The Long and Winding Road (amypond45) wrote,
The Long and Winding Road

Until the Morning Comes - PART THREE

When Sam got back, Jessica was sitting at the table with a bowl of soup, crying and taking nips from Dean's whiskey flask.

"I can't believe they're gone!" she sobbed, wiping her eyes on the dishtowel Dean handed her. "It all seems so unreal!"

Sam and Dean exchanged glances over her head; Dean looked tired, and his eyes were red-rimmed, like he'd been crying too.

All of Sam's earlier frustration faded away in the face of Dean's need.

"Hey, why don't you go up and get a little rest?" Sam suggested gently. "It should be warmer up there by now. I already put down the sleeping bags."

"Nah, I'm fine," Dean scoffed. "Just need a little coffee, is all."

"Dean, you're exhausted," Sam insisted. "How long has it been since you slept? Go. I'll keep watch."

Dean thought a minute, realized Sam was right, and folded Jessica's hand around his whiskey flask, patting it gently. "You can keep it warm for me," he told her kindly, and she nodded, smiling through her tears at him.

"Thanks," she swallowed and watched Dean climb the rough-hewn staircase to the second floor while Sam stoked the fire. He totally understood what Jessica felt when she looked at Dean, how hard it was to look away. It took practice, but Sam felt he was finally getting pretty good at almost ignoring his own obsession with his brother, and he felt fairly confident in his ability to hide it from other people.

Which is why it surprised him when Jessica said, "You and Dean seem so in tune with each other. If I didn't know you were brothers, I would never guess you were related."

Sam poked the fire, added another log as he shrugged. "I guess we don't look very much alike," he agreed. "He looks more like Mom, at least from the pictures I've seen of her. And I guess I probably look more like our dad."

Jessica got up and crossed the room, then slipped gracefully onto the ratty, afghan-draped couch, clutching the whiskey flask and dishtowel. She tucked one leg under her and stared thoughtfully into the fire.

"No, that's not it," she shook her head. "It's not your looks, although your parents must be drop-dead gorgeous to produce the two of you. It's the way you are around each other, like you're so aware of the other one. Even when you're not in the room, it's like you're still here, like you're a permanent part of him. He talked about you the whole time you were gone."

"He did, huh?" Sam smiled, scooting back on the braided rug until his back was against the couch, next to Jessica's leg. He felt Jessica's gentle touch in his hair, stroking, running the strands through her fingers, and he let himself be soothed, mesmerized by the fire.

"Hmmm," she murmured, obviously as mesmerized as he was. It was comforting, the warmth of the fire heating the room, banishing the chill coastal air. "I think he's a little in love with you."

Sam took a deep breath, let it out slow as he sagged against Jessica's leg, almost purring with pleasure as she combed her fingers through his hair, then scratched his scalp lightly, sending shivers up his spine. It felt ridiculously pleasant to be cared for, to hear Jessica confirm Dean's feelings, to sit here in front of the fire and let his thoughts wander. A waking vision of hard, muscled limbs dusted with freckles, moss-green eyes and soft full lips tilted in a secret smile meant only for Sam floated in front of Sam's minds-eye; he could almost see Dean's body spread out on soft blankets in front of the fire, the flickering flame coloring and warming his pale skin.

"I think you're in love with him, too," Jessica said, her voice sounding dream-like and far away, her speech slurred by drink. "I think that's why you couldn't get together with Brady."

She paused, and Sam could hear her taking another swig from the little flask. "Poor Brady. He never even had a chance, did he? And then he –" Her voice hitched and she sniffled; Sam could feel her body shift as she wiped her eyes and swallowed convulsively.

"It's like he got what he deserved for coming between you two," she almost whispered, as if she was afraid to speak too loudly, afraid she could make the words be true just by speaking them. "Cosmically, I mean. Like the universe means for you and Dean to be a couple, not just brothers. Something mythic, like Castor and Pollux. It's like your destiny or something."

Sam snorted. "Some destiny," he muttered. "Running for our lives with demons on our tails, getting our friends and their families possessed and killed..."

"Your friends love you, Sam," Jessica said, her voice oddly fierce, protective. "They die for you and sacrifice their families for you because they believe in you."

"How can they believe in us?" Sam shook his head. "We don't even believe in ourselves."

"You believe in each other," Jessica said firmly. "That's the thing." She took a long breath, shook her head a little, and Sam didn't have to turn around to look at her to know she was smiling. "I believe in you together. You two are like some kind of miracle of nature."

