Brains Are a Nuisance
© 2009 gekizetsu

SPN/KKBB crossover, for MJ. Title paraphrased from Raymond Chandler’s Pearls Are a Nuisance. Sequel to The Simple Art of Graverobbing. Chris is partly to blame for throwing out a challenge about brains last summer. blackcat333_99 knows what SHE is responsible for.

Sam and Dean are on a case, and they need a specific kind of expertise. Harry rambles. Perry hits on the Winchesters. h/c occurs. Everybody says ‘fuck’ a lot. A lot. PG-13 for language and brains. Song lyrics quoted badly from Coven’s McDonaldland Massacre.

Warning: brains.
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Yeah, hi. Me again. Harry.

I wouldn’t be telling any more stories unless really crazy shit happened, right? This one, I gotta tell. Perry says I’m a menace because crazy shit follows me around, and he never got involved in so much weird stuff until I came along, but I just think the world’s crazy. It’s got nothing to do with me.

So, I had another really weird day.

I got up like I usually did and shuffled out to the kitchen, trying to be quiet until I could figure out whether Perry was already up or not. He’s usually up before me and then yelling at me for still being in bed, but that’s on work days. On the weekends he doesn’t really give a shit what I do as long as I stay out of his way and don’t make a mess. And, yeah, make myself really scarce if he brings someone home. Mostly I go bug Harmony, so it works out okay for everyone unless there’s a case that can’t be wrapped up on Friday. Like, if someone’s about to skip town or whatever and we have to follow them, or someone’s about to die. You know. Whatever.

Anyway, you probably don’t give a shit about that. I went into the kitchen and from there you can see out into the living room, and, at first I thought Perry was out there with a ‘friend’ or something, because I was still half asleep, but then I looked a little more and realized I had no idea who the fuck they were, and one of them said ‘hey, Harry’. So I ducked down behind the counter, right, because first of all, someone had fucking broken into Perry’s house, which made them really stupid or really badass, and second, they knew who I was, which is not good no matter what.

I have priors. And then there was all that shit that one Christmas. I’m unpopular on two coasts, now. I have to watch my ass.

“I told you,” the same voice said. “I told you.”

“Doesn’t mean anything,” the second guy said. “Harry. You don’t have to hide.”

“Not hiding!” I tried to sound intimidating. “Taking a defensive position.”

“Dude, just chill and get out here. We have to talk to you.”

“Who the fuck is ‘we’?”

“It’s Sam, and Dean, from last January,” the second voice said. “Cemetery? Dead singers?”

Great. The Crisco Brothers. Just what I needed, right? So I stood and tried to look at them like they were in really big trouble. They were sprawled all over the couch, looking comfortable. “What the fuck do you want?”

“Coffee,” Dean said. “I could totally use some coffee. I tried to make it myself, but I couldn’t find the pot.”

“Perry hides it.” I couldn’t help saying it. It’s a point of contention. “You better hope he’s not here. He’ll kick you into next week for breaking in.”

“He’s not here,” Dean said. “We checked. That’s why we’re waiting.”

I was still annoyed. “Well, wait outside.”

Lots of flannel and layering and biker boots, with these guys. Lots of ‘hi ,we do our laundry in the stream on our washboard abs, with soap made from road kill’ vibes. I wondered if they were really part of some militia, except one that hunts ghosts.

“So,” Dean said, like I hadn’t just ordered his dumb ass outside, “You live here. With your boss.”

“I crash here sometimes,” I said. “When we’re on a case.” I was still taking a defensive position.

Dean looked at Sam like maybe he was winning some kind of bet.

“No idea when Perry’ll be back?” Sam said.

He was still polite, not like he was demanding anything. I liked Sam right off the bat, before, even if he was part of a whole ridiculous thing.

“I don’t keep track of him. You have his number, right? Find him.”

Perry had given these guys his number that night we went out after the big body-bonfire. He’d given it to them maybe three times. I’ve never seen him hit on anybody so hard. I’m pretty sure he’s still hoping for a threesome. He won’t like it if they get Crisco on his sheets, though.

“Bitchy,” Dean said.

Mostly I didn’t like them acting like they knew Perry.

“We really need just you, anyway,” Sam said.

My first thought was that maybe they were going to use me as bait for something, kidnap me and wait for something with a lot of teeth to come by and gnaw on me. Maybe sit on me again, for old time’s sake.

“I’m really busy,” I said immediately. “Find somebody else.”

“You got arrested five times, but those were the only times you were caught,” Dean said. “Otherwise, you’ve been pretty good at stealing shit for most of your life, right?”

Dean,” Sam said. “At least - ”

Luckily the door opened right then, and in came Perry in one of his jogging outfits, towel around the neck and everything. “Oh, ho. It’s not even my birthday but there’re pretty boys all over my couch.”

They both stood. Perry kind of makes people need to do that, to talk to him. I don’t know what it is.

“Winchesters,” he said, standing within feet of them and looking them over. “Come to pull my trigger?”

Dean’s ears turned bright red. My whole day was saved. Sam kind of smirked and ducked his head a little, scratched the back of his neck like he was trying to cover a laugh. See, none of this shit bugs me, ‘cause I’m so used to it. Nothing Perry says can embarrass me anymore.

“We’ve got a local case,” Sam said. “And we need, uh, a specialist.”

Considering the fact that Dean had just made a reference to my former expertise as a thief, it wasn’t hard for me to figure out where Sam was headed, but I kept quiet anyway, kind of leaning on the counter.

“Keep talking,” Perry said. Dean still couldn’t look at him, at all, and I couldn’t help grinning my ass off. I was hoping he’d look at me so I could make a gesture or two showing him what Perry was thinking of doing to him. Hey, I’m not above these things in the right situation.

“There’s some med center in West LA, keeps body parts occasionally for research,” Sam said. “Samples from folks with Alzheimer’s, or severe psychiatric problems…people who donate themselves to science, stuff like that. This one guy was executed two days ago for murder, and they’ve got his brain somewhere. We’ve been trying to get it for the last couple of days. We’ve run out of options.”

