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The Glamorous Life of John Dillinger

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The debate starts a week after they get Winchester's file.

"Where should I put the clown thing in the timeline?" Reid wants to know.

Reid is everything Henricksen wants in a partner: methodical, plodding, able to recognize in Henricksen the genius he lacks in himself. Reid's limited powers of deduction, however, are sometimes frustrating.

"Don't put it anywhere. They didn't do the clown thing."

"You think?" Reid reaches over the jumble of paper on his desk to pick up a cold french fry from yesterday's lunch. He pops it into his mouth and chews thoughtfully, like a water buffalo. "Two guys matching Sam and Dean's description working together? While the Winchesters are known to be in the area? Batshit crazy M.O.? Sounds pretty definitive to me."

"It's not. The first clown murder was November fourth. All three Winchesters were in the hospital then."

"Nah, Sam was up and around, and the early reports on the clown thing only have one guy as the killer. Maybe Sam started it while Dean was out of it and then they decided to hook up for a little, ah, family bonding." Reid waves another fry in the air.

"That contradicts everything we know about them," Henricksen says. "So far Dean's initiated every crime. Sam's just along for the ride. We don't even have any evidence of him being directly involved in any of the murders."

"Yeah, well, maybe Sam's just smarter about covering his tracks. The kid did go to Stanford, right?"

Most of the time, Reid's bright enough to recognize his role in their partnership: he does the grunt work, and in return he will eventually ride to glory on Henricksen's coattails. On those rare occasions when he latches onto an idea of his own, though, he gets annoying fast. Henricksen breathes deeply and pictures an endless field of golden wheat, like his therapist told him to. Reid points at him with the french fry.

"Hey, betcha. Standard bet says they did the clown thing."

"You're on."

Standard bet means buying the other guy lunch at Lenny's Deli down the street. Henricksen's won every time so far.

***

It could easily have died there, but the Winchesters are proving to be the most frustrating case of Henricksen's career, and what with spending 90 hours a week poring over police files he and Reid are both a little tense. When Reid comes in to work a month after the Milwaukee debacle holding a manila folder triumphantly over his head, Henricksen has a brief flash of hope. A very brief flash.

"Report from the Medford police," Reid says, tossing the folder onto Henricksen's desk. "November of 2006, two brothers matching the Winchesters' descriptions join the freaking circus right before the owner disappears. We got a positive ID from the midget. You owe me lunch, asshole."

Henricksen picks up the file and skims through it quickly before throwing it away in disgust. It's not that he wouldn't love it if the Winchesters did something this fucked up; he'd be happy for anything that'd show them for the pathetic creeps they are, not the dashing John Dillinger types the newspapers -- and half their victims, for chrissake -- like to paint them as. But it just doesn't feel right. "It's not them."

"How do you figure?"

"Some guy identifies two employees he knew for a week in November? Hell, he probably saw Winchester's face on TV more often than he saw those guys. It's not definitive."

"But pretty damning."

"It's not their M.O."

"Fucked up clown fetishists? Sounds weird enough to me. You think the Winchesters are gonna get squeamish about little kids?"

"Look, Dean Winchester may not care about America's youth, but at least he cares about his image. There's no way he'd be caught dead in a clown suit. Or" -- he glances at the file -- "in a 1988 Plymouth Voyager, for fuck's sake."

"A whole week's worth at Lenny's."

Henricksen closes his eyes. Wheat. Miles and miles of golden wheat. "It's not them."

"A week."

"It's not them."

***

The security tape from Steve Wandell's home office shows up at Henricksen's desk Saturday morning. There's no return address, but the label's in Sam Winchester's handwriting. When the video's done playing, the whole office stares at the TV screen in silence. No one gets up to change the tape.

"So," Reid says over his shoulder, "still think there's no way little Sammy could have come up with that clown shit on his own?"

God, Henricksen is so not in the mood for this.

"They didn't do the clown thing," Henricksen grits between his teeth. "They're fucking crazy, but they aren't that kind of fucking crazy. They aren't dress-up-like-a-circus-clown crazy."

"Whatever. Psycho is psycho."

Sometimes the depth of Reid's insight astounds him. Henricksen takes off his reading glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose.

"A million fucking sandwiches," he says. "A whole year's worth of fucking sandwiches if they did the clown thing."

***

Henricksen pushes through the door to the interrogation room. For the first time in what feels like years, he's got a spring in his step.

"So, Sam, I don't know if you've heard the news, but your brother just turned himself in." He pauses for a reaction. Sam looks back with an air of polite interest. "Soon as he figured out we'd caught you. Says he's willing to sign a full confession if we'll bump your charges down to accessory after the fact." Still nothing. "I guess it's lucky for you you've got such a devoted big brother."

Sam smiles at that, a slight curve of the lips that makes Henricksen's skin crawl. "Yeah," he says, "I'm blessed." He doesn't seem to be joking.

Henricksen feels his good mood slipping a little. The last time Sam sat that quietly in a pair of handcuffs, he went on to cost Henricksen any chance of a promotion before 2030. Still, he tells himself he's being paranoid.

"The Feds are shipping you boys to St. Louis tomorrow," Henricksen says. "So I won't see you for a few weeks. Wish I could say I'll miss you." He turns to leave, then stops and turns back. "One more thing," he says. "Just between us."

A year ago, when he got this case, or even six months ago, before Little Rock, it wouldn't have mattered. But somewhere along the way, his perspective on the Winchesters changed. They've tricked him, thwarted him, and humiliated him at every turn, and he hates them for it. But if he's beaten, he wants to be beaten by the cool, smooth, diabolically clever Winchester Brothers, the greatest criminal masterminds of their time. Not by a pair of losers in rainbow wigs and red foam noses.

"The clown thing?"

He expects confusion, or faked confusion, or, at the very least, the same infuriatingly blank stare he's been getting all day. Instead, Sam winces, and the tips of his ears start to turn red.

Henricksen closes his eyes and imagines stalks of golden wheat strangling Sam Winchester.