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“A proposal, Sam.”

Sam flinched and didn’t look at Lucifer’s apparition. He’d hoped that one of the many sigils around the room would have kept Lucifer away. Apparently demon blood trumped more than just Enochian carvings on bone when it came to the Morningstar, but Sam had still been willing to try, mostly just to have something to do that wasn’t waiting for the skies to catch fire.

“Don’t you want to hear it?”

“Do I have a choice?” Damn it, he sounded like he was talking to Dad, angry but resigned to greater authority. He couldn’t afford to think of Lucifer that way. He set his jaw and turned to face Lucifer, pushing up so that he wasn’t in such a vulnerable position.

“Oh, I think you’ll like this. Well, relatively speaking.” Lucifer grinned winningly and Sam hated him just a little bit more. “Relatively.”

Sam sat up straighter and crossed his arms.

“I miss my brother, Sam.” He held up his hand before Sam could get any words out. “I know, I’m still mad, but I miss him just as much. Family, right? Now, once you say yes and Dean does the same, Michael and I will be—let’s just say I don’t expect it to end well. So in this, I need you as my—proxy. Or maybe stunt double.”

“What are you talking about?” Sam demanded, so confused he had to wonder if it was a deliberate tactic, speaking in riddles to trick him into saying yes.

“If you do one thing for me, I will give you one year—you, and the rest of the world. One year without any further steps towards the apocalypse. Death takes a sabbatical, except for what you would naturally do to yourselves. What’s a year to me, now that I’m free, anyway?”

Sam was aware that he was gaping, and probably looked like a prime idiot. He’d challenge anyone to do better confronted with this. “You still haven’t—”

“I want to watch you and Michael—you and Dean—together. Mouth to mouth, body to body. Coupling.”

The noise Sam made didn’t come close to coherence.

“We loved each other, once, in all the ways angels might love. I want very much to remember that. To see it again, written on your bodies. Michael let me have everything.” Lucifer’s face twisted in what looked like honest pain. “Everything but his faith, when I needed it most.”

Even though it was high up on the list of things not to say to an evil overlord, Sam was pretty fucking close to yelling out, ‘You’re insane!’ He swallowed it down and pretended that this was no more impossible than the rest of his situation. “How would watching do anything for you?”

Lucifer smiled, gentle again. “I am always with you, Sam. I know what you know. With all the love you bear for Michael’s vessel, I will be satisfied. For a year. It’s a good bargain, Sam. When you say yes, you’ll know you tried everything else.”

Sam half wished for Dean’s unerring instinct for saying the most annoying thing possible. Maybe Lucifer would forget himself and smite Sam, instead of doing his level best to break Sam’s brain.

“And Sam—I don’t want you to throw him down and fuck him. Not that it wouldn’t be hot. But I want to see you make love.”

Sam could only stare at him in astounded wonder.

“Tomorrow night,” Lucifer said. “Or the offer expires. Along with a number of people, I might add.”

Sam didn’t sleep the rest of the night. By the time Dean got up, he still hadn’t figured out what he wanted to say. Showers and breakfast and two hours of driving went by, and they were on a deadline. Sam set his shoulders, looked straight out the windshield, and started talking.

“Let me get this straight,” Dean said when Sam ground to a halt. Sam winced. “Lucifer wants us to make sweet, Sarah McLachlan love?”

Maybe ‘straight’ had been an unfortunate word choice. Or maybe repressed hilarity was the only thing keeping him sane right now. He glanced over, checking Dean’s expression, which was caught somewhere between shock and hysterical amusement. “One year, Dean. Don’t we have to at least think about it?”

Dean widened his eyes. “Okay, I’ve thought about it. No.” But Sam could tell that the implications were just now hitting him.

“In a year, we could—”

“I’ve had my year already,” Dean said, sharp, obviously knowing it would make Sam cringe. And yes, Sam remembered the false confidence and the growing despair, and underneath all that the knawing, ticking terror. It had been almost worse than Dean having only one night, except that Sam wouldn’t have given up a day.

“This could be different,” Sam insisted. “With a year, Castiel might even—”

“Might what?” Dean scoffed, rubbing angrily at his mouth. The car shuddered around them as Dean bore down on the gas.

