Nevertheless, Dean found himself on the phone with Other!Sam again a week later, pacing in the parking lot while Sam was inside searching the 'net for cases of demonic possession.
"Oh, and by the way. When were you gonna tell me about the demon blood, Sam? Huh? I had to hear it from Crowley."
"Oh God," Other!Sam breathed.
"No, not Him. Definitely not Him," Dean growled. He took a deep breath, wishing -- hoping -- this was nothing, but not quite daring to believe it.
"Sam, tell me it doesn't matter," he pushed. "Tell me my brother having demon blood in his veins is not going to make him turn dark-side."
The anguished, choked sound that burst out of Other!Sam sounded like a sob.
"Fuck," Dean breathed.
"I'm sorry, Dean," Other!Sam said again. "I didn't tell you about that because I was hoping it didn't matter in your world. Your dad killed Yellow-Eyes, and nothing happened after that the way it did here, so I was thinking maybe none of those things I went through would happen for you guys."
Dean scrubbed a hand over his face. Tired, tired, tired. He was so fucking tired.
"What things, Sam?" he asked. "What do I need to watch out for? Is my brother gonna grow horns? Start killing people with his mind?"
"No, no," Other!Sam responded quickly.
"So what then? What can happen?"
Other!Sam took a deep breath. "I started having visions," he said reluctantly, like it was causing him pain to have to remember. "A few days before Jess died. Death visions. I -- I saw her die."
Dean couldn't believe what he was hearing. He already knew about that. Relief flooded him suddenly like a punch in the gut. This might be something he could handle after all.
"Sam had those too," he said out-loud now. "For almost that whole first year after I picked him up from Stanford. But they stopped as soon as the demon was dead. We figured it was connected because Dad had found other kids with psychic powers, all born about the same time. Figured the demon had been creating some kind of army."
"That's right," Sam agreed. "Azazel bled into all of us."
"Dad never mentioned the blood," Dean said. "But he must have known."
"Yeah, he knew," Other!Sam said. "But it sounds like he decided not to tell you, once he could see that Azazel's death stopped the visions."
"Your dad told you," Dean clarified.
"No," Other!Sam said, his voice still and small. "He told Dean he might have to kill me. Then he died."
"Fuck," Dean breathed.
"Yeah," Other!Sam agreed.
Dean took a deep breath, closed his eyes.
"Ok, I gotta go."
"How's Sam doing?"
Dean scrubbed a hand over his face, shuffled his feet.
"Yeah -- no -- he's ok," he said. "Still pretty beat up about what happened, obviously. Thinks it's his fault for not figuring out what your brother was doing."
Other!Sam huffed out a breath. "It's not his fault," he said quietly.
"Yeah, tell him that," Dean groused. "And just so we're clear, Sam, if I ever have the chance, I will kill your brother."
"Yeah, I get that," Other!Sam sighed. "Right now, I'm pretty sure he deserves it."
Other!Sam called once a week for awhile. He seemed to need the contact, and Dean didn't have the heart to refuse it. Sam frowned his disapproval whenever he caught Dean talking to his doppelgänger, but he seemed to accept it when Dean assured him he drew the line at phone sex.
Until the night the poor bastard drunk-dialed him and Dean spent almost the whole night locked in the bathroom, talking Other!Sam down off the edge of some serious self-hatred.
Finally he told Other!Sam exactly what he should have told him from the beginning.
"You have to tell him, Sam. You have to tell him how you feel. This is never gonna get better otherwise."
"But I'm not -- Dean, I'm in love with you, not him," Other!Sam sobbed. "I want you."
"No, Sam, you're just confused," Dean insisted. "This was always about him. You and me -- that was just an excuse. Never would've happened if you weren't already in love with him. You know that, you stupid jackass. Now you need to man up and tell him."
"He doesn't love me like that," Other!Sam whined, sobbing softly. "He thinks it's sick. He told me so when he found out about you."
