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Fic: Sour Cherry Pie Life Part 1/3


Title: Sour Cherry Pie Life
Genre: Drama, Angst, Humor
Crossover: Supernatural/Criminal Minds
Summary: Dean has retired to the civilian life. Too bad no one told the serial killer currently stalking teenagers in Indiana.
Author’s Note: Written for sncrossbigbang.


The sky was still dark when Lisa groggily walked into the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. Like always, she didn’t ask what he was doing up or how long he’d been awake; Dean was pretty sure she already knew the answers to those questions. Dean folded up the newspapers, map and his notebook when she sat down. Lisa never wanted to know the particulars of the things he researched when he couldn’t sleep, just that they’d been passed along to other hunters and that things were taken care of.

They had their little routines in place for mornings, even on days when the nightmares had him up at three. The rest of the day was a little more erratic, between work schedules, school schedules, and the occasional after school activity for Ben, but mornings were constant. Dean was always up earlier than Lisa even after a good night, so he made coffee and usually breakfast. Lisa was up next, typically a half hour or so before Ben, though she was pretty incoherent until the caffeine had time to seep into her system. Ben would trudge into the kitchen grumpy and demanding food in a manner worthy of his uncle at that age, and Lisa and Dean would take turns teasing him. Eventually they’d all head out to work and school for the day.

They didn’t discuss anything serious in the morning. Mornings were light, no matter what happened the day before. Lisa was really invested in the idea of fresh beginnings.

This made things a little inconvenient, since he’d spent the last three hours uncovering something that she needed to know and he wanted to get a chance to tell her before Ben stumbled in. At least his early schedule had moved hers up an hour or so. He should have enough time to wake her up all the way before they were interrupted. “Pancakes?”

She looked at him over the edge of her mug. “Did you know that I’ve gone up a dress size since you moved in and started cooking breakfast?”

“Pancakes?” he repeated, and was rewarded with a roll of her eyes and a smile.

“Sure, why not?” Lisa stood up when he did and tucked herself up against him. “Maybe you’ll help me work it off later.”

Dean had to admit that it was a plan he liked, even if he couldn’t focus on it right now. “I, uh, need to talk with you about something.”

She went still for a second before taking a step back. “I’m not going to like this talk, am I?”

“Probably not,” he admitted, keeping his hands busy with the mixing bowl and pancake mix. “I noticed a pattern. Kids Ben’s age are getting taken and then showing up dead days later. They just found the second one yesterday afternoon.” It wasn’t a strong, well-established pattern, not yet, but it was enough to make him take notice.

“Do you know what’s doing it?”

Dean shook his head. “Not a what. Pretty sure it’s a who.” He scowled down at the pancake batter he was mixing. “The way these kids are being taken and the way they’re killed doesn’t make sense for a creature or a demon. And when things don’t add up like that, it usually points to a human.” He set the bowl aside and started rummaging around for the griddle, setting it on the burners and letting it heat up.

“So the police can handle it,” Lisa said, and he could practically taste the relief as she smiled at him and slipped her arms around his neck.

“Do you know how long the FBI took to hunt down me and Sam?” Dean demanded. “Almost two years, and then they only caught us when someone gave us up. I’m not exactly bursting with confidence here.”

“You can’t just go after a human being,” she said, stepping away again. “It’s not you, Dean.”

Every fiber of Dean’s being screamed at him to protect his family, to keep fighting until every threat was gone. He knew, deep down in his gut, that this scumbag would come to Ben’s school. If there was an underlying fact in the way the universe ran, it was that Murphy’s Law was written with the Winchesters in mind. His son was in danger, and he had to stop it. “How about pulling him from school? Just until they nail this guy,” he added at Lisa’s suddenly sour expression.

She regarded him thoughtfully, moving until she was close enough to touch him. “How about this? You make up a plan for everything the school would need to do to keep Ben safe. We’ll talk with Principal Peters. If he doesn’t agree to it, and there’s another kidnapping, we’ll keep Ben home on the condition that he keeps up with his work.”

Dean was a little suspicious at this easy acquiescence; he was expecting more of a struggle before getting her to agree to anything. He had a bad feeling that this meant she believed their son was in danger, which felt like confirmation that the universe had it in for anyone connected to him. He had kind of wanted to think that he was just being paranoid, but if Lisa was this easily convinced then there was definitely a problem. “Deal.” He gave her a kiss and started pouring circles of batter onto the heated griddle.

