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13 April 2008 @ 07:38 pm
Breathe On, Sister (They Pass Me By remix) [Supernatural; Victor Henricksen; PG-13]  
Title: Breathe On, Sister (They Pass Me By remix)
Author: wanttobeatree
Summary: Victor is nothing if not really goddamn good at his job, but there are days when he feels like the picture he’s making just doesn’t match the one he got on the box.
Fandom: Supernatural
Character: Victor Henricksen
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: It’s all Kripke’s, and none of it’s mine.
Original story: Breathe On, Sister by vee_fic
Notes: Remix title from Portishead’s It’s a Fire. Set pre-3x12

Breathe On, Sister (They Pass Me By remix)


Three things:

    One. The body of sixteen-year-old Terry Newman, with a broken neck from a fall that several autopsy reports can confirm never actually happened, and a time of death that places him an hour after the Winchester sightings and at around the same time as when the gunshots were heard. There are no bullet holes, and no fucking bullets either. One boot print, and two distraught parents.

    (“Terry was a good boy,” Mrs Newman sobs. “He was such a good boy.”

    Mr Newman says nothing at all.)

    Two. A house fire, the five-am kind that almost always ends in a local tragedy, except for the times when anonymous passers-by kick down the goddamn doors (and hack them to pieces too, apparently) in their haste to save the day.

    Three. And the Winchesters melt away into the darkness again.

It’s a puzzle, all right. Victor is nothing if not really goddamn good at his job, but there are days when he feels like the picture he’s making just doesn’t match the one he got on the box. First, there’s the car. It sticks out like one million sore thumbs, like a panther in with the chickens, and the sheer steel-balled cheek of it- as if Winchester really does believe a plate-change or two will throw them off the scent- enrages Victor so much he’s pretty sure his boys have reached a silent agreement to never again mention it in his presence.

Fact is, there’s the crazy that rapes girls; and there’s the crazy that kills girls; and then there’s the crazy that ties them up and tortures them, fakes its own death, and skips town in its sweet ride like it’s done nothing out of the ordinary. And it’s just so goddamn stupid, tracking the car should be the simplest thing in the whole world.

Sometimes it is-

(“Yeah, that’s the one,” says Mr Philips, the second Victor slips the photo of the car across the table to him, and then he says, “No, no, hold on, how many times I gotta tell you, Nancy? How many? It’s 24b, then fill out 6d, and Jesus Christ, lady, make sure you file the carbons this time. I’m not paying you to search through my trash, here.”

Victor waits, patient as a saint, fingers drumming against the tabletop as Mr Philips insults his secretary down the phone line. If it leads him to the Winchesters, he can put up with all the assholes in the world.

“Sorry about that,” Mr Philips finally says, flipping shut his $500 cell and slipping it into his pocket. “She looks great behind the desk, but she doesn’t have a clue how to work the damn thing.”

“The car, Mr Philips,” Victor reminds him, and he breathes in slowly through his nose (patient as a goddamn saint) and taps the photograph again. “This is the one you saw?”

“Definitely. You don’t forget a car like that, do you? Especially not when it’s driving like a freaking maniac. Asshole stopped right in the middle of the LIE, no warning.” Mr Philips shakes his head in disbelief. “I’d been driving a bit faster, things coulda gotten real messy real quick. Crazy bastard.”

“The driver is wanted for murder, Mr Philips.”

“Kids today, huh?”

Victor doesn’t bother mentioning where the crazy bastard was driving to in such a hurry.)

-and then sometimes it isn’t.

(Andrew Duvant, thirty-seven and one of the first firefighters on the scene, who found a spot on the wall to stare at within seconds of sitting down and isn’t showing any sign of stopping any time soon. “Lot of people coulda died,” he says, each word carefully measured.

“Yes, Mr Duvant, you've mentioned. Twice. But, as you’re so adamant you never saw their faces, we’re here to talk about their car.”

At last, he glances down at the pictures on the table: every shot of the Impala they’ve got, just in case his memory needs some serious jogging. The guy doesn’t even bother to make a show of studying them before his gaze returns to the wall.

“Whoever they were, and whatever they were driving,” he says, “they kicked down the door to get that lady out. I never saw their car.”

And Victor has just about had it up to here with this bullshit. He leans across the table as far as he can go without risking a harassment lawsuit, and he says, “Who they were, Mr Duvant, was a pair of nutjobs with an impressive array of murders under their belts. Most recently including a sixteen-year-old boy. Now, I want you to look real hard at these pictures and have a serious think. And while you’re doing that, I’m gonna remind you that it is illegal to lie to me about this shit.”

There’s a pause. Victor leans back in his chair, palms against the tabletop.

“Good thing I never saw the car, then,” Andrew Duvant tells the wall, eventually, “else I’d be in a whole lot of trouble right now.”)

