In the morning Sam opened his eyes to something he thought he might never see again. Dean was sitting on the other bed, fully dressed and scrubbed, pulling his boots on. The dream still playing at the edges of Sam's consciousness vanished in the face of reality, and he knew he had been dreaming of Dean, his unconscious mind still not quite caught up with the fact that Dean was really here.
"Rise and shine, princess," Dean grinned, his smile so warm and familiar it made Sam blush with pleasure, made his morning wood stiffen uncomfortably.
"Oh God," Sam moaned, turned away from Dean, putting the pillow over his head and curling up on his side to give his dick another stern talking-to.
"Goin' for coffee," Dean announced. "Be back in ten. That give you enough me-time, college boy?"
Oh my God, Sam thought in a panic. He noticed.
Of course he noticed. Sam was lying on his back, thin sheet barely covering him, probably making sounds in his sleep since he was dreaming about his brother...
This was never going to work.
And how could Dean tease him about it? What kind of asshole does that?
The kind of asshole who hopes he can trust his brother not to cross that line, ever again, Sam answered himself. The kind of asshole who wanted his brother to see how he gets it, that he knows it's not gonna be easy, that they'll probably both be jerking off to thoughts of the other one for a while, until they both learned to get it under control, or maybe just until they both learned to live with it somehow. All that unresolved sexual tension boiling right under the surface, keeping them both on edge. Maybe they could learn to use that energy, to let it make them better hunters, Sam thought doubtfully.
If it didn't kill them first.
Sam was up and dressed, shaved and scrubbed and sitting at the room's little desk with his laptop open by the time Dean got back with the coffee nearly thirty minutes later. Thinks he's being considerate, the jerk, Sam thought as he caught Dean's eye, saw the smirk there as Dean handed him the coffee, letting his fingers brush Sam's deliberately.
"Thanks," Sam glared as he grabbed the cup, staring fiercely into the computer screen and ignoring Dean's broad smile.
"You're welcome," Dean answered cheerfully, pulling up the other chair next to Sam and leaning forward so that their arms brushed distractedly. "What'cha got?"
Sam took a sip of his coffee, willing his body to relax despite Dean's proximity. He could do this. "Animal deaths, cattle mostly," he answered, keeping his eyes on the screen. "Fifteen head in one herd alone."
Dean whistled, the air brushing past Sam's cheek as Dean leaned closer. "That's a pretty big number. Usually chupacabra pick off one or two at a time, don't they?"
Sam shrugged. "Yeah. Looks like this one's extra hungry," he noted. Dean's heat was all around him now, his chest almost pressed against Sam's back, his face so close beside Sam's that Sam didn't dare move; he caught a glimpse of Dean's profile in his peripheral vision – the full lips, straight nose, long eyelashes – and almost dropped his coffee. Then Dean put his hand over Sam's on the keyboard and Sam snatched his hand away, closed his eyes as he fought to control the sudden pounding of his heart, his body reacting of its own volition to Dean's closeness.
"What?" Dean seemed to realize how close he was for the first time as he tapped the "back" key on the keyboard, pretending he just wanted to take a closer look at the previous page, the bastard.
"Dude, do you mind?" Sam protested, hating that his voice came out slightly breathless. "Personal space here?"
Dean grinned, pressed his body deliberately against Sam for a brief moment before sitting back, putting his hands up in surrender. Feigning innocence, the jerk. Sam shook his head and frowned irritably. Really, if Dean was going to be difficult about this, it was only going to make things harder for them. Not harder. Wrong word-choice...
"I need to take a walk," Sam announced, scooting his chair back and lurching to his feet. "I'll meet you at the diner." He grabbed his jacket off the bed and stalked out the door before Dean could protest, deliberately not looking at him, not seeing the infuriating smirk on his handsome face.
By the time Sam got to the diner he had himself under control again. He could take the teasing, he decided. It was familiar. Dean did it to him when he was young, when he first realized how desperately in love he was but was sure Dean didn't feel the same so he hid it as well as he could. But of course Dean could tell, of course Dean caught the little sideways glances and blushes and lip-biting desperation on Sam's face. Things had gone on like that for at least two years before Dean finally admitted to feeling the same way. And that never would've happened if they hadn't had the run-in with that demon in Bobby Singer's basement. The evil thing that could read Dean's heart like a book, dared Dean to deny wanting Sam as badly as Sam wanted Dean.
