Author's Note: My father's philosophy, when driving through unfamiliar territory, was "always keep going in the right general direction and you will get there eventually". I know where I'm going with this story in the long run, but in the meantime I'm not sure entirely where I am, nor how, exactly, I want to go about wrapping up the various loose ends. This chapter feels kind of rambley to me, but I think we're going in the right general direction and hopefully, if you'll stick with me, we'll get there eventually.

Several people have mentioned Cas' "Godstiel" days and how he was caught on tape. I hadn't originally intended to write that in, as I meant to focus exclusively on the Winchesters, but I think we've reached a point where it's going to have to get mentioned. It's not going to be a major plot point, but it will come up and there will be a reason why NCIS hasn't said anything about it. (Not in this chapter, but soon.) Also, a couple of people have asked "what about the markings on Dean's and Sam's ribs?" As long as no one X-rays them, I don't think that should be an issue.

Disclaimer: I don't know why it freaking snowed again! I could have SWORN it was MAY! :'(

. . .

Chapter 16: Let's Make A Deal

. . .

The men who came for Sam the next morning were almost as tall as he was and heavily muscled. They looked grim and not easily amused. There were four of them, not counting Agent Dorneget, and they briskly cuffed Sam's hands behind his back and led him down the hallway.

Only Dorgneget spoke, his face open and his voice friendly. He gave Sam a puzzled look.

"You look really familiar to me."

Sam smiled at him. "Well, you have seen my picture before."

"Yeah, I suppose. Next left," he told the muscled escort.

They didn't know their way around, Sam realized. Members of some other agency, wanting in on the action, and Dorneget was there to act as a guide. They led Sam through the maze of corridors, up three levels in an elevator, down another hallway and around a corner and he recognized the corridor where the interrogation rooms were located.

DiNozzo was coming towards them from the other direction. He glanced at Sam's arms, secured behind his back, and looked annoyed. Based on his intuition that Tony DiNozzo was a lot like his older brother, Sam figured the annoyance was not for him but for these strangers invading his house and interfering in his case.

As they met at the door to one of the rooms, Sam casually slipped his cuffs and stretched languidly, yawning and letting his hands nearly brush the ceiling. His bodyguards fell back out of arm's reach and drew their guns.

DiNozzo didn't react at all but to roll his eyes and wave a dismissive hand at the four men. He opened the door and indicated the room with a tilt of his head. Sam obediently went inside, ducking his head to clear the doorway. The senior NCIS agent turned back to his escort.

"Sit. Stay. If anyone needs a poddy break, they can ask Agent Dorneget to take them to the little boys' room."

He closed the door firmly and locked it, then came over to sit opposite Sam at the table.

"Good morning. Sleep well?"

"Very, thanks." He had, too, in two long stretches that totaled almost eighteen hours with a break in the middle for dinner and a long talk with McGee about computer hacking, quantum physics, and setting up the perfect practical joke.

"Ziva's on her way back from Bethesda with your brother now. I understand that he's completely recovered, to the point that the doctors are calling it a miracle. Even the bite mark is gone. Ducky's attributing it to the healing power of the human mind. The attending physician says that he's completely out of danger. Granted, the attending physician has never ridden with Ziva."

"Dean doesn't get a goon squad to escort him?" Sam asked.

"Oh, yeah. They're there too." Tony's gaze turned introspective and he smiled an evil little smile. "They've never ridden with Ziva before either."

"So where do we go from here?" Sam asked.

"Like I told you guys the day your brother fell off the building, we know that you're not the cold-blooded psychopaths you're commonly believed to be. We can prove that. We also know that you've been involved with something big and scary with, literally, earth-shaking implications. We believe that you have information we need in order to be able to do our jobs and protect the citizens of the United States of America."

"And in return for sharing that information?" Sam asked.

"You know," Tony said, "you could just offer it to us as concerned citizens and trust that we'll take care of you."

Sam snorted. "Bypassing the trust issue," he said, "if you really knew what you're wanting to know, you'd wish like hell that you didn't."

