A/N: This story was originally written for the Supernatural Virtual Seasons, Season 3, Episode 4. As this is considered a "stand alone" episode, you can read it without having to read the rest of the episodes, as long as you understand a couple of things.

The virtual seasons began at the end of the first regular season and have taken a different path from the show. In the VS, John is still alive, though not a huge part of the boys' lives. In the premiere episode of Season 3, the boys found out that though the YED (called Haris in the VS) is dead, they have a "bigger bad" to fight: Lucifer himself.

Gaelic and I refer to some of this history throughout this story, but plotted and executed the tale so that it was as truly "stand alone" as possible. I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: Don't own Sam or 'the' Dean. Sad.

Original Posting: April 1st, 2008

Warning: Since the subject matter centers around famous serial killers, this contains content that may not be suitable for younger readers.

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"A reverence for life does not mean you have to respect nature's obvious mistakes."
-- Robert Heinlein, Have Space Suit Will Travel

Devil Inside

By Gaelicspirit and Sojourner84

Part 1

Boston, MA, Low-income housing, Night

The minute she stepped through the door to her apartment, a damp winter coat fell to the ground, and high-heels were flung across the room and into the far corner between the couch and the doorway to her bedroom, declaring an end to a day of plastic smiles and yes ma'ams. There were times that being the assistant to a 'big wig' wasn't worth the money it bequeathed. She leaned against the door, letting it shut with more force than necessary, but gaining satisfaction from the loud crack potentially disturbing the neighbor who had no qualms about playing his hippie music at four in the morning.

"I swear, Rex," she sighed, padding across the room in her nylon stockings and addressing the large goldfish circling the fat bowl. "Men invented women's clothes just to get back at us for being smarter."

She sprinkled a few flakes of food in Rex's bowl, then turned toward the kitchen, reaching back to unhook her bra strap with a languid sigh of end-of-the-day satisfaction. Shifting her shoulders and sliding the straps free through her sleeves in a clever maneuver that fascinated every boyfriend who'd witnessed such a trick, she tossed the lacy, white garment over a high-backed chair.

Opening the fridge, she pulled out a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, popped off the cap with the bottle opener fixed to the underside of her countertop, catching the cap in her palm, taking a long drink before closing the door once more. A note, attached to the door with a Red Sox magnet and written in the ink of the green sharpie she saved for important things like grocery lists and phone numbers, caught her eye.

Meggin –

Couldn't fix the shower. Called plumber. He came, he saw, he kicked its ass. You should have hot water now. You owe me a beer.

Lock your door.

Jimmy

Plucking the note from the fridge, Meggin grinned.

"You my brother or my mother?" she muttered affectionately at the paper in the quiet of her small apartment, mind already on the hot shower she'd been looking forward to all day.

Jimmy's admonishment to lock her door went unheeded just as it had the other seven million times he cautioned her. She lived in an eclectic neighborhood where all were welcome and there were no strangers. That preference of freedom over safety never sat well with her big brother, but Meggin enjoyed the Bohemian lifestyle.

Except at four in the morning… Completely missing the swinging chain on the door she crossed from the kitchen to her bedroom, dropping the note and the bottle cap into the waste basket in the living room on her way. She flicked on the stereo in the corner before setting her beer bottle down on the dresser.

The opening beats of bass guitar and drums thrummed through the room and Meggin frowned. She picked up a CD case from the top of the stack next to her stereo and wrinkled her nose. Filter was definitely her brother's style of music. Setting the case back down on top of her collection of George Strait, she shook her head.

"Jimmy," she sighed, sliding the elastic of the cursed pantyhose free from her waist and rolled them down her legs, relishing the feel of air against her bare legs as Hey Man, Nice Shot shook through the small room. "Still can't keep yer hands offa my stuff…"

"They think that your early ending was all wrong; for the most part they're right, but look how they all got strong."

Large hands caught her from behind, fingers curling over her shoulder. She jumped, dropping the stockings to the floor as confusion skittered free from her brain and panic jabbed hard behind her eyes.

Jimmy? Who--

The hands turned her around roughly, the backs of her thighs bumping against the foot of her bed.

"What—" Meggin stuttered, fear slowing her tongue. Strange man… in my room… touching… strange man touching me… move… gotta move… gotta… A scream of denial stalled in her throat, choking her

"Shoulda listened to him, Meggin." The voice was soft, almost sad. The eyes, though...the eyes were manic, strange, cold. "Now you won't get the chance."

A wide mouth grew into an exaggerated smile and Meggin could smell mint—strong and harsh, like a cleaning agent—on his skin. He slid his left hand from her shoulder, caressing her neck, cheek, hair.

"No," Meggin whimpered. His other hand splayed across her chest, fingertips touching each of her collarbones, palm between her breasts. "No, no, no." She shook her head roughly as the music built, lyrics screaming in her head.

"You'd fight and you were right - but, they were just too strong."

He pushed her back on the bed, grabbing her wrist before she could scramble away.

No no no… this isn't happening… this isn't happening… "This isn't happening!" Meggin closed her eyes, shaking her head in a rough denial as her own voice choked her.

"It's happening, honey," the man's soft voice slid through the air, thick with anticipation, and caressed her ear with sick dread. "I'm happening. To you."

For an instant, Meggin thought of fighting back. Thoughts of shoving her knee into his groin, her palm into his throat, her thumbs into his eyes flashed through her head with the speed of a heartbeat and were just as quickly dismissed. She was frozen; rendered helpless… and he knew it. Oh God oh God…

Don't fight and he'll go away…don't fight and it will be over soon…don't fight and he won't hurt you…he's not taking you…he's not doing this to you…it's your body, but it's not you…you aren't here…you're not here…you're not here… Her internal chant kept her from crying out as he climbed on top of her, tore her clothes free, destroyed any vestige of innocence she'd maintained throughout her twenty-five years.

His voice whispered dark promises as he moved over her. His breath hot with sin, and his hands…his hands were everywhere. Then he went silent and Meggin disappeared inside of herself. She closed her internal eyes against the image she knew she'd see if she opened up and saw what was happening to her.

The minute it was over, Meggin rolled to her side, tears choking her, burning her eyes, searing her face as they fell unheeded. She couldn't blink. Her eyes fixed on Rex circling his water bowl on the credenza between her bedroom and the living room as lazily as he had when she'd first stepped into the apartment.

Should have gotten a dog…

Suddenly, she realized he wasn't leaving. He stood at the foot of her bed, pants still undone, shirt bunched at his waist, hands caressing something…familiar. Turning her head a fraction of an inch, Meggin saw he was sliding her nylon stockings through his fingers, fingertips inching along the length of them. With a terrified thrust of air, Meggin began to crawl backwards on her bed, thinking only to get away from his hands.

