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trembling before the machinery of other skeletons

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The road shimmers under the sun and it’s doing things to Dean, bright and hot and he blinks because he’s expecting mirages at any minute.

Sam’s got his arms up resting on his head as he watches Dean, and maybe Sam is his mirage, better than anything Dean’s ever fucking seen. And he has that thought again. Maybe Sam isn’t real. Maybe Dean made him up in Hell. He’s endured and been rewarded.

Hey, Sam says, and then the phone rings.

He tosses the phone to Dean instead of answering it and Dean flips him off, steering with his knees for a little ways before Sam’s hand slides onto the wheel.

Yeah.

Dean, it’s Bobby.

Hey, man, haven’t heard from you in a few weeks. He mouths Bobby at Sam, like it would be anyone else, another fucking soul on the planet calling them, and Sam smiles, waves.

Sam says hey, Dean says, but Bobby’s already talking, Where’re you boys at?

The road shimmers under the sun and it’s doing things to Dean, bright and hot, especially when he takes the wheel back and Sam drops his hand right into Dean’s lap. Uh, we’re in Tennessee, I think.

Kentucky, Sam says, fingers curling around Dean’s thigh and he says, Kentucky. Headed to Tennessee.

Fine, okay, Bobby says, and his voice sounds strung, as if he’s worried and it’s not like Bobby to be worried.

What’s going on?

Sam’s fingers have reached Dean’s cock and he sort of wants to slap Sam away, he’s driving and he’s talking on the phone, it’s unfuckingcivilized, but when he looks at Sam, his brother’s eyes bright and hot like the road, Dean swerves across into the other lane.

He doesn’t fucking care, he drives like that for a while, Sam stroking him through his jeans and then Bobby says something like hole up and Dean starts paying attention.

Wait, what.

I told you boys a long time ago to lay low. There’s hunters out there gunnin’ for you, you know that. Think you’re monsters worth puttin’ down.

What, like they’re gonna collect our antlers, Dean says, and Sam’s hand stops, just heavy warmth where Dean aches.

More like they’ll collect your balls, Bobby says. So you idjits need to get somewhere and stay there. Just hole up until the coast is clear.

His tone keeps changing, like he’s nervous, but Dean’s never known Bobby to be nervous, at least around them, Bobby’s dealt with shit way worse, because him and Sam are fucking angels compared to what’s in the world today.

Bobby, what’s going on here.

Sam scoots closer, looking like he’s suddenly figured something out and he says, The bastards’ve been calling him, and he’s angry, that black anger he gets that Dean loves, like he’s about to bring down the wrath of everything unholy because he knows how, he knows Hell’s secrets and he will bring them up through the ground to play. He undoes Dean’s jeans as he talks though, as he grabs the phone and says, The fuckers have been calling you, haven’t they.

Dean can’t hear Bobby’s response, only knows Sam pulling him out of his boxers and the road under the splash of sun, all of it driving him like he’s driving the car.

They threaten you? Sam says and his grip tightens around Dean, painful, and Dean’s biting his lip, he almost can’t see straight, his foot slamming down on the gas pedal with a push of speed.

Yeah, bunch of pussies, why, because you know us? Those motherfuckers.

Wait wait wait, Dean’s gasping, Sam’s hand on him like everything perfect, clean shots and blood pools and he’s got to pull over, he’s got to or they’ll wreck and that’d be just the way, blindsided fiery crash because Sam’s hand on him is like being dropped from an endless height, so he pulls over, the tires bounce on the shoulder, the brakes squeal and the road is angled out sideways from them because Dean ends up putting the car crooked.

He’s about to come, but he’s trying, he’s trying, says, They’re threatening Bobby? They wanna find us, they wanna fight?

And Sam says, Motherfuckers wanna cut us open like trophy kills, and Dean comes all over Sam and his jeans and the steering wheel.

It takes him a minute to come back down, Sam still talking to Bobby, demanding names and phone numbers in that fucking dark voice he gets, but whatever Bobby’s saying, it’s not making him happy, except that the gist is they’re going to get a fight, a nice big blowout and that’s enough to make Sam smirk.

No, man, no, they don’t get to do that, Sam’s saying, They aren’t gonna bother you.

Dean says, Gimme, c’mon, lemme talk to him, swiping at the steering wheel with his shirt, and as Sam gives him the phone, he licks at Dean’s come on his hand and Dean’s foot hits the gas again, but they’re in park, so the engine revs and Bobby sounds tinny, yelling, Dean! Dean!

All right, look, I don’t know any brainless dickheads that’d threaten you, Bobby, especially if they wanna live, but if they’re bugging you about us, then that’s a whole different shit storm, Dean says, closing his eyes because Sam’s watching him, seething and completely pissed off, and that’s one of those irresistible flavors of Sam.

Yeah, well, all they do is call the house, it’s not like it’s somethin’ I can’t handle, Bobby says, and now he sounds insulted instead of nervous, so Dean laughs.

Oh hell no, dude, we know that, but c’mon, they’re fucking with you to call us out, Dean says and he hears Sam’s zipper. If they wanna do that, we’ll just fuck up their day, like they’re asking.

