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The Truth In The Lie

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It was Dean who found the case.

"Michael Turner from Westport, Indiana was found ripped to shreds in his living room with no sign of forced entry," he announced loudly in a diner over breakfast. "His partner was right upstairs, and heard nothing.”

Sam grabbed the newspaper from him and scanned the article Dean had been reading. Dean took the opportunity to steal some of Sam's bacon. "His heart was missing," Sam read out. "And it says the police haven't ruled out an animal attack."

"A werewolf?" asked Dean around his mouthful of Sam's bacon.

Sam frowned. "The lunar cycle's wrong. We'll need to look at the body and see if there have been any similar deaths.”

Dean nodded and pulled out his wallet. "Indiana, then,” he said. “Let's go.”

****

Michael's body was a mess. They examined it as closely as they could without gagging, but couldn't draw any conclusions about what had killed him beyond that it was really vicious and had a thing for human hearts.

Their next stop was interviewing Michael's partner, Kyle. He was staying with his parents and talked to Sam and Dean in their living room, sitting so still on the couch that he seemed frozen and staring at the floor with a blank gaze that didn't see anything.

“I was only upstairs for fifteen minutes,” he said in the tired voice of someone who had repeated his story a hundred times. “I was in the shower. I heard the doorbell, so I hurried to get out and dressed, but when I got downstairs, Michael was...it was too late.”

“Do you know who was at the door?” asked Dean.

Kyle shook his head almost imperceptibly. It was the most he'd moved since they arrived. “We weren't expecting anyone. We were...he was taking me out to dinner.” He shut his eyes and swallowed. “It was our anniversary.”

Sam always hated asking the next question. “Do you know if there was anyone who might have wanted to hurt Michael? Anyone with a grudge?”

“Everyone keeps asking that,” said Kyle. “I can't imagine anyone not liking Michael. The only thing I can think of is that it was a hate crime, but this isn't that kind of place. And wouldn't they have killed me as well?” His voice dropped to an undertone. “The least they could have done would have been to kill me as well.”

“Well, he was just a barrel of laughs,” said Dean as they left the house.

Sam sighed. “His boyfriend got torn apart in their living room. I think he's entitled to be a bit upset.”

Dean waved a hand. “Yeah, but there's upset, and then there's...super-emo with all the trimmings.”

Sam gritted his teeth, and changed the subject. “We should find out if there've been any other killings like this.”

“Research,” said Dean, with mock-excitement. “My favourite.”

****
There hadn't been any other mysterious deaths in the area that had a similar M.O., but when Sam extended the search to the whole country he found a series of almost identical murders, spread seemingly at random throughout the country over at least the last ten years. The victims, all men found torn apart with their hearts missing, had been killed at home and had apparently let the killer in, but beyond that the dead men had had almost nothing in common. They'd lived in different cities, had very different jobs and known none of the same people.

"It's got to be a creature of some kind," said Sam, when Dean started floating the idea of a serial killer, or a vengeful spirit. "Just look at the autopsy photos - something with claws ripped these guys open."

Sam continued to frown down at the photos, trying to match the wounds with creatures that he knew of. After a few minutes of pointlessly trying to decide how long claws would have to be to rip open someone's stomach like that, he sighed and said, “What this thing is isn't even our biggest problem.”

Dean nodded glumly. “How're we ever gonna catch something that strikes all over the country?” he pointed out just as his phone rang, and he turned away to answer it without waiting for a reply.

Working out where the creature might strike next was nearly impossible when all they had to go on was the victims it had already chosen. Sam minimised the autopsy photos and looked at the map he'd made of the killings again, wishing he could spot some pattern in it.

When Dean turned back, his face was grim. “Kyle killed himself. OD'ed on everything he could find in his parents' medicine cabinet.”

“And we're sure it was a suicide?” asked Sam, but he already knew the answer. It had been right there in the way Kyle's eyes when he had talked about Michael's death.

Dean nodded. “Left a note – 'my life is empty, can't live without him, yadda yadda yadda'.” He threw his phone down on the table, frustrated. "Now would be a really good time to find a connection between these guys so we can hunt this thing and waste it," he said, frustrated.

"As if it's ever that simple," scoffed Sam. "And we do have a connection," he reminded Dean, "They were all gay."

"Yeah, well, that hasn't helped us, has it?" said Dean. "There are millions of gay men - how are we supposed to know which of them this thing is going to tear apart next?" Sam didn't reply, still frowning at the laptop, so Dean slumped down on his bed and sighed. "Or that it's even the same thing that killed them," he muttered, almost to himself.

"No, it's the same thing," said Sam, confidently. "Too many similarities between the crime scenes." That was about the only thing he was sure of, though. The rest of the case remained a mystery, and for once, the internet wasn't helping.

****
The next day they drove to Missouri to talk to the partner of the last victim, Jack Miller, and Sam got the first break of the case when he spotted a photo in Jack's apartment that reminded him of one he'd seen on the mantelpiece of Kyle's parents' house. He didn't say anything to Dean until they were back in their motel room and he'd had a chance to check it out on the internet, though.

"I think I found the link between the victims," he said when he'd found the right website and checked all the dates out.

Dean perked up. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," said Sam. "They all went on the same bus tour a week or two before they died." He tipped the screen towards Dean so that he could see the web page of photos of previous tour groups. Smiling groups of sunlit men gathered in front of a bus, and at least one group every year had a murder victim in it.

"So, it could be someone who works for the tour company," said Dean, sitting forward. Sam could see something in his eyes light up.

"Could be," agreed Sam, looking at the website again. "Not many employees to choose from - just the driver and the owner."

"No tour guide?"

"Owner does double duty."

Dean grinned. "So we got ourselves two suspects then?"

"Looks like," said Sam. "It's a tour of Nova Scotia, and there's one starting on Sunday." He hesitated, then made the obvious suggestion. "There's still room...we could get tickets."

Dean made a face, but then nodded. "Sure, why not? We're not getting any answers here."

"Okay," said Sam. He took a deep breath and then added, "We'll have to have a pretty detailed cover worked out though." Dean started to frown and Sam just took the plunge. "The company's called Rainbow Tours. It's, uh, it's for gay couples."

The look on Dean's face was priceless. "Oh no way, Sam," he said. "We're not doing it."

Sam gave a helpless little shrug and said, "We've got no other leads."

He wasn't quite sure why Dean always got so wound up when people jumped to the wrong conclusion about them. It was kinda annoying to have to explain that they were brothers, not lovers, but after the first few times, Sam had begun to see the funny side. Dean really hadn't – he still got ridiculously uptight about it every single time it happened. Sam wondered if it was because he felt it was some kind of affront to his masculinity, or whether he figured that if he was gay, he could do much better than Sam.

Either way, Sam wasn't really surprised when Dean tried to put his foot down on this one. In the end though, even Dean had to admit that there was no other choice. They really didn't have any other leads, and they needed to get close to the driver and the guide to investigate them. Without taking the tour, that would be pretty much impossible, and the moment Dean grudgingly admitted that, Sam bought them tickets.

****
Even after agreeing and starting the drive up to Maine, Dean kept coming up with alternative plans. At a gas station in the middle of New Hampshire he came back with two coffees and said, "We could just tail the tour. A big tour bus can't be too hard to follow, after all."

Sam took his coffee and sighed. "Dean, we'd need to actually talk to the driver and guide, and they're bound to notice that we're just following them around."

Dean pursed his lips. "Maybe we should just kidnap them both before the tour starts - get them somewhere private and wait for one of them to turn out to be evil."

"Jesus Christ, Dean, it's not like we're going to have to have sex or anything!” snapped Sam. “All you have to do is avoid picking up any waitresses for a couple of weeks and remember not to call me your brother. It's not like we haven't pretended to be something we're not before."

Dean scowled. "Yeah, well, this is different."

"How?!" exclaimed Sam, now thoroughly annoyed.

Dean didn't seem to have an answer to that for a moment, just saying, "We're not gay."

Sam rolled his eyes. "We're not priests either, but you don't have a problem with that."

Dean clenched his jaw. "That's only for half an hour, tops. This is two weeks."

"Only if it takes us that long to catch this thing," said Sam, exasperated. "If you've got a real reason that you don't want to do this, we can try and find another lead, but if this is just about some fucked up macho thing, get over it already."

Dean frowned, and Sam could almost see the cogs turning. "We don't have costumes," he said, suddenly.

"What?" said Sam, nonplussed.

"I don't have anything gay to wear," said Dean. Sam stared at him, trying to tell if he was serious. "What do gay people wear anyway? Girly purple shirts with greyhounds on them?"

Sam nearly threw his coffee at him. Instead, he took a deep breath and got in the car without another word.

****
By the time they'd driven up to Bar Harbor in Maine, where the tour started, Dean was, if not happy with the plan, at least resigned to it. He had a long discussion with the owner of the motel they spent their last night in and came back to the room grinning.

"He's got a garage I can store the Impala in for a couple of weeks," he announced. "I'm going to put her in there tonight, so make sure you've taken everything you're gonna want out of the trunk."

Sam nodded and ran through what he might need in his head, then frowned. "What weapons are we taking?"

Dean shrugged. "Silver, mostly. This thing must be some kind of creature, so silver's our best bet. I'd say a few knives and a couple of handguns."

"And we'll be able to get them across the Canadian border?" asked Sam, raising an eyebrow.

"Dude, they're not going to bother searching a bunch of gay tourists," said Dean, as if he was an idiot. Sam had to admit that he was probably right, but he still felt slightly apprehensive about tucking his gun beneath all his clothes at the bottom of his bag.

That night, about five minutes after Sam had turned out the light and settled down to sleep, Dean suddenly said into the darkness, "Dude, are we going to have to share a bed?"

"They'd think we were pretty strange if we didn't," replied Sam.

"Man, this is really going to suck," muttered Dean. Sam ignored him in favour of rolling over, thinking that it was going to suck a whole lot more if Dean kept bitching about it.


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They got a taxi to the ferry port after Dean had gone back to the garage twice to make sure the Impala was okay and then made Sam draw a couple of Devil's Traps on the chassis.

"Dude," Sam pointed out, "nothing is going to happen. It's not like a car can get possessed."

"Yeah?" asked Dean. "We saw a ghost truck - why not a possessed one?"

Sam rolled his eyes but said nothing. He wondered how many of Dean's objections to the plan had been because he'd have to leave the Impala behind.

At the ferry port, they met up with Gerald, the disturbingly perky tour guide and owner of Rainbow Tours, and Brian, the driver. Sam shook their hands firmly and looked closely into their eyes, searching for any sign of evil, but there was nothing that immediately jumped out. It figured it wouldn't be that easy.

When the rest of the group had arrived, there were five couples besides Sam and Dean. Sam could see Dean looking at them with a slight frown out of the corner of his eye, presumably checking that he'd brought the right clothes.

A dark-haired man in his mid-thirties held his hand out to Sam and introduced himself and his partner. "Hi, I'm Nick, and this is James." James was short and gave Sam a cheerful grin as he shook his hand. Sam introduced himself and Dean, nudging Dean with his elbow until Dean remembered his manners enough to shake hands.

"So, where are you guys from?" asked James, politely.

"South Dakota," lied Dean.

"Oh, yeah?" said Nick, looking interested. "Whereabouts?"

"Lead," clarified Sam, glad that they'd worked out their cover story already. "Do you know it?"

Nick shrugged ruefully, "Sorry," he said with a shake of his head, and Sam relaxed slightly.

"It's pretty small," he said truthfully as Gerald clapped his hands loudly to get their attention.

"Okay!" said Gerald brightly. "Well, our ferry leaves in half an hour, so let's get all our luggage on the bus, then head over to the loading area. We'll probably be hanging around for ages, so we can do introductions then."

The bus was bright pink and had an enormous rainbow on the side.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," said Dean when he saw it. "I am not riding in that."

"You're not really the one to bitch about unsubtle vehicles," said Sam, then instantly regretted it.

Dean's eyes narrowed. "That's completely different," he said, "She's a stylish classic - this looks like it was painted by a 6-year-old girl."

"What car have you got?" asked Nick, and Sam blinked, not aware that he'd been close enough to overhear them. He'd have to be a lot more careful if he was going to make sure he didn't give away the charade.

Dean spun to face Nick. "1967 Chevy Impala," he said proudly.

"Nice," said Nick appreciatively, and Sam wondered if he knew he'd made a friend for life. "427 engine?"

Dean grinned as if he'd gotten the last slice of pie and launched into a long spiel about the Impala's specifications which went way over Sam's head.

"Is it bad that I have no idea what any of that means?" said a voice beside him, and he looked down to see James.

"I have no idea either," Sam confessed, "and I live with him."

"Bit of a car nut?" asked James with a grin.

"Oh yeah," said Sam, then paused before adding the lie. "He's a mechanic."

"Ah," said James, watching as Dean and Nick started to have a heated debate over the merits of updating the brakes on classic cars. "And what do you do?"

"I'm a law clerk," replied Sam, keeping an eye on Dean in case he got too worked up about the sacrilege of not sticking to original features when restoring a car and let something slip. "What do you do?" he remembered to add politely.

"I'm an accountant," said James with a wry grin, "but I promise I'm not completely boring."

Sam laughed, and then Gerald was clapping his hands again and telling them to put their luggage on top of the van. Sam exchanged looks with Dean and they both made sure their stuff was in the middle of the bundle of bags, hoping that even the most over-zealous customs official wouldn't look through them all and find the firearms.

On the bus, Gerald continued to radiate joy as he explained the basic itinerary of the trip. Sam, who'd read all about it online already, concentrated on watching for signs that either Gerald or Brian might be a heart-eating monster. There still wasn't anything though - Gerald explained the trip without mentioning a detour to feast on human blood or flashing fangs, and Brian just kept frowning at the road, clearly frustrated by how long it was taking to load the ferry, but he didn't leap out of the bus and rip the throat out of the driver in front.

When he tuned back in to what Gerald was saying, it was time for introductions. "...a little bit about yourself, where you're from, what you do, maybe how long you've been with your partner."

"You've got to be kidding me," muttered Dean beside him, and Sam resigned himself to two weeks of putting up with Dean's snarky remarks.

The first couple to introduce themselves were Victor and Marcus, two older men from San Francisco who were both retired and had been together twenty eight years. They'd been on the trip a couple of times before.

"It's just so lovely," gushed Victor.

"And Gerald is such a lovely guide," added Marcus.

"I wonder if you get better treatment if you kiss the guide's ass," bitched Dean, close to Sam's ear.

Sam had to lean down to reply. "Maybe that's the secret to not getting your heart ripped out."

