RivkaT http://localhost/rivkat Welcome to my humble abode Wed, 02 Mar 2011 07:04:58 +0000 en hourly 1 And time yet for a hundred indecisions (the yellow smoke remix) http://localhost/rivkat/?p=579 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=579#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 02:08:09 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=579 here. S2 AU: Jo's joined the Winchesters in hunting. Sam sees an excellent opportunity. NC-17 for possibly disturbing sexual situations. Beta by giandujakiss.]]> Jo’s been living with them long enough that Sam doesn’t need to hide things any more.

She even dropped her guard enough to walk out of the bathroom naked once, thinking they were out. Dean jerked his eyes away like he expected someone in the room would castrate him for looking, and Sam enjoyed watching Dean freak, so Jo was able to restore her dignity—or anyway, grab a towel—in relative peace. Later, there was the flying glass that tore Sam up something good, when Dean had to do some tricky work pulling fragments out of Sam’s back while Sam was also bleeding from the slice high on his thigh. Jo stepped up and put in the stitches with just a sheet between her and a personal interview with Sam’s dick. Sam was grateful for the sheet, since the grinding pain had set in and he wasn’t exactly showing to best advantage at that particular moment.

Dean thinks he let Jo join up with them, congratulates himself on it every time having a third person (tiny, blonde, appealing in ways they aren’t) lets them get into places or take down a monster more efficiently. Sam lets him think that, because it’s not worth the energy to point out just who made the suggestion and waited out Dean’s counterarguments. Dean’s been spinning like a ball bearing on glass since Dad died, and Dean always does better when he’s able to take care of someone else. Sam refuses to let that person be him, but training an up-and-coming hunter fills the bill.

And there are other benefits.

It doesn’t take much to convince Dean to jerk off while she’s supposed to be out doing research. Dean hit puberty at Mach 5 and hasn’t gotten any less oversexed over time. Sam would resent it if Dean just didn’t love sex so purely, with a glee that’s hard to describe as anything less than innocent. Dean loves pie, the Impala, and orgasms uncomplicatedly; everything else has issues, even if Dean does love one other thing more.

Sam hurries them out the door that morning, before Dean can get his usual session in the shower, leaving Jo to her own assignment with a wave. Sam keeps Dean with him, interviewing witnesses, until there’s just enough time for a quick stop at the motel room before lunch, right about when Jo should’ve finished up at the police station.

Claiming to have spilled coffee on his pants, Sam grabs a shower for himself, leaving Dean lying on their bed, boots off and fingers already creeping towards his belt. Dean’s not exactly shy when it comes to Sam, but in the past few months (after Dad, which suggests a lot of things that Sam isn’t going to examine) there’s been a greater tension between them. Last year, Dean would have called out his thanks just to emphasize what he was about to do. Now, he just rolls onto his side as Sam shuts the door.

Sam’s phone buzzes on the counter as he turns on the water: Jo, telling them that she’s on her way. Sam gets himself clean quickly, even though his dick wants him to take some time, and manages to have his boxers on when he hears the outer door open.

He cracks the bathroom door and Jo’s still frozen in the doorway, silhouetted against the noon sun, nothing but the vaguest details of her shocked mouth and widened eyes visible. Then Sam’s gaze too is drawn to Dean, who’s registered Jo’s arrival but is just too close to stop. Dean’s jeans have been pushed down over his thighs, his shirt rucked up to show the plane of his stomach. Dean’s hand is tight around his cock, the slick red head looking extra fat as it peeks out from his tanned fingers. Dean lets his head fall back, eyes closing, as he gives it up, his free hand clenched in the bedcovers. His close-stubbled jaw is shining with sweat and he grunts as he comes, streaks darkening his T-shirt and sliding down his belly.

Jo stammers out something and closes the door, way too late to pretend innocence. Sam highly doubts she even noticed Sam caught her looking.

“… Shit,” Dean gasps. He turns his head towards the now-closed door and tries to push himself upright, but it’s too soon and he just flails around, getting the bedspread even messier with his spunk.

“Should’ve charged admission,” Sam says, amused, and Dean’s head jerks around towards him. Sam bets he’d be just as flushed from the sex alone, but it is highly satisfying to see Dean embarrassed, given that he pretends to have no sense of shame whatsoever.

Dean struggles to his feet, wiping his hand on his ruined shirt, tugging his jeans up and busying himself with his belt and boots. He swallows a couple of times, obviously trying to think his way out of this one, which isn’t his strong suit even when his brain isn’t orgasm-fogged.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sam tells him. “She was surprised, but you know the only thing she minds is that you didn’t ask her to join in.”

“Shut it,” Dean snaps, then fights his T-shirt off and starts looking around for a clean one.

Sam’s across the room in a few steps, cold air pebbling his skin—he’s less dressed than Dean, and usually that would make him feel vulnerable, but things are different right now—until he’s close enough that Dean has to tilt his head up to meet Sam’s eyes. Dean’s mouth tightens in annoyance.

“It would be okay,” Sam says, softly. “You can, if you want. I won’t mind.”

Dean tries to snort, because he can’t let any suggestion that Sam might have an influence on his decisions let pass unremarked, but his attempt is largely unsuccessful. Instead he swallows, turns his head a fraction, and rubs the back of his neck. “It’s not okay,” he nearly whispers. “I’m supposed to—it’s my job to take care of her.”

“She’s a grownup,” Sam points out, because he’s fine with having this conversation by proxy. For now.

“It’s a bad idea,” Dean says with desperate finality and shoulders past Sam towards his duffel.

Sam doesn’t say anything, just stretches and then goes for his own clothes. They meet Jo out by the car, where she gives a slightly pink-faced report about what she found as they drive towards the local diner.

At lunch, while Dean’s in the bathroom, Sam leans forward over the table. “Dean’s not really housebroken, but I’m working on training him.”

Jo’s face goes tomato red again. “I knocked!” she says in preemptive defense—she really does have a lot in common with Dean, down to her aim and her unhealthy attachment to her weapons.

Sam nods reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it,” he advises. “It happens on the road. If you knew the things I’ve walked in on Dean doing—”

That thought keeps Jo flushed and off-balance for the rest of the day.

****

The basic fact of the matter is that Sam needs Dean. Needs him to keep from going darkside, needs him at his back, just plain needs him. And Dean needs Sam right back, even more now that Dad’s gone and Dean thinks he’s got something to make up for. But Dean is also having trouble taking their relationship to the next level, even after a year pressed so close that Sam feels like his blood flows straight into Dean’s veins.

So Sam’s not hating that they stick to renting one room at a time, for money and for safety’s sake, meaning that Sam and Dean end up sharing one bed—king if they’re lucky, queen if they’re not; Sam likes to have a choice about how close he gets to Dean. They don’t wake up tangled together or anything like that, but just the feel of Dean inches away is enough to pour some oil on the troubled waters of Sam’s heart.

Then Meg returns and Sam is gone, into a blackout so deep that he doesn’t even know that time has passed. Except that he opens his eyes and Dean’s shoulder is bulky with bandages and Jo’s neck is bruise-dark and there’s a goose egg on her temple. She’s wary of him and she tries not to be, and the combination feels like she’s pressing on a bad burn.

Dean, though, Dean is mad, but he’s not afraid: he’s known Sam long enough to understand, bone-deep, that Meg was not Sam. Dean puts himself between Sam and Jo, steady as a redwood, until Jo starts to relax and Sam starts to believe that the main thing he did wrong was to not have the anti-possession tattoo.

There is darkness in him. He can’t hide from that. When he tries, it just leads to more people getting killed. There’s a line from Mom to Jess to Steve Wandell and the sooner Sam faces that fact, the better.

So Sam needs to be in charge, not just carried along with events. He needs to start making some decisions.

It’s well past the witching hour. Jo’s breath has been steady for hours, exhausted from all the digging earlier. Six graves, because they hadn’t been sure which of Carlisle and Roberta Washburne’s short-lived brood had been responsible for luring five kids to their deaths.

Jo hates the ones with kids. Sam’s been picking as many of those as he can without Dean catching on, not because he wants to hurt her but because she needs seasoning. Little bodies will stop meaning more to her than big ones, and she’ll be a better hunter for it. (Dean wouldn’t disagree, but he’d have trouble with the method, which means Sam’s working slowly; Dean has unbelievable instincts and he’ll shut Sam down for months if he notices too high a percentage of kiddie killers.)

Point being, Jo’s deeply out of it. Dean’s asleep too, one hand tucked under his pillow to touch his gun the way another man might put a sleepy hand between his own legs, just for comfort. His face is turned towards Sam, and he hadn’t bothered to put on a T-shirt before bed, so his shoulders are bare to the blue light seeping around the curtains from the parking lot. Dean’s back doesn’t have many scars; Dean doesn’t spend a lot of time running away from danger.

Sam shifts his weight so that he’s pressed up against Dean’s side. Dean startles, just a second, then subsides, wriggling his hips a little in an unconscious invitation that makes Sam’s breath catch. No, what gets him is that Dean knew. Anyone else in the world would have been looking down the barrel of Dean’s gun. But Dean’s body—always honest and true, no matter the words coming out of Dean’s mouth—accepted him, knew him without needing to look.

Sam puts a careful hand on Dean’s hip, feeling his fingers spread out on the hot skin above the waistband of Dean’s boxers. His palm rests on cotton, coarse above flesh and bone. Dean breathes out and Sam pulls, turning Dean on his side until they’re spooning, snaking his other arm under Dean so that they’re pulled tight, chest to back.

Dean mumbles, and in a second he’s going to get loud, so Sam leans forward until his lips are at Dean’s ear. “Shhh.” That brings Dean fully awake, every muscle tensing, but he’s well-trained enough that he’s obediently silent. Before Dean can conclude that there’s an intruder and jump out of the bed, Sam slides his hand off of Dean’s hip and over his belly, fingers dipping into Dean’s boxers so that he gets his hand around Dean’s dick.

“Shhh,” Sam whispers again before Dean’s open mouth can emit its first yelp. “She’ll hear.”

Jo’s sleep is as yet untroubled. Maybe it’s years living behind a bar, or maybe she learned to sleep through worse in college, but she doesn’t have the Winchester hair-trigger on these things, which is what Sam’s been counting on.

Sam can feel Dean’s eyes open in the darkness, peering across the gap between the beds. Dean’s shaking like the Impala in neutral, his dick starting to swell against Sam’s fingers, hot and impossibly soft-skinned, just what Sam was hoping for. Sam bites down on the back of Dean’s neck, using more tongue than teeth but enough of both to make his point.

“Sam,” Dean breathes, his hand clamping down on Sam’s wrist, tugging but not hard enough to force Sam to move if he doesn’t want to. Sam uncurls his fingers anyway and pulls up until his hand is splayed over Dean’s chest, that strong heartbeat now double-timing as Dean sucks in air like he’s about to dive underwater.

“Please, Dean,” he says into Dean’s ear. “If I have you, I know I can fight all the rest of it.” You won’t ever have to keep your other promise, he doesn’t say. He can trust Dean to figure that part out himself. He’s not going to talk about what Dean wants, because Dean doesn’t think he’s supposed to have what he wants, and God only knows he’s not wrong on this particular topic. But Sam doesn’t care any more; hasn’t given a flying fuck about what he’s supposed to do since Dad died and it turned out that Sam was some essential cog in a demonic plan.

Dean’s still breathing like he’s been climbing a mountain, but his bruising grip on Sam’s wrist relaxes and Sam presses down again, cupping his hand around Dean’s still-hardening cock. Sam uses his other arm to pull Dean closer, wrapping around his chest as Sam runs his lips and teeth down the line of Dean’s neck.

Dean bites into his forearm while Sam jerks him off. Dean likes it rough and the bedframe is cheap, so there’s some squeaking, but Jo doesn’t make any sound. Dean comes with a near-whimper and Sam uses his come to slick himself up. He braces himself over Dean’s back, Dean pushed flat on his stomach with his boxers shoved down just enough that Sam can have skin on skin, and grinds himself to orgasm with his dick wedged against Dean’s ass.

When the sun rises, Dean grumps at him to get coffee without raising his head from the pillow. In the bathroom, Sam looks at himself in the mirror and sees no difference at all.

****

After that, they fuck around pretty much constantly. Sam had forgotten how good sex is, especially when the rest of life sucks. They sneak into the shower together while Jo is out and Sam opens Dean up with cheap lotion and fucks him standing. At night, Dean shoves his thigh between Sam’s and they trade hand jobs, or Sam crawls down under the sheets and blows Dean while Dean struggles valiantly to stay silent. Sam pats his thigh when he’s finished, good soldier, and comes all over Dean’s stomach.

Sometimes Dean gets this lost expression, like just after Dad died, but Sam can always coax him out of the mood, especially when Jo will join him in teasing Dean or demanding another sparring session. They’re tearing through ghosts and monsters like they’re trying to collect an encyclopedic set, and Sam doesn’t dream nine nights out of ten. Clean living and clean pipes, Dean would probably say.

Coming back from his mission scouting out the area where the werewolf was last sighted, Sam overhears Dean talking to Jo, low and serious as a shotgun blast. “—could still go back,” he insists. “This is no life for—this is no life.”

Jo murmurs something—she’s refusing. She’s not exactly happy. Their lives are too dangerous and exhausting for happiness, on top of which demons are still following Sam around and Sam’s occasional nightmares break furniture. But she’s doing good work, she knows it, and she’s spending almost twenty-four/seven with Dean, whose gross personal habits and idiotic directives have not managed to dispel her crush. Sam would mock, except for the obvious.

Sam opens the door and Dean looks up, something dark in his eyes. Dean doesn’t want to, but he likes her, and the slight slump of his shoulders tells Sam that he feels guilty about that too, as if Sam were one of his high school girlfriends (and as if Dean had ever given a shit about what his high school girlfriends thought).

That night, after the werewolf dies, Sam takes Dean on his hands and knees, muffling his grunts in the meat of Dean’s shoulder. Dean punches out breath after breath, managing to keep himself silent right up until the end. The noise he makes then is just loud enough that they both freeze, waiting, but the sounds from the next bed don’t change.

Jo hasn’t really been looking at them, for all she stares at Dean, and occasionally at Sam; it’s purely physical there, but she’s not blind (and Sam’s not falsely modest). She sees them in relation to herself, and she thinks that the two of them are close, but she has no idea.

It’s amazing what people will make themselves avoid seeing, when seeing would make their lives more complicated. In his intro psych class, Sam had read about a study where people were asked to watch a film of basketball players and count the number of passes one team made. During the film, a guy in a gorilla suit walked right across the screen, but most of the people were so caught up in doing what they were told that they didn’t even notice.

Sam had already known the basic lesson: If you’re sufficiently bizarre and you keep other people sufficiently busy, you don’t need to worry about hiding. Plain sight just won’t see you.

Jo’s ignorance won’t last, and Sam is happy with that fact. Sam wants the world to know who Dean belongs to, but that’s a bad idea for a whole host of reasons. Jo can stand in for the rest of the population.

****

Ghouls are a fucking mess, especially a nest of them, especially when you decide that you’re such awesome hunters that you can go straight in without a full reconnaissance because you are a fucking moron.

Or so Sam explains to Dean when Dean whines about the gobbets of flesh dripping off of all three of them onto the Impala’s seats. Jo is quiet in the back, not joining in Sam’s lecture even though she has just as much right. She had to deal with a little one, and with the corpse of its littler victim, and it’s at least as bad a night for her as it is for the Impala.

Dean offers her first shower because Dean has a marshmallow heart (and no discernible sense of smell), and they stand in the room and drip offensive fluids on the floor together. “Seriously,” Sam says, because he can’t stop himself. “You gotta be more careful. What would I—Dean, I can’t lose you, you know that, right?”

Dean’s eyes are very white in his dirt- and blood-crusted face. “Sammy,” he says, and it’s him answering not really, but Sam can work with that. His remaining dreams are bloodier than Dean’s ever been, but lately he’s been seeing the three of them together, and they are stronger and more beautiful than anything that tries to fight against them.

“I’ll show you,” Sam says as the shower shuts off. Dean’s not good with words in any capacity. Fortunately Sam knows what he is good at.

****

They go out to a bar and get drunk. Jo matches Sam and Dean shot for shot, which is brave but misguided. After Dean carries her back to the motel room, he holds her hair back from her face while she brings enough of it back up that Sam is less worried about alcohol poisoning. Then Sam helps her choke down a couple of glasses of water while Dean pisses his own night’s drinking out. Dean’s none too steady himself as he ambles towards their bed, far enough gone that he strips down as he walks and is naked by the time he faceplants down. The noise of his near-fall doesn’t make Jo twitch; she’s on her stomach just in case, her face turned towards them, her mouth slack and smushed against the pillow.

Sam finishes in the bathroom and turns off the light. Full moon and cheap curtains mean the room is still pretty bright, which is fortunate because the floor is an obstacle course, weapons and clothes and random crap scattered where they left it, and Sam is not exactly one hundred percent sober himself.

Dean waits half a minute after Sam presses up against him before starting to grope him. Sam kind of wants to be annoyed at how sloppy a drunk Dean is, but it’s unfortunately hot: Dean clumsy and careless, humping Sam’s leg like he doesn’t care how he gets off as long as it happens.

Sam pushes him over onto his back and then goes to town, sucking and licking his way down Dean’s chest, teasing over the tops of Dean’s thighs, resisting the hot heavy pressure of Dean’s hand on his head tugging towards Dean’s cock.

“Dammit, Sam,” Dean growls, too loud, and there’s a distinct gasp from the other bed.

Sam freezes, just a second, then continues, tracing the muscles of Dean’s thigh with his tongue. Dean is twitching like someone’s got a gun in his face, his fingers tightening in Sam’s hair, but he doesn’t push Sam away, and then he starts to relax into it again.

When Sam actually gets his mouth around the head of Dean’s cock, Dean chokes, and Sam pulls right off, tightening his fingers around the base. “If you can’t keep quiet I’m going to stop,” he whispers.

He doesn’t stop.

****

The next morning, Jo avoids meeting their eyes as if they’d sun-blind her. Dean is determined to ignore her freakout, so he slides into the diner booth next to her, facing Sam. Sam’s interested in the way their feet tangle, a little bit of friendly competition for the limited space under the table, but he notices the way Jo jumps at Dean’s outstretched arm across the back of the booth. Jo bites her lip and turns her face towards the window.

All that long day, hurrying to get across the country before the overactive ghost takes its next victim, he watches her in the rear-view mirror. The air in the car seems humid with anticipation, and only Dean seems oblivious.

Dean’s playing it too cool for school, Sam realizes, because Dean really likes her, is maybe afraid of losing her, one way or another. If Jo bolts and then gets herself killed on a solo hunt, Dean will blame himself forever, which raises the stakes a fair amount.

Sam doesn’t think they’ll lose Jo. Ever since they met her, she’s been unable to back away from a challenge, and Sam is definitely giving her that. Every time their eyes almost lock, he can feel the heat grow.

****

That night he waits only long enough to make a creditable pretense that she might be asleep before flipping Dean over and starting with a blowjob, enjoying the feel of Dean lengthening and hardening in his mouth, taking him deeper than he’s ever gone. Dean’s thighs quiver around his head, and when Sam stuffs two of his own fingers into his mouth and then presses them into Dean’s ass, Dean chokes.

Sam pulls off. “Shhh,” he says, blowing cool air over Dean’s shiny, desperate cock. “Don’t wake Jo.”

Almost perfect silence: neither of the other two can do anything but take the shallowest of breaths.

“Do you think she’d like it if she woke up and saw you like this, begging me for it, spreading your legs ’cause you can’t get enough?”

Dean jerks and makes a pained grunt that suggests he’s bitten through his lip.

Sam drops his voice further and speaks the words almost directly into the crease of Dean’s thigh. “It’s okay to want her. It’s okay to have her. I don’t mind as long as it’s us.”

Dean’s body seizes up as he comes, curling his upper body towards Sam, dragging him up for a kiss before Dean’s even finished, his spunk marking a line down Sam’s chest. Sam thrusts a couple of times against Dean’s belly and then he’s done too, hot and sticky between them, filthy with it.

Twenty minutes later, when Dean’s asleep for real, Jo gets out of her bed and sneaks into the bathroom. Her stealth skills have improved; she moves like she weighs no more than a cloud, but Sam’s watching through slitted eyes. The sink turns on and Sam rolls off the bed to wait by the door.

Jo nearly collides with him when she comes out; Sam has to reach out and grab her arms to keep her from falling. Her near-yelp turns into a gasping breath as she gets herself under control. Jo’s eyes dart down to his hands, his hands on her flesh, and Sam can see her nipples harden further under the overlarge T-shirt she’s wearing (which might well be Dean’s; very cute, and Sam has the urge to see whether it still smells like his brother, but he refrains for now).

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up,” she says, cringing.

“No worries,” Sam tells her. “I’ve been up for a while.”

Her nostrils flare at that: she’s smelling him. If the light were better, he’s sure he could see her skin red as hazard lights. She shivers and he releases her so that she can scuttle past and crawl back into her bed.

Sam follows suit. He’s given her the apple of knowledge. Now it remains to be seen whether she’ll eat it.

****

When they get back to the hotel, sometime around three in the morning, covered in mud, blood and viscera, Dean’s flying high and Jo’s not far behind. Dean lives for this, lights up like there’s a nuclear reactor inside him and a searchlight behind his eyes. Jo’s practically giddy, not even wincing yet over the bruise she’s going to have in the morning; endorphins making her feel better before she feels worse.

That’s almost half the reason Sam allowed the ghost to throw her against the crypt, though he would’ve covered Dean first regardless.

Dean is the only one who got truly dirty—and smelly; Jesus, the man can sweat, and by no means in a sexy way. By mutual acclamation, he’s sent to the shower.

Which is also convenient.

Sam waits for the moment Jo realizes that it’s just the two of them. It comes when she’s checking the knives: her hands still and her body stiffens, and then she resumes her work with an artificial confidence that is even more laughable in contrast to her usual hunter’s grace.

Sam moves so that he’s standing next to her. To her credit, she keeps working at the same pace.

“I know you heard us last night,” Sam says.

Jo raises a dagger, but she’s not aiming it. Her hand trembles before she puts it down. Sam puts his hand on her shoulder. “Jo,” he says.

She spins and her mouth is opening to accuse, to demand, to say something, but before she can figure out what, he’s leaning in to kiss her.

She’s as deceptively fragile as a flower made out of bulletproof nylon, opening to him with a suddenness he suspects shocks them both. Sam tastes her deep, kisses her the way Dean would, all welcoming and full of promise.

When he moves away from her mouth to kiss his way down her neck, she gasps again, and he can feel that Dean’s standing in the bathroom doorway, watching them. Sam smiles into her neck and she shudders when she feels it.

“Package deal,” Sam says, low and heated, and he doesn’t have to look at her face to know that she’s nodding.

They strip her down together, Sam in front and Dean behind, moving with the same coordination they share gravedigging.

