Title: One Man's Hell
Author: Still Waters
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Just playing, with love and respect to those who brought these characters to life.
Summary: "Take a good look at Sam. You two will never see each other again." Henricksen had picked the wrong words to say. 3x12 reflection/missing scene.
Notes: This story is centered around approximately thirteen seconds of "Jus in Bello" (8:04-8:17 on the DVD). I was always struck by Sam's curled-up body language in the cell and the way Dean responds, both verbally and nonverbally, to Henricksen's "Take a good look at Sam. You two will never see each other again." Up until that point, Dean pretty much laughed off everything Henricksen gloated about and threatened, but it was those words about being separated from Sam that seemed to suddenly make it all frighteningly real. I could see Henricksen reflecting back to that moment later on in the episode, once he and the Winchesters were on the same page, and realizing just what kind of threat he had issued to Dean with those words. It then made me think of Sam and Dean's conversation with Brady at the end of 5x20 (The Devil You Know), about how the angels and demons just didn't get that it was Sam and Dean that they should be afraid of. This is the result of that exploration. Dialogue quoted from the episode does not belong to me. As always, I hope I did the characters justice. Thank you for reading. I truly appreciate your support.
It wasn't until he was loading rock salt packed shotgun shells in a post-possession haze while being educated and humbled by his prisoner turned partner, that Henricksen realized just how lucky he was to be alive.
He had spent fifteen years hiding overwhelming frustration at his job under a carefully constructed persona of flippant sarcasm, psychological baiting, and authoritative insults. He was known for gloating his all-too-infrequent wins in front of his prisoners; taking pleasure in the triumph of justice over evil, of his intelligence and persistence over the criminal mind, no matter how worthy an adversary they might have been. He couldn't help it – when years of building up information and leads only rarely ended with a proper arrest, he had to do something to celebrate. So he gloated, just a little – his own personal pressure release valve – and told himself that it was just the congratulations of a job well-done talking. Not pride.
Once he had Sam and Dean in custody, he had basked in his superiority outside their cell, crowing about seeing them in chains, about his order for supermax prisons and solitary confinement. He had been so wrapped up in his victory at having one more mark to add to his meager "win" list, that he hadn't even seen it.
Henricksen's father was a God-fearing cop from a long line of law enforcement and preachers. He had always warned Victor about the sin of pride, how one man's gloating could just as easily become another man's challenge or threat. He told him, "Victor, whether from the pulpit or in the interrogation room, hell is a powerful motivator. But every man's hell is different and you gotta be aware that, sometimes when you least expect it, your words'll threaten someone with their own personal hell. And you'd better be ready for the challenge you just threw down."
Fifteen years of job frustration, protective personality traits, and pride-obscured vision had hidden it when he said it. But looking back, with the newfound clarity brought by demonic possession and a world redefined, Henricksen remembered just when it had happened.
When he had threatened to bring about Dean Winchester's personal hell.
Dean had been sitting between his brother and the cell door, carrying the Winchester end of the Henricksen-led dance of insults and sarcasm, while Sam sat slumped against the concrete wall, eyes silently flickering between his brother and the FBI agent. They traded barbs, Henricksen smugly proud, Dean laughing off the agent's surety with joking practice…..until Henricksen said it: "Take a good look at Sam. You two will never see each other again."
Dean's eyes narrowed, pain warring with disbelief as he kept Henricksen in his peripheral vision. Sam's head rolled toward Henricksen from his hunched position on the cot, a deceptively small, worried-looking child of a giant, eyes shifting between an almost infantile pain at Henricksen's obvious pleasure at pulling him and his brother apart and a disturbing blankness, as if he were already dead inside with the agent's words. It was then that Dean finally turned to meet Henricksen's eyes, pure rage simmering under a lingering whisper of fear and grief. He tilted his head slightly, that barest fraction of movement a glimpse of the threatened predator he could be with the right threat. And splitting him and Sam? Henricksen was quickly realizing that it was the only threat that mattered. The agent had been in law enforcement long enough to know it wasn't the showy ones you worried about – that, in most cases, it was the still ones who were the most dangerous. And for that brief moment after Henricksen's words, Dean had been carved of cold, unforgiving stone.
As Henricksen pushed further, he hadn't noticed when Dean finally shook his head with a little "I can't believe we're dealing with this crap again" quirk of the lips; looked up with a restrained eye roll as if to say "these guys never learn, do they?" Hadn't seen what was so clear now, what Dean had been so sure of - that Henricksen had said the one thing guaranteed to get Sam and Dean free, the one threat that meant all bets were off. When Dean shook his head with a little laugh, dropping his gaze to the concrete floor, and said, "you got the wrong guys", Henricksen had dismissed it with insults about monster hunting; insults that masked what Dean had really meant. Because Dean hadn't been using the patented "it wasn't us" criminal defense. What he was really saying was "you won't like the guys you're about to see now that you said that."
"Take a good look at Sam. You two will never see each other again."
Henricksen's words were out there in the air, the intent clear. But Dean hadn't needed to speak for Henricksen to realize they were the absolute wrong words to say. And there was no denying that Dean was issuing a threat of his own in the tense muscles and shadowed eyes; a threat hidden in layers Henricksen hadn't expected Dean to have. Not gonna happen. And if you get in my way, I swear to God, I will kill you.
Henricksen had no doubt now, looking back, that Dean would have found a way. That even if the demons hadn't shown up and laid siege to the building, that even if none of that stuff had been real in the first place, that Sam and Dean would have escaped. Because his daddy was right – hell was a powerful motivator. And if pride really did come before a fall, Henricksen was pretty damn sure that his would have been at the hands of Dean Winchester that night.
Suddenly, fighting an unknown number of demons with condiments wasn't so worrisome. Hell, even the fact that demons existed wasn't so bad. Because he remembered Dean's sudden transformation in the cell - the tightly controlled rage, the tense stillness, the subtle layers of icy promise under the jokes…. and realized he had dodged the greater bullet.
"Take a good look at Sam. You two will never see each other again."
Victor Henricksen had threatened Dean Winchester with his personal hell.
And was painfully aware of just how lucky he was to have lived through it.
It made him wonder why the demons hadn't learned yet. Maybe they had a blinding pride of their own.
Because when it came down to a demon or a threatened Winchester….
…..Henricksen, at least, knew which one he should fear.