"More like a disaster from Hell," Sam muttered grimly, but Jessica's words comforted him, no matter how goofy they sounded. Part of him wanted to believe that there was a purpose behind all of the horrible things that had happened to him and Dean, and of course he wanted that purpose to be good.

It just didn't seem very likely, was all.

He turned to plant a kiss on Jessica's knee, then looked up at her with a grateful smile. "You remind me of another friend of ours, back in Lawrence," he said. "She says stuff like that, all full of love and hope. It's nice to hear."

Jessica smiled down at him, then reached out and pushed his hair back tenderly, tucking it behind his ear, letting the back of her hand trail down his cheek. Her smile was fond, eyes still shining with tears and drink.

"You are good, Sam Winchester," she said softly. "I just know it, with every fiber of my being. Dean, too. What you mean to each other, that's good, too. Don't let anything keep you apart. Not even yourselves."

Sam ducked his head, fiddled with a loose thread in the knee of Jessica's jeans. "Yeah, well, tell him that," Sam muttered morosely. "He's the one who wants us to be just brothers."

Jessica shook her head, took another sip from the flask and gazed glassy-eyed into the fire. Sam had the sudden impression of some ancient priestess or oracle as he looked up at Jessica's rapt expression. With her halo of golden curls she looked like a living painting of an angel, or maybe the Virgin Mary, ethereal and otherworldly, as if she was channeling something outside herself, or maybe just tapping into something deep inside.

"He'll come around," she said, and Sam was suddenly sure he would. "You just need to give him time. He thinks there's something evil inside him, that he's some kind of monster for loving you the way he does. But if you just hang in there, stay true and show him you'll never leave him, that you love even those darkest parts of him, he'll learn to trust you. Maybe even learn to trust himself."

"I don't know if I have that kind of patience," Sam admitted. "Sometimes I just want to shake him, or beat the shit out of him until he just admits it."

"There's nothing to admit," Jessica said. "He loves you. You know that, he knows that. He's terrified because he loves you so much he's willing to do terrible things to keep you with him. That's what haunts him. He thinks if he lets himself love you in every way, even the bad-dirty-wrong way, then he'll be giving free reign to that monster inside him. And once it gets out, there may be no stopping it."

Sam shivered, despite the warmth from the fire.

"I won't let that happen," he said with complete conviction. "Anyway, if either of us has a monster inside him, it's me. I'm the one the demon poisoned as a baby, then kidnapped to be raised by demons and monsters. I'm the one destined to become evil."

"That's just not true, Sam, or you would've turned by now," Jessica shook her head firmly. She was silent for a long moment, and Sam realized he'd just confessed his life story to her, giving away the darkest secrets of his past.

Now I'll have to kill you, he thought with a humorless laugh, the dark jest making his stomach roil, making his heart lurch in his chest. It was like he'd just cursed her, and he could feel himself begin to panic, wishing with everything he had that he could take it back.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you that," he hastened to say. "You don't deserve to know that. This is all new to you, and now you're finding out your best friend is a monster..."

"No, no, it's okay," Jessica insisted, shaking her head as if to clear it. "Dean told me about your mother. About how she died. I just didn't realize...I mean, I assumed you guys were raised together, by your dad."

"Part of the time, we were," Sam nodded. "When I was twelve, Dean and I ran into each other, totally by accident. He and John took me in and I grew up the rest of the way as a Winchester."

"You ran into each other by accident," Jessica repeated, clearly skeptical. "You realize what the chances of that are, right?"

"Yeah, I do," Sam nodded. "But it's what happened."

"But didn't they look for you? After you were kidnapped?"

"They thought I was dead," Sam explained. "They thought I died in the fire that night, with my mom."

"Oh," Jessica frowned, shook her head again. "Wow. So you were raised in foster care. How are you so well-adjusted?"

Sam shook his head. "It's complicated." He turned around and folded his arms over Jessica's leg, looking up at her helplessly, needing her to understand, needing her absolution, or at least her forgiveness, even though he didn't deserve it. "Look, Jess, I'm sorry to lay all this on you. My childhood is really fucked up, full of real-life monsters who were probably feeding me demon blood so they could fatten me up to become some kind of antichrist or something. Truth is, I'm a real-life child of the corn. My name might as well be Damien. And you did not deserve to know about any of this."

