"So, who is this guy, again?" Agent Ressler wondered out loud, watching the new prisoner in the plexi-glass cube usually reserved for Red. "And why does he rate the attention of the CounterTerrorism Unit? What did he do to deserve the Box?"
"His name is Dean Winchester." Special Agent Cooper answered. "He's been on the FBI Most Wanted list twice. Faked his own death three times. Each time he and his brother reappears, they up their game and the body count."
"Damn. I remember that name." Ressler swore. "Didn't they go on a killing spree a few years ago? Opened fired on a bank they didn't even bother to rob and then slaughtered a diner full of people?"
"That's them." Cooper agreed. "Dean Winchester there got picked up last night robbing a museum. He provided the distraction while his brother, Sam, got away with some kind of artifact."
"What artifact?" Ressler asked.
"Some ancient tablet or other." Cooper dismissed the theft. "The FBI is more interested in how Dean Winchester managed to leave behind two bodies with his exact fingerprints and dental records. He's here because Red heard about the arrest and wanted to talk to the man and was willing to trade a free consultation on the case of our choice in exchange for an hour with the man. Agent Keen is bringing him in now."
Suddenly, the man in the box apparently decided he was bored. He began to belt out "Ride the Lightning" by Metallica at the top of his lungs, complete with air drumming.
"Red wants to talk to this guy?" Ressler repeated, surprised. "Why?"
"We will find out soon. He never said he wanted privacy." Cooper nodded at the door were Red had just walked in, Agent Keen with him.
Raymond Reddington walked past all the FBI agents and the guns. His entire attention was focused on the prisoner. "Dean Winchester," he greeted. "I never really expected to meet you in person."
The prisoner cocked his head, studying the older man. "I know you?"
Red chuckled. "No, we have never met. But I now of you, and your family business. I have even read your books."
For some reason the agents couldn't fathom, Winchester groaned and threw his head back and hands in the air. "Great. A groupie. Please, God, tell me you are not here to get my autograph."
"Actually, I almost wouldn't mind." Red laughed.
"Books?" Ressler whispered. "What books are they talking about?"
Cooper shushed him.
"If you actually knew anything about us, then you would know how much we hate those damned books." Winchester pointed out.
"I do know. I also know its real. All of it." Red explained. "I also know that you saved my life, some years ago."
The agents all leaned forward, wanting to hear the details even as Dean asked, "How's that?"
"You see, I was rather stuck in Chicago when the Pale Horseman came calling." Red told them all. "By the time I realized that he was about to wipe the city off the map, the storm was already picking up; grounding all flights out. I was quite certain I was about to die. And then, because of you, I didn't."
Winchester considered the man in front of him. "Okay," he replied, accepting the story.
The FBI agents were all surprised. Both men accepted as fact that one had saved the life of the other. But everyone could tell that, even though Winchester agreed it had happened, he clearly didn't expect anything from Red for his efforts and wasn't sure why the older man was bringing up the past.
"Pale Horseman?" Ressler whispered to Cooper. "I don't remember a hearing about an averted terrorist attack on Chicago."
"Neither do I." Cooper agreed, low-voiced.
"And while you stopped the leveling of Chicago, your brother stopped the release of a biological weapon called the Croatoan virus, I believe." Red sighed. "An associate of mine had hoped to keep a sample but your brother was very thorough. Probably for the best, considering."
"I also know that the assassins hired to eliminate Dick Roman were never heard from again. Even though they hit their marks. Especially because they hit their marks." Red continued. "But you and yours stopped him before he could decimate the American population by poisoning our food supply, in the…corn syrup, I believe."
"Asshole killed my foster father." Winchester told him, still studying the older man, trying to get a handle on him.
"Poisoned food supply?!" Ressler hissed.
Again, Cooper shushed him.
"And the corn syrup was phase one to make us stupid. Phase two was the diet food to wipe out all the healthy people." Winchester added.
"I am not a Hunter." Red offered. "No, I am a bit more like your Bella Talbot. I am aware of what you do. And I have run into a few monsters, or rather run away from them, over the years. Only I have no interest in exploiting the options they present. There are some lows that even I will not stoop to. Not many, mind you, but there are some."
