San Francisco, 2002
The first time was in San Francisco, of course. Of course it started there. Half of the most important events of Dean's life conspired to occur in that windy stretch of state that clung to the continent by its fingernails and would likely drop off in the next big earthquake.
The second time happened in Kansas, of course, the staging ground for the other half of Big Events in the Life of Dean Winchester. The whole state had bad juju as far as Dean was concerned and he shivered involuntarily every time he crossed the state line. He'd never admit anything to Sam, of course, just tried to steer them away from that area as much as possible.
His low opinion of Kansas was only increased when, cutting across the Northeast corner on their way to a possible redcap infestation in Nebraska, Dean turned away from a gas-stop counter with a steaming cup of coffee in his hands and found six federal agents with their guns drawn on him.
All he could think was how grateful he was that he'd walked from the motel, that he was alone, that maybe Sam would hear them coming or would even wonder where Dean was for a while before stepping outside the motel. Dean could picture him, big, lanky, mop-haired Sam with sleep in his eyes, peering out across the parking lot and wondering where his dickhead older brother was with his damn mocha whipped cream frappuccino latte.
He thought, Sam Sam sorry while they ground his face into the floor and snapped the cuffs on. They took him right out of the gas station, early-morning commuters pausing to stare while they gassed up their fucking Volvos and Dean wanted to spit at them all, wanted to scream like a lunatic, give them a show.
Instead he got into the van, docile as you please, not wanting to give any of these hard-faced, underpaid government agents an excuse to smack him around. He needed his wits about him, needed to look for openings and avenues of escape.
The van doors slamming shut behind him reverberated. This wasn't the first time he'd been handcuffed in a van – that sheriff when he was 16, that cop in Baltimore, Cindy Myers and her kinks – but this one felt different. Felt final, like cage doors slamming shut.
At least Sam wasn't in here with him.
San Francisco, 2002
Dean was lame, laid up with a fracture in his right leg from some kinda weird desert thing in Nevada. He needed time to heal and he wasn't going to have time to heal, not with the fire that had lit itself under Dad's ass. For a year now they'd been tearing through the back road legends of America like some kind of reunion tour, which was really kinda like the Stones heading back out on the road without Keith Richards, except in this case Keith Richards was a scrawny bookworm with a severe case of the Pouts.
And beneath the anger and resentment, Dean missed that dumb little fuck. Missed him and tried not to feel it, kept it at a distance. So he was a little less than please when Dad announced that they were swinging down through San Francisco to check on their little Keith Richards-wannabe in Palo Alto.
He liked it even less when, a week later, Dad left him there.
"Just 'til you're back on your feet," John said as he stomped into his boots. The pre-dawn light brought out the grey in his hair; some nasty, vengeful little thing in Dean's chest wanted to point that out, but he beat it into submission and sat quietly in front of the television with his goddamned stupid fucking leg in its goddamned stupid cast stretched out in front of him.
"Okay," he said, and his father grunted, swung his pack up.
"I left you five hundred. If you wanna catch a cab anywhere…" He gestured vaguely, by which he meant go check on your brother if you can. "You call me when you get that thing off."
Dean wanted to rip the cast off right there. Instead, he made a show of rolling his eyes. "Naw, I'm gonna stay here and become a hippie, Dad. I'll call you when I've found enlightenment."
John didn't smile, just grunted again and left. Dean turned the channel.
Special Agent Henrickson was as smug as he'd sounded on the phone. He didn't overtly gloat, was way too professional for that juvenile crap; but he spent two hours rubbing in Dean's face how easy it had been to find him, how he and his brother had been so noticeable and obvious (and Dean couldn't tell from his tone whether or not Sam was chained to his own interview table in some other room), how Dean was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. He all but stuck his thumbs in his ears and waggled his fingers.
Dean thought about cages, bars, and fences. He thought about the Impala sliding across open roads in the night. He thought about Sam, either in custody or out there on his own, with no one to protect him.
He didn't say a damned word to anyone, didn't even quip. "Cat gotcha tongue?" Henrickson actually purred. Dean had a million retorts to that, most of which began with oh come on, you can do better than that, but he voiced none of them. No point in talking, all he had was crazy shit about shapeshifters and werewolves. Though, maybe he could work that to his advantage. Enter an insanity plea, get transferred to a clinic somewhere. Go cuckoo's nest for a while, then jump the fence.
Yeah, right. He wasn't that lucky. They're probably strap him down straight away and pump him full of drugs, and he'd spend the rest of his life as one of those medicated zombies shuffling around in his bathrobe.
There was a knock at the door and one of the junior agents came in. Whatever the guy had to say, Henrickson didn't like it, because he scowled and started to get up.
