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Seven Rows Of Seven

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Author’s Notes: Not my characters, only my words. Written for the 2017 spn_j2_bigbang AU set after 6.09 “Clap Your Hands If You Believe…” The leprechaun’s name, Uaine is Gaelic for dyed green. The messenger fairy’s name, Ráth is Gaelic for Fairy Fortress. A lot of the Fairy lore comes from this book. Thank you for the awesome beta job, sailorhathor ! Thanks for working with me on this story, tx_devilorangel I love how you've captured the fae for this story.

ART MASTERPOST on LJ or AO3

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******

The bright afternoon sun is shining through the windshield onto Mr. Brennen’s spell book on his lap. Sam runs his finger along the worn binding, consumed with thoughts about the leprechaun and his offer. He cycles through the pros and cons of paying a price to one of the Fae in order to retrieve his soul. At the basis of it all is whether he really needs the damn thing. What’s a soul really for? Just so he can be ‘him’ again, according to Dean. Or so he can be a less efficient hunter? There’s got to be some damage to the thing at this point, right? And what would the leprechaun ask for as his boon? Mr. Brennen had ended up losing his first-born to the fairies, and Sam knows he doesn’t have anything like that, he has nothing that would be enough to pay for his soul. So maybe that would be a good deal after all, one he’d never have to pay.

“You’re gonna burn up your brain thinkin’ that hard,” Dean says, grinning over at him with his sunglasses on, and man it is so much harder to figure out what he means when Sam can’t see his eyes. Maybe this is where it matters, having a soul? Maybe that’s what Dean means that he’s not ‘him’. He remembers the unspoken language they used to communicate in, how it had frustrated everyone else. And that’s gone, but the empty space meant for it is still there inside Sam; maybe that’s where his soul would normally be.

Sam now wishes he’d taken that beer when Dean had offered it back in the cornfield and maybe a few more. A little alcohol might have taken the edge off of all this useless contemplation about souls and the relative merits of having one. The conversation they’d just had on the hood of the Impala, where he’d told Dean he had turned down the leprechaun’s offer to retrieve his soul runs on a loop in his mind whether he likes it or not. “It was a deal. When is a deal ever a good thing?"

He mercilessly catalogs all the deals they’ve made in the past, the bad guys they’ve persuaded themselves they had to work with, out of ‘necessity’. The taste of Ruby’s blood still burns in his memory along with the sight of Dean’s amulet in Castiel’s palm. There’s always a tradeoff, always an unseen cost to any of those deals, especially with non-humans. Some of these arrangements have worked out, some not so much. And they can never realistically see all the ramifications of making a deal ahead of time. Sometimes that’s where Dean’s brashness has gotten them into trouble, or occasionally made them come out ahead. Overthinking things has always been Sam’s go-to mode of operations though, and now that he’s soulless it seems to be the best way to proceed.

Dean makes one of those completely annoying hey-don’t-forget-I’m-next-to-you noises and it reminds Sam of what he hasn’t yet considered here in this internal conversation. It’s not just about him and his soul anymore. Because if he’s sticking with Dean and hunting with him, then he needs Dean at his best (whatever that is now) to ensure his own survival. Sam reconsiders, because the toll working for Crowley is having on Dean is so evident no matter how hard Dean tries to disguise it; that and worrying about the whereabouts of his little brother and hunting partner’s soul. Sam sighs and thinks about how much easier it was to work with his grandfather and cousins. Not so much drama, more freedom, but there was something so vital missing before he even knew about his soul being gone, and that was Dean.

Sam thinks about those long months spent with that annoying tic-tock of DeanDeanDean running through his mind, no matter what he was doing. He’d tried so hard to ignore it, to spend his time hunting, fighting or fucking, and it never went away. Before he’d gotten back with Dean he’d thought it would just be the way it was for however long he ending up living. There would be this basic un-met need he’d never fulfill, it was so ingrained into him, that it didn’t even need his soul to still be there. Dean is a necessary part of him, and like it or not, he has to work with that as part of the decision making process.

Dean pulls over after driving just for a couple of hours, and that’s when Sam knows something is really wrong with his brother. They’ve only made it as far as barely over the border out of Indiana, into Illinois on the edge of a town called Danville. There’s always been this unwritten rule that when they finish a case they at the very least hightail it out of that state. Superstition maybe, because it sure wouldn’t help as far as law enforcement goes. Dean’s obviously been running on autopilot during this drive, but somehow he’s found them a small motel, just barely in their price range. Sam will never understand how Dean manages this feat at nearly every stop they ever make. He comes back to the car from paying for a night with their room keys and Dean isn’t impatiently waiting with their bags, he’s crashed out on the front seat. Maybe he should have insisted on driving after all—he’s lucky Dean didn’t kill them both.

Sam hoists him out of there as carefully as he can, knowing that Dean likely hasn’t fessed-up to all of his injuries. Sure enough, his brother groans the most when he’s touched anywhere near the rib cage, and the bruises and knots on his head are spectacular under the sodium lights of the parking lot. Sam catches himself staring, examining, calculating, and gets on with finding their room and making Dean as comfortable as possible without hospital-serious painkillers.

A couple extra nights in the same place won’t kill them, at least that’s what Sam convinces a pretty out-of-it Dean. He pays for two more nights and grabs them some supplies from the local gas-station/mini-mart. After a few nights of researching the details and ramifications of fairy deals while Dean tries to sleep and recover from the brutal red hat beating, Sam convinces himself it’s worth it to take the chance. The thing that decides him is Dean’s response to being taken care of while he recuperates. His brother looks at him with this soft gratefulness that makes Sam’s skin itch and ache to be touched. It’s not the mechanical bodily satisfaction he’s come to anticipate with the women he’s slept with; it’s something else, something deeper.

As Dean slips into yet another fitful doze, Sam methodically searches through his memories for something to help explain that itchy feeling and finds a deeply buried and intensely repressed desire for his brother. It’s always been there, hiding in plain sight, woven through all the memories of learning how his body worked. He’s never told anyone about it, but he puts it all together and is astonished to find he never really admitted it to himself how much he wants and needs Dean, but there’s more to it beyond that. Sam may not have a soul right now, but he recognizes he’s irrevocably in love with his brother. Which of course, explains the DeanDeanDean when he’d first been brought back from Hell that he could never understand.

****

Dean wakes up when Sam is trying to get him to drink some lukewarm Gatorade from a plastic cup. His eyes open, sticky and bleary and he tries to focus on his brother’s face. “Thanks, Sammy,” he slurs.

“You need another pain pill?” Sam asks.

“No…don’t wanna,” Dean says, and he hates how young and pouty he sounds. But if being beaten up by an asshole fairy doesn’t entitle him to a few down days, he doesn’t know what does.

Sam smiles down at him, and it’s almost his Sam’s real smile. So close to the real thing, it twists something in his heart, remembering what’s missing. “Why are you being so nice to me?”

“Because I love you, Dean,” Sam says, face serious as a lit-up engine failure light on the Impala dashboard.

Dean shakes his head and lets his eyes refocus on Sam’s face, waiting to see the smirk or wink he knows is coming. This version of Sam must be fucking with him, because he doesn’t know, he can’t know. He’s Robo-Sam, right? “Come again?”

“I love you, Dean,” Sam repeats, those soul-less eyes of his still managing to twinkle with a heart-breaking familiarity.

Dean closes his own eyes and figures he must be dreaming, maybe a concussion or a hallucination. “I know,” Dean finally says in his best Han Solo voice.

“You do? I was sure that I hadn’t ever told you. But it’s true, I do love you in every way possible,” Sam says, the surprise in his voice making Dean open his eyes. He searches Sam’s face, looking for the lie, the gotcha has got to be coming soon.

“I meant that in the Star Wars, Han Solo way…oh never mind. ‘m goin’ back to sleep now,” Dean says, making his voice as sleepy as possible. He struggles to put on the most convincing performance of being asleep he can manage because he needs some time to process this.

Soulless has told him that he has access to all of Sam’s memories and feelings, so he’s either telling the truth because he doesn’t understand what it really means, or he’s made some calculation that this is what Dean wants or needs to hear. And yeah, it totally is, Dean admits to himself. It’s pretty much exactly what he’s always wanted to hear his brother say. But not like this, not from this empty shell of Sam. If it’s true, that his Sam loved him like he’d always hoped and wished for…then it’s even worse that the real Sam’s not all here.

Dean imagines Sam’s soul twisting and writhing on the rack in Hell, all too familiar sounds and scents washing over him. He hears Alistair’s encouragement to take Sam apart again. He hears Michael and Lucifer cheer him on, leering in the shadows of the Cage. Dean cuts and slices and Sam screams and cries and bleeds and it’s so good, it’s so perfect. He sees it all there in Sam’s core, the love he always knew was there. Just as deeply buried as his own love for Sam is, in the same places, wrapped up in the same memories of their lives together. Their souls are forever joined, stained black in identical patterns. He screams as Sam’s soul is ripped away by Lucifer and Michael’s claws, and he tries to fight them, but Sam’s blood covers him, seeps in way down deep to where he’s the thirstiest and fills him to overflowing. He wakes to Sam’s hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently.

“Hey, Dean, wake up, you’re having a nightmare,” Sam says in that voice he probably thinks is reassuring and soothing.

Dean twists away from the thing wearing his brother like a Halloween costume, rolls as far away across the bed as he can, and wraps his arms around himself, hissing at the pain of his broken ribs. The images of the nightmare roll through on the screen of his closed eyelids, and he just wants to die right then and there. It can’t possibly get any worse than this, can it?

“Here, have another one of these, it’ll help you sleep deeper. I think the pain must be waking you up. I mean…you’re having nightmares again,” Sam says, handing him one of their pain pills, the big ones they save for broken bones.

Dean takes it and gulps it down with the plastic cup full of water without saying anything. What can he say? I’m sorry I love you too. So much that I never could tell you back when it would have mattered. The pain and loss of something he never had pushes him back into sleep, deeper down where it can’t reach him. He doesn’t notice how wet his pillow is from his tears, or how his brother gently wipes them from his cheeks.

***

Sam brings his fingertips up to his mouth, licking Dean’s tears off, the deep emptiness inside him throbbing so violently he almost throws up. The need for Dean to be okay isn’t just a calculated requirement, it’s much more basic than that. The salty taste of his brother’s tears reminds him that they are bound together on an elemental level. Their blood, sweat and tears come from the same place. Even though he lacks a soul, he finally recognizes the need to at least try to get it back. For Dean’s sake more than for his, he has to try.

The spell ingredients are all easy to find in the Impala’s trunk. Sam draws the summoning circle design on the linoleum floor of the kitchenette and re-checks the wording of the spell in Brennen’s book. He doesn’t care what the leprechaun will ask him to give, as there isn’t much of a chance he’ll ever have a kid for the fairies to take. He looks over at Dean’s sleeping form one last time, reassuring himself that it’s worth the chance.

He casts the spell and the leprechaun appears with a shimmering pop, like a soap bubble bursting. This time he’s wearing a snazzy tailored green coat containing seven perfectly even rows of seven shiny buttons marching up and down the front of it.

“You again? I just got done with counting your damn salt,” the leprechaun says with a frown.

“I would like to accept your offer, to get my soul back,” Sam says, standing up straighter so that he’s looking down on the shiny top of the leprechaun’s balding head.

The leprechaun cranes his neck back to look up at Sam. “You can’t be serious! Why in the world would I do that for you now?”

“I thought you said that you like to mess around with the angels,” Sam says.

“I do, you are certainly right about that. Okay then, do you agree to the terms?” the leprechaun asks.

“I’ll owe you one boon, right? At some point in the future?” Sam asks.

“Correct, I will determine the boon and the time I collect it. You will have no warning,” the leprechaun says.

“I accept the terms,” Sam says.

“Well then, I will be right back with your soul,” the leprechaun says with a horrible smile that shows off his crooked, sharp teeth. The buttons on his jacket clink together with a musical tinkle as he disappears with another quiet pop.

It doesn’t seem like more than five minutes goes by. Sam spends them pacing back and forth in the motel room, not anxious or hopeful, just determined to get through whatever comes next. The leprechaun returns with that little popping noise. This time he’s holding a glass vessel in both hands, cradled up against his chest, glass clinking against all those buttons. The glow of whatever is contained in the jar is hard to look at or describe, but Sam feels instantly drawn to it, a wave of possessive fury hitting him. That’s mine.

“That was quick,” Sam says. He stops his pacing and takes a deep breath to calm down that strange possessive anger. He steps closer to the leprechaun, hoping to see what he’s got in the jar. Is that really what his soul looks like? Mineminemine is all he can think and feel.

“Here you go, Sam,” the leprechaun says, scooping the impossible brightness out with one hand, which he immediately thrusts deep into Sam’s belly. It seems like his hand goes all the way into his guts and Sam feels a warmth return along with the pain of being invaded. The warmth floods through his system, and he feels the leprechaun’s hand retreat. There is a brief moment of relief, but then with a catastrophic burst, the memories of Hell that his soul has experienced descend upon him.

The last thing Sam sees and hears clearly is the leprechaun laughing at him as he collapses to the floor. The asshole stands there watching him go crazy pretty much instantly. ‘I guess this is his revenge for having had to pick up all the salt,’ Sam thinks before he succumbs to the ravages of his memories of Hell.

***

When Dean is woken up by Sam’s screams, he has no clue what has just happened. All he knows is that Sam is writhing on the floor, incoherent and screaming.

“Sam! What the hell’s going on?” Dean yells, trying to hold onto Sam’s thrashing body. Sam knocks him back against the bed and he almost passes out from the pain from his broken ribs. Sam is screaming in some language that Dean can’t make out and flailing with fists and kicking feet. He reluctantly knocks Sam out with a well-aimed punch and manages to tie him up to the bed. The silence is awful because he can see Sam’s body is still fighting with itself, rigid and twitching.

He looks around the room and sees the summoning circle chalked on the floor. He finds Mr. Brennen’s spell book open to a fairy summoning spell, along with the ingredients that Sam left out on the motel room’s rickety table. It doesn’t take him too long to figure out what Sam has done.

“Sammy, why didn’t you tell me what you were trying? What the hell did they do to you?” he asks his now silent brother.

Sam doesn’t answer either question, he just moans and shivers, arm muscles knotted up solidly, pulling against the rope Dean has him secured with.

Dean reads through the spell again and thinks about what Sam’s probably done here. It’s got to be the deal he’d mentioned that afternoon. The leprechaun dude offering to bring back Sam’s soul from Hell. Sam’s gone and gotten his soul back from the guy after all, even though he’d said it would have to be a bad deal, and questioned the actual need for having a soul. Dean remembers how chilled he’d been at that thought, that Robo-Sam would refuse to even try. What had changed? He rubs at his eyes and feels the crust from his dried tears, and remembers what Sam had said to him before he’d last fallen asleep. It was the truth, and even soul-less, Sam has tried this because he knew what the love between them could mean.

Realizing the reason Sam took such a drastic course decides things for Dean. He is going to get the leprechaun to come back and fix Sam. The dude had probably just slammed the torn-up soul back into his brother without any repair work. You had to be careful with the wording of deals with fairies, it was in all the fairy stories he’d ever read to Sam. He redraws the summoning circle and casts the spell. The leprechaun appears with a wide grin of surprisingly sharp teeth on his face and his arms crossed over a chest full of shiny buttons on his green coat.

“Well, that certainly took longer than I thought it would,” the leprechaun says, eyes twinkling with malicious delight.

“I need you to fix him,” Dean says, pointing at Sam tied to the bed, straining against the rope, his eyes closed tight, mouth open in a silent scream.

“What is it you will offer me in return if I were to entertain such a request?” the leprechaun asks.

“A boon, like you did with Mr. Brennen and Sam I guess,” Dean says.

“A boon of my choice and at my time of choosing,” the leprechaun says, leaning forward with an eager grin.

Dean takes a second to think about it again, he figures he will never ever have a chance to have a kid of his own, and given how things went with Ben, he probably shouldn’t be trusted with one. Besides, and most importantly, Sam is the main thing, always has been, always will be. “Yes, I agree,” Dean says.

The leprechaun nods and approaches Sam’s bed, standing next to Dean. He bends over Sam, moving his hands above his belly in complicated patterns that Dean can’t really follow, hopefully whatever he’s doing is really fixing Sam. Dean watches his movements and sees one of the buttons on the leprechaun’s coat barely dangling by a thread. It shines and shimmers and takes his attention away from the pain that Sam is in as his soul is repaired. He remembers something about fairies’ buttons being useful so he stealthily pulls it off and pockets the thing without the leprechaun noticing.

