Dead Man's Keeper
Author: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or any rights to Person of Interest or Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.
Author's Note: Sorry for the delay in posting! FFnet was mean and wouldn't let me post when I had planned to. So now here's the final chapter and I've got to admit, I'm a little sad it's over. This has been a fun story to share because of all of you lovely reviewers! You guys rock!
"John, everyone OK?" Harold worriedly inquired into Reese's ear.
"Everyone's fine, Finch," Reese reassured, wasn't surprised to find that Sam was there, latching onto his brother, starting to tug him toward the exit. Without protest, John relinquished his hold on Dean, knew that his charge was in good hands. "We're going to need Fusco to do a little creative storytelling and to corrupt any findings of Dean and Sam's DNA at the scene."
"I'm sure he's up to the challenge," Finch drolly replied. "Now I have a hotel booked for the Winchesters for tonight. I think they will find it sufficient."
Coming to a stop at the back door, John watched Sam rest Dean against the Impala for support before giving a squeeze to the back of his brother's neck as he leaned in close. He didn't hear their words, didn't have to, especially when Dean nodded his head in the affirmative, reassuring his brother that he was alright. "Not sure they'll be sticking around, Harold." He had come to understand that the brothers lived their life not so much at anyplace but always with each other. Unless they had a misunderstanding like they apparently had right before Dean's social security number popped up on their radar.
"What? No, they can't travel…Dean's wounded. He should rest up in a bed not stuff himself in to some antique car that probably doesn't have shock absorbers," Harold protested.
"Finch, I would rethink your choice of words about Dean's car. If I'm not mistaken, he feels the same way about that car that you do about your massive spying computer," John advised with a smirk, though it would be amusing to see Dean's reaction to Finch's antique car quip.
"Nevertheless, they should stay at least the night so we can determine that the threat is over for them," Finch persisted.
"I don't know if the threat is ever going to be over for them Finch," John sadly remarked, had only marveled at the cache of weapons that the Impala's secret trunk compartment had housed. Weapons that weren't the most efficient to take a life with. And Dean had offered no explanation, had simply met his eyes, read the surprise and the dark shaft of comprehension and then he had pulled a gun free, handed it to his brother and closed the trunk.
"Are you trying to be cryptic, Mr. Reese?" Finch drawled, his friend's pessimistic statement not doing that much to quiet his worry for the two brothers.
"Nope," was John's only reply before he came down the back stairs of the house, joined the brothers. "We know someone on the police force, they'll clean the scene, make it as if you were never here and arrest anyone still breathing. By tomorrow we should know if there's anyone else coming after you. In the meantime, Finch booked you a room for the night."
"That's nice but not necessary," Sam began to refuse at the same time Dean offered up, "Thanks but we'll be going."
"Contrary to what you might think, Finch doesn't make a habit of requesting people to stay after a case is done. Fact is, usually we're giving out new identities and escorting them from town. So I think he would take it as a great insult if you turned down his hospitality." Reese then watched as the brothers looked to one another, hoped they agreed to stay, solely for Finch's sake of course.
Coming to a decision, Dean and Sam said in synch. "Ok."
The hotel was nestled a ways off the highway but was far above the usual standard of accommodations that the Winchesters frequented. Dean whistled as he got his first look at their motel room, complete with living room and two bedrooms on either side and an expansive window that overlooked the valley. "Finch can be our travel agent anytime he wants to."
"He does have impeccable taste," Reese concurred as he did a sweep of the rooms, glad to find them void of gun wielding "hunters." Then joining the brothers in the living room, he announced, "I'll take the couch and keep watch…"
But Dean held up his hand. "You can stow the Kevin Costner routine. The stalker's dead or arrested, the siblings are reunited and I'm all set to resume my fabulous career. I might even write a song about you."
"Speaking of your career…" John slowly drawled, eyes holding Dean's unblinking stare even as he saw Sam tense. "Are you ever going to tell me what that is?"
"Sure," Dean answered, too quickly before his wolfish smile emerged. "Right after you tell me how you knew I was targeted by those hunters."