No, you two just go somewhere and hang out. Read a book. Get some sun. Whatever.

No, man, they’re messing with you and that is some bullshit.

This ain’t the Wild West. You ain’t Butch Cassidy and Sam ain’t the Sundance Kid and—

Actually, I think Sam’d be Butch and I’d be Sundance ‘cuz—

Something slams on Bobby’s end. I don’t give two hoots in hell! You boys drop your hunts and go somewhere!

Butch and Sundance, huh? Sam says, Blaze of glory, Dean, blaze of glory, that’ll be us, and he’s got his cock out and Dean’s about to break something, all this talk of facing hunters like them, people with their same skill set and eye for weapons and his brother just jerked him off on the road and now Sam’s trying to kill him with his gaze on Dean like fighting words and his hand moving slow on himself.

Bobby, I gotta call you back, Dean says, and he thinks Bobby says something like don’t you dare hang up, but too late, the phone clicks shut and he tosses it in the backseat somewhere.

So where were we? he asks and Sam smiles from where he’s sprawled, cupping his dick.

Blaze of glory, Dean.

Yeah, Sammy, I’m all over that. See how many we can take out with us before we go down?

Sam throws his head back, smacking against the window as Dean finally touches him. Think that’s a pretty fucking spectacular plan.

‘Cept for the part where we die and that’s just stupid.

Between breaths, Sam’s laughing, Dean’s hand on him speeding up, fast faster the engine’s still running and faster, and he says, Don’t think we’ll die.

Sounds pretty fucking lame. Why don’t you just come and that’ll be a blaze of glory.

Sam laughs and his eyes are like the splash of sun outside and they’re doing things to Dean.

The phone starts to ring again.

Collect some antlers, huh? Sam says. Mount ‘em to the grill?

Instead of the headlights? Dean laughs and Sam comes all over them.

Very damn tempting, but you cannot dirty up my baby like that, Dean says, and then he’s licking them clean.

Sometimes their come tastes salty like blood and sometimes it’s the other way around.

The phone starts to ring.

Bobby leaves them three voicemails, and later in Tennessee, after he’s done cussing them out, they’ll promise to cool it and lay low, but sometimes they just plain forget.

**

The car is parked there outside of the diner.

It's black, shining under the streetlights, and there's water on the paint, like it came through a rainstorm.

She can't really believe it, so she walks close to the car, and makes the split second decision that she needs a cup of coffee from that particular diner before her shift starts.

The plates are Ohio tags, but she remembers them as Kansas.

It could be anybody’s car, but her gut tells her it’s this one, it has to be.

When her mug of coffee arrives, Jo wraps her hands around it, the warmth burning fast into her palms and she shakes her head.

She calls her mom. She doesn't say where she is, doesn't say that she's sitting in a booth staring at the car, a booth she picked so she could do that very thing. It looks so innocuous, outside the diner, the black gleaming dark, with the lights outside sliding off the curves, slipping down the grill. She doesn't say that she's only seen the car and not the Winchesters.

Because Jo isn't quite sure what to expect or what to do or what to say or whether she should even stick around. It is highly likely that her best option is to skip town.

But she knows these boys, well, she knew them, before Dean went to Hell for his brother and then Sam returned the favor. Insanity must run steely rampant in that family not only because of the stories she's heard of their father John, but because she doesn't know anyone else who would just easily go to Hell for their kin, and then those best loved left behind go storming the gates, pounding on the door over and over to get that person back. And then succeeding, like this is all one big fairy tale.

Jo hasn’t put much stock in happy endings, even when she was a little girl.

Her mom tells her to steer clear, for reasons beyond any sort of familial grudge or just the simple maternal fact she doesn't trust any males around her daughter. Just steer clear, Jo Beth, just wrap up whatever you got goin' there and find a new town, her mom says, not even asking where she is or why she hasn't come home.

Jo almost asks what her mom hears through the hunting rumor mills, because those grizzled hunters will gossip like little old ladies given the chance, especially after a few shots of Jack and some beer chasers, but she doesn't ask. She hangs up and drinks her coffee and stares at the car.

It's when she leaves, walking past the metal, that beautiful grill grinding its teeth at her, she remembers the speed, tires flying like escape, Dean behind the wheel driving like jailbreak. So she calls Bobby.

He's pretty wary about giving her any information of any kind, as if he's holding something back, a whole poker hand of aces he’s not telling her about. You're a big girl, Jo, but you be careful. Iff'n you talk to 'em, I want you to call me back afterwards.

There's something in how he evades her, telling her in equal parts see for yourself and curiosity killed the cat.

Jo can handle that. She's put up with drunken bastards in her mother's bar, idiots who needed to be reminded of the rules and learn some manners. She's a hunter's daughter. She's a hunter.

She walks by the car, and she wants to touch it, but she keeps her hands to herself. It's not exactly like holding a cup of coffee.

In the end, they come to her.

Her shift starts. She's working in a bar, and it's early enough for the regulars and late enough for the people looking to get drunk and then there they are, coming through the door.

Dean leads the way, like usual, like always, giving his shoulders a little shake, as if to get rid of the day or the town or the air in the bar. Sam's so close behind his brother, he could be Dean's reflection in a mirror.

