Sam was looking at another long day of billable hours. It was difficult balancing time for him, hunting and work. He highlighted another section of text from LexisNexis, which seemed pertinent, and which the paralegal missed.
The knock on his door made him look up. He gestured for Della, the shared secretary of his department to enter.
"Courier delivered this for you, Mr. Winchester." She handed him a white envelope.
"Thank you Della." He held the envelope. There was no name on it, making him leery. It had weight, but it was towards the bottom. He could make out another envelope inside. On occasion he received a gift from a client for a job well done. Usually it was an expensive bottle of liquor or champagne. He jumped when his cell phone rang.
He glanced at the screen on his phone. "I thought you were in
Dean regularly informed him when he would be out of the
country. Sometimes, if Sam could manage
it, he would join Dean to a faraway place he had always wanted to go to.
"I was supposed to be. Plans changed and I'm staying put," Dean answered. "Did you open your envelope?"
Sam ripped it open, knowing it was safe to do so. As he thought there was another envelope. He opened that one more carefully to find an invitation.
"Every year I find a way to get out of it, but this year I get an honest white collar criminal and he admits what he did before I can even investigate. It's not fair." Dean sighed audibly. "Not even a kidnapping." Dean continued on his rant, "So if I'm going, then you're going. Do you have a tux?"
Sam hadn't been to many formal occasions that a nice suit wouldn't cover. "I can rent one."
"Hell, no," Dean replied. "You don't rent a tux, that's nasty."
"Dude, you're the same person who didn't care whose boxers they used."
"As long as they were clean. Plus, you were always buying new ones. Go out and buy a tux."
His brother had never been a neat freak. He ate lots of questionable foods with the thought that they were going to mix in his stomach anyway. Then there were the gas station bathrooms, which were unspeakable and required a shower after usage.
"So what's this party about? Am I going as your date?" Sam skimmed the invitation. It was a fundraiser for something called Crossroads.
"No, I'm escorting Tonya, so you should bring Allison. Girl can't resist a guy in a tux. . ."
Sam guided his brother back on track, "So what is Crossroads?"
"Crossroads is a place for at risk kids – to keep them out of trouble they are taught different skills," his brother explained. "And it's my treat. I already bought you the tickets so you're coming. Food should be good."
"Okay, I'll see you there." Sam placed the phone in the crook of his neck, typing an email to Alison to invite her.
Sam felt out of place as touched his hair again. He felt self conscious. The tuxedo, his hair slicked back. It didn't help that Allison had outright laughed at him when he went to pick her up. She said he looked handsome; a man of her dreams, but the fidgeting was ruining the image. Once she controlled her laughter she made promises for later. It would be hard to keep his hands off of her with the chocolate colored long dress, which hugged her bodice.
The valet was taking the cars, which meant Dean hadn't brought the Impala. It was likely Tonya drove-having to force his brother from the house with the attitude he had about going. He had called up Sam everyday this week to make sure he hadn't forgotten and that he was attending.
Their invitation was collected at the door and their name
checked off from a list before they were allowed to enter the staging
area. The grounds of
"Sammy, over here." Sam heard his brother's voice, and saw him obscured by a plant leaning on the corner of the bar. "Best seat in the house."
Sam escorted Allison to Dean's perch where his brother complimented her appearance, and offered her one of his collected h'ourderves from his collection set before him.
"Hording food again?" Sam asked.
"No, been to, too many of these things and I figured out that if you don't get the apps on the first go around you may never see them again." Dean picked up a scallop wrapped in bacon. "And I love these things."
Tonya sidled up next to Dean wearing a cream colored one shouldered dress. "Just wanted to make sure you were still holding up the wall." She gave him a peck on the cheek.
"I am. You just work the room." Dean gave her a pat on her butt. "Jerry Lewis should call you for the telethons –how many checks have you collected so far." Dean gazed at her breasts as if she had money placed between them.
"Not enough, but I'm sure you'll be helping out. Sam did you read the program yet?"
Dean pulled it out of his hand, and raised his eyebrows at Tonya. "You better get back out there."
"Maybe Allison would like to help. Men find it hard to resist two beautiful women."
