TITLE: BLACK SHEEP
COUNTRY: ENGLAND (LONDON)
TYPE: STORY WITH ARTWORK
RATING: T FOR A LITTLE BIT OF GUESOMENESS AND GORE AND FOR THE ODD NAUGHTY WORD. NO SLASH.
CHARACTERS: DEAN WINCHESTER/SAM WINCHESTER/OMC/OFC
SPOILERS:Tag to 6.04, 'Weekend at Bobby's', the story begins where that episode ended. There are also teeny-weeny mentions of goings on in 2.22, 'All Hell Breaks Loose', blink and you'll miss them. Otherwise, the story bears no particular resemblance to canon - including the fact that my Sam is NOT soulless!
SUMMARY: The Winchester boys venture to London, England where they come up against one of the ancient city's most infamous sons.
A/N 1: And I've reverted to Brit-speak to keep this in character except for the boys' dialogue and narrative directly connected with the boys. If there's any words that baffle you (we're a funny lot in London) please just ask, I don't bite!
AN 2: The 'Bridge House' pub that features in this story is an actual pub situated at the foot of Vauxhall Bridge close to the mysteriously-named Elephant and Castle district of London. It was owned and run by my grandfather's family until the sixties. The building is still there, and having remained as a traditional London 'boozer' for many years, it is now enjoying a new life as a chinese restaurant called 'The Bridge to China. I decided to use the old Bridge House as a nod to my roots and because of it's name's similarity to another establishment familiar and beloved to the Winchester brothers.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own them and for that they should be very grateful!
The haunting cry of an eagle owl split the darkening Caledonian sky as a tiny car passed beneath it.
Leaving the majesty of Castle Eilean Donan behind it, the little hatchback bravely negotiated unlit winding roads and unpredictable wildlife as it patiently made it's long journey south towards Edinburgh Airport.
Inside the little car, the two distinctly un-little occupants sat, uncomfortably wedged into the tiny cabin; Sam with his knees pointing somewhere around the vicinity of his armpits and Dean straddling the steering wheel, trying hard not to kneecap himself on the gearstick.
The atmosphere was stilted. Both men were cramped and uncomfortable, irritable after a sour confrontation with that obnoxious douchebag Crowley, and tired.
They were also steadfastly attempting to ignore the creeping dread of the flight home that was rolling off the older brother in waves.
Sam knew how difficult it had been for Dean to make this trip. He also knew that Dean had made this trip for Bobby and he had done it willingly. Aside from Sam, Bobby was the only person on the planet that could compel the older Winchester to haul his reluctant ass onto a plane, and Sam knew that, although Dean would never begrudge Bobby a favour, however distasteful, he and his palpitations would be counting the seconds until the plane touched down on American soil.
He was jolted out of his musings by the tinny tinkle of his cellphone and fumbled clumsily in his pocket for it, his fingertips grazing Dean's uncomfortably close butt and earning him a withering glare.
Glancing at the call display, Sam smiled and hit the speaker key.
"Hey, Bobby," he smiled; "twice in one night? You're spoiling us!"
"Alrighty boys," the reply; "how ya doin'?"
Dean jumped into the conversation; "yeah, I haven't chickened out of the flight, if that's what you're askin'."
There was a quiet chuckle on the phone.
"Actually," Bobby continued, "I jus' been talkin' to a hunter contact of mine over on your side of the pond, an' he could use some help. Feel like takin' on a job?"
The brothers glanced at each other.
"What ya got Bobby?" They asked in unison.
"Job's in London; I figured you'd bring him some experience he could use."
There was a brief pause in conversation as Dean swerved abruptly to avoid a pheasant.
"What's the job?" Sam asked as the shocked bird tumbled and fluttered wildly in their slipstream, "how long will …"
Seeing a golden opportunity to put off the flight, Dean jumped in; "tell him we're on our way."
"Thanks boys," Bobby responded; "he'll meet you at Waterloo Station; the guy's called Cyril Toebone and I reckon he'll really appreciate the help,"
"We're on it, Bobby." Dean snatched the phone out of Sam's hand and disconnected before his brother had a chance to overrule him. He tossed the phone onto the dash.
Sam stared at him through the darkness; "so we're going to London now?"
"Yup," Dean replied economically.
"Dude, it's over five hundred miles, that's gonna take all night!"
Dean shrugged, "I've driven further than that for a taco before."
"Not in this crummy little bucket," Sam replied sourly, "I'm all folded up like a damn praying mantis here; much longer like this and I'll never walk again."
