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“You’re welcome, by the way,” Lucifer said in Sam’s ear.

Sam bolted upright, checking the other bed automatically. Empty. Sam wasn’t sure whether that was good or bad, Lucifer excluding Dean from the dream.

You’d think the adrenaline rush would wake him right up, saving him from Lucifer’s slow poison. But then you’d think a lot of things about his life, none of which had done him any good.

“How’d you find me?” he asked, twisting away so that he could see Lucifer’s face. He thought about standing, but he had the feeling that Lucifer would just laugh if he tried to loom.

Lucifer smiled, not mocking at all. “You had a direct encounter with one of my creatures, Sam. You think I wouldn’t notice Patrick rubbing up against you? How did you think you got that last hand, the one that let you save your brother?”

Sam scoffed, though he was already halfway convinced—Winchesters didn’t have good luck that wasn’t candy coating over some rotten core. “Why would you raise a hand to help Dean?”

“That was your life on the table,” Lucifer reminded him, almost chiding. “And since what’s yours is mine, I wanted to keep it in good condition.”

Which raised the question of why angels needed vessels in the first place, but Sam didn’t expect much of an answer out of Lucifer, so he kept silent.

Lucifer seemed miffed that Sam didn’t continue the conversation, so, just like a certain annoying big brother, he moved closer, leaning down so that their faces were only inches apart. “Does it bother you that your brother was willing to give up his life for somebody else?”

“Bobby’s family,” Sam snapped, hands twisting in the sweat-damp sheets at his waist.

Lucifer grinned. “Come on, you know your brother’s so hot to throw himself on the nearest grenade, it wouldn’t have mattered whether he’d known the guy for ten years or ten minutes. Kind of makes his sacrifice when it comes to you a little less … special, doesn’t it?”

Sam had to laugh. “Dude, you couldn’t have picked a worse argument. Yeah, Dean’d risk his life for any random stranger—might take him fifteen minutes if the guy was a real douche—but that’s the best part of him. You think knowing that makes me jealous or something? You don’t know the first thing about me, or about Dean.”

Lucifer pulled back, still far too satisfied. “Jealous? That’s an interesting word, under the circumstances.”

Sam couldn’t stay where he was any longer, so he rolled away from Lucifer, getting to his feet on the opposite side of the bed. From that distance, Lucifer looked harmless, but he was still the wrong person. Motel rooms were for Sam and Dean, not Sam and a refugee from Hell.

“It’s true,” Lucifer said consideringly. “Dean does love you best. Well, maybe not best. But most.”

“Oh my God,” Sam said without thinking about it. “You really got kicked out of Heaven because you couldn’t shut up, didn’t you?”

Like that he was slammed back into the nearest wall, scraping against the plasticky wallpaper as he dangled inches off the ground, the skin on his arms and legs prickling with cold. “Show some respect,” Lucifer growled, appearing in front of him like a spirit. “You think I don’t know you and Dean? I’ve got news for you, boy. Your brother wants to do very naughty things to you. That’s why he traded his soul for your life.”

Sam didn’t get it at first, mouth hanging open as he tried to process the words. No, they still didn’t make any sense.

“You know what Dean thought, when your lovely Jessica died? He thought maybe he had a chance with you now.” Lucifer tilted his head; his lips twitched, almost rueful. “To be fair, he hated himself as soon as it popped into his head, stuffed it down deep and everything. But he did think it.”

“You’re lying,” Sam said weakly. “You’re the Prince of Lies.”

Lucifer shook his head, disappointed. “They call me that because no one can truly govern that to which he is enslaved. I tell the truth and so I have power over all who lie. And you, Sam, you’re lying, and Dean is lying, and even my adorable little brother hasn’t quite told you everything you might find relevant. The only other person who loves you, loves you wrong. Say yes to me, Sam, and I’ll make it all go away.”

And like that, damage fully inflicted, he released Sam into waking.

Sam’s head spun, vertical to horizontal, face buried in his pillow, and he nearly threw up when he pushed himself upright.

****

He didn’t say anything to Dean about what Lucifer had claimed. Dean was the same as ever, casual insults and continuing digs about Sam’s demon-blood-drinking past—Sam should’ve known that Dean would no more stop harping on him about that than he’d stop with “Sammy,” and that comparison was really the only thing that kept him from stabbing Dean with his own car keys.