Dean gets on the bed when Sam pushes him there. Dean’s silently checking in with Sam again and again, searching for some sign on Sam’s face that this is something Sam secretly hates, as if Sam could hate anything that would keep Dean happy. Sam lifts Jo into place, her back against Dean’s chest so that Sam can watch Dean play with her tits and put his own hand over hers when she moves to rub her clit; Dean already knows that Sam wants to take care of that himself. Sam rolls the condom down Dean and then pulls Jo’s hips into position, despite her wriggling. She’s tight and the angle is unusual; Sam works Dean into her slowly, then bends so that he can eat her out while Dean fucks her. She’s salty and thick, delicious, and as much as Sam wants Dean, he’s missed this too, holding her open with his thumbs so he can get a better angle.

Dean whimpers nearly as much as Jo does, but then Sam’s spending nearly as much time on his cock where they’re joined. Jo’s legs aren’t nearly as muscled as Dean’s, but that’s just biology. She’s still strong and lithe, her smooth skin an exciting contrast to Dean’s coarse-haired thighs. He runs his hands up and down both of them.

Dean manages to hold out until just after Jo comes, then groans out his own orgasm, which leaves Sam to help Jo roll off and tell her to watch. She obeys, wide-eyed—he spares a moment to wish either of them were half this compliant on hunts—as he puts Dean on his side so the two of them are facing. Sam leans over long enough to kiss the taste of Jo into Dean’s mouth, and then he’s curled up behind Dean, fucking into him with fingers wet with Jo’s slick.

Jo leans in for a kiss from Dean as Sam presses his cock inside. “Yeah, take it,” Sam says, watching over Dean’s shoulder. “Just take it, baby.” Dean pulls Jo close enough that her breasts press against his chest, then moans a little, like he’s not sure he’s allowed. “Doing so good,” Sam reassures him.

Dean brings Jo off again with his hand (which makes Sam think that his brother’s boasting wasn’t all that exaggerated, because that’s a tricky angle, even assuming a major assist from Jo herself) and then Sam lets himself go, pounding into Dean hard enough to make the bed protest.

Coming feels like victory.

Dean grumbles a little when Sam pulls out, but it’s just for show.

“You okay?” Sam asks Jo once he’s caught his breath. (Dean will, of course, answer the question as applied to him with his behavior, not his words; Sam’s pretty sure that he’ll do better now that someone else knows and can deal with it. If she can deal with it. If not, Sam’s going to have to look into that whole Andy and Ansem deal.)

Jo won’t open her eyes, but she nods.

Sam smiles and puts his hand on the back of Dean’s neck, just below the razored edge of his hair, where his skin is smooth and warm.

Eventually, Dean and Jo both fall asleep, even though they’re all three crammed into the slightly-too-small bed. Sam doesn’t even consider moving to the other one for some breathing room.

There’s risk here, Sam knows. Not just that Jo will freak and try to run, or worse, try to save Dean from Sam. If she doesn’t, she’s going to be another potential hostage, somebody who could be used against them. But then again, Meg showed them that Jo was already on deck for that role. This way, at least, she’s going to be invested in taking good care of Dean, and Dean gets some of that hero worship up close; someone else to tell him that Dad’s sacrifice was right.

Sam’s learned. He can’t escape what or who he is. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing he can do.

He listens to Jo and Dean breathe, familiar and comforting, and whispers in the darkness: “Welcome to the family.”

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Complete Blank http://localhost/rivkat/?p=577 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=577#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 02:01:50 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=577 “I will look,” Marcella said, “like a blueberry. This is me begging you, Debi. What’s wrong with basic black?”

Martin finished cleaning the gunsight and started putting it back in its case. He had less call to use it these days, but he wasn’t the type to let his equipment decay.

“You’re letting the men wear black,” Marcella said, with the air of a woman who’d found a decisive argument.

Martin put the case back under the table and considered whether he needed to take out the knives. He could use some target practice, but that might best wait until Marcella had left for the day. Even after all this time, it still made her nervous to have him throwing near her. Plus she always referred to that accident with the Zapatistas and the watermelon, and he wasn’t yet well-adjusted enough to want to tolerate a rehash of that, though he had his hopes.

“No, then I’d look like a penguin. Penguin is no better than blueberry. A nice, fifties black dress with a full skirt and some fabric roses, that’s all I’m asking you for.”

He waved to Marcella on the way out, not wanting to interrupt her conversation. She could be very cutting when he interrupted her.

****

Debi put her hands behind her back and stretched, which Martin enjoyed watching. “The thing is, Martin, I’m not sure the florist fully comprehended what you meant when you said that you didn’t care who you had to kill to make sure the wedding was perfect.”

“Why doesn’t anyone believe me when I tell them the truth?” Martin wondered, flipping through the book of centerpieces to see if anything caught his eye. “I thought we were in the age of full exposure, the information age, and yet communication—true communication—seems more difficult than ever. Is that a tragedy, or simply an irony?”

Debi sighed and came around the table so that she could get behind him, crossing her arms over his chest in a near-hug. Her curls brushed against his ear, and he could smell her honey shampoo. “It’s a profound and yet useless insight, because she says she’s already committed the orchids to another wedding that weekend—and no, you may not take action against the happy couple.”

“I could just incapacitate one of them,” he suggested, mostly unserious. “Delay rather than destroy.”

She pulled away and flicked his ear with her finger. “Not a chance, trigger-happy boy.”

****

“Your resume says you were trained as a sniper,” the actress said. “So, snipe.”

“First of all,” Martin told her, not moving from his observation point by the window, “who says that? Okay, technically, I guess you can use the verb to describe the activity of being a sniper, but it’s really archaic. Most people only know it as the term for complaining, or carping, or whining, which is more like what you’re doing than what I do. And second—” he put up a hand to deflect her outraged reaction—”you do understand that a photographer selects when to take pictures by looking through his viewfinder. Which means that if I did fire and destroy the camera, I’d also be firing a bullet into his brain. And I don’t do that kind of thing any more. Well, not without a better reason than your dislike of the paparazzi. Not for what you’re paying me. Also then no one would want to take pictures of you for fear of getting iced, and I’d be out of a job because you wouldn’t need protection from the nonexistent photographers.”

There was a pause as the actress, who tended to run hot and cold on the question of photographers, considered her options. “Okay,” she sighed. “Then can you go over and tell him that if he takes any pictures of me without my makeup on you’ll break his face?”

Martin considered how Debi was always saying that compromise was the secret to a successful relationship. And he did need the cash—honeymooning in Paris wasn’t cheap. “All right,” he said, and pulled the curtain down.

****

“Who are all these people?” Debi asked, looking at the seating chart in dismay.

Bart got out of his chair and peered over her shoulder. “Business associates, old friends, a couple of second cousins once removed—”

“They’re not my associates or friends,” Debi pointed out. “Martin—”

“Oh, no no no,” Martin said, putting up his hands. “I agreed to do anything you and Bart wanted, which is already haunting me with the cummerbund. I did not agree to mediate.”

“Honey,” Bart said, “your mother and I dreamed of this day. Debi eloped with the last idiot and we didn’t get a wedding. So maybe we didn’t dream the involvement of an ex-assassin, but, sweetheart, your mother at least didn’t much care who the guy was as long as it was a church wedding. Point being: this is my daughter’s wedding and I am going to celebrate it lavishly and in style, and all those dickwads with their hundred thousand dollar country club weddings are going to bow down in awe to me.”

Debi looked at Martin. Martin looked right back, telling her with only his eyebrows that he was her father and that this was therefore her battle, and also that the only thing he wanted was to get married, such that he didn’t care whether he jumped a broom or got carried to the event in a magically transformed pumpkin. Debi told him with her frown that while this was a theoretically sweet sentiment, she didn’t want to have to deal with four hundred guests on this very special day, and that furthermore she was going to expect, once they were married, a lot more than neutrality from him: whatever Martin might think he owed Bart for having been hired to kill him (and schtupping his daughter), Martin was going to be her husband, which meant that he would be required to back her up.

“You two are adorable,” Bart said and wandered off.

Debi sighed, putting down her pencil. “I guess it’s too late to disinvite them now,” she said.

“We’ll put Marcella in charge,” Martin said, sidling up to her so that his hip was nudging her shoulder. “She was born to organize a wedding, plus I think she’s better with the suppliers, and then she’ll be so busy threatening and cajoling that she won’t have time to complain about her dress.”

“What’s wrong with her dress?” Debi asked, wounded, and Martin winced. “She said—”

“I’m sure she’s perfectly happy with it now!” Martin hurried to clarify. “What I mean is that Marcella needs something to worry about. Paradoxically, happiness for Marcella is the absence of contentment, if you see what I mean.”

She looked up at him with that little twist to her mouth that meant that she loved him. “I think I recognize the phenomenon from somewhere.”

****

Marcella did the worried lip-pursing thing when Martin gave her the new assignment, but she’d come around, Martin was confident. She’d taken so well to negotiating the contracts with the new clients, despite the fact that she could no longer threaten to rip their spines out and use their finger bones for jewelry. (“Jewelry?” he’d asked once. “I was thinking a nice brooch, possibly a set of earrings,” she’d told him. He hadn’t questioned further. You saw stranger things on the streets of New York.)

In fact, Marcella got along very well with a certain type of Hollywood agent, so well that he’d already had three of them ask him for tips on how to secure her affections. One job he was pretty sure he’d been hired only for that purpose, since the star in question was vacationing on a nearly unpopulated island for the entire week. Martin hadn’t liked it, because he was away from Debi and because he had very sensitive skin that burned easily. So he’d told Marcella that the star’s agent had insulted her business acumen.

In any event, Marcella took over the wedding planning with the air of a frustrated parent who’d watched her children struggle too long to make pictures with macaroni and tempera paint, and who’d swept the table clean to start again. In this analogy, she favored impasto. By the end of the week she had five different binders and signed contracts with a jazz band.

When Debi found out that Marcella had changed the seating chart based on her research into the various business deals in which the participants had been involved, she laughed so hard she fell down. Martin had to give her a hand up, which he parlayed into a full-body hug, because he was allowed to touch her now, and it was all very good.

****

“Camellias, not gardenias!” Marcella barked into her headset. “It’s a completely different genus! No, we agreed–I don’t care if you have to flap your arms and fly down to South America to provide precisely the level of service promised in the contract. Yes. Yes,” mollified now. “And don’t forget the boutonnieres!”

She smiled, strained but somehow genuine, as Bart hurried by, fiddling with his bowtie. He examined both Marcella and Martin with the air of a man forced to work with inferior materials but willing to brazen it out anyway. “Late for the fitting!” he barked as he went past.

The military had been comforting because, for all its arcane rituals, there was an order about it, a regularity, that Martin had found highly comforting, when the rest of the world seemed so random. He’d often wondered whether there was some set of invisible, inaudible signals that other people received that allowed them to make sense of it all. He was beginning to think, though, that it was the same for everyone, and that you just learned to tolerate the zigs and zags or you didn’t survive at all.

****

There was no rehearsal dinner because Debi flat-out refused, so Martin and Paul went out and drank on the golf course while Debi and Marcella did something that Martin hoped involved lingerie. But only on Debi’s part. He wasn’t sure who’d do worse damage to him if he thought about Marcella in a lingerie-related capacity, and he had no inclination to find out.

When he was helping Paul back to his car, possibly a little tipsy himself, they saw another couple of guys in the parking lot. Because the golf course was closed, Martin found that a trifle odd.

“Martin Blank!” one of the guys yelled, raising a gun.

“Shit!” Martin said and shoved Paul to the ground, then darted around the bulk of his car. With only the yellowish lights from the clubhouse, a good hundred feet away, he could see just enough to know he didn’t have other cover.

“We have a wedding present for you!”

Martin pulled out his own weapon. “That’s the best you could do?” he called out. “How about ‘at least you won’t be leaving behind a widow!’ Or—”

Martin rolled away from the blast of fire rather than finish the quip. He thought he could hear Paul whimpering; the gravel of the parking lot grated against his knees.

They’d be flanking him, one on each side. He looked around and saw nothing reachable for cover, so he slid underneath his car, trusting in the near-darkness to make his motions harder to see. Paul’s body—still moving, still vomiting in fact—was next to the car.

He saw feet approach the trunk and shot straight through the bumper, trusting the thinness of the steel not to deflect the bullet too much, and sure enough there was a howl of agony as he wriggled on his elbows towards his target, away from the other shooter. He fired once more into the jerking body on the ground, then rolled himself over it.

They were about the same height. His conscious mind shut off, and he grabbed the dead man by the waist and slung him upright, putting the body between himself and the likeliest position of the other shooter.

“George!” the other one yelled, and Martin reached around the corpse and put two bullets into him.

He dropped the body and then went to his knees, the exertion catching up to him, plus Paul was still vomiting and the sound was starting to make him want to join in.

He considered his alternatives as he fought with his gorge. Nobody had seen them come in—Paul was still pretty good at that kind of thing. If he took active disposal measures, he probably wouldn’t be back in time to get his suit on, and Debi would think he’d disappeared again. Astonishing the local cops wasn’t ideal, but he’d have to chance it.

“Hey, Paul?” he called out. “You think you can finish up?”

Paul coughed, then spit. “Yeah. Hey, what the hell just happened?”

“Honestly? I have no idea.”

“Is this going to be, like, a regular feature every time you have a major life event? Because I’m not sure I can handle that.”

Martin rested his hands on his knees and looked at his gun. “I really hope not. I really, really hope not.” He had a flash of a time when this would have felt—not enjoyable exactly, but more real than anything else. That was kind of sick, to need somebody else’s blood to know he was alive. If you thought about it, he’d been kind of a vampire. And he didn’t even have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what job had brought these guys to him. He guessed it didn’t matter much; their bullets all fired the same no matter whether it was the kroner or the dollar behind them.

Paul sighed. “Your car still work?”

“I don’t think I hit anything vital.” He’d probably even be able to tie some ribbons through the hole and pretend it was a wedding prank gone a little overboard.

“Well, then, let’s get you married.”

****

In the morning, Martin felt much perkier. Above all, he was going to marry Debi, which meant that the only important thing was going right. Eventually his remaining enemies would get sick of sending killers after him. It just wasn’t good business; ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try again’ was not a productive adage in the assassin trade, as the CIA had reason to know with its attempts on Castro. With luck, this latest failure would discourage the rest, or at least make the next contract on him prohibitively expensive.

The church was old: dark wood everywhere, built when people thought that God didn’t need advertising except in stained glass. No megachurches for the Newberrys. Martin didn’t think there was a God, or if there was, His work was seriously defective (see: Martin himself), but Debi could have told him they were getting married in a supersized tuba and he would have nodded.

He was going to sneak into the room where Debi was getting dressed to surprise her, but Marcella was standing guard. He gave her his best pleading look. She gave him her best unyielding look. Hers was better.

“Marcella—”

“Don’t whine at me, all right? It’s tradition. Don’t defy tradition.”

“I’ve known Debi for years, and I’m including biblically, so I don’t see why—”

Marcella held up a cautionary finger, and Martin shut up. She saw his defeat in the set of his shoulders. “C’mere,” she said, and he thought she’d changed her mind once he acknowledged her supremacy, but when he stepped forward she pulled him into a hug. “This is the smartest thing you’ve ever done,” she told him. “Don’t fuck it up.”

“You don’t look anything like a blueberry,” Martin said and went to stand at the church door, sweating slightly in his rented tux as he shook the hands of Bart’s friends and neighbors.

Paul, occasionally groaning and grabbing his head like a man in the throes of a stroke, was right behind him supervising the arrival and seating. At least fifteen people asked which one of them was the groom, and Martin was reasonably sure that they were only a fraction of those uncertain, so he started introducing himself–”Martin Blank. The groom”–even though that was awkward too.

“Don’t worry about sides,” Paul kept saying. “The groom doesn’t have a side.”

That would make a good motto, Martin thought.

****

“…. And accept children as God gives them to you,” the priest said.

Accept? There were a lot of things Martin accepted. He accepted that his mother wasn’t here because she wouldn’t understand what was going on, even though he and Debi had visited her yesterday to let her know. He accepted that he’d killed a bunch of people, most of whom had done something wrong, but there were millions of other people in the world who probably had done, or would do if given the opportunity, equally wrong things and hadn’t gotten Martin at their door, so that really was no excuse unless Martin wanted to declare himself God in the absence of other contenders, which he didn’t. So he accepted that he’d caused suffering and that suffering would continue. But the thought of accepting children, like they were disfiguring boils, as an alternative to using readily available and entirely safe forms of birth control–

Martin couldn’t help it. He sniggered. Not loud, but the priest heard, and his face went scarlet with anger.

“I will stop this wedding right now if you aren’t capable of showing some respect for your faith!” the priest said in a vicious whisper, shoving his Bible towards Martin like it was some sort of weapon.

Martin reached out and caught his wrist. “No, you won’t,” he said, pressing his thumb right into a nerve cluster.

The priest’s mouth formed a nearly perfect O of agony and outrage.

“Martin!” Debi managed to pack a lot of warning into such a low-decibel word.

Martin leaned forward so that he could speak directly into the priest’s ear. “No disrespect, Father Coughlin, but I have been through a lot to get to this point. I have changed my life for this woman, I have taken extreme measures to ensure that this event goes as planned, and if you even attempt to delay the moment at which I am joined in holy matrimony to the love of my life you’ll end up performing the rest of the ceremony with ten broken fingers.”

For once, something in Martin’s eyes seemed to communicate his sincerity, or perhaps priests were just extra sensitive to the mysteries of the human heart, because Father Coughlin went white and nodded.

“Give me the ring!” he squeaked, and Paul, whose blown pupils and general air of wonderment suggested that he’d done far more than sneak the communion wine, fumbled in his jacket pocket for an agonizing thirty seconds before producing it with a wide grin. The priest stared at him in horror for a moment, then snatched the ring from Paul’s grasp and said the fastest blessing Martin had heard since that one time in Istanbul. He shoved the ring into Martin’s hand.

Debi glared at Martin in a way that suggested that the honeymoon was already over, but she smiled brightly for the benefit of the photographer as Martin slid the ring on her finger.

****

Martin didn’t feel different, didn’t feel married. He did feel good though. Maybe he’d been married to Debi in his mind for years, maybe that was part of never having gotten over her. He decided that was likely, because the one thing he was sure he wasn’t feeling was let down.

Debi was glowing, and he could tell that she’d agree to keep the dress on the first time they did it as husband and wife. He was looking forward to that part. In fact he’d undergone everything else to get to that part. He doubted that anything could bring him down, but there wasn’t much that was even trying. The chicken had been almost edible, and Martin had fended off the cake-in-face suggestions by pointing out that he was trying very hard to renounce violence, even symbolic violence, which he didn’t think was terribly appropriate for a wedding anyway.

After that, fewer of Bart’s friends came up and offered marital advice, which was an extra benefit of Martin’s little speech.

He was thinking about finding Debi and sneaking away when he noticed two figures at the back of the reception hall, each about twenty years younger than the average guests. They had the air of men who knew where all the exits were.

“How’s about we take a little recreational break in the handicapped bathroom?” Debi said into his ear.

“Hold that thought,” Martin advised and started making his way through the crowd.

They saw him coming, but neither of them went for a weapon. Two guys, above average in attractiveness (people were always nicer to the good-looking ones, cut them slack, accepted their excuses for being in strange places—that was what the recruiter had told him, and even if it had been flattery Martin’s experience had been that it was also true, at least in the US services). One average height, one a couple of inches taller. Brown hair and brown eyes, though Martin wouldn’t swear that those features were natural.

“Hey,” Martin said as he approached. A couple of Bart’s engineer friends looked over, then cringed away.

“Hey,” the shorter one said.

“Mind if we have this conversation in the hallway?”

“Works for us,” the taller one said. Martin nodded and followed them out.

“So if this is about Boudreaux—” Martin began, then had to duck the introductory punch thrown by the shorter one. He grabbed the man’s arm and tugged him across the floor, sending him staggering away—these old churches, the floors were like glass; in a serious fight they’d all end up on their asses.

“This is about solidarity,” the taller one said, catching Martin with a kick high on the thigh (Debi was going to be pissed about the mark on the suit).

“Solidarity?” Martin asked, scissor-kicking and then diving into a roll to avoid the shorter one.

“We don’t appreciate anti-union activism,” the taller one continued, catching him on the shoulder.

Martin thought about going for his gun, but there was a certain flavor to a non-weaponized fight that made one-on-two a better bet for him without bullets, and if they weren’t drawing on him yet, then there was the possibility of conversation. He used the slippery floor to his advantage, sliding under the taller one’s attempted clothesline move. “So you went ahead and formed a union anyway.”

“You can kill a man, you can’t kill a movement,” the shorter one said. “Anyway Grocer was kind of an asshole.” Martin nodded acknowledgment.

“I just don’t see,” he said, kicking and twisting and ending up with his back to the wall, “what any of that has to do with me.”

“We don’t like scabs.” Block, kick, block. Back kick, right cross, shoulder down—

“I’m not a scab!” He ducked. “I retired! I do private security now, without the euphemism!”

They paused, panting. “Really?” the taller one asked.

“I think there’s a shot of me in last week’s Enquirer,” Martin said. “I’m the one putting his hand over the lens?”

“So, you’re not going to undercut our prices? Or otherwise aid in management’s exploitation of labor?” The taller one seemed to be the more committed in principle, Martin thought. At least he had the vocabulary down.

“I don’t know about that last part,” Martin said, leaning over and trying not to feel the bruises. “I’m not what you call loyal to any ideology. I distrust unions on general principle, just as much as I distrust every other institution. But if you guys don’t branch out into the regular personal security industry, I can pretty much guarantee you that I don’t care enough to interfere.”

The two assassins—unionized assassins—looked at each other. After a moment, the shorter one nodded. “Fine. But if we hear about you getting back in the game—”

Martin glared at them. “Let’s be clear, I’m going to defend myself and my clients. But that’s it.”

“Okay,” the shorter one said. “Shake on it?”

Martin thought about that, then shook his head.

“You know, you’re kind of an asshole too,” the shorter one said thoughtfully. “Congratulations, by the way.”

They turned as one and started heading out of the building. Martin watched them go, wondering what the union bylaws were like. Then he shrugged. That kind of question was why he wouldn’t have joined the union even if he’d stayed in the business.

“Hey,” Debi said, opening the door to the reception hall. “Married guy. Come have sex with me.”

He turned to her, looking kind of like a wedding cake herself in the big poofy dress. He smiled, at peace with the world and with himself. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.”

END

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Don’t Give a Damn What Else I Am http://localhost/rivkat/?p=575 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=575#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:55:54 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=575 “Come on,” Chris wheedled in the tone Mitch should have stopped listening to twenty years ago. “It’ll just be a few days.”

“That’s what you said about helping out with Google Earth,” Mitch reminded him. He took another sip of his coffee. Some days he wasn’t sure whether the internet or the spread of real coffee was the best change since their college days. Today, and really any day Chris wanted something from him, he had to go with coffee.

Chris grinned past his mouthful of pancakes. “And didn’t they give you stock? And aren’t you glad, now, when you look back on those six months? And what is time, really?”

“Time is a fundamental quantity used to sequence events, to compare duration, and quantify motion.” Jordan looked up from her iPhone. “Sorry, was that a real question?”

Chris and Mitch both smiled at her. Jordan was a constant more fundamental than the second, Mitch thought, then made a mental note to remember that line for later. He was pretty sure she’d squeal and jump on him, and if he timed it right—with a bed behind him—that would not only not trigger his bad back, but end up making him extremely satisfied.

