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the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas

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The tires roll over the border nigh unto midnight. Sam's driving, so Dean's bored and staring out the window and he’s the one who sees the sign.

How the fuck did you get us into Kansas?

If I have to explain how a car and a map work, Dean, I think we have bigger problems than being in Kansas, Sam says, as the headlights cut into the dark.

It's not home, just another state, though Sam always says Dean lives in a separate state, all his own, delusion or denial or one that leaves him horny and bloodthirsty every waking moment.

It’s not home, just another place they've been, and they've been everywhere, even to places the Man in Black didn't sing about.

Dean says again, How the fuck did you get us into Kansas?

But he doesn't mean it, not really, the name making up who they are, the name another in a long list, Kansas boys could go alongside Hell-breakers, because that's just a part of them, like everything else, like the guns and the knives, the bullets and the flames, like when Dean bleeds and Sam licks to heal them both.

Sighing, Dean shifts on the seat, leaning into Sam a little.

We'll be outta here soon, Sam says.

Yeah, yeah, I know.

**

There's a pack of poltergeists in town.

Poltergeists don't live in fucking packs, Sam says.

Dean shrugs. Hey, Sammy, you don't hafta tell me, man. They're in more than one house though, Spielberg. And they aren't alive, so they can't fucking live in fucking packs anyway. Bitch.

Fucker. Jerk, Sam says, fingers at his mouth as he reads something on his laptop.

Multiple poltergeists in multiple houses are a new phenomenon, something they've never come across and it's fascinating, like when matches won't light or they both dream of Hell on the same night or Dean cuts himself cleaning the weapons.

It's like a case study, a thought experiment and they are determined to follow all paths to their logical and illogical conclusions, to see where this leads them because it's something new and they're bored at the moment. Besides, it might lead to mayhem and mischief and who knows what all, poltergeists are shifty sons of bitches who don't put up with a lot of shit.

Angry spirits trapped in a building tend to make everything topsy-turvy, turn it all Alice-in-Wonderland, with images in mirrors and things fighting the law of gravity and fun manifestations out of thin air, like bad magic acts with the audience held hostage. And that's right up their alley, Sam and Dean excited to see what tricks these poltergeists can come up with, to wow and amaze them amid the screams of the homeowners because for whatever unfathomable reason, civilians are always so damn scared though they should be applauding because some of that has to be hard, blood coming from the walls, knife throwing and furniture floating and sometimes the always classy plague of flies.

Poltergeists are technically hauntings, which still raises Dean's hackles and Sam has to soothe him, quiet him with a hand on his brother's neck and low whispers as he writes meaningless Latin on Dean's belly and even then, Dean will spend an hour or two in a funk, crabby and rubbing at the scar on his chest, high up on his shoulder and Sam will try to find them a morgue so they can go pretend to be county civil servants, checking up on the local medical examiner, to watch autopsies for a little while.

The autopsies remind them of a few things, most of them Hell, Dean drawn to the shine of the tables and tools, to how the medical examiner walks them through each cut and Sam likes to watch Dean, amused, thinking about how many pieces Dean was in when he found him and now, he's complete and whole and asking questions about some dead bastard's spleen.

The poltergeists are a different way to cut up their time since they haven't had a real mind-numbing stakeout in a while and they always like to discover even more ways they can fit in the car and still pay attention, how many times Sam can distract Dean from the boredom of staring at someone's house using only his voice, how fast Dean can get Sam to come using only his hands.

There's three houses, which is peculiar on its own, three houses in a single town, all with reports of strange occurrences, vaguely poltergeist in nature, though Sam sort of doubts it since the two of them are vaguely poltergeist in nature, coming and going from places unseen and unnoticed and leaving behind a trail of broken objects.

Three houses, so they park outside the first one, dubbed Chez Shit-Don't-Stink, because even for a town this size, it's a huge house, ostentatious and ugly and Sam wants to burn it down on principle and Dean wants to burn it down since it's offending his delicate sensibilities, especially as they're currently parked outside of it and have to stare at it for however many fucking hours this is going to take.

As if on cue, like their whole world is as ordered as what socks go with what slacks go with what button-down oxford and silk tie, the family leaves for the evening, an early supper at some restaurant and then whatever the hell a rich family does when they wear matching smiles. Sam thinks they're terrified and Dean decides that maybe the dad is holding them all hostage for some inexplicable reason. Maybe someone bought the wrong type of coffee, and Sam elbows Dean because what the fuck, that was only one time, one time and Dean says, Yeah, learned your lesson, didn't you?

The house is quiet for about an hour and then, just as Sam's really getting into his filthy talking, stringing along new phrases and Dean like Sam's mouth was made for both, there's shadows, movements in the windows.
It's exciting stuff, like catching someone naked with their blinds open, and so they rush inside, laughing, guns drawn, ready to duck. But instead, there's only sneakers squeaking on expensive hardwood floors and a flurry of hoodies and baseball caps out the back door, and through the gate in the fence.

