Twelve: Ut Victor Vado Spoilum
Julian Whittaker prided himself upon many things. He
had worked his whole life for this moment, the pinnacle
of his career. The hours of study in his youth had been
a joy and the status he now enjoyed as one of the leading
historians in San Francisco was, he felt, only right
and proper. Yes, his home life had suffered but his
wife leaving had been an inevitable outcome of his obsession
with Ancient Rome. But it was worth it, he thought,
as he cast his eye around his oak dining table, studying
each of his children in turn.
children. Two beautiful, intelligent, artistic children
who knew their own minds, he reflected as he watched
them arguing good-naturedly, trying to decide who should
take the dirty dishes through to the kitchen.
didn’t surprise him that his daughter won and
Antony, her junior by three years, huffed in surprised
defeat as he gathered plates and cutlery to him. Portia
smiled sweetly at him as she slid the gravy boat over
sat back contentedly. He’d given both children
an education of which to be envious, Ivy League universities
fighting over them just a few years ago. It hadn’t
surprised him when Portia had decided to stay closer
to home or that Antony had eschewed college altogether
to pursue his dream of setting up his own business in
town. Which he had done. Highly successfully as it turned
out, his art gallery being one of the few to go from
strength to strength over the last twelve months.
had chosen to follow in his footsteps, bringing him
companionship and solidarity in the face of his wife’s
desertion. She lapped up the knowledge of ancient Rome
he’d passed on to her with relish and sometimes
he wondered who had the greater passion for the subject.
It was mostly down to her persuasion that Antony had
finally allowed them to stage an exhibition of Roman
artifacts in his gallery at all. They had grown up to
be close and Julian knew he was shameless at times in
exploiting their relationship.
listened to Antony clattering about in the kitchen,
a sure sign of exaggerated suffering. Turning to his
daughter he wondered again at her similarity to her
mother. Black hair tumbling over her shoulders in waves,
crystal clear brown eyes sparkling with humor at her
brother’s endeavors in the kitchen, and full lips
smiling with shared understanding with her father.
get the hang of it one day,” she assured him.
“And then he’ll make someone a great wife.”
laughed together as Antony reappeared at the door, a
tray with cafetiere, cream jug and china cups balancing
precariously on top of each other.
it up,” he retorted. “I’ll be married
before you will. You spend too long in dusty rooms with
not that dusty,” Portia replied. “Not when
I’m done with them, anyway.”
that’s why you’ll still be single when you’re
thirty. Who in their right mind wants to be dusted off
constantly?” and he put the coffee cups and accoutrements
on the table. He sat himself down opposite Portia and
smiled at her.
I’m sure I can find someone,” she smirked,
sobering quickly under her father’s raised eyebrows.
watched the discourse benevolently as he accepted the
black coffee from his son. He sighed, knowing the time
had come to bring up the subject he’d been avoiding
he began, his deep voice serious. “The exhibition’s
going well, son. Better than we’d imagined.”
He looked to Portia who had sunk back in her chair,
cradling her own cup and watching her little brother
straightened in his seat and glared at his father. “No.”
Portia interjected. “You don’t know what
we’re going to say yet.”
don’t care,” he replied. “I said you
could have the gallery for four weeks. That’s
it. Four weeks, which ended yesterday.”
sold over a hundred tickets more than we’d anticipated,”
Julian continued, ignoring the interruption.
Dad,” Antony repeated. “I agreed to let
you have the gallery for four weeks. You said –
no, you promised – you’d be out
at the end of that. I have clients who need the space.
put the deposit down on that place for you,” Julian
I repaid over two years ago. How long are you going
to hold that over me?”
your clients can wait another week?”
They can’t. And they shouldn’t have to.
Why should your exhibition take priority over theirs?
You always do this.”
Portia interjected soothingly, “be reasonable
How can you sit there and talk about being reasonable?
Reasonable is sticking to our agreement. I told you
you could have the gallery and I also told you that
if you weren’t out in four weeks I would pack
it up for you. Craig MacTear booked the gallery over
six months ago. Do you have any idea how influential
he is? If it goes well I could be looking at another
gallery by the end of the year. If I turn him away at
this short notice I’ll probably not get another
booking, from anyone, for years. It would ruin
more weeks, Antony. That’s all I’m asking,
son. It’s not much.”
pushed his chair back, gaining his feet in one swift,
abrupt movement. “Yes, Dad,” he hissed.
“It is. I’m running a business, not a family
charity. Now, are you going to pack it all up or am
sighed. “Surely Craig MacTear can wait? I’ll
call him myself if that helps.”
would that help?” Antony snorted. “He’s
a highly respected artist and you’re a fusty Roman
fanatic.” He threw his starched white napkin on
the table and ran a hand through his short brown hair.
“Thank you for dinner, Father. I have business
to attend to back at the gallery.” He turned to
his sister and nodded at her. “Goodnight Portia.
I hope you can sleep well tonight.”
two remaining members of the Whittaker family watched
the youngest storm from the room, Portia flinching slightly
at the crashing of the front door as it was slammed
closed with a little more force than necessary. Silence
reigned in the grand dining room for several minutes
before Julian leant forward and reached for the coffee.
cup, my dear?” he asked blithely, as though nothing
nodded slowly and settled back in her seat. “He
has a point you know, Dad. We did promise.”
closed his eyes briefly before nodding solemnly. “I
know. But you of all people understand how important
this exhibition is. You know how hard I had to work
on Milo to get him to agree to letting his collection
out of Italy. We can’t stop now. The interest
has been huge.”
know, Dad. And I agree with you. Maybe Antony just needs
to sleep on it and he’ll come round to our way
of thinking.” Even as she spoke the words though,
Portia didn’t really believe them herself. She
and Antony were too alike. Stubborn, determined and
headstrong. She had no doubt he would carry out his
threat to clear his gallery. She knew she would if their
positions were reversed.
doubt it,” Julian muttered. “Too much like
fidgeted with her coffee cup before setting it down
on the table in front of her. “Maybe I should
go check on him,” she suggested, unable to shake
the feeling Antony was about to destroy a millennia
of antiquities all because of a family argument.
nodded and rose from his seat. With impeccable manners
he stood behind his daughter and drew her chair out,
allowing her to rise to her feet like a princess, and
gave her a kiss. “You do that,” he agreed.
“Make sure he doesn’t do anything silly,
* * *
gallery was still illuminated when Portia drew up in
her Chevy Corvette convertible. Her brother’s
much simpler Toyota was in its customary place by the
side entrance and Portia wondered how much damage he’d
managed to do so far. She hurried to the front entrance,
not bothering to lock her car, and pushed the door open,
calling her brother’s name as she entered the
knew something was wrong the minute she stepped through
the doorway. The precious artifacts for which she and
her father had spent so many months negotiating were
strewn recklessly around the main room. It was obvious
Antony had made a start on clearing the exhibition.
Many of the antiques were in packing cases, nestled
in straw and occasionally in bubble wrap, but there
were many lying discarded on the floor. It was all Portia
could do not to weep as she surveyed the damage to clay
drinking vessels and armor which had been flung onto
the hard marble floor causing irreparable damage.
the most terrifying thing she saw was the pool of blood
trailing from one of the display podiums, now bereft
of its exhibit, to the door leading to the second, smaller
room of the gallery. Heart in her throat, Portia slowly
and hesitantly advanced to the doorway. By the time
she reached the second room, she was wishing she had
just called the police and been done with it.
her brother, her beloved brother despite their differences,
lay on the floor below a cabinet of Roman weaponry.
She could smell the tang of copper in the air, could
see the trail of blood widening and pooling beneath
his body. She couldn’t hold back the scream, even
as she noticed the gash across his throat and the small
Roman dagger lying abandoned by his head.
was quite, quite dead.
roads, Dean decided, were disintegrating. That, or he
needed to seriously look at the Impala’s suspension.
He could have sworn the potholes were growing and the
camber on that last bend? Definitely not natural. Or
maybe it was just that he’d been driving for the
last four hours and could do with a break. He cast his
eyes to the right and relaxed when he confirmed Sam
was sleeping. It might not be classified a restful sleep
but it was better than nothing, and if anyone needed
to relax, it was Sammy.
out, he flicked the switch on the Impala’s trusty
stereo, Metallica blasting the peace and quiet of an
early morning. Sam twitched and jerked awake with a
he exclaimed. “What the hell?”
raised an eyebrow and looked innocently at his little
brother. “Oh, I’m sorry. Were you sleeping?”
huffed and slouched down in his seat, glaring at the
older Winchester. “Where are we?” he grunted,
shielding his eyes from the rising sun.
Dean confessed. “But I could do with a break.
What say we hit the next diner we come to?”
couldn’t think of a single reason not to agree
and within a couple of minutes they were pulling into
the parking lot of Bob’s Diner, the sign promising
the best breakfast they’d ever tasted. Feeling
somewhat skeptical of the claim, Sam scrubbed a hand
over his face and turned to Dean. Before he could mention
his reservations about the promised feast his cell phone
broke into life.
in his pocket he pulled it out, ignoring Dean’s
puzzled gaze as he glanced at the caller display. A
brief flare of panic skittered across his mind as he
hit the answer button. “Sarah? You okay?”
head shot round at the mention of Sarah's name and gave
his brother a searching look. Sam however, subtly climbed
out of the car and wandered away, out of earshot, waving
a reassuring hand at Dean as he settled himself on a
bench by the side of the road.
he wasn’t needed as part of this conversation,
Dean motioned to the diner, indicating he would be waiting
inside for Sam. A distracted nod was the only response
he got, so, shrugging his shoulders carelessly, Dean
pushed open the door of the diner, stopping only briefly
in the entrance to do a quick recon of the establishment.
décor was dated, possibly pre-1970 Dean mused,
but the waitress behind the counter more than made up
for any crimes against style. She smiled at him as he
slid into a booth in the corner, making sure he had
the door in sight, along with a clear view of the kitchen
and parking lot through the slightly grimy window. Old
habits died hard and even though they were simply cruising
for the next day or two, it never hurt to have all the
exits covered. Dean couldn’t help but smile at
the paranoia in his thoughts. If anyone cared to analyze
him he would like to bet they’d end up in therapy
train of thought was broken by the arrival of a plain
white mug and the slosh of coffee in the pot carried
by the waitress he’d noticed as he arrived.
you up?” she asked with a bright smile.
answers popped into Dean’s head, each more inappropriate
than the one before, but he managed to restrain himself
with a simple nod of the head and a return of that smile.
She leaned over and poured the beverage carefully, watching
Dean over her lashes the whole time.
else I can do for you?” she asked softly.
right now, sugar,” Dean replied, “but I’ll
be sure to give you a call if I think of something,”
and he watched admiringly as she sashayed back to the
at opportunities not taken, Dean raised the mug to his
lips and turned his attention back to the window and
the parking lot beyond. He could see Sam leaning against
the trunk of the Impala, shoulders hunched, one hand
thrust deep in his pocket while the other held his cell
phone tightly to his ear. He seemed to be doing a lot
of listening, occasionally nodding his head and glancing
round to check if he was still alone. When he turned
toward the diner, Dean could clearly see his expression
was serious and he wondered what news Sarah had for
and Sarah had always seemed a good match to Dean and
he’d been a little surprised Sam hadn’t
wanted to head straight out to San Francisco after the
events in Lawrence. Admittedly, they’d had other
things on their mind at the time, like Dad, but he was
pretty certain the phone calls between the two had increased
sighed to himself and slouched back a little further
into the seat. He watched as Sam snapped his cell phone
shut and pushed himself off the Impala. The younger
Winchester rolled his head around, working out the kinks
in his neck, and strolled toward the diner and Dean.
wanting to be caught spying on his brother, Dean drained
his coffee and waved to the waitress, indicating he
wanted another mug and a refill for himself. She obliged
happily and was just setting the second mug on the table
when Sam slid into the seat opposite, thanking her with
a silent nod.
sat in silence for a few minutes before Dean could take
the suspense no longer.
he started, “what did she want? Is she okay?”
she’s good.” Sam seemed distracted and Dean
couldn’t help the unease that stole into his gut.
he pressed. “Demons aren’t back, are they?”
No. No, nothing like that. She’s safe. She’s
why the long face?”
took a deep breath and looked Dean in the eye. “One
of her friends was murdered at the weekend.”
Understatement of the week, Dean chided himself. “What
wasn’t very clear on that bit,” Sam admitted.
“She’s a bit shaken up by it all. Especially
after…” he trailed off, leaving Dean to
fill in the gaps.
wanna head up there?” Dean offered. “We’re
not doing anything right now. Cali’s nice and
warm this time of year.”
hesitated. He felt guilty at not having been to check
on Sarah but at the same time he wasn’t sure he
was ready to see her either. The longer he left it,
the harder it seemed to be. He shook his head.
sure?” Dean pressed.
don’t know,” Sam sighed eventually. “Maybe
we should take a look at this death. She said the police
couldn’t find evidence of a break in or any motive.
Maybe… I don’t know, Dean. Should we go?”
to the uncertainty in Sam’s voice, Dean set his
mug on the tabletop and studied his brother closely.
Resting his elbows on the table and leaning forward,
he cocked his head to one side.
seem to be anything for us there,” he started,
pausing when Sam’s face fell a little. “These
things happen all the time, especially in big cities.
No real reason for us to head out there, unless you’re
just looking for an excuse to see Sarah without feeling
guilty? ’Cause, y’know, I don’t think
she blames you for the whole demon hostage thing and
Jess wouldn’t want you to mope about for the rest
of your life. It’s okay to want to get together
with her, Sammy.”
closed his eyes briefly and then turned his head away
from Dean’s prying eyes, gazing out of the window
instead. “It’s not about being with her,
Dean,” he protested, knowing even as he said it
Dean would see it for the lie it was. “She thought
it important enough to mention, knowing what we do.
I just think we shouldn’t pass on it so readily.”
else did she tell you about this murder, then?”
a lot, to be honest. The guy was killed in his gallery...”
God,” Dean interrupted. “Is this going be
some high culture thing?”
an argument with his dad and sister,” Sam continued,
ignoring Dean’s outburst. “The cops don’t
figure the family for the murder though. But Sarah wouldn’t
have mentioned it if she didn’t think something
know what I mean,” Sam continued, calmly. “Anyway,
don’t you want to know what the argument was about?”
really,” Dean admitted, “but I’m sure
you’re gonna tell me.”
exhibition this guy was staging was a favor for his
dad. Roman artifacts. Ancient Roman artifacts.”
he was killed with an ancient Roman dagger.” He
sat back and watched for a reaction from his brother.
“And Sarah did ask us to come,” he concluded
Sam. You wanna go? We’ll go.” Dean slid
out of his seat and threw a couple of bills down on
the table. “I still think you just wanna see Sarah,
though,” he muttered under his breath with a smirk.
Whittaker, Dean decided, may have been on the artistic
side but his imagination clearly failed him when he
named his studio. Whittaker’s Gallery turned out
to be a smart, almost clinical, gallery conveniently
located in the heart of a thriving bohemian neighborhood.
The remains of police tape fluttered in the evening
breeze and the front window of the gallery was bereft
of any display other than a couple of somber black and
white photographs of the deceased owner. A few tourists
and students still milled around but the area was generally
quiet and peaceful, studios, galleries and boutiques
all closed for the night.
out of the Impala into the balmy evening air, Sam stretched
his arms, waiting for Dean to join him on the sidewalk.
He watched the aimless wanderings of the few pedestrians
still around and finally turned to Dean who was now
resting his arms on the roof of the Chevy.
the place,” he commented, pointing to the gallery
gave a careless glance round. “Really?”
he asked. “What gave it away?”
Sam muttered, then stepped to the front of the car.
“So, we should check out round the side. There
might be a way in out back.”
Dean exclaimed. “We just got here. I’ve
been driving for hours. Can’t we at least get
something to eat first? Or drink?”
gonna be night soon,” Sam pointed out. “We’re
not going to see much in the dark.”
place will still be here in a couple of hours, Sam.
We don’t know what we’re walking into here.
Let’s find a bar, get some food and take it from
there.” Dean stopped and waved his hand in Sam’s
general direction. “Why don’t you give Sarah
a call? Let her know we’re here.”
ducked his head, kicking himself for not thinking of
calling Sarah first. He ignored the grin Dean was trying,
and failing, to hide and pulled his phone out of his
call connected on the second ring and Sarah’s
delight at hearing Sam’s voice, and the news they
were in town, lightened Sam’s mood considerably.
He turned his back on his brother after the third suggestive
eyebrow raise and continued the conversation in muted
tones, much to Dean’s amusement. Although he strained
to hear what Sam was saying, he could only catch the
odd word, predominant among which was the phrase “you’re
sure you’re okay though?”
the time Sam had finished, Dean had lost interest and
had wandered over the road to Whittaker’s Gallery
where he was studying the photographs of the deceased
owner. He looked up briefly when he felt Sam at his
meet us at…” he trailed off and looked at
a piece of scrap paper he’d obviously found in
the recesses of a pocket, “Rocky’s Tavern.
It’s not far from here. She said we could walk
it easily enough.”
glanced up and down the street at the mention of walking,
more out of concern for the security of his baby than
the thought of actually walking. Deciding it was safe
enough, he nodded his head.
on, then,” he commanded, not once questioning
his brother’s orienteering skills. He was pretty
sure Sarah would have given him comprehensive directions.
wasn’t wrong as the bar loomed into view after
just five minutes and two blocks. It looked a step up
from their normal seedy haunts and part of him secretly
longed to just sink into a cushioned seat, down a few
beers and forget the woes of the world for an hour or
soon as he spotted Sarah’s face from the doorway,
he knew his plans were destined to be thwarted. Nudging
Sam in the ribs, he pointed to where she was hovering
by the bar. Sam broke into a slow smile and elbowed
his way through the early evening crowd, not bothering
to check if Dean was following.
looked just as he remembered her. Her recent ordeal
at the hands of Mia’s minions had left no visible
trace although he didn’t doubt for one minute
her sleep was plagued by nightmares at times. She was
scanning the bar discreetly and Sam had to admire the
tact with which she appeared to reject the attentions
of the local barfly.
managed to make it half way across the room before she
noticed him. Her reaction was immediate. She hopped
off the stool she was perched on and opened her arms
to him. Giving him a quick once over, she proceeded
to give him a hug.
actually here,” she exclaimed, nodding at Dean
who was hovering just behind Sam.
yeah,” Sam agreed. “Here we are.”
got a couple of beers in,” she continued, waving
at two bottles waiting to be drunk and Dean could have
kissed her on the spot. Instead, he murmured his thanks
and, picking both up, wandered over to a free table
at the edge of the room, settling himself in prime position
for people watching. Sam and Sarah followed and made
Sam began, hesitantly, “how’ve you been?”
she replied, looking only at Sam. “I’ve
been good, Sam. I can’t say it’s all been
easy, or fun, but I’m okay.”
did you end up here?” the younger Winchester continued,
watching the art dealer and deciding that yes, she really
story short? I came here about eighteen months, two
years ago. Dad thought it about time I struck out on
my own, lent me some cash and I decided to head West.
This is where I ended up and this is where I stayed.”
She paused and took a sip of her drink. “I wasn’t
sure you’d come,” she confessed.
Sam sounded genuinely surprised and Dean couldn’t
help echo the sentiment.
just thought, after…” she stopped and glanced
from one brother to another, struggling to find the
what happened?” Sam prompted gently, reaching
out and resting his hand over hers, ignoring the knowing
look he just knew Dean was throwing his way.
swallowed, memories still fresh in her mind. “Yes.
I just thought maybe you had more important things to
worry about.” She met Sam’s gaze and held
Dean finally huffed, “this is all very touching
and I hate to break up the party, but why do you think
this is our kind of problem?”
started. She’d almost forgotten the older hunter
was there. Extricating her hand from Sam’s hold
she turned to Dean. “It might not be,” she
admitted, “but Portia – that’s the
sister – she’s got it into her head that
Antony was killed by a Roman.”
snorted. “A killer Italian? In San Francisco?”
he laughed. “Like the Mafia?” He knew he
was being facetious but he couldn’t help himself.
The opportunity was far too good to pass on.
glared and a well aimed kick under the table put an
end to Dean’s humor. Sarah looked serious and
it reminded Sam how long it was since they’d seen
her. She’d obviously forgotten his brother’s
dubious sense of humor.
she told the boys. “An Ancient Roman.
A warrior, not a tourist.”
gonna have to explain that one to me.” Dean sobered
up quickly and leant forward, elbows propped on the
table and his head resting in his hands.
was killed by a puglio. It’s a Roman dagger that
formed part of the exhibition.”
that surprising then, really,” Dean observed.
“Any opportunist could have been responsible.”
you say there was no break-in?” Sam double-checked.
nothing to indicate anything out of the ordinary.”
than a dead body,” Dean muttered, more to himself
than to be heard.
why is your friend so convinced there’s something
supernatural going on?” Sam asked.
laughed soundlessly and raised her eyebrows. “The
whole family’s open to the existence of other-worldly
things,” she explained. “They always have
been. It surprised me when I first met them but now…”
She paused for effect before continuing. “That,
and there was a footprint next to Antony’s body.”
there was something out of the ordinary.” Dean
picked up on the inconsistency immediately.
yes and no,” Sarah agreed. “There was no
sign of forced entry and whoever left the footprint
had been wearing sandals.”
warm out there,” Dean pointed out. “Everyone’s
is, this sandal? The print looked like it was a Roman
sandal. That and the puglio and the lack of evidence
for a break-in… Portia doesn’t know what
else to think.”
think it was some freak dressed up as a Roman,”
Dean stated bluntly. “Most likely someone obsessed
with the Romans. Like the family.”
Sarah exclaimed forcibly. “It couldn’t have
been the family. They’re devoted to each other.
And who goes around killing their own son or brother
‘still waters’ mean anything to you?”
the older brother asked.
looked to Sam for support and the silence that followed,
although brief, was uncomfortable. He glared at Dean
and despite his gut feeling that Dean was merely playing
devil’s advocate, he had to admit his brother’s
version of events was making more sense than the alternative
offered by Portia Whittaker.
when he looked back at Sarah, he couldn’t bring
himself to be the bearer of bad news, not after all
she’d been through because of him. “It wouldn’t
hurt to look into it,” he offered, passing a meaningful
glance at Dean who picked up on it with an imperceptible
tilt of his head and shrug of his shoulders. “Can
you get us into the gallery?”
relief on Sarah’s face was palpable and seeped
through into her voice. “Yes. Portia’s got
the keys and I’m sure I won’t have much
trouble getting her to let me have a look around.”
Her face dropped slightly as she continued, “Antony
was my friend too. I’ll just tell her I want to
say goodbye to him properly.”
a reasonable motel in San Francisco proved to be a pleasantly
enjoyable experience. Sarah had given Sam a couple of
suggestions but the first was more than adequate, especially
by Winchester standards. Located on the riverfront,
the Kingfisher Motel was clean and unassuming. The desk
clerk hadn’t batted an eyelid at their late arrival,
nor had he seemed in the least concerned at their request
that no cleaning be done till they’d checked out.
room itself was surprisingly spacious and within five
minutes of opening the door, Sam was seated at the small
table by the window, laptop out and connected to the
looking for, Sammy?” Dean enquired, scrubbing
a hand over his face.
customs,” he replied briefly. “It might
help to know what we’re up against.”
up against a family argument.” Dean hovered over
his brother’s shoulder, squinting at the site
he’d brought up. “If you wanna research
anything, research that!”
why are you so determined to make the family the bad
are you so determined not to? It’s obvious, Sam.
They had an agreement, Dad broke it, they argued, Antony's
dead. Where’s the mystery?”
you at the same bar as me?” Sam pushed his laptop
away from him and turned in his chair to study his brother.
“Did you listen to a word Sarah said?”
I listened. And what I heard was a classic case of a
domestic incident. Whatever Sarah thinks, I’ve
seen too many families turn on each other. We’ve
not met these people, Sam. They might be the perfect
family Sarah says, or they might be the family from
argue all the time, Dean,” Sam interjected quietly.
“They don’t all go around killing each other.”
sometimes they do. I just need more proof than the word
of a pretty girl.”
not just a pretty girl. She’s an art dealer. She
knows what she’s talking about.”
Sammy. You just said it yourself. She’s an art
dealer, not a Roman historian or family therapist.”
He let out a long sigh and dropped down on the nearest
bed. “I just need to be sure, dude.”
Sam huffed, pushing himself up from his seat, not caring
when it fell backwards to the floor. “You’re
so bothered about this family, you look them up!”
Not taking a backward glance, he stormed into the small
bathroom, slamming the door behind him with enough force
to rattle the picture hanging on the wall.
dropped his head into his hands. He hadn’t meant
this to turn into a fight. He was fully aware of the
turmoil Sam had suffered recently, the memory of Jessica
fresh in his mind again after the incident in Georgia.
They were both tired, although that felt like a permanent
state to Dean over the last couple of years.
himself wearily up and slouching over to where his brother
had abandoned the laptop, Dean settled down to see what
he could find about the Whittakers. Entering the name
Julian Whittaker into the search engine turned up over
three hundred thousand results and it took Dean a good
fifteen minutes to narrow the search down sufficiently
before he found a website devoted to Roman research
and one particular historian, detailing not only his
theories and research but also a comprehensive biography
of the man.
became so engrossed in his work he didn’t realize
Sam had emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam
until he felt his brother’s presence at his back.
He could feel the tension in the air and it didn’t
take a rocket scientist to work out that Sam still felt
a little pissed at Dean. The older brother rolled his
shoulders and, taking a deep breath, turned to face
found him,” he stated, pointlessly, as Sam was
studying the computer screen to the exclusion of all
I see,” Sam observed. “And what revelations
did you find?”
It was a feeble attempt at an apology but the look on
Sam’s face didn’t encourage him to proceed
down that road. Instead he licked his lower lip and
began to outline what he’d discovered. “Julian
Whittaker, born 1958, happy childhood, married his high
school sweetheart and had two kids with her. She left
when she realized she’d always come second to
his studies and research. Couldn’t take being
at the bottom of the pile…”
know the feeling,” Sam muttered, darkly.
she upped sticks and left him with the kids. Portia
was eight, Antony was five. His obsession seems to have
rubbed off on Portia but not Antony. Reading between
the lines, he set up the art gallery as a way to get
away from his father.” Dean stopped and gave Sam
a loaded look. “I still think he’s the most
likely culprit here, Sammy, but if you wanna hang around
for a few days, check it out properly, then we can do
was a pathetic attempt at reconciliation but Sam recognized
it for the olive branch it was. Dean was trying to make
amends for the earlier argument, smooth over troubled
waters. He smiled gratefully and nodded.
do that,” he said.
following morning was damp and foggy. The mist rolled
in off the bay and swept down the streets, almost hiding
the Impala from view. Dean sauntered out of their room,
eyes darting everywhere, though if pressed he couldn’t
say what he was looking for. Grabbing a paper from a
newsstand conveniently located just outside the motel
office, he casually tossed the keys to the Impala to
eyed the gift suspiciously, wondering what he’d
done to warrant such a rare occurrence.
driving?” he queried. Dean simply nodded and waved
the paper at him.
No, just curious as to what brought this on.”
Dean huffed. “You don’t wanna drive, I’ll
do it.” He stretched his hand out to grab the
keys back off Sam.
laughed at the petulance in his brother’s voice
and jerked his arm out of Dean’s reach, closing
his fist round the keys, jogging round to the driver’s
door before Dean could muster up much of a reaction.
out of the motel parking lot, Sam concentrated hard
on the traffic while Dean immersed himself in the paper.
Other than the occasional grunt or interested “huh”
from Dean, the journey passed in amiable silence as
Sam negotiated the twists and turns of San Francisco’s
as they were pulling into the arts area where Antony’s
gallery was located, Dean suddenly pulled the paper
closer to his face and from where Sam was sitting it
looked as though he was studying a section with great
you got?” Sam enquired.
the news isn’t done with Antony yet. They’ve
picked up on the murder weapon.”
that’s hardly surprising considering what it was.
It’s an unusual thing. It’s bound to attract
attention, especially from the press.”
I guess,” Dean agreed. “There’s nothing
about the footprint here.”
said that information hadn’t been released so
it’s hardly surprising.” Sam pulled the
Impala neatly into a parking spot about three doors
down from Whittaker’s Gallery and nodded. “There’s
Sarah,” he announced.
the paper down on the seat next to him, Dean exited
the car with equal grace and turned his head in the
direction Sam indicated. Sarah was leaning against the
doorway of the gallery, dressed simply in jeans and
a black jacket. Opposite her stood another woman, tall
and dark, the epitome of elegance and high class style.
brothers exchanged puzzled glances but any chance of
discussing this development was scuppered when Sarah
waved at them and pushed herself away from the studio.
The woman with her followed, confidence oozing from
Dean, this is Portia,” Sarah introduced the girl
with her, slipping Sam an almost apologetic smile as
she spoke. “She wanted to meet you guys.”
told me so much about you I just had to meet you,”
the girl acknowledged. “I know you won’t
laugh at me.”
honey. I’d never do that,” Dean returned,
a totally inappropriate smirk on his face. He gave her
a long, appraising stare, taking in her long black hair,
perfectly manicured nails, and wondered where she hid
in her turn, took her time surveying the two men in
front of her. Turning her gaze from Dean to Sam, she
made no attempt to hide the fact she liked what she
over, she turned abruptly away from the boys and strode
over to the gallery. “I assume you’ll be
wanting to take a look around?” she suggested.
she’s so not what I was expecting,” Dean
hissed to Sam as they watched Portia fish around in
her expensive-looking handbag, pulling out a set of
keys that looked like they would be more at home in
turned back to them, door swinging slowly open up her
hand, beckoning to them all, but eyes only on Sam. It
was a little disconcerting, Sam decided, and unconsciously
found himself stepping slightly behind Dean with Sarah
to his side.
not scared of a girl, are you?” Dean chortled,
enjoying Sam’s discomfort a little too much for
the younger brother’s liking.
the gallery was like stepping through the threshold
to another world as far as Dean was concerned. The floor
and surfaces had been sanitized by the City and the
brothers weren’t sure anything of import could
possibly have been left behind. There had been an attempt
to clear the artifacts and Sam wondered who had been
responsible for the effort. Whoever had tried, had apparently
lost interest in a very short time and there were several
display items scattered across the tiled floor.
had stopped by a glass cabinet displaying an array of
gold jewelry and was watching Sam and Dean with undisguised
told you what happened, didn’t she?” she
finally asked and for the first time, Dean detected
a little hesitancy in her whole demeanor.
not crazy, you know,” she continued, hesitancy
having given way to defensiveness, and Sam could feel
the tension rising in the room.
know you’re not,” he soothed, moving smoothly
to where she was standing. “We deal with this
stuff every day and, trust me, we’ve heard crazy.
This? This isn’t it.”
relaxed and nodded slowly. “So, you believe me?”
she asked, tilting her head and eyeing Sam seductively
from lowered lashes.
we do.” Sam glared at Dean before his brother
could get out a sarcastic response, or reveal what he
really thought about the whole affair. “Why do
you think a Roman would kill your brother, though?”
girl sniffed, and casually wiped her eye. “I don’t
know,” she confessed. “Antony wasn’t
interested in Rome, or any history, come to that. He
was an art dealer, nothing more.”
raised his eyebrows and mouthed “Nothing more?”
to Sam in disbelief. The more Portia opened her mouth,
the less he liked her. Yes, she was beautiful, elegant
and poised, but the way she talked about her family
and her brother in particular grated on his nerves.
your dad could help us?” he suggested, trying
to keep the hard edge out of his voice.
doubt it,” she replied. “He and Antony had
their differences but he’s been devastated by
this. He’s pretty much good for nothing at the
moment. I’m having to handle everything myself
right now.” She turned to Sam, and Dean could
have sworn she batted her eyelids at him. “It’s
tough, you know? Suddenly I have no one to turn to.”
sure you’ll be fine, Portia,” Sarah suddenly
cut in. “You always manage somehow,” and
she smiled sweetly at her friend.
started slightly, almost as if she’d forgotten
the other woman’s presence. “Thank you,
Sarah. You always make things seem a little more bearable.”
Sam interjected, “where might this Roman have
have no idea. I don’t know what he was doing here
in the first place, let alone where he might be now.”
best thing is if we can have a look around then?”
Sam gestured vaguely at Dean, including him in the statement.
can wait,” Portia offered and this time Dean knew
he hadn’t imagined the glare Sarah cast at her.
He idly wondered if there was about to be a catfight
for his brother’s attentions and decided he would
happily hang around to see that. He could see it in
his head now…
Sam snapped, possibly for the second or third time,
and Dean suddenly realized the two girls had left and
he and Sam had the run of the gallery. “Stay with
it, dude,” Sam commanded.
What are we looking for?”
sighed. “Don’t know yet. Just…look
around. There might be something in here to indicate
why this Roman is still here.”
it might be a colossal waste of time.”
Sam shrugged. “We won’t know till we look.”
He turned away from Dean and scanned the studio with
a skilled eye.
gallery was littered with artfully placed display cabinets
and stands, designed to aid the free flow of visitors
round the exhibition. Most of the enclosed cases were
still as they had been before the murder. Of the other
artifacts, most were either intact or on the floor.
watched Sam become quickly engrossed in the labels describing
each exhibit and wondered if this is what his brother
was like at college. His geekiness seemed to be rearing
its head and he was lost in Ancient Rome.
a weary sigh, wishing there was some other way to do
this – museums really didn’t do it for him
– Dean turned his attention to the door and windows.
Sammy could study the artifacts to his heart’s
content but Dean was still of the opinion whatever they
were dealing with wasn’t supernatural. And if
it wasn’t supernatural, it probably came in in
the traditional way.
was just concluding his examination of the main window,
blowing away the residual fingerprint dust applied by
the local cops, when Sam let out a little exclamation
he prompted, when nothing further was forthcoming, and
he twisted his head to see what the root of Sam’s
was only just visible, crouching down by an open display
stand. Dean couldn’t be entirely sure but from
where he was standing it looked like Sam was scrutinizing
an array of daggers.
got?” he asked again and took a step forward,
halting almost immediately when the stand behind which
Sam was in rapt concentration began to rattle and vibrate
head popped up almost comically at the disruption and
he eyed the display warily, gaze darting to where Dean
was frozen to the spot. Later, Sam was never quite able
to say in what order events took place over the next
few seconds. One minute he was studying some exquisite
jewelry, reading its provenance, next the daggers in
the stand above him rose out of their housing and, one
by one, began to fly across the open space of the gallery.
saw Dean’s eyes widen in shocked surprise, watched
him raise his arms in self defense even as he scoured
the room for suitable cover, averted his own eyes as
he scrabbled in his pocket for the sachet of salt he
always carried. And just as his fingers scraped the
top of the plastic bag he heard the sound that always
put his stomach in his throat, no matter how many times
he heard it.
he flung the salt in an arc at the hovering daggers,
all he could focus on was the pained grunt from his
brother, accompanied by the sound of a body hitting
the episode here