They don’t see her right away, but she sees them, wouldn’t miss them even if she didn’t know who they are. They talk low for a bit, ignoring everyone else around them, though she notices that Sam’s marking the exits and Dean’s watching the people closest to them, as if he’s sizing them up.

Jo leans on the bar, waiting, then Dean grins and she gets that tiny punch in the belly, the one she remembers so clearly, but it fades fast. His grin isn’t the same one she remembers; it cuts a little quick and a little hard, more like a knife sting than sunshine. It’s all for Sam though and that’s nothing new.

They walk to the booth in the very back, the corner where the light is the dimmest and the people are few and far between.

It’s her lucky night; Zola’s here too, claiming she was bored and needing the money, so Jo says she’ll be back and Zola sees where she nods, her eyebrows going up.

Yeah, honey, you go see if they’ll stare at your tits, but baby, they’ve only got eyes for each other. Not sure how you missed that, Zola says.

And Jo has to grab a towel to stop her shaking hands. Nah, I know ‘em, from way back. And you’re wrong.

Oh, no, honey, you’ll see. You go back there and you’ll see.

Jo pops the caps off two beers and wipes them down, then wonders why she’s taking her time.

Spooking hunters is never a good idea. She makes sure to approach with her smile on and her intentions clear: she’s just there to say hi, so she keeps her hands in plain sight, carrying the beers, and her gaze stays on them.

It’s Sam who sees her first and he nudges Dean.

When they smile up at her, something inside of her wants to grab her knife, wants to jump back and lash out.

Their eyes. Sam’s burn hazel, that wild color that looked so wrong the time he was possessed and attacked her, telling his brother he had to shoot Sam or he was going to kill her, slight-of-hand shifting hazel. And Dean’s, so green, like she’s thought of, but they’ve got an odd clarity, like he’s seen things she can’t imagine and he’s accepted them. Like they’re a part of him now. Like he doesn’t care.

Sam says, Hey there, Jo, and Dean shoots him a look, sideways sharp and he’s still watching Sam when he says, Hey, Jo.

It’s like he doesn’t trust her around Sam. Or around them.

Hey, fellas, of all the gin joints, she says, setting the beers down and she makes a motion to sit with them, but Dean’s mouth twists into a facsimile of a smirk.

Yeah, we gotta end up in yours, Sam says, What’re you doing here?

She’s unsettled because they act like they know her, know her name, but they act like they don’t know her, leaning away, some sort of stranger with a face they’ve seen before at a distance.

Just workin’. Had a hunt a few weeks back, but I was low on cash, so decided to stick it out here for a while. Town’s not too bad and the pay’s decent, she says, waving a hand.

Dean nods, says, Yeah, we’re passing through. Been tracking some skinwalkers.

It’s news to Jo and she says as much, I hadn’t heard that.

This time it’s Sam who smiles and it’s that boyish grin, full-on like your eyes adjusting to light, but it’s got a curl, a skew to it Jo doesn’t like and her chest hurts, as if she’s bruised. She presses a hand to her side as he says, We’ve been following ‘em for a few towns now.

And that surprises her. They’re both too good to let their quarry give them the slip; they’re both too good to not just end a hunt right away and move on to the next.

They’re giving you trouble? she says and the boys laugh like she’s told one hell of a joke.

Nah, we’re watching to see what they do, Dean says. It’s real funny. They have this game they play when they kill someone and we’re still learning the rules.

Her hands fly out, defensive, and she knocks over Sam’s beer. Because Jo cannot believe what she’s just heard and then she’s trying to cover it, apologizing, mopping up what she can reach and Sam just laughs.

He’s got a stain on his jeans that isn’t from the beer; it’s dark, running down his thigh under his jacket and Dean catches her looking and this time when he smiles, it’s a real one.

It’s real and broken and Jo realizes that maybe everything she’s heard about him going to Hell, everything she’s heard about them when they came back, it just might be true. She’s defended them, called people liars and idiots and assholes, and she’s right to do so, hunters being a rare breed, but the things she’s heard, they’re spelled out in Dean’s smile, Sam’s too when he looks over at Dean and slides a hand up to his brother’s neck, thumb rubbing under Dean’s jaw.

Lemme get you another beer, Sam, sorry ‘bout that, she says and she doesn’t let her voice waver. She’s not afraid of them, they haven’t threatened her, she’d fight them like any other motherfuckers who’ve threatened her, despite their size and weight, but this. This is different. This is new and fucked-up, the two of them piled together in a booth, looking normal and like the boys she knows, Sam all sweet dimples and Dean with his eyes like easy promises.

The boys she knows with wires running under their skin, their brains shocking different, all their currents reversed.

They’re so damaged, she can see it, but she doesn’t even have to see it, she feels it, like every instinct telling her to pull her knife. They’re broken in ways she doesn’t understand and now she knows what that vibration was in Bobby’s voice when he said, Jo, I dunno that you’ll recognize ‘em, but. You see ‘em, you call me back.

Grief.

The booth next to theirs calls greetings to Jo, so she leans on the divider and behind her, Dean says, You aren’t gonna fuck her.

