It took several hours to build the pyre and burn the bodies. Luckily, they were so far from anywhere that the smoke wouldn't be a problem, and the physical labor kept them from thinking too much.
They called Ash, explained what had happened, listening to his stunned silence, waited to burn Ellen and Jo until he arrived, left their bodies for last until Ash was able to be there. While they watched and waited for the pyre to burn they made rough plans for hunting the escaped demons, focused on the job at hand. Anything to avoid the crushing grief that threatened to cripple them.
When the fire was nothing but smoking embers Sam finally changed his bloody shirts and climbed into the passenger seat of the Impala next to his brother. Ash offered to let them stay at the Roadhouse as long as they wanted, but they declined, preferring to hit the road and start hunting the things that were killing everyone they had ever loved. They didn't bother going back to Bobby's house either, probably wouldn't for a long time. Ash promised to bring some hunters down later to retrieve the cars and trucks parked along the old cemetery road.
Ash didn't hug them goodbye, and they could see by the hollowed-out look in his eyes that it would be a long time before he could stand to see them again. They understood, said their goodbyes, took off across Nebraska towards Kansas.
The next night they holed up in the crappiest, most flea-bitten rat-trap they could find -- the kind of place that suited their mood when they were feeling particularly penitent and in need of some excess self-flagellation. Having shared a bottle of Jack to ease the pain in their guts and hopefully stave off some nightmares (if they were drunk enough they might be able to forget ALL THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY JUST GOT KILLED IN FRONT OF THEM for a little while) they lay draped all over each other on the king-sized bed, and Dean knew he hadn't had enough to drink because he couldn't fall asleep, just kept seeing those bodies everywhere and the heavy feel of them in his arms as he lugged them up to the pyre, laying another body out gently on another blanket, rolling it up carefully, tying it up, covering another beloved face one last time --
His phone was buzzing on the bedside table, and Dean couldn't help himself. No one they cared about was still alive, so who the fuck --
Then he knew.
Gently untangling himself from Sam's sleep-heavy limbs, Dean climbed out of the bed, pulling his phone with him as he headed to the bathroom, shutting the door as softly as possible before lifting it to his ear.
"Yeah," he growled quietly into the phone.
The hitched breath on the other end of the call confirmed his guess, but he waited anyway.
Dean pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath before answering.
"Yeah, Sam, it's me," he confirmed.
"You're ok?" Other!Sam's voice was shaking, and Dean could tell he was choking back tears.
Dean felt tired suddenly. Tired and on the verge of tears. Problem was, he was all cried out, and beyond exhausted. This was not supposed to happen. And now Other!Sam was not supposed to call this way and bring it all back. He was supposed to be long gone, back in his other life, with his other brother, doing his other things that did not involve cleaning up the bodies of everyone they had ever loved and burning them in an ancient cemetery in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming.
"Define ok," Dean breathed finally. "If you mean am I still alive, no thanks to your fuck of a brother and his asshole King of Hell pal, then yeah, Sam. I'm ok."
"Is Sam -- ?"
"Yeah, Sam's fine too," Dean snapped. "Just peachy, as a matter of fact, for a guy who's been stabbed in the back after watching his demon-possessed body slaughter everyone he ever loved in front of his eyes. Sam's fine. Thanks for asking."
Another pause, then the inevitable next question just tumbled forth, as Dean knew it would
"Did Crowley -- "
"Dead," Dean punched out. "I shot him with my magic gun. Too late to save Dad's life, or Bobby's, or Ellen's or Jo's or Rufus's or Isaac's or that kid whose name I can't even remember or about half a dozen other good people, but yeah. I killed him. So you can tell your fuck of a brother his buddy's dead. My condolences."
He took a deep breath, pushing his anger down, but all he could see was red.
"He killed Sam too," Dean continued when he could hear Other!Sam's shaky breathing, knew he was fighting back tears or maybe crying, he didn't really care. "He made a demon-possessed hunter stab my little brother in the back. I held my dying brother in my arms and he made jokes like I was somebody else. Like I was your brother."
The line was silent for a moment, then Other!Sam drew a deep, shaky breath.
"I'm sorry, Dean," he said finally. "I know it doesn't make up for -- for any of it, but I am really sorry."
"Yeah, well sorry don't cut it, Sam, and you know that," Dean growled, anger cutting through his exhaustion. "And I've kinda got my hands full here now, so if you don't mind -- now that you've satisfied your morbid curiosity -- you can just lose this number, ok? 'Cause I'm not gonna pick up if you call again, you got me?"
