The change is slow and subtle, almost startling because it's like an oil well fire when it comes to the surface.
Because sometimes Bobby forgets.
Dean and Sam are standing on his porch, smiling at him; they jostle and laugh and make faces at each other and for a moment, no time has passed, nothing has happened, Sam never died and Dean never went to Hell, they never paid for whatever irreparable mistakes or unshakeable bonds they've made.
Then Bobby shifts his weight, sunlight hits him in the face, cutting at his eyes and he sees it then, sees them vibrating together, dissonant resonance, and something is running in their veins, as if they've become smoke born, as if they've become blood simple in reverse.
He watches them change.
They're burning up with something he can't put his finger on, like they're living on adrenaline instead of oxygen, speed instead of food, proximity instead of sleep because they're never far apart, tethered and tethering. Especially after last month, after a few separated disjointed days had them snarling and furious. Junkies in the throes of a seething addiction.
The sun slips away from Bobby's eyes and he can see them again and it's like an optical illusion, a magic trick they learned from the hands of demons.
The only way he knows it's real is by the sharp edge in Dean's gaze, the wicked curl along Sam's smile and Dean's got Sam by the wrist, like he needs Sam's pulse to keep him going.
Bobby's not afraid of them.
He's afraid for them.
There's a difference, he tells himself.
They're going on a hunt with Bobby which Sam keeps talking about like they're going on a fishing trip and Bobby's going to teach them something normal, cornflakes versus worms because fish are picky in their choice of bait, how you're supposed to go when it's raining and drift as close as you can to the deep lake grass and reeds.
Bobby takes it all in stride because hunting's sort of like fishing, bait, time of day, conditions, there's some strategy, some experience and a hell of a lot of luck involved.
The only way he can get through this is to ignore the changes, ignore it when Dean comes out of the bedroom in the morning with his mouth shiny red and minutes later, Sam appears sporting a fresh cut on his neck, t-shirt stained where his blood's trickled in careless fashion.
He doesn't think about how Dean licks his lips, hands on his guns like a kid in a candy store, ready to get this show on the road because hunting's almost as deep in the boy's soul as his brother is. And Sam's spinning a knife in one hand, gun in the other, knife thrower, gun fighter, several kinds of dangerous taught by his brother, several kinds of dangerous on his own, bouncing with excited energy.
Their gleeful anticipation is bleeding off them and they're almost slippery with it.
Vampires, Sammy, does it get any better'n this? Dean says, palm covering the cut on Sam's neck and Sam grins, crazy-bright and wide, laughter in his eyes. That's when Bobby has to look away, as Sam tilts into Dean, their foreheads touching, his fingers catching Dean by the jaw and Bobby hears him murmur low, I got something better'n this for you, cowboy.
Dean's laughter is the sound of breaking glass or maybe that's just Bobby's heart, all over again.
A tumble-down factory, hidden off around a bend in the woods and the clearing is all weeds and dust now.
The Impala rolls to a stop, Bobby pulling up behind it, and Sam climbs out first, shading his eyes against the sun, shadow falling as he stands. Dean skirts the car and makes his way to Sam until they're side-by-side, stances wide, surveying the factory.
The vampire nest is huge. It's why Bobby called them. He tries to call more often now, acts like he isn't keeping tabs, pretends he isn't making sure they aren't tearing the world down around them. He tries to call more often because after they left his house the last time, jealous violence in their faces, he thought they'd. Well, he wasn't sure. He knows they won't kill each other, couldn't ever reach that point, but they might come close and they might take people down in their wake.
Because they only see each other, always have, always will, but it's worse now; whatever they saw in Hell, it wiped away the rest of world to them.
Everything else is just ghosts. And they act like they're going to salt and burn it all.
Bobby, you there, man? Sam asks, waving a hand in front of Bobby's face and he blinks.
Yeah, kid, I'm here, he says, pulling his cap down against the glare of the sun.
Dean kicks up dust as he walks, says, How many do you think there are?
I heard tell twenty. Maybe twenty-five. At the most, Bobby says, squinting at the building.
Whistling, Dean raises an eyebrow and Sam says, Like some sort of damn commune.
No shit, Sherlock.
Gotta keep it elementary for you, Watson.
I'm not your fucking sidekick, Dean says, eyes narrowing.
Sam gives as good as he gets, hazel slits, says, Sure you are, dumbass, you're here to make me look fucking spectacular.
Well, you do need all the help you can get, Sammy.
Oh, fuck that shit, Dean, I'm fanfuckingtastic. Or do I need to remind you yet again?