Sam laughs, crooked, and someone’s introducing her, but she hears Sam say, Why would I?

Well, last time I caught you two together, she was all tied up.

No, you asshole, that’s only for you, think I just go around tying people up? And you aren’t gonna fuck her either.

Sam, are you fucking shitfaced already? Why would I fuck her.

You wanted to. Used to. Before.

Jo needs to escape, but the people are wanting drinks, so they hold her there as Dean says, Before what?

You know. Before.

Dean laughs and says, Like there fucking ever was a ‘before.’

When she finally starts for the bar, she can see Dean’s got his fingertips pressed to Sam’s mouth and there’s a small throwing knife on the table, spinning slow.

As she turns away, a guy stops her, a kid little younger than her who comes in to play pool sometimes and he gives the Winchesters a long heavy glance before trying to get her attention. The kid’s talking in her ear, attempting to get a hand on her ass and she hears Dean say, You up for it, gotta play the game, we haven’t played in a while.

Sam says, Yeah, I wanna play. It’s my turn though. You pick.

The kid’s saying something about needing a couple of shots and a new beer, but Jo catches Dean’s response.

Fucking sweet, Sammy, really fucking sweet. Looks like we’ve got our juicy choices. There’ll be a hot time in the ol’ town tonight.

She finally breaks free of the kid, says she’ll send Zola over and heads back to get a new beer. Something about this ‘game’ is making her want to duck and roll, like the shooting’s about to start, and the feeling is going up her spine. The game. Like how Dean described the skinwalkers as they kill.

They didn’t look at your tits, did they, honey, Zola says, I told you, those two got each other written all over them.

They’re brothers, Jo says, and there’s violence in her voice, disgust that startles her.

Nuh-uh, baby, they aren’t brothers. Zola clicks her tongue. Mighty fine, mighty fine, mm mm mm, but they are not brothers. Never seen any brothers look like that. They’re something else, that’s for damn sure.

Jo doesn’t have anything to say to that. The Winchesters were always close, sticking to each other like they didn’t know any better, didn’t know of any other way to navigate. And if it’s true, if any of the shit she’s heard is true, then Hell took that and snapped it and cut it open and this is how they’re stitched back together, all of their edges and seams done up wrong.

She almost drops the beer and Zola gives her a weird glance, but it’s nothing, nothing at all. But once she gets to the booth, Dean’s alone. He doesn’t see her, busy staring at something across the room.

Sam, leaning over the kid who likes Jo’s ass, and the kid is licking his lips, watching Sam talk and when Sam tilts in close, mouth near the kid’s own, the kid’s eyes close. His fingers find Sam’s belt loops and he nods, tugging Sam out towards the bathrooms, to the dark hallway leading to the alley.

Sam looks back at Dean and grins.

It’s like death in slow motion.

Dean stands and says, Guess the kid found something he likes better than your ass, Jo. You wanna come watch?

She’s about to smash the beer.

He gets an arm around her shoulders and says, Sorry, you’d only get to watch, but trust me, it’s one helluva show. Sam’s really fucking good at this.

Jo feels so tiny under the weight of his arm, like she’s a house of cards. She shakes her head no. She sips the beer in her hand, as if it’ll go straight to her head and she can claim she was drunk, not completely aware of her actions.

He says, The kid’ll leave your ass alone. Then suddenly, he lets go of her with that same sideways slice of a glance and pushes some money in her hand. We’ll be seeing you, Jo.

Then he’s following Sam. And she sees him drag his gun from his jeans. He smiles at the shine of the gun, waves at her and disappears into the dark after his brother.

There’ll be a hot time in the ol’ town tonight.

The wet bottle slips from her fingers and she hears it shatter, but she’s walking, keeps walking. Before Zola can move from behind the bar, Jo gets her in a hug and whispers, Call the cops, now, call the cops and get the hell outta here. Then she grabs her coat and is out the door.

Money still in her hand, she shoves it into her pocket and braces herself against the wind because she doesn’t know what just happened.

She’s not far enough away when she hears a gunshot, but it could be a car backfiring, could be a door slamming, could be her boots on the concrete.

She runs.

The motel is close, but when she gets to her room, her lungs are burning and she realizes she’s sobbing, crying like she hasn’t since her dad died. The key almost breaks in the lock and she’s about to kick the door in, but then the knob turns and she stumbles inside, and it takes three tries, then the door shuts behind her.

She packs and she can barely see and her breath is loud in her ears as she cries. She can’t seem to stop.

Finally, Jo is packed, bags on the bed and she crawls up next to them, knees drawn up protecting her chest.

She knew them. She did. She’s seen hunters after they’ve seen too much, knows how they’re shell-shocked and blood simple and they’ll pass out at their table, wake screaming and smashing glasses. How they can’t see anything for a few minutes, nothing but demons or someone dying over and over.

She knew them. She knew those boys and now they’re gone. She doesn’t understand what the fuck happened. She knew them and now they’re red-eyed shadows that look like the boys she remembers. Taken apart and put back together except they’ve shaken loose, pieces rattling free where their souls used to be. Lessons in loving too hard. Lessons from gruesome fairy tales.

