Pairing: Sam/Dean (not related)
Word Count: 6,500
Opera prompt: Samson & Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns
Characters: Sam, Dean, Castiel
Summary: Dean is no ordinary priest in Gaza's Temple of Dagon. He's a seer, a visionary who has a gift for pre-cognition. It's a good job, one that's earned him a kind of celebrity status among his peers, and he's content to rake in the dough as Dagon's top oracle. Until the day he meets the gaze of Samson the Strong, hero of the Hebrews, and everything changes. Everything.
Warning: Major character deaths (not permanent, maybe?), unhappy ending (if you know the story, you know how unhappily it ends!), some graphic violence (due to previous warnings). M/M sexual situations.
A/N: Written for the 2015 spnopera Challenge. Samson et Delila is based on the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah found in Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. This is my variation, featuring Sam & Dean as the tragic main characters. Apologies for any historical or Biblical inaccuracies. The opera contains one of the most beautiful arias for mezzo-saprano: "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" ("My Heart Opens to Your Voice") which can be enjoyed here
Time: 1150 BC
When Dean first catches sight of Samson the Great, savior of his people and slayer of Dean's king, the ruthless and evil Abimelech, Dean figures someone's made a mistake. Oh, the man is tall and broad-shouldered enough, with huge muscled arms bound in decorative brass bicep-bracelets, his massive bare chest gleaming in the lamplight under his tight leather vest, obviously shaved and oiled to define his impressive pecs. His neck is thick and powerful too, and although Dean can't see his thighs from where he stands across the great hall where the victory celebration is in full-swing (Samson's people are free now, so there's a lot to celebrate, from their point of view anyway), Dean assumes they're strong and muscled too.
So no, it's not the man's physical attributes that call into question his status as an invincible hero. Pretty much everything in that department fulfills Dean's expectation of the appearance of the strongest man alive. But there's something in his face – the strong, chiseled jaw, clean-shaven to show off his high cheekbones and broad brow, his exotic, tilted nose and strange slanted eyes – something otherworldly, as if he's not quite present on this earth, not quite at home in this place of violence and brute force and the daily struggle to survive and come out on top, this place where the weak are easily dominated by men like Samson.
Samson looks like a man who is supposed to be somewhere else.
The thought pierces Dean's consciousness at the exact moment the hero lifts his eyes, catches Dean's gaze across the crowded room, and the scene fades away, sound muted and replaced by the low hum of a cooling machine – an air-conditioner, Dean's vision-addled brain provides helpfully. They're alone in a small, darkened room; Dean can see a bed, a table with two chairs, strangely cold light coming through the half-curtained window, a closed door. Samson's clothing is odd and covers him almost completely so that only his head and hands are visible. Dean looks down at himself and finds he's clothed similarly, covered in layers of close-fitting material which feels confining and heavy, uncomfortably tight on his legs and groin. He has only a moment to feel claustrophobic, to glance up and meet Sam's eyes, to note the confusion and shock on his beautiful face, before the real world crashes down around them again, bringing light and sound and people and blessedly fewer clothes.
Samson's look of shock and confusion remains, however, and Dean could swear he hears his voice, calling Dean's name across the gap from that other place, punched out of him with the force of his own moment of clarity. As the vision fades, Dean can still hear Sam's voice, knows it intimately, although he's certain he's never heard the man speak before.
Then Samson is surrounded by his attendants, one of whom follows Samson's gaze and meets Dean's eyes with a shrewd smile. Dean looks away with a shiver as Samson's attention is diverted by the demands of his duties as savior and great leader, as Samson is turned away and swallowed by a crowd of sycophants and well-wishers.
"You have done well," Castiel appears at Dean's elbow like the perfect attendant that he is. "The great hero will wish to know you now. He is already powerfully attracted to you, unaware that his love for you will be his undoing."
Dean frowns. Castiel has an annoying habit of inserting himself into the most intimate moments of Dean's life, has been doing so for longer than Dean can remember, and now it occurs to Dean that this whole thing is some kind of set-up.
He hates that.