"We'll stop off when we find someplace that's got more than heather and hairy orange cows to offer," Dean grunted.
Sam sighed; "you've gotta fly home sometime you know dude, you can't keep puttin' it off forever."
Dean rolled his eyes and floored the clutch, cringing as the little hatchback whined painfully, kangarooing nauseously into fifth gear.
"How long since you last drove stick?" Sam asked, trying to hide his grin.
"How long since you last shut your piehole for more than ten minutes?" Dean responded ingraciously.
The legend goes that a few drops of old Father Thames runs through the veins of every Londoner; and never was a that more true than in the case of Cyril Toebone.
Cyril liked to tell folk he came from a long standing south London family; 'Sarf London bloodstock' was how he described himself. "There were probably a few celtic Toebones runnin' around in old Londinium getting right on those bleedin' Romans' tits," he often liked to add with a chuckle.
Still visibly strong and fit even through his middle age, Cyril bore the unmistakeable hallmark of an ex-heavyweight boxer; the thick, corded neck and barrel chest were a dead giveaway, the slightly flattened broken nose and the scar which all but obliterated his left eyebrow confirmed it.
Which was odd really, because the man had never stepped into a ring in his life; any signs of damage or wear and tear on his stocky frame had found their way there via a very different source.
Currently sitting in his black cab parked on the rank beside Waterloo Station, Cyril stared out through the fine drizzle which softened the city skyline around him, tapping his finger to the melodic strains of Cliff Richard and the Shadows.
Six fares this morning, had seen him busy but not exceptionally so. He might have had seven fares if the bleedin' council hadn't seen fit to dig up a lump of the South Circular and got him stuck in traffic for nearly an hour. Damn the pencil pushers and their poxy Highways Department budgets; not like they ever spend it on anything soddin' useful.
He wasn't sure whether to call it a day; he was supposed to be meeting these two blokes that his mate Bobby had talked about; experts in their field apparently.
Well, they hadn't sounded much like experts in anything when they had called him at 5.30 this morning, stood in the pissin' rain on the hard shoulder of the motorway with an empty tank after three complete and disorientated circumnavigations of Birmingham.
Mind you, Cyril reflected he couldn't really hold that against them. He had no idea who had dreamed up that unfathomable knot of motorways that cluttered up the heart of England. All he knew was that the majority of them had been designed and built in the sixties - the bloke could have been smokin' anything.
They'd be with him a couple of hours later than they thought. That deep-voiced one, the older one by the sounds of it, had sounded well pissed-off; and definitely not impressed by the Highways Department recovery service. What was a 'douche-bag' anyway? Cyril made a mental note to get on his computer later and go on that goggle thing to look it up.
Bugger it; old Singer always seemed to know what he was talking about, and had never let Cyril down before. Cyril had a lot of respect for Bobby, the two men had collaborated via phone, post and latterly (reluctantly too in Cyril's case) by the wonders of technology on several jobs, most notably that shifter back in 1994 who had run Cyril ragged all the way from Watford down to the south coast, and then shifted into a rat, hopped onto a liner and ended up in New York a week later, the saucy sod.
Cyril hoped Bobby was right about this pair.
It was well past lunchtime when the poor little overworked hatchback spluttered to a crooked, illegally-parked halt beside the great Victorian edifice of Waterloo station and it's two exhausted, starving, traumatised and practically crippled occupants stumbled out into the grey, damp London landscape.
"I am never - I mean, NEVER - doin' that again," snarled Dean, trying to rub some life back into his numb knees at the same time as trying to stamp some feeling back into his feet; "I thought the freakin' Romans were supposed to build roads in straight lines?"
"Sam bent into a deep stretch, and was somewhat disturbed when the crackling and popping of his back drowned out the distant rumble of diesel engines.
"Don' think the Romans built the freeways, dude," Sam sighed, still trying to work the kinks out of his neck.
Dean shivered and sullenly wrapped his arms around himself as the wind whipping through the tunnel-like cab rank swirled up and under his jacket. He glanced out at threatening gunmetal-grey clouds whirling around his head.
"Jeez Sam, doesn't the sun ever shine in this freakin' country?"
Sam threaded cold fingers through hair whipped into a frenzy by the wind and shrugged miserably.
"You friends of Bobby Singer?"
The brothers spun round to see the stocky figure of Cyril Toebone standing before them, the wispy remnants of his silver hair dancing along with Sam's in the damp breeze.
"Depends, are you?" asked Dean curtly.
Cyril reached up and yanked up his jacket sleeve revealing a familiar tattoo on his forearm.
