They were violent deaths.
That was Will's first impression as he took in the six corpses, strewn across the floor of the abandoned warehouse. The blood was pooled in red-black puddles running down into the drains embedded in the cracked cement. The bodies themselves were strangely contorted, arms bent at painfully sharp angles, faces frozen in snarls.
"Near the top of my list of questions," Jack said, mid-sigh, "is what were these people doing all the way out here in the first place? If they hadn't been this isolated, somebody might have heard something, or seen something."
Will crouched down and looked up at the roof of the warehouse--tracked the dust motes drifting through the air, golden in the dim light of the yellowed windows. On the far side of the room were stacks of canned goods, and a pile of thin mattresses and pillows. "They were hiding."
"Not sure." Will stood, clearing his thoughts, ready to open up his senses to the grisly scene around them.
"Clear out people," Jack said, "Give the man some room."
Jack's voice faded along with the others as they filtered out of the warehouse, giving Will space. He closed his eyes, let time crawl backwards, repositioning the dead to where they were moments before they were silenced. He moved back a few steps, eyes still closed, further back until he was nearly at the door—the door where the shooter had walked in, calmly, with only one goal.
They're expecting him. They heard him coming. They run towards him, ready to attack, but he's ready too.
Bang. The first shot hits—straight through the heart—and that's all it takes.
Bang, he turns and fires again, taking the second one out. It's satisfying, a job well done.
"It's over." He's giving them absolution—an end to a cursed life.
He turns and fires again and again and again and again, hitting his mark each time with practiced ease. Methodically. Barely any effort.
"No more running."
All his targets are down, violence draining out of them along with their blood, and he knows his work is done.
"This is my design."
"I've never seen anything like this," Price muttered, squinting as he examined the jaw.
"Neither have I." Katz added. She tilted her head as she took in the details around the jaw and neck. Something about all the little oddities combined made sense, even if it left the corpse looking a bit inhuman.
"Been hearing that a lot lately." Jack sighed.
"Well, put your freaky-pants on because things are about to get whackadoo."
Jack blinked at Price.
Undeterred, Price stuck his gloved fingers gently into the corpse's mouth, pushed against that oddly raised spot under his tongue. Just like before, the two lower canines extended, grotesquely long.
"What the hell are those?" Jack asked, sounding equal parts annoyed and disgusted, in the way only Jack could.
"Retractable canines. He's got 'em bottom and top. How? Fuck if I know." Price pulled his hand back and pointed at the corpse's hand. "And that's not all folks." He grabbed the John Doe's hand and pushed down on the meat of the thumb, causing the fingernail to extend, long and charred black.
Will narrowed his eyes. "Body modifications of some kind? Implants?"
"This doesn't look manmade to me."
"A deformity then? Some kind of genetic abnormality?"
"In all six of them?" Price scoffed. "And before you ask, no--there's no chance they're related. Maybe it's some kind of deformity, I don't know, but—this set of teeth hasn't been messed with."
"So what are we looking at here," Jack asked. "Vampires?"
"Vampires," Zeller said, crossing his arms over his chest. "Obviously."
"Vampires can't go out in the daytime, this guy was shot somewhere between noon and two. Also, vampires aren't real." Katz carefully pulled her pliers back out from between the corpse's ribs. "Now isn't that something..."
"Shiny," Price said, looking at the bullet. "Silver? I'll see you one vampire and raise you a werewolf."
"Silver bullets." Katz smirked. "We should send this down to ballistics,” she added, turning the bullet over in her blue-gloved fingers. "And if I'm right about this, there was some kind of liquid in the center of these bullets. I'd love to know what."
"So our killer was targeting...werewolves?"
"Fits with how they were killed." Will shrugged. "This wasn't a kill for the sake of killing. This was a hunt. He was doing his job."
"Except for how there's no such thing as werewolves," Jack growled. "Let me know when you get the lab results," he added, before stomping out.
"There have been stories of lycanthropy since the written word has existed." Hannibal said, lips curving into a half-smile. "Surely there must be a reason for so many tales of the same being."