So Dean now reverting to their former relationship, before the event that sent them down the path that turned out to be incestuous, made a kind of sick sense to Sam. It really did. In fact, Sam guessed that things would be exactly this way for them, if that demon hadn't shown up and "clarified" things between them. They would've gone on just as they were before that, with Sam pining for Dean and Dean teasing him about it. Which was obviously the way Dean wanted it to be, a way that made him feel comfortable with Sam again. And Sam decided he was okay with that, as irritating as it was to feel like a love-sick fourteen-year-old again. Sam was okay with it for Dean's sake, and that was all there was to it.
At the diner, Dean bumped knees with Sam under the table more than was necessary, in Sam's opinion. He grinned wolfishly when Sam complained about it, teasing Sam that his legs were freakishly long, that he'd turned into a goddamn giraffe since Dean had last tried to share a table with him. He flirted shamelessly with the waitress, which felt unnecessarily cruel to Sam, except that he understood Dean wasn't doing it to be cruel. He was doing it because he needed the new-normal it represented. Dean needed the pretense of macho posturing to prove to himself as well as to Sam that he had his sexuality under control again. Dean Winchester wasn't letting some mystical soul-bonding crap manipulate him into committing incest, ever again. He might feel that bond as powerfully as Sam, but he wasn't ever acting on it again. Who he was and how he acted had become separated in Dean's mind once again, and in future Dean's sexual actions would all be focused on the opposite sex. Period.
As long as none of the women he flirted with turned out to be his sister, he was good.
Sam was working through this line of thought in his head, making excuses for Dean so that it didn't hurt so much, so that Sam could keep the green devil of jealousy at bay. He was so preoccupied that he almost didn't hear it when Dean announced that he'd talked to Missouri Moseley.
"You what?" Sam almost choked on his yogurt.
"Yeah," Dean nodded, spearing his pancake with his fork. "About a month ago. We were in the neighborhood, checking out a possible vengeful spirit case on a farm near Lawrence, so we swung by."
"Wait, you were with Dad?" Sam asked.
Dean shook his head. "Bobby," he corrected. "I wanted Bobby to meet her. And I kinda needed her to confirm a hunch I had."
"What hunch?" Sam frowned. He was suddenly terrified of what Missouri might have told Dean, terrified that Dean would find out about all of Sam's late-night phone calls to her during those first few months after he left, when he was desperate to find out if there was some way to set Dean free, psychically as well as physically, desperate to know if the soul-bonding could be reversed.
Dean stirred his black coffee thoughtfully for a moment before answering, lifting his eyes to stare out the window, not looking at Sam when he answered. "I needed to know if the dreams I was having were visions," he said.
Sam could feel his insides give way, drop all the way through the floor. "What?" he stared, beyond flabbergasted. "You're having visions? Since when?"
"Since right after you left," Dean said, finally turning to look at Sam, green eyes bright and intent. Sam stared back, drowning for a moment in Dean's gaze, unable to form a coherent thought in the face of Dean's direct confession.
"Seems your leaving triggered some kind of dormant psychic reaction," Dean went on, the skin around his eyes tightening infinitesimally, so that Sam felt accused, like he was responsible for this most horrible of possible happenstances. "That's what Missouri called it, anyway. As far as I'm concerned, they're just weird-ass waking dreams."
"What – " Sam stammered, swallowed, tried again. "What are they about?"
"You," Dean shrugged. "Freak." He gave Sam such a triumphant little smirk it took the sting right out of the old hated moniker, turned it into a term of endearment that only Dean could utter with impunity.
"What about me?" Sam prompted, tamping down on his inner panic attack. He'd always known Dean had psychic ability – Missouri had told him so years ago, when they first met. But to hear him talk about it with a kind of angry acceptance, finding out that it had been happening for some time and Dean had been dealing with it – alone – was almost more than Sam could handle.
Visions. About me. What the fuck?
Dean looked down at his coffee cup, then glanced up and aimed a smile over Sam's right shoulder. Suddenly the waitress was there to refill their cups, and Sam couldn't help the little shiver that went up his spine, wondering for the first time in his life what it might actually mean if Dean had psychic abilities. What those abilities might involve. How they might manifest.
