My first foray into Criminal Minds (a show which I have very recently discovered and subsequently loved), albeit a crossover with Supernatural. Hopefully it turns out okay. Also, though it shouldn't come as a surprise, I am evidently incapable of making Dean happy. Apologies for that.

Also also, I'm putting this into two parts, so it's a little less eye-crossingly long.

All the King's Horses

Part I

November 12, 2013, 1:23 P.M.
F.B.I., Behavioral Analysis Unit
Quantico, Virginia

"They found another body."

Special Agents David Rossi, Aaron Hotchner, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, Spencer Reid, and technical analyst Penelope Garcia look up from the table to see J.J. walk into the room, her stature just as bone-tired as all of theirs have been for the last three weeks. They'd been called in on what seemed to be a routine case in the middle of October, and are still no closer to finding the unsub than they were when they started.

Worse still, since they'd taken the case, another seven bodies had turned up, in addition to the original six. To say their record is smeared black is an understatement. They'd gone over their profile time and time again, altering it, trying to find something they'd missed, but even Reid's genius hadn't been able to decipher any viable connections. Arguably the one who has it the hardest is J.J., because not only is she the one with the responsibility to talk to the media and give statements—We're still working on it, just remain vigilant, we'll catch him, I promise—but she also has a barely-five-year-old at home. Will is there, but even he has to get out of the house sometimes.

They'd shelve the case if it were simply about the unsub getting away, but no. Fresh bodies and no leads makes the case unbearably open, and it doesn't help that Section Chief Strauss is breathing down their necks with all the fury that the Bureau can allot her. As if the BAU hasn't been giving their all to this massacre.

Unfortunately, at this juncture, the team is nearly completely jaded to hearing those words come out of J.J.'s mouth. They don't even need to ask the whys, hows, or wheres, because they already know. And they've got the pictures, aspirin, Jack, and bloodshot eyes to prove it. Even Garcia's patented risqué comments and eccentric answering techniques have all but faded. She's been as affected, if not more so, by the butchery, and she just doesn't have it in her anymore.

As the team looks at the pictures of the latest tortured girl—nineteen, blonde, Caucasian, soccer captain—her body a slew of cuts, blood, dirt, rape, and exsanguination, their hopes of finding the bastard who's done all of it decrease even more.

"Manchester P.D.'s this close to telling us to get out of their town and let them deal with it," J.J. goes on, running a hand through limp hair. Giving up, she sinks into a chair across from Hotch. "Where do we go from here?"

Silence befalls the table, no one having a worthwhile input. That is, until Emily speaks up, her voice unusually timid, hesitant. "I was looking through past cases, trying to find something in closed files that might lend a hand to where we could look next," she says, and all eyes—tired though they are—upon her. Biting the bullet, Emily finishes, "There's one guy that might be able to help us. Though it's kind of…unorthodox."

Hotch chuckles humorlessly. "Prentiss, at this point, I don't give a damn whether it's up to code or not," he says. "Anything that could put us on the right track is fine by me."

Three weeks ago, they would've been surprised at Hotch's lack of protocol. Now, however, they simply accept it. Emily's resolve fortifies the slightest bit at seeing her teammates' faces dare to brighten in hope.

"Dean Winchester."

It's not so much scorn as confusion that blankets the room once the name comes out of her mouth. Though none of them had actually worked on the lengthy Winchester investigation themselves, it's not like it was exactly on the down low. Especially not in the instance of his final capture.

May 20, 2010, 11:47 P.M.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D.C.

There isn't one set of eyes that isn't on the man being led through the FBI headquarters with an entourage of no fewer than five officers. It's a scene reminiscent to that of two years ago, except for the fact that the man in handcuffs no longer bears a cocky smirk, a wink, and a grin to any woman he passes by in the place.

This time, his mouth is set in a perpetual flat line, and his eyes are no longer sparkling with green mischief, but are rather lifeless and unresponsive. Despite the number of agents watching his every muscle twitch, his hands are slack in the cuffs, his booted feet dragging on the floor as if every step costs him his last reserves of energy.