Kids, lame ass punk kids, and there's no disappointment like finding out that all your fun is just fake. They look around the house a bit and discover that the kids are no better than vandals, moving stuff around and stealing and writing on the walls, which is fucking stupid, it's not a poltergeist or a pair of them or even whole shitty family of poltergeists, it's just petty vandalism and theft and maybe this is the universe laughing at them for everything that's happened the last few months, the homicidal suicides of all those hunters; or when Sam lost a bet and it took twelve bullets to bring down that demon-possessed boy; or the time they scared Bobby when they stopped at his house after a bar fight and acted like Sam's guts were falling out, even though they were some werewolf’s guts that it wasn’t using anymore, and Bobby cussed a blue streak and kicked them off his porch, so they slept in the car parked outside his house, then knocked every hour on the hour until he let them back in; and they'd be laughing right back at the universe because hey, those are some good memories, but taking away their poltergeist fun is way too much, that's some high piles of bullshit.

After visiting the second house to see much of the fucking same pathetic shit, some kids pulling crap pranks, Sam’s ready to drag out the gas can and Dean pulls out his gun and fires rounds into the air until he feels a little more vindicated just from all the noise.

This is different, this is something to make them feel righteous and angry because they have been denied, and it's in how Dean drives too fast to the last house and how Sam's eyes burn holes into the passing landscape.

The third house looks legit, at least from the outside, abandoned, decrepit, losing a slow battle to vines and weeds almost up to Sam's knees. There's a rusty fence around it, there's a sad rusty chain and a padlock, and a few signs hang around like dead floppy birds: no trespassing; violators will be shot; by local law enforcement decree, stay the fuck away.

This is more like it, Dean says, smirking and Sam shakes his head as Dean almost catches himself on the broken reaching fence.

I propose an experiment, Sam says, and Dean says, Oh yeah, Tesla, whaddya got?

Sam's grin is all Dean needs, better than any sort of insanity and just as bright.

On a hunch, they drive back to the first house, that disgusting monstrosity and lo and behold, the kids are dumber than they thought, would you look at that, Dean says, and Sam says, How cute, they came back.

Sure enough, there's a rattling junk heap that used to be a Ford sitting at the curb across from the house, right about where Dean parked earlier and inside, there's hoodies and baseball caps.

You wanna tell me what we're doing, Madam Curie, Dean says.

So the theory is that the last house is actually haunted, right? Sam says.

Yeah. Shit, I hope so.

We wouldn't want to go in there and be disappointed again.

Dean grins. So what we should do is test it.

And so you'd need?

Fucking lab rats.

For that, you should get a treat, Sam says, Positive reinforcement.

I'll let you positive reinforce something. I’ll positive reinforce your positive reinforcement, Dean says, and they climb out of the car, predator-like, stalking each other as much as they're stalking the piece-of-shit Ford.

The kids startle when Dean taps on the window with his gun, their eyes wide, and there's only two of them, but two is better than none, so they'll do.

As the window lowers, Dean says, You two must really love shitty architecture, and he slides his gun inside, the kid behind the wheel backing up and his elbow hits the horn.

Sam laughs as he yanks open the back door and gets inside the car and it's almost too small, with spine-broken books, crumpled chemistry tests and history essays and candy bar wrappers.

Vandalism, huh, Dean says. It's fun?

The kids nod, the driver staring at Dean and the passenger moving his gaze between Dean's gun and Sam who's muttering, Damn, you failed because you couldn't remember the Homestead Strike, at least you remembered that Lincoln was shot, guess that’s something.

Well, kinda gotta agree with you there about the vandalism and fun. But not when it brings us all the way out here to wherever-the-hell-we-are 'cuz we think it's something else. And then we don't get that something else. That’s not fun, Dean says, gun pressed to the driver's forehead. So why don't you two – and Sam – get outta the car and we'll have a little discussion.

Sam's not even paying attention anymore, just pushes himself out and gets the passenger with his Red Wings hoodie in a tight headlock, dragging him to the Impala, distracted as he reads through another history essay, oh, c'mon, really, the League of Nations? You can't fucking tell me what the League of Nations was? Do you even pay any attention in class?

The driver's wearing an A's cap with Dean walking him backwards, gun against his head, and Dean says, Poltergeist, my ass, hope this experiment works, Sammy.

That breaks the history lesson, Sam glancing up to shove Red Wings into the backseat and he smiles as he tosses the essay over his shoulder onto the grass.

Night has fallen thick and fast, like negative space except where the lights from the houses cut crooked shapes and then Dean's driving hellbent again, back to the falling-down house with its fence like a cheap Faraday cage and maybe this time they'll get their poltergeist, maybe this time they'll get their high voltage fun because this is new, it's all new, and that makes it even more exciting.

The kids are fidgeting, so Sam turns to grin, gun pointed at them, balanced on the back of the seat and Dean says, You ever see Pulp Fiction? and Sam starts to laugh.

