kassidy62: (sam bw by lere08)




The Other End
prompt art by [livejournal.com profile] vail_kagami for [info]spn_illuminated

The Other End (What’s Left of You That I Don’t Have)
story by [livejournal.com profile] kassidy62
(Wincest/R-rated, 11,500 words)


Summary: AU wherein Ruby doesn't betray Sam and the Apocalypse is averted. It begins after Sam escapes the panic room in "When the Levee Breaks" during Season Four, picking up immediately after the fight between Sam and Dean at the hotel.
Warnings: non-con (not between Sam and Dean), gore, violence, unfortunate use of healing cock
AN: A couple of scenes mirror dialogue from canon. Sam has slight kinetic abilities.
My first time doing spn_illuminated.
It was wonderful to meet and talk to Vail about the story, and I’m very happy I got to write a piece with her lovely work in mind.
Art Masterpost

Read more... )

part 2

kassidy62: (Default)

wordcount 6,545 - R rated
written for the Sam focused h/c fiction challenge at [livejournal.com profile] ohsam for the prompt:

Sam can't feel anything... )

AUTHOR’S NOTE: s6 spoilers )

Also, the Alabama ghost story is loosely based on a bit of railroad folklore I found on the net.

Hope you can forgive a large discrepancy - the story is set during summer, not winter.

---

BOBBY’S OLD FRIEND Maddy lost her husband two years ago when a water hag snapped his head off (died in the line of duty, Maddy would say stoically). She and Bobby had gotten close for a while after it happened, even hunted together now and again.

One night after a hard hunt they’d shared a bottle of whiskey and instead of staying on Bobby’s couch like he’d insisted she do, Maddy got into her car and drove home. Tried to, anyway—she’d avoided a deer in the middle of the road only by rolling her car over into a gully. She’d broken her arm in three places and had a steel rod inserted for her troubles.    

After, it was as if something in her had snapped, too. She’d pulled up stakes from town, moved down to Tennessee and gave up hunting. It was easy to check her whereabouts, which Bobby had done promptly, but he hadn’t heard from her again until she called about the deaths in her town. Six people collapsed and died in less than a month’s time, and all were outdoors when it happened.

Summers in Tennessee were hot and sticky live things, wrapping around the chest and making it hard to breathe, and this summer temperatures in the high 90s racked up at an alarming rate. People died in that kind of humid heat, nothing supernatural about it. But the girl that appeared just before each person died was another thing.  

Maddy had seen the girl only yesterday. She’d called the cable company about a snowy picture. A tech came and tested the connections inside, then went out and checked the box on the side of the house. He was young and wiry. The patch on his shirt said DAN. His eyes were brown and crinkled at the corners when he smiled. She and Dan chatted a little before he went outside again and climbed the utility pole in front of the house.  

Maddy looked out her window at one point and saw Dan high up on the pole, the sky a wash of bright blue behind him. A girl stood at the foot, craning her neck to look up at him. Her silvery hair fell in curls to her waist—the kind of curls people got by rolling their hair up on cans when Maddy was a girl but that people paid stylists for nowadays.

The girl’s eyes were dark and her skin white. Her hair began to whip around her face as a breeze swirled in around her. Her lips were moving. Dan looked down at her and said something back. Even from inside, Maddy could see how pale he was. She looked closer.

Dan didn’t just look pale. He looked sick, confused, maybe even a little scared.

Maddy jumped up and banged through the screen door, hurrying down the porch steps. The wind grew stronger, a cloud of dust swirling  around the girl’s legs. She had an arm wrapped around the pole, swinging from it and staring up expectantly at Dan, waiting for him to come down.  

Which he did, hurtling headfirst nearly thirty feet. His head made a horrible dull noise against the curb of the sidewalk. He rolled over, brown eyes staring blindly up at the sky. Blood ran over the pavement from his ears and head. He was dead before the ambulance arrived.

The girl disappeared. Maddy didn’t see her go—one minute she was there and then she was gone.   

Maddy called Bobby afterward, swearing at herself for not realizing something strange was going on in her own town before now. Bobby’s voice came down the line, gruff and comforting like always, and told her she couldn’t have known. After Maddy had calmed down, they went over everything she knew about the case. Both of them agreed that the little girl and her appearing/disappearing act were likely a ghost that needed put to rest.   