Bobby doesn't interrupt, just watches and now they're smirking at each other in open challenge.
You're on, bitch. Hands on his hips, Dean shifts and says, Like you'll ever win. Terms?
The look on Sam's face is dark happiness, or maybe it's the shadows, but he slides his gaze to Bobby, then leans down to whisper in Dean's ear and Dean grins as Sam talks, nodding.
Bobby doesn't want to know. When they walk back to their car, Dean sticks his hand in Sam's back pocket and Bobby really doesn't want to know.
It's late afternoon and they're going to be losing daylight fast.
So what's the plan, Bobby says and Dean laughs under his breath as Sam runs his thumb along the edge of his machete, absentminded, like he's got something else he'd rather be focusing on instead of a building full of bloodsucking monsters.
Well, the way we see it, we go in there, Dean says, pointing at the factory. And kill some vampires.
Rubbing the blade against his jeans, Sam says, Yeah, nothing fancy. Should be easy enough.
Bobby shakes his head. Boys, there's likely to be twenty vampires in there and once you start chopping off heads, I think they'll be a might upset about that.
Nah, they don't need to get upset. We'll make it quick, Dean replies, smiling.
Nice and painless, Sam says.
Not like that one motherfucker you tried to take down, you remember?
Sam bursts out laughing, Yeah, this huge sonuvabitch, Bobby, he was about as tall as me—
And built like a linebacker—
His neck was so damn thick and Dean'd forgotten to sharpen the machetes before we left. Dull as butter knives.
Now Dean's laughing too and the sun catches their blades, throwing light in fast slices as they grab onto each other, clutching their stomachs.
Fucking bastard wouldn't go down and Sam had to keep hacking at him. Practically had to carve him like a damn Thanksgiving turkey. What a fucking mess. Some of the worst shit hunting I've ever seen.
Oh yeah, Dean? I oughta start following you 'round with a mirror. Then you'll see some of the worst shit hunting I've ever seen.
You follow me 'round with a mirror, you'll end up with a lotta years of bad motherfucking luck. Unless you're looking at my ass, Dean says, hand sliding into Sam's hair and Bobby stands abruptly, says, No plan then, huh? You're gonna just stroll right into the lions' den and start taking 'em out?
Sam's staring at Dean, fiendish smile all for his brother, and he doesn't look away as he says, Yeah, that's the plan.
Dean's eyes flare and Sam licks his lips.
Bobby clears his throat, but it doesn't work, doesn't break whatever trance they've got each other in, Sam's head tilting as if he's telling Dean something without words and Dean smirks lit-match-fast in response.
Boys, you got a death wish or something?
He's got their attention now, their expressions surprised, as if he doesn't know.
Nah, we don't have a death wish, Dean begins.
We've been through worse, Sam finishes, shrugging, nonchalant, like it doesn't matter at all.
And Dean smiles, a bullet from a gun in slow motion.
Let's get this party started.
Bobby's a hunter, through and through.
And he never thought he'd see this.
It's like going to prom. Or at least the proms Dean remembers, vaguely, the hazy cloud of his life from before.
He's got his date (though he will fucking cut his own head off before he fucking tells his brother they're on a fucking date), he's dressed for the occasion and the air is alive with wild energy and anticipation. It smells like Sam does after a hunt and Dean's so hard so fast he almost trips.
The only thing missing is cheesy music. Which he could fix, cranking up the Impala's speakers until they shake, but Dean is already at the factory door, shifting from foot to foot, adrenaline on a drip, burning up his veins.
Sam holds the door for him and Dean makes kissy noises in payment and fuck if that doesn't clue Sam in, We on a date, Dean?
What, you want flowers?
There's dust and the stink of vampires, smashed windows and dried blood splashed on the walls and it's motherfucking perfect when Sam drags him close and nuzzles his jaw, says, You take me on the best dates.
Yeah, and you better put out.
You win and I will.
Fuck that, bitch, you love this date and you'll put out if I have to fuck you right here on the concrete.
Sam waves him on, taunting, Just try it, jerk, just try it.
I got a concealed weapon, Dean says, grabbing his crotch. And I'm not afraid to use it, Sammy.
Oh really, what's that, a little derringer?
They walk as they talk; there's a drowsing vampire at Sam's feet and he swings almost as fast as Dean can blink, then there's a spray of blood.
Sam, one. Dean, zero, his brother says, his hands dripping as he picks up the head and flicks the machete to point at Dean, gore sliding off the blade.
Then there's a scream and every vampire in the factory is awake and they can hear Bobby behind them saying, Uh, Dean, Sam...