Will looked down at his hands, remembering the strange claws hidden in the victims' hands. "We tell each other stories to scare each other, to make the real dangers of the world seem less scary."
"Is that what you truly believe?"
"No, I always thought that was a load of crap." The world was damn scary--a truth underlined by the fact that tonight's events had rattled him enough to send him to Hannibal's on the way home.
"Then what say you, Will? Is your killer hunting werewolves? Or people who think they're werewolves?"
"He thinks he's hunting monsters."
"So he has made himself the white knight. The savior of mankind."
"Not a savior. This isn't something he's doing for recognition. There's no showmanship. It's duty...or obligation, maybe."
"Interesting. He takes no pleasure in his kills, that much is evident from the lack of presentation you described."
"He does what he has to because no one else will."
"Then you are indeed tracking a hunter, not a killer. And hunters are far more elusive. He will be difficult to capture."
"So bad news, good news," Katz said, as soon as Jack answered the phone. "Ballistics has no idea what the liquid inside the bullet was. Their best guess is that it was—get this—some kind of unidentified toxin, like venom from something they can't identify."
"Is that the good news?"
"Course not. You'll remember, our friend the werewolf had a dagger embedded in his thigh, yes?"
"Yes, it was kind of hard to miss."
"Well we got partial prints off of it, and they came up with a match. You'll love this one."
"Sam Winchester..." Will rubbed his eyes, as he looked at the clock. Jack had called him at three in the morning. No wonder his head felt like sludge. He could barely remember getting home and into bed. "Why does that sound familiar?"
"Because it's required reading at Quantico: the bank of Milwaukee—classic case of a what should've been an easy takedown of one lone gunman, botched beyond comprehension."
"Milwaukee. With the skinned victims, and...wait didn't he die a few years later?"
"That was the consensus, but apparently, he's alive and hunting werewolves."
"And solo—not with his brother?"
"Not that we know of. The three witnesses that saw his car coming off the highway all had the same description: one driver, tall, floppy hair, driving a Dodge Charger."
"Did we get the plates?"
"That was my one piece of good news today. And we just got a hit. 7-Eleven near Rosedale, and then again at the Rest-EZ Motel."
"Let me go put on some pants."
"I'll be there in ten minutes."
Will paged back to the beginning of the file folder. "This is...really not helpful," he said with a resigned yawn.
"Check the back, I clipped on a freeze-frame from the 7-Eleven's security camera -- great view of the inside of the guy's trunk." Jack switched lanes, heading for the highway's next exit.
"That's...quite the armory," Will said, tracing his finger over the still, showing knives and guns neatly arranged in the trunk. He squinted at the white symbols on the inside of the hood. "Did you see how he decorated the lid?"
"Was hoping you could tell me what that chicken-scratch is."
"Better resolution would help, but if I had to guess...looks like a mix of old Anglo-Saxon runes and uh...Enochian."
"Enochian? As in that whacko John Dee--guy who thought he could talk to angels?"
"One man's madman is another man's prophet."
"You've been spending too much time with Dr. Lecter."
"Either way, this would normally indicate ritual. Give us some clue as to who Winchester thinks he is, what he's trying to do when he kills."
"And...nothing. Based on this..." Will shook the folder pointedly. "And the little we've got from this case, he probably put Enochian on his car for the same reason he shot those six people with silver bullets. Practicality."
"In his mind it's the most efficient means to an end. Doesn't help us figure out how he's going to choose his next victims though."
"That's always been the problem with the Winchester brothers. No distinguishable patterns. You'd think there would be, with such prolific killers," Jack said.
"They've got plenty of patterns. Fake credit cards, names of rock stars, movie characters, always book one shared motel room, generally the shittiest one in town. Oh and then there's the part where neither of them stay dead for very long." Will shut the file folder. "Maybe we really do have a bunch of werewolf corpses in the morgue. Maybe the Winchesters aren't human either."
"Well, you might be lucky enough to talk to one of them in just a few minutes." Jack slowed his car as he pulled onto the curb, a dozen yards away from the motel's parking lot.
