Part 2 of this crossover. You'll notice that the quote at the very end has been altered slightly for my purposes. I hope it won't wreck your space-time continuum.
All the King's Horses
November 12, 2013, 3:04 P.M.
United States Penitentiary – Visiting Room
As soon as the door closes, Emily feels as though everyone else has no desire to chip in, and is leaving it all up to her. Which, fine, she is the one who'd fought for this, but still. She'd appreciate a couple fewer expecting stares. At least one person, however, isn't doing so; he's more not looking at anything, but Emily'll take what she can get.
"Dean, my name is Emily Prentiss," she introduces, fighting the urge to put her hand out for him to shake. She doubts he would. "You want to sit down?"
As if having to think about it, Dean takes a second before doing as Emily offered. With that, she takes a seat as well, Hotch, J.J., Morgan, Reid, and Garcia finding either chairs or leaning against an adjacent table themselves.
Emily clears her throat and clasps her hands together, leaning forward. "Dean, there's a favor I'd like to ask of you."
He moves his eyes up to hers, a mild question in them.
Emily almost laughs. Hotch hadn't been kidding when he said Dean likely wouldn't utter any words. "I know it sounds strange," Emily qualifies. "But we've got this case back at Quantico that we are having troubles solving. This guy's four steps ahead of us, and he's been that way for the last three weeks, and we thought maybe bringing in a third party might help us. You."
She's sure she doesn't imagine the skepticism in Dean's expression, even though it's extraordinarily subtle. Yet, again he exhibits no verbal recognition.
"Yeah, they thought it was nuts, too," Emily says, gesturing to the rest of her team. They accept the light hit, because they all know what Emily's trying to do. Establish some semblance of rapport and, if possible, trust with Dean, to get him to maybe open up a little. They're watching Dean's nuances, but can't tell if Dean's even taking in anything Emily's saying.
"Listen," Emily furthers, placing a folder that contains all the particulars from their investigation on the metal table. "We all know the types of crimes you committed, and we—I—think you might be able to look at the case with a different point of view. I don't know what I can offer you in exchange for your help—maybe it can be arranged for you to go to a medium-security prison or something—but I assure you that your assistance would be invaluable."
More staring from Dean and, if possible, it's edging towards the Bitch, please. You must be out of your damn mind territory.
Emily sighs and refrains from looking at anyone else, for fear of seeing I-told-you-so faces. So she's surprised when J.J. inserts herself into the conversation. "What happened back in 2010, Dean?" she asks.
Dean turns from Emily to J.J., his chest constricted and gaze hard as flint.
Unfortunately for him, J.J.'d dealt with way more intimidating convicts, and while the abyssal depths of Dean's eyes are frightening in their own right, he doesn't scare her. "Where's your brother in all this?" she goes on. "Where's Sam?"
Emily no longer sees Dean breathing, and as though the air conditioning had been turned on full blast, the room is overcome with an atmosphere of ice. Emily catches slight movement and glances at Dean's hands, which have since turned into tight fists, skin stretched taut over his knuckles. For the first time, Emily thinks she's glimpsing a facsimile of what the serial killer Dean Winchester could look like. J.J., bless her, doesn't back down, but Emily's sure the liaison is a little startled.
"I'm not sure that's helping, J.J.," says Rossi quietly. He doesn't have a profile on Dean or anything, but he can see the man is two breaths away from snapping. Sure, there's basically a chance of zilch that Dean would actually have the time to inflict harm, given present company, but that's not really the point, the way Rossi sees it.
"Worth a shot," J.J. mumbles, taking a small step back.
Dean knows the drill, knows that Rossi's up next, and although his fists don't relax, he keeps his gaze on Rossi relatively unassuming. "If you could just take a look at the file," he asks in a gentle tone, looking past the façade Dean gives off, to find what Hotch had so many years ago—that lost little boy inside of a very dark, very dangerous shell.
Rossi had skimmed over Dean's records on the plane, to get some grasp of the man's inner workings, and there was one thing that stuck out to him that he intends to use to his advantage.
Flipping open the folder and moving it a couple inches toward Dean, Rossi says, "This person we're searching for, he's unbelievably sadistic. He tortures his victims past death, to the extent that for some of them, we could only rely on dentals to figure out their identity. I've been over your file, Dean, and although you were quite productive, you weren't unnecessarily cruel to your victims.
"You engaged in mass murder and robbery among other things, but near as I can tell, you were what we call a mission-based killer, a vigilante. Death was your only goal, you weren't too interested in making your targets suffer. I won't lie to you and say you don't have a high level of sociopathy and psychosis, but I think if you see what our present culprit has done, you would be just as disgusted with it as we are."