“Meaning they caught on to every scam you tried,” Perry said. “And now you can’t get anywhere near the place. What the hell’s it matter?’

“Same way it did the last time you saw us,” Dean said finally, still without looking directly at Perry. “The rest of him was cremated after he got the needle, so there’s just one piece of him left. And it’s letting him hold onto this…world.”

Perry made a motion with one hand that suggested he needed to hurry the hell up and get the rest of it out.

“Your roommate’s got a lot of practice stealing shit,” Dean said. “Pretty sure he could pull this off, since there’s not that much security.”

“You have to be kidding.”

I didn’t need to see Perry’s face to know he was looking at them both like they were nuts.

Dean blinked. “Do I look like I’m kidding?”

“You look delicious, is what you look,” Perry said. “I could stare at your mouth all day.”

Dean looked like maybe he hadn’t taken a crap in a month. It was great.

“Harry doesn’t steal shit anymore,” Perry said, and he was serious that time. “And the only breaking and entering he does is when he locks himself out - again .

I don’t know. There’s something really cool about Perry standing up for me. Even if it does come out sounding like he owns me.

“Nobody’s asking your permission,” Dean said, and he sounded really annoyed. He does this thing where he kind of lowers his head a little like he’s a bull that’s about to charge, and his nostrils flare, and he scowls. If he was a little guy, it would be kind of funny…but he‘s not a little guy. At all. “He’s the only guy around here we know who’d have a good shot of pulling this off, and yeah, somebody is gonna get killed if we don’t find a way to get rid of the rest of that sick fuck’s remains.”

Perry was really still. I got ready to duck behind the counter again. Sam kept glancing at me.

“Don’t get pissy,” Perry said. “It puts a really unattractive vertical line into your forehead.”

Sam turned his face completely away. Dean rolled his eyes.

“Harry?” Perry said finally.

“I’m not boosting a brain in a jar for these guys,” I said. “Improper possession of human remains is a fucking felony, now.”

I’ve been reading up on a lot of stuff since getting into my current profession. I know this stuff. It really is a felony. There was this one guy in Iowa who got drunk and decided to dig up his dad, and he had his dad and the headstone and everything in the backyard…well, whatever. It’s a felony even if it’s your own family.

“No one’s asking you to drive around with it in the fucking carpool lane,” Dean said in that same voice. “You just need to hand it over, we burn it, end of story. A lot easier than toy stores and people’s houses. You wanna know what he was executed for, smartass? Killing little kids. Wanna guess what he’s still doing?”

Okay, I might have had a moment of feeling bad, right there. I wasn’t really expecting anything like that.

Sam nudged him a little with an elbow.

“You think I like asking anybody for help?” Dean said, louder. “You think I like admitting that I’ve fucked this up to the point where I can’t even get near the place? Fuck.”

Sam nudged him again, and Dean sighed.

Perry glanced at me over his shoulder with one eyebrow raised a little, looking kind of concerned and maybe a little regretful. He’s gotten a lot easier to read, over time, you know. I was already sort of guilted into doing it, before Perry looked at me, but Perry pretty much sealed the deal. He wasn’t going to ask me to do it, especially because he had made a really big deal about firing me and killing me and then killing me a little more if he ever found out I was stealing again. Plus, if I got caught, there wasn’t shit he’d be able to do for me.

“We wouldn’t ask unless it was important,” Sam said, glancing at me again. “And we wouldn’t risk it unless we knew you could do it.”

I really didn’t like it that they’d been researching me. It was kind of creepy, right? But also sort of cool, like, they had a job and they thought I’d be the best person for it, and that doesn’t happen every day. Or ever. Shut up. No one’s ever researched me. Perry did a background check, duh, but that’s not much research.

“I’ll need to case it, first,” I said.

I’m a sucker.

“We’ve got the building’s blueprints, too,” Sam said.

“I’m in on this,” Perry said. “I feel a giant fuck-up coming on amongst the three of you.”

= = =

The Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center is on Wilshire Boulevard, in case you ever need brains. Which, unless you’re a doctor, you shouldn’t. Because the only other reason is if you’re a zombie. Before, that would have been kind of funny, but now that I know that most of this other shit is real, zombies aren’t that funny. When the big zombie apocalypse starts, quit your job at the brain bank and run, because they’ll go there first. It’ll be like McD’s to them. Big Mac, Filet O’Fish, Quarter Pounder, fries, doesn’t matter what you order, everybody dies.

It didn’t look like a brain bank. It was just some little medical research center. Not, like, the size of a doctor’s office or one of those free clinics or anything, but small for a medical center. In California. We have them smaller than that in NY. In case you wanted to know. Look it up. It looked like a place where a bunch of eggheads would be wandering around in lab coats looking all like they were deep in thought, writing papers about brains in jars. That kind of place. If it was bigger, I would have had an easier time, because in bigger places you don’t get noticed as much, since new people are always coming and going and they’re always understaffed and won’t notice if you walk in and take off with boxes of stuff.

Two stories, stucco, maybe 4,000 square feet, four entrances, only one of which was official. Lobby, 24 hour security, video monitored, but not heavily and not state of the art. Maybe mid range, and closed-circuit, and there’d be blind spots. I knew how to get around something like that.

No point trying to distract the guard at the front desk. Sam had admitted they’d done that twice, and no way was that going to work again. Then there was something about phoning in a gas leak…I don’t know how these guys have stayed out of jail.

“Any samples’ll be in some kind of controlled environment,” Perry said. “They won’t have a brain sitting on someone’s desk as a paperweight.”

We were sitting in Perry’s car across the street. I had called shotgun.

“Labs are below ground level,” Sam said from the back. “Chances are the brain’s not here to stay, it’s here to get processed. They’ll chill it and let it set for a couple of days so it’s more solid, slice it, then freeze it if they haven’t already, and distribute it to labs across the country.”

