Disclaimer – I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs, Supernatural and associated characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. No financial reward gained. All real organisations are used in a fictional sense. Original characters and the storyline are mine however.
A/N: The experiment continues. Crossover with Supernatural from a Numb3rs POV.
It had been two long days since FBI Special Agent Don Eppes thought he was about to become the fourteenth victim of the Winchester brothers in Los Angeles. The details were all too fresh in his mind, especially after having had to complete his statement and then treat it like just any other piece of evidence relating to the 'Exorcist Murders' as the file had come to be called.
Unsurprisingly there had been no sniff of the Winchesters anywhere in LA. The raid at the flea-bag motel had gone down, slightly later than planned only to find a big fat zero. The murderous brothers knew how to clean a room to remove evidence, not even a single fingerprint remained. It was only the manager's recognition of some old mug shots and the rather distinctive black impala that confirmed the Winchesters had even stayed at the motel in the first place.
Frustratingly it was becoming more apparent that the brothers had indeed packed up and left town as Dean had suggested back at the warehouse. Whilst that reduced the pressure on the Los Angeles Field Office it meant there would likely be trouble elsewhere when they started up the next round of killings as most believed they would. Historically deaths seemed to follow the Winchesters around. This was the first case involving such a large number of murders in one place, a distinction Don was all too aware of as it suggested that their office, his team, had been unable to curtail their murderous spree unlike other enforcement agencies in other towns.
It was now late, he was more than tired and had decided to drive to Charlie's to crash for the third night in a row rather than stay alone at his apartment. He still had nightmares and though he wouldn't admit it out loud, he felt safer waking up afterwards knowing that his father and brother were in the house. Although tonight it would be just him and Charlie as Alan was out of town on another consultation gig. Pulling into the driveway he shut the rumbling suburban down and took a moment to rest his eyes. Feeling his body relax he forced himself to move; he was tired enough that he could have slept in the car seat.
Glancing quickly around out of habit as he walked to the front stairs he saw all the usual neighbours' cars in their normal spots. The only exception was a dark sedan of some sort parked several houses down in the darkness between two streetlights. Someone was having a guest for the night. Sliding his key into the lock he opened the door and stepped inside, calling out as he often did.
"Oh, hi Don." Charlie responded from the direction of the family room. "I won't be too much longer."
Used to such things Don placed his keys on the table inside the door and hung up his jacket. He automatically moved to the table where the mail was usually set and started flicking through the envelopes in case anything was for him. Something niggled at his peripheral vision and he finally turned, looking towards where his brother's voice had come from. All tiredness was instantly forgotten as he took in the scene before him.
Charlie was seated on one of the couches, his laptop resting on the coffee table in front of him. To his right was standing a tall, slender man dressed in suit. To the left was another slightly shorter and stockier man also wearing a suit. Both were clearly armed, he could see the telltale bulge of a belt holster on one and actually see the leather of the other's holster. Both were also wearing FBI badges to which they most definitely were not entitled. The three men were frozen for a brief moment as recognition was mutual, Charlie continued to work at his computer oblivious to the drama developing around him.
Simultaneously hands reached for weapons but that's as far as it went. Don forced himself to stop at the last instant, hand firmly around the grip of his Glock. He couldn't draw, Charlie was in the way. With the two-to-one odds and Charlie between the two murderers Don was at a severe disadvantage. For some reason the other two men likewise held off drawing.
The sudden change in the atmosphere must have made it through Charlie's concentration as the curly haired head suddenly lifted and turned as he regarded each of the three men in turn. His face took on a look of confusion as he saw the tense stances and hands on weapons.
Dean Winchester was the first to break the silence. "What are you doing here?"
"I want to know what you are doing here." Don growled back.
Charlie seemed a little taken aback at his older brother's tone of voice. That along with the other clues indicated that something was seriously wrong. He looked at each of the two men standing near him before addressing Dean. "Agent Winston, you said my brother had recommended you bring this to me."
Obviously the Winchesters had provided Charlie with false names to go along with the false bureau IDs. Don let that slide, unable to help the wince as Charlie provided the murderers with all the ammunition they needed to completely secure the upper hand. Sure enough the older Winchester picked up on the advantage immediately.
"Brother? So you're-?" Dean glanced back at Charlie before looking speculatively at the intruder. His lip quirked upwards as his cocky grin resurfaced. "I never did get your name."