And as if Dean knew exactly how freaked out Sam was feeling, he looked up again, catching Sam's eye, making his breath stick in his throat.
"The one I kept having was you looking older," he said finally, turning the coffee cup between his hands, thumbing the lip of the cup almost idly, like this was no big deal, like he hadn't just admitted to Sam that he was as big a freak as Sam. "All pumped up, muscles everywhere like you were training to try out for the next Terminator movie."
Sam leaned forward a little, trying to imagine where this was going. He'd been working out, there was no way to deny that; having free access to the gym on campus, plus needing the physical outlet like it was a kind of drug, helping him to keep his mind off missing Dean by pumping himself full of natural endorphins – yeah, he could see that. He'd been doing that.
Dean looked down at his cup again. "In the vision, or whatever, I wasn't there. We were separated, and you were...You seemed pretty broken up, Sam. Like you'd been living without me for a while and you weren't happy."
Sam nodded. "I missed you, man," he admitted, embarrassed at how easily the tears smarted in the back of his eyes, ready to spill forth.
"Well, this was the future, I'm pretty sure," Dean said, licking his lips. "I got the feeling something had happened, something – something bad, Sammy. It wasn't just you leaving this time. It was me."
Sam stared, blinking back the tears that still threatened to spill from his eyes, struggling to understand. "You had a vision of our future?" he asked, shaking his head in confusion. "You're sure?"
"Pretty sure, yeah," Dean nodded, leaving it at that, daring Sam to contradict him.
"So you left, and I was alone," Sam suggested.
Dean shook his head, smirking. "Not alone," he said. "You had some girl with you. A girl with long dark hair. Pretty."
"What?" Sam frowned. "That doesn't make sense. I'm gay, Dean, in case you hadn't noticed..."
Dean raised his eyebrows, let his smirk turn into a broader smile, nodding. "I guess I always figured," he let his gaze fall back to his coffee cup, and Sam watched, trying and failing not to let himself get lost in Dean's expressive face, the lips and the eyelashes and the whole effect just taking his breath away again. "You and that roommate of yours finally sealed the deal, didn't you?"
"Oh my God, Dean!" Sam sat up straight, huffing out an incredulous breath. "Please tell me you didn't have a vision about that!"
Dean grinned, and it was almost bashful; he couldn't quite bring himself to look Sam in the eye. "Nah," he shook his head. "Just a hunch."
"Fuck!" Sam squirmed, desperately uncomfortable, finding it suddenly almost impossible to think straight. "You can't – wait, please tell me you can't – you're not suddenly reading minds, are you?"
Dean looked up again, and Sam could see the haunted look there, the freaked-out Dean he remembered from before, when Sam first revealed his own psychic abilities. That Dean had never imagined having abilities of his own, had freaked almost to the point of running away when Sam revealed Missouri's insight, that Sam wasn't the only Winchester with a supernatural power.
"Hell no," Dean exhorted, huffing out a mirthless laugh. "What, you think these freaky visions aren't bad enough?"
"No, that's not what I mean," Sam backtracked, struggling to find a way to express what he needed to say. "It's just, Missouri told me you were blocking me, when I tried to read you, and I was afraid – I thought maybe you could – maybe you could read my mind, even though I can't read yours. She thought maybe your power was even stronger than mine, maybe because it was so latent."
"You do realize you're being an unbelievable asshole right now," Dean said, leaning forward over his coffee. "You're telling me stuff you never bothered to say before. You do get that, right?"
Sam sat back in his seat, breathing hard, fighting down the panic attack threatening to consume him. "I never lied to you, Dean," Sam said, keeping his voice low and intense. "Missouri told me she wasn't sure you'd ever manifest. She told me – " Sam paused, not wanting to repeat what Missouri had told him about Dean, afraid Dean would take it the wrong way.
"What, Sam?" Dean glared, obviously not taking Sam's words the right way at all. "What the hell did she say?"
Sam took a deep breath, let it out, shifting his gaze around the diner desperately, looking for some way to avoid the inevitable.
"Sam?" Dean leaned across the table, growled almost directly into his face. "What the hell did she say?"