Dean hadn't moved his eyes from Rossi's the entire time, despite the fact that there was the tiniest wince when he'd had mentioned Dean's offenses. Rossi's not entirely sure why that is, but Dean isn't the man he needs to profile right now. That said, of course, Rossi's pretty damn positive that what he'd just said to Dean is a hundred percent true.
Most people, both cops and public alike, had seen Dean and Sam as solely heartless assassins, and hadn't stopped to consider the specifics. They'd had dozens upon dozens of victims, but, as far as Rossi's concerned, it'd been quick demises for all of them. There were the victims in St. Louis, granted, but as Rossi read the file further, those people didn't fit with the rest of Dean and Sam's mannerisms, so he'd all but discarded it. He wasn't interested in discovering the reasons as to the deviation; just for now pretends it didn't happen.
Dean clenches his jaw, but gives in and peers at the photos, M.E. reports, crime scene observations, all of it. He goes through them thoroughly but efficiently, as Rossi's (and everyone else's) sharp perception studies his facial tics. Like he'd expected, the tightening around Dean's mouth and eyes as he comes across the ripped and sliced remains of the dead says in no uncertain terms that Dean's affected by it. It wouldn't hold up in court or anything, but it's more than enough of an embellishment to Emily's theory.
Dean reaches the last picture, frowns, and rapidly flips back to some of the earlier ones, then skims the text of compiled notes from the team and other agents and LEOs with trained proficiency. Emily and Rossi exchange a look, and it definitely isn't only the two of them whose curiosity has piqued at Dean's change in behavior.
Closing his eyes and running a hand through his hair, Dean cycles through the new facts in his head, trying to make sense of it. He can see where the BAU had had trouble—the evidence only went in circles, leads went to dead ends. It's enough to make anyone go out of their skulls with frustration. Dean and Sam had had more than one case go the same way. The difference being that at least in those ones, it was more a matter of calculating where the demon or spirit would go next rather than who the creature was, or what its motives were. Demons and spirits are predictable; humans aren't. At least not human psychopaths, that is.
Dean's more than a little uneasy that the Feds had come to him simply because they think his head is twisted enough to where he might be able to get into a real maniac's M.O., to tell you the truth. He may have long ago given up on attempting to prove his innocence, and he's not so disillusioned as to deem his head on completely straight, but that's a far cry from believing he's even in the same vicinity as these homicidal sickos. How someone's brain could be so fucked up that they could do that to people is baffling to him.
He's never been averse to slaying supernatural lowlifes, but at least those he knows aren't human. Or, at best, aren't anymore. It's one thing to behead a bloodsucking vampire; they'd been human, but had morphed into something evil that had scraped away all the personage they once possessed. The serial killer that the Feds have presented Dean with is just…deranged. It's the most polite word Dean can come up with.
Against his will, Dean's mind is going through everything John had taught him, and everything he'd taught himself and experienced in order to sort out the facts in the file folder. The easy answer would be to attribute the crimes to a demon, maybe even something like a daeva, but somehow, Dean knows this has nothing to do with preternatural forces. Which makes it harder, but Dean's never been one to give up. (Well, maybe he became that kind of person in May of 2010, but now that he has the chance to hopefully send a real executioner straight to get a shot of potassium chloride, by hell, he's going to do it.)
He weighs his options one last time, knowing that there's nothing these people could do to him that's worse than what he's doing to himself and so if he doesn't reply, then that's no skin off his nose. But just remembering the smiling Before pictures of the victims in comparison to the mutilated After ones makes the decision a no-brainer.
Swallowing, Dean's voice comes out as hoarse and deep, owing to the fact that he hasn't used it virtually at all since he'd been pulled over on I-70. He selects two pictures, and shakily angles them towards the BAU members. Morgan, Garcia, and Reid unhitch themselves from the table and walk closer, leaning in to look at what Dean had deduced.
"The, um…here, look at the trees," Dean says scratchily, pointing to the foliage in the background.
Morgan scoffs, folding his arms across his chest. "That's what you're giving us?" he asks in incredulity. "You're giving us trees?"
Dean merely stares at Morgan, who sighs after a few moments, backing down. "What about them?" Hotch questions, puzzled. He doesn't see anything besides, well, trees.
"In the first six pictures, there's nothing. Starting from the seventh body, there's cuts in the bark, words," Dean says, tracing the faint lines. No one responds until Emily at last sees what Dean's talking about.
