15 February 2012 @ 11:21 am

Chapter 19

Byron and Rogers Insurance sat in a small building off Main that shared a parking lot with the local bank. It wasn't much to look at from the street; the building it occupied looking more like a house than a business. There was no sign to really mark the business from the street, only the agency name painted across the large front window with a pair of crisp looking white curtains hanging behind the dark lettering. It fit right into the small town atmosphere.

How does someone who works in a place like this snap as bad as this Kim woman has?” Dean wondered aloud, looking at the building from across the street.

Sam took a long look at the place as he stepped from the car, the door closing with its familiar squeak. “What makes anyone snap? I mean it could be anything.”

With our usual hunts it’s easy.” Dean shrugged as he walked to the front of the car. “A ghost or spirit kills out of anger or revenge.”

And that's easy?” Sam questioned, looking over the roof.

Dean stopped at the hood, Sam walking around to join him. “Yes. At least we can figure out their motive. Humans are a whole different game.”

Sam raised an eyebrow and paused beside the driver's headlight, slipping his hands into his jacket pockets. “Really?”

You don't know what humans are thinking,” Dean explained, giving his tie a tug to straighten it. “Are they killing because someone cut in front of them at the store or stepped on their lawn? Who knows.”

Sam shook his head as they headed across the street. “In her mind she probably thinks she's doing nothing wrong.”

Well, we both know three women who disagree with that,” Dean muttered.

They stepped up on the curb, Dean checking the badge in his pocket while Sam fastened his jacket.

Demons and ghosts I get, Sam, but people are crazy,” Dean said calmly reaching for the door.

Sam couldn't really argue with his brother's logic. They had been on enough cases where the human element had been crazier than the supernatural one that Dean's words were an immutable truth. It didn't even seem odd to him anymore to wind up considering humans and not just monsters on jobs.

The agency door opened with a gentle pull, the chill of the buildings air conditioning against their faces a welcome break from the heat outside. The air smelled faintly of some floral concoction but if it came from one of the handful of arrangements in the place or an air freshener somewhere was either man's guess. Looking around, the building really didn't feel too much like a business at all save for the desk, pair of waiting chairs and couple filing cabinets sitting in front of a hallway leading to the back.

Not bad for a small town,” Sam muttered softly as he looked around. “Looks like they do a lot of business.”

With half the town on a hit list, I wouldn't be surprised,” Dean replied under his breath.

There was the sound of a door opening just down the hall and a man's voice as the pair went quiet. They watched as two people stepped from a side door and began to walk their way but said nothing; the older man handing a couple files to Kim's familiar form. They remained silent as Kim and her employer neared; each one easily turning on the Fed act.

Kim still looked as frumpy as ever; the skirt and button down blouse making her look more uncomfortable than anything. The man beside her though seemed more at ease. He was much taller than Kim, his dark suit hanging comfortably from his medium frame. His light brown hair was neatly kept with the slightest hint of grey at his temples though he didn’t look that old. Looking between the pair, the contrast was amazing.

File these and then pull the Henderson account for me.” The man’s eyes moved from Kim to the boys, giving them a welcoming smile. “How can I help you gentlemen today?”

Agents Mercury and May, FBI,” Dean introduced, pulling his badge from his pocket as Sam flashed his. “We're investigating Marcus Ballard's death and had a couple questions.”

Of course.” The man gave them a nod and extended his hand to each. “I'm Lucas Rogers.”

Kim stared at the pair as they shook her boss' hand, Sam catching a less than happy look in her eyes as he glanced her way.

And this is Kimberly Martin-Lund,” Rogers introduced, motioning to the woman beside him.

Dean gave her his best Fed smile, nodding toward her at Roger's greeting. “We've actually met before.”

Agents.” Her tone was clipped, tapping her fingers against the file in her hands as she nodded toward the desk. “If you'll excuse me, I've got work to do.”

The older man cleared his throat as Kim wandered off and motioned down the hallway behind him. “We can talk in my office.”

Dean moved to follow Rogers down the hall after shooting Sam a quick glance. “You seem to have a pretty good business here, Mr. Rogers.”

