Neal startled awake for the third night in a row. He'd always been able to do that, make the jump from deep sleep to alertness in the space between heartbeats and he'd never appreciated that particular talent more than during the past few nights. He held his breath and kept completely still; when his fingers twitched the sound of the sheets rustling against his skin sounded louder than a siren.
The room was still, his easel still exactly where he'd left it with his hat still perched on top. If anyone so much as breathed on it the wrong way it would fall, knocking over the paints set up below and waking Neal before anyone could get too close. Peter would have a field day if he knew Neal had resorted to such a juvenile trap but sometimes even Neal Caffrey needed a security blanket. He moved his eyes just enough to see that the salt line spread in front of the door was still solid.
It was. Good.
The silence stretched long enough that Neal could pretend that maybe he was wrong. Maybe he didn't know exactly what had woken him.
The illusion shattered a moment later when he heard a low growl. He felt his muscles tense at the sound, something primal reaching out and wrapping around him; the growl vibrated through the floor like music played through speakers with the bass turned too high. All at once Neal jolted upright at the sound of something heavy hurling itself at the door, the growling louder now, sharp like the sound of bones breaking. He heard something scratching at the door, a steady, heavy scraping Neal knew wouldn't leave any signs in the daylight.
When the howling started it took every shred of willpower Neal had not to press his hands over his ears like a child hiding from a storm. The shrieking seemed like it went on for years; Neal reached under his pillow, wrapped his fist around the knife he'd started hiding there and kept his eyes trained on the door. He knew it probably wouldn't do any good but it felt better than having nothing
All at once the howling stopped. The growling, the scratching at the door, all of it just ended like Neal had imagined it the whole time. Just stopped, just like it had the past two nights and Neal didn't understand. He sat up and pressed his head against his knees, willing his dinner to stay in his stomach where it belonged. Neal Caffrey did not retch in terror all over his bedsheets. Not two nights in a row, anyway.
He watched the light blink on his anklet until his heartbeat got back under control and he could think like the smooth operator he was supposed to be. And just like the past two nights he could only see one solution: run. Peter would never understand and God knew Neal couldn't explain it to him, but running was his only option now. He had resources, he always did but he couldn't access them staying here.
He was about to snap off his ankle bracelet when his phone rang and Neal picked it up out of habit. When he heard Peter's voice he wished he hadn't. "Neal?" he said, somehow sounding surprised that Neal had answered his own phone. "Are you up?"
"Apparently," he said, raking one hand through his hair.
He sighed. "I lead an exciting life of mystery, Peter. What do you want?"
He could almost see Peter smiling through the phone. "We've got them. I don't know if we can get them both, but I know for sure we can grab one and that's all we need. Get over here and finish tightening the noose."
"I can't." Which was a ridiculous thing to say, because of course Peter wasn't going to accept that.
"I just can't get over there now. You can close this one without me."
"No we can't, you're the contact, they already trust you. We lose them now they'll be out of the state by morning."
"Neal," Peter said, the change in his voice making Neal's resolve wilt into nothing. He could count on one hand the number of times he'd heard Peter Burke plead for anything. Especially plead him for anything. It was the same tone that had made him pause just long enough to keep him from getting on that plane with Kate. Neal still hated Peter for that sometimes, late at night when he'd had one too many.
And it was that tone spoken over a file Neal could tell at a glance was in no way official that had kept Neal from running three nights ago. He could only hope he'd live long enough to hate Peter for this one, too. "It's for Victor," he heard Peter say, as if there was anything else to argue about. "I've been living with this case for two years now, Neal, I don't know if I can do two more. And if we lose them tonight...."
Neal sighed. "Give me twenty."
"You have fifteen." Peter hung up but Neal could hear the smile back in his voice. He definitely already hated him for this. He didn't know how El put up with the man.
He pushed himself off the bed, his legs shaking so hard that for a second he thought they'd buckle under him. Pull yourself together, he told himself. Get through this one last job, then he could make his escape.
