moonlettuce: (SPN: Jensen Ackles v3)
[personal profile] moonlettuce
Title: House of the Rising Sun
Author: Claire
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: ~14,000
Summary: Between the serial killer and his partner, Dean Winchester's week really can't get any worse.
Notes: Written for [personal profile] nyoka for [profile] deancas_xmas, using the prompt: SPN AU: Dean and Castiel are big city cops. I've never written an AU before and I had a brief thought about this one which somehow turned into a little over 14,000 words. Huge thanks to Aithine for the beta and for pointing out the bits that made no sense and didn't work :-)

House of the Rising Sun - Part 1 of 2

It's the incessant buzzing of his cell phone that finally wakes Dean. The brightness from the streetlight outside his flat is shining in through the window and David Caruso's on the TV, taking off his sunglasses and glaring at someone, which means at least a couple of hours have passed since Dean walked through the door and sat down (and, apparently, fell asleep).

Throwing a hand out, he pats the coffee table a couple of times, fingers skirting across his badge and gun before finally curling around his phone and flicking it open.

"Winchester," he answers, just managing to bank down on the and it had better be fucking good that's welling inside him. He's barely been home in the past few days, had been considering just redirecting all his mail to the police station, since he's been all but living at the station, surviving on takeout and quick showers and snatches of sleep, thanks to the case he's working. He's only here now because Ellen had said she didn't want a team who were more likely to fall asleep at their desks than crack the case and sent them away with instructions not to come back for 12 hours.

All of which doesn't explain why his partner is calling him instead of being at home sleeping or watching bad TV or doing whatever the hell else he does when he's not with Dean.

"230 East 48th Street. We've got another one." The slightly tinny voice coming through the phone cuts out, leaving Dean staring at the ceiling with the dial tone in his ear.

Well, fuck.

~

Even if he hadn't known the address, Dean would know where to park. The house he's headed to has been cordoned off, with officers outside to control the crowd that should have better things to do on a Friday evening.

He slides the Impala in behind one of the marked cars before weaving easily through the onlookers and ducking under the crime scene tape. The coroner's van is the only vehicle inside the area, doors open and Ash sitting on the back. It's not the first time he's seen Ash like that, legs dangling out of the back of the van waiting until the scene is clear and he and Jo can take whatever sorry bastard's about to end up on their table, but it's the first time Dean's see him do it while looking like he's about to puke. Which, considering Dean's seen him cutting up a cadaver one minute and eating a mystery meat pizza the next, is saying something.

"Ash? You okay?"

Ash doesn't answer directly. "I couldn't stay in there any longer. Jo's in there with Castiel." Ash looks up at him. "It's nasty in there."

It always is, Dean thinks.

He leaves Ash on the back of the wagon, and heads towards the house, creaking stairs leading up to the porch. The house is old but well kept, and Dean wonders why he's standing here when the sun is barely peaking over the horizon.

The smell's the first thing that hits him as he walks in, sick and cloying with an underlying hint of lemon, and he can't help but feel grateful that he didn't grab that bagel on the way out of his apartment, can't help but feel that it would be making one hell of a reappearance if he had.

"Where is it?" he asks one of the uniforms in the hall.

"First floor; second room on the right."

Dean walks up the stairs, carefully bypassing the little yellow markers that are scattered about. The crime scene guys are all around the house, bagging and tagging everything they find, but the only two in the bedroom Dean's standing outside of are Jo and Castiel.

The smell's stronger up here and Dean thinks that Ash has the right idea, get out before the stench permeates every part of you, but he steps inside anyway.

Jo is bending over the bed, and Dean can't tell if the body she's looking at is male or female. Can't tell because it's nothing but skin and bones, emaciated and skeletal, the last wisps of hair barely clinging to its skull.

"Hey, Dean." She nods at him, waving a fly out of the way as she continues to make notes.

Castiel looks up when Jo speaks, like he hadn't even realised Dean was there until Jo acknowledged him.

"What have we got?" Dean asks, the urge to shift under Castiel's scrutiny fading as he looks down at the notepad in his hands.