Standing up and stretching his short arms over his head, cracking his neck, the leprechaun smiles up at Dean. “He is fixed now. He’ll need to sleep a few hours I’d imagine. Pleasure doing business with you, Dean. I’ll be seeing both of you later.”

Before Dean can say anything, the leprechaun pops out of the room, reminding Dean of the noise Sam would make when he’d blow a big bubble of chewing gum when he went through that annoying phase when he was six or seven.

He sits on the bed next to Sam and runs his hand over the mess of his brother’s long hair, rearranging it until it’s out of his closed eyes. Sam’s chest moves up and down as he takes the slow breaths of a restful, painless sleep. Dean puts his hand over Sam’s heart and feels it beating, nice and strong. He prays that Sam will wake up and be okay. “Please, please, just let him be okay now.”

Castiel pops into the room with that feathery rustle and stands next to the bed. He tilts his head to one side, examining the two brothers. One is deeply asleep and one is in terrible pain. “Dean, what have you done?”

Dean looks up at him in surprise. He always forgets that any kind of prayer is like a CB call to the angels. “We…had a leprechaun bring Sam’s soul back. And he fixed him. I hope. Can you check him?”

Castiel rolls his eyes and lays a hand on Sam’s belly, testing to see if the soul is indeed back where it belongs. He nods and tries his best to smile when he sees Dean’s worry.

“Your brother should be fine now. His soul is back, and it is whole. I don’t know how this leprechaun managed it.”

“He said he had another way around things that you angels didn’t know. Thanks, Cas,” Dean says with a relieved smile.

Cas waves a hand over Dean and heals him of his own injuries. “You are welcome, Dean. I hope that whatever the fairies take from you will be worth it.”

“Worth not having my brother’s soul in the Cage with Lucifer for eternity? Yeah, whatever it is will be worth it.”

Castiel shrugs with that blank look on his face and blinks out of the room, leaving Dean to realize that eternity is probably not a big deal to an angel, much less the whereabouts of one’s soul since Cas doesn’t have one of his own.

Sam sleeps the whole night through, hardly moving at all. Dean wraps himself around his brother and tries to get some rest too, but all he can do is worry that Sam won’t be Sam when he wakes up. He tries to imagine how much worse it could be, because Sam without a soul was bad enough. If the leprechaun screwed him up even worse, Dean swears to himself that he’ll find a way to rip that little guy apart.

In the early morning, while Sam is still asleep, he takes the button he swiped out of his pocket and examines it under the bedside lamplight. There are markings that could be words or maybe pictures, he can’t quite make them out.

“Dude, what’re you looking at?” Sam asks.

Dean drops the button on the table, flips off the lamp and rolls over to face his brother. “Sam? Is it really you?”

“Yeah, finally, it’s all me,” Sam says.

“I can’t believe it! It fucking worked,” Dean says, sitting up, hands running all over his brother, as if he needs to be checked for injuries.

“But it didn’t though, at least not at first. I collapsed on the floor over there, but now I’m tied up. What happened?” Sam pulls at the rope holding him to the bed.

Dean quickly undoes the knots and gathers Sam into a hug. He finally answers into Sam’s shoulder. “You idiot, I woke up and you were screaming and thrashing on the floor. Must have been the Hell memories coming back all at once when the leprechaun re-installed your soul. I had to knock you out because you were going to hurt yourself or me.”

“What else though, Dean? Nothing could have fixed that,” Sam asks, trying to push Dean away so he can see his face.

“I summoned him back, the leprechaun, okay? Got him to fix you,” Dean says, mesmerized by the light he can see behind Sam’s eyes. It’s really really my Sam.

“Why?” Sam asks in a whisper, eyes widening in surprise.

“Because you…you were soulless, and you didn’t even really want your soul back. But you went and risked everything, dealing with the fairies again just to get it because I told you that you needed it. You were trying so hard to figure out your memories of your feelings and it wasn’t fair that they’d leave you like that, not after everything you did, saving the whole world,” Dean says all in a breathless rush.

Dean watches Sam smile as he probably fills in for himself what Dean has left out. Dean always forgets how damn smart his brother is.

“Is it because of what I told you last night?” Sam asks, arms tightening around Dean.

“Yeah, that too,” Dean says, unable to stop himself, but not caring because it’s Sam, his Sam right here in his arms.

“Dean, can I tell you again? Now that I’m all here?” Sam asks, hesitantly searching Dean’s face.

Dean nods, transfixed by the slow smile forming on Sam’s beautiful lips.

“I love you, Dean, in all the ways there are possible.”

Dean closes his eyes and lets the words sink into his heart. Finally hearing them said out loud, when Sam can really mean them is almost too much, no it’s everything. He opens his eyes to see Sam looking at him with real worry. And that’s not okay, not when what’s between them is lying there sparkling in the morning light, waiting to be picked up and acted on.

Dean leans in the last few inches and kisses Sam soft and slow. He holds Sam close and feels his brother melt into him. Pulling back for a little breath, he meets Sam’s eyes and finally says the words he’s always wanted to say out loud, “I love you too, Sammy.”

Sam smiles at him, shy and somehow even more beautiful. He wraps Dean up in those long, strong arms of his and Dean has never felt more safe, or at home than he does then. They fall back on the bed and hold each other, taking turns touching faces, running hands through hair and kissing for what feels like hours. It’s never been like this, not with anyone else, slow and inevitable, powerful and overwhelmingly right.

****

Sam rolls over Dean and flips on the light. They’ve been napping and making out for so long the room has gotten dark and gloomy in the corners. The light catches on something shiny sitting on the lamp table—it has a strange glow that’s hard to ignore. He picks up the leprechaun’s button and holds it out to Dean. “What the heck is this?”

“Oh, that’s a button I snagged off the leprechaun when he was fixing you,” Dean says. “Thought it might come in handy at some point.”

“Yeah, it probably will since we’ve both gone ahead and made a deal with one of them. But you’d know better than me since you were in Oberon’s court, right?”

“It’s kinda hazy, I don’t remember a whole lot from the time I was there,” Dean says, turning away from Sam.

That’s when Sam knows something bad happened while Dean was captured by the Fae. “If there’s something you need to talk about, you know you can tell me. I know for me it’s hard to get past stuff without ever talking about it and you’re different. But I’ll listen and I won’t judge, it won’t change anything between us.”

“Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind if I remember something that bugs me. So, uh, speaking of changing things between us, I was wondering…do you remember any of what you did this last year?” Dean asks.

“Yeah, I do now. And a whole lot of it’s really bad. I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it,” Sam says.

“I figured…I mean, Soulless said you’d killed people and stuff, and I just—I want you to not get stuck on feeling guilty about it, okay? It wasn’t you, you weren’t really here. Your body was, but that guy was not you.”

“He was part of me though, all of that is in me, Dean. Like it or not, that’s who I am.”

“No, just no way, don’t you do this to yourself, Sammy. I’m telling you, that guy was not you. Sure, maybe you remember everything he did with your body while you were stuck in the Cage, but you were not even here. Separate those memories out, don’t take on the guilt, ‘cause it’s gonna kill you, and I can’t deal with that again right away, okay?”

“No promises, but I’ll try,” Sam finally says.

“I’m speaking from experience here, that’s what I did with my memories of Hell. Stuck ‘em away in a box buried deep. I had to so I could keep going.”

“I get it, Dean—uh, thanks,” Sam says, kissing the top of Dean’s head.

Sam gets up from the bed and heads to the bathroom. While he’s in there he takes a long look at himself in the mirror. He actually recognizes himself now, which is a good thing. Before when he was soulless he’d avoided mirrors, because there was this disconnect between what he saw looking back and what he knew was supposed to be there. It’s a good surprise to see himself again. He takes a short shower and wraps a towel around his waist, but when he opens the door, the room is empty. Dean’s gone.

A wave of unease crashes over him. It was too much, of course it was, all at once like this. He shouldn’t have said anything. Dean was just feeling sorry for him, or grateful that he wasn’t a soulless monster. He’d taken advantage of that, and now Dean was gone and who could blame him? He sagged against the doorframe and twisted his hands through his wet hair, wishing he could go back in time and find some damn restraint. Maybe he could have put off ruining everything good between them.

“Got us some lunch,” Dean says, opening the door with a crash while he juggles some take-out cartons. He sets them down on the table and looks over at Sam, confusion beginning to show on his face.

Sam feels the tide of regret recede immediately, being replaced by the most powerful burst of love he’s ever felt for Dean. He strides across the room, heedless of his towel falling off halfway, and pulls Dean into his arms, holding onto him like he hasn’t seen him in years.

“You thought I left you, didn’t you?” Dean mumbles where he’s squashed into Sam’s chest.

Sam squeezes him more tightly for a moment and then lets him go, stepping back so he can see Dean’s face. His hands are still on Dean’s shoulders though, and he’s never ever going to get enough of touching his brother like this. “I’m sorry.”

Dean pulls him down for a lingering kiss that he ends with words whispered against Sam’s lips, “I’m not.”

And then Dean’s hands are roaming down Sam’s naked skin, both cupping his ass, squeezing and pulling, and Sam is surprised at how hard he is already. One kiss and he’s rudely poking into Dean’s belly. Dean laughs, low and pleased, when he feels the contact and wraps a hand around Sam, stroking him a few times, a bit more pressure at the tip which makes Sam groan.

Before Sam realizes what’s happening, Dean is sinking to his knees, kissing his way down Sam’s torso, licking and biting along his hips. His hand is still stroking him in a slow rhythm that’s making Sam lose focus, it’s too slow, it’s not enough, it’s everything. Not it’s not, because Dean’s lips are wrapped around him now, suckling, tongue teasing and pressing inside. The moans coming out of Dean are going straight into Sam, shaking him to his core as his brother’s mouth surrounds him. He feels the softness inside, the perfect heat and incredible suction and thrusts shallowly a few times.

Dean’s hands land on his ass and pull him in deeper so that he’s hitting the back of Dean’s throat; the spongy softness is the last thing he remembers clearly because he loses himself, coming so hard he almost blacks out. Dean steadies him though, as he licks him clean. Sam regains enough of his control so that he can pull Dean up into his arms, get a hand on the front of his jeans, gripping Dean through them. Dean moans at the contact and thrusts into Sam’s hand. He undoes Dean’s belt buckle and yanks his jeans and briefs down. With a hand around Dean’s hardness, he walks him backwards until Dean falls onto the bed, eyes dark with desire, never leaving Sam’s.

Sam jacks him off slowly, reveling in how wet his brother gets, using it all to make the glide better. He can’t wait any longer to taste, so he kneels on the floor between Dean’s legs and licks up the length of him slowly, the bitter salty musk filling his senses. The warm silk of Dean’s skin is the softest thing he’s ever touched with his tongue. He licks his way down to the base of Dean’s cock, one hand gently cradling his balls, a finger circling back a bit further. Dean squirms in his hands then, and Sam backs off, not wanting to push Dean too far this first time. Instead he braces his hands on Dean’s hips, holding them down with his body weight, taking Dean into his mouth for the first time.

Sam’s never let himself picture this, and now that it’s happening, it all goes too fast. A blur of the sounds of his brother coming apart from the pleasure, his own mouth gone soft, jaw aching from the pressure, his own tears salty at the edge of his lips. Then he’s swallowing down everything Dean gives him, licking the rest of him clean until Dean pushes him away with a moan.

He crawls up onto the bed and pulls Dean into his arms. There isn’t enough time for any words because they fall asleep almost instantly.

Chapter Text

****

The light outside is barely starting to get brighter yet, and he needs coffee, his stomach growls at the thought, reminding him that they’d skipped eating the dinner he’d brought in last night. He’s just about to ask Sam what he wants for breakfast when he hears his brother turn over his pillow and settle back onto it with a quiet clearing of his throat. Dean’s heart sinks. Was this where Sam would let him down easy? He hates how his mind goes there instead of accepting what they’d said and done last night was what they both wanted and needed.

“So, what are we doing about Crowley, now that we don’t have to work for him any more? We’ve still got to figure out what he’s doing with the alphas, right?” Sam asks, hands behind his head, eyes fixed on the ominous grey stain on the popcorn ceiling.

“I’m not feeling like we’re up to taking on the King of Hell right now, are you? Can’t we give it a few days to settle?” Dean asks, a breath of relief coming out of him at Sam’s question.

“You mean my soul?” Sam asks.

“Yeah, and everything else,” Dean says, waving his hand between the two of them, indicating all the changes that have recently happened.

“What about Cas?” Sam asks, eyes still fixed on the stain on the ceiling above them.

“He was here, right after the leprechaun left, checked your soul, told me it was one hundred percent and scrammed. I think he’s busy with the whole war in Heaven business,” Dean answers.

“So he knows?” Sam asks.

Dean isn’t sure what Sam is asking, whether he’s worried that Cas knows about the two of them being together now or just about the soul stuff. He doesn’t want to talk about Cas while they’re naked in bed together, so he chooses to assume Sam is asking about the soul and leprechaun business. “That your soul is back thanks to a couple of leprechaun deals, yeah he knows. Told me he hoped it was worth whatever the fairies were going to take from us.”

“You think it will be?” Sam asks, finally looking over at Dean. He takes one hand out from behind his head and trails it up and down Dean’s arm.

“What do we have that they’d even want?” Dean scoffs, stopping Sam’s hand from the tickling movements by lacing their fingers together. He feels himself falling back into Sam’s eyes, marveling that he’s really all in there, and that he’s really all his now.

Dean’s cell phone rings on the nightstand, interrupting them, the screen lighting up with a picture of Lisa and Ben smiling. He sees how early in the morning it is and a bunch of adrenaline dumps into his system. Something’s got to be wrong, she wouldn’t be calling this early. Especially after how they left things the last time they’d talked.

“Heya, Lis, what’s up?” Dean says into his cell.

Dean stands up abruptly from the bed, and throws a worried look in Sam’s direction before he roughly pulls on his boxers. “When did you last see him?”

“I’m on my way to you, hold tight, Lis. It’ll be like, four hours max to get there, okay?” Dean says, tugging on his jeans and throwing the rest of his clothes into the duffel bag. He listens to her answer, hangs up the phone and disappears into the bathroom.

“What’s going on?” Sam asks, sitting up on the edge of the bed.

“Ben’s gone, and she says the only thing that’s weird is her house smelling like flowers,” Dean says, reappearing with his bathroom kit that he zips up in his bag.

“We’ll find him,” Sam says, standing up and looking for where he’s left his own duffel.

“Need anything out of the car before I leave?” Dean asks, crossing to the motel room door.

“Just leave it all in there, let’s get all our stuff and go,” Sam says while he finishes dressing.

“Hold on, you want to come with me?” Dean asks, hand on the doorknob.

“I just assumed you’d—but I can just stay here and wait for you to come back,” Sam says, sitting back down on the bed, looking at his hands twisting between his legs.

“It’s probably nothing, I didn’t think you’d want to get in the middle of all of it. Shit, Sam, of course you’re coming with me. He wouldn’t have wanted to and I’m just not used to you being…all you again. C’mon, let’s get moving.”

Sam looks up with a heart-breaking smile of relief that makes Dean wish he hadn’t caused. He crosses the room and puts his hands on Sam’s shoulders, looks into those eyes that are fully occupied once again and leans down to kiss him. “I’m sorry, that came out all wrong.”

“It’s okay, it’s an adjustment for both of us, but we should go figure this out,” Sam says, standing up and hugging Dean close for a moment. “We’re going to find him, don’t worry.”

Dean lets himself be held and squeezes his brother back, thankful once again that it’s really his brother, because that soul-less bastard wouldn’t have cared at all. Robo-Sam probably would have seen it as a good thing, one less complication.

***

The drive isn’t too long to Battle Creek, Michigan where Lisa and Ben live now, but it’s strange between them and getting stranger the closer they get. Over the four hours in the car, Dean is consumed with a bone-deep worry that he’s trying really hard to hide from Sam. Ben isn’t his kid, but he is his responsibility, and he came to love him pretty fiercely over the time they had together. It had been strange trying to make a relationship work when he was at the lowest point of his life, but Ben had met him where he was and soaked up whatever attention Dean could spare.

All that time Dean had spent researching ways to get Sam out of the Cage had been busy work to keep his mind off of where his brother was. Having Ben there as a reminder to be in the here and now of life had been a real blessing. Lisa’s gratefulness and patience had been the icing on that particular cake when he’d finally gotten to a place to be able to indulge. Those had been some dark months in-between though, and the Braedens had gotten him through it to the other side each in their own ways.

As far as he can tell, Sam is off in his own world, probably trying to reintegrate all the horrible memories from the last year. They’re about fifty miles away from Lisa’s when Sam seems to come back to himself, clearing his throat abruptly and sitting up straight, doing that fidgeting with the folds in the knees of his jeans thing he does when he’s nervous.