One hot shower and vintage suit later Neal pulled his hat over his eyes as he stepped over the salt line, careful not to disturb a single grain, and wished he'd never heard of the Winchester brothers.
Dean paced the paced the corridor, careful not to make eye contact with any agents as they walked by. His suit collar itched, he was surrounded by feds and Sam was in lock up. They'd had hunts go bad worse than this, but right at that moment Dean was having a hard time thinking of any. He flashed a grin at a female agent who looked at him just a little too closely. The way the guy in charge had looked at him when they'd cuffed Sam was bad enough, he didn't need anyone to start wondering who he was and whether he was supposed to be there. Even though they'd been working the case from different sides and there was no way anyone should be able to connect him with Sam Agent Burke kept glaring at Dean like he'd run over his dog. Dean put his phone to his ear and pressed send, swearing when the call went straight to voice mail. Again. "Dammit Cas, answer your phone."
"Why have you called me twenty times in the past hour?"
Dean spun around, feeling his heart almost leap out of his chest. "Jesus, what did I tell you about doing that?" He dragged Castiel off into a side corridor before anyone could see him and wonder whether he was supposed to be here either. "And check your voice mail."
"I would have if you'd left any," Castiel snapped back. "I was only able to find you because Sam showed me how to activate the GPS function."
Dean gave him a hard look. "You okay? You're crankier than usual." Dean brushed sand out of his hair. "Where the hell were you?"
Castiel sighed. "I was searching in the Sahara. There was a sand storm."
"Yes, and I would like to get back to it." He let out another frustrated sigh. "Why did you call me?"
"Sam got nabbed by the Feds," Dean said, gesturing at the office building around them. "I can't get close to him and couldn't figure out any other way to get him out of here."
Castiel's brow furrowed. "Is he in danger?"
"Like physical danger? I don't think so, these guys don't seem like the waterboarding types." He saw Castiel narrow his eyes and cut off the so then why did you call me now? bitching before it could start. "We've always had real bad luck with feds, Cas. Things always go wrong. Last time a lot of good people got killed, and that's on us."
Castiel lowered his eyes. "There's no shame in being fooled by Lilith." He looked around at the headquarter walls as if he were offended by their existence. "Where is he being kept?"
Dean shook his head. "They've got him in interrogation right now, it'll be easier to wait until he's alone again." He could see Castiel's foul mood coming back. "Look, if you'd answered your phone the first time we'd be free and clear."
Dean realized throwing this all on Cas probably wasn't the most productive way to do things, but his own fuse was running pretty short. Fortunately, Castiel chose not to rise to the bait, especially since the two of them bickering in the hallways was the worst way to keep a low profile Dean could think of. "You were the one who encouraged me to search for God," Castiel reminded him.
"Hey, you spring Sam and you can go right back to it. I'll even help."
"I doubt you'd like the Sahara." He brushed more sand out of his hair. "I'm not very fond of it myself at the moment."
"Maybe you'll find a tip that God's hiding out in the Playboy Mansion jacuzzi."
Castiel just frowned at him, his brow furrowed again. "That seems very unlikely," he said, as if comparing that to his mental list of possibilities and honestly, seeing Cas that baffled almost made all this worth it for Dean. "But I suppose if you think---" His entire posture changed, tension standing him up straight and his expression going sharp. "Did you hear that?"
Dean just blinked at him. "Hear what? No, Cas, I didn't...." Before he could even finish his sentence Castiel whooshed away in a flutter of wings, in such a hurry the backdraft slammed doors closed and blew sand everywhere. Dean waved at the agent who poked a head in to check on things, pretending to be on his phone again as if nothing weird had just happened. When the guy mercifully left him alone – the first thing that had gone Dean's way all weekend – Dean stared at the empty hallway. "Guess I'll just wait here then," he muttered under his breath.