Sam lifted his eyes to the ceiling, huffed out another breath, and squared his shoulders. Okay, then. Time to get it all out there, no matter the consequences. "She said – she said you break easier than I do," Sam said in a rush, heart pounding and palms sweating. "She said I had to be careful not to hurt you."
"Oh yeah?" Dean glared. "Or what, Sam? Or I might start having visions of you possessed by a demon and killing people? Is that what she told you?"
"What?" Sam felt his eyes widen in shock. "Is that what you saw in your vision?"
Dean deflated then, lowering his eyes and leaning back against the seat, a shuttered, unhappy look crossing his face as he looked away, then down at his coffee again.
"Dean?" Sam demanded, ice water flooding his veins. "You saw me possessed by a demon? Killing?"
Dean shifted uncomfortably on his seat, clenching and unclenching his jaw, gaze fixed stubbornly on his coffee cup.
"Dean?" Sam barked, shaking now. "It is, isn't it? That's what you saw."
Dean lifted his eyebrows, glanced up at Sam, lowered his eyes again and nodded. His shoulders slumped in defeat and he seemed smaller suddenly, diminished. "Yeah," he admitted, voice low and soft. "That's what I saw."
Sam took a deep breath, let it out slow, nodding to himself, hating how familiar Dean's words sounded, how right. There was something wrong with him, he'd always known it. Finding out he was going to turn into something evil was much less surprising than it probably should be. Pieces to the puzzle of his life were suddenly falling into place; why Yellow-Eyes had kidnapped him that night, why the demons seemed to favor him, kept trying to find him. All the testing, then the special training when he was young, before the Winchesters rescued him.
"I think I always knew," Sam said quietly, fighting back the tears stinging his eyes as he stared blindly out the window. "The demons have always had plans for me."
"Yeah, well it ain't happening on my watch," Dean growled, and Sam glanced at him. Dean's jaw was clenched stubbornly, his hands around his coffee cup gripping so tight the knuckles were white.
Sam huffed out a bitter breath. "Dean, those are visions, not fantasies. You're catching glimpses of things that will happen in the future."
Dean shook his head firmly. "Not while I'm around," he insisted. "Those things happen because I'm gone. So I came back. I'm here. Not goin' anywhere."
"Dean," Sam breathed out a long sigh. "You can't change the future."
"Missouri says I can," Dean insisted. "She says the future hasn't been written yet."
"Well, she's wrong," Sam shook his head slowly. "Everything I've read about fate and destiny, visions and prophecies – all of those things that foretell the future – that's real. It's possible to see the future because it's already happened. Everything is already laid out for us. We're just living our lives the way we were meant to. What you're seeing with your visions is what's already happened, just like the past. It's all running concurrently. It all exists simultaneously. You can't change the future any more than you can change the past."
"Missouri thinks maybe we can," Dean said again. "She says some people are special. Unpredictable. They don't follow the normal path. Things happen around them that can't be known ahead of time. They're uncontrollable."
"That's crazy," Sam frowned, trying to ignore the little spark of hope that lit up in his chest at Dean's words, at the determination in Dean's face.
Then Dean broke the moment with a cocky grin and the sun came out from behind a cloud outside, so perfectly timed it made Sam jump, spooked. "Well I don't know about you, but I'm taking crazy and unpredictable any day over evil killing machine and dark, unhappy Sammy." Dean pulled some bills from his wallet, tucking them under his plate as he slid off the seat. "I say we get out there and show the world what the Winchesters are made of, what d'ya say? Time to raise a little hell, eh, Sammy?"
In the car, Sam brooded. He knew he was brooding because Dean slapped his knee after a few minutes on the road.
"Come on, little brother, snap out of it," Dean chastised. "It's not that bad. Like I told you, nothing bad can happen to you as long as I'm around, and I'm here now. We're stronger together."
Sam winced, shook his head. The sense of foreboding, of something evil coming for him, had never been stronger. Yet he wanted to believe Dean, wanted to trust what Missouri had told him.
"How come she told you all that stuff?" he asked. "She never said anything to me about being special people who could buck the future."
Dean shrugged. "Maybe she likes me more," he teased, then shook his head, serious again. "I don't know. She seemed to be able to read my mind, sense things from me when I was right there in front of her. Not sure she can do that over the phone."