The day Maddy and Bobby talked, Sam and Dean were over in Jacksonville, Alabama. A railroad worker had been killed while pouring a concrete wall during the early 1900s and had haunted the tracks ever since. Over the years, railroad workers and the occasional hiker had been visited with visions of the man’s death when near the site. Pretty harmless stuff until a train nearly derailed because of it.   

The real trouble for Sam and Dean was getting at the bones—the man had been buried alive. In the wall.

Bobby called that night and asked how they’d handled it, holding the phone off his ear when Dean blew his lips together, managing a sound remarkably like an explosion. Bobby heard robo and crazy dickwad amidst the slurred flurry of words after that, but by then he’d already realized two things: Dean was drunk, and Sam had apparently blown up the wall to get at the body. Hell of a mess.

Since it was all a lot more than Bobby wanted to hear, he told Dean to shut it, then asked that they make a stop in Tennessee to see Maddy when they headed back north. The boys had met Maddy once years ago, before her husband died.

When Dean didn’t answer, Bobby asked again, louder. Apparently Dean had fallen asleep in the middle of the conversation. Then Sam’s voice came down the line, calm and sober. He told Bobby they’d take care of it.

A chill ran down Bobby’s back. He couldn’t help the reaction.

The next day the brothers drove to Tennessee, heading straight to Maddy’s house. Dean’s hangover was non-existent. He was usually lucky that way.   

Maddy was like her house, small and dark. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, her face guarded. She opened the door and realized who they were.  The shutters fell away from her expression as she smiled, wide and warm, transforming her face. She insisted they stay with her while they worked the case and gave them a good lunch before showing them to the guestroom.  

Maddy’s sister lived in town, and her nephews stayed over now and again. The guest room had two twin beds in it, dark blue sheets and blankets the color of night. Ghostly greenish stars and planets were attached overhead and scattered across the ceiling, the kind that glowed for a while after the lights were out.

The Winchesters stared at the beds. Sam in particular dwarfed them, but he gave them a last glance and then shrugged. It wasn’t as if he needed a bed, anyway. He hadn’t slept since he’d come back from the pit.  

Maddy looked at Sam, then the bed, and laughed so hard she bent over with it. “You weren’t quite so big last time I saw you, boys. Just pull the mattresses onto the floor if need be. Hanging your feet on the floor is better than having them dangling over the footboard.” She left the room, still grinning.  

The way she said boys threw Dean back to when Ellen was still alive. For a minute she’d sounded just like her. Dean looked at Sam to see if he’d caught it. Sam nodded back, but his eyes were indifferent. He remembered, all right. He just didn’t care. About anything.

Dean turned away. Not his fault. Dean said that to himself a lot lately. No matter how often he reminded himself that his brother was like this because he’d flung himself into the pit with Lucifer, it didn’t make a fuck of a difference to the familiar anger flushing through Dean’s chest.  

“You really think we should stay here?” Sam said after Maddy left the room. He frowned a little, hands on his narrow hips. Dark hair fell over his forehead.

Dean shrugged. “You don’t?”

“Maddy’s a civilian now. What if she gets in the way?”

Dean replied irritably, “In the way how?” He pointed out the guestroom window.  “The case is out there, somewhere in Sunstroke City. This is just a place to crash in the meantime, Sam. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Sam shrugged. “If you say so.”

Besides, Maddy had fed them first thing, even before she’d shown them to the guestroom. She cooked like a son of a bitch. Surely even a soulless Sam wasn’t immune to good home cooking.

If he was Dean didn’t want to know, because that was just too depressing.

****

The sun shone through the window the next morning, promising another hot day. Dean opened his eyes, yawning, and looked across at Sam. Both of them had pulled their mattresses to the floor last night, leaving them separated by inches.   

Sam lay on his side, his feet (or canoes, as Dean liked to think of them) hanging far off the edge of the mattress, toes touching the floor. Dean remembered then that Sam didn’t sleep.

“Sam?”

Sam turned over and cocked an eyebrow. He had an old T-shirt and sweat pants on. The T-shirt rucked up over his stomach, showing skin. One of Bobby’s old books was in his hand. “Morning.” He wiggled the book. “Just waiting for you to get up.”

“You don’t read as much as you used to.” Dean yawned again.

“I read plenty, mostly doing research. One of us has to.”

