Barely awake and moving on autopilot, Dean picked up his cell. With one eye he glanced at the ID, and uttered a drawn out sigh as he answered, “Explain to me again how I ended up with the short straw?”
Sitting up and rubbing at his eyes, Dean answered. “Yeah, all right, you got a point. So how is she? Any better?”
“Yeah actually her fever broke this morning. Kate moved her into our bed and they’re both sleeping.” Dean heard the truth of what Sam said, but he could still hear the concern in his brother’s tone.
Not knowing what to say, Dean nodded. “Good.”
Quickly Sam changed subjects. “So, no problems with the Seattle sector passes?”
“So far. Already told you, the true test will be getting out.”
“Yeah, well don’t worry about that right now. Bobby’s already working on a second pass if we need it.”
“Good to know. So did you dig up any more about this Manticore?”
“Not much. The news archives listed it as a mental rehab center. It made the news when it burned down, killing everyone a few years ago. Officially they listed it as faulty wiring. But here’s the thing: Researching the building I went back five years, then ten, and found no record of it being there in the first place. I went further back and found some obscure records that listed a military facility there back in the 70’s. On top of that, there were no funeral services and no one came to claim any of the bodies -- patients or medical staff.”
“So what? You think it was some kind of hinky government 51? How does that tie in with the shifter?”
“I don’t know, but there’s no denying those photos. The dude looked just like you twenty years ago.”
“Yeah, but that’s the point Sam, how or why the hell would a shifter wanna ice my DNA?”
“I don’t know. There’s always the chance it’s not a shifter.”
“I’m just saying don’t discount it. It can happen.”
“Enough! I told you already it’s not.”
“Yeah, but it happens. Trust me Dean, it’s easy to let one slip past the goalie…”
“Hey, just because you and dad let one slip by doesn’t mean it’s a Winchester tradition.”
‘Fine! Just remember when you catch up to him, test him first before you go and off him, all right?”
Dean didn’t bother to dignify that with an answer and halfheartedly grunted his consent.
“All right so where are you going next?”
“I got a lead on a messenger service, Jam Pony. I’ll see what I can find out there. Call me if you pick up on anything else. And give Miss Maribell a kiss for me; we have a standing date when I get back.”
“Will do. And Dean, be careful.”
“I got it, okay? Go on, I’ll check in with you later.” Dean didn’t wait for a reply and hung up. He knew Sam was worried, wanted to be there with him, but he had a family now and they came first – Dean insisted on it.
After he hung up, Dean showered and dressed before leaving the motel. Straddling the motorcycle, he paused and zipped up his jacket against the morning chill. It was mornings like this he missed his baby. The world had turned upside down following the pulse. Within twenty-four hours the cost of gas hit, with a sky-rocketing jump from 3.89 a gal to 8.71 and continued to increase; by the end of the year only the rich and military were capable of maintaining a vehicle. Which was why his baby, the impala, was in storage, up on blocks.
Today in larger cities wherever it was still accessible people used mass transit, bicycles or they walked. Even in smaller populated areas, those who continued to work and save purchased a scooter or, if they were lucky, a motorcycle. The days of traveling from city to city were nearly non-existent. During the chaos each city closed itself off creating sectors. Even through the reconstruction the borders remained – each heavily guarded and enforced against those without proper ID.
The day Dean left to investigate the shifter, he drove from Missoula, Montana to Seattle, Washington; it had taken him nearly a week as he slowly made his way west from one sector to another.
Turning the ignition on, Dean shifted and throttled the bike into gear and headed toward Jam Pony.
By the time he arrived, Jam Pony was bustling with business. Messengers on bikes skirted past him as he made his way inside toward the dispatcher’s cage. The guy inside the cage had his eyes focused on the clipboard in his hand, yelling out, “Come on people, get a move on, bip bip bip.” Wearing a head-set and busily calling out runs to various carriers who came up and collected the packages before taking off, it was easy to see he was in charge.
Quietly, Dean waited for the rush to die down. Once it did Dean moved in closer, and flashed a badge, drawing the dispatcher’s attention from his current task of cleaning his glasses.
Dean’s patented spiel was on the tip of his tongue, but stalled when the guy excitedly burst out “Alec?” and arched a brow at the unexpectedness and decided to change tactics.
“No, but I’m betting you could help me find him?”
The guy rushed to put his glasses on and stated the obvious. “You’re not Alec.”
“Didn’t say I was. Name’s Dean Waters. Like I said, I am interested in finding Alec. Think you can help me with that, ah…”
Flustered, the dispatcher pushed the frame of his glasses further up against the bridge of his nose as if they were slipping then glanced at Dean’s badge. “FBI?” Then scowled suspiciously, adding, “Aren’t you a little under dressed?”