And yeah, he was freaked out about Lucifer’s ridiculous talk for a couple of days after. But Dean looked at him with the same mix of concern and bravado as ever, nothing at all like the leer Dean wore when a pretty girl walked by. In fact, Lucifer’s poison meant that Sam spent a lot more time staring at Dean than the reverse.

He’d wondered, sometimes, what Dean did with guys. He had his suspicions about their teenage years, and the extent to which Dean had separated his sex life from his work life. Even after Stanford he’d never been quite sure what Dean got up to when he wasn’t aggressively insisting on his heterosexuality. Best guess, Dean let guys suck his cock, maybe fucked them, because that was something he could tell himself a man did. He wouldn’t reciprocate, quite probably not even to the extent of a reacharound, because a guy who looked like Dean could get away with that, at least with the right partners. Butch to the point of parody.

Or maybe Dean was needier than that. Even with the marks he took at pool, he always paid with a show, jokes and drinks and smiles like fairy gold. Maybe he played the bad boy until they got him alone and then switched to full-on slut, begging to let them do whatever they wanted.

Sam wasn’t interested in any of that, of course. If Lucifer had been right, it would only be some Dean-crazy expression of a need to be in charge. Dean had bad boundaries, that was a given. Even if some weird thoughts had crossed his mind, they wouldn’t have meant anything.

Under Sam’s scrutiny, Dean got increasingly edgy and finally stomped off to a bar as soon as they’d brought their stuff into that night’s motel—”Alone,” he said pointedly when Sam got up to follow.

So Sam figured that it was just what he should have expected all along: another lie to separate him from his brother.

****

In the overall scheme of things, Dean’s purportedly twisted desires didn’t make much of an impression. It was only after the clusterfuck of the Colt, when they’d retreated to Bobby’s and were each so devastated that Bobby locked up the liquor, that Sam got to thinking about it again.

Dean had never looked at Sam like he’d looked at Jo, tender and regretful, acknowledging what was lost to them, might-have-beens numerous as the stars of a Kansas night. Angry and guilty and devastated—all that, Sam knew from Dean, emotions like primary colors and most of them arterial red. But those softer, blurrier feelings: no.

On the other hand, Sam wasn’t exactly configured to accept softness these days.

Sam put away the book he hadn’t been reading and headed upstairs to where Dean had already bedded down. Dean was on his side, back to the door, curling in on himself like a wounded animal. The tense line of his arm, shoulder jutting up like he was half a second from opening fire, told Sam he wasn’t sleeping.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said, soft enough to make Dean bristle automatically. The last time Sam had said the words, he’d been apologizing for his own mistakes, not offering sympathy.

Of course Dean didn’t turn to meet his eyes. Easier for both of them, and Sam wasn’t going to try for more. Dean’s voice was husky, ragged-edged. “I’m not the one who—” Lost someone? Died? Sam wasn’t sure what Dean could have finished with, but it didn’t matter.

“I know you cared about her.”

Dean twitched in a way not unlike a shrug. “Not like I thought we were gonna settle down.”

“Do you—do you think there’s a Heaven?” Sam had seen too much terror and pain to think that there was necessarily any equality between good and evil. If the angels were any indication, whatever was Upstairs wasn’t human-friendly. He wanted to believe, but it was hard to figure out why he should.

Dean turned over at last. He looked—when he’d come back from Hell, Sam’s vision of him had been distorted by Ruby and the demon blood. Dean had seemed smaller, weaker, lesser. This wasn’t the same, but Dean looked like he’d taken the kind of beating you don’t walk away from. His eyes moved back and forth, and Sam remembered a deer he’d seen once on the side of the road, hit by a car and dying as its crushed insides gave up the struggle.

Sam stared for nearly a minute, and Dean was still silent, which Sam guessed was reply enough. “Wherever they are, Jo and Ellen aren’t in Hell.” He was certain of that, and that would have to be enough.

Dean’s mouth scrunched in a mirthless smile. “Small favors, Sammy.”

Neither of them seemed likely candidates to go thanking Heaven any time soon. “Do you think—?”

There must have been something in his voice, scarier than normal, because Dean pushed himself upright, sitting at the edge of the bed with his shoulders bowed. Bobby’s guest room was small enough that their knees nearly brushed. “What is it?” Dean raised his head, eyes locked on Sam’s face.