Dean nodded in acknowledgement as the second couple explained that they were Paul and Ray from Ohio and had just gotten married. This earned them a scattered round of applause, which made Paul grin and Ray blush.

James and Nick went next, James explaining that they were from Washington DC and that Nick was a mortgage advisor before repeating the same joke he'd told Sam, about being an accountant but not boring. Sam wondered if he said it every time he told someone his job, and whether he knew that that automatically negated his statement.

Sam had assumed that Dean would leave the introductions to him but before he could open his mouth, Dean had already started. "I'm Dean, this is Sam and we're outlaws who live out of my car. We've been going out about half an hour now."

Sam had to work very hard to resist elbowing Dean in the ribs, although Paul seemed to find it amusing and everyone else was at least smiling, even if they looked confused. Sam gritted his teeth and tried to look less homicidal. "Well, at least you got our names right," he said, before trotting out the cover story that they'd worked out. Dean just grinned unrepentantly.

Sitting behind them was a slightly overweight, geeky-looking guy who introduced himself in a British accent. "I'm Jerry and this is Thomas. We're from Brighton," he said. “Uh, in the south of England.” He paused, clearly not sure what else to say.

"What do you do?" prompted Gerald.

"Oh," said Jerry, flustered, "I manage a supermarket and Thomas," he glanced at his partner, and Thomas gave a little shrug, as if to say 'go ahead', "he's an undertaker."

"Hey, someone who spends more time with corpses than we do," said Dean quietly to Sam. Sam nudged him in the side.

"Someone's got to do it," said Thomas, slightly defensively. "And I promise not to tell any disgusting corpse anecdotes."

"Aw, shame," muttered Dean in a disappointed tone.

Sitting right at the back, the last couple introduced themselves as Charlie and Andrew from Chicago. Charlie, who was doing the talking, had clearly had enough time while the other introductions were being made to work out exactly what to say, and explained, in a quick little speech without any hesitations that he was a teacher, Andrew was a doctor and they'd been together three years.

Gerald grinned happily. "Awesome," he said. "Seems like we've got a great group for this trip. We're going to have so much fun!"

Dean snorted and Sam began to seriously consider fratricide.

The bus finally pulled onto the ferry, and was directed to a parking lane. Brian turned off the engine with a sigh of relief.

"Okay," said Gerald, "the ferry takes about three hours. Make sure you remember that we're on deck three," he ducked his head to glance out the window, "by stairs C. They'll announce when we're about ten minutes from docking, and you all need to come back here then."

"Does he have to treat us like we're idiots?" muttered Dean as they got off the bus. "I think we can all cope with the complexities of ferry travel."

"He's just doing his job," said Sam, tiredly.

"Man, I'm going to need a lot of coffee to get through this," bitched Dean, and headed straight for the on-board coffee shop.

When they'd gotten coffee and found somewhere to sit, Sam tried to distract Dean from more snarking by concentrating on the case. "Where should we start?"

"Gerald," said Dean firmly. Sam blinked. "Come on, man, no one's that perky for real. He's got to be our guy.”

Sam rolled his eyes. "Maybe he just enjoys his job."

"I enjoy my job," said Dean, "but I don't bounce around like the Energizer bunny on speed."

"You do if you're going to get to blow something up," Sam pointed out. Dean glared at him. "It could be him or Brian. It's not like either of them have enormous claws to give them away."

Dean gave a discouraged shrug. "Well, we'll have to do some snooping then. But we're starting with Gerald."

"Fine," conceded Sam.

****
When they got off the ferry in Nova Scotia, Gerald clapped his hands a couple of times with excitement and announced in a loud voice, “Welcome to Canada! It's awesome!” Sam felt a shudder go through Dean's body and was relieved when, for once, he kept his thoughts to himself.

They drove for about half an hour before stopping for lunch. Gerald played cheesy pop hits at them, which sent Dean into some kind of pop-induced stress attack. Sam could feel him getting more and more tense with every new song.

"Relax," he said as the third Madonna song in a row came on. "Think happy Metallica thoughts."

"I think my ears are going to start bleeding," complained Dean. "Please tell me we're not going to have two weeks of this shit."

Thomas, who was sitting behind them, overheard. "Don't worry," he said, "we can mutiny and take control of the radio if it goes on much longer."

"Maybe we can repaint the bus at the same time," said Dean, turning around.

Thomas laughed. "It is a bit bright."

Gerald clapped his hands again. "Okay," he said, "we'll be about forty-five minutes here, if you want to grab some lunch. We'll be having a big dinner tonight - freshly caught lobster - so I wouldn't get anything too filling."

Dean was frowning again. "Lobster?" he said.

Sam laughed. "It's okay, I'm sure we can find a cheeseburger for you somewhere."

Dean gave him a sudden, startled look, then glanced away. "Yeah," he said, sounding tired.

Sam wondered what had crawled up his ass now, but let it go.

****
That afternoon they drove through to Lockeport, stopping occasionally for photo opportunities at view points on the road. At the first one, Sam got out behind Dean and then stood slightly awkwardly as the others on the bus started to take pictures of the rocky coastline and ocean.

"We didn't bring a camera," he said to Dean.

Dean shrugged. "Do we even own a camera?"

Sam sighed. "We're supposed to be on vacation - don't you think it's going to look a bit odd if we never take pictures?"

Dean glanced over to where Paul and Ray were posing with their arms tightly around each other so that Jerry could take a picture. "We can buy one, I guess," he shrugged.

Sam nodded and walked down to the edge to look out at the ocean. After living for four years so close to the Pacific, he'd found himself missing the sea during their largely inland travels. Dean walked up behind him and Sam flinched in surprise when he felt a hand on his back.

"Relax," said Dean, in the same tone of voice that their father always used when he was reminding Sam to hold the gun closer to his shoulder, or to keep his wrist locked when he punched someone.

"Yeah, I know," said Sam tersely, and made himself lean back against Dean's arm as if it was natural. Dean didn't say anything else, and for a moment they just watched the sea together.

"Alright guys," announced Gerald, "back on the bus. You're just going to love the next bit!" He bounced slightly on his toes with excitement.

"I'm telling you," said Dean quietly, "he's an evil, blood-crazed monster. It's the only explanation." He kept his hand on Sam the whole way back to the bus. "Man, I can't believe I'm actually travelling in this thing." He regarded it with loathing, then brightened slightly. "Do you think it's possessed?"

Sam sighed. "Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's possessed."

Dean snorted disbelievingly.

****
They arrived at Lockeport in the late afternoon and pulled up at a rustic-looking B&B. Dean checked them in with the new credit card he'd got for the trip.

There were two main differences between the room Sam and Dean were given and the ones they usually stayed in. The first was that it was at least twice as nice, with a thick carpet, curtains without cigarette burns and a bathroom without any unidentifiable stains. The second was the one double bed that sat squarely in the middle, taking up most of the space.

"Just two weeks," Sam reminded Dean when he caught him giving it a hard glare.

"Yeah, I know," said Dean irritably.

Sam decided it would be best to change the subject. "We've got a couple of hours until dinner."

"Yep," said Dean, opening his bag. "Want to check out if the bus is possessed?" He pulled out the EMF reader.

Sam rolled his eyes. "I was thinking more about finding out where Gerald and Brian are sleeping and having a look through their stuff."

Dean shrugged. "We can do that too."

****
Much to Dean's obvious disappointment, the bus didn't set off the slightest flicker on the EMF reader, so they went to the front desk and asked the lady there which rooms Gerald and Brian were staying in.

Despite Dean's certainty that Gerald was the monster, Brian's room was closer, so Sam made him check it first. Sam knocked on the door then, when there was no response, quickly knelt down and picked the lock. They slipped inside quietly, Dean glancing down the corridor to make sure no one had seen before closing the door behind them.

Brian's room was smaller than theirs and he obviously hadn't bothered to unpack before going out. Sam went over to the black bag lying on the bed and unzipped it, rifling through the clothes for something that would identify him as less than human. Dean turned the EMF reader on again, although Sam wasn't exactly sure what he expected to find, then wandered into the en suite. It took Sam less than two minutes to realise there was nothing out of the ordinary about Brian's luggage, by which time Dean was already bored and starting to fidget.

"Okay," Sam said, after making Dean wait for another five minutes just to pay him back for being such a pain. "Let's go check on Gerald."

"Bet you a dollar that we find something evil," said Dean as they snuck out of Brian's room and down the corridor to Gerald's room.

"Only a dollar?" asked Sam, putting his hand in his pocket to get his lock picks while Dean knocked.

They were both surprised when Gerald actually opened the door and grinned at them.

"Dean! Sam! Come in, come in!" He swung the door wide and gestured them in. Sam took his hand off his lock picks and followed Dean inside, hoping like hell that Dean had a cover story for why they were there.

"How can I help you?" asked Gerald.

"Well," said Dean, "we thought we'd find out more about you, as you're going to be in charge of all our comings and goings for the next couple of weeks." Sam let himself relax a bit. Dean had it covered. "Where you grew up, how long you've worked this gig, whether you ever killed a man just to watch him die, that sort of thing."

Sam nearly choked, but Gerald didn't seem to notice anything strange about Dean's question.

"Gosh," he said, smiling, and Sam had a moment of people still say that? "Everyone on this trip is so friendly. It's just awesome! Where shall I start?"

Nearly an hour later, they left his room to get ready for dinner with no new clues about the hunt, but knowing far too much about Gerald's background, childhood and relationship history.

"Jesus," said Dean, "so much for this being easy."

"Yeah," agreed Sam. "Also, you owe me a dollar."

Dean frowned. "No way," he said. "He had a pink sequinned cowboy hat. That totally counts as evil."

"Oh, come on," said Sam, "it does not."

"Sure it does," said Dean in his firmest 'I'm older and I know better' voice. "Dad had to exorcise a hat like that in Wyoming once."

"Bullshit," claimed Sam. "You're just trying to get out of paying me."

Dean grinned unrepentantly and Sam sighed, giving it up as a lost cause.

****
The dinner that evening was hard work. Sam wasn't used to having to play a role for that long in a social situation, and he kept having to remind himself that Dean was his boyfriend, not his brother, and that he was a law clerk from South Dakota, not a demon hunter from...well, everywhere. Dean seemed to do better at remembering the little details of their cover story and twisting real stories from their past to fit with it, but he also kept staring at their waitress's short skirt and low neckline. In the end, Sam kicked him under the table and glared at him when he looked up from her legs. He blinked at Sam for a moment, then the light dawned and he grimaced slightly.

"Sorry," he said. Sam dialled his glare down a bit, but didn't let him completely off the hook. He was very aware of the others sitting around them, and he didn't want them to think he let Dean walk all over him. Besides, it wasn't very often he got to force Dean into making an apology.

Dean shifted uncomfortably, then suddenly put his hand on Sam's. "You know there's never going to be anyone else," he said, his gaze fixed firmly on Sam's face.

Sam felt himself flushing and dropped his eyes to his plate, cursing himself for thinking he'd be able to get one up on Dean. There was an awkward pause as he tried to work out what he should say in response to that. In the end, he decided to go for the normal Winchester reaction to an emotional moment - laugh it off.

"Apart from the Impala, right?"

Dean grinned and his shoulders relaxed. "Well, of course. She'll always come first, but you're a close second."

"I feel so loved," said Sam, dryly.

After that, Dean managed to keep his usual 'appreciation of the female form' to a minimum, which meant Sam was able to concentrate on pumping Victor for information on Gerald and Brian from the previous times that he and Marcus had been on the tour.

****
When they got back to the B&B he compared notes with Dean, who had been chatting to the guys around him, but neither of them had anything that might cast any light on who their monster was.

"We've got a big fat nothing so far," groused Dean.

"Maybe something will come up tomorrow," Sam said optimistically, turning the bathroom light out and walking towards the bed.

Dean sighed and looked at him, then at the bed. "Man, this sucks."

"It's not like we haven't shared a bed before," Sam reminded him, climbing into his side.

"When we were kids," complained Dean, "before you turned into Gigantor." He crawled into his side and turned out the light. "You better not steal the covers."

"Goodnight Dean," said Sam, stifling a sigh.

There was a pause, then Dean replied. "Night, Sammy."

Sam smiled to himself and closed his eyes.

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When Sam woke up, Dean was a long line of warmth pressed against his side and still fast asleep. Sam pulled away carefully to avoid waking him up - if Dean knew he'd done something as girly as creeping close to Sam in his sleep, he'd be in a bad mood all day.

Dean stayed asleep until after Sam had had a shower, finally sitting up slowly and rubbing his face blearily when Sam was putting his shoes on.

"You off somewhere?" he asked.

Sam shrugged. "Thought I might go down and check out the beach before breakfast."

Dean started to frown.

"I know this is a job not a vacation," pre-empted Sam, "but what are the chances we're going to come back here? I just want to have a look."

Dean leaned back against the headboard. "Take a gun," he said.

Sam grinned at him and patted the small of his back, where he'd already tucked one of their guns.

"See you at breakfast," he said and left.

The B&B was almost on the beach - not that Lockeport was really big enough for anywhere to be far from anywhere else. Sam walked along it for a while, enjoying the morning and nodding politely at the occasional dog walker who passed him by.

Jerry and Thomas were walking the other way down the beach, so close to each other that their shoulders were touching. They said, "Good morning," to Sam in such a stereotypically British way that he had to hide a grin as he returned the greeting.

When he reached the end of the beach, there was a stream flowing across the sand and into the sea. On the other side he could see a dark shape at the water's edge, so he jumped over to have a look. He was only expecting it to be a piece of driftwood or trash, but when he got close he realised, with revulsion, that it was the remains of two seagulls that something had ripped to shreds. He grimaced at the trail of bloody feathers and guts, then turned to go back over the stream. Nick was on the other side of it, squinting at the gulls.

"Heya," he said as Sam hopped over the stream beside him. "Anything interesting?"

Sam shook his head. "Just a couple of dead birds that a dog or something got to."

Nick made a face and turned away. "You going back for breakfast?" he asked.

"Yeah," said Sam, checking his watch. "I guess it's that time."

Nick nodded and together they turned back to the B&B. "Is Dean still in bed?" he asked, after a moment of awkward silence.

"He was just waking up as I left," said Sam. "He's not really an early morning person."

"Yeah, neither is James," said Nick. "He'll probably complain about having to be up for breakfast."

"Dean's not quite that bad," said Sam, suddenly feeling defensive.

"Yeah?" prompted Nick.

Sam shrugged. "As long as I get him coffee when I wake up, he's fine."

Nick nodded again and then left a little silence, which Sam didn't bother filling. After a few minutes, Nick broke it. "We're off to Lunenburg today, right?"

"Yeah," said Sam, remembering the details from his research. "And we're doing a hike in one of the national parks on the way."