Okay, so bringing God into this might not be Sam’s absolute best tactic. “I think he was serious. He’s so certain that we’re both—I think he thinks of you as Michael already. I know—” he hurried to cut off Dean’s protest. “I know you’re not saying yes. But Lucifer, he’s convinced himself—and so he’s willing to give us that time. How can we turn it down, if there’s any chance?”

Dean flexed his hands on the wheel, because he knew the answer to that question as well as Sam did.

Miles passed in silence. The air in the car was dry and hot, and Sam knew he’d be shivering when they stepped out for lunch.

“You believe him?” Dean asked abruptly.

“I don’t trust him,” Sam said. It was important to make that clear, before anything else. “But for this, yeah, I believe him.” It could be some sick joke, sure, but Lucifer had staked a lot on the whole not-lying schtick.

“Okay then,” Dean said. He set his jaw, the way he did when he’d committed himself to something he hated. “If you can stand it, I can stand it, right?”

They didn’t talk for the rest of the day.

Dinner was a sit-down restaurant, tablecloths and everything. Sam initially thought Dean was going to tell him that, if Dean was going to put out, Sam needed to buy him dinner first, but he guessed that Dean couldn’t quite make the words come out. Dean stared at the candleflames between them—waste of good fire, he was probably thinking—and ate his steak like it was made of tofu.

They inaugurated a new credit card at an actual hotel, fourteen stories tall, on the outskirts of Chicago. It wasn’t super-fancy, but it was about ten times nicer than their usual, which Sam figured had to count for something.

Dean took a shower while Sam paced, wondering what Dean was doing in there. Wondering what Dean’s concept of sweet Sarah McLachlan love even was. Sam pondered whether he should turn some music on, and what, other than Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Dean might consider romantic.

Lucifer was clearly attempting to drive Sam absolutely batshit. Sam decided to do some research instead, so that he wouldn’t embarrass himself more than what was inherent in sleeping with Dean (which, he was honor-bound to maintain, was pretty fucking embarrassing even if you weren’t related to him, because, Jesus, the bullshit lines Dean used—well, Sam guessed that wasn’t going to be a problem this time, seeing as how Sam was a sure thing).

When Dean came out, steam billowed out around him. He was only wearing a towel, though this one was big enough that it actually covered most of the distance between his waist and his knees. Sam was afraid he’d bathed in cologne or something, but when Dean approached, Sam only smelled Dean, a little spicy from that Body Shop shower gel that he was too vain to give up despite all Sam’s dedicated mockery.

“So, um, how do you want to do this?” he asked, then cursed himself, because no way had he meant to solicit Dean’s input. And now he was making himself blush, glad that Dean couldn’t read his mind and give him the requisite ‘that’s what she said!’ joke.

“I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess you haven’t done this before,” Dean said, stance as loose as if he were waiting for a fight to break out.

Sam tensed, because Dean was apparently going to play this as all-knowing older brother, which was unhelpful even if he was correct in his underlying assumption. “Tender incestuous gay sex? No, haven’t really had much call for that particular variant.”

Dean held his hands up like he was trying to talk a witness out of calling the cops, then had to grab quickly for the towel as it threatened to get the party started early. “I’m just saying, the basic stuff, I don’t know how romantic it is.”

Sam closed his eyes. As he feared, just as Dean’s sexual vocabulary came from porn, his romantic vocabulary came from TV, where true love required the missionary position. Which actually explained a lot, come to think of it. “Dean,” he said, “when it’s someone you love, pretty much anything can be romantic. Yeah, you can fuck, but you can be making love at the same time.”

When Sam checked Dean’s expression under the guise of pushing his bangs out of his eyes, he saw that Dean had his deep-thinking face on. He’d better cut that off at the pass. “Why don’t you start by undressing me?” he suggested, because Dean was pretty far ahead of him on that count. Taking off his clothes would be intimate but bearable.

Dean answered by closing the remaining distance between them and starting on Sam’s overshirt. They both watched his hands, flick flick flick of the buttons with the same grace as he used to clean a weapon. When he was done, he smoothed his hands up Sam’s chest, pushing the shirt off. The sensation was—Sam hadn’t been touched in a while, not in gentleness.

