Disclaimer – I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs, Supernatural and associated characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. No financial reward gained. All real organisations are used in a fictional sense. Anything you don't recognise is a product of my imagination.
Spoilers - Numb3rs: Hotshot; Thirteen. - Supernatural: nil.
A/N: This follows on from my fic "Doubt", making this fourth in a crossover series which started with "Unexplained". Whilst there is some mention of the previous history between the characters, this could be read on its own. This is not set in any particular season of either series.
Investigating a series of occult related murders in Los Angeles FBI Special Agent Eppes has another encounter with Dean Winchester.
FBI Special Agent Don Eppes noticed the black Impala in his mirror as it pulled in behind him, illuminated by a streetlight he'd just passed. He'd glanced away to check the rest of the traffic behind him before the realisation hit him, he knew that Impala. His eyes went back to the reflection and he determined that the vehicle only held one man, the second that he'd expected to see was apparently not there. The agent continued driving, taking a turn, then another as he considered what to do. The Impala followed, but he noted it weaved somewhat in the lane and took the corners wide. As he watched the vehicle again drifted before sharply correcting and returning to the middle of the lane. Something was wrong.
Coming to a decision he entered a number into his cell phone that he'd thought he might never call. It was the cell that had been stolen from him during a previous encounter and had been left active by the FBI in the hope that the man now tailing him would use it. There was also supposed to be a trap and trace in place on the line but if he could believe what he'd been told last time they'd met it had been disabled.
"'bout time," the gruff voice responded as the call went through.
"What do you want?" Don's question was a shade less than polite.
"Need your help," Dean Winchester managed.
Don frowned and stared at the silhouette in his mirror. The voice wasn't just rough, the man sounded like he was in pain. "Help for what?"
"Pull up so we can talk."
"No way," Don flatly refused. This was a far safer way of dealing with him. He remembered only too well how his previous dealings with the man had gone. At least driving along in separate vehicles he had some control over the encounter this time.
That was possibly correct but Don remained stubborn, repeating his question. "What do you want?"
"Damned fed," Dean growled. Another couple of blocks went by before he continued. "It's for Sam."
That appealed to his brotherly instincts and Don knew that was exactly what Dean intended. Still, he couldn't help himself, "What's happened to him? Where is he?"
"Don't know." The voice broke off in a pained gasp as they negotiated another corner. "Dammit, Fed. Pull up."
Hanging up on the call Don gave it some serious consideration. The Winchester brothers had seriously scared him last time they'd met. Well, technically not then but the time before that, in the graveyard when the younger Winchester had sliced open his arm whilst the elder held him at gunpoint. He'd expected to be tortured and killed for some sick game but then something else had happened and he'd survived. He was not forgetting that incident for as long as he lived. Involuntarily his gaze fell onto the scars on his arm that still carried a faintly silver tinge rather than the normal flesh tone of scar tissue. They had claimed that he'd been attacked by a werewolf and that their violent actions had been to prevent him becoming permanently infected. He was still not fully decided on what he believed but something odd had happened that night and the Winchester's explanation was the only one that seemed to fit the evidence. If he accepted that then they had in all probability saved him and following that argument to its logical conclusion, he did owe them.
Almost before the decision had been consciously made he turned into the next street where he knew there was a small parking lot out the front of a business that would be closed and deserted at this hour. The thought of pulling up in a more public area had crossed his mind but if it did go bad he didn't want the possibility of innocent people being caught up. Don was more than aware that a secluded area gave the wanted man an advantage but it also reduced the number of potential hostages that could be used against him. It would be just him and the older Winchester, one-on-one. Normally he would consider that good odds but he was not as confident where Dean was involved. He reached the entrance and as he'd expected the business was closed and the lot was empty. Pulling in he swung in an arc until the nose of the SUV was pointed back towards the street, ready to pull out in a hurry if this was all a trap. He put the vehicle in park and pulled on the handbrake but left the engine running as the Impala followed him in and stopped without any finesse.
Don waited, his hand on his gun but Dean didn't make any move to get out of his car. Finally Don decided it was up to him. He pushed open his door and slowly moved around the front of his SUV, pulling his gun from its holster. It was somewhat of a bad move tactically as he was visible against his own headlights but he did not want to lose sight of the Impala, not even for the time brief time it would take him to move more safely around the back of his SUV. As he moved closer to the black sedan he realised he hadn't called in his location, even if he wouldn't have called in why he was stopping, but it was too late now. Backing away would not be a smart move as it could put the other at an advantage. Cautiously he continued, aiming his weapon at the driver as he approached the side of the car. Dean didn't react in kind, sitting still and simply staring at the agent. Now Don was close enough to reach the door handle so he did, pulling the door open and taking a half step back as he snapped his gun up. Dean still didn't react with violence even as the agent noted that he had his hand on the grip of the pearl handled Colt that was resting on his lap.
"Hands up," Don ordered.
"Uh-uh," Dean countered. "Not here to be arrested."
"Haven't arrested you," Don responded then gave the matter some thought. It was a very valid point, the Winchester was fairly high on the wanted list and he was a duty bound LEO. "Yet."
"Won't be either."
Don decided to ignore the bravado and got on with it. "Why are you here?"
"We thought we were hunting something," Dean started before shifting slightly and gasping in obvious pain. "Turned out wasn't what we thought."