“You can’t be happy here,” Chris gestured at the pedestrians passing them, the striped awning of the restaurant behind them, the other brunchgoers gossiping and talking on their cellphones. “It’s so … political.”

“I’m pretty sure Washington is supposed to be political,” Mitch said indulgently, tipping his head up to survey the cloudless fall sky, blue as copper basic carbonate. When he swung back to vertical, Jordan had gone back to typing with her thumbs, her tongue peeking out as she concentrated. She was beta testing the new AutoCAD for iPhone app, and she’d already made significant improvements to the program as well as to the robot dog she was working on for Mitch’s niece. “I’ll grant you, the weather in Palo Alto is nicer, but Jordan’s family is in Virginia, and I like the policy stuff.”

Chris snorted. “Policy. Corporations converting money to law. Your puny nonprofit is as nothing against the weight of the almighty dollar.”

“We got a science education program passed in the latest appropriations bill,” Mitch informed him. But Chris was already not listening, making eyes at a blonde in a business suit, who was smiling right back at him. Mitch loved Chris in every kind of way, that was a given. But sometimes he wished that Chris could spend more than a couple of seconds per minute in serious mode. At the very least, that would have made it possible for Mitch to trot him out for congressional testimony about various science facts. Given Chris’s looks and his facility with words—neither of which were exactly standard for physics, a field in which an ancient guy who spoke through a vocoder was the face to beat—he could’ve been a superstar. If not for the small fact that the FCC would have had to fine C-SPAN for broadcasting Chris’s standard monologues.

Chris got up and sat down next to the blonde while Mitch finished his eggs. He looked longingly at Chris’s pancakes, but he didn’t have the metabolism for that. Cruelly, Jordan could have consumed her weight in pancakes, but she rarely cared about the source of the calories, and she was on to being absorbed in her latest edit war on Wikipedia.

At last, Chris returned, smiling sunnily. He could have been shot down, or he could have made arrangements to meet later; with Chris it was always a tossup. “So, how are the twins?” he asked as he sat down and snagged a piece of toast off of Mitch’s plate.

Mitch grinned. “They got bored, so they started taking each other’s classes.” Mitch hadn’t been surprised when Jordan turned out to be pregnant with twins; Jordan was nothing if not efficient. “I keep telling them that they’re going to get caught and we’re going to be stuck with four sets of tuition bills instead of two, but they don’t listen.”

“They listen, they just don’t think it’s that likely, and the risk is outweighed by the rewards,” Jordan corrected. “If I could have taken ten classes instead of five, I would absolutely have done that. Don’t you think I should have taken ten classes? They never let me though.”

“But then you wouldn’t have had time for us,” Chris pointed out.

Jordan tilted her head, considering that. “I could have gone down to nine my final semester. And in retrospect I’m not sure I needed to knit quite as many sweaters, though I think the Salvation Army really appreciated them. Even in California, people do need sweaters.”

“Well, sure,” Chris said. “Otherwise their dogs would be naked.”

“I worry sometimes about the twins,” Jordan continued. “I mean, because of the high concentration of intelligent people at MIT and Harvard there’s a chance they’re at school with several half-brothers and -sisters. We discussed the risks before they left but I’m not sure they took seriously my suggestion that they be sure to undergo genetic testing before having sex with anyone within the appropriate age range.”

Mitch no longer winced at this particular conversation. Jordan had sold her eggs to finance her startup a long time ago, and Chris had given up on the taunts about Mitch’s refusal to hawk his own genius-level sperm a couple of years after that, though only after making about ten thousand references to Chris’s own commitment to making up for Mitch’s unreasonable failure to participate in increasing the fitness of the species through jerking off into a plastic cup.

“Hmm,” Chris said, putting a finger to his lips as he leaned back. “I imagine I have a few sons and daughters getting world-class educations myself, now that I think about it. Oh God, I have to stop hitting on girls younger than twenty!”

“You should have stopped doing that fifteen years ago!”

Chris laughed and bopped him on the shoulder. “Oh, Mitch, always with the jokes!” He frowned. “Maybe I can do a quick blood-type screening. Overinclusive, but faster than the full panel.”

Jordan’s phone buzzed. “It’s the guy from Greenpeace!” she told them. “I bet he’s calling about that decoy whale I built them. I sent you the pictures, right? Those whalers have the funniest expressions on their faces!” She got up to take the call and Mitch watched her go. Among the things Mitch loved about her (along with the rear view, which remained extremely pleasing) was that she appreciated that it was very difficult to listen to someone else have a one-sided conversation, even if she did talk so fast that the other side wasn’t so much a side as, maybe, an edge. He glanced over and saw Chris with the same fond expression.

“You guys look good,” Chris said, something almost wistful in his voice.

“You should come to the East Coast more often,” Mitch said, knowing it wasn’t Chris’s way.

Sure enough, Chris just tapped his feet impatiently and squirmed in his seat, waving at Jordan while she continued to chatter into the phone. She waved back and blew Mitch a kiss, which Mitch caught and pressed to his heart.

“So when she finishes, we’re going to go back to your place and have sex, right?” Chris asked, loudly.

“That was the general idea,” Mitch allowed. Mitch was never going to tell Chris that he scheduled reunion brunches in restaurants precisely to allow Chris to scandalize the natives. Jordan would have been thrilled to produce a bake sale’s worth of breakfast if they hosted, but Chris enjoyed épater-ing the bourgeois so much, and Mitch enjoyed Chris’s enjoyment, so: restaurants.

“Check please!” Chris waved his hand.

Mitch smiled pleasantly at the people whose heads had turned. Yeah, he’s with me. Mitch still found it hard to believe that he got both Jordan and Chris, or at least as much of Chris as anyone did. And really, he wouldn’t want Chris to be anyone but himself, swooping in randomly (in 1998, in fact, literally dropping out of the sky on a full-size glider, which tangled itself in the powerlines around the house, resulting in Jordan’s fabled experiment in cooking everything in the freezer all at once). Chris was the electron, and they were the neutral particles ionized by his bombardment.

Mitch was a little worried—okay, a lot worried—that Chris was going to do a booty dance during a security screening and get himself put on the no-fly list, so that he’d only be able to visit by driving cross-country, but other than that, Mitch knew that this was as good as it got.

Other people might have thought that Chris couldn’t possibly have been harder to live with than Jordan, but they wouldn’t have been paying attention. Jordan, while extremely high-frequency, was fundamentally stable. Chris was … Chris.

By the time the valet pulled the car around, Chris had graduated from doing a jig to doing the Lindy hop with Jordan, swinging her around in tight circles that had her hitching with laughter and throwing her head back, her hair flying out around her. Mitch tipped the valet and then opened the front passenger-side door. “You’re a superstar,” Chris told him and slipped into the seat, and Jordan took the back, immediately leaning forward so that she could stick her head between the seats and join the conversation.

“Hey, I thought Tesla only made two-seaters,” Chris said, looking around as he performed a complicated and almost breakdance-like interaction with his seatbelt.

“Production model. Jordan did some consulting.” Mitch tried for casualness, but he knew he was kind of gloating.

“Hunh,” Chris said. “I’ve been thinking about the Roadster, but I worry that it will interfere with my cool image. Kind of a mommy car, if you know what I mean.”

“I don’t think your image needs to worry,” Mitch said wryly.

Chris pulled the windshield visor down and checked himself in the mirror, smoothing his eyebrows down and then wriggling them Groucho Marx-style. “No, I guess not.”

It was like that all the way back to the house. Mitch was happy playing straight man, though in other circumstances that was Jordan’s job. Chris always threw them into a different configuration, like going from an alcohol to a carboxyl group—both elegant, but with divergent properties.

As soon as Mitch unlocked the front door, Chris bolted for the bedroom. By the time they caught up, his clothes were already piled on the floor and he was under the covers. Mitch wasn’t going to make fun of this small vanity; anyway Chris was still the most beautiful man Mitch could imagine.

“I want to watch you first,” Jordan announced, pulling her top over her head.

“That’s what I love about geeky women,” Chris informed them. “No hesitation in asking for what they want, which is especially fun when it’s what I want too.”

Mitch didn’t bother to reply, just crawled up the bed until he could tug the sheet off Chris and lower his mouth to Chris’s half-hard cock.

He could still remember the first time they did this, Mitch and Chris at least halfway to drunk—probably, Mitch had to admit, to give them the courage to go for it, though the initial excuse for the drinking had been to celebrate their first six-figure patent license. Jordan of course had been stone cold sober, wide-eyed and occasionally offering advice when Mitch was trying to figure out how not to choke, her face inches away from Mitch’s so that she could see exactly what was going on.

Now, she watched from a slightly greater distance, snuggled up against Chris, her leg thrown over Chris’s thigh. “There’s something so sexy about one naked guy and one clothed guy,” she said, almost meditatively, at least by her standards. “It’s like you couldn’t even wait.”

Chris said nothing, which Mitch counted as an achievement. Mitch looked up at their entwined bodies, meeting Jordan’s eager eyes; she was rubbing herself rhythmically against Chris’s hip, and Mitch couldn’t help but emulate her as he humped the bed.

When Chris came, yelling “Yahtzee!” (better than that one time he’d gone with “Thurgood!”), Mitch gallantly let Jordan go next, making out with her while Chris knelt between her legs and worshiped her as she deserved to be worshiped. Jordan squeaked and jerked, letting Mitch hold her down, which he never ceased to find incredibly hot. He nuzzled behind her ear, burying his face in her silky hair: lemon-scented this time, the latest in her home-brewed shampoo/conditioner. He loved the familiar smoothness of her skin, the ideal weight of her breasts in his hands, the way she kissed as if he were another wonderful discovery. Chris put a hand on Mitch’s thigh, pushing them closer together, his thumb rubbing up and down and it was almost like getting a handjob, without the worry of coming too soon.

After Jordan finally pushed Chris’s face away, Chris licked his lips. “Please?” he asked, and Mitch didn’t take much persuading. He straddled Jordan and looked down at her face, dreamy and quiet like she got for about a minute, max, after a really good orgasm. Yeah, it was totally cheesy that Chris liked to watch Mitch jerk off on Jordan’s breasts, live porn without the cameras, but that was so perfectly Chris that it worked for Mitch. “God my life is good,” Chris said, speaking for all of them, as he palmed Mitch’s ass, squeezing in the same rhythm Mitch was using on his cock.

His orgasm was as explosive as anything they’d ever done in a lab.

He collapsed next to Jordan, listening to the soft wet sounds of Chris licking her clean, and stared up at his ceiling. Hard to imagine that he owed this all to Dr. Hathaway. Harder to imagine that he’d have to say goodbye to Chris in a few hours.

But Jordan was with him, and Chris would be back. He wondered sometimes whether Chris wanted more for himself but just couldn’t ask for it.

Then he thought about the pictures of Chris’s apartment that Chris occasionally posted, with the debris and the toys and the occasional one-night stands looking disgruntled in the background, and thought probably not.

Weird love, he thought. But real love, too.

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Doing it for my country http://localhost/rivkat/?p=573 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=573#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:53:40 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=573 “Remember,” Sarah said, “Tarasov is insanely jealous and protective. If you pay even the slightest attention to his wife or his daughter, he’ll have you slaughtered.”

Chuck remembered the pictures he’d seen in his flash and gulped. “Uh, that might be a little difficult.”

“We got you covered, Bartowski,” Casey said cheerfully. “I’m going in with you as your partner.”

Chuck could see Charles Carmichael as Casey’s partner, sort of a good secret agent/bad secret agent thing, but he didn’t see how Casey would help him keep his eyes off of the assets that both Genevieve and Vivian Tarasova possessed and (judging by the photos) enjoyed showing off.

Sarah read his confusion: “Your intimate partner, Chuck.”

“Oh. Oh! You know, you guys are lucky I’m secure in my masculinity,” he pointed out.

Casey sneered at him. “Shut up or we’ll see just how securely you’re attached to your masculinity.” He checked his clip, then slid it back into his gun, which added a layer of symbolism that Chuck didn’t feel was entirely appropriate.

Of course Casey was okay with this. Chuck had noticed long ago that Casey either actually loved his covers, the more extreme the better, or just was so committed to his job that his enthusiasm spilled over. At least it wouldn’t be much of a reach for Casey to play butch.

“Ready?” Sarah asked.

Chuck swallowed and nodded.

****

Later that night, in Volkov’s elegantly appointed guest room, Chuck made sure to get under the covers before Casey came out of the bathroom. He pulled the blankets up to his chin, closed his eyes, and then turned over a couple of times. Should he stay on his back? Or maybe turn to his side, facing the edge of the bed? Or would that look too weird and he should face towards Casey?

When Casey came out, dressed only in a pair of boxer-briefs that didn’t look better on the underwear models, Chuck made a sound—maybe it was an eep—and Casey shot him a look suggesting that Chuck had better man the heck up. He strode over to the lightswitch and then the world went black, not a hint of moonlight bleeding through the bulletproof curtains. Chuck strained his ears listening for Casey’s approach.

The mattress was so soft that Chuck actually rolled a little towards Casey when his weight bore it down. He heard Casey arrange himself, and then oh holy Jesus Casey’s fingers were in his mouth. Chuck almost bit down just out of shock, but managed to hold himself still. Then Casey’s mouth brushed his ear.

“Infrared camera,” Casey rumbled, just at the edge of his hearing. “Gotta put on a show.”

Then Casey rolled on top of him, breathing hot onto Chuck’s face. His hand was between them, and he began to roll his hips, slow and dirty. “Relax, baby,” he said, loud enough for any listener to hear. “Let me take care of you.”

“C—” Chuck began, and Casey put his mouth over Chuck’s, swallowing the rest of his name, mashing Chuck’s lips against his teeth. And the agony of it was, Chuck was incredibly turned on by that, along with the bulk of Casey. They were the same height but Casey must’ve outweighed him by fifty pounds, and for some reason Chuck’s dick thought that was the most amazing thing ever, which Chuck considered a nearly unconscionable betrayal. Okay, he thought Casey was gorgeous in an objective way, and okay, he’d kissed the guy, but—hunh, maybe this wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Casey stopped for a second when he felt the press of Chuck’s erection, then continued moving with the same rhythm, but lifted his hips slightly so that their groins were no longer rubbing up against each other. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “That’s it, that’s my boy.”

Chuck had thought he’d known that it was impossible to die from humiliation—there’d been enough of it in his life—but apparently he’d reached a new low, and he half prayed for his heart to stop. At least that might drive his stubborn dick down.

And then Casey did the most amazing thing. Simultaneously, he bit down on Chuck’s jaw, just hard enough to make Chuck yelp, and he stuck his hand down Chuck’s boxers and wrapped his hand around Chuck’s dick. Even without any lubricant, his grip was perfect, like this was just another physical skill he’d mastered.

After that it was all over. Chuck came in about thirty seconds. Maybe less. At that point, there wasn’t really any percentage in being embarrassed, so Chuck didn’t bother. Also, his brain was kind of sending TILT TILT TILT signals.

Casey groaned, sounding exactly like a guy getting his rocks off, and after a long moment rolled off of Chuck, leaving him with a big wet patch soaking his shirt and a very troubled mind.

Chuck panted for a couple of minutes before Casey leaned back in, nuzzling his ear. “I don’t do on-camera shows,” Casey whispered, ignoring the fact that Chuck was shuddering like Casey’d just put his hand back on Chuck’s dick. “But I’ll let you make it up to me later.”

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Sliding Through http://localhost/rivkat/?p=571 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=571#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:52:18 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=571 Sam is Castiel’s friend, insofar as Castiel understands the concept, which he suspects is imprecisely. They have shared meals, or at least Castiel has been present during the consumption of food and alcohol. They have discussed strategy and tactics. Sam has confided some of his conversations with Lucifer, though Castiel knows that it is likely that Sam has held something back. Sam wanted to know if Lucifer could bring him back from suicide; Castiel was forced to assure him that it was within Lucifer’s power. He thinks he has dissuaded Sam from the attempt, and he is glad. Castiel doesn’t wish Sam to suffer yet another death and resurrection, the terrible disappointment of an escape averted. Such an experience could only bring Sam closer to saying yes to Lucifer as a way to bring an end to his pain.

Now Anna has her own plan, digging in the dirt of the past, pulling the infection in the Winchester blood out by the roots.

Anna is as clever and puissant an angel as Castiel has seen this side of the archangels. Still, she is not powerful enough to defeat Lucifer’s plan, Lucifer who sat by the Lord’s side and knew the tricks of seeing even a sparrow fall. Anna will not be able to change the course of time, will not prevent the conception of Sam Winchester any more than she will be able to prevent Azazel’s baptism of blood.

However.

In the past, Lucifer has not yet risen. He may not, as Anna and Castiel may, move freely in the lives of Dean and Sam’s parents.

If Sam dies in the past, Lucifer will not be able to bring him back. Not immediately, in any event. Though it is not entirely certain, Castiel deems it at least likely that Lucifer’s powers of resurrection would not work on a corpse thirty years in the grave. And there are further measures Castiel might take, if he can recover from the journey in time: burning the bones, scattering the ashes.

Dean would react badly.

He would blame Castiel, which is a trivial concern in the larger apocalypse, but Castiel is after all a fallen angel, and to fall is to become interested in one’s own happiness, if no more able to achieve it.

And yet.

They are desperate. Dean in particular despairs, unaided by Castiel’s faith that his Father may still intervene, unstrengthened by the rage that, however unevenly, sustains Sam. Dean grows brittle, and Castiel would rather have him full of hate than empty enough to surrender himself to Michael.

So when they urge him to bring them all back to confront Anna, Castiel does not point out the danger. Dean’s mind is alcohol-blurred, kept from concern by his default assumption (almost always correct) that Sam is safer with him than without. Sam—Castiel suspects that Sam may know the risk he is taking, if he even regards it as a risk instead of a boon. For all that they are friends, they are not close enough for Castiel to ask that question.

Castiel will be unable to protect Dean. This is a risk he will have to take, because being unable to protect Sam—

Is an opportunity he can’t ignore.

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Rearrange Me ‘Til I’m Sane http://localhost/rivkat/?p=569 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=569#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:50:08 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=569 They’d been on their own before, days without a non-lying word to anyone but each other (days without a non-lying word even to each other, if you wanted to go that far), but Dean felt it more now. He’d been peeled down to just about nothing, past his clothes and his skin and everything else that might have protected him so he didn’t notice just how alone he was.

Castiel had been scarce the past week or so, maybe aware that neither of them wanted much truck with angels any more. Or he might’ve just been off starting that drug habit Dean had seen in the future. Bobby’d practically told them how much it sucked to have the Winchesters in his life, Sam and Dean’s curse taking his legs and then taking the memory of his wife, just like they’d been responsible for Mom and Dad’s death, and all of it because angels wanted to have their war by way of Winchester blood. Dean thought about calling Chuck for half a second before remembering how he’d say to their faces how much he didn’t want a part of them.

All Dean had left was ‘no’ and Sam, and he wasn’t sure how much longer either of those was going to hold out. Yeah, Sam was stuck with him—because his other choices were all gone. Dean beat out Satan (at least for the moment) in Sam’s opinion: a real fucking endorsement. When Dean wasn’t delivering the fireworks, Sam could take or leave him. His Heaven wasn’t Dean’s Hell—but it was pretty fucking close, once you scrubbed away the blood.

Dean was almost grateful that Zachariah had gone with the obvious fake Mom. As awful as that had been, it was better than some of the alternatives. Sam’d mentioned that Lucifer liked to masquerade as Jess. (Which really should have been another clue, but Dean was like a damn puppy, ignoring his own mess until you shoved it in his face.) Dean wasn’t sure he could have handled it if the angel had managed to speak using Mom’s form the way Michael had worn Dad.

And at least they hadn’t seen Michael again. Fucker. Dean’d seen his dad possessed before, out in a cabin full of his family’s blood. It didn’t incline him to cooperate.

But, even full of disgust for angels that he’d never felt for the maggots that writhed in the guts of a fresh corpse, he was still about at the end of his refusals. Sure, he’d hold out for a while after he stopped saying no—saying yes was a step beyond exhausted silence—but he was the same guy who stepped off the rack and picked up the knife. If Michael showed up right now and promised him no Heaven, nothing but not, Dean might even go for it immediately.

Point was, Dean wasn’t paying much attention to where Sam was taking them. Sam said there was a hunt. Dean didn’t bother to ask whether it was apocalypse-related. If Sam thought that information was relevant, he’d surely say, and if he didn’t, he wouldn’t appreciate Dean’s second-guessing.

Still, Dean was a little surprised when he got back from picking up dinner and found Walt and Roy tied to chairs in the center of the crappy motel room, gagged and freaked-out, foreheads shining with sweat and eyes practically bugging out of their heads as they swiveled their necks to look from Sam, to Dean, back to Sam again.

“Sam?” He put the bags down on the table next to the door and pulled the gun out from the back of his jeans. Walt and Roy weren’t Bobby-class in terms of the danger they posed no matter how tied up they were, but there was no harm in aiming.

“Look who I found,” Sam said. His smile made the two of them cringe in their seats. Dean noted that their ankles looked as tightly bound as their hands. Sam’d been careful. He’d even dragged in patio chairs from the nonworking pool to tie them to—heavy metal, not like the regular motel chairs that would have fallen apart with a whack or two.

Sam had been pretty enthusiastic when he’d taken them down, Dean guessed, judging from the bruises swelling on Walt’s face and the blood crusted under Roy’s nose.

“Is this the hunt?” Dean asked, just to be sure. “Or are these idiots still following us around thinking they can kill us and make it stick? ‘Cause I’ll tell you, guys, Heaven’s got a fuck of a return serve.”

Sam shrugged. “I’ve been tracking them for a couple of days. They didn’t know they’d failed. I’ve been explaining, but I’m not sure they’re really feeling it.”

Dean checked their faces, and thought that Roy at least was smart enough to start believing, given the evidence. Walt was maybe a tougher sell, but he’d do what Roy told him. “What’re we gonna do with them?”

Sam’s face twitched, one of those frowns that said Dean had let him down once again, and looked at his feet. “I thought you might have some ideas.”

“Well, I don’t.” That wasn’t exactly true. Sure, they were tied up in a way that would make a number of Dean’s best moves impossible, but he was nothing if not capable of working under nonideal circumstances. Sometimes Alastair would set them up in weird ways, just for the challenge of it, and Dean had never failed to figure out something special.

The things he could do to a pair of hunters—he might even feel it.

He seriously doubted Sam wanted to see him work for real. Sam had come in on him and Alastair after Alastair had broken free, and anyway Sam never liked to think about Dean’s wrongdoing Below, only his weakness after. Sam was expecting more in the way of putting the fear of there-is-no-God into them. But Dean couldn’t trust himself to bring thunder without lightning, and these schmucks were after all only human.

Sam’s shoulders dropped, almost awkward, almost like he’d been before Hell and all those new muscles and all that contempt he had for Dean’s weakness. “I can take care of it, I guess.”

Dean’s stomach twisted some. If he let Sam take out some of that anger on humans—granted, they deserved it, but feeding Sam’s rage maybe wasn’t the smartest thing for Sam.

Like he’d ever known what was best for Sam.

Dean turned so that he was only looking at Roy and Walt in his peripheral vision. “Whatever.”