Allison agreed and they left the brothers at the bar.
Dean ordered a beer for both of them. "It's her project. She's into volunteering."
Sam wasn't listening; instead he was looking through the booklet he had been handed upon entering. It gave the order of speeches, and the pedigrees of the people giving them. Nothing out of the ordinary. In the back was a list of the donors. "Donation in memory of John Winchester." He stared at his brother.
"I do it every year. I think Dad would approve, helping wayward kids. Maybe he wouldn't." Dean took a quick drink, and moved the other bottle closer to Sam's reach.
John Winchester still remained a big part of their lives. There was no approval from the dead. No one to share memories of good times with—especially the times Sam had missed while he was in Stanford the first time. "Depends on how big the donation was? The man was thrifty."
Dean smiled, then gave a hearty chuckle before popping another h'ordeurve. "It was all about the ammo."
Sam wanted only to speak for himself. "Seriously, man, I think it's cool."
Dean waved away the compliment, then gestured to the entrance. "Daniel's here."
Daniel found them, extending a cordial hand to Sam. "You two are hiding out."
Sam accepted the handshake. Daniel had started to accept him, and had invited him to a few poker nights. Sam still felt insecure in Dean's boss's presence, feeling that at any wrong moment he could lose his job as brother to Daniel.
"You didn't bring a date. You're going to be in trouble with your sister," Dean said, putting his hand up in the direction of where the girls went.
Daniel pulled the hand down. "She never likes anyone I bring around."
"Maybe Allison can fix you up with someone?" Sam interrupted. Allison had many single friends.
Daniel laughed. "That's okay, kid. Thanks for the offer."
Sam must have grimaced, or given off some sort of sign that he didn't like to be discounted.
"I'm not complaining, but I'm wealthy and there are a lot of women that only see dollar signs when they meet me."
Dean clamped a hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Was that whining? Sammy, I thought I heard whining."
"That was whining." Sam nodded his head, enjoying being an insider now.
"What are you whining about? New product introduction not going as well as expected, Daniel?" A short man extended his hand to Daniel.
"Richard." Daniel grimaced as he shook the man's hand. "My company is doing fine, as usual. I heard that you may have some problems with the SEC."
"Rumors, only rumors. I don't have good security." Richard extended his hand to Dean. "The offer is still open, Dean. I'll triple whatever he's paying you." He said to the tall blonde woman who was by his side. "Best in the biz. Came out of nowhere."
Sam was fine with being ignored, taking another draw from his beer. If his brother wanted to introduce him, then he would.
"Daniel just knew where to look," Dean replied curtly.
"And he threw in his sister as a bonus." Richard winked at Sam as he made the salacious comment without knowing who he was.
"You little prick. . ." Dean pushed off the bar and wrapped his hands around the shorter man's tuxedo jacket.
"Back off, Dean," Daniel ordered, but his brother's hands remained.
Sam pried Dean's hands off. They were in a room full of knowledgeable people who were not afraid of calling the police and reporting an assault and battery.
Dean roughly removed his hands and brushed off Sam.
"Richard, that was poor. I suggest you find your seat and refrain from my presence, Dean's and my sister's."
The shorter man gave a nod with a laugh as he extended his arm towards his lady friend.
"Who was that?" Sam asked Daniel allowing his brother time to regain his composure. He learned long ago to give Dean some breathing room after someone had gotten under his skin.
"Richard Offrey, CEO of Telkin." Daniel gestured for the bartender to bring him a drink.
"And a scumbag," Dean added. "Like I would ever work for him."
"Nice to know you make friends wherever you go, bro."
Dean raised his eyebrows. "We all can't have your special touch, Sam. Or does that some from being a lawyer?"
Sam placed a hand over his heart. He had heard all the bad lawyer jokes before and laughed this one off.
"You need a page out of your brother's book, Dean." Daniel said as he turned to watch Richard. He turned around and gave Sam a slight nod.
"Like you didn't want to hit him," Dean replied as his eyes scanned the room to find where the girls were talking to another table of guests.
"Let's go find our table." Daniel patted Dean on the back and leaded him to the table with Sam following behind noting Richard was seated across the room.
