Title: Ripple Effect One - Two - Three - Four - Five 1/5 - Five 2/5 - Five 3/5 - Five 4/5 - Five 5/5 - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine 1/5 - Nine 2/5 - Nine 3/5 - Nine 4/5 - Nine 5/5 - Ten - Eleven - Twelve (What Comes Around)
Continued in: Incandesce
sequel to: With a Bang and The Aftershocks and Not a Whimper
Rating: SPN/DA Crossover - PG - Gen – AU in the year 2020
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & DA characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Outside POV. A talented hacker gets a surprise visit in the middle of the night. (and yeah, we're still in Seattle.)
He knew this day was going to be a bad one before he’d even had a chance to wake up.
Today you will encounter negative forces that only want to do you harm.
The stars never lied.
Avoid new relationships and all big financial decisions until the end of the month.
Rolling over in the tangle of blankets, he wondered what could have roused him from the scattered dreams of the twelve constellations shifting behind his eyes.
“Hiya,” someone said almost right in his ear. “Nice to finally meet you.”
“What the-” he was suddenly wide awake when he felt something tap him hard between the eyes. In the weak light he could see the shape of a gun that was pointed right in his face. “Shit. Holy shit.”
“Morin’,” The armed man gestured that he move. “Time to get up.”
“H-How’d you get in here?” he awkwardly rolled off the mattress and landed painfully on his knees. “Who the hell are you?”
“My friends call me Dean, but you can call me that too.”
He stared for a few seconds at the offered glasses before taking them and putting them on. The room immediately came into dizzying focus. The guy wasn’t anyone he knew but he didn’t know a whole lot of people. Not in real life anyway. “Look, I don’t keep any cash here. I don’t have anything besides my-”
He stilled as the man paused to study the enormous glowing aquarium that made up the walls of his bedroom. But before he could wonder if the man named Dean was going to harm his pets, he was pulled from his crouch and pushed past the fluttering shadows of the tanks. The faint scent of sizzling electronics cut through his daze and made his racing heart pound faster. His homemade security system had not only been bypassed but was now hanging out of the wall and sparking in the dark.
“Weird.” Dean said. “Didn’t figure you for the type.”
“Saw another one of these in the bathroom,” Dean flicked at a calendar covered in the Chinese zodiac. “You believe in this stuff?”
“Sort of,” he said without thinking. “Sometimes it’s fun to think there’s a plan.”
Dean snorted and shook his head.
There was another very tall man in the only other room of the basement apartment. The cramped windowless space held a few millions dollars worth of computers and a few million more in equipment. And the tall man was systematically trashing it all with a rubber handled hammer.
“You make that look fun, Sammy.”
Something about the names clicked in his head even while he numbly watched another expensive monitor flicker and go black. Sammy. Dean. Dean and Sam. Sam and Dean.
“Jesus Christ… you guys are the Winchesters.”
“Could you say that again and a little louder?” Dean grinned. “My brother never believes me when I tell 'im we’re famous.”
“You’re real?" For a moment he forgot he shouldn't be delighted to discover a couple of deadly hunters in his living room. “Most of the hackers in this town think you two are cyber-constructs! Or made-up idents to throw the feds... hey, who does your patch work? It's really good stuff. Oh man, I bet it's Eyes Only. I heard a rumor that the Winchesters have met him face to face. I heard that you guys even know who he really is."
“Like ghosts in the machine,” Dean Winchester laughed a little behind him. “Maybe I really am just a hi-def hologram that really needs a drink.”
The other Winchester had momentarily stopped in his work.
"Something wrong?" Dean asked.
“Not sure,” Sam was looking at a monitor that was busy listing calculations. “What is this?”
“That’s just … it’s just a bunch of star positions,” he quickly said. “It’s nothing.”
He flinched when the hammer came down again.
Long ago (and on a lark) he’d installed a little program on his network that calculated and analyzed a consortium of various and hokey online astrologists. It had been nothing but a funny joke about how the magic knew when the media satellites were in the best trajectory to download porn. The correct stars would line up to show him when it was the most advantageous to go score some cheap sushi and avoid intestinal parasites. But after the ludicrous horoscopes had accurately forecast a car wreck, and then the death of a beloved bulldog named Wreck, he decided to pay closer attention to what the moons and planets had to say on a daily basis.
“Come on,” Dean pushed him again. “Move.”
Walking out of his apartment, he wished he had paid more attention to the dire warnings the stars had given him for today‘s date. He looked back in regret at what was left of his equipment. Every single piece of it had been reduced to smoldering junk on the floor.
“You about done, Sam?” Dean asked. “The smell down here is killin’ me.”
“Yeah, I’m done.”
The concrete stairs were cold under his bare feet, but he counted himself fortunate that he’d had fallen to sleep with a pair of jeans on.
When they got to the street level and within sight of the building entrance he was distracted by the sight of pepto-pink papers nailed to the gate. Without thinking, he shrugged his arm out of Dean’s grip to see what had been placed on his private property. Or at least he tried anyway. Working days and nights as a first class hacker in Seattle’s underground hadn’t provided him with a body that was much use in times like these. But Dean let him go long enough to examine the eviction notice stamped in triplicate by the sector cops. With a frown he saw the notice had a worrisome mention of a wrecking ball crew coming along to make sure there’d be nothing left to illegally squat in when the day was done.
Car wreck. Wreck the Dog. Wrecking ball. There had to be some cosmic connection in there somewhere.
“I-I’ve been living here for years,” he stuttered in disbelief. “They’ve never bothered me once. They’ve never even knew I existed.”