The brothers both relaxed. "Hey Cyril," they nodded amiably; "yeah, we're friends of Bobby." Sam smiled, "I'm Sam, this is my brother, Dean," he gestured behind him to where Dean stood, stooped against the misty drizzle, using him as a windbreak.
Cyril extended a hand; "pleased to meet ya; c'mon let's get some grub, you must be bleedin' starvin' after that trip."
The Winchesters didn't need asking twice. Abandoning their little hatchback without a backward glance, they followed Cyril to his cab.
"This is my girl," he announced proudly to his two bemused companions, patting the curves of her gleaming bonnet; "me an' Myrtle here, we've been together over thirty years," he announced proudly; "we got some secrets ain't we, darlin'." He leaned towards the Winchesters, "only, don't tell the old trouble an' strife, eh?" He roared with laughter at his own joke and slapped the brothers aching backs, eliciting a pained splutter as Dean almost swallowed his tongue under the sudden assault.
Clambering into the cab, the Winchesters sunk back into her deep padded seats, blissfully unaware of the hunter's arsenal secreted beneath it, as Cyril pulled away. They watched the depressing grey hulk of Waterloo recede into the misty distance.
"So, got yerselves a bit lost did ya?" Cyril grinned into the rear-view mirror to his two passengers.
Sam could see the petulant frustration still simmering behind Deans dangerously narrowed eyes and grabbed his brother's right hand before the middle finger made an appearance. He answered on behalf of both of them.
"Yes sir, we've never been to England before."
"Well you wouldn't be the first," Cyril responded sympathetically, "there's a reason why they call that bit of road 'Spaghetti Junction'," he smiled; "well, that's the polite name anyway!"
The Winchesters watched London's bustling streets sweep by as Myrtle took a left past the venerable Old Vic theatre, it's high-brow posters advertising a play neither brother had ever heard of, and threaded her way effortlessly through the meandering traffic down past the Old Vic's modern relation, the Young Vic, showing some equally obscure production.
They were so lost in their fascination of their unfamiliar surroundings, it was a few moments before they realised that Myrtle had rolled to a halt in a narrow cobbled alley.
Climbing out of the car they looked up at the building before them. It was a tall brick building, it's curved frontage looking out on a windswept corner of two roads; one wide, festooned with lamp-posts and traffic lights and humming with traffic, the other little more than a lane, barely wide enough to accommodate the cab they had just emerged from.
The traditional-looking bottle-green and gold sign above their heads proclaimed that they were standing beside a pub called 'The Bridge House'.
"Here it is lads; my home an' your home for as long as you need."
Cyril led them into a dimly lit bar, populated only by two rough looking men, each sitting alone, hugging a pint jug and perusing a pile of local newspapers.
Glancing firstly at their two co-patrons who steadfastly ignored them and then at each other, the same thought came to both brothers at the same time.
This was a hunters' rest.
Their attention was immediately captured by the tall, blonde woman who stood leaning casually on the bar, grappling with the crossword in a well-thumbed copy of the South London Press.
The wrong side of fifty they guessed, she was slim and wiry, bearing the haggard, care-worn look beholden of a hunter's loved-one. But beneath the deeply lined face, and the streaks of grey at her temples, both Winchesters could see the unmistakeable stamp of the beauty she once had been.
She looked up, and twenty years dropped off her face when she saw Cyril; a further ten years melted away when she turned to look at the two tall and mysterious strangers in front of her.
Her smile was electric.
Cyril stepped behind the bar and grinned proudly, wrapping an arm around the woman's waist, pulling her into a deep and genuinely loving kiss; "lads, this is my beautiful Missus, Josie; the love of my life," he leaned toward the boys; "only don't tell Myrtle!"
Josie rolled her eyes, "oh honestly, him an' that bleedin' car;" she winked at the shyly smiling strangers, and squirmed free of her devoted husband's grip, stepping round the bar to welcome her visitors.
"Well now, what a lucky lady I am to have to have two gorgeous, handsome cowboys stayin' with me for a few days;" she nodded towards Cyril with a wicked grin, "so much nicer than lookin' at his ugly boat race!"
Dean stepped forward and, despite his overwhelming fatigue, switched on his ladykiller grin; "good to meet you ma'am," he announced, extending a hand;" I'm Dean, this is my brother Sam, thank you for having us."
Her face lit up in delight; "oh, Cyril, they're so polite!"