Sam slowly fell in line behind Dean, making a show of looking at the photos that dotted the hallway. Each turn of his head brought the reception’s desk into his peripheral vision, watching for Kim to come into view. Both he and Dean knew their appearance here didn't sit well with her and, after everything that had happened, neither of them putting anything past her.

Out of the corner of his eye he caught Kim moving to the desk, her hand reaching for the top drawer. He caught the sound of the drawer sliding open as she slid a hand inside and pulled out three objects. Sam didn't need to get a good look at them to know they weren't office related.

The town may be small but the people are loyal customers. Been here for years thanks to them,” Lucas replied. He led the pair into the office he had exited earlier, stepping aside for them. “You really get to know your clients well in small towns.”

Dean entered first, taking a seat as Sam joined him. “I’m sure you do.”

Lucas shut the door behind them and crossed to his desk, taking a seat with a heavy sigh. “You said you were investigating Marcus Ballard’s death?”

Yes, sir,” Sam replied with a nod. “We’re trying to gather as much information as possible to help close the case.”

Lucas nodded solemnly as he sat back against the leather chair. “It was a shock to hear he had died. It was even worse to hear he was murdered. He was a good man.”

Did you know him well?” Dean questioned.

A town this size it’s hard not to. He was in my son’s graduating class,” Lucas replied.

Sam kept the tone of his voice respectful as he spoke to the older man. “Did he have a policy here?”

Yes. Life, home and auto. He upgraded the life part when he joined the Fire Department.” The older man thought for a moment, nodding to himself. “He switched to a higher premium policy so his family would be taken care of if something happened on the job.”

His wife was the listed beneficiary?” Dean questioned.

His family was listed as a whole but Sarah was the recipient,” Lucas answered, confusion flashing across his face. “You don’t think she had anything to do with his death, do you?”

Dean shook his head. “No but we have to check everything.”

Do you know if anyone else had a policy on him?” Sam sat forward slightly, keeping his eyes on Lucas. “Like a second life insurance policy under a different name?”

The older man shook his head. “No. If I had found one I would have reported it at any rate.” He shrugged and leaned against his desk for a moment, motioning around the room. “Like I said, this is a small town. Not exactly a hotbed of insurance fraud.”

Sam thought back to Urd’s list for a moment before he continued. “Have you come across any odd policies lately?”

Lucas shook his head. “No. And with as many accidents as the people in town have been having, I think I would have noticed if I had.”

We heard about all the deaths in town,” Dean began, motioning between himself and Sam. “We’ve never heard about a place with so much bad luck before.”

Lucas folded his hands together on his desk as he looked at the pair. “I tell ya, it’s almost habit now to open the local paper and look for another neighbor listed in the obituaries. First the accidents and now a murder; the way things are going, it’s almost like the town is cursed or something.”

Dean cleared his throat at the comment, glancing toward Sam briefly. “That’s an interesting way to look at it.”

We heard your business partner passed away recently,” Sam said carefully, ignoring his brother’s remark. “Our condolences.”

Lucas nodded with a heavy sigh, his eyes moving to a photo sitting on his desk. “Thanks. Phil was a great guy. He and I built this agency from the ground up.”

Both men were silent as Lucas turned the photo around for them to see Byron and Rogers smiling out from a fishing trip.

He had been on a bit of a health kick since his heart attack scare and started running.” The man laughed softly, rolling his eyes. “He was so damn worried about his heart killing him only to be killed by a truck in the end.”

Sam sat forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees. “I’m sorry.”

Lucas shrugged, his eyes moving from the picture to the brothers. “I guess when you’re fated to die, there’s no way around it.”

Dean pursed his lips at the older man’s wording as Sam straightened, casting his eyes to the floor. The man behind the desk had no idea how true those words were given the circumstances. The choice of words wasn’t lost on Dean though as he fought to keep the smartass comment running through his brain from being said aloud.

Did you know any of the others who died?” Sam questioned.

A handful,” Lucas replied evenly. “One or two of them had policies with us, a couple others I remember running into on the street from time to time.”