"So what's the plan, Cas?" he snaps irritably, glaring at the older man. "Am I supposed to seduce him and avenge Abimelech's death? Cuz I gotta tell you right now, I don't give a shit. That bastard got what he deserved, and Samson can have his freedom for all I care. He can just walk off into the desert and lead his people to the promised land. Isn't that how the story goes?"
"I sincerely doubt you would be capable of letting Samson walk off into the desert, as you say," Castiel casts his inscrutable blue gaze on Dean, and Dean can't help the shiver that goes up his spine. Dean might be a seer, might have certain psychic abilities as a priest of Dagon should, but Castiel's a kind of god in that department. Castiel seems to understand the past and and the future in ways Dean doesn't even want to think about. He's just glad the blue-eyed High Priest is on his side, because he's pretty sure Castiiel would make a formidable enemy. "Your bond is profound."
"Huh," Dean huffs a breath. "Good to know, since I haven't even met the man yet."
"Your first meeting has already been arranged," Castiel warns, and Dean feels another shiver go up his spine. He knows he's being manipulated, and he never likes that, but he really really wants to meet Samson the Strong. He's heard the stories: guy kills lions with his bare hands, slaughters his enemies with nothing but a donkey's jawbone – how awesome (and creepy) is that? Samson's strength and good luck in battle have given rise to endless speculation about the secret of his power. Most people seem to think there's something supernatural about Samson's abilities, and everyone is curious about the source of his unnatural strength. Even Dean, who was made a priest of Dagon at the age of twelve, when his visions began, can't help wondering about Samson's unusual gifts.
Yet until the moment their eyes met across that crowded room, Dean had always figured Samson's abilities were superficial. Physical. Nothing that couldn't be explained away with a little good luck and genetic inheritance.
Now Dean's not so sure. Now Dean's wondering if there isn't a little more to Samson than simple good fortune and unusual brute strength. And he sure as hell wants to find out.
* // *
As it turns out, Dean doesn't have long to wait. He's alone in the temple, tending the lamps as he usually does at this time of night, making sure they stay lit as the early hours before dawn bring cool breezes up the hill from the valley. It's his special assignment; Dean's pale skin keeps him out of the intense Gaza sun, preserves his aura of mystery, ensures the Temple of Dagon continues to receive a steady influx of cash and libations from fascinated worshippers who pay dearly for just a glimpse of Dean's exotic beauty, not to mention the price they pay for the chance to consult Dean's considerable gifts as an oracle.
Dean's reputation is wide-spread, so it doesn't surprise him when he hears Samson speak his name. Of course Samson knows who he is. Or if he didn't before that earth-shattering eye-fuck across the room earlier, he would have found out pretty quickly and easily, of that Dean is one-hundred percent certain.
It still doesn't jibe with the way Samson's voice makes Dean feel, though. The honey-smooth sound sends a spine-tingling ripple of power straight to his soul, charging every ounce of blood in his veins with a fiery energy that sizzles and caresses his skin simultaneously. Dean turns toward that velvety-smooth voice like a puppy on a leash, desperate for another nibble of attention, slave to an urge he can’t begin to control.
The man is tall. So close, and with nothing and no one between them, Dean is overwhelmed by the impression of height. Dean's not a short man, and in fact most would consider him on the tall side, so it's not an experience Dean can remember ever having in his adult life, being shorter than someone. It makes him feel younger, softer, weaker. And for some god-awful reason he can't make sense of, he doesn't mind that one bit.
They've been staring at each other for several seconds now, sizing each other up, adjusting to the odd familiarity Dean's just sure Sam feels too (and why does it seem right to call this strange man by a shortened version of his name?) He’s grasping at the edges of visions that feel like memories, or dreams (and Dean's just sure Sam's had the same visions). Sam recovers first, shifting his feet, calling attention to his long, mostly-bare legs, covered with a layer of fine dark hair, his feet shod in dusty leather sandals. When Sam clears his throat, Dean realizes he's staring at his legs, so he raises his eyes, dutifully finds Sam's gaze again, makes a conscious effort to hold it as Sam frowns a little and clenches his jaw, then his fists.