“Yeah, well not sleeping gives you time to fill up. I’m just trying to help you round out your days.” Dean scratched his chest.

Sam snapped the book shut and got up to go to the bathroom. His bare feet slapped against the floor.

Dean sighed, his eyes roving the room, stopping at the sight of his cell phone on the nightstand. At least once a day he opened it, stared at Lisa’s name on the screen and thought about calling. Then one day Sam mentioned seeing him do it. It pissed him off that Sam knew, made him feel uncomfortable and exposed, but Sam was matter of fact about it.

The old Sam would have said something studiously offhand, something to let Dean know he was there for talking or bitching or a crying party. Or whatever it was the sensitive people did. Dean’s lip curled at the thought, then relaxed.

He missed Sam way too much to keep up the pretense, even to himself.

This Sam was a blunt instrument, in more ways than one. Not an ounce of sensitivity left to him. Sarcasm, anger, none of it affected him. It wasn’t worth trying to throw any of it his way, either. None of it moved him or made him react. He had no shame, no anger, no fear of his own to play off. The only vulnerabilities Dean saw in him were an unexpected, occasional naiveté that stood out in contrast to his current disregard of social niceties, and an apparent, unaccounted-for instinct to get his soul back where it belonged. Though Dean was starting to question just how bad Sam actually wanted it back.

In the past year Dean had been faced with more of his own emotions than he’d ever wanted to think about. And now he lived with this big blank mountain of a man by his side every day, somebody who looked like his brother, that everybody said was his brother but that Dean knew couldn’t be. Not with that gaping soulless hole inside him. It seemed to magnify and reflect all of Dean’s erratic, sloppy emotions back at him. He hated it.

And Sam, as usual, felt nothing, gave nothing away. Had no weakness. Like a machine.

Dean remembered wishing he didn’t feel anything after he’d gotten back from hell. The memories had hurt too damn much. Funny how that worked out. Dean would give years of his life to see some real emotion in his brother’s face again.  

Which is probably why they started having sex again. Dean was just looking for something he remembered in his brother. So far he hadn’t found it. This Sam went at sex like he did everything else—hard, fast and ruthless, sure in what he wanted.

The toilet flushed and water ran in the sink. Sam stepped out of the bathroom. He rummaged through the dresser drawer and pulled out another T-shirt, this one soft gray, and well-worn jeans with a hole mid-thigh. He stripped down to his boxer briefs. Dean stared at him.

Sam caught Dean’s eye, the corner of his mouth lifting. “So I did some research online last night.”
 
Dean looked away, flushing. “And?”

Sam pulled the T-shirt over his head. “Looked for people in town who died a heat-related death. Lots more of that than you’d think, but I excluded the older people, and I think I found something. Turns out there was a girl named Amy Wallace who died in the summer of ’86. Her mother parked behind a local bar on a Saturday morning—a place called the Beer Hop. Drank herself into a stupor with Amy outside in the car.”

“Dammit,” Dean swore. He didn’t want to hear the ending to this.

“Yeah. The high that day was 98. All the windows were closed. The car was an oven.”

“Poor kid. How old was she?” Dean sat up and rubbed his hands over his face.

“Seven.”

Dean looked up. “Could be the kid Maddy described, but why wouldn’t a girl that age just get out of the car? At least roll down a window.”

Sam shrugged. “There were indications that she’d been abused. Her body was curled in the back seat when she was found. The papers said it looked as if she’d just crawled back there and gone to sleep.”

Dean closed his eyes. “She gave up.”

“Maybe. What do you think?”

“If I was her, I’d be one angry little ghost, wouldn’t you? Fry some grownups the same way I’d been done, maybe get some payback.”

“That’s what I’m thinking. But the deaths seem a little random.” Sam sat down beside Dean on the mattress.

Dean shrugged. “Maybe, or maybe anybody who didn’t help her feels like the enemy. But what I’m wondering is why come back now?”

“Because it’s the hottest summer in years. Just like in ‘86.” Sam shifted on the mattress. “She was buried at Marion Cemetery. Let’s go check it out.” He sniffed the air. “You smell that?”

Dean threw him a withering look. “Of course I do. It’s sausage and pancakes. Maddy’s made a good old southern breakfast.”

Sam slapped Dean’s leg though the blanket. “Artery clogging heaven, sounds like your cuppa. So get up.”