John smiled, enjoying the give and take between him and Dean. "I don't think that's in your best interest."
"Ditto," Dean triumphantly shot back.
And Sam remained a closed book as well, accepted his brother's choice without one shred of hesitancy.
It was harder than John thought it would be, to not tell them about the Machine, to not let them be part of what he and Finch were. Found it was even harder than it was to keep saying "no" to Carter's inquiries. Maybe because he sensed they weren't all that much different than he was, were in the world looking out, were in the shadows but weren't part of them, were good hearted guys with good intentions who had somehow found themselves in the crosshairs of every law enforcement group in the US. Were maybe strong enough, smart enough, skilled enough to learn the truth and stay alive. But he couldn't take that chance, no matter how much he wanted their trust.
"I don't know about you two, but I'm starving. Let's get room service," he deflected, spying the menu by the phone, he headed that way. That didn't mean he missed Dean mouthing almost giddily to Sam "room service?!"
It was a picturesque spot along the highway where Finch met with the Winchesters and Reese as the sun come up over the suburbia valley. "Well, the police have picked up the three survivors at the house. For their past crimes as well as weapon possession and ties to the murder of their fellow associates, they will probably be sentenced to a few years," Harold conveyed but there was a worried look he shot to Reese before he continued, eyes holding Dean's. "And though I didn't uncover any more associates of theirs still on the loose, as determined as those men were to kill you, it's not inconceivable that they will come after you when they are released from prison."
But it was Sam who gave a reply, his eyes on his brother instead of Reese and Finch. "Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Dean's eyebrows rose in surprise at his brother's declaration. "We?"
Instead of being angry at the doubt in his brother's tone, Sam smirked as he affectionately stressed, "Yeah, we, Dean. Meaning you and me. I didn't choose to be without you for a year and I'm not letting you ditch me again. And if you have a problem with that…tough."
Dean shrugged like it didn't matter to him but he couldn't hold back his warm smile any more than Sam could not return it. Then remembering they weren't alone, Dean turned to Reese. "It hurts my ego to say this but…thanks for saving my life," and he extended his hand to the man who had been his bodyguard for the past three days.
Shaking Dean's hand, John sincerely replied, "You're welcome." But as he dropped Dean's hand he tacked on with a knowing smirk, "I guess it's too much to ask for you to not antagonize people who have the skills to kill you."
Dean's brash smile was almost answer enough. "Where would be the fun in that?!" Then looking to Finch, Dean's smile faded into earnestness, he barely noticed that Sam and Reese paired off a few feet away. "I was wrong, you know. You're not a bad Tubbs to his Crockett, did some nice work with the lamp back there in the motel."
Finch gave a snort of laughter, depreciatingly denied, "That's hardly Tubbs like finesse but .." his eyes turned as serious as Dean's. "..I didn't want that man to kill you."
"That makes two of us," Dean jokingly rejoined with a wide smile.
But Harold's solemnness wouldn't be diverted, instead he reached out, wrapped his hand around Dean's wrist and met the other man's eyes steadily. "With you, I discounted all the facts, went with….my gut. And it wasn't wrong. You were worth saving," and he noted Dean's discomfort at the praise, thought the man was about to deny his words but Harold pressed on. "Not only for your sake but for his…" and his eyes traveled to Sam. Then he focused again on Dean, saw that Dean was wearing a startled expression, like he had just told him something he hadn't known. Deciding not to press that issue, to let Sam continue to beat that knowledge into his brother's head, Harold teased, "It's also good news that Sam has comparable skills with Mr. Reese when it comes to being able to protect you."
That earned him an affronted look from Dean. "Who says I'll need protecting?!"
"My gut. Mr. Reese's gut. Sam's expression when he learned you were being targeted by those men. Your police report..…" Finch began ticking off the evidence.
"Yeah, yeah, alright, you made your point," Dean cut in but there was mirth and warmth in the look he leveled at the man who had helped him stay alive the past few days. And then he reached out, shook Finch's hand. "Thanks. Though I could have done fine on my own."