Before he made it two steps to the door, though, it swung open wide on its hinges. Somebody outside cut off in mid-sentence, probably due to some interview-room etiquette that forbade arguing with each other in front of a prisoner.
The guy who'd just come in didn't seem to have that problem. Dean heard him before he saw him, deep authoritative voice that seemed wired too tight, stretched past some invisible breaking point and left there to shake endlessly under the strain. Just the faintest trace of a Boston accent colored the edges.
"Special Agent Henrickson. I'm Special Agent Creegan, OSC. I hear you've got my serial killer."
San Francisco, 2002
Apparently that thing in Nevada hadn't been strictly a desert creature, because it followed him. Dean woke up with 50 pounds of slavering teeth and claws on his chest, his leg a white-hot brand of pain.
Stabbing it with the knife under his pillow didn't stop it, just made it howl and screech. Dean managed to heave it off him and dove to the other side of the bed. He went too far and slid over the side, clutching futilely at the sheets.
He landed on his leg.
The siwa lizard – or whatever it was called, all these things had a million Indian names – hissed and sputtered in the corner, wriggling around to flip itself back up. Dean screamed through his teeth as he dragged himself across the floor for a gun, remembering the bloated bodies this thing had left behind, all the poison turning corpses into balloons. He couldn't tell if it had bit him yet, if he was already a goner, but he could hear the scritch and thump of its claws on the floor, crawling after him. His hands closed around a Glock and he fired wild, as much to scare it off as to hit it.
The muzzle flash revealed it to be close – fuck, way too close – but it skittered away again, hissing in displeasure. He hadn't hit it. Dean hauled himself up and put his back to the wall, one leg pulled in tight and the injured one stretched out into the dark with his toes sticking out of the bottom like an invitation to nibble. It had better night-vision than he did but he put the gun out anyway, trying to hear it around the thunder of his own blood in his ears. The gun shook in his hands.
Then the door cracked open – not in the sense that it opened a crack, more like it cracked the fuck open, wood splintering everywhere as though someone had taken a fucking battering ram to it.
Street light flooded in and landed on the siwa, which was paused in mid-lunge above Dean's foot. Dean denied it later, but he screamed like a little girl at the thought of that thing taking off one of his toes. He brought the gun to bear, but the battering ram beat him to it, and proceeded to pound the shit out of the siwa with a baseball bat.
It took a while. By the time the siwa had stopped writhing around in favor of lying in a mashed-up puddle, Dean had clambered awkwardly to his feet to lean on the wall, shivering with what he hoped was shock instead of poison. The motel manager had come to the door, and was shouting in Thai at Dean's rescuer.
Dean's rescuer, who was about 6'2", had dark hair, was in his early-to-mid-30's, and seemed completely comfortable with the fact that he was stark naked.
Naked guy with a baseball bat, beating the crap out of a siwa. Dean had seen stranger things, but none sprang to mind.
It was a damned good thing Dean spent as much time as he did at the poker table. When Special Agent Creegan swept back into the room – after a heated argument outside that even the thick walls of the interview room hadn't fully disguised – Dean didn't even blink.
Creegan removed his jacket and draped it elaborately over the back of the empty chair facing Dean, then sat down with a satisfied exhale, as if he just couldn't wait to nail this sick serial-killing sumbitch.
When he finally got settled with his forearms propped against the table’s edge, he raised light blue eyes to Dean's and considered him for a long, quiet moment. Dean looked back, face blank, nothing on the surface. Inside, though, he was screaming in disbelief.
"You," Creegan told him grandly, "have the weirdest luck, Dean Winchester. So does your brother: somehow he heard us coming and slipped out the back window. Bit of a trick for somebody that big."
Underneath the table, Dean's fist unfolded slowly, gratitude flooding his veins. It evaporated in the next moment, though, when Creegan sat back and said, "Let's talk about Madison Lorraine."
Dean couldn't quite withhold his reaction there, eyes narrowed in surprise. Creegan cocked his head, watching close. "You're suspected of having shot to death one Madison Lorraine in San Francisco, five months ago. Since it's more recent than your other adventures," he flicked his hand at the door and, presumably, a pissed-off Henrickson, "until you're cleared or convicted of her murder, you're in my jurisdiction, kiddo."
Oh, you've got to be kidding me. Dean licked his lips and schooled his features, struggling to give nothing away. "Don't suppose you'd believe me if I told you she was a werewolf?"
Creegan cocked his head in the opposite direction, eyebrows rising.
San Francisco, 2002
The naked guy with the baseball bat was named David. Dean found that out after the guy switched on the light and soothed the frightened motel manager with a few words. Apparently, he was well-trusted around here, enough that the manager bought Dean's fumbled story of an animal attack – supported when Naked Guy went into the bathroom and returned to point out the smashed-in window. The manager left shortly thereafter to call animal control.
