Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Erik Kripke, Warner Brothers and quite possibly others who are not mentioned here. No money will be made from this fan fiction.
Summary: When Dean goes to sell his soul at the crossroads to bring Sam back, someone else steps in to negotiate the deal. Cas did get a sign and it sent him off into the past to change things. AU from The Man Who Would be King and All Hell Breaks Loose.
It's All in the Details
Henricksen stared down at the cold dead body and wished he'd put in for retirement rather than a 'vacation'. Beside him, his new partner was breathing in a pattern that almost everyone took up when they were trying to avoid throwing up. Any other time he might have dug into her a bit for the weakness, but he couldn't deny that the body was causing him a certain amount of nausea as well. Not only was the damage extensive, but the length of time it had been kept was causing it to decompose even with refrigeration, giving it a slightly mummified look.
The coroner stood on the other side of the body. Victor suspected that the man was amused by their reactions, but was too professional to show it.
"Mr. Tyson Brady." The coroner flipped open a file and started to read from it. "Cause of death, stabbing." He looked at the body and shook his head. "Which is amazing, given that he also has a caved in skull, twenty three broken bones, extensive bruising, advanced kidney and liver failure, several STDs, and an assortment of other, comparatively minor injuries." He looked up at the agents. "To be honest, I don't know how he was alive long enough for someone to kill him."
Victor had been uncomfortable when he'd found out that the Winchesters had used the knife on Brady rather than exorcising the demon. Everyone, including Jo had told him that it wouldn't have mattered. Demons keep bodies looking good, but they don't actually heal them. Once vacated, Brady would have died from all the injuries his body had taken over the years. Unhappy, Victor had grudgingly accepted the explanation.
He just hadn't quite believed it until now.
Since the nearest field office was in Los Angeles they set up shop in Bakersfield's East Police department, since that division had originally caught the case.
Victor poured himself a glass of water and noticed that his partner did the same. Apparently neither of them were willing to test their still somewhat queasy stomachs against police station coffee.
The detectives that had been working the case turned over their files with only a token measure of grumbling.
"So, you guys want to give us the highlights?" Victor sat down at the table in the small meeting room they were borrowing and made a gesture for the detectives to sit as well. SA Urquart took the seat next to him at the same time the others sat down across from them.
"Well, the body was obviously dumped here. Estimated time of death has him killed a couple of days before he was found. We found fibres that showed that the killer or killers wrapped the body in a tarp, one they took with them after they dumped the body."
Victor interrupted them. "Fibres? From a tarp? Was it canvas?"
The detective shook his head and pointed at the files, his expression one of annoyance at having to repeat something he'd already put in the report. "The fibres were from the heavy duty thread used to stitch the edges of a vinyl tarp. We were able to track the type of tarp from it, but it didn't help much as they're sold at a number of places across the country, including Wal-Mart."
The detective's partner took over at that point.
"The knife used on him appears to be the same size and general shape as a Bowie knife, except for the fact that the blade has teeth, rather than a straight edge."
"And the other injuries he sustained?"
Both detectives snorted. "No clue. Although they're why we're leaning towards the theory of there being more than one killer." He shrugged. "I'm personally betting on at least a three man team."
The other detective nodded in agreement. "Given what happened at Niveus, I'd say he was specifically targeted. There were other bodies found that night that had similar damages, but he was the only one who'd been taken away and dumped later."
Victor frowned. "When you say similar damage, do you mean stabbing?"
"Cause of death varied, but all of the victims had been worked over to a degree, though not as much our vic was. We figure with this guy it was either personal, or he knew something and they were very serious about finding out what it was."
"Maybe it was both." Agent Urquart said.
Oh yeah, it was both. He couldn't disagree with that theory, but he wouldn't do anything to help it along.
"Could be." One of the detectives replied to Urquart's statement as he slid another file across to them. "The life and times of Tyson Brady. Once you've read it, the fact that someone killed him will be a whole lot less surprising."
Victor twitched towards the file, but let his partner take it. Even if they'd dug up the fact that Brady knew Sam Winchester it wouldn't matter, as Sam was still listed as deceased.
Henricksen rose and shook hands with both of the detectives. "Thanks for your help. We'll let you know if we manage to find anything."
The detectives nodded, neither of them looked like they really believed him and turned to shake Agent Urquart's hand. The agent started; apparently distracted by something enough that having hands thrust towards her was a surprise.
Victor watched her exchange goodbyes with the detectives, a slight frown on his face. He'd have understood if she'd been preoccupied by the information in the files, but it appeared to him as if she were staring at him. It was probably nothing, but given how close he was to this case…
It had taken two days for Crowley and Meg to track the vision they'd seen to Minnesota. They found the crypt they'd been shown, but the ghouls had already moved on and Crowley was forced to track them with the sputtering remnants of the scrying spell he'd cast earlier. It couldn't pinpoint them, but before it gave out it did point them east, towards Blue Earth MN.