Don’t hit any bumps.

Well, this road is for shit, Sam, so no promises. You know what happens you get blood in my car.

That one’ll be doing all the cleaning.

Red Wings blurts out, What the fuck is going on? You gonna kill us?

A’s glares and says, We don’t have any drugs. We won’t bend over and take it, and we won’t suck your cocks. We don’t do that kinky gay shit.

Dude, we haven’t had an audience in at least a week, Sam says as the car goes over a bump and he lets the gun bounce a little on the seat. Y’know, for our kinky gay shit.

For our kinky gay incestuous shit. Get it right.

Red Wings chokes, tugs on his hoodie strings to hide the noise and A’s says, Whatever you want, we won’t do it, so you wanna shoot us, shoot us.

Shut the fuck up, man, what the hell’re you doin’, Red Wings says. My dad’s got some money; I can get it for you.

So why those two houses, Dean says and the kids snap to. You just hate the shitty architecture like we do?

A’s mouth curls in a sneer and then he starts talking, fast, like he’s got somewhere else he needs to be, cursing like movies taught him how.

The first house, Chez Shit-Don't-Stink, actually belongs to the principal of the local high school and the second house belongs to the vice principal. The principal is a grade-A dick and the vice principal is an all-around, blue-ribbon bitch and Red Wings and A’s here think they deserve some comeuppance, a little reward for being such stellar members of the teaching community, in gracious services to the education of children, because children are the future and therefore, important. And so their opinion is valuable and should be heard in foot-high letters done in neon pink paint on someone’s wallpaper.

Normally, Sam and Dean wouldn't care, they'd let these dumbass kids continue with their fun, until the families finally get a fucking clue and call the cops like they should have in the first place, and all these unhappy people can continue to go on being unhappy with their unhappy little lives while Dean and Sam move on to something much more juicy and much more entertaining and much more worth their precious fucking time and resources because they've got blood to spill and demons to see and places to shoot full of holes, and a lot of those things won't wait for them, once in a lifetime offer, and they're all about once-in-a-lifetime stuff, like all the firsts they've had together or all the scars they've given each other.

Dean speeds up as the kid’s talking because his anger comes out in speed and Sam’s grin is going cold, but A’s doesn’t notice, just keeps flapping his gums, but Red Wings is shrinking away and any other time, Red Wings is the kid they’d let live to fight another day because he’s the smart one since he’s the frightened one, and they’d let A’s watch and learn what it’s like when a bullet leaves a gun and that bullet is headed into your skull while Dean fucks Sam and Sam’s gasping into a brick wall somewhere, Holy fuck, Dean, holy fuck.

Third house, all collapsing on its edges and A’s shuts up as the house comes into view.

Oh hell no, I ain’t goin’ in there, Red Wings says, and A’s smacks him, Shut the fuck up.

But Red Wings is shaking his head as Sam hauls him out, I don’t wanna die, man, not this house, this house is haunted, didn’t you dickheads know, this house is haunted to the fucking rafters.

Dean’s got A’s by the wrists, held behind him as if he’s in handcuffs and just for the hell of it Dean says, Assume the position, you little cocksucker, and the kid stutters like he’s really scared.

We never named our experiment, Sam says out of the blue as he aims at the padlock and the shot is loud, echoing with the crack as the metal breaks and Red Wings jumps, chokes again as Sam’s arm tightens around his neck.

The four of them push through the gate, past the chains and dead-bird signs and Dean says, So you kiddies ready to help us with some science?

Red Wings says, Science? and A’s says, Fuck you.

Yeah, fuck science, no wonder you’re failing, Sam says as they pick their way up the porch steps to find another massive padlock and chain across the front door.

Janie’s sister’s cousin died in there, I am not going in there, Red Wings says, but Sam puts a knife to his throat and Dean’s got his gun affixed to A’s forehead again, barrel slipping neatly under the bill of the cap.

They’re feeling possessive of their experiment and they’ll need to control it, so Dean picks the lock, then the door creeps open and Sam says, Fuck science, kids, yeah, we wanna see what happens, that’s how science works.

They shove the punks into the house, slam the door, and padlock it shut again.

Fists pound on the door in rhythm to their footsteps as they walk back out into the weeds a little ways from the house to observe.

It doesn’t take long, but long enough that Dean’s antsy and so Sam’s talking, after this, we’ll go get a beer or two, maybe play some pool, start a fight, fuck against the bar, and Dean calms down at that, especially when Sam puts the knife point to Dean’s thumb and licks at the blood as it wells up, squeezing with his heartbeat.

It doesn’t take long, then there’s muffled screams and running, lots of running and the windows flash as if there’s lights or anger, that particular magic poltergeists have because their brand of crazy is special enough to burn down the world without touching it and Dean and Sam appreciate that because if they were to ever die, a very big if, they’d want to be angry insane poltergeists who can throw what they want and break things even after death.