Dean kicked at him and growled, “Get off my mattress.”

Sam raised a brow but said nothing. Dean headed off to the bathroom. He didn’t look at Sam again.

****

After breakfast they headed out to the cemetery, Sam calling Bobby to bring him up to date while they drove. The place was small and perfectly kept, trees and bushes neatly landscaped. Fresh flowers in vases sat atop the graves.

Amy Wallace’s gravestone was dark gray and flat in the ground. The polish had worn off it. There were no flowers, nor any indication that anyone had been by recently. Grass grew thick and green over the edges, trying to swallow it back into the earth.

“Gonna be harder to open up, being so old,” Sam said, staring down at the stone. Sweat popped out on his face and dampened his shirt. It was blistering hot, the sun a fierce yellow glare in the clear sky.

“Nothing we haven’t dealt with before.” Dean pulled in a deep breath, but the warm air flooding his lungs didn’t help. He glanced at the Impala, chrome winking in the sun. “Okay, we found it. We’ll come back tonight. Let’s go.”

The two of them climbed in the car. Dean followed the winding gravel drive out of the cemetery to the road. There was no traffic and no houses to either side of them, not for another mile toward town. Trees and bushes grew wild, tangling with each other, pressing toward the road and then falling back, giving way to patches of red dirt interspersed with grassy areas.  

The Impala made a coughing sound, then another, longer chug. Steam rolled out from under the hood and over the windshield. Dean looked down. The temperature gauge inched rapidly upward.

“Shit,” Dean muttered. He pulled over, slamming the car door and then wincing at the sound of it. Behind him Sam did the same, though not as loudly.
 
“Gonna have to wait awhile and let her cool down to check, but I’d bet money it’s not the radiator. I’m thinking the water hose.” Dean’s voice was clipped. Not even noon yet and he was tired. The heat sapped it out of him.

“That’s just great.”

Sam sounded even more tired than Dean felt. Dean turned and looked at him. Sweat poured off him, pooling in the hollow at his throat. His hair was damp at the scalp and temples, and his face was flushed. He rubbed at his face and then shook his head, blinking.

“Hey, you okay?” Dean moved to Sam’s side, gripping his arm. Sam staggered. “C’mon, sit down.” Dean pushed him gently to the ground, then sat with him by the side of the road. The grass felt dry and lifeless beneath him.

His brother looked at him, eyes vague. “Dean?” He reached out, hand brushing over Dean’s arm. It was clammy.

Dean wrapped a hand around Sam’s wrist. “What’s wrong? You sick or what?”

Sam blinked at him. “Or what, I think,” he croaked.

Dean felt Sam’s forehead with the back of his hand. He was blazing hot. “Hey, didn’t think RoboSam ever sat down on the job.” Dean’s voice was gentle.

Sam’s head drooped, hair falling over his face. “Can I have some water?”

“Just what I was thinking. Be back in a second.” Dean scrambled for the car and grabbed both bottles of water from the seat. He glanced out at Sam through the car window.

Dust devils danced in the dirt at Sam’s feet, growing stronger as Dean watched, then rose up in a cloud. A chill ran down Dean’s back despite the heat.

“Sam!” Dean ran toward him, trying to get behind the swirling red dirt. The cloud grew larger, encircling them both. Dean coughed, reaching out for Sam and instead found himself flying through the air, back slamming against the hot pavement of the road. The breath left him in a woof of air he couldn’t get it back.

The cloud lowered, swirling in a ring of red dust around a girl with long, silvery hair. She bent over Sam, crouched on the ground, and spoke into his ear. Her hand rested on his shoulder.

Dean got to his knees, heaved himself up and ran for the car. Sam yelled something, but Dean couldn’t hear what. He opened the trunk, grabbed a shotgun and salt rounds, then ran toward Sam and the girl.

Sam lay on the ground, his hair whipping in the whirling dust. The girl smiled down at him. She looked older than seven, nearly a teen.

“Get away from him!” Dean yelled. He drew closer, raised the shotgun and fired. The girl evaporated in a swirl of hovering white mist, then coalesced into solid form once again. “Too fast,” he muttered, getting ready to fire again.

The girl stared at him, unsmiling, and took a step toward him. “He’s mine. I asked him the questions and he couldn’t answer.”