"Ava Wilson. Thirty-four, lived alone. She was a realtor, from what we can gather from some of the papers downstairs." Castiel's voice is low, deliberate.

Which means she has colleagues, someone who should be missing her. So what happened?

"Jo? What can you tell us?"

"That whoever's doing this is a sick son of a bitch?" she replies.

"Which is true, but unhelpful," Castiel comments, merely tilting his head slightly when Jo glares at him.

"We'll have to get her back to the morgue to check her bloodwork but, at first guess, she was starved to death. He tied her down and starved her to death. Jesus, fuck, guys--"

"I know, Jo." Part of Dean wants to tell her to leave, to go and find a coffee shop and forget about bodies and murders and the shit that happens in life. But he's known Jo since they were kids, so he knows that if he did, she'd tell him to fuck right off and let her get on with her job.

She closes her eyes briefly, breathing once before opening them again. "I can't do anything else in here until the forensics team is done. I'm gonna go make sure Ash hasn't lost the burger he ate on the way over here."

Dean reaches out as she walks past him, and she throws him a smile as he squeezes her hand.

"So this makes victim number five," Castiel says as Jo leaves them alone in the bedroom, the muted sounds of the team still working downstairs floating through the house.

"Do we know it's definitely the same guy?" Dean asks.

Castiel looks straight past Dean, pointing to the wall behind him. "I'd say that's a pretty good indication."

Dean knows what's he's going to see before he turns around, knows what he's going to read in sharp, careful letters.

Come and See, it declares in something that could be a hundred other things than the dark red paint Dean knows it to be.

Come and See, clear and precise, written across a light blue wall like a wound.

Come and See, like it's a fucking commandment.

Come and See.

Well, they're here and so far all Dean's seeing is another body left by a fucking nutjob.

"We should head back." Dean jumps slightly at the closeness of Castiel's voice, cursing his partner for moving like a fucking cat.

"I swear to God I'm going to put a collar and bell on you, Cas," Dean mutters. He'd make a comment about getting up close and personal, but there's no point. He knows the other man won't listen to him, hasn't listened since he first transferred in last year. It's like Castiel Milton is either unaware or unconcerned about the concept of personal space. Dean kinda thinks it's the latter.

Castiel glances at him and Dean can almost see the thoughtful look flit across his face. "I normally make people buy me dinner before I let them get to that stage, Dean," he says. There's a soft smirk on his face as he looks at Dean for long moments before his gaze is drawn back to the writing on the wall, the slight smile falling from his face as he turns and walks out of the bedroom.

It takes Dean a few seconds to follow.

~

Bobby's already pinning photos up when Dean walks into the conference room. Dean wonders what patterns he can see behind the blood splashes on the page.

Ava Wilson gets a board to herself, the fifth in a row. Photos of her and her house and her life laid out before them in a hope that they'll catch the sick bastard who's doing this. It's not going to be easy when the guy's just completely changed his MO. Changed from locking two guys in a cage and making them fight each other to the death (with incentives of cattle prods and strangulation waiting for the winner) to starving a woman until she died.

If not for the message left for them each time, Dean would have assumed it was two different perps. Nothing in either of the previous two scenes remotely matched what they found at Ava Wilson's house. Nothing but the writing on the wall, the protestation for them to Come and See declared in dark red letters each time.

He looks over to the other boards, the other faces staring back at him. The eyes of Jacob Talley and Andrew Gallagher and William Carlton and Walter Rosen all look at him, asking when he's going to pull his head out of his ass and find their killer. Dean doesn't have an answer for them.

"You gonna stand there all day, boy?" Bobby's gruff tone derails the sombre thoughts in Dean's mind.

Dean doesn't reply for long moments. "I don't know how we're going to catch this guy, Bobby," he finally admits.

"Same way we always do, son."

"Hard work and God's own luck," Dean recites, having heard the mantra more than once from both Bobby and his dad.

"Exactly," and Dean can hear the soft note of approval in the word. "I ain't never seen you give up on a case yet, Dean Winchester, and I don't expect this to be the first."

"Yes, sir."

