Notes: To anyone who might have been waiting for this, sorry for the minor delay. I was captured by rapid squirrels who were trying to ransom me for toasters in which to cook their stolen poptarts. Also, I was too busy drooling over a (much more talented) friend's story and forgot about my own.
Angelface universe. Continued on from where Scarlet left off. You can go back and read the other stories first, but this story can be read alone if you like.
God was responsible for plenty of terrifying creatures; Predators that killed in the most vicious and indiscriminate ways. Animals with huge pointed teeth and jaws designed to crush through bones, claws made to rip and tear.
And humans, in their unfailing inegnuity, created weapons that could kill those creatures with just a small squeeze of the trigger.
God may not have been directly responsible for vampires, but humans were still directly responsible for discovering how to kill them.
Daniel Elkins was very good at killing them.
Unfortunately for him vampires had one certain strength that he didn't. They lived forever, always as young and strong as they had been when they were first made. Elkins aged, growing older and infirm with every passing year until eventually permanent injury forced him to retire. Elkins settled down in his old home town of Manning, Colorado; With a large, run down property on the edge of town, a beat up old pick-up truck, and a limp.
Vampires could wait as long as they needed to until he let his guard down just enough to let them in.
His security was a joke, easily bypassed by creatures who were practically invulnerable to bullets and knives. The old man didn't stand a chance. Cornered in his study, shaking hands trying to load an old hand gun, Elkins was torn apart by strong hands and sharp teeth.
They left him where he fell, a bloody stain on the floor. Wasted meat in a red puddle.
It would take the retired hunter's neighbours three days to notice the smell.
The black beauty was starting to get a little cramped. Four passengers, plus luggage, weaponry, and various other paraphernalia made for cramped spaces and hardly any breathing room. Sam always got the front, switching off between passenger and driver. His long legs made sitting in the back seat impossible when he had company unless that company wanted to sit in his lap. And while that was fine for short stretches of time it soon became impractical and uncomfortable.
"Dude," Sam said from the driver's seat, warily watching through the rear-view as Cas and Ruby eye each other in the back seat, "we need a bigger car."
"Don't even think about it," Dean replies immediately, jumping to the defense even when half asleep and using his jacket as a buffer between his forehead and the window. "There's no way I'm getting rid of my baby."
"So maybe we should get another car," Sam suggests with a half shrug.
Dean cracks open an eye to give him a skeptical sort of look. "You mean like it used to be with dad? You want to grab yourself some big black truck, Sammy?"
"Volvo fourdoor." The flat voiced deadpan comes from the back seat.
Sam glances at Castiel but can't see any sign that the other man was poking fun. It was hard to tell without being able to see his eyes; But Cas had decided that he'd had enough of staring competitions with demons and had turned his face so that he was looking out the window.
"Yeah," Sam says eventually, "I mean like it used to be, with two cars. We can switch off, trade passengers -"
"You can't just ride around with Cas all the time," Sam starts, but abruptly shuts up just a moment later when Dean shifted to a pose that he recognised as 'watch me ignore you, Sam'. He narrows his eyes at the road. "I know how you get, Dean."
"I think two cars is a great idea," Ruby interjects. "I'm sick of being stuck in the back seat with the guardian angel."
It's sort of impressive how Castiel can manage to sound so bored even as Ruby starts to look like she'd really love to take him up on that offer and rip a hole in his larynx.
"So Elkins is pretty much dead."
"Pretty much might be an understatement," Sam says drily, looking at the police tape blocking off all entrances to the house. The laptop sitting on his thighs is open to a page from the local news directory, detailing the sudden and seemingly unprovoked murder of local man Daniel Elkins. The newspaper provides no details, but the earlier information that led them to Manning in the first place is enough to piece together a rough idea of events. Sam would bet almost anything that Elkins had been killed by vampires. "Looks like we're too late to miss the investigation."