Dean felt his anger rising, clenched his jaw.
"Yeah, he would say that," he growled. "And let me tell you what's sick. Him going more than fifteen years not telling you he's in love with you because he thinks he can keep you normal somehow. Thinks he can save you from his own obsession. Thinks that even if you say you want him it's his fault for wanting you first. Thinks it makes him some kind of pedophile.
"But see the thing is, you're not a fifteen-year-old kid, Sam."
Dean was fierce, determined to get through to Other!Sam. Make him understand.
"You're a grown man who knows his own mind now. Your brother doesn't get to tell you how you feel, see. He doesn't get to control everything anymore. And let me tell you something."
Dean wasn't sure whether this would work, but he was sure gonna give it his best shot.
"He's had fifteen years to repress his feelings and it's not gonna be easy breaking through his -- dumbass Winchester stubbornness. You might have to sit on him. I mean it, Sam. SIT ON HIM. But if you do, if you really hang in there and force him to face it, you will get through to him.
"He just needs you to convince him that it's what YOU want. 'Cause in the long run, he can't say no to you. Your needs. He's programmed to give you what you want. He just has to be convinced it really is what you want. You get me?"
Other!Sam was silent, his sobbing reduced to quiet gasps and the occasional sniffle.
"Sam?" Dean used his most commanding voice. "You hear what I'm saying to you? 'Cause you gotta trust me on this. Sam?"
Sam let out a long sigh.
"I hear you," he said softly. "I'll try."
"Ok, good," Dean grunted, satisfied. "And Sam, I want you to promise me something, ok?"
Dean could sense Other!Sam's nod through the phone connection.
"You make this work, you don't call me again. OK? You've got everything you need right there. You don't need -- you don't call again after you get him to man up, ya got me?"
"Dean -- " Other!Sam's choked cry nearly broke Dean's heart.
"No," he insisted through clenched teeth. "I mean it, Sam. You get this done, you don't need me. You just gotta trust me on this, Sam. Don't let him wiggle out of this. You sit on him. Make him 'fess up. 'Cause he will, Sam. It's what he wants, ya gotta believe me. Don't give up, don't back down. He'll break, I promise you."
Other!Sam was panting, fighting back sobs again.
"You got me, Sam?" Dean pushed. "Do we have a deal?"
Other!Sam took a deep breath, let it out slowly. Dean waited, clenching his free fist and fighting with his own emotions.
Finally, Other!Sam let out a small breath, sniffed, then Dean could almost see another small nod.
"Yeah, ok. Deal."
Dean took a deep breath of his own.
"Alright then," he said. "Goodbye, Sam. Good luck."
Other!Sam said nothing, probably wouldn't, so Dean ended the call, stood holding the phone for a minute, steadying himself.
When he finally turned, Sam was standing in the doorway, arms folded, leaning against the frame, his eyes dark.
Dean flushed, looked away from that intense gaze, shuffled uncomfortably.
"It's over, Sam," Dean muttered finally, sensing that Sam wasn't about to budge, was waiting for him to make the first move.
"Yeah, I got that," Sam said, jaw working.
"He -- " Dean felt tears threatening at the back of his eyes. "He's gonna fix things with his brother."
Sam huffed out a breath. "About time," he muttered.
His voice sounded bitter, and Dean couldn't resist glancing up. "I'm gonna throw the phone away," he offered, and Sam nodded, not meeting his eyes.
"I don't know what you want me to do, Sam," Dean threw his arms wide in a gesture of helplessness.
Sam moved so fast then that Dean didn't have time to react. Suddenly Sam was just there, in his space, grabbing his shirt and pushing him up against the wall, crowding against him, in his face.
"I want you to be my brother," Sam growled, shaking him. "Mine. Nobody else's. Just mine."