Screams and running and something red splatters against the glass of one of the windows and then again, and again, and again, and it’s a really fascinating display, like art, like throwing paint at a canvas, maybe performance art, and they haven’t watched something like this since the last time they watched a slasher movie in the theaters, the only difference being that they can’t actually see the death this time because that’s what makes slasher movies exciting, all the inventive deaths and now this one’s happening in front of them, at least one, maybe two because in an experiment, you have to have the control and then the actual test subject, so at least one death and out in the weeds, they argue about what happened and once they get inside, it’ll be downright intriguing to see if they can piece together the body and how the punk died.

The screaming dies down after a few minutes and Dean shrugs and Sam shrugs and they give it another five minutes before Dean shoots the lock, old school, motherfucker, he says, and Sam says, Yeah, you learned that from the movies, Dad never taught you that.

When they get the door open, all their prayers are answered because there is a poltergeist and Dean’s hands go in the air, Hallelujah, fucking finally.

It only took two houses and two kids, one of whom is a tasteful pile under the window, I don’t think I’d leave that there, maybe put in a vase, Sam says, and Dean rolls his eyes, kicks Sam in the shin. The other kid is huddled in the fireplace, surrounded by brick, as if it’s lined with lead and everything’s radioactive. Under the soot and blood, it’s a Red Wings hoodie and he stares at nothing, eyes wide and dark, his knees drawn up to his chin and his knuckles are white where he’s holding himself close.

A chair scrapes along the floor and then it’s like a carnival, a fair, funhouse mirrors and tilting floors, warped ceilings and things breaking, reshaping, breaking, reshaping.

The most fun they’ve had in years, bar none, because the poltergeist is one furious and violent fucker, making almost everything in the house into a weapon, sharp and dull alike because the sharp hurts faster, but the dull makes the torture last.

They’re yelling at each other, running around as if they’re in distress and maybe they can save each other, maybe they’ll rescue each other, as if they haven’t enough in the past, as if they’ve never shot bullets close to their bodies to stop whatever is coming, to stop whatever has claws or teeth or is spitting nails.

And someone’s about to get hurt, because they’re laughing so hard they can’t see and then Dean has a bookshelf topple on him and Sam slips in a streak of red by the window and goes down, rolling to the side as the ceiling fan tumbles after him as if the sky itself is falling.

It’s all fun and games until someone takes a knife to the chest because poltergeists like knives almost as much as they do, and it’s Sam’s lucky day, he almost gets a shiny implement in his abdomen and then Dean’s had enough.

They have bags to shove in the walls, but it’d be a shame to leave such a historic house standing without its main occupant, so they’ll burn it, of course, what else, though demolishing it would be much more interesting, much more of a brain-teaser, they’d just need to weaken some beams here and there, and time and the poltergeist might do the rest.

There’s an axe in the trunk, stolen from a farm six hundred miles away; the farm was haunted and might still be, one ghost dismissed and a dead body taking its place because the farmer went after Dean with the axe and after a few bullets, Sam ended up with it and made sure the blade went into the farmer’s head. They had to take a picture of that, huddled around it, cheeeeeeeese, because that is sure as hell something you don’t see every day.

The poltergeist howls and Dean says, Come and get me, motherfucker, so Sam runs out as a table flies Dean’s direction, runs to the car and the axe is there, gleaming at him and they’ll have to keep it because it is a thing of simplicity and beauty and gorgeous fucking havoc.

They take turns, hacking at beams as the poltergeist rages at them, and it’s like breaking and entering into a tornado, and they holler to each other, bloody promises after this is done, and Red Wings sits in the fireplace, trying to make himself smaller when Sam finds him and says, Uh, we’re leaving, but you can stay if you want to.

The kid is gone like Sam offered to shoot him, falling three times before he gets out the door and then he lands out in the weeds, crying.

The bones of the house are creaking around them and the floorboards shiver under their feet and it’s a sacred moment because they’ve never brought down a house like this, never pulled something down with their bare hands and it’s hallowed and pure, the bones of the house creaking and the floorboards shaking and Sam cuts himself on the axe, dripping blood down his wrist, his arm as he reaches up, puts his hand on the wall and pushes.

There’s a loud crack, like when they force their way into a coffin, and Dean says, Time to go.

The weeds sway a little in the dark, and they stand back and watch as the house groans and dies, collapsing, the windows shattering and the one stained red goes out like a bomb testing and this is what they wanted from the beginning, destruction they have to work for, a fight to the death and the house lost, they’ve won, they’ve won again, like always.

Sam smears his blood on Dean’s face, laughing, and Dean kisses him, whoops into the night.

Red Wings is sitting in the dirt, his face streaked with blood and tears and dust, and he looks up at Dean and Sam as if he’s never seen people, been raised wild, or as if they aren’t people, been raised wild, and all of this is going to keep happening, as if he’s trapped.

Stay in school, kid, Dean says, smiling through Sam’s blood.