"Now, get. I'll let you know what we find." Bobby waves him out of the room, closing the door behind him as he leaves.

~

There's a trenchcoat thrown over a chair and an empty coffee cup sitting on Castiel's desk when Dean finally makes it back to the bullpen but there's no sign of his partner. The room's almost deserted, just Victor and Pamela there, but they always seem to be there. If he hadn't actually been to both of their houses at some point, he'd probably have believed the rumour about them living in one of the empty offices that had circulated a few weeks back.

"Do either of you--"

"He's in Harvelle's office." Pamela barely glances up from her computer as she answers, and Dean wonders if he's just that predictable that she knows exactly what he was thinking.

"Thanks, Pam," he calls over his shoulder, as he heads out of the room, ignoring the "Bring back coffee!" from Victor that follows him.

The door to Ellen's office is closed but she waves Dean in as soon as she sees him.

"Dean, we were just talking about you."

Crap. Either Castiel has been in here bitching about Dean trying to make him write all the reports ("Honestly, Cas, it's completely the responsibility of the new partner to type everything up--") or he's finally gotten fed up of Dean checking him out when he bends over and decided to report him for sexual harassment. It could be either of them by the way Castiel is sitting in the other chair, ramrod straight and pointedly not looking at the two of them.

"All good, I hope." Even if that's just not possible, considering exactly how long and how well Ellen knows him. But that, he figures, is both the upside and the downside to have having one of his dad's oldest friends as his lieutenant.

Ellen's gaze flicks over to Castiel, and Dean's seen that look enough times to know Ellen's concerned about someone. He's seen it enough times to be pretty sure that that someone is Castiel.

"Castiel?" It's been a while since Dean's heard that tone from Ellen, careful and quiet. The last time had been a few years ago, when she'd followed his name with "There's been a robbery, Dean. Shots were fired. Your dad's been taken to hospital--"

Castiel finally looks over at Ellen, nodding once.

"We're looking at a copycat, Dean." Ellen picks up the file on her desk and hands it to him.

The folder Ellen gives him isn't old, but it's worn, creased at the edges in a way that indicates it's been handled regularly. The file belongs to a Lucas Milton, the photo attached to the inside showing a serious young man with sharp blue eyes, piercing and kind of familiar in a way that makes Dean pause.

Behind the photo are several police reports, spanning more than a year. Dean skims the details, not bothering to read them fully. He doesn't need to. He's spent the last few weeks looking them, making his own notes.

"Why are you just telling us this now?" Because there may be something they've missed, some little thing that they would have caught if they'd known.

"Lieutenant Harvelle didn't know, Dean," Castiel replies, and Dean realises Ellen's not telling them, she and Cas are telling him. "And I wasn't sure until tonight." Castiel looks at him. "After all, one identical M.O. could be coincidence. Two, however, isn't." He pauses. "Well, nearly identical."

"Nearly identical?" Because, from what Dean's gleaned from the police reports, they look pretty fucking completely identical.

"The 'Come and See' is new," Castiel says, prompting Dean to open the folder again and scan through the first report. Castiel's right, there's no mention of it, no mention of anything written on the wall at all. Just bodies, some with bruises and marks and wounds, and some with sunken cheeks and skin wrapped around a skeleton, and others with-- oh, fuck, that's gross.

Dean turns the photo over quickly, but the image of the livid, red sores, tinged yellow and green, is still in his mind, and he hopes to hell they stop the guy before he gets to that stage.

"So, why do you think it's a copycat?" Because it could just be the sicko come back to try again. "What's to say this guy hasn't just resurfaced?"

"The last report, Dean." Castiel's voice is quiet and the non sequitur throws Dean for a moment before he flicks to the last few pages, police report and coroner's report stapled together.

The words are stark, bare. Confirmed dead and suicide and .45 and the same sort of things Dean's read a hundred other times in a hundred other reports until he hones in on the one thing that almost jumps out of the page when he reads it. Shot himself in front of-- oh.

Oh.

He lifts his gaze slowly, meeting Castiel's eyes.

"It can't be him because my brother is dead, Dean."