"Now, where do ya think yer goin'?"

Her eyes shot up to his face and her terror was complete. Liquid pleasure hung heavy in his eyes as he knelt on the bed, scooting closer to her. Excitement missing when he assaulted her danced across his features. He raised the stockings and leaned close to her throat.

As the nylon wrapped tightly around her throat, Meggin's brain sent signals scattering into her limbs that were ignored. Her thoughts tripped over each other as she tried to claw at the tightening noose. Life evacuated on a desperate denial that this wasn't happening to her...this happened to other people, but not to her...
.

The nylon tightened as his strong hands tore her future away. The last thing Meggin saw was the twisted, dark smile of delight spreading across his generous lips, and she died with the words, "It's good to be back," echoing in her ears.

Marlborough, MA, early evening, Two Days Later

As they passed the sidewalk musician nimbly plucking Zeppelin's The Wanton Song on an acoustic guitar, Dean was compelled to dump the last of his change into the open case at the player's feet.

"Thank ya, brother," the player nodded, continuing with the complicated dance of fingers across strings stretched taut against the sound.

Dean tipped him a two fingered salute, continuing down the sidewalk next to Sam. The Hoagie he'd purchased at the deli two blocks away was just beginning to fill the hole of hunger gnawing at him since they'd left Leicester. Stopping Armageddon apparently had that effect on him.

"You really don't think we should call Dad?" Sam asked him for the fiftieth time this hour alone, staring into the bottom of his latte as if it were tea leaves and would offer him all of the answers he was seeking.

For a brief moment, Dean felt a pang of empathy toward the kid. Since they'd taken out Haris, Sam had been through a lot with little time to process. And Sam was a processor. A thinker. A wonder what this means rather than a this is what we have to do kind of guy.

Instead of giving Sam the sympathy he sought and freaking him the hell out, Dean wadded up the wax paper from his Hoagie and tossed it into the trash can across from him with an exaggerated sigh. "For the last time, Sam, no."

"Yeah, but… why?"

"What are you, eight?"

"I just think that he should know about Ferinacci… about the whole thing in Leicester. I mean, that's a pretty big deal."

Dean rolled his neck, glancing askance at Sam's worried eyes, tightening his expression into one of disinterest. He was an expert at hiding the truth beneath a thin film of lies.

"Believe me, Sam," he said, licking his wind-chapped lips and shove his hands deep into his jacket pockets. "Dad knows. Or will soon enough. He has his ways of finding things out—or didn't you get that when he just showed up in the desert?"

"Well, yeah, but—"

"But nothing." Dean cut him off eyeing the newspaper stand he could see in the distance. "He left us, right? We didn't leave him. If there's anything I've learned it's Dad can take care of himself. Plus, we're big boys. We can handle the little devil on our own." He paused, dropping his eyes in thought. "Besides," he said, the confession slipping out despite his cocky swagger. "Last time he came when I called, he almost got killed."

"Dean," Sam said softly, pulling Dean to a stop by the edge of his jacket sleeve. "You couldn't have known."

Dean waved a hand at him, dismissing the forgiving eyes. "Forget it," he said. "That's done. We're here in… Cigaretteville."

"Marlborough," Sam corrected.

"Like I said."

"Spelled different."

Dean raised an eyebrow at him, moving down the sidewalk. "You see words in your head when you talk, don't you?"

Sam shot him a surprised glance, folded his lips down, then silently sipped his latte.

"Nice place, though," Dean offered.

"Least it's not raining locusts or flooded with frogs or something else…plagueish," Sam commented. "Leicester was…"

"Weird."

"Yeah," Sam agreed.

They continued to walk in companionable silence for a few beats, enjoying the peace of the quaint downtown, the cool of the night. The air was crisp, smelling of coffee and bread and soap. Dean found himself explicably thinking of neighborhood cookouts, pick-up basketball games, sitting on the front stoop with a beer in hand and a woman pressed close. Things that real people did. Things that happened on nights like this. Things that weren't meant to be his.

He and Sam traveled in a different orbit from normal. He had to be okay with that. Especially now the Devil was in the world.

Demons and devils…it's always something, Dean thought with a touch of melancholy, watching a red-headed woman approach, talking animatedly on her cell phone, blue eyes bouncing to his, lighting up momentarily, then drifting away as she walked past. Dean dropped his chin, rotating to follow her with his eyes and admire the rear view.

"Dean."

"Hmm?"

"Eyes front."

"Damn, Sammy," Dean turned, grinning good-naturedly at his brother. "Always spoiling my fun."

"Don't need your fun getting us into trouble."

Dean tapped Sam with his elbow. "So serious," he teased as they approached the newsstand. "Guess I'll have to find my fun elsewhere."

Sam sighed as Dean approached the magazine section, selecting one covered with a brown wrapper. Only the eyes and the wind-blow red hair of the cover model and the word Penthouse were visible. Dean turned the magazine to face Sam, bouncing his eyebrows lasciviously then turned back to the racks when Sam simply rolled his eyes and turned away, watching the cars pass on the street.

Dean grabbed a Twix, two bags of Peanut M&Ms, and a Rollo for Sam, turned to get in line to pay when his eyes caught the large, bold letters of the Boston Times newspaper stacked on the ground at the base of the magazine rack.

Boston Strangler Copy Cat Killer Claims 5th Victim

Curiosity creasing his forehead, Dean bent down and picked up one of the thick papers, hefting it for balance, then stepped up to the cashier. Handing over his money, he tucked the candy into his pockets, rolled the Penthouse and shoved it into his waistband, then flipped the paper over to read the cover story.

Sam dragged his eyes from a blank observation of the traffic when he realized Dean started walking once more. Jogging to catch up, he started to talk, compelled to fill in the gaps left between them by his brother's silence.

"You realize I've never been possessed, Dean? Not once. The…spirit…thing in Leicester tried, but…and I mean, you have—twice now. Dad has. But not me. And it was my blood that took out Haris. That has to mean something, right? That dog…he went after me. And Gudrun... I mean—Dean, are you even listening to me?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah, Sam. Possessed, blood, some deeper meaning in all of this…"

"You're such a jerk." Sam tossed his empty coffee cup away.

"Bitch," Dean answered automatically, eyes still on the paper.

"What are you reading?" Sam looked over Dean's shoulder.

Dean tilted the paper so Sam could see. "Boston Strangler's back."

"What?" Sam's voice was incredulous. "Didn't he die in the '60's?"

