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That Which Is Evil

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19 MARCH 1999

“So, SSA Henriksen, are you going on record today that you are unable to solve the case to which you’ve been assigned and believe it should be declared inactive?”


“Just to be completely clear, in the year since your case first began, you have been unable to apprehend the Saints of South Boston, or ascertain the identity of these quote unquote ‘Saints’?”






19 MARCH 1999

“Agent Mills, you are noted here several months ago as saying you are unaware of the identities of the vigilante killers who call themselves the Saints of South Boston. Do you wish to amend that statement?”

“Only to say the media named them that, I don’t think it’s what they call themselves. Otherwise, I stand by the contents of my report.”

“Your report is slim on the details, Agent Mills.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s the point. We don’t know who those men are, we don’t even have a name, and those sketches look like every white guy in his twenties that I’ve ever met.”





19 MARCH 1999

“Your report and your colleagues all allege no strong leads as to the identities of the men responsible for the recent string of organized crime related murders in this city.”

“If you mean the Saints, then no, no leads, sorry to say.”

“You can’t give us any information as to their identities? None at all, since you’ve had time to go over the details? This case began a year ago, Agent Hanscum, you’ve been working this since March of 98. And nothing has come up, at the time or since then?” 

“No ma’am. Never even saw ‘em. Not once. Wish I could be more help.”


It wasn’t always like this. 

Before the debriefs, before the review and the retrospectives, before the interviews, the truths and half-truths and lies. Before the Church, the Mass with that ethereal choral arrangement in the background, the little girl looking at them like she knew who they were and what they’d done and hadn’t decided if she should be afraid of them. Before a bloody casualty of a bloody power struggle left an empty grave and a dead man on a plane headed somewhere far, far away. Before Father Mackelpenny, and the Monsignor's sermon about righteousness and indifference and the way good men turned their goodness away from things that were ugly, there was just this.

There was just a meat packing plant and an illegal apartment, there was just South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day. There was just Dean, and Sam, and a bar called The Salvage.

The din of the bar sits at its usual cheerful uproar when the man they’d been waiting on arrives that night. He walks in the door, black hair above blue eyes, a slightly rumpled suit Dean never let him forget the inanity of. Nobody wears a suit in Boston unless they’re a cop or a lawyer, he’d point out, over and over, only to receive an indulgent, placid smile in return, one communicating clearly, it’s not like I’d expect you to understand . The man is relatively young, though a few years older than Dean himself, and just that many older than Sam by default. He looks out of place, with the blue tie loosely knotted around his neck and the just this side of awkward expression he always wore. It’s enough to attract some attention from nearby bar patrons. 

This is not the usual fare of a blue collar, recent immigrant Irish bar. As soon as they look, however, those familiar with The Salvage and its regulars quickly place the newcomer’s identity, and refocus back on their drinks and their own companions. 

Castiel “Cas” Novak

Boston Italian Mafia

Shirley Family

Status: Package Boy, Low Level Runner

“About fuckin’ time, man!” Dean calls over, and Castiel smiles, hooking an arm around Sam and jostling him a little as he passes. 

“Singer, how about a beer?” Castiel says over the counter, ignoring Dean, who leans with an arm arching around his brother’s back to flick Castiel in the side of the head in rebuke. He receives the requested beer quickly, settling onto the stool on the other side of Sam and deftly twisting the top off without the use of a bottle opener. He’s smiling, and Sam is smiling, and everyone is having a good time. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and while Sam had his own opinions about the… unique way Americans choose to mark that particular holiday, Dean’s always appreciated it - any excuse for a good drink with good company is a welcome one in his book. And at The Salvage, the company is always good, though the drinks can be hit or miss.

The atmosphere is light and happy and doesn’t last long. 

“Now that we’ve got you three here,” grumbles Bobby, “I’ve got some bad news.” The wood slats of the ramp built on his side of the bar creaks as the wheels of his chair move him closer to where Sam, Dean, and Castiel sit in a cluster. They’d installed the ramp so Bobby could reach half the bar from his chair, while Rufus tends from the other side when he’s up front. It works, and it doesn’t sound safe, made from scrap lumber by volunteer carpenters, but it’s withstood the entire time Dean’s been here, and doesn’t show signs of giving out soon. 

Like Bobby, it’s more reliable than it looks. Bobby himself at the moment is avoiding looking at them by wiping at the hopelessly dingy counter Dean has never seen completely clean the entire time he’s lived in America, eyes fixed on the dull wood finish. Even when he speaks, he doesn’t look at them.