Sirens whir out of the dark and Jo gathers up her bags.

Her knife slips quick out of her boot, she’s cutting wires and the engine roars to life; she’s stealing another car, but she doesn’t care.

When she calls Bobby, Jo’s still crying, can’t seem to stop.

No, they didn’t hurt her, they didn’t hurt her, they wouldn’t do that. She knew them.

But she’s still crying and on the other end, Bobby just listens.

**

It's like seeing a comet. Only because Coop's never seen a comet and people are always making a big fuss about them. Have been for years, centuries even.

They're in the cemetery, ready to dig up Ol' Miss Kreliss, see if she was really buried in her wedding dress and then torch that sucker. No more dead bridegrooms. These jilted lovers can be real bitches about men.

Only when they get to Ol' Miss Kreliss's grave, there's someone else there. Dade drags him behind a tree, says, Mebbe they's mourners.

‘S one in the mornin', Dade, I don't think anyone'd be mournin' in the middle of the night, Coop hisses.

Dade just looks at him sad-like and Coop remembers that Dade lost his pregnant girlfriend to a wendigo. He used to get drunk and go out to her grave all times of day or night and talk to her. Coop cusses under his breath and wants to swallow his tongue.

Uh, y'know what I mean, he says, and Dade just nods, slowly, then after a minute, says, Mornin'. Mournin'. 'S like a pun.

At the grave, there's two men, tall, well, taller than Dade because Dade's only about 5'9", but Coop's 6' even and he's proud of that. They're tall, one even taller than the other and their flashlights move wildly as they talk, laughing and cussing into the air.

Then one of the men says, Dean, and Dade almost drops his shovel right onto Coop's foot, which Coop'd have to hit him for, then they'd both be lame for the next hunt and that wouldn't help things one fucking bit.

He just say 'Dean'? Dade asks, his voice curling at the end and Coop really might have to hit him, really.

Keep yer voice down, dumbass! Coop says, fast. Then, because Dade's fidgeting next to him, Yeah, he said 'Dean.'

Coop, y'don't think.

No one I know's ever run into 'em.

They's like unicorns, right?

Coop glares at Dade, and though there's a big fat hunter's moon overhead, it’s dark behind the tree, so Dade probably doesn't even see it.

Fuck, Sammy, that's some cold shit, the shorter man says and Dade all but squeaks, so Coop stomps on his foot.

Shut yer trap, ya numbskull.

The flashlights swing, flaring bright as metal and sure enough, there's guns pointed at their tree and Coop rolls his eyes.

We can hear you, you fucking mouthbreathers, so come out from behind the tree, the shorter man says, his tone furious black.

Dade shakes his head, his eyes wide and white in the dark, but Coop just steps out, hands and shotgun held up.

The tall one starts to laugh, a loud full sound that booms out over the gravestones, but his gun and flashlight don't waver. The shorter one says, Yeah, real fucking funny, Sam, real fucking funny. I told you we should've gone after that siren sighting. Shit.

It wasn't real, you know that.

Yeah, but it was the beach! Chicks! In bikinis!

Coop's watching between them and suddenly, the air goes cold and still. But it's not a ghost, not Ol' Miss Kreliss, this is something else, darker and that's when Dade decides to join the party.

He almost gets shot for his troubles because these two, who can't be Dade who thinks they are, they can't be, these two are trigger-happy and wired to shoot with smiles on their faces. The tall man points his gun at Dade and says, Bikinis? You are such a fucking asshole. His tone is like that bullet you never see coming that takes out your spine before you hear the shot.

The shorter man aims his flashlight over at him and sighs loudly, very put-upon, very pissed off from what Coop can tell because he's made the same sort of sound before whenever Dade mispronounces his exorcisms.

Dude, honestly, you fucking need to fucking get over yourself, bastard, or do we need to have this bullshit discussion again? he says, and the area around them is quickly becoming dangerous, some sort of crackling in the dark and Dade is fidgeting again, Coop can see him out of the corner of his eye.

Looks like we've had a misunderstandin', Coop says, hands still up in the air and the shotgun isn't getting any lighter. If y'all haven't finished diggin' up the grave, mebbe we can give y'all a hand.

Dade calms down a little, or that's what it looks like, because he nods, stands his shovel on its end, handle down, and switches his flashlight on. Yeah, mebbe we can get this done in half the time.

The other men put their guns down, in unison, which Coop finds oddly peculiar, like they're strung together somehow and Dade makes a noise next to him, as if he's considering that or considering the men or considering getting himself and Coop killed by asking a question. Because Dade is real big on questions.

You boys got names? Dade says and there you go, Coop keeps telling him the questions are going to get them in hot water someday, but Dade keeps saying that the questions are going to help them get out of hot water someday. And he sounds all scrappy and cocky, like he doesn’t expect to get his ass beat, and usually, he doesn’t, he’ll fight until everyone’s bleeding. But these two are different, somehow. They won’t turn tail and run after a split lip.

The shorter man's eyes glitter as he turns the flashlight on himself and now they can see he's got dark blonde hair and is built like a football player, a tough sonuvabitch that'd be hard to go through or get around.