“What’s up with you, Mr. Fidget?” Dean asks, worried that maybe what they got up to last night has made Sam have second thoughts or maybe he’s just freaking out about it more than his soulless self would have expected.

“Just tired of being in the car I guess,” Sam answers, pointedly looking out his window.

Dean knocks the back of one of his hands into Sam’s bicep. “C’mon, tell me.”

“I’m reconsidering whether I should be there. Won’t it add to Lisa’s stress and everything?” Sam asks.

“She already knows about me being back hunting with you, Sam. I don’t think it’ll be a big deal.”

“But she doesn’t know, uh…the rest of it, right?” Sam asks with this hesitance that breaks Dean’s heart.

No, it doesn’t quite break his heart, but it hurts Dean deep down to realize that Sam is probably worrying that if he sees Lisa he’ll want to stay with her and Ben. Which means Sam didn’t believe him last night, or something else he can’t think of right now.

“No, I haven’t shared the whole story about your soul with her, and definitely not what’s happened the last couple of days. But seeing her isn’t going to change anything between you and me,” Dean says, and now that Sam’s brought it up, yeah, it’s probably going to be super weird.

He hasn’t ever had to deal with an ex and a current lover in the same place before. One of the benefits of being a love-em-and-leave-em kinda guy for most of his life. This thing with Sam seems so new and fragile, even though it’s the most solid ground he’s ever felt his feet on. Sam hasn’t said anything, won’t even look in Dean’s direction, so he reaches out to grab one of his hands. “I want you there with me, Sammy, and I don’t think it’ll bug Lisa at all. She knows you’re the second best hunter in the country, so she’ll want you on her team.”

Sam grimaces at the second-best hunter joke. “I wasn’t thinking about just that,” Sam says, leaving the rest unsaid.

“It’s gonna be weird, I know, but we’ll just have to cool it until we find Ben. The less details she knows about the whole thing, the better.”

“The whole thing?”

“Yeah us being together now as well as the whole soulless thing, all she knows is about you being in the Cage. I didn’t mean to tell her, but the first couple months with them, I couldn’t stop saying stuff when I was researching and drinking…and I eventually spilled my guts.”

“So no PDA then, got it,” Sam says with a teasing grin.

“Shut up, or you’re getting nothing at the motel tonight,” Dean says, tickled that Sam’s teasing him about this already, it’s a good sign that his brother’s already getting comfortable with the changes between them.

“Like you could ever say no to this,” Sam says, blowing an exaggerated kiss at him.

Dean rolls his eyes and grins, stomach swooping with how damn true his brother’s words really are. He has no idea if Sam quite gets that yet. “True, true, you got me there.”

They pull up to Lisa’s house and she meets them on the porch. She throws her arms around Dean and he holds her for a long minute that starts to feel awkward much sooner than Dean would have thought possible. She doesn’t fit in his arms anymore, it’s like they’ve re-shaped themselves to only fit around the Sasquatch lurking awkwardly behind him. Maybe Sam was right about this being a bad idea.

“Sam, I’m so glad you’re here too. Thanks for coming with Dean. He’s told me how busy you’ve been lately,” Lisa says, craning her neck to look up at Sam. She hugs him lightly and Sam awkwardly bends down to reach her. Sam meets Dean’s eyes briefly over Lisa’s shoulder and Dean feels himself going red with a blush that he’s not sure what it’s even about. The possibility she might figure them out, how awful it would be to have to try and explain it to her, all mixed up with how he feels kind of jealous seeing her small form wrapped around Sam.

She brings them into the house and Dean gets her to sit down on the couch in the tidy living room. Sam scurries off to the kitchen in search of beer as a cover to give them a little time to talk.

“So, you two are doing a lot better, I see,” Lisa says as she settles into her spot on the couch.

“Yeah, it’s going a lot better lately,” Dean says, and decides to immediately change the subject to why he’s even here again. “So, I can still smell the flowers you mentioned. But tell me about Ben. What’s the latest, any news since we talked?”

“It’s probably nothing, but you said to call if anything strange happened with me or Ben,” Lisa says, hand stroking her hair like she’s regretting having asked him to come.

“I’m glad you did, Lis. C’mon, what’s the story?” Dean encourages her. It might be nothing, some routine pre-teen boy disappearing thing, but with the last few times the supernatural has targeted Lisa and Ben, he’s glad he got it across to her that it’s not smart to ignore anything weird.

“Okay, like I said on the phone, he was supposed to spend the night at his friend’s house last night. And the plan was I was picking him up at baseball practice this afternoon. But he wasn’t there. His coach said he hadn’t shown up, and the friends I talked to said they hadn’t seen him around.”

“Hadn’t seen Ben at school?” Dean asks.

“No, he was at school, just not at practice. And the friend said he never showed up last night for the sleepover. He got a text saying Ben had gone home and then Ben never answered again after that.”

“Did he text or call you last night?” Dean asks.

“I got a text about the same time his friend did, saying that he was over at his buddy’s house and they were having pizza. That’s the last I heard from him.”

“No goodnight call or anything?” Dean asks.

“I was out on a date, so no, I didn’t make one, and neither did Ben.”

“You were otherwise occupied, huh?” Dean teases.

“That’s none of your business now, remember? But yeah, thanks for bringing it up so I can feel guilty all over again,” Lisa says with a frown, hugging her arms around herself.

Dean pats her on the shoulder. “That wasn’t what I meant. Have you called the police yet?”

“I was going to if you didn’t come today, but with the flower smell thing not going away. I thought the chances were pretty high it was something related to your world of stuff, and the cops would just get in the way of things. Ben has never done anything like this, he doesn’t ever lie to me. We’ve pretty much been on high-alert since you moved us here.”

“Unfortunately you’re probably right,” Dean says, squeezing Lisa’s knee in apology. “I’m sorry about that.”

“Please, Dean, we can’t keep having this conversation. No apologies about this, you’re the reason I even still have Ben. I knew what I was signing up for when I let you back into our lives. And like I said, best year of my life, totally worth it.”

Dean looks up at a noise in the archway to the kitchen and sees his brother’s back as he’s turning away. He hears beer bottles clinking together and Sam’s boots on the kitchen floor. “We’ll find him, Lisa,” he says, taking his hand off of Lisa’s knee and moving away from her as far as possible on the couch. “Sam, you got those beers yet?”

Sam comes back through the archway holding out a beer bottle to Dean, not meeting either of their eyes. He sits in one of the easy chairs facing the couch and concentrates on memorizing the beer label.

“Lisa, we’re going to work this like any other case, okay?” Dean asks.

“Last you heard from Ben was yesterday, what time?” Sam asks when Dean doesn’t say anything to get them started.

“Three-thirty, it was after school had let out when he texted me. And his friend got a text around the same time. Exactly the same time, which I thought was weird.”

“And then nothing at all after that?” Dean asks.

“No, nothing, which is weird. Like I said, I thought I’d be seeing him at four this afternoon. And I was a little occupied this morning.”

“Lisa had herself a hot date last night,” Dean says, trying to put a gentle tease in his voice for Lisa, but looking over at Sam with a significant glance. See, Sam, just like I said, she’s moved on like I have.

“Lisa, did you notice anything strange around here lately?” Sam asks. “Did Ben mention any new friends, or have there been strange smells or noises besides the flowers?”

“There hasn’t been anything I’ve noticed. I mean, I’ve been on pretty high-alert ever since Dean moved us here. He trained me for that at least.”

Dean nods in acknowledgement, hating the reminder of how much he’d screwed up their lives.

“We’re going to need to talk to the kid he was supposed to sleep over with last night. And probably a list of names of the kids he knows on the team, at school, that kind of thing,” Dean says.

“I’ve got all the phone lists in the kitchen. C’mon I’ll fix you guys some lunch if you want,” Lisa offers. She stands up from the couch and quickly disappears through the archway into the kitchen.

Sam hesitates to stand up once Dean is past him, following Lisa into the kitchen, but Dean reaches back and tugs on the back of his hair. Sam hisses at him, “Cut it out,” and finally gets up to join them.

She opens one of the kitchen cabinets to get some food out for lunch and the whole thing is filled with boxes of Lucky Charms, top to bottom. At first glance there are at least twelve boxes of the stuff.

“All that time I kept asking for these when I lived with you, and now you’re all stocked up. That’s cold, Lis,” Dean says from behind her.

“I didn’t buy those, you know I don’t buy that crap, ever. What the hell are those doing in my kitchen?” Lisa asks, sounding pissed and a little freaked.

Sam opens the cabinet closest to him and finds it’s also filled with box after box of the sweet cereal. Lucky the Leprechaun’s cheery smile mocks them as they open the rest of the kitchen cabinets and find them all in a similar state.

“Guessing all this cereal is a clue, right?” Lisa asks in a shaky voice, leaning up against the counter.

“Yeah, we know who we gotta call,” Dean says, grim and almost angry.

“I’ll go get the book and stuff out of the car,” Sam says, heading out of the kitchen.

“Wait, should we do it right here, or go somewhere ya know, safer?” Dean asks, grabbing at Sam’s shoulder and whispering urgently.

“They’ve already been here, or know where it is. I don’t think it matters too much, do you?” Sam asks in a low voice.

“Guys, you’re freaking me out, I’m gonna go check Ben’s room again, while you do whatever it is you’re whispering about,” Lisa says, arms wrapped around herself like she’s barely holding it together.

“Good idea, I’ll come check it out with you, while Sam gets the stuff,” Dean says, putting an arm around Lisa’s small shoulders to lead her out of the kitchen and away from all the menacing leprechaun leers. He’s glad Sam is there to help, especially because he needs to concentrate on helping Lisa, who’s shaking as they get closer to Ben’s room.

“Dean, could you, uh…look in there for me?” she asks in a hesitant voice.

“Sure, of course,” Dean says, patting her shoulder as she leans against the wall.

He pulls his gun from his waistband and slowly opens the door.

There’s nothing strange in Ben’s room, like no piles of Lucky Charms boxes. Nothing strange beyond the funky pre-teen boy smell and way too many comic books. Until Dean sees it, glinting on the floor near one of the bedposts. It looks familiar, like something he knows the shape of all too well. He leans down and scoops up the metal button and instantly knows it’s from the same green jacket. He tucks it into his front pocket and slides his gun back into place.

Lisa is leaning up against the wall, face white and full of fear, her whole body shaking; just like she was when he’d last been here. When he’d been a vampire; the frames had fallen off that very wall. There’s where he’d almost broken through the plasterboard, there’s where he shoved Ben and almost hurt him. Dean’s senses start to overwhelm him with the memories of that intense time of being a vampire and how it had broken he and Lisa apart for good.

He steers her back to her bedroom and gets her situated in bed, covers her up with a blanket that he’s never seen. It’s complicated, realizing this familiar room that smells like recent sex, he hasn’t slept in it in ages. That it’s been months since they’d been together, and how he doesn’t want it or miss it in the least. Not now that he has Sam. The words Lisa had said to him when he was under the truth spell come back to him now as he sits on her bed, trying to comfort her the best he can. The mixed-up, crazy thing he has with Sam, she really had no idea how right she was.

“I’m gonna find him, and I’m gonna get him back, Lisa. I swear I will.”

“I know you will,” Lisa says with a small smile. “It’s what you and Sam do, save the day, right?”

Dean leaves without saying anything else, because it’s true, and shuts the door quietly behind him.

The summoning circle is almost complete on the open area of the kitchen floor. Sam is crouching with the chalk finishing up the last figures and shapes. Dean stops and marvels at the wideness of Sam’s shoulders, the muscles bunching and flexing under his shirt, remembering how they’d felt under his hands this morning. Was that really just this morning when the whole world had changed?

“Earth to Dean?” Sam says, snapping his fingers with a frown from his kneeling position on the floor.

“Yeah, do it, ‘m ready,” Dean says, gesturing at the ritual bowl Sam is holding under his lighter.

“What are we saying to him, once we get him here?” Sam says, hesitating.

“We want Ben back,” Dean says.

“Obviously, but what if he’s the boon, the one he is supposed to take from you?” Sam asks.

Neither of them had stated it so plainly, even on the drive here. But it’s of course what’s been roiling around in Dean’s brain the whole time. “Of course he is, and we’re going to…”

“What are we going to do, offer them another boon to trade, so they’ll just give him back?” Sam interrupts. “We don’t have anything else they’d want, Dean.”

“Okay, say you’re right, what the hell else can we do?” Dean asks.

Sam looks up at him for a long moment. “I don’t know, I’ve gone over all this, I mean I did a couple days research on it before I made my deal, and there isn’t going to be a way to just talk our way out of this.”

“We can threaten him with one of the spells that’s probably in that book,” Dean says, pointing at Brennen’s book on the floor next to Sam.

“I’ve practically memorized that whole thing on the way here, Dean. There isn’t anything in that book that would threaten a fairy, I’m sorry.”

“We can threaten to make him count salt again and again?” Dean suggests.

“That’d just piss him off even worse, wouldn’t it?” Sam challenges.

Dean throws his hands up in the air in pure frustration. “Well, hell if I know, Sam, but I gotta get Ben back. I owe that to Lisa, okay?”

Sam makes calm down motions with his hands. “I know, I know, I owe her too. I’m just trying to get a plan together before we summon the dude, all right?”

“I didn’t ever really think of Ben as being mine, ya know like actually mine, so when I bargained with the leprechaun to fix you, I didn’t consider this even being a possible outcome,” Dean explains.

After a long pause where Sam looks like he’s changed his mind several times about asking, he finally does. “Don’t get mad that I’m asking this…but, do you know if he’s yours?”

“No, he’s not,” Lisa says from the stairway where she’s been sitting, listening in for who knows how long.

“Do you know that for sure, Lisa?” Sam asks, leaning back a little so he can actually see her face.

She stands up slowly, holding onto the stair banister tightly, paused there on the steps. “Yeah, I got a DNA test done, when Dean came to us last year,” Lisa says, slowly walking into the kitchen and leaning on the counter next to Dean. “I didn’t tell you about it. I’m sorry, Dean, but I had to know one way or the other; because it was always a possibility. I took a cheek swab when you were passed out, one of those times early on when you were with us.”

Dean nods but doesn’t say anything. What is there to say to a thing like this? She had to check that her kid wasn’t related to the unstable, alcoholic, fuck-up she’d let in her front door, as a just-in-case. He gets it, of course he does. Who would want someone like him to end up being their kid’s dad?

“Do you have any way to prove that, like with a document or something?” Sam asks with a worried look at Dean’s silent answer.

“Uh huh, why though?” Lisa asks.

Sam looks at Dean until he sees a nod that says go ahead, tell her the whole thing. “I’m just going to tell you straight out. We’re pretty sure it’s a leprechaun that took Ben as payment for something Dean asked him to do. In fairy terminology, it’s called a boon. But I think I could argue in their court that he was not Dean’s to give if we can prove it somehow.”

“He sure as hell wasn’t!” Lisa exclaims. “I’ll go get the papers, hold on,” Lisa says, leaping up and running up the stairs.

The brothers can hear her rummaging around in one of the rooms upstairs. Both of them look a little impressed that she didn’t freak out about the whole leprechaun thing.

Chapter Text

****

“You okay, Dean?” Sam asks with real concern, one hand on Dean’s shoulder.

Dean holds onto Sam’s hand, grateful for his brother’s presence more than he can communicate. His mind has been blown a few times in the last half hour. He’d always secretly hoped that Ben was his and now he knows for sure he wasn’t—isn’t. And finding out that Lisa had done this test thing and not even told him because of the state he’d been in, makes him feel even worse. “Not really, no.”

Sam moves closer when he hears that and is just about to hug Dean to him when they hear Lisa’s footsteps pounding back down the stairs. He steps back and leans against the counter, trying to look innocent which is stupid and Dean glares at him to cut it out. Sam shrugs and rolls his eyes because he’s just trying here, neither of them know what to do or how to act with this new thing, with Lisa, especially in the middle of trying to figure out how to get Ben back from the damn fairies. Dean smiles at his brother, trying to communicate all that silently and Sam seems to accept it and settles down a bit with a roll of his shoulders.


“Here it is, all the stuff from the testing place,” Lisa says, handing Sam a neatly labeled file folder. Ben ~ DNA Test is the label on the edge, nothing at all about Dean on the outside of the thing.


Dean steps away from the two of them and studies something terribly important out in the backyard because he doesn’t want to look at the proof himself. He always knew it was true, deep down, that he didn’t deserve to have a kid like Ben. That it was the last thing Lisa would have wanted to be true.