**

There’s a shadow reaping in the fields.

Good, they look a little overgrown, Dean says, frowning at a stalk, and Sam says, No, Dean, people go in and they don’t come out ‘cuz something’s killing them.

The children of the corn?

That was my first guess, but apparently not. Sam sighs and they’re disappointed.

Kansas so far has been disappointments, first the poltergeists, and now this, no homicidal children of the corn, just something big and strange with teeth and claws like a common rabid dog biting people.

And it’s in a field, or rather fields, stretching a ways towards the horizon and it’s actually unseasonably warm, sunny out where they stand at the edge of the neat, neat rows, the sky completely clear like it might swallow them whole.

They both look up, tilting their heads back, their shadows aligning because it’s a good day, and maybe they’ll get to pet this dragon or whatever the fuck it is, not much of a monster, hiding out in corn fields, though it might actually be smart because there’s fields everywhere, and it’s easy to get lost in the fields, when the stalks are so tall and concealing.

They argued all the way to the farm about what to do with the monster once they found it, once they found it crawling through the furrows, dirt in its claws, crazed and starved and looking for its next meal. Sam wants to keep it, like the puppy he always wanted, it could protect the car, Dean, like a guard dog, or fuck, we could train it to track, like a bloodhound.

Oh really, Sammy, that what you think? It probably won’t fit in the car, genius.

We could give it to Bobby. He likes dogs.

Yeah, because this is just like a dog. He’d be thrilled.

To replace that truck.

The junk heap?

Yeah.

But it would be perfect for them, this monster on a leash, wrested out of the killing fields of their birth state, as if the three of them are kin, as if they’re related by the blood in the land, and how thirsty they all are.

It would be perfect, but Dean wants to see it first, tempt it out into the sunshine and the stalks whisper as a breeze goes by.

C’mon, let’s get the guy.

Sam makes a face. Fine. You pull, I’ll push.

It’s a delicate process, this, trying to call out the primeval killer, because it knows self-preservation, but it also knows the scent of blood, relatively fresh and spilt onto the ground and Sam says, You know, this could be like the zoo. It might be sleeping.

The zoo? Dean says, throwing open the back door on his side, and he stops to look at Sam over the top of the car, confused. The zoo, seriously.

Yeah, like when you go to the zoo to see the lions, and they’re off somewhere sleeping.

Because they don’t give a fuck about your weird geeky sight-seeing schedule.

The door on Sam’s side creaks and he hunches down to push at the bundle on the backseat, glares at Dean. After this, you, me, the zoo.

Can I fuck you in the snake house? Sneak into the bear habitat?

They get the body out of the car, no blood on the seats, damn fine job, they’ve gotten better at this, since they’re usually bloody and they’ve gotten better at holding their blood for each other instead of baptizing the car.

Earlier, at the motel, Sam had said, How do we get it to come out? and Dean was brushing his teeth and they debated the pros and cons of being bait, of cutting themselves to draw it out, now that it has a taste for humans, it’ll know human blood, it’ll know the difference between livestock and a prime-cut, bone-in piece of human, and there they don’t blame the monster, wanting the best, wanting to taste every last drop of life.

Diner across the street and they’d had a late breakfast, steak and eggs, blood and juice mixing with the yolks, there was ketchup for the home fries and the busboy was cleaning tables, hovering close to Dean and Sam glared over his coffee cup, watching the busboy as he watched Dean and Dean stretched back in the booth, letting his shirt ride up a little, arm out, like he was on display, like he was bait.

And the busboy took it, a cocky asshole about Sam’s age, not as tall, but with brown hair and hazel eyes too, just like Sam, and Dean smiled, nodded to the back of the diner and it was a game, it was a hunt, it was Dean meeting him out in the alley and Sam, the one who owns Dean’s market on brown hair and hazel eyes, Sam coming around the corner with his 9mm and a smile.

The busboy went to his knees quiet-like in the late morning sunshine back by the dumpster next to crates of wilted lettuce and Sam fucked Dean, the 9mm shining like silverware and he kept saying, This what you thought you’d get, think you would get to fuck my brother like this, only I fuck my brother and just listen to him moan.

The gunshot was loud and Dean was laughing as he pulled up his jeans and then he surveyed the body, said, Whoopsie daisy, and Sam shrugged oh well, so Dean kissed him and said, Looks like we’ve got our bait.

When they open the ugly motel comforter, obscene fleur-de-lis soaking up red, the busboy’s eyes are wide open, blood dried and clotted between his eyes because Sam got him right in the forehead and Dean says, Still such a fucking shot, shit, Sammy, and Sam grins, You’re a good fuck too.

Should we string him up like a scarecrow? Dean says, squinting, hand up to survey the fields. How do we do this?

In the end, it involves complicated dragging, walking between the corn stalks until they can’t see the road and the sky is sliced away. They leave the comforter out there, open in a furrow, the gold threads of the fleur-de-lis glinting a little underneath the busboy as he stares up, sprawled like a discarded doll.

