“Uh... hello? I’m, uh... looking for Dean? Dean Winchester? I know this isn’t his phone but something happened to his and I really need to talk to--”
“Who is this?” John Winchester barked out, cutting him off.
“Oh! It’s Shawn Spencer! Look, I really need to talk to Dean, so if you could just...”
John pulled the phone away from his ear and glanced at Dean as he got back into the Impala.
“You know a Shawn Spencer?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. Dean frowned and held his hand out to take the phone.
“Shawn?” Dean asked, putting the phone to his ear. He winced and pulled it away slightly. “Whoa dude, slow down. What happened?...What?! Hold on a second.”
Dean held the cellphone between the two of them and pressed to turn it on speakerphone, ignoring the look his father was giving him.
“Shawn, start over. Explain what the hell is going on.”
“Did you put me... Oh hello again, I’m guessing you’re Dean’s dad. I’m really sorry about having to call you instead of Dean,” Shawn’s rushed voice filled the car.
“I lost my phone on the last hunt,” Dean explained.
“Can we get on with this?” John asked, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“Sorry! Sorry... oh, just to pre-amble this, I just want you to know that I totally did not go looking for any fuglies. Honest. As soon as I realized what was going on, I tried to call Dean.”
John shot a look at Dean.
“Anyway, so I have a question... Uh, so if I came across a scene where there was say sulfur and then saw someone whose eyes were completely black, we’d be talking about a demon, right?”
“You saw a demon?!” Dean demanded. Shawn gave a nervous little laugh.
“I guess so... and that kinda leads me to my second question: how many demons do you usually see at once? Just a ballpark? Like one or two or.... uh, more?”
“Shawn,” John interrupted. “Explain.” There was a long sigh then Shawn spoke again, much calmer.
“I noticed a pattern of weird deaths and thought the police missed that there was a serial killer. So I started investigating and I noticed this woman with black eyes, a demon. I... kinda sorta accidentally followed her back to where she was hiding out and let’s just say, she had friends.”
“How many, Shawn?” Dean asked worriedly.
“Assuming that the two I wasn’t able to get a direct black eye confirmation were also demons? Uh... fourteen.”
“Holy hell...” John muttered. Dean shot him a panicked look, suddenly very glad that his father was driving the Impala at that moment, because he probably would have swerved into the wrong side of traffic.
“Where are you right now?” John asked, going into military mode.
“At the Sunny Days Motel outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. Complete with salt lines and sigils,” Shawn paused. “Is that going to be good enough?”
“Well that’s the first bit of good news I’ve heard today...” John muttered, then continued, louder. “Probably. Did the demons see you, boy?”
“I don’t... I don’t think so. But I went straight back the motel room and haven’t left just to be safe.”
“Good. Stay there,” John ordered. “We’ll be there in the morning.”
The corner of John’s mouth turned up at the term. Dean turned off the speakerphone and turned towards the window to speak in low tones to Shawn.
“Shawn?” There was a pause. “You got all of them? ...Good. Guess being a freakazoid comes in handy.”
John glanced over when Dean chuckled.
“Well it’s your pansyass that’s getting saved this time... Yeah, yeah, I won’t forget... Sure.” Dean snapped the phone shut and set it on the seat between them, already anticipating whatever lecture John was about to deliver.
“Who’s this Spencer kid?”
“Shawn helped me out with that salt and burn in Detroit about six months back,” Dean explained.
“You let a civilian help you?” John’s tone was even but Dean was well aware of the ire behind his calm words.
“I didn’t let Shawn do anything,” Dean snorted, thinking of the several arguments he ended up losing with the other man at the time. “I met him when he saved my life from this bitch of a ghost, then he hung around like a bad hooker for the rest of the hunt... I probably would have ended up dead if not for him.”
John’s admonishing look seemed to be tempered by the admission that Shawn had kept Dean alive.
“He’s not a hunter, and he doesn’t want to be one,” Dean continued. “But he’s got the skills to handle himself and be damn useful.”
