Sam was in shock. His mouth hung open in a very undignified way, not befitting an ex-Stanford-pre-law student with 174 LSATs. This was mostly because Dean was actually considering helping the FBI with a case. And he was going to do this after being told that either way, there was zero chance of Agent Booth letting him go anyway. "And we should do this why?" The question was addressed to the room at large. An appeal to Dean to see reason, and an attempt to get Booth to bargain for their help.
"Dude," Dean answered, sounding mildly insulted, "People are dying. This is what we do."
"Dean, we're in FBI custody! We don't do anything anymore!"
Booth looked slightly appalled in a way that said he wasn't entirely convinced that Sam or Dean was capable of letting someone die, let alone murder. "And you'd just let this freak kill some innocent girl because I can't make you the deal you want."
Dean ignored the agent. He was scowling at his brother. "Come on, Sammy."
"'Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.' You honestly ok with letting some little girl get wasted over this? Since when does human life come with a price tag for you?"
"Dean that's not…" Sam's face twisted in comical confusion. "Did you just use a quote without mangling it?"
Dean looked offended. "What? You're the only family member that gets to have a brain now?"
Sam laughed in the way someone might be expected to in such a situation. That is to say, strained, mildly hysterical, and clearly giving up on trying to make the world reasonable any longer. "Dean…we've been arrested. We're being held on charges for murder, fraud, theft, b&e, and god knows what else, You want to help our arresting agent with a possibly supernatural case despite being locked up, and suddenly you're quoting Thomas Carlyle at me! I'm entitled to see how insane this is!"
Booth shook his head like a dog that got its nose swatted. He held up his hands like he was surrendering and laughed a little as he interrupted. "Whoa. Guys. Off topic. Look, I said I can't make any guarantees, but if you could see your way to helping us out here…" Booth sighed and stood up. He really didn't have anything to bargain with except their consciences, and part of him felt a little bad for trying to guilt them into this. Criminals they might be, but Booth's gut was screaming that these guys weren't murderers.
Booth made his way around the table he'd been leaning forward on, now on the same side of it as the Winchesters. The boys chairs were pushed back a few feet from the table, so he wasn't crowding them when he stepped around to stand right in front of them and leaned back against the table again. "We're getting nowhere on this case." He admitted. Give a little, get a little; or so he hoped. "That's the only reason they're even letting me request this. But if you'll help us out here, and give me even one solid reason to think you don't belong behind bars, I'd be willing to go to bat for you."
Sam felt a little worry rising in his gut. Till now, he'd honestly thought they were negotiating. Realizing that they had one agent even willing to talk to them put them in a more precarious situation than Sam like to consider. Sam knew the worry was at least partly visible on his face, so he didn't bother to hide it in his voice. "Go to bat how?"
Booth wanted to sigh with relief. His foot was in the door. But that would be a wrong step at the wrong time, so he held it in. "Like I said, this is far from guaranteed, but I put my reputation on you, get some other people on your side to do the same, I could maybe get a blind eye turned as the case is wrapping up. And maybe, while that eye is otherwise occupied, you two practice some of that escape artist crap you're infamous for. Then maybe, if it works out, I get my bad guy off the streets, you're free to be arrested by someone less cuddly, and my supervisor doesn't throw potentially deadly objects at me."
Sam looked over at Dean. Dean looked back at Sam. A few moments passed in silence, and from what Booth could see the only communication was via miniscule twitches of the eyebrows. And maybe there really was something a little paranormal going with these two, because the both looked over at the same time and chorused, "Deal."
Dean and Sam were sitting in Booths office, trying to sort out what was strictly human-relevant forensics, and what was their kind of gig as Booth explained what they'd found so far. As his long winded version wound down, Dean butted in with what his synopsis of what was relevant was.
"So, little girls are going missing. Common thread is area, and their all blond, all the clever type. All turn up dead, apparently of old age without having physically matured, soon after going missing."
"Parent's all mentioned their children talking about a woman coming to visit them at night, but no open windows, no signs of visits, some had alarms that never went off, parents figure it was dreams, ignore it…."
"Not a ghost, Sammy," Dean interrupts before Sam can push his theory. "Ghosts would be bound to an object or a person or a specific place. Also, the kids most likely wouldn't go missing first."
"What about a demon? The kids all talked about…." Sam trailed off. Dean jumped in. Booth was a little dizzy trying to keep up. They'd clearly been doing this for a while.
"The talents." the shift to Dean was almost seamless in a way Booth found a little disturbing. "But they all went missing different times. Varying times between the first appearance of the 'whatever' and the disappearance of the child, but all the children turn up a week after they go missing."