“Good. Now, I’m headed upstairs. I need to get ready for work.”

“Pancakes will be ready and waiting. Go ahead and send Ben on down.” He’d have a half hour after Lisa left to throw on clothing and head for work. Maybe he would be able to get in a little more research afterwards.

xxx

It was a late Thursday afternoon when Hotch told them all to report to the conference room. JJ was standing at the head of the table and all the profilers could tell from her posture that this was going to be a bad case.

“What do we have?” Aaron Hotchner asked.

“Whitestown, Indiana, March tenth. Sometime between the end of school at three-thirty and five o’clock eleven year old Kathleen McDonnell disappeared. No witnesses. She walks home and sometimes stops at different friends’ houses. At five, her parents started getting worried and called around. No one had seen her. By five-thirty, the police were called and by six, an Amber Alert went out. The police searched all over and found nothing. Seven days later Kathleen was found, object-raped and strangled to death in an alleyway in town. Again, no witnesses. She had been dead for approximately twenty-four hours before being found at noon when a busboy took out the trash to the dumpster behind his restaurant.

“The same day Kathleen’s body was found and approximately twenty miles away in Big Springs, Christopher Casolari was kidnapped on his way home from school.”

“Switching sexes?” Rossi’s disbelief was shared by the table. “Are we sure that they’re related?”

JJ nodded. She had been expecting the question. “I think you’ll agree when I finish.”

Rossi waved a hand indicating that she should do so.

“He disappeared between three-twenty and four-thirty. This Amber Alert went out by five. No witnesses. For the same reasons as the rest of us, no one connected the two cases. Then seven days later –today-, Christopher was found, object-raped and strangled to death in an alleyway in his town. He had been dead for approximately twenty-four hours before being found at ten. This time it was a business owner,” she double-checked her notes, “a hairdresser who found the body as she was taking out the trash.”

“Today again, thirty miles away from Christopher’s town and forty miles away from Kathleen’s, Kristin Moore didn’t make it home from school.” She glanced at her watch. “Amber Alert went out twenty minutes ago. No one is expecting any helpful tips from the tip-line.”

Hotch took over. “We have six days to find an organized, intelligent, careful bisexual pedophile, something we really haven’t seen before. Wheels up in twenty.”

xxx

He closed the panel of the compartment and put the seat back into place, locking it in so none of the weapons would shift as he drove over the rough terrain. The amulet around his neck swung against the edge of the door as he stood up and he absently reached up and tucked it under his shirt, clutching it in his palm for a moment before hiding it from view.

The Jeep’s engine made a slight groaning noise before it turned over and he grabbed the notebook he kept on the passenger seat and made a note to have it checked out the next time he was in civilization. Lately those little details seemed to slip away when he didn’t write them down.

He reached for the radio out of habit and loneliness and found a local station playing classic rock, letting the familiar sounds of crashing guitars soothe him as he drove away. There was a possible striga working out of a hospital in Pennsylvania and he needed to get there soon. And the fastest route there would take him past Indianapolis, which was only a short drive out of his way to check on Dean.

Perfect.

xxx

“I need a favor, Jen,” Dean said as he set the sheets of paper onto the reception desk. “Can you make a bunch of copies of this and hand them out to the teachers?”

“What are they?”

“Plans to keep the kids safe. Peters is a moron and won’t enforce it, but hopefully some of the teachers will decide that it’s worth it and use them.” Dean felt like growling under his breath at the other man’s ineptitude. He’d spent almost an hour being patronized and ignored before he’d been completely dismissed. “I’m yanking Ben out of school until they catch this asshole.”

Jen looked worried. “Are they in that much danger?”

“There’s two kids dead, one missing, and we’re right in the guy’s path,” Dean said grimly. “My kid’s not gonna be next.” He’d gone through way too much in his life to let some human asshole lay a finger on Ben.

“Do you think I should pull Katie?” Jen asked, ignoring the papers he’d handed her and looking at him instead. Sometimes the faith she had in him scared him a little. Dean knew a lot about certain things, but those things didn’t always necessarily translate well to the normal world. Most of the time he was just making shit up as he went along.

“If the teachers stick to the plan, the kids will be safer here than at home by themselves.”

