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listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox

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Spilt blood is red. Sometimes it looks black. Thick and heavy, blood streaks and spatters like paint. It tastes like copper or iron, metallic and warm. It smells the same, rusting and wet, but in high doses, it can be sickeningly sweet and disturbing.

In Hell, things change. Or they stay the same.

Blood is life. Blood makes a person, is the difference between the healthy flush of color and the pallor of a corpse.

In Hell, people change. Or they stay the same.

**

Sam gets Dean out of Hell. They don't know how, they can't recall how. No one alive knows.

Sam's legs ache as if he's been walking forever, to hell and back, as the saying goes. Maybe he has been walking forever, always chasing Dean. His hands are curled and swollen, knuckles bruised and split. There was fighting, but his hands don't remember.

Dean is dazed, blinking in the sunlight and each flash is like a flare of Hell, but it begins to shrink until it's just the sun high in the sky, like it should be.

He's naked, shivering and Sam's mouth waters to see him. Years past, he's better at hiding his sin in his bones and in his belly, but now everything's an abstract concept.

From the tips of his hair down to his feet, Sam's covered in blood. He blinks hazel at Dean in all the red and Dean wants to know what that's like.

So he licks Sam's throat and gets Sam's hand in his hair, pushing his own fingers into Sam's tangled strands.

They sit there for a while, Dean cleaning the blood off of Sam with his tongue, Sam's eyes closed and his head tipped back, arms around his brother.

The ground is burnt around them. The sunlight is cold.

**

When he sees the Impala, flashing black as every demon that's ever crawled, Dean croons like Sam knew he would.

Sam smiles with a soft sigh as he slides into shotgun next to Dean, smiles with easy dimples like Dean knew he would.

Wind races and chases them as Dean gets the car on the road, the engine growling and it sounds like invincibility.

They're back. They're together.

The world can go fuck itself.

**

They don't have to be civil anymore. The girl behind the counter tries to flirt and Dean cuts through it as so much bullshit. He doesn't smile at her, only smiles when Sam walks up, leans next to him and it's like a flipping photograph, Dean not smiling at the girl, Dean smiling at Sam, back and forth back and forth back and forth.

She slides the key over with careful fingers, single king bed, non-smoking room, two doors down from the very end, enjoy your stay and now Dean does smile at her, quick as a coin toss, the smile saying if you're lucky, it'll come up heads and you'll keep yours.

Sam takes the key while she's distracted by Dean and she snatches her hand back and he smirks, an eyebrow raised, we aren't dangerous, darlin'.

Dean's laughter, strung along, drags them out the door.

**

There's a look in Dean's eyes that makes Sam happy as he surveys their weapons. He insisted on carting them all in and his fingertips trace over them, reverent, as if he's dreaming of possibilities.

Sam wants him to; they can dream now, they have every possibility and opportunity.

They can do whatever they want.

A knife gleams slow as Dean turns it in his hands, then there's red. He's cut himself, but he doesn't make any noise, almost surprised.

It's throbbing painful and he loves it and he holds his hand up to Sam.

Look, Sammy.

And Sam licks his lips, blood on Dean's pale skin and all his own blood is filling him, making him swell in his jeans.

Dean, I.

Yeah, Sam, whaddya want?

Dean's busy squeezing his fist, fascinated by the blood dripping onto the carpet and Sam can't help it, he can't, he needs and he falls to his knees to catch the next drop in his mouth.

And Dean moans. Sam pushes his tongue into Dean's fist, lapping, then there's a sharp point at his throat, pressing into his skin.

Dean holds the knife on him, easing the blade under Sam's jaw.

Wanna share?

Sam nods against the knife, wanting it to bite him and it does, trickle of warm down his neck and Dean's there, lips soft on the wound.

By the time they get each other naked and onto the bed, they're shaking, nails scratching words into flesh.

By the time Sam gets his fingers into Dean, they're slick, sweat, blood, desirewantneed and their teeth bite, tracks of saliva.

By the time they finish fucking, Dean chanting Sam's name and Sam mesmerized by the slide of their bodies together, the sheets are going pink.

By the time they get their breath back, the room spinning with their orgasms and the urge to feel the knife between them, the sheets are going red.

**

Head resting on Sam's chest, Dean counts heartbeats, can almost smell the blood there, puts his mouth there because he can smell Sam and his teeth snap, to keep.

