Many thanks to DeejayMil, who set up the crossover challenge at /r/fanfiction, who beta-ed my story, and who designed my awesome cover picture as well!
Emily paused by the gas pump at the Gas'n'Sip, attention caught by the classic black car at the other pump. It was obviously well-loved; it sparkled in the sunlight, clean and sleek. She didn't know classic cars that well, so didn't know its make and model. Still, she smiled at the evidence of care and headed to the store door.
She strode in with her usual efficiency, shoulder length black hair swinging. A routine: stop in, get some of their gloriously awful coffee to drink while on the way to work, listen to NPR Morning Edition, and make the switch from Emily, civilian, to Prentiss, agent of the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI. Somehow, the bad coffee made the switch easier. Sip some good coffee at home while waking up and dressing, savoring the mellow flavor while wandering through her condo. Drink the bad coffee on the drive in to jolt her mind awake. Back to sipping some halfway decent coffee from the first floor shop while running through cases with the team, starting work on a profile, or doing (ugh) paperwork.
It still amazed her to have a routine. Her undercover work with Interpol, her association with Doyle and the gun-runners - all that had made routines a very bad idea. But DC, Arlington, their surrounds were now her comfort zone. Oh, she still made concessions; she rotated through four different routes to work, four different convenience stores for her bad coffee, on a random basis when not out in the field.
Still: routine. It was...pleasant.
"Morning, Abu!" she called out as she passed the counter on the way to the carafes.
"Boss! How are you today?" Abu had a slight accent; she hadn't quite pinpointed where in Saudi Arabia he was from - near Riyadh, but not the city itself. Perhaps Al Hufuf? Ad Dammam? Whatever. No need to worry anymore, categorize him. He was just a small, pleasant, eager-to-please local shopowner, a family man whose children helped around the store, and she was years away from tracking terrorists.
A man stood by the carafes, pouring himself coffee. She grabbed a cup and waited, automatically cataloging him. Early to mid-thirties. Short brownish hair. Flannel shirt, jeans, work boots. Fit, well-muscled. He glanced at her and smiled, his eyes flicking over her in an eerie imitation of her scan of him. She added handsome, freckles (Really? Freckles? So unfair!), stubble, watchful eyes, to her catalog, and then almost gasped as those eyes met hers and she froze, stunned by their intense greenness.
"Hey. Hope I'm not in your way?" he asked. Deep voice, amused, calm. She shook off the shock of those green eyes and gave him a small smile.
"Nah, I can wait."
Another man loomed into view, striding up to the first. Tall. Not just tall, but built to proportion. Long chestnut brown hair with red highlights. Long face. Flannel, jeans, work boots: check. Another very pretty guy. But the way he moved...
"Hey, Dean. Got you one of the burritos, shredded beef okay?"
The first man turned to him. "Cool, thanks." He stopped, then added, in a disgusted tone, "God, Sammy, what the hell is that stuff?"
The second guy grinned. Dimples appeared. Jesus. These guys have no real clue just how very pretty they are, do they? Like sex on two legs. Four. Okay, Prentiss, stop drooling.
"This?" He held up a huge hand clasping a pre-made parfait with granola and a cup of fresh fruit. "Rabbit food, dude."
Guy number one - Dean - shuddered. "Ugh. Gimme my burrito." Then he seemed to remember her standing there and swung back to her. "Hey. Sorry about hogging the coffee; lemme get outta your way." He winked and walked off with guy number two - Sam - bickering in a low voice.
The way they walked screamed at her. Without thinking, her hand reached to her hip, for her gun, and she just barely stopped herself from drawing it.
What the hell is that, Prentiss?!
Something about those two triggered something in her. The jolt of adrenaline made her blood race. Glancing after them with narrowed eyes, she slowly poured the coffee, thinking. She tracked them as they browsed the refrigerated cases for sodas, stirring creamer and sugar into her cup. Frowning, she put the cup down, rummaged in her purse for her cell phone, and positioned herself so she could take a surreptitious photo of them. Deep in their conversation, they paid no notice. She snapped two more, one of Dean, one of Sam, and attached all three to a text.
Then she hit the speed-dial for Garcia.
"You have reached the domain of the digital data diva!" Garcia's cheery voice sang out. "Speak, and I will perform miracles!"
Prentiss snorted, lips twitching into a quick smile, then murmured, "Penelope. I've just sent you three shots. I want you to do some quick digging, see if you can find anything out about these guys."
A moment later, Garcia's voice announced, "Got 'em!" She paused, and her voice changed. "Oh! Oh, my, they're kinda yummy. Girl, are you asking me to get their info for a date? Two guys is selfish, Em. Maybe I'll take one and you'll take the other?"
"Kevin would be devastated if you did that. No. Something about them just rang my warning bells big-time, and I need to know why."
