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the island of conclusions

City of Iron, City of Tears (SPN/XMFC) 2/?

the island of conclusions

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City of Iron, City of Tears (SPN/XMFC) 2/?

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Title: City of Iron, City of Tears
Authors: calamitycrow and ariadnes_string
Fandoms: Supernatural/ X-Men First Class
Rating: PG for this part.
Warnings: none
Spoilers: Basically a mid-twentieth-century AU for early-season SPN and a kind of missing scene for XMFC.
Word Count: ~3.4K for this part.
Beta: kasman (thanks, babe!)
Disclaimer: not ours, no profit.

Summary: The Second World War is over, but the Cold War is just heating up. In a divided Berlin, Capt. Dean Winchester of Army Intelligence and Agent Sam Winchester of the newly-formed CIA come up against forces even they have never imagined.

Part One

Erik didn’t notice she’d entered the room until lamplight fell over the book on his knees. Her usual, mysterious stealth.

“You’ll hurt your eyes, liebling, reading in the dark,” she said, perching on the arm of his chair and dropping a soft hand on his head.

Erik closed the book and unfolded his legs, stiff from having sat still so long. He wanted to improve his English, and Conrad had seemed a good place to start, a writer who’d also left his mother tongue behind. He’d picked up Heart of Darkness after lunch—and now the early November dusk was already gathering.

“Where have you been?” he asked, stretching, trying to pretend he wasn’t arching into her hand like a cat. “It’s late.”

“Just catching up with old friends.” She moved to where her cigarette case lay on the mantel, graceful as a dancer. “One can’t let all one’s contacts wither away, can one ?”

She lit a cigarette and took a long drag, bright lips puckering, while she undid the buttons of her jacket one-handed. The crimson wool fell away to reveal the delicate lace of her blouse, the pale lines of her throat.

He ignored the display. “Schmidt?” he asked, joining her at the fireplace. “Did you find out anything about Schmidt, where he is—“

“Still so thin, darling.” She slipped a hand under his sweater, running it over the hipbone that still jutted too sharply under his skin. “Shall I take you out tonight? Let’s do that. There’s stil real meat in this town if you know where to look."

He pulled away, stalked to the window, back to her. He hated it when she treated him this way, like a child who could be distracted by treats and outings.

“After the last--” Erik dug his fingers into his palm, lowered his voice and was determinedly not petulant. “After the last job, you said we were close--just a few days and we’d have him in our sights--”

It was the reason he was here, Erik reminded himself, the only reason: her promise that she would bring him to Schmidt, that these other jobs--other deaths, he forced himself to think the word--were necessary stepping stones to the real prize. A prize she wanted as much as he did.

“Steak and potatoes,” she murmured. She was beside him now, not touching, just looking out the window, savoring the smoke of her cigarette. “Chocolate gateaux for afters.”

“Why? We’ve got nothing to celebrate.”

“So impatient, darling.” She sounded more disappointed than disapproving. “You’ll learn. We’re almost there. Just one more.”

“No.” Erik shook his head, not looking at her. “No more. Only Schmidt.”

“Ah.” She nudged his hip with hers. “This one I think you’re going to enjoy.”


Sam sipped his beer and took a surreptitious look around the Biergarten Rita. It was filled to bursting, even on a Tuesday night, a thorough mix of servicemen and locals, all talking loud over the music. Dean had chosen well; no one would give Sam a second glance here.

He’d felt self-conscious making the yellow chalk mark in the abandoned factory. He’d been trained in all the basics of trade craft, of course, but his D.O.D. posting had given him very few opportunities to make use of them. He hoped he’d done it right, and that he wasn’t looking suspicious now.

It had been three days since his brother’s midnight visit to his flat, and not one of those days had gone by without Sam thinking he’d seen Dean a dozen times—a dark-haired reflection in a window, the gruff rumble of a half-heard laugh. And every time he’d turned out to be mistaken, the memory of Dean leaving, really leaving them, for the first time—enlisting the day of his eighteenth birthday, just a month after Pearl Harbor—had stabbed through him, as if it had happened yesterday instead of over nine years ago.

But he’d held the course they’d set—hadn’t tried to contact his brother, hadn’t asked around about the arms race in Berlin.

Until that morning.

This time, Sully had actually come to him.

“You’re gonna love this one, Dutch,” he’d said, tossing a slim file onto Sam’s untidy desk. “Casper strikes again, and this time he’s really pissed.

Sam had shot him a puzzled look as he opened the file. One glance at the “cause of death” line on the report, though, and he’d whistled, long and low.