“We’ll see about that. At least he had the common sense to bug out when he figured out that they were demons and give you a call.” John replied, then frowned, “What the hell was he doing going after a serial killer?”
“Let’s just say Shawn has some... unusual skills.” John raised an eyebrow. “Even for a hunter.”
“Hopefully they don’t get him killed...” John replied dryly.
It was exactly eleven steps from one end of the motel room to the other, lengthwise, and eight going the other way. Shawn was well aware of the dimensions, having been stuck in the room for hours. It had been about an hour after Dean called him back on a new cell phone that Shawn had realized he hadn’t eaten since early that morning. An hour after that, Shawn had finally broken down and called for a pizza.
The delivery guy had probably thought Shawn was on drugs... or was a criminal. Opening the door just wide enough to fit the box through, throwing a wad of cash at him to pay, slipping a quiet ‘kristo’ into the limited exchange of words... Shawn hadn’t cared, too paranoid by the crash course on demons Dean had given him over the phone.
He wasn’t going to take any chances.
Safely ensconced behind careful warding, Shawn came to the realization halfway through the pizza that he might have to worry about something else. Namely, losing his mind. It had only taken another thirty seconds for Shawn to then realize that the only thing to do while he waited for Dean and his dad to make the eight hour drive from... wherever... was to work.
Never been so glad to do research in my life...
Luckily enough, Shawn had been given a laptop as a parting gift from one of his latest jobs and the motel had internet access. At one point he had ended up bribing the young teen who worked in the motel office to bring him printouts of information he found along with a notebook in which to write down everything else.
Shawn hadn’t missed John’s reaction to the situation, meaning they were going to need every bit of information he could scrounge up while he waited. So he worked, and worked, and worked... until the ringing of his cell phone caused him to lift his head from where he had fallen asleep, the impression of the keyboard on his cheek.
“H’lo?” Shawn mumbled.
“Don’t you sound perky?”
“Bite me, Winchester.”
“In your dreams, sweetheart,” Dean laughed. Shawn yawned and dragged a hand over his face as he sat up.
“So, what’s so important that it can’t wait until you come and bail me out?” Shawn asked, glancing at the clock. 4:30 in the morning... Fantastic.
“Just giving you heads up on the gameplan. We’re changing locations.” Shawn frowned. “Dad’s going to be heading over to the motel to get you and your bike while I prep the new place.”
“Oh joy, when will he be here?”
“Should be--” Dean was cut off by a knock on the Shawn’s motel door. Shawn got up from the table where he was sitting and moved to the door, checking the peephole.
“There is no way that your dad is entirely human, man,” Shawn whispered. “Stop laughing! It’s not funny!” he hissed.
“Shawn, open the door.”
Shawn sprang back when John’s voice came from outside. He rolled his eyes and ended the phone call, Dean still chuckling, then opened the door. John immediately stepped into the room, raising an eyebrow as he stepped over a secondary salt line just beyond the sweep of the door.
“Let’s go,” John said simply, not mincing words. Shawn nodded jerkily, moving quickly to collect his things, managing to pack his backpack in just over a minute. When he finished, he noticed John quietly appraising him. He chose to ignore it, leaving some cash and the key on the table before following John outside.
“I’m not even going to bother asking how you managed that,” Shawn murmured, spying his bike already in the back of John’s truck. John answered with a small grin as he got behind the wheel.
“I, uh... I’m sorry about all of this,” Shawn said a few minutes into their drive. John glanced at him. “I know that you’re probably not very happy that Dean let me help last time, but please don’t take it out on him... or me.”
“On you?” John asked after a long moment, sounding both amused and ever so slightly offended. “You think I’d leave a civilian on his own with that many demons?”
“Well, no,” Shawn said immediately, frowning. “But I wouldn’t put it past you to leave me high and dry just long enough to scare the shit out of me to teach me a lesson about hunters.”
To his credit, Shawn did not jump when John let out a loud laugh. Barely.