~

There's a cup sitting next to the files on the conference table, the napkin stuffed inside it already brown with the soaked-up coffee it's absorbed. Dean's sure Castiel heard him come in, it's not like he's trying to be quiet, but the other man hasn't turned around, hasn't done anything to acknowledge Dean's presence.

"Y'know," Dean says conversationally, spinning a chair around as he pulls it away from the conference table so he can straddle it. "When you said you became a cop because of your brother, I kinda assumed you meant he was one and you followed in his footsteps, not that he was one of the psychos you wanted to catch."

It had been not long after Castiel had arrived, not long after they'd been assigned as partners. They'd been watching a warehouse, waiting to see if a shipment of drugs was going to arrive, and Dean had figured it was the perfect time to get to know his new partner. He'd also figured asking Castiel the usual questions (Where are you from? Why a cop?) was less likely to get him into trouble with Ellen than jumping the guy, even though his dick had been all for that idea since the moment he'd walked into Ellen's office and been pinned by an intense blue gaze.

Castiel stills, his hand pulling back from the photo he's standing in front of, pulling back from tracing the letters that mark this batch of murders as different. "What I told you was the truth. It's not my fault if you chose to interpret it incorrectly."

"Whatever you say, Obi-Wan." Because having the truth from a certain point of view doesn't work when you're supposed to trust the other person with your life.

Sighing, Castiel glances away, his hand coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose before running through his hair. "Understand, Dean, this is difficult. It's not exactly something I tend to talk about."

He looks back at Dean, the corner of his mouth turned down and hair looking like he's just rolled out of bed, and Dean feels like a giant asshole. He can't even begin to think what it would be like, can't even imagine what he would have done if it had been Sam. He knows he'd never be able to say it, never be able to introduce himself as Hi, I'm Dean Winchester and my brother's a giant psychotic serial killer, so why the hell would Castiel?

"Come on." Dean stands up, glancing through to Ellen's office out of the window, where she's very carefully pretending not to watch them.

"Where are we going?"

"You and I are going to get spectacularly drunk." Because after today, after the last few weeks, they deserve it.

Castiel frowns, a small wrinkle appearing between his eyebrows. "I don't drink on duty."

"Then it's a good job we're not officially on shift, then, isn't it." He walks out of the conference room, not needing to look behind him to know that Castiel is following.

~

It's been a couple of hours since they got to Dean's apartment, the two of them making serious inroads into the beer that's been sitting in Dean's fridge since Sam brought it around the last time he was there. They try and get together at least once a week but it's not always that easy for a cop and a lawyer to get their schedules to match. The last time they'd gotten together was in a courthouse when Sam had called Dean to the witness stand to testify and Dean just doesn't think "Explain what you found when you walked into the warehouse the night of July 16th" is the kind of quality time he wants to be spending with Sam. Especially since he couldn't exactly reply "There was a shitload of coke and have you gotten around to asking Jess to marry you, yet, you giant loser?"

The coffee table's littered with empty bottles, and it's not until Dean reaches for another that he realises there are none. Castiel's next to him, fingers wrapped around the neck of the beer bottle he's holding and head against the back of the couch, eyes closed and a soft flush to his cheeks that indicates that, even if he's not drunk, he's not entirely sober.

"He used to hear voices," Castiel says quietly, eyes still closed and fingers running over the smoothness of the bottle.

"Cas?" Even though there's only one person he could be talking about.

"My brother. He used to hear voices."

Dean knows he should tell Castiel that he doesn't have to do this, doesn't have to tell Dean anything, but he doesn't.

"A bunch of animals in the neighbourhood went missing. And then Anna walked in on him--"

"Anna?" Dean can't help himself.

"My sister," Castiel answers. "Luke was the oldest, then Gabriel, then Anna, and then me." He pauses, opening his eyes and staring at Dean's ceiling. "Luke had a cat and he'd--" Castiel's words trail off, but Dean doesn't ask him to elaborate. He's pretty sure the image his mind is supplying is enough.

"He went away for a while. My mother used to tell people that he was staying with family in Austin, but everyone knew it was a lie. Everyone knew he was in a psychiatric hospital. He was in there for over a year before they released him. The doctors said he'd be okay if he continued to take his medication."