"'73 actually," Dean corrected, reading, "The historically conscious will recognize the pattern of these five murders as eerily similar to the murders allegedly committed by Albert DeSalvo—"

Dean stopped when Sam's arm prevented him from stepping into traffic as he read. The light changed and they crossed, then Dean continued.

"DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison in 1967, subsequently escaped, was recaptured, and then murdered in 1973 while in custody."

"And now there is a copy cat?" Sam asked.

"Looks like," Dean flipped the paper over and pulled the magazine from his waistband, ripping off the brown paper and flipping open to the middle. "Nice," he grinned, nodding appreciatively.

"For God's sake," Sam shook his head, snagging Dean's sleeve and pulling him down the alley access to their motel. "You're impossible."

"Loosen up, Sammy." Dean bounced his elbow against Sam. "You're too tense. Here." He held out the magazine.

"I don't want your porn, Dean," Sam grumbled, pulling out the old-school motel key and unlocking their ground-floor room.

"You could get your own," Dean suggested, dropping the magazine and paper onto the table, shrugging out of his jacket. "I could…y'know, take a walk…"

"Shut up," Sam snapped, flopping on the bed and toeing off his boots. "What's with you, anyway?"

Dean shrugged. "I don't know. I'm just… restless, or something."

"Or something," Sam muttered, grabbing the remote and flipping through stations with the speed of an expert channel surfer.

"Ready to get out of these little towns," Dean dropped onto the chair, fidgeting with the folded up corner of the paper. "Too many freaky things happen in small towns no one's heard of."

"Freaky things happen in big cities, too," Sam said.

"Let's go to Boston."

Sam looked over at him. "Huh?"

"Boston! C'mon, Sam," Dean leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees, his hands tented with a steeple of fingers. "We could check out a game at Fenway, buy some tea…"

"Tea?!"

"Or… lager," Dean amended, sitting back and hooking an arm over the back of the chair. "What do you say?"

"Since when are you a tourist?"

"Since we killed that damn demon and turned the Devil loose."

"All the more reason we shouldn't be fooling around."

Dean pushed to his feet. "Oh, okay, Sam. You're right. We'll go look for Lucifer and—oh, wait… hmmm. We don't know where to find him."

Sam huffed, turning his attention back to the TV.

"Better yet," Dean continued, stepping forward until he blocked Sam's view of the TV. "If we did find him, we got no idea how to take out friggin' Satan."

"I got it, okay?" Sam mumbled.

"So how's about that ballgame at Fenway?"

Sighing, Sam flicked off the TV, tossing the remote onto the nightstand between the beds.

"Fine," he agreed, standing up and grabbing some sweats and a T-shirt from his bag before he headed to the bathroom. "Not like we know where Dad is…or what he's doing. We've got no hunt to speak of. And… you're right."

"'Course I am," Dean replied. Then frowned. "About what?"

Sam paused in the bathroom doorway. "We don't know how to kill the Devil."

The worry that slipped out with those words rode shotgun on Dean's thoughts the rest of the evening, dogging him while they flipped stations, catching a rerun of Simon & Simon and laughing about the 1980's styles. Sam commented Dean would be right at home with the big pick-up and smelly dog while Dean returned Sam was just the type to wear a friggin' suit every day while driving a Trans-Am.

Soon, though, Sam's breathing slowed and Dean felt the tension in the air dissipate as his brother relaxed into oblivion. Unable to wind down, Dean continued to flip stations, the sound turned low to not disturb Sam. He ended up watching a special on the Discovery channel about Jack the Ripper and shook his head at the eerie timing of serial killer mania.

Turning off the TV, Dean looked over at Sam. Sprawled across his bed, one arm tucked above his head and under his pillow, the other draped casually over his chest, Sam looked about fifteen. One long leg was hanging off of the bed and Dean knew the chill in the air would wake him soon. Standing, Dean gently lifted Sam's leg onto the bed, tucking it carefully beneath the covers and switched off the lamp on Sam's side of the nightstand.

He glanced at his bed, contemplating sleep and dismissed the idea. His body was humming like an idling engine. He felt jazzed, high, like he did when he had a hunt, a purpose, an order. Worrying his bottom lip between his thumb and forefinger, he glanced around the room. There were ways to dispel this kind of energy, he knew.

He picked up the Penthouse, sat on his bed, and began to flip through the pictures. His lips quirked with appreciation, his eyebrows rose in surprise. At one picture, he was forced to not only tilt his head, but turn the magazine sideways to get the full effect of the pose.

"Useless," he muttered after awhile, tossing the magazine aside. The normal ways to release the pent up feeling of energy weren't going to work, apparently.

He stood again, wandering to the table where he'd discarded his jacket, and dug out one of the Twix bars. Sam mumbled unintelligibly in his sleep, rolling over and burying his head in the soft confines of his pillow. Unwrapping the Twix, Dean ate half of one before it started tasting like dust.

"Blech," he exclaimed softly, wadding up the rest and tossing it in the trash can.

Running his hands along the sides of his face and lacing his fingers behind his head, he twisted back and forth in place, quietly so as not to disturb Sam, but desperate to chill out, to come down from his amped up, on-the-hunt, ready-to-fight high.

"Gotta get out of here," he whispered to himself, reaching for his coat. As he did, his eyes hit the bold headlines of the newspaper once more.

Picking it up, Dean scanned the facts of the article, his eyes picking out phrases and words. Eerily similar M.O.… almost as if DeSalvo had whispered facts to the killer…waiting for the next one…stockings…strangulation…rape…

At an abbreviated snore from Sam, Dean glanced over, then set the paper down. Something was nagging at him. Something pushed him into suggesting Boston to Sam. Something was there… Dean looked at Sam again, and then at his laptop lying closed on the table, charged and ready to go.

He paced a few steps away from the computer, stealing surreptitious glances at his sleeping brother. Stepping back toward the computer, Dean traced a hesitant finger across the top. The feather-light caress was pensive, filled with curiosity and doubt. Sam would flip if he caught me using his precious computer…but, what's the harm in just looking up a few things…as long as I don't get caught…

As if shoplifting for the first time, Dean unplugged the computer and tucked it under his arm, grabbed a notebook and pen, then darted toward the bathroom. He glanced once more at Sam, ducked inside quietly, shutting the door after himself. Sitting on the cool, tile floor, he opened the laptop screen and booted up the machine.

When connection was verified, Dean typed Boston Strangler in the search window and began writing down facts in a scrawl only he had hope of reading. After about thirty minutes, he'd filled two pages with notes on the Strangler, and his boxer-shorts-clad legs were feeling the heat of the computer. He grabbed a towel from the rack above the toilet and slid it between his legs and the computer.

"Damn thing is like holding an oven," he muttered to himself, reaching back between his shoulders and pulling his T-shirt off, his back against the tile. "That's better."