Sam hisses at the bite and sighs underneath him. Pressing against Sam, Dean feels how solid he is. When he closes his eyes, he sees images, stark and broken and spread out, like bones.

He thinks in confusion that he wants to see bones; he doesn't need to see Sam's because he is Sam's bones, just like Sam is his.

He wants to see something crack. He's suddenly antsy and Sam's arm pulls him closer.

Hey, I wanna--you got another hunt for us?

I can find one, if you want.

I want, bitch.

All right, jerk, we'll get you something. Anything. A pony.

That's for you, princess.

Aww, my very own pony all for me, Dean? You mean it?

Shut up, fucker, and suck me.

Nah, you can suck me. I saved you, asshole.

Are you sure about that? Maybe I saved you.

It might not be true, Dean thinks it could be true.

And from the look on Sam's face, it really is true.

**

Screams don't bother Sam anymore. Unless they're Dean's and then he almost blacks out, ripping through everything to get to him.

Once Dean screamed and Sam hacked the vampire's body in two before he could get to Dean, only to find Dean was howling, laughing so hard he was crying because he'd tripped and had fallen on a decaying corpse.

Sorta squishy, Dean said and Sam almost clocked him.

In revenge, Sam let Dean slide into him from behind and then went limp on the bed, which Dean hated, as if he were raping Sam, his brother taking every inch and thrust without reaction.

But Sam thinks Dean hates it because he secretly likes it and feels guilty, though he shouldn't because they don't have anything to feel guilty about.

Not even the house they burned down to get rid of the poltergeist that had locked the family inside their bedrooms.

Screams don't bother Sam anymore.

**

They hunt because Dean likes the violence, his eyes glowing and Sam wants to give Dean whatever he wants. He likes the violence too, misses shooting to be shooting, enjoys when demons spit at them, tied to a chair as Dean goes down on Sam as he sprawls out on some dusty floor, his jeans around his thighs.

The exhibition is fun. It makes exorcisms more interesting and everyone gets a show.

Sometimes they just leave the demon stuck in a devil's trap, no ropes required, and fuck each other right there outside the circle with the demon saying filthy things to them.

Sometimes they don't want to hear it and so Dean shoots the demon, the body, whatever, right between the eyes, his aim better than Sam's and the perfect shot always turns Sam on.

**

Bobby gets a phone call. A hunter, voice gruff with anger and disgust, words tinged with distrust.

Demons say they ain't afraid of the Winchesters.

Demons lie, you know that.

Sometimes they tell the truth.

All right, so what're they sayin'?

Demons ain't afraid of the Winchesters because they're like them now.

**

Once upon a time, a girl tried to get Dean into her bed.

Once upon a time, the girl almost died, Sam's gun leaving a circle in the soft skin of her belly as she trembled.

Dean rolled his eyes, called her by the wrong name as he shrugged, then went and fucked Sam in her bathroom.

Once upon a time, a guy tried to get Dean into his bed.

Once upon a time, the guy died, bullet hole in his throat, blood pooling obscenely on blue silk sheets.

Silk sheets, Dean, really? And stop trying to fuck everything walking.

You're walking, genius.

No one else, asshole, do I need to make that clear again?

Dean smirks, fingers finding the scar on his shoulder, curves forming into an 'S'.

Maybe, hotshot, since you love your laptop so fucking much.

Sam decides Dean needs special attention administered with his mouth, fingers, teeth and cock.

Dean decides Sam needs a 'D' on his shoulder and only his Bowie knife will do.

The silk sheets are too stained to be blue after that.

**

A werewolf and they're excited, teasing, wrestling like when they were kids because they want a challenge and they want claws because pain makes everything brighter and adrenaline tastes like sugar in their mouths.

They aren't scared; if one of them gets the curse, they'll just swap it in love bites and drive a little faster, the full moon not coming soon enough for them to run wild, so they'll do it now.

But then the werewolf pisses Sam off when it actually tries to kill Dean and Sam goes after it with his bare hands before Dean can drop it with almost a whole clip of bullets.

Dean is so angry, so fucking angry, Sammy, do you hear me, what the fuck was that, you wanna tear something with your hands, I'll give you a zombie, take you to the morgue, but don't you ever fucking do that again.

He's blind, raging and Sam slumps sullenly in the seat next to him until they get back to the motel and the rage won't leave Dean, flashing like every memory of Hell, so he gets back in the car and abandons Sam there.