There's silence for a few moments.

"What happened, Cas?" Dean's always been too curious for his own good.

"We thought everything was okay." Castiel's opens his eyes, looking at Dean. "And then it was on the news. The police had found-- they'd found bodies. Homeless people who'd been taken and--" Castiel huffs a low, quiet laugh. "Well, you know how, Dean. After all, the photos are up in the conference room."

"He'd killed them." It's not a question, it doesn't need to be.

Castiel nods. "The night it was on the news, Luke was sitting at the kitchen table. He looked so-- lost. He said he couldn't help it. Said that there was a demon inside him, that the devil made him do it. He said it was like it was watching himself do all these things and not be able to stop himself." Castiel glances away briefly. "He had my father's gun in his hand and he shot himself. I remember the bang, and my mother running in and screaming. And I remember the blood sliding down the wall beside him."

"Jesus, Cas." Dean reaches out without thinking about it, his fingers wrapping around Castiel's wrist. He can't begin to wonder what he'd feel, what he'd do, if it had been Sam. If Sam walked in front of him with a gun and-- Dean's mind shies away from the image, unwilling to even imagine.

"And now it's happening again." Castiel's knuckles are white from his grip on the bottle.

Reaching out, Dean takes the bottle, putting it on the table. "We'll find him, Cas. We'll find him and we'll take the sick son of a bitch down."

Castiel doesn't answer, his eyes fixed on Dean's hands. On where Dean's fingers are rubbing circles into Castiel's wrist, careful and slow and oh--

"Shit, Cas, I'm sorry." Because feeling someone up after they've just spilled their life story to you is exactly the thing to do in this case. Dean pulls his hand away, frowning when Castiel catches his fingers in his own. "Cas?"

"You are very attractive," Castiel says quietly. "And often infuriating."

Which, as testimonies go, isn't the worst one Dean's had.

"You're a good man, Dean Winchester."

Castiel's lips are soft against his, his tongue flicking out to lap at Dean's lower lip. Dean knows he should stop this, knows that neither of them are thinking completely straight and that there are a hundred reasons why this is a bad idea. And then Castiel's hand slides under Dean's shirt, tugging at his belt, and the hundred bad ideas get replaced with one simple fact. He wants this.

"Cas--" The moan is lost into Castiel's mouth, swallowed by teeth and tongue and lips.

His own hand is at Castiel's belt, and it's a race to see who gets there first, fingers fumbling with leather and buttons as their lips stay sealed, trying not to lose the connection they have with each other.

Dean's head thumps against the arm of the couch as his trousers finally open and Castiel's hand slips inside, past his boxers, to wrap around the hardness pressing against the fabric.

"Fuck, Cas--" Dean arches up into the touch as much as he can, considering Castiel is lying on top of him, legs between Dean's and fingers working Dean's cock out of its confines.

As soon as the cool air hits Dean's dick, Castiel's fingers are gone, pulling at his own belt and popping open the last button Dean hasn't managed to open. Pulling his dick out, Castiel slides against Den, hard flesh against hard flesh, and a groan rents the air. Dean thinks may be him, but he's just not sure.

Castiel's hand is next to Dean's head, fingers gripping the sofa tightly, his knuckles white as he leaves soft indentations in the fabric.

The head of Castiel's cock catches on his, sharp and bright and lube would make this easier, make the slick slide of flesh smoother, but the lube's in the bedroom and Dean's fucked if he's going to move, fucked if he's going to do anything to take that look off Castiel's face, with his eyes closed and his teeth worrying at his lower lip, which means he's going to have to improvise.

Castiel's eyes open as Dean runs his fingers through his hair, cradling the back of Castiel's head as he lifts his other hand to Cas's mouth.

"Lick," he says, wiggling his fingers slightly.

Castiel stares at Dean's hand for a couple of seconds before moving forward, his tongue swiping across Dean's palm, a smile crossing his face. Holding Dean's wrist to steady him, Castiel licks up Dean's fingers, smirking as he closes his lips around the fingertips, sucking on the digits and laving them with his tongue.