“Maybe we aimed the Colt at the wrong body,” Sam said.

Dean was never going to make Mensa, but he knew Sam inside and out (except for when he didn’t want to). “Don’t even think about it.”

“But his vessel might be vulnerable—”

Dean lunged to his feet, hands fisted in Sam’s collar. “You are not his vessel.” Up close, his eyes were puffy with fatigue, his skin pale, hair standing up in greasy spikes. “After all this, don’t you start talking like that. Don’t you dare.”

“How many deaths are worth mine?” Sam asked, and watched the guilt flare bonfire-high in Dean’s expression.

Dean shoved Sam back and turned his face away. “Seems to be doing a bang-up job of starting the apocalypse without wearing you so far. Maybe you’re the fun meatsuit, but we don’t have any reason to think you’re required.”

Sam couldn’t exactly disagree. But if they did find out more about his role, they might have to revisit that conclusion, and the thought was almost comforting. It would be the right thing, to sacrifice himself to fix the mess he’d made.

“Go to bed, Sam,” Dean said, no real command in it. Like he didn’t expect anything to go his way any more.

Sam wanted to grab him, bear him down to the bed and clutch him like a child’s teddy bear. Dean would never allow it, though, and these days Sam had to worry about what might happen if they touched like that, Lucifer’s words still humming in the back of his mind like the need for demon blood used to, a constant temptation. Sam had to settle for kicking off his boots and shedding his jacket, then edging onto the side of the bed, face turned away from his brother, listening to Dean’s breath finally slow and even out. It was enough to remind him that there was still a scrap of hope in the world.

****

“Sam, Sam, Sam.” Lucifer’s voice had the disappointed tone Sam remembered from Dad, but Lucifer didn’t get to be disappointed in him.

“This isn’t over,” Sam swore, turning to face the devil. Lucifer was leaning against the door. This time, Dean was in the dream, curled up against Sam, branding him with heat. He wheezed a little, shifting onto his stomach, and Sam knew somehow that Lucifer wasn’t going to allow him to wake. In some ways, it was worse than having Dean absent, like a visual confirmation that Dean wasn’t able to protect him any more.

“Apparently not,” Lucifer said, and had Sam managed to annoy him? Annoyance was progress, surely. “You are stubborn, Sam, we have that in common. But I really don’t understand your loyalty to someone who refuses to treat you as an equal. Dean used to trust you implicitly, Sam. Where did that go?”

Beside him, Dean snuffled, sticking his hand beneath his pillow and then subsiding with the confirmation that his gun was still there. Sam fought the impulse to jump up and put his body between Lucifer and Dean. This was a dream, but every cell was screaming its reality, and he was so helpless that it felt like his heart was going to explode in his chest. His hands itched with the memory of a power that would do him no good against the Adversary.

“He gave me the keys,” Sam said defensively, even though the fact that Lucifer would understand the significance of the gesture was the scariest thing about this conversation.

“He’d give you more than that.” Lucifer’s leer made his meaning transparent.

“What is it with you?” Sam snapped. “You’re like one of those fangirls.”

“Your prophet sees more clearly than he knows,” Lucifer said, with that same haughty amusement.

Sam wondered whether he should really be discouraging Lucifer from this tack. It was—uncomfortable—but it wasn’t going to get him to say yes, so possibly he should suck it up.

“I’m getting pretty bored with this,” he told Lucifer. “If you don’t have anything new to say, then how about letting me get some sleep before the end of the world?”

Lucifer tilted his head, like Sam was a toddler who’d just performed a charming trick. “Of course, maybe it’s not something rotten in him, like he thinks. Maybe it’s you, corrupting everything that should be good. He is a righteous man, after all. Hard to imagine how he could get this splinter lodged in his soul for you. Do you think he’d rather have burned for you, like your mother and your first love?”

“I think he’d rather send you back to Hell,” Sam noted, just for the record. It was a weak response, he knew, but it wasn’t like he could hang up on Lucifer.

“I think he’d rather go to his knees for you than for me, that’s for certain. Maybe I’ll ask him, once you say yes. As long as I have the form, he can pretend.”

With that, he released Sam, gasping awake next to Dean, who rubbed his eyes—Sam’s nightmares never quite enough to wake him, as long as he was secure in the knowledge that Sam was in the room—and turned over, back to Sam like a garrison wall.