From Albert DeSalvo and Boston, Dean began to search facts on copy cat killers. They were rarer than he'd first thought, especially this many years later. Suspicions ratcheting up, he started to search for other serial killers. What he found surprised him. Patterns. All killers followed patterns—supernatural or otherwise. It just took being able to see with the right eyes to find them. Only now, patterns previously played out in years past were spreading into the here and now.

"Boston, Chicago, New York…" Dean muttered, lips pressed out in thought, eyes darting from screen to paper, hand scurrying in quick notes. "Eat your heart out, Sam Winchester," he smirked. "You aren't the only one that can work Internet magic."

Time disappeared as he continued to search and the gray light of dawn was masked by the light from the computer monitor. When the bathroom door suddenly opened, Dean jumped, looking up hurriedly at Sam standing in the doorway, hand paused mid-rub at his sleep-heavy eyes.

"Dude!" Sam exclaimed.

Dean frowned, then understanding dawned quickly as he looked at himself, T-shirt wadded next to him, towel across his bare legs, computer on his lap.

"It's not what you think!" Dean hastened to protest.

"That's just sick," Sam shook his head, backing away.

Dean closed the computer, clamoring to his feet. "Seriously," he tried again, following Sam out into the bedroom. "I was working."

"I don't need to know what you call it," Sam waved a hand in the air, not looking back at Dean as he grabbed his jeans and long-sleeved shirt.

"I'm serious!"

"Whatever you say, man," Sam said.

"Hey, you're the one that just barged in," Dean pointed out.

Sam scratched the back of his head. "Well, I sure as hell promise to knock from now on."

Pressing his lips together in a frown, Dean set the laptop on the table, unable to let Sam's embarrassment go without one jab. "Your favorites have been upgraded, though, man. You can thank me later."

Sam spun around and looked at him, disbelief on his face.

Dean laughed. "I'm just kidding."

"You better be."

"Don't be such a wussy."

"I find one sticky key and you're buying me keyboard cleaner," Sam muttered, pushing past Dean toward the bathroom and the shower.

"Might not want to touch that towel on the floor in there," Dean teased.

"Dude, seriously!"

"I'm kidding!" Dean laughed. The bathroom door shut. "Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," Dean shook his head, looking down at the pad of notes he'd taken. "Wait until you see this."

Next Morning, Marlborough, MA

The noise of the morning crowd gradually rose and fell against them, gathering speed and volume with every body that packed into the small, popular diner. They were holed up in a corner booth, blending into the familiar drone of clinking dishes, and scattered conversation. The only thing that would have set them apart like Technicolor against black and white would be if anyone could hear their conversation.

"Would you stop whining about your stupid computer?" Dean sighed. "I didn't do anything but my job, okay?"

He tapped the notebook in front of him with two fingers to drive the point home. He still hadn't revealed the contents of his research as proof of his claims. It was too much fun to watch Sam squirm. Or, rather, had been fun. When every other subject change was back to Sam bemoaning his freakin' lap top, it was starting to lose its humorous edge.

"I just…didn't want to wake you up."

Sam was hunched over the table, looking down at his empty place mat once again like he expected the solution to appear in one of the coffee stains. "Maybe I can get keyboard cleaner at Office Depot."

"Dude! Enough. Look, you don't want to know? Fine."

Dean shoved the notebook to the side, and watched Sam's eyes follow it to its resting place alongside the ketchup and hot sauce. He could see the curiosity pique and knew his brother was hooked. Dean's smile tipped up at one corner before he set back in the booth with a contented sigh, waiting to hear Sam relent. He didn't have to wait long.

"You're not gonna tell me?" Sam asked.

"Oh, gee, I don't know, Sam. Hey, maybe Office Depot has a two for one special running."

Sam grabbed up the notebook, flipping through it quickly, his expression building from confusion to awe. "Did you—?"

"Research? Uh, yeah, that's kind of the point I've been driving home, genius."

"How can you read this?" Sam asked, still flipping through Dean's scrawl. "Maybe Dad could read this…" Sam said, turning the notebook in his hand and canting his head to the right, then the left. "No. He'd probably give up…What the—is that the Impala?" He flipped through again. "Did you make a flip book animation of the Impala?"

"I got bored around three a.m…Took a study break," Dean started, sounding defensive. His smile returned however with a hint of pride. "Pretty good, huh?"

Sam raised his eyebrow. "It looks like a box on wheels, Dean."

"Give me that!" Dean said indignantly, reaching across the table and ripping the notebook out of Sam's hands, grumbling. "Wouldn't know brilliance if it bit you in the ass."

Sam's face lit up, a prelude to a sputtered laugh as he tried to keep a straight face. Dean grumbled to himself as he flipped open to the first page of notes he'd created.

"Laugh it up, Sammy. This is quality research right here. I designed it to be…unreadable. Cryptic. My eyes only. Oh, would you cut it out already?"

"Sorry," Sam laughed, coughing and coming back with a more stoic expression. "Sorry, Dean. So let's hear what you have."

Dean dove in, settling into a mode like he owned the research scribbled out in his nobody-can-read, physician-like scratch. He knew Sam was the one to look at the details, but he was proud he'd been able to see the patterns, look past what other, including Sam yesterday, only saw as coincidental occurrences.

"That paper the other day, on the fifth murder in Boston, got me thinkin'," Dean started. "Led me to look for similar events, copy-cat murders, and found the Strangler isn't the only one making a comeback. I was able to find murder cases recently which look a whole hell of a lot like John Wayne Gacy's work. He killed thirty-three people in Chicago in the 70's…"

Sam shifted, visibly uncomfortable, his mouth folding down. "Wait, isn't that the guy known as the Killer Clown?"

Dean gave Sam a don't turn into a girl on me, Samantha look, his mouth quirking. "I almost forgot how you feel about clowns, Sammy."

That response was returned with a yeah, right look from Sam, and Dean held up his hands in defense.

"I know you hate the happy bastards; run screaming like a girl in the other direction every time one's standing outside the carwash, but don't start freaking out on me."

Sam huffed shaking his head. "Like I'm the only one with an 'irrational' fear."

Dean gave him an innocent look. Sam rolled his eyes. Before any talk of their recent adventures in flying could be brought up, the waitress returned with breakfast balanced on one arm, coffee for warm-ups in the other hand. She slid the plates in front of them first. The aroma of bacon and eggs, short stacks, and fresh coffee curled up into their nostrils and forced a brief armistice between the two.

Not more than two bites of scrambled eggs made passage down Dean's throat before Sam started back in again.

"You want to know why I never liked clowns, Dean?"

Dean muffled a 'this ought to be good' into his coffee.