He doesn't answer for a second, then says, Yeah, we've got names. I'm Dean. His flashlight flicks over to the taller man, a huge babyfaced motherfucker, looks like he'd sweet-talk you into letting him kill you with his bare hands, brown hair hanging down in his eyes, and Dean says, My brother Sam.

It's like seeing a comet.

And Dade laughs, like it's his lucky day. Winchesters? he asks. Like it's made his whole year.

Sam sort of smirks and Coop suddenly takes that as a bad sign because something's not right here, not right at all.

That's us, Sam says, gesturing with his gun.

You've heard of us? Dean asks, stance going wide as he shifts his weight. He taps his gun on his thigh. What've you heard?

Coop's about to wave them off, say something easy and slick and vague, but Dade jumps in, Y'all are some pretty badass fuckers! Two of the best hunters around. Oh and that car, I hear y'all've got a sweet-ass riiiiiide. Love to see that baby. Bet she purrs. She 'round?

Lowering the shotgun, Coop's about to knock him upside the head with it, but Sam says, Is that it?

And the list unrolls in Coop's head.

They're brothers.

They were raised as hunters, raised into this life, not like most hunters come to it, later on, through grief and vengeance, like Dade and Coop himself. The Winchesters were raised bloodthirsty.

Their dad, John Winchester, was one scary bastard, a fuck-all Marine who knew his shit and wouldn't take any of yours.

They're Bobby Singer's boys, untouchable because the old man has thrown his lasso around them and anyone who respects Bobby Singer would do well to respect his sphere of influence. Even those who hate Bobby Singer down to their bones know his word is good and so the Winchesters get a wide berth, courtesy of Bobby Singer.

When one brother died, the other walked right into a crossroads and didn't hesitate to sell his soul to a demon, didn't flinch to bring his brother back from the dead. Then when the time came to collect, they fought alongside old Singer, almost down to the last man, but in the end, that soul was long gone into Hell. And then, like it was just another day at the office, the surviving brother broke into Hell itself and got his blood back.

Bunch of bullshit.

The fact is if they did go to Hell, they didn't come back right and even if they didn't go to Hell, they're batshit insane. They're more dangerous than the monsters out there. Shit, they're more dangerous than any demon's that ever pulled it's filthy stinking self out of Hell and crawled along the earth like a rabid dog.

The bottom line is they ought to be locked away, institutionalized, maybe lobotomized and Coop can see why people tend to be drunk when they’re talking about the Winchesters and why other people act like they don’t exist.

Coop's hesitated too long, and so has Dade. From the look on his face, Coop knows Dade's got the same rumor mill list he has, all of it culled from other hunters in bars and roadhouses, from Bangor to Bakersfield.

Dean's smiling, and he says, Didn't think so. You two professionals got names?

Dade shakes his head, the fucking idiot, and Sam laughs again, that happy exploding sound, right before he puts a bullet through the head of Dade's shovel.

Holy shit! Dade yells, dropping the shovel, jumping sideways against Coop as Coop ducks, almost knocking them both over. Holy fucking shit!

Maybe you should ask 'em again, Dean.

Sounds like an A-plus plan, Sammy. Dean's smile grows, shows his teeth, and he leans forward a little, like maybe they're stupid.

Names. You say Butch and Sundance and I'll shoot you.

Sam mutters something like blaze of glory and the crackling air breaks and they glance at each other, twin grins burning across their faces, saying something without words, saying something that Coop is quickly becoming uncomfortable about. Their eyes don't leave each other.

Coop grabs Dade's jacket and takes a step back, dragging Dade with him as he nurses his hand, rattled from the shot, and then in a blink, there's guns trained on them again, the Winchesters staring them down.

Name's Miller, Coop says. This nervous fella's Olson, and we're right sorry. Somehow we got our huntin' wires crossed. Didn't know someone else was here already. He's lying and he's not lying and he hopes the Winchesters and their guns don't notice the difference.

There sure isn't something right here, not right at all, not like Coop's seen in his two decades of hunting. Not since the night that creature took his sister.

Their grins are big and smeared, so many kinds of wrong, and Dade says something low, something like gettin' while the gettin's good and Coop squeezes his shoulder.

So iff'n y'all don't mind, we'll just say good night and head on outta here, he says and Dade nods, good boy, Coop's glad he didn't hit him over the head.

But Coop feels a flare of anger, because he doesn't like how Dean's gaze is tracking them and with his head tilted, Sam looks like he's picking out their weak spots. Marine-trained, battle-ready, criminally fucking insane and Coop thinks that yeah, someday he'd like to fight them, just to see what's what, but today probably isn't that day.

And it's dark, with a gaping hole in the ground, so huge disadvantage and you only win your war by picking your battles.

But then it's as if the Winchesters have already forgotten them, as if him and Dade were never a threat in the first place, just kids hiding behind a tree while the adults did all the work, because they’re back to watching each other with some sort of, well, Coop isn’t sure, but then again, this whole fucking night’s gone to the shithouse.

Dade gets his shovel and Coop's proud of him, he's not shaking, doesn't look scared, is actually starting to look a little pissed off maybe when he sees the hole in the shovel.

