Supernatural's not mine, yo.
So I watched Nightshifter and then geminigrl11 wrote the amazing story Everyday Heroes, which you should all go and read, and in the comments an LJ user named unperfectwolf came up with a bunny, which I ran with (with permission). This is what happened next. Minor spoilers for Nightshifter as well as various other episodes of both seasons. You don't have to read gem's story to read this, but they are related to each other (and you should read it anyway, because it's awesome).
Blood and Wine Are Red
A string of murders in Maine was where the road ended. This time it was Sam Winchester who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they didn't waste time trying to get him to confess; time-wasting wasn't Hendrickson's style. And there it was, Sam's mugshot splashed across the local news, and it didn't take long for some over-zealous journalist to research that little bit further, and then Dean's face joined Sam's and the local news became state-wide and then national as the ghoulish sensation of the Brothers Grim (as the media dubbed them) spread to viewer-hungry networks. Sam's trial date was fixed, and he was remanded in custody; no bail was offered.
Dean Winchester was nowhere to be found.
In Arizona, a kid who looked too old for his years frowned as he finished making a sandwich. "Hey," he said, "I know that guy."
The kid's father looked up from his third can of beer. "What guy?"
"The guy on TV," the kid gestured at the screen, where a mugshot of an exhausted, haunted face stared out. "He... helped me out once."
The father shrugged. "Must have been someone who looked like him. That one'd probably kill you soon as look at you."
The boy fell silent, hunching his thin shoulders. No, he thought, it was that guy.
The trial was held in August, and televised by every network. The defence lawyer was a public defender, ground down by the system; he did his best, but the media had already tried and condemned Sam Winchester before a single word was spoken in court. The prosecution delighted in submitting gruesome crime-scene photographs and calling hysterical witnesses; the whole event became a media circus, and throughout it all, Sam sat silent and still.
In Salvation, Iowa, a little girl didn't want to go to bed.
"Mommy," she said, "Ben Forrester said if I go to sleep, the Brothers Grim will come and get me."
The girl's mother's lips drew into a tight line and she remembered a strange encounter on the side of the road and smoke and flames in the middle of the night.
"Ben Forrester doesn't know what he's talking about, Rosie," she said. "I promise you, those boys will never do anything to hurt you." And she hugged her daughter extra tight, despite the little girl's squeals of protest.
In New York City, Rebecca Warren split up with her boyfriend.
They'd been fighting for a while, so it wasn't exactly a shock, but all the same, she was surprised at herself when she slapped him (though maybe she shouldn't have been). Afterwards, though, she was glad, because she was tired of having to defend Sam to him and all her circle in the city (not so tired that she was going to stop doing it, though), and when he suggested in the heat of rage that maybe her precious Sam had killed his girlfriend all those years ago, it was all she could do not to hit him harder.
When he was gone, she sat on her bed and remembered a sharp knife and a thick rope, cuts and bruises and the smell of sewer, and she hoped.
On the fifteenth day of the trial, a tabloid decided to print a theory that John Winchester, father of the infamous Brothers Grim, had been behind any number of crimes himself. Interest in the older generation of the family exploded, and before long, there were articles claiming that John must have beaten his kids, that Sam showed clear signs of childhood sexual abuse, that the brothers had killed their own father, all of it backed up by statements from 'respected' psychiatrists and none of it supported by the evidence. Sam heard the rumblings from his cell, and from the mob that lined the streets outside the courthouse as the van that held him passed, but he didn't say a word. He never said a word.
Whispering Pines retirement home in Red Oak, Iowa, was the kind of place where the television was continually playing in the lounge, a background to the games of canasta and the knitting and the conversations about grandkids. Lately, just as in hospitals and social clubs up and down the country, infomercials had given way to the trial of Sam Winchester. All the elements were there to make the trial a smash-hit sensation: dozens of murders, some of them exceedingly gruesome, apparent devil-worship, possible terrorism. Gertrude Makepeace shuddered as she watched the scene, watched the young man sitting in the defendant's box with eyes too old for his face, and the photograph of his brother they kept flashing on the screen (still at large, police seek information...). "Look at them," she said to George, sitting beside her. "You can tell they're bad news."
George shook his head. "You'd think a woman of your age would have enough sense not to judge a book by its cover, Gertie," he said gently, and turned back to the screen. Dean was staring out again, chin up, defiant. "There's a lot of good done in this world that goes unrecognised," said George, but Gertrude wasn't listening.