"Because of that guy. Because of Gacy," Sam continued. "Because clowns are creepy as hell to begin with, but to have someone like Gacy dressing up like them at neighborhood block parties, claiming that apparently, 'A clown can get away with murder,' and yeah, I hate the 'happy bastards'." He violently jammed his fork into his pancakes, before shoving a forkful into his mouth while his eyes darted around the restaurant warily. "Was there a point to all this?"

Dean pointed listlessly at his notes. "Trying to get there."

"Fine."

"So, Pogo," Dean started, another smirk inevitable as Sam's eyes narrowed.

"Dean."

"What? His clown name was Pogo."

Sam ran a hand down his face, distorting and hiding the fratricide that would be written there. "Please. Don't call him…Pogo..."

"Noted. Sorry. Pog-er-Gacy, as you know, went after boys and young men, and in Chicago over this last month there have been six disappearances of boys between the ages of twelve and twenty-four. All were at neighborhood parties before they went MIA, and all of those started about the same time as the Boston killings. Two of the bodies were found in the river…"

"Matching Gacy's modus operandi?" Sam said, a hint of skepticism plain in his voice. "How is this our kind of gig again?" He bit into a piece of bacon, ticking off points on his fingertips. "First of all, Gacy was given something like twenty-one consecutive life sentences and twelve death sentences. They made sure he bit the big one in '94. Second, if these are copy cat killers, that's the cops' jurisdiction, not ours. You can't—"

"I'm not finished," Dean butted in, flipping through more of the worn notebook. "You're gonna love this one."

Sam sighed and leaned back in the both, one arm hooked over the back of the seat. "I don't see how I can love something about people being killed, Dean."

Dean frowned a little, wishing Sam would just cut him a break. He'd researched this—alone—and there was a connection, a reason, a concluding point. But, Dean was a showman. He liked to build to the climax of the reveal, not just throw it out there. Then again, it might have fared out less painful if he'd just come right out and said what he was thinking. He could have avoided a pissy Sam and his eggs wouldn't be getting cold and soggy.

Clearing his throat as he found what he was looking for, Dean pointed to his chicken-scratch. "New York, the .44 Caliber Killer."

Sam's eyes rocked up before closing, disbelief exuding from his expression before the words even left his lips. "You gotta be kidding me… Son of Sam?"

Dean pointed the pen he'd started tapping against the table at his brother. "Bingo."

"Greaaat. The 'devil in my neighbor's dog made me do it' killer. David Berkowitz."

"In the last month, there have been five bodies found in New York shot with a .44 caliber pistol in their cars or on their front stoops. No apparent motive, not in a gang-related area, just bam, dead."

"I don't know Dean…"

"You're telling me this isn't even remotely reeking of our kind of job?" Dean asked in disbelief. "In the last month, there have been sixteen deaths, all exactly like said serial killers, all in big cities where the killers used to live, and no one has seen a pattern. Well, no one except me, Weekly World News and various other tabloids, who are claiming the spirits of serial killers have returned for revenge."

"Some credible sources there, Dean."

"Your faith in me is staggering," Dean said flatly.

"Well, what do you think it is, then?" Sam asked, leaning into the table.

Dean shook his head. "I don't know. But I don't believe in coincidences. Something is going on."

"Or maybe," Sam started in, pushing his half eaten breakfast aside. "You're looking for a hunt because Haris is dead, Gudrun is dead, Dad is gone, and the Devil sure as hell didn't go down to Georgia, but decided to play a gig here in Massachusetts, right in our backyard."

"And your point is?" Dean asked, opening his hands.

"You're scared Dean, and you don't know what else to do right now, but hunt."

Dean hardened his gaze and closed his notes. "You know, Sam, the simple fact the Devil is in the world is enough to believe this is a hunt."

He watched Sam regard him silently for a moment, could sense him holding back in acquiesce. Sam eventually nodded.

"Alright. We'll check it out. Boston's like what? Less than an hour away? Maybe you could call in these patterns anonymously…just in case this isn't our thing."

Dean threw down some cash, not waiting for the bill. Neither one of them looked like they were interested in finishing their food. "That wouldn't be a bad idea, as long as it doesn't get our asses caught at the next crime scene. And hey, if I'm wrong," Dean shrugged. "Fenway."

"You're brain moves on a looped tape or something," Sam groaned as he slid out of the booth.

"Yeah, yeah, wonder if there's an Office Depot on the way."

"Shut up."

Early Afternoon, Boston, MA

"Well, one out of five isn't so bad," Dean stated, fiddling with the tie around his neck as they walked away from their last interview. He eventually gave up the fight, slipping his finger through the knot and pulling the thing apart, letting it hang lazily about his neck, finally able to breathe again.

He looked out past the docks, across the water, and toward downtown Boston. The low sun glinted off the almost metallic surface, and reflected off the towers in the distance. The view drew him in for a beat before the invisible rope between him and Sam pulled taut and he realized he was falling behind Sam's enormous stride. He jogged to catch up and skipped a little back into step.

"You pissed at me or something?" He asked innocently.

"No." The tone didn't exactly fall in sync with the answer.

"You only go Greta Garbo on me when you're pissed," Dean muttered.

Sam halted his almost exaggerated trudge and shrugged. "I don't know. Just talking with Jimmy, hearing about his sister Meggin…I know we weren't able to get a hold of the families of the other victims, but there was nothing supernatural about his story. No traces of ectoplasm, sulfur, ether, et cetera at his sister's apartment. No violent family history…I want to help him out, Dean. I do…"

"But?"

"But—the more I hear, the more I don't think this is our thing. The world's a pretty twisted place, Dean. This stuff happens all the time. This was the kind of stuff I wanted to fight back when I was at school, just in a different way."

"You mean through becoming a lawyer?" Dean asked. He flipped Sam's tie up. "A suit? So what if this doesn't look like our thing. We need to make damn sure it isn't."

"We're not vigilantes, Dean."

"Come on, I'm so Batman. You don't have to be Robin…you can be… Nightwing." Dean's grin caught at the edge, the humor a forced attempt to capture Sam's buy in.

"This could be humans attacking humans. That makes it the job of the police."

Dean raised a brow. "Were you even there when a family of sociopaths kidnapped you and tried to hunt you down to eat you? Or was that just my imagination on a bad bender?"

"We fell into that one, Dean. We didn't go looking for it. Look, we get too deep into this and we'll…"

Dean smirked, a crazy, half-cocked look in his eye. "We'll have no choice but to get involved."

He gave a short nod to show he'd reached his concluding statement and walked back toward the Impala again. Sliding behind the wheel, he loosened his shirt some more by popping down the top buttons, then reached for the glove box and he grabbed their ID box. Sam sank into the car, throwing his ID into the open box before leaning back against the seat.