They head to the pickup.

Coop looks back, shouldn't really, they'd shoot him so full of salt so fast he'd be mistaken for Lot's wife, but he looks back.

And he's seeing things. Must be from the adrenaline. Because those Winchester boys look like they're kissing, just going at it right there next to the grave and then there's a bend of light and Coop’d swear that's a knife.

It's like seeing a comet. Only because Coop's never seen a comet and people are always making a big fuss about them. Have been for years.

**

The demon stares at them.

It’s a girl! Dean says and in Sam’s head, it sounds stupid, like they’ve just had a baby, it’s a girl!

Good to know you see a pair of tits and can recognize a girl, Sam says. I was getting worried there for a minute.

Oh shut your fucking trap. I don’t think we’ve run across a possessed girl in a while, Dean says. It’s like, like.

Christmas?

No. Dean gives him a weird look. No, it’s like the Easter bunny.

I was close, Sam says, shrugging, tying her wrists because her nails are manicured, sharp, painted some shade of blue that Sam doesn’t like. At least she hasn’t kicked out like she did earlier. Dean’s got a bruise on his chest now and Sam isn’t fucking happy about that. It isn’t his, it isn’t from him, it’s from some stupid little hellwhore and enough really is fucking enough.

So what’s your name, sweetheart, Dean says, fiddling around in her purse.

The demon spits.

That’s not very fucking ladylike, Sam says, and Dean holds up the wallet. The ID tells them her name’s Nicole and she’s 21, but the demon, who has let her eyes go black, is a lot older than that.

Nicole? Dean sways close to the demon where she sits in the purple polka-dotted chair in the middle of the devil’s trap. You don’t look like a Nicole.

Fine, motherfucker, call me whatever you want, I don’t give a flying fuck, she says, smiling sweetly, all black hair and wide blue eyes.

Sam tsks at her and Dean shakes his head.

She pushes her chest up against the ropes, tits about to spill out of her shirt and says, Unless you wanna come in here and untie me. Then I’ll teach you my name. You’ll be screaming it, Dean. You too, Sammy my boy, c’mon, don’t you wanna play? Don’t you remember the fun times in Hell? We could role play those a little, if you wanted.

Dean watches her for a minute and Sam watches Dean because if he has to take a knife to this demon bitch’s throat he will before Dean can lay a hand on her, but Dean just says, Shitty move, girlie, really a shit move. You don’t get to push those tits at Sam. And you don’t get to call him Sammy. You got it?

She smirks, her lipstick a little smeared from where to she tried to bite Sam earlier, then she rolls her eyes.

You boys exclusive now, is that it? Fucking jealous over each other. That’s so fucking sweet. Match made in Hell, yeah? Aww. Mazel tov, you two.

And that calls for a kiss, so Sam hauls Dean to him and kisses him, all tongue and teeth, messy-like because they have an audience and that makes everything so much better, blindingly better and Sam’s worked Dean out of his shirt before he lets go.

The demon yawns. Wow, yeah, that’s some twisted shit. You two really don’t give a fuck, do ya?

Think I’ll call you Bunny, Dean says. He tugs on Sam’s shirt and Sam feels like a toy, pulled around, so he lets himself go limp and Dean growls.

So how long’ve you been fucking? Since you got outta Hell? The demon twists a little, testing the ropes, and Dean mutters something as he opens Sam’s fly, why we gotta keep fucking tying people up, that’s our thing, Sammy, that’s our thing.

Yeah, but Bunny kicked you, Sam says, pouting because really, she kicked Dean and he didn’t like that and Dean’s acting like it doesn’t matter. So he ducks his head, puts his teeth on the forming bruise, purple where his mouth is now and Dean moans and the demon laughs.

Y’know, when Sam got into Hell, some of us just wanted to see the fun. Wanted to see what he’d do. Especially when he found you, Dean, all torn up and pathetic, with your guts hanging out like some sort of fucking loser.

Dean says, Bunny, you’re not being a good audience, and Sam can feel the words traveling along his tongue as he sucks at the bruise on Dean’s skin, making it bigger and darker and his.

The demon hisses and Dean pushes at Sam, which is going to piss Sam off, but Dean seems insistent, so Sam ends up slipping behind Dean, hands going into his brother’s jeans.

All right, before we get started, let’s lay the ground rules, Dean says, all master of ceremonies because he’s got two captive audiences, but Sam wants him to get the fuck on with it, so he licks along Dean’s throat, he can be patient, but he’s annoyed, he’s annoyed by Bunny and he’s annoyed that they have to go through all this, he’s annoyed and wants to be appeased.

Sammy, dude, rules.

Fine, rules.

This should be entertaining, the demon says, and they talk simultaneously, Shut up, Bunny.

She laughs and then Sam says, Want me to cut your ropes?

That shuts her up quick and Dean says, Damn skippy, lemme go over the rules and then we’ll see ‘bout those ropes. There’s a few ways we can do this. You paying attention, Bunny?

The demon says, As long as it’s going to end soon.

Sam likes that. Yeah, it’ll end soon.

Now wait just a fucking minute, I take that as an insult to my stamina, Sam.