She let out a shaky breath, obviously unconvinced. “Would you let Katie stay with you and Ben during the day?”

Dean shrugged, forcing his fists to unclench and relax. Nothing pissed him off more than authority figures who didn’t know what they were doing. “Shouldn’t be a problem. I’m just gonna set up a little corner of the garage so he can take care of his schoolwork. Katie can settle right in next to him. Lisa or I will stop by to drop off homework or pick up work for the next day.” It had been one of Lisa’s qualifications when she’d agreed to let him pull Ben, and one he agreed with entirely. Ben was smarter than a GED and a job at a local mechanic’s shop, and he’d need school to make it happen.

Jen nodded, looking relieved, and paged the classrooms so the teachers would send both of the children to the office. “Can I talk to the other parents? The ones who know you?” The unspoken ‘the ones who were involved in the changeling mess’ was heard and received with a nod.

“Go ahead. I’m pretty sure I can watch out for ‘em at the shop.”

Katie came in first, and Jen pulled her aside to explain what was going on. Ben was close behind, shoulders tense until he saw Dean waiting for him. “We going home?”

Dean nodded. “We’ll walk Katie down to her locker first, go get your books, and then head back to the garage. I left Greg Davis minding the shop while I got you.”

“Katie’s coming with us?”

“Her mom wants her kept safe.” And that was one thing Dean could do very well.

xxx

Lisa had only asked Dean for three things when he moved in: that he quit drinking, that he look for a job, and that he tell her when something was wrong. He’d worked on all three with varying degrees of success, though that last item was somehow the hardest for him.

She’d never demanded that he give up hunting. He’d decided that on his own, before he showed up at her doorstep, and sometimes she regretted that particular decision of Dean’s. His focus as he studied the map, marking every school that he thought might be a target and adapting a plan to keep the kids at that school safe, made her think that this was what he was like on a hunt. It suited him. He came alive on the hunt.

Ben was sitting at the table with him, listening as his father explained in low tones why he’d settled upon that area as the bad guy’s comfort zone. He was lapping up the information, paying far more attention to Dean than he probably ever showed to his teachers. It reminded her of the way her son had taken to the gun lessons, even while she struggled with loading and firing the .22 Dean had made sure she could use and insisted she carry. The Winchester genes bred true, the ones that mattered anyway. Ben might have her eyes and hair, but the rest of him was Dean.

Dean leaned in while Ben asked a question, a small smile on his face when he answered, and Ben lit up at whatever he had said.

“So what’s the count up to?” she asked, sitting down across from the two of them with her tea.

“Eleven public schools and four private,” Dean said, setting down his pen and rubbing his forehead. “Luckily seven of them have similar layouts so I won’t have to do much to fix a plan for them.”

“Do you need to?” Lisa asked. “Shouldn’t those principals see the danger and fix things?”

Dean and Ben shared a startlingly similar look, master to apprentice. “There’s too much risk that they won’t know what’s wrong until after something happens. The cops haven’t exactly been putting out a statewide bulletin on this . . .creep.” She could tell he’d wanted to use another term for the bad guy, and appreciated his restraint in front of Ben. If there was one guarantee from Ben right now, it was that whatever his father said or did would be carried over into Ben’s own behavior and vocabulary. His teachers were less than appreciative.

“All right. How are you guys doing at the garage during the day?”

There was a smile, almost a grin. “If nothing else, they’re picking up a trade. Even Katie knows how to change the oil in a car now.”

That was pretty impressive. Lisa didn’t know how to change the oil in her car, though she could change a tire if she needed to. “Mike’s all right with them hanging out all day?”

“They’re all pretty good kids. He said if they stayed out of trouble and didn’t cause any damage they could stay as long as I needed them to.”

“Just so you know, you’re not pulling Ben out of school permanently just so he can keep you company at the garage. No matter how much he begs.”

“Aw, mom,” Ben complained, and she couldn’t help but laugh and smooth his hair down.

“Go upstairs and get ready for bed. You’ve got a big day ahead tomorrow.” She waited until her son had disappeared upstairs, grumbling under his breath, before turning to Dean. “Something happened.”

“If the bastard sticks with his schedule, the missing girl is going to turn up dead tomorrow and he’ll grab someone else that afternoon. They’re running out of time to catch him.”