Without skipping a beat, Dean stated, “Cut backs.” Then noticed the wall behind the dispatcher and spotted a framed certificate to a Reagan Ronald. “You’re kidding me; you’re named after Ronald Reagan?”
“A great man: I’m a fan and a patriot but most people around here call me Normal.”
Immediately Dean’s hand covered his mouth and he coughed to keep himself from bursting into laughter. The guy in front of him was anything but normal. Though none of that mattered, he needed to find this Alec and Normal obviously knew the guy.
“So Normal, you know where I can find Alec?”
Normal shook his head. “Sorry, no can do. He quit, leaving me high and dry, months ago.”
It was too adamant and Dean didn’t believe a word. “Did he happen to leave a forwarding address?”
“No, like I said he quit. One day he was here the next he wasn’t.”
Irritably, Normal turned away, shuffling papers trying to keep himself busy. “Huh, in this economy walking away from a paid job doesn’t exactly sound right, does it? You wouldn’t be trying to hide something from the FBI now would you?”
Normal stopped and faced Dean. “I didn’t, I’m not…”
“Alec quit, but he could make a cash fall anywhere. Before he started here, Alec was a fighter in the ring. A real contender went under the name, Monty Cora. I watched him take down "Mangler" Miller in less than forty-five seconds.” At first, Dean thought it was only admiration from the way Normal spoke of Alec, but then Normal added, “It was beautiful” in a such wistful dreamy tone that it screamed man-crush while he continued to stared into Dean’s eyes; locked in the moment oblivious to the fact that Dean wasn’t Alec. Suddenly, Dean was grateful Sam wasn’t here to witness it as he was positive he’d never hear the end of it.
Dean smiled shyly and encouraged the guy. It was obvious to him that Normal knew a hell-of-a-lot more than what he was letting on. Though the thought of flirting with a man who was a huge Reagan fan made his skin crawl, he wasn’t above using any method necessary to retrieve what he wanted. Dean pursed his lips thinking as he maintained Normal’s gaze, before he asked, “You have any idea why he might have quit?” then waited.
Dean could see Normal was about to answer when someone came up from behind him, their voice abrasive and wary, breaking the moment. “Am I interrupting?”
Startled, Normal looked behind Dean’s shoulder; his eyes widened, as if he was just been caught stealing out of the till. Then like a light-switch, Normal’s composure flipped from flustered to apprehensive and tense just before everything was slammed shut, and he gritted out harshly, “No, we’re done here.”
Although he was irritated, Dean’s tone stayed light and suggestive as he asked, “You’re sure about that?”
“Asked and answered. Now if you don’t mind I’ve got a business to run.”
“Alright, fair enough. If you hear of anything…” Dean pushed his card toward Normal.
Normal nodded and turned away dismissing Dean as he busied himself by shuffling paperwork.
Walking away Dean cringed when he heard the guy who had interrupted them, ask. “Who the hell was that, Alec’s dad?”
Dean cursed under his breath, distracted by the thought that the guy thought he was this shifter’s father and bumped into one of the riders outside. The girl waved off his apology when he overheard several riders talking, where one asked if they were going to Crash tonight. He listened for a moment and realized they were talking about a local bar where the riders hung out.
Maybe he’d have better luck and find Alec there.
Dean didn’t have to wait long before Crash started to fill up. He recognized several of the riders from Jam Pony coming in after work. He had already talked to the bartenders, all of who seemed to know Alec and to a degree had corroborated Normal’s story that Alec had left town. Yet they were all under the impression it was for a short duration and was expected back in a few days. That was the good news, the bad—annoyingly they all thought the same thing that he was Alec’s father. With each comment comparing the two, he was having more trouble maintaining any semblance of an affable—he wasn’t Sam for Christ’s sake.
After purchasing another bottle, he waited, discretely watching the door while he nursed his beer, waiting for either Alec or Normal to enter.
Dean didn’t have long to wait as Normal walked in then cursed under his breath when he saw Normal wasn’t alone but with the same guy who had interrupted them earlier.
Stepping back into an alcove he watched as the two got a drink and sat down at a table. They appeared anxious, checking the time and periodically checking the door as if they were waiting for someone. If he was lucky maybe it’d be this shifter, Alec.
Abruptly they straighten and waved someone over. Dean glanced over hoping it was the shifter instead he was disappointed to find it was someone else, some guy with glasses.