The tires skitter as he drives, his veins skittering the same way since he's just put Sam firmly out of his sight and his mind can't take it. He can't take it, but he drives anyway.

But Sam pulls on him, Dean can feel him, something in his gut telling him Sam is destroying things or creating things or breaking gravity.

When he screeches up, Sam sits placidly on the curb with all their stuff packed, bags forlorn between his stretched legs. A big goofy grin spreads over his face as he spies the Impala.

He dashes across the road to the car, eyes like the Northern star with pure insane happiness, as a fire truck and an ambulance whir into existence, their sirens wailing to the skies, twining with the climbing smoke. The motel is swallowed in flames.

Sam tastes of accelerant and matches. Their kisses are smoke-flavored. They don't mind. They can still taste each other underneath it all.

**

In Deaf Smith County, there's a bar. A lot of the adult population tries to cram inside because outside there's nothing but land and sky and they need a change of scenery. Maybe something to blot out the open horizon hemming them in in all directions.

Sam and Dean are there to drink and play pool and fuck around, though not in that order and maybe in varying permutations. Just a little fun.

Earlier, on the side of the road, Sam stood looking out at the flat of the earth and he was so fucking tall against the overwhelming geometry of the horizon Dean had to tackle him, bring him back down to Dean's level.

With Dean on top of him, so fucking warm and heavy, all alive and breathing and his dick shoved against Sam's thigh, Sam had to flip them, bring them back to basics, to their periodic table, elements and metals and molecules.

Who they are now.

And it was all too much. They fought each other, then fucked out in the open. After, it felt as if the world had collapsed and they were complicated rubble.

So.

Bar. Beer. Oblivion.

Alcohol makes everything slow, which means they can concentrate and focus better. Makes them more dangerous and Dean likes to be dangerous, his grin getting wider, like a cut as the night goes on.

And Sam likes him when he gets this way, loose and slutty and provoking the hell out of people. He lets Dean flirt, lets Dean lead people on and some nights when the air is just right, he lets Dean sweet-talk a lucky person (lucky, unlucky, it's all a flip of the coin, roll of the dice, shot in the dark, turn of the road) out behind the bar into the alley, if there's an alley.

Then he follows Dean and at gunpoint, muzzle pressed to the lottery-winning forehead, makes the unluckily lucky person watch how Dean likes it and takes it, how Sam's the only one who can pull the moans from Dean, how Dean is his and no one else's, how fucking crazy do you think you are, motherfucker?

Sometimes he pulls the trigger right when he comes.

Tonight Sam's radiating possession of Dean and Dean's leaning into him to let Sam's claim wash over him. And the message is clear.

The bartender laughs at one of Dean's endlessly lame jokes and pours him another shot, flicking her eyes to Sam. Sam considers his shot, swirling a finger in the liquor. And the bartender puts her hand on Dean's wrist.

So Sam slits her throat. Now her blood's in his shot and he's disappointed because it was tequila.

In Deaf Smith County, there was a bar. It's a neglected bombshelter of a building, rickety and the sign swings crooked from a single chain.

There might be ghosts who haunt those plains.

**

Bobby hears the engine.

They knock on his door like civilized people and when he opens it, they're smiling at him, sheepishly happy to see him, their eyes bright as oil fires.

He gets a hug from each of them and it's like old times, before he started getting the phone calls, the rumors in the grapevine bursting all over everything he knew.

Dean fetches beers and Sam brushes past him to sit at the table and their movements have a different grace, a freedom as if they've lost something and they don't care.

With each sip, Bobby relaxes because they're the same boys and screw the rumors, he didn't believe them anyway.

They stay for a few days, shooting the shit, thumbing through Bobby's books. When he finds them in a single bed, Dean curled around Sam, spider-web limbs, he doesn't say a word. Hell separated the brothers and he understands the need to make sure what you love most is really there.

But it isn't until later in the afternoon when they're cleaning weapons, pointing guns at each other's hearts and laughing at the empty click when they pull the trigger, that Bobby gets concerned.

A sharpened knife and Dean smirks, wiggling his eyebrows as Sam eagerly stretches his arm out, tongue peeking out over his lips.

And Dean cuts him, dragging the blade slow and Sam tosses his head back as Dean smears the blood, rubbing it into Sam's skin before he slips his red finger into his mouth.

Bobby clears his throat, sitting on the edge of his chair, clamping down on the panic in his chest, a bird beating breakneck against a window.