Sam made a little noise, somewhere between annoyed and really pissed-off. “Fine.”

When he approached their captives, he was holding the machete, the one they used on vampires. It looked almost normal-sized in his hands. “Here’s the thing,” Sam said, casual. “We’re kind of busy, what with trying to stop the end of the world and all. We don’t have time for your shit. Still, you made Dean watch me die, and then you hurt him—you even thought you could kill him. There’s a price for that.”

Dean was surprised by the warmth he felt in his chest, hearing Sam talk like that. Yeah, he already knew that Sam wanted to avenge him far more than Sam wanted to live with him, but there was still a kind of comfort in having Sam point out that Roy and Walt’s little plan had been rough on Dean.

Sam’s eyes narrowed further. “You’re gonna leave. Leave the state, leave the country, leave the continent. I’m kicking you out. If Dean and I can’t save the world, then you’re gonna die screaming like everyone else. But if we do, and if you try to come within a thousand miles of us, I’ll know. And then you’ll find out just how evil I really get.” Dean tried to check out Sam’s face, but the angle was bad. Roy’d pissed himself, Dean saw, but he might’ve done that even with Sam’s eyes only human. Dean edged a little closer.

Sam took a deep breath and flipped the machete in his hand, like it was a straw he was twirling. “That seem fair to you?”

Both of them nodded vigorously.

“When I cut you loose,” Sam said, “you’re gonna go. Stopping for whatever’s in that van of yours out in the parking lot would be a mistake.”

Before they could do more than flinch, he was cutting at the ropes binding their feet, not too careful with the edge—Walt made a noise closer to a sob than anything else. When Sam had cut them both free, wrinkling his nose at the smell, he jerked his head towards the door and they stumbled towards it so fast that they tangled together, nearly bringing each other down even before Dean put his boot in Walt’s ass.

Dean guessed that he was still pretty pissed, no matter how bad things were with Sam. And it was nearly sweet that Sam had offered him the chance to decide the guys’ fate.

He watched them limp down the road past the motel, not really sure what he was feeling.

“So,” Sam said, like he’d just farted and hoped Dean hadn’t noticed, “dinner?”

Dean thought about it. “Eat outside? Kinda stinks in here.”

Sam’s face went through about five expressions before deciding on ‘amused.’ Dean didn’t know if that was what he’d been aiming for. Part of him wanted to keep sniping at Sam—he’d been trained not to pick at scabs, but he was working on not taking any of Dad’s teaching for granted any more. In the end, though, he decided just to eat dinner. Uncomfortable silence had been good enough for the past couple of days.

Half an hour later, chicken bones and fragments of coleslaw stuffed into the takeout bag between them, they were nursing beers and staring at the sunset from the hood of the car. It was another spectacular one, like a lot they’d seen lately—Dean thought maybe the world knew it was ending even if the people didn’t, so it was going out in style, the sky striped blood-orange and butter-yellow, then slowly shading to a blue so intense it was like they were underwater.

Beyond Sam’s request for the napkins, they hadn’t exchanged words. Dean had felt Sam counting each time Dean popped another cap, but he was only six in so Sam could suck it, and anyway Sam hadn’t said boo on the subject.

Sam stretched, a little stiff so that Dean knew he was exaggerating to get Dean’s attention, and patted the Impala with idle fondness. “I always feel safer with her,” he said. “Hard to believe the crazy things she’s survived.”

“Didn’t even need a resurrection,” Dean agreed. He had a flash of himself beating her up, then building her back again. He guessed it didn’t matter. Talking to a car like it cared, that was just another game, and maybe he needed to give that up too before it got taken from him.

“Dean,” Sam said, with that tone that was Dean’s cue to roll his eyes and curl in on himself so that the subsequent conversation would be as short as possible.

Dean flicked at the label of his beer with his thumbnail.

Sam stopped there, apparently even more surprised by Dean’s failure to cringe than Dean was. Dean at least kind of understood why he wasn’t doing this dance any more. You came into the world naked and howling and alone, and that’s how you went out too, no matter how nice your car was or how many people checked you out when you walked past. Seemed kind of stupid to pretend like shit didn’t hurt when it did, when pretending only set you up for the next beatdown.

Sam cleared his throat. “I, uh. I don’t think we’re on the same page about what happened in Heaven.”

Now Dean very much wanted to roll his eyes. “Nothing new there,” he pointed out. In fact, turned out that Sam was pretty much Bizarro Dean. To take a totally random example, look at the best days of Sam’s life. Not Sam’s fault, since he’d been saying it straight out since he was a scrawny little teen—he didn’t want anything Dean wanted. Just, Dean had never full-on believed him.

Sam had been right all along, not just for himself but for Dean, because it turned out that open roads and easy girls were a gnat’s eyelash compared to the Texas-sized ways in which the Winchester experience sucked, and Dean had been fooling himself (and only himself) all along.

“Can we—go inside, maybe?”

Dean didn’t get why this would be any more fun in the room, but it was getting dark enough that the heat was almost done bleeding off the car, and anyway she’d witnessed more than enough of Dean’s breakdowns over the years, so he didn’t see much reason to fight. He shrugged and grabbed up their trash.

The room was a lot uglier than the car plus the sunset, in Dean’s opinion, even if it was mostly aired out from earlier events and even if there weren’t any obvious cigarette burns in the carpet. He shuffled himself over to his bed and sat down, hands on his knees, then decided to be petty (it was good enough for angels) and keep his eyes anywhere but on Sam while Sam figured out how he wanted to pep-talk Dean this time.

Except—wasn’t he done with all that, too? Pretending like it was Sam who cared about their relationship. If he couldn’t keep the sarcastic emphasis out of his mental voice, he could at least admit the truth. “We shouldn’t be worrying about our memories, we need to focus on the big shit: Zachariah on our asses, God cutting us loose.”

Sam hovered in the middle of the room, right where Roy had been tied. “I think our memories are the big shit, Dean. Or part of it, anyway.”

“Zach really hates me. Don’t think it’s personal with you,” Dean mused. Which led him towards a place he’d been going for a while. They weren’t a matched pair, salt and pepper (or maybe salt and sulfur) like the angels and demons wanted them to be. There might be a way to turn this Grand Canyon between them into something useful.

Dean bit his lip and went for it.

“If you keep saying no, and I say yes. Lucifer’d still be in the wrong vessel. He’d be weak. Michael could take out Lucifer without a fight so big it ends the world. That could be as good as—” but Sam’s frantic headshaking gave way to hurrying over to Dean, dropping to his knees and grabbing Dean’s shoulders.

It felt good, all Sam’s concern focused on him, but the feeling was a lie. Anger bubbled in his chest like blood. “Come on, Sam, it’s not like you don’t want to split up.”

“Actually, it’s a lot like that,” Sam snapped. His bangs were a mess, falling across his forehead and making it easier not to meet his eyes. His fingers flexed against Dean’s biceps, like he was reminding Dean what he could do to Dean if he wanted to. “You need to listen to me.”

“Why, so you can tell me how wrong I am some more?”

Sam made a noise of such pain that Dean checked, through his lashes, to make sure nothing had really happened. Sam blinked down at him, like Dean was supposed to confuse intensity with sincerity. “The stuff you saw in Heaven, Dean. That was the start of my road, not the end. Those memories, they were times I thought I was heading to something—we were kids, we both were, and I didn’t know then what I know now. And you know, there’s almost ten years of my life we didn’t visit.”

“Yeah, because there ain’t exactly been a lot of Thanksgivings and golden retrievers since then,” Dean bit out, annoyed at being the one made to say it. Fuck, his own memories had walked him backwards, that’s how good life got for him. That wasn’t Sam’s fault, but Dean wasn’t going to pretend he was okay with Sam only being around because they were chained together by the apocalypse.

Sam tilted his head, like he was checking his work. He huffed out and set his jaw in the way that meant he planned to stubborn Dean into submission.

“Prank wars, Dean. That fairy circle in Ohio. Saving lives. Singing along in the car. Saving your life. Buying your midget-sized undershirts when we finally make it to a Wal-Mart. Watching you sweep the table when you’re hustling pool.”

Dean shook his head. The words were right, but it was no better if Sam gave up on escape and just tried to enjoy the crappy parts of their life. Dean’d tried that way for years, but Sam was too smart to fool himself for that long. Anyway, listening to Sam talk himself into some fantasy was going to end up leaving them worse off in the long run.

He tried to armor himself against the flicker of hope that it wasn’t Sam who was fooling himself. No, not armor, that had all been knocked down, shattered, run through. The opposite: he had to let it go, give it up.

Sam actually fucking grabbed Dean’s face with his enormous paws, forcing Dean’s head up so that their eyes met. “Bringing that little girl in Chariton back to her parents. Remember how they looked at us? And then we stopped at this shack and had the best tacos I ever tasted, and you said good tacos in Iowa were practically evidence of witchcraft, and I talked about immigration patterns until you put a handful of ice down my back. I was happy, Dean. I think we were happy.”

Sometime during Sam’s speech, Dean found himself leaning forward, Sam’s palms a little sweaty against his skin.

Fact was, Dean wanted it to be true so much he was nothing but a shell filled up with want, and it felt so much like the emptiness he was used to that he wondered whether Famine hadn’t been wrong, whether he was just always so hungry that he couldn’t get any hungrier.

“I grew up,” Sam said, like he could tell Dean was finally listening. “I’ve had those great moments with you, the ones worth coming back to. Yeah, that doesn’t happen every day. But when it does, there’s nothing I want more. And I want it to keep happening.”

“I don’t know how to believe you,” Dean said in a rush, possibly the worst confession of failure he’d ever had to make. “Next time you think you know better, or Lucifer makes you a sweeter offer—”

Sam brushed his thumb over Dean’s cheek, gentle, even with tears shining in his eyes. “Just listen, Dean. I didn’t lie to you when I was a kid and I’m not lying to you now. This is what I want. You’re what I want.”

It was too much, a flash flood in the desert, his heart too hard and shriveled to unclench. He wanted to deny it, shut down, go back to just being mad. Sam was fighting so hard, brave like he’d been brave fighting off the demon blood all over again. Dean didn’t get why Sam even thought Dean ought to matter to him, since Sam was stronger than he’d ever been, but Sam’s eyes were open and honest. Sam, at least, believed what he was saying, at least as much as he’d believed he could be normal all those years ago.

He’d been trying to let Sam go, because that’s what Sam wanted. But he didn’t know who he was after he did that, and he didn’t have any fucking time to find out. Letting go of Sam meant nothing to hold on to, so no wonder he was screaming and flailing around like his first years on the rack.

“I don’t know how much of me is left,” Dean admitted.

Sam swallowed. “Then maybe it’s time to make a fresh start,” he said. “I’ll help you when you need it, and you help me. I choose you. Not because I have to. Because you make me a better man, and because I love you—don’t, Dean—” pressing hard on Dean’s cheek to keep him from turning away—”and because I want to. Will you choose me?”

Dean couldn’t look at him, not for this. Sam dropped his hand, but he didn’t pull away, still kneeling in front of Dean like he was sewing up a wound.

He could hear them both breathing, his own rhythm ragged and Sam more even but still fast, amped-up. Sam really thought Dean had a decision to make. ‘I never had a choice’ was Dean’s automatic reaction, along with all the resentment that had always floated alongside the proud certainty. But. ‘Never had’ wasn’t the same as ‘don’t have.’

Along with what Dean had always wanted, Sam was offering pain, maybe total disaster. That was the price. Dean knew it, even if Sam didn’t want to admit it.

Pain was an old friend, and disaster—well, Dean had put out that welcome mat once or twice.

When Dean opened his eyes again, Sam was still watching him. He didn’t look like Dean expected: like he was waiting for Dean to hurry up and get the point, eyes narrowed and not even surprised at Dean’s slowness. Instead, Sam was just—there. Like he’d be there as long as it took, true north while Dean’s compass heart spun and settled. Sam wasn’t smirking, but Dean had the sense that Sam was waiting for a reason to smile.

Sam had never been a choice for him before. But Sam was worth choosing.

“Yeah,” he said. He could feel more words thrashing in his chest, trapped the way they always were, about how he wasn’t going to be able to do this without hearing Sam say it again, and how even then there were going to be times he didn’t buy it. If Sam really knew him, if Sam was willing to deal with all of him, then Sam wouldn’t need to hear those things, though there were probably other words that Dean would be honor-bound to produce eventually.

“Thank you,” Sam said, his smile brighter than high-beams. Dean smiled back because he couldn’t help it (some things, he still couldn’t choose, but he guessed he was okay with that).

Sam rocked back a couple of inches and started digging in his jeans, mumbling curses and then a bark of triumph when he produced—

“I thought—” Sam mumbled, flushing.

“I know what you thought,” Dean told him, because Sam had been right.

“Will you?” Sam held the amulet out, dangling from his clenched fist.

Dean examined him, his eyebrows disappearing under his bangs as he gave Dean his best eager-puppy look. The amulet was their history, but maybe it could be their future too, grabbed up and remade from trash because they weren’t going to let anyone else decide what it was going to mean. “Yeah, Sammy.” Dean offered his hand, palm open, ready now.

Instead of putting the cord in Dean’s hand, though, Sam held on to it, using both hands to pull it wide enough. Dean accepted the inevitable and bowed his head, almost like he was getting a blessing.

The press of Sam’s thumbs against the sides of his neck didn’t feel like any blessing he’d ever known about.

The amulet caught on his collar and then fell inside his shirt, like a shared secret. The metal was cool against his skin, but only for a second, taking up his body heat like it had never left.

Sam didn’t lean back, his hands just drifting down a little. If Dean moved just an inch, he’d be close enough to—

Sam’s breath was hot against his face. Sam was up on one knee, he realized, and was shocked enough to snap his eyes up. He’d never been this close to someone and not kissed them, he thought.

None of his old rules had worked. He already knew it was time for some new ones. And if he managed to piss off God and the angels in the process, well, that was just a bonus.

He had to take a couple of breaths before he could speak. “This is a little weird, right?” Sam would know better than he did, he figured, and the thought barely scraped his skin.

“Yeah,” Sam said, voice full of laughter, “it’s a little weird. But, you know, I’m okay with that.”

“Yeah?” Dean said. His voice wasn’t shaking, whatever Sam might have said if asked.

“We eat weird for breakfast.” And laced into the humor was a dirty sort of promise; Dean could feel his own cheeks pinking in reaction. This was going to be a pretty big change, he thought, and maybe that was the point.

“Okay then,” he said, and brought his hands up to Sam’s wrists, pushing him away gently. Not saying no, not even close, just giving himself a little room to think. “Roy and Walt,” Dean realized. “Was that, like, an engagement present?”

“No?” Sam said, his brows raised. Even he knew he wasn’t being that convincing.

“Well, next time, remember: I like guns,” Dean said, so that he wouldn’t say something more stupid.

“We’ve got to talk about this overcompensating thing,” Sam said, grinning back just as hard.

“Says the guy with the knife the size of his thighbone,” Dean pointed out. “But if you want to go there—”

“I do,” Sam said, his smile turning hotter as he dipped his eyes downwards. “I really, really do.”

Dean laughed, because he couldn’t help himself. “Seriously?”

Sam tilted his head and, cat-quick, shoved Dean flat on the bed. “Better than your best line, asshole.”

Dean stared up at him, the position familiar from sparring and, yeah, fighting for real, and he felt something new. Starting over, Sam said.

Might as well do it up right, then.

He nodded a challenge, feeling the cheap polyester bedcover scrape across the back of his neck. “Mouth like mine’s not made for talking,” he said, and Sam groaned and was on him, heavy as a slab of concrete, lips and tongue hot and wet and fucking everywhere, like he couldn’t decide where to start. Dean’s legs were still hanging off the bed, feet on the floor, giving him just the right leverage to thrust up, his hardening cock rubbing against Sam’s belly, Sam grunting frustration because he was too far down to do the same, his hips pumping into the space between Dean’s knees.
Sam launched himself upwards, awkward and landing so heavy on Dean’s stomach that Dean might’ve ruined the proceedings by puking if he didn’t have abs of fucking steel. Sam’s mortified look while Dean coughed was also rewarding, so Dean was just going to save that up for later, when Sam needed reminding who was the one with the smooth moves.

Sam squawked when Dean pulled him down again, and he complained about the bruises the amulet ground into his skin (Sam could bitch about cold beer and hot chicks, and this Dean knew for a fact, so he didn’t take it personally), and he fought with Dean for who got to go first, rolling across the bed that sagged and whined beneath them. Or at least he fought until Dean managed to pop the button on his jeans and wriggle a hand inside and then Sam, never a great multitasker, gulped and closed his eyes and stopped putting sentences together. There weren’t words for how he looked, wrecked and glorious in a way as far from angelic as Dean could imagine, mouth opening on a gasp as Dean pulled the orgasm out of him, jagged lines on his belly that just begged to be licked off.

When Dean scooted off the bed to go to his knees and do just that, Sam’s curses got even more drawn-out, his hands squeezing Dean’s shoulders as Dean worked, bumping his cheek up against Sam’s sticky, twitching dick just to make Sam shudder. The salt-sour mixed with the day’s sweat on Sam’s skin, better than a shot from the top shelf.

It was a serious thrill when Sam managed to sit up, grab his shoulders, and throw him back onto the bed in one swift move, solid and easy as swinging a shovel. Dean grunted, more in admiration than surprise, as Sam unbuttoned his overshirt almost faster than Dean could’ve ripped it off, then rucked Dean’s undershirt up to his armpits. The amulet was tangled in the soft cotton, thong a stinging line around Dean’s throat, but who the fuck cared when Sam was bending down, biting across Dean’s pecs, stopping to lick the lines of the tattoo. Dean groaned and opened his own jeans, shoving them down his hips and hoping Sam would take the hint.

Coming through in the clutch, Sam turned his head just enough to spit into his palm. He jerked Dean off with a grip just shy of painful, his head bent so that he could watch himself work. Dean grabbed the back of Sam’s neck, fingers slipping on sweat and strands of hair. His thighs were shaking. He arched his back so that Sam had to splay his other hand over Dean’s belly to keep him down, and that was it, done and done, coming hard enough that the world disappeared into the white.

When he figured out which way was up, Sam had them scooted into the center of the bed, wrapped around each other like a manifold in an engine. Sam was smiling into his shoulder and playing with the amulet. Dean wasn’t sure his jizz-covered fingers were exactly the best way to take care of the thing, but then again he didn’t much care.

He could always make Sam lick it clean later.

END

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Vagabondage http://localhost/rivkat/?p=567 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=567#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:48:37 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=567 The best thing about not being designated angel/fallen angel slippers for the apocalypse any more was that they could enjoy the job, the way real partners did.

The worst thing was probably that Sam still liked to talk about Dean’s feelings, especially when they’d both had a few and were hidden in the privacy of the night’s motel room. And now Sam was able to pull the sad eyes, you-don’t-respect-me-like-you-said-you-would, when Dean tried to blow him off.

So Dean thought he was doing pretty good when he diverted Sam’s heavy hinting (it was possible that the first letter of Sam’s sentences spelled out L-I-S-A over and over, though Dean might also have been making that up) into a conversation about sex instead.

But then somehow—Dean blamed the whiskey—they got to really talking about sex, and Sam told him about how Jess tied his hands with the belt from her bathrobe and how hot it got her. “You ever do anything like that?”

Dean chewed on his lower lip and leaned back against the headboard of his bed. “No,” he admitted. “Don’t get me wrong,” he hurried before Sam could do more than widen his eyes. “I’ve stuck it everywhere it’ll go, and in just about every position they got in the Kama Sutra. But a thing like that—tied up, maybe some choking—you’d have to trust someone an awful lot, right? And I never.” He swallowed and reached for the bottle again.

Sam stared at him, long enough that Dean cracked. “What?”

Sam was sitting on the edge of his bed, hands working all nervous in the bedspread, like the conversation was making him freak out even though he was the one running it. “Just, dude. I’ve seen your porn.”

Dean shrugged. “What, I can’t have fantasies? Look, I do something crazy unsafe, it’s gotta be hunting evil. Otherwise it’s just stupid.” People who weren’t them were either dangerous or not yet proven dangerous, and he could handle that ordinarily. But letting himself get disarmed and under someone else’s control—he’d be taking too big a risk of leaving Sam behind, and no matter how hot the thought got him there was no way it was worth that price.

Sam closed his mouth. Then, with the deliberation of someone drunker than he ought to have been, he reached for the bottle on the nightstand between them and took three long swallows, throat rippling as he tilted the bottle up. When he put it back, it rocked and nearly tipped over, until Dean reached out to save it.

While Dean was occupied with that, Sam said, “There are ways. If you wanted.”

Dean didn’t even bother asking for an explanation, because—

“I know we’re not gonna settle down. But there are places, online, you can find people who want to do that. And I could, you know, make sure it’s safe.” Sam wasn’t looking at him, and he could practically feel the heat rising from Sam’s skin even with Sam a yard away. “Screen them, watch out for you.”

And holy shit, now Dean felt like he was the one at risk of spontaneous combustion.

Okay, look, Dean didn’t exactly need that shrink from the Sopranos or, fuckit, a high school guidance counselor to tell him why the idea of letting someone take control like that made him hard enough to jackhammer concrete. Knowing he was safe at the same time he knew he didn’t have any choices about what was going to happen: it couldn’t get any hotter than that.

But Dean wasn’t sure he could handle Sam setting it up, not without embarrassing himself beyond recovery. This was different than banging a girl with Sam sleeping, or faking sleep, in the next bed over, because that had been all about Dean being in charge (plus, he hadn’t done that since he’d stopped being a teenage asshole and started being an asshole who wanted to keep his brother around). Straight-up fucking, no matter how loud it got, didn’t mean anything, and Sam knew that.

Sam was fucked up in his own special way, but he wasn’t bent like Dean was, and if he actually saw Dean go crazy over something as trivial as being tied up to get off, he might start in on his Dean-is-broken-from-thirty-years-of-torture kick all over again.

Still—

Sam already knew what Dean wanted. Might not get any worse than that.

“You’d,” he started, and then had to cough and reset his voice, low and broken. “You’d do that?”

Sam ducked his head—fucker knew how to hide his eyes with those ridiculous bangs, which was maybe the point of them—”Yeah.”

Dean’s throat clicked when he swallowed again. “Okay.”

****

So it turned out that Sam had the idea to advertise, not for cash (Sam being vanilla in his own way), but on one of those websites, Craigsbook or MyFace or something like that. When he showed Dean the ad he’d written up, Dean looked one way and Sam the other while Sam explained all the abbreviations, which made it a fuckload easier for Dean to say that, actually, it would be okay by him if it was a guy or a girl.

“I, uh, you need a picture,” Sam said, and after a couple of false starts Dean figured out that he meant a picture of Dean’s cock, or really the chest-to-thigh area. Sam showed him a website where guys shot themselves in the mirror with their cellphone cameras, and that looked like it could work, but Sam was a perfectionist as ever and ended up insisting on taking the picture himself, Dean half-hard just from knowing what was happening, his jeans around his ankles and his hands fisted nervously beside him. Sam was so red Dean was surprised the camera didn’t melt, but the results were pretty good. Dean wasn’t built like Sam, but then there were guys on Jersey Shore not built like Sam, and Dean had nothing to be ashamed of.