Whereas last time everyone had identical looks of disgust on their faces, this time it's replaced by hushed whispers, hushed exchanges of speculating what happened. Everyone knows all too well the events surrounding Special Agent Henricksen in Colorado, knows that Dean Winchester and his brother were also purported to have died in the blast, and yet here the former is, walking very much alive—if only in physicality—through the building.

It takes next to no time for the news to circulate throughout the Bureau; they may be professionals, but a story like this still spreads like wildfire. And so when it reaches the BAU, reaches Hotchner first, he can't simply dismiss the whole thing as meaningless gossip. He hadn't known Henricksen all that well, but from the few interactions they'd had, Hotch gained some respect for the guy. Anyone who could stick with two exceptionally talented conmen for so long without losing their mind had Hotch's admiration.

It's not just that Hotch is curious as to the schematics of Dean's capture so much as he's kind of wanting to look in on the interrogation, study Dean's behavior, his affectations. However much the BAU may mention serial killer showrunners like Bundy and Gein, Dean and Sam Winchester were ones that were also worthy of intrigue. Truthfully, Hotch had kind of forgotten about the brothers after the Coloradan explosion, wrote it off as just deserts. He certainly wasn't going to bemoan the loss of two unrepentant vigilantes.

But now, well, why not oversee? He has no cases at the moment, Jessica and Jack are having a movie night, and really, how often does one get the chance to personally observe a (supposed to be dead) subject such as Dean? Rarely. Never, in Hotch's career thus far. Sure, he's interviewed killers similar to Dean before, makes his living off it, but from what he'd heard, Dean and Sam were far from the norm in their crimes and methodologies.

It's actually lucky he was already at the FBI proper, he muses as he walks towards the interrogation rooms. Had he not needed to sort out some paperwork with a couple of the agents that had assisted in the BAU's most recent case, it would've been a good hour from Quantico to D.C.

He isn't at all surprised to see at least a dozen people standing behind the two-way mirror, staring in at Dean, muttering amongst themselves. The man in front, with his arms crossed over his substantial girth, is obviously the one leading the new "investigation," and, considering Hotch's position is elevated above the others, there isn't any objection as he walks up beside the primary. Hotch vaguely recognizes him as Agent Warren…Williams?…no, Warren.

"What happened?" asks Hotch, peering through the tinted glass at Dean's form. His form that looks completely alien in comparison to the last image Hotch recalls. He's still muscled, and his hair is still shorn, but there's a certain kind of…frailty to him that gives Hotch pause. It's not compassion or empathy, because you'd be hard-pressed to find a veritably lucid serial killer that would garner Hotch's concern, but it's not exactly hatred, either. Hotch knows he should question this, but he's long since learned to trust his gut. Besides, it's not like Dean's their unsub or anything. Which begs the question—

"Highway patrol pulled him over, of all things," chuckles Warren. "Caught him going a hundred in a seventy-five. Didn't register at first, for obvious reasons, but he was still driving that boat of a car, and though the VIN came up under a different name, a car like that brought up more'n a few flags. Case might've been closed, but evidently some of the alerts remained in the system."

Hotch nods, albeit with a frown still on his face. "You get anything out of him?" he inquires, recalling Dean's penchant for sarcasm and a biting tongue. "Apart from witty retorts, that is."

It's Warren's turn to frown, the expression unwelcomed by the man. "That's one of the weird parts," he reluctantly admits. "He hasn't said anything."

"You mean anything useful?"

"No," says Warren in disbelief. "Nothing. Hasn't even spoken once. 'S like he wanted to get caught or something."

Hotch glances at Warren briefly before returning to Dean. "Isn't that what happened a few years ago? Got tripped up on something frivolous?"

"Motion detector in an anthropology museum, if I'm not mistaken," replies Warren. "But this doesn't seem the same to me. Then again, I'm not one of you profiling folks."