"How did you do that?" Sam demands, his posture going all defensive and on-alert, voice gravelly and low with power. This is a man who is used to giving orders, Dean thinks, a man who expects to be obeyed. "Are you some kind of witch?"
Dean lowers his chin, raises his eyebrows so that he's looking up at Sam, deliberately accentuating their height difference. It's a look that's designed to disarm, and Dean knows it makes his eyes widen, knows he's giving Sam an angle that sets off his beauty to its best advantage.
"Not a witch," he says quietly, watching as Sam reacts to his voice with a slight flinch, a deeper frown. "I'm a seer. I see things."
Sam swallows, and Dean's eyes drop immediately to Sam's throat, following the movement against his will, resisting the shiver that rocks through him.
"But I saw something," Sam protests. "Before. When you cast your evil eye on me in the great hall. I saw – "
"Another place," Dean finishes for him. "Another us."
Sam clenches his jaw, considering, then nods. "Yes," he agrees. "How did you do that?"
Dean smiles, lowers his eyes, glances away from Sam for the first time, at a lamp in the corner of the room, its light flickering softly, nothing like that cold, harsh light from the window in his vision.
"It's a gift," he answers with a small shrug. "I've had it all my life. No idea how it works; just that it does."
"But your god – Dagon – he's evil," Sam frowns. "If your power comes from him, then so are you."
"I don't know what to tell you, Sam," Dean shrugs again. "There's magic in the world. I don't know if it comes from the gods, or if we're born with it, or if there's some weird combination of natural and supernatural forces involved. It is what it is, that's the one thing I do know."
"You don't believe in your god," Sam sucks in a breath, shocked.
"Do you believe in yours?" Dean challenges heatedly. If Sam's a zealot, Dean isn't sure they'll have much in common after all.
"Of course." Sam puffs out his chest, defensive. "He is the source of all that is good in the world."
"And he speaks to you?" Dean persists. "You can hear him in your thoughts? In your heart?"
"He doesn't need to," Sam insists. "He makes himself known to me."
"Oh, that's specific," Dean snarks. "So are we talking visions? Dreams? Dude on a big white horse?"
"What?" Sam's frown creases his brow again, and Dean decides he's got the prettiest eyes Dean's ever seen. "No! I mean, my god is the one true god. He doesn't need magic tricks or visions to make his will known."
"So what makes you so sure it's him that's giving you all your supernatural strength?" Dean demands. "What if your power comes from something evil?"
Sam shakes his head sharply. "No," he insists. "I would know. My heart would tell me. I have served God all my life, and the gifts he has given me are for the greater good. He is good."
Sam's faith seems to radiate from him, so that for a moment Dean swears he sees something white and glowing surrounding Sam's tall frame, a kind of aura. Then it's gone, leaving Dean's eyes smarting with tears. He blinks rapidly to clear his vision, senses Sam moving closer, reaching up to touch his cheek. Dean freezes, staring up at Sam, whose gaze has suddenly softened, his soft lips parting as his thumb and forefinger tip Dean's chin up.
Dean's never been so sure he's about to be kissed in his life. But Sam hesitates, his expression confused and wondering at the same time.
"I feel like I know you," he says softly. "I feel that your heart is good. How can I know that?"
"Same," Dean whispers, then clears this throat. "Same here."
Sam runs his thumb along Dean's lower lip and Dean trembles involuntarily, closes his eyes in an effort to ride out the wave of lust that sweeps through him. When he opens them again Sam's expression is fond, achingly familiar.
"You are so beautiful," Sam breathes as he leans down and finally, finally, touches his lips to Dean's.
The kiss is slower and more tender than Dean would like, but it sends a rush of fire through Dean's body, roaring in his veins like the seas. Visions crash over him – Sam as a child, as a baby in his arms, smoke and flame all around them – Sam as a young man, long and lean and in his arms again, smoke and fire everywhere. Sam on the ground, blood gushing from a gash in his throat, Dean's hands pressed against the wound. Sam in his arms again, blood soaking through his clothes from a fatal wound in his back, head lolling on Dean's shoulder as they kneel in the rain together. Sam on his knees on the floor, gazing up at him from a face battered, bruised and bleeding, his expression a tortured plea, his words resounding desperately in Dean's head: "You are good."