Diana closed the door to the observation room behind her and accepted the coffee from Jones with a grateful sigh. "Why did we let ourselves get dragged out of bed at 3 AM again? And by again, I mean for the third night in a row?"
"Because Peter's the boss and he knows we don't have social lives."
"Speak for yourself," Diana teased back, grinning at Jones' mock offense. Anything to keep herself awake and on her feet.
"He still out there?" Jones said, nodding toward the hallway outside.
"Still there and checking out my ass every time I walk by."
"Exactly how many favors does Peter owe you now?"
"He knows I'm keeping a list." She took a sip of the coffee; it was just under scalding but Diana was so thankful for the caffeine she didn't care.
"Peter didn't mention why we're not arresting that guy and throwing him in there with the other one, did he?" Jones said, jerking his head toward the fidgeting figure sitting across from Peter in the interrogation room.
Diana studied their suspect. Other than the fact that he'd been caught with a forged FBI badge she wasn't sure why he even was their suspect; they'd caught the thief behind the art theft and she'd sworn up and down she'd only met the man calling himself Agent Tyler two days before. She even claimed he'd torched the painting as soon as they'd gotten their hands on it, although there was no proof of that. There was no proof of anything involving this would-be Agent Tyler aside from the forgery, him or the other man currently lurking around their building, but Peter had acted like nabbing the actual thief was beyond the point. "Peter's not talking to anyone lately, aside from Caffrey. Where is he, anyway?"
"Sacked out in one of the other interrogation rooms. Peter's been riding him even harder than the two of us." He crossed his arms, drumming his fingers. "Is it my imagination or is Peter wound a little tight lately?"
Diana shook her head. "I wouldn't be surprised if he has more coffee than blood in his veins at this point." She narrowed her eyes, watching the man calling himself Tyler fidget in the chair. He was a big man but handsome and clean cut, even if he didn't have quite the polish she'd come to expect from pros like Caffrey. He hadn't put up a fight when they'd arrested him, turning around and putting his hands up like someone who was no stranger to arrests. The more she watched him the more she thought the fidgeting was a put on; there wasn't the usual concealed panic she was used to seeing from perps caught in the act, no bargaining. Everything about the case and this suspect hit her instincts in all the wrong ways.
"So, Mr...Tyler," they heard Peter say, starting the interrogation. What followed was nothing out of the ordinary and Diana let her exhausted mind uncharacteristically wander.
She regretted that a few minutes later when Jones went stiff beside her, jolting her back to attention. "What the hell is that?"
Diana could only frown as she saw Peter pull out a thick file folder, definitely not one from their own records room. "I have no idea." When Peter reached over to switch off the interrogation room microphones Diana and Jones could only stare at each other in shock.
Sam had to admit, he'd been interrogated in worse places. It was killing him to know that he'd have to tell Dean he'd been right, hunting in New York had been a horrible idea, but at least the cells and interrogation rooms here were clean and well lit, a far cry from some of the backwoods jails he'd found himself in.
That was about the only bright side Sam could find. He wished he knew what had happened to Dean; he hadn't heard anything about him getting arrested but it wasn't as if the feds were going to tell him anything. He studied the agent in front of him, a man who'd introduced himself as Agent Burke. Sam would have thought a lifetime of hunting would've made him a good judge of character but the guy he'd come to know had actually been named Neal Caffrey had snowed him completely. He doubted anyone who a man like that worked for would be any less impressive, and this Agent Burke had a sharp way of looking at him that made him feeling like he could peel Sam's skin off with just a look. Smart, Sam thought to himself. This guy is smart. Don't try to get to fancy here.
Still, when the interrogation started it hit all the usual notes and Sam found himself falling back on his usual answers, the ones long, sad experience had taught him to keep cops at bay. The interrogation was so normal, in fact, that when Burke pulled out a thick file Sam didn't even notice.