The answer did little to shed any light on what was going on and both Dean and Sam knew it. The only tie between Kim and victim number one was the office where they both worked. As for the others on the list, Dean’s “who knows what they’re thinking” argument was beginning to be the only explanation.

I think we’ve taken up enough of your time.” Sam offered the man a friendly smile as he and Dean rose from their chairs. “We should really let you get back to work.”

Lucas stood along with the two, moving to the front of his desk. “I hope I was able to give you something helpful.”

You did, Mr. Rogers.” Dean pulled out a business card from his inside pocket and handed it over. “If you can think of anything else or come across any odd policies, please give us a call.”

Of course,” Lucas answered, looking over the card in his hand.

Sam opened the office door and stepped into the hallway with Dean following, his gaze moving to the lobby where Kim had been. He couldn’t hear anything as they moved for the lobby; no opening of drawers or shuffling of papers one would expect to hear. There were just no sounds at all.

He paused as they stepped into the empty lobby, Kim nowhere to be seen.

Where’d Kim go?” Dean questioned as he came up beside Sam.

An uneasy feeling came over both men at the woman’s sudden disappearance, Sam’s mind going back to the objects Kim had removed from the desk.

***

Urd studied the playground from the top of the wooden castle, resting her chin on the wall with a heavy sigh.

The feeling they were never going to leave was starting to weight at her again coupled by the fact that all the work she and the boys had been doing was going nowhere fast. All the research and investigating and the tracking of leads that didn’t pan out was growing old rather quickly for her. Three months trapped as a private hit squad would kill anyone’s patients though.

You are a very depressing child, young lady.”

Urd looked to the base of the castle and Verdandi’s smug smile, rolling her eyes at the coffee sipping young woman. “Lick me, bitch.”

The sound of a shocked gasp made both sisters turn in time to see an offended looking mother quickly ushering her son from the playground, hands firmly clamped over his ears.

What a little delinquent you are. Scaring these innocent people away with your foul language. You should be ashamed.” Verdandi took a drink from her cup, smacking her lips with a grin. “Tasty.”

Urd pushed herself away from the wall with a huff and stalked over to the fireman’s pole, sliding down. “Like you give a shit.”

Ya know if you practice enough, when you grow up you can get a job where men will pay you to do that,” Verdandi muttered.

Urd walked over to her sister, flipping her off as she stepped on the sidewalk. “But then you’d be out of a job.”

You’re just a damn laugh riot.” Verdandi fell in step beside the child as she took another sip of her coffee, pushing her hair behind her ear. “No wonder that Dean guy shot you.”

The girl rolled her eyes and continued walking along the sidewalk toward one of the shaded benches. “He wasn’t too pleased with you, by the way.”

A third set of footsteps joined the pair as they walked, the elderly woman suddenly beside Verdandi raising an eyebrow. “Are we talking about her carjacking plot?”

Skuld didn’t even look recognizable in her current form. Her usually flawless skin was slack and wrinkled, the white hair that normally hung down her back pulled into a bun. Her form was shorter and rounder than that of Verdandi’s, her back bowed slightly as she scuttled along the sidewalk with her sisters. She wore a white button blouse and a light brown skirt that stopped halfway down her calves, the white sneakers she wore looking like something a nurse would wear on duty. All she was missing was a cane and an overly thick pair of glasses to go from English nanny to eccentric old woman.

Watch it, ya old bat,” Verdandi hissed. She shot a cold glare at Skuld’s elderly form, leveling her coffee cup at her. “We can still put you on an ice flow and send you out to sea.”

It’s summer and we’re in Ohio,” Skuld grinned, looking up at the slightly taller woman. “That makes your threat invalid.”

Urd stopped where she was, turning to look at her sisters beneath a shade tree. “Just once can we have a get together that doesn’t involve threats? I mean really.”

Skuld pursed her lips at the question while Verdandi swirled her coffee cup around in her hand absently.