A vampire rushes Dean and he ducks, spins as he decapitates it. When he straightens, Sam tosses aside the head he was holding, makes a so-so motion with his hand and says, Eh, I give you a B.
Fuck, what, just a B?
Well, the spin was pretty damn good, but your technique is sorta sloppy. Sam's eyes shine.
Dean grabs him to shake him and Sam laughs, leaves bloody streaks along Dean's throat, over his Adam's apple.
That does it, fucker, I'll show you some technique.
As if they were just waiting for their fucking death knell and Dean's voice is it, the vampires come out of the woodwork.
Sam doesn't know much about heaven, but he thinks this might be it.
He feels the warm press of Dean against his back, because the best place for Dean is with Sam and there are vampires charging them, mouths open, fangs bared and yeah, Dean was right, there's not much better than this.
He's got his brother laughing, yelling, Sam! and Sam ducks so Dean can take out two vampires in superhero fashion, whooping as blood comes down like a summer rain, thick hot drops.
Sam has to take a minute after that, giddily watching Dean do a little dance, then clean his machete with a quick snap of his wrist, blood arcing in a million dollar money shot.
It's like seeing a rare gorgeous predator or a reaper in the wild, Dean, his face shining with pure manic happiness as a vampire lunges at him and Dean circles around her, stabs her once between her tits, then proceeds to cut off her head like he's swinging a baseball bat, and Sam wants nothing more than to strip Dean naked, push him to the ground, and fuck him until they don’t know which way is up.
Everything smells of sweat and hissing desperation, the fight and sour metallic red, dust and Dean, always Dean, his joy like a living thing, snaking around them both.
This is one of the better dates they’ve been on.
A vampire behind Dean and Sam shoots over his brother's shoulder, stalking fast to decapitate the dumb motherfucker and Dean's grinning at Sam as if all of his dreams have come true. Which of course they have.
Impressed? Sam asks.
That you could actually hit the broadside of a barn? Besides taking out that bastard? Yeah, maybe, Dean says. You got something in those jeans that’ll impress me?
A break in the action while they size each other up, Sam working out the best way to grab Dean and get his zipper down, and it looks like Dean's plotting the same thing, then he moves to smear blood off Sam's face, thumb pushing Sam's lower lip into his teeth before Dean kisses him.
Deep and dirty, just how Sam likes it and he's waiting for Dean to draw blood, real blood, Sam's blood, not this shitty stuff that’s spewing from the vampires, but Dean holds back and so Sam growls at him.
Laughing, Dean breaks the kiss and says, Not now, Sammy, just—
Sam hates to interrupt him, but a vampire is running at them and so Sam has to shoot her, bullet catching her in the side and she spins, falling.
Well, you taste kinda nasty, baby, Dean continues. Must be the ambiance, he says, indicating the stench of vampires and the puddles of blood. Their blood doesn't smell the same, doesn't smell right, kind of like rusting iron, heavy and it is fucking off-putting, downright gross.
Nasty? Sam says and Dean's smirking at him, that bullshit edge to his mouth, so Sam kisses him again, making sure to slide his tongue everywhere, wants Dean to be tasting him for the rest of the day, until they get back to the car at least.
Dean bites Sam’s tongue, the cheater, fucker, he knows what that does to Sam, how it makes him insane, makes his cock jump, but then their moment is over, the vampire Sam shot in the ribs noisily shrieking crawling towards them. Swatting Sam's ass with his machete, Dean says, Go get her, tiger, and then leaps over a few dead bodies, to chase down another vampire who snarls as Dean tackles him.
The blade whistles as Sam frees the wounded vampire from her head and he stands to watch Dean handily yank the other vampire's head back and slice at his neck. His machete sticks in the spinal column and Dean yells, You motherfucking sonuvabitch!, jerking to get it out of the wound and Sam's laughing, hands on his knees.
Hold on a sec, lemme get a mirror ‘cuz that’s some shitty hunting, Dean, I think I win just for that alone.
Shut up, you cocky bitch, Dean says, standing, planting a foot on the vampire's twitching shoulder to get some leverage, pulling, his hands slick because the machete is stuck stubborn in the vampire like an axe head in a tree trunk.
And that's it, Sam's going to die here, laughing so hard he can't see, his chest hurts, his brother's going to kill him with the way he's jiggling on the handle, muttering, C'mon, you stupid fucking thing, c'mon, can't do your fucking job if you're fucking stuck in what you're fucking supposed to be cutting!
Need some help there?
Dean glares at Sam over his shoulder, and in the dust motes and vampire remains, all Sam can see is Dean’s eyes, blazing like twin watchtowers spelling hope to the faithful and a warning to all trespassers.
