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Chapter Four

Sam jerked awake and to his feet, staring uncomprehendingly at the landscape the stretched around him. Abandoned buildings lined the street, the overcast skies making the sad buildings even more depressing. The street was the only thing left of the town, the rest swallowed by the desolate lands surrounding it. He had absolutely no idea where he was. He was in the clothing he had fallen asleep in: jeans and a long sleeve sweater. He was thankful the weather was mild, not relishing the idea of these clothes in the cold.

He moved into the town, eyes squinting as he searched the few buildings left. He knew Dean wasn’t here. Whatever instincts that flared from the prophetic dreams told him this was it. This was the culmination of the Yellow Eyed Demon’s plan. He still had no idea what that plan was, but he sure as hell wasn’t helping that bastard. A creak broke the silence, freezing Sam in his tracks. He quickly reached for a wooden plank, raising it up high. Stopped his downward swing just in time. “Andy?"

Andy Gallagher jerked in surprise, then slumped in relief. “Sam! What are you doing here?”

“I don’t know.” He dropped the plank, resuming his exploration of the town. Andy dodged his heels the whole way. The other man was just as Sam remembered: the epitome of a good natured, weed smoking, slacker. Andy’s short, dark brown hair was a mess, his dark eyes were still a little blood shot from lack of sleep, and his clothes were rumpled from living out of his van.

“What am I doing here?!” he exclaimed.

“I don’t know.” Okay, he was a little tense. Andy would just have to forgive him.

“Where are we?!”

Sam sighed, turning to the other man. “Andy, look, calm down.”

“I can’t calm down! I just woke up in freaking Frontierland!” He was waving his arms at the buildings, eyes wild and expression still freaked as hell.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Sam hoped getting Andy focused would help him calm down.

“Honestly? My fourth bong load. It was weird. All of a sudden, there was this really intense smell. Like, uh…” Andy trailed off, face scrunching, trying to remember.

“Like sulfur?” he guessed.

“How did you know that?” Andy stared up at him in awe and a little trepidation.

“Dean,” Sam answered, remembering how he had whiff of the chemical in his sleep. He wondered if his brother had smelt it, too.

“Your brother -- is he here?” Andy looked hopeful. Probably thought the more people he knew, the safer it would be.

Sam shook his head but held up his finger to indicate the need for silence. The hairs on the back of his neck were up and tingling. He picked up another plank, surprised when Andy did the same. He swung this time, yelping as the plank burst into flames.


He dropped the flaming plank, looking up into Reid’s scared eyes. “Spencer!”

Reid stared up at him, eyes as freaked as Andy’s but his expression was a hell of a lot calmer. “He took me from Hotch’s house. I tried to fight him but. . . .” He trailed off, rubbing his arms through the shirt Sam had last seen him in. “I hope Hotch is okay. I hope he’s not worrying.”

Sam awkwardly patted Reid’s shoulder. “Dean’s probably tearing his hair out.”

Andy looked away. Sam felt bad, knowing Andy didn’t have anyone worrying about him out there. Screaming derailed his need to apologize to Andy. The three of them exchanged glances before taking off at a run towards the cries. The source of the feminine screams came from an old outhouse, the door banging against its lock and hinges from the inside.

“Hello?” Sam called out, carefully examining the door, trying to figure out how to get her out of there. Her voice seemed familiar somehow.

“Help me! Help me, please!” she cried out.

“Okay, I’m here. We’re gonna get you out, all right? Just hold on a second.” He found a rock, heading for it.


“All right, one second.” The cumbersome rock was a horrible hammer but it was working. Smash after smash was weakening the metal.

“You know, I could’ve melted the lock or burn a hole through the wall,” Reid interjected dryly.

“Please!” she screamed again.

Sam glared over his shoulder at him before bringing the rock down once more. When the lock gave way, he dropped the rock to get it off the door. The door opened. “Ava?”

The little, pretty brunette grabbed his arms, flinging herself into his arms, sobbing, clutching, hysterical. “Oh my God! Sam!”

“So, I guess you guys know each other,” Andy said facetiously, eyeing them both.

“Yeah,” Sam sighed, patting her back, trying to comfort the young woman.


Reid hid a smile as he watched Sam trying his awkward best to calm the young woman he had called Ava. It was obvious that Sam knew both her and the other man with them. They both seemed to look to him for guidance and comfort. Honestly, he did as well. His FBI training was keeping him calm and alert, ready for whatever was thrown at them next, but that didn’t stop him from looking to Sam for the same things.

“How did you -- I mean, how did you --”Ava was saying.

“Ava, have you been here this whole time?” Sam asked.

Reid noticed how he even though he was looking at her, Sam was still aware of his surroundings. He was battle ready, Reid realized. It made him tense, taking his hands out of his pockets, keeping them ready as well.

“What whole time? I just woke up in there, like, half an hour ago.”

Reid kept his peace when he heard the false note in her answer. He flicked his eyes over Sam. It was obvious the other man believed her, but then again, he wasn’t trained like Reid to read nuances like her eyes cutting away from Sam’s when she answered. It might have been her looking at her prison, but Reid didn’t think so. Her words rang fictitious to his profiler’s ears.

“Well, you’ve been gone for five months. My brother and I have been looking for you everywhere,” Sam countered her, flipping his watch. It must have had the date as well as time because Ava was shaking her head.

“Okay, that’s impossible, because I saw you two days ago.”

Sam shook his head. “You didn’t. I’m sorry. “

“But . . . that makes no sense. That’s not -- oh my God! My fiancée, Brady! If I’ve been missing for that long, he must be freaking out!”

Reid instantly knew something had to happen to the fiancée because Sam’s face didn’t hide a thing.

“Well …”

Sam was saved from having to give her bad news as Ava noticed him and the other guy.

“Hey. Andy. Also freaking out,” the other guy, Andy, said, introducing himself with an awkward wave.

“I’m Spencer,” he said, mimicking the wave. He thought it would be best to keep the fact that he was an FBI profiler to himself. He gave Sam what he hoped was a significant look. Sam gave him a tiny nod that made him relax.

Ava nodded at them both before turning back to Sam. “Okay. What’s happening?”

Sam shook his head, eyes scanning their environment and then the bleak landscape. “I don’t really know yet. But I know one thing: I know what the four of us have in common.”

“Hello? Is anybody there?”

They all turned at the sound of another man’s shout coming from deeper in the dilapidated town.

“Maybe more than four,” Sam corrected himself.

Reid followed him, they all did, having decided then and there that Sam was the one person he could trust. He didn’t know Andy or Ava but he could read them. He might not know everything about them but he did know that Andy was a follower and that Ava was a liar. If he wanted to get out of here alive and back into Hotchner’s arms, Sam was his best bet. He skidded to a halt when Sam did, carefully studying the two newcomers. A black man, dressed in desert fatigues, and a blonde woman, gothic dark. He strode forward with confidence tempered by confusion. She curled around herself, projecting “keep away” as loudly as if she had screamed it from the rooftops.