****

It was the righteous man reference that got him, in the end. Righteousness and unholy passion for a little brother weren’t usually concepts that mixed well. It was so senseless that it was hard to believe Lucifer would make it up. There had to be some reason, even if it wasn’t truth.

They’d been tense all day, heading towards another potential site for one of the Horsemen. They were fighting a pure rearguard action, which didn’t help anybody’s mood—even Castiel was getting pissier, and he’d never exactly been Mr. Congeniality. Plus all day Sam had been looking at Dean, wondering what Dean wanted to do to him. Stuck with the image of Dean on his knees, looking up all wide-eyed and open-mouthed, hands resting on his upper thighs, waiting for orders. Dean fucking behaving for once, plus, whatever Dean’s issues, there was no denying the way his girls looked at him like he was the Second Coming (and the third and then the fourth, if you listened to Dean). Sam couldn’t help speculating about what it would be like, to have all that expertise directed at him.

The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. Dean had no right to think those things, just think them, like all along Sam had been living with a completely different person than the one he thought he knew.

By the time they checked in at the no-tell pesthole of the night, Sam was seething, so restless with it that he insisted on being the one to get dinner, and even jogging both ways to the nearest strip mall didn’t calm him.

Dean tolerated it long enough to finish his burgers—of course, Dean had priorities—and then he stood up, shoving his chair back with a sound that would have startled Sam if he hadn’t already been absolutely aware of every millimeter Dean moved.

“What?” Dean demanded. “What? You got something to say to me, Sam, spit it out.”

Sam’s mouth was dry, but this was it. He forced himself to put his back to the wall, holding himself up. Holding himself back. “Lucifer told me something. About you.”

Dean flinched, mouth pursing, eyes going distant and crystalline. When Sam didn’t continue, Dean cleared his throat. “If it’s about what I did in Hell, then, yeah, it’s true. Whatever it is, I did it, and I smiled.” He said it with exactly as much fake indifference as Sam would have expected.

Sam shook his head, because he was not in the mood for Dean’s guilt, and besides, if Dean really was carrying around a secret lust then he fucking well should have thought of that first, not some incorporeal torment he’d inflicted on the already damned. “That’s not it. He said—” He stopped, surprised to find continuing difficult, and the hesitancy made him angry all over again, just another thing Dean did by shoving all the burden of emotions onto him. “He said you wanted me.”

Dean looked as uncomprehending as if Sam had shoved a page of Sanskrit in front of him. “Wanted you to what?” he said, but obviously figured it out as he finished speaking, because his mouth closed and the color drained from his face as he took an unsteady step backwards.

Dean was never a very good liar.

“So it’s true,” Sam said, tasting the words, like old blood.

Dean’s mouth opened and closed on something that might have been Sam’s name.

“How could you hide this from me?” Part of him was truly curious. He would have sworn that Dean was incapable of hiding a single emotion, and this was a doozy. Maybe that was it: all Dean’s effort over the years had gone to pretending normalcy in this one thing, with nothing left over for the rest.

Dean shuddered. “Please—” he said, like the word had been ripped out of his lungs.

“How close did you come to making a move?” Sam demanded. He remembered being drunk, vulnerable, so many times Dean could have done more than put him to bed. Go back far enough, and Sam might even have gone along with it unthinkingly, trusting his big brother-God. And this was Dean, a man so shy of impulse control that Sam hadn’t even believed there was a difference between thought and action for him.

Dean still wasn’t answering, his face tight and red with shame, shoulders hunched. He obviously was in no condition to explain himself. Sam half expected him to drop to his knees just as Lucifer promised, offering penance. Sam would step forward and—

But Dean was frozen, vapor-locked, panting like he’d just been chased out of a graveyard.

Sam made a noise—exasperation, fury—and Dean flinched again.

“I can’t be here,” he announced. Even with Dean avoiding his eyes, he could see how Dean crumpled up more at that. If he stayed he was going to put his hands on Dean, and Dean wasn’t going to fight back. Sam just needed—he needed to think, because believing in Lucifer’s claim and knowing it for himself were completely different, and he knew that the apocalypse was a bigger deal but frankly it felt like the world was already ending, right in this room.