“Sam!” Dean yelled. Sam didn’t move. The red dust began to settle over his still body. Dean shot the girl again, the sound loud in the quiet. Sam opened his eyes.

The mist coalesced and formed again, moving toward Dean. The girl changed into a hag, then a beautiful woman, silvery hair whipping around her head. She swept an arm wide and Dean flew through the air, crashing into the Impala.

“Dean,” Sam called, trying to sit up. “That’s not Amy.”

Dean unfolded himself from against the car with a grimace and pulled himself to the open trunk, his back a giant ache, his head pounding. “What is she?”

“Something like an Acheri demon. Like in Cold Oak.” Sam’s voice was weak, his face white.  

At the sound of his voice the woman turned back toward him. Her body flickered, reverting to her childish form.

“Got it.” Dean grabbed the knife they’d gotten from Ruby from the trunk. The blade glinted in the sun. He walked as quietly and quickly as he could up behind the girl. She was kneeling, whispering in Sam’s ear. Her hair brushed his face.

Sam squeezed his eyes shut. “You don’t know that,” he said, just as Dean drove the knife into the girl’s back with both hands. She screamed, her body dissolving into a mist that Dean fell through. He barely managed to avert the knife so that it didn’t stab Sam. He dropped it and grabbed Sam’s arms, breathing hard and waiting.  

This time she was gone.

Dean shifted his attention to his brother. “Sam? You okay?”

Sam looked up at Dean. His eyes rolled, showing white. His body went limp.

“Sam!” Dean yelled. He put a hand to Sam’s throat, felt the pulse there. Sam’s skin was hot and dry, no longer sweating. “Just gotta get you back to the car, get you some water. Get you cooled down. Sam! Help me, okay, we need to get you to the car.” Sam didn’t respond, and finally Dean had to hook his hands beneath Sam’s arms and drag him over to the Impala. He was a dead weight, and Dean had to wrestle him inside the car.

Sam’s head lolled, his cheek mashed against the back of the seat. Dean climbed in on the other side and fed him some water, a little at a time. Sam finally opened his eyes, beginning to struggle briefly before realizing he was with Dean.  

“You’re gonna be okay, Sam. Just got overheated. I’m gonna take you back to Maddy’s, okay? Get you in a cold tub full of water and give you something to drink. You hear me? Just hang in there.”

Sam rolled his head on the back of the seat, eyes slitted, and nodded. “More water.”

Dean handed the water over and Sam promptly dropped what was left of it into the seat. Dean picked the bottle up, swabbing at the spill.  

“Sorry,” Sam mumbled, leaning against the window.

“You should be,” Dean said, his voice gentle. “You know better than to treat my baby like that.” He put the key in the ignition.

Sam’s eyes went wide in the reflection from the window. He hand splayed wide, reaching for Dean. “Stop her, Dean. Get her.” His voice was low, vibrating with tension.  

Dean stared at him. “Get who?”

“She’s back. Can’t you see her? She’s right in front of you.” Sam’s face drew tight and savage. He surged in his seat toward Dean. “Give me the damn knife!”

Dean pushed Sam back into the seat and put a hand on his arm. Sam flinched.

“She’s not here, okay? Trust me. She’s dead, whatever she was. You’re just—you need to rest.” Dean’s voice was ragged.
 
Sam stared at Dean. His body relaxed all at once, slumping against the seat. “She looked … I thought she was real.”

Dean started the car and pulled onto the road, driving slowly. “That’s what you say about all your dates, Sammy.” Dean’s throat closed over the nickname.

“Game’s up, okay. Don’t call me that.” Sam’s voice slurred. “I’m not him, not to you. To me either.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Dean scoffed. His fingers clenched the steering wheel until they turned white. Outside, the houses flashed by. He looked for the turnoff. Nearly there.

“Yeah, I do. I’m fine. And if I’m not, why worry? I wouldn’t. ‘cause I can’t.” Sam tapped his chest. “Building’s vacant. Nobody home.”

“Yeah? That’s funny, because you’re acting more like the brother I know than you have since you came back. Now why don’t you lean back, shut up and get some rest?”

Sam rolled his neck on the back of the seat to look over at Dean. His color was hectic, his eyes bright. “Looks are deceiving. Dean? My head hurts.”