“Hello? Hey!” Sam called out to them. “Hey, you guys all right?”

The black man nodded slowly, his soldier’s eyes carefully taking them in. “I think so.”

“I’m Sam,” he offered.

“I’m Jake.”

“Lily.” She didn’t wave, she didn’t even move closer to the group. In fact, she pulled her sleeves over her hands even more securely, as if she didn’t want to accidently touch anyone.

“Are there anymore of you?” Sam asked.

Jake shook his head. “No.”

“How did we even get here?” Lily asked, stepping forward but still keeping her distance. “A minute ago, I was in San Diego.”

Jake huffed out a strained laugh. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, I went to sleep last night in Afghanistan.”

Sam nodded as if he knew or understood. But then again, Reid figured, he did. The last time he had seen Sam, they were both in Washington DC. “Let me take a wild guess: you two are both twenty-three?”

They nodded, coming closer, being drawn to Sam because he was confident and obviously knew something, had some kind of answer. People were drawn to that kind of personality.

Sam mimicked their nods, waving to indicate himself and the rest of them. “We all are. And we all have abilities.”

“What?” Jake demanded but Reid could tell he knew exactly what Sam was talking about.

“It started a little over a year ago? You found you could do things? Things you didn’t think were possible?” Sam paused as the other two nodded again. “I have visions. I see things before they happen.”

“Yeah.” Ava chimed in. “Me, too.”

“Yeah, and I can put thoughts into people’s heads. Like, make them do stuff.” Andy enthusiastically announced but must have seen the wary looks on everyone’s faces because he immediately tried to reassure them. “But don’t worry, I don’t think it works on you guys. Oh, but get this -- I’ve been practicing. Training my brain, like meditation. So now, it’s not just thoughts I can beam out, but images, too. Like, anything I want. Bam! People see it. This one guy I know -- total dick, right? I used it on him: gay porn. All hours of the day.” He was waving his hands and laughing like it was the best practically joke ever invented. “It was just like…you should have seen the look on his face.” Then he saw all of their faces and realized they weren’t laughing. “Uh…okay.”

Honestly, Reid did not want to give away any advantage he had, surrounded by people he didn’t know or trust, even Sam. But not sharing his powers would make him stand out. “I start fires,” he said simply, not including the fact that he could control all fire, even ones he hadn’t started himself.

Lily startled them all with a harsh bark of bitter-filled laughter. “So, you go, ‘Simon says give me your wallet,’ and they do?” she said to Andy, then turned to Sam. “You have visions? That’s great! I’d kill for something like that.”

“Lily, listen, it’s okay,” Sam tried to placate her, hands held up and reaching for her, probably to offer comfort like he did with Ava.

Lily jerked away from him. “No! It’s not. I touch people? Their hearts stop. I can barely leave my house. My life’s not exactly improved. So, screw you. I just wanna go home.” She whispered the last part, drawing back on herself.

“And what, we don’t?” Jake sneered, taking an aggressive step forward, fists clenched.

“You know what? Don’t talk to me like that --” Lily loosened one of her death grip on one of her sleeves. It was a telling move on both their parts.

Sam tried to play the peacemaker again. “Hey, guys, please. Look, whether we like it or not, we’re all here, and so we all have to deal with this.”

Andy looked up at Sam, face scrunched in bewilderment. “Who brought us here?”

Sam’s face kind of fell, as if he really didn’t want to explain, but was going to anyway. “It’s less of a ‘who.’ It’s more of a ‘what.’”

“What does that mean?” Ava demanded.

It surprised Reid when Sam gave him a look. The look was something of an apology almost. “It’s a demon.”


Hotchner sucked in a deep breath when he heard his team’s cars pull up to the house. He needed to be calm and collected in front of the others but he what he wanted to do was to rage over the loss of his lover. He had called the team as soon as a search of the house had not turned up Reid but hadn’t done much more than that. It was as if he was paralyzed, recognizing the fact that he was too close, too emotionally involved. More so than when Reid had been taken by Henkel. But there was no way in hell he was going to let anyone else handle Reid’s disappearance. Especially not with the scorch marks on his walls. In order for Reid to have used his unusual powers at all, it had to be something supernatural. Reid’s revolver was still on the nightstand; he would have grabbed it if it had been a human attacker.

“Hotch!” Morgan called through the door.

“It’s open!” Hotchner didn’t bother getting up from his perusal of the contents of Reid’s bag. He had neatly spread out the items, being careful not to damage his lover’s things. It had been as far as he had gotten before the emotional paralysis had set in. He hoped that the presence of his familial team would kick start his brain.

“Hotch, what happened?” Gideon asked, sitting down next to him on the couch, hand on his arm.

“I went to the market. When I came back, Reid was gone.” He waved his hand at Reid’s bag, then at the scorch marks. “His bag was still here and there were signs of a struggle. And the burns.” He heard Morgan’s heavy footsteps going up the stairs. The women of his team surrounded him.

Prentiss was leaning over, examining Reid’s things, too. “Anything useful?”

“Two men talked to Reid last night, they knew about his pyrokinesis and how he came by the power. He said their names were Sam and Dean Winchester.” He told them everything Reid had told him. He was pretty sure he got everything but he did not have Reid’s eidetic memory. Hotchner held up a crumpled piece of paper. “I think this is Sam’s number.”

“Have you tried it?” JJ asked, reaching for the paper.

Hotchner nodded, seeing Morgan coming back down the stairs. “There’s no answer.”

“I’ll get Garcia on it,” she said, taking the paper while pulling out her phone.

“Reid spent the night here?”

Hotchner turned to stare at Morgan and his casually asked question. Too casual. “Yes.”

“In your bed?” Morgan dropped all pretence of casual, getting in Hotchner’s face.

Hotchner never back down from Morgan’s accusing eyes but he could feel the surprised reactions of the others around him. He prepared himself for whatever consequences came from his answer. “Yes, he did.”

“You bastard!”

Hotchner wasn’t expecting Morgan’s fist. He barely jerked back in time. “Morgan!”

“You’re fuckin’ married! I’m not gonna let you go messin’ with the kid’s heart like that!”

“Morgan, I’m not--”



Gideon, Prentiss, and JJ all got between him and the still raging Morgan. A part of Hotchner was glad Reid had such a good friend. The other part of him was yelling at himself for not telling them sooner.

“I’m divorced,” he yelled. It froze them all. One by one they all turned to face him. He took another deep breath. This would be so much easier with Reid here but they had to get past this to get him back. “Haley and I have been separated for a while now. I just signed the papers.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Gideon asked gently but the rebuke of this wouldn’t have happened if you had rang clearly.

