A late night call from BPD sent Alva, Evie and Paul out into a snow storm. A nineteen-year-old girl had been found slumped in her family's porch swing, snow collecting in her hair.
Paul swallowed bile and raised the camera. They needed detailed images for Alva's hemography file. A shocking slash marred her smooth, dusky forearm; and a stream of glistening blood coated her fingers, dripped into the fresh, sparkling snow below. The words were there, sunk into the drift of pristine flakes: GOD IS NOWHERE. In her other hand rested a bloody shard of glass.
The hairs on the back of Paul's neck lifted, even as his mind shrank away from the evidence before him. Had he misread his own message? It had flashed before his eyes with disturbing frequency since the accident, but now he couldn't conjure the image clearly. He shuddered, sucked in a long breath, willed his body to release the surge of adrenaline. He needed to stay cool if the cops were going to trust him enough to tell him what he needed to know. He decided to proceed as if this girl's message was actually different from his own. Chad believed the God is Nowhere people were Tommy's Darkness - a force for evil that needed to be eliminated. Had someone else taken up the task?
The officers lifted the crime scene tape and ushered them into the house. Evie passed him on her way to question the family, wide-eyed and pale. A little girl, no more than nine or ten, sobbed inconsolably somewhere nearby. Paul wanted to twist and look at the others around him, see if they heard the cries or not. He followed Alva as distantly as he dared, knowing that he couldn't hide his thoughts from his employer.
"The glass came from in here," the uniform told him, gesturing for them to enter the girl's bedroom. Boy band members grinned or brooded from their respected posters covering the walls. Everything seemed pretty ordinary, the picture frames and mirror intact. Typical teenage detritus lightly cluttered the desk and dresser: CD cases, nail polish bottles, a few scattered candy wrappers. Her cell phone had already been bagged, so he risked picking it up and looking at the history. There were texts and calls from a few hours earlier, but nothing seemed suspicious.
Alva's voice suddenly carried from the other side of the room. He thanked the cops for calling them, assured them that this case was not related to his research on the other instances of hemography. "All of the witnesses in the previous cases were victims of accidents. They died later, victimized by a psychopath fascinated with the phenomenon. I assure you, when you've finished your forensic analysis you'll find an explanation-- Perhaps another person with an unhealthy interest in the paranormal."
Paul covered the smirk that wanted to crawl across his face by turning to photograph the phone showing the call history. It amazed him that Alva could say all of that with such conviction in his face, not a trace of acknowledgement that most people thought Alva's own interest was less than healthy.
When he looked up, Alva speared him with his gaze, subtly indicating a broken window on the far wall. Then he strode away, not looking back. Paul edged closer and discovered that the snow had been carefully brushed away, revealing fragments of a yellowish, waxy-looking substance scattered across the sill. He took some photographs of that too, before following his team out to the car.
"Keel, I don't think this is - I don't think she's like the others," Paul said as he slid into the passenger seat and buckled his seatbelt.
"Oh, she isn't," Alva said, and Paul was shaken to realize that Alva's hands were vibrating slightly where they rested on the steering wheel. "Stay clear of this one until you hear from me, both of you, I want to consult with some old friends."
"Call it a second opinion, if you wish," was all he said on the drive back to SQ.
As it turned out, in this case Alva's idea of "old friends" was more like a car full of rednecks with guns. A lot of guns.
"Paul, Evie, this is my friend Bobby Singer, one of the best paranormal investigators in the country."
Bobby touched the brim of his trucker cap. "Present company excluded, of course," he gestured at the two young men who had unfolded themselves from the car and were now glowering at nothing in particular. "This is Dean and Sam Winchester--"
"John's sons! The last time I saw him you must have been what, in high school? How is your father?"
Clearly, Bobby shared plenty of history with Keel. He shifted his weight, nothing more, but Alva shrank in on himself. "What happened?"
Dean and Sam had shown nothing up to this point. Now their stoic expressions wavered.
"He went the way hunters do," Bobby said, his voice rough with emotion Dean and Sam are their father's sons, I trust them with my life."
Dean and Sam were all grim business at first, going over the crime scene as if nothing said to them could be trusted. They presented themselves to BPD as FBI.
Paul pulled Alva aside as soon as he heard that. "Keel, we can't just let them--"
"We need their help, Paul."
"The forces we are dealing with in this case, you've never seen their equal. Trust me. Please."
The Winchesters proposed splitting the day between investigation and research. When they found the fragments on the windowsill, it settled any doubt for Dean, Sam, and Bobby.
"Demons," Dean said. "Keel, can your team handle weapons?"
Alva grimaced, even as Evie pulled out her handgun and checked it. He laid a hand on her arm. "Why don't we head back to the office and work on research, let the experts handle the ... hands-on aspects, shall we say?"
When Bobby, Dean and Sam made it back to SQ smelling of fear and brimstone, The SQ team snapped into action with first aid kits. "The Demon drove her to suicide, there was no indication she was anything but the girl next door before last Tuesday."
"How did they reach her?" Alva asked.
"The only new element we can find is a substitute teacher named Victor Lee who showed up at her high school last Wednesday."
"Nothing strange from the school?" he helped Bobby to a seat and began cleaning blood off his swollen fingers.
"Everybody there said the girl had taken an interest in Lee. A crush."
"It was a small-time demon," Dean growled, "But motivated. Forced me to kill the vessel, so God knows where it is now."
Paul found himself frustrated to have been shielded. For all Keel's talk of seeking the truth, he wanted to find it in a book.
Paul cleaned and stitched a nasty cut over Dean's eyebrow.
"Watch it there, nurse," Dean said, smirk firmly in place, "my face is my--Ow!"