"Yeah, well, you may be right. Listen," there was a stack of file folders waiting on the corner of the table and Tony slid them over and opened the top one. "I'm going to tell you what we've already figured out and then we can discuss how you and Dean can help us fill in the blanks, all right?"

Sam nodded, waved one hand permissively and sat back to listen. "Shoot."

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When Director Vance entered his office, the first thing he noticed was two feet sticking out from under his desk. His first thought was of The Wizard of Oz. These feet were not clad in ruby slippers, though, but rather hot pink biker boots over black fishnet hosiery.

"Miss Sciuto? Are you all right?"

Abby slid out from under his desk looking startled and distressed. She was laying on a mechanic's rolling board and holding a spray bottle and a smudged white cloth.

"Director! I'm sorry! I just . . . I was . . . I was just . . . I was cleaning your desk."

Vance gave her a tolerant smile. "I knew the sigil was there. I didn't mind." He offered her a hand and pulled her to her feet.

"It was an angel ward!" she moaned. "I warded the building against angels! I'm going to hell!"

"Did one of the Winchesters tell you that?" he asked sharply.

"No. They just said I should take them down and it would be fine. And Sister Rosita said it would be okay. But still. I warded off angels! I should go to confession, but the Father will make me say a whole bunch of Hail Marys for dabbling in the occult." She looked profoundly unhappy.

"I'm sure it will be all right. Was there anything else?"

"No, um," she chewed on her lower lip indecisively.


"Well, there are a couple more wards in the room. I can take them down if you like. They're not angel wards but I guess they're not really necessary either."

Bypassing the necessity of wards in general, Vance tipped his head and asked her, "so what am I warded against."

"Um, shtrigas and bauchen. Uh, brownies."


"Yeah. The mythological creatures, not the little girls in pigtails and green dresses and . . . um . . . I should go now."

She was edging nervously towards the door as she talked. He waited until she turned away and called her name.

She spun back. "Sir?"

He gently kicked her forgotten rolling board towards her. It coasted to a stop at her feet and she stooped to gather it up, gave him a bright, distracted smile and was gone.

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"I feel like I've stepped into an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard," Dean said cheerfully.

Ziva glanced at him in the rear-view mirror. "I do not know what that is."

"Old TV show about these two cousins who lived down south - Georgia, maybe? See, the guy who ran the county, Boss Hogg, was crooked and he was always trying to cheat their Uncle Jesse out of his farm. The cousins drove a sweet '69 Dodge Charger named the General Lee and just about every episode they'd get into a wild car chase with the local cops where they'd drive on two wheels and go through creeks and jump over ravines and such. I honestly never believed you could do that stuff with a real car. You do know you're killing the suspension, right?"

"Well, obviously, I cannot stop for them. You're a high-flight-risk federal prisoner and part of a top-secret investigation. I cannot risk them being fake cops trying to either rescue or kill you, and if they are real cops, then they don't have the security clearance to be involved."

The sound of sirens increased as a fifth police car came out of a side street right behind them and joined the chase and a sixth shot out of an alleyway just ahead to cut them off. Ziva twisted the wheel almost casually to the left and pulled up the emergency brake, causing the wheels to lock up and the car to spin 180 degrees in a classic bootlegger's turn. She released the brake and floored the accelerator, blasting past all five of the squad cars on her tail.

The CIA agent riding shotgun was six-three, built like a linebacker, and shrieking into his cell phone in a high-pitched and decidedly girly voice, "call them off! Dammit! Call them off! This crazy woman is trying to kill us! Make them stop!"

Dean turned to the FBI guy on his right. "Man, if you're gonna toss your cookies, toss 'em out the window! Seriously. You puke on me, I'm gonna be pissed."

Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . .

"So we figured that, if the SDSSSDM, or Disguismatron, or Bond Facial, or thing, was destroyed when you blew up SucroCorp, that would explain why the latest pair of imposters were just look-a-likes and not . . . ." Tony DiNozzo trailed off to a stop and regarded his audience.

Sam Winchester sat very still with his lips pressed tight and his eyes open wide.

"You know," Tony said, "you're much better at keeping a straight face than your brother is."

Now Sam did laugh. "I can imagine. He, ah, he didn't actually hurt himself did he?"