Naked Guy stood over the siwa lizard and poked its corpse with the bat a few times. "Huh. Funny lookin' thing."
Dean continued to lean against the wall. Waves of pain rippled across his thigh and calf, protesting the recent action. "Yeah. Funny. Hey, uh, you mind…" He was planning to get the guy out of the room, get changed, and high-tail it out of there as fast as he could gimp, but then he shifted and accidentally put weight on his leg. Spots danced in his vision and he clutched at the wall, breathing through his nose.
When he could see again, the guy had come across the room and had his arm wrapped around Dean's shoulders. His naked arm, which was attached to his naked body. Dean was at least wearing boxers.
"Hey, hey, take it easy, kid," Naked Guy said, his voice rough and low with concern, holding on tighter when Dean tried to squirm away.
"I'm not a kid," Dean gasped, and that came out high and thin and humiliating. He swallowed. "Dude, three-foot bubble. Nine if you're naked."
Naked Guy straightened away and looked down at himself. "Oh. Yeah, that's right."
"Yeah." Dean reached back for the wall and promptly started to slide again. His good leg had had quite enough excitement for the night, because it was shaking hard enough to resist every attempt he made to lock his knee. Apparently Naked Guy saw Dean's swaying as a valid reason to grab his shoulders again, because that's just what he did. "Dude, seriously! Thanks for the help and all, but can you keep your pork and beans away from me?"
"Fine, let's just get you down." Naked Guy hooked an arm around Dean's midsection – and okay, that brought way too much naked skin in contact with other naked skin – and heaved him over to the bedside. "I'm just gonna stay with you until animal control gets here, okay? No more bad touching, I swear."
Dean finally managed to lock his good knee, as alarmed at the prospect of Naked Guy getting him anywhere near a bed as he was at the thought of cops. "No, dude – you don't have to do that and, ah, I'm not really gonna stick around, anyway, so – "
"You're not?" Naked Guy paused and raised his eyebrows in Dean's direction without letting him go, which meant that their faces were about two inches apart. Dean began squirming away again, but his efforts had grown weaker. "You shot off a gun, they're gonna want to make a report."
Dizziness had set in. Oh, this was not good. Dean shook his head slowly to clear it, squeezing his eyes shut against the electric spots dancing on his pupils. "No report. No… no cops."
"You don't like cops?"
"Nngh." Dean wavered and started to slip, his head drooping low on his neck. Sweat had broken out on his skin, and an icy spurt of fear went through him at the thought that he'd been bitten somehow and just hadn't realized it yet, that he was going to swell up until he cut off his own breathing.
He didn't notice at first when Naked Guy started to move him, tipping him over one arm to scoop him up by the backs of the knees with a grunt. When Dean did figure out that he was being carried by a naked guy like some kind of gay porno version of a Disney movie, he twitched and thrashed, then gasped when the movement jarred his leg. A spike of pain made his neck arc, made him shudder.
"Easy, kid." Naked Guy shifted and tightened his grip. "My name's David. I'm goin' to take you back to my room now, okay? Promise not to molest you or anything, but I can't just let you go if you're that worried about cops."
"Why not?" Dean wheezed. He couldn't even keep his eyes open, but he felt it when they passed outside – cold air washed over him and raised goosebumps, wracked him with shivers. He turned his face instinctively against the warm shoulder beneath his cheek.
"Well," Naked Guy said, in a wry, soft voice, "I'm kind of an FBI agent."
Dean passed out cold.
It didn't take all that long for Agent Creegan to arrange for a cross-country transfer to San Francisco. Dean caught a brief sight of Henrickson as he was escorted (shuffling, due to the chains attaching his hands to his ankles) from the building. The man looked murderous. Creegan hadn't been making up the jurisdictional protocols, though: this was his show, and he moved everything along calmly.
There were four people in the van with them: a driver, a secondary driver, and two guards. Creegan sat up front with the drivers, chatting with them in what sounded like Portuguese; the beefy pair of guards sat in back with Dean and talked mostly to each other about mortgages. Dean sat on his own and said nothing to anyone.
They drove most of the night and through the next morning. They stopped twice for gas and once so that the drivers could switch out; every time they did, Dean tensed, looking for an opportunity. Nothing came, though. The guards might have houses and a wives that kept them up at night, but that didn't mean they were any less sharp at those weak points, as aware of the opportunity as he was.
Then, around 9 am the next day, Creegan very calmly pulled out a gun and ordered everyone to leave the van. When the guards went for their guns they found them empty and Creegan smiled with real apology. "Sorry. Sorry."