Dean reached out and put a hand to Sam’s forehead. “Have to get you into a tub pronto, and get some more liquids inside you.” He pulled onto Maddy’s street. “Think you can help get yourself inside?”

“Of course,” Sam said, insulted and looking like he might fall on his face any moment.

Dean laughed. It was better than crying.
   
****       

“So it was the what, the noon demon?” Dean leaned up and switched on the lamp on the nightstand. He settled back to the mattress in the floor and slouched against the wall, pillows propped behind his head. It was early evening, near dark. They’d spent the whole day doing next to nothing, sleeping off and on, Dean keeping an eye on Sam.

Earlier, Dean had roused himself enough to check over the Impala. He hadn’t realized that the car had driven without a hitch back to Maddy’s yesterday until it was all over.  When he checked under the Impala’s hood this morning, everything looked fine. Except the coolant was low.

“Yeah. Also known as Lady Midday. Pscipolnitsa,” Sam replied.

“Pscip—what the hell?”

Sam was lying on the mattress beside his, balancing the laptop on his chest. He turned the screen so Dean could see the webpage. “Says here she’s been seen all over the world, always in the hottest part of the day. Sometimes she appears as a cloud of dust, but mostly in human form—three specific forms.”

“Old lady, beautiful woman, young girl.”

Sam nodded. “A twelve year old girl, to be exact. She approaches people and asks them questions, trying to get them to talk. If she doesn’t like their answer or they refuse to talk, she kills them. Basically by giving them a heatstroke. Though she has been known to throw all that aside in favor of cutting off their heads.”   

“Well ain’t she a peach,” Dean said. He threw back a swallow of whiskey. “A dead peach.”

Sam shut the laptop and slid it under the bed beside him. He rolled to his side, propping his head on his arm. “We took a false lead and ran with it. We shouldn’t have assumed the thing was a ghost. We shouldn’t have assumed anything, Dean.”

“Well, she wasn’t your usual demon. She didn’t possess people.”

“Like the Achera.” Sam nodded.

“Bobby and Maddy thought she was a ghost, too. It made sense. And that case you found fit.”

Sam sighed and sat up, rubbing his forehead. He had on a pair of sweats, no shirt. The muscles in his arms shifted as he moved. “One mistake is all it takes.”

Dean tapped the whiskey bottle absent-mindedly. “Ghost, demon—she still caught us by surprise. It’s over now. Just yesterday you were out of your head and seeing things. Why don’t you try and relax?”

Sam had made it into Maddy’s house from the car yesterday with only a little help from Dean. Maddy helped get Sam in a cold bath and then went out, bringing back sports drinks and juice. She and Dean urged them on Sam until he insisted he’d puke if he had to drink another.

His skin had finally cooled and the dull, beaten look had left his eyes, though not the exhaustion, even after he’d slept. Dean still saw it now in the shadows under his eyes and the sharpness of his cheekbones.

Sam’s eyebrows rose. “Why don’t you take your own advice?”

Dean wiggled the whiskey bottle, sloshing the liquid inside. “What’s this look like?”

“Working on a bottle and still wired tight is what it looks like.” Sam eyed him, then leaned over and patted Dean’s knee. It looked as awkward as it felt.  

Dean jerked away. “You know, I wasn’t all touchy-feely even before you took the dive, Sam. Lie down.”

Sam sighed and lay down. He rolled over, his back to Dean. “I don’t get you and your obsession with keeping me safe. You know I can take care of myself better than I ever could before.”

Dean shot him a glare he couldn’t see. “You could have died yesterday.”

“All in the line of duty. We take chances, both of us.”

Dean reached up and set the whiskey bottle carefully on the nightstand. He didn’t answer.

“It’s not as if you’d be losing your brother. Your real brother, anyway.”

Dean still said nothing.

“Most days you have to remind yourself of everything that happened to me just so you don’t punch me through the wall. Isn’t that right?”

Dean reached across the mattresses and grabbed Sam’s arm, forcing him to roll over and face him. “What is this shit?”

Sam frowned and refused to meet his eyes. “Forget it.”

Dean shook his arm. “What’d she say to you? The noon demon. I heard you answer her.”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t give me that. I heard you. Something about ‘you don’t know that.’ You didn’t look too happy about whatever she said, either.”

Sam looked at him then. “I didn’t feel happy or unhappy. I don’t feel anything.”