It was an enjoyable multi-course meal with the conversation revolving around how Crossroads had helped a lot of teens over the years. Sam had discovered that Dean had been an active participant especially with coaching team sports.
There was a silent auction, which Richard drew the most attention when he increased the bid to $25,000 on an item that had only reached $5,000.
"Show off," Dean snorted.
The auction was signaling the end of the party. Sam was heading to the bathroom while Dean
was talking to a sheik from
He exited the bathroom, making his way to the ballroom when he heard the screaming.
Dean never got used to these events. He rather spend a night at home with flat
screen tv, which he didn't get to watch as frequently
as he wanted too. However, since he went
to a few of these, whether in
For Sam's sake, he made a little more of an effort, noticing
one of the sheiks from
Dean tried not to laugh when his brother looked so awkward, caught in the middle of not knowing whether to bow or shake the man's hand. Dean had taken some diplomacy classes at UCLA, and a handshake was best, which is what he prompted his brother to do.
They were still in conversation after Sam had excused himself and Dean broke off the conversation when he heard the woman scream. Instinct took over, as it did for his brother who he found next to Mrs. Richard Offrey turning red from gripping her face.
"He's dead! He's dead!"
"You need to calm down. Who's dead and where is he?"
"In the upstairs bathroom, my husband. . ." she stuttered out.
Other guests began rushing over, someone saying they had called the police. Sam pushed Mrs. Offrey off to another guest and both of them went up the stairs, always headlong into trouble.
They opened the door; Richard was propped up against the sink, neck broken and the water still running. The rushing sound was droning, white noise where there was a cacophony of noises from downstairs and sirens in the distance.
"He's dead all right." Dean grimaced. He pulled Sam away. "None of our business. We leave this to the cops."
The police came, and Sam, Daniel, Tonya and Allison hunkered down by the bar. The body had been taken away, and Lacey Offrey had been sedated. Tonya felt responsible, and wanted to stay until the last guest went home and so they stayed.
A police officer pointed to them and what Dean assumed to be a plain clothes detective sauntered over to them, flashing his badge as a means of introduction. "Mrs. *** said you had some heated words with the deceased."
Dean was about to answer, but Daniel stood ramrod straight and replied, "He'd insulted Tonya."
"He did?" Tonya patted his arm, looking between Dean and her brother.
"And where were you seated?" The detective again addressed his question to Dean.
Sam answered this time. "With the people here and The Feinsteins."
"You ever leave the table, Mr. Winchester?" The detective frowned, frustration evident from the lack of Dean's answers.
Dean played along. "Which Mr. Winchester?"
Allison let a little giggle slip, and Sam smiled. "I believe this questioning should be done with an attorney present."
"They are just questions, Mister?" The detective gestured with his hand.
"Attorney Sam Winchester."
"I see." The detective pulled out a card from his wallet and handed it to Dean. "Please contact me so we can make arrangements to speak further."
Dean took the card, and used it to salute the detective. They watched as he walked away from them, rounding up another police officer with him.
"No, I don't look like a person who has something to hide at all." Dean shook his head at Sam and Daniel's interference with the questioning.
"I don't want you involved," Daniel stated.
"I'm already involved." He thought about the people he cared about being exposed to a murderer. It could have been any of them.
Daniel ignored him. "We should let the police handle it
after you make a statement with an attorney present." He turned to Sam. "We
"No offense taken. He's the best." Sam agreed, and leaving Dean out of the conversation. He was glad they had him as a commonality, but this was not the way he wanted them to become friendlier.
"Are you two done? Maybe we can get the girls home?"
He escorted Tonya home, and remained at her house. They would go back to Crossroads in the morning to pick up the security tapes from the hidden cameras he had installed. Tonya hadn't told the police, and neither had he. It would buy them a day before they would have to reveal the existence of the tapes, which he would deliver later after he had set an appointment to speak to the detective. His lawyer would put a spin about giving the tapes "in good faith."
In the privacy of his house, he reviewed the tape of the camera that fed into that particular hallway. He had installed the cameras since there were teens involved at Crossroads.
He watched as one person after another used the bathroom upstairs. There were some men who were having prostrate troubles. Finally, the victim made his way upstairs.