Well, that explained the tenseness of his shoulders. Lisa ached for the family of the girl. She wondered if they knew their daughter was probably already dead, if it would be better to know or to be blindsided by the news. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to keep Ben and his friends safe and hope that the teachers are doing the same at the school. Not much else that I can do against humans.” He looked tired now, worn down, and Lisa leaned down and wrapped her arms around him from behind, resting her chin on his shoulder.

There was a lot that she could say now, from ‘it’s not your responsibility’ to ‘I know you’ll protect Ben with your life,’ but Dean probably wouldn’t react well to any of them. Instead she just whispered, “I love you,” in his ear. It was all she could do for him.

xxx

Reid’s assurances that this entire case, while fascinating, didn’t truly stray from what they really already knew helped a little, but Aaron could tell that the whole team was getting a little frustrating. Reid had been working on the geographic profiling, trying to find some sort of vector for where the unsub would be going next, Morgan and Prentiss were trying to find commonalities between the victims, and JJ was trying to smooth over agitated, grieving parents. Kristin had been found that morning in the dumpster of a local antique store despite every effort spent trying to find her before such a thing happened. They had known they were looking at a limited time frame and now everyone was tired, angry, and frustrated at their inability to nail the unsub. They were probably within a hairsbreadth of being asked to leave by the local authorities. The best that they could hope for was that Kristin’s body would help track down her killer.

JJ interrupted his train of thought with a clearing of her throat. “Hotch, we have another report. There was an attempted kidnapping at a school fifteen miles west of here. A teacher managed to stop it.”

They had known that the unsub would be moving on to a new victim today, based on all previous evidence, but that particular method of kidnapping was more bold than the unsub had been so far. Rossi was working with Reid to refine the geographic profile with this new information, so Hotch took Prentiss and Morgan with him out to the school.

They were still in Indiana, this time a small town called Cicero. The school was controlled chaos when they got there, the teachers managing to keep order and double-check that every child was picked up by an actual approved guardian and that none slipped away on their own. It was one of the most controlled school lockdowns that Hotch had ever seen.

The teacher who had stopped the kidnapping was staying with the near victim in the nurses’ office, waiting for the boy’s parents. She was pear-shaped, with wide hips and slender shoulders. Bruises peppered her arms and she had one on her chin. She wore them with pride and she deserved to, since she had saved young William Trey’s life.

“Ms. Secor, you normally don’t spend your free period outside. Why did you today?”

“I was in the right place at the right time, but it wasn’t an accident. It was suggested in the memo.”

“Memo?”

She pulled a stack of papers from the top of the pile she was carrying and handed it over. “Ben’s father wrote it up and put it in everyone’s mailboxes after the principal refused to enact it. Everything here is pretty common sense; I didn’t see any reason not to follow the suggestions for a couple weeks with that wacko out on the loose. Most of the other teachers have been following it all this week. I’m glad I did. Billy won’t end up like those other children now.”

Hotch glanced through the papers with a growing sense of amazement. As Secor mentioned, everything was common sense and easy to follow and would have kept every school child protected. Ben’s father had identified the most likely abductions spots and placed a teacher at each one. “Is Ben still here?”

“Oh, Ben hasn’t been here since Thursday afternoon. That was when Mr. Campbell had an argument with Mr. Peters and Mr. Peters said that he couldn’t make the teachers follow this. Campbell took Ben home and has been calling me for homework assignments every night. Lisa –that’s Ben’s mother- has been dropping off the completed homework every morning on her way to work.”

“Did any other families’ follow suit?” JJ asked

“Yes, my class is half its normal size. Once Mr. Campbell removed Ben, several other parents did so as well. From what I’ve heard and from the homework papers that Lisa has dropped off, most are staying with Mr. Campbell during the day. None of the other ages have the same thing, but I don’t think they know Mr. Campbell as well.”

“Do you know where we could find Mr. Campbell and the children?”

“I assume that it’s the garage that Mr. Campbell runs. I’m not sure that calling Ben’s house would help you since they screen their calls. You should ask Jen.”

“Jen?” Hotch echoed.

“Jen Hoskiss, Katie’s mother. She’s also the school secretary. She was the first parent to follow Mr. Campbell’s example. Katie and Ben have been best friends for years.”