“I get the feeling you already understand the situation, Shawn. It’s just a question of whether you actually do the smart thing.”
Shawn gave a mirthless chuckle.
“Oh I’m very good at not doing the smart thing, you can ask my dad,” Shawn replied baldly, bitterness creeping into his words. He flushed slightly when he realized who he was talking to and turned his focus to observing the drive. Thankfully, the rest of the ride to the second motel was silent.
When they arrived, Shawn immediately hopped out, threw on his backpack again, and followed John to the back of his truck. Without being asked, he hauled one of the large black duffels over one shoulder and headed for the motel door.
Dean opened the door on the first knock.
“Salt spilled on the floor outside the door,” Shawn replied automatically with a grin, moving past Dean to drop the duffel then his backpack on one of the beds. Dean looked outside the door, let out a chuckle, then moved back as his father came in the room.
“That’s just not natural, man,” Dean said as he locked the door behind John. Shawn rolled his eyes.
“We’re safeguarding against demons and you think I’m the unnatural one?”
“You like Jackson over Jagger, so there’s something wrong with you--”
Dean and Shawn stopped abruptly and turned to look at John, who pulled a small pouch out of a duffel. Reaching inside, he removed three small metal pendants on leather strings and handed them out. John and Dean automatically put theirs on while Shawn examined his.
“It’ll protect you from being possessed by a demon,” Dean explained, tucking his underneath his shirt. Shawn nodded, eyebrows raised, before donning his as well.
“Alright, Shawn,” John said, looking at him. “Tell us everything.”
Shawn blinked a couple of times before going into detective mode. He went over to his backpack and retrieved his laptop and a large file, laying out printouts of photos on the bedspread.
“A few days ago, I was watching the news and there was a report of an unusual death. The victim was found in an abandoned building, the body horrifically mutilated, as though it had been gone after by wild animals,” Shawn began.
“I realized that I had heard a similar report in two other cities in the last few weeks, random animal attack but in a building. I thought it was weird, so I decided to do a little poking and found out that the ME noticed that despite the state of the latest victim’s body, the heart was missing. I noticed in the autopsy photos that the heart was cut out, rather than torn out by an animal.”
Shawn placed a series of autopsy photos on the bed as he spoke, pointing out details.
“Obviously the body was mutilated to cover up the removal of the heart, making the M.O. pretty distinct. I went back and got a hold of the previous two cases I knew about and found a few more, checking the ME’s reports to see if they were missing their hearts as well...”
“Were they?” Dean asked with a frown.
“No, not as far as I could tell,” Shawn replied, glancing at him. “I was only able to get autopsy photos for three other vics and none of them were missing their hearts. They were, however, missing other bits.” He pulled out a list of names, dates, and missing body parts.
“So far we’ve got what looks like a torso, a heart, a liver, and a right arm but seven victims total if the last three fit as well,” Shawn paused. “I was deciding how or whether to alert the FBI when I discovered the sulfur at the latest crime scene.”
John gave him a questioning look.
“Snuck in,” Shawn explained with a shrug, then turned on his laptop, opening a video. “Then while I was rewatching the segment I noticed this....” He played the video of the news report, pointing at a woman in the background whose eyes flashed black.
“I’ll be damned...” John muttered.
“I double checked, news reports on two other victims had the same thing happen, but the person with black eyes was always different.”
“Doesn’t mean it’s not the same demon,” John informed him.
“I don’t think it is. I tracked down the woman from the latest victim and tailed her back to an abandoned factory.” Shawn laid out a map and a picture of a factory. “It was there that I saw what I guess were demons. As soon as I saw that all their eyes were black, I hightailed it back to my motel and called you.”
“Have you ever heard of anything like this?” Dean asked, turning to his father. John looked over the pictures, deep in thought.
“You’re sure about the body parts?” John asked Shawn, looking at him carefully. Shawn nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets, the intensity of John’s scrutiny unnerving him.
“I’ve never heard of demons taking entire body parts, but I’ll have to make some calls,” John answered finally. He pulled out his cellphone and dialed. “Bobby.... yeah, it’s about the demons. I have some more information--”
“I can send all the files and information to whomever you want if you give me their email address,” Shawn interrupted.
“Did you catch that?” John asked Bobby over the phone. He listened for a moment then handed the phone to Shawn.
“Uh... Hello?” Shawn answered cautiously. “Yeah, I’m Shawn..... I can send them, just...”
Dean tapped his father’s shoulder and jerked his thumb towards the far end of the room. John followed him over to the corner, out of Shawn’s earshot.
“What do you really think?” Dean asked in a low whisper, his eyes serious. John sighed and ran a hand over his mouth.
“If your friend is right about his information, then something big is going on with these demons... I have no idea what they’re up to.”
“And if he’s...?”
“That’s the problem. I think he’s right.”
Dean blew out a breath, glancing at Shawn who was talking animatedly into the phone with Bobby.
“I’m not exactly sure how he managed to piece this together,” John continued, “but we can’t afford to take any chances, especially with a civilian.”
“He’s not exactly... a civilian,” Dean explained. John gave him a questioning look. “He can handle pretty much any firearm you throw at him. And he does this whole freaky detective thing.”
“Freaky detective thing?” John intoned, quirking a bit of a smile, his eyebrows raised.
“It’s uh...” Dean huffed, “You’ll see.”
“Alright, so the kid isn’t a complete infant--” Dean rolled his eyes. “But this is bigger than the two of us can handle, even with his help.”
“Who’re you going to call?”
“I’ll see if Jim and Caleb are in the area.”
Dean grinned and had started to respond when Shawn said his goodbyes and shut the phone, turning to them. He watched silently, his eyes quickly and shrewdly gathering info, then a calm, friendly look was on his face again.
“Glad to know you believe me,” Shawn tossed the phone back to John. “Go ahead and call the cavalry.”
Dean grinned at his father, mouthing ‘see?’. With a small, enigmatic smile, John headed out the motel door. Shawn waited for the sound of the truck door closing before turning to look at Dean again.
“Dude, you’re dad is almost impossible to read,” he hissed to Dean, who chuckled and went to one of the large duffels, pulling out items.
“Two dozen years and I still don’t understand what makes the guy tick,” Dean complained. “And he’s been getting weirder.” Shawn narrowed his eyes slightly, flagging and cataloging information for later. Dean, having his back turned, didn’t notice.
“So what happens now?” Shawn asked.
“Now? We crash while we can,” Dean sighed, pulling some clothing out of a bag. “Because as soon as the sun’s up, we’re going to be hitting the pavement.”
Shawn groaned and rubbed his hands over his face, glaring darkly when Dean grinned at him. Shawn snatched a pillow off one of the beds and dumped a couple of extra blankets on the floor by the far wall. Going over to the duffel with the weapons, he pulled out one of the shotguns and checked that it was loaded.
“What are you doing?” Dean asked, wrinkling his nose when Shawn toed off his boots and flopped down, laying the shotgun near his head.
“Going to sleep, ‘m tired,” Shawn mumbled, pulling one of the blankets over himself. He pressed his face into the pillow and was out like a light, his hand resting on the gun.
Dean stared at him and vaguely wondered if he was raised by some sort of long lost twin of his father.
By the time John returned, Dean was sitting at the edge of one of the beds, flipping through the printouts absently. He looked up when his father came in and held a finger to his lips tilting his head towards where Shawn was asleep on the floor. Nodding, John closed the door silently behind him, locked it and reset the salt line.
“What?” Dean asked quietly. John scratched his jaw.
“When I was over at the other motel, your friend there had a second line of salt, running like this...” John murmured, pointing in a quarter circle around the door. He looked at Shawn’s sleeping form with something akin to respect. “He could open the door without ever breaking the line.”
Dean chuckled to himself and set the file on the table before getting into bed.