"Wow," Jessica breathed. "This is so outside anything they teach in Abnormal Psychology. And here I was thinking I was helping you, that I could help you. You must think I'm such a fool."

Sam flashed back to all the conversations they'd had over the months since Jessica had declared her double-major in Psychology and Art. She had plans to help children with autism disorders and other special needs by using art therapy, and Sam had been proud of her for her commitment as well as her obvious talents. Jessica was a natural, both as an artist and as an empathetic listener, and he just knew she would do good in the world one day. She'd always listened but never pushed Sam when he talked about his past, no matter how curious she obviously was about it. He was grateful to her for that.

And now she knew everything, all his ugly secrets.

"I don't think you're a fool at all," Sam said softly. "But I bet you wish you'd never met me."

Jessica blinked back fresh tears, shook her head. "You wouldn't be totally wrong there," she gave a short, shaky laugh. "But I still see so much good in you, Sam. I can't believe somebody who had all that happen to him could grow up to be such a kind and caring human being, so I guess it's what I said earlier: there really is something a little miraculous about you."

Sam let out a huff, shaking his head, and Jessica slid to the floor next to him, grabbing his hands in hers, forcing him to look up and meet her gaze.

"No, Sam, I mean it," she insisted, her eyes shining with drink and tears. She looked a little crazed, was probably feverish. "To survive a childhood like that, you've got some serious resilience and strength in you."

"I've got poison in me, Jess," Sam protested. "Something evil in my veins."

"Well then, you have a helluva resistance to it," Jessica said, tugging on his hands for emphasis. "Something in you has been fighting whatever that demon put in you, and it's made you stronger. Those things are stepping up their game, right? That's because you've surprised them. You're not as easy to win over as they thought. You've resisted them, figured out a way to fight them at their own game."

"I let Brady die," Sam cringed, pulling one hand free to run it through his hair. "I couldn't save him."

"That wasn't your fault," Jessica insisted. "And you did save him. He was free before he died. You already told us that. You set him free."

Sam shook his head. It was useless to go back down that road, to struggle through the guilt and grief again. Better to pull a Winchester and just stuff the feelings down deep.

But Jessica's kindness, her face a mask of concern for him, had broken something inside Sam. He'd never been able to confess so many of his inner fears to anyone. Certainly not to Dean, who carried too much of his own guilt and grief and who felt responsible for Sam's, too. Not even to Missouri Moseley, who had been his confidante on numerous occasions since he first met her when he was twelve and just beginning to understand everything that had happened to him. The Catholic priest who heard his confession when he was fourteen simply hadn't believed him, had given him ten Hail Marys to recite as penance for his lying. And that priest had heard only half the story, since Sam didn't know the worst of it himself until nine months ago.

But with Jessica, the floodgates of his conscience opened easily, pouring forth the fear and self-loathing he'd held inside himself for years. She believed him, knew that he spoke the truth, but she didn't run screaming from the cabin in terror. Jessica had known Sam as a good friend, her closest confidante, someone she told all her dreams and secrets to, someone she trusted. Yet now, finding out all the horrible things he'd been hiding from her, instead of feeling betrayed and horrified by him, she seemed even more compassionate than ever. She seemed almost grateful that he was giving her something to test her faith, to challenge her belief in him so that she could finally show him what a loyal friend she could be, to prove that she was worthy of his trust.

"You're kind of amazing, you know that?" Sam smiled, and Jessica blushed, dipping her chin to hide her pleased smile. "What would I do without you?"

"Oh, I don't know," she said modestly. "Crash and burn, I guess."

She lifted her tear-filled eyes to his, and Sam had a sudden vision of himself leaning in and kissing her plush red mouth, as if she was more than just his best friend.

Then the moment passed and he was awkwardly aware of how close they were, their hands still clasped. He cleared his throat, was just considering pulling his hand away when she leaned in and kissed him, softly, on the cheek.

"Maybe in another life, you and me were meant to be," she said as she pulled back, smiling almost shyly, still blushing. "Or maybe if I was a guy. But I guess it's a good thing I'm not, huh? Your brother's already jealous enough."

Sam nodded and squeezed her hand before releasing it. It had grown dark outside, and Sam could feel the hollowness in his stomach that reminded him it had been several hours since he last ate.

"Dean'll be up soon to take over the watch," he said. "I need to check in with Bobby."