At least this time Sam doesn't appear to share the visions. He's kissing Dean with such focus, his giant hands moving down Dean's body with a kind of fevered reverence, that all Dean can do is hold on, ride out the violent images in his head as they meld with his body's responses to Sam's touch.
He's never been so turned on in his life.
Sam slips his hands down over Dean's ass, under his short robe, then scoops him up easily, and Dean wraps his legs around Sam's waist, seeking friction. He tears his mouth away so he can bury his face in Sam's neck, nips and sucks at the sweat-soaked skin. Sam moans in his ear as Dean sinks his teeth into Sam's hot flesh, tasting salt and sweat and the remembered tang of blood from an earlier battle. Sam's fingers slip into the crack of Dean's ass, find his hole, rub against it as Dean cries out, lifts his head to find Sam's lips again. He thrusts his hands into Sam's long, silky hair, hears himself moan as the soft tendrils move easily through his fingers, realizes he's been fantasizing about the feel of Sam's hair since he first laid eyes on him. Sam's hands knead Dean's ass as he rubs against him, providing friction for both of them as he lifts and lowers Dean's body as if he weighed no more than a child, or a doll. Dean's already so hot for Sam, already harder than he's ever been, so it doesn't take much to send him crashing over the cliff, to send his orgasm coursing through him in a blinding wave that steals his vision along with his consciousness, leaving him wrung out and boneless, draped around Sam like a rag doll, a dead weight in Sam's strong arms.
As he comes back to himself Dean feels Sam's large hand rubbing his back, soothing. Sam's still holding him up, and Dean pulls away, shivering as Sam releases him, sets him down on his feet again. He keeps his arms loosely around Dean's body, but Dean immediately misses Sam's heat, misses being wrapped up around all that solid muscle and hot skin.
"I have to go," Sam murmurs, his voice rasping over Dean's sensitized skin like liquid fire. Like blood.
Sam's got an uprising to lead, Dean remembers. He's got people depending on him. He's a hero. Dean wants to wrap himself up in Sam and never let him go, keep him safe from all the violence and blood in his future, in this life and the life to come, the one in his visions.
"Come back to me, after," Dean begs, and he's not sure whether he means today or in three thousand years. "I have a house in the valley. It's the first one as you walk into town. You can't miss it."
"Okay," Sam agrees, pulling away reluctantly, stepping back slowly so he can keep touching Dean as long as possible, stopping for a moment with his fingers still tangled with Dean's. "I think I'll always come back to you," he says, frowning a little, as if he's baffled by his own words, and Dean nods.
"Yeah," he agrees. "I think you're right."
Dean watches Sam go as the dawn breaks behind him, so that he's momentarily silhouetted in the doorway, dark and powerful as a god. As if he's become a temporary embodiment of the temple's pagan deity.
Dean tries hard not to let that idea feel like foreboding, but the shiver going up his spine isn't just because of the cool morning breeze, and he knows it.
* // *
"Well done," Castiel's voice echoes softly from the shadows, and Dean has to mask his body's reflex to jump with a deliberate pivot and a sweep of his arm.
"And of course you were here the whole time," Dean comments as Castiel moves into a sliver of light, out from behind one of the temple's massive pillars.
"I am the one who told him where to find you," Castiel explains, his eyes flickering over Dean’s body without quite landing anywhere.
He's jealous. The thought hits Dean without real surprise. He's always sensed the man's attraction to him. It's something he's fairly accustomed to from just about everyone he meets, male and female.
"I did not foresee just how quickly Samson would fall for you," Castiel frowns. "Of course, his reputation precedes him. It's well known that he enjoys the charms of pretty boys. Girls, too. It's a weakness. But I expected that it would take a little more effort on your part. Nevertheless..."
"Cas," Dean interrupts irritably. "What's your point?"