"This might sting a little," Paul retorted, smirking right back.
"You know how to get a guy's attention," said Dean.
"Is that what I was doing? I thought we were working."
"Demon's vanquished, work's over 'til we turn up something new. Might wanna locate Mr. Chips."
After that Dean was overcome abruptly by a drugged sleep.
Paul busied himself chasing the victim's phone records. One number appeared on the records only in the previous week, and the name on the phone company account. "Evie, can you run this phone number for me? I don't get anything on this Victor Lee before a week ago Tuesday."
Evie came back in less than ten minutes with a post-it note and a worried expression. "Lee registered a name change early last week. He used to be Hector Selgado."
"Kenneth Webster," Paul hissed, horrible images flashing before his eyes of the iron, the hospital, the driving compulsion he had felt there to finish what Chad started.
"Are you all right, Paul?" Evie asked, She reached out to guide him to a seat. "Let me get you some water."
"I'm fine, Evelyn." Paul snapped. He softened his tone despite the horrible images still crowding his attention. "Just ... get me Webster's address when you can, alright? I wanna go check on him."
It took about half an hour for everyone to relax out of alert mode, and by then the adrenaline draining out of their systems made them loose and sleepy.
Bobby sprawled in Alva's desk chair, bandages swathing one hand and the opposite shoulder. "Yer boss here, he was paler than a jug of milk in a snow storm when John dug up the bones, but even he had to admit the ghost never gave nobody any more trouble --"
Paul slipped out the door, unnoticed.
He pulled into the driveway at the address from Evie's post-it, and as he shut the car off he realized he had no memory of the drive here, save a million images of himself and Kenneth Webster beginning with the pillow and the hospital bed and moving through depths of violence and murder that Paul would not have believed existed back before he joined SQ, before he met Chad, before the nightmares--every one of them vivid with the blood lust from which he woke nauseated and full of self loathing. That part of him wanted to pull the car back into the street and drive until he hit ocean or a concrete abutment, anything to beat back the other part of himself - the part flooded with adrenaline at the thought of finally, finally ending Kenneth Webster.
Paul felt as if he were watching himself from above, slamming the car door, walking up the driveway. he pounded on the door, and his heart nearly seized when the door opened, revealing the stoic face of Kenneth Webster. He'd expected to feel fear, but what he actually felt shocked him, as the moment stretched. Tears streamed down his face as some part of him recoiled, hid deep inside his head. His mind emptied of all words, filling instead with images of violence: beginning with his old nightmare of suffocating Kenneth in his hospital bed. It descended from there into everything from gunshots to Chad's iron blows to a red fog that hid all but his own blood-slicked fists and the sickening crunch of small bones.
A gruff voice pierced the bloody fog in Paul's mind. "Enough! Paul! It's enough, man."
Vice-like arms pulled him away from Kenneth's limp form.He whipped around to find Dean Winchester, staring wide-eyed at a spot above his left eye where a blood spatter was beginning to dry and itch. He resisted the urge to swipe at it. "What are you doing here, Dean?"
"Keeping you from doing something stupid, man. You don't wanna go there, trust me."
He wanted to argue, to shove Dean away and go back to making sure that the evil Kenneth had embraced could never act again. But that part of him that had hidden, that pure, childlike core deep inside was consumed by horror. He relented, swaying slightly on his feet. "He knew the girl from the porch swing."
In that moment Webster surged to his feet behind Paul, his voice twisted by hatred. "She was a destined vessel, she could not be suffered to live."
He let loose an unearthly growl and crashed into Paul, causing his legs to buckle under him, exploding in pain. His head struck some piece of furniture as he fell, causing his vision to disintegrate into sparks.
He had just enough time to see Dean draw a weapon and shoot Kenneth Webster between the eyes, before everything greyed out.
He wasn't sure how they got to the impala; Dean must've half carried him after pulling him away from the bloody corpse. They checked in to a motel that looked like something on the other side of a time machine, and Dean pulled him into the tiny shower, putting his own back to the wall and pulling Paul against him, silently washing away blood and god knows what else from his skin and hair.
Paul breathed steam and willed himself to absorb the heat and safety Dean offered. When Dean offered finally offered him the soap, clearly expecting him to pull away in modesty, he took a deep breath, turned around and pulled him down for a kiss. He washed Dean in return, wishing he could imagine all the ugliness of the world around them swirling and sliding down the drain. He couldn't wash away the image of Kenneth's lifeless eyes, or the horrifying fantasies he'd been living with ever since he'd learned of the awful quest to destroy the God is Nowhere people. He breathed again, pushing down his wish for a perfect, peaceful world, and focused instead on the good man in front of him - his clean, freckled skin, his plush mouth and tender eyes far too sweet for someone so jaded any other time. He stood for a long moment staring into them, but his gratitude would not be reduced to words. Instead he focused on pouring it out through his mouth on Dean's, his fingertips sliding over heated skin.
Dean clung to him under the hot spray, tried to prevent him from kneeling, but Paul insisted. He took Dean's small groan as an invitation to worship. His eyes locked on Dean's, Paul forgot everything but the salty slide of flesh on his tongue, thigh muscles tensing under his hands, the slight shiver that ran through Dean's solid frame by way of warning before he spilled slick and bitter down his throat. Paul slumped against his legs, suddenly exhausted.
Dean cursed and pulled him up, wrangling them both out of the shower and propping Paul against the door to dry him off efficiently, wicked eyes promising more as he discarded the towels and led them both to bed. Even more than before, Paul lost himself. Dean pinned him to the pillows and overwhelmed his senses, mouth and hands seemingly everywhere at once. When he was spent, amazingly, he slept, dreamlessly and, for once, without fear.</p>