“This should work, assuming the fairies know what DNA is, I guess,” Sam says, shutting the file once he’s carefully scanned the documents.

“So do we summon the leprechaun here and show him or what?” Dean asks.

“No, I don’t think so, we have to go there, to argue in the Court of Fae,” Sam says.

“Go where?” Lisa asks.

“The lore says the fairies, or fae live on a different plane of existence from us, like a world one half-step away from our reality. There are ways for humans to travel there and back, so we just have to find one.”

Dean digs around in his pocket and pulls out the button he just found in Ben’s room. “Like this, maybe?”

Sam steps forward and takes the button out of Dean’s outstretched palm. He examines it under the bright light coming in the kitchen window, turning it back and forth in his elegant, long fingers. He looks at Dean with an impressed, almost proud look on his face. “Yeah, exactly like this. This looks like the one you stole off the guy’s coat, but that’s still in the ashtray out in the car. Where did you find this one?”

“It was in Ben’s room just now,” Dean says, a little pleased with himself that he might have part of the solution.

“Wait, I forgot to ask you. How did you even know about the buttons?” Sam asked, apparently impressed and surprised with Dean’s fairy knowledge.

“Hard to forget all those fairy stories you were always begging for when I used to read to you. Small things taken from fairies always get you to Fairyland if you want to go,” Dean says, remembering all those hours spent curled up with Sam in the backseat of the Impala; deep into one of the fairy tale books they’d swiped from the last library Dad had left them in for an afternoon of self-care.

“So, we’re off to the Court of the Fae then?” Sam asks with a full-watt grin that makes something settle into place deep inside Dean’s belly. That last morsel of wondering if his Sam was really, truly back is gone now.

“It’s not really a court court you know,” Dean says, pushing away the fuzzy memories of the short time he’d spent there recently.

“I know that, of course, but if their king is there, any gathering is considered a binding council as far as the fairies care about that kind of thing. At least that’s what it said in Brennan’s book.”

“I’m going with you guys. It’s not a question, he’s my kid,” Lisa insists, fierce as any mother lion.

They both look over at her, and nod, because they get it, they’d do the same for each other.

“Okay, rules for dealing with fairies that we know about so far. They can be invisible if they want to, if you’re touched by one, then usually you can see them from then on. The stories say not to eat or drink anything while you’re in Fairy. Don’t agree to anything or make any promises. They are really good at twisting meanings of words. What else?” Sam asks.

“Stick together, maybe bring some gold jewelry if you’ve got some, sometimes gifts or bribes are required. And we need iron or silver weapons, you can’t kill them with it, but it will hurt them. Oh, and if you spill salt or sugar they have to sit and count every grain which helps to stall or break up a fight,” Dean adds.

“All the iron I have is the stuff for the fireplace or maybe some of the barbecue tools? There’s a few pieces of silver cutlery I inherited from my aunt in that drawer,” Lisa points at one of the kitchen drawers. “I’ll go get some of my jewelry.”

“I’ll grab our silver and iron knives out of the car,” Sam says as Dean starts looking for the barbecue supplies in the mud room.

“Grab some of those salt rounds too. It couldn’t hurt to have them if we need to make them count stuff, that worked for you, right?” Dean says.

Sam nods and heads off to the car with that serious, intent look on his face that means he’s probably thinking up some way for them to deal with the intricacies of fairy deals.

They meet back in the kitchen and hold hands, all touching the button while Sam prepares to read one of the spells out of Brennen’s book. “This spell will bring us to the Seelie Court. I’m guessing that’s where the leprechaun would be. These are supposedly the ‘good guys’ compared to the Unseelie Court. Hopefully none of them will be lurking around.”

Dean can’t take his eyes off of Sam as he performs the spell, drinking in the whole competent earnest thing he is giving off. Sam smiles at him as they start to travel through the Veil that separates the human world from the fairy’s.

They shook themselves all over, dusting off the sparkling cobwebs that cover them. Dean reaches up and grabs some off the top of Sam’s head that he missed. They seem to be deep underground, in a tunnel that’s quite tall, the ceiling at least a few feet above their heads. The supports for the tunnel are carved stone that gleam in the low lights that travel off into the distance in either direction as far as the eye can see.

Right in front of them there is a beautiful wooden door set into the tunnel wall, fire torches flaring on either side, highlighting the intricate wooden filigree carvings. It vaguely reminds Dean of some of the elves’ homes in the Lord of the Rings movies. Some of the designs begin to trigger his memories of having been at this door at some point during his abduction. A trill of light-hearted music floats through the door, low voices murmur and sing all of which made Dean shiver with recognition.

“Everyone ready?” Sam asks in a low voice.

Lisa nods, eyes gone wide with the rush of being transported somewhere; they had both forgotten to warn her, forgetting it was her first time getting zapped someplace. This transfer feels very different from when Cas or Crowley transported them somewhere on Earth. The Veil as insubstantial as it seems to be is still a real barrier for a human body to pass through without any consequences. He doesn’t remember feeling this when the fairies had abducted him from the cornfield. Maybe he’d passed out before the transfer.

Dean pats Sam’s lower back as he passes, one of those reassuring taps they usually give each other when heading into unknown danger, but now it feels different. Probably because he knows what the skin under his hand tastes like. Dean grasps the doorknob and opens the door that hopefully led into the Fae Court.

As they pass through the doorway, their weapons fly from their various hiding places on their bodies, clattering into a heap just outside the door with a clatter. What they see on the other side is pretty much as Dean expected based on all the fairy tales and his own vague memories. The room is packed with many people, scratch that: beings, scattered around, though not crowded together. They are lounging on couches, plush chairs, even some in hammocks up near the edge of the ceiling. All of their eyes are examining the humans, and the music that had been playing abruptly stops.

“Well, if it isn’t the delectable Dean Winchester,” says one of the largest male-looking fairies seated on what could possibly be a throne near the center of the room. Enormous vases of beautiful flowers flank the throne and several low couches are arranged in a half-circle in front of him.

There is something so familiar about this fairy king, Dean struggles to remember. He has to be Oberon, right? “Oberon, it is such a pleasure to see you once again,” Dean says, going with a guess based on his half-memory, bowing low at the waist. He side-eyes Sam and Lisa, who sketch out bows of their own.

“Who have you brought to us this lovely day, Dean?” Oberon asks with a hungry grin.

“May I have the honor of introducing my brother, Samuel Winchester, and our friend Lisa Braeden,” Dean says, gesturing grandly at each of them in turn. Sam nods and Lisa shyly waves.

“I welcome you to our court, but we are in the midst of a concert, which we would all love to invite you to stay and enjoy. Or do you have urgent business that must be attended to?” Oberon asks, gesturing to seats near him that had been vacated by some of the other fairies.

Dean ventures forward and takes the seat nearest Oberon, waiting until Lisa and Sam have been seated next to him before he speaks. “King Oberon, my friend, we are here on urgent business I’m afraid. It concerns one of your subjects, a leprechaun we met in our world recently. I do not know his fairy name, but he went by Wayne Whitaker.”

“I am most pleased to hear you name me a friend, Dean,” Oberon practically purrs at him.

Dean struggles not to shiver with the feeling of Oberon’s gaze, the memories of his time here are all coming clearer and he doesn’t want to remember.

“Yes, Uaine has recently returned after collecting several boons from several of you humans. Let me call for him, so we may discuss your concerns.” Oberon turns to a small fairy that has been hovering near his elbow. It has gossamer thin wings that shine in changing colors with every beat. It’s hard to look at because it is so beautiful and bright. As he speaks to it, the thing seems to shrink until it is only dragonfly size. Then it takes off like a shot, buzzing out through the open door. “He will join us shortly.”

“Sir, one of the boons he collected is my son,” Lisa says, sitting up straight and addressing herself to Oberon. “I am here to take him home.”

“The collecting of boons bargained for is quite a delicate matter. Reneging on a debt to one of our kind is not advisable, my dear lady,” Oberon chides.

“I did not incur this debt myself, sir. I have made no bargain with any fairy,” Lisa says, almost growling. “And yet my son has been taken from me.”

“That does not sound like a thing one of our leprechauns would do. We shall get to the bottom of this, madam. This I promise you,” Oberon says, smiling at Lisa with that hungry grin once again.

“Dean and Sam, or is it Sam and Dean? We meet once again,” the leprechaun says in his cheery voice. He is escorted into the room by the dragonfly sized fairy that steadily grows larger as it nears Oberon’s throne. It perches on the top of the throne and glares at them with its color-changing eyes.

Dean looks the leprechaun over, because he looks very different here in Fairy; the glamour the fairies use on Earth changes their faces to look more human. He satisfies himself that it’s the same leprechaun by checking the green coat he wears to see that it’s missing two buttons.

“We are here because a grievous mistake has been made,” Sam says, addressing both the leprechaun and Oberon. “When Dean made his deal with you, the understanding was that you were to collect a boon from him at the time of your choosing, correct?”

“Yes, that was our deal, which I have done as you no doubt know by now. I trust the good lady here is enjoying the cereal. I’m told you humans enjoy that sort of thing,” the leprechaun says with a mischievous grin.

“The boy you have brought here is not, in fact, Dean’s son. Not legally by human means and not by human reproductive means either,” Sam states in a firm voice.

“But he is a son of the heart,” the leprechaun insists.

“You have some proof of this claim, I assume?” Oberon asks Sam, a crease between his wide-set eyes marring his beautiful face.

Dean stops staring at the beauty of Oberon’s perfect face, not wanting to fall into that particular trap again, and concentrates on the issue he’s supposed to be dealing with.  He pulls up an image of Ben in his mind and is able to get out of Oberon’s hold. He gestures at Sam who pulls the folder out of his jacket and hands it to Oberon.

“This is a report from a laboratory that compared the DNA of Benjamin Braeden and Dean Winchester,” Sam says, in a very formal, official-sounding voice. “According to the science there is not a match. Dean is not Benjamin Braeden’s father. DNA is what we humans call the building blocks of our bodies. They are only passed from parent to child in patterns that can be compared.”

Oberon carefully reads through the files in the folder and looks from Lisa to Sam to Dean slowly as if measuring their worth or maybe just their truthfulness. “Is this true, Dean?” Oberon asks, handing the folder over to the leprechaun.

“Yes, it is true, I am not Benjamin’s father,” Dean answers with a slight nod.

“Is Benjamin a child of your heart as our leprechaun friend here insists? Do not lie to me, or I shall know it,” Oberon says with a solemn cast to his normally merry features.

“He is not a child of my heart or my body,” Dean says, jaw tightly held.

Sam leans against his brother’s shoulder, trying to communicate that he knows how hard it is for Dean to say those words out loud.

“Sir Uaine, I do believe you should return this fine lady’s son to her as soon as possible,” Oberon says. “Your choice of a boon from Dean should be more carefully considered the next time.”

“Yes, sire, I understand my error,” Uaine says, handing the folder back to Sam. “I shall fetch the child right away.” Uaine backs away quickly from the throne room and flees down the hallway before they even notice the door opening.

Lisa collapses against Dean, going limp with evident relief. He feels it too; the focus of Oberon has gone off of them and onto the screw-up of his minion. He puts his attention on her, because she needs him the most. He holds her close to his body with one arm, the other hand petting her hair and speaking softly, lips close to her ear.

***

Sam watches Dean take care of Lisa and tries his best to focus his attention on what Oberon is saying.

“He normally is so exacting in his bargains, I do not know what has gotten into him lately,” Oberon says to Sam, shaking his head.

“Perhaps he has been in our world hunting UFO’s too long,” Sam offers with a smile, remembering how he’d first met the leprechaun in his disguise as a human UFO hunter.

“You must explain that to me while we await his return. What is it you are calling a UFO, Samuel?” Oberon asks, making the word sound creamy and delicious. Sam’s mouth waters to eat it from Oberon’s mouth and shakes his head to dislodge the glamour from taking hold. All that time Dean had spent here alone with the fairies was coming back to him now, all the ways Oberon had probably used his glamour to control his brother and make him do who knows what. He can’t let it happen to himself or his brother ever again. Sam concentrates on the jealous rage he feels at the thought of Dean in the hands of this fairy to push away Oberon’s control.

“Some humans believe that beings from other planets have visited us, here on Earth. The ships they use to fly through space are called UFO’s, which is an acronym meaning Unidentified Flying Object. The stories told of them make them out to be non-human created flying machines, moving in ways that ours are unable to, at least so far,” Sam says, hoping the explanation and the amount of his attention he is granting Oberon will be enough to satisfy him and keep his attention from Dean.

Oberon takes the words in and laughs a high-pitched, silvery musical laugh that makes Sam’s insides cramp and curl up on themselves with just the sound of it. Dean’s hand on his elbow breaks him out of the trance more completely and he leans into the press of Dean’s hand, the connection holding him from becoming en-spelled by the fairy again.

“Please do help yourselves to some refreshments until Uaine’s return,” Oberon says, gesturing at the table in front of their seats which is covered in glittering crystal dishes filled with colorful fruits and desserts.

“You are too kind, I don’t believe any of us are hungry at the moment. But thank you, though,” Sam says, giving Dean and Lisa a reminder look of warning. Both of them sit back in their seats so he stops worrying that they’ll forget themselves and try the fairy food.

There’s a commotion at the doorway as Ben scuffles with the leprechaun.

“Let me go! Hey, Mom!” Ben yells from the doorway.

Lisa leaps up from her place on the couch between the brothers and crosses the room to her son. She sweeps him up in her arms and glares at the leprechaun who takes several steps back.

“I apologize, please accept this as a small recompense for my error,” Uaine says, bending almost in half in a deep bow while holding out a small velvet bag to Lisa.

Lisa accepts the bag from Uaine and walks back to the brothers, still holding Ben in her arms.

“Should I take it?” Lisa asks them quietly.

“Yes, if it’s freely offered, it should be okay,” Sam says, looking at Dean who is opening the bag and peeking inside.

Dean looks up and nods his agreement with a smile. “You’re going to like what’s in there, Lisa,” Dean says. He puts one hand on Ben’s shoulder, “Hey, Ben, you okay?”

Ben wraps his arms tighter around his mother and nods. “I’m okay, just hungry and I really want to go home. It’s weird here.”

“That’s what we’ll do then,” Sam says, turning towards Oberon. He bows deeply and holds it for what he imagines is the requisite time. “We thank you, kind Oberon, for assisting us today.”

Oberon laughs again, and claps in delight. “Samuel, any time we get the chance to see you or your brother here is most welcome. I am glad we were able to set things to right. Until we meet again,” he says, waving a hand which pushes all four of them tumbling back through the Veil.

The sparkling thin cobwebs don’t make it through with them this time, but they all shake themselves off, because the feeling of passing through the Veil is so utterly strange. They are back in Lisa’s kitchen where she sits Ben down gently on one of the barstools, but keeps an arm around his shoulders.

Dean looks at the leprechaun button he still has gripped in his hand and holds it up to the light. It’s gone black with tarnish and looks quite old and used-up. “Maybe this was a single-use thing?”

“Could be, but we should hold onto it, just in case,” Sam says, thinking of the boons they both still owe the leprechaun.

“Dean, can I talk to you?” Ben asks.

Dean looks at Lisa for her agreement and then goes off with Ben to the living room. Lisa putters around the kitchen making sandwiches, which Sam helps her with.

“Sam, I want to thank you,” she says once they were done putting them out on the table.

“For what?” Sam asks, thinking it was his fault that Ben had been taken in the first place.

“For what you did today to get Ben back to me, and oh yeah, for saving the whole world,” Lisa says seriously.

Sam feels himself blush, going hot at her praise, not feeling like he ever deserves it. “No thanks required. Anyway, I should be thanking you for taking care of Dean while I was uh…gone.”

Lisa sits at the table and gestures for him to sit with her. She looks at him steadily for a moment, while she chews her sandwich, like she’s deciding exactly how to phrase something. “I’ve told Dean this a couple times already. It was the best year of my life. Ben and I, we needed the chance to have a man like Dean around for a while. But I can tell he’s happier back with you.”

“I…uh, you think so?” Sam asks, the blush coming back, but for a completely different reason this time. He concentrates on his sandwich, not having a clue at what to say to her.

Lisa quirks her eyebrow as she obviously tries to figure out his blush. “Yeah, Sam I do. Once I heard you were back, I knew it was only a matter of time before Dean would be out of our lives again. He wanted to have it both ways, hunting and having a home. We gave it a try as you know, but it just wasn’t meant to be. You guys are though.”

“Meant to be?” Sam asks, genuinely confused as to what she really means to suggest here, because there is no way that she knows. Right?