"Oh, that'll be nice," said Nick vaguely, as they walked into the B&B. They headed straight into the dining room and Sam spotted Dean sitting at a table with James. Nick saw them too and headed over. He sat down beside James and kissed him.

"Good morning," he said with a little smile that James returned. Sam looked at Dean and wondered if it would be odd if he didn't kiss him. Dean looked back at Sam, and he could see the smirk in Dean's eyes before he raised one eyebrow slightly in challenge. Sam slid into the seat next to him and kissed him without even thinking about it. It was little more than a peck, really, but that didn't stop his mind screaming Gah! That's your brother! He squashed it firmly.

"How's breakfast?" he asked, trying to keep his voice from betraying that anything weird had happened.

Dean was staring at him, looking a little shell-shocked, but at Sam's words he pulled himself together. "It's good," he said. "The pancakes are awesome."

Sam nodded. "I'll try them then." He stood up again and headed for the buffet, trying to keep his hands from shaking. It felt like the blood was fizzing in his veins and he had to stop for a moment by the cereal table in order to take a couple of deep breaths and calm down. Why did he always react so badly to any hint that Dean was daring him? He knew it usually only lead to trouble, and now he was one of the extremely small minority of people not from Arkansas who had kissed their brother.

****
By the time they were all on the bus, he had managed to successfully repress the kiss so that it didn't automatically flash to the front of his mind whenever he looked at Dean. They drove along the coast for a while, having various views and tiny villages pointed out to them until Sam could feel Dean's frustration vibrating beside him.

This is why he never lets me drive, he thought to himself. He gets bored quicker than a hyperactive puppy if he's in the passenger seat. At least the music was better - Brian had told Gerald that if he played any more crappy pop, he was going to drive them all off a cliff, and Gerald had graciously agreed to let him play the local radio instead.

When they stopped at Kejimkujik National Park, Dean was almost the first one off the bus, jumping out and pacing away for a bit as if to throw off the restlessness, before coming back to hear Gerald tell them about the place.

"Ok, guys, this just the seaside adjunct of Kejimkujik - we'll be seeing the main part next week. It's just awesome - amazing lakes, the forest stretching for miles and we'll be staying in cabins and going swimming and having a campfire...you're going to love it! That's later though, today we're just going to hike through this part of it. It's gorgeous as well."

He pointed up a dirt track disappearing into the trees. "It's an hour or so, with some lovely views out over the sea. Lots of wildlife - occasionally we see moose, or beavers, or sometimes, even whales!"

"Yippee," said Dean quietly, without any joy. When it became clear that Gerald had finished, he turned beseeching eyes on Sam.

"We're going," said Sam, firmly.

"It's not going to help the case," pointed out Dean.

"Staying here won't help either," said Sam, "but you'll get bored, and then I might kill you. We're going."

Dean sighed but gave in without further argument, although he did give Victor and Marcus an envious look when they announced they weren't going.

"Marcus's hip isn't really up for long hikes any more," explained Victor.

Marcus nodded and added, "We'll just sit under this tree and enjoy the sunshine."

Gerald led the way up the path, practically skipping, and stopping every so often to excitedly point out items of particular interest. The lookout point at the end was out on a headland, and Sam thought it was well worth the walk, even if the sun was beating down. He stripped off his outer shirt as he gazed out over the view, then realised that Andrew was staring at the way his sweat-stained t-shirt was clinging to his chest.

He had a moment of oh, yes, of course, gay means they fancy men, then Andrew looked away at the sea instead. Sam glanced around to see Dean glaring at Andrew and nudged him.

"No need to take it that far," he said, amused. "I don't need my honour protected, or anything."

Dean grunted, and walked closer to the rocks at the end of the headland.

The group spread out on the walk back, until Sam and Dean were walking on their own and able to discuss the case without fear of being overheard.

"Maybe we should try stabbing Gerald or Brian with a non-silver knife," said Dean.

"Dean!" exclaimed Sam, shocked.

"Just in the hand or something, see if it heals up or not," explained Dean. "Then we know it's him or not and we can shoot the right one."

Sam sighed. "We can't just stab someone."

"Well, we're going to have to do something," said Dean, clearly frustrated, "because unless one of them turns into a monster and rips someone apart right in front of us, we're stuck, and when this trip is over, someone is going to get their heart ripped out. We're not going to be able to protect them all."

"You know," said Sam, musingly, "this thing can clearly change into something else, in order to be able to leave claw marks like that. It must be some kind of shapeshifter, right?"

"Yes," said Dean slowly. "Where you going with this?"

"It might be able to change its human form as well," said Sam, with a sickening realisation. "It could be anyone."

Dean groaned. "So we'd have to stab everyone, not just Brian and Gerald?"

"We're not stabbing anyone!" said Sam, then turned a corner in the path and stopped dead. Scattered across the trail in front of them was the remains of a beaver, guts trailing out and blood splattered everywhere.

"Huh," said Dean. "That wasn't there when we walked up."

"No," said Sam, grimacing. He knelt down beside the corpse and poked it with his knife. "It's only been dead a few minutes."

Dean pulled out his gun and glanced around at the woods. "Where are all the others?"

Sam shook his head. "They could be anywhere," he said. "Everyone spread out." He looked back down at the beaver and suddenly remembered the gulls that morning, spread out in a similar manner. "I don't think we have to worry though."

"Yeah?" said Dean, still watching the woods.

"There were two dead gulls on the beach this morning, and no one was attacked there."

"That we know of," pointed out Dean, but his stance relaxed slightly. "Any reason you didn't tell me this earlier?"

"I didn't think it was important," shrugged Sam. He poked at the corpse with his knife again. "The heart's gone," he said, "and whatever it was, it had huge teeth."

"What did?" said a voice behind them, then, "Oh," as the owner caught sight of the beaver. Sam winced and tucked the knife away as he stood up, hoping it hadn't been noticed. He could see Dean doing the same with his gun out of the corner of his eye as he turned to see Charlie, Andrew, Nick and James, all staring down at the beaver corpse.

"It's pretty gross," he said, hoping that was a good enough reason for him to be looking at it so closely.

"Yeah," agreed Charlie in a faint voice.

"Don't be sick," said Andrew warningly.

Charlie scowled. "I'm not going to be sick."

"You better not," muttered Andrew.

"What killed it?" asked James, frowning slightly.

"No idea," said Sam, hoping he wasn't going to get a reputation as a creepy guy who got excited by animal corpses.

"It's just mother nature in action," said Dean.

"Should we bury it or something?" said Charlie, still looking a little green around the gills.

"Don't be an idiot," said Andrew, sharply. "I'm sure something else will come and eat it, even if the predator is long gone."

"Yeah," said Nick, eyeing the corpse with a puzzled frown. "And we should be getting back to the bus, anyway, before Gerald calls out a search party."

They edged past it carefully, Charlie in particular being careful about where he put his feet. Sam and Dean followed them back down the path, Dean still scanning the woods warily with one hand hovering near his gun.

"Well, I don't think it's Charlie," he muttered to Sam, "not unless he's a really good actor."

"It could be anyone," said Sam. "All it would have taken was a few minutes off alone - telling the others they were going to take a leak or something."

"Fuck," said Dean with feeling. "I hate all this whodunit crap."

"Yeah," agreed Sam with a sigh.

****
When they arrived back at the bus, everyone else was already there.

"We were just about to come looking for you," said Gerald. "Paul was worried there was an orgy we hadn't been invited to."

"We found a dead beaver," explained Nick.

Gerald nodded. "There's often dead animals along these trails," he said, then clapped his hands again. "Everyone back on the bus! Next stop: Lunenburg!"

Sam felt Dean stiffen beside him and wondered how long it would be before he suggested cutting off Gerald's hands - in the interests of seeing if he was the creature, of course.

"Dean," he said in a quiet voice. "How often have you seen a dead animal like that on a hiking trail? A well-used hiking trail?"

Dean frowned. "Hardly ever," he said, getting Sam's point, "but Gerald seems to think it happens all the time."

"Maybe it does on this tour."

****
They reached Lunenburg without incident in time for a late lunch. Dean handled the drive there better than he had the earlier one, possibly because he was occupied watching everyone else on the bus very carefully, clearly hoping for a sign that one of them was a monster. Sam struck up a conversation with Jerry and Thomas about England, asking about the main differences they were noticing and wondering if he'd ever be in a position to visit Europe. It seemed unlikely now - he couldn't imagine Dean getting on a trans-Atlantic flight, after all, and it wasn't like they could afford vacations.

Lunch in Lunenburg was in a small café, then Brian drove them up to their hotel to check in, before they headed back into town to explore. Paul and Ray declined to come with them, instead heading for their room with Paul's hand stuck firmly in Ray's back pocket, leaving little doubt in anyone's mind about their plans for the afternoon.

Except, apparently, Dean's. "They left the restaurant early last night as well, didn't they?" he said, his eyes narrowing.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Yes Dean, so they could have sex. Which is what they're doing now. They just got married."

"So they say," said Dean, suspiciously. "Could just be a cover for animal mutilation."

"Could be," conceded Sam with a sigh.

When they pulled up in town, Gerald gave them a quick run-down on the sights and sounds of Lunenburg, pointing out the Fisheries Museum right next to the parking lot, and mentioning a couple of good cafés near-by.

"Okay," said Dean as they got off the bus. "Let's find some strong coffee and some wifi."

Sam glanced at the entrance to the Fisheries Museum. It had a giant lobster pot outside. "We've got plenty of time," he said, slowly, already knowing how this was going to go down. "We could go to the museum first."

Dean, predictably, rolled his eyes and said, "Sam, you're such a geek."

Sam sighed, but didn't deny it.

"Well, I think we're going to the museum," said a voice behind them. "You could come with us, if Dean doesn't want to go." It was Andrew.

Sam glanced at Dean to see what he thought of that plan. He was perfectly happy to go round the museum on his own, but if he went with Andrew and Charlie, he'd be able to probe them for clues.

Dean was giving Andrew a very hard look. "I didn't say I wouldn't come," he said, then slung his arm around Sam's waist. Sam flinched, and then concentrated on relaxing as if the gesture was normal. "Sam wants to go, I'll go."

"So, are a bunch of us going then?" said Charlie, looking around at the others.

"Not us, dear boy," said Marcus, "We've seen it."

"There's a little bar round the corner that does the most divine Bloody Marys," added Victor.

"Bloody Marys sound good," said Nick. His eyes flicked to James. "What do you think?" James nodded his agreement.

"Well, I want to check out a couple of art galleries we passed on the bus," said Jerry.

"Yeah," agreed Thomas, "Maybe we'll come by the bar later."

"So, it's just the four of us," said Andrew, smiling at Sam. Dean muttered something inaudible, and Sam glared at him, hoping he wasn't going to be too much of a bitch about going to a museum.

As they walked inside, Dean glanced at the large gift shop, frowned slightly, then tapped Sam on the shoulder. "You get the tickets," he said. "I'll be back in a minute."

Sam nodded, and Dean disappeared into the shop. Sam hoped like hell he hadn't spotted a lobster hat, or anything equally humiliating that he'd then force Sam to wear. He came back before Sam had even finished paying and held up a disposable camera to show Sam.

"Ah," said Sam. "Good thinking, Batman."

Dean grinned as if he was six, the same way he always did when Batman was mentioned. "Are you admitting that you're the sidekick?"

"Sure," said Sam easily. "I'm your taller, cleverer, better-looking sidekick, from whom you shamelessly steal the glory."

Dean scowled at him.

"Hey, do you want me to take a picture of the two of you?" asked Charlie.

"Yeah, that would be great," said Dean, handing over the camera and putting his arm around Sam's waist again. Sam found it slightly disturbing how familiar the gesture was becoming. He reminded himself that this was why Dean'd bought the camera, and put his arm around Dean's shoulders, feeling Dean shift uncomfortably beneath it for a moment.

"Maybe we should wait until we've found a box or something for you to stand on, so you don't look like such a midget," he suggested, trying to break the weirdness.

Dean snorted. "Shut up, Godzilla," he said, and pulled Sam close. Sam grinned, and Charlie took the picture.

****
In the end, it was probably Dean who enjoyed the museum the most. He prodded a starfish in the touch tank with a faintly puzzled expression until the assistant asked him to stop, decided the harpoon collection was awesome and that they needed a harpoon, 'you know...for killing shit,' and then tried to persuade Sam to get into the giant lobster pot and pretend to be trapped so that he could take a photo. Sam point-blank refused, even when Dean called him a killjoy and threatened to put something nasty in his bed. Sam, aware of Andrew and Charlie standing close by, pointed out that it was Dean's bed as well. Dean frowned at that, and failed to find a comeback.

"Are we going on the boats?" asked Andrew, nodding to the two historic fishing vessels tied up to the quay.

"Of course," said Sam, glancing at Dean, who reluctantly put the camera away with one last, longing look at the lobster pot.

"You can always get a photo of him pretending to be captain when we're on-board," said Charlie, consolingly.

"No way," said Dean as they headed up the gangway of the nearer ship, an old sailing schooner. "If anyone's going to be captain, it's going to be me."

Charlie glanced at Andrew, obviously wanting to share an amused look, but Andrew wasn't looking.

The schooner was interesting, and Sam enjoyed the glimpse into how life used to be, if not the low ceilings and lower hatchways. The third time he bumped his head and let out a curse word, Dean laughed and called him 'Sasquatch,' which, at Sam's count, made the fourth height-related insult of the afternoon.

Sam scowled at him, rubbing his head. "You know, you could have some sympathy, rather than revelling in my pain."

"Where would be the fun in that?" asked Dean, with the smug grin of someone who was the right height for doorways.

"You could offer to kiss him better," said Andrew. "That would be fun." He was looking at Sam in a way that made him feel slightly uncomfortable. Sam looked over at Dean instead to see him glare at Andrew, then look at Sam consideringly.

Sam had an awful moment when he thought Dean was going to take Andrew's advice, but instead he turned away, heading out of the cabin. "I'm not sure this is an appropriate place for what that might lead to," he said as he went.

The other boat was more modern, and featured two enormous engines that made Dean regain all his childish excitement.

 

"Check these babies out," he crowed. "Man, if I got to play with these, I think I could cope with the cramped living conditions."

Sam laughed. "I'm finding it hard to imagine you as a fisherman."

"I wouldn't be a fisherman," said Dean, bending down to examine one of the engines closer. "I'd be the Chief Engineer."

"Like Scotty?" said Sam, trying to picture his brother in a Star Trek uniform and failing.

"Geek," replied Dean, as if he wasn't the one having a private moment with an engine. Sam rolled his eyes and went to check out the Captain's quarters.