This was a mistake. Sam would realize later he'd completely underestimated how smart Peter Burke really was. He saw Burke turn off the microphone and had just enough time to think about how strange that was before Burke leaned forward. "I think it's about time we stopped playing games. Sam."
Sam plastered on a fake smile, his heart pounding in his chest. "Okay, you caught me on the fake ID, but that doesn't mean...."
"Sam Winchester, twenty-six years old," Burke said, paging through the file. "Born in Lawrence, Kansas. It says your mother died in a...house fire when you were six months old." The way he'd said house fire raised the hair on Sam's neck, like he didn't believe a single word of that. "Your father kept you and your brother on the move after that, it says here." He took a page out of the folder and slid it across the table, and Sam felt his mouth go dry when he recognized Dean's mugshot, the one from that shifter mess a few years ago. "That wouldn't be your brother, would it? Because my agents tell me he's skulking around my halls planning some kind of half-cocked rescue as we speak."
He could hear Dean's voice telling him Stick with the story, Sammy. "Look, I don't know anything about this. I thought I was here about that painting...."
The look on Burke's face withered Sam's words in his throat. "This was never about any painting." He went back to the file, that sudden, angry edge in his voice fading back to professional boredom. "It says here that you and...Dean?" He looked up at Sam, one eyebrow raised. "I take it your parents were big Rat Pack fans? Neal's gonna love that."
"They're family names," Sam said, the words coming out before he could stop them and he saw Burke's lips curl up at his victory.
"It also says here the two of you are connected to numerous murder cases, missing persons, vandalism, and oh look, grave desecration. Interesting hobbies you two have."
Sam swallowed hard. "Look, I'll answer any questions about this painting but I don't know anything about...."
"Of course you do." Burke closed the file, his eyes hard and angry as he stared holes into Sam. "But I'm not interested in those right now. Or in that painting. I only have two questions I want you to answer." Sam fidgeted as Burke leaned forward, his arms on the table. "First, I want you to tell me why Victor Hendrickson sent me a file full of information about you and your brother. And then I want you to tell me how he really died."
Sam felt a bead of sweat roll down his neck and did his best to ignore it. He should have expected this. He was sitting across from an FBI agent, of course this was about Hendrickson. That wasn't the kind of thing that just stayed a guilty nightmare. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said, a smooth, well-practiced lie.
He could tell it didn't fool Burke for a second. "Why don't you sit here for a while and try real hard to remember." Then he gathered up the folder and left the room, leaving Sam alone with just his thoughts and a dark, guilty pit in his stomach for company.
Diana caught Jones' eye as Peter stepped out of the interrogation room, his lips set in that thin line that said his mind was already one hundred miles ahead, planning his next move. She'd always admired Peter's ability to treat the world like a chess game, it was part of what made him such an asset to the Bureau, but it did come with some weaknesses. For instance, if you did it in just the right way, when Peter worked himself into this state of mind, especially when he was as exhausted as she knew he had to be, it could be so easy to catch him off guard.
Diana smiled to herself as she saw Jones move into position. It was bad enough Peter'd dragged her out of bed three nights in a row; if he was going to do it because he was working some mystery case, she sure as hell was going to find out why. "Hey, boss?" she said, waving Peter over. "I need to ask you about something."
An on his game Peter Burke would have known there was something fishy about that, but all Diana saw in his eyes was exhaustion as he frowned and walked toward her. "Sure. What about?"
"It's...private," she said, putting on an embarrassed shrug. "Mind if we talk in your office?"
Peter frowned again at that, but he nodded and let her lead the way. When they were both inside she turned around, leaning against his desk. "Sorry, Peter. This is an intervention."
Peter turns around just in time to see Jones close the office door, thumbing the lock closed and standing in front of it with his arms crossed. "An intervention?" Peter said. "What do you---" He sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Is it another year already? Look, I promise, I'm not growing the mustache back...."
"No, no, there's still three months left for that," she said, waving that away. "We're having it catered."
"There'll be a cookie cake," Jones deadpanned.