While trying to decide his next move, a busty young girl came up, throwing her arms around him and squealing in excitement, shrieking Alec’s name, talking a mile a minute and wondering when he got back in town. Pulling back, her smile started to fade, blinking in confusion as she suddenly saw him and realized her mistake, she blurted out. “Alec? No, can’t be Alec, you’re too old.”
Dean grimaced, under his breath and muttered, “Thanks,” he said, his hand fisting into a ball. He never had a problem with his age before when he had never expected to live as long as he had. However today, all day he’d faced dozens of different people who knew the shifter, a younger version of himself, and watched the disappointment creep into their eyes that he wasn’t their Alec. To top it off, whether they asked or silently assumed, it was clear they all thought he was Alec’s father because of their striking resemblance.
“No, he’s not.”
Off balance, Dean looked up and saw it was the guy that Normal had waved over to his table.
“Oh wait, I get it, you’re his daddy, right?” She didn’t bother to wait for his answer as she continued. “Well when you see your son can you tell ‘im Kandy misses him. We have some catching up to do…” Then she leaned up brushed a quick kiss on his cheek. “I can see where he gets his good looks.”
Bristled by the blatant assumption, Dean wanted to tell her he didn’t have a son but before he could react she was gone, leaving him along with the guy who assumed or somehow knew he wasn’t Alec’s father. Dean had an odd feeling that it was the latter.
Hoping to salvage something in his botched investigation, Dean gave the guy a slow once over. They stood eye to eye. The guy was younger by a few years, lean frame, with a pair of bright intelligent blue-green eyes behind metal frames. However it was his hair that really got Dean’s attention. It was longer than Dean’s own brushed back style. It also had streaks of blond, giving an illusion he spent time outside but given his even unblemished skin tone, Dean knew it was processed highlights that stood out in erratic spikes all over the place. It was worse than bed-head.
Oddly, it added to the guy’s overall appearance. One Dean had to admit was a good look on him.
Finally he met the guy’s gaze, only to see his appraisal had flustered the guy. It was an in that he could use, already pleased to have the guy unbalanced. Dean quirked his lips into a wider smile in obvious appreciation, letting the guy know he liked what he saw. Then, as if he was in on the joke, he spoke. “Huh, Alec appears to be quiet popular.”
Behind his frames, the startled fluster gave away to wariness as they narrowed when the guy asked, “Who are you and why exactly, are you looking for Alec?” Although the tone of his voice was casual, his eyes were hard and cold as steel; it was obvious to Dean that Normal already told the guy about his earlier visit.
Just as casually, Dean countered, “Who’s asking?”
The guy nodded and chuckled, “All right I’m game. Logan Cale and you are?”
Dean was about to lie and use the same name he had given Normal, Special Agent Dean Waters FBI, but at Logan’s expectant stare, silently daring him to lie. Strangely, his gut was telling to go with the truth -- at least as far as he could under the circumstances of his job. What he needed to do was bide his time and get a hold of Sam to have him check this Logan out. The guy obviously knew a hell-of-a-lot more about Alec than Normal did.
“Dean Winchester.” Dean waited for a reaction but there was none.
“So, not a special agent then?”
Dean bared his teeth in a bright smile. “Special agent? That’d depend on who you talk to…” he shrugged.
“I’ll take that as a no. So what’s your interest in Alec?”
“Thought that was pretty obvious… what no one else has a problem seeing, when they look at me,” Dean swallowed against the distaste as he added, “I’m looking for my son.”
Logan appeared unfazed by Dean’s response and completely dismissed the idea, stating, “I find that hard to believe since he’s not your son. You play?” he asked, walking over to the pool table that just opened up.
Dean followed. “Pool, sure,” he said, watching as Logan picked a cue stick before adding, “You seem pretty sure about that, about Alec not being my son.”
“I am,” Logan asserted, then under his breath, too low to actually hear, Dean was able to read Logan’s lips as he mumbled, “At least, not in the traditional sense.”
It was strange unless he knew Alec was a shifter, or maybe this guy was the shifter. “Humph.” What Dean needed was to make sure. Going to the wall he pulled out a pool stick, his hand going inside his pocket he pulled out a silver dollar. Turning, he threw the coin, at the same time he alerted Logan with “Catch,” expecting him to catch it.
Logan did, easily snatching it from mid-air and clutching it in his fist.
Dean watched his hand, hoping – then became irritated when there was no reaction. No singe of burning flesh, no gasp of pain, not even an irritated itch caused by the metal. Unless he was dealing with an Alpha-shifter and Dean had to concede that was next to impossible since the pulse ten years ago. Where most of the demons and creatures up top were killed when the pulse hit, others strong enough hightailed and escaped to hell just before the gates of Hell were sealed closed. In their wake, it left only the weak for him and Sam to hunt down over the years, dwindling down to ghost manifestations, to salt and burn. No, the way Logan held the coin he wasn’t a shifter or the other dozens of monsters that’d repel against pure silver. Besides he had to admit this whole case didn’t fit any typical shifter’s MO, there was no trail of bodies or money stolen.