Lisa just smiles and hands Sam a plate with the two remaining sandwiches to take to Ben and Dean in the living room.

Sam pauses a moment watching Dean with the boy who he just had to proclaim isn’t his son of the heart just an hour ago. And all of a sudden it seems like the best lie Dean has ever told. Lord knows there was a list to choose from there. He feels himself fill up with happiness that Dean had a chance at this at all; a connection with a real, unscrewed-up family. But in that darker part of himself he usually tries to ignore, he is filling with a raging jealousy that Dean obviously still wants or needs them more. It should be okay, it really should, for Dean to have this after a life of putting others first. Maybe it’s finally Dean’s turn to get a chance at happily-ever-after.

After a day of hanging around with the three of them, Sam can see that his brother needs this more than he’d managed to understand based on what Dean had told him. He seems to be a changed man, so open and happy, kidding around with Ben and Lisa. Even though Lisa told Sam at lunch that she thought he and Dean were meant to be, who knew what she really meant? Or if she was even close to right.

While the three of them are occupied looking at a photo album from one of the trips they took during their year together, Sam takes his chance to fade into the background. He calls himself a taxi and washes the stupid tears from his face in the bathroom closest to the front door. He’ll text Dean or something once he gets a few states away. It’ll be best for all of them not to have a big good-bye scene here in front of Lisa and Ben.

Sam is waiting out on the front porch for the taxi he’s called when Dean unfortunately notices he isn’t in the house. “Sam, what the hell are you doing out here? We were just about to order a pizza,” he says from the front door.

Of course the yellow taxi picks that moment to pull up in the driveway, the driver tooting his horn briefly. Sam waves and stands up with his bag in one hand, his backpack already over the other shoulder. He can’t bear to look at Dean, knowing that if he does he’ll probably just stay and that isn’t what’s right for Dean. But he does anyway, because he can’t help himself to have one last look.

“What is this, you’re leaving? Without even saying anything to me?” Dean asks, and Sam is struck again with how the puppy eyes Dean has at his disposal are far more deadly than his own.

“I’m trying to give you what you need here, Dean. Don’t make it harder than it already is, okay? I get that you’d rather stay with them. Even if you don’t realize it yourself. I’ll call you when I get where I’m going,” Sam says, stepping off the porch.

Dean stops him with just a few words. “They're not what I really want though. Yes, I love them, but it’s not like with you. Sammy, you’re what I need. Please don’t go.”

Sam spins around and looks up at Dean standing two steps up on the porch, backlit by the cheery lights of a suburban home where he looks so damn comfortable. “I can’t take all this away from you again, Dean, I’m sorry, I just can’t.” The taxi driver honks again and Sam turns to start walking towards the car when he feels Dean’s hand land on his shoulder.

“Wait just a damn minute! All of that last night, this morning, all of it was what to you? Nothing?” Dean asks, “You’re just gonna walk away after all of that without a word. Jesus Christ, Sam, I gave you my fucking heart on a plate and you’re just dumping it in the trash leaving like this. I should have known you’d run, you always do.”

“Hey! You’re the one that promised me, that you’d go have this life, remember? And even soulless me knew you needed a chance at it. That’s why I made myself stay away as long as I did, so you could have all this.”

Dean doesn’t say anything for a long moment, but then he makes a low growling noise before speaking, “It almost killed me, every damn day I almost joined you down there. And if you leave, Sammy, I can’t…”

The taxi starts backing up down the driveway and Sam steps towards it, shaking Dean’s hand off his shoulder. Dean lets him go, plopping down onto the porch steps like he has no strength left in his body.

Sam has a short conversation with the taxi driver through his rolled-down window and hands him some cash. The taxi takes off and Sam stands in the driveway looking up at the house. He can see Lisa and Ben’s faces in the window, they’re probably wondering what the hell is going out here in their front yard; so much for not making a scene.

He finally lets himself look at Dean, sitting there on the steps like a stone-faced gargoyle, he looks beyond lost and Sam’s heart breaks. He walks back up the driveway, to stand in front his brother. “What the hell am I supposed to do with you, Dean?” Sam asks, standing at the edge of the porch, the toes of their boots almost touching.

Dean looks up at him in surprise, like he hasn’t noticed that Sam was still there. “Thought you weren’t gonna do anything with me anymore, wasn’t that why you were supposedly leaving?” Dean snarls, his eyes flash, red and wet with tears.

“I didn’t know, Dean. I didn’t understand—“ Sam says.

Dean interrupts him by leaping up and grabbing him into a fierce hug. They cling to each other like it’s the last time. Sam thinks maybe it’s the first time, this is where they’re both consciously choosing them over everything else. His heart swells with the thought and he holds Dean even closer.

Dean lets him go and looks up at Sam, wipes the tears from Sam’s cheeks and his own and smiles. “Let’s go make our goodbyes, huh?”

Chapter Text

***

Lisa doesn’t look at all surprised when they come inside to tell her they’re leaving right then and there.

“Hey, I was smart this time, I didn’t let my hopes get up that Dean would maybe stay with us. It was so good to have him back in our house for a little while, and you too, Sam,” Lisa says.

“Thanks, Lis,” Dean says, kissing the side of her head and holding her close for a long moment. He was stupid to ever imagine that he deserved a place in this woman’s life.

Lisa turns her head to whisper in Dean’s ear, “Seeing you with Sam for just this short while pointed out a big difference to me. I can see that you’re a complete person now. It’s so damn obvious, I’m kind of kicking myself for even hoping I could fix you. Sam was who you needed, not me. I’m really happy for both of you.”

Dean isn’t sure what she means, but whispers his thanks to her again anyway and steps back to stand next to Sam near the door.

Ben however is looking very sad to have Dean leave them so soon. He tries one last time to guilt Dean into staying a little longer. “I can’t believe you’re just leaving again. Don’t we count any more, Dean? I mean, they took me to fairyland or whatever that place was, because they thought I was your kid.”

Dean crouches down in front of Ben, hands on both of his shoulders. “Ben, you do count, of course you do. I will always love you and your mom, but I have a life that isn’t safe for you guys. You’re both worth too much to me to risk you again. I know it’s probably hard to understand.”

“You’re choosing to be with Sam and hunt instead of staying with us, that’s what I understand,” Ben pouts.

Dean feels his heart crumple a little at Ben’s words, but then he feels Sam’s hand land on his shoulder and realizes the choice he’s making today was never really a choice. Sam’s always been the reason, he always will be.

He sighs and looks Ben in the eye. “Yeah, I am, it’s who I am, Ben. I’m not father-material, no matter how much I’d like to be, I’m really really not. But I’m going to be out there doing my job because I want to keep people like you and your mom safe. You’ve been touched by this stuff three times now, you should be able to get what’s at stake.”

“I do, I guess. I’m just going to miss you is all,” Ben said, throwing his arms around Dean’s waist.

Dean hugs Ben to him and feels that divide within himself heal over. There isn’t enough of him left to love Ben and Lisa, not like they deserve. He is one hundred percent Sam’s and that is a fact he finally accepts as truth. Ben is right, that’s exactly what he’s choosing, and he’ll make that same choice every single time. “I’ll miss you guys, too. But we’ll work something out so I can come see you, okay?”

“Really?” Ben asks, looking completely surprised that Dean would make that offer.

“Yeah, Sam and I are always driving around the country. How about, if it’s okay with your mom, we’ll come by whenever we’re nearby. I can’t promise how often, but it’d be at least a few times a year.”

Lisa finally speaks up then, “Of course it’s okay, you and Sam are more than welcome here whenever you’re in the area. We’d both really love that.”

“Can I still text you and stuff?” Ben asks Dean .

“Of course, Sam’s always telling me I need to practice that anyway, aren’t you Sam?” Dean asks, straightening up to standing and looking over at Sam.

Sam laughs and shakes his head. “He’s kind of hopeless with it, Ben. But you can text me if you want to.”

Ben’s eyes go wide, and his mouth even drops open a little. “Really?”

Sam smiles and looks over at Lisa in question, she nods and smiles at him, wide and happy. Sam pulls his phone out and taps a few times. “What’s your number, dude?”

Ben rattles it off and Sam enters it, smiling to himself. The whole time Dean watches this exchange between the man he loves more than anything and the kid he’d hoped was his, he feels a different kind of happiness. It’s like a tiny glimmer of possibility, something they maybe might get if they’re good boys and do everything just right. Impossible probably, but maybe, just maybe it would work. Leave it to Sam to figure out how to give them a chance to still have a kid like Ben in their lives.

Sam gets a surprise goodbye hug from Ben and also one from Lisa. He’s red in the face as they head out to the car, waving and smiling back at them on the porch. Dean slaps him on the back a couple times, letting Sam know he did a good thing back there.

“Don’t ever do something like that leaving for my own good shit again, or I’ll kill you,” Dean growls once he’s got the door closed and the Impala started up. He waves a last goodbye to Lisa and Ben who’re standing arm-in-arm on their porch and takes off down the suburban street with an ostentatious roar of the engine.

“Got it,” Sam says with a grin, buckling his seat belt and arranging his feet in the passenger footwell.

Dean points the Impala east and heads towards Ann Arbor, it’s got a college town atmosphere he knows Sam likes and there’s a place that served the best Greek food he’d ever had. It’s only an hour and half, thanks to the road construction on highway ninety-four.  They eat at the Greek restaurant, a clean, small diner on the edge of the downtown college area, comfortably silent over their cups of lemon chicken rice soup. He steals some of Sam’s kalamata olives off his salad plate just to get a reaction.

“Hey, I was saving those for last,” Sam protests, trapping Dean’s fork with one big hand on the diner table between them.

“Aww poor baby, you can have some of my Moussaka to make up for it,” Dean says, forking up a big mess of beef and eggplant and holding it out to Sam.

Sam leans forward and slowly eats it off of Dean’s fork, his eyes going darker by the second as he watches Dean’s reaction.

Dean feels a swoop of lust slamming deep down in his belly, the still new and terrifying thought of what they are now, together. There’s so much he wants, and he wants it all right now.

“Mmmm, that’s goood,” Sam says, putting the extra letters into a vibration that travels through the fork that he’s still got in his mouth. It’s the only thing connecting them at this point and Dean feels it like Sam is vibrating his lips on the fingers that hold the fork. He traps Sam’s foot between his and Sam lets the fork out of his mouth.

“We done here?” Dean asks in a rush, standing up from his mostly finished dinner.

“I thought you’d want to get some Baklava or something for dessert,” Sam asks, still sitting on his side of the table.

Dean huffs and heads off to pay at the front counter. When Sam joins him, Dean hands him a small white paper bag with grease soaking through the bottom. “Here’s your stupid Baklava.”

“I’m going to eat this off of you later,” Sam whispers into Dean’s ear as he’s finishing paying their bill.

Dean goes red in the face and tosses another five on the counter, he grabs Sam’s hand and pulls him out the door of the diner, hustling him over to where they parked. He slams Sam up against the passenger door, standing up above him on the curb so they’re level for once and kisses Sam until his brother is left dazed and panting, barely clutching onto the bag of Baklava.

The search for a suitable motel is frantic after all that, maybe even a little unsafe. Sam’s hands are everywhere on him as he drives through downtown Ann Arbor. He finally finds the one he was hoping was still open and pulls into the parking lot. Dean shuts off the car and undoes his seatbelt, Sam is on him before he can even say anything, kissing him hard and intense. Pulling back to catch his breath he marvels at the darkness of Sam’s lust-blown eyes. He puts a hand up to Sam’s cheek and holds him away as he presses forward for more kisses.

“Let me go get us a room, okay? Don’t want our first time to be out in the damn parking lot, right?”

Sam brings a hand up to cover the one Dean’s got on his face and turns it so he can gently kiss Dean’s palm, holding Dean’s eyes the whole time. Dean feels his toes curl up in his boots at the look Sam is giving him. “I’ll hurry, okay? You get the bags out,” Dean says, handing Sam the keys and opening his door to get out.

He has to adjust himself before he can even manage to walk over to the manager’s office. While he’s chatting with the clerk he looks back towards their car and sees his brother leaning over into the trunk. The parking lot’s sodium lights highlighting the perfect curve of his ass. Dean has to lean into the counter a bit and adjust himself again. It’s never taken so long to get a damn room key.

Walking across the parking lot towards Sam, he feels a swell of emotion rise up, threatening to overwhelm his control. He has to stop walking to get himself together, but seeing his brother’s concern even from this far away helps more than he can even admit to himself. With every step that brings him closer, he throws off the hesitations and worries that will always be present, they don’t matter, only Sam does.

Sam takes the keycard from him and they open the door, jostling through together, their bodies which have always had a sort of magnetism even closer now. Dean closes the door and locks it, now they’re alone, and now what? His stomach kind of clenches with an anxious pulse that he knocks away with annoyance. Sam looks up just then and they’re drawn together, duffels dropping out of their hands.

It’s a frantic flurry of clothes being removed in various stages, with some giggles about boots not coming off to get their pants off quickly enough.

“Smooth there, Sammy, real smooth,” Dean teases, as Sam balances on one foot, one sock dangling from his toes being the only article of clothing he’s still wearing.

“You’ve still got both of your socks on, dude. And why are these still on?” Sam asks, tugging on Dean’s boxer briefs.

“Thought you might want to take care of those yourself,” Dean purrs into the side of Sam’s neck, balancing himself to remove each sock.

Sam kneels in front of him abruptly, his face nuzzling into the hardness threatening escape from Dean’s briefs. He mouths through the fabric along the whole length, his hands caressing up and down the back of Dean’s thighs. He slowly pulls the briefs down and tucks the elastic behind Dean’s balls.

“Look so good like this, Dean,” Sam says, with that dark look back in his eyes.

As good as it feels to hear that, Dean hesitates to answer, unsure if Sam’s going to just want to trade head again, or something else. There’s so much he wants (everything really) and they haven’t talked about this yet. He mentally kicks himself for wanting to talk, he’s the guy that just does, so he reaches down to pull Sam back up and presses their bodies together. He wriggles out of his boxers and revels in the sensations of having all of Sam’s warm skin pressed against his own.

There’s some mind-melting kisses that they trade back and forth and then they’re on the bed, wrapped around each other, hips starting to move together. Dean’s about to ask what Sam wants when his brother gets up off the bed and starts rifling through his duffel bag. He comes back with a tube of lube and a beautiful grin that answers the unasked question.

Dean’s amazed that his body almost hurts from just this short absence of Sam’s touch, he’s already addicted to feeling his brother against him everywhere. Sam’s worked himself open already, before Dean had even had a chance to focus on whose fingers were where. He’s pushing Dean back and straddling his hips, a hand holding him down in the middle of his chest. Sam’s head quirks to the side, oh god, he’s noticed the hesitation.

“Hey, you okay with this?” Sam asks, a tremble in his voice because he’s obviously turned on and now he’s worrying.

How does he manage to keep screwing all of this up? It should be easy, automatic, they love each other, neither of them is going anywhere. Dean can’t think of what to say.

Sam starts to climb off, his face shuttering down into some horrible mishmash of disappointment and shame.

“No, Sammy, wait, I want to try everything…with you,” Dean finally confesses, “I haven’t done this before…you know, with a guy.” He holds on tight to Sam’s hips, keeping him there, hoping it will be enough to make him stay.

Sam’s face opens up again, and it’s the most beautiful damn thing Dean’s seen all day. More beautiful than the brittle fairy perfection of Oberon, or Lisa and Ben hugging Sam as they welcome him into their lives, it’s his brother accepting him, meeting him where he is, and he should have trusted him. He promises himself he always will from here on out.

“I want to try everything with you too, Dean, we can go slower if you want to,” Sam says, a shy smile quirking his graceful lips up in the corners.

Dean pulls him down so he can taste that smile, and it’s the sweetest thing, makes him go crazy with how good Sam tastes. “No, I want this now, just want my turn next time, okay?” Dean whispers against Sam’s lips.

The answer Dean gets is a long groan from Sam where he closes his eyes and kisses Dean frantically. He reaches back and holds Dean steady, slowly sinking down, giving himself time to adjust. Sam takes both of Dean’s hands and holds them when he starts moving his hips, riding Dean in a slow, sensuous roll.

Dean can feel his eyes begin to close with the intense feeling, but Sam squeezes his hands and he re-opens them, focuses on Sam’s eyes. He’s never had someone look at him this way, the love he can see pouring out of Sam is hard to even quantify. He hopes Sam can see the same in his own eyes. He brings their joined hands to his mouth and kisses Sam’s gently, then lets go so he can hold Sam’s hips harder against him. Sam speeds up, losing the rhythm as he chases his orgasm. Tightening his hands on Sam, he plants his feet wide on the bed and thrusts up hard and fast. Sam’s head lolls back and he moans Dean’s name in time with his thrusts, finally tightening up deep inside, so much that Dean can barely keep moving. Dean’s never felt anything like it before, and he manages a few more thrusts of his own into a now pliant Sam, finally letting go with a cry of his brother’s name.

