Victor left his jeep at the side of the road, taking his rucksack and his shotgun with him. He went slowly along the dirt track, listening, the air heavy with the scent of mud and old wet leaves, sounds muffled.
The past few weeks, he'd been noticing the scars on his side less and less. They still itched. Also, right now, maybe because of the damp, a dull ache flared every time the rucksack brushed against his side. By the time the Winchesters and that smart-mouthed demon showed up like the cavalry in the last reel of one Gramp's favorite old movies, sharp blades and shotgun blasts, Lilith had plenty of time to toy with Victor.
He still wasn't sure why she'd let any of them go.
The ache was a part of him now, nothing too bad, nothing to keep him from this wacked-out new job. There was more than one kind of monster in the world. After spending a long time protecting people from them one way, he couldn't turn from adding another.
He stopped, boots sinking into a patch of mud. Whatever was out here, it'd killed six people already.
No more, though. Not on Victor's watch.
Sweat tickled down the back of Victor's neck. He reached around to wipe it away with his fingers, shading his eyes with his other hand against the blaze of sunlight. The sky was an in-your-face shade of blue, but the road--it was a dull brown line that ran away into nothing.
He wiped his sweaty hand on his jeans and fished his cell phone out of the front seat of the jeep.
Dean would never let him live this down. Victor would have to endure references and jokes and that goddamned smirk while Sam tried hard not to laugh. Not that Victor begrudged the kid that, with the shadows behind Sam's eyes as the weeks ticked by, the year sliding away from them, Victor finding it harder not to punch Dean across the jaw.
Victor pressed the speed-dial for Dean's number.
"Victor?" Dean answered on the first ring.
"Stabbing that weird beast thing twice in the light of a full moon didn't do jack-all."
Dean started laughing.
"Oh, you think this is funny?"
"Yes, Victor, I do."
"So how do I kill it?"
"You're asking for my help?"
Well, who else did Victor have he could call, really.
(warning: reference to canon character death, brief mention of gore)
Victor stepped over a broken line of stones that marked where a door once stood. Beyond the chain-link fence, he caught a glimpse of blonde ponytail and dark green shirt as Jo moved carefully, checking the remains of the South wing. Unlike Ellen, who offered Victor a bone-crunching hug when they'd all met up to go after this haunting in the ruins of an old hospital, Jo held back from him. Friendly enough, but with a hint of wariness: he was the law, the authorities, The Man. Even if he was among them now, Jo was having none of it.
The lights on the EMF meter Bobby sold him flickered to red as the device squealed.
"Got something," he called out, before the cold curled around him, his breath growing abruptly visible in the hot sunny day. Victor shoved the EMF into his knapsack and raised his shotgun to his shoulder.
A transparent figure garbed in white, eyes hollowed shadows and skin ashen, appeared in front of him.
Victor fired and the spirit dispersed.
Jo pulled her body easily over the fence and dropped to the broken ground on the other side, while Ellen came running from the next room over.
"Well, at least we know they're definitely here," Ellen said, watching the lights on her own EMF meter.
"My guess is that sicko buried the bones of his victims somewhere in the foundations." Victor rummaged for the notepad where he kept his notes. Every page carefully dated and organized, with earmarks to divide it into sections. Dean used to tease him about it.
In his career at the FBI, Victor'd seen a lot of horrible things, the signs of the violence humans perpetrate on other humans. But not even his first sight of a dead body had affected him like seeing Dean on the floor of that house, chest torn into bloodied strips, with Sam hunched over his brother, sobbing. Victor'd had to breathe slowly and deeply to keep from vomiting, caught deer in the headlights while it was Bobby who finally moved forward and went to Sam, started dealing with things.
No one had heard from Sam in over a month.
"Hello?" Jo waved her hand in front of Victor's face.
Victor realized he'd gone silent, Ellen and Jo still waiting for him to finish.
"He confessed to the murders but wouldn't ever tell anyone where the bodies were--it's a way of maintaining control," Victor went on. "He'd want to bury them here, the place where he spent most of his life."
He suspected Jo's quiet hardness had something to do with Dean being gone as well, but if she was grieving, she kept it inward, while with Ellen it just was; she'd tear up in front of Victor once in a while, her whiskey voice going rougher than usual, before she shook it off, unashamed but unwilling to dwell.
"We should head for the basement," Ellen said. "Entrance is there."
"Okay." Jo nodded. "Let's do this."