"Yeah, that makes sense," Sam agreed reluctantly.
"She said it has to do with us being soul-bonded," Dean revealed. "And siblings. She seemed surprised about that, like she didn't know."
"She didn't," Sam said. "Until I called and told her last fall, she didn't know we were brothers."
"Maybe because we didn't know ourselves," Dean suggested.
I knew,. Sam thought grimly. I always knew.
"Maybe," Sam muttered, unconvinced. He was starting to doubt Missouri's ability to assess their situation after all. If she'd missed their being brothers...But of course the soul-bond was so much more profound than a mere sibling connection. Maybe it canceled out or precluded the genetics somehow.
"Listen, Sam," Dean glanced over at his brother. "I only told you because I thought you should know, y'know? Because I don't want us to have any secrets, going forward. Everything needs to be upfront with us from now on, ya got me? We need to be able to trust each other if we're gonna work together."
Sam thought about that for a moment, wondered if being in love with Dean counted as a secret. Probably not. “Okay," he agreed. "That makes sense."
"So I don't want you getting all down on yourself over those visions of mine, ya got me?" Dean continued. "I need your head in the game."
"Are you still having them?" Sam asked. "The visions, I mean. Have you had any recently?"
"Not since I decided to come get you," Dean smirked. "See? I'm already changing the future."
"Maybe," Sam grumbled, still unconvinced. But even he had to agree that was an improvement over Dean envisioning Sam possessed and killing people. That was so wrong Sam didn't even know where to start.
The hunt didn't go exactly as planned. Turned out there was more than one chupacabra, and Sam was totally unprepared for that because who knew the damn things sometimes lived and hunted in packs? Sam and Dean found themselves surrounded at a certain point, ended up taking down five of the spiny-backed monsters, then trapping and killing the last one before it could get away.
After digging a shallow pit and burning the bodies, Sam and Dean staggered back to their motel, dirty, exhausted, and covered with nasty teeth and claw-marks. They took turns stitching each other up, adrenaline still flooding their veins, ignoring each other's nakedness as they focused on checking each other over for wounds and breaks. Sam was able to manage the cut on his thigh and the one on his shoulder without help, but the gash across his back needed stitches, he could feel it, and as soon as Dean took care of his own lacerations Sam felt Dean's strong, calloused hands on Sam's bare shoulders, holding him steady as Dean examined the wound.
"Gonna need some whiskey for this one," Dean murmured, voice low and so close to Sam's ear he could feel Dean's breath.
Sam handed the bottle to Dean over his shoulder and Dean chuckled softly.
"No, I mean, you'll need to drink it," Dean clarified. "And try to hold still. This is gonna hurt like a son-of-a-bitch."
Dean was careful and steady, as he always was, and Sam dealt with each new pinch of the needle, each new drag of the dental floss through his skin, with a minimum of grunting and gasping, but he was sweating and breathing hard by the end of it, when Dean finally covered the sutured wound with a clean bandage and patted his shoulder.
"You've earned the first shower, dude," Dean said. "Just don't get your back wet for a couple of days. You'll probably want to sleep on your stomach tonight."
Sam nodded, trying not to look up at Dean's naked chest as he brushed past him to go into the bathroom, failing miserably. The combination of the adrenaline and the booze was making Sam hornier than ever, despite his wounds and his aching muscles, and it was sheer agony being in the claustrophobic motel room with the man he loved yet couldn't touch, at least not the way he wanted. It was a constant itch under his skin, an ache that no amount of scrubbing in the shower could wash away or ease.
When he came out, mostly clean except for his back, Dean made him lie down on the bed on his stomach, clad only in his boxers, while Dean gently washed his back for him with a warm wash-cloth. No manner of self-talk could stop Sam's dick from responding to the sensuality of Dean's hands on him, even through the washcloth, especially when Dean kneaded his muscles with his bare hands after, giving Sam a massage to work out the tension, deliberately helping him relax so he could sleep, despite the pain.
"Jesus, Sam," Dean breathed when he started the massage. "You really bulked up since I saw you last. You trying to give me a complex? First you grow up over my head, now this?"