They separate after a few long moments where Dean can feel everything so acutely, he misses the warmth and connection with Sam instantly. Wanting to be back inside of him, maybe stay there a while, forever would be ideal. Sam is cuddling into his side and Dean’s hands are roaming up and down all that glorious bare skin, and he’s struck with how damn happy he is. Not just from the sex, as awesome as that was, it’s how everything between them finally makes sense, it’s working like it probably always should have.

“That was awesome, did you really never do that before?” Sam asks.

“With a couple of women, yeah, but not with a guy,” Dean admits.

“You did other stuff with guys though, right? I mean, I have, although it’s been a while,” Sam says.

“I have, yeah, a little too recently,” Dean says, hoping his words are muffled enough in Sam’s hair.

Sam’s hands go still and Dean can feel his brother’s body go tight all over. “You mean Oberon?”

“I shouldn’t have said…I don’t want to talk about it, Sammy,” Dean says.

“That fucker,” Sam hisses, “I’m gonna—“

“You’re not doing anything, cut it out,” Dean interrupts. “I don’t need a white knight here, okay?”

Sam struggles up to his elbows, looking down at Dean. “If he used the glamour thing on you to get you to do stuff, that’s not okay with me.”

“Let it go, it’s over and done with. Honestly, I barely remember the details, they must have blanked it out for me or something,” Dean says, cursing himself for even talking about this. Way to mess things up between them right from the very start.

“That’s maybe even worse,” Sam growls, flopping back onto the bed and staring up at the ceiling.

“I’m sorry I even said anything,” Dean mumbles, turning over away from Sam, pulling the blankets over himself. He can feel the rigidity of Sam’s body as he silently fumes and he’s cursing his big mouth. This is what he gets for trying this honesty thing out, he should have known.

It’s only a few more moments that feel like forever, but Sam rolls over and spoons him from behind, slotting their naked bodies completely together, holding Dean tightly around his waist. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs into the back of Dean’s neck.

The feeling of Sam’s lips on his skin make everything better instantly, all thoughts of worrying about honesty or holding back fly out the window. This is what he wants, nothing held back between them ever again.

“I didn’t know you were such a jealous guy, Sammy,” Dean says.

“That’s not what this is about, Dean. Well, partly it is, I’ll admit it. But they could have kept you there again today and I don’t know what I’d do…”

“You’d have come in guns blazing to get me, you stupid jealous bastard,” Dean interrupts, rolling over so that he’s smashed up against Sam’s front. He kisses his way along Sam’s neck, hoping to distract him, stop this stupid conversation from going any further.

“Damn right I would have,” Sam says with a growl that should be stupid instead of incredibly sexy.

“I’m not going anywhere, not to Faery, or to Lisa and Ben. You’re stuck with me, dude,” Dean says.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted, Dean,” Sam says, the honest truth shooting out of him like a searing blow torch that fires up all of Dean’s senses at once.

“I bet that’s not all of what you’ve wanted though,” Dean says, pushing Sam a little so he rolls onto his back. Dean arranges himself on top of Sam, aligning them so that they can slowly rut against each other. He groans when he feels how hard Sam is getting already, he wants to feel that inside of him, right now.

Sam hands him the lube before he can say anything else, spreads his legs and tilts his hips up. Dean fumbles the bottle at first, the stuff is slippery, but then he gets to work, opening himself up for the first time. “This something you’ve done before?” he asks, hoping for Sam to answer no, he wants to be Sam’s first for this.

“No, never, I didn’t want to with anyone like this, except for you,” Sam says, breath gone short with anticipation as he watches Dean writhe on top of him.

“Same here,” Dean says, watching the beautiful dawning of Sam understanding that this desire has always gone both ways between them. They just had to get over the walls they’d built to keep it hidden from each other. “Gonna show you, Sammy.”

Sam holds himself steady as Dean lowers himself down in small increments.

“God, why’d you have to be so huge?” Dean complains.

Sam laughs and it sends him a little deeper inside Dean who gasps at the feeling. “Keep breathing, let me in, a little at a time. Gonna make it so good, Dean,” Sam says, soothing hands stroking Dean’s lower back.

Dean’s hands are gripping so tightly onto Sam’s shoulders, he can see his knuckles going white, so he makes himself listen to Sam’s soothing tones, feels the heat of Sam inside, and wills himself to open enough to take him all the way in. Slowly, so slowly they make it work and he’s never felt anything like this. He’s filled where he never had felt empty before. Sam is taking up all of the room inside of him, and that shouldn’t be anything new, but now it’s their bodies not just his heart, and they’re together, really together and it’s perfect and he knows he’s babbling and he needs to shut up but he can’t and his hips start moving and it’s incredible, something bright and sparking deep inside and he’s going to come oh god too soon he doesn’t want it to ever end and he’s never going anywhere else, never wanting anyone else ever again, and oh Sam.

Dean comes back to himself a bit when Sam is cleaning him up with a warm washcloth. Just enough to feel embarrassed for losing it like that, and he starts trying to apologize but then Sam is wrapping him back up in his orangutan arms and murmuring the same things right back to him. He falls asleep hearing Sam’s promise that he’s never leaving Dean again and the profound joy he feels at those words carries him off to an unexpectedly lovely and restful sort of sleep, wrapped up safe and sound with Sam.

****

Chapter Text

****

Dean’s arms don’t feel right when he wakes up. There’s something missing, a weight and warmth that should be there, that he’s already grown used to having. Before he even opens his eyes he knows. That bastard has taken Sam now.

The boxes of Lucky Charms filling the cabinets of the motel room’s kitchenette are all the proof he needs. Uaine has collected his boon again, and this time it’s Sam. He wants to set all those boxes of cereal on fire or something, but first things first, he’s gotta go after what’s his.

After he gets dressed in his clothes from yesterday, Dean reads over the research Sam had compiled on boons and the definition of the term as far as it goes with fairy deals. What he comes up with is that Uaine must think he’s somehow Sam’s parent, which given their activities of last night gives a whole new meaning to the incest they were already engaged in. It makes Dean shiver with revulsion to even think of it. Maybe a long time ago, he’d acted like a parent to Sam when their dad wasn’t around enough. But it’s been a very long time since he’s felt anything like parental towards Sam. Brotherly sure, more-than-brotherly is a whole other category, right? As far as how a boon would be counted, that’s got to be the argument he makes.

Ben had given him a button yesterday that he’d swiped from the leprechaun, and it’s still stuck in his jeans pocket so he doesn’t have to dig out the first one that’s still in the ashtray out in the car. As Dean eats his breakfast, a Power Bar he’s dunked in motel room coffee, he pats the button in reassurance. “I’m coming for you, Sammy, hold on.”

Dean’s back in that tunnel before the beautiful wooden door in less than an hour. His hand is on the knob to open the door when he’s stopped by a voice hissing right in his ear. “Oh ho ho, you’re not here again, human. Can’t stay away from us once you get a taste. Oberon never should have touched your diseased human flesh.”

Dean flaps his hand because something is buzzing next to his ear, it’s the messenger fairy that had been on Oberon’s throne yesterday. “Leave me the hell alone, I’m not tasting anything and I sure as hell don’t want to be here.”

“If it’s Hell you want, sweet thing, then Hell I can give you,” the fairy purrs and tinkles, licking the shell of his ear. It flies away from him, hovering above his head, growing suddenly larger and darker. It’s wings look bat-like, leathery and foul just like some of the worst demons of hell that had tormented him during his brief stay.

Dean pushes past the thing with a shudder of remembrance and opens the door. Just like last time, the music abruptly cuts off and all eyes are on him. He tries to remember how Sam had argued this yesterday. The messenger fairy has transformed itself into the beautiful small thing and accompanies him towards the throne.

“Dean Winchester, I am surprised to see you are here again, and without your beautiful brother this time,” Oberon says, with that same unsettling hungry smile that makes him remember too many vague images of his time spent here under this fairy’s control. “Wherever, is your dear Samuel?”

“Greetings or whatever, Oberon, You’ve got Sam here already, at least Uaine has. That’s why I’m showing up here again, I need him back,” Dean says, stating his case as plainly as possible.

“Why ever would Uaine have collected Samuel as a boon from you?” Oberon asks, sitting back in his throne chair and crossing his legs. He’s looking Dean up and down like he’s cataloguing and remembering how each body part tastes in those sharp white gleaming teeth of his. Dean tries not to think about the fact that Oberon does know exactly how he tastes.

“I believe Uaine has made a mistake again. This time, I believe he has misunderstood the place Sam has in my life,” Dean says.

“And in your heart, I assume,” Oberon says, eyes twinkling with amusement. “That beautiful boy, well, I’d imagine he just takes everyone by storm.”

Dean is just about to question that, demand answers about what the hell Oberon is hinting at when the messenger fairy flies off.  “I’ve sent her off to gather up Uaine and Samuel for us, please take a seat while we wait.”

Choosing among the available sitting options, Dean picks the purple overstuffed divan that is closest to Oberon. He doesn’t say anything, afraid of revealing too much or angering the fairy king.

“You are a very different man than your brother, aren’t you?” Oberon asks with a command in his voice that is very hard to ignore. Sam had told him about having to fight off the powerful glamour Oberon has control of yesterday.

“Yeah, I guess so. He’s four years younger than me, never will cut his hair and has piss-poor taste in music, and don’t get me started on what he eats,” Dean says.

“His body is in very fine shape, his is one of the most pleasing human forms I’ve seen in an eon. I think he likely makes good food choices, you just don’t happen to agree with them,” Oberon says in a haughty way that makes Dean grind his teeth.

Dean wants to tell him to stop talking about his brother like that, emphasis on the his. But he holds himself back because that will just complicate the whole argument he needs to make here to get Sam back. He’s got to keep it focused on the parental thing. “Can’t argue with you there, Oberon,” Dean says through a grimace he tries to make look like a smile.

Oberon is about to offer him the food laid out on the low table before them, but they’re interrupted by the messenger fairy swarming back in, announcing the arrival of Sam and the leprechaun.

Uaine has his hand firmly wrapped around Sam’s bicep, (his long fingers not even coming close to touching, Dean notes proudly) and is frowning mightily at Dean across the throne room.

“Uaine, it is all of us together once again, is this to become a now-daily occurrence? Dean has returned to lodge a protest about your collection of Samuel as his boon sacrifice,” Oberon says, waving a hand at them to seat themselves.

Uaine forces Sam to sit on one of the love-seat sized couches near the throne, across from where Dean is perched on the edge of his.

“Greetings, your majesty, I am unclear what the issue Dean could have with my choice of boon,” Uaine says, bowing deeply yet his hand doesn’t come off of Sam’s arm for a moment.

Dean tries to make eye contact with Sam across the small distance between them but Sam’s eyes are glazed over and not focusing on much at the moment.

“Sam! Hey, wake up! What the hell have you done to him?” Dean protests.

“Just a mild glamour to calm him until he becomes accustomed to living here in Faery with us,” Uaine assures Dean, assuming this is an answer Dean will accept.

Oberon waves his hand in Sam’s direction and his eyes instantly clear. Sam shakes his head and smiles with clear relief when he sees Dean across from him. “I knew you’d come, Dean.”

“Of course, Sammy, you can’t get rid of me that easily, thought we went over that yesterday,” Dean says with a matching grin.

“You two are indeed adorable, but to the matter at hand, shall we?” Oberon says, clapping his hands together. An aura of officialness descends on his shoulders. “I will hear now the boon requirements, Sir Uaine, please proceed.”

Uaine lets go of Sam’s arm reluctantly and stands up, arranging his green coat with the three missing buttons. “I am owed a boon from Dean Winchester. To fulfill this boon, I  claim his first-born and only son, Samuel Winchester.”

Both Dean and Sam burst out laughing at the very idea, meeting each other’s eyes across the food table. Sam nods at Dean, knowing that he has a good argument worked out, otherwise he wouldn’t have come to get him.

“Besides rude laughter, the disputant’s statement is what in response?” Oberon asks in an offended voice, turning to Dean.

“I guess I’m the disputant, and I apologize for laughing. I dispute that I am not Sam’s father, he is not my son, he has never been my son. Sam is instead, my brother.”

“That is not strictly true, Dean, from what I have seen in Sam’s soul when I retrieved it from Hell,” Uaine argues.

“What is that exactly that you saw, Uaine?” Oberon asks. “Be clear and true now or you will forfeit with your life.”

“My view when I held his soul in my hands was that Samuel has years of memories of Dean acting as his de-facto Father deep in his soul that have come to form the basis of his person.”

“You are misinterpreting how we perceive and classify ourselves. The relationship between us is not parental, it is only sibling based,” Sam says.

“That is not all though,” Uaine protests. “And be quiet, you are not the disputant, you are the boon.”

“Uaine,” Oberon says in warning. “Samuel may speak, but it seems moot as there is more to Uaine’s argument than yours, Dean.”

Dean thinks for a moment, his eyes searching Sam’s across the space between them. He turns his attention to Oberon who is looking hungrier than when he’d first arrived. “That may have been true when we were children, I’m sure those memories are in his soul, of course they would be. Someone had to be there for Sam, our mom was killed when he was six months old, and our Dad did his best. But that isn’t what I mean to him now or how I think of him now,” Dean says.

“Is this maybe a definitional thing? Do fairies and humans see family relationships differently?” Sam asks.

Oberon tips his head to the side considering, his gaze raking up and down Sam’s body. “Childhood memories are one thing, but—you both have the same mother and father, correct?”

Both Dean and Sam nod vigorously.

“Then you are brothers to each other, not parent and child. What say you, Uaine?”

“Dean has been acting as Samuel’s parent his entire life and has essentially raised him from infancy as a mother-substitute,” Uaine says, rising to his feet, letting go of his hold on Sam in his anger at being challenged.

“That is our ancient history, and not our primary relationship though. The vast majority of our adult lives has been spent as brothers,” Dean protests.

“Then why did I find you in the state I did this morning when I collected Samuel?” Uaine asks, a dark cloud over his face, the forty-six remaining buttons on his green jacket jangling together making angry music.

Dean feels himself flush an instant red, he puts a hand up to the back of his neck and tries to smile at Sam. He makes himself look up at Oberon then, knowing this mention of sex would be the deciding factor since the fairy king is so sex-focused. “That is…uh, something new for us, just since the time Uaine returned Sam’s soul to him. I’m not sure how it has a bearing on this question before your court, Oberon.”

Oberon looks much more interested and amused at the same time. “Oh do tell, Uaine, what state exactly did you find these brothers?”

Uaine grimaces, knowing he’s probably lost the argument. “Naked, in each other’s arms.”

Oberon claps delightedly and laughs that irritating musical laugh. He schools his face into seriousness. “So a bit more than just brothers it seems.”

“Listen, if I let you touch me, you can read my mind, right?” Dean asks, he remembers Oberon taking advantage of this ability, rifling through his memories during the short time he’d been captive here.

Oberon motions Dean forward and slowly unbuttons Dean’s shirt, opening it wide. He touches Dean’s chest over his tattoo, running his sharp nails over the design as he reads the contents of his heart.

After a minute or so, Dean gets uncomfortable having the fairy king up close in his space, touching him so intimately. He glances at Sam and he gets a reassuring smile from his brother. Dean feels his heart flare up full and hot at the reminder of what Sam means to him in this fraught moment, and what it would mean to have him taken away.

Oberon gasps and pulls his hand away from Dean’s chest looking at him curiously. “Based on what I have just seen, your claim is denied, Uaine. Dean is no more Samuel’s parent than I am. After your two spectacular failures in collecting a boon from him, I now declare Dean’s debt to you is paid in full.”

“As you say, majesty. What of the boon, Samuel owes me?” Uaine asks, his face a barely controlled mask of anger.

“As far as I am concerned, that has not been discussed and remains in effect, but I advise you to take care in choosing your boon from Samuel. It won’t go well with you if they are back in my court on the morrow,” Oberon says with a stern nod dismissing Uaine.

Uaine leaves in huff, buttons jangling and angry. He whispers in a low hiss to the brothers as he passes by them, “Don’t worry I’ll be seeing you both again.”

“I apologize for my subject’s ineptitude, please take this as a measure of my feelings. I hope to go a few days without seeing you here in my court. Farewell,” Oberon says and with a flick of his fingers they are pushed back through the veil landing on their un-made motel bed with a bounce.