Before Dean could recover, could answer, Sam's mouth crashed down on his, taking his breath away. Sam's kiss was bruising, possessive. His hands were everywhere, clutching, squeezing, claiming every inch of his body so that Dean could have no doubt as to his intention. When Sam finally tore his mouth away it was only to bury his face in Dean's neck, sucking and nipping there, claiming and marking almost brutally as his hands slipped into Dean's boxers to cup his bare ass. Dean's lips felt stung, swollen; he could taste blood. As Sam's fingers dug into the meat of his ass then slid into his crack Dean let out a deep moan, bucking up against Sam's erection as Sam's teeth sank into the crook of his neck. Dean's reaction seemed to enflame Sam; he lifted his head long enough to look at his brother's face, his eyes blown and dark, lips parted and slick, cheeks flushed -- then he attacked Dean's mouth with renewed hunger, fucking into him with his tongue, sliding a dry finger back and forth over his entrance, teasing, before pushing inside, making Dean wince. He was holding onto Sam's waist, sliding his hands under the waistband of his sweatpants to touch his warm, smooth skin, just holding on as Sam fucked him with his tongue and finger.
Then, just as suddenly as he was there, he wasn't. Dean's eyes fluttered open, missing his brother's touch instantly, blinking up at Sam, who was pulling his shirt off, reaching for Dean's. Sam's massive, muscled chest filled Dean's vision as Sam yanked his shirt up, then held his wrists against the wall over his head, still tangled in the shirt with one of Sam's huge hands holding them there as his other hand slipped down Dean's bare chest, squeezing his left pec, over his heart, sliding down over his stomach into his boxers. Sam leaned in as his hand wrapped around Dean's erection, then slipped down and cupped his balls.
"Mine," Sam whispered against Dean's mouth, squeezing gently, possessively. "Say it."
Dean shivered as Sam's clever fingers stroked the sensitive skin of his perineum, eyes slipping closed.
Sam drew back instantly, gave his balls another gentle squeeze.
"Say it!" he hissed, shaking Dean's wrists insistently.
"Yeah, ok, Sam," Dean choked out. "Yours."
"Look at me when you say it!" Sam squeezed and shook him again, and Dean's eyes flew open, stared up at his brother's dark, fierce expression, shivering uncontrollably.
"Yours, Sam," Dean agreed, voice rough with his own need. "Only yours."
Later, after Sam had made it abundantly clear that yeah, Dean was his alright, and they lay thoroughly fucked out across the bed, tangled and sweaty and almost in tears with exhaustion, Sam said,
"Tomorrow we get tattoos."
Dean was too tired to do more than grunt in response.
Sam's hand slid up over his chest, over his heart, pressed a little as he said,
"Here. Anti-possession tattoos."
And all Dean could do was nod and breathe out "Okay" before he slid into sleep.
Other!Sam didn't call again, although Dean found the phone on the floor of the bathroom the next morning and kept it, probably against his better judgment, but he just didn't give it much thought.
Which is pretty much the way he was functioning these days. As long as he could focus on the work -- on killing all the evil sons-of-bitches he'd let out into the world -- he could keep most of the nightmares away, control most of the grief.
It took them over a year to track down and kill the last of the demons. Without their king the demons were unorganized, stupid, and lazy. Easy pickings, really. Especially after Sam showed Dean where to find the special blade that could easily kill them, so that they didn't even need to rely on exorcisms anymore. Nevertheless, they got the matching anti-possession tattoos Sam demanded, and Sam made Dean promise he would never, ever let him be possessed again by anything, even if it meant saving his life.
And Dean agreed, since he couldn't imagine a situation where that might be necessary anyway.
After another year passed and they had found no more demons, Sam announced it was time to do a little nesting. He had done some research and found a place in Kansas, he said. Not far from their old hometown, but not too close to bring up unhappy memories either.
The Men of Letters bunker was a revelation to Dean. A home obviously designed for them, left to them by a secret society once run by their grandfather, though the man had died before they were born. Dean spent the first day just exploring the place, picking out and decorating his own room, washing out the kitchen and fixing their first meal there. Scoping out the garage and finding the perfect home for his baby.