“Jesus,” I said. “How do they fill out the Fed Ex form for that?”

Perry sighed. “Let me guess: that wouldn’t constitute destruction of the damn thing, would it.”

“Nope,” Sam said. “Our whole lives will become about chasing those pieces down.” He leaned forward and handed me a slip of paper with a fourteen digit combo of letters, numbers and dashes. “There won’t be a name on it. It’ll be a case number. I don’t know what system they use for storage, but there should be a pattern.”

“How can you ever be sure you get all of a brain?” I said. “What if it’s floating in formaldehyde or something, and little bits break off, and -”

“Did either of you fuckheads consider the fact that if this guy is still solid enough to kill people, he’ll likely come right after us once he realizes what we’re doing?” Perry said.

I hated that part, last time. The angry ghost had blamed me for everything. “I hate that part.”

“We’re gonna have to burn it fast, I guess,” Dean said. “It did kind of come up.”

Dean had been annoyed almost nonstop since I’d known him. That wasn’t long, I know, but that’s still a lot of annoyance. His job does kind of suck. His life probably does, too. Stuck in a car with his brother for years? Shit. I’d have killed myself a long time ago, if it was me and my brother. I mean, my brother’s not the worst guy, but we’re nothing alike. It’s a good thing Chloe takes after her mom more. I’ve never heard the end of the one time he had to post bail for me. Christ. Me and my brother, on the road for years, killing ghosts and shit and not getting paid for it at all, instead getting the cops chasing us all over because there’s no way to keep legal and still kill shit that officially doesn’t exist, and so a lot of the dead and the undead and the living are hating you pretty much all the time.

And at the end of it all, you’re still stuck in the car with your brother.

Sam seemed pretty cool, though. Or at least not pissed off.

I should be nicer to them both. You just know they get a lot of pussy, though. Look at them. What, I can say that. Guys can look at each other and not want to stick things certain places.

“Are vampires real?” I couldn’t help but ask. We didn’t get to that the last time I saw them, and Perry was doing most of the talking then anyway. If I hadn’t seen that crazy dead bitch come screaming at me in the dark, I’d still be accusing them of being corpse-fuckers, so, I know it’s real. Some of it.

“What’s that got to do with the size of my cock?” Perry said.

“Well, if people can come back from the dead, then, that opens a lot of possibilities.” It sounded reasonable to me.

“Yes Harry,” Dean said from directly behind my head. He sounded like it was a really stupid thing to ask, so I don’t know if there really are and I should know better, or if he was jerking me around and being sarcastic. “There are vampires. Not the Goth wannabes; the real thing. Be glad this ain’t it.”

It occurred to me then that Perry would make an amazing vampire. Seriously, the private detective thing is a great cover, and he dresses snazzy like vampires should, and he could just take care of scumbags and have dinner at the same time. Then, unfortunately, I got to thinking about how being a gay vampire would make things a little more difficult…a guy should never think about fangs and dicks at the same time, ever.

“It’ll have to be dark before we do anything,” Perry said. Then he actually looked at me and waited. When he first started doing that, months earlier, it panicked me into not saying anything, and then he’d get pissed. Perry looking to me for input is just fucking weird. This time it made more sense.

“They’ve got blind spots. I’m gonna do a walk around and see how they’re wired, but I’ll bet it really is bare bones security, even though they’re rattled. They might have an extra guy on at night but they haven’t had time to install extra cameras or anything, and they won’t have the budget for much anyway since a joint like this runs on grants and processing fees. If I don’t find a good way in by ground, I go in later by the roof and work my way down.”

“And if that doesn’t work?” Perry said.

“Then we rush in and knock everybody out and take the thing anyway,” I said. “They’re geeks, they’re not gonna put up that much of a fight. They’re not gonna have a panic button.”

I got out of the car before anyone could say anything else. I walked further down the street before crossing to the side the clinic was on, shaking out a cig and acting like I was bored and looking for somewhere to wait for someone. I got my phone out and made a show of messing with it like I was looking for a number or something. I paced around for a minute or so and kept screwing with the phone. Finally I was pacing around on the decorative gravel and looking for street signs and pretending to call someone and gripe at them. That let me wander around in a widening circle until I was just walking along one side of the building. I circled around back, and from what I could tell, the place was wired for a hell of a lot of extra power, but that made sense if they had to freeze a lot of stuff. No additional visible security wiring, only one camera around the back, deadbolts on a steel door marked deliveries only. Employee parking. I could go in that way - no need for the roof.

I wondered if they had Walt Disney’s head in there somewhere.

I went back to the car and leaned in and said, “Sam, how often does this place get protesters?”

“There were only two incidents so far this year,” Sam said. “Once it was a family that didn’t agree with somebody’s last wishes, and the other time it was a religious group.”

“If they’ve been hassled before, they probably think you’re just more whackos who don’t like them desecrating the human body or whatever,” Perry said, nodding. “Did you by any chance slip and let them know which brain you’re after?”

“No,” Dean said. “Dude, we’re not amateurs.”

“It’s not like it went out on the AP that the guy’s brain would be headed here,” Sam said. “I had to hack the prison records for that.”

Perry raised an eyebrow at them in the rear view. He looked impressed.

We drove back home (it is pretty much home to me, now, anyway) and Perry told the Winchesters to vanish until later. We’d meet up a block down from the clinic at eleven, and I had until then to mess with the blueprints and plan my route and try and talk Perry out of being involved.

I knew I could handle the locks they had on the back entrance. It wasn’t likely there’d be anything worse inside, and the locks in and out of the labs were probably electronic, security badges with chips embedded, stuff like that. Maybe numerical passcodes. Most warehouses had them, so it wasn’t like I’d be surprised. They could be bypassed, but that would take too much time.

I went to tell Perry that, but he was gone. No telling what he was up to. He didn’t answer his phone.

