SwerveAuthor: collsRecipient: allhailaugustusRating:
brief mention of suicide ideationAuthor's Notes:
Crossover with Criminal MindsWord-Count:
swerve (swûrv): to cause to turn aside or deviate: an abrupt change of direction.
During the year Dean’s in Purgatory, Sam ends up back in FBI custody.
Derek studied the suspect through the one-way glass. He was haggard, tired beyond a simple lack of sleep. There was an age to his face far beyond his actual years. His large, scarred hands were folded calmly on the table in front of him and the set of his shoulders said he'd given up.
Picked up because he'd hit a dog, the younger of the infamous Winchester brothers seemed like a broken man. If the man was such a monster, why would he even take the dog to a vet in the first place, much less argue with the vet risking a call to the cops? Derek thought it sounded sloppy. On top of that, when was his brother going to show up? Reports had them acting as a team, so where was the other one?
The BAU team was in the area using the local field office as a base of operations while investigating the mysterious deaths of six women. There were fewer leads than usual and they had pretty much hit a dead end. In fact, most of the team had already headed back to D.C.
Rumors that a suspected fugitive, confirmed dead more than once, was in custody was a welcome distraction. Reid was interested, excited even. He had immediately called Garcia, asking her to find a file in his desk drawer.
Reid hung up the phone, stood and gestured Derek to join him at the printer.
“Do you remember an Agent Henriksen?” Reid asked.
“Vaguely. Wasn’t he killed in Colorado a few years ago?”
Reid nodded. “February, 2008. He was killed while trying to apprehend the Winchester brothers. But that’s not the whole story.”
Reid, it seemed, had a very thick case file on the Winchester brothers. At one point, Agent Henriksen had reached out to the BAU to do a profile on the Winchesters, but had already formed his own opinion and hadn’t really been all that interested in what Reid had to say.
“Looking at events in Illinois, I noticed the facts Henriksen shared only accounted for part of the story. He didn’t falsify evidence or anything like that, he just discounted anything that didn’t fit his theory. He told me I was chasing my tail. Anyway, the idea of a sibling crime partnership was actually rather interesting, academically speaking, so I kept researching. I’m pretty sure I dug deeper than Henriksen ever intended.”
“The thing is, everything about the Winchesters is so shrouded with mysterious phenomenon and ridiculous witness accounts of ghosts or monsters that it was hard to find the truth. However, if you look strictly at the patterns of the cases, you’ll see killings and disappearances always started well before the Winchesters arrived in town.”
Reid shared his conclusion that the Winchesters were some sort of underground vigilantes, not lawful exactly, but not murderers. He admitted his own shock at the events of last year and claimed that he’d kept the file around because he still couldn’t quite believe what he saw as it deviated so much from their prior behavior.
“The Winchesters on that killing spree last year were not the Winchesters Agent Henriksen was after. The behavior patterns are all wrong.”
Derek and Reid watched as a local FBI agent conducted the formal interview. He was doing a horrible job, studying his papers and not even looking at Sam. A good portion of intel gained in an interview is from body language, even a rookie knew that.
“He’s doing a horrible job,” Reid remarked, echoing Derek’s thoughts.
The agent’s thin voice came through the speaker, "Why did you go to Jericho? Black Water Ridge? Manitoc?"
"You've got it wrong," Sam said wearily. “It wasn’t us.”
Earlier, Sam had spun a fantastic tale about body doubles and monsters impersonating both him and his brother, Dean. He called them ‘Leviathans’. He delivered the tale without animation, like reciting what he had for breakfast. Reid’s jaw dropped when he’d heard the story and Derek had to suppress the urge to tease him about it.
"Are you saying you were never there?"
"Not last year."
“Not last year....,” Reid repeated almost to himself, tapping his fingers on his lower lip, lost in thought, “but you have been there before.”
Derek shot him a quizzical glance while on the other side of the glass Sam continued to admit to some things and firmly deny others. Most importantly, his story had not changed no matter how many different ways the agent asked the same questions.