"Shit," she murmurs, wondering how they hadn't noticed the marks when they'd perused the crime scenes. Heaven knows they'd gone there enough. Despite the fact that she now can pinpoint the scars in each photo, she doesn't know what they spell. "You have any idea what it means?"
Dean exhales, unable to forget his knowledge of Latin even if he'd tried. "It's the same phrase scratched into one tree at each crime scene. Aut concilio aut ense. It means—"
"'Either by meeting or by the sword,'" Reid interrupts, astounded that Dean would not only know Latin, but the definition behind it as well. But then, if he remembers accurately, Dean and Sam had been convinced they were exorcising demons and the like, and learning dead languages is far from the most outlandish thing Reid's heard a person do to entertain their illness.
"Great. Reid's found a playmate," Morgan gripes. "But for the rest of us who don't know what the hell you're talking about, care to elaborate?"
Dean pays no attention to Morgan's impatience. "My best guess is that your guy would've killed these people anyway, but it was aggravated when you all started going after him. When he found out that people were actually noticing what he was doing, he felt it as an attack. Judging by the engraving, he was rationalizing that before you guys showed up, it was 'by the meeting'; no one was following him, so he was simply killing the people, just not with nearly the level of force he could have.
"But when you began investigating, he felt like you were waging war, and so the second part, 'by the sword,' was him telling you to prepare for even more bodies, worse disfigurations. Which coincides with the reports. The first six victims were tortured to an extent, but weren't as brutalized as the later ones. I suggest you look for someone who has any interest in foreign languages, even if you don't see anything in Latin around. Odds are, he started with a different language, and then for some reason decided it wasn't legit enough, so moved onto the one affiliated with both the Church and devil worship."
Six pairs of eyes are glued to Dean, rather uncomfortably in his opinion, Garcia and Reid's mouths creeping toward slack-jawed. Dean thinks it's probably not only because of his inferences, but because he'd not spoken in such a long time, to anyone, that this sudden monologue is nothing short of shocking. Were they to actually think about why that is, they might discover that it's the subject that matters. Dean'd never been asked about anything other than his incarceration, or his crimes, or Sam, or why he'd succumbed to being arrested. He didn't want to talk about that in any way, shape, or form, so he didn't. But here he's being entreated to, essentially, save people, hunt things, and even in jail he'll abide by that philosophy.
"But fuck if I know," Dean says flippantly, grinding his teeth together. "I'm just a batshit crazy homicidal maniac, right?"
Emily smiles. "Thank you, Dean," she says sincerely.
He makes a noncommittal noise, and watches as she, Morgan, Reid, Garcia, and Hotch walk out of the room, each of them casting Dean a final once-over. Rossi stays behind for a second, and with a somber face, claps Dean's shoulder, giving him a nod of what could be encouragement, but what could also be sadness. Maybe both.
Dean looks away, holds his hands out for cuffs a minute later when Kuminsky returns. Kuminsky asks him what happened, but Dean stays silent. He knows the warden has good intentions, but truth be, he kind of resents the coddling. Dean'd come here with all intentions of solitude, and Kuminsky's not giving him that. So Dean turns a deaf ear to the guy's sigh, and merely walks along the familiar corridor, collapsing onto his bed and musing over what had just transpired. Conjecturing as to if he'd helped at all. Worse still, hoping he had.
November 12, 2013, 7:19 P.M.
Home of Philip Guzman
Morgan looks on in disbelief as the Manchester P.D. hauls away Philip Guzman in handcuffs, the man protesting the entire way. "I'll be damned," he says to Emily. "That son of a bitch was right."
Emily nods, only slightly less shocked than her often-partner. "You glad now that I had such an absurd idea?" she asks, the airy words belying the stressed ambience.
Morgan looks at her, and quirks a corner of his mouth. "Yeah, yeah, get it all out," he says dismissively. "Promise next time I'll totally go along with you if you want to talk to Bianchi."
Chuckling, Emily pulls apart the Velcro on her bulletproof vest, removing it from her body and setting it aside. "Say what you want," she retorts, "and think of Dean how you want, but you have to admit he prevented who knows how many more murders. You know as well as I do that odds are we never would have noticed the Latin phrases that Guzman marked."
"I'll give you that one," Morgan concedes.
It's not like he's absolving Dean or anything, nor will he send him a Christmas letter, but he will readily say that Dean's discernment was indispensable to them. Though he's still not sure what J.J. will say to the press when they ask how they finally cracked the case. He doubts she'll say they visited the legendary Dean Winchester in prison and asked for his assistance.
Morgan removes his vest as well, and rubs the back of his neck. "All right, I'm going home and sleeping for a month," he announces. Hesitating for a second, he turns to Emily and puts a hand briefly on her arm. "Nice work."
