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How Long is Now

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His body is ringing.

Each bone, muscle and socket of cartilage has something to say to him and the account isn't happy.

Everything hurts. Everything.

His thighs and calves burn as though he's been marching for days uphill. He can't feel his knees, the joints of his hips creak when he favours the tenderness of his abdomen and the weary, burning ache that stretches to his shoulders. The muscles in his neck and back feel shredded and he holds his arms around himself to avoid the exhaustion that comes from letting them swing at his sides.

The little things that drain him are fucking unbelievable.

Michael didn't seem interested in keeping Adam so close to whole and it became irrelevant in the cage, where everything alive stopped in time. Fortunately, Adam was ripped out before Michael had lingered long enough to crack and blister through the surface, but he left his mark in other ways.

It doesn't feel like a year.

Adam can barely walk five miles until the burn in his legs hunches him over. He has to stop before it climbs to his lower back, because he knows what comes next (the heaving, then the paralysis which lasts for hours) and the memory lances through his whole body, sweating and shivering with nausea.

Before that can happen, Sam drags oiled fingers down the cord of his thighs, uncurling the knots with heat and pressure dug deep behind his knee and down the muscles of his calves. The agony sharpens and Adam fights the instinct to grab Sam's hands because the pain stabs deeper than muscle, playing white light behind his eyes.

He claws at the bedsheets instead and pushes back into Dean's chest.

Dean is warm and solid and skims hands down his arms, his lips brushing Adam's shoulder.

"It's okay," He murmurs, thumbs pressing sweat-slick circles into Adam's shoulderblades.

Adam grunts a noise, not quite managing to sound convinced. It's not okay, but when Sam and Dean are around, he knows it usually gets there.

Dean's hands slide down his sides when Adam bows against his chest, head pushing back onto Dean's shoulder because Sam's introduced tongue and the nip of teeth and his kisses are just trailing lower.

It's a clear and present distraction from the wracking pain and it's working.

He wishes there were enough drugs in the world to blind him from this feeling that Michael dipped him in the fire of suns and he never stopped burning.

His brothers don't have to be here and they don't need to help him, but they did.

Dean's convinced Adam took a bullet for him and Sam knows what it was like to host an archangel. He was there in the cage -- in the black -- and Adam knows he's not the only one who came back incomplete.

He's so bonelessly grateful that Sam and Dean are willing and know exactly how to press and unfold him when the attacks come. There's just no sense in how they learned him so quickly.

Dean has to hold him, pushing knuckles down his back where wings and grace stretched too wide in the wrong vessel, where Adam's pain is the worst and Sam catches him when he cries out.

On the not-so-better days he wants to punch that concern off Sam's face, even while the guy's holding him, because on those days it's not enough to be missing a few pieces. Sam can still function without buckling against an alley wall halfway through the day. Adam shut his mouth after he learned about the demon blood, the deception, and the double-crossing, but it's hard to remember when he's propped between these two just trying to breathe.

Apparently being part of this family meant taking bullets for each other; literally. Repeatedly.

So, it's not just Adam.

He still wants to be healed yesterday. But he doesn't want this to ever fucking stop.

When the overbearing sensation peaks and finally splinters like a fever breaking, the relief is so profound that Adam has to bite down hard at the moan on his tongue.

Sam's hands don't stop, but the lines of pressure ease, soothing, leaving only the pleasant healing afterburn. His hands pause after a long stripe with his thumbs from Adam's ankles to hipbones; Adam shudders, muscles rippling and Sam kisses the dip of his pelvis as if it's Adam's reward.

Because Adam's asked - begged - him to stop before, but that never worked out well.

He wonders if he'll ever get better.

He wonders how many days longer Dean will let him lie between his legs, drawing Adam into kisses until he untenses and feels like more than a taut, inflamed wire. He wonders how long Sam will want to mouth the lines of his hips, wet, warm mouth on Adam's cock; if he'll one day tell Adam that the hand in his hair is too tight and he's the only one who's actually broken.

Adam wonders if this is the only way to fall between the wreck of Sam and Dean without being crushed.

Because nothing whole that encounters the Winchesters leaves (or returns) the way it was.