****
"Okay," said Dean as they left the museum, "time for coffee."

"And wifi," Sam reminded him.

"Coffee sounds good," said Andrew, and Sam saw a look of annoyance flit across Dean's face. How do we shake the civilians?

Charlie must have caught it as well. "I'm feeling more like a Bloody Mary," he said to Andrew, "Let's go and see if we can find the bar the others went to."

Andrew pursed his lips with irritation. "How about it guys? Bloody Marys?" he asked Sam and Dean, not even looking at Charlie.

Sam gave a little shrug. "I once had a bad experience with a Bloody Mary," he said truthfully.

"Yeah, it's probably best if Sammy sticks to coffee," said Dean, clapping his hand on Sam's shoulder. "We'll see you guys later." He started to turn Sam away.

"Come on, Andy," said Charlie.

Andrew scowled at him, and Sam heard him snap, "Don't call me that!" behind them as Dean pulled him up the hill towards the nearest café.

He glanced back and saw them heading off in the other direction. "They're not looking any more," he said. "You can stop touching me." Dean let go of Sam's shoulder as if it had burnt him.

****
Sam didn't find any mention of disappearances or murders for Lockeport, Lunenburg, or anywhere in between since the tour had started. Dean, who was going through Dad's journal again for all mention of man-beasts with huge teeth, seemed almost disappointed by that, until Sam reminded him that it was a good thing that no one was dead.

Sam then checked up on the others on the tour, but they all seemed to have at least the basic elements of an online identity that matched up with their story. Jerry even had a website dedicated to Indiana Jones, complete with a gallery of photo-shopped pictures of Harrison Ford.

Dean shut the journal with a sigh. "It's not a werewolf, but we already knew that," he said. "And that's about all I can narrow it down to. It could be almost anything - there's tons of nasty things that walk around looking like people, but turn into huge monsters at the drop of a hat. And a couple of them can change their human appearance as well, so you were right earlier. It could be any of them."

Sam nodded, eyes still fixed on an image of Harrison Ford completely naked and posing with his whip. He cleared his throat and then shut the window. "There's nothing here, either," he said. "We're going to have to just hope whoever it is lets something slip."

Dean groaned. "It might not even be on this tour. We might just be wasting our time."

"But we're probably not," pointed out Sam. "Dean...this is the only lead we have."

"Yeah, I know," said Dean grumpily.

"Let's leave it for now," said Sam, closing the laptop. He knew Dean was getting pissed with having to play this role, and to be honest, he was getting kinda fed up of having to remember to stay in character. Maybe it was time for a break. "How about we go find a bar and you can show these Canucks how to play pool?"

Dean grinned. "Best idea you've had in ages," he said, standing up. Sam smiled back, glad that Dean was finally pleased about something, and followed him out of the coffee shop.

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Chapter Text

Sam woke up first again the next morning to find that not only had Dean crept close in the night, but he was resting his hand casually on Sam's leg. Sam carefully slid away and out of bed, wondering why he was the one that got accused of being a girl when his brother was clearly a closet cuddler.

"What's the plan for today?" asked Dean, still sounding sleepy, as Sam left the bathroom five minutes later.

"We're going to Halifax, via some cove," said Sam.

"Right," said Dean, sitting up, "and hunting-wise?"

Sam shrugged. "Ask more questions, keep our eyes open and hope like hell someone casually mentions eating human hearts."

"Great," said Dean, sarcastically, "That's really foolproof."

"Got any better ideas?" snapped Sam. "That don't involve getting arrested for assault?"

Dean gritted his teeth. "Anything's got to be better than just hanging around, hoping to catch a break."

"We're not going to start attacking people for no reason, Dean!" exclaimed Sam. "I'm going to breakfast." He left the room, slamming the door behind him.

****
The previous evening, Dean had been fine. They'd found a bar with cheap beer and a couple of pool tables, and Dean had made a few hundred dollars in a couple of hours which always put him in a good mood, even if they were Canadian dollars. They'd run into some of the others coming back to the hotel at the same time as them and gone to the bar to have a night-cap.

Sam had ended up having a long chat with Andrew, who he was now 95 percent sure wasn't a killer in disguise. Dean had chatted to Nick about cars and had seemed pretty involved in the conversation, although Sam had looked up a few times to see Dean frowning at him for no reason that Sam could see.

By the time they'd gone to bed, Dean had been in a really pissy mood, bitching about the hotel as if it wasn't a significant step up from their usual accommodation, and launching into another rant about their lack of leads. Sam ignored him as much as he could and went to bed as quickly as possible, frustrated by Dean's whole attitude on this case. Sadly, it didn't look like it had been improved by a night's sleep.

When he got down to the dining room, the only members of the tour who were already down were Paul, Ray and Brian. That suited Sam fine - they should probably talk to all three at some stage today and now was a good time to start.

He fixed himself a tray of food and then went over to their table. "Mind if I join you?" he asked.

Brian looked up with something akin to relief in his eyes. "Of course," he said, pulling a chair out invitingly.

Sam sat down and wondered what questions he could start with and not seem like a freak or a nosey bastard.

"How are you enjoying the trip so far?" asked Brian.

"It's been really good," said Sam, glad for the opening even if it was just meaningless small talk. "I suppose you're sick of it though, seeing all the same places time after time."

Brian gave a little shrug. "I love it, actually," he said. "Nova Scotia is so nice that I don't mind coming back."

"Oh yeah, it's so beautiful," said Ray, happily. He turned to Paul. "Maybe we should move here?"

"Your mother would kill you," pointed out Paul.

Ray's face fell for a moment, then he grinned and batted his eyelashes at Paul. "You'd protect me though, right? You big, manly stud."

Paul didn't look very convinced. "I don't know...your mom is pretty scary. What would be in it for me?"

Ray pouted - actually pouted, as if he was five-years-old and his ice cream was on the floor. "Don't you love me?"

"Of course I do," said Paul, giving in without even a fight and kissing Ray. Ray made a satisfied noise and kissed Paul back, bringing one hand up to tangle in his hair. Sam blinked and glanced over at Brian, who gave him a commiserating, tell me about it look. Suddenly, Sam understood Brian's eagerness to have Sam sit down with them.

Paul whispered something close to Ray's ear, and Ray made a sound that was suspiciously similar to a giggle and, really, what grown man giggled? Sam was strangely glad that Dean wasn't around to hear it - no doubt he'd take it as proof that Ray wasn't human and try to stab him with a fork.

Dean came into the dining room at about the same time that Ray was feeding Paul the last of his pancakes, while Brian and Sam tried their best to ignore them and carry on a normal conversation. Dean headed straight for the buffet without doing more than glance at Sam, and Sam wondered if he was going to be in a snit all day. He really hoped not, but past experiences had taught him that there was little chance of Dean cheering up unless he got to kill something or fuck someone, and neither seemed very likely at the moment.

Andrew came in not far behind Dean, grinned when he saw Sam and came straight over to say good morning.

"How did you sleep?" he asked.

"Like a log," said Dean from behind him, in a cheery voice that Sam could tell was faked, but probably no one else could. "Sammy always sleeps like a log." He put down his breakfast on the table, then gave Andrew one of his exaggerated, sleazy winks. "When I let him."

It should probably be weird, hearing Dean talk about him like that, but Dean's sexual innuendo was so familiar that Sam didn't even realise he was reacting the same way he did when Dean was talking about some barmaid in a short skirt until he'd rolled his eyes and given him an exasperated look.

Dean pulled up a chair from the next table and sat down next to Sam. "The breakfast here looks pretty good," he said to Andrew. "You should get some before they run out of waffles."

Andrew nodded and headed over to the buffet without saying anything else, and Dean smiled at Sam with gritted teeth. Sam looked down at his half-full plate and resigned himself to a really shitty day.

****
Dean's mood didn't improve. On the bus, he made Sam sit up near the front and then spent most of the drive talking to Brian. On its own, that wouldn't have meant anything - after all, they were meant to be asking questions and getting information - but Dean spent most of the conversation working in subtle little digs at Sam - so subtle that Brian didn't pick up on them, but after twenty minutes Sam was fuming. He tried to ignore Dean by talking to Gerald, asking him careful questions about previous groups, hoping he'd mention one of the victims.

They stopped at Peggy's Cove at around lunchtime, and Gerald produced a picnic lunch for them from a cooler on the top of the bus. Sam grabbed enough for him and Dean, then took Dean's arm and dragged him away from the others, across the rocks to somewhere they could talk in private. As he'd planned, Dean was too busy trying not to react to Sam holding his arm to complain, at least until they were out of earshot, when he pulled his arm away from Sam's grip.

"Dude," he hissed, "We're not chicks."

"Yeah?" asked Sam. "Then why've you been acting like you've got PMS all day?" Dean scowled at him, but Sam didn't stop to let him get a word in. "It's not my fault this hunt is going badly, and unless I'm missing something, there's absolutely no reason for you to take it out on me."

Dean's eyes narrowed. "Maybe if you weren't so busy flirting, the hunt wouldn't be going badly! Just because we're meant to be gay doesn't mean you have to be a complete slut."

Sam felt as if he'd been blindsided. "What?!" He stuttered out. "I'm not!"

"Oh, sure," sneered Dean, "You're not spending every other moment signalling to Andrew that it doesn't matter if you're meant to have a boyfriend, you're totally up for jumping his bones."

"What?" said Sam again, still trying to adjust to the sudden conversation shift. "I'm not! Wait, this is why you've been pissed at me? Because I've been chatting to Andrew?"

"More than chatting," said Dean, darkly.

"Jesus Christ, Dean!" Sam tried to keep his voice down so that the other tourists couldn't hear, but it was hard when he was so angry and frustrated. "Just because he's gay doesn't mean we can't have a friendly conversation without it counting as flirting! I can't believe you're such a homophobe!"

"I am not a freaking homophobe!" hissed Dean back, "I just object to sleazy guys hitting on you. Especially when they think you're already taken and do it anyway!"

"He's not hitting on me!"

Dean opened his mouth to yell something back, then blinked and shut it. He frowned slightly, as if coming to a realisation, then laughed tiredly. "Sam, you can't tell half the time when women are hitting on you. What makes you think you can when a man is?"

Sam frowned, mildly offended, but he had to concede that Dean was right. He did tend to be clueless about these things - Jessica once told him that she'd been considering put an ad in the college newspaper out of desperation before he'd finally made a move. He thought back over his interactions with Andrew and his eyes widened. "Oh," he said.

Dean shook his head. "You're hopeless," he said, still sounding amused. Sam shrugged slightly, too glad that Dean's mood had improved to feel insulted by his words. "Just stop making me look like I can't keep my man satisfied."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Because it would be tragedy if I damaged your reputation."

"I think telling people I'm going out with you has already done that," said Dean with a snort, then he sat down on one of the rocks, facing out towards the sea.

Sam sat down beside him and handed him most of the food he'd grabbed earlier from Gerald. "Well, everyone has to slum it sometimes," he said, "even the great Dean Winchester."

"That's slander, and I ought to sue you," said Dean, biting into a sandwich happily. Sam wasn't entirely sure how his bad mood had been turned around, but he wasn't about to complain so he said nothing and concentrated on eating his own lunch, and wondering if he could get Dean to pose for a picture with him in front of the lighthouse.

****
After lunch, Dean seemed much more relaxed, even when they got back on the bus and headed for Halifax. Sam carefully avoided meeting Andrew's eyes in case he sent the wrong signals, and concentrated on the scenery instead. There didn't seem like much else he could do - talking to people didn't seem to be getting them anywhere at the moment, not while they didn't even know which questions to ask.

They pulled into the parking lot of their Halifax hotel late that afternoon, but Gerald didn't let them get out until he'd given another of his excited speeches.

"Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia, and it has so much to do," he started, and Dean, who had been sitting forward in anticipation of finally getting off the bus for the day, sat back with a sigh. "We're spending two nights here, so you'll have plenty of time tomorrow to explore it, but one of the things I like to do with everyone is to go to Reflections - it's one of the best gay clubs in Nova Scotia. We always have a really good time, and it means you can go crazy tonight without worrying about getting up early for the bus tomorrow."

Sam glanced at Dean, wondering if they should go. It would probably seem weird if they didn't, but it seemed unlikely that it would help the case and he really couldn't picture Dean in a gay club. Dean didn't notice his glance and just kept frowning slightly at Gerald, clearly desperate to get off the bus.

"I've got some information about Halifax attractions, covering the various museums, the Citadel, the government buildings and some of the best places to eat, if you want to take a copy as you get off," finished Gerald, and then finally let them open the door and get off.

"Hey," said Andrew, as they pulled their bags off the bus, "are you going out tonight?"

"Um," said Sam, internally cursing. He'd been hoping to avoid talking to Andrew until he'd worked out how he should be treating him after Dean's earlier revelation. "I'm not sure yet."

Dean clapped a hand on his shoulder and grinned at Andrew. "Course we are, Sammy. It's going to be awesome."

Sam tried not to laugh out loud at the idea of Dean finding a gay club awesome. He tended to prefer shabby biker bars to any kind of club, after all.

"Cool," said Andrew, but Sam noticed that he didn't actually look at Dean, just kept his eyes on Sam. Had he always been doing that? "We'll see you later then."

Sam smiled at him politely and turned away to get his bag.

****
Later, when they were up in their room getting ready, Dean was less blasé about it.

"See, this is why we needed costumes," he said. "What are we going to wear? Even you don't have anything pink."

Sam rolled his eyes. "It's just a club, Dean. We're not marching in a Pride parade - you don't need feathers and sequins."

Dean made a disbelieving noise, but when it came time to leave he was dressed normally enough in his slightly-nicer jeans and a black t-shirt. The t-shirt was pretty tight, and Sam felt momentarily smug that people were going to think he was with such a hot guy, before the wrongness of that thought hit him. He cleared his throat and looked away.

"Let's go party like we're at the YMCA," said Dean, slightly grimly. Sam followed him out of the hotel room door, wondering if the comedy value of Dean at a gay bar would out-weigh the inevitable over-compensating butchness tomorrow.

****
Gerald was wearing the pink, sequinned cowboy hat. Sam watched as Dean's expression went from he's actually going to wear that in public? to oh God, he's going to be seen with me wearing that in public before he turned to Sam and hissed, accusingly, "You said we didn't need sequins!"

Sam smacked his shoulder then, as payback, slid his hand down Dean's arm to his hand and took hold of it. Dean's hand twitched, then he curled his fingers around Sam's, giving him a dark look that spoke of inevitable, excruciating revenge later. Dean's hand was smaller than Sam was expecting, but larger than any other hand he'd held in the last fifteen years, and he could feel callouses.