The door closing behind him took all his energy away. He couldn’t face Dean right now, but nothing else had changed: they had to be in this together. He leaned against the thin patch of wall between the door and window and listened to Dean stumble around, feet as heavy as if he were drunk—Sam was used to that sound, after the past year—and then Dean’s breath, almost panting.

“Cas,” Dean slurred, “I need you.”

He’d barely choked out the name of the motel when Castiel’s voice came through the flimsy door, raspy and concerned. “Dean,” he said. “Dean, what—?”

“Could you, could you maybe get a message to Michael? Without gettin’ killed? You did okay with Gabriel, I mean beat nearly to Hell but you were okay, right?”

“I don’t understand,” Castiel said, obvious as anything. For an immortal angel who’d watched humanity’s entire history, he was pretty fucking clueless. This was the guy Dean turned to when what was left of his world collapsed? Then Sam remembered that Dean didn’t exactly have a full roster of allies, any more than Sam did, and the anger got lost in a wave of regret.

When he spoke again, Dean’s voice carried well. “If I made a deal, would he keep it?”

“Deal?” Castiel packed the word with all the contempt Sam felt for it himself.

Would he keep it?

Silence, shifting cloth, a dull grunt—Dean pulling away from Castiel’s hand, Sam guessed. His fists clenched. “Yes,” Castiel said at last.

“Two things. He doesn’t touch Sam, as long as Sam’s—home. He keeps Sam safe. And you get a pardon, whatever, you get to go back to the host with no penalty. He’ll do that, I’ll say yes.”

Sam couldn’t help his indrawn breath, but neither of them seemed to hear. There was another long silence. “You refused,” Castiel said at last, sounding younger than Sam had ever heard him.

“Yeah, well.” Dean’s voice was more muffled now, like he’d turned away.

“Where’s Sam? Does he know about this?”

Dean snorted, almost metallic, like things were tearing inside him. “He knows more than he needs to. Will you take the message?”

‘Angel,’ Sam remembered, meant ‘messenger’ in Hebrew.

“Don’t make me beg you,” Dean said, and Sam shuddered.

“You are determined,” Castiel said, not nearly enough of a question.

There was quiet, but Sam could imagine Dean nodding, could imagine Castiel’s resolved expression in return.

“Cas?” Dean asked. “Will I—when he takes over, do I go back to Hell?”

“You won’t go anywhere,” Castiel said, tender instead of furious like he should have been.

Dean sucked in a breath. “Good. That’s—good. I’m tired,” he said, and there was a hairline fracture in his voice, small but poised to grow. “I’m sorry I wasn’t, you know, a better human instead of such a pain in your ass.”

“No, you are not.” Castiel’s usual rumble was thicker now, amused through his grief, too human for Sam to stand, and he was just going to do it, carry Dean’s stupid offer and let Dean leave them behind, let Dean chicken out. Castiel would allow—he would facilitate—Dean’s surrender of himself to some distant angel, just when Sam had finally figured Dean out.

Sam was pounding on the door before he knew he meant to do it. The flimsy lock gave way when he kicked it, nearly knocking Castiel over—Sam guessed he’d been a little hasty in his entrance, but he was fucking justified.

“Hey,” he said to the angel, “I need a word with Dean. You better hold off on that message.”

Castiel looked so relieved that Sam nearly liked him, and then, improving Sam’s opinion of him still further, he vanished.

Dean stared at Sam like he was—well, Sam knew how Dean stared at ghosts and demons and angels and people resurrected from the dead. This was something new.

Fortunately Sam still had plenty of anger to work out, since it looked like he was going to have to poke Dean pretty hard to get Dean to talk to him. “Running to Michael, Dean? That’s pretty weak.” Not to mention Castiel—but Sam wasn’t going to go there.

Dean shrugged. “Weak’s what I got, Sam.” His eyes were green as ever, beneath the sheen of moisture.

Sam pushed his hair out of his eyes. “That’s never been true.” Fly a jumbo jet into a skyscraper sustaining millions of tons, and see what happens. “What we’ve been through, Dean, it’s enough to—”

“Make anybody crazy?” Dean’s smile was crooked, like he was trying to imitate an expression he’d only ever heard described. “You went black-eyed and it never even occurred to you, so.” He sat down on his bed, like his knees had given out. “I thought I’d get away with it. Even in Hell, Sammy—” He took a ragged breath. “Even Alastair never figured that out.”