Really. Really. Seriously.

Dean feigns hurt, so Sam tugs him snug against his crotch, to give him a little encouragement so they can get this show on the road and then get their show back out on the road and so he says, Please, do go on.

So, Bunny, we could just exorcise you.

But that’s pretty damn boring.

Or we could fuck and then exorcise you.

Which is a little more exciting.

Or we could fuck and then shoot you.

Which is really the best fucking option.

Dean grins. Or we could do some combination of ‘em all, we’re still working on the rules here.

So, Bunny, what my brother’s saying is that you can either shut the hell up and watch and then we’ll be nice or you could be really fucking annoying and then it’ll be you going to Hell in a handbasket, Sam says. He pushes his cock against Dean. Right? Either way, it’s fun for us. It’s our job.

Yeah, basically.

The demon licks her lips. This I gotta see.

Good. Now, talking dirty costs extra, so you can try, but lemme tell you, there’s no refunds, Dean says, unzipping his jeans and her shining black eyes follow his hands.

Skirting the trap on the floor, Sam fetches a knife and slices the ropes, the blade scratching deep into the purple paint. He’s careful not to cut her because this is one of his favorite knives, Dean’s too, and they only like to clean their blood off their blades. It’s inevitable that other people’s blood, other things’ blood will be on their knives, so it’s a pain in the ass, but it can be worth it if they’ve killed the right thing and it was fun. Sometimes they get into arguments, rating their hunts on a scale of one to ten, one being Scooby Doo and ten being something like Cthulhu and Abraham Lincoln and the Devil himself teamed up against them for one hell of a celebrity fight-to-the-death, cagematch style.

Then Dean’s kissing him, dragging him from the trap’s edges and Sam forgets about everything else, just wanting what he’s got right now, wanting it even as he’s taking it, Dean’s mouth is Sam’s mouth and then there’s biting, then there’s blood.

They fight, want to taste the release, bruises in the shapes of their knuckles, their lips split by their teeth, but they’re too impatient, wasted too much time on the fucking rules and naming the demon, giving her a chance to be an audience they like.

They’re too impatient and it makes them messy, makes them sloppy, so that they’re laughing into each other’s skin.

The demon crawls out of her chair once Dean gets Sam on his back and she’s on hands and knees, just inside the trap, her palms out like she wants to touch them, but they ignore her, Sam ignores her, he’s busy with Dean, how his eyes chase Sam’s every movement in slits and he’s fucking burning up, pressed against Sam until they’re both slick and it’s almost too much, something has to give, something has to snap clean.

And it does. Dean has a knife, a different one, and Bunny’s whispering to them, but Sam doesn’t want her talking right now, talking about how fucking demonic they are, diabolical and tainted and insane, it’s beautiful, like an angel falling into fire, how they’ve broken everything they ever were before, replaced it with something Hell would love to see, but she’s wrong, she’s so fucking wrong, so he says the first Latin that comes to mind, words rolling off his tongue and Dean moans as Bunny shrieks at them.

He moans and then he’s cutting along Sam’s breastbone and his cock is splitting Sam in two and it’s all about to fall apart.

Sam’s arching into the pain, his blood going out as Dean’s pushing in, and the floor’s digging into his back, his shoulders. The smell of chalk is sharp, the circle just there outside of the demon’s reach, Bunny watching hunched with her gaze like oil and hellfire and her mouth moving red.

Red, that’s what he wants, streaking a hand through his blood and he puts it on Dean’s face, his eyes standing out so green in the red and Dean catches his fingers in his mouth as he fucks Sam.

And usually, Sam really loves an audience, loves for people to see what Dean looks like as he fucks, and how Sam can make him react, but today it’s too much, started out all fucking lighthearted, but this is too much, a tipping point, Sam broken and lost, so he feels around with his free hand.

Finds a gun.

As if she knows, the demon leans in, her mouth still moving like she’s praying and Sam reaches out, puts the muzzle of the gun against her forehead.

Dean’s fucking him hard, fucking him deep, saying, Sammy Sammy, as if he doesn’t even realize it, just chanting for a rite and when he cuts Sam again, Sam gasps, wraps his finger around the trigger. His blood dripping from Dean’s lips, his body taken over by Dean’s, complete and absolute and the demon’s got it all wrong, she uses the wrong kind of possession.

He catches the bruise on Dean’s chest between his teeth.

Everything is going to.

Splinter.

Sam says his brother’s name and pulls the trigger, Bunny’s eyes still open and black.

It’s that sound, that flawless sound, bullet leaving the gun and bone shattering, and Sam wants to keep that sound forever, the bullet leaving the gun and bone shattering like armageddon destruction and every time Dean has said his name.

When he comes, Dean’s watching him, knife point and his green eyes dragging up Sam’s blood and he almost blacks out, Dean using his body however he wants.

Blood smudges the white chalk lines, soaking up the dust.

Before they leave, Sam feels like breaking something. Because he feels like pieces of him are wandering aimless, come apart in heart-piercing shrapnel. But Dean just tousles his hair before he cuts his wrist and gives it to Sam.

And as Dean’s blood hits his tongue, everything is put together, everything is whole again.