“I’ve got to close down the bar.”



It’s impossible to tell which question came from Sam and which from Cas, and Dean, for his part, just jerks his bottle at the two of them, a wordless, yeah, what they said.

“Russians,” Bobby says shortly, accompanied by a somber nod from Rufus, who’s wandered over as well. 

In hindsight, Dean should’ve known something was up when he walked in and they were both there behind the counter. Usually, either Bobby or Rufus would be in the back room while the other tended bar, managing the books and dealing with all of the minutiae of business ownership that makes Dean shudder at the thought of being anything more than a grunt employee with absolutely no managerial responsibility to speak of.

“They’re buying up every building they can. Soon the whole neighborhood’ll be gone. So we have to close. Won’t be more’n a few weeks, now, if they let us go on that long.”

The place suddenly feels quieter, emptier, less alive. Nothing physically has changed, but it’s like the building has grown smaller, shrinking in on itself. Not able to believe he heard that right, Dean looks around at Sam, at Cas, at the handful of others around the dimly lit room to see if they’re feeling what he is. If they’re feeling the Salvage die around them. It’s a thought that leaves Dean cold. He doesn’t see the same kind of stricken grief in them, and well, of course he doesn’t.

The Salvage roots him in Boston. It’s here that anchored him when they got off that plane, that made a compass rose out of a smoke-hazed bar and called him back to North. Boston is big and he’d almost got lost in it, knew it held no love for him. But where Boston held no love for him, Southie did, and it was The Salvage that taught him this, that always led him back again. Bobby Singer, an old family friend who’d moved Stateside maybe half a decade before they did, had let him bus tables until a regular offered both he and Sam a job at the packing plant. They found their jobs here, the landlord of their questionably termed ‘apartment’ here, and it’s here that Bobby had let him sit down there behind the counter out of sight, when it felt like he was weighed down and drowning. 

Sam, now, Sam hadn’t needed that, not the way Dean did, because where Dean had Bobby and the sanctuary of the space behind the bar, Sam had Dean to keep his head above water. And Cas… Castiel was born here. Castiel is rooted in Boston by something else entirely, is drowning in his own way, in a way no bar can save him from. 

“Let me talk to my bosses,” he offers, eyes bright like he thinks that might actually work. 

“You want to bring the Sicilians into this?” It’s Rufus this time, who’d been quiet until now, letting Bobby break the news about the bar. “We’ve got enough trouble with the Russians buying out the place, you bring the mafia down on our heads too and we’ll be caught in a crossfire that ain’t ours, kid.”

It’s hard to tell if it’s the tone or the wording that makes Castiel flinch, looking down at his beer with his face gone blank like it does sometimes, talking about his work. Dean purses his lips and tries not to think about Castiel’s work - about the Sicilian mob, the Shirley organization and the powder keg that’s become of it. 

In short, the Don of the Family is missing. Chuck Shirley himself, an unassuming and disheveled man with the power to twist words around until you were following orders while thinking it was your idea to begin with, hasn’t been heard from in months. There are even rumors he’s dead, and in his absence the organization is being run exclusively by his four lieutenants, the names and nicknames of which have earned them the title ‘the Archangels’. 

Michael and Luke - called ‘Lucifer’ for his inheritance, the same silver tongue and poison talent for persuasion Chuck wielded with such proficiency - are the sons of the boss himself. Though Dean’s never met them, he knows of them by reputation and anecdote, and it’s enough to know they hate each other with a Biblical ferocity, the kind of rotting resentment that only comes from a conflict warped out of a deep love. They’d been inseparable once, and one will die at the other’s hand before the year is out, if not both. Chuck isn’t coming back, and the throne has been empty too long - someone needs to fill it. 

There's no question that the other two, Raphael and Gabriel, the lieutenants unrelated to Chuck, are out of the running for succession of the position at the head of the Family. Gabriel doesn't have the guts and Raphael doesn't have the ambition. Michael and Lucifer, though, they have both in spades, and they're going to kill each other over it. The only question is how many people they're going to take down with them in their goal of being the next leader of the South Boston mafia. Or if they care at all who pays how big a price. 

This is the guillotine hanging over Castiel's neck now, and it’s not just his role in the enterprise that’s reeled him so deep in. He’d never had a choice, he’s mafia born and raised. Not a minute of his life has been lived with the possibility of anything else, no school or career or different world waiting for him. Not with his pedigree. He’s third generation with the Family, like his brother Balthazar before him, and his brother Gabriel before that, the self-same lieutenant now caught in the middle of the war between Michael and Lucifer. 

