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It's only sometimes. Sam gets itchy, skin too tight. He doesn't pick fights with Dean; Dean would eventually notice a pattern, instincts guiding him towards the truth. He's more subtle: offhand comments that remind Dean of Dean's own insecurities, his fears that Sam will never fully recover the respect he had for Dean. It's a miracle—no, not a miracle, because miracles come from God—it's astonishing that Dean still cares what Sam thinks, and it's another black mark on Sam's soul that Sam takes advantage like this. But Sam's been left in the fire too long, burnt past recognition, and black on black is nothing.

This time Sam accidentally-on-purpose disparages Dean's intelligence, and when the hunt is done Dean takes off to find a bar. He'll be back swaying and sex-sticky, bleeding or counting a wad of bills or both. He'll be back later, and that's what Sam needs.

Sam showers, ash and blood washing away into the sewers, clogging the drain. When he comes out of the bathroom, Castiel is there.

Sam shakes his head like a dog (hellhound), flicking water all around. He drops his towel and goes to his knees. When Castiel nods, Sam begins to crawl across the tired, rough motel carpet, dragging his palms across it to feel the burn.

He's not sure how this became part of the ritual. It's impossible that Castiel ordered him to do it outright. But the first couple of times are pretty fuzzy in his memory, which Sam tells himself is because of how fucked-up he was after the world nearly ended. Of course, he's pretty fucked-up now, so it's not a fantastic explanation.

Arriving within touching distance of the angel, Sam stops and bows his head.

"Do you give yourself over wholly to the service of God and His angels?" Castiel rasps, same as always. At first Sam thought that maybe he meant he was going to share Sam around, but that never happened (and how many unfallen angels can there be who would do this, really?), so now Sam figures it's part of Castiel's own issues, not meant for him.

Sam swallows, tries to find his voice. "I do," he says, hearing the desperation in his tone. Once in a while he pretends that this isn't anything like his time with Ruby. But he's trying not to lie to himself quite so much—saving his lies for everyone else—and just because he doesn't need it as often doesn't make him any less addicted. His only hope is that Castiel seems just as caught up in this, whatever this is.

Sometimes Sam wonders what would have happened if the angel had picked a female host, one Dean could love more earthily.

But Castiel is waiting. Sam reaches out with steady hands (trained to be steady through all kinds of emotion, though Dad probably never anticipated this) and unbuckles, unzips, strokes Castiel's cock until it's hard.

He hopes Jimmy Novak isn't watching. If he could ask questions, he might ask that of Castiel. Instead, he leans forward and wraps his mouth around Castiel's dick, swallowing and letting his spit leak freely.

Castiel's hands settle on his head, cool dry palms pressed against his cheeks, guiding him. Sam's eyes water but he keeps them open so he can see how Castiel's expression never changes, his eyes blue as polar ice. Castiel thrusts smoothly, heedless of Sam's need to breathe, barely letting Sam gulp air as he goes deeper.

When Castiel comes, his fingers dig hard into Sam's skin, his thumbs painful pressure against Sam's cheekbones. Castiel practically shoves Sam backwards; Sam catches the last spurt on his tongue, then has to stop himself from bringing his hand up to wipe at his wet chin. He's learned that Castiel does not react well to unauthorized movements like that.

Castiel isn't even breathing hard. That's okay; Sam is panting loud enough for the both of them.

Sam waits for Castiel to decide what to do next. This part is unpredictable. Sam's been fucked on the floor, hard enough to take the skin off of his elbows and knees; he's been spanked like a disobedient child; he's been just held, Castiel spooned up behind him on the bed (Dean's bed) fully clothed with his arm wrapped heavily around Sam's chest and it was so intense that Sam couldn't hold in his sobs. That last one only happened the once, even though Castiel had stayed until Sam had cried himself out.

Instead of any of these, Castiel's head snaps up, like a hawk catching movement at the edge of its vision. "Dean returns," he says, and he's gone, leaving Sam hard and naked and shivering, water from his shower dripping cold down the back of his neck, suddenly noticeable again.

Sam doesn't know what kind of timeline Castiel is working on, so he jumps to his feet. He hears the door to the motel room open just as he manages to shut himself back in the bathroom, panting with terror and desire.

"Sammy?" Dean calls out, thin edge of worry always present now when he doesn't know exactly where Sam is.

"Just taking a shower!" Sam yells. "Thought you were going out!"

"You better not be jerking off in there," Dean warns, jocular and drink-heavy, and Sam's hard-on jumps. It's a hot shower or a cold one, and Sam turns the water on until it steams, the sound drowning out whatever mock-offensive comments Dean might be making.

When he closes his eyes and fists his cock, he doesn't see anything. Nothing but light.

Sam comes out, after, with the ridiculously small motel towel barely covering the essentials. What with the one he left outside the bathroom when Castiel showed up, he's now soaked every one that housekeeping provided, and Dean is going to bitch all day tomorrow about it, but he can't bring himself to care very much.

Dean inspects him, rather obviously swallows a mocking comment, and turns back to Sam's computer. "Cas dropped by," he says, and Sam's hands twitch so hard he nearly loses his grip on the towel.

Sam hurries over to his duffel and pulls on a pair of shorts. "Really," he says.

"Don't sound so excited," Dean chides, tapping away. "Says there's a job for us out in Pennsylvania."

"That why you're back early?" Sam asks, and thinks he sounds normal, or whatever he is instead of normal.

"Nah, he came by the room," Dean says, uninterested. His hands slow on the keyboard, stop. "I just—I miss you, okay?" He's staring at the screen, because Dean can sustain an emotional moment longer if he's only devoting one sense to it.

The words hit Sam harder than punches. Sam's shoulders drop and he brings his arms in, instinctive self-protection. "I'm right here."

Dean snorts. "Yeah, whatever."

I don't know what's wrong with me is the first thing Sam thinks. But that's enough of a lie that he can't make himself say it to Dean. Dean's heard enough of his lies. I'm fucking your angel is true, but distracting, and he has the feeling it would hurt Dean a lot more than it would help. "What do you want me to do?" he asks at last, despairing.

"I want you to be my brother again," Dean says, lifting his head. His eyes are shining and Sam remembers saying those words, what seems like a hundred years, a thousand deaths, ago.

Being Dean's brother. It's so much easier to be the failed antichrist, the fugitive from justice, the ghost hunter, the angel's whore. So much easier, and so much worse.

Dean looks shocked when Sam's hand closes on his shoulder, and he doesn't get any less freaked when Sam drags him over to the bed and shoves him into place, draping over him like he's a (well-armed, beer-scented) body pillow. After less than a minute, he draws breath for what Sam just knows is going to be some bullshit deflection. "Shut up," Sam suggests, and miraculously it works. Dean wriggles his shoulders and toes off his boots and settles back, heavy and warm even through his clothes.

Nothing's fixed, not by a long shot; Dean will always forgive him, but Dean can't offer forgiveness on behalf of the whole world. But he owes Dean better than he's been giving.

Dean falls asleep quickly, his breath settling into a rhythm Sam knows better than his own heartbeat. Sam's about to follow when he feels a rustling in the air, a chill along his exposed skin.

Careful not to disturb Dean, he raises his head.

Castiel is standing next to the bed. His face is expressionless. He isn't paying any attention to Sam.

Sam's going to stop driving Dean away, because it's wrong. But he knows, in every cell, that he's going to find ways to summon Castiel. They recognize each other's sins in ways Dean will never, should never have to, understand.

A blink, and Castiel is gone.

Next time, Sam's pretty sure, Castiel is going to make him bleed.

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