To anyone who saw them, the trio looked like three generations out to enjoy the park. They were just an innocent looking little girl and her mother, coffee in hand, taking advantage of the weather with the child’s grandmother. It wasn’t until one walked close enough to hear them talk that the illusion was broken.

Not my fault Verdandi is an evil crazed super bitch,” Skuld muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

Urd threw her hands up with an exasperated sigh, continuing along the pavement. “You two are impossible.”

Verdandi took another long sip from her cup, her tone almost bored as she spoke. “So how’s the research going with your hunter friends?”

Slow.” Urd took a seat on a bench she knew was secluded, sighing heavily. “The boys are digging but not finding much.”

You call them “the boys” now?” Verdandi questioned, raising an eyebrow.

Skuld took a seat beside Urd, brushing her hands over her skirt. “I rather like being able to call them something other than “those hunters” myself.”

Urd slid back against the bench, her feet dangling above the ground. “Sam and Dean are doing their best to help us.”

And Sam is actually really nice,” Skuld informed with a smile. She practically beamed as she turned to the girl beside her. “He listens and he didn’t automatically pull a gun on me.”

Urd stared blankly at her sister for a moment before shaking her head. “Did you approach him looking like my nanny?”

Little girl,” Skuld replied, shaking her head. “Seemed safer.”

Verdandi snickered as she looked at the pair on the bench. “So you thought he’d shoot you?”

After how you greeted Dean, do you blame her?” Urd shot back.

Verdandi’s jaw set, glaring at Urd as the child rose from the bench.

I know you like pushing buttons. We all know that.” Urd began to change form as she stepped closer to her sister, the child becoming a young woman in seconds. She stood toe to toe with Verdandi and leveled a stern look at her younger sister. “But when it comes to these two, I suggest you pull it back. Trying to work with them and not kill you is getting hard.”

Skuld relaxed against the bench, hooking an arm over the back. The years on her face reversed, loose skin becoming taught as her body slimmed down and her back straightened. Her change from octogenarian nanny to twenty-something secretary was over in a heartbeat, her appearance mirroring her sisters as she looked around the park. “Where are they anyway?”

Skuld’s question managed to pull Verdandi’s attention from Urd and defuse the potential standoff brewing, the black haired woman looking around the park briefly.

They’re at Kim’s workplace looking into a couple things,” Urd answered.

Verdandi finished what was in her cup, throwing it in a nearby trashcan. “Her workplace? What could they possibly find there?”

She works at an insurance agency where Ballard probably had a policy.” Urd took a seat beside Skuld once more as Verdandi stood with her arms crossed over her chest. “Same place jogger guy worked.”

Jogger guy?” Verdandi thought for a moment before her face lit up in an almost proud smile. “Oh, him!”

Skuld watched Verdandi with a quizzically cocked eyebrow, shaking her head before turning her attention to Urd. “So they worked together?”

He was her boss,” Urd stated.

Their reaction to the news was mixed with Verdandi chuckling while Skuld openly cringed. Honestly Urd wasn’t surprised by the reactions of the two; after a couple thousand years there was no real shock with her sisters. Though she had expected more from Verdandi than just a chuckle.

So she had us kill her boss?” Skuld shrugged as she thought, drumming her fingers on the back of the bench. “Millions of people wish they could kill their boss and this one manages to pull it off.”

Technically, we killed him,” Urd muttered.

Verdandi waved off the comment. “Wonder why she killed him. Maybe he spurned her advances in some failed office romance.”

Urd and Skuld stared at the young woman blankly before exchanging an awkward glance.

What?” Verdandi shrugged as she glared at the pair. “Homely ass people need love too. I guess.”

Urd ran a hand over her face with a groan and hung her head at the comment.

How are we even related to you?” Skuld questioned flatly.

Verdandi opened her mouth to respond but little more than a squeak came out.

A wave of panic swept over each woman as the collars snapped tight around their throats and brought them to their knees. They struggled for breath and clawed at the iron rings in vain; each one on the verge of blacking out when they vanished. It wasn’t until the rings loosened and they could breathe that the panic began to ebb.

They knelt where they appeared, each one gasping for air before slowly getting to their feet.