Castiel's loyalty to Gabriel, the older brother who’d raised him, is matched only by Gabriel’s loyalty to his own older brothers. He may not be related to them, but he loves Michael, Lucifer, and Raphael fiercely, as fiercely as Castiel loves him. It’s for this reason that Gabriel hadn’t run long ago, like Balthazar had when he disappeared out into the Midwest, and it’s for this reason too that Dean knows Castiel will never leave, never take any of the outs Dean is sure they could find if they worked hard enough. 

How could he? More to the point, how could Dean ever ask him to?

“Sorry,” Castiel says, still staring at his drink, as if he’d somehow known the path Dean’s thoughts were taking him down. Dean opens his mouth to answer, only for Rufus to get there first, reminding him that there are other people and other problems here right now.

“Don’t need any ‘sorry’s,” Rufus tells him matter-of-factly. “Just don’t need any turf wars, either.”

There’s a few minutes of subdued smalltalk before the door bangs open with a ferocity that never accompanies any of the regulars, the aimless miasma of the Irish quarter of Boston that filtered its way more days than not into The Salvage. The man who walks in, accompanied by another man and a woman on either side, is tall and imposing, with a self-important smirk and an upraised chin indicating a superior sense of distaste for everything around him.

“My name is Abraxas,” he tells them, and Dean flicks through a mental Rolodex until he comes up with where he’s heard the name before. 


Russian Crime Syndicate

Status: Soldier

“This place,” Abraxas continues in accented English, Russian coming through in the way his mouth moves around consonant and vowel combinations learned as an adult, “is closing now.”

“Come on, man,” Sam says, slinging an arm around Dean’s shoulders and smiling wide. “He’s got until the week’s end. Have a heart. Sit down and have a drink with us. It’s St. Paddy’s day, everyone’s Irish tonight.” 

Shockingly, despite his smile and the way he indicates with his beer that the offer is genuine, that pitch doesn’t land especially well. 

The devolution of a conversation into fisticuffs is not one that Dean could describe himself as unfamiliar with. Abraxas snaps something back, his two companions square up, Sam calls him ‘Braxya’ while Dean and Castiel cringe hard, and that’s the death-knell of any hope they had of the night ending without someone or other winding up in the ER. They’re fairly evenly matched, but the fight is over quickly, and the Russians escort themselves out in a shuffling, pathetic imitation of a three-legged race. In hindsight, Dean’s favorite part was definitely pouring liquor on Abraxas’ ass and lighting it on fire. That was probably when they all knew who the winner of this particular disagreement was.

As the Russians leave, Rufus leans down and snags the baseball bat that lives under the bar counter, gesturing for the boys to accompany him outside.

“Better be sure they’ve really gone,” he says, and it’s a fair point. Not only had they beat the trio of bratva soldiers in a fistfight, they’d humiliated them, and while it had been fun in the moment, Dean knows that’s a dangerous place to be. 

Sam and Castiel follow Rufus out, but Dean stays behind with Bobby. He silently grabs a broom and begins to sweep at piles of broken glass left behind from the scuffle. They glitter on the floor in the dim overhead lighting, flecks of bright green marking where four leaf clover confetti has been mixed in with shards of shattered mugs. 

Happy St. fucking Patrick’s Day , Dean thinks, trying to ignore the way the pieces scrape loudly against the floor. It’s sure to be scratching up the old wood, but he can’t bring himself to care. It’s not like it’s not scratched up already, long years of use leaving their mark, and well, it won’t matter soon anyway, will it? He works in silence for long moments, until something makes him stop, hands stilling on the broom. Bobby’s voice, quiet but carrying easily through the still air. 

“This place was supposed to be yours. When Rufus and I retired, it was yours.” Bobby looks old, now, eyes drifting across the roughed-up room, the shattered glass on the floor and the brand new scorch mark on the wood surface of the bar. It’s an observation that hurts worse than the hits Dean had taken in the fight, just how old and tired he looks right now. Bobby is shaking his head slowly, thumb slowly picking along the inside of one of his wheelchair’s armrests like he doesn’t realize he’s doing it. “Elsewise I’d just sell, but it’s yours. It’s supposed to be yours.”