"Set off a couple of monitors and pulled loose a few medical sensors, but no. No lasting damage. I suggested X-raying his ribs to make sure he hadn't cracked any laughing, but he said that the stories we'd have to think up to explain his X-rays would probably do him in."

"He's probably right." Sam yawned again and stretched. "I really need to talk to my brother."

"Yeah." Tony drummed his fingers on the table, thinking it through. "You want to ask him what he wants to do. Do you give us the truth as you see it, ghosts and monsters and demons and all, or do you make up something that will fit in with the theories we've come up with?"

"Uh, yeah." Sam was caught off-guard, unused to being so well-understood by an authority figure.

"It's like we're speaking two different languages, isn't it?" DiNozzo mused. "Your perception of events is defined by your beliefs and education, your history and life experiences. Our perception of the same events is defined by our vastly different background. Maybe we need to treat it that way. You tell us your truths in your language and we'll find a way to translate it into ours."

"I suppose that's an option." These people should write science fiction, Sam thought.

"How about we start with something simple? Tell me about the hydras? Because, in our world view there has to have been a human agent involved with the existence of two such bizarre snakes and we'd like to make sure there aren't any more out there."

"The hydra. Right." Sam took a second to order his thoughts. "Actually, there was a human agent involved. Dean and I tracked the first one in Kentucky, about three months ago. We didn't know it was a hydra at first. It was a series of bizarre deaths, one or two each in a string of towns stretching from the Ohio border almost to Frankfort. In each case the body was burned from what looked like a lightning strike. Dean figured out - he's good with patterns - that the deaths were following the path of a traveling reptile show, Fred Burton's Reptilapalooza."

DiNozzo was taking notes, consulting his files. "They passed through here two-and-a-half years ago. Abby already has them flagged as suspicious, but we haven't been able to find any traces of them since," he paused and looked up at Sam, "about three months ago."

"Yeah, they don't exist anymore. Burton was the last person killed by the first hydra. His widow quietly sold off the remaining reptiles to small zoos and other reptile shows."

"So what happened exactly? You said the deaths were caused by lightning strikes?"

"Apparently caused by lightning strikes. After Dean made the connection with the reptile show, we had a closer look at one of the bodies." He caught DiNozzo's inquisitive glance and answered his unspoken question. "We went in posing as FBI. I don't remember what names we used. Two of Dean's godawful rock band aliases. Anyway, looking closer at the site of the strike, we could tell that the burns were covering up bite marks. Burton had gotten a hydra egg - actually, I guess he'd gotten two hydra eggs - on the black market."

"There's a black market in hydra eggs?"

"And every other sort of arcane and eldritch commodity you can think of."


"Anyway, being the responsible and concerned citizen that he was, he decided to cover up the fact that his pet hydra kept breaking out of its cage and killing people. He didn't want to have to face the legal and financial ramifications - even if the authorities had thought it was a mutant cobra, Burton didn't have a permit to keep a cobra. He got an electric cattle prod and souped it up with a portable generator to the point that it would ignite a body. Dean figures he got the idea from that scene in The Green Mile where the executioner set the one guy on fire. Whenever Lola - did I tell you he named the thing Lola? - whenever Lola escaped, he'd track her down and re-capture her, then use his cattle prod to burn her victims. Then he'd pull up stakes and head out before anyone could put two and two together. The last time he went after her, he had her cornered in an old shed and she turned on him. She killed him and then we killed her and we figured that was the end of it. He hadn't bothered to mention that she had a sibling at large in Rock Creek Park."

"What became of Burton's body?" DiNozzo asked.

Sam made a face and looked away. Tony sighed. "Don't tell me - you salted and burned it?"

"The guy was just begging to come back as a vengeful spirit. Better to take care of him from the start, rather than wait until he'd started killing people."

NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . .

With Dean returned to NCIS headquarters and safely ensconced in a cell of his own the NCIS team were summoned to MTAC for a meeting. Tony and McGee arrived bickering.

"I'm telling you, McPlanters, I'm not the one who super glued you to a jar of peanuts. When would I have had a chance to set it up? I was busy the entire time!"

