why you killed Victor Henrickson?" Hotch said.
There was a deep silence. Finally, Sam said, "We didn't kill Henrickson. We tried to save him—we tried to save all of them—but we failed. If you want to blame us for failing, go ahead. But we didn't kill him."
"Then who did?"
"Another demon. Her name was Lilith. She was one of the old ones we mentioned. But she's also dead now. She won't be coming after any more of your colleagues."
"Your spree in 2011?" Callahan demanded.
"Also not us. That was…let's call them lookalikes for now," Sam replied. "Also taken care of."
"And the murder in Missouri?" Morgan asked.
"Let's just assume that everything you think we did, we didn't actually do," an irritated Dean snapped at them.
"Not even the fraud and petty theft?" Reid said.
"We're taking the Fifth on that one," Sam told them with a laugh. "Salt the bones. Burn them to ashes. Do that and Breitkopf will never come back."
"What will happen to him after that?" asked J.J. curiously.
"If he were a ghost, he'd go on to Heaven or Hell. Wherever he was headed anyway," Dean told them. "But a demon is someone who died and went to Hell. We're not 100% sure, but I think when you kill a demon, that's the end of the line."
"So isn't that murder?" J.J. said.
"If you think that you are somehow responsible for the eternal fate of the human soul," Sam answered her, "then I guess you could look at it that way. Honestly, I think that once someone is a demon, what happens to them after you kill the demon is out of your hands."
"So, have a safe flight back, and make sure Breitkopf doesn't bother us again. Honestly, cutting people up? That's just…" Dean made a theatrical "bleh" noise that Morgan couldn't help but crack a smile at.
"Thank you," said Reid, "for saving my life, by the way."
"Don't mention it," Sam said.
"Seriously," Dean added, "don't. You'd be in more trouble than we would."
There was a beep from Hotch's phone. The Winchesters had hung up.
For a long moment, no one could say anything. It was Rossi who finally broke the silence. "I'm starting to think we need to rework our profile on these guys."
"That certainly wasn't the conversation I'd expect from sadistic torture-murderers," J.J. agreed.
Callhan nodded. "No, it felt more like we were talking to…" She trailed off, not willing to voice it.
"Allies," said Reid. "I think that's probably how the Winchesters view themselves. We all saw the demon leave Keith Hummer's body. Sam told me that he and his brother 'go looking' for these kinds of phenomena. I think they probably see themselves as protective figures, looking out for others."
"When we return to Quantico, I want all of you to write your reports up and turn them in to me. Rossi and I will figure out a way to edit them so we are not lying, but the Bureau can accept them. We'll make the necessary alterations," Hotch told them. "And we are going to go back over the case on the Winchesters. All of it. If they are killers, we may finally be able to arrest them."
"What if they're not?" Morgan asked.
Hotch was silent at that. Ordinarily the answer would be drop the charges, or arrest them and let them be proved innocent in court. But this? There was no way to prove any of this. They couldn't prove what they'd seen. They had no way to demonstrate seeing that demon. How did they prove innocent people were innocent without any evidence to support it?
Morgan didn't like the implications of that question.
It was late, very late, the next night when J.J., Hotch, Morgan, and Reid all walked quietly into an unremarkable prison graveyard. Hotch had specified that only people who had been on the team when they'd confronted Breitkopf should come, for credibility's sake. Which only strengthened Morgan's conviction not to ask about how they'd managed to get permission to do this. He suspected some off-the-books favors had been exchanged (and that must've been one hell of a conversation), but he honestly thought he was better off not knowing for sure. J.J., Morgan, and Hotch all carried shovels. Reid, who was still wearing a heavy bandage over his chest, was there to carry the groceries and navigate.
Breitkopf's grave was relatively easy to find. Rather than headstones, the prisoners were given what amounted to roadsigns. The same green-painted posts you would find holding a speed limit sign along any highway dotted the ground at regular intervals. Each one had a metal sign affixed to it about a foot off the ground, bearing name, date of birth, and date of death. There were no personal touches. Breitkopf was clearly marked.
They dug down to his casket, an unfinished wooden box with no markings. The wood was starting to rot, and there were holes in it where boring insects had gotten through, but that just made it easier to open and get inside.
Breitkopf's bones were still there. Morgan felt odd looking down at them, knowing that they'd once been the frame over which a man had lived.
"Now I see why the Winchesters wanted us to do this," J.J. said, turning her face away.
Reid handed them each some Morton's they'd bought at a nearby Publix, and gave Hotch and Morgan bottles of kerosene. A few moments and a match later and Breitkopf's last earthly remains were engulfed in a strong blaze.