A waiter also made his way upstairs, keeping his face averted from the camera. He waited outside the door, then slyly opened it while Richard was inside.
When he left the bathroom he left it slightly ajar. Dean could barely make out the slumped figure, but what stood out was the momentary flash of the waiter's eyes.
He reviewed it another three times to affirm what he saw. He made a copy. Looking at his watch he knew it was time to meet up with his lawyer, then the real investigation would begin.
He stopped by Sam's office after his police interview,
leaving his sports jacket in the car and rolling up his sleeves as he entered
the building. He waved to security. They knew him from sight- he made sure of
that. He didn't want to be hassled every
time he visited, and he also wanted to make sure security was doing its job
properly. On duty presently were Neil
and David, Neil was a retired police officer from
Dean stopped by Della's desk to find out Sam wasn't there yet, but he could wait in his office. He paid the older woman a compliment and gave her a wink.
He looked around Sam's office, taking in the new photos of him and Sam, one of their father and another of their mother. He was glad Sam added the pictures. Family was important and photos were a reminder.
He was scrolling through the messages on his Blackberry when Sam came in.
"How did it go? I left you a message on your cell."
Dean had received the message, but wanted to speak to his brother in person and also show him the new evidence. "Fine. I told them that Offrey was an asshole. The man had lots of enemies."
Sam groaned. "Tell me you let the lawyer do all the talking."
"I can talk to people." Dean smiled. "It's part of my job."
Sam snorted. "Part of your job is also to shoot first and ask questions later."
"That's not what they said at UCLA."
Sam sputtered and wanted information, but Dean wasn't
divulging. He had taken some classes in
public diplomacy and negotiation, especially as his international traveling
increased. Intuitively he knew that you
talk to people differently, according to their style- blue collar was one
approach more like, 'hey, I'm one of the guys.'
White collar was different, more of, 'I know how to do this, and you
want to know how to do the same and better.' But international – Middle East,
Dean pulled out the DVD he had made, tossing it on Sam's desk. "You may want to take a look at that."
Sam raised his brows, taking the DVD out of its sleeve and putting it in his computer. "Shapeshifter."
"Did you give this to the police?" Sam tapped the DVD sleeve.
"They have a copy, and I am sure they are going to be looking for that waiter, Edward Mandes." He had contacted his girlfriend, who kept meticulous lists. She had a list of the people the caterers hired. "Tonya hired the caterer."
Sam leaned back in his chair. "So what do you want to do? Shapeshifters tend to hide underground- tunnels, sewers."
Dean had thought of a plan already. "Go back to Crossroads and take a look around."
Sam told Dean he would meet him at **** after work. They were going for a late dinner and then heading back to Crossroads. Dean had brought Dad's journal and his own, Sam brought his too. It had been packed away for years until he found his brother again.
He had started saving his research- their hunting wasn't at demon level, but they still helped those who needed it. Sam had also been in contact with Bobby, and would assist him and share information. Dean promised they would visit the older hunter soon. Last time Bobby had been in town, Sam was busy on a case and was unable to break free.
Sam discovered they should take lessons about being silent and sneaky from the wait staff at pricey places. Suddenly there was a hand refilling water or taking a plate away. Still, they were able to talk and Dean brought up the schematics of Crossroads on his Blackberry.
"It's an old house, and there is a basement and then over here," he shifted a button so the screen scrolled, "there is a cave we take the kids to every once in a while."
"You think it's in the cave."
Dean confirmed his suspicions. "I think it should be the first place to look."
Thankfully, Dean was familiar with the property from working with Tonya at the center. They made their way to the cave, walking the mile over the dewy grass. Dean had shut off the night time sprinkler system.
Dean pointed his flashlight to a point up ahead. "It's right there."
Sam narrowed his eyes, and shifted so he felt his gun was in the shoulder holster. They didn't have to walk too far into the cave to smell the distinct stench of decay. The decay of a shapeshifter was distinct in its freshness. He raised his eyebrows at his brother in silent communication.
The cave was deeper than Sam thought, and he followed Dean in one hundred feet in to an open room to find two bodies rapped up tight in their confinement. They were wrapped in strips of cloth with only their faces showing.