Jessica nodded, sat back on the floor to stare into the fire as Sam got up to light the lanterns. It had started to rain outside, and the soft sound on the roof combined with the sound of the crackling fire to give the cabin a beguiling sense of security and coziness that belied the precarious reality of their situation.

Bobby confirmed that demon activity was intensifying as well as spreading. Two hunters had been found dead in Nebraska, another in Milwaukee. All bore the marks of aborted exorcisms, like demons were possessing hunters and killing them, sometimes after allowing the possessed to call for help.

"It's like they're luring hunters to their deaths," Bobby said grimly. "They're using other hunters to call each other in for help, then slaughtering them. It's real vicious, but it's also kinda organized. I've never seen demons act this way, but then I've never seen this many of them show up at the same time. It's almost like they're working together, which is not how demons usually operate, in my experience."

Shivers ran up Sam's spine. "Any idea why they're targeting hunters?" he asked, dreading Bobby's answer.

"No idea," Bobby said. "But whatever it is, it's big. I've never heard tell of so many demons crawling out of Hell at the same time, ever. All the lore says they come one at a time, two tops, but from what I can tell, we're looking at a couple o' dozen at least. And the crazy thing is, they all seem to be converging, doing damage as they go."

"Converging," Sam repeated. "Converging where?"

"Well, here's the weird part." Bobby slammed something onto the floor, and Sam could imagine the old hunter spreading books and maps on his dining-room table, letting books fall as he finished with them in his haste to get to the bottom of the mystery in front of him. "They're all headed to Kansas. Lawrence, to be exact."

"What?" Sam almost dropped the phone.

"Yeah. Three college students died at a rave on the University of Kansas campus last night. Threw themselves off the roof of the Natural History Museum. The authorities are blaming mass consumption of Ecstasy, but the evidence I have says their necks were broken before they jumped off the roof."

"So, demonic possession," Sam breathed.

"Yeah," Bobby agreed. "Looks like it."

"Any idea what they're doing in Lawrence?" Sam was getting shivers again, despite the warmth from the fire.

"No clue, kid," Bobby acknowledged. "I've got a couple o' hunters checking it out right now. I'll let you know what we find."

"Thanks, Bobby," Sam nodded, lifting his eyes as he caught movement on the stairs. Dean climbed down into view, sleep-tousled and gorgeous as ever, and Sam realized that his hair was longer than usual, something he couldn't remember noticing before. "Hey, Bobby? Can you have your guys check on somebody we know?"

"That psychic friend of yours? Missouri?" Something else crashed onto the floor as Bobby moved things again, and Sam held his breath. "She's the one who let us know stuff was going on there. We're keeping an eye on her, don't worry 'bout that."

"Thanks, Bobby." Sam felt tension ease out of his muscles.

Then Dean was next to him, pressed against his side and tugging on Sam's hand where he clutched the phone.

"Let me talk to him," Dean demanded, breathing almost right into Sam's neck as he took the phone, making Sam a little dizzy and weak in the knees. "Bobby?" Dean turned away from Sam so he could focus on the call, and Sam let himself pretend Dean was feeling the same dizziness, the same weakness in the knees, because he could. "You said something about Lawrence?"

Sam fed the fire, checked the salt lines, and put a pan on the propane stove to cook hamburger for their dinner while Dean talked to Bobby. Jessica had passed out on the floor in front of the fire, sitting up with her head back against the seat of the couch, and Sam decided she'd probably be more comfortable lying on the couch, so he laid down a blanket and pillow for her, then scooped her into his arms to lay her down onto the couch. She muttered his name and smiled a little as he settled her, keeping her arms around his neck just a little longer than necessary.

"Everything's gonna be okay," she murmured, eyes fluttering as he gently removed her arms from his neck and crossed them on the blanket.

He couldn't agree with her, wouldn't lie to her, so he said nothing, just squeezed her hand gently before standing up. She lay peacefully in sleep, golden hair fanning out on the pillow, lips curled in a tiny smile, as if her dreams were happy ones where she felt safe and loved.

Sam knew what it was like to have dreams like that when reality was all shot to hell, and he wasn't about to take that tiny comfort away from her, no matter how false. The imagination was a powerful muscle, no one knew that better than Sam, and he hoped Jessica's was helping her to heal, or at least protecting her from the worst effects of the trauma she had just experienced.