***

They fall into each other’s arms again, so relieved to have passed out of Fairy together once again.

“Thanks for getting me back, Dean,” Sam says, kissing his brother with gratefulness that they’re on the same plane of existence, at least for now.

“Hopefully that was the last time we have to go there, I don’t like Oberon creepin’ on you like that,” Dean says, hands roaming around Sam’s body like he’s checking to see that he’s still all there, no parts left behind for Oberon to chew on.

“I still owe Uaine a boon, remember?” Sam says.

“We’ve gotten out of it the other two times, third times the charm, right?” Dean says with a hopeful light shining in his eyes that Sam doesn’t want to dim with reality. Sue him, Dean is in his arms, they’re back safe in their motel room, in the bed that still smells like the sex they were having all night. Was it really just last night?

“Hey, what is this thing?” Dean asks, holding up a velvet bag that’s between them on the bed. “Is this what he gave us as our parting gift?”

The contents of the bag jingle as Dean tests the weight of the thing before opening the drawstring. “Same as what Lisa and Ben got, fairy treasure stuff. Looks like human coins mostly,” Dean says as he spreads the contents out on the bedspread between them.

Sam digs through the coins and finds some really special ones that he sets aside to research the value of later. “That’s probably because fairy gold doesn’t always stay around here, remember that one story of the disappearing treasure? So this is probably from their hoard they’ve stolen over the years.”

“If all this is still here in the morning, I’ll believe it’s the real deal. No, I’ll believe it when we can spend it on something.”

Sam’s stomach growls, loud and empty and he looks up at Dean to see his response.

“You haven’t eaten anything since, when?” Dean asks.

“Uh, the Greek restaurant I guess,” Sam says, remembering everything that came right after that, the bag of Baklava is still probably in the car where they left it in their rush into the motel room. “I didn’t eat anything while I was stuck there, even though Uaine kept offering me stuff. I was counting on you getting me out and I didn’t want to mess that up.”

“I’ll go get us some sandwiches or something, okay?” Dean says, standing up a bit reluctantly. He stops at the door and looks back at Sam lying there riffling his fingers through the shiny coins. “Don’t go anywhere without me this time.”

“It wasn’t up to me, you know,” Sam says with a pout that makes Dean cross the room back to him, kissing him so slow and thorough his toes curl up inside his boots.

“If this is how you apologize now, I think I’m going to get used to this pretty fast,” Sam says in a murmur against Dean’s lips.

“Hopefully I won’t have much to be apologizing for, right?” Dean says with a laugh that breaks them apart. “I’ll be right back,” he says, jingling his keys as he exits the door.

In the small amount of time Dean is gone, Sam takes a shower to wash the sticky-sweet feeling leftover from being in Fairy. As soon as he’s dressed again, he sits down to research some ways to make sure neither of them ever end up in that place again. Now that he’s experienced it himself he feels it deep in his bones that Dean still hasn’t told him everything that happened while he was Oberon’s captive. He tries not to picture the fairy devouring his brother with more than just some uncomfortably long looks.

As soon as Dean walks back in the door, Sam rattles off what he’s found all in a rush. “So get this, we know we’ve got to get some fairy protective charms figured out asap, and I think we should tell Lisa about what I’ve found too, right away, maybe Bobby also. Just in case Uaine goes the father-figure route next. Do we have any red ribbon or thread? Have you seen any hazel or rowan trees? I know it’s winter and everything, but I looked it up and they’re definitely sold here. I found a tree farm not too far out of town and they’re still open. We should probably go right now.”

Dean is still standing in the doorway, his mouth as wide open as the door. Several plastic bags with their food dangle from his fingers and Sam realizes he’s worried Dean with his outburst.

“I’m sorry, I just wanted to make sure we protect ourselves, from…you know, getting taken again,” Sam says, feeling stupid for not presenting the whole thing to Dean in shorter bursts of information like he usually does. It just seems so damn pressing and important though, he feels it fiercely, deep down that they’re going to get messed with again, probably soon. He can’t let that happen to Dean, not again.

Dean finally comes all the way in the room, closing the door behind him, the cold air cutoff from gusting inside. He sets the plastic bags on the table next to Sam’s laptop and sits in the chair across from Sam. “Can we eat first?”

Sam nods and starts unpacking the bags, pleased to see Dean’s gotten him a salad to go with a sandwich. They inhale all the food, both of them were hungrier than they’d thought.

“Okay, so what’s the deal with the red ribbons, or red thread?” Dean finally asks, breaking the silent meal.

“If you carry Rowan sticks that are tied up with red thread and bit of iron, that’s supposed to be intolerable to fairies,” Sam says, licking the last of the salad dressing from his plastic fork.

Dean’s eyes go a little soft, while he focuses on Sam’s mouth. “Sounds a little bulky, but okay. What about the red ribbons, is that something else?”

“Yeah, you’re supposed to tie red ribbons around your neck and use sticks of hazel to beat your own back with. Supposed to scare the fairies away.”

Dean rolls his eyes at the idea. “Either of these things really going to protect us from a fairy deal, though? Just asking before I start hitting myself, you know I’m not into that kinda thing,” Dean says with a snarky huff of breath.

Sam sits up straight in his chair and takes Dean’s hand, he looks him in the eye for a moment, letting him see how serious he really is about this. “After what I just went through, now that I know…I can’t let them take you again, Dean, I just can’t.”

Dean smiles at Sam’s words, the kind of smile he’s used to seeing when he’s surprised Dean. “I remembered one thing like this from all the fairy stories I used to read you. To get them to give back someone they’ve taken from you, you’re either supposed to throw dust from the road, threaten them with an iron knife or your left shoe. At the same time you have to say, ‘This is yours, that is mine!’”

“Well, if we’re in Fairy again, our iron knives will be gone, there won’t be any road dust but we’ll presumably have our shoes, guess I’ll have to go with that,” Sam says with a chuckle at the image of threatening the King of Fairy with his shoe.

***

Chapter Text

***

A few days later, they’ve finally found themselves a case to concentrate on: Wendigos in Wabeno, Wisconsin of all things. The whole alliteration thing has been cracking Dean up the entire time they’ve been working it. It’s been driving Sam crazy, so he uses the excuse of needing to more research in the town library to find out more about the past victims that have gone missing over the years.

When Dean drops him off in front of the library, Sam hesitates when he’s about to get out of the car. “What’re you going to do while I’m in here?”

“Probably go hustle some pool, maybe try to find out if anyone knows the last guy that went missing.”

Sam leans over and pulls the red ribbon where it was hiding under Dean’s t-shirt. “You got your red thread bundle too?”

Dean pats his back pocket. “You need to check?” Dean asks, waggling his eyebrows.

Sam rolls his eyes at that and kisses his brother to shut him up. Every time he gets to do this, it makes something swoop in his belly, there’s just something about being able to lean over and kiss Dean whenever he wants to now. Their kiss lingers, turning even more intense as Dean grips at Sam’s biceps. Sam finally pulls back, cradles Dean’s face between his hands and marvels again at the unreal beauty of his brother when he’s just been kissed breathless.

“I gotta go, okay? Love you,” Sam says in a rush, because they don’t just casually say that, not yet, it slipped out or something. He closes the car door behind him before Dean can protest. The Impala roars away and Sam watches it disappear around the corner. He thinks about how much better it is this way, getting to show his love to Dean instead of hiding it. Hopefully someday soon, Dean will get used to it.

When Sam returns from researching all day in the town library, he expects Dean to be there, with dinner as they’d agreed via text just a few minutes ago. Instead the room is empty and cold, like no one has been there all day. Given what had happened not that long ago with him being taken by the fairies, Sam assumes that’s what it has to be again. They don’t have a kitchen in this motel room, so the boxes of Lucky Charms that fill the bathtub from tub floor to ceiling make it all too clear who has taken Dean and where. It’s the why that’s the question.

He’s momentarily delayed as he casts about for a way to get into Fairy, the summoning spell isn’t enough juice on its own to get him there. He needs something that came from Fairy. The two buttons from the leprechaun that they’ve used have been rattling around in the Impala’s ashtray for weeks and as far as he knows they’re exhausted. Already used-up getting them into Fairy the last two times.

Sam makes himself calm down, sitting at the motel table and doing some deep breathing exercises in the quiet. It’s too quiet, that’s the problem. Dean’s not here, crashing around, being annoying, breathing, telling Sam all the things he’s gonna do to him in bed. It brings Sam into a state where he can retrace the fairy-related conversations and events since the time he first called on the leprechaun to reinstall his soul. After going through it all, he comes up with the thought that there are three, there are three buttons, right?

He goes out to the Impala and gets the now-tarnished buttons out of the ashtray, returning to their empty room. Sam hold the two buttons in his palm, trying to remember where they’d gotten them? The first time, when they’d gone to retrieve Ben, Dean had found one of them in Ben’s room. It had been left behind when the leprechaun had taken Ben from Lisa’s house. The second one that Dean used to come into Fairy after Sam, was it the one Dean had taken from the leprechaun as he fixed Sam’s soul? He remembers finally, there was another one, that Ben had stolen himself when he was in Fairy. Dean had shown it to him in the car when they’d taken off after that awful fight where he’d nearly ruined things between them forever. No wonder he’d forgotten the details. It was one of the used-up ones in the Impala’s ashtray.

Sam’s relieved that means there is another unused button somewhere, but it is a very small thing to find when he doesn’t know where the hell Dean stashed the thing. He digs through all the usual hiding places in the Impala coming up with nothing except a lot of trash that needs to be thrown out. He tears apart Dean’s duffel to finally find the other leprechaun button buried in the bottom, wrapped up in a blood-stained kerchief that has a few other small mementoes that Dean’s chosen to keep. An engraved silver lighter that Sam had given him when he was seventeen; their mother’s wedding ring on its golden chain that Dad had always worn around his neck; a matchbook from the last hotel they’d stayed at on their way to Detroit last year before he’d jumped in the Cage.

Sam holds all of it in his hand for a moment, thinking about how his brother who’s emotionally constipated, no-chick-flick moments facade is actually hiding one of the sappiest, sweetest people he’s ever known. Their lives have so little goodness in them, and that Dean’s fits in the palm of his hand makes Sam sad and then fiercely resolved to get him back so he can fill it up to overflowing with whatever Dean wants for the rest of their lives. ‘And who’s getting sappy now?’ he chides himself as he gets himself ready to travel to Fairy hopefully for the last time.

He holds the button in his fist and chants the words, intensely thinking of Dean and their future together. The trip through the Veil is easier this time, maybe his body is getting used to it? Which doesn’t seem like a good thing at all, now that he thinks about it. The carved wooden door is before him and his hand is turning the knob when he hears a voice his in his ear. “Dirty dirty boy, you’re here for him aren’t you? Oberon never should have soiled himself with allowing your foulness to stain his court.”

He turns in surprise to see the messenger fairy hovering in front of his face, looming dark against the torchlight.

“Give it up, you’re nothing compared to what I’ve seen in Hell,” Sam scoffs.

The fairy flares with anger, increasing in size almost instantaneously, her dark scowl dripping with venom and sharp teeth, leathery bat-wings pushing the earthy air of the tunnel towards him.

“Still not scaring me, sorry," Sam says, turning the door handle and stepping through.

The messenger fairy transforms herself into her usual colorful, innocuous form and she accompanies Sam into the throne room. The dreamy music that’s playing continues and hardly any of the eyes are on him, it’s as if they’ve become used to humans invading their space. But something seems different here compared to the last two times he’s been in this room.

“Samuel! What an utter delight to see you again,” Oberon says, waving a hand at the space on the couch closest to him.

Sam sits down and turns to speak to Oberon, but he sees he’s altered, maybe high or drunk, it’s hard to tell at first. There are three or four small fairies moving around in his lap, Sam averts his eyes, not wanting to really see what they’re doing.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Oberon, but I’ve come to see you—“ Sam says.

Oberon interrupts with a slurred, “I know, I know already, your brother-lover, he’s around here somewhere.” He flicks his hand lazily to one of the corners of the room.

Sam’s alarm bells go off then, as he’s been wondering again about what Dean had left out about his time here in the fairy court. He was left imagining Dean in an opium-like drugged hazy state, fairies covering his naked body, bringing him unimaginable pleasure at Oberon’s command. “Where is Dean?” Sam asks in a firm tone that makes the fairies all pay attention.

“He’s here, with me,” Uaine says from across the room where he’s lying on a green couch with Dean cuddled up in his arms.

“Dean!” Sam calls out in a panic, hurrying over quickly because he can see how muddled Dean’s eyes look. He reaches the couch and pulls Dean up and into his arms as he crouches next to the couch. The leprechaun just laughs at him, showing all the needle sharp teeth that he usually hides.

“He’s all mine now, Sam, you owed me a boon, remember?” Uaine asks, hands still wrapped around Dean’s waist.

“Oberon, will you allow your subject to violate our agreement?” Sam asks, standing and turning to face the throne. He holds Dean up against his hip, not wanting to let him go all the way back into Uaine’s embrace.

Oberon struggles to sit up a little straighter dislodging the fairies from his lap. They all scurry off with musical giggles while Oberon rearranges his robes to cover himself. “Uaine, what is it you have done this time?” Oberon asks.

Uaine glares at Sam and struggles up from his comfortable recline on the couch. He ambles over at a snail’s pace following Sam as he holds a spaghetti-legged Dean upright against him.

“Oberon, can you clear the glamour or whatever it is from Dean, please?” Sam begs, not caring that he’s begging, because he needs to know Dean’s okay.

Oberon shrugs and waves a hand at Dean who stumbles and puts even more weight onto Sam. “S’mmy, that you?” he asks, sleepy and still muddled.

Sam holds him close and whispers urgently in his ear, “Yes it’s me, and I’m here to take you home, so wake the fuck up and help me.”

Dean rouses himself then and rearranges his clothing to cover himself, going red as he realizes what’s likely been happening.

“Sire, the boon I collected from Samuel Winchester was Dean Winchester,” Uaine says.

“But he is not a parent or a child, we’ve already established that, Uaine, you try my patience,” Oberon says with a frown clouding his perfect features.

“Sire, please wait and listen to my explanation. You will recall that there is a sub-clause of the definition of boon, that is to say: what or who the disputant loves the most,” Uaine explains.

“What? I’ve never heard that part of the definition, not in any of the hundreds of articles I read on the subject. You are making this up, Uaine,” Sam said, anger making him seethe and turn red in the face.

“That is quite a scandalous charge to be making here, Samuel, be careful,” Oberon warns.

“You should have asked for the complete definition of boon when we made our arrangement, Samuel. I would have been most happy to have provided one just like this,” Uaine says whipping out a small parchment scroll that he tosses to Sam.

Sam unrolls it and sure enough, there is indeed a sub-clause in the definition of boon that Sam hadn’t examined closely enough when he’d first reviewed the historical fairy contracts. What Sam needs or loves most is forfeit, which of course means Dean. He’d never even thought to ask for something written down for his own deal to check over. His soulless self had been so convinced of his research prowess and also hadn’t cared for the ramifications of anyone being harmed at a future point in time. Soulless him really hadn’t cared whether Dean was there with him forever, because he wasn’t capable of it. A flaw in his careful planning and consideration shouldn’t be a surprise, but he’d been so methodical and mechanical over that year he’d forgotten not to assume.

“You thought you had gotten something for nothing here. You thought you had escaped paying the price you owed but that isn't how it ever works with fairies, you should have known that from all your research,” Uaine says giving him an evil smile.

“Would you give me a brief moment to discuss this development with Dean before we proceed?” Sam asks Oberon.

“No need for the formal court talk in here, Samuel,” the king says, laughing with that musical tinkle and setting about finding the fairies that were on his lap when he was interrupted.

“So what are we doing now, Sam? Gonna fight our way out?” Dean asks in a low whisper against Sam’s ear. “Are you going to throw your shoe at him?”

Sam turns his head to whisper in Dean’s, “I’ve got it covered, just play along with me, okay? Remember, they already know about our relationship, so just go with whatever I do.”

Dean nods and kisses Sam’s neck in a soft brush as he settles against him again.

“Oberon, I am ready to begin again,” Sam says, standing up as straight as he can while still supporting Dean against his side.

Oberon looks up from the food table where he was browsing and nods.

“I challenge the taking of Dean Winchester in payment of my debt to Uaine, he cannot be a boon in payment as his soul is already another’s for eternity.”

“And pray tell, who might this very lucky soul be?” Oberon asks in surprise.

“That very lucky soul would be me. Dean Winchester is my soul-mate and I am his. As we were joined in this way by God for all of eternity, I submit that it would be improper to claim Dean as a boon to pay my debt.”