Dean's cock twitches, because it may be his fingers in Castiel's mouth, but his brain's stuck on lips and suck, and his dick can't help but sit up and take notice.

Pulling back, Castiel lets the fingers fall from his mouth, tongue darting out to lick at his lower lip as he asks, "Wet enough?"

Dean doesn't answer, just wraps his fingers around him and Castiel, encasing both their cocks in his grip.

Castiel hisses quietly as Dean starts to jerk them, slow, languid movements as he runs his thumb over first his cockhead and then Castiel's, gathering the precome and slicking it over them. Castiel's hips are jerking, shallow thrusts into Dean's grip as his cock slides easily over Dean's.

"C'mere--" Tightening his grip on the back of Castiel's head, Dean tugs him down, their cocks squashed between them as their lips seal together, the taste of beer still strong on Castiel's breath. Dean can barely move his hand, but it doesn't matter because he can already feel it, boiling in his stomach, his balls tight and ready. All it takes is one more moment, one soft hitch of breath as Castiel's cock pulses against his and he's there, spilling wet and heat between them.

A few seconds later, Castiel follows as Dean pushes his thumb under the head of his cock. Breaking the kiss as he stiffens in Dean's grip, his come mixing with Dean's and soaking into their clothes, tacky and warm.

Castiel's entire body relaxes, resting his head against Dean's shoulder. Dean knows they should move, knows they should clean up, but it's been a long day. Hell, it's been a long month, and his couch is there and moving means actually doing something that isn't just closing his eyes. Besides, Castiel is on top of him, and it would be mean to make him move straight away. Maybe in five minutes. Dean closes his eyes. Yeah, five minutes, they'll clean up then.

~

There are two cell phones buzzing when Dean wakes up, and if he's going to make it a habit of sleeping on the couch, then he really needs to buy a more comfortable couch. Castiel is tucked against him, head resting on Dean's shoulder and leg thrown over Dean's. They're still clothed and Dean knows they never got as far as cleaning up after the drunken make out session before they fell asleep. And, wow, doesn't that make him feel old.

"Please stop buzzing," Castiel mumbles, the words muffled in Dean's shirt.

Dean runs a hand over Cas's back as his other reaches for the phone on the coffee table.

"Winchester," he says, finally managing to get his fingers to work long enough to open the phone.

There's a short pause. "Dean?"

Ellen's voice forces him to wakefulness. If Ellen's calling at-- Dean tries to twist to check the clock on the wall behind him, but Cas rumbles a protest and tightens his arms around Dean. Well, whatever time it is, if Ellen's calling, then it's not likely to be good news.

"Dean," Ellen continues, "is there a reason you're answering Detective Milton's phone, but neglected to answer your own?"

Crap.

He's completely awake now, his eyes going to his own cell phone, still lying on the coffee table and buzzing quietly, the screen indicating a voicemail waiting for him.

"Er--" Because he can come with something, he can, he's just never lied to Ellen before-- well, apart from the time he and Jo denied having anything to do with the slashed tires that jerkwad who'd hit on Jo at a bar and wouldn't take no for an answer ended up with, and that was more of an obfuscation than an outright lie-- and he's not willing to start now.

But Ellen saves him from having to say anything. "Actually, no never mind, It's probably better if I don't know. I'm just going to assume that Castiel is with you and tell you both to get down to Main; we've got another body."

Ellen's words chase off any lingering hint of sleep. Snapping the cell shut, he drops it back on the table, shaking Castiel gently. "Cas, we've got to get up."

"Comfortable," comes the reply, Cas burying his head further into the crook of Dean's shoulder.

And if Dean had it his way, he'd close his eyes and go back to sleep, as well, but they can't. "Come on, Cas, that was Ellen. We've got another one."

Cas stiffens at Dean's words, lifting his head meeting Dean's gaze with eyes that are surprisingly focused for someone who was barely awake seconds ago.

"Dean--" For a moment when Dean thinks the next words out of Cas will be "This was a mistake" or "This can't happen again," when no, it wasn't a mistake and, if Dean has anything to do with it, it'll be happening on a highly regular basis.