Dean dropped his Officer Jeff Neal badge on top of Sam's Officer Doug Huffman and shook his head.

"Can't believe Jimmy's not a fan of Boston."

"Probably had an older brother who made him listen to Boston on the way to Boston," Sam said with a quick flash of a smile.

Dean reached over and turned up the tape currently in the deck. Don't Look Back rushed through the speakers, quickly joined after the opening guitar by Dean's voice in falsetto.

Sam should have known better.

Cap'n Fry, Boston, MA, Afternoon

The afternoon cooled off quickly, the winds coming off the water forcing Sam to reach for an extra hoodie from the trunk to layer up. Dean insisted they find out what Bean Town had to offer in the way of food, and their quest led them to the thankfully warm, but regretfully sea-side eclectic diner they were now inside. Nets, wheels from old ships, and portholes littered the room as décor. Sam had even had to duck a few low-hanging plastic seagulls before careening into a flock of them. It hadn't taken long to discover what the attraction to this place was for Dean. Deep-fat fried fish and chips for starters. That, and it was like Captain Jack Sparrow's Hooters.

Dean was burying one of the greasy filets in a mound of tarter sauce like a shovel before bringing it up to his mouth. The waitress returned with their drink refills and Sam watched his brother's eyes take in every curve, both hidden and not under her red and black striped blouse.

"Get you guys anything else?" She asked, head tilted in Dean's direction, causing her long blond hair to obstruct Sam's view of her face.

Since she was really asking Dean, Sam didn't even bother a return response. Instead, he unfolded the map they'd picked up at a news stand along the way and started to mark off the locations of the murders, waiting for her to leave. When she did, Sam found it hard to grab the attention of his brother who was determined to memorize exactly what her backside looked like.

"You done?"

"Hmm?" Dean relaxed his lower lip, his eyes coming back to rest on the map. "What did you find?"

Sam shrugged and tossed the sharpie down onto the table. "We have five points…not a whole lot to go on. I thought, maybe a pentagram, but the points are too far off and that seemed too easy. There's no clear center…but maybe there isn't a connection with the proximity. Which means we'll have to try a different approach…"

Sam watched his brother frown and tilt his head to study the map. He'd seen that look before. Chicago. Meredith's apartment. Dean somehow managed to pull the Zoroastrian symbol from blood splotches, and now maybe he was seeing something Sam couldn't see.

"You got something?" Sam asked, leaning into the map.

"Maybe…" Dean replied, taking up the black marker. He started to connect the dots, making an A when he was finished. He pursed his lips in thought, tilting his head back in the other direction. "A?"

"Okaaay," Sam said, scrunching up his brow. "And 'A' stands for what exactly?"

Dean shook his head. "I can think of a lot of things, none of which are really relevant. And I highly doubt the killer is this big of a Steven Tyler fan." Sam watched Dean mull over it for a beat, eyes lighting up before he dismissed the idea. "Nah."

"What?" Sam prompted.

"Anarchy?"

Sam let that wash over him for a moment. He remembered their conversation in Leicester about the chaos happening around town, what would happen if that spread. Dean had said it would be Anarchy, with a capital A. It made sense, but other than speculation there was no way right now to assign a meaning to the A or to tell if there was even an A there on purpose.

"Beats the hell outta me." He sighed and started to fold up the map. "We should check out the area along the letter at least. Get a feel for where the killer is pulling his victims from."

Dean finished shoveling the last of his fries through some ketchup and then threw down some cash. Sam followed Dean toward the front of the restaurant, wary of the seagulls this time, vowing never again to eat at a place where he had to duck plastic birds to exit the building.

Westwood Apartment Complex, Boston, MA, Late Afternoon

"Hate to say this," Dean grumbled, slowing the Impala after he turned down the street acting as one leg of the A, "but I think we may be onto something."

Sam shook his head ruefully. "Ya think?"

The flashing lights of the ambulance, paramedic truck, and police cars were bright in the misty gloom of the East Coast afternoon. Dean narrowed is eyes against the glare, pulling his bottom lip against his teeth as he searched for an inconspicuous place to pull the distinctive Chevy over.

"Turn around," Sam instructed.

"Why?"

"Saw a carpool lot about a block back."

"Ah," Dean nodded, pressing the heel of his right hand against the wheel and rotating the steering wheel sharply, the tires of the big black car squealing slightly as they changed direction in the narrow street.

Sam lifted a brow, shaking his head slightly. "Way to blend."

Dean simply slid him a look. The lot was to the left and Dean pulled in, shut the car off, and exited, flipping the keys into the palm of his hand before burying his fists deep into his coat.

"Cold as a witch's ti—"

"Dude, seriously," Sam cut him off.

"When exactly did you become such a saint, there, Theresa?" Dean shivered.

Sam started walking toward the lights and gathering crowd. "One of us has gotta have some class."

Dean stopped, watching Sam's back as his brother moved away from him. "I've got class."

Sam didn't reply, simply shot Dean a look over his shoulder.

"I've got your class right here," Dean grumbled, following at a distance.

The low drone of the crowd reached them as they drew closer to the paramedic unit, exchanging a knowing glance. Dean tipped two fingers one direction, then shifted his thumb the other. Sam lifted his chin, signaling his understanding, then ducked around the opposite side of the truck from Dean.

Even as he worked to meld into the crowd, Dean found himself aware of Sam, seeing his brother's shaggy brown head moving between the cluster of people, his shoulders hunched against the cool, damp air, his eyes searching out an easy mark. Dean followed suit, the scent of Chanel No. 5 drifting to his nostrils.

Middle aged woman, wearing powder blue, he guessed, turning to find the wearer of the perfume. Bet she's holding a dog.

The yip caught his attention and he stepped close to a blonde woman in a black trench coat, her smooth face folded into a grimace of horrified worry.

"What happened here?" He asked softly.

She turned to him and he saw a light blue scarf knotted at the base of her throat, a small terrier tucked under her arm.

"It's another murder," she whispered, manicured nails flitting up to press gently at painted lips.

"Here?" Dean asked, feigning incredulity.

"Right there," she nodded. "Look."

Dean stepped closer to her until her shoulder was tucked against his chest, leaning around the wide body of a man who smelled like sweet onions and was holding a bag of groceries, and saw the sad, sprawled tangle of bare female legs jutting out from an opened doorway.

Something about the position—dead just this side of freedom—caused his chest to feel suddenly hollow, as if all of the air had been vacuumed out.

"Stella saw it," Ms. Chanel continued.