"Hey guys!" said Gerald, bouncing as if he was already on the dance floor. "You looking forward to this?"

"Oh yes," said Dean, teeth gleaming as he grinned. "I've got a plan. I'm going to make sure Sam gets enough pink drinks to get him completely wasted. It'll probably only take two or three."

"I'm not drinking anything pink," said Sam firmly.

"Aw, come on, Sammy," said Dean, turning towards him, "Not even one to help you relax?"

"Some of us don't need alcohol to help us relax," pointed out Sam. "Nothing pink," he said again, hoping he sounded as if he couldn't be talked into it.

"I'll let you drive when we get back," wheedled Dean, his voice loaded with innuendo. Gerald smirked slightly, obviously taking the phrase to mean something very different to what Dean meant.

Sam rolled his eyes, but he could feel himself weakening. It had been ages since he'd last got drunk, after all. "Driver picks the music," he bargained.

Dean hesitated for a moment. "It's got to include at least one guitar," he stipulated. "None of that electronic crap."

Sam nodded. "And you drink everything I do," he added.

Dean grinned smugly. "Not a problem. We both know I can drink you under the table."

That was true, and Sam knew he was probably going to regret this in the morning, but it felt like the least he could do to make up for dragging Dean on this trip. He took a deep breath, "Under those conditions, then, I'll drink anything you want me to tonight." Dean smirked, with a slightly evil gleam in his eye.

****
Sam had been expecting Dean to find some excuse to pull his hand away from Sam's as soon as possible, but they arrived at the bar that Gerald took them to first still hand in hand. Everyone on the trip had come, even Marcus and Victor, although they said they'd probably go back to the hotel before the group went to the club.

"We get tired awfully early now," said Marcus.

Victor patted his hand and smiled fondly at him. "Well, we're not spring chickens any more."

Andrew sat next to Sam at the table, his chair slightly too close, and engaged Sam in conversation. Now that Sam was alerted to it, he started to notice his flirting and wondered how he could possibly have missed it before. Well, he rationalised, he just hadn't been expecting it. Who would launch such an aggressive flirting campaign right in front of both their partners? Sam tried to involve Charlie in the conversation as well, but he seemed resigned to Andrew's behaviour and more interested in Gerald's interrogation of Paul and Ray about their wedding.

Sam was desperately trying to think of a way to end the conversation when Dean grabbed him excitedly by his shoulder. "Dude, did you know that?"

"Know what?" asked Sam, swinging round to face him and Thomas gratefully.

"That if you cremate someone with a pacemaker it explodes?"

Sam blinked for a moment. "Yes," he said, thinking, and so do you, because I told you six months ago and you spent two weeks working out if they'd explode when we salt-and-burn as well. Dean must have seen something of his thoughts on his face, because he flicked his eyes to Andrew quickly, and then back to Sam with a twitch of an eyebrow.

Sam grinned at him, and turned around fully, putting his back to Andrew. "I thought you weren't going to tell any corpse anecdotes?" he asked Thomas.

Thomas looked defensive. "That's not a corpse anecdote," he said. "That's an interesting fact."

"Right," agreed Dean. "So... what is your favourite corpse anecdote?"

Thomas quickly glanced at Jerry, who was talking to Brian, checked that he wasn't listening, and then leaned forward. "Well," he started, then launched into a totally gross story about a great grandmother and rigor mortis. Sam shifted so that his knee was touching Dean's, hoping that that was an unsubtle enough gesture for Andrew, and focussed his attention on Thomas.

****
Dean was taking his mission to get Sam drunk seriously, although he hadn't found anything pink yet, and by the time they left the bar Sam was feeling a little unsteady. Dean noticed and slung an arm around Sam's back. Sam gratefully leaned his weight on him. They said goodbye to Victor and Marcus, then headed for the club.

Sam kept his weight on Dean as they walked, musing that it was nice to be with someone who could support him so easily. He'd gotten really drunk on his 21st birthday, and Jess had had to get two of their friends to help her get him home. He'd been just too tall and heavy for her, but Dean took his weight easily, didn't even seem to notice it.

There was a line outside the club, and Dean leaned Sam against the wall while they waited in it.

"You okay, Sammy?" he asked, frowning slightly. "You haven't had that much, have you?"

"I'm fine," said Sam, straightening up a bit. He tried to pull himself together and sober up so that Dean would stop giving him that concerned, slightly puzzled look. He wasn't used to drinking more than a couple of beers any more, but getting wasted on what he had had was just embarrassing. He hesitated, then asked, "Can I have some water when we get inside?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "Okay, but only because," and then he paused and blinked, and Sam knew he'd been about to say 'I'm an awesome big brother.' Instead, he finished with, "I don't want you to whine like a bitch in the morning."

Sam just rolled his eyes and stood up, away from the wall. "I won't," he promised. Dean snorted in disbelief.

When they got into the club, Dean looked around with an unreadable expression, then put on the exact same look he wore just before they went into a creature's lair. Sam clapped an arm on his shoulder and bent down to his ear so that he could be heard over the thumping music.

"Don't panic!" he yelled.

Dean shot a glare at him. "Time for a drink!" he shouted back, and headed straight for the bar. He got Sam a glass of water as well as a beer, and Sam gulped it down.

They stayed close to the bar for a while, and Dean kept the supply of alcohol flowing freely, until Sam was beginning to feel seriously dizzy. The others had disappeared into the mass of bodies that surrounded them, although Sam kept catching glimpses of Gerald's hat in the midst of the dance floor. Dean still seemed to be in hunt mode, setting his back to a wall and watching the area carefully. Sam could see some of the guys around them eyeing him up, and stuck close enough to prevent any confusion. Dean didn't comment when Sam stood right next to him and slouched some of his weight against Dean's side. After a few minutes, he even put his hand on Sam's back protectively.

Sam felt almost bad about leaving him to go to the bathroom, but he figured Dean had plenty of experiences of advances being rejected, even if he was usually on the receiving end.

The restrooms were gross, but Sam was drunk enough that it was more a general observation than the nose-wrinkling disgust he'd usually show. In one of the toilet cubicles he could hear the distinctive sounds of sex, although it wasn't until he was washing his hands and wondering how soon they could go back to the hotel that he recognised one of the voices groaning as Paul's. He could feel himself blushing, and he left the bathroom as quickly as possible, stumbling out into the corridor and hoping this would be fuzzy enough in the morning that he'd be able to look Paul and Ray in the eyes.

The music was slightly quieter in the little corridor outside the toilets, and Sam paused there for a moment to take a deep, steadying breath before he went back into the throb of the main club.

"Hey, Sam!" said a voice, and he turned to see Andrew behind him. Sam suppressed a groan, and slapped on a fake smile.

"Hey," he said. "Having a good time?"

Andrew grinned. "It's been pretty good," he replied. "I'm hoping it's going to get even better." He moved closer to Sam and gave him a heated look. Sam blinked in surprise at how blatant Andrew was, leaned away a bit, and wondered what to do. The alcohol had fuddled his brain though, and he just froze.

Andrew put his hand on Sam's arm. "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Uh," said Sam, "I think Dean's getting me one."

Andrew looked unimpressed. "Well, how about I get us a couple of shots then? Tonight feels like a tequila night."

After everything else Sam had had to drink, he was pretty damn certain tonight was not a tequila night, and if he had his way, no other night would be either. "I don't think that's good idea," he said slowly, trying to back away but coming up against wall instead. "Dean ..." He couldn't really think of what a boyfriend would say about Dean here, but hoped that mentioning Dean again might help Andrew get the hint, and maybe he'd let go of Sam's arm.

Instead, Andrew took another step closer, making Sam very aware of the wall behind him, blocking his escape. He was sure he knew how to get away from someone who was backing him into a corner - after all, he was a hunter, right? - but at that moment, he couldn't seem to remember how. "You know," said Andrew, conversationally, "You could do a lot better than Dean."

Sam's brain malfunctioned under the strain of all the possible answers to that. "Yeah?" he managed, unintelligently.

"Yeah," said Andrew. "He always seems to be in a bad mood, we're on vacation but he doesn't want to join in with any of the activities, he calls you names and bitches at you a lot and he can't seem to keep his eyes from wandering." He said it all in a long breath, and Sam wondered how long he'd been thinking about it, and how much he'd had to drink.

Still, some things were too much for Sam to put up with even when he was drunk. He pulled his arm out of Andrew's grip and said, pointedly, "Whereas you can't keep your hands from wandering."

The doors to the main club flew open with a bang, and Dean stepped through, took in the scene with a quick glance, then narrowed his eyes and strode towards them.

Sam thought he was going to punch Andrew, but instead he had his eyes fixed on Sam, and Sam had a split second of realisation to brace himself before Dean was kissing him, hard and possessive. Sam made a startled noise into his mouth and then got his brain together enough to put his hands on Dean's shoulders, trying to make it look realistic for Andrew while simultaneously wondering if this was the payback for his kiss at breakfast yesterday or for holding Dean's hand earlier. Or both.

Dean pulled back after a couple of seconds that seemed to stretch into minutes, and gave Sam a smirk that almost completely covered the element of Holy Fuck in his eyes.

"Hey, Sammy," he said, "I think I'm done here. Do you want to head back to the hotel and try out that bed?"

Sam blinked for a moment, trying to get past the wave of what the hell just happened? that was threatening to sweep him over into a full-blown freak-out. "Definitely," he agreed with a drunken wink when what Dean meant had percolated through his alcohol-befuddled brain.

Dean grinned broadly, almost as if he was actually going to get laid tonight, and then turned to look at Andrew. "Hope you have a good night," he said, sounding completely insincere. "I know I will," he added, pouring innuendo into his voice.

"Andrew was just going to buy Charlie some tequila," said Sam. Andrew scowled at him.

"C'mon, Sammy," said Dean, and he grabbed Sam's arm and pulled him out of the club.

****
When they got outside and the cold night air hit them, Sam suddenly realised just how drunk he was. He draped an arm over Dean's shoulders to steady himself as they headed back up the hill to the hotel.

"So, what was going on there?" asked Dean.

"Bastard wouldn't take a hint," said Sam with a sigh.

"Huh," said Dean. He was silent for several long minutes, and Sam concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other for a while.

"But you didn't lead him on at all," said Dean out of nowhere as they turned into the street that their hotel was on.

Sam rolled his eyes, which made the world wobble slightly and unsettled his stomach. "You don't have to do the jealous boyfriend thing when it's just the two of us," he said.

"Well, you must have done something to make him think he had a chance," retorted Dean.

"I didn't do anything," protested Sam, "I was trying to get away!" He reflected on what Andrew had said for a moment, then added, "It's probably your fault, actually."

"What?" growled Dean.

"He thinks you're a bad boyfriend," said Sam. He tried to remember the list of Dean's Failures As A Boyfriend that Andrew had given him. "You're grumpy, you don't wanna do tour stuff, you're mean to me, and you flirt with other people."

"Huh," said Dean again, frowning slightly.

He was silent for the rest of the walk back to the hotel, where he carefully dumped Sam into bed, took off his shoes, and covered him with the blanket. Sam smiled tiredly at him, suddenly grateful that he had a brother who'd fight off drunk gay men for him, then rolled over and went to sleep.

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Chapter Text

The first thought Sam had when he woke up was Dear God, I should not have drunk that much last night, but after a moment of contemplating his headache and running through the slightly-fuzzy events from last night, it was replaced with Oh shit! We kissed! Again!

He opened his eyes with a start to find that it was much later than he'd thought, and that he was alone in the hotel room. He struggled into a sitting position as the exact feel of Dean's lips pressed hard against his came back to him, standing out with perfect clarity from the rest of the evening's events.

Dean had left him a glass of water on the bedside table, which he gratefully sipped at while he tried to repress the memory. No more, he thought firmly. We have them all completely convinced now, there's no need for any more kissing.

Ten minutes later, he was still sitting in bed, trying to get himself together enough to head for the bathroom, when Dean came back in to the room, carrying a cup of coffee and looking unnervingly happy.

"You missed breakfast," he said cheerfully, handing the coffee to Sam. The thought of eating made Sam's stomach clench, but the coffee smelt amazing and he took it gratefully.

"I'm sure I'll live," he said, taking a careful sip.

Dean headed over to his bag and started rummaging through it. "You need to get a move on," he said. "We're leaving in twenty minutes."

Sam groaned. "Why the rush? Aren't we just going to find a library?"

"The plan's changed," said Dean. "I was chatting to Nick and James at breakfast, and they're going to the Citadel this morning. I said we'd go with them."

"I thought we were going to take advantage of the free day and do some research?" asked Sam, frowning and rubbing his hand tiredly over his face.

"I figured that could wait till this afternoon," shrugged Dean. "It's not like we're going to ever come back here, right?"

Sam narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "What's going on? Since when were you Mr Sightseeing?"

Dean pursed his lips for a moment, then turned round. "Since Andrew used me as an excuse to be a complete bastard." Sam's eyebrows raised in surprise. Dean rolled his eyes at him and turned back to his bag. "I'm not gonna let a pissant like him accuse me of being a bad boyfriend. From now on, I'm gonna be the best gay lover a man could ask for." Sam choked on his laughter, and Dean glared at him. "In public," he added, slightly hastily.

"Right," said Sam, smothering his laughter. "And that means going to the Citadel?"

"Yep," affirmed Dean. "Joining in more with tour stuff, right? Come on, Sammy - it might even be fun. They have guys dressed up like Victorian soldiers and they fire a cannon at noon. Costumes and guns? It'll be just like hunting."

Sam doubted that, but didn't comment. He lazily swung his legs out of the bed, finally feeling up to facing a shower. "Does this mean you're going to be less mean to me as well?" he asked, remembering what else Andrew had said.

Dean snorted. "Yeah, you'll be lucky," he said. "Maybe if you're less of a bitch."

"Jerk," responded Sam automatically, and headed for the bathroom.

****
When they went down to the lobby to meet Nick and James and found Andrew and Charlie there too, Sam thought Dean was going to have an aneurysm trying to keep his face from showing his emotions. As it was, he just stepped slightly closer to Sam and rested his hand gently on his back. Andrew shot them a slightly nervous, embarrassed look, and was unusually quiet as they waited for Jerry and Thomas.

They came down a few minutes later, laughing together over something. Jerry jumped down the last couple of steps when he saw the group waiting, and grabbed Thomas's hand to hurry him over to them. "Sorry," he said cheerfully, "We got distracted mocking the colonials."

Thomas rolled his eyes. "I'm pretty sure they'd prefer it if we didn't call them that to their faces," he pointed out.

Jerry shrugged unrepentantly. "Sorry," he said insincerely.

"We're Americans, not Canadians," pointed out James. "We're nothing to do with you any more."