I changed clothes and put on a baseball cap and sunglasses and took a cab back over toward the clinic, got out a block early, and watched for a few minutes before prowling all nine cars out back. These guys worked on weekends, so they really were geeks. Sometimes people had an extra badge or left one in the car after lunch, and didn’t notice if they didn’t have to use it during the afternoon. Sooner or later, everyone was careless.

No luck this time.

I was hoofing it back out of there the way I’d come and wasn’t paying any attention to my surroundings, which Perry was always yelling at me about, and somebody grabbed me around the neck and put me in a headlock.

I’ve been taking lessons and shit, but there’s only so much you can do when some really big guy surprises you like that. I’m still working on that. I did get my heel to hit just under someone’s kneecap just right, though, because they yelped and let go of me.

“Ow, fuck,” Dean said. “Jesus, dude.”

“Asshole, you don’t say ‘hello’ like that in L.A.,” I said. “Keep your sheep-wrangling skills to yourself.”

Sam was standing off to one side looking resigned.

“I just figured you’d use your rape whistle,” Dean said.

“Got a feeling most of your farm animals back home keep those handy,” I said. “What’re you doing here, anyway? We already agreed on what we’re gonna do, and if they see you --”

Dean cut me off. “What’re you doing here? That was the worst car-prowl I’ve ever seen, and if we wanted someone to come help us fuck this up, I could’ve given some homeless guy a twenty.”

“The inner doors are probably electronic,” I said, hoping he hadn’t thought of that and would feel dumb. “I was just --”

He dug one hand into a jacket pocket and then slapped something against my chest. I took it. It was a security badge belonging to some guy named Terry.

“Already on it,” Dean said. “He left it in his car this morning after we split up, and he’s already gone for the day, so I doubt he’s noticed. By the time he does, we’ll be gone, and someone will be asking him questions about a missing brain.”

I was pissed. “Why didn’t you just say so?”

“What, we were gonna call and check in?” Dean said. “We don’t work for you.”

“I’m the one whose ass is on the line once I get inside,” I said. “Asshole.”

Perry does this Batman thing where he appears and disappears at will, and I still haven’t figured out how he does it. When I’m drunk, I ask him if it’s a gay thing, like gay guys are automatically stealthy because of decades of discrimination. He answers the same way every time, which is by squirting me with a water bottle he keeps handy like I’m a bad cat scratching the furniture. I fucking hate that.

Anyway he just walked up to us out of nowhere.

“They’re using 26-bit Wiegand proximity cards,” he said. “Not encrypted. I picked up four different signatures with a simple radio receiver.” He paused and looked at each of us one at a time. “Idiots.”

We’d all had the same idea. At least there was that. I guess it means…well, whatever.

“Now fucking clear out before we get noticed,” he said. “I’m tired of all of you. Except Sam. Sam, I’d hire.”

He walked away.

I followed along, carefully not looking back at any Winchesters.

In the car, Perry said, “They’re telling the truth.”

I‘d figured we were taking that for granted because we were long since following along with the whole scam. “Yeah? You checked it out?”

He looked at me. It wasn’t an encouraging look. “Yes, Harry. Just because I’d like to slap cock rings on both of them and be the deliriously happy filling of a Winchester sandwich doesn’t mean I’m gonna believe everything they say.”

One of these days, I’m going to roll my eyes so hard that they stick that way.

“The brain we’re looking for really does belong to Johnny Ray Collins, who bought it courtesy of a jury of his peers two days ago in Nevada after a long soak on death row for mutilating little kids in the 90‘s. Eighteen of them, apparently. Four more kids have gone missing since the guy died, so if it’s him, he’s been a busy brain.”

“They said they’d been trying to get into this place for the last couple of days,” I said. “They followed it right here.”

“Probably because two of the kids went missing in Nevada in close proximity to the prison, and two of the kids are now missing here. No wonder our intrepid duo is in such a panic.”

“Why the hell didn’t they tell us about that part?” I was a little pissed. I might have said yes a little quicker.

“I don’t know whether they know about the kids here yet,” Perry said, and his tone was the one he gets sometimes when he’s a little worried or feels bad about something.

I squirmed. I hate shit like this, I hate when there are kids involved in…things. “They’re just missing, though, right?”

Perry glanced at me and I could tell he wanted to call me an idiot but that mostly he was sad that I’m so naïve.

“I gotta get this done tonight, on the first try,” I said.

He kept looking at me like he meant to say something else.

I looked back. “Why are we believing this shit is real?”

“I saw what happened last time,” Perry said, and it was weird because he quit looking at me and seemed kind of worried.

= = =

Perry called the Crisco brothers to tell them what time to show up. I sort of wanted to do it without them, but, they knew more about ghosts and shit than we do. If something went wrong, they’d have to be the ones to burn something or chant or whatever the hell it is they do. Sort of like them needing a thief to get in, in the first place, since they’d never broken into a place that wired.

We parked a block away in a residential zone right behind that big black Impala those guys drive. Like that’s not a dead giveaway. They would make really bad PIs.

Sam got out first. Dean seemed to be grabbing a couple of things before he got out and got right into my personal space. I didn’t back up - doing the job I do taught me that - and put something in my left pocket.

“Anything goes wrong, you burn it there, and we figure out what to do after,” he said.

I stared at him. “So the fact that I’m trying to kill someone who’s already dead doesn’t already make this wrong?”

Dean snorted and backed off. “Sam is gonna find a spot he can see security from, and I’m gonna watch the back.” He glanced at Perry over my shoulder.

“I’ll be watching everything else,” Perry said.

“I could get this done a lot faster if you‘d get the fuck out of here,” I said. Perry knew I was talking to him.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Perry gets this really prissy tone and drags words out and shit when he’s really bent out of shape. It’s maybe the only time he acts gay. I mean, except for when he’s fucking guys. That’s also really gay.

I finally turned around. “If things go to shit and you get caught up in it, everything you’ve worked for is gone,” I said. When I’m bent out of shape, I make total sense.