Hotchner stared at him, not wanting to shut out his friend and mentor, but doing it all the same. “It wasn’t any of your business.”

Gideon didn’t react other than to shrewdly study him but the others? They had hurt expressions. Morgan still looked pissed, actually. Hotchner sighed. “I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. I just . . .”

“We looked to you as a role model,” Gideon diagnosed. “You do the job and have a family. Something for all of us to emulate. To give us hope that we too could do it all.”

Hotchner saw no reason to deny it, so he nodded.

Morgan held his peace, looking extremely uncomfortable before his face cleared, contrition taking its place. “I’m sorry, man.”

He gave Morgan a tight smile, patting him on the shoulder. “It’s all right. Thanks for looking out for him.”

Morgan grinned, pointing a finger at him. “You treat him good, you hear me?’

“Yeah.” For some unfathomable reason, Hotchner felt shy all of a sudden.

“And I don’t want to hear a single thing about your sex lives.”

“Morgan!” Prentiss yelped in shocked outrage. JJ was flapping one hand while the other was firmly clamped over her mouth.

Hotchner smirked. “Why? Jealous?”

Morgan rolled his eyes.

“Children,” Gideon hrrmphed, glaring but with a small smile playing on his lips. “Reid?”

That instantly sobered the group.

“There’s nothing.” Hotchner indicated the house. “I’ve searched but there aren’t any tracks or even signs that someone else was here. I think we’re looking at something supernatural.”

JJ’s phone rang, stalling any response. “Garcia, wait, let me put you on speaker phone.”

The information analyst filled them on everything the FBI had on the Winchester, all four of them. The mother’s death, the father’s, and the FBI file as thick as a dictionary on the two boys. They tossed theories around that involved the Winchesters abducting Reid but nothing really fit and it was conjecture anyway.

Finally, Garcia said, “The phone number is registered to an Alex V. Halen. Wow, that’s not a fake name at all.”

“Garcia, check for any other phone with the name--”

“Already did, sugar. I have one Eddie V. Halen and an E.V. Halen. E.V.’s number was registered at the same time as Alex’s. Ready for it?”

“Go ahead, Garcia.” Hotchner pulled his phone out, punching in the numbers as Garcia read them out. He knew she would be ready to trace the call.


“Hello, no, I’m not Sam, my name is Aaron. I’m a friend of Spencer Reid. Your brother gave Spencer his number.” Hotchner decided not to identify himself as FBI. The Winchester brothers were using fake names for a reason and especially with what Garcia had just told them, identifying himself as a law enforcement officer might scare them away before Garcia could get a lock.


“Spencer’s missing. Is he with you?”


“Do you have any idea where he is? Maybe your brother knows? I tried his number but no one’s answering.”

“Wait a minute. How’d you get my number?”

Shit. Hotchner talked fast. “I have a friend at the phone company. She did a little digging and found your number.” He laughed, making it as rueful sounding as possible. “She wouldn’t even give me your number, she just connected us.”

“Sorry, man, I don’t know where your friend is.” Winchester hung up.

Hotchner clenched his fist around his phone. “Garcia?”

“I’ve narrowed down the area but didn’t get a lock.”

“Damnit!” Morgan ran frustrated hands through his nonexistent hair.

Prentiss jumped up. “Wait, wait!” She turned to Hotchner. “Reid said they just arrived, right?” When he nodded, she leaned over to speak into JJ’s phone. “Garcia, can you search through the motels in that area? See if there are any receipts or records under another obviously fake name?”

“Yeah, give me a minute. I’ve got a D. Hasselhoff at the Blue Lagoon Motel on 88th. And a P. Rudd at the Lazy Eye Inn on 98th.”

“Which one of them has the shortest credit history?” Hotchner asked.

“D. Hasselhoff.”

Hotchner grabbed his gun. “That’s them.”


“This is it.” Bobby Singer spread out a map over the hotel bed. The older, graying man had made amazing time from his hunt in Ohio to the DC area after Dean called him in the twilight morning hours. “All demonic signs and omens over the past month.”

“Are you joking?” Dean stared down at the map. “There’s nothing here.”

“Exactly.” Bobby waved his hand over the map, obviously frustrated as well. He jerked off his trucker’s cap, running weathered hands through short, grizzled hair. His still sharp eyes went back to the map.

“Well, come on, there’s gotta be something. What about the normal, low-level stuff? You know, exorcisms, that kind of thing.”

Bobby glared at him, obviously not liking the fact that Dean was questioning his conclusions. “That’s what I’m telling you: there’s nothing. It’s completely quiet.”

Dean wanted to apologize to man who had been like a father to him and Sam after their father’s death but the worry and anxiety choked him. He had to focus on finding his brother, it was the only thing he could do. Focusing meant getting and staying mad, sarcastic. “Well, how are we supposed to look for Sam? What, do we just close our eyes and point?”

He had the grace to duck when Bobby gave him The Look but was saved from what had to be a scathing reply by a knock on the door. They immediately looked at each, both shaking their heads. No way would Sam knock and neither of them was expecting anyone. Arming themselves to the teeth in the seconds it took for the visitor to knock again, Dean waited until Bobby secreted himself behind the door. “Who is it?”

“It’s Aaron, Dean.”

Shit, fuck, damn. He knew he shouldn’t have fallen for the damn friend at the damn phone company line. “How’d you find me? Your friend at the phone company?”

“Actually, she works at the FBI.” A heartbeat of silence. “So do I.”

Bobby was glaring at him, the silence on the other side of the door was deafening and his baby brother had been taken from him. Dean’s life just didn’t get any shitter than this.

“I know about Hendrickson’s file on you.”

Shitter and shitter. “Yeah, and?”

“I don’t think he’s right about you.”

Dean had to raise an eyebrow at that. “Why not?”

“Because all of the deaths you’re accused of stopped after you got there. Some of them had been going on for months before you were even spotted in the area.”

Dean had to strain to hear the next part.

“And Spencer trusted you and your brother. I trust Spencer.”

Yeah, okay, that sold him more than anything else the guy said. He reached for the lock.

“Dean,” Bobby hissed. “You sure, kid?”

Dean took a second, thinking about how Sam was adamant on gaining Spencer Reid’s trust. That some way, somehow, Reid was important to the two of them. He remembered the gangly kid, only months older than his baby brother, who had stared at them wide-eyed and logically accepting. He remembered how Reid was worried about his friends and family. Surely, the guy on the other side of the door was one of those friends. Had to be if he was out here on a Saturday, searching for Reid. “Yeah,” he told Bobby, “I do.”

Bobby huffed but reluctantly nodded. He also didn’t move from his spot and Dean knew better than to give away his position, just in case.