That was also an understatement. There was no way they would be getting everything they needed without jumping through hoops. Before arriving in town they'd thought all they had to deal with was one ageing hunter. Now they had to deal with scattered possessions, a police investigation, and a house that was under lockdown. The gun could have been stolen. It could have been taken in as evidence. It could have been sold, picked up by an opportunist. Hell, it could even be buried in the guy's back yard and they'd never know where now that he wasn't alive to tell them.
"This is really fucking inconvenient," Dean mutters. His grip tightens on the steering wheel. He's not going to mention that Sam is the one who delayed them, months before, from searching this town. Sam with his Ruby obsession, and his determination to turn the childlike abomination into something they could actually work with; Someone useful and not just an unholy brat.
With the clarity that comes with a retrospective look back, Dean had realised he should have pressed for Sam to forget the human Ruby and summon a demon before they'd even left the safety of the cabin. Even so he knows he has no right to pass judgement. It's not Sam's fault that a vampire got to Elkins first.
"So what do we do, Dean?" Sam asks, shutting the laptop on his thighs with a snap. "How do we handle this one, hm?"
"I'm working on it."
"What if the gun's already gone?"
"Jesus Christ, Sammy! It's not my fault some vampire decided to chomp the guy's jugular and leave us a cold, messy surprise." Dean glares at the road ahead, glad that they'd left Ruby and Castiel at the motel. He didn't like having these kinds of talks in front of the demon. It felt too much like showing her their weak points, and Dean didn't quite trust her enough to think she wouldn't try to take advantage.
"I know." Sam sighs, hands clenching into fists on his lap before relaxing again. "I know, Dean. I'm sorry. It's just that we're so close, and now we have no way of knowing if it's still here."
"Look... We'll just do what we'd always do." Dean nods to himself. "We check out the antique places, ask a couple of the guy's friends, use a fake ID to get into the police evidence room, and search his house from top to bottom."
"Fake ID," Sam repeats, "right."
"We've been getting a lot of exposure lately. Don't you think there's a chance that if we just waltz into the middle of an investigation someone might actually recognise us? It's happened before, remember? Not all regional cops are complete dumbasses."
"Much as I really want to argue, you've got a point there." Dean frowns. The recent debacle with Ruby had put their names in the papers again and their faces on tv. The Winchester boys, plus accomplice, kidnap and detain a sweet, innocent young woman. Then kill her parents, and presumably the girl too. "You know," he says, thinking about all of the media exposure they'd had lately, "they didn't stick Ruby's face all over the TV."
It takes Sam barely a second to catch on. "You think we should send Ruby in to check the lock up?"
"Yeah. Ruby and Cas. Hardly anyone knows their faces."
"Don't you think that's a bit of a gamble?"
"She's your girlfriend," Dean points out. Maybe with a hint of an 'I told you so' smirk. "If you can't trust her to pretend to do what you want, who can you trust?"
Sam looks like he wants to argue. A muscle in his jaw twitches. Then he sighs and the argument disappears without forming. "Do we have the right gear to make up some ID for them?"
Dean grins. He reaches over and pats his brother's arm encouragingly. "That's my boy."
The immediate reaction was pretty much what they'd been expecting.
"You've surely got to be kidding, Winchester."
Sam was sitting at the tiny motel table, bent over with a variety of inks, pens, nibs, paper, glue, and other bits and pieces that would come together into the near-perfect replicas they were after. Sam had the eye for it, a patience for detail that got him saddled with the job of creating templates. He listens to the conversation with one ear, too busy to step in.
"No, Ruby, there's no kidding. You'd know if I was kidding."
"I don't think I would," Ruby snipes, arms crossed, "your sense of humour leaves a whole lot to be desired."
"So next time I want to tell you a joke I'll haul you outside and shoot a toddler in the face. Quit your bitching. We need information."
The demon sighs and uncrosses her arms. She looks at Sam, then back at Dean. It pains her to give in, but she can see that just waltzing in and drawing information out by the point of a knife wont get her very far. The brothers were the experts in this particular field. "How exactly do we get this information? What are we supposed to do?"