Verdandi rubbed at her throat as she took in their surroundings. “Where the hell are we?”

The words bounced off the corrugated metal around them to create an odd sounding echo as each examined the new location. Buildings surrounded them on all sides, the rounded walls a little disorienting at first glance. Blue sky shown bright above them but where they stood between the buildings was cast in shadows. The air was heavy around them with the earthy smell of crushed grains and the dull sounds of machinery none of them could recognize.

This isn’t the usual basement setting for our little meetings,” Skuld muttered, kicking at the dusty ground.

Urd examined the ground at their feet and the crudely drawn summoning sigil in the dust. The uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach was far from ignorable as she went over the timing in her head. None of this was right.

Skuld knelt down and picked up what looked like a dried piece of wood, turning it over in her hand. “Is this a corncob?”

Urd straightened and looked up the walls around them. “We’re at the grain elevator.”

What the hell are we doing here?” Verdandi spat as she glared at her sisters.

Following my orders.”

The three turned to see Kim come around a corner holding their silver and wooden symbols in her hand as well as the book they had been searching for.

Skuld stepped close to Urd and put a hand on her arm, her eyes on the woman in front of them.

What now?” Urd asked cautiously.

Kim opened the book in her hands and pulled out a photo, looking at the image with a scowl. “I have another job for you.”

Why am I not surprised?” Verdandi muttered.

Urd let her attention waiver from Kim for a moment to give Verdandi a silencing look before once more settling back on the human. The uneasy feeling that twisted her stomach in knots grew worse with the way Kim eyed the photo. And she knew the timing was no simple coincidence; not with Sam and Dean literally a couple buildings away. She just hoped the target wasn’t who everything was pointing to.

I command you, as your master, to do my bidding.” Kim held up the photo for the trio, her voice calm. “I want these two out of the way. They’re snooping too much.”

The sisters said nothing as Kim handed the photograph over, keeping their faces unreadable.

The subjects of the photo were clear as they walked along Main Street. The suits were a departure from the normal jeans and tee shirts the women had seen them in but the faces were unmistakable. Sam and Dean had finally made Kim’s list.

FBI agents May and Mercury,” Kim informed.

The three women’s attention snapped back to Kim as she said the names.

Federal agents?” Verdandi questioned.

I order you to kill these two,” Kim said, matter of factly.

Verdandi growled and leveled an angry glare at the woman. “Ya know what, I’ve had just about enough of taking orders from you.”

Kim’s grip on the symbols in her hand tightened, her eyes narrowing. She focused on the black haired woman but said nothing at first. Instead she gave a quick nod and watched the woman go sailing into the grain silo behind her.

Verdandi hit the wall hard, the wind knocking out of her as she landed on the ground with a groan.

Verdandi!” The shock in Skuld’s voice as she moved to check on her sister was unmistakable. “Are you alright?”

The answer came in a confused nod as the older woman gasped for breath, her younger sister examining her.

Remember your place,” Kim scolded.

Verdandi and Skuld glanced up at the woman who took a step closer but it was Urd who reacted.

The goddess’s slender hand shot out and wrapped around the human’s throat, putting herself between her sisters and Kim. Her movements were lightning quick; standing a few feet away one second only to be directly in front of Kim the next. The cold look in the blonde’s eyes and the pressure at Kim’s throat did little to help the uneasy feeling that suddenly gripped Kim.

You would be wise to remember who you are dealing with, human.” Urd’s voice was just as cold as her eyes, pressing her fingers into Kim’s throat. “You seem to forget that we aren’t toys you can simply toss around.”

Kim drew a gasping breath, holding up the items in her hands. “I control you.”

Skuld helped Verdandi to her feet while Urd kept her hand on Kim’s throat. They watched their sister silently, keeping her between Kim and themselves. Neither one moved to pull Urd back or stop the confrontation, knowing full well how foolish the move was.

You may have control now but, mark my words, we will get out of these collars,” Urd said, her tone chillingly calm. Her eyes flashed dangerously, the icy blue giving way to a brief flash of swirling red. “And when we do, I will delight in personally ripping the flesh from your bones.”