"And they all go missing the night after they tell their parents about this talent they supposedly have." That was Booth. The Winchesters looked up at him, seemingly having forgotten he was there. Sam looked like Booth had just handed them a major break through, which made him a little less embarrassed by the way they'd stared like he had butted in where he wasn't wanted.
Dean's recognition was a little slower, but while Sam seemed to have seen there was a lead there, Dean seemed to understand what it was. Booth was a little awed at how well they worked un tandem. "Hey Sammy, what if it's not about the talent so much as the talent is about the kid?"
Sam looked up at Booth, all business. "Is there any way we could see a couple of the bodies?"
Booth winced as Bones stalked across the work area to scowl at him from a closer range. Sam and Dean were examining the first body, and Bones was not happy. "Why are they here? Aren't they supposed to be dangerous criminals or something?" She said it in the kind of yell that had just enough whisper to it that the Winchesters wouldn't hear her.
"Bones, we're getting nowhere, and the basic facts of the case make no sense. So I brought in people who make no sense to give a different perspective. If nothing else, maybe they can give us an idea what kinda crazy our guy's basing his act off of." He didn't tell her that he also was inclined to believe them because when he'd mentioned his deal in confession, his priest, rather than giving the usual list of penitents for sins, had told him a story or two about the apparently legendary Winchesters and their highly illegal crusade against the dark supernatural forces that apparently lurked among them.
"Booth," she whined, in her own dignified, whiney way, "They keep talking about demons and evil spirits and things. This isn't real!"
Dean, meanwhile, deliberately ignoring the hissed conversation going on in the far corner, was noticing something weird enough to be potentially relevant. "Hey dude, take a look at this."
("Booth, he says 'dude'.")
"What?" Sam made his way to where Dean was standing at the recently cleaned skeleton's feet. They drew his attention immediately. Yup. That was the weird they were looking for. Sam looked up to see Dr. Brennan having an argument with Booth and decided to interrupt both for Booth's sake, and so they didn't start theorizing over nothing. "Excuse me, Dr. Brennan, could you come here for a minute? I'd like to ask you some questions about what you've found if you don't mind?"
She looked up at him blinking. She really hadn't thought they were paying her any mind at all. Being asked her opinion changed her mind on at least one subject. They weren't stupid. Just insane. They knew enough to ask a expert opninion when there was one available. That was more than she could say for Booth some days. She wandered over. Still frosty, but not hostile for the moment.
Sam smiled at her, hoping to at least get her willing to answer his questions. When she was beside him, he waved a hand indicating the toes of the skeleton. "Did all the remains have this particular…um…oddity?"
Bones glanced down, figuring he meant the wear on the bones, and the way their shape was distorted, as if they'd been sanded down to a new shape. "Yes. All the victims exhibited the same or very similar wear to all three phalangeal portions of each toe, the middle and proximal phalanges most of all. If you'll look closely, you'll also notice they're slightly warped. Like the warping of cowboys' femurs from
their time in the saddle. Almost as if they'd all been standing up on they're toes, constantly, for years."
Dean looked up from where he really had been looking closely as per her suggestion. "Would anything cause that besides a prolonged distortion? Maybe something to do with the rapid aging?"
Brennan, despite herself, was getting caught up in the conversation, half surprised that they weren't just jumping to conclusions without consideration, and half appreciative that they seemed to basically keep up with her explanations without her having to dumb things down as much as she sometimes had to with Booth. She shook her head.
"It's possible," she said, reluctant to share such a vague theory, but presenting what she could anyway, "that if their bone's were weakening quickly enough that it might have resulted in some drastic changes in the shape of the bone, or it's structure, but there's no evidence of it anywhere else in the body. Normally the first warping would occur somewhere along the spinal column, or, considering the proportions of the remains, in the neck specifically. There's no warping in these bones at all, only the toes. And besides that, very little of their bone mass seems to have deteriorated."
Sam nodded, absorbing this. "So, if we were to go with the assumption that they were standing on their 'tippy-toes' and that caused the wearing and the degree of warping, how long would it have taken to get like this."
Brennan looked at Sam like he'd just proposed that she walk off the roof of the building in a ball gown to see if she would float down. "This kind of distortion and wear would take years. Probably more than these children have been alive, considering none seem to have bone defects that could speed the process."
Sam nodded distractedly, thinking over what they'd just learned. Dean smiled up at her from where he was crouched down to get a closer look at the wear patterns. "Thanks doc."
Bones nodded at him and muttered "Your welcome," in a way that said it was more reaction than that she was really paying attention. She sort of drifted back over to Booth, a befuddled expression on her face."