And that brought it back to Sam’s point. Outside of having Dean’s face they couldn’t figure out why Alec was hanging around Seattle in the first place. Why Sam continued to blatantly hint that maybe one of his swimmers actually did slip by - that Alec was his son.
Just the thought of being some grown kid’s dad twisted Dean’s gut with emotions he didn’t want to face. At the mental slip, Dean grimaced and forcibly tried to focus on the now, as he told Logan, “Go ahead.” His voice carried his bitter thoughts even as he inclined his head indicting Logan should toss the coin.
Startled, Logan glared at the coin then back to Dean.
Dean could see it in Logan’s eyes that he was going to say something. Internally he bristled and gave himself the riot act for dropping his façade for even a moment – afraid he had given something away.
He watched, waiting for the shoe to drop. Instead Logan frowned staring at the coin. It was then Dean realized the guy was thinking about the damn coin toss - probably about how lame it was. Dean didn’t care and swallowed his relief.
Logan finally looked up and questioned, “to lag?”
Dean shrugged, and smiled widely, watching Logan flip the coin then slap it on the back of his wrist, as he called out “Heads.”
“Tails.” Logan answered and looked down at his hand to see that he had won the toss.
Dean waved toward the table, conceding Logan’s win.
Logan moved around and bent over, lining up his shot before hitting the ball. In one smooth motion the cue hit the ball. Running down the green to hit one rail and gently rolling back to bump the other rail before it rolled to a stop, right at the rail’s edge.
For the first time in a long time Dean wondered if he’d lose the lag. Over the years he had become an expert and, for all intent purposes, a pool shark. It was a good and, unless he was desperate, usually an honest way to earn money, gather information, and in his case - pure enjoyment. He came around the table to purposely crowd Logan, he brushed up against him then smiled in way of an apology but didn’t give Logan enough room to escape, keeping the space between them tight as Dean leaned in to make his shot.
It was a good shot, but not good enough as his cue ball rebounded a half inch away from the rail just ahead of Logan’s ball.
Dean stood up, still in Logan’s space, closing the distance as he quirked his lips into a classic smile, ready to lay out the Winchester charm, and lowered his register a couple of octaves as he suggestively told Logan. “Guess you can rack ‘em.”
Logan searched Dean’s face as if he couldn’t believe what he just heard. Dean knew it wasn’t his words, but the tone and his body language. It was obvious to Dean; Logan wasn’t used to being hit on.
Dean held his stance, waiting eagerly as he enjoyed the show. How Logan’s eyes bugged out from behind his frames where his pupils dilated. This close Dean could see the variant hues of green that meld with blue as spikes of yellow intersected with brown-gray. The colors danced, changing shades as they continued their staring game, neither of them willing to move. Every second that went by Dean couldn’t help but like Logan’s gusty bravado as he stood his ground. However before he could entertain any further thoughts Dean had to make sure Logan wasn’t some kind of demon. What he needed was to get the guy to drink some holy water.
Slowly Dean licked his lips, drawing Logan’s attention to them, his voice a low whisper of control keeping the same seductive tone he had just used. “So, are you going to break?”
The question jolted Logan out of his zoning and he swallowed nervously, his lips parting in shock. It was a look that Dean could only guess had to do with Dean was coming on to him. Jerkily, Logan nodded then cleared his throat before he hoarsely added, “Yeah.” His throat clearly parched that he started coughing.
It was perfect; Dean’s lips twitched to display a hideous thankful grin. Instead he busied himself by pulling out his flask, twisting the top off then took a healthy sip before handing it over to Logan. “Here have a drink.”
Still coughing, Logan took the flask, but stared at it then sniffed before he took tentative a sip, then another when he realized it was only water.
Whoever Logan was, knowing now that he was human meant that Dean felt the tension in his body dissipate. Best case scenario Logan was just a poor sap trying to protect a friend, and didn’t know the man was a shifter. At least that was something Dean could work with. It also meant he didn’t have to pretend his interest. Okay, sue him, maybe it started out that way but he wasn’t blind. The fact was that Logan was hot in an adorable geeky way that Dean found more than a bit interesting. It was easy to entertain the idea of what Logan looked like under his clothes, to see him bent him over the table… thoughts that went straight to Dean’s libido, but there was something else. Logan intrigued him, made him curious in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time.