Crouching, they wait a little ways away, Sam cutting at the silk of a fallen ear and Dean mouths at his neck, distracted, like he’s gathering Sam’s sweat.

It’s like a picnic and they’re waiting for the ants, except this is more like a snake, ready to eat them and their picnic, and when it appears, it is like a snake, moving on its belly, pushing through the dirt.

He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel, Sam whispers.

Irritated, Dean scowls. Sam, you nerdy bastard, this isn’t the time to be quoting. ‘Sides, which is which? Your head and his heel, or his head and your heel?

Either way, something’s gonna die.

Sam grins and Dean grins back and it is such a fucking good day.

Reticulated, bands like the shadows of the stalks, claws and teeth and its jaw clicking as it hinges, unhinges, and it moves like a wraith as it bites into the busboy and cracks the ribcage, hard candy.

Can we keep it, Dean? Can we, please? Sam whispers, turning his head and Dean’s tongue trails wetly as he points his gun at it. We can feed it those fuckers who don’t like to lose at pool.

There’s clouds in the distance, a chance of supercells and tornadoes, as Sam read on the internet this morning, and they’ve got a monster three feet away, greedy busboy gore dripping from its jaws as it rears up, skeletal and thin with bones like the knobbed rows and it’s about to charge them, head-on and reckless and hissing in savage heaves of breath like blood and gunmetal.

It darts at them, like it’s demon-born, hellspawn, something that should be creeping in the halls of the shrieking depths instead of in a field in Kansas, but it feels at home here, enough to defend its territory and they can sympathize, feeling at home where they’ve been put, no matter where they’ve been born or born again.

It darts at them, snapping, jaws clicking again, fast, rattlesnake-strikes with how its head moves and Dean fires a warning shot over its head.

And Sam says something about house-breaking it and that’s when it lunges.

The fields aren’t made for fighting and death, wild swipes of razor claws and adrenaline-focused shots and they all end up with cuts and bruises, bullet grazes and close calls, until Sam gets it under the jaw, bullet exploding up through its skull as it rears again, blacking out the sun.

The monster crashes down like something thrown from heaven, earthquake-hard, and the ground shakes under their feet, spraying dust.

It’s wheezing liquidly, blood pouring from its mouth when they step closer and Sam gets a hand on it, a hand on Dean and Dean puts his palm against Sam’s chest, to line them up. Sam ends up petting them both, the monster as its eyes glaze over and Dean as his eyes brighten.

The breath stops, the scales stop moving with a twitch of its claws as Sam leans forward and collides against Dean and they’re kissing with the thing’s final breath.

Falling back into the torn-up earth, they roll together and fuck there in the broken sunshine, the smell of death and blood heavy in the air around the destroyed patch of field and their wounds mingle and cross, seeding the ground.

They fuck slow and hard, pushing at shirts and jeans, and Dean’s whispering, Fucking Kansas, why did we come here again? Haven’t fucked you here in a long time.

Just lucky, I guess, Sam says and comes, Dean following him after, and the sky is so open, it might swallow them whole, the way they like it.

They clean up with an edge of the comforter, Dean shuddering at the fleur-de-lis. And then it’s time to do the honors.

Sure, salting the ground means nothing will grow there, but next year, after they’ve left, after this harvest, after everything planted and grown again, this single patch will refuse to grow and it’s like a mark on the face of the earth, a scar, like any of the ones they have on their body, a mark that says something died here, they killed something here and fucked next to the corpse and the eulogy was about what a fucking great pet it would’ve made, if only it hadn’t charged them and Sam had had to put a bullet in its brain, a fucking demon dinosaur for a pet, almost a dragon, and hell, it’s a shame, a real shit shame, may it remember them fondly, forever and ever amen.

So they salt the bones and don’t worry about the busboy, he stuck his nose in where it didn’t belong, wanted to put his dick where it didn’t belong, his ghost can help brand this place as somewhere the Winchesters killed death incarnate, once again, out in the endless fields.

Lighter in hand, then Dean says, Wait, got an idea, and Sam huffs, What the fuck, hurry the fuck up, I’d like to get out of this field, thanks.

To the car and back, and Dean’s got a pair of pliers. They each take a tooth from the monster, huge curved red-stained bone and they have matching souvenirs, like big game hunters, better than, and Sam says, Sometimes you really do have the best ideas ever.

Stick with me, kid, can’t go wrong.

When they burn the body, starting with the fleur-de-lis comforter, the stalks catch fire too until they’re standing by the side of the road, hands in their pockets, watching the whole damn field burn under the flat yellow glare of the late afternoon sun and the smoke is thick and black.

The wind shifts and trails the smoke over the road, so as they drive away, everything else disappears, sirens passing them somewhere in the haze, so it’s just Dean and Sam and the car, like how it should be.

**

There’s a pair of demons nearby.

What, you mean us? Sam says.