Kim swallowed hard at the words, knowing it wasn’t simply a thinly veiled threat.

Urd’s eyes shifted back to blue, pushing Kim away and turning to her sisters. “Throw either of my sisters again and, collar be damned, I will kill you where you stand.”

Kim leaned back against one of the silo walls, rubbing at the now tender skin on her neck. She said nothing as her grip on the sister’s symbols tightened. But any thoughts of retaliation were silenced by the ache of her throat and the all too recent memory of that sudden flash of red in the goddess’ eyes.

Urd walked away from Kim without looking back with Skuld and Verdandi falling in line behind her. Rounding a corner gave the trio the chance to disappear, changing form and putting as much distance between themselves and Kim as they could. They stayed close, following over the rooftops and back to the park where they dropped out of sight.

The branches of the maple tree in the far corner of the park hid the three from sight; feathers giving way to skin and cloth against the backdrop of dark wood and leaves.

Verdandi plopped down on a heavy branch, shaking her head as she looked toward Urd nearby. “What the fuck do we do now?”

Let me think for a minute.” Urd brought up a hand to wave the younger woman off. “Just let me think.”

Skuld worried her bottom lip as she perched on an adjacent branch, pushing the loose strands of hair from her face. “Those weren’t the right names. We can use that to our advantage.”

For how long?” Verdandi glared at her sister, sitting forward on the branch beneath her. “The bitch is going to suspect something when no one dies.”

Skuld returned the glare with one of her own as she motioned back toward their previous meeting place. “The woman gave us the wrong names, Verdandi. And she’s not exactly firing on all cylinders.”

Urd examined the photo as the two women argued behind her.

You’re just now figuring this out? Where the hell have you been for the last few months?” Verdandi questioned.

Urd let out a heavy sigh and turned to her sisters. “I’ve gotta go talk to the boys.”

Both women looked her way, Urd tapping the photo’s corner against her palm.

Oh this is an interesting twist.” Verdandi sat back against the tree trunk and crossed her arms over her chest. “Telling the targets they’re targets.”

Skuld shrugged slightly as she looked between her older sisters. “Some warning is better than nothing. And they are helping us.”

Kim had to have been watching them for a while to get a clear photo like this,” Urd explained as she looked at the picture.

So she’s a stalker too? Even better,” Verdandi mumbled.

She’s carrying the book we’ve been looking for on her; sending us first after her boss then others and now Sam and Dean because they’re snooping.” Urd paused, glancing from woman to woman. “And Skuld is right. They’re helping us and some warning is better than nothing.”

Skuld cocked her head slightly as she watched Urd slip the photo in her pocket. “You think she’ll figure out they’re helping us?”

Urd shook her head and shrugged. “Who knows with her.”

So while you’re out warning those two about their impending doom, what should we do?” Verdandi stretched out, her legs dangling from either side of her branch. “Sit here and bombard people with acorns we scrounge up?”

An odd look crossed Urd’s face for a moment, eyes shifting between the women. She seemed a little unsure as she looked at the black haired woman with an almost regretful shake of her head. The heavy sigh only made the younger women wonder.

I…” Urd took a deep breath as the odd look returned to her face, choosing her words carefully. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but do what comes natural.”

Verdandi straightened at the words while Skuld stared at the blonde in shock. “What?”

Do what comes naturally,” Urd repeated calmly. She turned to Skuld and leveled an index finger at her. “Without killing anybody.”

Verdandi’s face lit with a smile and her eyes narrowed. The delight in them was eerie, making her grin creepy even for her sisters. “You have a plan?”

Maybe.” Urd bit at her cheek and rubbed a spot on the back of her neck. “Just think up an accident and make it good.”

Urd’s quick change left her sisters staring after tail feathers through the leaves and a look of confusion on Skuld’s face.

Think up an accident but don’t kill anyone. How the hell do we do that?” she mumbled.

I have a couple ideas,” Verdandi purred, leaning back against the tree.


Part 2

 
 
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