Harold smiled, sarcastically drawled, "Sure you could have. Now you sound like John."
"I've had worse compliments," Dean sallied back with a smile.
Abandoning his view of the valley, Sam faced Reese, held out his hand. "Thanks again for protecting Dean when I wasn't here."
Shaking Sam's hand and then releasing it, John replied, "It's what Finch and I do."
"Save reputed serial killers?" Sam skeptically shot back, smirk lightening his words.
Reese merely tilted his head. "When it calls for it, yes. And if you or Dean ever need Finch and I again, call this number," and he handed Sam a card with only a phone number typed on it.
Sam took the card, didn't question the anonymity of it but did look up at Reese in surprise. "You get that I killed Walt and Roy, that some of the charges Dean's accused of…he did, though not for the reasons the police think he did."
But Reese didn't rescind his offer, only leveled a gaze of understanding at Sam. "Sometimes taking a life is the only way to save one and sometimes the people that the world fears are the ones that help them the most."
Sam felt more pieces come together, concluded, "Like you and Finch?"
"I'm more the scary one, but don't underestimate Finch if he gets to a computer," Reese replied with a small knowing smile.
Sam smiled and nodded his head. "Yeah, I already figured that out." Then he started to walk away only to halt and turn back to face Reese. For a moment, he said nothing, then, as if a decision was made, he offered, "If you ever run into something….weird ….call us. I'm assuming Finch has our numbers."
"All twelve of them," John smugly returned to which Sam smirked and walked away before John could ask him to elaborate on "weird." He watched in amusement as Sam used his long legs to reach the Impala's driver's side door just before Dean, brazenly leaned against it like he would stay planted there all day if he had to, didn't even blink under his big brother's glare.
"Sam, I'm driving," Dean growled.
Sam gave a laughing refusal of "No, you're not, Dean."
"Sam, I drove to the house last night," Dean pointed out, his frustration clear.
"That's because it wasn't even an hour's drive, Dean."
"I'm fine," Dean insisted.
"Concussion, bullet wound, Dean," Sam recounted before his gaze and tone softened. "You said you wanted this, you and me hitting the road, doing…our thing. Well this is us doing that but you have to let me take some of the weight, Dean. That's what you do when you're part of a team."
Dean fell silent and Reese feared that the other man would rail at his brother's desire to play protector. And Dean did, in his own cockamamie way.
"Have you been watching sports movies again? What is it this time, 'Glory Road'?" but he was shuffling around the car, obediently heading for the passenger side door. But before he got in and claimed the passenger seat, Sam called out over the roof to him.
"Now get in the car, Whitney. I think I have one of your greatest hits on my IPOD – 'I will always love you.' I can put in on a loop so we can hear it again and again."
"You try and I'm tossing your IPOD out the window instead of in the backseat," Dean threatened. Then his eyes went to Reese and he gave him a nod before he sank gratefully into the car seat and almost immediately rested his head back against the seat's leather interior.
Sam turned to the two men who had saved his brother's life. Suddenly, he understood how the people that he and Dean saved felt, the wholly overwhelming prospect of conveying just how thankful you were that someone saved what was most precious to you.
All Sam could manage was a misty eyed smile and a nod of his head.
Because some things, there weren't even words for.
Harold gave a wave as the Winchesters pulled their antique car onto the road and sped down the two lane highway. John stood at his side, a silent but contemplating figure.
"Finch, did the Machine pick Dean's number because he was in danger or because he was a wanted serial killer?" Reese asked, eyes still tracking the Impala.
"I don't know. I guess it's a good thing for Dean that you and I have an affinity for dead people," Finch drawled with humor.
"Dead," John repeated with puzzlement. "That's one thing that's been sticking in my head, Harold. Sam said Walt and Roy killed Dean."
"Sam thought Dean was dead for close to a year," Harold recalled. "I guess that's why he had that slip of the tongue."