“You get caught doing this, it’ll be a little hard for me to keep from getting implicated, since you work for me, idiot.”

Things had degraded to the point where we were yelling at each other with a weird stage-whisper.

“You know, I was doing this a hell of a long time before you came along,” I said. “I can take care of myself.”

“No, Harry, you seriously can’t, and you keep proving that,” Perry said.

“Can you lovebirds hold onto this for later?” Dean said. “We don’t have all night.”

“Oh, I can do a lot better than this,” Perry said, which really should have been totally offensive except that I already know I’m not his type. Plus, Harmony was hotter than Perry, so I had nothing to get insulted about.

“I already have,” I said, because a guy still has to say something in a situation like that.

The problem was, it sounded more like I was saying I was doing better than me rather than better than Perry. Does that make any sense? Whatever.

“Beer girl is way out of your league,” Dean said with all kinds of smug bullshit pretending-to-knowishness.

“Way out of yours,” I said, turning back around. “Not a wooly inch on her.”

He got back in my space again. “I wouldn’t purposely saddle myself with your dumb ass unless there was no other way,” he hissed. “Just do this and get it done.”

“Like I’m taking advice from you. You jerks obviously aren’t doing much of a job, if there’re so many goddamn dead people running around.”

That was a dumb thing to say. I should just shut up, sometimes.

Dean put one hand closer to his gun and used the other to point a finger right into my face. “We can always just wait ‘til you get inside and burn the place down, and let you to find your own way out.”

Perry was suddenly there, all over Dean’s personal space, leaning in and using his Don’t Fuck With Me voice. “I could see you in a saddle,” he said. “Add in spurs and a whip, and we’re in business. And you’ll love what I use for a bit.”

To my credit, I didn’t laugh or anything. It wasn’t that hard, because even though he said something totally hilarious, when Perry gets that tone in his voice it kind of scares the shit out of me.

What, he’s really tough. Even Dean shut the hell up after that.

I knew Dean was so pissed off because of the kids. It’s not like I was holding it against him. We had to get things done before something else happened.

I walked off without saying anything else.

I was dressed dark but not cliché movie hey-I’m-about-to-break-in kind of dark. I kept to the sidewalk until I got within about a hundred yards of the place, then cut across and above so I could approach from the back at an angle. Having seen the camera during the day, I knew where the blind spots were. I had messed with cameras and locks and alarms and fucking booby traps for years, had done little else, and that was why I was the one getting things done right then.

I figured I knew why Dean didn’t like me. We’d kind of researched each other, or Sam had researched me enough to tell Dean things, so it made sense. Maybe he didn’t even know why he didn’t like me, or why he was really so offended about having to ask for my help. He and Sam stole because there weren’t many other ways to keep doing what they did. No one was jumping up to invest in hunters anytime soon, no one was going to underwrite them. Credit card fraud and hustling pool were essentially victimless crimes, when you weighed it against what they offered in return. No one was ever going to believe them.

Me, I had stolen for the hell of it, and as a living. I had other choices and I chose to steal to get by.

Hey, I can be introspective and shit, sometimes. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

If I did this, if I stole once for something bigger than myself, to keep anybody else from getting hurt, then I got a little redemption.

Not from Dean, though. I don’t give a shit what he thinks anyway.

No card reader in the back - just locks, like I’d seen earlier. No door knob. I waited until another car passed and put a headlight flash right into the camera’s lens, then I dodged under and got into the shadows on the other side of the door. I slipped gloves on. The locks didn’t take much, and there was no wired alarm back there, so I was in. I closed everything back up behind me and waited for my eyes to adjust.

There was a wide but short room, then another door. That one required a security card, and the one I had worked. I opened it slow after the standard click and beep sounds, waiting to see if any geeks were wandering around on the other side. It stayed quiet. There was a hallway that branched into a T right after that, just like the plans had shown. There was a little low lighting, basics only. The left of the T led to a longer hallway of closed doors, and the right gave me a choice of an elevator or stairs. I held still long enough to make sure I hadn’t missed something that would cause footsteps to be running toward me. There was a low hum of equipment nearby and nothing else to hear. No internal cameras in the hallway - not that were visible, I mean.

I took the stairs down.

There were a few signs and posters in the stairwell on work safety, the regular stuff about eyewear and not slipping and cracking your head open (although it was a brain bank so you’d think they’d know how to get one back into a skull so it looked like nothing happened). There was a color coded directory telling me I was headed to the basement, duh. At the bottom was a sealed door with a warning about proper safety gear being required, chemical danger, authorized personnel only. Biological hazard.

I swiped the card in the security reader and let out a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding when the telltale click told me I could get it. The dude with the missing badge not only had access, but he hadn’t discovered his badge missing yet and hadn’t had the chip’s code deleted from the system.

There were the same minimal lights -- mostly those little basic emergency lights close to the floor and then above all the tables and cabinets. They were those white fluorescent ones so it gave the whole area a dim, cold, spooky look. It was kind of cold down there anyway. It was a huge area with steel plated flooring, partitioned into smaller areas. There was a line of metal doors along one wall, each with its own card reader and a clipboard, probably for signing in and out. Probably freezers.

Sam had said they’d chill it before slicing it, so it wouldn’t be frozen yet. There had to be coolers as well as freezers.

Badge got me into the first door, and it was a freezer. Lots of drawers. Cold air spilled out around my feet in a fog.

Second could have been anything - the badge didn’t let me in.

I felt like I was playing Let’s Make a Deal. I had come dressed as a brain thief, but I didn’t get to choose which curtain I looked behind.

Third was a freezer. Still striking out.

Fourth door seemed to be the right place. Not frozen - it was maybe fridge-temp in there. Everything was on shelves in drawers or, had its own sealed bin, stacked against the sides.

I didn’t dare close the door behind me, so I propped it open an inch with my flashlight.

The numbers on the front of each bin or drawer began to look alike fast. I scanned a couple dozen before finding one that looked right.