"Oh, I'm not saying you did it personally. But I'm pretty sure you thought it up. You just had an accomplice actually do it."

"Right! Like I would really do a thing like that when I wasn't going to be there to point and laugh! I mean, seriously? Where's the payoff?"

"I know you, Tony. You were probably counting on watching the security video."

"I wasn't, but that's a great idea!" Tony said.

"Hey!" McGee sang out at the same time. "I can watch the video to see for certain who put it there!"

They both dived for the wall screen remote. McGee got to it first and Tony tried to wrestle it away from him.

"There they go," Fornell's voice said drily, "acting like baboons again."

The two agents froze and turned slowly to find their boss watching them with a thoughtful expression.

"Oh, I don't know, Tobias," he said. "We did catch the Winchesters. I'd say they were entitled to act like baboons for a minute."

"Thanks, Boss!" Tony said, and went back to trying to get the remote from McGee. A second later they both flinched under twin head smacks.

"Minute's up," Gibbs said.

Vance and Trent Kort came in the room and the atmosphere chilled perceptibly.

"Well," Kort said. "Congratulations on capturing the Winchester brothers. You've had them for what now? Almost thirty hours? And what do we have to show for it? A farcical 'magical ceremony'," he did air quotes. "An unnecessary trip to Bethesda, a car chase involving multiple state and local law enforcement agencies, and a story about smuggled cobra eggs that, frankly, we could have deduced for ourselves."

"Frankly why didn't you?" Tony asked.


"You said that, frankly, you could have deduced the story about the cobra eggs yourself. So, frankly, why didn't you?"

"Because it is beneath my radar. I am not interested in reptile smuggling. I am interested in weapons of mass destruction. I am interested in chemical and biological warfare. I am interested in genocide."

"What's your point, Kort?" Vance asked sharply.

"My point is that you are handling these men with kid gloves and it is getting us nowhere."

"Yes, because intimidation and brute force has worked so well with the Winchesters in the past."

"That's because the Winchesters have never met me"

"You think you can put the fear of God into them?" Gibbs asked, quietly amused.

"No, Agent Gibbs. I think I can put the fear of me into them. Give me half an hour alone in a room with Dean Winchester and I will have him begging to be allowed to cooperate."

The room went completely silent.

Gibbs glanced at his director, one eyebrow canted slightly.

Vance shrugged and offered him a tiny nod, ceding him the lead in this matter.

"Twenty minutes from now in Interrogation A," Gibbs said. "You go get ready. I'll have Dean brought in."

Kort, surprised and pleased to have gotten his own way so easily, beamed and rubbed his hands together. "Excellent. You may want to take notes on this. I'll show you how to interrogate a prisoner." He headed for the door, stopped just inside. "Oh, and you may want to have your M.E.'s stand by. If he gets violent and I have to subdue him, he could be injured."

Kort left and Vance turned to Gibbs and raised an eyebrow.

Gibbs grinned ruefully and lifted one shoulder. "The devil made me do it, Leon. Seriously. How often do we get a chance like this?" He turned to shoot a glare at his team. "Well?"

They scrambled into action.

"I've got the popcorn," Tony said.

"I will get drinks," Ziva volunteered.

"I'll call Abby and we'll round up some more chairs," McGee offered.

"Save me a seat," Vance said. "This ought to be good."

Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . .

The observation room was crowded with Gibbs' team, Abby, the two medical examiners, Director Vance, Agent Fornell and a pair of evidence technicians manning the audio/visual equipment. In addition to the popcorn and sodas, Tony and Ziva had come up with an assortment of movie-theater candy. Gibbs nursed a cup of coffee and Abby was slurping at a gigantic CaffPow! and amusing herself by blowing bubbles through the straw.

In the brightly-lighted interrogation room the door opened and a couple of massive goons led Dean Winchester in, cuffed him to the table and left.

"Showtime," DiNozzo said.

Dean looked around. A stack of crammed-full file folders lay on the corner of the table and there was a bottle of water in front of him.