They did a hunt out in the middle of Wisconsin, more deer than people, and then nothing happened for a couple of weeks after that, other than Dean getting a good scenario for the spank bank at showertime. Sam seemed to send a lot more emails than usual, but he never said anything about it so Dean figured it was just reposting the ad whenever they arrived in a new place. Then they went to New Jersey, did an easy salt and burn, less than twenty-four hours start to finish.

The next night, Sam was sitting at his laptop, and after a while Dean noticed that he was just staring at the screen, eyebrows scrunched and mouth pursed like he’d gotten some porno virus (which really shouldn’t happen any more now that Dean had his own machine, but with Sam who knew). “What’s up?” Dean asked, edging towards concerned.

“You—a guy in South Orange responded to the ad. He’s free tonight.”

Dean stood in the center of the room while his stomach went elsewhere and his heart pegged out.

“Dean?” Sam’s voice was careful. He wouldn’t ever mention it again if Dean backed out, wouldn’t use it as any kind of ammunition.

But he’d know, and so would Dean.

“Awesome,” Dean said, and if it was a little wobbly he could blame it on the blood rushing to his dick.

****

Sam insisted on getting him tied up a half hour before the dude was scheduled to arrive. If he pulled a no-show, Dean swore to himself, he’d have Sam track down the asshole and deliver an in-person lecture on the impoliteness of leaving a guy hanging like that, and he would’ve liked to wait until they had proof it wasn’t some internet hoax. But Sam had a hair up his ass about preparation. Anyway, the whole point was that Dean couldn’t trust anyone else to put cuffs on his hands, padded or not, and bind him to a bedframe so carefully that Dean couldn’t get free no matter how hard he pulled.

Dean put his whole body into it, testing, and the bed groaned but stayed in place, heavy seventies construction exactly what they needed. He was panting already, twitching with every puff of air that came over his naked body. His nipples were tight, his skin oversensitive against the cheap bedcover with its fraying nylon threads poking out unpredictably.

Sam had stayed focused on Dean’s wrists when he tied Dean down, making sure the leather cuffs were just tight enough and weren’t rubbing wrong against the bone, ignoring the rest of Dean’s body.

Dean knew it was kind of fucked-up, what he was asking Sam to do for him, but that was not exactly a new thing in their relationship and this time it had the prospect of ending in excellent orgasms, so he was trying to ignore it.

And then there was nothing to do but wait, Sam pacing and Dean squirming, trying to do it quietly so that Sam wouldn’t decide that Dean was really not okay and just brazening through so as to save face. Even after all they’d been through, Sam was one hundred percent capable of deciding that Dean didn’t know what he was doing, and although Dean was confident that a few punches would remind Sam about how they weren’t making decisions for each other any more, that would probably scare off the guy.

If the guy was actually planning to show.

Fuck, Dean could get off just thinking about it. Close his eyes and tug against the ropes and know there was nothing he could do, but also know that only good things were going to happen to him. His hips rocked against the bed, his cock stiff against his belly.

The knock startled him enough that he jumped, or tried to, slammed back down by the ropes around his wrists. Sam also looked like he’d been goosed, twitching his shoulders back as he hurried over to the door and stood blocking Dean’s view.

“‘Just Visiting’?” the guy asked. Sam, evidently willing to let events proceed, stepped back and to the side, allowing him in.

He was maybe five-eight, brown-haired, nothing Dean would have looked twice at in a bar. But he was wearing clean clothes and he’d come to a motel late at night to fuck a stranger while another stranger watched, so Dean wasn’t going to be extra picky. Plus, the way his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open when he got a good look at Dean was flattering as fuck. True enough, the dude had won the anonymous sex lottery, if Dean did say so himself.

Sam reached out and grabbed the guy’s upper arm before he got more than half a step towards Dean. “Just a reminder,” Sam said in his best I-can-kill-you-with-my-thumb voice. “Use a condom. Dirty talk is okay, pain isn’t. Safe word is ‘black,’ and I’m just here to make sure you follow the rules.”

“Yeah, sure,” the guy said, but he only had eyes for Dean. Dean couldn’t help but tug against the ropes again, gasping his arousal when they still wouldn’t let him move. It was just his arms, but that was more than enough, spread out for this guy like the centerpiece at a buffet.

He didn’t even strip, which for some reason Dean found super-hot. And it wasn’t like Dean could make him take his clothes off. He just pulled out his dick, stroked it hard while staring at Dean, then took a condom packet out of his jeans and ripped it open. Dean’s breathing was so loud in his own head it was like having his head next to the Impala’s engine when she was full throttle, all thought impossible.

The guy pushed in with only spit and the lube on the condom easing the way, stinging so good Dean wanted to scream. He only whined high in his throat, fingers clenched into fists and eyes screwed shut like he was trying to hide away from the light.

He blew his load before the guy was halfway in, spurting all over his stomach and chest, a drop up to his chin, untouched. The guy cursed and shoved the rest of the way, hurrying, fucking him hard and fast. Dean brought his legs up, folding himself nearly in half, making himself give way, pleasure still rocketing through him like lightning.

The guy gave it to him like a piston, letting Dean ride the aftershocks, until finally he dropped his forehead to Dean’s shoulder and grunted out his orgasm, hands braced on Dean’s biceps.

He pulled out and stripped off the condom, leaving it beside Dean on the bed. Dean managed to turn his head. Sam’s back was a brick wall, his hands tucked under his arms as he faced the window.

“Thanks,” the guy said as he zipped up, looking over at Sam, and then he was gone.

Dean kind of expected Sam to cut him free as soon as the door closed, but instead Sam stood there like he’d been flash frozen.

After a minute, Dean cleared his throat.

Sam turned, slowly. Dean could smell the sex in the air, sharp and familiar tang of his own come plus just a hint of the stranger’s—nothing out of the ordinary. Except that he was still tied down and Sam was crossing the worn-down carpet to the bed. Dean’s dick gave one more twitch, belated comedown, and then Sam’s big competent hands were on the first buckle, setting Dean’s right hand free.

Sam was away from the bed before Dean even managed to shake the cuff off, hurrying into the bathroom while Dean rolled himself sideways and worked on the other cuff. Dean would’ve showered, cleaned himself up to maybe clear the air a little, but Sam had the bathroom door closed and the water running, so the best he could do was wipe himself off with the scratchy motel tissues and get back into his t-shirt and boxers.

Dean was sitting at the little table by the door with two beers, one for him and one for Sam, when Sam finally emerged. The beer had been out long enough to sweat considerably, but it was still cold enough to drink, and he held it out to Sam: we’re okay, right?

Sam didn’t hesitate, just came over and sat down across from Dean, snagging the beer as he went. “So,” he said, staring into the bottle’s mouth as if it was a Latin text, “was that what you wanted?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, tasting the truth of it along with the hops. He was going to be feeling it for a couple of days, remembering it every time he sat down. The constraint, the pleasure, the certainty that Sam wouldn’t let anything happen to him. “It was.”

Sam smoothed his thumb over the label, back and forth like he was trying to rub it clean. “We can keep doing it. If you want,” he offered.

Dean could’ve gotten hard again from just thinking about the possibility. But—it was asking a lot of Sam. One kinky fantasy, sure, but it wasn’t like he could regularly pay Sam back by serving as his wingman, since Sam didn’t do bar hookups anyway. “You really okay with that?” Then he set his jaw and made himself say it. “‘Cause hot as it was, no way is it worth you getting pissed at me.” He knew it was selfish, asking Sam to stand guard just so he could get off a little better, and he’d sacrifice a thousand lays to keep them where they were now, fighting back to back and only annoying each other the minimum possible for two guys with nearly three decades of living in each other’s space.

Sam was still examining his beer, like maybe it was going to turn into a bunch of flowers if he didn’t watch it carefully enough. “Tell you what,” he said. “You do the laundry, and we’ll call it even.”

****

So that’s what they did. Every couple of weeks, they’d get an answer Sam thought was probably the real thing. He was wrong a couple of times, and Dean worked very hard not to bitch him out and just retreat to the shower to take matters into his own hands after they gave up waiting. But mostly Sam was right, and he’d stay sentinel while Dean got good and reamed, and every time it was better than the last.

It was always men, sadly. Dean would totally have been into being ridden by a girl, but he guessed the two-guys thing in the ad scared them off, which he completely understood and had no plans to be a hypocrite about. Anyway, if he wanted a girl, he could still get laid the regular way, even if it had started to seem like a lot of effort. Plus Sam got kind of twitchy now when Dean hit on chicks, like he was thinking about all the things that could go wrong even if Dean wasn’t tied up.

The men were a varied bunch. Some took the offered opportunity to call him a slut and worse, which worked just fine; more than a few blew him either before or after, which was excellent (in fact, Dean’s favorites tended to combine options one and two, since that was just the kind of kinky Dean could get behind); some tried casual conversation, which was not ideal but generally not that much trouble.

Sam didn’t like it when they talked, no matter what the subject matter was. Sam didn’t say anything, but Dean could tell: he got bigger when he was pissed, and nobody was about to tell Dean that was physically impossible, because Dean had fucking seen it. Weirdly, Sam hated the where-are-you-from, how-long-are-you-staying post-orgasmic pleasantry shit much more than even the most vicious stuff the guys said when they were fucking Dean. He was capable of shutting down even the most chatty of them in five seconds flat, out the door before their mouths had stopped moving. Then he’d set Dean free—at some point, maybe after one of the times Dean was pretty sure the top of his head had come off, Sam had started undoing both of the cuffs instead of leaving Dean to do the left hand himself—and stomp off to the bathroom.

If Dean listened hard (which he almost never did; well, hardly ever), he could hear Sam, near the end when Sam was biting his lip to keep the noise inside but just couldn’t stop himself.

Being partners definitely didn’t mean talking about everything.

But there were some things Dean couldn’t keep to himself. “How come when they say thanks, it’s always to you?” he asked one day, while they were waxing the car. “I mean, I’m right there.”

Sam’s hand on the chamois stuttered, then resumed its rhythmic circles. “I guess they think you’re mine,” he said after a minute.

Well, yeah, was Dean’s first reaction. He was pretty sure that he couldn’t get away with saying that, though.

****

Sam’s lecture didn’t change much, but maybe he’d rejiggered the ad, because the guys got more alike, big muscles and not much in the way of small talk. Sometimes Dean wanted to check and see what Sam was saying to them in his messages, but that would have required either a discussion or hacking Sam’s password. The first was too awkward and the second was the kind of thing they didn’t do to each other any more.

Anyway, the results were working for Dean, so, as with much of Sam’s online research, he figured it was better just to enjoy the benefits than to worry too hard about how it was done.

When Sam sent one guy off before he’d even managed to get his dick all the way back in his pants, though, Dean decided that there was one source of tension that was worth managing.
He waited until they were both busy, Dean with routine maintenance and Sam checking out some wacky news story that might mean a ten-hour drive ending in trolls. Dean had never done trolls; he was looking forward to it.

But Dean still needed to make sure that Sam didn’t get too frustrated, because that way lay only resentfulness and the disappearance of a damn good thing.

“You can whack it in the room if you want,” Dean said, carefully reassembling the clip and sliding it back into the gun.

Sam was silent, and Dean had decided that Sam wasn’t going to admit they were having this conversation when he said, low and strained, “that’d be … okay with you?”

Dean shrugged. “Honestly? It’d be kind of reassuring. I mean, talk about letting it all hang out, right?” He wasn’t ever going to have an easy time with Sam seeing so much of him, and he didn’t mean his skin, but knowing that Sam was right there with him, thrilled and terrified and hot as fuck, that would make it better.

Sam grunted, which Dean decided counted as understanding.

And the next time, Sam sat in the corner and jerked off, rhythmic slapping sounds mixing with the noise Dean’s guy made slamming into him, and Dean came so hard he nearly blacked out.

****

“I was thinking,” Dean said, tapping his fingers on the dash as he watched the mile markers blur past.

Sam didn’t make the expected joke about how unlikely that was, which meant that he was already on Dean’s wavelength. Which was awesome all by itself, and Dean took a moment to be glad that Sam was with him, all the way. Then Sam made an annoyed noise, and Dean kept going.

“I’d like to try a blindfold,” he said. It wasn’t that big a change. Not like he picked them for their faces. Not like he picked them, period. But if he was blindfolded, that would make it even more obvious that Sam was the one taking care of him, making sure everything went right. And maybe they wouldn’t have to work so hard not to look at each other, during, kind of like safety glass between them.

He felt the car picking up speed, Sam’s foot cranking down on the gas; no chance Sam was even paying attention to that. Sam’s breath was fast, and Dean didn’t need to look over to feel Sam shifting in his seat.

“Yeah, ‘kay,” Sam said, like it was even a question.

****

And in fact that was even hotter, Dean deep in it from the time he stripped down and laid back on the bed, letting Sam put the blindfold on him—one of his old black T-shirts, too torn up to be any use other than this—and then holding his wrists in place. Then the wait, Dean squirming and Sam so silent that only Dean’s background awareness of Sam’s existence let him know that Sam was still nearby.

Sam took to giving his little speech just outside their room, the rumble of his voice blurred by the door in between them, before he’d let the guy in. So when they came back, Dean’s ears strained to hear the small noises of Sam moving into place, reassuring himself that Sam was still watching.

With the blindfold, they touched him more, like him not being able to see them was permission to go further. The first time a guy put his hands all over Dean’s chest and shoulders, just playing around before the main event, Sam made a stifled sound of protest. The guy pulled back and Sam said, “Sorry, keep going,” as embarrassed as he’d been the very first time he’d walked in on Dean when Dean had been sixteen.

So the dude felt him up for a while, fumbling around the way you did when you were trying to discover what it was gonna take to get your one-night stand off. Dean’s nipples weren’t a particularly important feature as far as he was concerned, but he loved it when they scratched his chest or, better, bit his neck. Dean rewarded that kind of effort with enthusiastic moaning, unless they put their hands over his mouth. Not everybody figured his preferences out and some of them didn’t seem to care, but that was SOP for his fucks and overall it was a major improvement, not even counting the extra thrill of being that much more helpless.

****

They were in Virginia, finishing up a week’s worth of protective rituals as a favor to a hoodoo practitioner Bobby knew, when Sam checked his mail and stared at it for a while, then leaned over the keyboard and typed fast.

“Tonight?” Dean asked, because he knew what that look meant, half sulky and half something darker.

Sam nodded and shut his computer, and they spent the rest of the day interviewing witnesses, Dean’s body loose and humming with anticipation.

They got back to the motel with just enough time for dinner. Dean started stripping down before Sam had even decided to give up on his meatball sub. He set up the ropes and the cuffs for Sam in his boxer-briefs, hard-on already tenting out.

He felt a little bad that he didn’t know how to say it, explain to Sam just how grateful he was that they’d managed to combine the one person he, you know, trusted with his favorite activity. Bringing another person into it just meant he trusted Sam more: a show of confidence that his brother could put J. Random Stranger into a coma faster than J. Random could go from dicking Dean to hurting him.

Sam had to know, though, right?

Maybe Dean should get him a new laptop or something.

He thought about it as he skinned his underwear down, letting it puddle on the floor beside the bed. Sam might take a gift the wrong way, spend the next week freaking out about what Dean had managed to ruin that Sam hadn’t noticed. Dean could chivvy them back to North Carolina, maybe, spend a week on the shore. Sam really liked the beach and if Dean spun it right he wouldn’t even notice that Dean was taking care of him.

Yeah, that would work. Satisfied, he plopped down onto the bed, splaying himself out and putting his arms up in position. After six nights and no housekeeping, the whole room smelled like them, sweat and takeout, familiar from a thousand of these places. Sam was still at the table, staring down at his sandwich wrapper like maybe there was a secret Enochian message there that would burst into flaming letters if Sam stared hard enough.

But that was totally last year, so Dean didn’t worry about it. “C’mon, Sammy,” he said. “This fine ass isn’t gonna tie itself up.”

Sam rolled his eyes and pushed himself away from the table.

One of the best parts of this was that Sam was the last thing Dean saw before the blindfold cut off his sight, and the first thing when he got it back. (Yeah, Dean knew he was pure cotton candy on the inside. Didn’t count if you didn’t say the words.)

Some time later, when Dean was starting to get antsy, Sam made a frustrated noise. “Ten minutes late,” he explained when Dean craned his neck up.

Shit. “Five more and I’m calling it,” Dean said. Too bad, because he wanted it something fierce, but nothing to be done but suck it up, jerk off, and move on. Probably have to fight Sam for who got the shower first, come to think of it. He’d snark but let Sam win, because he was awesome like that.

He heard Sam move to the window and push the curtains back. “Hang on,” Sam ordered, and the door opened and closed. Dean heard Sam’s footsteps, heavy, the way he got when he was too agitated for a single room to contain him. Then Sam’s voice, lower than usual, more like he was mumbling curses to himself—maybe he was lecturing about punctuality—blurred through the walls.

Then the click of the door again, quiet footsteps across the floor, sharp indrawn breath at the sight of Dean’s exposed body. Dean let his thighs fall open, flexed his arms a little to show off the muscles.

The guy stripped—Dean heard the shush of cotton, the clank of the belt, the heavy thud of one boot after the other hitting the ground. He got on the bed, bracing himself over Dean on hands and knees, no part of them touching even though Dean could feel the heat of his skin. Big guy, heavy enough that the bed settled beneath them, like Dean could just roll into the depression made by his weight if it weren’t for the cuffs holding Dean in place.

When the guy’s teeth bit sharply into his neck, he was already shouting his approval when he realized that he’d only heard one person come into the room.

Terror and arousal combined to make him jolt like he’d been shocked, and the guy’s huge hand pressed down in the center of his chest—Sam’s hand, had to be, proved by how Sam bore down, teeth and tongue worrying Dean’s skin just enough to bruise, while his other hand started massaging Dean’s bicep, heavy pressure of his thumb exactly what Dean wanted.

Dean wasn’t exactly Mr. Introspection, so it was no wonder he hadn’t noticed they were going here until they’d arrived. Everything was simple now, narrowed down to Sam’s hand pushing down, steadying Dean’s triple-timing heart. Sam’s mouth, hot and sharp, leaving cool stripes where he licked and nipped down the tendons of Dean’s neck, over the line of his shoulder.

It’d never been like this, like his chest was going to crack apart, and it was okay because Sam was there to put him back together.

“Please,” he said, and Sam froze above him, because of all the filth Dean had spilled these past months, he’d never begged. He closed his eyes behind the dark cotton hiding them and mentally ordered Sam to understand. But he was impatient, and the words spilled out before he could stop them. “Anything you want. I want it.”

“Fuuuck,” Sam said, rough and helpless and confirming what Dean already knew—and if Sam thought he could fool Dean even with no blood going to the big head, Sam was even more annoying than Dean had thought, but Dean was prepared to let it slide this time on account of getting laid. “Dean.”

Dean’s “Yeah, S—” turned into a wordless grunt when Sam bit down again, like he could put his own scars on Dean’s skin to match what Heaven and Hell and the rest of them had done. Dean wanted that, wanted to be able to look at himself and see confirmation of what he had and of who had him.

Sam slid his hands down Dean’s arms, over his sides, pressing hard like he was making sure that every part of Dean was there. He thumbed the stretch of skin just above Dean’s pelvic cut, and Dean whined and tried to arch up, but Sam was on him like an engine block, nothing Dean could do but shiver and shake while Sam rubbed that spot again and again, using every bit of knowledge he’d gained watching Dean.

He was mumbling, sex-brained nonsense about how hot Dean was, how much he wanted this. “God, your cock, so hard for me,” narrating while Dean humped against his stomach, his breath humid against Dean’s chest. Dean clamped his legs around Sam’s hips because it was the only thing he could do to get any closer.

Sam fumbled on the bed, reaching for the conveniently placed lube, his mouth still working on Dean’s shoulder. That was gonna sting like a motherfucker in the morning, Dean thought before he whited out completely as Sam shoved two slick fingers inside him.

He came back to himself to hear Sam, frantic as if they were separated by a heavy door and an angry spirit. “I can’t wait, Dean, can I, can I?” Dean would have put a hand on the back of Sam’s neck to calm him down, but all he could do was nod and moan approvingly as Sam’s fingers pulled out, replaced by the wide pressure of Sam’s cockhead.

Sam bore down and Dean helped as best he could, wrapping his legs around Sam’s waist and making himself give it up, Sam half sobbing as he pushed forward. Sam was already so deep in him that this was something like confirmation, every stinging inch a willing surrender.

The blindfold was wet and Dean didn’t know why, caught up in the feeling, split apart and clinging to Sam. He was bruising his thighs on Sam’s hipbones, fighting against the bonds just because he couldn’t not try to put his hands on Sam even though it was even better like this, taking exactly what Sam was giving him.

Sam palmed his shoulders and fucked him so hard Dean could feel the bed shake around them. Sam had his upper body lifted up six inches or so—he was looking at Dean, Dean could feel his gaze like the heat from the Impala’s hood, and Dean’s cheeks flamed but he didn’t turn his face into the pillow, giving it all to Sam.

“You’re gonna come for me,” Sam told him, and that was all it took for Dean to paint them both with his spunk, slippery-hot between them. He was having this week’s orgasms and the next’s, following on each other until he was ectoplasm-limp, barely hanging on with his legs while Sam did his best to fuck them into a single creature.

Sam’s hands clenched so hard on Dean’s upper arms when he came that Dean was going to have two more handprints for a week or so. Then he collapsed on top of Dean, hard enough that just breathing was an effort. Dean was cool with that.

After a while, though, he shook his hands, making the ropes whisper against the sheets, and Sam took the hint, raising his head from Dean’s chest long enough to work the right cuff free, then the left. Unfortunately, the motion pulled his softening dick out, and Dean winced when he felt the mess of come and lube sliding out of him. “Dude,” he said, chiding. “Ever heard of condoms?”

Sam paused with his hand on the blindfold, then pulled it off. “Anything you want,” he said, his nose inches from Dean’s. “That’s what you said, and if I want you wet for me, then that’s how it’s gonna be, isn’t it?”

Dean swallowed and, maybe, involuntarily humped Sam’s leg a little. “When you put it like that,” he said weakly.

And then there was some kissing and some satisfied dozing.

Maybe half an hour later, there was a knock on the door. Dean, who’d managed to put his shorts back on, grabbed his gun and approached the door while Sam sat up, blinking kind of dopily.

Dean didn’t recognize the man he saw through the peephole, but there was nothing particularly scary there, so he opened the door.

“I’m really sorry,” the man said. He was handsome in a Captain America way, dark blond hair and twinkling blue eyes, not quite competition for Dean (but then who was?) but certainly enough to pull the hot ones. “I had a work emergency, and—am I too late?”

Dean opened his mouth, feeling kind of awkward because he never talked to these guys, not when they weren’t horizontal, and also his arm was twisted behind his back to hide his gun.

“Yeah,” Sam called out from the bed. “You are.” Dean could tell, just from his tone, that Sam was about two seconds away from getting up—jaybird-naked and too focused to remember his usual squeamishness—and asserting his claim more directly.

Dean just shrugged and smiled at the guy, because he’d gotten laid regardless and looked to be repeating the process sooner rather than later. “Sorry,” he said—meaning it a little, since Dean was clearly looking at the first of a long, long line of attractive and willing people he wasn’t going to fuck—and closed the door in the guy’s face.