It took some time to arrange a meeting with Jen Hoskiss. She was in the middle of the bedlam, answering phone calls from frantic parents, getting messages to the correct teachers and making sure that each child was leaving with an approved guardian. They weren’t able to sit down until almost five p.m., and by then the woman was clearly nervous and worried. “I need to go pick up Katie soon,” she blurted out as soon as they were alone. “Dean needs to close up the garage at six.”

“This shouldn’t take long,” Prentiss assured the woman. “Do you mind telling us why you pulled Katie from school?”

“Because Dean pulled out Ben,” she said immediately. “The only way he would do something like that is if there was real danger.”

“And how would Mr. Campbell know that there was danger?”

She shook her head. “He just does. He saved Katie’s life once, when she was eight. Saved me too, in a way.”

“Saved her how?”

Ms. Hoskiss shifted in her chair. “I thought there was something wrong, but no one would believe me. Even Lisa thought I was just grieving over Steven. Dean is the only who paid any attention, and he was the one who brought Katie back to me.”

Hotch frowned. There was something going on here. “Was Katie abducted, like William Trey almost was?”

“No,” she said immediately. “She was just lost. Dean helped find her.”

They let her go when it became clear that the woman wasn’t going to be saying anything else helpful. She wasn’t telling them everything, and Hotch thought she almost seemed afraid to go into detail. It was obviously time to go speak with Dean Campbell.

xxx

It was a stupid impulse, and he knew it. Every time he came even close to passing near Cicero, Indiana, he had to stop and look in on Dean. It was a dumb thing to do, and it was probably going to get him caught someday, but he couldn’t help it. He had to know that Dean was all right, that he was safe and happy with Lisa and Ben. That Sam had given up having his brother in his life for a good reason. Dean pulled him in like gravity, the polar opposite magnet that attracted him with an irresistible force.

He knew the way to the garage by heart, knew all the back ways through the whole town like he’d lived there, and it didn’t take him long to pull up across the street into the small grocery store. The engine died with a rattle that made him wince a little. It needed a mechanic badly, and he still hadn’t had time to find one that he wouldn’t make him feel bad about pawning off a bad credit card.

The garage was moderately busy, as it usually was on a weekday. The place where Dean worked did good, steady business, and he knew that the owner trusted Dean because Dean was pretty much in charge and left to run the place five days a week.

The first sign that something was off showed up when he saw Ben and a girl about the same age step outside of the garage when he knew they should be in school. Dean ushered them back inside soon enough, but Sam was able to catch a glimpse of more children in the background. It was frustrating, staying hidden when he wanted to go inside and find out what was going on, why Dean had deviated from his routine.

A black SUV that practically screamed ‘government car’ pulled up and Sam took that as his cue to leave. The man who got out of the car was exactly the kind of person Sam tried to impersonate when he pulled out the fake FBI badge, and it was more than a little worrying that they were coming to Dean. He had planned to check on his brother and get back on the road, but this was a development he needed to keep his eyes on. Something was going on with his brother, something that threatened Dean and the safe, happy life that Sam was protecting, and he couldn’t let that go unhindered.

xxx

The chaos of the attempted abduction and the ensuing scramble to keep a lid on the situation until they had it figured out pushed back the meeting with Dean Campbell until the next day. Ms. Secor had insisted on going back to school that morning, which meant they had to increase the school security as a precaution, so it was almost noon by the time Hotch and JJ headed towards the garage where the man worked.

The baseball had bounced around the back corner of the Bigelow’s Garage and a dark blonde girl followed, her attention focused on the object rather than her surroundings.

“Hey there,” JJ bent down and picked up the ball for the tiny pre-teen. She offered the ball to the child.

The girl merely stood there and stared.

“I’m not going to hurt you. Are you Dakota?” JJ had seen a picture of Katie on Jen’s desk and knew this girl wasn’t her. JJ had also gotten a list of names of the other children Dean Campbell was watching. Dakota was the only other female name on the list.

Her name seemed to shock Dakota out of her stupor. She started backing up and shaking her head. Hotch was pleased to note that the child had never gotten close enough to be grabbed. Two boys came tearing around the corner. They moved to flank the girl, both staring at the FBI agents.

It was well past time to identify themselves. “I’m Special Agent Aaron Hotchner of the FBI and this is Special Agent Jennifer Jareau.”

The boys ignored them and the one on the right grabbed Dakota’s arm and lightly tugged her behind him. “Dad wants you. Now.”