Maybe there was something to Lucifer’s claim to rule over liars, Sam thought. “Lucifer wants me to think there’s no one but him. The Trickster—Gabriel—wanted me to stop obsessing about you.”

Dean snorted a near-laugh. “Sorry to help ‘em out.” He stared down at his hands and Sam stepped closer.

“That’s not what I meant, Dean. You were right before. We can make each other weak or we can make each other strong. I know which I choose.”

Dean finally, finally, met his eyes again. The terrified hope there made Sam’s heart jump painfully.

“I will never say yes to Lucifer. And you will never say no to me.” He didn’t realize how much he needed that, Dean’s compliance, until he’d said it.

Shock heightened Dean’s color, or maybe it was that Sam was standing with his crotch right at Dean’s eye level. Dean’s gaze flicked up and down, unsettled. “Sam—”

“Show me what you’ve got,” Sam ordered. He felt untethered, almost weightless.

Slowly, like Sam was made of explosives that Dean needed to disarm with the lightest of touches, Dean reached out, alternating between staring at Sam’s face and ducking his head, flushed so hot that Sam thought he could feel the temperature rise a couple of degrees.

Dean’s fingers were clumsy at Sam’s belt. Dean was never clumsy. The thought that Sam had thrown him that far off balance was the hottest part of it yet. Sam bit down on a groan as Dean parted his zipper and pushed his jeans down his hips. Dean stared for a moment at the bulge of Sam’s dick in his briefs, then bit his lip and tugged the elastic down, awkward as he fumbled to get Sam fully exposed.

The angle wasn’t the best, but that didn’t matter when Dean’s mouth closed around him, wet and too loose until Dean settled his hands on Sam’s hips, thumbs pressed hard against his hipbones, and began to suck him in earnest.

Dean was sloppy, grunting with effort as he forced himself forward. Sam could’ve slowed him down and didn’t. Sam sagged a little, allowing Dean to take more of his weight, driving himself deeper.

Dean’s fingers were like iron, holding him together when he was ready to burst apart. Sam looked down and had to wrap his arms around himself to keep from grabbing Dean’s head; much as he was tempted, he wanted to see what Dean could do.

Every nerve seemed to seize up when he came, pleasure spiking through him as Dean pulled back so that he was just sucking on the head of Sam’s cock, swallowing like he loved it.

Dean sat back on his heels, his hand coming up to wipe at his spit-slick mouth. There was a smear of white at the corner; when he sucked his thumb, Sam shuddered.

Dean darted glances at Sam’s face, seeming as stunned as Sam himself. Sam had to clear his throat twice before he could find words. This was vital, this was possibly more important than anything that had happened in the history of the world, and Sam was going to get it right.

“Strip and lie down on the bed.” Sam stepped back to give him room to do so and began the process of getting rid of his own clothes. Nobody looked anything but stupid with their jeans around their ankles and their shirttails hanging down, he was pretty sure.

Dean blinked a couple of times, opened his mouth—lips red and still wet—and then complied. He was hard, dick listing off to the side, but he made no move to touch himself, just laid back and regarded Sam through mostly-closed eyes.

“Knees up,” Sam said, and Dean immediately drew his legs up so that his feet were flat on the bedspread, letting his knees fall open just enough that Sam could see his cock and balls. Sam was still shaky from his orgasm, but if Dean kept obeying him like that, he was going to be ready to go again in a couple of minutes.

Sam got on the bed and knelt by Dean’s side, offering Dean two fingers to suck. Dean’s cheeks hollowed. His tongue was the same hot-soft-wet Sam had just experienced, and he was tempted to stay like that for a while, but he needed to make sure that Dean was fully on board. If it turned out that Dean didn’t want the real thing then they both had to know that right the fuck now so that he didn’t completely destroy them.

“Spread,” Sam said, almost casual. Dean twitched, and his teeth scraped at Sam’s fingers, not hard enough to hurt. He dropped his knees to the sides, opening himself further, and screwed his eyes shut, as if he couldn’t bear to see himself so vulnerable. Maybe later, Sam thought, if they survived this, Sam would make him watch himself in a mirror.