"You really think we're gonna take him down? One of the Winchesters?"
"Why not? You feeling lucky, Will? I feel lucky. "
"Great. Now you've doomed us both."
Jack chuckled, climbed out of the car and signaled to his team to get into position. "Room three. Shades are drawn. Clerk told us he has a visitor."
Will stood a few feet back as Jack neared the door, gun raised. The others took position just to the side of the door, and by the small window.
A woman's sharp cry from inside cut through Will's thoughts and set his heart pounding. They had to hurry. Another, louder cry came as Jack waved one of the armored officers over and nodded towards the door.
The officer lifted his booted foot and delivered a strong kick to the doorknob, breaking the motel room wide open and went in, Jack right behind him.
The others rushed past him, filing into the room, and Will followed. The motel room was brightly lit by the bare lightbulbs mounted to the ceiling and mostly empty except for a bed with rumpled sheets and a knocked over chair; hastily discarded clothing and beer bottles covered the carpet.
There was a gasp from the far side of the room followed by a woman cursing, "Oh shit!"
Will shifted a few steps to the left until he had a better view of the room. Jack and the others stood in front of him in a haphazard half-circle staring at the suspect—the very naked, very tall, and obnoxiously well-muscled suspect. His back was towards them, hand pressed against the wall, the woman's legs clasped around his waist. He set her down gently, reached a long, tan arm towards the bed and yanked the sheet off, handing it to the woman, who wrapped herself up, eyes focused intently on the floor. Winchester turned to face the crowd, smiling wide. "Problem, officers?"
The tips of Jack's ears flushed; Will could actually feel the rage pouring off of him as he said, through clenched teeth, "Are you checked into this motel under the name Randall Flagg?"
"Yes, I am," Winchester answered, grabbing a water bottle from the nightstand. He made no effort to cover himself.
"That's a real shame, Mr. Winchester."
"Not a Stephen King fan?"
Being interrupted by the police hadn't done a thing to dampen the suspect's arousal, Will determined with a mixture of confusion and awe.
"Can't say I am. Too wordy for my tastes," Jack said evenly. "Would you like to get dressed?"
"Not really," said Winchester. "Kinda warm tonight, don't you think?" He brought the water-bottle to his lips and drank deep, thin plastic crinkling in his grip.
"Excuse me," said the woman quietly. Her sweat-soaked blonde hair hung down to her shoulders and her skin was still flushed. There was a small bruise on the side of her neck. "Am I free to go?"
Jack nodded, and she kneeled down to pick her clothes off the floor, then fled into the bathroom, slamming the door shut.
"Can I help you with something?" asked Winchester.
"Are you the owner of the Charger out back, license plate FHG-8392?"
"The owner? Not in the strictest sense. Have I been driving it? Yes."
"You're under arrest."
"On what charges?"
"Impersonating a federal officer, possession of a stolen vehicle, and suspicion of manslaughter."
"I suggest you improve your attitude, Mr. Winchester. I can make this a lot more unpleasant on you."
"Unpleasant's relative. I've had a lot of experience with unpleasant."
"Read him his rights. Put him in the back."
Will didn't miss that Winchester was going with them willingly; what he didn't understand was why.
Jack came out of interrogation room in an even fouler mood than he'd had going in. "Get anything?" he asked.
"He's not afraid of you. He's not afraid of jail. And he doesn't show any hint of remorse."
"All things I already figured out, Will."
Inside the room, Winchester straightened in his seat and looked right at the two way mirror, right at Will. "If I stay here all night, there'll be more deaths by morning."
Will gave Jack a look, nodding towards the room.
"By all means," Jack said, and opened the door.
Will stepped through and waited for the lock to click shut behind him. He sat across from Winchester in the uncomfortable metal chair.
"Why will there be more deaths by morning?" Will asked.
"Two more nights of full moon. Pack was twelve strong, at least, I took down six, you do the math." Winchester was tall, broad-shouldered. The cuffs looked ineffective on him. Will wondered how many times he'd been in a jail.