Officers Mayne and Stevenson looked like the particularly grim, serious law enforcers rarely seen investigating anything but the most dire of cases. They were clearly experts. Experienced with the gruesomest crimes in the toughest cities. Something must have been very, very wrong for them to be knocking on doorsteps in this neighbourhood.
Mayne did the questioning.
She was suave and easy to talk to; A professional goddess in her tailored pantsuit, standard issue firearm concealed beneath the left side of her coat in a very smart holster. On the other hand Stevenson was forbidding, and wore his sensible black suit and blue tie with an air that made him look much taller than he actually was. He rarely added to the conversation, instead giving the impression that he was sitting there and soaking up every single word.
"Just ignore him," Mayne said, her smile open and warm. Her eyes remained guarded, and Mrs. Dower couldn't help but think it must be a police thing. They were told to smile to put you at ease, but on the inside they were still as hard and cold as steel. "He's always grumpy before his morning coffee."
Mrs. Dower glanced at Stevenson, then looked quickly back at Mayne. Mayne was much more pleasant. Mayne didn't make her feel like she was the star suspect in a TV crime show.
"Can you tell me when you last saw Mr. Elkins?"
"I suppose I saw him coming home on Monday. Well," Mrs. Dower admitted, twisting her fingers together, "I heard him coming home, I didn't see him. That old truck of his makes an awful racket, I'd recognise the sound anywhere."
"Do you know if anyone was with him that night?"
"No, Mr. Elkins was very self contained." Mrs. Dower frowned as she dredged up every memory she had of her neighbour. "He never had guests, not even on Christmas. I suppose he didn't have any family left, the poor man. As long as I've lived here - and that's maybe ten years or so - I never once saw a single visitor, except perhaps the mailman."
Mayne nodded thoughtfully, her dark hair bobbing around her shoulders. "you say you don't think he had a family. What about friends? Was there anyone you know of that he spoke to most often?"
"Oh, well... I suppose he spoke to Mr. Garret quite frequently, but I wouldn't imagine they were friends. Mr. Garret is an art collector, he runs the local museum and historical society. Mr. Elkins had nothing to do with the society itself, but I'd say he had an interest in historical matters." Mrs. Dower hesitated, looking back and forth between Mayne's encouraging expression and Stevenson's glower. "Is that helpful? Please, do tell me if I ramble, I wouldn't want to waste your time."
"No, Mrs. Dower, you're doing just fine." Mayne checked a tiny notepad that she took from her jacket pocket. "Do you know if Mr. Elkins had an interest in collecting antiques? Perhaps antique weaponry?"
"No," Mrs. Dower blinked dumbly. "Not to my knowledge."
"Did he have any enemies that you know of?" Stevenson spoke suddenly, his voice gruff and his words clipped.
Mrs. Dower's gaze shot to the male FBI agent. She was startled by the question, though she'd seen in asked on television shows plenty of times before. "No. No, I can't imagine that he did."
"Thankyou, Mrs. Dower." Mayne took over again, smoothly capturing her attention. "Just one last question. Do you know if anyone new has arrived in town in the past month? Someone who wasn't just passing through."
"Oh, yes." Mrs. Dower nodded. "A group of young people came into town just last week. I believe they're renting the old Kensington farmhouse by the creek. But I don't see what that has to do with -"
"Thankyou," Stevenson cut in abruptly. "For your time Mrs. Dower."
Both agents stood. Stevenson left without another word while Mayne reached out to shake the old woman's hand. The FBI agent left her with a card and instructions to call if she thought of anything else that might be useful to their investigation. Mrs. Dower was left sitting in her living room, pondering her neighbour's death. In death, Elkins suddenly seemed much more interesting than in life. She wondered who had murdered him and why... And promptly forgot all about it the very second she turned on the tv.