Meg frowned when she saw the city and it took her a few minutes to figure out why the place was familiar. A smirk twitched across her lips when she realized that the trail for the righteous man had brought her to the place where she'd killed one of John Winchester's few friends. A pastor, if she recalled rightly.
Crowley gave her a dour look. "Should I be worried that you're amused?"
Her smile widened, but she shook her head. "Just revisiting fond memories."
Crowley raised an eyebrow at the answer, but didn't ask.
Blue Earth had two cemeteries. Neither of them appeared to offer much by way of usable hiding space, so they and a dozen or so minions started checking out abandoned and condemned houses and buildings in the area.
At the end of the day it was only dumb luck that Meg noticed she was missing a minion. With her and Crowley both having people in the field, the lines of communication were not always as clear as they should have been. One or two of her people would have reported to whoever was closest. The rest of them would have made sure to report directly to her. Some of them because they were loyal, the others, because they were masters at kissing ass.
Her curiosity became piqued when one of the latter failed to bring himself to her attention in his usual self-serving manner.
Crowley looked over the neat row of houses that appeared to have been built during the mid to late 70s.
"Why was he even searching here? There isn't anything empty…" His eyes narrowed as he noticed the house with a for sale sign. "Never mind."
Meg snorted and started up the walk to the house. Crowley followed, trailed by four demons wearing bodybuilders. The rest of the demons set up positions throughout the neighbourhood.
Meg knocked politely at the door, a smile on her face. Crowley suddenly had the distinctly absurd image of the two of them going door to door, spreading the word of their 'Father'. He gave into an amused smirk for a moment, and then shook the thought off. He was signalling to one of the bodyguards to break the door down when it opened.
If the deal demon had been amused a moment ago, then the female real-estate agent with the plastic smile on her face was the antidote for it. His body actually shifted as if to take a step back before he steadied himself. He was the king of the crossroads; his own salespeople were some of the most evilly charismatic sellers in the market, there was no way he was going to allow himself to feel bothered by a human marketer.
And he'd believe that just as soon as his meat suit's skin stopped crawling.
"Hi, are you here to view the house?"
All of the demons blinked at the perkiness. Crowley realized that this was what you might get if you mixed a Barbie doll and a Stepford wife together and then let it work in sales.
Meg slipped her arm through his, leaned her head against his shoulder and smiled back at the woman.
"Yep. We're newlyweds, looking for our first place together."
He'd sooner sleep with a Cerberus.
"Of course." The agent looked at their bodyguards. "And them?"
"Our interior decorators." Crowley said, strapping on his game face and speaking up for the first time since she'd opened the door.
The agent showed them into the living room. "Have a look around and while you're doing that I'll get you one of the detail pages from the kitchen."
Meg and Crowley smiled at her, though as soon as her back was turned Meg indicated to one of the bodyguards to follow her. The demon didn't catch on right away and the woman made it to the door of the kitchen before he started after her. Crowley used that small space of time to guess how many coats of paint it would take to get rid of the bad purple sponge job that the previous owners had seen fit to inflict upon the walls of their home.
The house wasn't very big, so even from the living room they could all hear the crunch of a shoe stepping into something gritty in the kitchen. It was followed by some very loud swearing and the minion throwing himself out of the kitchen.
Meg and Crowley stepped over the minion on their way to the kitchen, stopping in the doorway.
The kitchen's backdoor hung open, showing where the real-estate woman had actually gone. Salt was strewn across the floor, making crossing it undesirable. The naked body of the demon they were looking for lay draped over an ancient kitchen table, bloody bite marks down one of its legs. A box of kosher salt, probably left in the kitchen by the previous owners, sat on the kitchen counter.
Meg sent the bodyguards after the woman. Because of the salt, they were forced to leave by the front and circle the house to the kitchen door. Inside, Meg leaned against the doorway and shook her head.
"Stupid idiot must have smoked out when she hit him with the salt. Could have saved us a lot of trouble if he'd just found another body and reported in."
Crowley hummed in agreement and started to search. After a moment Meg joined him.
They found the real real-estate agent in an old freezer in the basement, at least a day dead and half-eaten.
There weren't a lot of real-estate agents in Blue Earth and the surrounding area, so finding out who she'd been and where she lived required little more than an internet search and a flip through the local phone book.
The search of her home found a lot of things missing. Clothes, items of value, the car that should have been parked in the garage, etc. It also found them another freezer with a half-eaten body in it. The woman's husband if the pictures on the mantle were anything to go by.
Meg slammed the lid to the freezer shut and looked at Crowley as if she were considering how much better she'd feel after gutting him and adding his body to the large white appliance. He smirked back, confident that this was only wishful thinking on her part.
She frowned back at him and made an annoyed sound. "Alright. So it looks like our only lead has skipped town. Can you scry for them again?"
Crowley's face twisted up painfully. "The original spell collapsed. It'll take a day to set it up again. "
"I can have people watching for them in the next town in every direction they could have gone." He hesitated a moment. "Assuming they still look like him and her, " He stared at the freezer for a moment. "And assuming one of them doesn't currently look like your partially eaten minion at the moment."