Sam extracted his fingers and reached between Dean’s legs, skimming his balls, until he found his goal. One finger first, resistant with only spit to ease the way. But Dean took him unhesitatingly, and Sam was grateful for whoever, boy or girl, had gotten Dean used to the concept despite all his bluster. Then two, pressing until Dean arched up, cock slapping his thigh.

“Get yourself off,” Sam told him. “Show me how you do it.” He couldn’t remember hearing Dean before, not even when they were kids, much less seeing him. Given Dean’s extremely active libido, that must have required serious effort on Dean’s part, which had to make him wonder just how far back this all went. But he guessed it didn’t matter now, and anyway he had the chance to discover something that nobody else had seen either, because Dean wasn’t the type to fly solo when there was a copilot to be had.

Sure enough, Dean grunted a protest, head tipped so far back that his neck looked like it was begging for a vampire’s kiss. But he brought his hands up anyway, one cupping his balls while the other went to work on his shaft. It was so insanely hot, those strong and clever fingers moving fast and certain, that Sam almost couldn’t stand it, barely able to match Dean’s rhythm with his fingers.

Dean turned his head into the pillow and shot, thin hot jets spattering his stomach and chest. Sam pulled his fingers out long enough to collect as much of Dean’s load as he could, shoving it right back inside Dean just to hear the whimper. The skin below Dean’s eyes was wet, but Sam wasn’t going to call him on it.

“That’s good,” Sam said, because it was and because Dean needed to hear it. When he pulled his fingers free, Dean hissed. “Dean,” he added, infusing enough urgency that Dean—after visibly setting his jaw and tensing his shoulders—opened his eyes. His pupils were still blown, no more than a ring of evergreen around the black.

He couldn’t say everything was okay, because it really wasn’t, but he couldn’t pretend like this was Dean’s fault either. He reached up and cupped Dean’s jaw, feeling the heavy stubble as another goad towards renewed arousal. “You and me, right?”

Dean nodded, so open and relieved that Sam couldn’t help but grin at him. He rolled off of Dean but stayed pressed up against his side, tugging Dean onto his hip so that they were nearly face to face. Dean grumbled but offered no resistance. It felt almost like it had years ago every once in a while, after an easy hunt where they’d skedaddled out of town with the cops hot on their heels and ill-gotten money burning holes in their pockets, half-drunk on how awesome they were, retelling each other the highlights, partners who could never be split apart or brought down.

That part had been a lie, but the feelings had been real, and now, however fucked-up it was, Sam saw a way to get them back.

And like that, he understood.

Lucifer hadn’t been trying to get Sam to say yes, not directly. He’d picked the one thing that might have forced Dean’s consent, the one vulnerability Dean hadn’t already given in to and survived. Then, without Dean, Sam wouldn’t have lasted another month.

Lucifer rebelled because he refused to recognize man as a greater creation than the angels. He’d screwed up here because he hadn’t accepted just how insane humans could get and still hold themselves righteous.

His heart seized in his chest, struck with love for Dean, who’d fought so hard for everything he held dear, surrendering in Hell only because he was alone.

He kissed Dean’s temple, soft and sweaty against his lips. Dean’s lashes fluttered, eyes sleepy and still a little wary. Which, Sam could have told him, was what you got when you refused to talk about your relationship, but he figured it would be simpler to skip to the part where they talked about their relationship. “When I stopped believing in you,” he began. Dean flinched, but it needed to be said or there was no chance Dean would ever understand. “That was about me, as much or more than it was about you. We fed each other’s mistakes, and the only thing we can do about that is not do it again.”

Dean nodded, and Sam recognized that they were easy enough words to say. Harder to implement. He put his hand on Dean’s thigh and squeezed. “I’m in this all the way, just like you.”

That earned him a more certain nod.

“So we’re agreed. You only say yes to me.”

Dean sighed heavily, the way he did when he was pretending to indulge Sam by doing exactly what he wanted for himself. “Fine, Molly Bloom.”

Sam snorted, because, really—Kurt Vonnegut was one thing, but James Joyce? “Dean, you just keep unfolding like a flower.”

“So you admit it.” Dean perked up, poking Sam’s chest with his finger. “You are a redheaded woman.”

Instead of responding, Sam slid his hand up and then down the curve of Dean’s ass, pressing three fingers inside unhesitatingly, twisting them to feel how slick and hot Dean was. Dean arched up and clenched around him, mouth parted, lips wet.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes.”

END

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