“You already told me that. So why do you look angry sometimes? Why do you get impatient?”

“Gotta fit in, Dean.” Sam’s eyes were cold. He jerked away from Dean’s grasp.

“You’re angry right now, and I get it, I do. God let you jump in the pit, the devil tore you apart and a demon pulled you back. You’re all that’s left of my brother, but that’s still plenty enough to make you more than a machine.”

“I don’t feel, Dean. You need to understand that.”

“Fuck you,” Dean snarled, moving away. He grabbed the bottle and took a long drink.

“Stop it!” Sam slammed the bottle out of Dean’s hand. It flew across the room, landing on a hand-braided throw rug in front of the door. Whiskey soaked into it. “What do you want from me, Dean? Tell me. I want you to have it. I just don’t want you to lie to yourself about what it is you’re getting.”   

Dean shoved Sam back on the mattress, staring at him, breathing hard. He bent and covered Sam’s lips with his own.

It was a surprisingly gentle kiss, sweet and coaxing, as if he could draw the old feelings between them out through force of will, or maybe kiss them back into Sam if he kept at it long enough. His lips wandered over Sam’s, his teeth tugged at Sam’s lips. Sam moaned into his mouth and kissed back, tried to push closer into him, but Dean wouldn’t be hurried. He pushed Sam’s shirt up and put his hands to the warm skin there, tracing over his ribs with calloused fingers.  

After a minute he felt Sam grow still. He pulled away and looked at him. Sam’s mouth was flushed and full, but his eyes were level, full of something that looked like regret.

Dean couldn’t look at him anymore. He grabbed the bottom of his own shirt, pulled it over his head, then thumbed roughly at the button and zipper to his pants, tugging them swiftly down. When he was naked he reached for Sam, grabbed the waistband of his sweats and pushed them all the way down. He shoved Sam onto his back again and straddled him, panting. Leaning over, he crashed his mouth into Sam’s, tasting blood.

“That better?” he asked against Sam’s mouth. He rose up and reached for the nightstand, yanking the drawer open and finding the lube. Sam kept his eyes on him and didn’t speak.

The cap to the lube went sailing off somewhere in the room. Dean moved between Sam’s legs and shoved his thighs apart. He coated two fingers, fast and sloppy, then shoved them inside his brother.

Sam grunted in pain, trying to close his legs. It made Dean even angrier. He squirted the lube all over his cock, lined up and pushed into Sam, sliding wet and slick all the way in. Sam’s heat closed in tight around him.

Sam made a low, hurt sound in his chest. His head hit the wall as Dean pounded into him. He put his hands behind his head and pushed out from the wall, scrabbling as Dean fucked into him, slamming into Sam's body over and over. Sam moaned. He circled his legs tightly around Dean’s waist, pushing up into each thrust, opening to him.  

If all else failed, Dean could make Sam do this, cry out, beg for his touch. Make him sweat, make him come.

Maybe he could do more. Maybe he just had to look harder.

“Are you in there?” Dean whispered in Sam’s ear, then looked into his face.  Sam’s eyes gleamed beneath lids at half-mast. He panted, open-mouthed, chest flushed pink.

A tight band of pressure squeezed Dean’s chest at the sight Sam made, spread beneath him like that. His hands ran through Sam’s hair, wet with sweat. He grabbed a handful and yanked, pulling Sam closer, nearly nose to nose, searching.  His fingers tightened and he squinted, trying to see, to get in there and look deep inside him. But he wasn’t there, he was gone, the real Sam was burning burning burning—

Most people think I burn hot. It’s actually quite the opposite—

Burning like frostbite, stabbing cold and aching and deep.

No. He’s here, he’s still alive. Dean wrapped his free hand around Sam’s and held it close against his brother’s chest, feeling his heart beat.

“What’s left of me, Dean? Can you see?” Sam was hesitant, unsure. He stared up at his brother, eyes wide and watering at the tight grip at his scalp.  

Dean’s heart dropped. He felt the sting of tears beneath his eyelids. “It doesn’t matter. Sammy, I’m sorry.” He let go of Sam’s hair and leaned his forehead against Sam’s chest, breathing in his heat, feeling the pound of his heart.  “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Sam wiped with one hand at his eyes. “It’s a physical reaction, that’s all.” His voice was soft in the way that Sam’s voice could be when he was interviewing someone, sympathizing with what they’d been through. The way it used to be.