I matched up the number three times to make sure I had the right brain, because grabbing the wrong one would be so…wrong. I picked it up and stepped across the lab back toward the entrance.

The bin slipped out of my hands.

C’mon - don’t pretend you didn’t know it would. This is me we’re talking about.

Big crash, and fuck me if the bin didn’t pop open and the brain didn’t bounce onto the floor. Like, it made this dead fish sound against the tiles and kind of rebounded like a dead fish would. And it slid under a fucking table.

Sometimes I love this job, even when it’s boring as shit, like Perry said it usually was. That moment, that whole night, wasn’t one of those times.

I’d gone through all that bullshit and had to have something to show for it. So I picked it up.

And there you have it: I was standing there holding a brain. A damp, cold, rubbery, dead brain, in my hands. Even with gloves, it sucked. I sort of felt like Harmony must feel when she sees a big spider on the ceiling and she does that kind of dance like it might already be on her. And yeah, I know it had probably been soaking in chemicals, but I’d never smelled that smell before and now I can’t ever forget it, and now I think brains smell like that. Whatever that is.

Finally I put it down on the nearest lab table so I could strip my jacket off . I was going to wrap it in that and get the hell out of there. That way I could pretend it was something else.

That’s when the flickering started. The lights, and then something to my right, out of the corner of my eye.

It was already cold down there, but it got a lot colder, cold enough to see my breath, and I knew what that meant. I watch TV. Like, Ghost Hunters and shit, especially after the last time we did anything involving the Crisco Brothers. Cold spots mean ghosts; pissed-off ghosts who don’t like it when you drop their former brains on the floor.

I don’t remember everything about what happened next, the way I don’t remember what happened when that crazy dead old-time singer bitch took a crack at me in a cemetery. I don’t really need to, I guess. Sam says I’m some kind of draw whether I’m confiscating brains or not, based on the evidence. Not that I care about that. Me and Perry don’t hunt ghosts, we follow adulterers and bail jumpers and I like that better. They’re predictable and human and work by all the same rules that me and Perry do. Human rules.

I need a cigarette. Perry bitches when I fuck up notes or a narration for that, but, you know, this is not his story. So hold on.

Jesus.

I need a drink, too. Don’t judge, I don’t deal with this shit well. No one should. Sam and Dean kind of do, since it’s their job, only I’m not sure they really do deal all that well because if you talk to either of them for more than five minutes, you can tell they’re not doing okay in a way that everybody would agree on.

I should erase all this stream of consciousness bullshit. This is not good storytelling. But I have a feeling most of you are not here for that anyway.

Look. I saw it before it really touched me, and I was too shocked to run like hell. It was my height and sort of shadowy and not solid, with an outline, like those poor fucked up fish you see in pet stores sometimes. Only they call them ‘stained glass tetras’ or whatever, that bullshit. It was flickering like the lights and shifted a step at a time. If you cut a few frames out of a film here and there, that’s what it looked like. There weren’t any recognizable features, I wouldn’t have been able to pick it out of a lineup, but how stupid does someone have to be to not know who or what it was?

I wasn’t sure what to do, except turn around and look at the brain again. It wasn’t an everyday thing to have dead guys wander up to me in basement labs. If I didn’t look at the ghost, then maybe it would go away, like when you were a kid and you were sure you were safe if you just pulled the covers up higher.

When he put his hand right into my chest and grabbed my heart, that was not something I was up for.

It was the kind of cold that people probably die of. Eventually. Mostly I just screamed a lot and tried to get away. Somewhere in all that panic, I remembered Dean saying we were going to burn the brain anyway, so I tried to move my arms until I could get the canister of lighter fluid he’d given me out of one pocket. When I finally got it out, I got it everywhere, predictably, but finally got most of it on the brain. I couldn’t get to my lighter, though, because my arms were too stiff by then. My throat got that feeling you get when you come out of a warm house and step out into sub-zero wind-chill, that first breath that tries to get all the way in and can’t because your lungs kind of tell you to go fuck yourself and go back inside.

That thing pressed up against my back and tried to get in.

I may have gotten a little mad. Had he done that to kids, too? Grabbed them like that? Frozen them inside so they couldn’t get away, and --

I flicked a Bic and set that whole table on fire.

I think I remember the brain burning with a tall, blue flame and blackening a lot quicker than it should have, since it was cold and damp, but who knows. The color was amazing.

The next thing I sort of remember is a loud, piercing noise and trying to get back to the hallway, making it most of the way to the entrance and then Dean’s voice telling me to hold on.

Then I was somewhere dark and close where the air was warm but wasn’t getting to me, not all the way, like it couldn’t touch me. I was sitting up but leaning against something that tried to be warm too, and I was wrapped up in a blanket that smelled like dry grass and motor oil. I kept shivering but it wasn’t right; there was a lot of random jerking around, and it was kind of like having a seizure probably feels, and I was way too cold inside, like I’d be shitting ice cubes for a while. My bones were cold; I could feel them actually burning. I couldn’t move, and it took a minute to figure out it was because I was leaning against a someone who was holding me in. Perry practically had me in his lap, with one hand on my head, pressing it into his shoulder.

“It’s all over,” he said, and he didn’t sound sure. He sounded kind of worried. I opened my eyes enough to tell that we were in the back seat of that big old car the brothers drive.

I shivered again and he wrapped his arms around me. I did kind of start to get warm, then, on that side.

“It’ll pass.”

He sounded sure that time. He said that the way Gandalf was all you shall not pass at the Balrog. You don’t argue with that kind of thing. So, fuck you, Balrog.

When I woke up again I was home, or on Perry’s couch, anyway, and he was offering me something hot to drink. I can’t remember what because I couldn’t taste anything yet, but it was good to have something that wasn’t cold. I was so fucking cold. I remember Perry saying something about Dean running in and carrying me out, alarms going off and smoke everywhere, Sam sitting on Perry until it was over.

I thought that was pretty funny. While I was awake, anyway. These guys like to sit on people.