"Oh, you were all colonials once," said Jerry cheerfully.

James's eyes narrowed, and for a moment Sam though he was going to argue that, but instead he just gritted his teeth and turned to Nick. "We ready to go?"

****
Nick lead the way up to the Citadel confidently, a tourist map clasped in one hand. The others trailed after him, comparing their hangovers and talking about what they had got up to the night before. Sam didn't mention Andrew's behaviour outside the bathrooms, not wanting to upset Charlie. In fact, he tried to pretend that Andrew wasn't there at all, hoping to send a clear signal this time. Dean was clearly thinking the same thing if the ever-present possessive hand on Sam's back was anything to go by.

Despite Dean's earlier comment, Sam could tell he was going out of his way to cut down the automatic brotherly jibes that he'd usually aim at Sam, and it threw Sam off. He stayed quiet, figuring that he was entitled after the amount he'd drunk the night before, and let Dean take up the slack in their share of the conversation.

The Citadel was pretty interesting, even if the constant whine of bagpipes coming from the marching band in the parade ground made Sam's head start to throb. They wandered through the museum, where Dean very quickly got bored and started to skip any exhibits that didn't include antique guns, chatting to Nick about cars instead. They took one of the free tours and were taken around the fortifications by a woman with a very loud voice who was determined that they'd know every possible way that an attacking soldier could be killed by the defenders, with every gory detail.

Sam felt the spirit as they were heading down a steep flight of steps that lead through the outer wall to the moat trench that circled the Citadel. He paused when he felt the tell-tale chill along his spine, and took a deep breath, detecting the trace of ozone in the air. Dean glanced back at him when he noticed Sam's pause, and Sam twitched his eyebrows at him. Dean frowned slightly, then his eyes widened and he nodded imperceptibly.

"These are pretty steep steps," he said, turning back to the guide and heading down the tunnel again. "People fall down them often?"

The guide nodded. "Yeah," she said, "We have some accidents. You should all watch your footing - they can get slippery." Dean nodded, and shot a look at Sam.

Great, thought Sam. Another case. As if we weren't having enough problems with just the one.

"Anyone ever get seriously hurt?" Sam asked the guide, trying to sound casual. He saw Nick give him a faintly puzzled look and he internally winced, especially when he remembered that Nick had already seen him poking at two different animal corpses.

"Some broken bones," said the guide. "We don't use them for the tours when it's raining any more." They came out of the tunnel into the sun, which made Sam squint as the bright light stabbed into his eyes and exacerbated his headache. I'm never drinking again, he decided. Doesn't matter what Dean promises me.

The tour ended on the ramparts, next to a cannon which they were just in time to see being fired. The man in charge of firing it, all dressed up in old-fashioned regimental uniform, explained carefully to the crowd exactly what was going to happen, and Sam could tell Dean was getting excited. When it went off, Charlie visibly flinched at the volume and Andrew, Jerry and Thomas all looked unsettled by it. Dean looked like a kid at Christmas, wide grin and shining eyes. Sam belatedly wondered if they should have faked unfamiliarity with loud explosions.

"Dude, we should get one of those," said Dean as they headed back down to the parade ground, a few metres behind the others and out of earshot.

"A cannon?" asked Sam, disbelievingly.

"Yeah," said Dean, "it'd be awesome. We'd be able to take out Wendigos and trolls and a whole heap of other bastards with just one shot. Not much is going to get back up when you've blown it in half."

"If we could aim it right, and had time to load it, prime it and get it all set up," pointed out Sam. Dean shrugged a shoulder as if that wasn't a concern. "Besides," added Sam, "it wouldn't exactly fit in the trunk."

"We could get a trailer and tow it."

Sam pictured the Impala driving down the highway with a nineteenth century cannon being pulled behind it. "Every cop in the country would pull us over." Dean scowled. "And," added Sam, "wouldn't pulling something that heavy fuck up the Impala?"

Dean frowned slightly, then his face cleared. "Yeah, true," he said. "Maybe we should just get a blunderbuss instead."

Sam rolled his eyes. "We have enough firepower, Dean."

Dean stopped dead in his tracks and blinked at Sam in shock. "Sammy," he said, "wash your mouth out. You can never have enough firepower."

The others were all planning to go to a café for lunch, but the memory of that ghostly presence on the stairs was fresh in Sam's mind. When Dean hesitated for a split second and glanced at him, Sam stepped in smoothly with their apologies.

"I'm still recovering from last night," he said, "I think I'll leave lunch for a bit."

Dean nodded. "Yeah, good plan. We'll see you guys later." His hand was still on Sam's back as they headed off down a side street. Sam found himself unable to remember how long the warm pressure had been there - at some stage that morning he'd just stopped noticing it. He frowned to himself and made sure to shake it off as soon as they were out of eyeshot of the others.

****
They stopped for coffee in the nearest Starbucks so that Sam could look up mysterious accidents at the Citadel, and so Dean could...do whatever the hell it was he did when Sam was researching. Find some poor girl to chat up, usually, but today he seemed content to just sit at the table with Sam, flicking through a local paper.

The internet was slightly less helpful than Sam had been hoping. There was information on a few incidents where people had fallen down the stairs (or been pushed by an unseen hand, he thought, gloomily), but no deaths and no hint as to whose spirit might be there.

"Bad news," he said to Dean, who'd bought himself a huge slice of cheesecake at some stage and was steadily demolishing it. "We're going to have to go to the Archives Office."

"Correction," said Dean around a mouthful of cheesecake, gesturing at Sam with his fork. "You're going to have to go to the Archives. I'm not wasting my afternoon in there."

"Well, what are you going to do then?" asked Sam, slightly annoyed that he was going to be stuck researching alone.

Dean shrugged. "Go back to the Citadel with the EMF, maybe see if I can find a history geek to pump for information."

Sam had to admit to himself that research always went faster when Dean wasn't around to distract him, even if it was more boring. He sighed and nodded his agreement, then looked up the location of the Archives.

****
It took Sam three hours of sifting through dusty documents before he found out that in 1863, Private Henry Tebbitt fell down the stairs and broke his neck. It took Sam another forty minutes, and a considerable amount of charm aimed at the archivist in charge of the military burial records, before he had a rough location for Henry's grave.

Dean phoned him just as Sam was trying to make out the details on a timeworn cemetery map.

"Dude," Dean said without wasting time on a greeting, "I think I know where you should be looking."

"Really?" asked Sam, putting the map in a photocopier and hoping the archivist wouldn't come back and catch him abusing her precious documents.

"Yup," said Dean, "Talked to a guy here and he said that back when this fort was new, some soldier died falling down those stairs. Officially, he was drunk and slipped, but rumour at the time claimed he was pushed - some fight over a girl."

"Uhuh?" said Sam, trapping the phone between his ear and shoulder so that he could compare his copy of the map with the original. Good enough, he decided. "You got a name?" he asked Dean, "Or an exact year?"

"The guy couldn't remember. Said it might begin with a T."

"Henry Tebbitt, born 1839, died 1863?" said Sam, tucking the last of his paperwork back in the laptop bag and preparing to leave the library.

"You already found him?" asked Dean, surprised.

Sam allowed himself a smug grin. "I have a map to his grave."

"Good work, Sammy," said Dean, sounding impressed. Sam's grin grew as the warm feeling of I managed to impress Dean that he tried to pretend had stopped mattering when he was a kid, flooded through him. "You all done then?" added Dean.

"Yep," said Sam, "Just heading back to the hotel."

"I'll see you there then," said Dean, "Oh, and pick up a couple of shovels on your way back." He hung up before Sam had time to protest and ask why Dean couldn't get them. Sam scowled at the phone for a moment, then tucked it away and went to ask the archivist where the nearest hardware store was.

****
Dean was already back when Sam got to the hotel, lounging on the bed and flicking through the TV channels.

"Canadian TV is weird," he announced before Sam had even shut the door.

Sam ignored him as he put his bag down and leaned their new spades against the wall, then collapsed onto the bed. Dean moved over slightly, seemingly still uncomfortable with the whole 'only-one-bed' thing. After all the pretence and drama of the last few days, it was nice to just kick back and watch some mindless TV with Dean, without constantly having to wonder if they were acting too much like brothers.

"I met James on my way up," said Dean, after a few minutes. "Everyone's going to dinner tonight, he wondered if we wanted to go."

"Yeah?" said Sam, with a little sigh. He really just wanted to do nothing for the few hours before they had to go out and dig up a grave. "Are we going?"

"Said I'd ask you first."

Sam turned and frowned at Dean slightly, wondering why he hadn't just made the decision like he usually did. Dean didn't look away from the TV. "Well, good boyfriends let their partners help make decisions, right?" he said with a shrug.

Sam laughed. "Right," he agreed. "And older brothers?"

Dean grinned at him. "They get to decide that if they're digging up a grave in the middle of the night, there's no way they're spending the evening playing Queer As Folk."

Sam snorted, and relaxed back against the bed again. "So, room service then?"

"Damn straight," agreed Dean.

****
It wasn't until they were walking through the centre of Halifax at two in the morning, each carrying a shovel, that Sam realised just how handy it was to have a car even when your destination was within walking distance. Dean seemed able to completely ignore the looks that they were getting from the few people on the streets, but Sam found himself ducking his head whenever they passed anyone, as if hiding his face would make the weirdness of carrying digging equipment around in the middle of the night less obvious.

Luckily, Henry Tebbitt's grave was tucked at the back of the graveyard, hidden underneath a large tree, so they could dig it up without worrying too much about passers-by or neighbours contacting the police.

"You know," said Dean, leaning on his shovel and watching Sam dig for a few moments, "As the older brother, I really think I would be better off supervising, while you dig the rest. Wouldn't want it collapsing in on top of us or anything."

Sam rolled his eyes at Dean, and picked up another shovelful of dirt. When Dean didn't move and just kept watching him, Sam paused. "I'm not doing this alone."

"You did all the research," said Dean, "And you felt the spirit first...if you do all the digging, you can count it as a solo hunt."

Sam dumped his shovelful of earth back into the grave and stood back. "Dig, Dean, or I'm going back to the hotel and leaving you to it."

Dean looked for a second like he was going to sulk, but instead he stopped leaning on his shovel and started digging again.

When the hole was deep enough for them to jump in it, Dean stepped back again and gestured at Sam. "You're taller, so it's easier for you lift the earth out," he pointed out, "I'll just stay up here and keep watch."

Sam narrowed his eyes. "Dean, don't make me start counting how many shovelfuls we each dig." Which is what they'd had to do when they were teenagers and the exact amount of work that each did was a hotly contested topic.

Dean spread his hands and tried to look innocent. "Hey, I'm just trying to make the best use of our different talents."

Sam snorted. "You're saying you're better at sitting on your ass doing nothing, while I get everything done? That sounds about right. Get in the hole, Dean. Stop being such a slacker."

Dean sighed. "Maybe I just want to watch my man getting all sweaty and dirty." He managed to look genuinely upset that Sam wasn't prepared to play along, and Sam just gaped at him for a moment, then threw a shovelful of dirt at him.

"Hey!" exclaimed Dean, dancing back, "That's domestic abuse!"

"I'm about two seconds from just going back to the hotel," Sam told him. "After all, I did do all the research, so maybe you should do all the physical labour."

"Yeah, no chance," said Dean, but he jumped into the hole beside Sam and didn't try to shirk again, although he did claim the right to set the corpse on fire. Sam didn't mind - he'd never got the same rush out of burning things that Dean always did.

The walk back to the hotel was, if anything, even weirder, although there were fewer people around. Both of them were now streaked with dirt, and Sam tried to decide if he could get away with claiming they'd been doing some late-night archaeology if they ran into anyone from the tour. The lobby was deserted though, and they waited until the receptionist was distracted by a phone call before sneaking across to the elevators, and heading up to their room.

"Man, I'm exhausted," said Dean, stretching so hard that Sam could hear his spine crack.

"Well, we've got..." Sam checked his watch, "four hours before we have to be up and ready to get on the bus."

Dean made a discontented grunt. "Crap." He sank down onto the bed and started to pull his boots off.

"We're going to leave dirt everywhere," observed Sam, collapsing down onto the other side of the bed and starting to pull his own shoes off.

"I'll make sure and leave the maids a big tip," said Dean, pulling off his jeans and climbing into bed. "You think they want a couple of shovels?"

Sam laughed as he stripped off just enough of his clothes to sleep comfortably. "You might have to leave some money too." He crawled under the covers and lay back with a sigh, feeling his muscles beginning to relax after the hard work. "You can turn the light out," he added.

"Why me?" grumbled Dean. "You were last in bed."

"Because," said Sam as his eyes slid shut, "you're the one going for boyfriend of the year."

Dean snorted again, but a moment later there was a click, and the room was bathed in darkness. Sam smiled tiredly with satisfaction, and fell asleep.

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They were both still exhausted the next morning and ended up missing breakfast in favour of more sleep. They were the last ones onto the bus and Sam was still trying to wipe the sleep out of his eyes as they slumped down in the back seat.

"Looks like you two had a sleepless night," said Ray in an amused voice.

Paul turned round and grinned at them. "Wonder what you could possibly have got up to instead of coming to dinner?" he asked in lascivious tones.

Sam didn't need to look at Dean to know he was giving them his best smirk. "Yeah, Sammy kept me up all night," he agreed smugly.

Sam resisted the urge to groan and just leaned his head on the window instead, wondering if he'd be able to fall asleep as easily on the bus as he could in the Impala.

****
Two hours later, he woke up with a mouth that felt like it was full of cotton and the smell of coffee in the air.

"Sam, wake up," Dean was saying, "I got you a bagel." Sam cracked his eyes open slowly, focused on Dean's face and then sighed.

"I'm getting too old for this shit," he told him, taking the hot cup of coffee.

Dean snorted. "Dude, you're younger than me, and I'm fine."

Sam glared at him, but didn't bother replying, concentrating on his coffee instead. When he felt more awake, he glanced around at the Tim Horton's parking lot they were parked in. "What did I miss?" he asked.

Dean shrugged. "Not much. A whole heap of Canadian scenery, but it's not that different to stuff we've seen a million times before."

Sam nodded tiredly, stretched as much as he could, and resolved to stay awake for the rest of the trip. He might be able to fall asleep easily on the bus, but the amount of space made the Impala seem like a limo. Sleeping all scrunched up had left him feeling like a pretzel, with his limbs complaining loud and clear about the abuse.

On the next part of the trip it was Dean who fell asleep, dropping his head onto Sam's shoulder and nodding off as if it was something he'd done a million times before. Sam spent ten minutes slightly nervous about the weight of his head, sure that every tiny move he made would wake Dean up, then he caught Andrew glancing over his shoulder at them. Without a conscious thought, he put his arm around Dean, almost protectively, and pulled him closer against his side. Andrew's face twitched slightly, then he looked back round at the forest they were driving through. Sam let out a careful breath he hadn't known he was holding in, and tried to ignore it when Dean shifted even closer in his sleep.

****
Dean was grumpy when he woke up - either from not enough sleep, or because of the position he found himself in; pressed up against Sam's side and drooling gently on his shoulder. He pulled himself away with a jerk which he tried to cover by running his hands repeatedly over his face, as if just disorientated at waking up, but Sam wasn't fooled. He'd seen Dean go from a deep sleep to gun aimed at an intruder in a split second on more than one occasion, after all.

They had lunch in a tiny café on the other side of the causeway over the strait that separated Cape Breton island and the mainland of Nova Scotia. There was some more good-natured ribbing from the others about their tiredness, and what it was that they'd spent all night doing together, which Sam was able to take with a grin now that he'd had a bit of sleep. By contrast, Dean seemed annoyed by it in a way that he hadn't been that morning, scowling down at his sandwich as if it had the power to make this whole, messed-up situation disappear.

They started to drive round the Cabot Trail, Gerald waxing lyrical about the beautiful landscape that they were going to see and the popularity of the road with tourists from all over the continent. Sam stared out the window at the sea, and tried not to notice the careful distance that Dean kept between them.

They stopped for another hike, and Dean hopped off the bus and started up the trail without any complaining - without any comment at all. Sam tried to tell himself that Dean was just tired, and that there was no need to get pissed at his brother, but it was hard not to get frustrated, particularly when he could feel exhaustion in his bones and ached all over, both from the digging and from sleeping on the bus.

The trail took them up a hill, through some woods. Dean walked in silence, his eyes not really seeing the landscape, as if he was sunk so deep in whatever was pissing him off that nothing else existed for him at the moment. Sam sighed as he followed him up the path, wondering if the easy camaraderie of the last day had disappeared again, and trying to remember if he'd accidentally flirted with anyone, or done anything else that might piss Dean off.

They rounded a corner to find Gerald and half the group standing in silence, gazing off into the forest. Jerry was clutching at his camera but hadn't brought it up to his face, as if whatever they were looking at was too enthralling for him to concentrate enough on something else to take a photo.

Gerald turned to them and smiled, pointing off into the forest. "There's a moose over there," he said quietly.

Sam moved closer, gazing into the woods, trying to pick out what the others could see. For a moment he couldn't see anything, then there was a movement behind a tree, and like a picture becoming clear in a magic eye painting, he could suddenly see the dark shape of a moose. He blinked, and then found himself grinning slightly to himself. Something large and wild in the woods that isn't trying to eat us - how novel. He turned to look at Dean, wanting to share this with him and forgetting that maybe Dean wasn't in the most receptive mood. Dean was staring at the moose blankly, but he must have sensed Sam looking at him because he turned to meet his gaze.

He rolled his eyes at Sam's expression and whispered, "Dork," but he looked amused rather than pissed off. Sam just grinned wider and turned back to watch the moose.

They all stood staring at the moose until it got bored and wandered off, back behind the trees. They started walking again, slower and talking quietly.

Sam overheard Jerry say to Thomas, "That has made the whole trip worthwhile."

Thomas chuckled. "You and your crazy moose obsession," he said fondly.

Jerry bounced slightly on his next step forward. "Thomas, we just saw a moose. A real, live moose. The only way it could have been better would be if Indiana Jones had been riding it."

Thomas laughed out loud and put his arm round Jerry's shoulders. Sam glanced over at Dean to see if he'd heard, but was distracted by a dark shadow moving far off in the forest. Another moose? he wondered, but it was moving too fast and disappeared before he could identify it.

****
They saw the moose again on the way back from the look-out at the end of the walk. Dean spotted it first, and cursed quietly before leaving the trail and running into the forest. Sam followed him, and felt a sick feeling rising up out of his stomach when he realised what Dean had seen. The moose was in pieces now, limbs torn off and blood splattered all the way up the trees around it. Sam didn't need to get too close to see that the heart was missing.

"Fuck," said Dean with feeling. Sam nodded his agreement. "We gotta get this thing," added Dean in a low voice.

"Yeah," said Sam. He heard footsteps on the path, and glanced back to see Thomas and Jerry walking down. "Come on," he said to Dean. "Nothing we can do here, and maybe they won't see it." He grabbed Dean's jacket sleeve and pulled him away from the corpse, back towards the path. Dean followed him.

Thomas gave them a puzzled look as they emerged from the woods. "What have you two been up to?" he asked.

Dean grinned and slapped Sam's back. "Sometimes Sammy just can't wait, you know?"

Sam tried not to choke, and ducked his head. "That's not me," he muttered defensively, because he knew how to sell a lie when you'd already over-reacted to it. Dean just grinned wider, but Sam could see the falseness behind it; the hard gleam in his eye, and figured that he was as fed up with this charade as Sam was.

****
No one else saw the dead moose, and when the bus continued round the Cabot Trail, the mood was relaxed and happy. Sam sat in the back and hoped that no one noticed that he and Dean weren't as content as the rest of the group. For what felt like the millionth time he ran through all the lore on creatures who ate hearts, trying to find the clue to crack the case open, but there was nothing specific enough to point to one monster over another.

The B&B they pulled up at that night was set back from the road and surrounded by woods. Dean glanced around as they got out and muttered, "This looks like the perfect hunting ground for this thing. Want to bet there'll be dead wildlife nearby by the morning?"

Sam nodded his agreement and pursed his lips. "Maybe we should go for a walk later," he said, over-emphasising 'walk.' "Maybe we'll spot something."

Dean nodded and grinned, slightly ferally. "I like your thinking, Sammy. Maybe it's time we got a line on something we can shoot."

Sam smiled to himself at the predictability of Dean's mood perking up at the prospect of something to shoot and followed him inside to check in.

****
Four hours later, they were wandering around the woods surrounding the B&B and Sam was beginning to think this wasn't such a great plan after all, even if it had cheered Dean up. He wondered how long they'd have to tramp through thick forest, getting attacked by undergrowth, until Dean decided that there wasn't anything out here.

They'd been at it for a couple of hours, and Sam was beginning to feel exhausted, lack of sleep from the night before starting to tell on him, when they heard a noise. They both froze.

"What about that one?" came a loud, British voice from behind them. Dean sighed and rolled his eyes at Sam, and they both tucked their guns away quickly.

"Jerry, that's an oak," replied an amused voice. Sam started to head towards the voices, figuring that as they might as well say hello, especially if it broke up the monotony of hiking through the woods. After a moment, Dean followed him.

"How can you tell?" asked Jerry, and Sam could see him now, inspecting a large tree.

"There's old acorns all round the base," pointed out Thomas.

"Oh, right," said Jerry, sounding disappointed. He spotted Sam and his face lit up. "Hey guys!"

"Heya," said Sam. "You guys just out for a walk too?"

"We're looking for a maple tree," said Thomas, with a grin.

"Can't tell the folks back home that we came all the way to Canada and then didn't see a maple tree," added Jerry.

Sam looked around at the trees surrounding them. "I don't think you're going to find one here," he said. Jerry's face fell.

Thomas slung his arm around his boyfriend's shoulders. "We'll ask Gerald about it," he said, comfortingly. "If there's any around, he'll know where to look."

"Are you guys heading back?" asked Dean. "It's getting kinda late."

"Yeah," said Thomas, looking around, "We were just about to." He looked slightly sheepish though, and after a moment Jerry rolled his eyes.

"Okay, so we might have got a bit turned around...which way is the B&B again?"

Sam suppressed a smile. "That way," he said, pointing. "I think it's about fifteen minutes away."

"Right," said Jerry, uncertainly.

"Just keep heading for that mountain," advised Dean.

Thomas frowned. "Are you not coming back as well?"

"Uh," said Sam, mind working fast, "We've got a couple of things we want to do first." He glanced over at Dean, wondering what lie to spin, and saw that he was smirking. Oh God, not the sex card again.

Thomas raised an eyebrow. "Wow, are you two trying to outdo Paul and Ray?"

Sam felt his face grow red. "It's Dean's fault," he said defensively, trying to get some revenge for Dean pulling this stunt twice in the same day. "He's got this weird woods thing...I'm still hoping he'll encounter some poison ivy one day and learn his lesson."

Jerry sniggered. "Well, uh, I guess we'll just head for that mountain then," he said. "Have fun." He winked broadly. Sam felt his blush deepen.

Thomas took Jerry's hand as they walked off, and threw a final comment of, "Don't forget, kids, always use protection," over his shoulder as they disappeared.

Sam groaned with embarrassment and put his face in his hands.

"Cheer up, geek boy," said Dean, still grinning, "I'm just helping you get that reputation that you always wanted in High School."

"Dean," said Sam, slowly, "I've never wanted to have a reputation for having sex in the woods with my brother."

Dean flinched almost imperceptibly, but his grin didn't fade. "I guess you really are the disturbingly vanilla one."

Sam started to retort, but was cut off by a yell from the direction Thomas and Jerry had disappeared in. Both the brothers pulled out their guns and started running towards the sound. There was another shout, then a crashing noise followed by a growl.

Sam burst into a clearing to find Thomas wielding a branch as a large, fast-moving, black shape rushed at him. He shot quickly at it, and the bullet clipped its back leg at almost the same time as Thomas hit it solidly round the head with the branch. The creature snarled but halted its charge, then abruptly turned and ran off into the woods.

"God, oh god," gasped Jerry, from Sam's left. He rushed forward on unsteady feet. "Thomas, Thomas are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Thomas said reassuringly. Jerry didn't seem to be willing to take his word for it, and ran his hands all over Thomas's body, as if checking for injuries. Sam blinked with the sudden realisation that it was the same thing Dean did whenever Sam got attacked by something. He glanced over at Dean, who'd tucked his gun away before Jerry or Thomas could notice it.

"I don't think it's coming back," he said. "What happened?"

"It just came out of nowhere," said Thomas, sounding as if shock was beginning to set in. "It just...we were walking, then it suddenly attacked. I thought bears only attacked if you antagonised them?"

Dean meet Sam's eyes with an amused eyebrow twitch. Civilians will convince themselves of anything.

"You think it was a bear?" said Jerry.

"Well, what else would it have been?" asked Thomas.

Jerry hesitated for a moment, then shrugged. "Yeah, I guess so," he said, almost reluctantly. "It just...didn't look like the pictures."

"The pictures never tried to kill us," muttered Thomas. He looked up at Sam. "Thanks, man, you scared it off."

Jerry looked at Sam as well, with an over-whelmingly grateful expression on his face. "Yes, thank you," he said. Then he frowned slightly. "How come you have a gun?"

Sam glanced down at his gun and then winced slightly. "Um," he said, eloquently.

"Sam's a bit of a gun nut," said Dean, easily. "Never goes anywhere without one."

Jerry frowned slightly, but Thomas was nodding. "Americans, remember?" he said to his boyfriend. "They all have guns."

Sam was taken aback by the blatant stereotyping, but decided it wasn't a good time to protest when he had a loaded revolver in his hands. He clicked the safety on and tucked it away. "Uh, it's not really legal for me to have one in this country," he said. "So could you maybe not mention it to the others?"

"Yeah," said Dean, "Wouldn't want him to become the prison bitch of a burly Canadian mass murderer."

"Uh," said Thomas, "Sure, I guess."

"You did save our lives," agreed Jerry.

Sam let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks," he said. He glanced around at the woods, wondering where the creature had gotten to. "Let's head back."

****
They were nearly back at the B&B when Sam, on high alert in case the monster came back, noticed a suspicious shadow at the base of a tree. He glanced at Dean, who was also frowning at it, one hand hovering near his concealed gun. Sam was moving to put his hand on his own gun when the shadow moved, stepping forward to reveal Nick.

"Are you guys okay?" he asked, frowning at the mud on Jerry's clothes and the scratches on Thomas's arms.

"We got attacked by a bear!" said Jerry, excitedly, the fear clearly already forgotten.

Nick frowned. "A bear? Here?"

"Yeah," said Thomas. "It was pretty scary. Sam chased it away though - he was amazing."

Nick turned an oddly evaluating gaze on Sam, making him feel uncomfortable. He shrugged. "It's nothing anyone else wouldn't have done."

"Right," said Nick. He turned to look back at the woods. "Well, if there's an angry bear out there, I guess we'd all be safer inside."

"Yeah," agreed Thomas with a shudder. "I think I've had enough of woods for the moment."

****
Thomas and Jerry insisted on telling the receptionist, the manager, and everyone who was still in the common room the events of the evening in great detail, changing Sam's part slightly so that he now crashed into the clearing throwing rocks and, in at least one version, giving a wild war cry. Sam stayed for the first three renditions, but when Jerry started to act parts out, he gave up and went to bed. Dean followed him up.

"Well, crap," he said as he shut the door of their room. "I've never seen anything like that before."

"No," agreed Sam with a sigh. "It did look more like a bear than a wolf."

"Still didn't like silver bullets though," pointed out Dean, "So maybe it doesn't matter that we don't know what it is."

Sam huffed out a deep sigh and sank onto the bed. "Hopefully," he said. He was exhausted, and his muscles still ached from digging last night, and sleeping on the bus this morning. "I just want to go to bed and not think about it," he said, tiredly, and fell backwards onto the bed.

"Yeah, I hear you," said Dean.

Sam let his eyes fall shut, just taking a moment to relax. He'd get up and undress in a minute, he was just going to rest a moment first...

Ten minutes later he half woke up enough to become aware that Dean was undoing his laces. "Hmmm?" he asked, questioningly, too tired to manage proper speech. Dean pulled his shoes off and tugged the blankets over him.

"Go to sleep, Sammy," he said.

Sam shut his eyes again and drifted off again.

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Sam was now resigned to waking up with Dean draped over him, although he was looking forward to teasing Dean about it just as soon as the job was over and they went back to separate beds. If he mentioned it before then, Dean would go out of his way to make sure it didn't happen again, and Sam didn't really want it to stop for reasons he didn't want to examine too closely. It's just the lack of affectionate physical contact in my life, he told himself as he pulled himself free of Dean's slightly limpet-like grip and went into the bathroom. Besides, it's Dean that started it.

Dean was awake when Sam got out the shower, sitting up and yawning. "You gonna bring me coffee, bitch?" he griped, half-heartedly.

"Nope," said Sam, pulling clean clothes out of his bag. "You're going to get up and come to breakfast with me."

Dean grumbled something rude under his breath, but pulled the covers aside and swung his legs round to get up. "So now we've seen this thing," he said, and Sam wondered if he was just stalling the final moment of having to leave the bed, "Got any bright ideas?"