But there's no hesitation or concern on Cas's face, just a faint air of distaste as he runs his tongue over his teeth. "I really hope you have a spare toothbrush," he says, his eyes glancing down to the dried mess of come on his shirt. "Also, I may need to borrow a shirt."

~

Jo's standing by her van when they turn the corner, talking to one of the officers taping off the area.

Dean parks behind the van. Either it's too early for the gawkers to be out or news about this one hasn't hit yet, because there's no one behind the cordon they're busy putting up, no one to tell to move away, move on, get out of the way.

Jo waves at them absently, her eyes narrowing, focusing on Castiel as they get closer.

"Everything okay?" Dean asks.

Jo nods. "Yeah. Looks like she's been dead for a few days; I'll be able to pin it down more when we get her back. We're just waiting on Bobby's team showing before we stomp all over the scene."

"Speaking of which," Castiel comments, nodding his head towards the car that's just pulling up.

Bobby's already barking orders to his team as they get out of the car, dictating who needs to do what once they're in the house. Since Bobby's team is one of the most capable crime scene teams Dean's ever worked with, he's pretty sure Bobby does it just to keep them on their toes.

"How long?" he asks as Bobby pauses for breath.

"Won't know 'til we get inside," comes the reply. "Give us ten minutes to do the preliminary check. If I need you to stay out any longer, I tell you--" The words trail off as an officer comes out from the house, causing a frown to cross Bobby's face. "You'd better not be messing up my crime scene, boy!" he shouts, grumbling softly under his breath as he walks away.

"So," Jo says lightly, waiting until Bobby's out of earshot before she turns back to the two of them, "is there a reason you're arriving together? I mean, Castiel, the last time you commented on Dean's driving it was to say that he drove like a monkey on crack and hell would freeze over before you willingly got into a car with Dean Winchester again."

"Carpooling," Dean replies, smirking. Seriously, you mount a sidewalk a couple of times chasing a suspect and you never get to live it down. And, anyway, there's no way in hell he's going to tell her the truth, not unless he wants her to gloat about it for the next five years. Dean had spent a good potion of one Friday night weeks ago bemoaning to Jo that it really wasn't fair how hot his partner was when he wasn't allowed to touch and Jo had spent the rest of the night trying to persuade Dean that her mom probably wouldn't say anything if he and Castiel did decide to tango in the sheets, since she was far too happy with their success rate for closing cases. Sometimes it sucked have his lieutenant's kid as one of his closest friends. "Saving the environment, Jo. Got to do our bit."

"And does doing your bit have anything to do with Castiel wearing your shirt?" The grin on Jo's face gets wider at the surprise that crosses Cas's features. "Seriously, Castiel, I somehow doubt you're the kind of guy who makes it a habit to buy his shirts a size too big. And also, unless I'm wrong and I'm really not, that's the shirt I got Dean for Christmas last year."

Jo's looking far too pleased with herself and Dean's considering just telling her to mind her own business when Castiel reaches out, laying a hand on her arm.

"We'd appreciate your discretion in this matter, Jo."

"Yeah, sure," Jo replies, and Dean gets the hesitancy. He and Jo do bickering and teasing and backing each other up no matter what, because she's his and Sam's sister in every way but blood, but fuck if they ever do honest sincerity. It's love wrapped in insults because that's the way they were raised, so he gets it, he does. It doesn't stop him from reaching out and squeezing Jo's hand, though.

"Thanks, Jo."

She smiles at both of them until the moment's broken by Bobby yelling from the porch.

"Prelim's done! You can get your asses in here! Just don't step on anything!"

"Time to work," Jo comments, banging her hand against the side of the van. "Yo, Ash! Stop reading porn, we've got a body to move!"

~

There's nothing personal in the house and, according to the neighbour, the place has been sitting empty since the previous owner passed away six months ago, so they have no way of immediately identifying whose body is lying in the morgue. According to the records, there have been seventeen women within five years either way of the age Jo estimated their Jane Doe to be reported missing in the past month. And that's just their state, Dean hates to think how many they'll be adding to that number if they have to expand into neighbouring states.