Yes, us, you fucker, hunt over, Dean says, then bites his brother down low on his back and Sam’s breath quickens.

There’s a pair of proper demons and they don’t usually travel like this, in pairs, sticking together like they’re afraid of something, because Hell might’ve taught them to be afraid, afraid to go back, afraid to fuck up and face the god-awful organ music, but they aren’t afraid of humans, so why travel as a pair is something Sam and Dean can’t wait to find out.

And it’s actually a lot simpler than they thought, lying in bed, plotting out various complicated scenarios of luring them or trapping them or some mad combination of taking hostages or something, it got a little crazy and they got a little crazy and ended up fucking as they plotted, grand schemes as Sam fucked into Dean until Dean couldn’t talk, all breathless motions of more and that feeling of dying that they get when they come, and everything tastes like salt.

It’s actually a lot simpler than they thought because the demons take their own hostage, a little girl, which, c’mon, how sad is that, a pair of age-old demons can’t pick on someone their own size, fucking really, and once again, Kansas has disappointed Dean and Sam.

There is a fight, a knock-down, drag-out fight with the girl getting in the way, shrieking in the background like a hellion and Sam’s about to hit her over the head just to shut her up so they can get some work done, but then the cops arrive and it becomes a fire fight, with the demons shooting back, the cherries and headlights on the cop cars exploding from the bullets and fuck this shit, the Winchesters leave out the back, dragging the girl with them who finally passes out from the excitement when Sam tosses her over his shoulder and they take great pleasure in dumping her unceremoniously on the porch of her house with a note pinned to her, what the fuck is wrong with you people, keep this kid under lock and key, she’s almost as bad.

The demons get arrested which is some of the funniest shit Sam and Dean have ever come across, and for whatever clueless reason, the demons don’t dispossess their humans, they just go along with it, laughing merrily in handcuffs as some backwoods cop punches them, then puts them in the car, and yeah, Dean says, we have got to meet these bastards.

A little planning, a few cans of bright green spray paint, and the demons haven’t even made it to the jail yet, still sitting in the back of the police car while an officer is ordering burgers at the drive-thru, so when they pull up in the Impala, Sam takes the cop car with a gun in the cop’s face, telling him about the virtues of salads before kicking him in the face, kicking him to the curb and then it’s a caravan, cop car, the Impala and they’re driving out into the night.

There’s an abandoned drive-in theater under the stars three miles outside of town. A raised slab of concrete and Sam sprays a devil’s trap while Dean unloads the prisoners, saying, I really don’t know what’s wrong with you sonsuvbitches, but lemme say, tonight has been entertaining.

The demons blink, let their eyes go black, one after the other, and they smile as they’re put into the trap and Sam unlocks their cuffs.

A half-moon overhead, and the cars are parked crooked, headlights on, high beams like there’s a movie playing at the tattered drive-in and the stars are clear through the hole in the screen as Sam and Dean climb onto the hood of the Impala.

The Winchesters, one boy says, and the other says, We wanted to meet you.

Sam laughs, out in the open parking lot. Don’t tell me you set this all up—

Just so you could meet us, Dean finishes.

Not fucking exactly, the older boy says, and the younger one nods his head. It all seemed to work that way, he says.

So why us? We’re just that fucking famous? Spectacular, I know, Dean says, metal shifting underneath him as he sits to get a better look.

You’re like us, the young one says.

We’re like you, Sam says.

The older kid waves a hand. Yeah. You’re brothers. We’re brothers. Hell, we even possessed brothers.

They all laugh for a moment at that because it is pretty fucking funny and Dean says, Gotta admit, you got one helluva sense of humor.

The young kid shrugs, aw shucks, and the older kid says, We thought it’d be fun.

They blink black and blue at Dean and Sam, black eyes blue eyes black eyes blue eyes, and the kids can’t be more than sixteen and eighteen, and they’re holding hands, like they’re about to cross the street together, and briefly, the stars overhead quake until Sam takes Dean’s hand on the hood of the car and Dean grumbles as the sky skitters back into place.

So you’re like us because you’re brothers. That’s why you wanted to meet us, Sam says, amused and reasonable and when he squeezes Dean’s hand, the kids’ hands clench too.

No, we wanted to meet you because you’re demons. Like us.

The hell we are, Dean smirks.

You were born there. You came from there. You stole from us.

Sam leans back against the windshield, as if he’s bored. What the fuck, ‘stole from you’, I didn’t steal anything that wasn’t already mine.

He was ours, he still is ours since you broke him out, the younger one insists, hissing. He felt our knives and he gave us his organs, his soul, everything, again and again. You really think he’s yours?

Yeah, he’s mine, why, you want him back that bad? You try to take him back, little fuckers, you think about it and I’ll just end up on your doorstep again and this time I won’t be merciful, Sam says, black as the night around them and the air is quickly heating up.

The kids snicker. Merciful? Fuck, you were too scared to do anything when you were down there. You might know better now, but so do we, the older says, tipping his head to the ground.