“So,” Sam said as Dean ambled towards the bed, “a while back, you said something about choking.”

Dean looked at Sam’s hands, big and strong enough to hold the whole world together, and his cock started to fill. He raised his eyebrows, because Sam liked a challenge even when he wouldn’t admit it. “Too much for you?”

Sam reached out, palming Dean’s hip, pulling him down onto the bed—gun hastily shoved back under a pillow—until they were in a warm tangle of sheets and skin. Sam’s hands bracketed Dean’s face, pulling him into place for kiss after kiss, the hot weight of their dicks pressed into Dean’s stomach. Then Sam slid one hand around to rest on Dean’s neck, just ounces of pressure but more than enough to make him arch up and slit his eyes near-shut. “I want it all,” Sam told him, serious as prophecy. “And you’re gonna take everything I give you.”

Dean could’ve gone with ‘fuck, yeah,’ but that was kind of obvious. So: “Yeah, love you too, Sammy.”

The shock and joy on Sam’s face was totally worth it. Mostly the shock, though. Didn’t pay to let Sam get complacent, after all.

Dean grinned up at Sam and wondered how long it would take to convince Sam to let him bring the gun out from under the pillow.

END

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http://localhost/rivkat/?feed=rss2&p=567 0
Two Roads (The I’ll Get There Before You Remix) http://localhost/rivkat/?p=565 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=565#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:46:54 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=565 Two Roads by Tabaqui.]]> Dean remembered the funeral. Dad, blurred at the edges, moving like he’d been burned too. Sammy, passed from murmuring woman to murmuring woman, quiet only for a few seconds before he began to cry again, until one of them paid attention to Dean’s outstretched arms and let him hold Sammy. Then, silence.

Silence for a long time. Dean didn’t feel much like talking, and nobody pressed him on it for a while. Even Dad just yelled at him that one time, until Sammy was screaming and Dad left the motel room to stomp around outside. After that Dad spent more time away and when he was back he just talked to Dean like Dean would talk back if he had something to say, giving orders when he expected Dean to follow them. That was easy. Dean could follow orders without talking.

Sammy was good at sitting up. Dean would prop him up against a pillow and let him watch TV. Sam would stare at the cartoons, mostly serious and attentive, only smiling sometimes. He liked it more when Dean would imitate the crazy cat or rabbit or whatever, so Dean spent a lot of time dancing or trying to somersault (he wasn’t very good at it—he could get his hands and his feet on the floor at the same time, but the rolling forward part tended to end in a crash).

When Sammy was nine months old, Dad found a babysitter for them so that he could spend more time looking for the thing that had killed Mom. Mrs. Edwards was no worse than anyone else who wasn’t Mom. She didn’t try to get Dean to talk, and she had a real crib for Sammy’s naps. The crib had a mobile with a bunch of mice in tutus—ballerina mice, Dean knew that was silly, but Sammy seemed to love them.

One afternoon, he heard Sammy burbling in the crib, not yet whining to get out the way he usually did, and he roused himself from where he’d been dozing just inside the door (Mrs. Edwards didn’t like for him to be in Sammy’s crib, and he figured he could watch Sammy okay from the floor) and came over to peer inside.

Sammy was staring up at the mobile, which was spinning. When Mrs. Edwards remembered to wind it up, it would just turn, but this time each mouse was also twirling, its little arms and legs rising and falling, dancing to some unheard music. Sammy cooed and reached out his fat little hands, and Dean stared too.

Then Sammy yawned and turned his head. The mobile fell silent, rocking a little with momentum.

“Sammy,” Dean whispered. It came out rough, strange after so long without any words at all. Sammy stared at him, eyes wide. “Do it again, Sammy. Do it again.”

And Sammy did.

They both got bored before Mrs. Edwards found them, and Dean got Sammy out of his crib so that he could practice crawling.

That was the first time.

****

Dad found out because Dean kept trying to do it himself. But no matter how much he stared, or pointed, or wanted, stuff stayed motionless. He had to climb up to get the stuffed bear off the shelf himself, or push the toy car with his hand (which was okay because he got to make the whoosh-whoosh noises), or walk over to the TV and press the button.

But Dad noticed what Dean tried first, and then he asked. Dean answered, hoping that Dad would tell him that he wouldn’t have to wait much longer to be able to do all those things.

“You can’t make things move just by looking at them,” Dad told him instead, all serious.

Dean nodded, because Dad knew what Dean could and couldn’t do, and if Dad said so, then it wasn’t going to happen. “But Dad,” he asked, because he wanted to know and he didn’t think that it was going to be one of the questions that made Dad stiff and growly. “How come Sammy can?”

****

After that, Dad never let any of his friends meet Sammy. It meant leaving Dean in charge more, and Dad explained how Dean needed to be responsible.

Responsibility was hard sometimes, but Dad needed him and so did Sammy. Sammy didn’t understand about hiding. When they were in stores, Dean had to pick out the food and answer all Sammy’s questions and make sure that Sammy didn’t get interested in something up too high for him to reach with his hands. Once, when Sammy was four, a box of Pop Tarts came darting down to Dean’s basket and a lady followed him through the entire rest of the store, Dean getting more and more worried as she got closer.

It was only when Dean was imagining having to pull out the knife in his pocket and use it to keep the lady from following them back to the motel, getting himself ready for when he needed to do it for real, that Sammy seemed to understand. “I’ll be careful,” he promised, crying. “I’ll be careful, Dean.”

And he was, mostly.

****

“There are other children like Sam,” Dad said, trying to explain why they were driving through the night. “The demon, it did something to them. And people – people are getting hurt.”

Years later, when Sam was away and wasn’t going to pick the stories out of his mind, Dean would look up the records, relying on his memories of where they’d been and on research into kids who’d lost mothers to fire at the age of six months.

As it’d turned out, telekinesis was not the worst power a baby could’ve gotten. About half the kids had managed to off themselves, one way or another, before age seven. Another quarter or so had gotten themselves killed, almost all by their remaining parent or foster parents. Dean interviewed one of the dads, pretending to be a journalist doing a thing on posttraumatic stress. He swore, to anyone who’d listen, that his child had been replaced by a monster, a bad seed. “She could make you hurt yourself,” the guy had said, the words creaky and rehearsed-sounding by now. “If she didn’t like how you fixed the bottle, if her diaper was dirty. She could make you slam your foot into a wall, or put your hand in boiling water. She’d do it and she’d grin, like it was the funniest thing in the world.”

Dean could see how a baby might think that, not understanding anything about the world. Sammy’d been lucky to have Dean and Dad—whatever he thought about them now, they’d protected him. Learned to ignore his tantrums until they mostly stopped happening; taught him to take deep breaths or even suck his thumb if he needed to when he was frustrated and all the furniture in the room started to wobble.

Sammy’d been lucky, too, that the whammy was a lot later-developing in his case. Dean wasn’t all that imaginative, but even he could think of things a good-natured little kid might’ve demanded that would’ve ended badly. Sam hadn’t even wanted to bathe on a regular basis until he was eight, and he’d had a big thing for fire engines—normal kid stuff like that, only a problem if the little kid could make everybody around comply with him.

Dean had never been entirely sure when the whammy showed up. Sam had always been a stubborn little shit, and the fact that he got his way around Dean more often than not didn’t necessarily have anything to do with special powers. There was that one creepazoid who tried to touch Sam in the laundromat when Sam was nine, and given how the guy had run off, Sam’d either shocked him or ordered him to vamoose. That might’ve been the first time.

****

There’d been a different creepazoid when Dean was fifteen and Dad had left him in charge. Unfortunately, this particular creepazoid had been the landlord. The only bit of luck they had was that Dean hadn’t yet known that the “find another way to pay” thing was a total cliche, so Dean hadn’t burst out laughing. Instead, Dean had looked him up and down and thought about it. He’d felt nothing but a vague sort of disgust. Touch that? He’d rather turn over a decaying corpse, maggots and all. Given that he dug up dead bodies on a regular basis, though, he wasn’t taking the option off the menu entirely.

He’d been in the middle of convincing the guy to wait another couple of days—and hell yeah, he’d been working the looks—when Sam had popped up, practically vibrating with fury.

Dean had never seen anyone get sick so fast. The landlord had been vomiting before he’d cleared the doorway—Dean had glared at Sam all through the cleanup, because that shit stank, and Sam had only shrugged—and he’d been out of commission nearly until Dad had returned, by which time Dean had come close enough to paying that the topic of the value of his other services hadn’t come up again.

****

Before the telepathy and telekinesis settled down, the visions arrived. That was the second worst night of Dean’s life.

Dad was out watching the werewolf’s lair, Dean with strict orders not to get anywhere near that side of town so as to keep the thing from picking up any hint of his scent; Dad had stolen a car special for the occasion for the same reason. Dean had been practicing reassembling a Glock, timing himself (he was going to be the best hunter ever, faster than anybody had ever been, even Dad, and Caleb was going to call up Pastor Jim and talk about how that Winchester boy might really rid the world of demons once and for all) when he heard Sam’s scream from the next room.

Dean ripped the blindfold off, distantly aware of gun parts clattering and skittering as he dove for the hallway.

His first-aid training was heavy on stitches and really appallingly light on seizures. He put a pillow under Sam’s head so he wouldn’t bash his own brains in. Tears were streaming down Sam’s face—”Hurts, Dean,” he kept saying. “Please,” and Dean’s own vision was blurred as he carried Sam out to the car, slipping on the packed-down snow on the walk and thinking how terrifyingly insubstantial Sam seemed over his shoulder, his whole world lighter than the main weapons bag.

He left the Impala parked in the emergency loading zone, and it wasn’t until the nurses started asking him about his parents that he realized he needed a story. If he didn’t think fast, they were going to end up in state custody, probably split up. And even if Sam wasn’t found out and sent to some secret government torture camp, Dean already knew what happened to boys like Sam, smart and friendly and innocent, when they didn’t have family looking out for them. There’d been a trio of ghosts out to South Bend—Dad had apologized, after, for what Dean had seen and heard.

There was honestly no reason that they should’ve believed his bullshit about Dad needing to go get Mom, and he was only putting off the inevitable by a couple of hours, but he nearly fell over with relief when they stopped asking questions.

“I’m gonna call my aunt,” he said, intending to go out and move the car.

“Sweetie,” the oldest one said, catching his arm. “Let me take a look at your feet first.”

He had no idea what she meant, and then he looked down. His socks were filthy from the slush, and yeah, his feet kind of felt like bricks at the end of his legs.

It wasn’t frostbite, but they made him sit fifteen minutes poking and prodding, and then a footbath of all the humiliating things, before they let him go, and by then there was a cop out by the car. Dean had to invent another variant of the Dad story to get the cop to drive the Impala to a real parking space, hoping the guy wouldn’t notice the too-large gym socks and borrowed flip-flops he was wearing. Teach him to walk around, even inside, without his boots on.

By the time he got back, Sam was conscious, and wary, but he lit up as soon as Dean came through the door. “What’s going on?” Dean asked, aimed more at Sam than at the adults.

Sam shrugged in that way that meant it was a family secret, at which point Dean realized that this must be something to do with another power (okay, nobody ever called him the sharpest arrow in the quiver, plus he’d been kind of busy), and that was enough to relax a big part of him. Though now there was the medical bullshit to deal with, along with Child Services unless they dodged fast, so there was still plenty of suck to go around. Dean shrugged back at Sam and pulled a chair up next to him to wait.

The machines were all bleeping and flashing regularly and nobody seemed particularly worried. The IV on Sam’s arm was taped but would come out quickly enough if they needed to run. The room was white enough to make Dean rub at his eyes and smelled faintly like old blood (familiar), other people’s vomit (familiar but still disgusting), and disinfectant (stronger than the stuff motels used). Dean wondered what the people who worked here every day thought about the smell, or whether they didn’t even notice after a while.

Eventually, the doctor looked up from his charts and said that they needed to talk with Dean’s parents, but Dean could stay with Sammy while they waited. Dean just nodded until the room was clear.

“I saw,” Sam said, then went white and stiff as if he was suffering the seizure all over again, but his eyes were clear. “It hurt, Dean.”

Dean leaned over and put his hand on Sam’s arm. “It’s gonna be okay,” he lied.

Sam shook his head. “I saw something. Get me paper and a pen. We gotta—Dad’s gotta go help these people.”

So that was the visions.

****

That was the same year Dad gave Dean the lecture about girls, and condoms, after he’d found Dean with that motel owner’s daughter, her guiding his hand down her pants and him desperately trying to figure out what to do next, because she seemed to expect him to know. Dad had emphasized the part about diseases that could make your dick fall off. Also there was stuff about pregnancy and taking no for an answer, but he kind of had Dean at the dick falling off (even though Dean wasn’t a hundred percent sure what his dick should be doing instead). Later, Dean figured out that Dad had been exaggerating about that. But not before he’d repeated every word to Sam, who’d just rolled his eyes, because to him that stuff was already gross and would stay that way until he was fifteen, in Lincoln, when they stayed four months to hunt down a particularly clever sorceror and Sam fell in love with a girl named Blanche.

Sam would come to Dean with all his questions then, and Dean would coach him through it, faking the confidence he didn’t feel, same as he did when he was talking to actual girls. Dean’s advice seemed to work, if you looked at all the hot chicks Sam had pulled thereafter. Okay, maybe being a sweet-faced genius who’d grown into a body like Mr. Universe (minus the oil) helped, but Dean had to believe he’d put Sam on the right path. It was one of the eternal mysteries: how someone like Dean had managed to raise someone like Sam, competent at all the things that escaped Dean.

****

The firestarting, Dean wasn’t even going to think about.

****

Sam didn’t get the mind stuff under control until after he went through puberty.

Sometimes it was really easy to figure out he was using the whammy, like when he made Dad stop and buy them ice cream. Dean learned pretty quick to speak up as soon as he noticed—”You’re doin’ it again, Sammy!”—because if he didn’t (and a couple of times, he let Sam get away with it because, hey, he liked ice cream too) then the consequences could be … scary. Dean didn’t really think that Dad would leave Sam behind somewhere, not even with Pastor Jim. Or—Dean never thought beyond that kind of punishment, he didn’t, because if he did then Sam would’ve picked it up from him, because there wasn’t a beat loud enough to hide that. But the look in Dad’s eyes sometimes was too much like the look he got hunting.

So, Dean made an effort to keep Sam from fucking up. Plus there was always extra PT when Sam had made a slip like that—clearly, Dad always said, he’s not tired enough. Extra PT for Sam was extra PT for Dean. Not that Dean hated the running and jumping jacks and the rest of it so much; he was a soldier, after all. When Sam had been trying to pull a fast one, Dean kind of enjoyed watching him pout and pant his way through the routine. But Dean hated the way Sam cringed when he’d just plain forgotten and slipped up. It wasn’t natural for a little kid not to demand things. God knew Dean’d asked Dad to give Mom back way too many times, before he’d learned better.

Dean wasn’t sure what Sam did at school. He loved studying so much he’d never ask for less work, the way Dean might’ve, or tell the teacher he got a better grade than his score really was. But asking for a different book when he’d already read the one they were doing that day, yeah, Dean bet he did some of that. Maybe not on purpose, not most of the time. He’d gotten into Stanford on his own—Dean didn’t think Sam could have worked at a distance to fix the test scores or convince some admissions committee to give him a full ride. But Sam liked getting his way too much for Dean to think that he never used his mojo to make that easier.

Also, there was Dad and the drinking. Sam was maybe fourteen when he figured out that sometimes Dad’s trips and late nights had more to do with Jack, Jim and Jose than with Pastor Jim and Caleb. Sam spent the next couple of months smoldering with outrage and backtalk, which went down just as well as anyone would’ve expected, and then a couple more on lectures and even pamphlets from the school nurse, which only avoided an ass-whupping because Dean confirmed, twice, that Sam hadn’t let anyone see him taking them.

But then there was the morning when Sam had just sighed, looked down at his mostly-untouched plate of eggs and toast, and said, real quiet, “I wish you wouldn’t drink so much.” Dean had tensed up, over at the stove where he was frying the bacon, and turned so he could see Dad out of the corner of his eye.

Dad had rubbed at his eyes and then, slow, like it hurt, he’d reached out to put his hand on Sam’s shoulder. Sam had looked up at him through already-too-long bangs, eyes wide and pleading. “I know, son,” Dad had said, and then he’d gone for a glass of water.

After that, Dad would crack a beer or two after a successful hunt, but the empty bottles stopped showing up in the trash, and Dean got to sleep a lot earlier on the nights when Dad went out, not waiting for hours with his eyes wide open in the dark until Dad came back.

It had taken Dean until Sam left for Stanford to wonder just how Sam had managed to convince Dad. He didn’t know what Dad thought, either, because bringing it up would’ve meant talking about Sam and about what the liquor had been doing to Dad, two nasty tastes that would’ve tasted nastier together. Also because, much as he hated to admit it, Dad was better not drinking, and Dean wasn’t sure whether you could shake off a whammy like that by knowing about it and fighting not to comply.

Lacking mind control powers himself, Dean had to make do with smiles and easy lies. He regularly wished he could do more, help out better—it’d make it a hell of a lot easier if they didn’t have to pay for their lodging or gas or, think big, their ammo. But Dad never let Sam do that kind of thing—people could figure out later that they’d done something remarkably weird, even if they didn’t understand why, and that drew a lot of attention. Anyway, Dad said it was important to know how to get what you wanted even if you didn’t have powers, and Dean saw his point.

****

“Power like that, could be mighty valuable,” Hiram Johnson said.

Dad’s face didn’t move, not even a flicker in his eyes. Dean watched from his place in the corner and knew that he wouldn’t have done nearly as well, which meant he wouldn’t have protected Sammy nearly as well.

“You might be right,” Dad said. “But I hear tell they’re pretty dangerous.”

Hiram shrugged, which for a man his size was a major endeavor; Dean half expected to feel the floor shake. “There’s ways of convincing them, if you’ve got the right wards. And if you don’t mind hurting something looks human.”

Dean felt the sting of blood where his nails had scraped his palms. He didn’t move, didn’t breathe. Right then, if he’d been the one with the powers, he’d've—

After Dad’s business with Hiram was done, they walked back to the motel room. Dad stopped outside the door.

“Sam awake?” he asked.

Dean concentrated and shook his head. He wasn’t a hundred percent on Sam’s moods, but he could generally feel Sam thinking. Once in a while they found themselves in the same dream, which could get pretty embarrassing. (Dean was never going to let Sam live down the one with the carousel frogs, and Sam was never going to stop bringing up the naked salt-and-burn, though at least the funny dreams they never talked about, the ones where Dean and Sam both woke up panting and Dean had to change his shorts, were years past now.) Currently, Sam was a warm dark presence, like the car at the end of a long day’s drive ticking itself cool.

Dad sighed and scratched at his chin, where the stubble was thickest. “This is why you have to look out for Sam. It’s not just the demon. The whole world would be after him if they knew. We’re the only ones who can be trusted.”

Dean nodded. Sometimes Dad liked to explain the staring-in-your-face obvious, like Dean was just some ignorant kid. No matter how powerful Sam was, he didn’t have Dean’s horse sense. Naturally anybody trying to get to Sam would have to go through Dean first.

****

Sam figured out how to turn off his pipeline into Dean’s head by the time Dean was sixteen. Dean was grateful. There was plenty of nasty shit in there, more now that Dad was taking him hunting on a regular basis.

Later, when Sam was fourteen, Dad spent a couple of months trying to get Sam to project, so he could talk back to Dean instead of just always knowing where he was. (There was something weird about how Sam could follow Dean and showed no inclination to do the same with Dad. Dad was the one in the most danger. But the one time Dean tried to explain that, Sam just shut his mouth, tight, and turned away, arms crossed over his chest, and Dean could tell that Sam was a hairtrigger away from ordering him to shut up about Dad, and that command would’ve been found out by Dad and triggered a shitstorm epic even compared to Sam and Dad’s usual battles, so Dean didn’t push it.) That didn’t work, and Dean was all kinds of relieved. Dad had forgotten that they were the ones supposed to take care of Sam. Not the reverse.

****

Amanda Heckerling wasn’t the first girl to want him to meet her parents. She was the first to be really nasty about it when he declined, though. Nothing went wrong in the immediate aftermath. She seemed to be into the whole trailer trash thing, and at first he thought he’d made the right call, the one that would keep her interest. But then she got him into the janitor’s closet and they’d been kissing for maybe ten minutes before she tried to open his belt and he went to move her hand away. Amanda was faster, or more motivated, and she got a good feel in before he managed to push her back.

“I thought you respected me!” she complained, eyes wide and betrayed. He just stared at her in confusion, because she was a civilian; what was there to respect?

“I thought, look at the way he is with his little brother, there’s something more there than a leather jacket and a bad attitude. I thought, he must think I’m special. But it’s all a show, isn’t it?” She laughed. “And here we are in a closet. Well, you can forget about using me for your reputation.”

“What?” Dean asked, edging towards pissed. Just because they were leaving soon didn’t mean he wanted to be harassed by jocks, especially since he’d already been through that when he’d started eating lunch with Amanda.

She flung open the door, and he saw people turning to stare. “Look, be gay, whatever. Just don’t expect me to pretend you’re not a loser!”

She stalked off, leaving Dean standing in the hallway, wondering why he couldn’t meet anybody who made any sense.

****

The visions had stopped when Sam was fifteen, just poof and gone, nothing like the others. (Which, Dean sometimes thought, just meant that there were probably more surprises at the bottom of the box, but no point borrowing trouble.) Dad seemed to think that if the visions could clear up, so could the other powers, but Sam said that the visions were different, and even if he couldn’t explain how or why Dean trusted Sam’s intuitions the way he trusted his own arm to aim.

Dean knew it was selfish, but he was glad when the visions disappeared. No more headlong rushes halfway across the country, Dad exhausted and usually bleeding and Dean not much better off. There was always somebody dying, somewhere, and he did want to do the right thing, honestly he did, but Sam’s visions tended to have teeth and the Winchesters were just so fucking tasty.

Without the visions to prod them all the time, they had to find the hunts on their own, and that meant a lot more downtime. Also a lot more continuity in the schools, which was probably where Sam got the idea that college might work out for him.

****

Sam didn’t discover how to go two-way with the telepathy until he was sixteen, and even then he could only shove images into Dean’s head, no explanations unless he scrawled out a note and stared down at it. Dean always ended up with a pounding head and, once, a nosebleed.

Once, because after Sam saw the blood on Dean’s T-shirt collar and demanded to know where it came from, he flat-out refused to do it again, even though that meant that Dean couldn’t get out of line-of-sight from him when they were hunting. Dean wasn’t about to let Sam go without backup. Sam whined about how they didn’t trust him, but he had to know that wasn’t it. Dean thought he just didn’t like to see how terrified the thought of him getting hurt made Dean.

****

Dad told Sam to train without his powers—what if you can’t read the next thing we hunt?—and Sam hated it. You don’t train with your left hand all the time, Sam pointed out, which was true enough, but the order didn’t come from Dean. Dean once tried to suggest that maybe the powers might go away, but Sam looked so betrayed that Dean gave up on that line of defense.