Secondly, this:

Ms Malik has moved in with her sister on the edge of town, and she offered Victor a cup of coffee pretty much the second he stepped through the front door. Pride as a hostess, even when her actual home is currently an uninhabitable mess of smoke- and fire-damage, cordoned off by police tape.

“I would have died,” she says, simply, as they face each other down over their coffee cups. Her wrists are ringed with ground-in bruises, the fading-but-still-vivid marks of a tight grip; the fingers left there on her skin look big enough to wrap twice around her face. As if she can sense his eyes on them, she adds, without looking up from her coffee, “He held my arms because I was fighting him, Agent.”

“You were frightened?” Victor chances. None of this adds up.

“Not of them.” Ms Malik shrugs, her mouth twisting unhappily; maybe at the memories of that night, or maybe at his assumption. “Of the fire. For my children. My two eldest- I didn’t know where they were.”

“Reports say your daughter told the police they- the Winchesters, that is, and she later IDed them for us- they made her and her brother climb out onto the fire escape.” Ms Malik just nods her confirmation. Victor scrubs a hand across his face; it’s square pegs into round holes, and puzzle pieces that won’t fit anywhere, and all Occam’s Razor is telling him is that the Winchester brothers either have some serious split personalities or they’re taking mind games to a whole new level of fucked up.

When he looks up again, Ms Malik has put down her coffee and picked up a mugshot, the one of Dean from that mess of a bank job in Milwaukee. She’s studying it with pursed lips, a frown. “I looked them up on the internet, after I learned their names. They are criminals?”

“Wanted for multiple murders, ma’am,” he says, as gently as you can say that kind of shit.

“He knew to find Ahmed,” she says, touching a fingertip to the photograph. “This one. Dean, I think? After he’d pulled me out of the closet. I was too frightened to say anything, but he knew to look again, and to find my son, when just saving me would have been more than enough.” She shakes her head in slow amazement. “If he is a murderer, Agent Henricksen, then the world is a very strange place.”

When even a civilian can see how fucked up the situation is, you know it’s fucked up. They share a grim look. “Ma’am,” Victor says, “you can say that again.”

These three things:

    One. The body of Terry Newman, neck broken from a fall that never happened. (And who skins a girl’s arm and leaves her with the knife still in her chest, one moment, and then tries to make a boy’s death seem like an accident the next?) Multiple sightings of the Winchesters and their goddamn car an hour or so before Terry took his nonexistent plunge. Gunshots heard at around the time of death, but no bullets found anywhere and no bullet wound either. Boot prints found at the scene of the crime that match the boot prints found on an old man’s char grilled door. Which leads us to:

    Two. The Winchesters drive like hell from the murder of a sixteen-year-old boy, nearly crashing into a businessman or two on the way. And then they decide to pause the getaway and save nearly two-dozen people- two-dozen potential eyewitnesses, that is- from being burnt to a crisp in their sleep. There’s crazy, and then there’s completely fucking insane.

    Three. Nearly two-dozen people, and not one story matches between the lot of them. Yes, it was the Winchesters; no, it wasn’t. They got into a ’67 Chevy Impala; they got into a Ford, a Honda, a fucking Hummer; they never got into any car at all (all said with that defiant glint in the eye that really isn’t fooling anyone). A teenage boy swearing blind that they cycled. And the one thing, the one thing they can all agree on, even after being filled in on the less-than-glowing pasts of their mysterious saviours: They saved a lot of lives that night.

The pieces don’t fit, but that’s okay. Victor is a patient man, and he is really damn good at his job.

vehementlyvee_fic on April 19th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
Ha! Oh, I'm pleased with this one. It's exactly the sort of thing I would expect from a remix: taking that one line at the end and spinning it into a whole new story that builds off the original. I like how you gave everyone names, too; and in the middle of it all, poor Henricksen and his frustrated searching.

Good work!
abi z: sam and deanazephirin on April 20th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
I really liked this! I loved the original, and this is an extra-deluxe-tasty spin on it. Andrew Duvant is great (good thing he never saw the car, indeed!), and I have a certain amount of adoration for the anonymous teenaged boy and his insistence that Sam and Dean biked away from the scene. (I can't help thinking that Dean would be offended at the implication.) Great work!
grime and livestockcofax7 on April 20th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
Oh, that is excellent. Nice job, indeed.
I was raised the old-fashioned way: henriksen || sasha_davidovnasasha_davidovna on April 20th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. It has a great Victor voice, and I liked the OCs as well, especially Duvant and the teenage boy. When the reveal is done, I wonder if you would consider reposting to copsandhunters?
bofoddity on April 20th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
This was really good! I love all the people standing up for the Winchesters, Andrew Duvant especially, and Henricksen's frustration and determination are true to character.
Lorrainelunabee34 on April 20th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Oh how wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!
Britomart  Bea  Bee  B: renegade deanbritomart_is on April 20th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
AWESOME. We never get to see the witnesses the Winchesters leave behind, awesome to read about it. And poor Henricksen! I imagine he felt this way a lot.
Christina K  (jackelope hunter!): desertrosebutterflykiki on April 20th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
*glees on this* Poor Victor. His job so sucks. You've done a great job of portraying the cop in him and the sane person going the hell? every time the picture changes.
liz_marcsliz_marcs on April 21st, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, oh wow. Poor Victor, trying to figure out who and what he's after, exactly, as the people the Winchesters saved cover and cover for them.