“Impalement? What the hell, Sully?”

“Read on, my friend, read on.” Sully had crossed his arms and watched smugly, as if he’d written the fantastic tale himself.

Sam had, trying to take in the pertinent details as quickly as he could. Location: Tiergarten; time of death: midnight. Victim: Tomas Gruesz, Polish national, importer /exporter.

He had slowed a bit when he came to the description of the crime scene. The park’s iron perimeter fence had been damaged in the war, and was now finally being taken down to make way for a new one. Such work proceeded slowly in Berlin, and for weeks, a pile of six-foot-long metal fence poles had lain untended in the park’s northeast corner. These poles were pointed at both ends—decorative stances at the top, tapered at the bottom. Early that morning, Gruesz had been found at the base of the pile, one such spike through his heart, pinning him to the ground.

“Why do you think it’s Casper?” Sam had asked, looking up at Sully. “Couldn’t someone have just grabbed one of the poles to fight with, got in a lucky throw?”

Sully had shrugged, his usual air of amused cynicism slipping just a bit. “Maybe. Have to be pretty goddamn strong though. Have you seen those things? They’re about this big around.” He made a six-inch circle with his thumbs and forefingers. “Have to be seventy-five pounds if they’re an ounce. Unwieldy, too. If you were going after someone with one, why not just hit them over the head? Why go to the trouble of impalement? It’s—showy, y’know? Like someone had something to prove.”

Sam had nodded. Sully, for all his crudeness, could be pretty canny sometimes.

Then something about the description of the victim had caught his eye: late thirties, slight build, blue eyes, blond hair.

It sounded like—but it couldn’t be—that would have been too much of a coincidence.


Sam gestured at the bartender for another beer, and when he looked down again, Dean was at his elbow. Dean was wearing drab army fatigues now, a cap pulled low over his eyes. The name sewn into the breast pocket wasn’t Winchester.

“And one for my buddy here,” Sam said when the beer appeared in front of him.

They stood together at the bar for a moment, hunched over the frosted glasses, shoulders touching, not looking at each other.

“There’s been another one,” Sam said finally.

“I know.” Dean sounded on edge, and something else besides—tired, maybe even sad.

“You know?” With a sinking feeling, Sam realized his hunch must have been right. “Then that was Gruesz you were with the other night.”

“Gruesz?” Dean looked at him then, quizzical. “That what they’re calling him? Haven’t heard that one for a while. But yeah. He’s—was--my agent. I’ve been handling that network for eighteen months now. But I’ve known him and Irina since ’44, maybe longer.” Something had crept back into Dean’s voice, hollowing it out, slowing it down. He paused, took a long swallow of beer. “Stefan—Gruesz—contacted me yesterday, told me he had something for me, it couldn’t wait. But he didn’t make the meet. Checked around this morning, found out why.”

“You know how he died, then?”

“Yeah.” Dean blew out a long breath. “Damnit.”

“I’m sorry.” Sam wanted badly to put an arm around Dean’s shoulders, to say something more. But he restrained himself. “That fence pole through the heart?” he said instead. “You think it was that metal ray gun of yours?”

Dean shrugged. “What else heaves a giant iron rod through the air, makes a bulls-eye in some guy’s body?” He winced, pain clouding his face for a moment. Then he was back to business. “Sammy—I need you to get me into the D.O.D. morgue—or the police station. Or wherever the body and his personal effects are being kept.”


“’Because if Stefan said he had something for me, he meant something concrete, tangible—a note, a picture, something—that was the way he worked. And if he’d been running things the way he was supposed to, he would have hidden it in something small, innocuous, something he could throw away as soon as he knew he was in trouble. First thing this morning, I was all over that crime scene—and nothing, nada, bupkis. So either the people who killed him have it—whatever it is—or it’s still on him somewhere.”

“Okay, I get that.” Sam nodded. “But what I meant was, why do you need me to get you in there? Don’t you have the clearance for that kind of thing? Can’t you just walk in—Captain in Army Intelligence and all that?”

Dean looked at him, green eyes dark. “Here’s the thing. First thing I find out this morning—my agent’s dead. The second thing? That my superiors want me to clear out of Dodge, roll up the operation, head back to HQ.”

“Huh?” Then it hit Sam like a blow to the stomach. This, oh fuck, this is what he’d hated so much about Winchester family life. “Right. Because they think whoever killed Gruesz might come after you next—might think you already know what he knew.” .

Dean looked at him for a moment, then nodded, staring into his beer.