Garcia's voice turned all business. "Gotcha. Gimme a few. I'll call back." The call ended abruptly. Emily envisioned Garcia, hair arranged in five or six spunky top-knots with bows and barrettes, pushing her colorful glasses up her nose, punching the end call button with a pencil topped by a Koosh Ball, and grinned. Then she sobered, picked up her cup, and sauntered to the cash register.
Delay. I need to delay, stall, until Garcia calls back.
"Okay, Abu, what do I owe you?"
He gave the coffee a mournful eye. "Boss, you're killing me here. Every time you come in, all you buy is coffee. Don't you want something more? Burrito, sandwich, donuts?" he pleaded. She smiled, shook her head.
"Gotta watch my girlish figure. How's Wahid doing?" Wahid was his eldest, just off to college, and she knew that once he started talking about him, it would be hard to stop him. She sipped her coffee, listening, nodding, murmuring encouragement as he chattered, filled with pride. The two men walked up, still bickering and joshing each other, and stood behind her, waiting patiently.
Relatives or long-time friends, her mind continued categorizing.
Her cell phone rang, and she held up a hand to stop Abu's rambling. "Hey, hold on, I've got to catch this," she said. He smiled wryly and gestured for her to go on; he was used to this by now. She flipped it open.
"Em?" Garcia's voice was worried, low and breathy. "Are you still near those guys?"
She turned away, pretending to look out the plate glass windows, trying not to stiffen. "Yeah. What's up?"
"Okay. I ran those pictures through the databases, and, oh, my god, you have to get out of there, Em, it's awful!" Her voice crackled with urgency.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down there." Have to keep this conversation neutral, no warnings.
"Well. Remember Agent Hendrickson? That awful explosion that killed him, and the AD, and a whole sheriff's station full of people?"
Oh, yeah. She remembered that scene. Shockwaves from that still rippled through the agency, three years later. Two seriously weird serial killers, subject of a manhunt - Hendrickson had caught them, the AD had choppered out, everything was going well, and then somehow, some way, the pair had managed to blow themselves and everyone else up. She swallowed. "Go on," she said, straining to keep her voice level, show no signs of the adrenaline shooting through her body. She shifted her hold on the phone, palms slick with sweat.
"Dean and Sam Winchester, brothers, creepy serial killers, raised by an equally creepy serial killer, John Winchester - he died five years ago - body mutilations, grave robberies, satanic rituals, the whole horrible, icky scene! Em, I've got your GPS, and I've alerted the team, they're on their way with SWAT backup, these guys must have blown up the sheriff's office after they escaped, just get out now!" Garcia gasped all this out in practically one breath.
"Yeah, okay," Prentiss replied, making her voice sound calm, unforced. "I'll just be a few; catch you in the office and we can discuss it."
"Gotcha. You're getting out. Keep safe, Em!" Garcia pleaded.
Prentiss flipped her phone closed, turned back to Abu. "Abu, something's come up at the office. I'll catch up about Wahid later." She grabbed her coffee, toasted him with it, flashed a false smile at the two men behind her, and headed out the door, mouth dry.
Sam watched the woman leave the store, brows together in a tiny frown, forehead wrinkled in thought. Something was off. He didn't know what, but he had caught the tell-tale tightening of the woman's shoulders, the shifting grip on the cell phone. And that smile at the end...her eyes had avoided theirs, and the smile had seemed forced. The phone call had triggered it; before she had just seemed uptight. And it was specifically something to do with them, she had been completely natural with the cashier.
She got in her car and pulled slowly away from the gas pump, eased toward the street. He followed it with his eyes. She was on the phone again. The driving didn't fit her type - she should be quicker, more efficient. She was stalling.
Dammit! I told him we shouldn't go through DC!
He moved closer to Dean, gripped his elbow, leaned in, and murmured, "Dean."
Dean, busy counting out money, eyed him sidelong. "Hmm?"
"Something's up." He pointed with his chin toward her car. Dean's eyes flicked over to look, then he raised a questioning eyebrow at his brother.
Sam grabbed the bag, smiled at the cashier. "Thanks." His hand was still on Dean's elbow, and he propelled him toward the door, fingers tightening.
"Dude!" Dean protested as he pushed him out the door, quick-walking them toward Baby.
"That phone call. It frightened her. When she smiled at us, she wasn't looking at us, not really. She just wanted out, away. But now she's dawdling." The woman's car had pulled into traffic.
Dean flicked another glance at the car, keeping his face smooth, as he walked around to the driver's side door. He pulled it open, climbed in, and said, "So. What? Think she knows us?"
"Dean. She's got FBI written all over her, the way she stands, dresses. And the last run-in we had with them - "
Dean sighed and started the engine. "Lilith. Hendrickson. The explosion at the sheriff's office. Yeah. Shit!" He thumped the steering wheel in frustration, put the car in gear, and slid it to the driveway out. He eyed the traffic, the woman's car still in view further down the street, and said, "Think they've got a team on its way?"