With nothing else to do but make sure that all of him burned, they sat down on the grass to wait.
"So, this is it, right? It's over now?" J.J. said slowly, eyes on the fire.
"For Breitkopf," Reid said.
Morgan turned to him. "What do you mean, kid?"
Reid shrugged, looking even smaller than he usually did, and staring blankly into the flames. "We saw Hummer possessed by a demon, but the Winchesters were pretty casual about saying 'demons.' In the plural. They told me it was possible for humans to be possessed by angels, and they seemed to think the idea of ghosts was totally unremarkable. Not to mention whatever the 'lookalikes' were that they blame for the murders in 2011 are—it's a good bet those things were some kind of…paranormal phenomenon as well."
"So…just how much of this stuff is out there?" J.J. said.
Morgan and Hotch exchanged an uneasy look, but nobody could bear to voice a theory on that. The possibilities were too wide open and too terrifying to contemplate. Instead, Morgan just stared into the flames and tried very hard not to think about how much bigger the world was than he had believed just a week ago.
As soon as there is life, there is danger.
– Anne Louise Germaine de Stael
Author's Notes: I did do some double-checking, and it's not common, but it's not implausible for a shotgun to jam when it's routinely subjected to rough treatment and often fires non-standard rounds (like rock salt, frex). Given proper use, most shotguns will almost never, ever jam. But, no matter how many times Dean cleans the guns, there is no way in which hunting-supernatural-stuff is something it was designed for. Sooner or later, something's gonna break.
Gander Mountain is a chain of sporting goods stores in the United States in which the entire back wall is devoted to guns. They're one of the best known and easiest places to buy a gun, and the staff are super friendly and helpful.
Letona, AR is a real place, boasting a population of 201 (seriously) according to the 2010 census. On Google Maps, this town does not appear to have anything resembling a "commercial district," and so I doubt there is a real-life bar in the real-life town. That being said, it really is in White county, Arkansas. Given that any internet searches on a "Letona Police Department" come up with a lot of nothing results, I believe it really is covered by the White County Sheriff's Department. That really is headquartered in Searcy, which really is the county seat. Basically, the geography stuff is relatively right, from what I could pull off Google/my iPhone maps.
Detective Max Smithers, on the other hand, is totally made up.
David Powell really is the name of the White County coroner, and he really is the director of Powell's funeral home, the address to which is listed as his office on the Arkansas coroner's website. Everything else about that Powell Funeral Home scene, including Rebecca Curran, is entirely fictitious.
Yes, I over-research things. Sue me.
A lot of people not in the United States tend to forget that the 48 contiguous states span four time zones. Flying from Quantico, Virginia to Searcy, Arkansas takes you from Eastern Standard Time into Central Standard Time, which is one hour behind.
My initial idea for this fic was to have Dean and Sam leave out of one door of a morgue as Rossi and Reid walked in the other. That would have almost certainly gotten the Winchesters arrested, though, which is not where I wanted to go with this. Still, Dean and Sam running away from the morgue while Morgan and Rossi chase them is pretty close to the original image I had in my head.
The barn to which the BAU is kidnapped doesn't appear to exist in my iPhone maps. I made it up. Sorry.
I mentioned the orientation of the devil's trap/pentacle a couple times. This is because pentagrams originated as a Christian protective symbol, referring to the five wounds of Christ, along with some other things. However, Satanists sometimes turn Christian symbology upside down, thus-symbolically-reversing its meaning. So a devil's trap would need to be oriented northwards or up in order to work. Oriented southwards or down, it would more like draw demons in and juice them up.
It isn't in there much. But I had to sneak a little of my Morgan/Garcia ship in there. This story is gen, I won't even pretend it isn't, but…yeah. I want those two to get together. I want them together something fierce.
For anyone who is not American (or who is but hasn't read the Constitution, and shame on you if you have not, go read it…right now…I'll wait…), to "take the Fifth" or "claim the Fifth" is a reference to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. There are a lot of clauses in this amendment, one of which is that no one can be compelled to incriminate themselves in court. When used colloquially, as Sam does, it refers to a situation where giving a truthful answer would also mean admitting to the commission of a crime (in this case, credit card fraud).
IDK how common this brand is outside of the US, but Morton's is pretty much the most recognizable brand of American table salt.
My initial plan was to have pretty much all the characters get a POV scene or two. But then I ended up settling on switching from Sam to Morgan. Ah well. I have, at least, managed to get more than one POV character going, which is one more than my usual amount. Baby steps to new technique!