"You're not a Fed, either." Winchester said. "Who are you?"
"Ah, of course, I neglected introductions. How rude of me. I am Raymond Reddington, somewhat colorfully known as the 'Concierge of Crime.' For a cost, I connect goods and services to various less-than-legal persons in need."
"So, what, you're craig's list for criminals?" Winchester asked, face twisted with derision. "Do you have a web site where I can rate and review? Assassin X gets three stars out of five, he killed the target the way I told him to, but he took forever. Assassin Y only gets one, moron killed the wrong target."
Red laughed out loud, choosing to take the prisoner's derision for humor. "That's a good idea. Maybe I should update. Then again, as I am now a criminal informant for the FBI, I am slowly turning in my client list. My own reviews would be the worst."
"Not that this chat hasn't broken up a very boring incarceration, but what do you want, Reddington?" Winchester demanded.
Red smiled. "I wanted to thank you. For saving my life, however inadvertently. And to express my deep appreciation and respect for the work you and your brother do. It has saved the lives of the very few people I care about in this world." He stopped there and held the younger man's attention. Silently communicating the depth and sincerity of his respect and appreciation until belief flickered in Winchester's eyes.
"I also wanted to offer you whatever services I can provide. The next time you need an ancient Sumerian tablet extracted from a high-security museum, or the next time you need enough ordinance to demolish a building, call me. If it is in the name of the work you do, I will assist however I can."
"At what price?" Winchester asked, tiredly jaded. "Offers like that always come with a price. And the I always get the short end of that deal."
"Aren't you a little young to have lost faith in human kindness?" Red chided.
Winchester snorted. Expressively. "That's not why you're here. You sound like a crossroads demon trying to ease a mark into a sell. And I haven't been that young in a long time."
"It's an honest offer." Red didn't seem offended by the demonic comparison. "And some day, when you're desperate, please consider calling me before Crowley."
Winchester flickered his gaze to his audience of federal agents recording every word. Lips tight and jaw muscles twitching, he asked, "You do prison breaks?"
Agents' jaws fell open at the man's audacity.
Red laughed. "If your brother and your friends don't manage something soon, I will see what I can do." Elizabeth Keen opened her mouth to protest. Red held up a hand to forestall her. "Starting with hiring you the best lawyer I know and calling a few friends in the state department that owe me some favors."
"The first one's always free. That's how you hook 'em in." Winchester predicted darkly. "Pass."
Red shrugged and made to turn away, but hesitated. Turning back, he asked one more question. "What's it like? The Basement?"
"Save the guy who saves the world. What? Hoping to Get out of Hell Free card?" Winchester snarked. Then he evidently saw something in Red's face that made him sober, an echo of his own expression before his deal came due. "Have you ever screamed so long and hard that the inside of your throat bled and you didn't want to stop screaming long enough to drag more air into your lungs so you could keep screaming?"
Red tensed and went just a shade paler. "Actually, I have," he answered thickly lost in the memory of the experience.
Lizzy snapped her attention to his face, more concerned than she'd like to admit.
"Now imagine you can't bleed out and you don't need to breath to scream and not even dying will end it." Winchester ordered. "That's what the Basement is like."
Struck mute, Red jerked a nod at the prisoner and walked away. Only to be accosted by Ressler and Cooper."
"Are you honestly trying to tell me that that psychopath," Cooper pointed at the Box, "saved Chicago and the country? That he's a good guy?"
Red smiled. "And saved thousands of other people, one or two at a time. Innocent people." He agreed. "But for some reason, no one ever believes them when they try to say so. All anyone believes is the body doubles used to frame them for mass murder. And yes, agents, they were very thoroughly framed by carefully designed body doubles. That man and his brother are honest to God heroes, and have paid every price it cost. So, if you will excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I am going to hire him a lawyer."
But even as the word "lawyer" passed his lips, all the lights in the building flickered off. For a few fast seconds, everyone floundered in the pitch black until electricity was restored. But in those few seconds, Red heard the soft sound of feathers rasping through the air. A smile spread across his face as he turned to look at the empty Box.
"You're welcome, Castiel." He murmured. "I'm glad you heard my prayers. Don't forget to give the boys my phone number, and tell them, 'Good Hunting' for me."