"You, too," she replies, and watches as he strides out the door, with the single goal of getting back to D.C. as quickly as the plane will fly and collapse on his apartment couch with a beer, hoping Strauss will grant them a reprieve from new cases for a while. They deserve it.
Emily takes a last inspection around Guzman's house, still kicking herself at the fact that they hadn't suspected him. They'd talked to the bastard and didn't think anything of it. What does it say about her that a convicted felon was better at espying subtleties than a tenured profiler for the FBI?
Shaking her head, Emily walks out to the SUVs, getting in the backseat of the one carrying both Morgan and J.J. (hey, so what if she chose it because Morgan drives the fastest?), and rests her head against the window, impatient to pour herself a large glass of wine and try and congratulate herself on a job well done, however belated it might have occurred.
December 3, 2013, 11:50 A.M.
United States Penitentiary – Visitor's Room
The door resounds open, grabbing Emily's attention, and she looks up from her seat at the metal table. She sees confusion written over his face, and nods to Kuminsky, telling him silently she'll take it from here. He leaves, though with a degree of reluctance.
Dean sits down across from her, awkward. "Is he—I mean, did you arrest him?" he asks quietly.
"Yeah, we did," Emily confirms, and Dean visibly releases some of the tension in his shoulders. "You were spot on. Turns out, the guy was a professor of Linguistics at the local community college. The only thing that even indicated he knew Latin was this book he had in his office at the school."
"Good for you," Dean says, and Emily can't tell from his monotony whether it's sarcastic.
"We couldn't have done it without you, you know," she says quietly, not for the first time wondering why she'd flown all the way over here—in coach no less—to talk to Dean again. It isn't like she owes him or anything. He'd killed an atrocious amount of people; it's the least he could do to lend them a hand, right?
Dean shrugs, sensing Emily's discomfort. "Everyone has to have some help sometimes," he offers, picking at a thumbnail.
"Not from murderers," she opposes, trying to uphold her morality. "Not like this."
Dean gives her a smirk—a smirk—as he replies, "You presented a much more compelling position than the booking cops and interrogators did."
Emily's nothing short of surprised at Dean's flirtation, for the primary reason that nothing in the last three years had suggested he was even capable of flirting anymore. She's not sure if she should feel flattered or skeeved out.
It does, fortunately, give her a segue into what she thinks she really came here for. Delicately, she asks, "I know it shouldn't matter, but…what did happen to Sam? Why did you turn yourself in after so many years?"
Dean's jaw tightens and the tension is back in his shoulders, as Emily had anticipated. He doesn't look away from her, just keeps his eyes level, but she can see amongst the anger a hell of a lot of pain as well. "What, throwing me in here isn't enough punishment for you? You want to psychoanalyze me as well? I got news for you, Agent Prentiss: I'm not an 'unsub' you can profile."
His reaction isn't anything she hadn't guessed it would be, and though he's right that he isn't her unsub, it doesn't mean he's not someone she would have liked to profile back before he turned into some kind of mind-numbed zombie.
"I know," Emily says gently, recognizing easily the signs of someone who's using a multitude of defense mechanisms. "I just don't understand how your behavior could devolve so rapidly in the space of two years; enough for you to show everyone that the explosion in Colorado hadn't killed you."
"What do you care? Am I research for some book you're writing?"
"I'm a terrible writer. That would be more Rossi's department," Emily says with a self-deprecating laugh. "Dean, look. I've profiled over a hundred people, studied even more than that, seen every kind of deviant functioning out there. And while a lot of them didn't make sense, yours tops them all. I'd just like to understand. It won't make it out of this room if that's what you wish."
"Then why even ask?" Dean spits, a muscle in his cheek spasming. "I'm not going to spill my life story just because you ask me to. Besides, even if I did, you wouldn't believe it."
Emily can't stop another laugh from escaping. "That's what your hesitation is? That I won't believe you? If you'd heard some of the things I have from criminals, you'd think twice about your statement."
Dean raises his eyebrows. Sure, other people might babble about needing to do God or Satan's work or whatever, but Dean would bet his life—not that he puts much value on it, but whatever—that his story would only cause an eye roll from the woman across from him.
And yet there's something in the earnestness of her face that makes him want to confess everything.
"There wasn't any point to try and run from the cops anymore," Dean says, in such a near-silent tone that Emily has to strain to hear it. "It wasn't worth it. Not after…"
"After what?" Emily questions, weighing her responses very carefully. "What happened?"