Looking relieved, Dakota used this as an excuse to turn and run. The boys covered her retreat. The talker –must be Ben Braeden- never took his eyes off the adults. The agents followed slowly; they didn’t want the kids to think that they were being chased. Right around the corner they were met by an adult male with a very heavy wrench in his hand. He could and would do damage with the wrench. Intent was evident in every muscle of his body. He was also standing between the agents and the children.

“Mr. Campbell?” Hotch assumed.

“Who’s asking?”

Hotch very slowly reached for his badge, careful to be as non-threatening as possible. “I’m Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner of the FBI and this is Special Agent Jennifer Jareau.”

Hotch was sure that Campbell hated to drag his eyes off of the agents, but he did and he studied the badge long enough to assure himself of its veracity. Hotch was pretty sure the man would have been able to spot a fake. “What do you want?”

“We just want to know how you were so sure that the… kidnapper was going to arrive at your son’s school this week.”

“I wasn’t sure,” Campbell protested.

“You removed your son from the school premises within the same hour that the third adolescent was reported missing and you have not allowed him back.”

Campbell shifted. Guilt? Or something else? “Better safe than sorry.”

“Why did you do it?”

Campbell shrugged. “The worst possible outcome seems to be the one that comes true for my family.” Truth, from Campbell’s point of view, at least. Hotch would have Garcia check Ben Braeden’s records. How often did Campbell yank him? Was this paranoia?

“He did come to Ben’s school, didn’t he?” Campbell suddenly snapped rhetorically. “Jen called as soon as she could. Who did he try to get?”

“Thanks to you,” JJ smiled, “and Ms. Secor, no one was taken.”

“Who did he get close to?”

Hotch debated telling him, but then the gossip and probably Jen Hoskiss would inform him as soon as he asked. “William Trey. He’s safe at the hospital now with his parents. Just bumps and bruises.”

Campbell nodded. “Good. Is that ass, Peters, finally going to protect all of the kids in that school?”

“That was our advice.”

Campbell nodded again. “These kids will stay here until you catch this s…,” a quick glance at the obviously eavesdropping kids, “SOB.”

“What do you think the Unsub will do next?” Hotch asked.

Campbell was surprised they asked for his opinion and quickly figured out that they suspected him of having inside information. “I don’t know.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I really don’t know. People are crazy.”

“And kids?” JJ asked.

Campbell glanced over his shoulder and met Ben’s eyes. Both males grinned. “I love kids. They’re pretty much the only ones you can count on to be honest.”

Again, absolute truth. Hotch tried to be as calm and understanding as possible. “Mr. Campbell. We know that you are not involved, but we have to investigate every piece of the puzzle. Please tell me that you have an alibi for the last three Thursdays. Today you were with these children?” He started.

All six of the children nodded vigorously. Katie piped up. “We have to tell Dean if we go anywhere, even the bathroom and we have to go with someone.”

“He’s been with us the whole time,” Ben said defiantly. “We’ve stayed at the garage since it opened.”

“Well, good. And last Thursday at noon?”

“Here. I was changing the oil on Mr. Davis’ car. I was listening to the radio on an ear bud so that I could hear it over Davis. That man likes to talk. Come over here,” Campbell waved the agents into the tiny office and handed them the logbook. Campbell stayed outside the door and was constantly tracking the kids. “Stay in the garage, Andy.” The boy quit wandering near the bay door and joined the others near the workbench. Various schoolbooks were scattered around.

Hotch read through the entry and compared it to those around it. “Why didn’t he pay?”

“Had to leave in the middle. He agreed to watch the shop while I ran to the school if I ate the price of the oil change. So I did.”

It sure sounded like the truth to Hotch but he still had JJ record Davis’ contact info on her phone. “The previous Thursday?”

Campbell reached over and flipped through the logbook pages. He stopped at the appropriate page and read his own handwriting upside down. “The Perry Family Aveo. Brake job.” He rolled his eyes. “I had promised her that it would be done by noon and the damn rotor would not come off. Sue Perry was less than understanding that it was taking a while. I think she even called up Mike –he owns the garage- to complain about my service.”

Again, JJ recorded the data. Hotch flipped earlier in the book. The time recorded was a little before noon, but not by much. “Mrs. Scheulch?”