Dean doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say to that, so he looks at the floor, glances at the clock on the wall, down towards the broom still in his hands, his own scraped knuckles. They’d never actually talked about it, never had a serious negotiation of terms, but it was understood that this is how it would go. Bobby and Rufus would retire someday, and Dean would step behind the bar, take over The Salvage and the stewardship of the neighborhood that came with it. Sam’s laugh filters in from outside the open front door and Dean looks up, to the rectangle the night air is drifting in through, carried by a breeze. Sam is outside with Castiel, watching with Rufus and the baseball bat from underneath the bar to make sure that Abraxas and his cohort really have left. They sound happy. They don’t sound like their home is dying, and Dean shakes his head, looks back at the man behind the counter.

“Maybe we can get some money for the place at least,” Bobby mutters. “Send you boys to school.”

“Send Sam to school, maybe,” Dean says back with a soft snort, and Bobby shoots him a sharp, rebuking look. It’s the same look he always gets when Dean talks like that, like he and his brother had one brain to split between the two of them and Sam got the whole thing. He holds his hands up, palms out in apology, but doesn’t say anything to grant Bobby his point. 

They don’t talk after that, and eventually, Sam and Rufus come back inside. Castiel is long gone, needing to return home, and if the bratva was coming back they’d be here already, with a few more peepholes blown through the bar’s front door. Dean lingers a little longer, though he knows Sam is anxious to leave, to escape the atmosphere that’s grown solemn and exhausted as the adrenaline of the fight has faded. He can’t help but want to keep this night a little longer, keep St.
Patrick’s Day and The Salvage and his family right here. 

All too soon, though, Bobby and Rufus are shooing them out, and Dean is walking through the night air with his brother next to him, and a terrible feeling hanging over his head. Something’s coming, he thinks, looking around at the tall, looming shadows of the buildings along the walk from The Salvage to their apartment. And it’s more than just the Russians. 

Supervisory Special Agent Victor Henriksen has been with the FBI long enough to stop being impressed with the majesty of cities. The car he’s in is winding its way through the South of Boston with a nervous uniform cop in the driver’s seat, and he can see in the rearview mirror that his newest teammate is all wide eyed awe at the landscape they’re passing by. Sure, the buildings are tall, taller than anything she’d have seen back where she’s from in Minnesota, but it’s nothing Victor hasn’t encountered before. Every major city has the same buildings, and the people within them have the same malevolent, selfish egos that drive the kind of crimes he investigates. A mobster in New York is a mobster in Philly is a mobster in Boston. Peel back the wrapping paper, and they’re all the same inside. 

When they pull up to the scene, the detectives are standing around doing what looks to be theatrical spitballing, with one wiry little fellow gesticulating dramatically towards one of the bodies on the ground like he’s illustrating a point. Victor grimaces. Local cops. They’re also the same in every city. 

A second after he has the thought, he cringes, glancing back again at the two women in the back seat, both of whom had been local cops before they’d found their way to the Bureau and his team, and neither of whom would’ve appreciated that comment. Then again, as he kicks open the door and the Detective's voice amplifies - “stumblin’ down the alley; wrong fuckin’ alley ” - he can’t imagine Donna and Jody currently hold this selection of Boston’s finest in especially high regard either. 

Donna is still looking around at the city, head swiveling from side to side as it takes in the neighborhood, appearing for all the world like a tourist though Victor knows she’s absorbing information at an unbelievable pace, while Jody is speaking quietly with the cop who’d driven them there, leaving him to approach the scene alone. The trio of detectives haven’t seemed to notice him yet, two standing to the side and observing the third with arched eyebrows. He’s still telling his story, spinning some absolutely garbage theory about what went down, and Victor can only stand about a few more seconds before walking straight into the middle of it, lest his ears start to bleed and he contaminates the scene. 

“If you’re done holding class here at clown college, professor,” he says, enjoying for just a few moments the looks of complete shock and bewilderment on the trio’s faces, “I’d like to do my job, now.”

Three faces wearing identical looks of ‘who the fuck is this guy’ swivel towards him. 

“Who the fuck are you?” asks one of them, the one with that huge-guy-serial-crusher theory, voicing what goes unspoken in the other two. 

Rolling his eyes, Victor reaches into his jacket and pulls out his badge, letting it fall open as Jody and Donna arrive on either side of him.

“That’s who the fuck I am,” he says, and tries not to enjoy too much the way their faces blanch and go very serious, very fast. 