Hotch'll concede this point. He's not narcissistic by any means, but it's a fact that, as he'd told Emily when she started, his isn't a job you can acquire on a whirl. You have to have a damn good set of skills, more than just cataloguing tells of people at a poker game.

Profiler though Warren isn't, as Hotch studies Dean some more, he has to agree with the agent. Dean's only fifteen or so years younger than Hotch, but right now, he looks like a child that's simply…lost. There's a certain type of ancientness to his stare, a haunted look, but the way Dean carries himself is, in a word, aimless.

"So, what're you planning to do?" Hotch asks with genuine interest.

"I don't know," answers Warren. "First thought is, naturally, that Winchester's angling for something, but we can't really figure out what. According to recorded interviews and Henricksen's notes, nearly everything that Dean said was either antagonistic or things that backed up the supposition that he had ulterior motives. A real wisecracking extrovert. For the life of me, I can't tell what being completely silent can achieve. Let alone basically walking right into the FBI and begging to be arrested."

Hotch has seen criminals do one-eighties in personality (excluding those who literally have two or more personalities), seen some that end up honestly regretting their offenses, but once again, Warren has a point. For one, there'd been nothing in Dean's documented character that even insinuated the possibility for such a dramatic change.

"You got any ideas?"

Hotch had assumed he'd get asked this, but the truth is, he doesn't really have a response. The best he can do is say that there was some massive, massive stressor in Dean's life that caused the metamorphosis, but apart from that, he's at a loss. "Sorry," he says to Warren. "I'd have to look more into the case, and unfortunately, that's something I don't really have the capacity to do."

Warren shrugs, like he'd expected nothing less. "Well, let's just say that we've got more than enough charges to keep Winchester here for a very long time," he remarks, and Hotch isn't sure he likes the happy tone in the agent's voice. It's one thing to be grateful that a murderer's behind bars, but Hotch can't imagine himself ever sounding chipper about it. "If I've got anything to say, Winchester's gonna be in a six-by-eight for decades."

Hotch takes a last look at Dean's hunched figure, and with an uncertain feeling in his stomach turns and walks away. He's got paperwork to do.

November 12, 2013, 1:25 P.M.
F.B.I., Behavioral Analysis Unit
Quantico, Virginia

"Prentiss," says Hotch, looking at her across the table, "it's a sound enough suggestion, considering, but I don't think it'll work. I saw him at his last incarceration, and he wasn't exactly forthcoming."

J.J. raises an eyebrow, the Winchester saga fresher in her mind than Hotch's, since she'd actually watched the news in their heyday. "We're talking about the Dean Winchester who flirted with anything that moved, right?" she clarifies. "The one who could piss off or charm anyone with one glance?"

"I'm telling you," Hotch continues, "he wasn't the same man. I haven't checked up on him, but just from what little I saw, I'd bet money that he hasn't said more than a sentence or two this whole time. Even if he were able to somehow provide insight into our unsub's mind, I doubt he'd be willing to share."

"How'd you even come up with Dean Winchester?" Morgan asks, taking a long drag of coffee. "You've got a million bad guys to choose from, and you pick him?"

Emily's glare would make a lesser man cry. Her nerves are beyond frayed—all of theirs are—and even Morgan's light ribbing is enough to needle her. "Hey. Far as I'm concerned, he and his brother have still got enough mystery surrounding them to make them stand out. You can't say that given the nature of their crimes, they wouldn't have a different spin to put on things."

She doesn't miss the awkwardness that follows her words, and wants to bang her head against the wood. It was just a suggestion. "I'm sure he could," Garcia inputs, saving Emily further torture. "And I wouldn't object to seeing that face up close and personal, but say he could be helpful. Do you know where he is?"

Emily rolls her eyes. "You could find that information in two seconds flat," she says, and everyone knows it's true. "Look, it was just a thought is all. We're damn good at getting inside people's heads, but at some point, it just takes a murderer to know one."