"Yeah. Of werewolves." He said it with a smirk, but there was no humor in his voice. "So instead of dead werewolves, tomorrow morning you'll find whoever they end up snacking on, throats torn out, bodies mauled. "It'd be a lot neater my way."
"You hunt werewolves."
"And other things. Whatever needs hunting."
"What other things?"
Winchester smiled, a show of teeth. "Take your pick."
"So you hunt monsters."
"Yeah. Isn't that what you do, Mr. Graham?"
"I profile humans that other humans have deemed monstrous."
"And...what do you deem them?"
That slowly growing sense of unease spread, running down Will's spine like spiders. Something about Winchester's cat-like eyes, maybe, or the low rumble of his voice. "You don't seem at all concerned about your current situation."
"Should I be?"
"Most people don't like the threat of being locked in a cage."
"I've been in worse cages."
"This isn't your first arrest."
"No, not by a long shot." Winchester looked amused. "You know, Mr. Graham, there was a time when this whole situation would've made me pause and think, and figure out some way to sweet talk myself out of this situation. But see, the thing is, it doesn't matter."
"Nope. You're going to leave eventually, and then the nice officers here will put me in one of those dinky little cells. And then, during shift break, I'll walk out of that dinky little cell. You'll never see me again, but feel free to analyze me all you want. Your buddy Jack can tack my name onto that long list of unsolved crimes you have."
Will ignored the contempt in Winchester's voice, and the far more unnerving certainty. "Where's your brother, these days?"
"The Winchester brothers... Yes, I'm familiar with them." Hannibal was cooking--searing something in a pan based on the noises Will heard on the other end of the line.
"They were admitted into a psychiatric hospital a few years ago. One of the doctors working there wrote me for advice. He'd never encountered patients like them before."
"What was their diagnosis?"
"Codependency, religious psychosis, martyr complex in one, persecution anxiety in the other."
"Can't say I caught any of that in Sam."
"The interesting part, as I remember," Hannibal continued, "was that one of the aides at the facility quit as soon as the brothers were admitted stating that they'd met Sam Winchester before, and that he was possessed by the Devil himself."
"And what do you think?"
"I've never met either of the brothers, but I believe the Devil only goes where he's invited."
"Sam thinks he's hunting monsters."
"So we were right then. He has no defined patterns because he adjusts his kills for each prey. Decapitation, grave desecration, silver bullets. Monstrous deaths for the monsters he believes he's hunting."
"There's a...certainty to him. I don't think he--" Will's phone beeped obtrusively, an urgent, incoming call. He looked at the number. Jack. "I gotta take this."
"Of course. Good night, Will."
"Night." Will switched over to Jack's call as he opened the gate to his front yard. "Jack?"
"Sam Winchester escaped custody."
Will wasn't the least bit surprised. "A man of his word."
"We had four officers outside his cell, two cameras--which, I should mention, were both shorted out, and yet--"
"Forty minutes ago. Left in a police cruiser."
"He'll have ditched it by now. Too conspicuous." Will slowed his steps as his front porch came into view. Something felt off.
"Any idea where he might've been headed?"
"To finish off the rest of the werewolves. Arresting him put him behind schedule. He said if he didn't take them out, there'd be more deaths by morning."
"Where does he think the other werewolves are?"
"No idea. Gotta go, Jack."
Phone silenced, the night seemed unnaturally quiet. It was more a feeling in his gut, than any concrete sign something was wrong. But Will had learned to listen to his gut over the last few years. That was, he supposed, the reason he was still alive at all.
The yard looked empty, and his living room light was on, just how he'd left it. But Harley wasn't barking, neither was Buster. They would've seen him or heard him by now and they always came to the window.
Will quickened his steps, tested the doorknob—the door was still locked. He reached for his keys, and that's when he heard the sounds from inside. Whimpering, terrified quiet noises. Not just from Harley but from Winston— and Winston wasn't afraid of anything. Will's hand shook as he rushed to find the right key.