"But then...." Peter looked between them, at an uncharacteristic loss. "What's this about?"
"What's in that file?" Jones asked.
"And why did you turn off the microphones?" Diana saw his expression go tight and thought oh no, this could be bad.
"Don't ask me that."
"The question's already out there. What is going on?"
Peter crossed his arms, quiet for a moment. "I don't want the two of you involved in this. I didn't want Neal involved either but I couldn't find a way around it."
Diana narrowed her eyes. "I'm just going to pretend you didn't say that."
Peter shook his head. "This could be your career. Both of your careers," he said, backing up so he could make with eye contact with both of them.
"Maybe you could let us make that decision, huh?" she said, taking a step toward him; she looked over at Jones and saw him nod in agreement.
Peter looked between them again, then – possibly because he realized they had no intention of letting him out of the room until they got some answers – he let out a soft, defeated sigh. "This doesn't leave this room." He was quiet for a few seconds, staring at the floor. "Have either of you heard of an agent named Victor Hendrickson?"
Jones frowned. "Yeah. Yeah, he gave a lecture when I was at Quantico."
"We were roommates there," Peter said. "Brilliant mind. An expert at finding connections, took chances, even ones that seemed crazy at the time. The kind of agent who drives supervisors crazy." Peter smiled to himself. "A lot of agents start with that kind of passion but Victor never lost it. I tried to bring him in here but he wouldn't have it. He was drawn to the dark cases. He said I could have the thieves, he'd take the murderers and we'd make the world safe from there."
"I remember the memorial," Diana said, keeping her voice gentle. "There was an explosion in a police station out west, right? In Colorado?"
Peter's lips twisted. "That was the official story. They classified that file for a reason, and don't ask me how I got my hands on it." He sucked in a harsh breath, his eyes going hard. "There was an explosion, but everyone in that station was already dead long before it. And the bodies, they...." The look in Peter's eyes made Diana sick. "Victor shouldn't have died like that. No one should."
"What does that have to do with tall, dark and floppy-haired over in the other room?" Diana said, desperate to pull Peter away from the images in his head.
He shot her a grateful look. "Three days before the explosion he sent me this by messenger," he said, pulling out the battered folder, "with a note saying that if anything happened to him I was the only one he could trust to put this to bed.." He opened it, paging through papers and handing one photo to Diana, the other to Jones. "I didn't even look at it until he died. Maybe if I had...but that doesn't matter now. Their real names are Winchester," he said, and when Diana looked down she recognized the suspect sitting the room down the hall. "That's Sam," Peter said, nodding to her, "and that's Dean," he said as he glanced over at Jones. "Brothers, originally from Kansas, no current fixed address. And if the information in here is to be believed, they've spent the last few years going from one end of this country to the other committing every crime you can think of, despite being legally dead for most of it." He rubbed his forehead, suddenly looking ten years older. "Look, both of you, this is as off the book as you can get. I'm glad Hughes is gone this week because he'd have to smack us down."
"Why aren't we arresting this joker?" Jones said, waving Dean's mug shot.
"With what evidence? I'm not supposed to have this. From the look of this, Victor wasn't exactly working from the book either. I'm sure he has a forged ID like his brother here but I don't want to take the chance he runs."
"Do you think they were behind the explosion?" Diana asked.
Peter hesitated, then shook his head. "They were spotted out of town long before the explosion, but they were definitely there. I need to know what really happened in that station house. Victor deserves that much." He looked at both of them. "Feel free to back out now."
Diana looked across the room at Jones, who shrugged. "You want me to keep a tail on this one?" he said, tapping Dean's mug shot.
Peter sighed. "Can't say I didn't warn you two."
"Yeah, we're all wild and crazy rebels," Diana said, staring down at her own mug shot. "When do we go in for round two with Sam here?"
"Let him stew some more. If I don't go home for a few hours I think my wife's going to tie me up."