Taking the risk Don moved a little closer. In the dim light from a nearby street light he could see glistening black patches on Dean's shoulder and side. The man was wounded and had bled heavily, was still bleeding.
"Turns out it was human. We weren't prepared for human. He shot me and got Sam."
"Got Sam? What do you mean 'got' Sam?"
"He took him. Gonna kill him next."
"The Hunter," Don put it together.
The serial killer dubbed 'The Hunter' had been terrorising the city for the last couple of months. The time between killings was slowly reducing, the last five days ago. The next, according to Charlie's calculations was due tomorrow. He could see how the serial killer's actions would have drawn the Winchesters. There was a ritualistic style to the killings, the removal of the victim's heart the grand finale. The pathologists had determined the victims had all still been alive and, most disturbingly, possibly even conscious at that point.
"Yeah," Dean confirmed. "Need your help to get Sammy back."
"Alright. I'll call EMTs for you and we'll get –" Don cut himself off as the Colt lifted. He took a hasty step back, jerking his gun up and back onto target. "Woah! Put it down."
"Not going to be taken in," Dean insisted. The gun stayed up even if the hand shook. "I don't often call in favours from cops but I'm askin' for your help. You don't want to give it I'll do this my way."
"Doesn't look like you're up for much at the moment," Don commented as the other's gun drooped slightly. He kept his guard and his gun up as he didn't for a moment doubt that the Winchester would find a reserve of strength somewhere if he tried to take him by force.
"Can do what I need to," Dean warned. After holding the agent's gaze for a few seconds he grunted and glanced at his injuries allowing his gun to lower even further. "When I get patched up. You gonna help or what?"
It wasn't that simple. What the man was asking him to do, at least in the short term was harbour a fugitive. That sort of thing was a career-ender at the very least, at worst it could land him in jail. He should be taking advantage of this all but gift wrapped opportunity and make an arrest that would be one of the biggest of his career. But if he believed what happened back in that graveyard he did owe the Winchesters and Don was not one to welsh on a debt. It was a quandary that his conscience and honour argued both ways. He had a duty to perform and he had a debt to pay.
He had a sudden idea, he could use this, could treat the older Winchester as a confidential informant. It wouldn't be the first time that someone's crimes were allowed to slide in order to gain important intel. Granted the charges were not normally as serious or as numerous as those pending against either of the Winchester brothers but it seemed that Dean could possibly have some much needed information on the serial killer. The Winchester brothers had obviously found the man leading to their violent confrontation which was far more than the FBI had managed. They desperately needed a break and Dean could give it to them. At the very least a life could be saved.
Dean correctly took Don's silence for silent debate and added his own encouragement. "I could tell them I forced you to help me at gunpoint."
Don looked at the gun that was once again resting in Dean's lap. It was still a potential threat and the Winchester's offer could well become fact but Don understood where the other was coming from. Dean would try to make it look like the agent was under duress if they were caught. There were ways to do that even if he retained his weapon.
The agent also realised that he'd already made his decision to help the man, in the interim at least. Feeling guilty he glanced around and was reassured when he saw no potential witnesses to his imminent crime. Working a confidential informant or not he knew his bosses would be highly unlikely to let this one go if they found him out. Taking another moment he gave it second thoughts then resolutely holstered his gun. His adrenalin immediately spiked as he rendered himself effectively helpless against the weapon in Dean's hand.
"Knew I could count on you," Dean said as he relaxed back against the seat.
Don breathed again as he saw Dean relax his grip on his weapon. He got himself into gear. "We need to get you somewhere safe."
"Your place seems good."
"Your girlfriend's outta town and no-one else is likely to drop by," Dean argued.
Don's eyes narrowed. The Winchesters had to have been watching him to know that Robin was off at a conference in Washington and that he rarely received visitors. The thought that they'd been following him and he'd not even sensed it sent a shiver down his spine. Reluctantly he let that go as unimportant right now. Hiding the man at his apartment just dug him all the deeper into trouble but Dean was right, no one was likely to visit him at home. It was also the last place anyone would expect to find a fugitive, assuming anyone even suspected the Winchesters were in LA.
"We need to get you into my car. Can you move?"
Dean shook his head. "Thought I'd follow you."
"You up for that?" As much as he liked the idea given it was much safer for him with less chance of discovery, he wasn't sure that Dean could manage to drive any further.
"Not far to go," Dean said as he straightened and started his engine. "I'm good."
He was far from good but Don saw the determination and believed that Dean could do it. It really wasn't far, just another few blocks to his apartment building. He closed the Impala's door just barely managing not to slam it. "Fine."
Climbing back into his SUV he hesitated gazing over at the waiting sedan. He could back out of his agreement, he could call this in and have Dean arrested when they arrived at his apartment. It wouldn't be breaking his word as he'd not actually given it, and 'somewhere safe' could be just as easily a secured ward at hospital. That thought more than appealed to him but if he did that he would also lose an opportunity to catch the serial killer. The life they might save by catching the serial killer now may well be one of the most wanted men in the States but the lives potentially at risk after that if the Hunter continued his activities also needed saving.
A deep sigh escaped him as he knew he had no other option for now. Putting the SUV into gear he drove out and back onto the road, checking his mirror to see Dean successfully pull into place behind him.