Sam chuckled fondly, eyes closed, the better to feel Dean's hands, to revel in the effect they were having. The combination of painkillers and whiskey and his recent shower, not to mention Dean's warm hands on his skin, were lulling Sam into a comforting, aroused sleepiness that felt better than it should, given how turned on it made him. He was torn between needing to rut against the bed to give his dick some friction, and needing to fall asleep.
He was probably already under by the time Dean finished; Sam was aware that he had started to snore, that Dean wasn't touching him anymore. Sam was so sleepy he barely felt Dean's lips press against his cheek, placing a gentle, barely-there kiss on the edge of his jaw. It felt so normal, so familiar, Sam didn't even register it happening, decided he had imagined it when he remembered it the next morning. And the fact that it happened when Dean thought Sam was asleep meant it really didn't count.
But it happened. Dean kissed him. No take-backs, Sam's mostly-unconscious mind provided smugly.
They spent a few days recovering in the motel, watching t.v., playing cards, searching the web for supernatural activity and another case possibility. Sam slept better than he had in almost a year, and he could tell Dean was sleeping better too; the dark circles under his eyes faded and his face stopped looking so gaunt and pale. He still wore the heavy leather coat everywhere, like a suit of armor in the summer heat, but he was eating again. Watching Dean eat had always been a guilty pleasure for Sam, but now it was an intense relief to watch Dean take an interest in food again, watch him begin to gain back some of the weight he'd lost in Sam's absence.
After a week of sleeping in the same room Sam began to see how this could work. Sure, he was still consumed with lust, still needed a cold shower and some me-time every morning, still had to fight his body's urges every night as he and Dean lay breathing in their separate beds. But it was bearable. Barely.
It helped knowing Dean was struggling too, that Sam wasn't the only one who craved something he could no longer have. Sometimes when Sam woke up in the night it was because he knew Dean had been staring at him in the dark, maybe even jerking off. When he heard the little tell-tale hitch in Dean's breath, Sam lay perfectly still, waiting to turn over until Dean was done, until he heard the rustle of the sheets that told him Dean was getting up to go to the bathroom to clean up. Sometimes Sam pretended to be asleep when Dean came back, but sometimes he lay watching Dean as he settled back into bed. Usually Dean ignored him, if he noticed at all, but one night he looked up, stared back at Sam, green eyes glittering and dark. Sam could feel the longing between them like it was something corporeal, something Sam could cut with a knife, and it made Sam's eyes sting with tears, made his throat close up so he had to swallow. Dean's eyes dropped to Sam's throat, catching the movement, then raised to meet his gaze again. They lay like that for at least a solid minute before Dean finally lowered his eyes, turned over so that his back was to Sam again. Sam stared at the back of Dean's neck, fighting tears, fighting the ache in his groin, wishing and hoping and praying that things would work out between them, that Dean wouldn't one day decide it was just too much and give up.
At the end of the week they found three more hunts, all vengeful spirits. The work was physical, dirty, and they relished it; Dean was building some muscle again, digging graves, swinging iron, getting the job done. It felt good. Made sense. They were helping people.
In August they took on another monster, a Black Dog this time, terrorizing residents of a small town built on an old Native American burial ground in Montana. Taking it down meant getting up close and personal, resulting in more injuries and another adrenaline-soaked aftermath, this time necessitating Sam's practically carrying Dean back to the car. The creature had ripped a pretty good chunk out of Dean's thigh, causing a ridiculous amount of bleeding. Dean refused to go to the hospital, so Sam did his best to wrap a makeshift tourniquet around it using his own shirt, getting Dean to lay down in the back seat with his leg elevated to try to slow the blood-flow on the drive back to the motel. Dean cursed and bitched the whole way, complaining about not being allowed to drive his own car, about being carried into the motel room, about Sam "fussing" over him as he tried to staunch the bleeding and get him stitched up.
"I can do it myself, Sam," Dean insisted after Sam had removed his boots, then managed to wrestle his tattered and bloodied jeans off him. The Black Dog had grabbed Dean by the ankle with one massive paw, sending him sprawling face-down into the dirt, then it sunk its teeth into the back of Dean's leg before Sam blew it away with silver buckshot and rock salt. Half-spirit, half-corporeal, the creature dissipated in a spray of guts and blood that mixed with Dean's, making Dean scream as the rancid liquid invaded his wound.
