The next time he wakes up Sam's pretty sure it's morning. Late morning. He feels better rested than he's been in months, ever since -- well, actually scratch that. He feels better, period, than he's ever felt in his life.
Something is so wrong here.
He gets up and dresses quickly, finding his clothes all clean and neatly put away where they're supposed to go -- that in itself is just creepy --- and decides he needs to get the hell OUT for awhile so he goes for a run.
The morning is clear and crisp, fall just getting a start on the weather, making the air smell woodsy and clean, the sky a bright relentless blue against the changing leaves of the few trees -- they're in Kansas, after all. It's a lot of flat, making running easy. Sam runs past the area where he and Castiel found Gadreel that day, passed out from blood loss and weakened from the blade wound Dean gave him. He knows what happened to Gadreel -- Castiel had at least told him about that on his one or two visits early on, right after Dean died, offering his comfort and clearly in need of some of his own.
But he couldn't say what had happened to Dean. He'd had theories. He knew the Mark was responsible. Sam suspected even then that Castiel was writing Dean off as lost, which was infuriating and made Sam feel stupid and useless, so that he was a little harder on Castiel than he should have been probably. May have even rebuffed Castiel's offers to help out of a combination of grief and Winchester stubbornness.
Of course at that point Castiel was dying himself, so he was a little preoccupied, and Sam couldn't blame him -- wished he could fix him and fully intended to but he didn't come back, just went AWOL until yesterday.
And now Sam wonders if he'll ever come back.
Sam couldn't blame him if he didn't. After what happened yesterday, it must've been obvious to Castiel that Sam's a lost cause.
Because it's true -- he's definitely lost. He can't think straight. When he thinks about Dean all he wants to do is run home and pull him into bed again. His body is thrumming with need, his mind tangled with images of Dean from last night. He's aching and bruised all over and he likes it. Fuckin' loves it. Wants more.
Cas was wrong. This isn't a demon-blood addiction. This is a Dean addiction. Just like when he was in high school only about a million times more intense because Dean is into it. Wants it too. Is ready and willing to give Sam what he needs, to feed this addiction as much as he wants.
Sam runs harder, runs until the sweat pours off his body in waves, runs until the blood is pounding in his ears and his breath is ragged and his chest hurts, his throat burns. He's always used exercise this way -- to keep the demons in his head at bay -- and usually it helps.
But today it only makes him more aware of his own body. Of how he feels when Dean touches him. When Dean kisses him. When Dean fucks him.
This is going nowhere, he realizes after an hour, so he jogs home in defeat, slinks into the bunker and is almost relieved not to see Dean as he heads to the shower, takes care of his painfully hard dick under the warm water, although he's still sensitive and sore from the night before, and of course he's imaging Dean's dick in his ass as he comes --
This is insane.
Sam's gone more than two years without sex, and in just the last twenty-four hours he's had more of it than he can ever remember having in one night.
That's all it is, he tells himself as he washes off the come and lube and sweat. It's just his body's response to over-stimulation, after depriving himself of it for so long. The serotonin receptors in his brain are on overload. His hormones are hyper-revved.
It's exactly like being a horny teenager again.
And just like he did then, he can control this. Doesn't have to give into it. Sam's had years to learn the self-control he needs to function half-way normally with Dean, and he can do this.
Sam dresses casually, in layers and loose-fitting jeans, controlling his irritation and alarm at finding more clean clothes folded and put away in his drawers. He smells the bacon and coffee before he gets to the kitchen, so he knows Dean's there, but he stubbornly resists the urge to watch Dean cook and instead goes into the library, pulls out his laptop, starts trawling for supernatural activity.
"Found us a job," Dean announces as he enters the room, plate of eggs and bacon in one hand, coffee cup in the other. He sets them down at Sam's elbow, lays his hand on Sam's shoulder, gives it a slight squeeze before pacing around the table so he's facing Sam, claps his hands like an over-excited puppy wagging its tail.
Sam looks up at him, leaning back in his chair, frowning.
"Dean, I can't work with you," he reminds him. "You're a demon. You are what I hunt."
Dean tips his head, raising his eyebrows mischievously, hands still clasped in front of him.
"Oh no, there's where you're wrong, Sammy," he says cheerfully. "You're not seein' the big picture here. See, I used to have good instincts, and I used to be a decent hunter." He pauses, considering, then adds, "Damn good hunter, even. But now -- now I've got the inside track on the whole business. Now I can smell these things coming a mile away. No more walking into situations with our eyes closed. No more getting captured and tied up and threatened with each other's lives.
"And you should see me in a fight now, Sam," Dean's going on and on, pacing, working himself up, bragging to Sam like he's a five-year-old trying to impress his big brother. Really, Sam can actually remember times when he acted like this with Dean, so he knows what he's talking about.