"My point is that you must find the source of his strength," Castiel explains, finally letting his eyes meet Dean's. "We need to know how to defeat him."
A memory of Sam's long soft hair slipping through Dean's fingers rips through Dean's mind like a sword.
"If you can discover his secret, we can capture him. Without their leader, his people will be easily defeated. Life can resume normally again," Castiel concludes.
"Normal," Dean breathes. "So that's what our lives were, before."
"Dean, surely you see how destructive these rebels are," Castiel insists. "Even now they are burning our homes, destroying our harvest, defiling our shrines. They must be stopped."
"Funny how slavery does that to a person," Dean comments dryly. "You'd think they'd be more grateful."
"Yes. Just so," Castiel nods, obviously missing the irony in Dean's tone. "We fed them, provided shelter, allowed them to participate in the harvest they helped to reap..."
"And kindly allow them to return to slavery when they finally give up their crazy rebellion," Dean finishes. "How forgiving of us."
"Well, the instigators will be punished, of course," Castiel reminds him. "Samson particularly. He will be made an example of so that his people will not attempt such a foolish uprising ever again."
"Of course," Dean nods, feigning agreement while his thoughts are racing wildly. Maybe he can convince Sam to leave. Maybe they can leave together. Maybe Sam would agree to turning over the rebellion to his second lieutenant, the one with the shrewd smile who caught the look between Sam and Dean last night.
Whether he succeeds or not, Dean knows he has to try.
** // **
Dean spends the rest of the day in a fevered agony of want and frustration, of worry and anxiety and even sheer panic at times. He goes about his duties in the temple without thinking clearly, his body on autopilot as his mind works the problem of how to save Sam, how to protect him. In the heat of the afternoon he returns to his dwelling, a little sod-and-thatch one-room house at the top of the valley. It's built into the side of the hill, so that it stays dark and cool inside most of the day, so that Dean can sleep for a few hours before his evening duties begin.
Castiel has provided a jug of wine, some olives and figs, even a loaf of unleavened bread and olive oil for later, when Sam arrives. Dean suspects the wine is drugged, but he doesn't ask. He's so agitated he's not sure he can sleep, but when he stretches out on his pallet on the floor, sleep finds him almost instantly.
He dreams of Sam, looking young and beautiful, long messy hair flopping over his forehead and ears, brushing the collar of his jacket. They're sitting in a strange box made of glass and metal; the box smells of oil and leather, and Dean's hands are holding a leather-covered wheel, his foot is pushing some kind of pedal. Dean has the impression of movement, of momentum, outside the box; he can feel the vibration and hear the rumble of the box all around them. He's aware of Sam watching him, but Dean's gaze is focused straight out in front of him, through the glass, at a strange black road with two cold-white lamps to light the way. They're moving, he realizes, faster than any cart or wagon, so fast that he needs to keep his eyes on the road to make sure they don't veer off of it.
He risks a glance at Sam, catches him looking away, catches his shy dimpled smile and the rosy color in his tanned cheeks. Warmth floods his system and his cock hardens. He wants to slide one hand over the smooth seat and onto Sam's thigh, wants to push his fingers down between Sam's long legs and feel the heat there.
Then the scene changes. He's in the temple, in the great hall, packed with people. All of the priests are there, and the High Council; in fact, all of the Philistine leaders and important people, as well as their families, are crowded into the room. Some of the Hebrews are present too, huddled in a frightened mass, chained together and surrounded by guards. There's a feeling of expectation in the air, of anticipation, and Dean knows instinctively that they're waiting for a sacrifice. An execution.
The crowd parts as a young boy guides a blind, nearly naked man into the center of the room, near the altar, and Dean sucks in a breath. It's Sam, his head shorn, his body covered with old yellowing bruises and cuts that have mostly healed, wounds made at least a week ago. The crowd jeers and hisses, yelling insults at the helpless, captive former hero before Castiel raises his hand for silence. Dean understands that Samson is to be sacrificed, that his death will be an example to the gathered Hebrews, who will be expected to spread the word to their fellow slaves: The hero is dead; the rebellion has been quelled. Allow yourselves to be re-enslaved or face Samson's fate.