She cupped Dean's face between long slender fingers adorned with chipped burgundy nail polish; "oh darlin' you're very welcome," she chucked him playfully under the chin as if she were addressing a five-year old, and turned to Sam, reaching up to playfully pinch his cheek; "you both are, now you both gotta have a rest, put your feet up;" the bemused hunters felt slim arms slipping around their waists and firmly guiding them to a booth in the corner.
"Here we are," she smiled up at the two tall figures either side of her and neither brother noticed the naughty twinkle in her eye as her hands slipped south, each taking the opportunity to tweak the denim clad butt beneath it.
"WOAH!" The Winchesters jerked, their combined voices rising to an embarrasingly high pitch.
"I'm sorry, but if you're gonna come in here wavin' those delicious little arses at me, you can't blame an old bird for tryin'!"
Dean grinned as he slipped into the booth opposite Sam; "I can see I'm gonna have to keep my eye on you," he growled menacingly at her, a lop-sided smirk playing across his face.
She patted his shoulder and turned to her husband who was watching the exchange with amused resignation; "Cyril; talkin' of arses, shift yours and get these poor boys something to drink;" she turned back to the boys, "look at 'em, bless their 'arts, they're gaspin' for a cuppa."
Dean smiled up at her, having absolutely no idea what a 'cuppa' was and winked; "good idea, it's hard work bein' so irresistable all the time."
Sam grinned at Dean, shaking his head; it was hard to imagine that this was the same person who wanted to murder the world after their nighmare journey this morning. He guessed it must be nice to be able to be transported into joy by nothing more ambitious than a bit of female attention and the promise of something edible.
"thank you ma'am," he turned and assaulted Josie with his softest puppy-dog eyes, deluxe version, complete with dimples; yeah, suck it up Dean, two can play at that game!
"But please don't go to too much trouble for us," he added.
Josie loomed over them, hands on her slim hips; "now then, it's no trouble at all and we'll have no more of that ma'am stuff;" she scolded playfully, ruffling Sam's already unruly hair; "I'm Josie, you got it?"
The brothers nodded up at her, "Josie, got it," they confirmed in stereo.
The words had barely left their lips as Cyril approached and placed two steaming mugs on the table.
"'Ere y'are," he smiled; "good strong cup of tea, jus' what a man needs after a long journey eh?"
Although neither brother was a regular tea drinker, on this occasion that didn't matter. They picked up the steaming mugs and took a cautious sip of the scalding liquid, both melting back into the padded leather seats and letting out a sigh of bliss at the comforting warmth.
"So," Cyril began, "wanna talk business?"
"CYRIL MONTGOMERY TOEBONE!"
Three pairs of eyes swivelled in alarm toward Josie's raised voice.
"Don't you dare," she snapped, her dark brown eyes flashing dangerously in her quaking husband's direction; "these poor boys are cold, they're hungry and they're tired," she pointed to the brothers who both tried to shrink into the shadows of the booth,whilst at the same time both reluctantly agreeing she was absolutely correct on all three counts; "and they are not lifting a finger until they've freshened up, had a rest and got some good hot food down their necks."
Cyril had the good grace to hang his head, and glanced up at his bemused visitors with a grin; "what? I ain't arguing' with it," he chuckled, "I ain't that brave!"
Invigorated and refreshed after a very satisfactory, steamy shower in their airy, welcoming room, and sated by a monolithic pile of doorstep sandwiches that could have fed a siege, the brothers sat at a table in the bar, in a nicely tucked-away corner booth, and savoured the drinks Cyril had brought them. "Get yer laughing gear roun' that," he had insisted handing them the pint glasses; "this is a real man's ale this is, not that bleedin' gassy gnats piss you drink over the pond."
It had taken a good few chugs before either Winchester could swallow the smooth, dark liquid without grimacing at the strong, bitter tang, but now, notwithstanding the fact that drinking beer at room temperature was an entirely new experience for them, it was going down a treat, thank you very much.
They relaxed, soothed by the cosy warmth of the bar and each other's company, and watched the comings and goings of the Bridge House's usual patrons.
A lunchtime rush of local people came and went. Executives in suits stood alongside men in overalls and hi-vis vests; groups of chattering secretaries compared stories of their boyfriends and nursed glasses of wine beside retired couples, lunching housewives and a cross section of normal, happy, safe people.
But always were the 'other' patrons.
Those solitary men; rough, broken; old before their days. Sitting at their regular tables, they perused their journals and newspapers with the weight of the 'other' world on their slumped shoulders.
Sam was shocked when found himself feeling sorry for those tired, world-weary men.
Josie's hospitality had briefly allowed him to forget he was one of them.