He let his words sink in, heard the satisfying gasp of Other!Sam's voice as he lost it on the other end, let himself imagine the handsome face all contorted and smeared with tears and snot.
"I should go," Dean muttered.
But Other!Sam had one more question.
"Sam's ok," he said, his voice thick with tears. "You said Sam's ok. What happened? How did you bring him back? Dean, please don't tell me you -- "
"No!" Dean huffed. "Hell no. No deals. No -- possessions. Just your angel. The one from the highway. He said it was a clean deal, though. Said there wasn't a catch."
Dean felt a finger of cold dread then, had to push the point.
"Right, Sam?" he demanded. "No catch, he said. Tell me right now that's not a lie."
He could almost see Other!Sam shaking his shaggy head.
"He wasn't lying," he confirmed, and Dean let out his breath, realized he'd been holding it. "If Castiel healed Sam, he won't take it back. He won't make you pay. I told you, Castiel's one of the good guys."
"Well, good for him, 'cause at this point, my brother and I are just about as far from being the good guys as we can get. So I hope he has some friends somewhere, cause we sure as hell don't, thanks to you assholes."
Dean leaned his head against the cool tile of the bathroom wall and closed his eyes.
"I mean it, Sam," he said firmly. "Don't call again. You've done enough, now just leave us alone."
But he waited, listening to Other!Sam's breathing for another moment, the urge to comfort his little brother so ingrained he couldn't just hang up on him, which is what he knew he needed to do, especially since Other!Sam was still crying softly and couldn't seem to get it together enough to end the call.
Finally the call cut out on its own, as Dean knew it would do eventually when whatever link they had between their worlds was severed by the earth's rotation or whatever.
He finished in the bathroom and turned out the light, crossed back to the bed and slipped as quietly as he could under the covers, but he knew Sam was awake, on his side staring at him in the dark.
"You fucked him," he said softly when Dean turned his head to meet the gleaming hazel eyes in the gloom. Sam's eyes looked dark, unreadable
Dean closed his eyes, turned his head away.
"It's not what you think," he muttered lamely. "You were gone. I didn't know if I'd ever see you again."
Sam huffed out a breath. "How long was I gone before you started fucking him?"
Dean felt the heat rise in his cheeks, across his chest. He opened his eyes and glanced at his brother, who hadn't moved and was still staring at him, still with that dark, impenetrable look.
"How long, Dean?" Sam pressed, his voice still quiet, intense but not outright angry. Yet.
"Dean?" Fucker was not giving up.
"Almost twelve hours, ok?" he said in a rush. "It was still ten o'clock in the morning when you disappeared. We looked for you, then we went back to the motel for research, worked our asses off, man! OK? He's just like you. Very focused."
"So you got him drunk first," Sam clarified.
Dean stared at his brother for another moment, then turned away and sat up.
"I'm gonna sleep on the couch," he announced. He felt Sam's eyes on his back and made a show of throwing himself down on the small sofa, crossing his legs and arms and shifting around petulantly, trying to get comfortable. When he could finally lie still without something poking into his back and threatening to twist his head off he heard his brother shifting in the big bed, spreading himself out and then pulled the covers up. The stillness in the room had become almost deafening when Dean heard his brother mutter.
Dean felt his chest unclench then, felt his face relax, knowing that he might have to sleep alone for awhile, and Sam would keep the penance going even after they were sharing the bed again, but eventually he would let it go, like he always did.
Also because it was Dean's turn, since he hadn't transgressed in years (in fact, he could barely remember the last time he had even thought about somebody else, and that was just twisted) while Sam had gone off with Miss My-Dresses-Are-Upside-Down-And-You-Like-I
So yeah, just like he had told Other!Sam when he started the thing between them, Sam would come around.
Probably sooner rather than later, judging by the little breathy noises he was making in his sleep.
Huh. Little shit got off on the idea of Dean fucking somebody else. Store that one up to use later, he thought caustically.
It took Sam less than twenty-four hours to cave.
When they were ready for bed the next night Sam yanked the blankets down and scooted over to make room.
"You sure?" Dean raised an eyebrow.
Sam huffed out a breath and turned over so his back was to Dean and said nothing, but the invitation was clear. Which was a good thing because this motel had no couch and Dean did not look forward to lying down on the dubious indoor-outdoor carpeting, although he had done worse things.
Once they were settled on the bed, both on their sides turned away from each other, carefully not touching, and Dean was finally feeling sleep creeping into his tired muscles (aching from last night's cramped doze on the lumpy couch) Sam said,
"Was he good?"