Dean grumbles again, Enough of this romantic crap. So you think we’re demonic?

The kids snicker again and the young one steps closer, says, Come into the ring and dance, cowgirl, wanna do-si-do?

The older one tugs on his brother’s hand and says, You’re like us in all the ways that count, so you might as well just enjoy it.

Trust me, we enjoy moonlit talks with demonic motherfuckers, sex on public beaches and strawberry daiquiris while we deep-sea fish on our yacht, we enjoy a lot, Dean says.

Prove it. Why don’t you shoot us.

Sam snickers this time. Nah, don’t feel like it. ‘Sides, we’re saving money on bullets so we can go to Disney World.

The kids glare, equal stares with their gazes in slits. No, we’ve heard about you. Fucking in front of demons, then shooting them. We want that. These brothers we’re wearing want that. They were suicidal anyway. See, just another way the four of us over here are like you.

My name is Legion; for we are many? Dean says and Sam looks at him, all shiny eyes and wolfish grin, Now who’s quoting, he says, and Dean kisses him because his brother is a geek and a nerd, and so fucking right it’s scary sometimes, like when the stars were shaking minutes ago or was it ages ago, they can’t remember since this seems to have been going on forever, the demons who think they’re demons and they aren’t demons, reborn as demons, they just crawled through Hell and made it out intact and unchanged and they need to fuck, here now right now, before it’s too late, before something else takes them away and they have to fight bloody to fuck bloody and break each other down into pieces.

In the trap, the demons are saying something, but it doesn’t matter, it never has, it never will, the demons running their mouths like when they’re pouring their smoke out, and as Sam gets Dean’s jeans open, Dean starts an exorcism, and they’re hard and slick together, pushing as the car whines beneath them, Latin in the air as fast as they fuck against each other.

The kids are screaming behind them, voices cracking and breaking, and Sam’s echoing Dean or Dean’s echoing Sam, the Latin wiping out in aftermath waves and their cocks slide like the words, easy and devastating in every push and syllable, and the cosmos around them are easy and devastating, ready to take them down as far as they’ll go and the demon brothers scream, We are you, we are you, we are you!

The Latin stutters, stops as Dean comes, knees bruising into Sam’s ribs and Sam comes with a harsh drawing gasp, and behind them, stark shadows in the headlights against the shredded movie screen, the demons take a breath together, we are you, can’t you see, can’t you see it plain as day, we are you.

Then go back home, Dean says, and Sam finishes the exorcism. The demon brothers scream, vanishing into the dark, and the bodies of the brothers fall, dead, probably days and miles ago.

The headlights on the cop car inexplicably fail and the Impala stares impassively into the night as Sam and Dean rest on her hood, covered in come and sweat.

The empty cruiser burns like any other car, which makes sense, but they remembered to turn the lights and siren on first, so the lights spin in the growing smoke and the siren whirs loud and long over the noise of the fire and it’s really something to behold, something they’ve been waiting to see, because there’s destruction of property and then there’s this, and the radio crackles out voices as if there’s ghosts trapped inside and it’s almost enough to make them manic, hyper and hyper-realized and righteous, blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they’ll get it, they’re getting it and they will continue to once they get back on the road.

But it's unsettling, the night yawning around them, through the tears in the screen, open maw with stars like teeth, vibrating fast and hungry, and the brothers' bodies in ungainly heaps on the concrete slab like an open-air morgue, and something isn't wrong, but something isn't right, so Sam reaches for his phone.

Hey, Bobby.

They pass the phone back and forth, talking to Bobby, hips warm against each other and the car, and the stars recede a little, pull back and away and the black is being washed out by faint dawn when Dean hangs up.

Sam's considering the bodies, standing over them, and when Dean steps next to him, he says, Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh.

That'd be me, Dean says, knife in his hand and he slides the blade down along Sam's arm.

You're so lucky, jerk. Sam smirks, turning his wrist for his brother.

Dean rolls his eyes. You're so fucking lucky, bitch, you've got me.

The bodies are left there in the trap because the brothers died long ago, no angry spirits to come back and haunt the neglected drive-in, and there's nothing left to burn.

The Winchesters know about burning, and not now, but someday, they'll burn each other down just to taste their own smoke and blood, maybe they already are, over and over and it doesn’t matter, nothing is better than this.

**

The tires roll over the border nigh unto noon, sun drifting high and hot. There's dust on the road and the wind's picking up and the clouds are gathering at the edge of the sky.

Sam takes Dean's hand off the steering wheel as they leave Kansas, and the pocket knife is bright in his fingers as he slices slow across the pad of Dean's thumb, pushing to call the blood, then he puts it between his lips, humming.

Dean smirks at Sam, like a bullet to the heart, and Sam smiles back, like he's bleeding from the mouth.

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

The engine growls and it sounds like limitlessness.

And Dean says, So, sparky, where to.