Andy Gallagher was tired of the words Sam Winchester, alleged multiple murderer, and his brother, Dean, still at large... It seemed like every time he turned around, he heard them again. He wanted the trial to be over, because the constant reminders felt like a dull ache under his ribs, but at the same time he knew that once it was, there would be nothing he could do any more (not that he could do anything now). He thought about going up to Maine, trying to get in to see the jury and use his powers, but he hadn't used them since Webber, and now that a yellow-eyed man haunted his dreams, he was determined not to use them again; the ache he felt wasn't just anger and misery at the injustice of it all, but guilt.
Maybe he wasn't as good at persuading people any more, but that didn't mean that no other avenues were open, and a bar fight, while not as constructive as rigging the jury for Sam's benefit, at least made the ache die down for an hour or two. It came back, though. It always came back.
They weren't able to pin all the murders on Sam, even though he refused to cooperate with the police and tell them what Dean's part in it all had been; the last five, though, the ones in Maine, had been depraved enough that the judge didn't need any more evidence to hand down three consecutive life sentences. He eyed Sam from the bench and said, with barely-concealed anger, that if Maine had had the death penalty, he would have assigned it without hesitation.
Sam didn't seem to hear him; his expression hadn't changed at all, even when the jury foreman read out the verdict of guilty. He didn't move, didn't speak – it was like he wasn't even there.
In Hibbing, Minnesota, Kathleen Marks called in a favour and was handed a Baltimore number. The phone rang and rang before it was answered, and the woman on the other end sounded tired. "Diana Ballard."
"Detective," said Kathleen. "I understand you were assigned to the case of Dean Winchester--"
"No comment," the woman – Diana – said sharply, but Kathleen had always been quick off the mark, and caught her before she hung up.
"Wait," she said. "I'm a police officer up here in Hibbing, and I had a run-in with Dean a few years back."
There was a pause. "Oh yeah?" Diana's voice was suspicious.
Kathleen breathed a sigh. "Yes. His cousin... His brother was missing. Sam. I helped to find him, and they helped me put down a gang of vicious murderers."
"Why are you telling me this?" Diana asked.
"Because I know Sam's not guilty. And I think... maybe you know it too. Is there anything you can do?" Kathleen held her breath. She was just a country cop, lots of influence with the locals but none that counted above the height of a stack of cordwood, but Diana was a big-city homicide detective, maybe she...
There was a silence on the other end of the line. Then, Diana spoke again. "I tried. I tried. But the FBI stonewalled me. Sam's on his own, officer."
After Kathleen hung up the phone, she went to her window and looked out at the rain, and if she prayed, well, no-one would ever know it but her.
Morgan's Place in Sedalia was always busy on a Friday night; Joe had passed through the town often enough to know that. It was a cosy place, no ideas above its station, just beer on the tap and a smile for honest truckers – good enough for Joe. People in Sedalia suited him well, and he made a point to stop there whenever he could.
Right now, he was drinking with his buddy Frank, and watching the muted TV that sat flickering in the corner of the bar. The top story was one he already knew, and he nodded at the barman. "Guess we can all sleep safer in our beds knowing that animal's behind bars, right?"
The barman didn't even glance at the TV, but his friendly grin dropped off his face. "I think you'd better finish your drink and go," he said.
"What?" Joe stared. "Why?"
The barman didn't answer.
Afterwards, in the parking lot, Joe asked Frank what the hell that had been about. Frank rolled his eyes. "Whole town's got a bee in its bonnet about the Brothers Grim case. They all think they're innocent, God only knows why."
Joe frowned. "But the younger brother, he got found guilty. Unanimous decision."
Frank shrugged. "People'll believe whatever they want to believe. At any rate, we need to find another bar."
Two nights after Sam Winchester was sentenced, he disappeared from a secure prisoner transport van on the way to the maximum security jail where he was supposed to spend the rest of his days. The police said he must have had outside help, but of course, they would say that, since they were the ones who had managed to lose a convicted serial killer, a monster. The press had a field day, comparing Sam with Billy the Kid, Jack the Ripper and, strangest of all, Charles Manson. In New England, people shuddered and locked their doors against the horrors that might lurk in the night. In LA, three producers heard the clink of instant cash-ins, and TV movies were optioned. Elsewhere, people read the headlines with morbid glee, and kids played Brothers Grim in the playground.
But in Salvation and New York, in Guthrie and Red Oak, and dozens of other towns across the country, a few people breathed easier. After all, people will believe whatever they want to believe.