Sam recognized one of the wrapped people immediately. It was the waiter, Edward Mandes they had seen on tape. He was surprised by the second person. It was Lacey Offrey, wife of the deceased.
"Holy shit," Dean proclaimed as he put two fingers against the pulse point in Lacey's neck. Sam echoed the sentiment and did the same to Edward.
"He's alive," Sam announced to his brother with relief.
"Her too," Dean replied as he tried to again to shake her awake.
Sam squeezed Edward's chin, and then rubbed his sternum with no reaction. "Think the shifter slipped them something?"
"Could be. We're going to have to carry them out." Dean signed. "Is it better to keep them wrapped up, or unwrap them?"
"Wrapped and let's get them to safety."
"We'll take them to the center." Dean nodded, hefting Lacey onto his shoulder in a fireman's carry. Sam did the same. "Let's keep alert. We don't know when it's coming back."
They had two alive, yet unconscious victims and a shapeshifter on the loose impersonating the now very wealthy widow. "You know what this means." Sam commented to his brother.
Dean smiled. "Yeah, this is going to be interesting."
An hour later Dean and Sam had two hysterical victims on their hands. Dean wished the bartenders had left something behind for him to take the edge off the screeching, or whatever drug or psychic whammy the shifter had put on them hadn’t worn off.
"You can't go to the police. They think you killed him," Sam pointed to Edward. "And they will wonder why there are two of you walking around."
"Then what should we do? We can't just leave! I have a family!" Edward had his arms wrapped around his head and was rocking slightly.
"I missed my husband's funeral!" Lacey said, her mascara trailing down her face. It was not a good look for her.
"Take a vacation- some remote place. Baja, would be good," Dean said as he formed a plan in his mind. They needed these two out of the way for awhile.
"Baja?" Both Lacey and Edward said.
Sam glanced at his brother, but went along with him. Dean appreciated the trust. "Just until we figure this out. . ."
"How long?" Lacey sniffed and wiped one cheek, smearing the black mascara river. Even he knew they made waterproof makeup, Tonya had told him after he wondered how she looked so good after diving in a pool.
"A week. . ." Sam started, but was immediately interrupted by Edward.
"Two days," Dean overrode Sam, his brother gave
him an annoyed look. However, he was tired of being a suspect, and there was no
way they could leave a shapeshifter on the loose for
a week. "You can't tell
anyone." He was lucky they didn't have their cellphones.
"I'll have a car brought here for you, and you'll go to a little place I
know just before the border." It was still in
He had the advantage of working for a large company with a phone call a car was brought to him, no questions asked. The boring sedan was left in the requested parking lot with the keys inside. Dean gave the unlikely twosome directions and gave them the cash he had in his wallet.
"I'll contact you at the hotel. You're going under the names Edward and Lacey Clerk. Live it up- their pancakes are awesome. It will all be covered by me."
"Remember- no phone calls to anyone or else we'll send the police to arrest you two," Sam added the threat.
The Winchesters watched the sedan pull out of the parking lot. "What do you have planned?" Sam asked.
Dean smiled. "A little recon on Mrs. Offrey."
Dean, Daniel and Sam went to the memorial service the fake Mrs. Offrey had for her dearly departed husband. Sam tried to explain that the widow really wasn't really the widow, but a supernatural being, and Daniel raised his hand up.
"I don't want to know. I like my world the way it is."
Dean shook his head. He tried to tell his brother multiple times that Daniel didn't want to want to know about an extracurricular activity done on Dean's own time.
"But, this effects Dean. . ." Sam sputtered.
"According to my attorney, Dean is no longer a suspect," Daniel explained. "Like, I said Sam, I don't want to know. You can have your own club."
"You are going to talk yourself right out of the poker games," Dean whispered to his brother.
Sam shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry." He then changed to a different topic of conversation, one that was safer.
Dean invited Sam over to his house after the service, and the funeral get together at Casa Offrey. It was an ostentatious mansion, but they needed to get familiar with the abode. They also needed to hear more about Lacey's plans. She was distraught and was planning a long term vacation –soon.
"We need to act fast," Sam stated, opening the refrigerator door. Dean kept it stocked for his brother more than for himself. "And we have to do it in a way that that the real Lacey takes the shapeshifter's place."
"We can't have Edward taking the blame either." This was going to be tricky. It wasn’t like Dean could take the blame. He had a life he wanted to keep. "I have an idea . . ."
They made sure the shapeshifter was home and alone. Alone was an issue until midnight, the widow had a lot of visitors. This worked well for them, in fact it was better. As soon as the lights went out, and they watched the staff leave, Dean and Sam disarmed the alarm and climbed over the gate.
They crept to the side door Dean had seen when they were at the house after the memorial service. He also made sure there were no dogs. He wasn't a fan of attack dogs.
The master bedroom was upstairs, but there were no guarantees the shapeshifter was there. Even Bobby didn't know if they needed to sleep.
"Did you hear that?" Sam asked, halting their steps up the stairs.
There was a strange thumping sound coming from the downstairs area. The boys made it down the stairs and then broke off to find the location of the noise.
It wasn't a thumping noise after all. It was the sound of water bubbling in the whirlpool with a naked fake Lacey Offrey. Her eyes were open and the stood up in full glory.
She sniffed the air. "Hunters." She smiled. "I could share all this. There's plenty."
"I can see that." Dean pointed the gun at her. She didn't like that and leapt at them with a screech.
Sam fired, hitting her in the face with the special silver bullet Dean had made that would do the most damage, which was part of the plan to make her unidentifiable.
There was a gurgling noise as the shapeshifter hit the tiled patio and shuddered.
Sam grimaced. "That went well. What time are Edward and Lacey going to get here?"
Dean glanced at his watch. "I hope soon."
Soon was an hour later, and they were arguing with each other as they came in through the back. "You are the worst driver," Edward said to Lacey.
"You drive too slow," Lacey retorted.
"Because I pay attention to the rules of the road!" Edward replied, then covered his mouth as he saw the grisly scene.
"Okay, here's the story. Lacey, you are you again. And this is the crazy woman who killed your husband. Maybe he was cheating on you. . ." Sam said pointing to the shapeshifter.
"He was cheating on me." Lacey shrugged her shoulders, but kept a distance from the dead shapeshifter.
Dean continued the story. "You came home tonight, and she had Edward with her, unconscious and tied up. We're going to have to hit you, man."
"Hit me?" Edward squeaked.
"To make it look legit. She got the drop on you at the party and has been holding you hostage since then." Dean snapped his fingers. "And blindfolded so you didn't know where you were."
"So then I'll be off the h-hook with the p-police?" Edward stuttered. Dean could understand his nervousness; he wouldn’t want to be knocked around either. But this was the best plan they could come up with to get everyone out of trouble.
"She went crazy and then killed herself." Sam finished and pointed to the gun he had used on her, making sure it was in her hand. It would pass forensics. Dean really hated forensics; it made their job more difficult at times.
"Ahh, Edward?" Dean gestured to the waiter who walked over. Dean brought the handle of the gun down on his neck and he crumpled to the ground.
Sam tied him up, making sure to blindfold him. "After this are you planning to get out of town for awhile?" Sam asked.
"Yes, you won't be seeing me. That's the way it should be-right?"
Dean nodded. They wouldn’t cross paths again. "We'll be going now. You should call the police." Dean picked up his duffle bag. "Oh, and if you can make a big donation to Crossroads to show there was no hard feelings. . ."
"How about one hundred thousand dollars?" Lacey asked.
"Sound good to me." He would have to act surprised when Tonya told him about the large donation.
The brothers made it to the Impala, and left the scene, making their way home. Sam had missed two days of work for this gig. That was unprecedented. "Did you use vacation time to do this hunt?"
"I took some personal days. I didn't have anything pressing," Sam answered.
"You rebel, you." Dean smirked. It had been just like the old days when their sole responsibility was hunting.
"Right back at you.
A donation? Usually that donation
would be to the
"Oh, I'll benefit from it." Dean raised his eyebrows up and down. "Because as usual I got a girl . . ." Some things never changed.