Then an odd thing happens. Samson turns his blind, sightless eyes on Dean, and Dean could swear he sees him. Sam's eyes are clear and his gaze is steady, and Dean stares back, mesmerized and immobile; Castiel is still speaking, so Dean feels certain no one notices when Sam's lips form words meant only for Dean.
Dean has the impression that Sam is praying, that he isn't really looking at Dean at all, but when Sam finally lowers his eyes, whispers something to the boy, Dean is bereft, clinging to the wild belief that Sam could see him, that Sam was looking right at him and could see only Dean.
The boy leads Sam to a pillar next to the altar, puts his hands against the stone. Dean watches as Sam's bound hands explore the surface of the pillar, as if feeling for a crack or some imperfection he expects to be there. Dean watches the muscles in Sam's broad back flex for a moment; he stares at the tufts of short dark hair covering Sam's head and mourns the long, silky locks. Dean knows they would've cut Sam's hair as part of his humiliation when he was captured.
Suddenly, Dean feels a low rumble, coming from under his feet and far away, and at first he thinks he's back in that other vision, the one where he and Sam are in the glass-and-metal cart. Then the rumbling grows, making the ground shake, and people start noticing, looking around, worried and anxious. Dean glances at Samson, but his back is still to Dean, his muscles flexing and relaxing as he slides his hands over the pillar, and Dean has the sudden crazy thought that it's Sam. Sam's doing this.
Then the vibration becomes stronger and the floor buckles. Someone screams, then everyone starts screaming because there are stones falling from the roof and hitting people. The floor is heaving and the whole place is shaking, coming apart. Through it all Sam remains calm, braced against the central pillar, and now Dean knows he's doing it, knows that by some miracle Sam's strength has grown exponentially, that he's destroying the entire temple and everyone in it, himself included.
The word is torn from Dean's throat as chaos reigns, as people try to run, pushing and stumbling over each other in their effort to flee, as the air becomes full of dust and the sound of rumbling earth and crashing stones and the screams of terror and pain fill Dean's ears. He thinks maybe he sees Sam turn his head, like he can hear Dean over the noise, and Dean gets one more glimpse of his proud, handsome profile before something hits him, hard, and he wakes up with a gasp.
* // *
When Sam arrives over an hour later, Dean has himself mostly under control. His initial panic attack after waking from the catastrophic vision has subsided, and his racing thoughts and wild desire to grab Sam and run for their lives has settled into a calmer, more rational determination to find a way to convince Sam to leave. Right the fuck now.
Sam's got other ideas.
"Leave?" He stares at Dean like he's suddenly grown horns or something. "What are you talking about? I just got here."
The bastard is flush with victory, pumped full of adrenaline; he lumbers into the clearing in front of Dean's house like some kind of hybrid eagle and bear creature, recently-scrubbed skin positively glowing. His dimpled grin is triumphant and confident as he sweeps Dean into his embrace, and Dean has to raise his chin so that his face isn't smothered in the crook of Sam's overheated neck. He's grateful for the darkness and the relative seclusion of his dwelling, but the prickling sensation on the back of his head tells him they're being watched, so he repeats his plea for Sam to flee as quietly and calmly as he can.
Sam pulls back just enough to look down into Dean's face, cupping Dean's cheek with one huge hand while he holds Dean's body tightly with the other tree-trunk he calls an arm.
"Couldn't stop thinking about you," Sam breathes as his eyes flicker over Dean's face. "All day. You're even more beautiful than I remembered."
"Sam..." Dean starts to protest, needs Sam to focus, damn it, but Sam's got other ideas and suddenly his mouth is on Dean's, shutting him up, taking his breath away, holding Dean's face so he can control the kiss.