Aw damn. He had to ask.
"Sam -- " Dean warned, but Sam was turning over, facing him.
"Was he?" he insisted, and Dean rolled onto his back reluctantly, turned his head so he could face those slanted hazel eyes.
"You were gone, Sam," Dean said again. "I was worried sick about you."
"So you cheated," Sam accused.
Dean sighed. "We shouldn't be talking about this."
"We have to talk about this, Dean," Sam insisted. "You cheated on me. With my own doppelgänger. Do you even know how kinky that sounds?"
Dean took a deep breath. "I don't know what you want me to say, Sam."
"Just answer the question, Dean," Sam said through gritted teeth. "Was he good?"
Dean cleared his throat. "The sex was ok," he said finally. "Nothin' great. He cried a lot. Missed his brother. Dude's got some serious issues on that front."
Sam's eyes filmed over and lowered. He sucked in a breath, then turned onto his back, stared at the ceiling. Dean lay still, waiting, knowing Sam well enough to let him process quietly for awhile.
Finally, Sam gave a little nod, turned his head to look at his brother again, his face a little more relaxed now, less tense.
"Yeah, that brother of his is something, all right," Sam agreed. "Like you all Vader-ed out. Not quite dark side, but definitely going there. You know they don't -- "
"Yeah, I got that," Dean grunted. "I got the sense that's half the problem right there."
Sam frowned. "Dude's on a hair-trigger fuse. Doesn't even like to be touched. One time we rubbed shoulders accidentally and he almost whaled on me."
Dean grit his teeth, his chest flooding with impotent rage. The need to punish Other!Dean was overwhelming. And useless. It left him seething.
Sam was shaking his head. "I still can't get over you hitting on him. What was that?"
Dean couldn't answer. He didn't exactly understand it himself. He stared helplessly at Sam, who was still waiting for a response, so he finally said the only thing he could think of.
"He smelled like you, man. His hair, his skin. He felt like you when I touched him. Tasted like you."
Dean took a deep breath, looked away. "And he needed me. He was broken and hurting and -- he needed me. You, all needy and sad and in pain -- not something I can just walk away from. It ain't in me."
He looked up to see how Sam was taking it, found Sam gazing at him with an odd mixture of bemused revelation, like he understood but couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.
Dean shrugged. "He was you, Sam," he said. "Except you with a whole mess of misery inside. I had to do something. I just had to." He cleared his throat again, looked away. "When we -- you know. He seemed so -- so grateful. Pretty sad I guess."
Sam stared at him, wincing only briefly, searching his eyes in the gloom. When Sam's eyes dropped to his mouth, Dean looked away uncomfortably., feeling the heat creep into his cheeks. He didn't want to read the signals wrong, but when Sam looked at him like that it usually meant --
Dean felt the bed sink as Sam suddenly moved closer, right up against him, hovering over him. He looked up, startled, as Sam's huge, warm hand cupped his cheek. His lips parted as Sam slid his thumb over the bottom one, the look on his face soft and fond.
"You -- " Sam breathed. "You don't even know how amazing you are."
Dean looked away, embarrassed, shifting uncomfortably under Sam's weight, his fingers, his heated gaze.
"The other Dean, he's like something dark and empty and really, really sad," Sam said, shivering a little with the memory. "He loves his brother, but his love is like this obsession, this unhealthy addiction he can't shake. It's not even human."
Dean lifted his gaze to his brother's, drinking in the handsome face and beautiful, soulful eyes,
For the first time, he wondered if the way he loved Sam was a kind of sickness. Could have anything to do with the demon blood coursing through his veins.
And if Other!Dean had known about the blood from the beginning, would he have fought the feelings he had for Other!Sam? Would he have assumed he was bewitched or bedeviled by his brother? And if he had denied those feelings all these years, hated himself for them even though he blamed the demon blood for wanting his brother that way --
Yeah, Dean could see how years of that kind of repression and self-hatred could eat away at Other!Dean, make him literally sick inside.
Combined with forty years in Hell, of course. Powerful recipe for degradation if he ever heard one.
But Dean had not spent the past fifteen years loving his brother in secret. Sam knew exactly how he felt. Treasured and returned those feelings. And though they might have both worried about the morality of their relationship years ago, they had so long since come to terms with and accepted it, accepted each other without recrimination or regret or self-loathing -- it was woven into the very fabric of their beings. They had something special. People who observed it had even told them so, when they were sensitive enough to see it.
There was just no way this had anything to do with that demon blood thing.