The relief that this had not been a targeted event aimed at him was slight, overridden by the danger they were in. He hesitated for only a moment before giving Dean the confirmation he clearly didn't need, the damage had already been done by his brother's unknowingly careless comment. "Don Eppes. Special Agent Don Eppes."
Another uncomfortable moment of silence passed as no one moved and hands remained on weapons. Charlie continuing to regard the two Winchesters in confusion before settling his gaze back on his brother. He showed signs of becoming alarmed. "Don? What is going on?"
Dean Winchester took this one, flashing a warning glance at Don. "Agent Winters, if you could check Professor Eppes' data? I need to have an agent-to-agent chat with Special Agent Eppes here."
Don's eyes narrowed as he understood the real message behind the instruction. He noted the way that Sam moved slightly closer to Charlie, standing over him as if to read the computer screen but he knew Sam had placed himself in a position where he could control the professor if necessary. Sam's hand now rested almost casually on his holstered weapon. After a significant glance from Dean Don released his grip on his Glock and carefully moved his hand away. It looked as if he was being given a chance here to keep his brother out of it, a chance he was going to take.
Charlie opened his mouth as if to speak but Don beat him to it. "It's alright Charlie. I need to have a word with, ah, Agent Winston here."
It was hard to turn his back and leave Charlie alone with Sam but he led the way to the kitchen, Dean following close behind. As the door swung closed behind them Don rounded on the other man.
"You hurt him and I'll kill you." Don hissed through clenched teeth, all pretence of calmness gone. It took all his effort to keep his hand away from his Glock.
"No need to be nasty." Dean started. Seeing the anger directed his way he maintained his grip on his pearl handled semi-automatic. Out of view of Charlie he'd brushed his jacket aside revealing the obviously non-FBI issue weapon. He moved a step further into the kitchen but still positioned himself between the agent and his brother. "We're not here to hurt him, or you for that matter. He's helping us."
"What are you making him do?"
"Making him?" Dean scoffed. "We're not making him do anything. We asked for an analysis and he agreed to help."
"By making him think you're FBI." Don muttered bitterly, Charlie would be only too eager to help. From what he'd read of their files this was not the first time the Winchesters had passed themselves off as law enforcement to obtain cooperation. "Why him?"
"Our usual source is, shall we say, unavailable. Sammy had read some stuff on the professor and thought he could help us. We knew his brother was FBI we just didn't know it was you. I should have never let Sam talk me into this. We honestly didn't expect anyone would walk in, let alone you."
The agent was surprised, not only was Dean talkative unlike their last meeting, but he actually seemed genuinely sorry. "And now that I have?"
"Things are a bit awkward now, aren't they?"
"Take your data and leave. I won't stop you." Don made the offer.
"Well now, I'm going to have to consider that."
"What do you want from me?" Don demanded in instant frustration, remembering just in time to keep his voice down to avoid alarming Charlie, or more urgently Sam. "I'm giving you a free pass."
Dean appeared to bristle at the comment. "We don't want nothin' from a fed."
"Just an analysis from a federal consultant." Don commented, half in hope and half in summary of Dean's earlier statement.
"There is that." Dean admitted after a moment.
"And when you've got it?"
"That's where things get interesting, thanks to you."
"I will do whatever it takes to keep him safe." The words were said stiffly and clearly, as much promise as warning.
Dean suddenly sighed and glanced back at the kitchen door, staring through it as if he could see his own brother. "I can relate to that."
Don didn't try to take physical advantage of the distraction, Dean and Sam held all the cards at the moment. He did think of trying instead for his cell phone, it would only take a second to slip it off his belt, flip it open and hit a speed dial to summon help. Unfortunately Dean's lack of attention didn't quite last long enough as he turned back before the agent could put his plan into action.
"So," Don started. "What do we do now?"
"Got any cards?" Dean suggested flippantly.
"Well you're no fun."
"Not while you're threatening my brother."
"He doesn't even know what's going on." Dean pointed out.
"Good. I don't want him to know. When you leave, if you need a hostage I'll go with you. He won't suspect a thing." It would work, Don could tell his brother he'd just been briefed and was headed back to the office with the other two 'agents' to assist.
"You would really do that?" Dean suddenly asked, his voice serious as the smirk dropped away. "I can see you're still scared of us but you would put yourself back into our hands?"
Don couldn't deny the Winchester's assessment or take offence at it. He was scared alright, his last encounter had rattled him deeply and he'd not yet regained an even keel. But now he was far more worried about Charlie than he was for himself. "He's my brother."