"Kinky," she said, grinning at his dirty look."I guess I'll call Christie and tell her I'll be home late. Hopefully she wasn't serious about throwing all my stuff out the window."
"I'm glad you two are on my team," he said, taking the mugshots back and closing the folder. He waved Jones aside and opened the door. "Let's hope we don't wind up in an interrogation room ourselves when this is over."
Castiel skulked around the corner, head cocked to the side to catch the faint scratch of claws on tile. He'd been curt with Dean without meaning to be, the frustration of his own hunt shortening his temper. Despite what he'd told Dean he wasn't at all sure this new lead would yield results; they always seemed like good leads before slipping through his fingers like so much sand. He kept telling himself this was a test by his Father, that if he endured this trial he would finally be rewarded with answers.
Sometimes he wondered if he'd merely learned how to lie to himself a little too well.
Castiel pushed all of that aside. He breathed deep, the faint tinge of sulfur burning his lungs. This was a hunt with a quarry he could lay hands on, one he could see and touch and smell. One that could bleed. He caught the scent again, down the hallway across from him, and felt his lips curl. This was the kind of hunt he'd been created for.
He caught his first glimpse of his target, a large, dark shape pacing outside one of doors and paused, glad there was no wind to carry his scent. He'd never seen a hellhound like it before; the sleek fur was tipped with silver, giving it an ethereal cast as it moved, its claws glowing a metallic silver as they clicked across the floor. The creature's lips pulled back from its snout, revealing long canines that gleamed the same silver as the claws as a low growl rumbled through the air. Castiel felt the sound slide under this skin and attack his Grace like a blade.
He tightened his grip on his sword. Hellhounds were dangerous opponents, in many ways more dangerous than the demons who controlled them; even if an attack by one couldn't be fatal to an angel that was made up for in brutality. He'd had to fight off more than he cared to remember on his way to finding Dean in the Pit and his Grace still bore faint scars from those battles.
Castiel indulged in a grim smile. He was going to enjoy these next few minutes of petty revenge.
The creature lowered its head, the powerful muscles in its shoulders bunching and his fur bristling as it readied itself to charge the door; Castiel pounced just as it leaped, throwing it off balance and forcing it to twist into an awkward landing. He swung his sword in a tight arc, stabbing it through the creature's spine. It yelped as it collapsed to the floor, its back legs limp and useless, and Castiel wrapped one hand around its muzzle to keep it quiet. It struggled for a few more seconds and Castiel straddled it, using his weight for leverage. Even crippled it was stronger than him, something that alarmed him more than he cared to admit, and he squeezed one hand around its throat. It took almost a minute of steady pressure but the creature finally quieted, staring up at Castiel with yellow eyes that glowed with hate.
Castiel removed his hand from the hellhound's muzzle and wrenched its head around, mindful to keep out of the range of its claws. "Who is your quarry?" he demanded, twisting the his blade in the wound when he didn't get an answer fast enough.
The hellhound whined, panting for a few seconds before snarling at him, a sound that would have been meaningless to anyone else's ears. "Caffrey," he repeated, pronouncing the word carefully. "How many in your pack?"
The creature snarled again and Castiel was so surprised he almost dropped it."For one soul?" The hellhound let out a sharp, whining bark, so close to a human laugh Castiel felt his borrowed skin crawl. "Who is your master?"
This time there was no answer. Which shouldn't have been possible. "I compel you to name your master," he ordered, tapping his Grace to lend power to the words.
The only response he got was for the hellhound to bare its fangs at him in an expression that looked alarmingly like a sneer.
He heard a sound on the other side of the door and knew he didn't have any time to solve this disturbing new mystery; he grabbed the hellhound's head and twisted, snapping its neck in one motion, then backed away as it dissolved into bile and caustic black smoke only he could see. He ducked behind a corner as someone came out of the room, a man he judged to be somewhere around Dean's age, dark-haired and dressed in a suit. The man glanced around the hallway, eyes wide like he'd woken suddenly from a nightmare. Castiel closed his eyes and stretched his senses until he could hear the Pit's claim echoing in the man's heartbeat. So. This was indeed Neal Caffrey.