And Dean is just boneless putty in those strong arms, consumed by lust so powerful it makes him dizzy, banishes all rational thought from his mind, so that he's not even aware as Sam gathers him up like a child, carries him easily into his own house, lays him out on his bed, mouth never leaving Dean's. Dean can feels Sam's hands untying his robe, pushing aside the material as he caresses Dean's body, still kissing his mouth, plunging his tongue against Dean's, then pulling back to suck on his lips, nipping lightly before plunging his tongue inside again with a deep moan. When Dean feels cool air on his abdomen he knows he's naked, and Sam pulls back to look, gazing down at Dean's body with dark, lust-blown eyes. Dean knows what he looks like, spreads his legs and stretches his arms over his head to give Sam the full effect, undulates his hips a little so that his erection bobs against his belly.
"So perfect," Sam breathes, reaching down to run his fingertips lightly over the inside of Dean's thighs, making Dean close his eyes, arch up toward the touch, needing more. "Like you were made just for me."
"Shut up and fuck me," Dean demands, and Sam does, none too gently, responding to Dean's urgent pleas with a rough urgency of his own, as if time was running out for them, as if it would all be over too soon.
When they're both sated and lying wrapped around each other in their post-orgasmic haze, when Dean's watching the lamplight flicker over Sam's tan, sweat-slick skin while he draws idle circles around Sam's peaked nipples, Dean tells Sam about his latest vision.
"You have to leave," Dean finishes, propped up on one arm so he can convey his seriousness to Sam, eye to eye. "You have to go now."
Sam runs his thumb along Dean's cheekbone, smiles fondly, entirely too relaxed for his own good, in Dean's opinion.
"Running isn't really an option," he says softly. "My people have lived here for two generations now. They belong here as much as the Philistines do. This is their home too."
Dean shakes his head sharply. "If you stay, you'll die," he says. "My vision was clear on that point."
"Sounds like I get to destroy my enemies in the process," Sam notes. "There's worse ways to go, I have to say."
Dean feels tears smarting at the backs of his eyes, shakes his head again sharply to control them. "I can't lose you," he says, the words choked off as a sob tears from his throat. He brushes angrily at his leaking eyes with the back of his hand.
"Hey, hey," Sam soothes, cupping Dean's cheek with his huge hand, wiping Dean's tears with his long thumb. "We'll be together again. Remember? You saw it, same as me. Another life, another place. God has plans for us, even if our time together here is brief. We'll get another chance. Meanwhile, we've got tonight."
Dean huffs out a breath, blinking away more tears. "Why does everything you’re saying sound like the lyrics to a bad pop song?" He can almost hear the singer's scratchy, soulful voice in his mind as Sam's smile broadens, dimples and teeth filling Dean's vision as Sam's fingers curl around the back of his neck, pulling his face down so he can reach Dean's lips.
They don't speak again except for incoherent ramblings and punched-out curses; Dean feels consumed by Sam, rubbed raw, Sam's essence seeping into every crack and crevice of his mind and soul and body. Dean's heart is filled with sorrow, with the haunting sense of impending separation from something he shouldn't crave so badly, shouldn't need so much. His mind can't comprehend the depth of his passion for Sam; it makes no rational sense to love someone so much, especially someone he barely knows, someone he only met twenty-four hours ago. He misses Sam already, dreads their separation with a grief that feels almost physical, like part of his heart is being cut out of him even as he's still got Sam in his arms.
When Sam finally falls asleep, sated and exhausted from their love-making, Dean lies awake beside him, watching his chest rise and fall as he sleeps, watching his eyelids flutter as he dreams.
This is it, Dean thinks. This is all we get. Within a week, we'll both be dead.
He's not sure about that timeline, which is his only hope now that Sam's refused to run. Maybe it'll be longer, until that scene in the temple. Maybe they'll have more nights together first.
But Dean knows that's just wishful thinking. He knows it like he knows Sam will be captured when he leaves here, that in some way Dean can't foresee, Sam's legendary strength will be magically stripped from him this night, enabling his enemies to overwhelm him. Sam's defeat will be seen as punishment for his lust, for allowing Dean to seduce him, for giving in to his weakness. No one will ever understand that what happened between Sam and Dean was nothing short of a miracle, the coming together of two ancient souls who are destined for each other throughout time. Dean will be vilified for bringing down a great hero, and all history will remember of their story will be lust and greed, sin and bloody, destructive atonement.