"Stella?" Dean didn't look away from the legs. He could see a small tattoo of a vine starting at the woman's toes and twisting up around her ankle.

"Stella Reese. 435? She was just coming home."

"And she saw it?"

Ms. Chanel nodded and the terrier in her arms yipped again, its growl a low, amusingly unthreatening sound. "She's talking to the police now."

Dean looked in the direction Chanel pointed, seeing Sam standing close to Stella and the cops, appearing for all the world like a shell-shocked observer. Dean bit the inside of his cheek. He could practically see Sam taking notes in his head.

"You gonna be okay?" He asked Chanel, touching her bent elbow in a gesture of concern.

She offered him a trembling smile. "Yes. Eventually."

Nodding at her, Dean turned and melted into the crowd, working his way toward Sam. They met on the other side of the paramedic unit, away from the crowd.

"What'd Stella have to say?" Dean asked in a hushed whisper.

Sam pulled his head back, surprised. "How'd you know her name was Stella?"

Dean drew his brows together. "What do you think I was doing?"

Sam shrugged. "Looked like your type from here."

"I'm no cougar hound, Sammy. Spill it."

"You were right," Sam whispered, reluctantly. "It's our kind of gig." He hurried on before Dean's self-satisfied grin became too wide. "Stella Reese was coming home and about to put her code in the main door when she heard a struggling sound."

"Hey!" A man in a gray and yellow uniform started toward them. "You two can't be near here."

"Uh, right, officer, or, uh, Mr. Fireman, sir," Dean stuttered, grabbing Sam's arm and turning him.

They walked quickly away before they could get caught in a net of questions, quiet until they reached the Impala. Dean unlocked the door, climbed in, then reached across to unlock Sam's side. Sam slid in and they shut their doors in unison, turning to face each other on the bench seat.

"So," Sam continued without missing a beat. "Stella opens the door and Cat Stewart—"

"The dead chick?"

"The dead chick," Sam nodded. "Cat Stewart is on the ground in the entrance and is fighting for her life."

"This Stella didn't do anything about it?"

"Well," Sam tipped his hands up in a shrug. "She claims she saw the guy who did it but was so scared by what she saw, she couldn't move."

"Don't keep me in suspense," Dean said, smacking the back of his hand on Sam's shoulder.

"Apparently the man had crazy black eyes—like tar, no white at all. She said it was like looking into Hell."

"Demon," Dean concluded.

"Demon," Sam agreed.

Dean twisted around to face the steering wheel, taking a breath. "Well, at least we know what to do." He rolled his head slowly to the right, his eyebrows making inverted V's as he looked at his brother. "A Devil's Trap and some latinating and it's toast."

Frowning, Sam grabbed the folded map from his pocket. He dug the Sharpie from his shoulder bag and pulled the cap off with his teeth, marking where Cat Stewart breathed her last. Dean watched as he ran a long finger to the one empty cross hatch on the figure of the A.

"Well," Sam said around the pen cap. "We've got a good idea where he's going to be next. We just don't know when."

Dean ticked his head to the left. "Gimme my book."

Sam capped the Sharpie. "Your book?"

Rolling his eyes, Dean bounced his head in a nod. "Yeah, dude, the notebook."

"Oh," Sam lifted his eyebrows and dug through the pack. "Your flipbook for classic cars."

Glaring at Sam, Dean grabbed the notebook offered, then turned to the page that showed the Impala's wheels spinning impressively. "Look," he said, pointing to a bulleted list of facts he'd collected. "There have been about two days between each murder."

Sam pressed his lips together. "So, we got a deadline."

Liberty Inn, Boston, MA, early evening

"You're going to wear a hole in the carpet."

"Yeah, well, lemme at that thing and I'll find some stuff out."

"You hate research."

"I like it better than doing nothing," Dean snapped. "I'm not just the muscle, here, Sam. I can research."

Sam sighed, sitting back in the creaking wooden chair, one hand on his knee, the other resting on the keyboard of his laptop. "I'm not saying you can't," he soothed. "I'm just faster at it, is all."

Dean glared at him, continuing to pace, his fingers laced behind his neck. "Fine, Nightwing. Let's hear what you have."

Ignoring the barb, Sam scrolled through his well-ordered, typed out notes to find what he'd wanted to read off to Dean. "Okay, so, DeSalvo—or whatever we want to call this Strangler—was able to get into the homes of his victims with no forced entry."

"Meaning they knew him," Dean supposed.

"Or they trusted him," Sam nodded. "Or he'd been in the house or apartment before."

Pausing in his twentieth trek across the tiny motel room, Dean dropped his hands from his neck, and rested them on his hips. "So, who do you trust? Who do you just let into your house? Who does a woman…a single woman, living alone let into her house?"

"Anyone she needed help from," Sam leaned further back in the chair, tipping it off its front legs and balancing on the spindly rear legs. "Cable guy, phone guy…"

"Yeah, but," Dean shook his head. "Cat was in the entranceway of her building."

"Breaks pattern," Sam frowned. "Unless…" He lifted a shoulder, looking at Dean.

"She got away?"

"Maybe…I mean it's possible. She got away from him, got all the way to the entrance when he caught her and finished the job."

"Makes sense," Dean nodded.

Sam leaned forward with a sigh. "Now we just need to figure out if there's anything common linking the five—"

"Six," Dean corrected, thinking of the tattooed ankle.

"Six victims."

Brows furrowed in concentration, Sam began to tap furious on the keyboard. Dean watched for a full minute before becoming aware his legs were growing numb and his fingers were tingling from inactivity.

"I'm going for food," he announced, grabbing his jacket.

"Dean!"

"What?"

"Get me a salad."

"Sure thing, Princess."

When Dean returned, tossing the Impala keys on the table, Sam could smell the French fries and cheeseburgers.

"Dude, I asked you for one thing—"

"Untwist your boxers already," Dean snapped. He set a plastic bag with a salad, fork, and dressing packet inside next to the laptop.

"Oh." Sam dropped his hands in his lap, chagrined. "Sorry, man."

"I'm watching out for your girlish figure, Sammy." Dean pulled a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon from under his arm and clinked the cans on the table.

Sam opened his salad, shaking his head at Dean's often inappropriate, but purely-big-brother humor. "Wanna hear what I found?" Sam asked around a mouthful of lettuce.

"Mmmhmm," Dean nodded as he stuffed fries into his mouth.

"'Kay, so," Sam swallowed, reaching for a beer, then paused, lifting a brow at his brother. "PBR, Dean?"

"Hey," Dean shrugged, taking a swig. "They don't just hand out those blue ribbons, you know."

"Anyway," Sam dug his fork back into his salad. "Turns out each victim called a plumber from Pipe Cleaners the day before they died."