Quiet dominates again, and Emily's thinking she shouldn't have said anything at all, when her aid is lent again. "There's no harm in trying," says Rossi, and Emily raises her head to look at him. Ever since she'd confessed to him the horror she went through in Rome when she was fifteen, he'd shown almost parental traits towards her in certain circumstances. Right now, that's accompanied by honest advocation of her theory. "We've followed leads that were less substantial than this."

No one can argue that logic, and it's all but settled when, after only a few keystrokes of Garcia's laptop, the analyst announces, "Looks like the gorgeous fiend in question was housed at the ADMAX facility in Florence, Colorado for a little over six months before they decided he wasn't so squirrelly that he couldn't be moved to a maximum security place instead. According to current prison records, he's now at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois."

Emily appeals to Hotch. "You said you saw him, right?" she asks rhetorically. "And that there was something off about all of it?"

Hotch sighs. "He did seem more…quiet than initially reported," Hotch allows, "but that doesn't mean that it wasn't caused by a stressor, like most every unsub we've profiled."

"If this goes nowhere, it's on me," Emily says forwardly. "But what if Dean Winchester is the one person who could help crack this, and we didn't take the opportunity? You heard J.J.: we're one step away from being kicked off the search in the first place. Illinois is only a two-hour plane ride away. Come on, Hotch. I know it's a long shot, and maybe Dean would just laugh at us and show how extensive his psychosis is, maybe it's a wasted trip. But maybe it won't be."

It isn't the prospect of Dean's aid that makes Hotch surrender, but Emily's fervor. She'd had a rough start at the BAU (accusing her of, in so many words, getting a free ticket to the big leagues because of her mother isn't one of his finest moments), but had almost immediately proven her worth, and Hotch can honestly say he entrusts his life to her just as much as he does to Morgan, or Rossi, or Reid, or J.J. And even if they'll be throwing away half a day on a whim proposition of hers, well, it's worth it. Tit for tat, as they say in game theory. Perhaps there's even the off chance that it could actually pan out.

"All right," he says finally. "All of you, get your bags ready. Wheels up in twenty."

He really hopes Dean Winchester will have something useful to say. For Emily's sake.

November 12, 2013, 2:58 P.M.
United States Penitentiary
Marion, Illinois

The main warden for the former supermax prison, Nicholas Kuminsky has seen and heard just about everything, interacted with some of the world's worst criminals. Murderers, white supremacists, spies, you name it. It's not quite the most flattering job, but it makes him feel accomplished and, in a way, a better citizen. Watching the most twisted brains get what they deserve—twenty-three hours a day of nearly zero human contact, sensory deprivation at its most intense—makes him want to do things more by the book than your average Joe. (Granted, he still thinks filing taxes is a bitch, but who doesn't?)

As a result of this, he's also interacted with some of the nation's finest in law enforcement, their badges gleaming extra bright as they witness such a criminal go behind bars for life.

The thing he hasn't seen yet is having said law enforcement officials come back for a visit. Sure, sometimes they'd do a routine check of all their "high risk" prisoners (not just in Marion, but everywhere), but it didn't usually involve more than just making sure that person is still firmly in his or her cell.

So when he gets the call from a Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner of the BAU in Quantico saying, not asking, that he and his team would be visiting an inmate, he's more than a little surprised. It increases when Agent Hotchner tells him the name of the prisoner: Dean Winchester. In the two and a half years that Dean has been there, he's never gotten a visitor. Not one. Let alone an entire team of Feds.

It isn't necessarily unusual, considering being put in a maximum security correctional facility tends to put a damper on friendships, but usually there'd be someone who'd want to see you. In Dean's case, there'd been no one. Even odder than that is Dean's mannerisms. Prisoners usually are subdued enough, given that they know they're going nowhere, but until Dean'd arrived, Kuminsky had never seen someone so subdued. Dean hadn't uttered one word that Kuminsky can recall, not anything beyond a "Yes, sir" or "No, sir" when required. A model prisoner.