So when they sparred, which was getting more challenging now that Sam was closing in on Dean’s height, Sam supposedly didn’t use anything but Dean’s own body language to anticipate his moves. Dean had incentive to suspect cheating, but there was a good chance Sam was actually complying; he grumbled a lot, but he knew who the boss was.

Sam liked to get him on the ground, counteracting the remaining height differential. Sam fought dirty, too, which led to a lot of cursing on Dean’s part but also made him proud. When they were collapsed on top of each other, panting and grinning, Sam’s chest moving almost in rhythm with Dean’s, Dean knew they were moving towards the future together.

But one day Sam pushed himself off, holding himself above Dean with those gorilla arms, and his face was twisted with terrible emotion, nothing so much as the way Dad looked when he talked about Mom.

“Sam?” Dean asked. Sam was at a forty-five degree angle—he always went for the side holds instead of the more reliable straddle, no matter how Dean tried to train him otherwise—and Dean tried to make himself believe that he was misreading Sam’s expression.

Sam didn’t say anything, just watched Dean. His knee nudged Dean’s hip, then edged away.

“Dude, you’re freaking me out here.” Dean swallowed. “I know you didn’t want to leave Paducah—”

“It’s never going to change, is it?” Sam interrupted. “You’re never going to—”

When Sam stopped like he’d run out of gas, Dean pushed himself up until he was sitting, and Sam didn’t resist, still on his knees and staring at Dean like that guy from Titanic as he slipped into the water. “What is it? Sammy?” He reached out and grabbed Sam’s wrists, sweat-slippery and pulse still pounding.

Sam closed his eyes and his face went still. After a minute, he looked at Dean again and pulled his hands free. “You’re never going to say no to Dad,” he said, and rose to his feet, stalking off and ignoring Dean’s bewildered “Sam?”

Dean might’ve wanted mind powers of his own that day, to figure out what was going on in the kid’s head, but then he found out soon enough when he saw the college applications in the mail.

****

For all his fights with Dad, Sam almost never took it out on Dean, even when Dean talked sense—or as Sam would say, when he took Dad’s side. Dean would’ve thought that Sam being able to see just how often Dean was scared or tired or hungry, or just weak, would make Sam respect him less, but Sam never used any of that against him.

Even when he’d left, Dean had believed him when he’d said that it wasn’t about Dean. “You’ve always taken care of me,” he’d said, “and now I need to learn how to do it myself.”

Then what am I supposed to do, Dean had wondered, but he’d kept up a steady beat of Metallica in his head to cover it up, and Sam hadn’t pushed any further when Dean had nodded. Dean didn’t approve and he didn’t consent to Sam leaving, not in any way, but what Dean approved of and what happened weren’t often in the same state, so no surprise there.

“Anyway,” Sam continued, smiling all wobbly, “this way you can actually go out on some of those dates you’re always turning down on account of having to take care of your little brother.”

He’d taken Dean’s hand, not shaking but clasping, folding his fingers around Dean’s so Dean had no choice but to see how big he’d gotten. Dean had stared down dumbly, remembering Sammy’s little hand swallowed in his as Dean led them across a street, Sam struggling to wrap his fingers around a trigger, Sam’s touch-typing as he did his homework late into the night and Dean dozed.

“You better call,” Dean had managed, just before Sam got on the bus. “Every Wednesday, or I’m comin’ to kick your ass.”

“Yeah,” Sam had agreed hoarsely. Then he’d squeezed Dean’s hand one last time, and he was gone.

****

And if Sam’s promised calls started turning, more often than not, into texts, that was only natural. Dean didn’t expect more. Plus Sam was paying attention, in his own way—WHAT DID YOU DO I CAN FEEL YOUR LEG, he sent the time after the rawhead in Idaho. Dean had to scramble to answer back before Sam left school in the middle of finals to come get him, morphine-numbed fingers making him a worse speller than usual. FINE SAMY FIN, he sent back, hanging on to the classic rock soundscape that kept Sam from prying into his head, allowing only the image of himself walking into the hospital on his own two feet to get through (and cutting it off before the part where he fell over).

Sam bought it enough to stay put, even though the next time he got on the phone live and insisted that Dean give details: twenty stitches, neatly done, not close to the worst Dean had suffered, proved with another image since the swelling was already going down. Sam had groaned protest at the grossness, but Dean could tell he was relieved.

They didn’t talk about where Dad had been while Dean had been getting carved up, or about where the demon might be.

****

Dean knew there was nothing he could’ve done to keep Sam from leaving. Even without the powers, nothing in the world could move Sam once he’d made up his mind. You’d do better to wait for a mountain to erode into sand. It was a miracle Sam had listened to Dad for as long as he had. When Sam had revealed the letter from Stanford, Dad had yelled and thrown stuff—Sam had yelled and windows had shattered—and Dean had just wondered whether Sam could’ve made them forget about him.

Some days he almost wished Sam had tried.

He didn’t spend all his time feeling like some sea creature’s outgrown shell. Mostly, he killed evil things. He was good enough at it now that Dad sent him out on his own two times out of three. And that was lonely, sure, but it had its upsides, like the Impala, and the way that Dean didn’t have to pretend to flirt with the girls in diners and bars, didn’t have to check over his shoulder to make sure Dad was nodding permission and approval as he worked his way through his (only) beer.

Without anybody to back up, Dean did the job as quick and careful as he knew how. He owed it to Sam to stay in the game until he and Dad found the demon. He wasn’t about to let himself get wasted on some kindergarten haunting.

****

Best as Dean could tell, there were only a couple of other kids like Sam left, lucky enough to survive their powers. For an appropriately fucked-up definition of lucky. They’d both dropped off the radar, Ava Wilson after the gory death of her fiance and Jake Talley after some unspecified incident in the military. Given how the Feebs had pulled up to the library where Dean had been working not more than a minute after Dean had walked out, Dean had the suspicion that the yellow-eyed demon wasn’t the only entity with an unhealthy interest in Jake, and at least Sam had been spared that so far.

Dad insisted on tracking the demon. Dean thought he didn’t want to find Wilson and Talley. As if what he’d turn up might affect how he looked at Sam.

Dean kept his mind off that kind of stuff, though. Made it easier to follow orders, and anyway Sam had Dean to look after him, not like those other kids.

****

In the end, when Dad had dropped off the radar so decisively, Dean had known there was no choice but to go to Sam. Once he’d seen Sam, so happy and secure, beautiful girl by his side, demons only a word his friends would use to talk about each other’s screwed-up-ness, he’d known that Sam didn’t have any reason to come back. He’d even wanted for Sam to get out, get the normal life he’d always desired (even if his girl would never understand why the lightbulbs burned out every time Sam got super-pissed).

Dean sometimes wondered about that life Sam would’ve had with Jessica. How Sam’s hand had curled around her, possessive but also comfortable, like he knew what he had. Like he’d had a bunch of opportunities and picked just the right one for him. She’d been the same, so casual sharing a life, a bed, with Sam. Dismissing Dean’s own leer like she knew it couldn’t really touch her. Sam and Jessica had seen a future together and even if it had been fake, it had seemed worth wanting.

****

When Sam came back, the subjects of Dad’s location and the yellow-eyed demon’s plans came up constantly, except Dean didn’t have any more information than Sam did. They saved people (as it turned out, shapeshifters were not so good with mental impersonation; Sam blew the thing’s head off before it could do more than grin in his direction) and hunted things (orchard gods, who knew?). Sam met Cassie and got all twitchy over how Dean might’ve told her some things. Cassie kissed Dean and asked if anything had changed. Dean shook his head and thought about asking her to let him undress her, let him put his head between her legs and make her happy. But it wouldn’t have made her happy, so he didn’t ask.

He remembered their first fight, both of them so riled up, and then she’d kissed him and he’d gotten her off twice with his hand, shoved up against the wall of her apartment, kissing her through it and wanting so desperately to be good enough, satisfied for once just to be the one who was giving her—Cassie, this beautiful specific person he liked–that pleasure. She’d been loose-limbed and giggly afterwards, tapping him on the nose as she pushed him out the door while telling him that she wasn’t going to apologize for not letting him have his turn.

Dean had known, even then, that it wasn’t going to work, but he’d had to try.

“I like her,” Sam said as they left town, carefully not watching Dean. His hands were tight on the wheel. “Ever wonder if it’s worth it? Putting everything else on hold, doing what we do?”

Dean popped the glove box and grabbed his sunglasses, smiling a little. He didn’t have anything else to put on hold, but he did have Sam, right there not two feet away. Sam needed him, making sure Sam didn’t fall into whatever abyss had swallowed the other demon-touched kids, making sure that investigative journalists like Cassie didn’t decide that Sam needed careful exploration. So, no, Dean didn’t spend much time wondering about the alternatives. All things considered, Dean was doing pretty well. “Wake me when it’s my turn to drive.”

****

It wasn’t until after Madison that Sam found out.

Sam could be kind of a—no, that was unfair. Sam was so smart that, when he figured something out, it generally stayed figured out. And growing up with Dean, it was only natural that he kept coasting on everything he’d always known, or believed.

“How do you do it?” he asked, picking at his lunch.

“Do what?” Dean answered, expecting some question about not caring too much about the civilians. He wasn’t sure he could explain how it could hurt every time, even if you didn’t whine about it, without sounding like a screwed-up mess.

Sam tilted his head at their waitress, Suzanne, who was watching them and who blushed when Dean smiled at her. “All the women. Every road we go down, you find a new one. How can you just sleep with them and have it mean nothing?”

Dean knew that Sam didn’t read his mind—couldn’t do it on purpose even when he tried, not if Dean was fighting. Other than the GPS, the best Sam could do unless Dean cooperated was to pick up emotions, sometimes images. Usually he allowed Dean his privacy, unless Dean was really agitated. Dean had tried not to think about this at all when Sam was around, and he’d never thought Sam would bring it up. Went to show just how good his luck was.

Dean reached for his wallet and pulled out enough to cover the meal plus a decent tip. He got up, nodding again at Suzanne, ignoring Sam’s protest.

She stopped him before he got to the door. “Was everything okay?” she asked, some honest concern there. Her hair was dyed a shade of red more familiar to shotgun shells than to nature; it looked good on her.

Dean twitched his lips at her and shrugged. “It was fine, just got places to be.”

Suzanne cast a skeptical look back at Sam, who was still sitting on his ass, hands clenching uselessly as he gaped at Dean. Dean sighed to himself. He’d really been hoping to get some food in Sam, who got even bitchier when he wasn’t eating and who refused to notice that fact.

Suzanne didn’t delay him further, and Dean took the minutes before Sam shook off his confusion and joined him to brace himself for the conversation. He could’ve lied, except that Sam came with his own polygraph. This was just one of those days when Sam’s abilities were going to make his life suck more than usual.

So, Dean took up a position leaning against the car, one knee up and his bootheel against the door so that he looked comfortable, arms crossed low over his stomach. The metal was sun-warmed and solid against his back, a better home than most people had if you thought about it.

“I don’t sleep with ‘em,” he said as soon as Sam approached, all dark concerned eyes and carefully nonconfrontational posture.

“Well, yeah, you always come back to the room after,” Sam said, and Dean wanted to ask him if he was deliberately misunderstanding.

Dean shook his head, remembering the pattern of their lives in these past months, together almost twenty-four seven. Sometimes they needed downtime apart, that was all—or had been all until Dean had left Sam with Madison. Dean could give Sam his space, especially if it kept Sam from leaving all the way again. And if Sam had thought that Dean was dipping his wick every time, well, that had been okay with Dean. “When I go out, I just have a few beers, play a few games, whatever, and then I come back.”

Sam just stood there, hunching into his hoodie, as confused as he’d been that one time Dean had tried to explain how a manifold worked.

“You really gonna make me say it?” Obviously, yes. Sam still looked like Dean had started speaking modern Greek. Dean’s face felt stiff with humiliation, but he forced the words out. “I don’t. I don’t do that kind of stuff.”

Yeah, he was a freak. His freak happened to be that he was about as sexed-up as a Ken doll, not that he could start fires and open doors with his mind, but hey, some guys have all the luck. He remembered how hard he’d tried with Cassie. She’d been like—like driving towards the sunrise, the world lit up golden and the road rolling endless in front of him, making him feel like he could do anything if it was for her. But his stumbling attempts to explain himself hadn’t been enough for her, and why should they have been? Cassie wasn’t the only girl who found it difficult to believe Dean when he said he liked her, given that he couldn’t get it up.

“You don’t like girls,” Sam said at last, all careful and nonjudgmental. He was watching Dean sidelong, tight shoulders revealing just how uncomfortable he was.

Dean sneered, because, seriously? “I ‘like’ girls just fine. Sex. The nasty. Humping. Screwing. Bumping uglies. Fucking, okay? I don’t do that, guys or girls. Like how you’re missing the part of your brain that makes you cool, that’s me and sex.”

Sam looked like he was reassessing Dean’s sanity along with his sexuality. He ducked his chin, breaking eye contact. “But you, uh. You at least masturbate, right?”

Dean’s fingers physically itched to be curled into fists. In half a second he could be pounding Sam’s concerned face into pulp. Like he didn’t feel shitty enough about it all on his own, whole world around him that everybody else seemed to understand, half of ‘em willing to share it with him if he’d only been able to get his body to react. He was just some animated mannequin and the rest of them were real, and some days he really goddamn hated that. “Don’t really see the point,” he gritted out.

He was going to go find a bar, a bar that didn’t have Sam in it, and he was going to get so drunk that when the punches started to fly he wouldn’t even feel the first couple of hits.

“But …” Sam didn’t seem to know where that sentence was going. But you’re always flirting? But you’re so macho? What-the-fuck-ever. Dean’d learned to make the sale without closing the deal the same way he’d learned how to part fools and their folding money over a pool table or a card game. People told you what they wanted from you all the time, with their eyes and how their hands moved and how they leaned forward, or back, and Dean gave it to them. Just, that was the only thing he gave.

“Not even,” Sam paused, swallowed, “nothing?”

Dean shook his head, pushing the anger back down where it belonged. Even Sam couldn’t continue this nightmare of a conversation too much longer, right? He wanted to give the Impala a good going-over, but if he opened up his toolbox right now he was likely to smash Sam’s stupid nose in, so that was going to have to wait until he was a little more calm.

“But you used to—” Sam said. “Were you—did something, um. Happen?”

And that was it, that was fucking it. He spun and grabbed Sam, shoving him hard against the car window, ignoring Sam’s pained grunt. “Shut it, or I’ll sublimate some violence right on your ass.” At Sam’s shocked, wide eyes, Dean growled and shook him some more. “Yeah, it reads, fuck you very much.”

He let Sam go and stomped off, turning it into a run as he went. He didn’t have his sneakers on, but he knew how to run in boots, and he needed to bleed off the resentment.

First the chicks had been like Amanda at the beginning, pleased and preening at how Dean was taking his time with them. Then, after a few years, Amanda set the pattern: surprise and then insults. He’d tried the gay thing too, because it was worth a shot, but that was good for nothing but easy cash.

Once he’d known what was expected of him, Dean had figured out how to get most girls off with his hands and his mouth (none of which Dad’s lecture had covered beyond ‘she’s got to enjoy herself too’). But honestly it was kind of boring and more than a little embarrassing, watching someone else close-up go crazy over something that meant about as much to Dean as yesterday’s oatmeal.

After a while Dean had gotten mad that it was so easy for the girls, which was not how it was supposed to be. Guys were uncomplicated, everyone said so. Anger and sex (or, you know, not-sex) were a terrible combination, so he tried to stay away from it, making Cassie the exception that showed just how smart the rule was. Eventually, when he’d had a lot of time on his hands, he’d tried to figure out what was so wrong with him. Without Sam, he’d already learned to flail his way around libraries and even the Internet, so this was just another research project. Viagra didn’t do the trick, and Dean knew he’d gotten the real stuff, lifted it right out of a pharmacy when he was grabbing some antibiotics that time Dad’s shoulder got infected, plus he saw blue flashes and got a headache after, which meant it should’ve worked. The lust spell from the witch in Tulsa had been a dud too, though that one did leave him puking for three days straight.

He didn’t feel like the people he’d read about, the ones who didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and who’d eventually figured out that sex just wasn’t their thing. He thought it was cool when people managed to ignore everyone else’s expectations and know what was right and wrong for them. But that wasn’t him. Dean liked the idea of sex, a lot. He liked the look of girls, even after the feel of their bodies got so strongly associated with total failure in his head. He looked and he thought, but the desire in his head never made it out to the rest of him.

He wanted to feel his heart pounding and his skin tight, the way it was on a hunt. He wanted to moan like those girls had when he licked them, like those guys had when he took every inch. Some days he was so fucking jealous that he wanted to scream. Forget love; forget even that moment of connection when you found somebody who wanted to make you feel good in a world that was mostly made of pain. Dean just wanted to be able to rub one out and fall asleep when he was out on a hunt on his own, hadn’t heard from Dad in a week. Instead, he was a car without an alternator; supposedly built for it (everyone said so, with their hands and their eyes even before their mouths) but useless as a pile of bricks.

When he thought about his problem, he felt like he was looking at the world through a glass wall, hands pressed hard against it. There was an engine racing in him, but the pipes were all tangled so the power didn’t go anywhere he wanted it to be.

So yeah, he tried not to think about it. He sublimated the fuck (heh) out of his energy. Saving people, hunting things—better than killing real people, anyway.

He ran until his legs were shaking and his jeans and his shirts were sweated through so thoroughly that he might’ve been out in a rainstorm. When he stopped, he had no idea where he was, and no hope of making it back to the motel under his own power. He collapsed on a curb, panting, and propped his elbows on his knees.

He felt something like a pebble glancing off a windshield, a single emotional ping. Sam, checking to make sure he wasn’t dead or in lockup. Dean didn’t even blame Sam for prying. Since they’d been back together, it’d only been the smart thing to do to keep a thread open between them. As long as Sam was only aware of the surface stuff, the emotions and not the reasons for them, it was no more than reading his body language.

Not in trouble, he sent back, staring at the street signs so that Sam would be able to confirm that no, he hadn’t gone and started a riot or anything like that. And then, because there was no way he was standing, and his clothes were nasty-rank and starting to get chilly, Come get me?

Warmth, or the illusion of warmth, washed over him. He could almost taste Sam’s relief.

When the car pulled up, Dean got into the passenger seat without a word, and Sam didn’t try further conversation.

“Gonna take a shower,” he told Sam when they made it back to their room. Sam was smart enough to know that Dean wasn’t going to talk while he was sweat-soaked and stinking like a dog, so Dean fully expected Sam’s compliant nod and didn’t mistake it for the end of the interrogation.

The hot water felt good. He took his time soaping himself off and washing clean. His body was not that bad, aside from the useless parts. He was strong and good-looking and that meant a lot more than getting girls. It meant witnesses opening up to him and random strangers willing to believe his bullshit. He had awesome aim and a back kick that had to be seen to be believed. He was fit for the mission, and that was what counted. His body knew better than his brain, anyhow: he didn’t get to have the stuff that civilians did. Other than pie, anyhow. Maybe he could convince Sam to get him pie, if Sam felt like making amends.

When he came out, wrapped in both towels because if Sam was going to make him suffer then Dean was damn well going to return the favor, Sam was sitting at the kitchenette table and—this was a shock—there was an open bottle of Jack in front of him, probably the emergency stash from the trunk. Judging by the level, Sam had already tossed back enough of it that Dean doubted he’d be able to walk in half an hour.

There was a glass waiting for Dean, too.

Warily, Dean dressed, down to his boots. Maybe Sam’s seizure days were over, but it wouldn’t hurt to be ready to run.

When he sat down across from Sam, Sam still didn’t look up from his glass, staring into the amber liquid like maybe he was getting a satellite signal on it.

Dean took a strengthening gulp. The alcohol hit his empty stomach like a firecracker, but Dean just kept swallowing, and when he slammed the glass down, Sam reached out to give him a refill.

The silence stretched like graveyard ropes, tense and fraying. “Spill it,” Dean ordered when he couldn’t stand it any more.

“This is my fault,” Sam said, then snuffled and choked down the rest of his glass.

Dean blinked.

“You were thirteen,” Sam continued, the words stumbling over each other as if he had to get them all out in one breath or he’d lose his courage. “You had all those, uh, wet dreams. And you’d watch girls and ignore me. I complained to Dad about it. I thought it was gross but he said your body was changing, you were changing, and I didn’t want that either. I didn’t. Dean, I didn’t understand, I was just a kid, and I wanted it to go away. Just stop. And it did.”

Dean felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach by a donkey, like he’d been working on the Impala and the jack had crumpled.

“I didn’t know,” Sam said miserably. “I swear, I just didn’t think about it. And then later I guess I—I assumed I was shutting that part out.”

“Oh,” Dean said, because he had no fucking clue what to say.

Sam laughed, miserably, and slopped more liquor into his glass. “And the best part, the best part is that I thought I was protecting you when I—” His mouth slammed shut, and he scowled down at the bottle like it’d put a whammy on him instead.

“When you what?” Dean asked, barely recognizing his own voice.

Sam shook his head, bangs swinging wildly. “I’m so sorry,” he said, scratchy and almost inaudible. “You have to believe me, it wasn’t on purpose—”

Maybe, someday, Dean would care about that part of it, accept his unintentional eunuch-ness as just another charming accident of their screwed-up lives, like fires and Mom dead and stitching Dad up from yet another hunt, but right now he didn’t have the energy. He already knew that if he tried he’d be able to see it from Sammy’s side, nine years old and so freaking disgusted by the thought of sex that he’d sooner have eaten a live spider than watched people get it on. Dean’d lived through that stage the same as Sam, except with extra trauma from surprising Dad at a delicate moment that one time. But Dean wasn’t ready to empathize right now.

“Can you take it back?” he asked instead.

Sam twitched and the glasses exploded, followed by the bottle, both of them cringing as they were peppered with glass and liquor.

Dean swore—this was why Sam shouldn’t drink—and grabbed at Sam across the table until he could see that Sam’s face was intact, and there were only a few scratches on his arms. Dean was the same, cuts stinging from the alcohol, and then they were busy shoving the shards into a pile and wiping themselves mostly clean. Sam wobbled on his feet as he went to get a towel to protect his hands as he shoved the glass into the trash, and Dean watched to make sure he didn’t accidentally slit his wrists.

When they were as clean as they were going to get, Sam sat heavily down into his seat. “I’ve never. I never tried to reverse anything. I didn’t even—I’ll fix this, I swear.”

Sam was maybe two seconds away from crying, but if he started then Dean was going to follow and that might not be survivable, so Dean slammed his hands down on the table, wincing as an unnoticed sliver cut into the heel of his hand. “Then soldier up and do something, don’t just emo at me!”

Sam sniffed and wiped his hand across his face. “Okay.” Dean shut up and let Sam think. He was glad for the alcohol now, a thin layer of cotton over the things he would otherwise have been feeling. If it had been the whammy all along—Dean didn’t even know how to think about that. If he wasn’t the freak he’d thought, then what was he?

“Give me your hand,” Sam said, startling Dean out of his half-drunken contemplation. He looked up and their eyes caught. Sam’s were glazed, and maybe it was dumb to be doing this with Sam halfway to loaded, but Dean would have pulled out his gun if anyone had told him to wait. He felt like his blood had been replaced with lead, but he managed to put his palm up on the table, staring at the glint of his ring until Sam’s bigger hand covered his.