Dean knows all this as if he's reading it in a book, as if it's already been written, which of course it has. That's how oracles work, as he well knows. Doesn't make it any easier, especially when it's so personal.
A strand of hair has fallen across Sam's cheek, and Dean reaches out, pushes it gently back, lets his fingers linger, tangling in the soft locks of hair, careful not to wake Sam. He's distracted by Sam's hair, and not for the first time; it suddenly occurs to him that if he cut off a single lock of hair, he could carry a piece of Sam with him, always. Or at least as long as their lives lasted. Until the end.
It only takes a few seconds for Dean to draw his knife, slip the sharp edge through the soft lock of hair so that it falls away into his waiting palm.
A single clap of thunder shakes the house, and the lamps flicker, as if an unseen spirit moved through the little room, or maybe just a breeze from the suddenly compressed air outside, as a storm moves in. Sam's eyes fly open; he glances first at Dean, then at the knife still hovering next to his cheek, and lastly at the piece of hair in Dean's hand.
"What have you done?" he whispers, his eyes widening as he struggles to sit up, falls back on the pallet again as if he's too weak to get up. Dean reaches out, meaning to help, intending to try to support Sam, who is struggling to sit up again, muscles rippling and straining with exertion. He manages to climb to his feet, trembling and sweating, leaning heavily on Dean while trying to push away from him at the same time.
"What did you do?" Sam gasps, staggering toward the door, a wild look in his eyes.
"I don't know," Dean shakes his head, utterly confounded by Sam's obvious distress and sudden weakness. Is he ill? Did he drink the poisoned wine when Dean wasn't looking? What's happening here?
Then the door flies open and all hell breaks loose. The storm is raging outside, so that at first Dean thinks the wind has blown open the door. Sam is still staggering forward, trying to make it through, to get outside, where another loud clap of thunder follows a flash of lightening so bright it momentarily blinds Dean.
Then he sees them, just outside the door. A large group of soldiers, swords drawn, hesitating only a moment as Sam staggers through the door, falls to his knees at their feet. The next minute they grab his arms, yank him to his feet as they realize how weak he is, starting to bind him roughly.
"No!" Dean throws himself against the first soldier, determined to stop them, armed only with his knife. He feels his blade sink deep into the man's side, feels the blood run down his arm as the soldier cries out, lets Sam go so he can turn toward Dean, eyes flashing as he raises his sword.
Dean never had a chance, he realizes as the cold steel pierces his shoulder and sharp, searing pain floods his reality. He hears Sam bellow, "Dean! No!" in a wild protesting shout. He hopes they've got him turned away so Sam can't see as a voice growls, "Kill the whore!" as another blade slices into his chest, then another into his back. He sees Castiel standing off to the side, watching with horrified fascination as Dean falls to his knees in the mud, slick and warm with his own blood. Samson's chief advisor, the short, older man known as Metatron, stands beside Castiel, the smug, triumphant look of a traitor in his eyes. Sam never had a chance, Dean thinks dully; he was always going to be betrayed by those closest to him. By me. I failed him. I was supposed to keep him safe, and I failed...
Sam's screaming now, bellowing his protests like a wounded animal, full of fury and frustration. Dean's vaguely aware of another blade slicing into him, then another, till he's too weak and wracked with pain to stay upright; as he falls forward into the mud he sees the soldiers slicing off Sam's hair, holding him upright, head yanked back by his hair, blood running down his cheeks from his empty eye sockets.
His eyes, Dean sobs inside his head as consciousness flickers and falls away. They cut out his beautiful eyes.
In the moment before the last spark of life leaves him, Dean’s visions return to him. He hears the distant rumbling of the temple as it collapses, hears the screams and moans of the dying. He feels the rumble of the glass-and-metal box under him, catches a glimpse of Sam's blushing profile in his peripheral vision. He hears thunder and feels the cold rain on his face. He sees his own hand, palm open to reveal a single lock of dark brown hair, wet and clinging to his skin in the pouring rain, and he knows.
The end is only the beginning.