It's like their roles have been reversed.
"I can gank those sons-o'-bitches before they even know what hit them -- with my bare hands! I've got the strength of ten demons, Sam, and I can leap off buildings -- probably do it carrying you! -- and jump like a motherfuckin' lemur."
He pauses for a minute, thinking, and Sam's just watching him, trying not to think about how hot it is to see Dean so happy, so full of enthusiasm and energy and excitement.
Dean raises his eyes to Sam's, and they're actually sparkling, crinkled at the corners as he grins at Sam happily.
"And that's just the super-physical stuff," he says with a wink. "Then there's all the the extra-normal stuff like teleporting and telekinesis."
Sam nods. "So you can bend spoons now," he notes dryly.
Dean frowns a little, obviously missing Sam's reference but aware that he's being mocked.
He's too happy to let it bother him, though, so he just shrugs and shakes his head.
"You're not listening, Sam," he insists. "This is a good thing. We can be a better team now. I was always the grunt before, not pulling my full weight because you had all the brains and more than your share of the brawn and you never really needed me. But now I -- "
"That's not true, Dean," Sam interrupts. "You were always a full partner. Hell, you were the boss, as far as I was concerned. You had the best instincts, and you were downright scary in a fight."
"Well, my instincts are definitely better than ever," Dean notes. "And I am through-the-roof bad-ass now. So the world can just kiss my ass, 'cause here come the Winchesters, bigger and badder than ever."
He claps his hands, thrusting and swiveling his hips in such a parody of his former cockiness it almost makes Sam laugh.
But then he remembers how sad it is because that old Dean is really and truly dead and gone.
Sam sighs, closes his eyes for a moment, opens them again.
Dean's looking at him, his expression full of such longing, such fondness, it's easy to forget his soul is a black, burned-out shell.
"What's the matter, Sammy?" he asks. "You worried I won't be able to stop myself if I start killing? 'Cause I can, y'know. I can control it."
"I know, Dean," Sam sighs again. "That's what you say."
"You still think you can't trust me, is that it? After last night -- after all we've been through before that -- "
Dean raises his arms, palms up, then drops them in a gesture of exasperated helplessness.
"I just wanna work, Sammy," Dean turns plaintive, widens his huge green eyes at Sam so Sam has to close his own against the onslaught. "Want it to be like it was before. You and me, on the road, hunting things, saving people. Just want us to be a family again."
Sam clenches his jaw, turns his face away before opening his eyes again so he doesn't have to see Dean's hopeful, needy gaze.
"What is it, Sam?" Dean lowers his voice so that it rumbles in his chest, makes Sam's chest warm in response. "What's wrong, little brother?"
When Sam doesn't answer, just stares at his breakfast without touching it, Dean finally shows some temper.
"Come on, Sam," he growls. "Stop sulking. You got issues, and I get that. You got issues with me, I need to know what they are. We can deal with this, whatever it is, Sam, if you just talk to me."
He sounds so reasonable, like this is just a misunderstanding, like this is just like that time Sam found Dean feeling up Carla Ramspeck in the boys locker room and it filled him with such jealousy he wrote the girl a note, pretending it was from Dean, telling her he was involved with somebody else and she should just forget about him.
And Sam delivered the note in person, glaring up at the girl with such pained hatred in his eyes all she could do was blink back at him as she read the note, turn several shades of pink, crumple the paper in her hand and clench her jaw.
"You tell that brother of yours I don't give a shit," she hissed at Sam. "You tell him I already have a boyfriend anyway, and he's got a lot of money and he's gonna go to medical school and Dean Winchester can just go to hell! You tell him, you hear?"
And Sam just nodded, swallowing his triumph, trying not to convey how not-sorry he was because he won.
He fuckin' won!
And Dean never found out. Just moved on, shrugged like it didn't mean anything, like sucking up another rejection was just parr for the course with him.
"The fact that you have to ask what's wrong, Dean," Sam says now, turning back to face his brother. "The fact that you don't even see why a Winchester can't work with a demon. That's what's wrong about this. That's my issue."
Dean stares at him for a moment, then mutters, "We worked with Crowley."
"You worked with Crowley, Dean," Sam reminds him. "I told you we should've killed him when we had the chance. We need to kill him now. He got you into this mess."
Dean shakes his head. "We needed him," he says. "We used him."
"He used you, Dean," Sam's angry now, furious really, when he thinks about Crowley. "Totally got what he wanted, got you to do his dirty work for him. He knew it would turn you into this -- he was hoping for it so he could use you even more. Make you his bitch."
Dean's eyes flash black for a second, and Sam catches the gasp that rises in his chest just in time.