"Brothers, eh?" Dean commiserated as he once again looked back at the door separating them both from their siblings. "They'll be the death of us."
Don couldn't help the slight flinch at the older Winchester's words. He controlled it as quickly as it came but the murderer had seen it.
"I didn't mean it like that. God, you feds can be so predictable." Dean abruptly paced, two steps over, two steps back. "Look, I already said we're not out to hurt anyone, you included. We haven't even done most of that stuff in our file."
"After what I saw, I find that hard to believe." He couldn't help but relive that moment back at the warehouse, the discovery of the bloodied body of the last victim. What had happened after that to him personally only served to prove that the Winchesters were very dangerous indeed. A slight twinge from his healing bruised ribs added more reinforcement.
"Those people that you saw, the ones you say we killed? They were already dead before we got to them." Dean started. He hesitated before continuing. "They were possessed by demons that we sent straight back to hell. I won't bore you with what type they were, just that they come in nests of twelve."
"Oh, come on. Not that again." Don complained. That was also in the file, the constant claims by the Winchesters that they were hunting supernatural creatures, everything from urban legends to ghosts and demons. His voice however had sounded a little less confident than he'd intended and he saw Dean react.
"You saw something didn't you?"
"I didn't see anything except some Satanic ritual." Don insisted. He was not going to accept that the thing he'd seen writhing in the flames above the final victim actually existed or that it could in fact have been a demon as Dean suggested. Such things were not real.
Dean stared at him closely for a moment before he grinned and nodded. "You saw it alright."
Using his anger to subdue his fear Don straightened. "What I saw was Candice Wells, dead on the floor. She was a single mother and now her five year old son has no-one."
"We know." Dean sounded regretful. "We had no choice, it had to be done. Her son is better off."
"How can you say that?"
"You would want a demon for a mom?"
"Leave my mother out of this!" On an emotional hair trigger after the warehouse and now the invasion of the house he still considered his home, the words came out before he could stop them.
"Man, are you touchy." The Winchester reacted to the extra venom in the agent's voice. "Look, we don't like what we have to do but it's our job. Hell, we'd love to give it all away and live normal lives but we can't."
The agent had to take several breaths to calm himself. Anger was not going to help him here if he let it consume him rather than just control his fear. He mentally ran through the various statements contained in the file on the brothers Winchester. "So you're trying to tell me that this is your work? Something you have to do to protect everyone else from a world they can't see or even believe in?"
"Exactly. Although most people, even cops and other feds, tend believe us after seeing some of this stuff. You're just too pig-headed to believe what you saw."
Don ground his teeth together at the insult, determined that he wasn't going to allow his doubt to show again. He was worried sick about Charlie, the longer this went on for the greater the risk to him. The agent knew that the older Winchester was keeping him distracted whilst Sam obtained what they were after but there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it. "What I see are two wanted murderers in my brother's house threatening him."
"He's in no danger from us, unless you force our hand."
He wished he could believe that. "I'm not going to put my brother at any more risk. I've already said I will do whatever you want."
The murderer shook his head sadly and appeared to be about to say something else but a ringing cell phone interrupted them. He pulled his cell from his pocket and flipped it open. He listened silently for a moment before closing it and putting it away. He then turned his attention back to the agent, gazing at him speculatively.
"You've got what you need?" Don asked, understanding that the call must have been from Sam.
Don eyed the other man carefully. He'd not yet seen any indication that Dean had come up with an exit plan. It was up to him to make the first move. Lifting his left hand to show that he wasn't going to try anything he moved his right slowly to his Glock. The Winchester tightened his grip on his own weapon but waited to see what was going to happen next. Don continued, slowly pulling the Glock from his holster and then laid it on the kitchen bench in front of him.
Dean relaxed slightly and took a step closer to the island bench. "Well, that's a first. A fed giving up his gun willingly."
"Not willingly, but I said I will do whatever it takes." Don repeated, pushing the gun towards the murderer before standing back. "Take it, take me if you need to. I want you out of here, away from my brother."
Dean nodded slowly, finally moving his hand away from his gun. He reached for the surrendered weapon and once again demonstrated his easy familiarity with guns, dropping the magazine out and removing the chambered round. He asked for and received the spare magazine from Don's belt pouch before sliding the empty Glock back. "Maybe you'd better hang onto that, I'm sure your brother would notice if you went back out without it."
Don was relieved, his earlier take on Dean's intentions seemed to be correct. He was willing to keep the professor in the dark and seemed prepared to go with Don's earlier offer. "I'll go with you as far as you need. Then you can do whatever you have to. Just leave my brother here unharmed."