Sam closed his eyes, frowning, jaw clenched. A shiver went through Dean as he felt the pressure of Sam’s attention.

“You gotta let me,” Sam murmured, voice distant with concentration. “Dean.” Just that, his name, and Dean slid into neutral, letting himself go like he was getting ready for a hunt, loosening his body and his senses so that he’d react without thinking to whatever happened next. He shut down the automatic buzz of cock-rock lyrics he used to distract Sam and listened to the sound of his own body, breathing in and out, feeling his heart beat.

Sam’s hand was warm, and the sensation spread out from where they were touching, over Dean’s skin, until it was like he was breathing Sam in, the part of him that was always already Sam’s reaching towards the rest of itself.

Sorry, Dean felt, and before he could even worry there was a surge of what had to be lust, desire rushing up his throat until he couldn’t breathe with it, spilling out of his eyesockets but blocked—

And then a crash like he’d fallen three stories straight down, his limbs spasming as whatever had been standing between his brain and his body shattered.

He was lying on the floor, no idea how he’d gotten there, Sam with one hand wrapped around the back of Dean’s head and the other on Dean’s chest, crying and asking questions at the same time. Dean felt—he felt—there was a bulge in his jeans, painful pressure, the only thing in the world.

The button strained and gave way as he tore at his zipper, needing to see—God, it hurt but he wanted the feeling, like every nerve in his body had coiled up in anticipation. His thighs clenched as he arched up into the pressure of Sam’s hand and finally, finally got his hand around his cock. It felt terrifyingly strange, swollen and stretched like he’d been badly beaten, nothing like his vague memories from being a kid. He gasped and closed his eyes, feeling his thumb skid over the leaking wet head—oh fuck he was—

Electrocution without the pain, freefall without the drop, blank white light taking him over and exploding him out until he was gone.

Eventually he noticed that his stomach was wet, the physical evidence rapidly cooling and sliding over his skin.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Dean croaked. No wonder people were so goddamned stupid. Point of fact, Dean was surprised anybody did anything else but whack off.

Sam was still right there, bent over him like he was about to pull Dean out of a newly-dug grave. When their eyes met, Dean felt a renewed pulse of want run through his veins. His dick jumped and started to thicken again, and he gasped. Sam must’ve felt him through their connection, unable to shut down the link fast enough, and now Sam was feeding it back to Dean.

Without thinking, he reached out and put his hand high up on Sam’s thigh. Sam’s mouth dropped open, but they didn’t need words for this. Dean felt Sam, honey-sweet, the pressure not as great as Dean had felt but building steadily, like water filling a sinking ship.

Dean whimpered, he wanted it so bad. Sam was biting his lip, looking as tortured as Dean felt. “Please, Sam,” he managed, pride shriveled to nothing in the wash of heat.

Sam fell on him like a black dog taking down a victim, the denim of his jeans painful against Dean’s cock. They squirmed uselessly against each other for agonizing seconds, and then Dean managed to get Sam’s jeans down past his hips and they rutted together, as ungainly and awkward as sex always was but Dean got it now, so swept up in it that he had to toss his head back and huff a laugh that turned into a groan when Sam bit down on his throat.

The orgasm seemed to start at the base of his spine and work its way through the both of them, caught and rolled with the inexorable pressure of a thousand tons.

Sam collapsed on top of him, snuffling wetly into his shoulder, while Dean’s heart went from a techno beat down to Rush drum solo levels.

“Holy shit,” he said and Sam stopped in the middle of what was working up to a full-on snuggle. “Is it always like that?”

Sam rolled off, putting his back to Dean, and now Dean could feel the aches rising from doing this on the thin motel carpet. Crap. Had to run his stupid mouth.

He could see the muscles move under Sam’s T-shirt as Sam brought his hands up to cover his unseen face.

Sam hadn’t exactly been in control. He’d been driven by Dean’s newly released lust. Before Sam’d learned to shield, he’d often been dragged along into Dean’s mood. That had been a good thing most of the time, since Dean was on average far more relaxed about life, but there had been some definite exceptions. And this time, he’d made Sam participate.

His stomach flipped over, and Sam spun back around, grabbing Dean’s shoulders and shaking him. “Stop it!” Okay, so the connection wasn’t fully shut down. Dean tried to concentrate, like cranking up the window in the car. “You didn’t—you didn’t do anything I didn’t want.”

Which was totally beside the point when Sam had to want what Dean did, and Sam knew it. But from the way he was staring down at Dean, defiant and pleading, he meant more than that.

Dean pushed himself off the floor, and Sam let him go. He hobbled over to his bed, wished he could take the time to clean himself up, and settled for closing his jeans and using his overshirt to wipe off most of the mess on his stomach. Sam settled across from him, mirroring his position.

If Sam had wanted that from him, then Dean had to wonder, how long? “What did you mean before, when you said you thought you were protecting me?” Dean asked. “If you didn’t do it on purpose—”

Sam was shaking his head, but his expression wasn’t reassuring. “I didn’t,” he said, then stopped and swallowed. “I meant that I—I thought I was protecting you when I left for college.”

Dean sneered. “From what? Flying glass?”

This!” Sam yelled, waving his hand at Dean’s body, then his own. “If I stayed, I was afraid I was going to make you.”

“Make me,” Dean repeated, lips numb. “You wanted–?”

Sam nodded miserably. “And I knew you didn’t feel the same way.” Then he looked appalled at himself all over again, because—

Dean didn’t know why he was laughing. Maybe it was just better than the alternative. After a while, his stomach started to hurt, and Sam looked terrified, like Dean was going to stop laughing and start punching through windows, so he made himself calm down.

What if, before Sam had turned the shutoff valve, he’d—imprinted, or something, on Dean? Little kid, feeling stuff he was way too young to feel, like it was his own and not Dean’s. Accident piled on accident, all on account of the thing that brought the demon to their family.

Dean stiffened his shoulders. “So,” he said. “You still want that?” He wasn’t quite able to turn the question into ‘want me?’

Sam’s eyes widened further. Dean was reminded of how he’d looked, confessing that he’d had dreams of Jess’s death before it had happened. Sam wasn’t good with keeping secrets, his or anybody else’s.

“Yeah,” Sam admitted, brushing his bangs off his forehead. Dean tracked the movement, noting the size of Sam’s hands, big enough to span a hubcap. He flashed on how they’d felt, holding him down, and saw Sam’s eyes flutter as the sense memory hit him too. Dean clenched his jaw and turned the dial up on the internal radio.

There was no part of this that wasn’t wrong. But Dean was, if not how he should’ve been—and anyway how could you measure that, not like he would’ve been fine if Sam had never developed powers but the demon had still killed Mom and sent Dad out into the world looking for revenge—Dean was better than he’d been, fully functional you might say. He couldn’t regret that.

“Okay then,” he said, and Sam’s gaze shot up, his face brightening with hope. Dean nodded, and Sam didn’t make him say any more before joining him on the bed, pushing him down. They were kissing, not really building to anything more, not yet, but it was completely different because he knew there’d be more, eventually. Sam’s mouth, Sam’s hands cupping his face, bringing everything he’d wanted to feel.

Did you, when you fixed me, did you fix this too? But he kept the question locked down, below where Sam would feel it.

After all, neither of them really wanted an answer.

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Homecoming http://localhost/rivkat/?p=563 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=563#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:44:08 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=563 When Lisa told him she couldn’t let him see Ben if he was going to be drinking, Dean got it immediately. He’d already been too much like Dad and the fact that Ben was as well-adjusted as he was showed just how much having a good mom mattered.

Dean got it, but that didn’t stop him thinking, this, too?

Sam was in Hell. There was no reason Dean deserved to be able to numb himself.

He tried an AA meeting. It went worse even than he’d expected, which was that he’d be able to sit in the back and not bother anybody else. But then they started in on this Higher Power shit and Dean just—

He came back later and made an anonymous donation so the church could buy some new chairs.

He didn’t drink. Sam was in Hell. There was absolutely no comparison between what Sam was experiencing and what Dean was doing.

Four months in, he had a dream where Sam appeared in Lisa’s bedroom. Dean turned to check on Lisa and found her throat slashed, sheets soaked in blood. Sam blinked and his eyes shone like the Impala used to, like armor.

Dean locked himself in Lisa’s bathroom when he woke up so that he didn’t have to see her. Coming back to reality was like being crushed by a ten-ton weight.

This wasn’t keeping his promise. And as Lisa said, he never made a promise to her. Actually she yelled, and she might have been trying to make a different point, but Dean was trying to get out before he did something even more unforgivable, and he knew with a decade’s worth of experience that there was always something worse left inside him.

Sam was in Hell and had greater concerns than whether his brother could fake it until he made it.

****

How’s this for irony: Dean moved in with a bunch of squatters in Detroit, homesteaders they called themselves, occupying abandoned and foreclosed houses and tearing down more decrepit houses to create little community gardens. Dean spent his days doing construction and repair, working until his body was the only thing he could feel. He left most of the guns in the trunk of the Impala, but he drew protective symbols on the sills of every house they fixed up.

He was surprised to find himself almost a leader in the incredibly disorganized group (seriously, hunters got along better), teaching other people how to tap power or fix corroded pipes, scavenging bits and pieces of five different houses to make one livable. There were the expected men of God preaching their horseshit as they offered charity, and Dean tried hard to keep his fool mouth shut but still ended up playing the role of the cynic, just like he was in a third-rate movie. Some kid, or girl, or maybe just the beautiful community they’d built was supposed to restore his will to live and his faith in humanity, but Dean would burn the whole thing down himself before he’d let that happen, and eventually most of the priest-types left him alone.

Sam was in Hell: the only four words in the world.

****

Except that Sam came back.

Dean was on his own. He’d just finished rewiring one of the houses, and now he was working on the condenser of the refrigerator; somebody’d get ice tonight.

He stood, putting his hands to his back in a stretch (nobody ever told him he’d get old), and when he turned, Sam was there, in clean jeans and a blue shirt so new it still had creases.

Black-eyed.

Sam let him look just long enough to grab for his gun, then slammed him back against the wall, not even bothering to raise a hand. Sam grinned at him, dimpling. “Honey, I’m home.”

“Lucifer?” Dean choked out, wondering how long the world had left.

Sam shook his head. “He’s still in the cage. Pushed me out through the bars once I was ready to see things differently. Did you keep time, Dean? Did you know how long it was?”

“Ten months, seven days, twenty hours, up here,” Dean answered, even though Sam wasn’t really asking.

Sam’s lips peeled back. “Took me a while to make it all the way back, physically. But I guess there’s just something that made me special.” Demon blood, the gift that kept giving to the Winchester family, Dean thought. If only Sam had needed to possess a regular body, like an ordinary demon, Dean would never have believed it was him for a second. “Once I could really get my hands dirty, I thought I’d look up your happy family. Imagine my shock when I found out you were just another deadbeat dad. Couldn’t even get that right, could you?”

Dean made his eyes go dead, which wasn’t hard. “Guess not.” If he asked how Sam had left Lisa and Ben, he’d only be guaranteeing that Sam finished the job later. Better not to ask, and leave them still untouched, if only in his memory.

“Oh well,” Sam said, all false sympathy. “I’ll just have to settle for taking you apart piece by piece.” As Sam stepped closer, into touching range, Dean felt the first stabs of pain, like switchblades jammed into the meat of his shoulders and his upper thighs. He yelled, fingers scrabbling involuntarily at the peeling wallpaper behind him. He’d forgotten, mind blessedly fuzzing out a lifetime of pain, so that it was fresh and new again.

Dean swallowed, saliva and blood, and closed his eyes just for a second. “It’s okay, Sammy,” he said. Probably there was nothing of the real Sam left. Dean was pretty sure that would be the best thing. Sam wouldn’t have to see this happen. Dean would pretend that it was Sam anyway, because that would make it easier not to fight. “It’s okay.”

Sam sneered, then backhanded him. “How very Christian of you, Dean. ‘Forgive them, Father, they know not—’”

“Don’t you dare!” Dean interrupted, spitting out blood with the words and surprising Sam enough to shut his mouth. “Don’t you even think for a second I give a fuck about God. I don’t know whether He forgives you and I don’t care.”

Sam tilted his head, showy theatrical thing Dean’d seen from a hundred demons. “Hunh,” he said. “Well. This is going to be a challenge. I mean, you’re a veteran, plus up here I can’t raise you from the dead. There’s only so far we can go before I can’t bring you back. Still, I know you, and that’s got to count for something.”

If Dean hadn’t been pretending that some fragment of Sam remained, he would’ve pointed out that Alastair had spent thirty years with Dean too, and Alastair hadn’t been in diapers for any part of that. But he was thinking that not mouthing off would get him dead quicker, and since nothing worse could happen to him than what he was looking at, that was a worthy goal.

****

The slap brought him reluctantly back to awareness. His cheek stung and his throat was thick with the meaty taste of his own blood, also in evidence dotted across Sam’s face like an extra set of moles. He could barely feel his legs, hanging off the kitchen table Sam had repurposed for butchery. He wished he couldn’t feel his arms.

The thing in Sam was getting sloppy, to have allowed him to lose consciousness. A waste of good torturing time. Points off for technique, Dean thought.

The frustration on Sam’s face was so much like the look he’d get during one of their prank wars—when he was losing, naturally—that Dean would’ve smiled if he’d had the energy. His lips twitched anyway. Sam’s cheeks reddened with his rage.

“I’m gonna find it,” Sam swore. “The thing that breaks you.”

Dean lacked the energy to roll his eyes. Yeah, you’re doing so well right now. Dean was reasonably confident that the thing that broke him was not going to be found in his gut, where Sam had been rummaging for the past couple of hours. If Sam didn’t get that the last chance to do him real harm had gone down a hole in Stull Cemetery, then he really was hopeless.

Sam snarled, as if he’d heard Dean’s internal commentary, which Dean didn’t put outside the realm of possibility. “Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong.” He rested his hand on Dean’s stomach and Dean felt the ugly tug and heat of unnatural healing, which all things considered Dean wished wasn’t part of Sam’s special power set. “You know, I always knew when you went out to whore yourself instead of hustling pool. You thought you were so cool, but you had this look in your eye—pathetic, really, like you could actually be worth less.”

Okay, that stung some, more out of reflex than anything else. Even at their lowest, Dean’s first year back from Hell, Sam had never mentioned those times, when the size of the town and the priorities of the local cops had made earning cash safer and more lucrative than playing for it. Dean hadn’t even pretended Sam didn’t know; he’d buried it deeper, carefully not thinking about the question at all.

Then Sam started tugging Dean’s torn jeans down his legs, and whoa—Dean twitched and struggled reflexively against the power holding his wrists in place. Sam grinned, sharp flash of teeth, and Dean almost couldn’t swallow the protest that wanted to roar from his throat.

“Oh come on,” Dean slurred, because there was no point in pretending indifference now, “you’re not even trying. Maybe I should get you Alastair’s greatest hits collection for your birthday.”

“Really, Dean?” Sam put his giant palm too high up on Dean’s thigh. Dean shuddered. Sam grinned, shark/skull/madman. “Because I’m thinking, no matter how many cocks you’ve taken, there’s got to be something special about having little brother do it.”

Except that the demon’s gloating was just enough to turn the key in Dean’s head, bringing him back to reality. Sam wasn’t in Hell any more. This thing possessing his resurrected shell, maybe it was related to Sam the same way Lucifer was related to God, which was to say: they had nothing in common.

This was, he thought, a better ending for Sam than any of Heaven’s sick fakes. Better to be erased by evil than stuck on repeat, forever and ever and world without end.

So Dean relaxed, let it happen, let it hurt as much as it was going to. He stared at the cracked paint on the ceiling, patterns nothing like Devil’s Traps or anything else that had a purpose. Sam grunted and shoved and Dean didn’t dissociate, felt this only as a variation on the knives.

In the middle, Sam snarled and hit him again, loosely curled fist that snapped his head back against the table. “Stop it!” he ordered and Dean only blinked up at him and sucked the blood off of his teeth, because he had no fucking idea what Sam meant.

“Stop smiling!” Sam ground out, pushing so hard Dean felt something new tear, but the more surprising thing was that Dean was pretty sure he was crying, crying and grinning so hard that his face hurt. Sam was nowhere near as patient as Alastair, and his demon was no different from Sam that way. This would be over soon (well under thirty years, at least) and then Dean would be done. If he went up, he’d find Ash and figure out how to destroy a private Heaven, and if he went down, then he’d be finished all the sooner, just like Sam.

Laughter bubbled out of him like blood from a slashed throat.

Sam hit him, again and again, like when he’d been hopped up on demon blood, like when he’d been Lucifer’s puppet, until the sounds Dean was making were only recognizable as laughter because they both knew. Dean’s eyes were slitted shut, Sam’s face blurred through his lashes.

Dean vaguely registered when Sam pushed back enough to grab him and shake him, like he was trying to snap a civilian witness out of a shocked trance. “Dean!”

It was pretty clear that Sammy wasn’t going to stop until Dean paid him some attention, and for some reason having his head bounce around like a dandelion on top of its stem was more annoying than the rest of it. Dean made an effort and focused.

The force of Sam’s frown was only diminished slightly by the absence of Sam’s familiar annoyance-darkened eyes. He snarled out his next words. “I spent decades in Hell, the only thing that mattered to me was you, I claw my way out and you don’t even care?”

Dean stared at him, voiceless, and then it really hit him. “Heh,” he gasped. “Wel—welcome to my world,” he mush-mouthed, and curled into himself as best he could while the uncontrollable giggles took him over.

It was just possible that he’d crossed the line into crazy.

“Dean!” Sam’s voice was outraged, like Dean’d dumped salt into his beer while he was in the can. “That’s not funny!”

Dean flicked his eyes up, laughing just the same, meaning ‘It kinda is,’ and after a frozen moment Sam—eyes still lacquer-black—started to laugh too, rough and broken like he didn’t remember how.

“Shit,” Sam said, putting his hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Dean.” Dean jolted like he’d been electrocuted again. Sam was healing some pretty major damage, he figured, because his fingers and toes stung like they’d been asleep and the rest of him felt like he’d been gravedigging all night long.

Sam closed his eyes, breathed deep, and when he opened them again the demon was wearing his face full-on. Sam’s eyes had more colors than Dean remembered.

“Don’t,” Dean said, soft. “Don’t pretend.”

Sam blinked and his real eyes were back. Dean could see his own reflection in them. “I’m still me,” Sam said.

Dean didn’t know how to believe that. He didn’t know how not to, either.

“There’s no detox for me,” Sam continued. “This is what I am, now.”

Dean nodded, accepting.

“Everything soft, everything good that was in me—it’s burnt out.”

Dean reached out, grabbed his arm. Sam’s pulse buzzed against his fingers. Sam’s muscles were strong and solid where they touched. “I’m here,” he said.

Sam looked down at his hand on Dean, Dean’s hand on his body. It was hard to tell without any hints from the eyes, but Dean thought he might have been feeling—or showing, anyway—regret. “Love you just the same, though.”

Dean swallowed, the click of his throat loud in the room. “Yeah,” he said. Sam had done more damage this time around, but he could also fix Dean up better this time around, so really there was nothing new.

Maybe they could make it work together, hunt bad things to feed Sam’s hunger for suffering, the same as they’d done when Sam had wanted revenge for Jess. Or maybe this was only a trick, in which case Dean would happily let Sam think him a fool, if it got him his brother back for a while.

When Sam lowered his mouth to Dean’s, Dean thought, for just a second, that even if this wasn’t just Sam playing a longer game, maybe it would be different between them with all the soft and good taken out.

Then again, it wasn’t like he’d spent a lot of time noticing those parts before.

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Dear Mr. Hanson http://localhost/rivkat/?p=561 http://localhost/rivkat/?p=561#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 01:42:08 +0000 RivkaT http://rivkat.com/?p=561 I represent Rebecca Rosen, the registrant for morethanbrothers.net (the “Website”), who has referred your May 28, 2010 letter to me for reply.

Ms. Rosen received your letter yesterday, while she was volunteering in the disaster recovery effort surrounding the Detroit area. While a more detailed reply to your letter is forthcoming after the holiday weekend, we cannot agree that the Website content infringes on any of Chuck Shurley’s rights.

First, it is our understanding that Mr. Shurley (writing as Carver Edlund) transferred all rights in the Supernatural works, save for movie and television adaptation rights, to Flying Wiccan Press. As he is not the owner of the exclusive rights at issue, he has no copyright interest to protect. Nor, under Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 U.S. 23 (2003), does he have any protectable interest in the attribution of the Supernatural series.

Second, Ms. Rosen informs me that she believes that Mr. Shurley’s interest in this matter is more in the nature of romantic disappointment than in any true interference in his rights. The unappealing details of Mr. Shurley’s conduct would of course be an issue if he were to pursue this matter further. Moreover, Mr. Shurley’s statements to Ms. Rosen constitute both acquiescence and a grant of a nonexclusive, royalty-free oral license, which under Rano v. Sipa Press, 987 F.2d 580 (9th Cir. 1993), is not revocable until the 35-year period has passed (and in the case of a license to create derivative works is irrevocable).

Third, the materials on the Website are transformative fair uses of the Supernatural works. All the fair use factors favor the Website.

(1) The Website features critiques, in the form of fiction, of the sexual and racial messages contained in Shurley’s novels. More generally, fan fiction adds new meaning and new purpose distinct from the original. Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994); Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 252 F. 3d 1165 (11th Cir. 2001). In addition, the Website is entirely noncommercial, which independently favors a finding of fair use regardless of transformativeness.

(2) Although the nature of the work is not an important factor when evaluating transformative uses, the Supernatural series is published and thus Mr. Shurley has already had a chance to reap the reward from his work, favoring a finding of fair use. Arica Inst. v. Palmer, 970 F.2d 1067, 1078 (2d Cir. 1992) (explaining that the plaintiff’s work was “published work available to the general public,” which favored the fair use defense).

(3) The Website takes only limited and reasonable portions of the Supernatural works, which at 60 published volumes spans thousands of pages.

(4) The Website does not interfere with the market for Mr. Shurley’s works. Even if the noncommercial Website were not entitled to a presumption of lack of harm under Sony, 464 U.S. at 451, and even if the fact that the books are out of print did not show a lack of market harm, Maxtone-Graham v. Burtchaell, 803 F.2d 1253, 1264 n.8 (2d Cir. 1986), it is well established that Mr. Shurley does not have rights in the market for transformative works such as those depicting a sexual relationship between Sam and Dean. See Suntrust, 252 F.3d at 1270-71 (finding that the portrayal of homosexuality in an unauthorized creative work based on Gone With the Wind had “special relevance” for the fourth fair use factor); Mattel, Inc. v. Pitt, 229 F. Supp. 2d 315, 322 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (“[t]o the Court’s knowledge, there is no Mattel line of ‘S & M’ Barbie”).

For these reasons, in addition to any other defenses that the Website might assert, we cannot agree that the Website infringes or violates any of Mr. Shurley’s rights. Nevertheless, we would consider any evidence you may have that you believe supports your contentions.

Yours,
Mara Daniels/Organization for Transformative Works

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