“It’s not, and you don’t even know it. None of this is. That’s why we have to stop.” Dean rolled over and sagged against the mattress.  

Sam grabbed Dean, made him look into his face. He gave Dean an earnest, pleading look that Dean wanted to believe in more than anything. But he didn’t. Sam had told him.  

“Just stop, okay?” Sam shook his arm. “I remember things. I want my soul back because of you. I’d still die for you, Dean.”
 
Dean sat up. He put hot fingers to his closed eyelids. “Even if you are telling the truth, we don’t sacrifice ourselves for each other anymore. We’ve been through that enough.”

Sam sat up, too, shaking his head ruefully. “I think you’re kidding yourself. I mean, I don’t have a soul, but the first image in my mind when I woke up in that field was of you dying for me.”

Dean leaned against the wall. He bent his legs, touching his forehead to his knees. “Yeah. We’re wired wrong or something.” He felt aching and empty. Guilty for how he’d been with Sam. My fault. All mine. He bit his lip until he tasted blood.

“You wanted to know what the demon said to me,” Sam said, leaning so that their sides touched.

Dean lifted his head. “Go on.”

Sam looked down at his hands. “She said things like me are supposed to be dead.”

“Bitch,” Dean swore. “Good thing she’s dead already or I’d have to kill her again.”     

“Maybe she’s right. But you don’t believe it.”

“Of course she’s not right.” Dean looked at Sam and sighed. “I’ve always tried to keep you safe, even though I didn’t always do so well. You know all that. And ... I started thinking about what would happen to your soul if you’d died yesterday. I’ll tell you what worries me—that you’d be stuck forever in the goddamned pit with Lucifer hacking bits off you for his amusement. You don’t deserve that, Sam. You gave up everything. You don’t deserve to burn.”

Sam looked at him a long time and then said, “No, we don’t.” And for once, Dean didn’t turn away.

****

The next day when they were on the road, Dean called Bobby and told him what had happened with the noon demon. He was grinning when he hung up.

“What?” Sam asked, driving one-handed. He hadn’t shaved this morning. The sun was bright on his face.    

Dean glanced at him and thought about saying two hands, Sammy, but he didn’t. Yet. Instead he said, “Bobby’s coming to visit Maddy in a couple of weeks.”  

“Can’t say I’m surprised.” Sam draped an arm along the back of the seat, checked the speedometer and slowed a little. The mountains rose all around them, green, turning a misty blue further off.     

“Me neither. Been expecting it.” Dean whistled. “Talk about a long distance relationship.”

“Who knows, maybe she’ll move back to South Dakota. Or he’ll move to Tennessee.” Sam’s fingers brushed over Dean’s neck once, then stilled.

Dean knew the touch didn’t mean anything to Sam. Not yet, not until Sam’s soul was back where it belonged. But just this once, Dean leaned into the warmth of Sam’s fingers and let himself feel it anyway.

****

Two weeks later: 

Maddy bit into the steak. Bloody, just how she liked it. Bobby nodded in approval and took a bite of his. The grill sizzled behind them in the dusk, the coals still glowing.

“I knew there was a reason not to leave you behind forever,” Maddy said, chewing. She grabbed the napkins from where they sat on the picnic table as a breeze blew up, then dropped again. The leaves rattled in the trees and then stilled.

“Tennessee’s a long way away. You should come home, Maddy.”

“I’ve got family here, too.” She took a sip from her glass and sighed, looking out over the yard. “Tennessee sipping whiskey. Nothing like it.”

“You won’t get an argument from me.” Bobby took a drink. “Ever think about hunting again?”

“No. Better get another drink, Bobby,” Maddy invited.

Bobby gave her a long look and then nodded. He picked up the bottle, refilling his glass. Out back the frogs croaked at the creek, deep and loud.

“Those boys of yours … “ Maddy began.

Bobby didn’t look at her, just stiffened up a little and drained his glass a second time. Something about how he did it made her hesitate, though she couldn’t have said what. She thought about it for a minute, opened her mouth again and then closed it, suddenly knowing two things without a doubt.

Bobby knew about Sam and Dean, had known for a long time. And he didn’t need her input on it.

She raised her glass instead, and Bobby nodded, raising his.

  

~o-O-o~

 

January 2017

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