Booth was smiling, just a little. "What?"
Bones looked at him trapped between conflicted and curious. "They're supposed to be the bad guys. The evidence all says they're the bad guys. But they're treating this like you do. Like it's their job to figure this out and save the day. And not because they have to, because they clearly understand what I explained, so they've probably gone through autopsy reports before. They don't act like bad guys, Booth."
Booth smiled that crooked smile he used when ever he felt his gut had been proven right. "Well, Bones, sometimes not all the truth can be put under a microscope. Maybe they're good guys who get caught up in things that make them look like bad guys."
"But where's the evidence? There should be something somewhere that physically proves they didn't do it. And if they did, why kill some people, commit robberies and break-ins, desecrate graves, and then turn around to try and find some people's killers?"
Booth shrugged, smile- no, smirk- still in place as he answered, "Well, Bones, sometimes, you just can't quantify things, and good and bad; people make that complicated to get at some times."
"Agent Booth?" Sam interrupted them, a polite question mark at the end of his tone, that delicately hid that he was sort of summoning his arresting officer.
Booth made his way over with a casual, "Yeah?"
"We have a basic working theory."
"Ok, lay it on me." Booth clapped his hands together, then held them apart like he was offering a free punch to his gut rather than to hear an idea.
"Um…" Sam looked truly awkward for the first time since Booth had seen him.
"No offence," Dean interrupted, looking at Brennan more than Booth, "But maybe we should do this in private."
Booth frowned, hands dropping to his hips. "Whatever idea you got, Bones should hear it too."
"Well, see that's the problem." Sam turned, solely addressing Brennan now. "Really, Dean and I don't mean to offend you or anything, but you don't seem like the kind of person who's too open to the sort of things me and my brother deal with."
Bones pouted a little, glancing at Booth in case he thought he was going to try to send her away. "So, I'll try to keep an open mind." She said it with the kind of hesitance that meant it might really take some effort, but she would try.
"No, really, this one's pretty far out there, even for us."
"So You can explain it to me." She was visibly digging her heels in to wait them out.
"I don't think," Sam was cut off by Dean pinching his lips together.
"Faeries." Dean blurted it out with a certain degree of distaste.
"Fairies." Booths tone suggested that he wished he'd just left them in a cell.
"No," Sam corrected, "Faeries." His Gaelic accent adding an odd tripping slur to the word that Booth's pronunciation lacked. "Fairies have butterfly wings and carry plastic wands with stars on the ends and are the watered down, completely inaccurate version the media sells because little girls find them cute."
"Faeries," Dean picked up, as Booth simply accepted the brothers were prone to doing, "are the descendants of the Tuatha De Dannan; the pagan gods of Druidic Britain, plus some similar adopted creatures from other cultures, mostly European."
Bones was nodding, though she was still looking at the Winchesters as if she thought they were going to fall over giggling any second. "They were considered powerful masters of nature. They were said to be able to bend time and human senses to their will, and some seemed to have almost limitless powers. A lot of modern superstitions come from stories about Faeries." At the looks the Winchesters were giving her she added, "I'm a Forensic Anthropologist; most of my work is with bones, but ancient cultures and traditions were also part of my training.
Dean smiled in a way that suggested that he had more respect for her now than he had when she'd known everything about everything with the victim's bones. Sam just looked impressed. "Wait, wait, wait," Booth said, his skepticism breaking up the odd moment, "traditions like what?" He clearly thought they were all three making stuff up.
Sam shrugged. "Horseshoes over doorways, the baptism of children instead of waiting for adulthood."
Dean looked over at Sam with affectionate indulgence, "ah, Sammy. Good old walking encyclopedia of weirdness." He looked up at Booth, a little mischievous now. "People aren't supposed to wear hats in doors, because the Little People use caps to hide pointed or donkey ears, and some people still hold their breath passing graveyards so they don't disturb the Church Grimm."
"Yeah. Now? Now you're just making things up."
Dean grinned. "Dude, I never lie about Faeries. The truth's more fun."
"Faeries?" Booth waited for the Winchesters' nod, and Brennan's 'I told you so' expression before indulging in a little bit of curiosity. "So, how do you get rid of one?"
Sam and Dean looked at each other grimly, and suddenly it seemed a lot less funny. "It depends." It hardly seemed relevant to Booth, but it was Sam that had actually answered out loud. His brain had them
slowly melding into one being.
"Well," Bones interrupted, "If we go with the assumption that Faeries are real," her sour expression showed what she thought of that, "it would depend on which race of Faerie it was."
"Oh, Faeries are real alright," Dean said with a scowl. "I've got the hoof prints to prove it."