"Yeah, well, that worked out real well for him," Dean scoffs. "Asshole bet on the wrong horse. Nobody traps a Winchester that easy."
"And that's another thing, Dean," Sam goes on. "How about all the stuff we know about trapping and exorcising demons? What happens if we're in the middle of a hunt and somebody dumps a bucket of holy water on you? Or you walk right into a devil's trap?"
Dean shakes his head. "Doesn't work on me," he says. "I'm here, ain't I? And I know you got this place warded up the wahzoo 'cause I was the one who made sure of that.
Sam's feeling mocked, feeling cornered and panicked, and he's suddenly sure he has to shake Dean up, force him to take Sam seriously, so he says the thing that's burning at the back of his mind, the thing he knows he shouldn't say.
"A demon killed our mother, Dean," he breathes. "Made the deal with Dad that took his life. Dad's in Hell right now because a demon made a deal with him to save your life."
He knows he's pulled out the heavy ammo this time, and he feels a twinge of guilt as Dean's cocky self-assurance leaves him in a rush, like he's been punched in the gut. His face closes down and he gets this pinched look, stares back at Sam like he can't believe Sam would say something so hurtful. Sam feels himself start to shake, guilt welling up in him, but he forces himself to stare back, to hold Dean's gaze because he needs Dean to see, to acknowledge what he's become, what he's asking of Sam.
The old Dean would pretend he wasn't hurt, or would make some angry "Fuck you!" response, would probably haul off and just hit Sam at this point because his brain couldn't come up with a verbal come-back that could possibly match Sam's low blow.
Instead, this Dean shakes his head, raises his finger at Sam and smiles, and it's as close to a leer as anything Sam has ever seen on his brother's face.
"No, Dad's not there, Sam," he says, laying one hand on the table as he leans in to make his point. "I checked. You can't pin that one on me."
He holds Sam's gaze for another moment, scaring the shit out of Sam because it's creepy and hot at the same time, and Dean means for it to be that way, Sam's sure. He's making his point, showing Sam he's still the boss, still the one in control.
Because Sam can't make him feel guilty any more. About anything.
"Eat your breakfast, Sam," Dean says then, straightening and lowering his eyes, backing off. "We got work to do."
Then he's gone.
The job is in Beaverton, Oregon, in an old school building, where the ghosts of two former teachers are terrorizing the faculty and administration, although they seem to be leaving the students alone.
It's a straight-forward salt-and-burn, and when it's done and Sam and Dean hit the road again, Dean suggests they swing by the Grand Canyon, take the scenic route on their way back to Kansas. And Sam finds himself agreeing because -- because working with Dean again feels so good, so right.
So now it's sunset and they're leaning against the hood of the car at this lookout point at Crater Lake, sipping their beers in silent companionship, and when Sam lifts his beer he rubs Dean's shoulder. He smiles to himself because the job went well -- they managed to save some lives, he's pretty sure.
And Dean didn't go all black-eyed demon on him, didn't kill anyone, in fact.
Dean was just Dean, doing the job like he always did, letting Sam do the talking when they dealt with civilians, Dean taking over when it was cops. The cursed object turns out to be a school-owned laptop that various teachers are checking out and taking home with them, unwittingly bringing the wrath of the two vengeful spirits home too. It's an odd choice, since usually spirits and electronics don't mix well -- but then Dean discovers that the teachers were running a child-pornography ring, which was what finally got them both killed in the first place, and they were using the laptop to transfer files to their customers.
"Nasty business," Dean observes when he explains his discovery to Sam. "This shit is pure evil. Talk about your human monsters. Hell reserves a special spot for pedophiles and child pornographers, I can promise you that."
When he said that it sent a shiver up Sam's spine; it occurred to Sam that Dean could visit Hell anytime he wanted now, and maybe after Sam's asleep tonight Dean would do just that, spend a little quality time with the sons-o'-bitches who use kids like that, who work in schools to gain better access to their prey and gain their trust.
It makes Dean's situation -- this thing that's happened to Dean -- seem much less horrific by comparison.
"See, Sam?" Dean seems so be saying. "I'm not like this. This is real evil. Can't you see the difference?"
And now, brushing his shoulder against his brother's, watching the sunset turn the sky a thousand shades of orange and red and purple -- now Sam lets himself relax a little, lets himself enjoy the moment, his brother's heat and companionable silence, the shared satisfaction of a job well done.
He's missed this, Sam realizes. This was their life together before it got so messed up with the angels and the apocalypse and all those trips to Hell and Purgatory. They had the open road ahead of them, the sun at their backs, the anticipation of the next hunt, the freedom to choose where they went next.
The crappy motels, bad food, unresolved sexual tension --
Sam slides his eyes in his brother's direction, surreptitiously watching as Dean brings the bottle to his lips, sucks in a mouthful of beer, swallows. He feels his cheeks heat, lowers his eyes before Dean catches him staring.