Jessica slept while Sam fixed dinner, while Dean finished his call and then went out to check the perimeter, and she was still asleep when Dean came back, shaking rain from his hair and eyelashes, shrugging off his jacket and warming his hands in front of the fire.

Sam watched his brother out of the corner of his eye as he set plates heaping with homemade cheeseburgers and baked beans on the table. Dean ran his hands through his hair, combing it into place with his fingers before sliding into his chair at the table, barely glancing at Sam before taking a bite of his burger.

"Hmmm," he hummed approvingly when his mouth was full. "You remembered the onions!"

Sam tried not to smile too smugly as he took a bite of his own burger, then reached for his water bottle.

"So Bobby says the demons are converging on Lawrence," Sam said, almost conversationally. Because really. Could this be any more of a coincidence?

"Hmmm," Dean nodded as he took another bite, and Sam tried not to watch him enjoy Sam's cooking so much because it was ridiculously distracting and Sam really needed to keep his head in the game right now.

"So what did he say?" Sam prodded. "What's his theory?"

Dean leaned over and grabbed a beer out of the green cooler, popped the cap with his ring, and took a long swallow, tipping his head back so Sam got what was definitely a deliberate flash of Dean's long, exposed throat.


"It's not a coincidence, if that's what you're asking," Dean said when he put the beer down, tipping his chin down so he could give Sam a look that was absolutely designed to turn Sam way the hell on.

Damn it.

Sam felt his jaw clench so he closed his eyes and counted to ten before responding. "No, Dean, it's pretty clearly not a coincidence," he agreed, struggling to keep his voice steady. "That's why I'm asking for Bobby's theory."

"Bobby thinks maybe it has something to do with the new science building they just opened," Dean took another bite of his burger, closing his eyes and moving his mouth in a way that should be disgusting but, of course, wasn't. Not by a long shot. "Maybe somebody's planning a new round of experiments on orphan kids like the ones they did fifteen years ago."

"What?" Sam put down his burger, pushed back his chair, heart pumping as blurred memories crowded into his mind, memories of fear and stark-white, windowless corridors, bright lights and adults in white coats. Waking up alone in a small room, terrified. "He's doing it again? Is Bobby sure?"

Dean shrugged. "Maybe they gave up on you, Sammy," he smirked. "Maybe they decided to go back to the drawing board, try their sucky little plan with kids who were a little more cooperative."

Sam stood up, chest heaving, needing to move. To do something. "Does he have proof?" he asked. "Have there been more nursery fires and kidnappings in the past five years?"

"There's a pattern, yeah," Dean nodded. "Infants who disappeared or died on the nights of their six-month birthdays. About five years ago."

"So it's starting again," Sam breathed, pacing back and forth, clearing dishes, feeling suddenly like a trapped animal. "We have to go there, Dean. We have to help those kids. We can't let what happened to me happen again to anybody else."

"Whoa there, cowboy," Dean finished his burger, pushed his chair back, and actually had the nerve to rub his stomach, as if Sam was still watching after what he'd just learned.

Sam was still watching.

"Bobby said we should stay put," Dean said. "He was very clear on that point. Until we know what we're dealing with, I don't want you anywhere near that science lab."

Sam stopped pacing to stare, adrenaline and frustration pumping through his veins. "Dean, we know exactly what we're dealing with! It's the same thing that put demon blood in me nineteen-and-a-half years ago, and it's the same thing that did all those weird psychic experiments on me in that lab a few years after that. Azazel is kidnapping potential psychics, enhancing their power with demon blood, then trying to harness that power to – I don't know – take over the world, or something. Whatever he's doing, it's evil. And we can stop it! It's our responsibility to stop it!"

"Not ours, Sam," Dean shook his head. "Bobby's got hunters on the case right now. Good hunters. Hell, even Dad was on this case, before he disappeared..."

"Dad knew about this?" Sam's fists began to clench and unclench; he suddenly wanted to punch something. Or someone. "Dad knew and he didn't tell us?"

Dean huffed out a breath, scratched the back of his neck with one hand, rubbing his thigh with the other. "Yeah, he knew. He started doing research on infants who died or disappeared in nursery fires right after he found out about you, and he found the patterns. Not just the year it happened to you. Fifteen years later, too. And going back, fifteen years before your birth, same pattern."

Huh. That was new.

"Fifteen years before my birth?" Sam repeated, shocked. "So we're talking children who are adults now?"