“Agent Henriksen is with us from the FBI,” the Detectives’ Chief, a woman named Ellen Harvelle, tells them in a tone that invites absolutely no backtalk or argument. “ID came back on these three, and they all belong to the Russian mob, which makes this case Federal. Agents Henriksen, Mills, and Hanscum are here from the Feds’ organized crime division, and will be running the investigation. They will do so with our full cooperation, and I had better not hear any different. Understood?”

While Jody and Donna hang back and talk to Boston PD, getting their view of the situation, Victor takes the opportunity to slip away, further into the scene itself. He fumbles in the large pockets of his overcoat until he comes up with what he’s looking for - a cassette player and a pair of headphones. If he wants the scene to speak to him, it helps to be able to block out all of the rest of the noise. Able then to ignore everything going on behind him, confident that his teammates have control over the situation and the onlookers, Victor can focus entirely on the evidence, and the story it has to tell him.

There are three people dead on the ground. Two men and a woman, and all look like they’ve been involved recently in a fight - one they probably lost. There are bandages around heads, an arm in a sling, and bandages around the ass of the man lying face-down with gunshot residue detector turning dark red on his hand. To go with the GSR, there are bullet holes in the walls, on a trajectory that doesn’t make sense if you’re trying to shoot another person. 

Nearby, adding to the baffling image building in Victor’s brain of what’s happened here, are the shattered pieces of a toilet. They’re small pieces too, the kind of breakage you don’t get from merely dropping something as you carried it, or even from tossing it, and there are bits of porcelain in the dead woman’s hair, which means the toilet broke after the bodies fell. Maybe as they fell. It all tells a story of artless brutality, and Victor is beginning to see it. What might have happened here. 

Victor looks up, squinting at the top of the building they’re standing next to. The alley containing the scene runs through the middle of a block, bisecting questionable businesses from even more questionable residences. There’s a laundromat on one side, one story, with an illegal gambling ring he didn’t come here to care about running out of the back, according to neighborhood intel. On the other side, the building he’s looking at now, is unsanctioned housing, crappy apartments in a crappy five-story walkup that looks like it was built in the fifties and not maintained since then. 

Three bodies. Bullet holes. No guns. Shattered toilet. Five story apartment building.

Turning to face his team and the Detectives, Victor pulls his headphones off and points at one of the Detectives at random, the one of the two men standing closest to him.


“Detective Asa Fox,” the man says. 

“Detective Fox,” Victor repeats, waving back towards the building. “Check with the building’s super, tell ‘em we don’t care what kind of housing code they’re violating, because I don’t, and we just need to know which of their units is complaining about a leak that started this morning.”

“Yes, sir,” Detective Fox says just as the other man, the one with the colorful theories, says, “We don’t care about housing code?”

Victor swivels on him with a raised eyebrow.

“Detective Garth Fitzgerald,” Housing Code Cop says, pointing to himself. He looks like a Garth Fitzgerald. “The Fourth.” If Victor is being honest, he does not look a bit like a ‘Fourth’. A ‘Fourth’ calls to mind someone… distinguished, while this man calls to mind a happy go lucky children’s show protagonist who taught viewers lessons about the meaning of friendship. “And that’s Detective Bradbury over there, Charlie.” Housing Code points to the third cop, a redheaded woman who gives a wave and doesn’t even bother attempting to hide her amusement at the conversation. “Why don’t we care about housing code?”

I ,” Victor stresses, “don’t care about housing code, because I am the FBI, and what I care about is three dead bodies, all of ‘em bratva. You can care about housing code on your own time, Detective Garth Fitzgerald the Fourth. Please, take a look around at where our scene here is located.”

All three of the detectives comply, as do Jody and Donna, who look bored and determined respectively. They’ve seen him analyze a scene like this before, it’s nothing new. Victor has always had a way with puzzles. 

“This is an Irish neighborhood,” he explains, taking the tone of a history teacher who’s got a hundred better things to do than teach a class full of distracted high school sophomores, but stuck in the job nonetheless. “Full of illegal housing. None of them are gonna talk to us, not if they think we’re here to bust them, Detective Fitzgerald, for violations of housing code. So instead, we’re gonna go up this building floor by floor, and find out who’s got a leak problem, and whatever floor that is, the one above it’s gonna have our answers.”

“What makes you say that?” asks Detective Bradbury, who seems at a glance marginally sharper than her two colleagues, at least as far as her questions go.

“Because,” Victor says, turning back towards the scene, the shattered toilet bowl and blood spattered gravel, “this is how it happened.”