The agent flipped over a page in his folder. "Witnesses say you were in Manitoc on February 7th of last year." Once again, he wasn't even looking at Sam. Sam, who had been sitting there calmly for hours reciting ludicrous facts. He offered no excuses or details on how such things were possible, only that they had happened.
Not able to merely observe any longer, Derek moved towards the interrogation room. Reid suddenly snapped his fingers and called after him, “Drownings! 2005!”
Derek began speaking the moment he opened the door of the interrogation room, not bothering to introduce himself. "If not February of last year, then when were you in Manitoc, Mr. Winchester?"
If Sam was startled by his sudden entrance he made no sign. "2005. October I think, maybe November. And I’d prefer it if you called me Sam.”
“Mr. Winchester was what everyone called my father. I’m just Sam,” he replied in a tone that was probably meant to be sarcasm but without a trace of humor on his face.
The local agent, a bit nonplussed by Derek’s entrance, tried to take up the new thread. “Your father. He died several years ago, didn’t he?”
Sam nodded. “I’m sure that’s in your file somewhere.”
Derek shook his head. “I meant why were you in Manitoc, Sam?”
Sam shrugged as if the answer was of little importance. “There was a vengeful spirit."
“A vengeful spirit?”
“A ghost. It had drowned and was extracting vengeance.”
“And you.... resolved it?”
Sam studied Derek before answering. “I suppose you could put it that way.”
Derek nodded and gestured Sam to continue.
“If the Leviathans followed our pattern, the next stops on their killing spree tour would’ve been Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Rockford, Illinois, Burkittsville, Indiana, Saginaw, Michigan,” Sam paused, “maybe Hibbing, Minnesota.”
“And why those places?”
“Those are places we saved people.”
“You and your brother?”
Sam rubbed the back of his neck, lowered his eyes and didn’t respond. Derek noted the change in his demeanor and glanced at the mirrored wall, knowing Reid was already rifling through his files and had most likely missed the cue. Like Derek, Reid was curious as to Dean Winchester’s whereabouts.
The local agent interjected, “Why tell us your plans?”
“They weren’t our plans. The Leviathans were killed in Iowa.”
The agent, clearly annoyed with the fact Sam had refused to abandon his ‘Leviathan’ story, closed his folder. “I’m done here.”
Derek knew the agent wasn’t taking Sam seriously. Not that Derek could blame him considering what Sam was claiming, but Derek’s instincts, Reid’s research and Sam’s body language all said he was telling the truth. At least, the truth as he understood it.
“I have a few more questions. Do you mind?”
“Not at all. He’s all yours,” The agent handed Derek the case file. “We’ll need this room cleared by 2pm. You’ll have to remand him to psych or get him to a holding cell by then. Frankly, I don’t care what you do with him,” he glanced at Sam, “Like I said, he’s all yours.”
An hour later, Derek stepped out of the interrogation room. Reid, emerging from the observation room met him in the hall.
“We have to get him released,” Reid began.
Derek interrupted him, “On what grounds?”
“Case of mistaken identity.”
“He claims to be be Sam Winchester.”
Reid placed his hands on hips. “Well, I don’t know. I do know is that the two men who committed the crime spree last year are dead. Who this guy is doesn’t officially seem important, does it?”
“So you’re buying his story?”
“Derek, it all fits. The patterns that made no sense, the witness accounts that never fit with Hendrickson’s initial case. And his account of what happened last year line up with everything we know. There were even agents who worked that case, ones very insistent on capturing them, who abruptly left the FBI and soon after disappeared. No explanation.”
“Monsters? Ghosts? Demons?”
“I’m not saying I completely believe his interpretation
of the underlying causes of the phenomenon, but I’m saying I believe he’s not the perpetrator in any of these cases.”
Derek looked at his watch, it was almost 2pm. “Ok, you call the Iowa office and get the official file on the Winchester deaths - the other Winchesters. I’ll collect Sam and we’ll meet you in the conference room.”