And holy fuck if Sam isn’t one of the faithful, the only faithful, the most devout. He’s striding to Dean before he knows what he’s doing and all he can do is stand, breathless, as Dean pries the blade out of the vampire’s neck with a series of cracks. It’s beautiful, a flash of white bone as the blade pulls clear, and Dean eases his foot onto the throat and he hardly moves, a shift of his weight, twist of his ankle, but there’s a loud snap. It’s a thing of grace, a saving grace if Sam’s ever seen one, a saving grace for Sam because he’s been granted this, wholly, from Dean. He thinks, by grace alone, and Sam’s not sure he’s ever wanted his brother more.
Before Dean can look at him, Sam pushes a hand into Dean’s hair, staining him red.
Oh, look, I think you’re gonna need a shower now.
Ah, hell, now I smell like them, Dean says, his lips curled right before Sam sets his teeth against Dean’s mouth.
They kiss, fingers swiping clean each other’s faces because they aren’t afraid of becoming vampires, of tasting the tainted blood, but right now, it’s not on their to-do list. Maybe in the future, when they get bored at some unspecified time, when there’s a stop sign at an intersection and they don’t have a hunt to be at, they don’t have any plans outside of Dean fucking Sam into oblivion while Sam gasps under Dean’s bruise-blossoming grip on his hip and neck.
Dean wipes at a spot on Sam’s neck and then bites him, one of his favorite things to do, and Sam smiles underneath it, swallowing so Dean’s mouth moves with him.
The factory is quiet and something’s dripping, slow and heavy.
A scuff of boots somewhere outside their circle and Bobby says, Guess we got ‘em. The majority of ‘em.
Sam pulls away, Dean’s hands on his jacket tightening as a low whine escapes him, and Sam says, Yeah, guess.
He can see fangs from where he’s standing, an open mouth bared at him and he likes how death is their handiwork. Maybe someday when he’s got Dean all lazy and dazed, after he’s made Dean come and come and come, after he’s fed his come and blood to Dean with his fingers, he’ll tell his brother his thought about death.
This is one of the better dates they’ve been on.
If it fucking isn’t just like Dean to make heaven kneel and spread itself out as their very own playground, because if this isn’t heaven, Sam doesn’t fucking know what is.
Sam’s standing there, hair hanging in his face, drying red streaks on his skin, sweat at the base of his throat and his clothes all askew. He has a machete in one hand, Dean’s wrist in the other and Dean thinks his heartbeat is subject to Sam’s will, though he will never ever fucking tell Sam that, though Sam might already know, the bastard, what with the way he’s looking down at Dean and the way he’ll want to get a knife on Dean and open him up later.
He’s towering over Dean like death, breathing hard when Dean licks his lips, death on the shivering edge with how much he wants to fuck Dean and Dean wants to be taken to the brink with Sam, look into the black and come back seeing nothing but the shearing hazel that is Sam.
He’s like something Dean pays for in blood, there every time Dean closes his eyes and opens his eyes and damn it if Sam isn’t pureborn speed and a metallic taste in Dean’s mouth, the best things Dean’s ever known, better.
These dates are making him so freakishly sentimental; he might need an exorcism. Hunts do this to him lately and it’s all Sam’s fucking fault, his eyes all hyper-lit up.
Hey, idiot, how many?
Huh? Sam thinks. Oh, um, eight? Eight or nine?
It’s Dean’s lucky day, how about that, and he says, It’s my lucky day, Sammy, whaddya think of that? I’d say ‘bout eleven.
He leers and Sam raises an eyebrow.
And? I win. You pay up and put out. We can either do it here. Or in more comfortable surroundings, so the pretty pretty princess doesn’t get her clothes dirty.
You mean dirtier. This time Sam’s leering back at Dean and Dean can’t fucking have that, Sam doesn’t out-leer him, not with a smear of blood in one of his dimples.
Dean’ll just have to get him back somehow. He thinks there’s some rope in the trunk.
I think some of ‘em got away, Bobby says, somewhere over to their left.
Sam glances over and Bobby waves at the door. Dean’s kind of irritated now because Sam’s attention is on the bodies at the door and he’s nudging them aside, looking for the heads and Dean wants that attention back, it’s his, fucking dammit, it’s his.
Three, I think, Sam says.
Bobby glances around as Sam crouches, pushes his fingers around what looks like a ragged edge of skin and bone, right where the head came flying off, yeah, Dean remembers that one, she tried to claw at his face and he told her sorry, but I’m not here to play and then he fucking cut her head off, because he actually was here to play and them’s the rules.