Dean nodded, scrubbing his cheek with one hand, looking at the floor somewhere between Sam's feet.

"What happened to them, Dean?" Sam asked, feeling his stomach sink and his whole body break out in a cold sweat. 'They're all dead, aren't they?"

"Sam – "

"He just raises his little crop of human experiments and then he kills them and starts over, is that it? When they don't turn out the way he wants?" Sam's head was pounding now, his fists still clenching with the need to grab hold of something. Anything.

"Sam, it's not gonna happen, okay? He can't have you. We're staying right here until this thing blows over, just like Bobby said – "

"What? Do you even hear yourself?" Sam stared until Dean finally raised his eyes, finally locked his gaze with Sam's. "There are people dying out there, and we can stop it, and we're just gonna sit here?"

"We can't stop it, Sam," Dean protested. "You heard Bobby. There's literally dozens of demons in Lawrence right now, more on the way. It's way bigger than anything we've ever dealt with before."

"Oh, so we're just gonna sit back and watch it happen, is that it?" Sam sputtered. "We're just gonna watch while Azazel and his minions torture a fresh crop of demon-blood-poisoned kids to see if one of them turns into Darth Vader? Huh? Or Hitler?"

"We don't know what he's got planned, Sam," Dean said, voice low and intent, calming.

"We know it's nothin' good!" Sam shouted. "Dean, I was one of those kids! I know exactly how it feels to be strapped down to an operating table while...while they..." Bile rose in Sam's throat, cutting off his voice in mid-sentence, and he clutched his throat with shaking hands, closing his eyes as he fought for self-control.

Dean was there immediately, warm hands steady and sure on Sam's arms, catching him as he crumbled to his knees on the floor, overcome by nausea and painful memories that pounded unrelenting on the inside of his skull.

"It's okay, Sam," Dean murmured as he sank down in front of his brother, rubbing his shoulders. "I got you. Not gonna let anything bad happen to you."

"That's just it, Dean," Sam shook his head, gasping as he cleared his throat, opened his eyes to stare into Dean's bright green orbs, right there, only a couple of inches away. "I had you. Those kids...There's nobody for them. They're all alone, and scared, and I can't...I can't live with myself if I don't try to do something to help them."

Dean stared into his eyes, and Sam could see the conflict there, the urge to gather Sam up and never let him go, to protect him and prevent him from charging into danger. Sam could read all of that in Dean's eyes because it was how Sam felt when Dean was in danger; the urge to throw himself in front of a ghost or werewolf when Dean was threatened was almost overwhelming.

And right now it was giving Dean fits, that was obvious by the anguished look in his beautiful eyes.

Then Dean's gaze flicked down to Sam's mouth and it hit Sam how close they were, how he was almost sitting in Dean's lap, breathing his air, holding onto his shirt.

Sam's lips parted almost unconsciously and his tongue slipped over his lower teeth to poke at the corner of his mouth, and Dean watched, licking his own lips as a pink flush crept into his cheeks.

"Dean – " Sam breathed softly, mesmerized by the lacy pattern of Dean's eyelashes. "Please."

For a moment it seemed as if Dean was leaning closer, and Sam's lips trembled in anticipation as his heart sped up, pounding inside his ribcage for an entirely different reason than it had been a couple of moments before.

Then Dean's eyes flicked back up to Sam's again, wide and startled, as if he was surprised by his own response to Sam's proximity. As if it was the first time. He swallowed and licked his lips again, sitting back just enough that only their knees were touching. Sam still straddled Dean's thighs but no longer almost sat in his lap.

"Okay, Sam," Dean nodded, clearing his throat, and Sam was surprised to see the film of tears over his eyes. "We'll head out in the morning."

Sam nodded, still amazed at how easily Dean had given in to him.

Dean pulled back, letting go of Sam as he rose smoothly to his feet and backed away a couple of feet, shuffling awkwardly, avoiding Sam's eyes again as if he was ashamed of how close he'd come to – to what? Kissing Sam? Letting Sam see how much he cared? As if Sam didn't already know –

"Now get some rest," Dean ordered, gesturing toward the stairs. "I'll take first watch."

The sleeping bags had been opened and spread out on the mattress, one on top of the other, forming a kind of queen-sized bed, and when Sam snuggled down between them he could smell Dean's smoky sweat, his comforting scent soothing Sam and sending him crashing into a deep, dreamless sleep.


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