"See if you can find out what kind of car they're driving, and have everyone keep an eye out for… for all of them." Meg started up the stairs from the basement. "And start setting up the spell, just in case."
Rufus climbed the few steps to the small landing and knocked on the door to the mobile home, asking himself how Bobby had talked him into this one. Dealing with psychics was annoying enough, but from the sound of this guy…
"Hey, you must be Rufus Turner." The bearded nerdy guy who answered the door said, smiling at him uncertainly.
"Yeah, I must." Be crazy, was what he must be. "So…"
"…You're here to look at the work I have in storage." The guy finished for him. He stepped outside and locked his door, which was when the hunter noticed that the man was already dressed for the outdoors. "I'm Chuck." Unlike anyone else that had just introduced themselves, the writer didn't bother to try to shake hands. Instead, he clattered down the steps and headed towards Rufus' truck.
Prophets, just as bad as dealing with a psychic would be. Bobby should be the one handling this. Hell, the suggestion to do this that the angel had sent through Sam and Dean had been for the old coot, but no, apparently the other hunter had already pulled an undercover with the man and wasn't sure how the poor schmuck would react if he showed up. An explanation that Rufus thought was bogus, because hey, prophet. The guy probably already knew.
The prophet Chuck gave him a fidgety look from beside the truck. Rufus made a grumbling noise and joined him, unlocking the vehicle so they could both get in.
"I brought a protected box, to take the material out in." He told the prophet once they'd buckled up.
Chuck gave him another self-conscious smile. "Hope it's a big one."
Rufus glared at Bobby as he hauled the wooden box into the house and passed it off to the other hunter. Bobby gave him a grunt and a glare of his own as he staggered slightly under the weight of it.
"I take it you got all of it?"
Rufus snorted. "You wish. I'd need another six boxes to handle that. He's renting so many safety deposit boxes the bank should be giving him a group rate."
Rufus smirked. "Don't worry; we got all the thumb drives he's been storing stuff on. Most of the weight's from the paper only copies he kept before he started backing them up."
"Hmm." Hefting the box into a more comfortable position in his arms Bobby carried it down to the panic room and set it on a table. Being the paranoid bastard that he was he double-checked hex bags. With them in place it effectively made the room and everything in it invisible to both angels and demons.
He came back up to find Rufus raiding his refrigerator. A piece of cold pizza in one hand and a beer in another.
"I'm gonna need a protected laptop."
Rufus nodded and took a drink from his beer to help wash down the bite of pizza he'd just taken.
"You're probably more capable of setting up something like that than anyone I know." He thought about it for a moment. "Maybe Frank for the basic computer protection though?"
Bobby winced, but nodded. "Yeah, maybe."
'Is that what I think that is?' The question was soft and curious.
Castiel started, looking up from his intense study of the vial of grace. It took him a moment to realize that the voice he'd heard hadn't come from outside of him.
'Jimmy?' Castiel asked internally.
'Yeah, guess I've been asleep longer than usual.' Castiel could sense his vessel's soul shifting, as if he were looking around. 'How's the whole, I'm the wedge between you and her going?'
'It is well.' He decided against mentioning that he'd begun to worry that Jimmy would never be able to gather enough power to wake again. 'We have blended, for the most part, except where you continue to separate the more important parts of ourselves. Oh, and 'she' has now switched to he. We are genderless as angels, so when we are in a vessel we refer to ourselves by the pronouns that are relevant to the sex of that vessel.'
Cas felt an emotion coming from Jimmy, one that he could only catalogue as relief.
'Good, that's… Good.'
It took Castiel a moment to realize how much it would hurt Jimmy if current time Castiel were still thinking of itself as a young female who had briefly been Clair Novak.
'So, I'll ask again. Is that what I think it is?'
Castiel looked down at the vial of grace, glad for the change of subject. 'Yes, it is Anna's grace.'
Confusion was an emotion easily identified. One that didn't completely go away even after Cas filled Jimmy in on what he'd missed while he'd slept.
'So, you're doing the whole, searching the world with a glowing pendant, version 2.0?'
'Yes. Time appears to even now be trying to me its bitch.'
It was good that Jimmy could still laugh. It reminded Cas of Dean laughing outside the bordello, but at least this time he got the joke… Sort of.
'Given that, I thought it best to search for Anna in many of the same places I travelled to while looking for God.' Cas told Jimmy, once the laughter had died down.
'And that would explain why we're at Disneyland?'
Castiel tilted his head as he watched a family wearing Mickey and Minnie mouse ears walk by.
'I believe it is reasonable to hope that God could be found at 'The Happiest Place on Earth'. At any rate, it was more likely than finding him on a flat bread.'
Castiel listened to his vessel for a moment, then shook his head, pocketed the grace and started to move through the crowd.
It took Jimmy another five minutes to stop laughing.