Were it not for the eeriness of it all and the multiple affirmations that Dean had been quite the prolific serial killer, grave desecrator, and a whole host of other unmentionables, Kuminsky would think there'd been a mistake. Dean certainly doesn't look or act like a cold-blooded murderer. But then, that's usually how it goes.

When Kuminsky gets the notification that the agents had arrived, he exhales and walks down to Dean's cell, trying to keep his interest at bay. "Hey. Dean," he says mildly, having long ago found himself unable to use a tone beyond basic firmness with the thirty-some-odd young man. The other guards have no problem with it, but somehow, Kuminsky can only see a boy who'd fallen off the wagon somewhere down the line—by which he means mass homicide, but that's a fact he has to consistently remind himself of—and so has given up on trying to be a hardass. Well, with this lifer anyway.

As always when spoken to, only Dean's eyes slide over, the rest of his body lying stone-still on the half-inch thick mattress. "You've got some people to see you," Kuminsky explains.

Dean manages to frown a little.

Kuminsky shrugs, relaying his own befuddlement. "They're from the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI, apparently. Not sure why they want to speak with you, but who am I to break protocol."

Kuminsky's pretty sure a corner of Dean's mouth lifts, which is the most anyone's ever got out of him. A statistic that, again despite Dean's crimes, the warden's a little proud of. It's not Kuminsky's fault that Dean comes off as a puppy who's been kicked out on the streets and wanders around malnourished and pathetic.

"Come on, kid," says Kuminsky with a little jerk of his head. He presses a series of numbers into a keypad to the left (and out of sight) of Dean's cell, and then swipes a passcard through the reader. The door retracts open with a clang.

Dean sighs and laboriously gets off the bed, walking over to Kuminsky. He holds out his hands obediently, and Kuminsky puts shackles on his wrists, and then bends down to shackle his ankles as well. Usually, there would be more than one man to do this, but with Kuminsky's seniority and his personal judgment that Dean wouldn't try anything stupid, he'd been able to ensure that he could handle Dean alone.

Grabbing Dean's bicep to lead him down the hall (more for show than anything else) Kuminsky brings him into the receiving room, a room only barely less Spartan than the cells. The BAU team is already there, not attired like Feds—only one of the agents is actually wearing a full suit—but having that air of perpetual scrutiny that Kuminsky assumes all profilers possess.

"Mr. Kuminsky, I presume," says the suited agent.

Kuminsky nods. "And Dean Winchester I believe is the one you wanted to talk to?"

"Yes," answers the brunette woman, looking at Dean in a way Kuminsky can't quite figure out. She doesn't double-check with anyone else before continuing, "You can take the cuffs off of him. I'm not quite sure how long this'll take, and from what the guard at the front said, Mr. Winchester here hasn't proven to be a hostile prisoner."

Kuminsky nods again, and takes out a key, unlocking Dean's bindings. Because it's procedure, he assures, "We'll be right outside if you feel they're necessary to put back on."

"Thank you," says the first agent.

Regardless that there's experienced behavior analysts in the room, Kuminsky exchanges a quick glance with Dean, giving him silent assurance. As he walks out of the room, closing the door behind him, he marvels again at just how irrational his fondness for Dean is. He's not a fool, he knows that you don't get into supermax for nothing, but he can't help but feel an absence of the simmering threat that all the other prisoners exude. He can't help but feel an absence of the frigidity that emanates from every cell besides Dean's.

Not that he'd voice any of this to anyone else. Appearances and all that. He's pretty sure Dean appreciates his kindness, though, which makes it all worth Kuminsky's effort. No one's eyes are as dead as Dean's that Kuminsky's viewed, and so if he can produce even the smallest bit of emotion in them—in this case, acknowledgment—then by all means, he'll do so.

He just hopes that this meeting with the Feds won't send Dean right back to square one. It'd taken approaching three years to get to this point, and Kuminsky sure as hell doesn't want to start that all over again. So he waits outside the soundproofed door at attention, more than a little curious as to what all's going on on the other side.

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson