Chapter 2: Friends and High Places
The cold New York winter bit at his skin. He was clinging to the side of an apartment building, cursing the doorman for being competent and forcing him to take such a treacherous and uncomfortable route.
He’d traveled thousands of miles to get here, and he couldn’t give up now. His fingers were frozen stiff, clasped tightly to the ledge above while his feet struggled not to slip off the icy architecture below.
An arctic gust hit him, blinding him with snow and pushing his feet loose from the edge of the building. As he fell, he managed to grab something, and his body swung wildly before he managed to get another handhold. With a quick glance he realized he was wrapped around the corner of the building and horizontal with the ground.
“Holy shit,” he muttered, straightening himself and taking a moment to rest. His cheek pressed against the cold brick, the piercing sting was a welcome feeling after his recent tussle with gravity.
The assassin opened his eyes, catching sight of the fire escape. “Oh, fuck me! How did I not see that from the ground?” he growled, making his way over to it. He swung his legs over and quickly bounded up the steel steps, anxious to be out of sight before anyone noticed the loud clang of his footsteps and felt the need to investigate.
He reached the floor he needed and moved onto the ledge again, sliding along until he found the apartment he sought. He widened his stance for balance and dug his fingers under the windowsill and carefully lifted it, watching as the lock slowly bent, snapped off, and fell to the ground with a dull thud.
The assassin moved away, waiting and listening for clues that he’d been heard. Confident of his uninterrupted stealth, he swung back around only to find his progress impeded by the cold steel of a sawed-off shotgun against his chest.
“Nice try, dick,” a man’s deep voice rumbled. The gun fired into the assassin’s chest, and he toppled backwards falling from the window towards the street below.
He’d taken blasts from a shotgun before, but never at such close range. This was different though; it wasn’t loaded with pellets. It was something else, something different, but familiar. Rock salt.
Catching a glance of the shooter as he plummeted, the assassin recognized his assailant. “Damnit, Dean,” he screamed as he fell, landing comfortably on a car below.
Dean turned to the man next to him with a look of bewilderment. “Did you hear that, Sam?”
Sam nodded. “Yeah, he said your name.”
“You don’t think there’s any way that it’s just a coincidence and that we didn’t just kill somebody we knew, do you?”
Sam shook his head. “Was that rhetorical?”
“Yeah, come on, let’s get down there.” Sam and Dean turned and headed for the door of the apartment, passing a small blonde woman on the way. She fell in behind the men, and they all rode the elevator down.
A crowd had gathered around the assassin as he came to. He shook his head and staggered to his feet, turning back to examine the large dent his impact left on the car’s roof. He fixed his mask, brushed himself off, and turned to leave, but halted as Dean shouted and pushed his way through the crowd.
“All right, everyone, move along. This is official Department of Fish and Wildlife business. Nothing to see here.” Dean quickly flashed an obviously fake badge as he and Sam moved to either side of the assassin.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” a portly man with a thick Bronx accent muttered from amidst the bystanders. His eyes kept traveling in a circuit, going from the badge to the masked man to the top of the building, his brain working furiously to try to understand what the hell just happened.
Dean strode over to the man who dared see through his charade and poked him in the chest with the badge. “Back away, sir. This is official business. You won’t be warned again.” Dean knew that when the things you were saying were complete hogwash, your best shot was to deliver the lie with confidence.
Intimidated by the belligerent Fish and Wildlife inspector, the crowd dispersed, and Dean went on. “So you know us? Spit it out. Who and what are you?”
The assassin sighed and shrugged his shoulders, pulling off his mask. “Edmond Carmichael, and you know what I am.”
“Ed? What the hell are you doing? This isn’t like you,” Sam said, raising his shotgun.
“I’m not going to hurt anyone. It’s just the things that they’re writing. You know that I can’t let them continue. I made a mistake, but these stories will be the end of the Edmond Carmichael you know.”
“So you’re wearing the mask and assuming an alternate persona to protect yourself from the influence?” Sam surmised.
Edmond nodded. “The Fanfic Assassin.”
“What are you doing? Kill him.” The blonde woman screeched indignantly.
Dean turned around to glare at her. He’d almost forgotten she was there, surprised as he was to see Edmond. “Shut up, bitch. This is a friend of ours, and you don’t have a clue what’s going on,” he roared.
The blonde shrunk from his visible rage, and Sam continued. “We understand, Ed. But why are you here?”
Edmond raised a finger in accusation towards the diminutive woman. His words were drenched with repulsion. “She writes about me. Vile, disgusting things, things that I would never do to a woman. She has to be stopped.”
The offense she took at his words emboldened her to walk forward, hands on her hips. “Excuse me! The things I write are beautiful and glorious, and no masked freak is going to tell me otherwise. I literally have dozens of close friends who love my writing and always leave me good reviews,” the blonde sneered.
“I’ve read her so-called reviews. They’re mostly one liners from her friends saying things like ‘Another great one, keep up the good work.’ There isn’t even any evidence that people are actually reading them.” Edmond chortled, confident that his friends were on their way over to his side of the argument.
“We understand your predicament, Ed, but what is your end goal?” Sam asked.
He shook his head. “I just want to scare them a little, that’s all. Just enough to make them stop writing about me. I don’t care what else they do.”
Sam lowered his weapon. “Do what you have to do.”
“I don’t know, man. It could be dangerous to let him go while people are writing about him. You know what he is,” Dean interjected.
The assassin let them argue about it for a moment before he interrupted. “She writes about the two of you as well.”
The blonde’s eyes went wide and she started to slink away.
Dean caught sight of her and grasped her arm. “Is that true? What exactly do you write about us?”
“He’s lying,” she hissed, but the panic in her voice was clear. “You can’t seriously trust this masked freak.”
“She’s definitely hiding something, Dean. You take her upstairs and have a look at what she’s doing. I’ll stay here with Ed,” Sam suggested.
Dean nodded. “That sounds about right.” He hid his weapon inside his leather jacket and headed for the door, dragging the squirming woman by the arm.
Sam pulled his coat on tight and leaned on the car next Edmond. “I know what it’s like to lose control of yourself.”
The assassin lowered his head.
Sam changed the subject. “So what does she write about us?”
Edmond hesitated. How to put it delicately? He decided not to sugarcoat it. “It’s incestuous gay erotica.”
Sam chuckled. “Dean’s in for a surprise.”
Not a moment later, Dean shouted from the window above them. “Hey, Edmond!”
A loud wail followed the laptop Dean hurled out the window. He shot it three times with a pistol as it fell and smashed on the sidewalk below. “You’ve got my blessing. Just do us a favor and clean up some of this crap about us, too.”
“Sure thing,” the assassin shouted back. “I’ll see you guys again soon, I’m sure,” he continued, nodding to Sam.
“I’m sure we will. Just behave yourself and make sure it’s a friendly event,” Sam said.
“I will. Enjoy your long awkward car ride with your brother.”
“Oh, you have no idea.” Sam laughed, turning to walk towards the front door of the building.