“Old lady, sixty or so. I swear she drives her Cadillac into shopping carts at the grocery store so that she can come here and watch my ass as I take out the dents. She usually stays to chat for about a half hour once I’m done. I think she gets lonely or something.” He shrugged as if it didn’t really matter to him. “Must be pretty desperate to sit around and talk with me, I guess, but she’s pretty much harmless.”

JJ finished taking down the last patron’s information and Hotch took one last look around. Most of the children had gone back to their schoolwork by now, though the man’s son and Katie Hoskiss lingered nearby. “We might have more questions for you later, Mr. Campbell. Can you let us know if you think of anything or if anything happens that you think might be suspicious?” He’d seen William Trey before they loaded him up into the ambulance and there was more than a passing similarity to Ben Braeden. There was a good chance the man’s possible paranoia had paid off.

Campbell accepted the card he offered and tucked it into his wallet. “I can do that,” he told them. “I’ve really got to get back to work now.”

“We understand.” He waited until they were out of earshot before Hotch turned to JJ. “JJ, under what circumstances would you hand over Henry –while he was possibly in danger- to a non-family member?” Hotch was staring at all the kids surrounding Dean as he asked the question.

It didn’t take JJ long to answer. “Only if I knew that the person could do a better job protecting Henry than Will and I could.”

“And that knowledge would only be gained through experience.”

JJ nodded at the children. “That kind of trust can only be gained through experience. I would trust Henry with the other members of our team and my family. That’s pretty much it.”

Hotch palmed his phone and called Garcia as they headed back out to the car.

“Welcome to the grand stage of computer magic,” the tech answered. “What miracle can I pull out of my hat for you?”

“Garcia, I need you to find everything on Dean Campbell.”

“Are we thinking that he’s our Unsub?”

“No. He’s got a good alibi for three out of the five times that we know about, but he’s something. And I think our Unsub is going to fixate on him and the children he protects soon. Whatever the Unsub’s previous plans, Campbell knocked them off track. We can’t truly predict what he’ll do now that his pattern has been interrupted. Also, how many days of school has Ben Braeden missed this year before the Unsub came to town?”

“Two days for the flu. One day late fall with a cold.”

“Last year?”

“A week for chicken pox.”

“Double check those dates and make sure they don’t correlate to anything a paranoid father might keep his son home for.”

“Yes, sir.” Garcia hung up.

“You think he’s paranoid?” JJ asked.

“No. But that’s an easier explanation than how he knew that his son’s school would be targeted next.”

“Couldn’t someone without training figure out the Unsub’s methods?”

“We always say that the best profilers are the Unsubs.”

“Hotch. We see people during the worst time of their lives. Some people out there have to be good people too. Campbell saw a threat and removed his son from the line of fire.”

“The general population is not that aware. Only great trials can produce that type of precaution. Campbell shouldn’t have been able to predict the unsub like this. We need to know why and how in case there’s a connection.”

xxx

He would lay down the law with the kids later. They weren’t supposed to separate for anything, not even for a second, not even to go to the bathroom, and just because he was within yelling distance didn’t mean they could just ignore that rule. Billy Trey could be Ben’s stunt double, the two of them looked so alike. He knew what that meant when it came to serial killers. Ben needed to be kept safe. That was the most important thing of all.

Right now he had the FBI to deal with, and the possibility that they could pin his real name to his face and make his life complicated again. If there was even a hint of the Winchester name from them, he would have to run and leave Lisa and Ben behind. He couldn’t bring that kind of trouble on his family. Lisa was a fucking saint for letting him into her life in the first place.

The questions were pretty much what he expected. It pissed him off a little that they were wasting their time with him when this son of a bitch was probably already picking a new kid to take, but once they’d confirmed his alibi they’d move on and leave him the hell alone, hopefully.

Ben took up a position at his side, his chin up and arms folded in a deliberately belligerent pose once he’d figured out the direction of the FBI’s questions. Katie was on his other side, tiny and determined. Dean wondered how the hell these two had come to be his protective detail.