Sam slides closer to Dean, nuzzling Dean with his nose and murmurs low, C'mon, baby, c'mon.

Dean huffs and pushes Sam away hard.

No, Sam, remember, what did I say.

His hair falls in his eyes as Sam shakes his head and Dean grabs him by his jaw, tight, says, Bobby's good people. Can't do that to Bobby. He's good. The last good.

With light careful touches, Dean calms Sam, fingertips on Sam's cheekbones and temples as Sam growls, almost feral, and Bobby can only watch as Dean puts Sam's hand on the amulet dangling from Dean's neck.

Remember, Bobby's okay, so we can't.

Then Sam grabs hold of the amulet, slices his gaze over to Bobby, and his expression makes Bobby go cold.

Yeah okay, I remember, Dean, I remember, the last good. Can't fuck that up.

Right, Sammy, right. Let's get you another beer.

As he stands, Dean ruffles his hair, big brother and little brother. Sam hands the knife over and Bobby holds onto his stomach, weak seasick feeling crawling under his skin.

Sorry 'bout the PDA, Bobby. Didn't mean to make you uncomfortable.

He smiles, the boyish grin, so contagious and happy with dimples.

Bobby doesn't sleep that night. His heart breaks every minute they stay, how they say his name and laugh and talk about hunting and never let each other out of their sight.

He hopes this doesn't consume them, if it already hasn't, but he knows how Winchesters work.

They hug him, those boys on his porch, something like crazy lighting them up from within.

He's too old when they leave.

**

The world is theirs, the proverbial oyster, and they're going to pry it open with blades and if the shell breaks, then it breaks.

**

It's a quiet night, Dean subdued, Sam letting Dean's calm seep into him and they drink, share a cigarette, play pool.

Time shifts to fit them in between the minutes and it feels like the space before Hell, before all this.

Dean's grin slides sideways now, with a hint of malice and Sam's eyes spark because the kid's always been good at ideas.

A pool hustle and Sam's playing, it's his turn to play the room and Dean's distracting the competition by touching Sam however he can, however he wants.

Until some guy gets disgusted, Hey, didn't y'all say y'all were brothers? and his buddies step up, cracking their knuckles.

But tonight, these redneck pussies better thank their lucky stars and get on their knees and pray out of thanksgiving because Dean's feeling magnanimous and Sam's feeling relaxed.

Instead of snapping the pool cue and impaling the guy who decided to run his mouth when he could've been licking Dean's boots, they look at each other and shrug.

What's it to you?

Sam's a tall shadow of menace, looming, fists clenched, his shoulders holding up the world and Dean thinks gleefully that maybe this is what Sam looked like as he stalked through Hell.

He flicks Sam's hair and says, No need to run 'em to ground tonight. C'mon, cowboy, I got something you can ride if you want.

Nice and slow?

Yeah, baby brother, nice and slow.

In the silence of the bar, Dean takes up all the oxygen and all the space as if it should be his.

He snatches the money off the table because it might as well be his.

He gets a hand on Sam because Sam is completely his.

**

Hey, Sam?

Yeah.

You think we're really the sick fucks the FBI always thought we were?

Sure.

So what would a sick fuck do next?

Sam thinks.

What wouldn't a sick fuck do next?

Dean grins messily.

I like the way you think, Sammy.

Of course you do. You're my brother.

Let's go kill something.

There's a chupacabra in New Mexico.

Dean whines and Sam smacks him.

We can steal from the tourists.

Dean thinks.

Okay.

**

Sam's driving because he got Dean to beg though it was almost cheating since it didn't take very much, such a slut.

But Dean smirks like he knows something Sam doesn't and he stares out at the landscape, unwilling to share.

Usually, that has Sam clawing at the walls, but it's okay now, the windows are down, the music is loud to distortion and the air is clear, no blood, no smoke, no fear, just empty empty wind, so Sam doesn't feel like he's spinning crazy out of his bounds.

Dean's hand on his thigh, easy strokes and Sam pushes the car faster.

He fishtails on purpose, wheel light in his hands, and Dean laughs because they're in control, they're always in control.

Nothing can stop them. Ever.

They're too fast now, nothing to worry about, nothing that a few bullets or some matches or their criminal names won't fix.

The car streaks over the asphalt, burning black in the setting sun, like a line of gasoline on fire, shimmering speed.

The engine growls and it sounds like godhood.

They're back. They're together.

The world can go fuck itself.