“So maybe you should listen to them, Dean. Clear out, lie low. You were the one who told me this was gonna get ugly—time to heed your own advice.” Sam kept his voice low, but he knew Dean would hear the anger in it anyway, that old fury at the Winchester compulsion to get in harm’s way.

“Soon, Sammy, soon.” Dean sounded almost beseeching. “But I have to warn Irina first, make sure she has a safe route of out here.”

“Won’t your people, your bosses, take care of that?”

“Maybe. But I—let’s just say I gotta make sure it happens—I owe her that much. Stefan, too. After—well, you can’t really understand how crazy things were here in ’44—and he--- Sam, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it that I can’t leave ‘til I know who did this to him—”

Sam stared at him. Some things never changed, indeed, and that was Dean—crazy and loyal long past the point where loyalty was a virtue . But there was nothing to be done about it now.

“So, you need to see the body without people knowing you’ve seen it, huh?”

Dean nodded again.

“I’ll see what I can do. Meet me tomorrow, here, I’ll let you know.”

“Thanks, Sam.” Dean started to push away from the bar.

“You going there now, to find Irina?”

Dean shrugged.

“I’m coming with you. And don’t bother telling me not to. If you’re trying to evade your own people, someone’s gotta watch your back.”

Sam expected Dean to protest more, but instead he nodded, and paid for their drinks. As soon as they stepped out into the chilly night, the casual nonchalance Dean had shown in the bar vanished. His brother became alert, tense, moving with a quick, purposeful stride. The moon was almost full, making it easy for Sam to follow in his brother's footsteps--which he became grateful for , because Dean wasn't making it easy for anybody to follow.

He kept doubling back, taking side streets and alleyways, until Sam wasn't quite sure where they were. Dean never hesitated, never slowed, and Sam found himself wondering. Dean had talked as if he'd just arrived in Berlin, but he clearly knew his way around the city . The wind picked up, and Sam shoved cold hands in his pockets, his mind worrying at this proof of Dean’s other life. Dean had always remained fairly tight-lipped about what he'd done during the war, aside from the occasional exciting story or horrifying detail, and Sam had only a vague idea what his brother had been doing since then.

They'd skirted around a pile of construction equipment, and started to cut down an alley, when Dean stopped abruptly, motioned Sam toward a pool of shadows cast by a large crane. Sam hesitated for a second, confused, then followed Dean's direction. He watched as his brother continued down the alley, not sure what was going on.

Two men suddenly blocked Dean's path.

Dean slowed, said something. Sam recognized it as Russian, recognized the cockiness in his brother's voice, too.

Both men growled something back, and immediately jumped Dean.

Oh, hell. His dumb brother was still picking fights. Sam took one step, meaning to help, but caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. He changed tactics, edging along the crane, until he could pick out the outline of a coat and a hat. There was a third person, hugging the shadows along the alley wall.

He moved in low, snapping out with one boot. He’d assumed he’d have the element of surprise, but his opponent spun around, lightening fast, dodging the kick. A fist came at him and he ducked, whirled, countered with a swing of his own. The man was well trained in hand-to-hand, better trained than Sam, in fact. He continued to swing and feint, but he was definitely out-matched.

The man managed to land a blow, and then two more, hard punches that hurt. He could feel himself getting rattled, and he re-focused, relying less on trying to get past the man’s quick blocks, and relying more on his longer reach, and the dirty street fighting tricks his father had taught him. He managed to grab the man’s coat, but he tore away from Sam with unexpected strength, and out of his reach again.

Damnit, the guy was fast.

He parried again, swung, missed, inched back. Wait--maybe? He left his side exposed, and as he expected, his opponent made a feint, testing to see if was a trick. He edged a little more to his right, almost--there!

He stepped onto the end of a long piece of lumber, spun, catching the other end as it came off the ground. He swung hard, putting his shoulder and back into it, caught the guy hard in the ribs. Fought the recoil, and shoved upward, slamming the end of the 2x6 against his assailant's jaw.

There was a satisfying crack, and the guy dropped like a sack of potatoes. As he landed, face up, his hat came off, and dark blond curls spilled out.

Sam sucked in air, staring down at his opponent in shock.

“Sam, come on!” Dean’s voice, low and urgent.

He gave the unconscious woman one more quick look, then followed. Instead of using the streets, Dean went up. Went around to the next building, then hauled down an old fire escape, his movements slow, but deliberate, easing it down, the old metal giving only a slight groan. Sam scrambled up first, and then Dean. He raised the fire escape, motioned towards the roof.