He pointed at the mirrored surface of the observation window. "You know, I can smell the popcorn. So, are you guys the judges? You could at least tell me what I'm being graded on. Style? Technical difficulty? Execution?"

He casually drew a paper clip from his waistband and picked the lock on his left cuff. He opened the water, rose slightly, and poured out a small puddle on the other chair. Then he re-capped the water, tucked away the paper clip and fastened the cuff back around his wrist.

The door to observation opened and Kort stuck his head in and looked around at them.

"Oh, very professional," he sneered.

Gibbs sipped his coffee. "Just taking notes," he said laconically.

"Just don't interfere," Kort snarled. "Whatever happens, do not come through that door!"

He slammed the observation room door behind him.

"Gee, Boss," McGee said, "should we have warned him that his seat is all wet?"

"Oh, Kort," Tony called very softly, turning his head towards the hall, "you might want to look before you sit down!" He looked around at his co-workers. "Do you think he heard me?"

"I don't know," Ziva said. "I would go out in the hall and check, but I would not want to be accused of interfering."

In the interrogation room, the door opened and Trent Kort stalked in. He closed the door behind him with a firm click, strode over to the table and stood over Dean, looming intimidatingly.

After a few seconds Dean tipped his head back and looked up at the big man. "Sweetheart, if you're trying to get up the nerve to ask me to dance, you're not my type."

"Clever," Kort growled, "but your legendary charm does not work on me."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Dean said. "I think there's been a misunderstanding. Yeah, y'see, these vibes you're picking up that are rolling off me? That's not charm. It's derision."

"He's not wasting any time on niceties," Vance observed.

"D'you get the feeling Winchester doesn't care for Kort?" Fornell asked.

"Well, he is the Righteous Man," Gibbs pointed out sardonically. "His judgment is absolute."

"You're a righteous man too, Boss," Tony reminded him.

"Yeah. I don't like Kort much either."

With a quick, snake-like strike, Kort lashed out and sent the water flying across the room to crash into the opposite wall. Dean completely failed to flinch in shock. Kort plowed ahead regardless.

"So far you've only dealt with NCIS. Nice, friendly, personable little agents. You like them. They like you. And they've even found evidence that can clear you of all these nasty, nasty crimes that so many people think you're guilty of. I hope you don't imagine that any of it's going to see the light of day."

Dean leaned back in his chair and yawned.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Kort was all biting sarcasm now. "Am I boring you?"

"Well, yeah! Seriously? I can do the 'bad cop' speech in my sleep. And better than you."

"I am not playing 'bad cop'!" Kort snarled. "Do you even know what I am?"

"One-eyed trouser snake?"

(In observation, DiNozzo snorted cola out his nose.)

"I am the CIA agent who is going to BURY you in Gitmo! I am the man who is going to make your life a living hell! You think 'monsters' and 'demons' are bad? I am the scariest thing you've ever seen."

Holding Dean's gaze, Kort sank into the other seat. He went very still.

Dean gave him a thin, wicked smile.

"Dude, I have seen waitresses that were scarier than you. Hell, I've slept with waitresses who were scarier than you." He thought about it, shrugged a little and bobbed his head. "Granted, I was pretty drunk at the time."

"I know you think you're very clever," Kort snarled, "but before we're done here you're going to understand that I am the alpha male in the room."

"Maybe in a room full of hamsters. Maybe."

("Don't anyone choke on popcorn kernels," Ducky admonished.)

"Tell me something," Dean said, leaning forward. There was a seriousness to his demeanor now, and an edge to his voice. "Did you really put a bomb in Tony's car?"

"What?" Kort blinked. "Oh, for God's sake! That was years ago. What does it even matter now?"

"It was a Mustang! It matters."

"Yes, that's right. You're one of those car freaks aren't you? Rather a nice Impala you've got yourself. Be a shame if something happened to it."

"This is gonna get ugly," Abby said happily.

Dean smiled a bright smile that did not reach his eyes. "Wait now. Wait just a second. I know you did not just threaten my car."

Kort rose and leaned over the table, giving the audience in the observation room an entirely unwanted view of his wet backside. "I could take a sledgehammer to it. Rip it apart, bit by bit."