"I've got her," Castiel says, tilting his head slightly as he stares at the picture on his computer. "AFIS came back with a hit on the fingerprints Jo pulled off."

Resting a hand on Castiel's shoulder and leaning over the back of his chair, Dean looks at the photo of the woman on the screen. The hair colour's about right, as is the shape of her face if Dean imagines what she would have looked like when she was alive, instead of the sunken, emaciated features that greeted them when they walked into the bedroom. "Why's she in the system?"

"Diana Ballard was arrested for DUI three years ago," Castiel replies.

And now she's lying on a slab in their morgue.

"Who reported her?" Because someone had to, which means someone's missing her.

"Her husband," Castiel answers, turning to look at Dean.

And now it's up to them to tell him, to let him know that the person he's waiting for isn't coming home.

"I hate this part," Dean admits.

Cas reaches up, wrapping his fingers around Dean's and squeezing once. "It needs to be done."

Yeah, it does. Doesn't mean Dean's got to like it. They can't put it off, though; can't let a family go on thinking there's hope when there is none. Reaching over for his jacket, Dean's just about to grab the car keys off Castiel's desk when Ellen's door opens.

"Winchester! Milton! Get your asses in here, Bobby's found something you should know about."

Dean hadn't even noticed Bobby head into Ellen's office, had been too busy focusing on Castiel and not leaning over the desk to kiss him.

"AFIS came back with a name, Lieutenant," Castiel says. "We were just about to go and speak to the family."

Ellen looks over to where Victor and Pam are sitting. "Henriksen, Barnes! You're seeing the family," she shouts across to them before turning back to Dean and Castiel. "Trust me, you want to hear this."

"Ellen?" Because the look on her face is something Dean hasn't seen there since this entire case started. But she doesn't reply, just turns around and waits for them to walk into her office.

Bobby is sitting in one of the chairs, throwing the report he'd been flicking through back onto Ellen's desk when she shuts the door behind them.

"Thought you boys might be interested to know we found DNA under Jane Doe's fingernails," Bobby says. "DNA that doesn't belong to her."

Which means it belongs to someone else and the most likely candidate for that someone else is the bastard who's doing this. Which means they may just have actually gotten a break on this case. Dean looks over at Cas and grins. It's about fucking time.

"Are you--"

"Running it through CODIS as we speak," Bobby confirms, the look on his face saying the son, I ain't an idiot and I know how to do my job-- that his mouth isn't.

"So, about twenty-four hours?" Dean comments.

"Don't get your hopes up," Bobby warns. "It all depends if she's in the system or not."

Wait, hold on--

"She?" Castiel repeats, and Dean's pretty sure they're thinking exactly the same thing. Thinking that most serial killers are men, that the level of violence involved in some of the killings pointed to a male perpetrator.

Bobby nods. "That I can confirm. What's under Jane Doe's--"

"Diana Ballard," Dean interrupts, because even if they got to her too late, she still deserves her name.

Bobby doesn't miss a beat at the interruption, "What's under her fingernails is skin and blood, and the person it belongs to is definitely female."

Skin and blood. It means that, whatever else she did, Diane Ballard fought back, that she managed to keep a little bit of her killer with her. It means Diana Ballard may actually be able to name the person who did this to her, who did this to all the others.

"Twenty-four hours," Dean says, his voice quiet.

Bobby just nods. "We'll know by then if CODIS is going to bring back a name."

"Which means I don't want to see either of you back here until tomorrow," Ellen says.

Dean looks at her. There's still a crap load of stuff they could be doing, still--

"You've both been working non-stop since this case hit and every time I look up, you're either here or being called back in," she continues, lifting a hand before Dean can even object. "Go home, get some rest and come back tomorrow. It's going to be a long day, whether CODIS comes back with anything or not."

"Yes, ma'am." If there's anything Dean learned at a young age, it was when to pick his battles, and that picking one with Ellen rarely works out in your favour.

( House of the Rising Sun - Part 2 of 2 )

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Claire

May 2017

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