Dean rubs a hand roughly over his face, not wanting to have that hole in his heart open up again, but finding Emily's gaze like some sort of catalyst. "S-Sam, he…" Dean pauses at the hitch in his voice, and flicks his eyes up. Emily's are calm, gentle, and although you can't take the profiling out of the girl, it's clear to Dean that she's trying not to judge him. Sorta. "He said 'yes.'"
There. Dean said the words he'd been holding in for years. The ones he'd held in because if he said them aloud, then they'd be true.
"'Yes'?" Emily repeats in puzzlement, not getting the rationale for the weight behind the syllable. "What did he agree to?"
Now that he might as well be stark naked in front of her for all the vulnerability he feels he's exposing, Dean doesn't want to risk her looking at him like even bigger of a freak than she does now. So he bends the truth. "He agreed to be the...leader…of a kind of…cult." It's the least insane way Dean can invent to describe Sam allowing Lucifer to take him as his vessel. "I killed him. He wasn't my brother anymore."
Emily tries futilely not to react. Dean'd just admitted fratricide, right in front of her. How's she supposed to take that? To his credit, he looks absolutely broken over it, but the admission is the same.
"A cult?" Emily prompts. "How'd he even get involved with it? Weren't you two together twenty-four/seven?"
It's Dean's turn to self-deride. "I had a near-death experience. Very near. And it changed him. He just…chose the wrong people to fall in line with. And when I came to, it was too late. He was gone." Emily begins to say something, when Dean's face takes on a desperate air, and she's enraptured again. "I had to do it," he says, pleads. "I had to. He was going to destroy the wor—himself. I had to save him from himself. From everyone."
"But it still ate you up inside, didn't it?" Emily inquires, knowing it's true. Dean'd been a phenomenal actor, she'd heard, but even he can't fake the expression he's wearing now. "You could barely live with yourself. So you turned yourself in so you wouldn't harm anyone else."
Dean smiles gratefully. "Yes," he answers plainly, and looks away, though not so quickly that Emily doesn't see the glossy sheen that came over his eyes.
"I can't say I understand you," Emily says, swallowing, "but I think I can see your motivations. You did the only thing you could think of that would save your brother."
"It doesn't help."
"I doubt anything will, Dean."
It's like Dean wants to provide a snappy comeback, but it'll take energy he doesn't have. Clearing his throat, Dean says, "You done? You happy now?"
She's not, not at all, but she can see that the window for Dean's vulnerability is rapidly closing, and she doesn't think it'll open again. So instead, she reaches into her coat pocket and pulls out a card. Pressing it onto the table and sliding it towards Dean, she gives him a sad smile.
"I know you don't get many phone privileges, and I'd probably be the last person you'd want to call anyway," Emily says carefully, "but if you ever…I don't know. I'm just—I'll answer."
Dean doesn't say anything, just regards her with a look even she can't decrypt, and slowly picks up the card, surveying (memorizing, she muses is more probable) the letters, and running a finger over the FBI seal, like he can't believe he's even contemplating the possibility of calling a Fed.
"Take care of yourself, Dean," Emily says, standing up. She knows this nicety she's showing him is illogical, but there's something about Dean that just doesn't scream murderer to her. And though she's fully aware she's likely going to be too preoccupied with cases in the future to look into Dean's, she'll still wonder for the meantime if perhaps there's discrepancies in his.
Emily thinks she hears a small "Thanks" as she leaves, but she can't be sure. All she is sure of at the moment is that she doesn't regret taking the flight out here. She can't quantify what she came away with—if anything—but she feels as though she achieved…something. She doesn't tell the warden what she and Dean discussed, in spite of the fact that it's clear he wants to be privy to it, and as she heads out to the rental car to go back to the airport, she's pondering the likelihood of getting a call in the near future from a certain inmate. And dolefully thinks that she won't; that he'll just retreat once more into his own mind.
For Dean's part, he hides Emily's card away from any prying eyes and cameras, and when the lights extinguish for the night, Dean brings it out again, running his fingers over the raised letters for a reason he's having trouble fathoming. He can't say for certain whether or not he would take Emily up on her offer, supposes it's going to be the latter, yet her parting sentiment sticks with him. He'd like to believe it's gospel, like to believe that maybe one person out there who doesn't know him personally might possibly think he's not a callous murderer, but he's been in the cold, harsh reality for too long to have that kind of innocent hope.
And yet, four years from that day, Dean still takes out Emily Prentiss's card each night in the dark, crumpled though it is now, wonders if, should he actually call her, she'd pick up the phone.
The righteous man sat on a wall,
The righteous man had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put him together again.