Their enthusiastic hostess was busy in the kitchen, once again cooking for them.
Both brothers had tried to assure her that they were fine; that they weren't hungry any more; that she shouldn't go to too much trouble on their account; that she should take it easy, after all, she did have other customers to serve … and then she mentioned "London's finest Traditional Pie and Mash".
From that moment Dean was helpless; completely in her power.
"She's makin' pie dude," he muttered gleefully, kicking Sam under the table just in case he hadn't heard the first seventeen times Dean had felt the need to point it out.
"Yeah, I know," replied Sam; his dwindling attention suddenly stolen by the heavily patterned wallpaper beside him. Peering closely at it, he was both amused and impressed to find tiny devil's traps woven into the ornate flocking.
If he had been in any doubt that this was a hunter's retreat, he wasn't any longer.
Sam jerked back to face Dean, and couldn't help but smile when he saw Dean's face alight with a joy that Sam saw all too rarely across his brother's features. It fitted him so well.
"Pie, dude, MEAT pie!" Dean was practically salivating at the thought.
"You really do need to get your pie fixation addressed by a professional," Sam suggested with a grin.
They both looked up as Josie walked toward them juggling a handful of cutlery and condiments; "on it's way boys, she smiled, "ruffling both their heads; "I've made special cowboy-sized portions for my special guests."
Two pairs of worshipful eyes smiled up at her.
"Marry me Josie," Dean sighed; "divorce Cyril and marry me instead."
She laughed out loud, cuffing Dean round the back of the head; "don't you go teasin' a lady, you cheeky bugger; I might just take you up on the offer."
Sam watched her as she turned back to the kitchen, shooting the boys a wicked grin as she did so, and comfortable warmth spread through his body. Looking across the table he could see Dean watching their hostess go, his face softened with a deep affection; something which Dean guarded closely and didn't give freely.
They'd never met anyone like Josie before.
Sure, she was playing Dean's game and giving him a run for his money in the flirting stakes, but her urge to smother and care for her charges was overwhelming.
Sam realised that with the exception of the care he had received from his brother through his childhood, this was the closest he had ever got to being mothered. He smiled as he thought how he could get used to this. In fact, he almost laughed when he thought that Josie could be far more dangerous than anything the Winchesters had ever hunted; he'd never heard of a creature that got it's hooks into you and loved you to death.
Now he totally got why Dean missed their own mom so very much.
It was only moments later that they looked up to see Josie walking toward them carrying two steaming plates.
Craning his neck eagerly Dean peered across the room toward her and saw – yes – pies; and not just any old pies - BIG pies.
"Pies Sam," he spluttered in excitement, inhaling deeply of the luscious aroma of the beef pie; "is that a thing of beauty, or what?"
Placing the tray on the table between the brothers, Josie passed the plates, heavily loaded with fluffy mashed potato and a crown of golden pie crust sitting atop a mound of juicy, steaming beef mince, between them. She stood back and watched with amusement as both brothers stared down at the meal, not entirely sure how to respond.
Dean's beaming pie-induced one thousand megawatt smile evaporated and crumpled into a vaguely disgusted frown.
Eventually he spoke up timidly.
He looked up at Josie in horror; "the gravy's green!"
She laughed; "you daft sod; it's not gravy, it's parsley liquor"
Dean shook his head; "parsley … what?"
She laughed; "parsley liquor; parsley, chicken stock, vinegar, butter, pepper … and a few secrets;" she winked, "my own special cowboy recipe – that'll put hairs on your chest that will!"
Dean prodded the green liquid with his fork suspiciously; "how do you know I want any hairs on my chest ... or anywhere else for that matter?" He asked sulkily.
Josie raised an eyebrow that suggested she would have no reservations about finding out.
Not sharing Dean's inherent aversion to putting anything green anywhere near his mouth and, buoyed by Josie's reassurance, Sam decided to take the plunge and tucked in enthusiastically.
He looked up, grinning a hamster-cheeked grin; "oh dude, you should try this," he mumbled wetly, "it's awesome!
Withering under Josie's stern gaze, Dean picked up his fork, and timidly forked a lump of the pie into his mouth.
almost instantly, his furrowed brow smoothed as his face melted into a sighing, eye-rolling mask of pure unbridled pleasure that was verging on pornographic.
They didn't even notice Cyril walking toward them with a large folder under his arm and two fresh ales.
It was time to talk business.
Cyril at least had the decency to wait until the boys had finished shovelling their meals into their faces; the look on Josie's face had suggested his life depended upon it, but he didn't have too long to wait before he had their attention.