Castiel watched the man shake his head, as if that was all it took to force the nightmare to be false, then he saw Caffrey straighten himself, smoothing his expression the way he'd seen Dean do when he felt weak and didn't want anyone else to see. Caffrey then walked down the hall toward the din of the busier part of the building, so distracted he never knew Castiel was there watching.
Dean almost jumped out of his skin when he felt Castiel just appear back beside him. "Dammit, Cas, we talked about that." Dean frowned, taking a good looked and realizing Castiel's face was flushed and his hair mussed up, even more than it usually was. "Fuck, what is this all over you?" he asked, pointing out the black, still wet stains on the bottom part of his coat.
Castiel stared at his coat curiously, as if Dean had made the stains appear by pointing them out. "I had to take care of something," he said, glancing at Dean in a way that told him there was hell of a lot more to that.
"What does that --- hey, there's the guy in charge," Dean said, dragging back around the corner as Peter Burke came out his office, flanked by his two flunkies. "And that's the guy who got Sam caught," he told Cas, pointing out the young guy in the suit coming up from the other offices, his hat slung low over his eyes as he leaned against the wall, seemingly making a point of not looking at anyone.
"Is it now?" Castiel said, his words almost carefully bland.
Before Dean could ask why Castiel was acting so weird he saw Burke turn around, his face lighting up as an attractive, dark-haired woman walked up and threw her arms around him. "Man, look at that," Dean sighed, more wistfully than he'd intended. "No cop should be able to score a wife that hot." Dean's lip reading wasn't the best, especially at this distance, but he made out the words home soon? from her and soon, promise from him and Dean knew that would be their chance. She glanced in their direction and Burke quickly pulled her attention back to him; between that and the way the black cop kept staring at him Dean was starting to wonder if he was getting paranoid or if they were all just playing with him.
He put the thought aside. Once they got Sam out of here, it wouldn't matter anyway. "Okay Cas, looks like our chance is coming up, Burke's gonna be heading out...." He trailed off when he saw the look on Castiel's face; the guy was always intense, he didn't have any other setting, but this was something new altogether. When he put his hand on Castiel's arm he jumped like Dean had startled him, possibly the most un-Cas like thing Dean could think of. "Dude, you okay?"
"I'm fine," he said, nodding in a vague way that screamed to Dean oh hell I'm not. "I have something I need to attend to."
He was gone before Dean could say another word.
Elizabeth sighed as she hunted through her bag for her keys. Three nights of Peter not sleeping had meant three nights of her not sleeping, which meant that she'd gotten all the way to work before realizing she'd forgotten the plans for the event they had to get perfect by the next day. She wished Peter would believe her when she told him that when he slept on the couch to "not disturb her" it only kept her from sleeping anyway. She'd much rather have him for a few hours and be woken up then have to deal with another night of that.
She hoped he'd been telling the truth when he said this case was almost wrapped up. The sooner this was out of the both of their lives, the better.
Elizabeth felt a faint tremor of premonition as she pushed the key into the lock, one that told her to forget about the plans and just leave. The little voice was convincing enough that she paused for a moment before shaking it away as she turned the key and opened the door. It was just fatigue talking, fatigue and worry about Peter.
As she walked into the apartment the feeling only got stronger and it was only seconds before she spotted the trenchcoated figure sitting on her sofa. "Please leave," she said, her heart hammering in her chest. This is what happened when she didn't trust her instincts. His head turned toward her, blue eyes intense as he tilted his head, studying her, and Elizabeth swallowed hard. "You don't belong here."
"I don't belong here?" he said, his voice a low, venomous rasp.
He stood up, rounding on her with fury in his eyes. "Sister, what are you doing here?"