When I woke again, the house was quiet. I got up and shivered my way out to the kitchen and discovered it was about 2am.

I checked on Perry, who looked asleep, then wandered into the kitchen and made instant cocoa. I kept spilling water all over and my teeth were still chattering.

It was weird to think that the brain I’d destroyed the night before could really hurt anyone. But, I’d been there. Me and Perry brought down all kinds of assholes who were solid and made a lot of trouble, but, this wasn’t our thing. I wasn’t ready to be ready for the kind of shit that dead people brought with them.

I sat there and watched TV and couldn’t stop being cold. I had a shirt and a sweatshirt and a blanket on, huddled on the couch, drinking seriously hot cocoa, and I was still messed up. Perry had even turned the heat up. He never did that.

That kind of cold hurt. It had never hurt me before, not after growing up in Indiana and living a lot of my adult life in NY. To have it hurt was weird and felt wrong, like it wasn’t really cold at all but something else, maybe an infection or creepy new disease that was only caught from dead serial killers. The inside of my nose still smelled like smoke and that weird tang I now associated with brains. The combo was burnt brains. I wanted to go give myself a swirly and hope that it would flush out my head.

Perry came along to stare at me after a while. I didn’t look at him. I was playing it cool. I was playing it fucking cold.

“The smoking hot brothers Winchester said there are a couple of things that cure the shit you seem to be dealing with,” he said.

“I’m not really interested in anything either of those assholes say.” I knew that was unfair. Sam was not an asshole. And Dean had at least tried to save me. Even if those two fuckers had brought the whole thing to us in the first place, well, at least they’d also tried to fix it. But I wasn’t feeling very forgiving right then.

“One of them’s a good fuck,” Perry said.

“I’m sure they’re both a good fuck,” I said, “But I don’t - ”

“The cure, you idiot,” Perry said.

I’m not good at hiding what I’m thinking. I’ve tried. I keep failing. “Um…”

Perry sighed. “Not me, Harry. Only, if we didn’t explain all of it to Harmony, she’ll wonder why you’re asking her to fuck a corpse. Which is what you feel like.”

I sighed. Loudly. “We’re not telling Harmony anything.”

“No, we’re not. And I’m not fucking you.”

“So what’s the other thing?”

“Take a goddamn hot shower and go get into bed,” Perry said.

I did that. Hot water has never been so awesome. It helped some, but my bones were still cold, which is not comfortable and might be kind of creepy.

I put on a t-shirt and a sweater and sweat pants, and socks, and everything resembling a blanket I could find on my bed or anywhere in the house, and then curled up under all of it. I remained kind of miserable but at least it was a slightly less frozen misery.

I jumped when the door banged open and Perry yelled at me. “No, idiot! My bed.”

How the fuck was I supposed to know that, and why would I do that anyway? Shit, I’m not even usually allowed near his room. You’d think he had sensitive national security info in there, the way he acts. It can’t just be that he’s hiding a lot of gay stuff in there, because he wouldn’t bother hiding it. He’s Perry.

It didn’t help that he was scowling at me as I crossed the hall into his room. I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but it sure as hell wasn’t what I got.

It was a nice bed, a California king, which I guess is redundant if you’re gay and live in California. I don’t know, that’s obvious to me.

Perry told me to get into bed.

I was waiting for a booby trap of some kind. More electrocution, or Alan Funt’s kid, or maybe Sam and Dean jumping out and laughing their asses off. That all died off as possibilities once I remembered that Perry is actually a decent guy and doesn’t have that kind of sense of humor.

Satin sheets, silky and soft and a little cool at first. Everything smelled like Perry, safe and warm and no one’s going to fuck with me now. It didn’t used to be that way, because I was afraid of Perry for a long time; anyone would be. So if I was able to crawl into his bed under any circumstance, then I was going to make it.

I burrowed in even as I was trying not to. What, it was nice. I may have done a couple of cat moves, you know, the ones where they push their faces against all the surfaces and wiggle around like they own the place. Maybe that’s dogs. I don’t know.

Perry got in beside me and I just about convulsed onto the floor, except that he grabbed me and pulled me in. Really pulled me in, right up against him, head to toe, and made me rethink what he meant to do. He rolled and cradled me against his chest, which is broad by the way, and I sort of melted into him like a girl. I couldn’t help it. He was warm, really warm, and Perry.

I wouldn’t call it snuggling. Or cuddling. Perry would kill me.

He stripped off the sweater I had on and left me a t-shirt. Then he took his t-shirt off and wrapped it around my head to keep it warm, since my hair was still damp.

I tucked my face into his neck and breathed, and he shivered but didn’t move otherwise.

“So, the first suggestion was Dean’s and the second was Sam’s?” I said.

“Other way around, actually,” Perry said.

Aw. That was hilarious. And I liked the sound of his voice from that perspective, kind of a rumble.

He had to have felt the smile, because he grabbed my head and pushed his fingers into my hair, though the t-shirt, gentle and everything.

“Get some sleep, Harry.”

So I did.

Best of my life, maybe.

Don’t tell him.

I love him, okay? I actually love the guy. I don’t want to fuck him or anything, I don’t swing that way, but if I was going to ever fuck a guy, that would be the guy. I’ve had a lot of friends, that were guys, and they were okay but not like this. I never wanted to fuck them either. I don’t know where I’m going with this. It doesn’t matter. Maybe most weren’t actually friends…I just knew them. I think I mean Perry is the best friend I’ve ever had. I may not be good at the friend thing or the love thing but I’m willing to be better at it for him, and Harmony.

= = =

I woke up warm. As in, normal. Or as normal as I get. I wasn’t shivering anymore.

I didn’t want to get up, but I knew if I wasn’t out of bed first, things were going to be ten times more awkward than the whole waking up together thing. So I kind of slithered out on my side without disturbing anything, and if Perry actually woke up, he didn’t let on.