"Right," he began; "what do you boys know about Jack the Ripper?"
Dean thought for a moment, draining his second pint energetically; "psycho douchebag, carved up lots of women about a hundred years ago?"
"Yeah, and he was never caught," added Sam confidently.
Cyril nodded slowly. "That's about right boys," he smiled, "but, here's a thing; did you know that, according to the evidence available to us, Jack was only active for three months?"
The brothers looked up in astonishment.
"No," they exclaimed in unison, "three months?"
"Yeah, ain't bad is it?" Cyril asked rhetorically; "in the space of three months you earn yourself a reputation that's still going strong well after a hundred years."
He gestured toward a spotty youth behind the bar and within a moment, three more pints of ale arrived on the table; much to Sam's chagrin. Not a regular beer drinker, he'd run out of steam after a pint and a half.
"Oh yeah," Cyril warmed to his theme; "Our dear old London Town's like any mother. She's bred plenty of good folk, clever folk and decent folk, but she's also produced her fair share of black sheep. An' they never came no blacker than Jack."
"His first victim was poor Mary Nichols on 31st August 1888. She was a penniless prostitute from the East end of London," he began; "he slit the poor woman's throat then basically dissected her."
The brother wrinkled their noses in disgust.
"He cut out her intestines; wrapped them round the body, took out various other organs too."
"Like I said," Dean grunted around his beer glass; "psycho douchebag."
"Three more victims throughout September 1888," Cyril continued; "all prostitutes, each similarly eviscerated, except one; Liz Stride. Her body was found intact except for a slit throat. It's generally accepted that he was disturbed before he could get started on her."
Rooting around in his folder, he handed some black and white post-mortem photographs of the victims to the brothers who looked at them with horrified revulsion.
"The final victim was poor little Mary Kelly," Cyril continued; "a pretty young irish girl. She came to London to find her fortune, and fell into prostitution. All she found was that evil bastard."
Cyril took a long draught, draining half his glass in one hit.
"He killed her in the privacy of the little room she rented; had all the time in the world to work on her."
Pausing as if swallowing back a nausea, he hesitated before continuing.
"What he did to that poor woman," Cyril whispered; "he practically dismantled her. When the police found her remains, what was left was barely recognisable as a human being. Just … blood and bones, and internal organs spread all around the room."
He handed the final devastating photo to the brothers who looked at it stunned into silence.
"It's like pack of wild animals got her," croaked Sam.
"No," Cyril shook his head; "that's the terrifying thing; it wasn't wild or frenzied, it was calculated, done with surgical precision." He stared at the Winchesters, "this wasn't someone who felt the red mist come down and lost control, this was someone who set out with the distinct purpose to plunder and destroy a living human being for no better reason than he wanted to do it."
"What then? Dean prompted, licking the froth from his drained beer of his lip.
"Then?" Cyril replied; "then, nothing."
"He vanished. Never caught, never found, never killed again."
"Oh …" Dean tailed off vacantly.
"And do you know why?"
There was a shaking of heads.
"Because," Cyril stated; "Jack the Ripper was a demon and my great-grandfather was the one who exorcised the bastard and sent him back to Hell."
He sat back and enjoyed the reaction as Sam choked into his beer.
"All the contemporary reports were contradictory; they said he was left handed, he was right handed, he was a chinaman, a jew, a tall Englishman in a top hat, the Queens grandson, the royal physician, a tanner, a butcher, a baker, a bleedin' candlestick maker; the fact is, he was all or any of those things," Cyril snorted; "because he was a demon and he was possessing different people, like the evil bastards do."
A brief silence fell across the table as the brothers tried to take in what they had just heard.
"There's something else …" Sam prompted quietly, not sure he was going to like what he was going to hear.
"He was rotting down in Hell where he belonged for a hundred and twenty years …" Cyril sighed sympathetically, knowing that the brothers wouldn't like what he was about to say; "and then the devil's gate got opened, and he was one of the demons who escaped."
He saw the Winchesters flinch.
"He's back in London, boys - and he's active."
The morning light filtered through slightly parted burgundy curtains as Sam made his way along the narrow hallway leading from the brothers' room. He yawned lavishly, scratching his head and resisting the urge to scratch his crotch through his saggy sweatpants given that he was aware there was a lady in the house.
Following the glorious aroma of cooking bacon that wafted through the modest and homely flat above the Bridge House, he opened the door to the kitchen and was met with a smile as warm as the stove Josie was cooking on.