"Oh, yeah. Probably SWAT, too," Sam said gloomily. "And I'll bet they're putting up roadblocks."
Dean drummed his fingers on the wheel, nodded, and nudged the car into traffic. He hit the radio button, and "Born To Be Wild" started booming out the speakers. "Okay. Time to do some side street driving. Dad and I did a case here just before...before he disappeared. It took a few weeks - I got pretty familiar with the layout." Without warning, he yanked the steering wheel right, into a side street, and gunned the engine.
One moment the black car was visible in her rear view mirror, the next, it was gone.
"Shit! Derek, he spotted me! And somehow he made that big car vanish!" She pulled the car into the parking lot of a strip mall, craned her neck to study the traffic, try to locate the car.
"Okay, okay, it's okay, Em," Morgan's soothing mellow voice said over the phone. "We're on our way, they're setting up blocks. We'll get 'em. What clued you in?"
"I'm not sure...the way they moved, I think. Like soldiers. Or hunters. Dangerous and smooth. Damn! I can't believe I lost them!" She slammed a fist into her thigh. They had been totally clueless in the store. What had tipped them off?! "It must have been something I did, said." Her frustration with herself filled the words.
"Prentiss," Hotch, their team lead, chimed in. "You don't know that. They're used to life on the run; it may a precaution they always take. Don't beat yourself up."
She leaned her forehead on the steering wheel and sighed. "Yeah. Okay. At least we know they're alive, not killed in that explosion like we thought."
Many twists and turns later, Sam was completely lost. Dean kept driving as if he knew where he was going, and the houses around them began to change. First the lots were bigger, the houses larger and newer; then they were in more rural surrounds. He thought they had tended generally southwest, but wasn't sure. Choppers had buzzed them twice early on, but the huge trees lining the side streets had kept the car from view, and they had stayed back, circling above the area nearer the gas station. His tension had eased, now that the threat was lessened, but he clutched his stomach, a little queasy from all the abrupt changes in direction.
Dean grunted suddenly and turned down the radio. "Okay, now...we're close to being out in the boonies. I think the roadblocks are all behind us."
Sam slid down the seat, rolling his neck to release the knots, shifting his legs to try to stretch them out. "I hope so." He was tempted to say what he was thinking - again - about not going through DC. This whole mess brought them back on the FBI's radar, and they really didn't need that.
Dean glanced over at him.
"Don't say it!" he grumbled. Sam turned an innocent look on him. "Oh, don't gimme those puppy dog eyes! You're thinking it really loudly! And you're right. Dammit."
Sam's lips twitched. "Thinking what?"
Dean punched his shoulder gently. "That we shouldn't have gone through DC!"
Sam grinned and closed his eyes. "Told you so," he said smugly, curling up against the passenger door. Dean growled and focused on the small two-lane road in front of them.
Rossi's shoulders slumped. "Nothing." He tossed a pen onto the table beside one of the piles of files related to the Winchester brothers and glared at the files.
Hotchner leaned forward, forearms resting on the table. He narrowed his eyes, peering at the map displayed on the conference room's immense flatscreen. "How did they get past the roadblocks?" he asked, voice weary. The lines on his lean face echoed that weariness.
Reid pushed his chair back and slouched down, splaying his gangling legs out and running a distracted hand through his shoulder-length hair. "The DMV is around 5,500 square miles; the District alone has approximately 1,500 street miles," he said in typically dry Reid fashion "Add in the streets in the surrounding cities and towns and it's an immense network. Given that, someone with the geographical knowledge of the street system might be able to avoid main thoroughfares which would have roadblocks by taking back street, side street routes." He added slowly, with a thoughtful frown, "By now, the area to search is incredibly large."
Morgan ran a hand over his bald head, then down to rub at the back of his neck. "So what do we do now?" He rocked gently back and forth in his chair, swinging it around to see the whole team.
Hotch shot him a look and press his lips together. "At this point, all we can do is what we've already done." He nodded at the files. "We can add to the files; I'm sure any number of so-called 'unsolved' cases can be laid at the Winchesters' feet. Strauss says the Director's pushed them to the top of the Most Wanted list." He shoved his chair back and stood up, glancing at Emily. "We know they're still alive, thanks to Prentiss's sharp eyes."
Emily looked down at her hands clenching together in her lap. Something she had done, she was sure, had tipped them off.
Hotch caught the movement, and shook his head at her. "No. Not your fault they got away, Emily. Anyway, at this point it's pretty much out of our hands; the profile hasn't changed, and it's included with the MW blurb. So." He looked around the table at his team, all of whom were tired and stressed, and gave them a tiny, gentle smile. "Go home, everyone. We'll start on a new case tomorrow."