The door swung open to reveal a whole group of people. Sam had said Reid worked with a group called the Behavioral Analysis Unit; it looked like the entire team was darkening Dean’s motel doorstep. A dark haired man with intense dark eyes had to be the guy Dean had been talking to, Aaron, was in the lead. He was followed by a black muscled man who glared at Dean. He immediately knew he had to watch out for this one. Another man followed, older than his teammates. Muscle man might be intimidating physically, but Dean sensed he would have to watch out for this older guy, too. His eyes reminded him of Pastor Jim’s, old, knowing, seeing right through to the heart of a person. Dean’s eyes lit up when he saw the two ladies: a classy, tall brunette and a sweet looking blonde. He put on his best grin. “Ladies.”

They both smiled at him but they were knowing smiles, not giving him an inch. That was cool, he had worked with less.

“Where’s Sam?” Aaron asked. It was obvious none of them had missed Bobby with his shotgun but no one made an issue of it. Maybe they really were more interested in finding Reid than busting Dean.

“Why don’t you introduce yourselves, first?” Bobby asked dryly.

One by one they introduced themselves but no one extended hands towards each other.

“How long has Reid been gone?” Dean asked, wanting to control the conversation and keeping it off of Sam as long as he could.

“This morning,” Hotchner answered. Dean got the impression that, while every one of them wanted Reid back, this guy had a bigger stake.

Dean glanced at Bobby who slowly nodded. “Sam disappeared this morning, too.”

“And you have no idea where they are? Are they together?” Morgan demanded more than asked.

“No idea on both,” Bobby grunted, moving back towards the map. “We’ve got feelers out.”

“Speaking of,” Dean grabbed his ringing cell phone. “Ash, what do you got?” He could hear the jukebox of the Roadhouse where he made his home in the background. Ash was an even better hacker than his brother and had been Dean’s third call that morning, promising to look for any sign of Sam.

“Okay, listen, it’s a big negatory on Sam.”

Dean didn’t want to hear that. “Oh, come on, man! You’ve gotta give us something. We’re looking at a three thousand-mile haystack here.”

“Listen, Dean, I did find something.” Ash sounded strangely hesitant, lowering his voice instead of upping it over the noise of the Roadhouse.

“Well, what?” He could feel eyes on him as he paced, waiting for Ash’s answer. Bobby, at least, kind of knew what was going on. The FBI people didn’t have a clue. Too fucking bad, they were just going to have to keep their pants on. Well, maybe not the ladies, but the guys could keep theirs on.

“I can’t talk over this line, Dean.”

What the fuck? “Come on, I don’t have time for this!”

“Make time, okay? Because this -- What’s up? What’s going on?”

Dean glared at the phone because of Ash’s totally off the track questions. Listening harder he realized Ash was talking to someone in the Roadhouse and didn’t want them knowing he was talking to Dean.

“Not only does this almost definitely help you find your brother, this is…it’s huge. So get here. Now.” Okay, that was definitely for him but the sound of the dial tone stopped him from asking more.

Dean glared at the phone then turned to Bobby. “I guess we’re going to the Roadhouse. Come on.”

“What? Why?” Despite his words, Bobby was already gathering his stuff.

The FBI people, thankfully, stood back and watched instead of asking questions and getting in the way. Dean told Bobby about Ash’s demands as he packed as well.

“Whatever this person is going to tell you is going to help you find Sam and Reid?” Gideon asked during a break in Dean’s story.

“Yeah, sounds like it.”

“Hotch?” Gideon turned to the dark haired man, obviously asking for something.

“We can’t commandeer the jet,” Hotchner protested, holding up his hand for silence when his team erupted. “I want him back just as much as you do.” He stared intently at his people, conveying something with his eyes. “You know that. But we can’t just take the jet.”

“Well, technically,” the blonde, JJ, broke in, “we couldn’t but Robert owes me a favor.”

“JJ, I think the FBI is going to notice a missing Jet Stream,” Hotchner pointed out dryly. “Even if our pilot was willing to fly it without authorization.”

“True.” Her blue eyes twinkled. “But Robert owns his own plane. It’ll be tight, but we could all fit.”

That was how Dean ended up on a flying sardine can on his way to the Roadhouse, white-knuckling the armrests and his knees up to his ears. He kept his eyes shut and his breathing slow and purposeful. At least this time there wasn’t a complete certainty that a demon-possessed passenger was going to bring down the plane. In fact and thankfully, nobody was paying him any attention at all. The FBI agents were totally enraptured with Bobby, who was surprisingly having blast, giving the FBI lessons in Supernatural 101, 102, and 103. Sam had better be grateful as hell for the things Dean was willing to do to save his scrawny ass because if this wasn’t brotherly love, he didn’t know what the hell was.


Chapter Five

“So, we’re soldiers in a demon war to bring on the Apocalypse?” Jake’s expression was incredulity, confusion, and a little bit of anger.

Reid understood why he felt all three. Without his FBI training and his open mind, he was pretty sure he would have been feeling the same things. Fortunately, he could sit back and observe the others, trusting Sam to tell him what needed to be done. It was very much the same feeling he had with Hotchner while they were on the job. He vaguely wondered if Sam’s brother was older or younger and whether or not he had the same leadership quality.

“When you put it like that --” Sam said sheepishly but still so earnest in expression.

“And we’ve been picked?” Jake clarified, waving his hand at them all.

“Yes.” Sam nodded.

“Why us?”

Reid could tell Jake was referring, not to himself or Sam, but to Andy, Ava, Lily, and Reid. It was said that a soldier could always recognize another and other than Sam and Jake, none of them could qualify as such.

Sam made a frustrated noise, face scrunching. “I’m not sure, okay? But look, I just know--”

“Sam, I’m sorry. Psychics and spoon-bending is one thing, but demons?” Ava shook her head, waving her hand. She made all of the right moves, but something about her eyes was off to Reid.

“Look, I know it sounds crazy, but--” Sam tried again.

“It doesn’t just sound it.” Jake rolled his eyes.

“I don’t really care what you think, okay?” Sam finally lost his temper, getting into all of their faces, conveying not only his displeasure at their disbelief, but his fear for them. It was as if he knew they were more in danger than him. “If we’re all gathered here together, then that means it’s starting and that we’ve gotta--”

“The only thing I’ve gotta do is stay away from whackjobs, okay?” Jake countered, turning his back on them. “I’ve heard enough. I’m better off on my own. FYI, so are you.”

“Jake, hold on. Jake!” Sam tried to grab for him.

Jake pushed him off, heading deeper into the town.

Sam raked frustrated hands through his longish hair before searing the rest of them with a glare. “We need to protect ourselves.”

“Sam,” Ava tried again, only to be cut off by Sam taking off.