"Heh, that'd be a crappy job," Dean chuckled, then paused, blinking up at Sam. "Oh!"

"Yeah, oh," Sam nodded.

"Same guy?"

"Haven't gotten that far, yet," Sam said. "But I did find out there's an apartment building at the last intersection of the A. Here at Providence and Berkeley."

"Yeah?" Dean wiped his mouth with a napkin, then drained his beer, crumpling the can and tossing it into the wastebasket.

Sam nodded. "Providence Apartments."

"Got a number?"

Sam ripped off a piece of paper and handed it to Dean. Clearing his throat, Dean pulled out his cell phone, then settled himself on his chair with a crack of his neck, a shift of his shoulders, and a hitch of his hip.

"Hi, can I speak to the apartment manager, please," Dean said into the phone, his voice smooth, deep, professional…seductive. "Absolutely, this is… Howard Hunt from Pipe Cleaners plumbing service. Hi, Susan." Dean grinned into the phone and gave Sam a thumbs up.

Sam rolled his eyes mouthing Watergate, Dean?

Dean lifted a shoulder lobbing back a what? before returning his attention to Susan. "Yeah, I'm so embarrassed to tell you this, but, it seems we had an…information leak and I need to confirm some appointments in your building coming up over the next several days. Can you help me with that? Fantastic!"

Sam watched Dean work, his charm slipping across the phone lines through his smile and teasing up the necessary information. As Dean closed the call with a thank you, absolutely, you've saved my life, seriously, Sam could practically see Susan melting on the other end of the phone.

Snapping the phone shut, Dean tossed it on the table next to his keys with a sigh. "Well, we've got two possibilities. The day after tomorrow, same building, different floors. Apparently they're doing maintenance checks or something."

"Well, I don't think we can sneak into both apartments and paint Devil's Traps on the ceiling," Sam said, rubbing his chin with the tips of his fingers.

"We gotta catch this bastard before he goes in."

Two days later…

Providence Apartments, Boston, MA, Evening

The last light of the day was disappearing down the street behind them, lengthening the shadows that served as coverage for their stakeout. The Impala was tucked in a small lot with a clear view of the front of Providence Apartments. They'd spent the day there, waiting for someone who fit the description the witness at the last crime scene had given the police. Not one non-resident had stepped up to the door.

"I want to change the channel," Dean exhaled, wadding up the empty bag of chips he'd just inhaled and throwing it behind him. "You sure there was no other way in?"

"Not without forced entry, and if this demon likes to play the roll of the Strangler, then he'll just waltz in there with the knowledge these women know him and will just let him in."

Dean reached over the seat, rifling through the duffle in the back to double check their supplies. With the last hint of evening dying off and the street lamps crackling to life, they'd have the dark they needed to set up their trap in the alley.

"Great idea with the Clearneon," Dean said, holding up an aerosol can before shoving it in the bag. "Means no one will see my box-on-wheels artwork."

Sam shook his head. "You're right. Sure you don't want me to draw the trap?"

Dean grabbed the whole duffel and pulled it into the front seat between the two of them, glaring. "I can handle it. Thanks."

Metallica's Sad But True was playing and Dean listened to the lyrics for a beat. Something about them was forming a question in his mind.

You, You're my mask
You're the one who's blamed
Do, Do my work
Do my dirty work, scapegoat
Do, Do my deeds
For you're the one who's shamed

"Why would a demon even bother killing humans like this?" Dean asked suddenly. He rubbed at the light scruff starting to show around his mouth.

"I was just wondering that," Sam replied, shifting in his seat. "I mean, what's up with playing serial killer when we know they are capable of so much more on their own power? And is it just me, or does it seem like they are at every turn now?"

"Feels that way and yeah, you've got me…" Dean trailed off. "Keep thinking about Ferenacci's operation in Leicester. He was letting all of those tortured souls out, and who knows, maybe some demons got out too. Then again, Bobby did say a long time ago more and more of those freaks were out taking joy rides." Dean shrugged. "Devil in the world isn't exactly helping things out either."

There was a silence that rushed in at that moment, even though Hetfield's voice slid through their ears. They both felt the gravity of Dean's last statement, but there was no solution in sight, nothing to grasp at to relieve it in any way. There was no surface to the water it felt like they'd been forced into.

I'm your dreams
I'm your eyes
I'm your pain
You know it's sad but true, sad but true

Dean turned off the tape deck and slipped his hand through the straps of the duffel. "Let's go ask this freak ourselves."

Utilizing the coverage of the dark and the alley dumpster, Dean set to work drawing the Devil's Trap with the invisible black-light spray paint. He kept his eyes moving between the trap and the ends of the passage, the muscles in his limbs twitching with anticipation of the demon finding them too early.

That would be just what we'd need…Dean finished up the outer edge of the sigil quickly, shifting his weight between feet in his couched position. He could hear music coming from one of the apartments above, and he knew it would take just one person looking down to catch him 'defacing' city property. Now that would be just what we'd need.

He could feel Sam's eyes urging him to move faster, and when he looked back at his brother who was supposed to be watching the front of the apartment, he could see his nervous expression illuminated by the streetlamps above. Dean shot him a little faith here look, and Sam reluctantly went back to his vigil.

Dean finished, clicking off the light he was using and capping the paint. He stood up from behind the dumpster, lifting the duffel he had with him to his shoulder and started back toward Sam.

The man seemed to materialize out of the darkness behind his brother, and before Dean could get a warning past his lips Sam was sent flying, limbs pin-wheeling, into a row of garbage cans.

Dean dropped the duffel and punched into a full sprint, pushing to get to Sam before the demon did. He couldn't cross the space between them fast enough. A thin, nylon rope dropped from the man's black-gloved hand, slipped into the other, and came back around Sam's throat, biting into the soft tissue of his neck.

Time seemed to slow down and speed up at a disorienting pace. Dean's feet were twisted out from under him, his whole body slammed into the wall, where the air was ejected from his lungs, taking him temporarily out of the fight. He recovered as quickly as he could, his shoulder throbbing, lungs aching as he stumbled back to his feet.

Sam's fingers were tearing at the rope, digging at his own neck, unable to get a hold because of how deeply it was buried in his throat. The man lifted his obsidian black eyes to Dean, his cruel smile growing as Sam's struggles lessened, challenging Dean to make a move.


A/N: Since this is a story that we've already finished, I'll be posting a new part every other day. My other VS episode, "The Great Gig in the Sky," will be posted after I get "Devil Inside" out there. Gaelic will also be posting some of her own VS stories in the near future, so look for those, as well as her latest story "Weapon and the Wound" which should be out today. We look forward to your thoughts, and thank you for reading!