Dean moved in closer, his hand in continuous motion rubbing circles over Logan’s back until his cough died down. Abruptly Logan stepped back and put out his hand to stop Dean. It connected with Dean’s chest. Dean looked down and started to step back. He didn’t get far as Logan’s fist gripped Dean’s shirt to hold him in place.
“Who are you?”
“Thought we covered that?”
Dean cusped Logan’s jaw, his thumb swept up, caressing as they stood inches away. There was no subtly in the move, it was direct leaving Logan no question or doubt about Dean’s interest. “Still want to break?”
Suddenly Logan used his fist to push Dean away breaking contact, nervously muttering he had use the bathroom.
Dean nodded and watched Logan make his way through the crowd then exhaled when he saw him push the men’s door open.
Grabbing his cell, Dean hit Sam’s number waiting for him to pick up.
On the third ring Sam answered with a question. “You’re calling early, everything okay?”
“I don’t have a lot time. Need you to find out what you can on a Logan Cale.”
“Wait what? Logan? Is he there?”
Dean blinked in shock. “Sam, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Dean you’re the one that asked about Logan. I just wanted to know if he was there.”
“You know Logan?”
“Not technically. We never met in person. He’s goes by another name on the net. He’s helped us on a few cases before, Eyes Only – I told you about him.”
Sam was right and vaguely remembers he’d told him about Eyes Only, what others called a cyber vigilante. “You’re sure, Sam, that they’re the same?”
“Yeah I’m sure, not that he actually volunteered the information. Though I didn’t even know he was in Seattle. How do…”
Dean interrupted when he saw Logan was on his way back. “I gotta go, I’ll explain later.” And slammed his phone closed.
Not leaving him any time to think, Logan was behind him and asking, “Going somewhere?”
“No, not without you; we need to talk.” Dean looked around, and added, “Somewhere more private.”
Logan’s eyes widened, as a shade of burnt red crept up his neck and he stammered out, “I’m flattered, really I am… but that’s a bit too fast for me. I don’t know you...”
“Actually you do, and I know who you are.” Logan tensed by the implication. Dean moved and grabbed Logan close until he was flush with his body. Intimately Dean leaned in until his lips brushed over Logan’s ear, to whisper “You’re Eyes Only.”
In a full panic Logan tried to push away but Dean refused. “It’s all right you know my brother, or at least his handle, Bitch and Jerk” This time he allowed Logan just enough room to see his face and read the truth in his eyes.
Seeing he had Logan’s full attention he added, “Let me just clarify: Sam’s the Bitch.”
Logan was in obvious shock, but seemed to accept what he said. “And Alec?”
“Sam came across some wanted photos that apparently were distributed from your sector. Then Sam found some references to Manticore, but nothing was adding up. And he had my face.”
Dean could clearly see Logan recalling previous conversations with Sam, about what they did. “You thought Alec was what, a demon?”
Dean shrugged, “We don’t believe in coincidences. I was thinking he was a shifter. It was better than thinking I had a kid.”
Logan answered, “I can understand that.” Still neither of them moved. To anyone else watching they were locked in an embrace. Almost shyly Logan looked up then away, “So this was just…” and faltered trying to find the right words.
Dean cupped Logan’s jaw tugging him to turn back to meet his eyes. Then spoke with confidence, letting Logan see the truth. “Even before I figured out you were human, I was interested. That hasn’t changed, I’m very interested.”
Dean paused for a moment then tilted Logan’s jaw just a faction making his intention clear. That if Logan wanted to say no, now was the time. Dean descended, being careful not to jar Logan’s glasses, moving until their lips were almost touching. He hovered there; Logan’s lips were slightly open, his breath hot and erratic – then it was Logan who closed the gap.
Initially the kiss was slow and tentative, growing until it started to build into a heated volcano.
Dean forgot about everything else but who he had in his arms. Suddenly someone tapped on his shoulder, their voice irritated as they demanded, “Hey if you’re not going to play, take it over to the side and let those who want to play pool, play.”
Reluctantly Dean pulled back, about to tell ‘em to go fuck off, but the words lodged in his throat as he enjoyed the sight of Logan’s flushed face. No, the guy was right; they needed to get out of there, needed to talk – inhaling – among other things, he added. Grinning at the possibilities of how the night might unfold, he conceded a nod to their intruder.
“I think we’re done here, right?”
Logan barely nodded his consent before Dean moved with Logan tucked tight under his arm as he ushered them out of the club. He still didn’t have all the answers, but knew between them they’d figure it out: Manticore and, more importantly, who the hell Alec was. But right now the only thing Dean cared about was getting Logan alone and continuing where they left.
With no body count to worry about, the rest could wait until tomorrow.