If there was one thing Reid could do, it was run, easily keeping up with the long-legged, long stride Sam. He could hear Ava, Andy, and Lily huffing and puffing behind him. He heard Jake yelling, “Get back!”

Sam sped up at the yells, Reid following suit. He skidded to a stop outside an old fashioned schoolhouse, narrowly missing Sam. The others were not so aware. He grunted as Andy, Ava, then Lily slammed into him then each other like kinetic balls. Reid didn’t bother to even glare at them. He was too busy staring in dropped mouth horror at the ghostly little girl slowly advancing on Jake. Her hands were Raptor sharp, reaching for the soldier. Chalk moved on its own, writing “I will not kill” over and over again on the chalkboard behind him. Metal-ripping-apart screeching assaulted Reid’s ears.

Sam grabbed an iron poker from inside the building, slashing it through the air, through the girl. She disappeared in a cloud of noxious black smoke. Reid ducked as the cloud surged out of the schoolroom over his head. Reid’s mind was tripping over itself, computing, rationalizing, and coming up with the only conclusion it could: Sam was telling the truth. It was one thing to want to believe, to know you had a power science had never proven. It was another thing to see a murderous little ghost girl transform into a dark mass and zoom away just because Sam swung some metal through her. He stared at Sam, the only calm person in their group.

“Just so you know? That was a demon. Now, that thing -- I’m not sure, but I think it was an Acheri. A demon that disguises itself as a little girl.” Sam evenly answered their unanswered questions, keeping a hold of the poker, and leading the way out of the schoolroom. This time, no one countered him, nobody doubted him. They all followed, listening as he lectured them on demonology. “That still doesn’t tell us where we are.” He spun suddenly, eyes going straight to Andy. “Andy, are you with me or what?”

“Give me a minute,” he pleaded, hands shaking as they each held up a finger. “I’m still working through, ‘Demons are real.’”

Sam nodded, then turned. “Spencer?”

That was an easy answer. “Yes. I was with you before all this.”

It was gratifying to see Sam nodding and the little smile he gave him. They kept walking, in silence this time, stopping smoothly when Sam stilled. Reid took one more step forward to place himself by Sam’s side. “Sam?” He followed the other man’s line of sight. In front of the building across from them hung a large, rusty bell. It had an engraving of an oak tree. “Sam?” he prompted again.

“I’ve seen that bell before. I think I know where we are now.”

“Cold Oak, South Dakota. A town so haunted, every single resident fled,” Reid answered to the astonishment of them all.

“Yeah.” Sam gave him an eyebrow. “You’ve heard of it?”

Reid shrugged a shoulder, self conscious now that everyone was looking at him. Put him in front of a bunch of law enforcement officers with a profile to give and he was fine. He could lecture until people fell asleep. Being the center of attention with a small, intense group like this? Not so much.

“Swell,” Ava scoffed. “Good to know we’re somewhere so historical.”

“Why in the world would that demon or whatever put us here?” Lily was again keeping her distance from everyone as she turned, staring at the dilapidated buildings.

Sam, unfortunately, didn’t have an answer. “I’m wondering the same thing.”

Lily glared at him, huffing out an angry sound. “You know what? It doesn’t matter. Clearly, the only sane thing to do here is get the hell out of Dodge.”

Reid was inclined to vote with her but Sam wasn’t.

“Wait, hold on. Lily, the only way out is through miles of woods.”

She sneered at him. “Beats hanging out with demons.” She had a point.

Sam shook his head. “Lily, look, we don’t know what’s going on yet. I mean, we don’t even know how many of them are out there right now.” So did Sam.

Reid was surprised to hear Jake support Sam. “Yeah, he’s right. We should--”

“Don’t say ‘we!’ I’m not part of ‘we.’ I have nothing in common with any of you.” Lily was fairly screaming at Jake, agitated, pulling on her sleeves again, and waving her arms as if warding them off.

Sam took a deep breath, moving to stand right in from of her. Reid recognized it as a trick to calm a person, give them something to emulate and they might do it. Monkey see, monkey do. “Okay,” he said, voice gentle, soothing. “Look, I know--”

“You don’t know anything!” she sneered again, breathing becoming harsher with every word. She nearly sobbed, “I accidentally touched my girlfriend.”

Reid nodded, figuring the reason for her “keep away” attitude had to result from something like that. Her behavior had to be attributed to more than just being amongst strangers in a strange place. It was more likely for strangers to bond during and after a traumatic event. No, with Lily, with the way she kept herself separated from everyone else and the revelation of her power, Reid had suspected the source of her torment. Not killing her girlfriend, per se, but causing the death of someone she loved for certain. After all, Sam and Ava had visions that, in of themselves, couldn’t hurt anyone. Andy used his to channel gay porn into someone he didn’t like, not having the meanness in him to do anything more malicious. Reid had embraced his powers, logically learning how to control them so that he wouldn’t accidentally hurt someone. Jake hadn’t said what his power was; that made Reid nervous. Military training, aggression, and secretive enough to keep his power from them.

“I’m sorry.” Sam’s voice was gentle, his face the very epitome of empathic sympathy.

Lily seemed to calm at that, leaning closer to confide, “I feel like I’m in a nightmare, and it just keeps getting worse and worse.”

“I’ve lost people, too.” Sam was very good, offering a piece of himself in exchange for the piece of herself offered. “I have a brother out there right now that could be dead, for all I know.” He waved a hand at them all. “We’re all in bad shape. But I’m telling you, the best way out of this is to stick together.” He passed his eyes over them, connecting with each of them with his words and the intensity of his eyes. One by one, they all nodded. Even Lily. She even smiled minutely when Sam swept a hand out in an old world mannerism, indicating she should go first.

“So what do we do now?” Reid asked, falling into step with the others as they all followed Sam.

“We’re looking for iron, silver, salt -- any kind of weapon.”

Jake threw him a disbelieving look. “Salt is a weapon?”

Sam gently smirked. “It’s a brave new world.”

“Well, hopefully there’s food in your world, because I’m frickin’ starving.” Snickers and tiny laughter met Andy’s grumble as they explored the buildings, searching for anything of use.

Reid let them all go into the building ahead of him. He hung back, eyes raking over the storm gray landscape. Leafless trees stood guardian still, not even wind providing a modicum of life. No wildlife, no sun. He bit a corner of his lip, knowing that out there, somewhere, Hotchner and the rest of his friends were searching for him. He wanted to go back to Hotchner’s warm house, warm bed, warm and safe arms.

He sighed. At least this time, he wasn’t facing everything alone.


“What the hell!” Dean Winchester scrambled out of the rented SUV, followed closely by Bobby Singer.