After a brief detour to the break room and facilities, Derek escorted Sam into the conference room and motioned him to a chair in the far corner. The conference room had been commandeered by the BAU several days ago and most of the paraphernalia of their current case was still on the bulletin board including copies of photographs and crime scene details. Their case which was officially moving from ‘active’ to ‘cold’.
Derek looked over to Reid, who was on the phone presumably with the Iowa office. Reid nodded and gave him an awkward thumbs-up motion. Derek pulled out his phone to call Hotch. Normally he wouldn’t feel the need to notify his boss that he was releasing a non-suspect, but he wasn’t sure these circumstances counted as normal.
During Derek’s phone conversation, Sam had wandered over to the case board. He was staring at it intently, his eyes alert and his brow furrowed in concentration.
Derek wrapped up his call and walked over to Sam. "You should remain in your seat. That’s an active, confidential case."
Sam shrugged slightly, but didn't shift his expression. It reminded Derek of the look Reid got when he was close to fitting things together.
Derek studied Sam while Sam studied the board. "Know any of these women?"
"Of course not," Sam replied barely registering the question. He lifted his cuffed hands to point to a photo of one of the victims. "This looks like a very recent picture. Is there one from a few months ago?"
Sam turned to look at Derek. "You're stumped, aren't you? You have a case where six women are dead and you have no idea how they died. The only common thread is that they died strangely."
Reid looked up from the reports he'd been studying to listen.
"That's just the point. Strange is what we do. You're not equipped for strange."
Derek crossed his arms and tilted his head in a stance that clearly communicated he was listening but reserving judgement. “And by ‘we’ you mean...,” he trailed off, hoping Sam would let on to where his brother was, but suspecting he wouldn’t slip up like that.
Ignoring him, Sam turned to Reid. "All those towns, you’ve looked into the dates. You know there were unexplained deaths until Dean and I showed up. They stopped after we left. The idea we were involved with the deaths doesn’t quite fit, does it? And you figure maybe we really aren’t the bad guys here."
Neither Derek or Reid responded. It was, in fact, exactly what Reid had been claiming since he’d heard Sam Winchester had been arrested.
"That's why you're releasing me, isn't it? I heard you talking to your boss. You believe me but you can't prove it. You don't know why or how and it's just bugging the crap out of you." Sam let out a short, hollow laugh.
“The evidence is circumstantial, but the lab reports of the dead men in Iowa match the DNA left by the perpetrators at the other crime scenes,” Reid said calmly.
“As far as I’m concerned, you are just an unfortunate look alike. That’s why we’re releasing you.” Glancing back at the photographs on the wall, Derek asked, "So why an older picture?"
"All the victims have either short or shoulder length hair in the crime scenes. Tammy Frederick's driver's license photo shows her with long hair. These Facebook photos of Jillian Peters and Winona Goldstein from a few months ago also show longer hair. Same here, and here." Sam pointed to victims number five and six. "Is it really a pattern? Did victim three have longer hair recently and where did they get their hair cut?"
Derek called Garcia and asked about a slightly older photograph of Lindsey McNeill.
A short while later, Garcia reported back with a photograph showing long auburn hair and reported that according to credit card statements none of the women used the same hair salon.
When Garcia didn't hang up right away, Derek and Reid both leaned closer to the speakerphone.
"What did you find, baby doll?"
"I'm so glad you asked, sweet cheeks. None of them frequent the same hair salons but they all donated their hair to ’Locks of Love’
Reid, Sam and Derek all look at each other quizzically. Garcia continued, “’Locks of Love’
is a non-profit that provides hairpieces and wigs to children suffering from hair loss because of medical problems, usually cancer. So sad, kids having to battle cancer. People can donate their hair as long as they have 10 inches of it.”
“So they all went to this ’Locks of Love’
place and donated hair?” Reid asked.
“No, you don’t have to go in person. You can mail it in.”
“Follow the hair, girl,” Derek encouraged.
The sound of a keyboard being abused could be heard over the speakerphone. Garcia continued, “All victims sent in their hair between March and July of this year. All have been used and distributed. Other than the ’Locks of Love’
, the recipients appear to have no connections, but I can dig deeper.”