But Dean knows. Maybe he can feel Sam's body temperature rise. He puts his hand on Sam's thigh, slides it between his legs, pulls Sam's right leg flush against his, fingers the inseam of Sam's jeans.
Sam's instantly hard as a rock, needs to shift a little to ease the sudden tightness in his groin.
He feels Dean staring at him, lifts his eyes to his brother's, admires the smirk firmly planted on his full lips, his eyes at half-mast and dark.
"You want me to fuck you on the hood of the Impala, Sam?" Dean drawls in his deepest voice, squeezing Sam's thigh as he says it.
Sam has to close his eyes, struggles with his building orgasm, suddenly sure he could come just from the sound of Dean's voice, just with his hand on his leg and pressed up against him like this.
In a public place.
Dean's shameless, doesn't give a shit as he reaches up to pull Sam's face down so he can kiss him, sloppy and hard. He puts his beer down, and Sam's too, then he turns so that he's standing between Sam's legs, kissing him as he pushes against him, Sam half sitting on the hood of the car so that Dean's taller now, leading in the dance of tongues and hands and grinding hips.
He pushes Sam backwards so he's laying on his back across the car and Dean can kiss down his neck, dip his tongue in the hollow at the base of his throat, push his hands up under Sam's shirts till he finds bare skin. Sam gasps as Dean slides his hands up his chest, rubs his thumbs over Sam's nipples, all the while licking and sucking at his neck, his jaw.
"Come on," Dean murmurs against his skin, hauling him up to sitting with fistfuls of Sam's shirts, tugging at them. "Take these off. Gotta get you naked."
Sam obeys, pulling the shirts off over his head and tossing them aside while Dean unbuttons his jeans, slides the zipper down carefully, pulls out Sam's bursting dick.
"Commando day, huh?" Dean smirks. "Good thing I went slow."
Dean slides his hands around Sam's ass, inside his jeans, pushing them down as he does, as Sam kicks off his shoes, and with Dean's help he's finally free of every last item of clothing. Sam's trying to catch Dean's mouth but Dean pushes him back so he's spread out on his back across the hood, and Sam opens his arms wide, lets his legs fall open too so Dean can have the full effect he's so obviously going for.
Sure enough, Dean steps back once he's got Sam laid out where he wants him, just looks, heated gaze traveling from Sam's face down over his chest and lower, then back up again.
"Gorgeous, Sammy," he murmurs admiringly. "Fuckin' gorgeous."
The car's engine has cooled now, and there's just the feel of smooth, cool metal against his backside, and Sam can only imagine how hot this is for Dean -- Sam's naked and spread out on the car Dean loves -- and once he's got Sam good and ready and starts fucking into him, Dean still fully clothed and standing on the ground as he rocks into Sam's body -- Sam imagines it's like he's fucking the car itself. Sam can see in the hooded, flushed concentration of Dean's face there's something primal about it that he can't really understand, but he knows better than to mock it. The car is the only home they knew for over twenty-five years, and even now it's the only thing left of their parents, of their messed-up childhoods, of the life they created for themselves when they grew up. It's a symbol of security and freedom simultaneously, and as Sam feels Dean's orgasm building, feels his own ready to pump forth, he has the sense of this moment as a kind of consummation of this new relationship -- this new place in their lives that encompasses everything they were to each other before but has also become something more, that somehow they've moved ahead into uncharted territory and this is a new reality for them, together. And the car is a part of that, so this is only right, only fitting --
"Stop thinking, Sam," Dean orders gruffly as he thrusts harder, tangling one hand in Sam's hair and pulling his head back, burying his face in Sam's neck. He sinks his teeth in and Sam cries out, his whole body tensing, staring up at stars as Dean comes in his ass and his own orgasm courses through him, the world temporarily going black.
Dean stays collapsed heavily on top of him for a few minutes after, and Sam becomes aware of something metal pressing into his back. He shifts to lessen the discomfort and Dean starts; he's almost fallen asleep on top of Sam, on top of the car. Now he stirs, pressing a soft kiss into Sam's neck, easing himself out of Sam's body with a muttered grunt that almost sounds like an apology. He backs up and pulls his tee-shirt off, tosses it onto Sam's belly as he puts himself away and zips his jeans.
"Don't get protein on the car," he mutters darkly. "Stuff can take the paint off."
Sam uses Dean's shirt to wipe himself off, then dresses himself as Dean finds another black tee-shirt, slips smoothly into the driver's seat to wait for him.
They don't speak as they drive on into the night together, but when Sam slips a hand onto Dean's thigh Dean closes his hand over it and keeps it there.
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