"Mornin' love, sleep well?"
"Uh, yeah … morning, um, I did, thank you…" Sam stammered blearily, stifling another yawn.
Cyril glanced over his newspaper, a knowing smirk playing across his grizzled face.
Sam stretched; "uh, pretty gruesome and pukey, thanks!"
"Sore 'ead eh?" Cyril chuckled.
Sam snorted a laugh, "sore everything after all that ale yesterday!"
His laughter abruptly stopped when Josie stepped over and placed a plate of steaming food in front of him.
"There you go sweets, nice big breakfast; jus' what a growin' boy needs to set him up for the day."
Sam gaped. The plate was piled high with sausages, bacon, toast, beans, eggs, mushrooms, and tomatoes; he actually had to look over it to see Cyril staring at it in astonishment.
"Growing boy? Blimey Jose, if the kid grows any more he'll be a danger to aviation!"
The only time Sam had ever seen so much food in one place before was in a grocery store window.
He looked up at her helplessly.
"Go on," she prompted, nudging him gently; "don't take any notice of old faceache over there – tuck in."
Sam didn't need telling twice.
Sam noticed Josie pour a glass of water and drop two chalky tablets into it.
"I'm guessing our other guest might need a little bit of help getting out of bed," she announced to whoever might be listening.
"Might need more than a little help," Sam mumbled round a mouthful of eggy toast.
She grinned wickedly, and patted Sam's shoulder as she carried the glass of fizzing liquid toward the door.
Cautiously and quietly opening the door to the guest room, Josie did a double take when she glanced at the occupied bed. Lying face down, Dean was moaning miserably, hugging his pillow. The covers had been kicked off the bed at some point during a night of fretful fidgeting, and with his left knee bent under him, she was confronted with the sight of his boxer-clad ass staring her in the face.
She smiled, folding her arms as she fought the urge to slap it.
"G'way," the voice was barely a grunt. "Leemee'lone…"
"Oh now, ain't you a right two an' eight!" Her nose wrinkled when she took in the miasma of alcohol and sweat surrounding the wrecked heap in the bed.
"Gonn'die;" he moaned into the pillow; "Cyril poisoned me wi' all that ale."
Josie walked over and stood beside the bed; "You're not going to die. I don't allow that sort of thing to go on in my pub; you got any idea how much paperwork that would cause?"
What you need is a nice hot shower, then a good breakfast; you'll feel much better."
Dean smooshed his face harder into the pillow and shook his head timidly.
"Noooo," he whined.
Josie's stern frown was barely disguising her overwhelming urge to bust out laughing at the pathetic exhibition in front of her.
"Drink this," she instructed quietly.
There was a soft sucking sound as Dean's face peeled free from the drying film of drool which had cemented it to the pillow and turned to look at her, grey faced and squinting as he struggled to focus unco-ordinated eyes.
Josie spluttered as she finally lost her battle not to laugh.
"Head hurts," he croaked pitifully.
"C'mon, shower;" she gestured with her thumb.
There was a shake of head, followed by a slight gag at the nausea produced by the motion. Dean sunk back into the bed, curling into a ball.
She shook her head in exasperation.
"Right," she stated; "you've got one minute to get your rancid carcass out of that bed and into that shower otherwise I'll go and get the sponge and do the job right here."
"No, can' do that," Dean mumbled into the crook of his elbow.
"M'a dude; 'ain't decent."
Josie rolled her eyes; "I've raised two sons, seen it all before," she stated matter-of-factly; "thirty seconds," she added bluntly, glancing at her watch.
Dean knew the battle was lost and with much grunting and groaning he hauled himself upright, his pitiful moan trailing off into a sound he would later vehemently deny was a whimper. He sat perched on the side of the bed with his head in his hands.
"You're a hard woman," he mumbled hoarsely, knuckling watery eyes.
Josie stood pointing towards the bathroom.
"It's that way, stinky."
Sam was just in the process of licking his plate clean and fending off Josie's attempts to refill it when the door opened and a hunched, pallid figure shuffled into the room.
Dean squinted from under damp hair at Sam, and cringed at the lingering aroma of a breakfast that would normally have had him salivating.
Peering over his newspaper, Cyril winced. "Blimey, I done over the spirit of a Civil War infantryman in Maidstone a few weeks ago; that poor bugger got run through with a pikestaff then trampled into the ground by a cavalry charge over four hundred years ago and he still looked in better shape than you."
"No more ale," croaked Dean; "that stuff's evil."
"Nothing wrong with ale," Cyril sniffed indignantly, "S'a man's drink!"