He made them get out and kneel in the dirt beside the van then produced syringes from his pocket. "Just a little knockout," he reassured them. "Sorry. I'll swear that you all fought hard if, y'know, somebody ever catches me."
When the last one hit the ground, Special Agent David Creegan came back and crawled into the van and propped his dusty shoes on Dean's knees. A grin broke through from where he'd zipped it up all night, so unlike him to be able to hide anything. Then again, it’d been four years, and they both took a long moment to size each other up.
"Nice poker face, kiddo," Creegan teased, practically humming with deep delight and mischief. His bright eyes glinting in the sun. "You practically started jumping up and down when I walked in.”
Dean grinned back, cocky with relief. "You get Sam out?"
"Yep. He should show up soon. He took some convincing, I got to say – you raised a very cautious boy."
"Damn straight.” As the thrill and relief of escape subsided, though, Dean said, “Dave – they’re gonna know it was you.“
“Don’t, Dean.” Creegan waggled his feet a little bit, rubbing them back and forth across Dean’s thigh and frowning at them. “They were talking death penalty. And anyway, it’s not that big a deal. I can still do what I do, with less paperwork.” He grinned widely, but it was transparent, painted on. He could never hide himself at all, at least not from Dean.
Dean held fast. “You could’ve – ”
“Coulda woulda shoulda, didn’t,” Creegan said rapidly then sat forward and put his lips against Dean’s to stop his reply.
It had never stopped being electric; that part hadn’t changed. Creegan had this… this way of kissing with his whole mouth, like he was putting his fucking soul into it and holding nothing back. It used to freak Dean out, but then, a lot of things about Creegan freaked Dean out: he’d spent those first few months back in San Fran half-convinced that the older man was going to snap at any moment. Nobody could just walk around with his soul turned inside-out and expect to survive very long.
Creegan had. Creegan did. He curled one long-fingered hand around the back of Dean’s neck and licked across Dean’s lower lip, then sucked it into his own mouth and whimpered softly. It had the sound of relief to it. Dean couldn’t help but respond and groaned back, tilting his head to go on the offensive, attacking Creegan’s mouth. Creegan let him and that really got Dean going, electricity crackling along the edges of his muscle memory.
When he drew back, all of his inside-out soul shown in Creegan’s eyes and his smile. “Missed you,” he said simply, like there was nothing else in the world, not cops or FBI or shapeshifters, just Dean.
Dean dropped his eyes self-consciously to the side, surprised all over again by the total focus of Creegan’s attention. “Right. So, um, you gonna unchain me anytime soon?”
Creegan’s eyes dropped to Dean’s handcuffed hands, then slanted upward again, sly. Dean swallowed and pointed a warning finger at him as best he could, considering that his ankles and wrists were still attached to one another.
Creegan pouted. “I let you handcuff me! Multiple times. Occasionally in public.”
“Yeah, well.” He didn’t have a good defense: he’d done some kinky shit with Creegan, after all, way crazier than he’d ventured with anyone else. “We’re kinda still in the back of an escaped federal van, here.”
“Oh, fine. You’ve gotten boring in your old age, kiddo. It’s gonna be all missionary position with the lights off from now on, isn’t it?”
Dean’s mouth felt a little funny, all dry and numb, like he didn’t have proper blood flow, which, considering where all his blood was, didn’t surprise him in the least. Creegan saw and laughed, delighted. He laughed with his whole body, too.
The low growl of an approaching engine made Creegan tense and Dean relax. He’d know his baby’s sound from a million other cars and sure enough, Sam’s shaggy head soon appeared in the van’s open doors. “Dean! Man, you okay?”
Dean hopped out of the back and groaned as he stretched his cramped limbs. “Yeah, we’re good.”
Creegan hit the dirt behind him. Sam looked at him. He looked at Sam. They both looked at Dean.
Dean blinked, swallowed, suddenly nervous as hell. “Um, yeah. Dave, this is Sam. Sam, Dave.”
Creegan took Sam’s hand and shook it solemnly. “Hello again. We weren’t properly introduced before, sorry about that. I’m in love with your brother.”
Sam’s mouth dropped open and Dean choked, “Chrissake, Dave,” then turned and walked quickly toward the purring Impala.
“What?” Creegan called after him. “We gotta tell him sometime, otherwise he’s gonna wonder why the hell I’m helping you guys.”
Dean spun around and planted his feet in the dirt beside the Impala’s door, finger pointed. “Don’t you say anything else. Not a word.” Sam was staring at them both, mouth still catching flies. Dean transferred his warning finger. “You, too. In fact, nobody’s allowed to talk. At all. Period.”
They both eyed him over the Impala’s roof, Sam in shock but catching on and Creegan supremely amused by the whole situation. Dean groaned and climbed into the car. “Oh, this oughta be interesting.”