Adjusting his cap, Bobby says, I tried to keep ‘em from leaving or I knocked ‘em back to you two. But I think there’s another door or two around here. Some of ‘em probably escaped.
Well, guess that’s our work done, Dean says and Bobby’s surprised under the brim of his cap, hands in his pockets.
You don’t wanna go after ‘em?
Dean shrugs. What’s the point? They survived, they’ve learned a lesson. They know what happens.
It’s obvious to Dean, but Bobby keeps staring at him, like he’s confused.
Now they know. It’s eat or be eaten.
There’s a dark chuckle and Sam’s next to Dean again, arm sliding warm over Dean’s shoulders.
You like to sound wise, but you really just end up sounding stupid, Sam says, his nose pressed to Dean’s temple.
Who asked you, fucker?
No one’s gotta ask me. It’s a known fact. Sam’s voice is low, like a promise of whiskey and sex and Dean’s never one to turn that down, in any sort of chemical explosion combination.
Like how everyone knows you’re a little bitch?
Oh, good comeback. Nice one. You got me. Yeah, right here. Deadpan, Sam pats his chest and Dean thinks how he wants to put his hands, his tongue, his knife, his mouth there.
Dammit, these hunts are making him so fucking sentimental.
Bobby isn’t sure what to do. He’s just seen a massacre, a war fought in a span of minutes.
Dean and Sam move like something’s forever lost to them, however they came back, something’s gone and they don’t care, as if they never had it in the first place.
They move like the vampires did, headlong rushes and easy kamikaze turns, bursting into the fight like grenades.
They move fast and careless, reckless because.
Because they don’t care.
He remembers their expressions in the dusty sunlight.
Boys, you got a death wish or something?
There’s nothing to hold them back, whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it, wherever the car will take them.
They’re unleashed and the thought sounds utterly ridiculous to Bobby, but.
He curses under his breath as they troop past him, spattered with blood and Dean flips his machete in his hands, tossing it as Sam rolls his eyes.
He watches them change.
As if he didn’t know.
They’re crossed together in the shower, slippery skin and Sam’s busy mouthing his way along Dean’s ribs.
This is the only thing that matters.
They laughed about the hunt on the way back to the motel before Dean got impatient and decided to take his winnings on the side of the road, all bossy and fucking pushy and manhandling Sam against the car, curved over the trunk, Sam breathing against the paint, Dean breathing against Sam’s skin and there’s nothing else they’ll ever want, because they like the way the sky watches them as they fuck out in the open.
When they finally got to the motel, they presented Bobby with beer and play-by-play commentary as they ate pizza. Then Bobby kicked them out, claiming he was old and tired, so they raced back down to their room, the Impala marking their spot, their cigarette burn in the world, wherever they are.
Dean moans as Sam’s tongue finds his bellybutton and the tiles are cold, but the water is hot, sluicing over them.
Sam licks Dean’s cock, a tease as Dean’s fingers slide into his hair and he has his thought again about death and handiwork.
Right now, his handiwork is going to be the taste of Dean’s come when he kisses Dean, when he works his fingers into his brother, the body he owns, Dean shaking against him.
And when Sam shoves into him, Dean rests his head against the tiles, surrounded by Sam, all weight and height, all that bone and blood, like his, and he remembers, Sam’s his fucking angel of death, cock taking him again and again and this is what it means to be alive.
They fuck, then crawl out of the shower and collapse on the bed, a line of electricity running from one to the other and then back again, a loop that keeps shocking them.
Whaddya think Bobby meant, “death wish”? Dean asks as Sam sprawls over him, an arm, a leg, damp hair tickling Dean’s face.
Sam shrugs. He thinks we wanna die?
Man, he is old and tired if he thinks that.
They nod together in the bed sheets because Bobby’s confused if that’s his real opinion.
There’s a television on next door and the faucet’s dripping in the shower.
Dean squeezes Sam’s calf. I wouldn’t salt ‘n’ burn you, Sammy.
Why not? Sam isn’t offended, just curious.
Wouldn’t want you to miss an all-access pass to haunt me and continue to be a pain in my ass.
Dean, are you trying to seduce me?
Sam’s eyes are bright in the growing dark and Dean thinks they’ll look brighter next to a knife.
He doesn’t mean to say it like he does. I gotta taste you, Sam.
But it’s the truth and Sam knows it, stretches back as Dean pierces his skin and the smell of blood is just right.
Their blood tells them what they already know.
They’re not planning on dying anytime soon.
Maybe they just won’t. Ever.