"Perhaps you should just stop at six pints in future, dude;" Sam suggested, barely trying to hide his amusement as Dean struggled manfully to focus on his brother's face.
Dropping heavily into a chair at the table, Dean's head sunk limply into his hands as Josie placed a plate, equally as loaded as the one Sam had just cleaned up, in front of him.
Sam couldn't help but laugh at the pitiful groan that escaped.
Dean gradually came to realise that he was going to be made to pay for his indulgence; he wasn't going to get away with taking it easy.
Rather than being allowed to lie down and rest, hoping his head might just drop off and roll away, he spent the morning sipping strong black coffee and listening to Sam recapping their conversation last night; the bits Dean missed because he was either distracted, confused or unconscious.
His hazy, cotton-stuffed mind tried to take in what Sam was telling him.
Jack the Ripper was loose on the streets of modern London. Yes, he got that bit. Jack the Ripper was a skanky demon sonofabitch, yeah, he'd got that worked out too.
The MO was exactly the same; it could have been a copycat killing except for the unmistakeable signs of demonic activity such as sulphur deposits which Cyril had found at all three of the murder sites so far, and which had gone unregarded by the police.
There was also a small matter that for each of the first two 'Ripper' murders so far, a corresponding male body had been found close by. Largely unharmed except for the blackening of the face where the bastard had smoked out. Cyril was sure a third one would be found anytime soon, and he had a few ideas where to look.
It all became clear to Sam when Cyril explained that's how Jack would have evaded capture last time, by changing his face for each murder, and now he was at it again.
To say the massed ranks of the Metropolitan Police were baffled would be, as Cyril put it, to be stating the bleedin' obvious.
Dean somehow managed to take it all in. There was nothing like bad news to focus a hopelessly alcohol-addled mind, and if it weren't for the little space shuttle that kept blasting off to Venus in his head, the dancing cactus in his throat and the tilt-o-whirl in his belly, he might have had something constructive to add.
As it was he just sat and nodded numbly.
The details were still bouncing off him like raindrops off a ducks back, but the simple fact was that three innocent women and two - probably three - equally innocent guys were dead, horribly dead, because of this skank; this skank who had escaped when the Winchesters had failed to stop the Devil's gate from opening.
This wasn't the first time their failure to prevent that particular disaster had caused a tragic death and it wouldn't be the last, but the knowledge never stopped hurting.
The only positive Dean could find was that it was a powerful incentive to clean up every last one of these black-smoke sonsofbitches and do the job properly this time.
Dean blinked vacantly, taking another long sip of coffee as Sam continued.
"The first victim was found under some Pier," Sam muttered, looking at the notes he had written last night; "Black, um, black – something Pier."
Dean shrugged as he kneaded his throbbing temples; "don't know - don't remember that bit."
"Well you wouldn't," interrupted Cyril as he strolled past; "you were face down on the table blowing bubbles in a puddle of London Bitter when we got to that part."
Wincing, Dean tried to give him the finger, and failed when it became patently clear he still wasn't capable of counting up to one.
Sam rolled his eyes and continued.
"Then about three weeks after that, the second victim was found round the back of someplace called Old Bailey."
Dean nodded, rubbing his aching forehead and daring to believe he was starting to feel a tiny bit more human.
"They found the third victim in a basement in some road called Fleet Street, a week after that," Sam added, still consulting the jumble of notes he had scribbled, "three days ago, that was."
Dean considered what was being said now that he was starting to understand words of more than one syllable.
"Cyril says he hasn't seen the bodies," Sam continued, "but he's read the coroners reports and it didn't make pleasant reading."
Dean wrinkled his nose in disgust; "there doesn't seem to be any order to it," he speculated; "three weeks between the first two, then only a week to the next one."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, "and he's not confining himself to one district of the city like he did last time, he seems to be picking random locations across the centre of London, the only thing they have in common is they're all north of the Thames."
"What does Cyril think?" Dean asked, draining his coffee mug.
"He's got nothing."
Dean nodded, no more than he was expecting.
"Cyril wants to go out later, have a look round one of the murder sites," Sam explained: "he says we've got more experience of dealing with Demons than he has so he wants a fresh pair of eyes, or two pairs in our case, to have a look around."
"Well, if the last murder was only three days ago, it's worth a look," Dean agreed; "and of course, we've still got 'the knife'."
Sam smiled as he remembered they had decided to bring it in case their encounter with Crowley got out of hand.
The brothers both hoped with all their hearts they'd get the chance to use that knife.