"No, you can't," Sam argued, struggling to roll Dean onto his stomach. "You have to let me do it, damn it. Why are you being such a baby about this?"
"Maybe if some giant ghost dog had just taken a bite outta you, you wouldn't be so eager to dance, Sam!"
"Just let me see it!"
"Get your hands off me! Ow! Damn it, Sammy!"
Dean was resisting so violently he was getting blood everywhere, so Sam gave up, took a step back, hands up in surrender.
"Okay, okay," he huffed. "Do it yourself then."
Dean was lying on one hip, hand over the still-bleeding wound, glaring helplessly up at Sam with tears running unnoticed down both cheeks. His right ankle was swelling badly, and there were scratches up and down both legs where the creature had pawed at him once it had him pinned. He looked so miserable and pathetic it made Sam feel twice as sorry for him; it seemed a little unfair that Sam had gotten away with barely a scratch this time. But Dean had offered to be the bait, even if he was regretting it now, and Sam didn't dare rub it in.
"I need to stop the bleeding, Dean," he tried again, gently, trying to look sympathetic. "It may need stitches, I just can't tell unless you let me see it."
Dean glared fiercely at him for another moment, then looked down at the wound, at his hand covered in blood which was now soaking through the towels Sam had tossed onto the bed in an attempt to protect the bedding, probably also soaked through. He was crying openly now, and Sam could tell it hurt like hell, but the mortification was apparently even worse. Nevertheless, Sam could see the moment Dean let reason trump embarrassment so that he could allow Sam to do what needed to be done.
"Fuck!" Dean groaned, flopping dramatically onto his stomach, taking his hand away so he could fold both arms over his head and sink his face into the pillow. "Go ahead."
The Black Dog had bitten Dean in the ass, which explained all the blood. Once Sam cut away Dean's briefs and carefully cleaned the wound, it was obvious that the damage wasn't that serious.
"It's just a flesh wound," Sam murmured as he examined the teeth marks on the formerly-perfect mound of smooth, pale skin. "Doesn't need stitches after all."
"Great," Dean muttered into his own arm, keeping his eyes closed and most of his face pressed into the pillow. "Just do what you have to, Sam."
Sam nodded, knowing Dean couldn't see him, and grabbed the pillow from the other bed. He gently lifted Dean's hips so he could slip the pillow underneath, elevating his ass just a little so that Sam could pull the skin around the wounds tight. He applied pressure, mopped up the blood until it started to slow, then sprayed antiseptic and dried the area as well as he could. By the time he bandaged the wounds Dean had mostly relaxed, in fact was breathing so deeply Sam was afraid he'd fallen asleep.
"Come on," Sam put his hand on Dean's shoulder, tugged. "Let's get you cleaned up and onto the other bed so you can sleep. I still need to wrap your ankle."
Dean obeyed without protest this time, letting Sam pull him up and strip off the rest of his bloodied clothes without comment. Dean kept his eyes almost closed as Sam wiped him off as best he could with a washcloth, then made him lie down his stomach on the other bed while Sam wrapped his ankle. The painkillers and whiskey were definitely having an effect, and by the time Sam had finished and pulled a sheet up over his lower half, Dean was snoring lightly. He would need a shower in the morning to get the blood out of his hair, but for now Sam decided it was best to let him sleep while Sam gathered the blood-covered towels and bedding into a pile and crammed them into huge plastic garbage bags to burn later. Then he stripped and showered, adding his own blood-soaked clothes to the trash bag, and finally collapsed onto the other bed, using the pillow he had shoved under Dean's hips earlier to cushion his head. He was out almost before he turned out the light.
Sometime in the night Sam woke up, strange voices skittering at the edge of his consciousness, whispering his name. He lay panting and sweating in the dark for a minute, concentrating but failing to recall any other words except his name, repeated over and over like a mantra. The voices were hissing, whispering, like they were afraid he could hear them, like they knew he probably would hear them if they spoke any louder. Sam strained to recall anything else, any sounds of rustling or movement, any indication that whatever was whispering was nearby. But the room was silent except for the low hum of the air-conditioner and Dean's soft snoring, and Sam's keen senses insisted there was nothing else in the room with them, nothing had been able to cross their salt lines.
Nevertheless, Sam knew what he heard. Something was coming for him, just as he had known it would.
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