Hotchner had seen devastation like this all too often, moving more slowly, giving Dean and Bobby the privacy to deal with their initial shock. The Roadhouse was, Bobby had told them, a place for hunters of the supernatural to congregate. One of a kind, as far as the older man had known. Unfortunately, it was now nothing more than a haphazard pile of wood and stone. Burnt wood and stone. Getting closer, Hotchner saw the charred remains of people who had been trapped inside this inferno. He said a quick prayer for their souls. He may not have known them, but they were his kin. Men and women dedicated to saving the innocent from monsters.

“Oh my God,” Bobby whispered, hand raking down his grizzled face as if he could wipe away the horror of his friends’ demise.

“I’m sorry,” Gideon murmured, having gravitated towards the other man.

Bobby nodded his thanks before carefully moving towards the wreckage. Gideon followed him.

“You see Ellen?” Dean’s voice was harsh, hoarse; hunter’s eyes scanning the wreckage for the familiar face of the Roadhouse’s proprietress.

Bobby shook his head. “No. No Ash, either.”

Dean made a sudden sound, kneeling in the debris, reaching for something hidden under a pile of wood. Morgan helped him move a large plank to reveal a body. Completely unrecognizable because of the extensive burns, but Dean somehow knew, letting out a quietly anguished, angry sigh. “Oh, Ash, damn it!”


Sam picked up a knife he found in the room he was searching. It was old, rusting, but he tested it with his thumb, still sharp enough to do some damage. He could hear the others moving around the house, also looking for things that help in getting through this nightmare. A shout from downstairs had him moving fast.

“You guys!” Sam followed the sound of Andy’s voice, encountering the other men along the way.

“I found something!” Andy emerged from another room, triumphantly holding up two big bags. “Salt!”

Sam grinned, unable to resist in the face of Andy’s enthusiasm. “That’s great, Andy. Now, we all can…where’s Lily and Ava?”

“Lily!” Andy yelled, dropping the bags in a safe corner.

“Ava! Lily!” Sam tried this time, louder.

A scream rent the air, followed by the sounds of a giggling little girl. Sam cursed, the Acheri demon was back. He thundered over to the stairs, the others following. He had to jump over Lily’s body at the base of the stairs to avoid stepping on her. He could tell it was already too late for her. “Ava!”

“Sam! Help me, Sam!”

He sped up the stairs. “Jake! The poker!” Sam tackled Ava out of the Acheri’s way, turning just in time to see Jake swing the iron through the demon. A repeat of the schoolhouse later, the demon was gone.

“Oh, my God!” Ava clutched at him. “Okay, that’s officially -- Sam, she’s dead! She’s dead! You said we were chosen for a reason. That is not chosen! That’s killed! That demon killed her! Okay, we have to get out of here.”

“Stop,” he commanded her, shaking her just a little to get her to calm down.

“Yeah, I second that emotion.” Andy spoke. Reid even nodded.

Sam sucked in a deep breath, not seeing any other option. “Yeah, okay, let’s get out of here.”

Relief was mirrored on all of their faces. Sam made them gather what they had already found, just in case. He took care of Lily’s body, laying her down into a more peaceful position near the only unbroken window in the house. What little light trickled in through the clouds illuminated her. Her blonde hair shone in the light, reminding Sam of two other blonde women who had fallen because of demons. Saying a quick prayer over her, he gathered the rest of his little tribe. They moved as a group to the edge of town. Not more than ten steps from its perimeter, they froze.

“Oh my God,” Reid whispered, hands already out and pointed at the dozens of Acheri demons. A whole line of demented little demon girls, claws extended, faces distorted into gruesome masks of death.

“Get back to the house!” Sam yelled, pushing and shoving them out of their horrified stupor. They scrambled, throwing fearful glances over their shoulders, slipping, sliding through the mud. He slammed the door shut, shouting, “Line the doors and windows with salt! All of them!”

For once, none of them questioned, merely grabbing handfuls of salt. He made Ava, Andy, and Reid stay in the lower level, pulling Jake upstairs with the second bag of salt. It seemed to take forever, lining the windows, keeping an eye out for the advancing Acheri demons. Sam stopped to breathe as he finished the last window before joining the rest of the group downstairs. He found them all standing at one window, staring outside. “What’s wrong?”

“Why are they just standing there?” Reid asked, pointing to the line of the demonic children, waiting just at the edge of the town limits.

“They don’t want us to leave,” Sam explained. “The demon’s not gonna let us get away that easy. It wants us here until its plan has been fulfilled.” He let his theory sink in, watching all of their faces. Reid was nodding, agreeing with his conclusion. Ava and Andy were terrified. Jake was being the stoic soldier. “We’ve gotta gear up for the next attack.”

“Oh, gear up?” Ava asked.

The way she said it, Sam knew Ava was just winding up. So his answer was a wary, “Yeah.”

“Okay, well, I’m not a soldier,” she said that calmly enough but followed it up with a semi-hysterical, “I can’t do that!”

Yeah, he was tired of dealing with her hysterics. “Well, if you wanna stay alive, you’re gonna have to.” It was the brutal truth; he was over coddling hers and Andy’s civilian sensibilities. “Let’s go.”

Reid and Jake followed him easily enough as they gathered their makeshift weapons and created a working battle plan. Andy jumped right in, following orders without complaint. It took Ava a little more pouting but when they all ignored her, she finally gave in and did what she was told. Wiping the sweat from his brow, Sam grimaced, looking over their little fortifications of the house. “You know, I was just thinking about how much Dean would help right now. I’d give my arm for a working phone.”

“Oh, hey!” Andy jumped up, a grin lighting his features. “You know, you may not need one. I’ve never tried it long-distance before, but do you have anything of Dean’s on you? Like, something he touched?”

Sam had an inkling of what Andy was up to, but the other onlookers, including Reid, were watching with confused interest. He searched his pockets. “Uh…I’ve got a receipt. Would that work?”

“Yeah.” Andy nodded, eagerly taking the small piece of paper. He squinted at it. “D. Hasselhoff?”

“Yeah, that’s Dean’s signature.” Sam tried not to fidget under all of their incredulous, amused stares. “It’s hard to explain.”

Andy grinned. “All right.”


Gideon raised his head, finishing the short prayer for the nearly two dozen bodies among the rubble. It chafed, not being able to call the police, to find their killer, to put them at peace. But with the supernatural nature of their deaths, it was impossible. Dean and Bobby had made it clear that hunters always salted and burned their dead. None of them wanted to rise again, to become what they once hunted. So, they helped Bobby and Dean bury the bodies. Hotchner and Morgan used their strong backs and arms to dig one massive grave. Bobby and Dean were carrying the bodies that Gideon, Prentiss, and JJ located.

Once they could find no more, Dean produced industrial containers of salt. He and Morgan poured the salt over the bodies as Bobby stood over them, praying in Latin. It was the older hunter that lit the match and threw it in. They had to wait, until the fire burned itself out before they could fill in the grave. As the funeral pyre blazed, silence reigned until Dean broke it.