Reid began asking Garcia specifics about the recipients, trying to narrow down possible connections when Sam interrupted him. “Who physically handled the hair once it’d been mailed in?”
They listened to a few more moments before she finally spoke. “The intake coordinators were all different but the inspector who shipped them off to the manufacturer for all of our victim’s locks was a woman named Madeline Jenkins.”
Sam seemed impressed with the speed at which Garcia filtered information. “Not going to lie, I’m a bit jealous at how fast you gathered that up. It would’ve taken me hours of combing through...” he paused, “...stuff.”
“Not to mention illegal if you’re not supposed to have access to certain data.” Reid interjected as he stood by the printer, waiting for the hard copy of everything Garcia had found on Madeline Jenkins.
Derek frowned at Reid, turned to Sam and admitted, “Garcia’s a wizard.”
“Wizards don’t really exist,” Sam said, “but warlocks and witches do.”
At first, Derek thought he was joking.
“I’ll need to grab a couple of things from my car,” Sam said twenty minutes later as Reid, wide-eyed and slightly horrified, removed his handcuffs.
Derek’s still not entirely sure how it happened - it was definitely not procedure - but somehow Sam wound up in the back of the SUV as the three of them drove to the Jenkins residence. Derek knew the shift from suspect to asset was abrupt, but Sam had provided the first real lead they’d had in quite some time. Plus, Derek trusted Reid’s research. Derek and Reid had decided that, considering the unique circumstances, it was better to ask forgiveness than permission.
Reid read the Jenkins file, Sam asked questions and Derek drove. It seemed there was nothing particularly interesting about Madeline Jenkins life, at least from a possible criminalistic point of view. She was in her mid-fifties, divorced, no children. She had an unremarkable credit record, no citations and a rather dull work history. She’d started working as quality inspector at Locks of Love
in early March. To Derek, it sounded like a dead end.
Sam was still probing, “Where did she work before Locks of Love
Reid consulted the file. “She was a part-time receptionist and outreach coordinator at a church camp.”
“What happened? Did she quit? Get fired?”
Derek took out his phone and pressed speed dial. “Baby doll?”
From Garcia and her wizardly research skills, they learned that two years ago Jenkins had joined a small non-denominational, independent church that had set up shop on the outskirts of town. It was lead by a charismatic man from places unknown and had burned down in January. The only thing remarkable about the blaze had been the increased levels of sulphur found at the scene.
“Apparently our girl Madeline was so committed to the church’s vision that she quit her job as a school teacher in order to spend more time doing outreach.”
“What kind of outreach?” Derek asked.
“Mostly setting up a children’s craft and day care. It doesn’t seem like much more than that.”
“How many members of the church had children?” Sam asked.
There was a brief pause before she answered. “None.”
“Had there been any new members in the weeks leading up to the fire?”
“No new members for several months that I can see,” Garcia replied. “When this case is over, the boys are going to have to explain to me who you are and if you’re as handsome as you sound. Until then, call me if anything interesting happens.”
Derek put his phone away as they pulled up to the curb in a residential neighborhood.
“There are several reasons a coven would break up, but shifting power dynamics or outside influences usually top the list. Power grabs within an established coven are rare, so something attacked them.”
“Wait. I thought witches were the bad guys, so whoever attacked them was on our side?” Derek asked.
“Not necessarily, no. I mean, it could’ve been a botched hunter job, but it doesn’t sound like it. It sounds more like their power source decided to go down a different path than the church had planned.”
“Power source? What’s a witch’s power source?”
Sam frowned and studied the house. “I understand you not wanting me to have a gun, but I really wish you would’ve let me bring Ruby’s knife.”
As it turned out, Sam didn’t need a gun or a knife. Refusing to stay in the car, he’d been standing a couple feet behind Reid when the woman answered the door. Partially obscured by a porch column that boasted a large hanging basket bursting with colors, Madeline Jenkins didn’t see him right away. She was cooperative yet slightly nervous, perfectly normal behavior for someone who’d just had the FBI show up at her door unannounced.
But then she saw Sam and her eyes turned solid black.