"Huh?" That was Sam. To Booth it was like the world had spun backwards. This was the first time he'd seen one of the boys not immediately understand the other.
"While you were at school," Dean said with a small smile. "Got in the way of a pissed of Sidhe. Not a good plan."
"Dude, when have your plans ever worked out the way they're supposed to?"
"Hey! They're just adaptable is all."
"Yeah. They adapt when plan A gets screwed up."
"Jerk." They were both smiling and Booth took a moment to recognize that this was all, so messed up.
"Ok," Booth said cautiously, like they might explode into feathers if he weren't alert enough. "So why Faeries?"
"The toes." Was Dean's simple, unhelpful response.
Sam sighed, exasperated with his brother. "The toes and the rapid aging and the fact that despite aging they never really matured all point to Faeries. Mortals getting caught up in Faerie music or dancing till they die or they're feet are completely worn away is one of the main constants in Faerie lore. Also, they
take children because they want children. They don't want the adult version, so the kids wouldn't mature, but the difference in the passage of time in Faerie Burrows and on our plain is also central to most Faerie lore. Gone a week here could mean they danced themselves right through as many as a hundred years before they just ran out of whatever made them special to their hosts, or till their host got bored of them, which is
just as likely."
Dean snorted. "more likely. The friggin munchkins have the attention span of an ADD kid on speed."
Sam looked over at Dean disbelievingly. "Seriously. You met a Faerie and lived."
Dean smirked. "What? They have a very healthy appreciation of good-looking humans."
"uh-hu. And the Shide that ran you over?"
"What? You got Smurf girl and the werewolf. I got Lois Lane and the energizer playboy bunny."
"Ok." Booth interrupted, hand slapped over his eyes to stop the onslaught of images those comments evoked. "More than I ever wanted to know. How would one track a faerie down?"
Dean snorted again. "They wouldn't if they wanna live. You call a faerie to you, you don't follow it home. They live in clans, and two of their boys could take you and a SWAT team easy."
"So what, we summon them or something?"
Dean smirked. "Something like that." He pulled out his cell phone.
"Seriously," Sam said, "You got trampled by her mate, and you still kept her number."
"Energizer. Fucking. Bunny, Sam." The phone was raised to his ear as the ringing began. "Hey! Calaiden. It's Dean-o…..Yeah, how is he? Holy fuck, twelve? What does he need with twelve..? Yeah well, if I'd had you for a millennia I'd need twelve wood nymphs to soften the loss too. Look, Cal, I'm in D.C. on a case. Looks like it might be you Good Folk." Dean's face went grim. "Sorry, Caliady-love. No can do…Well, because if I don't take care of it I'm gonna rot in prison for that whole shape shifter thing in…Yeah. Twylith. Got it. Yeah, I'll be carefull. Thanks Cal…That a promise? Ok, but when we hit Atlantic City I need to be in good enough condition to drink and gamble…Deal." Dean hung up and
addressed Booth and his brother. "Twylith Teg are our guys."
"Dude. Twelve wood nymphs?"
"The weird is so worth it. By the way, we need to make a stop in Jersey when we pass through."
"Someday, you too will have really hot contacts that are willing to collect via sexual favors, Sammy." Dean clapped a hand on his brother's shoulder. "And on that day, you will be a man."
"Booth," Bones whined, "He just called an alleged faerie on his cell phone!"
When Booth went to pick up the Winchesters from the prison for their second day of indulging ridiculous theories, he was not expecting to find them in the infirmary. He was greeted by a sheepish smile from Sam and an unapologetic grin from Dean. Dean was having his shoulder stitched back together and Sam had a finger wrapped in a splint. "Do I even want to know?"
Dean shrugged, wincing as it pulled on the thread and getting him a glare from the man holding the needle. "Apparently, they don't approve of my kind of criminal in this establishment."
Sam snorted. "And you scamming them at poker had nothing to do with it."
"Hey, I just asked for a friendly game," Dean objected, the kind of innocence that got him convicted on his face.
"And ended up with every cigarette and joint in the place."
Dean shook his head mournfully. "There is a real gambling problem in this penitentiary, Agent Booth."
Booth just cocked an eyebrow and looked at the man working on Dean's shoulder. "We done?" The man nodded, pulling harder than necessary as he tied the stitches off. "Good. Let's go."
Dean looked down at the man who'd stitched him up, offended. "Dude, I wouldn't let you sew my socks."
Booth looked pointedly at Dean, then back to the nurse. "No sharp implements for these two."
The guy looked like he'd just been insulted. Booth figured it was possible he had been, but oh well. They had a job to do.