Sam sat in the library the whole time, researching. When Dean asked him what he was doing, he admitted to looking up instances of travel between alternate universes, just to make sure what had happened to them wasn't likely to happen again.
It was a subject they rarely talked about, except the few times Sam mentioned out of the blue how he knew certain things because he had learned about them "over there." Like the bunker. The wound was still too fresh, even after two years, and except for the first few weeks of crying jags and nightmares, and those never-again-mentioned phone calls from Other!Sam, neither of them had ever brought up that night in Wyoming directly. They comforted each other when one of them needed it but never spoke about it or alluded to it much the rest of the time. Killing demons helped, and keeping their minds on their jobs and their heads in the game had always been the best antidote for grief for them, passed down from their father. And since they were pretty sure now that they had got the last of the bastards, Dean was starting to relax again, beginning to hope that things were getting back to normal. He liked to think they had started to put the whole thing behind them.
But lately Sam had been acting morbid again. The simple hunter's life had never been enough for Sam, and Dean had always worried that one day Sam would just leave, find something more satisfying. More meaningful than just chasing down monsters and ending them. Never mind the fact that they were getting older. They were both in their thirties now. Dean would be forty in just three more years. There would come a time when his reflexes just wouldn't be what they should be.
Which was what made the Men of Letters bunker so cool. With this place as a home-base the Winchesters were positioned for a second career as advisors and consultants to a whole new generation of hunters and monster-killers. It automatically put them in the position of elder-statesmen to the entire universe of supernatural-creature gankers. Like Bobby only better equipped.
And just like that, Dean's thoughts plummeted into grief again.
Funny how the littlest thought could set it off.
Bobby would've loved this place, he thought, unable to go down there once the door had been opened.
He wandered back into the library, put an open beer on the table next to his brother, who barely looked up from his books. Stood watching him for awhile, sipping his beer, till Sam finally glanced up, read his mood instantly, frowned.
"Hey," Sam said, gesturing to the chair across the table. "You're welcome to join me."
Dean shook his head.
"Nah, I think I'll just go check out the garage again," he rolled his shoulders and moved off toward the basement, determined to shake the melancholia from his bones.
He had a moment's panic as he took a shower and got ready for bed. What if Sam didn't come? What if now that they had all this space Sam would stay in his own room from now on? They would just stop co-sleeping, and gradually grow apart until they were like an old married couple that no longer shared more than a passing touch --
But just as he was about to turn out the light and slip under the covers on his side of the bed, the door opened and Sam stuck his head in.
"Hey," he said, only slightly hesitant. "My bed's a mess, so I figured -- "
Dean tried not to grin too wide. "Yeah, sure," he shrugged, patting the bed next to him. "Always welcome, Sammy."
The relief on Sam's face was classic, and Dean felt himself breathe easier, picked up a book so that he didn't embarrass Sam by staring as his brother undressed, then slid into bed next to him, pulling the blankets up around them.
Dean put the book down, reached up to turn out the light, pulled Sam into his arms, pressed his lips against his forehead as Sam snuggled into his chest, big body all warm and solid, limbs everywhere.
"Goodnight, Sam," he whispered into Sam's hair.
"Goodnight, Dean," his brother murmured against his chest.
And it may have been a long, long way from perfect, but for now, it was what they had. And it was better than a lot of things, better than it could've been.
As Dean drifted into sleep, the thought of Other!Sam and his life in that other world slid across his consciousness, and he hoped things really had worked out for his not-brother and Other!Dean, even if they didn't deserve it.
Because really, no matter how miserable things got, no matter how many stupid mistakes and choices led to death and destruction and everything fucked all-to-hell, when the Winchesters had each other there was something wild and wonderful in the world.
Even when they were too stubborn to see it.