“What the hell did Ash know?” Dean gritted out, frustration leaking out from the younger man in waves of agitation. He paced, arms wrapped around himself. “We’ve got no way of knowing where Ellen is. Or if she’s even alive. We’ve got no clue what Ash was gonna tell us. Now, how the hell are we gonna find Sam?”

Bobby placed a paternal hand on Dean’s shoulder. “We’ll find him.


Gideon and Bobby jumped to Dean’s side, the young man clutching at his head, losing his balance from the pain echoing in his head. The others stepped closer, concern on all of their faces, but they kept silent, as did Gideon. They all sensed the same thing, an unusual concern coming from Bobby. It wasn’t the concern of a man for his friend; it wasn’t even the concern of a father figure for a child. The apprehension was coming from a hunter, sensing something paranormal in their midst.

“Dean?” Bobby asked gently.

Dean groaned, an agonizing sound, as he doubled over, nearly jerking out of their hands.

“What was that?” Bobby demanded, less gentle now. More worry in his voice.

“I don’t know.” Dean barked. “A headache?”

“You get headaches like that a lot?” It was obvious Bobby didn’t believe him.

“No. Must be the stress,” Dean managed a weak chuckle but it was obvious he knew no one believed him. He glanced at each one of them but didn’t quite meet their eyes as he confessed, “I could have sworn I saw something.”

“What do you mean?” Bobby demanded, squinting at Dean. “Like a vision? Like what Sam gets?”

“What?” Dean jerked upright, eyes wide, and in complete denial. “No!”

Bobby huffed. “I’m just saying.”

“Come on,” Dean scoffed. “I’m not some psychic.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than was he flinging himself backwards, clutching his head once more. Morgan moved behind him, catching him before he could slam himself into the SUV. Gideon and Bobby moved forward, blocking Dean from the dangers of the smoldering Roadhouse. Hotchner and the girls between him and the fire.

“Dean? Dean! Are you with me?” Bobby grabbed him, shaking him to get his attention.

Dean grabbed him right back, anchoring himself. “Yeah, I think so. I saw Sam. I saw him, Bobby.”

“It was a vision.” Bobby was clearly satisfied that he was right.

“Yeah. I don’t know how, but yeah.” Dean rolled his eyes, shaking off all of their hands, regaining his feet. “Whew. That was about as fun as getting kicked in the jewels.”

“What else did you see?” Gideon asked, his curiosity willing to play along with Dean’s need to play off their concern.

“Uh … there was a bell.” Dean squinted in remembrance.

“What kind of bell?” Hotchner asked, hand already reaching for his phone, probably to call Garcia.

“Like a big bell with some kind of engraving on it, I don’t know.”

Bobby jerked upright, getting right into Dean’s space. “Engraving?”

The young man eyed him warily. “Yeah.”

“Was it a tree? Like, an oak tree?” The old hunter was intense as he asked those questions, getting more and more excited. The BAU watched him, sensing the break in the case, as it were.

“Yeah, exactly.” Dean must have sense it too, straightening even further, excitement starting to color his features.

Bobby grinned but it wasn’t a happy smile; it was a grimace of teeth, foreshadowing something terrible. “I know where Sam is.”


Reid waited in the shadows of the barn where Sam and Jake were harvesting iron bars off the wheels of an old rusted wagon. Jake finally revealed his power: superhuman strength. Sam seemed impressed but Reid was relieved. Jake had a physical power, a power he had to be close to his victim to use. He was a much lesser threat than Andy with his mind control powers but Reid also knew that Andy didn’t have a mean bone in his body and that the other man would be no threat. Jake was less of a threat than the Ava, whom Reid didn’t trust at all, not with those traitorous eyes. She was the only person present when Lily died; she was the only person who had missing for longer than one night. Her power might only be precognition but Reid did not make the mistake of dismissing the danger she posed.

Nor did he dismiss Jake as a possible threat. The soldier had kept himself separate from the group in a way Lily hadn’t. He had walked out on them at the beginning, then had to be saved by Sam. He also didn’t share his power with them. He still hadn’t. He only revealed it to Sam, as if trying to cement their status as fellow soldiers, apart from the others. Out of the group, Reid only trusted Sam, his profiler’s instincts telling him he could truly trust the other man and to stick close. That was why he was out here, waiting in the shadows. Sam was too trusting, thinking that it was the group against the demon that had brought them here. But Reid didn’t think so, feeling the danger from more than one source.

He waited until Jake went back into the house to slip into the barn. “Sam?”

“Spencer!” Sam was frowning. “Why aren’t you inside with everyone else? It’s not safe out here.”

“I needed to talk to you.” Reid appreciated Sam’s gruff worry, made him nostalgic for Morgan.

“Sure. Let’s get back to the others though.” Sam reached for him but Reid shook him off.

“No, I need to talk to you about them.”

That definitely got Sam’s attention. “Spencer?”

Reid bit his lip, wrapping his arms around himself, not relishing what he was about to do. Sam already had enough on his plate; this would only add more pressure to the already stressed man. He decided to ease into it. “How much do you know about profiling?”

“Just what I’ve read on the internet. And a TV show Dean likes to watch because he thinks the profiler’s pretty.”

Reid grinned, nodding. “The BAU provides behavioral based investigative and operational support by applying case experience, research, and training to complex and time-sensitive crimes, typically involving acts or threats of violence. BAU assistance to law enforcement agencies is provided through the process of criminal investigative analysis. Criminal investigative analysis is a process of reviewing crimes from both a behavioral and investigative perspective. It involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interaction with the victim, as exhibited during the commission of the crime, or as displayed in the crime scene.”

It was Sam’s turn to grin. “Spencer, where is that written?”

“The FBI website. Why?” Reid looked at him in confusion. Why would Sam ask that?

Sam looked like he was trying not to laugh. “Nothing, nothing. You were saying?”

Reid blinked. “Uh, okay, well, so you understand that I’ve had experience with criminals.”

Sam nodded but it was his turn to look at Reid in confusion. “Reid, we’re dealing with a demon, I’m not sure how you’re going to profile it.”

“Not the demon.” Reid shook his head, knowing Sam really didn’t want to hear this. “The others.”

He was right. Sam’s face hardened into a mask, not wanting to believe that Reid had found something criminal or even remotely malicious about the people he had worked so hard to protect since they had found each other this morning. “Spencer.”

“Please, Sam, just listen? Ava and Jake are the ones we have to watch out for. They exhibit --” Reid talked fast, trying to impart to the other man the importance of his observations and conclusions about those two. He could tell that Sam was listening to him but not necessarily believing him. Sam really wanted to believe in the basic goodness of man and that the only true source of evil was the supernatural he fought on a daily basis. But Reid dealt with the evil in men. Knew that evil didn’t just come from demons but from human depravity. “Sam, you need to watch out for them. Please.”