The agents left once they’d recorded the details of his alibi. He’d never been so glad to see Mike’s OCD record-keeping when they asked about his whereabouts. Ben headed reluctantly back to his friends when Dean asked about his homework, Katie following behind him, and Dean returned to the Thunderbird he was rebuilding. It was hard to tell, but he was probably in the clear, so long as no one got any bright ideas about DNA or fingerprints. He had no idea if those things stayed in the database this long after a suspect was presumed dead, but it was better safe than sorry.

xxx

Garcia called back about an hour later. The team was still at the police station, working frantically to try and figure out the unsub’s next move. Now that his prey had been taken from him, there was no predicting his movements. Would he try another school, go back to his method of scooping kids up after school, or focus his attention somewhere else entirely? There had been no sign on the radar so far, but that was anything but a good sign. “What have you got for us, Garcia?” Hotch asked, putting her on speakerphone in the tiny conference room they had claimed.

“It’s not good news,” she admitted.

“Just tell us what you have, Baby Girl,” Morgan said.

“Sir. Before Dean Campbell moved in with the Braedens three years ago, he did not exist. He did not legally change his name so, at this moment, I have no idea where he came from.”

“Keep looking,” Rossi told her. “Skills like those don’t appear overnight. Someone somewhere knows where he came from.”

“Yes sir,” she said, hanging up.

They buried themselves in the profile, digging into the unusual victimology and the recent departures from the pattern. The unsub had become secure enough to attempt a high-risk grab and had gotten burned. Would he revert to the safety of his previous pattern of try something even more risky?

Hotch had been working on that question for two hours when Garcia called back.

“Hotchner,” he answered his phone. Reid didn’t look up from his maps, though Prentiss was watching him, her attention and focus pulled away from the pile of possible sex offenders in the area.

“Well, sir, in a spell of awesomeness that amazed even myself I have managed to find who Dean Campbell used to be. Since you doubted that he had a criminal record and he didn’t show up in my search for him there, I searched for lost and missing people three years ago and further in Indiana and the surrounding states and I found him.”

“Who, Garcia?”

“Dean Smith, former Director of Sales and Marketing of Sandover Iron and Bridge Inc of Toledo, Ohio. They had a rash of mysterious deaths, mostly suicides –one of which, Dean witnessed a guy shove a pencil into his own neck. Can we say yuck! The following Monday, the president of the company, Dean and an IT guy by the name of Sam Wesson disappeared. On the same day, Dean’s family all died in a car crash in California. They have Dean on security cameras working OT at the time of the crash so no one was looking at him for the dirty deed.”

“But that many deaths in one weekend could have easily been the stressor that caused Dean to abandon all he knew,” Hotchner hypothesized.

“That’s what the cops thought too. So Smith was completely off the radar for over a year and by off the radar, I mean that I can’t find a whiff of him anywhere and then he showed up in Indiana as Dean Campbell applying for a job as a car mechanic. And his home address was and is the same as Ben and Lisa Braeden’s.”

“Why them?”

“I thought you might ask that so I did a little digging. About the same time that Campbell applied for the job, he also walked into a clinic with Ben and they had DNA tests. It turns out that Ben is Dean’s biological son. I can place Dean Smith and Lisa in the same state at the time of Ben’s conception but not much more.”

“It was a one night stand, or near enough,” Hotch pronounced.

“Sounds about right. Dean Campbell replaced ‘Father Unknown’ on Ben’s birth certificate.”

“Good job, Garcia. Any luck at finding a connection between the victims?”

“When I know, you’ll know, sir.”

Part 2

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
kaddywhak
Jun. 5th, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
Before I continue on with this awesome fic, I wanted to say that I LOVE this! The way you included Jen and Katie (which is awesome, because that episode was one of my favourites because of them) and how people in the neighbourhood remembered what he'd done for them, was perfect. And how Garcia found Dean Smith! I totally forgot that that would be in records somewhere. I was so worried Garcia was going to stumble across Henrickson's reports :P Anyways, off to continue this, I just wanted to say that before I got caught in the awesomeness of the next chapter.
faithburke
Jun. 5th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Wow! Thanks so much for the review.
manictater
Oct. 28th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
sour cherry pie life part 1
I am rereading this fic and thought I would drop you a line and let you know how much I still love it. The concept and the characterizations rock. I LOVE CM/SPN cross overs! I would be very pleased to read more if you chose to do another cross over :-)
(Deleted comment)
faithburke
Jul. 26th, 2014 03:41 pm (UTC)
Ha, I'm glad you liked that. We were writing and realized that the BAU would do a background check and that we had written ourselves into a corner and then came up with that plot twist... probably the reason the story was finished.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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