Once they were at the top, Dean hunched against an old brick chimney, trying to block some of the bite of the cold winter wind, whispered, “KGB. I’ve dealt with Ivan and his buddies before. Ivan’s boss is a real pain in the ass--he's always got a contingency plan. So it’s either keep walking and find ourselves stuck with some new dance partners or--”

“Do this the hard way?” Sam whispered back, shaking a little as the adrenaline rush faded.

“Bingo.” Dean’s eyes narrowed, as he looked across rooftops, obviously mapping their route, “Question is, why? Gotta be onto something if the KGB is willing to send their goons after us.”

“Goons?” Sammy grinned. Only his brother would write off KGB agents so dismissively.

“Yeah, goons, Sammy. “ Dean grinned back, mock-punched Sam's shoulder, “OK, follow me--and try to remember what I taught you.”

Dean took off across the rooftops; Sam followed. It was an odd way to see Berlin, although the night was dark enough that he couldn’t see much. He was also freezing, the bitter wind cutting through his coat. Fortunately, it turned out that their destination wasn’t far, and eventually Dean stopped at another fire escape, disappeared down it. He stopped two flights down, rapped softly on a window. A moment later, the sash opened, and he shot Sam a grin over his shoulder, clambered over the sill.

Sam was very much aware of his size as he managed, barely, to squeeze through. He closed the window, and turned. The room must've once been a library, but it was now sparsely furnished. A desk and a chair, a couple of thin rugs, a row of empty bookcases, and a radio on the mantle. A small, lushly-built woman, with black hair, and a beautiful heart-shaped face, was standing by the fireplace. She was wearing a dark, plain dress now and very little makeup, but she was still instantly recognizable as the woman from the coffee shop. She glanced at Sam, sharply, as if his face rang a bell too, and then back to Dean, silently asking.

"It’s all right, Irina." Dean sat down on the corner of desk, fingers unconsciously hitching his fatigues up like he was more used to wearing slacks. The quiet, intense Dean who'd just led Sam across Berlin was gone, as if he'd never existed. This Dean was cool and sophisticated, and talked with a trace of an upper-class British accent, "I’ve had occasion to work with this gentleman before."

Had occasion? Gentleman? How many personas did his brother have?

"My name's Sam. Sam Carpenter." His alias rolled off his tongue easily these days.

"Pleasure to meet you, Sam. I’m Irina." She inclined her head, speaking with an accent Sam couldn't quite place, then arched an eyebrow as she looked back at Dean, her tone becoming gently chiding. "I was told you were being reassigned."

"Stefan is dead." Dean was good. He spoke of his friend's death with a certain aloofness that was a sharp contrast to the emotion he'd shown at the bar.

"He is?!" Irina's eyes widened in shock and her hand flew to her mouth.

"I’m afraid so." Dean's tone never changed, "Someone put a metal pole through his chest." Irina's eyes flicked to Sam, and he added, "Sam’s aware of the existence of the weapon. He came to me with certain significant new details about the matter."

"We need to find this weapon, now--stop what’s happened to Stefan from happening to others--to us."

"No, Irina, it’s not safe." Dean shook his head, got to his feet. He unconsciously tugged his collar, straightened his cap, "You must leave Berlin--tonight if possible."

"But Dean--"

"No. Whoever has this weapon, they must know we’re close." He took a couple of steps toward her and put a hand on her shoulder. Something passed between them that Sam couldn’t quite understand, but whatever it was made Irina cover Dean’s hand with her own. "Please, Irina, listen to me for once. Get out. Now. As for whoever is staying here with you--use your best judgment. But please, do not leave any loose ends. I cannot protect you now. Sam?"

He went back through the window, and once again Sam followed. Dean took the fire escape to the roof, then crouched, motioned Sam to do the same.

Something was wrong; Dean was worried. He squatted, hunching against the wind as he whispered, "What is it?"

"I need to see the body tonight." Dean whispered back, "Do you think you can get me in?"

"Sure. But why?"

Dean's voice turned rough, thick with emotion, "Because Stefan's dead and Irina's lying."


  • I don't know much about XM at all (aside from Hugh Jackman, yum), and so I wasn't going to read this....But - I was intrigued by the AU, and I am so glad I started reading!

    Love your smart, darkly dangerous undercover Dean. I love that he speaks German and Russian and - upper-class British-accented English! Ye gods, I think I swooned right there. *g*

    Anyway, I am looking forward to more. Keep it coming. :)
    • oh, cool! We're so glad you're enjoying it! I don't think you need to know any XM canon at all--Dean and Sam certainly don't! Thanks for the encouragement to keep writing!
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