"I'm not so sure it was, Finch," Reese slowly refuted, brow creasing in thought as he turned to his partner. "Dean said that Walt and Roy killed him first."
Realizing that his friend was earnest in his statement, Finch scoffed, "What are you saying? He really died, then what, miraculously came back to life?!"
"Honestly, Harold, I'm not so sure the Grim Reaper himself wouldn't lose against them," John remarked before he headed to the car, Sam's peculiar words about when he and Harold should call them for help ricocheting in his head. Weird…like someone who didn't stay dead?
Climbing behind the wheel, Finch started the car, aimed it back to the city. But he kept shooting looks to his silent partner, tried to gauge Reese's emotions but to no avail. "Another number came up yesterday," he said without preamble.
That had Reese's head swinging his way. "You give it to Carter or Fusco?"
Keeping his eyes on the road, Finch said, "Neither. We were already handling it."
"Wait, Dean's number came up again?" Reese incredulously posed, turning in his seat a little to see Finch's profile.
"Not Dean's. Sam's," Finch announced, sparing a glance to read his friend's expression.
"Because Sam was in danger too or because he was gunning for the people after Dean?" Reese asked, even though he didn't think Finch knew the answer. But Finch surprised him, gave him a look that was careful, measured, like he feared that his next words would hurt him. "What is it, Finch?"
And Harold wanted to tell John that John's own number had come up too, the day that Jessica Ardnt had died. Jessica Ardnt whose social security number was one of those numbers that had plagued him for over a year, that popped up almost daily, was a taunting computer anomaly. Until he put the pieces together, understood that the threat to her was real, was there with her all the time, was her own husband.
Though Harold had the knowledge that she was in danger, he had no way to act on it, no good way. He had talked to her once, posed as a government aid worker who randomly visited homes in her neighborhood, had told her that if she was living in fear, she should tell someone, an aid agency, a family member, a friend. That she didn't deserve to be hurt.
And she had taken his advice, had called someone: John Reese. But Reese, like Finch, had not been able to save her. John had gotten there too late. And he had nearly given up on living after that. It was like Peter Arndt had not only killed Jessica, but had killed the best part of John Reese too.
Swallowing, Harold read John's expectant expression and formed his words carefully. "I think sometimes, when someone's life intersects so strongly with another person's, that when one life is …in jeopardy, that other person's very existence is too."
Stilling, John looked out the windshield, didn't speak for so long that Finch was afraid he had crossed a line he shouldn't have.
It made Harold nervously ramble on. "Sam said when he thought Dean was dead, that he didn't even know who he was without his brother. So maybe his number came up…"
"I know why his number came up, Harold," John quietly interjected, a twinge of sorrow in his tone. "If he would have lost Dean, he would have lost himself, been capable of ….anything…and nothing."
Worriedly shooting a glance to John, Harold declared, "So it would seem we saved not just Dean, but Sam too." To his relief, John's lips turned up into a small smile and his friend looked at him with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Oh, Dean would love to hear that Sam was the one needing our protection instead of him," John lightly joked, knew that it would go a long way in restoring some of Dean's wounded pride.
"And I believe Sam would pay you to NOT tell Dean that," Harold volleyed back with a chuckle.
"Probably," Reese agreed before he asked, "Harold, has your computer ever flagged something weird?"
Looking from the road to his friend, Harold innocently asked, "Define weird."
And Reese couldn't hold back the small chuckle at his friend's comeback. It made him itch to call Sam up and ask him Finch's question because he had thought he knew what weird was already.
Weird was an ex-CIA agent and a computer genius teaming up to save random people. Weird was two brothers who were accused murderers but seemed to make a habit of saving other people's lives. Weird for him and Finch, that was just the order of the day. And that was just fine with him because sometimes things were at their very best when they were at their most unpredictable.
Like finding out that sometimes the bad guys were the good guys and some dead guys …they were worth dying to save.
Thanks to everyone who so warmly welcomed this little crossover! You made it so worth my while to share this story with you.
Wishing you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!