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.
Character: Victor Henricksen
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)
- 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.”)
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.