Brushing his jacket back over his holster to conceal the pearl handled pistol Dean stepped aside to allow the agent clear passage to the kitchen door. "Let's do this then, before someone else walks in on us."
Taking another deep breath Don pulled his professional mask into place before striding out of the kitchen the very picture of confidence, Dean close at his heels. Charlie was still sitting on the couch, Sam's hand resting in a friendly fashion on his shoulder. They were engaged in conversation, their voices low and muted. Charlie appeared relaxed, it seemed that Sam had managed to convince him that nothing was untoward.
"We good?" Dean asked.
"The Professor figured out the pattern for us. I've got it all here." Sam held up a flash drive, removing his hand from Charlie's shoulder and stepping away. He flashed a questioning glance their way.
"Agent Eppes is going to help us out."
"Don?" Charlie queried, standing.
"It's okay, Charlie. Agent Winston has filled me in. I have to go back to the office with them." He saw Sam nod slightly before calmly moving towards the door to open it.
"Oh. Do you know how long you'll be?" They'd had plans for a quiet night of pizza and a game on TV.
Hoping fervently he was right, "Not long, buddy."
"Your brother will just help set things in motion for us, then he'll be back." Dean supplied.
A measure of hope rose at Dean's words even though he knew the Winchester could simply say one thing and do another. Regardless, Don was determined to play this out to keep Charlie safe. Casually he stepped towards the door, taking down his coat and grabbing his keys to ensure everything appeared normal. He moved past Sam and stood waiting outside on the porch as he heard Dean's voice.
"Thank-you Professor. You've been a big help."
"No problem. Always happy to help out the FBI." Charlie said as the door closed.
"What now?" Don demanded.
"You got a cell phone?"
Pulling the device from his belt holder Don hesitated only a moment before handing it over.
"Walk with us."
The agent pulled his jacket on, the night wasn't cool but it would free up his hands, although if it came to a hand to hand confrontation he doubted he would win. He'd been there, done that and had lost badly.
"Dean, what are we doing?" Sam queried as they moved down the steps.
"Making sure he doesn't call in more feds before we can get out of here."
Once they'd reached the path along the sidewalk Dean indicated that he should turn left. Obeying the direction Don saw that they were headed towards the dark sedan he'd noted earlier parked in the shadows between two streetlights. It would be the black impala that an all-points-bulletin and a two day search had failed to locate.
"And then what?"
"Did you have the professor erase the data?"
Having the data erased didn't mean much as Don knew that Charlie would have a full copy stored in his mind. They would have a lead, assuming he got the chance to ask his brother about it. Arriving at the car he stopped and waited, uncertain as to how far the Winchesters were going to take this. They were still too close to Charlie for his liking, he would not be able to resist.
Sam moved around to the passenger side and climbed in leaving Don and Dean alone on the sidewalk.
"I guess this is it, Fed."
"I guess so." He said in acceptance.
The older Winchester stared at him a moment longer before shaking his head. "I would have thought you'd understand after what you saw. But you're too much of a hard-ass for your own good."
The agent braced himself earning another shake of the head as the murderer opened his door and started to climb into the car.
"If we truly were what you think we are you'd both be dead now."
The doubt returned. That they'd not killed him back at the warehouse was inexplicable, but sparing them now was even more baffling. Dean was right, they had every reason to kill both him and Charlie but hadn't. They were simply going to drive away leaving witnesses behind, not the action of intelligent killers that the evidence had made them out to be. "I don't know what you are."
Dean grinned at the admission. "Well, that's a start." He shifted the impala into gear and pressed hard on the accelerator, the rear wheels spinning before gaining traction.
Don watched as the car headed up the road, the roar of the engine allowing him to track it as it vanished from view. He stood a moment longer, confused more than ever about the Winchesters. It just wasn't making much sense unless he accepted the most unreal possibility, that the older Winchester's explanation was actually the truth. That was the only thing that really fitted what he'd seen and how they acted. Memory of what had been in the flames resurfaced and instead of trying to bury it he considered the image for a moment.
Turning he walked slowly back to the house where he would call it in. Then he would have to try to explain what had happened to Charlie and find out about the pattern the Winchesters had wanted analysed, he still had a job to do.
One thought however remained uppermost in his mind, once he'd done his duty he needed to read the file again.
A/N: Not so sure that this worked as well as last time, but I wanted to complete this follow-up so here it is. Your opinions, as always, are appreciated.