And bicycling away from the scene? Nice touch.
Vanzetti: brothersvaznetti on April 21st, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
This is excellent -- I love the way you've placed Victor at the edge of all these stories, how he's trying to put the pieces together into something, even though their edges just don't match. And it's partly because the witnesses aren't talking -- but it's also because the picture really is that confusing.
grand_sophygrand_sophy on April 21st, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
That last line gave me goose bumps. Love the remix, loved the original, and love the paradoxes that are driving Victor crazy (and now I have the paradox song from The Pirates of Penzance going through my head).
Minim Calibreminim_calibre on April 21st, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so, so awesome.
girlguidejonesgirlguidejones on April 22nd, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Superb characterization. Mr. Duvant: hero! Excellent retelling, here. :)
peeps wanna see peeps boink: wherever i may roammusesfool on April 22nd, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
This is awesome - a really great take on the original, and a cool story in its own right.
OMG I PUNCH NUNShansbekhart on April 22nd, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this story. Victor seems so damn logical in canon; you can see the wheels turning in his head, and you totally captured that. The story itself is so broadly written, if that makes sense - it creates this huge, vivid picture of an ordinary event, and I really loved that. There's a sense not only of what an important event this is to everyone involved, but also that it's ... just a stop on a very frustrating road for Victor.
never underestimate a Celt: who are you carrying those bricks for?vanitashaze on January 31st, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
The story itself is so broadly written, if that makes sense - it creates this huge, vivid picture of an ordinary event, and I really loved that. Agreed (and said so much better than I ever would have)! I love the repetition you employ with the one, two, three; the parallel structure; the slow reveals; the way the storytelling - same details, but different wording every time - mimics the plot - same event, different perspectives. It's fascinating, how this story keeps changing the longer you read it, spinning out in these broad, fantastic concentric circles that reveal just a little more about what happened each time they swing around. The Victor POV is awesome, too. I can totally buy that his mind works like this. Anyway: brava!
soundingsea: spn - impala - multitudessoundingsea on April 26th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
I love this glimpse into Victor's very-good-at-his-job head. Nice!
Firecracker: deanfirecracking on April 26th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
I really very much enjoyed this. Great look into Victor's head - he's an excellent character and you wrote him and all his frustrations perfectly.
arlissarliss on April 27th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Excellent look at the Winchesters through the eyes of the people they rescued. And an excellent look at Victor trying to reconcile the disparate pieces of the puzzle. The line "there are days when he feels like the picture he’s making just doesn’t match the one he got on the box." is a wonderful line.

Breathe On, Sister is one of my favorite stories in this fandom. They Pass Me By will be joining it in my memories.
Tiny Destroyer of Humankindsquirrelarmy on April 27th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Honestly? The formatting makes this story for me. Cos it's wonderfully written, and the tale is great, and I think that you hit Henricksen's characterization right on the head, but it's the formatting of it all that just pulled me in right from the beginning, because it's very FORM and it just echoes Henricksen's character to me. I loved the way you set this up, and the voice of the narrator, cos it really, really worked here. Seriously, awesome job.
redrikkiredrikki on May 13th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
Nice remix of the original and excellent grasp of Henricksen's character. I like how methodical and dedicated and utterly confused he was. You did a nice job showing that he may be the antagonist from the boy's perspective, but he's a good, smart man trying to do his job.
lilacsigil: 12 Apostleslilacsigil on May 14th, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
Here from musesfool's rec. I really enjoyed this, especially the puzzle piece format, as Victor tries to assemble a coherent picture in the dark.
Mayhem Parva: (zed-pm) Life smileyraincitygirl on May 14th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
This is just excellently done.
labseraphlabseraph on July 9th, 2009 10:25 am (UTC)
The original was a fine piece of work but this perspective completes the picture so beautifully. I love Henricksen's POV and I think you got his voice down pat that I felt like I was in his head.

Superb and lovely.
the only water in the forest is the rivernyoka on December 8th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
Great story. I've recced this here at sawedoff_recs.
Jarta: APH - USUK Normalityjarta89 on March 6th, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
Oooh. I always loved outsider!pov and this on Henricksen's is such a delight. At least you're putting him in a more favorable light also having doubts and confused with the Winchester's motives. Fascinating fic<3