And then something huge and heavy crashed into him, sending them both crashing through the porch railing.
Will cried out, and folded over, the pain in his side strong enough to be broken ribs, maybe internal bleeding. But he didn't have more than a half second to assess his injuries before his attacker was on top of him, pinning him down, unnaturally strong--a snarling distorted face with huge canines and features more lupine than human. Its sharp claws dug into his shoulders and Will let out a scream.
A shot rang out, the proximity of it deafening. The thing that had been attacking him fell back, and let go. He scrambled to his feet, ears still ringing from the shot and saw Sam Winchester, arm extended, revolver pointed at the--the werewolf. Because that's what it had to be— a man and a wolf, fused into one terrifying being. The gun had hit it in the head, there was a good chunk of its skull missing, and yet somehow it was still alive, still snarling, focused now—much to Will's relief—entirely on Sam and his gun.
Winchester, for his part, didn't look concerned in the least. He aimed the gun, angling it ever so slightly down and fired again, shooting the thing straight in the heart. It let out a pained whoof of a noise and fell to its knees, then collapsed forwards.
Will watched in shocked amazement as the distended jaw and snout shrunk, leaving the thing looking nearly human again. He looked up at Sam, who lowered his gun and gave him a nod.
Will tapped the hammer against the nail one more time. It was ugly, but it'd do until he had time to properly replace the porch-railing. He picked up his beer and sat back down across from Sam. "So werewolves are real."
"Better question: what isn't?" Sam smirked. "But you wouldn't like that answer."
"You sure that was all of them?"
"Not all of them. But in this area, yeah."
"How'd you know it was coming after me?"
"I didn't. Lucky guess. A lot of times, when they shift, they'll go after people they consider a threat during the day. Two of them were trailing Agent Crawford. I killed them before I came here."
"So they what...they saw us at the warehouse?"
"Or they were at the station, saw you and Jack with me." Sam took another drink from his beer, pointed vaguely at Will's jacket-pocket. "You gonna call Jack?"
"What are you gonna tell him?"
"That you tracked a werewolf to my house, saved my life and ran off, and I called him as soon as I could."
"Favor from one monster hunter to another?"
"Something like that."
"Hm." Sam finished his beer, started to peel the label off the glass. "Thing about hunting monsters--you study them, you learn their habits, how they think..." He looked pointedly at Will. "Sometimes you start to think like them. Maybe relate to them a little too much."
"Sometimes. That's when you pull yourself back."
"What about the ones that don't act like monsters? What about the ones that want to be your friends?"
"Not sure I know what you're talking about, Mr. Winchester."
"It's Sam." He cocked an eyebrow. "And you know exactly what I'm talking about. I read up on you. You've had a monster courting you for weeks."
"Somebody you know. Somebody you trust. Lots of things can look like humans. Even act like them, most of the time."
"Maybe you should go," Will said, finding himself far more angry than he should be, especially considering how dangerous the man across from him was.
"Sure." Sam stood--all lithe, shoulders relaxed but ready, reminding Will again how outmatched he was. He reached into his pocket, and Will had to force himself to keep from flinching. But luckily, Sam wasn't reaching for a weapon. He pulled a cloth bag from his pocket and tossed it to Will.
"What's this?" Will asked, holding the small, green bag in his hand gingerly like it was a bomb. It smelled of herbs and other, less natural things and tingled faintly in his grip.
"Basic protection mojo. Fends off some things, not all of them, but some. You've got something tailing you. Something that likes you for now. But one day it's gonna change its mind and decide you're lunch." His eyes narrowed. "Trust me on that one. No matter how much you think they care about you, they don't."
Will knew who Sam was talking about, even if he wasn't quite ready to admit it to himself yet. Perhaps that's why he felt such a strong flash of anger.
"It's not their fault," Sam said, standing. "They're monsters."
"Goodbye, Sam." Will said, voice impressively steady considering how shaky he felt.
Sam gave him a knowing smile, turned on his heel and stepped off the porch.
Will watched him as he left, until he disappeared into the night.