Man, he’s something when he’s asleep. He doesn’t look like he could kick your ass, but he’s got all this possibility to him. I gotta shut up before I sound all gay or something. I could make a Chuck Norris list about Perry.

The Winchesters were just hanging around the living room again when I made it out there. I didn’t like it any better than I had the first time. I stood there in the kitchen and didn’t bother hiding. They had some guy in a trench coat with them that was staring at me really hard.

He had a big shadow. That’s not a euphemism for anything, either. I’m serious. There was something not right about this guy. He took up all the space. He wasn’t bad or anything, not like what was in the lab, but he wasn’t okay. He stood but stayed kind of close to Dean, weirdly close, and watched me like I was a new species of bug that he wanted to study. I just tried not to look at him.

“So, it’s dead, right?” I said.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “You got him. The fire didn’t spread beyond that table, either, even though the sprinklers never came on.”

Sam knows all kinds of shit and doesn’t act like he’s cool because of it, so I believed him. Always nice not to cause massive amounts of collateral damage. I braced my elbows on the counter and yawned. “How come?”

“They were frozen,” Sam said.

That made sense. I’d been frozen, too. I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t dropped the brain, the owner wouldn’t have come to flash freeze me. He would have already attacked the scientists.

The guy in the trench had become the elephant in the room, and I wasn’t going to ask because if they wanted me to know who he was, they would have said, and he kept staring at me. The longer he was there, the less I wanted to know who he was. I started to worry that maybe he wasn’t even there at all, and only I could see him. Once that idea took hold, I couldn’t ask who he was even if I’d wanted to because then I’d have had to explain. But if he was alive, then I was being rude, or everyone was being rude, I don’t know.

“Ah,” Perry said from behind me. “Now there are three pretty boys in my living room. I’ve seen this porn flick. It turns out very well.” He passed me and looked pointedly at the guy in the trench.

The guy was real, then. I hadn’t imagined him.

“This is Castiel,” Sam said. “Cas, this is Perry and Harry. They helped us out with a case.”

“What the hell kind of name is Castiel?” Perry said.

“Nothing to do with hell,” Castiel said. He said it like it was just fact, not like he was pissed or anything. It would have been great to just take him for the clueless stiff he seemed to be.

“Well, you’ve got a mouth that might even be hotter than Dean’s,” Perry said.

Dean and Castiel looked at each other like they were comparing. Sam looked at the ceiling.

“Cas isn’t from around here,” Dean said, like ‘around here’ meant more than it sounded like. “He’s, uh…helping us with something.”

“Are you and Dean getting it on, ‘Cas’?” Perry said.

Castiel looked even more confused, squinting his eyes at Perry. “I don’t follow.”

Dean got all annoyed again; I could tell by the return of the famous constipated look. Sam rubbed at his own forehead.

“Sweeping the chimney,” Perry said. “Biting pillows. Cracking each other’s nuts.”

Castiel tilted his head a little and looked like a dangerously confused puppy. I ducked behind the counter a little so that less of me was visible.

“Taking it high and inside,” Perry said.

Dean started to snicker and was trying to hide it.

“Hiding Excalibur? Laying some pipe? Heating the sheets? Passing the gravy?”

Castiel came closer to Perry like he was trying to see him better. “None of those phrases are familiar,” he said.

Holy shit. He really wasn’t kidding. He was confused.

Dean started laughing outright, but he leaned over so no one could see his face.

It was actually pretty funny to hear Dean laugh like that, because no way did that happen often. Even I knew that.

It occurred to me, then, that Perry was harassing Dean and Sam more than anything.

“Yeah they are, after hanging around Dean as long as you have,” Sam said. “He’s messing with you, Cas.”

“Yeah, Cas,” Perry said. “I’m messing with you.” He smirked.

Castiel kept squinting. “In that case, I believe you may be talking about what Dean refers to as ‘fucking’,” he said.

Dean covered his face with both hands, making some kind of choking noise. Sam kept rubbing his forehead. It sounded like he was mumbling something in another language.

“Holy shit, I think he‘s from the Midwest,” Perry said to no one in particular.

“I am not from the Midwest, and I am not fucking Dean,” Castiel said.

“I would if I was you,” Perry said. He always acts like he’s unphased, but I think he was. Phased, I mean.

Castiel squinted at him again.

I hunkered down until only my eyes were above the counter top. I would have started praying if I could have remembered anything from when I had to go to church as a kid. Something about the valley of the shadow of death. I gave up and stuck with don’t let the thing in the living room fucking kill us, amen.

Then he turned and looked at me again, so I dropped out of sight the rest of the way.

-|-

Not sorry to see the backs of those guys. More trouble every time I see them. Perry mentioned something later about Dean saying Cas had mentioned I should watch out since I could apparently see things as they ‘really were‘, but I pretended I didn’t hear it. Perry had this weird little smile while looking at me for a while, and I pretended that didn’t exist either.

The thing is, we solved the case. The end.

I totally don’t keep pretending I’m cold so I can snuggle with people. I don’t. That’s dirty pool.

= = =

To: hlockhart@sentron-inc.com
From: bonscott@hotmail.com
Subject: Asshole

You’re from Indiana, so all the stupid sheep jokes were kind of ironic

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To: bonscott@hotmail.com
From: hlockhart@sentron-inc.com
Subject: Re: Asshole

Yeah? Ironic = still bitching at me about it like it matters to you. Move on to ponies yet?

Thanks for getting me out, anyway.

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To: hlockhart@sentron-inc.com
From: bonscott@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: re: Asshole

Find ponies sexy, Harry?

So which cure did you guys go with? There are two - fucking, and being held by someone who loves you. You knew that, right?

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To: bonscott@hotmail.com
From: pvanshrike@sentron-inc.com
Subject: Vanish

Stop distracting the help. It barely functions as it is. Thanks to you, I get to keep it a while longer.

Don’t show up here again unless it’s for a booty call, gorgeous. But tell Sam the job offer is still open.

P.

 

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