Dean laughed a high-pitched and slightly unstable sounding little laugh. He shook his head and wagged one finger at the CIA agent. "No. You are not threatening my car!"

"Put it into a car crusher! Sell it for so much scrap metal!"

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The four big men on guard duty in the hall jumped and flinched away when the interrogation room door was snatched open and Trent Kort sailed through it head first and slammed into the opposite wall.

The door slammed closed and locked behind him.

The door to the observation room next door opened more slowly and an assortment of amused agents and support personnel wandered out.

Kort dragged himself up, temper blazing. "Somebody give me your gun. I'm going to kill that son of a bitch!"

"Stand down," Vance said, annoyed. "No one's killing anyone."

Kort was boiling mad and kept going, ignoring the director. "First I'm going to blow his goddamned head off, then I'm going to drag his brother in to see his steaming corpse. Maybe then Sam will understand that his only option is to do as I say!"

"Calm down," Gibbs ordered shortly. "You're not going to do anything of the sort. You just got your ass handed to you for threatening a car. You tell Sam Winchester you've killed his brother and he will rip you limb from limb with his bare hands."

"And I didn't see any of you coming in to back me up when the prisoner attacked me," Kort accused.

"And interfere with your interrogation?" Gibbs said.

"I was too busy taking notes," McGee offered.

"What?" Tony asked innocently. "You mean you didn't intend for that to happen?"

"Smart asses," Kort growled, and stomped off down the corridor.

"You might want to change your pants," Tony called after him. "It looks like you had a little accident."

Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . . Supernatural . . . NCIS . . .

Gibbs entered the interrogation room to find Dean sitting quietly, cuffed once more to the table. He looked at the cuffs, then raised an eyebrow at the elder Winchester.

"Keeps me from walking around slamming my fist into things."

"Doctor Mallard will approve, then."

"Dude! What the hell was that even?"

"The CIA disapproves of how we're handling your case. Kort wanted to give his method a try." Gibbs slapped a square of paper face down on the table.

Dean picked it up and looked at it.

"Seven point eight?!" he squawked. "Come on, man! That was at least a nine-three!"

Gibbs shrugged. "He only bounced once and he got up by himself. Plus, you lost points for opening the door before you threw him through it."

Dean sighed.

"Sam has started working on an agreement whereby you two answer questions about your activities in exchange for immunity for yourselves and your associates in the Hunting community. Are you going to be okay with that?"

"That depends." Dean looked Gibbs in the eye, one righteous man to another. "I don't want you and your people involved in this."

"Why's that?"

"Listen, when you were pretending to be Harvey Stein, you told Garth, 'knowing what we know now, we couldn't not hunt.' Why did you say that?"

"Well, I guess . . . we figured it would sound authentic. Ziva's been researching Hunters and Hunting and that's what a lot of Hunters said to her."

"Exactly. When you know what we know, you can't not act. Not if you're anybody that's worth a damn, and you people are. Doing what you do, you've got enough on your plate. You don't need to be involved in my crap too. And I've got enough dead heroes on my conscience. I don't want any of your names added to the list."

Gibbs sighed. "Honestly," he said, "I don't know that you or I either one will have much say on who does or does not get read into it when you've divulged your secrets. What we've learned about SucroCorp has scared a lot of people. This thing goes all the way up to the president now. But I want you to remember something. No matter who you're dealing with - no matter who - if they try to screw you over you come to me and I will help you. Understand?"

Dean gave him a small, none-too-happy smile. "You're a good guy, Old Man. Listen, will you do me a favor now?"

"What sort of favor?"

"One of your rules is about always carrying a knife, right?"

"Rule nine. That's right."

"Well, in the trunk of the Impala there's a certain knife." Dean described it in detail. "Now, when all this is over, I'm gonna want it back. But for right now, while Sam and I are stuck in here, I'd like you to carry that knife instead of your ordinary one. Please?"

Gibbs considered. "It'd be mishandling evidence, but it's not like your case is ever going to go to court anyway. I guess I could do that, if it'd make you feel better. But why? What's so special about that knife?"

Dean gave him a grim smile. "It kills demons."