To Reid’s immense relief, Sam nodded. He had done all that he could for now but he promised himself that he would continue to watch Sam’s back.


“My horoscope said I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.” Sam laughed softly at Ava’s aggrieved complaint. She glanced up at him. “How you doing? Holding up?”

“I’m okay.” Sam nodded, not looking up from where he was making sure the salt lines were still in place and undisturbed. “What about you?”

“Not so okay,” she answered honestly. “Why us, Sam? What did we do to deserve this?”

Sam laughed with very little mirth. “Just lucky, I guess.”

Ava sighed. “If it wasn’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. I just can’t wait for this all to be over so I can just pretend it never happened. I just wanna curl up with Brady and watch bad TV.”

Sam shifted uncomfortably at the mention of Ava’s fiancé’s name. Unfortunately, Ava noticed.

“What is it? Sam … do you know something that I don’t?”

Sam hesitated, trying to find the right words. “Look, Ava . . . I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t have to tell you this.”

“Tell me what?” She was already sensing the bad news, her eyes wide and nearly begging for him to tell her something else.

“When the demon broke into your house to take you … your fiancé didn’t make it. I’m sorry.” Sam waited as the news cycled through her mind, tracking its comprehension just by the incremental fall of her face.

“No, that’s … no!”

Sam could do nothing more than hold her as she sobbed in his arms. He felt like shit but what more could he do than tell her the truth and hold her as she cried? He held her until she pulled away, asking for some time alone. He nodded, murmuring his plans to check on the others. One by one, he checked on the little tribe he had going. Despite Spencer’s warning, he couldn’t help but feel responsible for all of them. Couldn’t help wanting to trust all of them. Until he was proven wrong and Spencer right, Sam would follow his heart and protect them all.

After making the rounds, he found a clear spot to bed down. His dreams were filled with demons of his past, present, and future. The Yellow Eyed Demon showed him the night his mother died, showed him the demon blood dripping into his six month old mouth, showed him how his mother knew who the demon was and tried to stop him from hurting her son. The bastard showed him how she died with fear for him in her eyes. The demon also told him why the hell they were all here. It was a test, a test to see which of them would be fit to be the leader of the Yellow Eyed Demon’s evil army. He wanted them to fight each other, to eliminate the competition. And the bastard was cheering for him, telling Sam he was his favorite.

“Sam, wake up!”

Sam jerked awake at Jake’s yelling and shaking. “What? Jake?”

“Ava’s missing.” Jake pulled him to his feet and outside. “I’ll take the barn and the hotel. You take the houses.”

He shook the last of the sleep away with a nod. “All right. Meet back here in ten minutes, okay”

“Okay.” Jake nodded before he took off.

It took Sam less than five minutes to search his section of the town, yelling for Ava the whole time. He didn’t find her, alive or dead. He jogged back to the house in time to hear feminine screams coming from inside. He powered through the door and up the stairs, jerking to a stop, incredulous at what he found. “Spencer! What are you doing?!”

Ava was trapped behind a wall of fire, obviously controlled by Spencer. Andy was behind him staring.

“Sam! Help me! Sam!”

“Spencer! Stop!”

Reid shook his head. “You don’t understand—”

“Spencer! Stop with the fire!”

“But, Sam!” Andy objected.

“Sam, help me! Please!”


Reid glared at him but he did it. The flame died down, Ava immediately jumped into his arms.

“Sam! They tried to kill me!”

“Did not!” Andy yelled. “She tried to kill me! Spence here saved me!”

“Why would I try to kill you?” Ava screamed back.

“Why would we try to kill you?” Reid asked, more reasonable than either Ava or Andy. Sam could see it in his eyes, could see that this wasn’t new, that dealing with human monsters wasn’t a new thing for the FBI profiler.

Sam thought about everything Reid had told him. Reid was standing in front of Andy, the other man was hiding behind him. Reid wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, someone anyone would hide behind. For Andy to feel safer behind him said something. And he didn’t believe for a second that Reid and Andy conspired to kill Ava. They just didn’t have it in them. He walked deeper into the room, something niggling at him to check the salt lines. One of the lines in the window was damaged, the continuous line no more. “Who broke this line?”

Ava jumped right in. “Andy did it! I think--”

“Did not!” Andy shouted.

Sam spoke over them both. “I’ll tell you what I think: five months.” He turned to stare down Ava. “You’re the only one with all that time you can’t account for. And you were the only one with Lily when she died.”

Ava glared at him, indignation radiating from her. “What are you trying to say?”

“What happened to you?” he asked gently.


Sam continued to look at her, telling her with his silent accusation to give it up.

She raked a glare at him then at Reid and Andy, and then finally, she dropped the innocent act. “Had you going, though, didn’t I?” She wiped the tears that had been in her eyes away. “Yeah. I’ve been here a long time. And not alone, either. People just keep showing up. Children, like us. Batches of three or four at a time.”

“You killed them? All of them?” Reid asked. It was clear that while he knew Ava was up to something, he hadn’t expected her to turn out to be a demon-blessed serial killer.

Ava preened. “I’m the undefeated heavyweight champ.”

“Oh my God,” both he and Andy breathed. Andy from horror at her gloating; him from her radical change from Peoria secretary to mass murderer. Reid said nothing, obviously unsurprised, but then again, he had called it from the get-go.

“Don’t think God has much to do with this, Sam.” Her joke was only funny in her head.

“How could you?” Sam asked, still trying to understand this change in the young woman who had traveled from her home to another city just to save Sam’s life.

She shrugged. “I had no choice. It was me or them. After a while, it was easy. It was even kind of fun. I just stopped fighting it.

“Fighting what?” Andy asked from behind Reid.

“Who we are. If you just quit your hand-wringing and open yourself up, you have no idea what you can do. The learning curve is so fast, it’s crazy, the switches that just flip in your brain. I can’t believe I started out just having dreams. Do you know what I can do now?”

“Control demons.” Sam didn’t have to guess, not with the Acheri demon killing Lily and the broken salt line.

“Ah, you are quick on the draw.” She gave him a smile like a teacher with a slow student who finally got the right answer. The smile turned malicious. “Yeah, I’m sorry, Sam. But it’s over.”

Sam watched in horror as she began massaging her temples and a formless black cloud slowly streamed through the window. He jumped out of its path, grabbing the iron poker from before. It cut through the smoke dissipating it but another took its place. Sam kept swinging. Reid was shooting fire at them. But they kept coming.

Suddenly, they were gone, a heavy thump following their retreat. Sam turned, staring at Ava’s dead body. Her neck was twisted all wrong, obviously broken, obviously dead, courtesy of Jake, standing behind her.


Section Three
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February 2014


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