Then Dean’s hands were at his waist, tugging his T-shirt free, tangling with his arms as he raised them to help Dean work. The cool hotel air hit his newly bared skin, making him shiver. Dean didn’t hesitate, just dropped down to his knees and started working on Sam’s boots, which he’d forgotten to take off, and the shock of the position was enough to make Sam wobble on his feet. Dean didn’t raise his eyes from Sam’s laces, as if he’d be able to deny the reality of Sam’s hard-on if he didn’t look.

Sam balanced easily on one leg and then the other, boots and socks coming off so quickly he barely felt Dean’s fingers caressing his heel and the ball of his foot.

Dean switched to working on Sam’s belt, opening the buckle so easily that Sam had to wonder how many times he’d done the same thing from this angle, popping the button on Sam’s jeans and sliding the zipper down gently over Sam’s erection.

Sam felt like he ought to explain himself, but really, what could he possibly have said? He gasped when Dean kissed his naked thigh, soft and what felt a lot like reverent, before pushing his jeans and boxers all the way down.

He stumbled out of the puddle of his clothes, and Dean followed him backwards to the bed, towel discarded with everything else. Dean’s skin was still warm from his shower, damp and silky over muscle and bone where Sam’s fingers skidded across his shoulders.

Dean pushed Sam down, arms coming out to catch his own weight, landing just heavily enough that Sam could feel that Dean was hard too, probably from the proximity. Or maybe Dean was just that easy.

Dean took advantage of the change of position to stretch up and kiss him, lips confident but not too aggressive. He kissed like he was performing an Olympic routine, practiced and so smooth that one move seemed to flow seamlessly into the next.

It felt good, really disturbingly good, until Sam realized that this was seduction, not romance. They couldn’t give Lucifer a chance to weasel out of his promise. He reached up to wrap his hands around Dean’s biceps and lifted his head from the bedspread just a little, kissing Dean back. Dean was clean-shaven; Dean had readied himself for this, and the realization made him tremble. His hips rocked up, their dicks rubbing together, a touch of wetness on his abs.

Sam rolled them over so that he could put his hands on Dean’s chest more easily, mapping the unscarred skin with his palms and his fingertips. Dean made little pleased grunts every time Sam’s fingers tightened, so Sam didn’t hold back, clutching hard enough that Dean finally left off trying to keep up with the kisses and just moaned into Sam’s mouth.

They needed to make this good for Lucifer, so Sam palmed the side of Dean’s face, letting his thumb slip between Dean’s parted lips. Dean turned his head a little, nipping at Sam’s thumb and arching his neck so that they were pressed even closer together. “I love you,” Sam breathed, and Dean twitched violently, but obviously remembered enough not to protest further.

Eyes closed, Dean sucked at Sam’s thumb now like it was his dick, and Sam found himself humping Dean’s hip. Dean opened his mouth and Sam slid his hand down, over Dean’s throat, Dean sighing in surrender, as if he’d let Sam press down and cut off Dean’s breath.

Sam kissed Dean’s shoulder, across the top of his chest, over his heart. He worked his way down slowly, letting Dean rock up against him, thrilling to the way Dean’s hands roamed over his shoulders and tangled in his hair. Dean’s cock was red and leaking but he ignored it, nosing down the crease of Dean’s thigh and licking at his sac.

Dean groaned when Sam pushed his legs up, and Sam had to clamp down hard enough to bruise to keep Dean from pulling away from him when he put his mouth to Dean’s rim. The shocked, nearly hurt noises Dean made were worth the strangeness of it. He worked Dean open with his tongue, and then added his fingers, stroking in and out as Dean beat his fists uselessly against the bedspread.

“Hold yourself open for me,” he told Dean, and watched as Dean complied, fingers splayed just above his knees, clutching at the back of his own thighs.

Sam was as generous with the lube as he dared, afraid that Dean would break character if he tried too obviously to be gentle. He paused just long enough to rub the head of his cock around Dean’s hole, teasing himself. When he looked up, Dean’s lashes were hiding his eyes, his mouth pursed like he wanted to say something.

Sam slid inside just enough to feel Dean opening to him, Dean gasping like he couldn’t fill his lungs, like Sam was pushing all the air out of him. Sam moved forward in short thrusts, digging his fingernails into his palms to keep from coming right then. When he was halfway there, Dean’s hands slipped from his thighs and his legs came down, bracketing Sam’s hips. The new angle surprised him enough to make him slam all the way home, Sam’s whimper drowned by Dean’s near-bellow. It wasn’t a sound of pain, which was fortunate, because Sam was in no condition to worry.