“Guess you pissed off all the right people this time,” Sam said. “Keep walking.”
“Look, there’s a bar,” Dean said. “And we’re in luck, it’s open.”
It was darker in the club than it was on the street.
“I just want you guys to know that whatever I did, I’m sorry for doing it,” he stumbled forward when his arm was twisted neatly behind his back. “I’ve never sold your info to anyone…I don’t think… and-and to be fair, whatever buyer I may have referred you to, sales between an outside third party are no longer my responsibility and-”
“Down in the back is good,” Sam looked around the deserted bar that had dance music pounding for no one at all. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Bring me beer,” Dean called out after him. “A pitcher!”
“What did I do? I’ll fix it!” he thought of the basement den that had housed his network. It hadn’t taken the Winchesters very long to destroy everything that had been worth anything. Which had comprised his entire life. He felt his eyes burn, his shoulders hunching over as he began to shake. “Whatever it is, I can fix it, and if I can’t I'll find someone who can.”
“You don’t shower much do ya?” Dean asked. “All that fancy machinery down there and you couldn’t spring for a washing machine.”
Slumped down in the booth, he knew soon he was going to be worse than homeless if he didn‘t figure out what the hell these hunters wanted.
Sam reappeared with the beer.
He watched them drink it without offering him any. He noted dully they were watching the far door with signs of impatience. They were waiting for someone. Nervously checking his watch, he wondered just how long they could feasibly keep him here. The dark club was practically empty in the early morning and a great a place as any to end his life. The location also had the added bonus that any witnesses to the act would be long gone before the cops showed up to bag another run-of-the-mill unidentified corpse.
He decided to try to save his own life the best way he knew how.
“I get it you know,” he forced his mouth into the shape of a smile. “I get all of this now.”
Dean Winchester smiled back in a way that somehow made him feel even worse.
“You want something off the city nets,” he eased his chair back to put another few inches between himself and the gun. “I got a few guys on the inside working the grid and I could get you dirt on any hunter. I can get you enough info on a guy so you can kill him without ever laying eyes on him.”
“No thanks,” Dean placed the pearl handled pistol on the table between them. “It’s sure nice of you to offer though.”
“B-But I…” he licked at his dry lips, bothered by the way Sam wasn’t joining in on the discussion. “I don’t have anything but respect for you guys, I would never sell or buy anything that would screw up a hunter. Look, just tell me what this is about and… I can settle this so everybody’s happy.”
“You make a nice living on that, huh?” Dean asked. “Buying and selling other people‘s business.”
He blinked uneasily, unsure if the comment was a statement or an accusation.
“About ten years ago,” Sam finally said. “You sold some information about a government facility called Manticore.”
“Yup,” Dean said. “You held a real big online auction.”
Ten years was a lot of auctions ago but he actually did remember the sale. Mostly because he had never made that kind of cash so fast and so easily ever since. “It was just some obscure military stuff,“ he said. “Serial numbers and that kind of crap-”
“It was the best intel to surface after the Pulse,“ Sam said. “And it was the only thing that might’ve told us anything about their troop deployment.”
“Manticore didn’t have troops,” he automatically corrected him. “That facility manufactured equipment only.”
Sitting behind computer terminals for the majority of his life had lent a certain loss to the nuisances of most human emotion, but he still had a full understanding of rage. And Sam Winchester was experiencing that emotion in abundance.
“Because of you we lost him for another decade,” Sam said. “You sold him.”
“Him?” His panic sharpened with a cold sweat. “I-I was doing people a favor putting that stuff out for public consumption. I was making all that underground shit available for whoever-”
“For any douche bag that could pay for it,” Dean said. “And guess what? You sold it to the wrong douche bag.”
For all his lack of sociability, he abruptly understood from their stance that the conversation was now over.
He thought of his demolished apartment and his livelihood smashed and smoking on the floor. He thought about how these men were responsible for having his building marked by the sector cops too, and probably every other contact he’d had in this city would now mysteriously have vanished or no longer call him a friend. And not just in Seattle either. He knew if he looked he’d find every circle and niche he’d carved for himself in the entire universe would no longer be there for his use.
“You’re not here to kill me,” he realized. “You came here to destroy me.”
“Karma’s a bitch,” Dean agreed. “But you knew that already.”
The gun was holstered and the men stood to leave him with what was left of the beer.
“Hold on,” he stopped them. “Tell me one thing before you go.“
Sam and Dean exchanged a look but they waited.
“How the hell did you ever find me?”
“We didn’t,” Dean was smiling at someone across the room. “Alec did.”
There was a young man standing uncertainly in the half light by the bar. Watching the three men greet each other, he experienced an unexpected surge of jealousy. The understanding of the connection he did not have with another living soul felt suddenly as obvious as his ghostly white skin and thick myopic glasses. The kid paused to glance back at him with a strange look that a guy like him didn't often see. It was a wary look from someone well aware of how dangerous a person could be armed with the simple and devastating weapons of knowledge.
It wasn't until after they'd left that he noticed a grungy twenty-dollar bill crumpled on the table. Enough to pay for the beer and a nice hefty tip besides.
Leaving the gun would have been a greater kindness.
Sipping slowly from the nearest cup, he sat back and tried to memorize the look that had been on young man's face. If he'd had the chance he would have told the kid not to worry about him ever affecting another man's fate again. His luck had just turned and looked like it was beginning a downward spiral.
And he was pretty sure tomorrow’s horoscope would probably agree.