Sam hopes his small amount of legal training has been put to use again with this argument. He has no idea if it will work here in the fairy court because he doesn’t have much else besides this to offer.

Oberon considers Sam’s statement with a solemn nod. “Uaine, what say you?”

“I would ask Samuel Winchester to submit some proof of his claim that they are soul-mates,” Uaine says with a threatening growl.

“You have already read Dean’s heart, but if it would help in your decision, you may read mine,” Sam says.

Oberon gestures him closer and Sam stands before the throne. He submits to Oberon unbuttoning his shirt and placing a hand on his chest right over his tattoo. Those long nails seeming to delve deep into his skin without any pain. Oberon’s face changes into something softer the longer he’s in contact with Sam’s skin. Finally he pulls back with a sound of surprise, he almost laughs, a beginning of the musical tinkle dies out.

“I’ve never…I’m not sure what I was looking at inside you, Samuel, it shines so bright,” Oberon says in this awed, astonished voice.

“It is leftover traces from Lucifer’s presence, sire. I felt it when I retrieved Sam’s soul. I repaired it the best I was able to when I bargained with Dean,” Uaine says.

“Samuel, the soul within you is unlike any other human soul I’ve touched. The energy of it is brighter and higher, much more than is usual. I can’t tell though if you are soul-mates or if your soul has been transformed by its close contact with an angel.”

“Is it something that needs to be fixed? We have a friend that’s an angel and he checked Sam over for me, he said he was okay,” Dean asks.

“You say you know an angel, he is your friend? Could he somehow testify to your soul-mate claim?” Oberon asks instead of answering their questions.

“Would the word of a representative of Heaven be sufficient?” Sam asks, praying fervently to Castiel to get his feathery ass into Fairy somehow. He elbows Dean to do the same, Dean squinches his eyes closed and his lips move, his version of praying is Sam’s best guess.

“Do you mean an angel, coming here?” Oberon asks.

“Why, is that a problem?” Dean challenges, eyes flashing now that he’s woken up all the way.

“There may be, it depends entirely upon the angel,” Oberon answers, frustratingly vague.

“Castiel, I call upon you to appear here in Oberon’s court,” Sam says loudly, hoping that it works pretty quickly.

“While we wait, Samuel, I will attempt to fix this last damage to your soul that I was able to locate,” Oberon offers.

“Is there a price I will have to pay?” Sam asks.

“Will it hurt him?” Dean asks a moment later.

“No and no,” Oberon answers, smiling at both of them. He gestures Sam forward and places his hand back in its place on Sam’s chest. A warm tingling sensation begins where Oberon’s fingernails have painlessly entered his skin. Sam can feel threads of something dark and spiky being drawn out, they disappear into the darker blue of Oberon’s nails as they exit his body. He feels lighter inside, but there’s still something left, something missing. Oberon makes a few quick motions with his other hand and nearly invisible strands of sparkling light appear, diving through the holes where the darkness had emerged. Oberon removes his hand and strokes Sam’s skin, patting him gently.

“There, now you are healed,” Oberon says.

Sam bows his head in gratitude and feels around inside himself. There’s not much left that’s jagged and hurting like before, just the usual pains and torments he’s carried around his whole life. “I can’t begin to thank you, Oberon. You don’t know how hard it’s been to—“

A knock sounds at the door and the messenger fairy sprints over, enlarging herself to cover the door. “Open it, Ráth, let the angel pass,” Oberon commands.

“Dean, Sam, I came as soon as I heard your prayers,” Castiel says as he walks into the room preceded by Ráth floating through the air changed back into her smaller, more colorful guise.

“Thank you for joining us, Castiel, angel of Heaven,” Oberon says serious as the proverbial heart-attack. “The question we have before us regards the status of the Winchester brothers’ souls. They claim to be soul-mates, as chosen and created by your God, is this true to the best of your knowledge? Your life will be forfeit if you do not answer truthfully before me.”

“They are indeed, soul-mates. I myself have spoken to the cupid who ensured it several human generations ago. It was long a crucial component of God’s plans for them to be soul-mates for the final confrontation, which you can see they both, improbably survived. There is none living nor dead in any plane that can ever separate them. The Devil himself, along with the demons of Hell as well as the Host of Heaven could not and believe me they have all tried.”

Sam hugs Dean around the waist a little tighter, and Dean puts his hand over Sam’s heart. It’s really something hearing their story explained like that, so plain and true. But it feels good to both of them to hear the words, whether or not it convinces Oberon is another matter entirely. Castiel walks over and stands in between them and Oberon’s throne as if he can protect them even in here.

“Thanks, Cas, we knew you’d come through,” Sam says. Cas doesn’t say anything but he nods.

“Uaine, what say you now after you have heard this proof given by the angel?” Oberon asks.

“A fairy boon is based upon the idea of us taking something important from the person making the deal. Something that they do not want to part with. I do not see how this claim of soul-mates makes a difference. Their god is not ours, after all,” Uaine says, sniffing with haughtiness towards where Cas is standing next to the brothers.

“Soul-mates do not have a choice in this matter as this is how they were created in this manner. It is a permanent part of their physical and ethereal beings to be intertwined. There is no way of separating them as you propose, it is not something they could choose to give up in order to pay a boon,” Cas says in a voice that rings true, even there in the strangeness of Oberon’s court.

“That is also my understanding,” Oberon says, a small smile beginning to twinkle in his eyes.

Uaine bows deeply before the throne. “I did not understand that. I must apologize again, sire. It seems my errors have only compounded with these brothers. I withdraw my claim of boon.”

“You are selling yourself far too short, Uaine. Your punishment will be to make no bargains for an eon, and to apologize to these men in the usual manner. Neither Dean nor Samuel Winchester owe you a boon, their debts are hereby expunged,” Oberon says with a ringing finality.

“I apologize on behalf of my entire court, you have been wronged here and we are all very sorry,” Oberon says to the brothers.

“I am not sorry!” Ráth screams, growing to the largest size they’ve seen yet, her wings almost touching the ceiling. “Usurpers, despoilers of our Court! You shall not receive our apologies or our treasure!” She flies straight at them, claws and teeth first, propelled forward by her giant wings.

The brothers and Cas duck and cover themselves from the raging sudden attack but Oberon calmly waves a hand and she is instantly miniaturized and captured in a glass globe. He holds the glass vessel out to Sam, who stands up and takes it from him.

“Ráth is yours now, do with her what you will, Samuel, her life is no longer any concern of mine,” Oberon says, releasing his hold on the globe.

Samwithfairyglobebig

Dean leans up and whispers in Sam’s ear. Sam doesn’t answer, but digs around in his pocket and pulls something out, fist closed around whatever it is until he hands it over to Dean.

Dean holds his hand out to Uaine, two of the tarnished buttons on his palm. “I’d like to give these back to you, Uaine, to show there’s no hard feelings, to thank you for fixing my brother. Sorry that they’re not all shiny like they’re supposed to be.”

Sam adds the one he’s holding to make it three. “Thank you, Uaine, for retrieving my soul.”

Uaine steps forward, a look of pure astonishment on his face and takes the three buttons from Dean, they go shiny and pure again and with a wave of his hand they’re back in place on the front of his coat. All the buttons tinkle as if they’re happy to be back together again. Uaine bows deeply to the brothers. “My favor, such as it is, will always be upon you.”

“Are you not forgetting something, Uaine?” Oberon prompts.

Uaine looks up at him in surprise, then produces the heaviest velvet bag yet from that undefined Faery Hoard somewhere. “I’m sorry, sire, of course. Thank you, Dean and Sam, you are unlike any other humans I’ve ever had the pleasure to bargain with. Take this with my gratitude, you have taught me much about humans.”

Dean takes the bag from Uaine and looks shocked to feel how heavy it is.

“We thank you for your testimony, angel. You may leave now with your friends, I hope we shall not meet again,” Oberon says, flicking his hand towards them and pushing them out through the Veil for the last time.

***

The three of them land with an oof on Sam and Dean’s very messy motel-room bed. Both of them leap up and pull Cas with them to standing, hoping he hasn’t happened to notice anything strange.

“Thanks for coming when we called, Cas. I know you’re busy these days,” Sam says.

“I will always come, sometimes it just takes me longer,” Cas says. “Can I see it?”

Dean holds out the heavy velvet bag, but Cas shakes his head and looks at what Sam is holding.

Sam hands over the glass globe containing Ráth. “What am I supposed to do with her?” he asks Cas.

“She could be of use in the war I’m fighting in Heaven,” Cas says holding the globe up to the light. The fairy batters herself against the glass, her screams silenced by the thin barrier.

“Would you really be able to control her power?” Dean asks, sounding skeptical.

“I believe so, yes,” Cas answers turning the globe upside down as the fairy flaps and tumbles within.

“She’s all yours then. I wouldn’t know where to even keep something like her safe,” Sam says.

“Really, Sam? You would give her to me, a gift from the King of Fairy himself?” Cas asks.

“Yeah, we owe you for coming there, they could have trapped you or hurt you or something,” Sam says.

“Thanks, buddy for bailing us out,” Dean says, clapping Cas on the shoulder.

“I will take her and use her to defeat Raphael in the upcoming battle,” Cas says, winking out of their space in a ruffle of feathers and no words of farewell as per usual.

“Someday I’ll get used to that, but this is not that day,” Dean says, his hand falling abruptly when Cas disappears.

“You okay, Dean?” Sam asks, stepping forward to bring Dean into his arms.

“I think so. I mean…what I remember of it wasn’t too bad this time,” Dean says, leaning his full weight on Sam which tells him it maybe was pretty bad.

“You’re not hurt or anything, right?” Sam asks, leaving it wide open so that Dean can maybe talk about it this time.

“Nah, ‘m good,” Dean says, “so we still got a wendigo to gank or what?” He rips the red ribbon off his neck and tosses it in the trash.

Sam notices his brother changing the subject abruptly, which means he’s hiding something bad. It’ll come out eventually if he gives Dean some space on the subject.

Several hours later Sam has his answer. It turns out killing not one, but two wendigos does wonders for his brother’s state of mind. They’re driving across the Wisconsin/Illinois border in the middle of the night, when Dean finally opens up.

“Listen, I know you’re wondering about it, so I’m just gonna say it,” Dean says, sounding like he’s rushing to say the words before he shuts himself up. “This time they hadn’t gotten around to doing anything…um sexual with me. Just kept me stoned or whatever. I’m pretty sure the leprechaun was trying to get me used to being there. He was just petting me and shit like that.”

“But Oberon didn’t—“ Sam asks, surprised into silence when Dean interrupts.

“No, not this time, he hadn’t gotten around to me quite yet. So…uh, thanks for coming so quickly. I wouldn’t have wanted to do that again.”

Sam aches to hold his brother then, cuddle him, tell him it’s going to be okay, that it changes nothing between them. But he knows how much Dean would hate that. So instead he knows he’s got to ask for what Dean can’t quite ask for yet. “Dean, can you pull over somewhere dark so I can pee?”

“Already? Fine, I oughta be used to you and your pea-sized bladder,” Dean says, looking relieved that they’ve stopped talking about anything fairy related. He pulls the Impala over into a turn-out that is blocked from road view by a line of dense trees.

Sam jumps out of the car and steps away into the trees. He wonders how long it will take before Dean joins him. He’s counted to one hundred a couple times when the Impala’s door creaks open and slams.

“Sam, you get lost out here in the dark or what?”

“Just waiting for you to get with the program,” Sam says, pushing Dean up against a tree. He drops to his knees and starts fumbling with Dean’s belt buckle.

“Whoa-whoa, what program?” Dean asks in a breathless rush.

“I can stop if you really want me to,” Sam says, looking up at Dean with what he hopes is equal parts of lust and hope in his eyes.

Dean seems to get the message, he leans back against the tree with a groan and puts a hand on the back of Sam’s head, pulling him towards his crotch.

Sam goes with it, licking and teasing Dean until his hips have started moving in little thrusts that Sam wants to feel in his throat. He sucks Dean into his mouth and swirls his tongue around, moaning at the taste of his brother. He’s already starting to get addicted to this, and his heart thrills at the thought that he gets this with Dean forever now. Maybe just maybe this is something he can and should actually say to Dean out loud.

“Gonna be doing this forever now, anytime, anywhere, Dean,” Sam says, his lips moving on the tip of Dean’s cock.

Dean’s hand tightens in Sam’s hair and he pulls him in closer, hips thrusting harder and faster. Sam opens his throat up and swallows several times, bringing Dean all the way inside. Then Dean’s muttering all kinds of filthy words about what he’s going to do to Sam next time and letting himself go; pouring himself into Sam where he belongs now.

After a few moments of Dean panting against the tree, he’s pulling Sam up and palming his hardness through his jeans. A few quick squeezes and Sam’s embarrassed to come hard just at his brother’s touch. Dean supports him through it and chuckles into Sam’s neck, kissing the warm skin gently.

“I think I like this program,” Dean says.

Sam kisses him then, deep and searching, sharing Dean’s own taste between them. It’s a filthy sweet kiss, one that says everything Sam knows he can’t say, not quite yet. He knows Dean wants this forever too, and that’s all that matters now. They’re free of the debt they owed the fairies, Sam’s got his soul back and fixed, whatever else that comes at them, they’ll deal with it together. Like Cas said, nothing in creation can ever separate them, now Sam really believes that.

Chapter Text


~*~Epilogue~*~

**Six Years Later**

It’s after they’ve finished their first Thanksgiving dinner in the bunker, they’ve said goodbye to Bobby, Jody and the girls, washed the dishes together, and put away the small amount of leftovers that Dean asks Sam to go for a walk. Sam doesn’t answer at first, it’s an unexpected question, one that he isn’t used to Dean asking. Finally he nods and watches the nervous smile that Dean tries to hide. That kind of smile is even stranger along with the whole walk-after-dinner thing, but he decides to carry on, puts his jacket, scarf, gloves and hat on and waits at the top of the stairs for Dean. He watches from above as Dean walks across the main room, fiddling with his winter weather accessories. Sam can never get his brother to wear all of them at once and he’s given up trying. But Dean has the whole outfit on, so he must be expecting a long walk.

The cold evening wind pulls the door out of Sam’s hand, hitting the tunnel entrance with a loud bang. Dean follows behind him and struggles to close it against the wind, Sam leans in and pushes. They get it closed and locked and head out onto the gravel road. The snow has melted during the day, but there are still some piles of it along the edges of the trees. The sun is low on the horizon, nearing mid-winter every day now. The darkest time of the year somehow always feels the most hopeful. Sam thinks about saying something about that, but Dean interrupts him when he grabs Sam’s hand and veers off the road towards a nearby clump of trees.

Sam is about to ask what the hell they’re doing traipsing along the edge of one of the fallow cornfields when Dean puts a gloved finger up to shush him. Sam darts his eyes around looking carefully to see what might be putting them in danger, but Dean tugs at his hand to keep him moving. They’re under a grouping of trees which Sam now sees is planted in an almost perfect circle. They must have been planted, there’s no way the trees would grow that way naturally, unless…he sees it then, in the clearing at the center of the trees. A small movement of darting lights, irregular and beautiful, turning slowly in a circle over a brilliant green mound of grass. Everything else has died from the snow and cold, so the green grass seems to vibrate with extra life.

One would think the last thing either of them would like to ever encounter again is any sort of Fae, but the sheer beauty of it is too much to ignore. Sam squeezes Dean’s hand in response to this beautiful sight. Dean looks up at him with a responding smile that makes it to his eyes, crinkling the corners up in those beautiful wrinkles. Sam loves those signs of age beyond reason, evidence that his brother’s long-held assumption he’d die young continues to be wrong. Sam doesn’t count all the interruptions in the life Dean’s been living, because they don’t add up to much in the end.

Dean lets go of his hand to dig in his coat pocket. He brings out a small bottle of honey, some shiny new Sacajawea dollar coins, a package of tobacco and a few cookies, bending down, he arranges them in a neat pile at the base of a tree. Sam watches him make this offering with a relieved smile. Of course Dean is covering all the bases. After their experiences with the fairies, making an offering of thanks is probably a good idea if they’re going to keep living around here.

Dean stands up, takes his hand again and tugs him over to some rocks where they sit down, legs and hips and shoulders pressed together. Both of them remain silent and watch the dancing lights, which are obviously some sort of fairy kin. Sam assumes Dean checked this out already for danger and tries his best to relax. He realizes how deeply glad he is that both of them have been touched by the Fae so they’re able to see this beautiful sight. He feels it deep in his repaired soul that they deserve this bit of beauty and peace. After everything they’ve done, all they’ve sacrificed, they’re still here together and no one could ask for any greater boon than that.

~The End~