“Sam Winchester!” she hissed, and she flung her arms in the air, sending Derek and Reid sailing off the porch and onto the yard. Landing with a soft thud on the grass Derek looked up to see Sam pinned to the wall, feet dangling in the air. He was muttering something that Derek couldn’t hear.
“Where is your brother?” a voice that did not belong to Madeline demanded.
Derek stood and reached for his gun, slowly making his way back to the porch while the woman... demon... whatever she was, continued to call for Dean to show himself.
As he approached the porch, Derek realized Sam was chanting something softly in Latin. Suddenly his voice rose, gaining momentum and just as he reached a crescendo the demon fled, leaving Madeline in a violent scream. Both her and Sam crumpled to the floor.
Reid moved forward to arrest the woman, when Sam stopped him.
“She wasn’t involved.”
Madeline sat in a heap on her porch, weeping. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
Sam glanced to Derek and continued, “You have no grounds to arrest her. Unless you can arrest people for summoning demons now, because if you can do that --- it would actually kind of make my day.”
Derek holstered his weapon and nodded to Reid who did the same. Together they helped a distraught Madeline Jenkins into her house while she continued to babble about her demon and how it had warped her wish to help those children into something evil. The sudden shift from suspect to victim was startling and abrupt, but considering all the twists and turns he’d experienced today, Derek was getting used to it.
It was nearing dusk as Derek walked Sam to his car. Once again, Derek was struck with the thought that he wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. Yet he had been there, he saw the black smoke pour out of the woman. He felt the absence of it as it left her, like the clarity of the air when a storm has just passed or the letting out of a breath you hadn’t realized you’d been holding. He’d also noticed the shock and fear well up in the woman’s eyes when moments before they’d been filled with black, bitter hatred. So he knew in theory what had happened, but he had no idea what had actually
happened. His mind seemed slow to wrap itself around this new reality.
To top it all off, he had no one to arrest. “How am I supposed to close this case?” he asked aloud.
“No, seriously. What do you usually do?”
Sam dug his keys out of his pocket and looked around. “Not much in the way of cleanup needed. It’s not like a salt and burn or routing a vampire nest where you have to cover up quickly and head out of town. You know, before the authorities arrive.”
Derek noticed the smirk that had passed over Sam’s face. He was glad to see that the man wasn’t actually dead inside and still had a sense of humor. “Very funny,” Derek sniped back.
After a moment Derek continued, “It must be nice not having to worry about paperwork.”
“We keep a journal.”
“You and your brother?”
Sam stared into the distance. “I guess just me now.”
Derek had suspected as much. It fit, really, with everything. With how broken Sam had seemed, how alone. “How did your brother die?”
Sam didn’t answer at first. Couldn’t answer it seemed.
“I’m just so tired, you know? Tired of hiding out, using fake names and running from the cops on top of everything else. I keep moving but I’m not going anywhere. Or I don’t know where I’m going. Or...” Sam took a shaky breath, “I’m just so tired.”
“Is that why you told us about the Leviathans, the monster hunting and demons? Because you have to admit that the chances of us believing you were kinda low. If Reid hadn’t run across your file a few years ago, you’d be looking at a psych eval right now.”
Sam shrugged. “Plan A didn’t work so well, figured I’d at least get a padded room out of it.”
“Plan A? The dog?”
Instead of avoiding his eyes, Sam looked directly at Derek and said without a trace of remorse, “I was trying to bust through the guardrail and sail over the edge,” he let out a small huff and bent to open the driver’s side door. “By the time I saw the dog I knew I couldn’t avoid hitting it, but I swerved anyway. I guess I didn’t think it should have to go out with me.”
“What are you going to do now?” Now that both mental institutions and incarceration have been avoided.
Derek was pretty sure the urge to fly over a cliff had passed.
Sam turned away and looked over the hood of his car. He still looked tired, but perhaps a bit less haggard - which seemed at odds with the kind of day they’d had. “Maybe I’ll go see how the dog is doing.”
He climbed into his car and Derek listened to the low rumble of the engine as Sam drove away.