Dean’s hands came up and locked on Sam’s biceps, as if Sam was going to try to get away. He could feel the brand of Dean’s cock between them, getting just the barest friction as their chests rubbed together.

He craned his neck back enough that he could see Dean’s face, Dean’s eyes closed in concentration, the flush across his cheeks and his forehead. Sam braced his knees on the bed and started moving his hips, pushing them up the bed until he had to put a hand up to brace against the headboard, Dean wrapped around him like a shield. Sam worked his hand between them, their bodies already sweat-sticky, and fisted Dean’s cock, thick and veined, shockingly soft-skinned against his hunting-callused fingers.

He jacked Dean in the same rhythm that he moved his hips, focusing on Dean to keep himself from losing it too soon. He dipped his head and nuzzled at the skin right in front of Dean’s ear. “You feel so good,” he breathed. Dean clenched around him and Sam knew he wasn’t going to last much longer.

“What you do to me, Dean, you don’t even—” He sped up his strokes, trying desperately to get through this without a heart attack.

His thumb pressed down just below Dean’s cockhead, where it was wettest. Dean said, sounding surprised, “Oh God Sammy—” and just convulsed, coating Sam’s hand with come, bowing up and squeezing Sam so tight that Sam couldn’t think, could only follow right after, head ringing, like Lucifer’s arrival shaking through his every cell except beautiful, beautiful.

When he came back to himself, Dean was petting his shoulder, not making any attempt to push him off. Sam should probably be a gentleman and move—he wasn’t exactly a featherweight—but he couldn’t convince himself to care. And, as his higher functions reset themselves, he figured that they should probably make sure that Lucifer got a real eyeful.

“I love you,” he said, and Dean jolted, hard enough that he slipped out and then they both had to pause and gasp for breath.

“I love you,” again, and now Dean was pushing at him, scrabbling to get some purchase on the bed. “I love you.”

“Please,” Dean begged, biting down hard on his lip to suppress whatever came next.

Sam couldn’t stop, Dean knew that as well as he did, and anyway Sam wanted to say it, just this once, no more compelling excuse ever likely to present itself. “I love you,” he repeated, muffling the words against Dean’s shoulder.

Dean’s face twisted as if he’d been shot. “I can’t, Sammy,” he moaned, which, yeah, Sam had known all along that nothing about this was Dean’s gig. Sam was a big boy, he could deal with that, even knowing that it wasn’t just unwillingness to use the words that stopped Dean, not these days when all his illusions about Sam had been shattered. Dean had loved the earlier version of Sam; these days, he was just being a grown-up.

“It’s okay,” Sam managed, though there was something in his throat that made the words come out rough and trembling.

Dean’s eyes flew open, focusing instantly on Sam, because even now he did care, Sam knew that. Sam’s expression must have been as unguarded as his voice; Dean blinked and raised his hand to brush Sam’s bangs out of his eyes, a gesture as comforting as it was futile. Dean sucked his lower lip between his teeth, then took a deep breath. “I can’t give that to him,” he said.

Sam didn’t know what he was feeling, only that his blood was running molten through his veins, his bones bird-light. “Can you give it to me?”

Dean shuddered and closed his eyes again.

Sam tried not to let the disappointment make him recoil. It wasn’t Dean’s fault, or at least no more than Sam’s. No wonder that Dean wouldn’t want the thing that had made him sell his soul and play his part in this whole long collapse, once he had the chance to renounce it.

Dean was strong and brave and staying. Sam couldn’t do better than that.

“I love you,” Dean said, and Sam jolted. Dean’s eyes were half-hidden by his wet lashes, fat tears trailing down the sides of his face. “I tried not to, but. I love you so much I want to—”

Sam shut him up by smashing their faces together; the kiss drew blood, but not nearly as much as Dean finishing that sentence would have done. Dean met him kiss for kiss, touch for touch, and Sam didn’t care any more who was watching.

Later, Dean sleeping exhausted next to him, Sam dreamed.

“You held up your end of the bargain,” Lucifer said. “Enjoy the world you made.”

And if he seemed discontent, like maybe he hadn’t liked what he’d seen nearly as much as he’d hoped, that was just a bonus.

END

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