"No," admitted Sam. "We could call Bobby and hope he's heard of it but..." he trailed off, not needing to finish that sentence. They both knew that the gap between their knowledge and Bobby's was getting narrower with every new case.

Dean sighed and finally stood up, stretching his arms until his shoulders clicked. Sam found himself watching the play of muscles beneath his t-shirt and looked away, hunting for a clean pair of socks.

"Well, least we know it's not Jerry and Thomas," Dean said as he headed for the bathroom, "But that only narrows it down a bit. Maybe we should think about testing everyone?"

Sam sighed. "Dean, you're not going to stab them all," he said, for what felt like the hundredth time.

Dean looked briefly sulky, then said, "Well, maybe silver isn't the only thing that works on it...maybe we could try lacing their drinks with holy water, and hope that does something. That humane enough for you?"

"It might not do anything," said Sam. "It doesn't on werewolves."

"Well, I think we're pretty sure this thing ain't a werewolf," Dean pointed out.

Sam pursed his lips, then nodded. "Yeah," he agreed, "I guess it's worth a try."

Dean grinned. "Awesome. Then we have a plan." He disappeared into the bathroom.

****
Sam kept a bottle of holy water handy as they got back onto the bus and started round the rest of the Cabot Trail, but there weren't any obvious chances to spike someone's drink with it.

Dean was back to being in a good mood, joking with Nick about doing something drastic to the bus's engine so that they could continue the rest of the trip in a more sanely-decorated vehicle.

"I heard that!" said Gerald in a mock-offended voice. "I'll have you know I designed the bus myself."

"Why am I not surprised?" asked Dean in a low voice. Nick grinned.

 

"I have to say," said Brian from the driving seat, pitching his voice so that the whole bus could hear him, "I kinda wish you'd gone for something a bit more subtle. Nova Scotians tend to be a bit conservative, after all. I'm sure they use it as an excuse to cut me off."

Gerald shrugged. "That's their problem. I'm not gonna hide behind a dull paint-job."

"It's not hiding, it's being subtle," said Brian, in the resigned tone of one who has had an argument a thousand times and knows he's not going to win.

****
They stopped at several look-out points for photo opportunities, and Sam realised with a faintly depressed feeling that he and Dean were now able to step automatically into position for a photo, arms draped round each other and the exact same faked grins every time. He could remember the first time Jessica pointed out that they had a couple-pose for photos, about three months after they'd started going out, and he tried to tell himself that it was just familiarity that meant he and Dean had settled into one after only a few days. Besides, they were taking a whole lot of pictures.

They stopped at a beach for lunch, and Gerald sent them all off on a short trail around some cliffs while he pulled out the coolers from the back of the bus. As usual, Marcus and Victor stayed behind, sitting down on a bench together and looking out to sea.

"It's a shame," said Victor with a sigh, "But I think this will be our last trip. We're just not young enough to keep up any more."

Marcus made a strange grimace. "We're going to have to start going on cruise holidays," he said gloomily, "all tacky tourist spots and straight couples trying to ballroom dance."

Victor patted his arm, soothingly. "Nonsense, I'm sure we can find something better suited to us than that." Marcus smiled at him, and when the others started up the hiking trail, Sam glanced back to see him lay his head on Victor's shoulder.

They'd only been walking for five minutes when Sam realised that Jerry was walking close behind him, glancing nervously at the forest every so often. "Sam," he said, after a few more minutes hiking, "Have you got...you know?" His eyes darted to Sam's waistband. Sam just blinked at him for a moment before realising what he meant.

"Uh," he said, awkwardly, "Yeah. But nothing's going to attack a big group like this in broad daylight, especially not with all the people on the beach so near by."

Jerry didn't look convinced, and stayed close to Sam the rest of the way around the trail. Dean seemed to find it hilarious, smirking at Sam and asking in a whisper if Sam liked having his very own puppy following him around. Sam glared back in response as was expected of him, but was secretly grateful that Dean wasn't getting pissy like he had with Andrew.

Still, it was annoying not to be able to get Dean alone on the hike so they could talk about the hunt. When they got back, Gerald had gotten lunch ready for them, and everyone settled down on blankets and tucked in. Sam sighed with impatience as Dean sat down next to James and reached for a chicken leg, clearly intending to take advantage of the free food as much as he could. Sam mentally put their conversation on hold until after lunch, when Dean might be persuaded to think about something other than eating.

Instead, he knelt down by the big bottle of water that Gerald had pulled out for them, and started to pour himself a drink, wondering how he could subtly add some holy water to it without arousing attention. He glanced up at Dean in time to catch his eye, and signalled his intentions with a flick of his eyes at the bottle. Dean nodded subtly, then turned back to the group, a grin already spreading.

"Okay, everyone," he said in a loud voice, and all eyes turned to him. Sam pulled his flask of holy water out and started to unscrew the lid, as fast as possible. "Who here is going swimming?"

There was a brief, shell-shocked silence.

"Here?" asked Brian. "Swimming off a beach in Nova Scotia?"

"It'll be freezing," pointed out Nick.

"Nah," said Dean, waving that off, "merely bracing." Sam tipped some of the holy water into the big bottle, then replaced the lid and tucked it away again.

"Come on," said Dean again, "Who's with me?"

"You're insane," said Thomas, sounding fascinated by it.

Sam turned back to the group and sat down on the edge of the blanket, grabbing a sandwich.

"You'll come with me, right, Sammy?" said Dean, turning to him with a slightly desperate gleam in his eye.

Sam was tempted for a moment to say yes, just so that Dean would have to go through with it, but it seemed a little unfair. "No," he said firmly, "And you're not swimming either."

Dean faked a sad look, but Sam could see the relief in his eyes. "Come on," he wheedled, "it'll be fun."

"It'll be cold, and then you'll get sick, and I'll have to put up with you whining about it," pointed out Sam. "Besides, you haven't got anything to wear."

Dean's eyes lit up. "That's never stopped us before, dude."

Sam felt himself blush. Okay, so, they might have been skinny-dipping once or twice. Or ten times. But that was usually only miles from anywhere, when it was ridiculously hot and they were sick of driving. "There are families here," he said, and Dean pouted again.

"You never let me have any fun," he muttered.

"I wouldn't say that was true," said Thomas, "not after meeting you in the woods last night." He paused, and Sam concentrated hard, trying not to blush again. "You're the outdoors type, I take it, Dean?"

Dean grinned widely. "Well, wherever the mood takes us, hey, Sam?"

Sam rolled his eyes, and threw a cup cake at Dean's head. "You could try having a bit of discretion," he bitched.

Dean just laughed and ate the cake. "What's the fun in that?"

****
Sam did manage to drag Dean away after lunch on the pretext of a walk along the beach.

"You get it in okay?" said Dean, once they were out of earshot.

"Yeah," sighed Sam, "and so far I've watched everyone except James, Thomas and Andrew drink some without any reaction."

"Well, we know it ain't Thomas, but it could be James or Andrew." He paused, then muttered, "My money's on Andrew."

Sam didn't comment on that. "Or it could be one of the others, and holy water has no effect on this thing," he speculated. "We'll have to get everyone to drink some to be sure."

Dean nodded. "Well, there's a challenge then," he said, sounding almost cheerful at the prospect.

They walked in silence for a few moments, and Sam wondered if Dean would accuse him of being a girl if he took a photo of the headland at the edge of the beach. Before he could debate it too much, Dean bent down by the water, and dipped his hand in.

"You know," he said, straightening up, "Brian might have been right about temperature. It is kind of cold."

"I guess it's a good thing your over-protective boyfriend wouldn't let you risk it then," teased Sam.

Dean's eyes narrowed, and that was all the warning Sam got before he had a face-full of sea water. "Dean!" he spluttered, outraged.

"What?" said Dean, grinning and skipping quickly out of range of a retaliation. "Thought you might like to check the temperature yourself."

Sam felt his hands curl into fists. That had been cold. "I should throw you in there," he threatened.

"No, you shouldn't," contradicted Dean, "Because you'll have to sit next to me, soaking wet, on the bus."

Sam gritted his teeth because, damnit, that was true.

"And," added Dean, grinning, "The reputation we're getting, they'd probably just think it was foreplay."

Sam wished like hell he had another cupcake to chuck at him.

****
Gerald had packed up all the lunch stuff, including the water, by the time they got back. Everyone got back on the bus and Brian headed for the final part of the Cabot trail, and the Bras D'or lake.

"We're staying at this really cute little B&B on a hill overlooking the lake," Gerald told them excitedly. "We're going to have a campfire tonight - I called ahead to make sure they had plenty of marshmallows for s'mores, but before that we're going kayaking."

Sam turned to Dean, who was already shaking his head. "No," he said, firmly. "No way you're getting me in one of those things."

Sam sighed in a put-upon manner, but the truth was he didn't really want to go anyway. For one thing, he was willing to bet that whatever kayak they put him in wouldn't be long enough, and he'd end up with cramped legs. "Fine," he said, as if disappointed, "but we're doing the next thing I want to do without any arguments."

Dean pursed his lips, then reluctantly nodded. "So long as I don't have to paddle around in one of those ridiculous things," he said. "What on earth is the point? Haven't they heard of engines?"

****
Brian stopped at the B&B before they went down to the lake so that people could check in and get changed. Sam and Dean weren't the only ones staying behind - Marcus and Victor, unsurprisingly, decided that they weren't fit enough for it, and Paul and Ray were too distracted by the idea of getting into their room.

"It's been almost seven hours since they last had the opportunity for sex," muttered Brian quietly to Sam as they pulled their bags off the bus. "I'm surprised they're still able to function."

The B&B was pretty quiet after everyone else had left. Dean called Bobby from their room to discuss the case, but Sam didn't really need to hear more than the first two minutes of the conversation to know that Bobby had even less idea than they did. He gestured at Dean that he was going downstairs, and Dean nodded distractedly, busy going over the details of what they'd seen with Bobby.

Sam slipped out of the room, then went downstairs to where he'd glimpsed a bookcase in the common room. Victor and Marcus were already in there, playing cards together. Sam nodded politely at them, then started scanning the shelves for anything worth a second look, but most of the books were other tourists' rejects and Sam couldn't even summon enough interest in them to read the blurb.

"So, Sam," said Victor casually after finishing up a hand, "how long have you and Dean been together?"

Sam turned to them with a careful smile. "Just over four years," he said. They'd agreed when working out their cover story to keep as close to the truth as possible, and it was four years since Sam had left Stanford. Some days it felt like yesterday, but on others he could barely remember what it was like to live a life without Dean beside him.

Victor raised his eyebrows. "That's quite a while."

Sam shrugged awkwardly. "I guess," he said. "Not as long as you guys," he pointed out, trying to turn the conversation away from his fictional relationship with Dean.

Victor chuckled. "Well, you're quite a bit younger than us," he replied.

"And you live together, don't you?" asked Marcus. "When did you move in together?"

Sam blinked. They hadn't worked out this much detail on their story. Stick as close to the truth as possible, he thought, slightly frantically. He wasn't as good at making up lies under pressure as Dean was. "About four years ago," he said, trying to sound easy and non-panicked.

Victor and Marcus made extremely similar surprised faces. "So you didn't wait too long after meeting before you took that step, then?" said Victor.

"Oh, we've known each other a lot longer than four years," said Dean's voice, and Sam turned round to see him in the doorway. Dean gave him a slightly smug grin, and Sam realised his relief was probably showing loud and clear in his eyes.

"We've known each other since we were kids," continued Dean, coming into the room and sitting down on a couch. "I always just thought he was this annoying little brat, until he came home from college and he was..." he paused and gave Sam a considering look that made Sam feel vaguely uncomfortable. "Well, he wasn't little any more," finished Dean.

Sam slapped on a grin. "Nope," he agreed. "Now you're the little one." Dean scowled at him and Sam could feel his grin grow wider and more real. Teasing Dean about his height never got old. He sat down next to him on the sofa.

"Oh," said Victor, with a little sigh. "You two are just adorable. Aren't they, Marcus?"

"Oh yes," agreed Marcus, gazing at them. Sam shifted slightly, uncomfortable under their scrutiny.

Victor must have noticed, or maybe he saw the hard look Dean was giving them, because he smiled apologetically. "We probably seem a little weird to you, but when we first got together, everything was so secret and underground...it's so lovely these days the way a couple like yourselves can just show the love between you without having to hide."

Sam glanced at Dean, bemused, to see him gritting his teeth and staring down at the carpet. Clearly, the conversation had just crossed the line between Dean happily bullshitting, and Dean being freaked out by having to pretend to be in love with his brother. "Well, it's a different world," he said, vaguely, wondering how to change the subject and keep Dean from grinding his teeth into powder.

"Oh, that's for sure," agreed Victor. "There're more people just letting love be, and not worrying about the details of who it is."

Dean's hand curled over into a tightly clenched fist. "So, is the second week of the trip as good as the first?" asked Sam, giving up on being subtle in favour of stopping Dean from causing a scene or having an aneurysm.

Victor smiled and sat back a bit. "It's lovely," he said complacently. "So much wonderful stuff still left to see."

"Oh yes," agreed Marcus. "You'll love it." He glanced at Dean, who had relaxed a bit. "You didn't really enjoy the first couple of days, did you?" he asked.

Dean blinked in surprise. "Uh," he said, clearly trying to cast his mind back.

"He was just missing his car, I think," said Sam, patting Dean's thigh. It was only after he'd left his hand there, fingers resting against the seam of Dean's jeans, that he realised what he was doing.

"I'm still missing my car," pointed out Dean. Sam thought he was probably the only person in the world who knew Dean well enough to pick out the uncertain note in his voice. Dean put his hand over Sam's, trying to make it look casual, but Sam could feel the tension in his fingers.

"It's only another week," Sam reassured him.

"Yeah," agreed Dean, quietly.

"Only another week," sighed Victor. "How time is flying past."

"It's just awful when you get halfway through a vacation, and suddenly realise that it's drawing to an end, and there's nothing else to look forward to," said Marcus.

Victor patted his arm comfortingly. "Well, the bit of the vacation that made it truly special is still there when you get home."

Sam frowned slightly. "You mean the memories?" he asked.

Victor smiled at him, then turned to look at Marcus again. "No, I mean the person you're with."

Marcus gave him a heartfelt smile in return, and Sam turned to Dean just in time to see horrified nausea at the sappiness cross his face. Sam had to bite firmly at the inside of his mouth to stop himself from laughing.

Victor and Marcus gazed at each other for just long enough to make Sam begin to share Dean's nausea, then Victor turned and glanced at them. Obviously one or both of them weren't hiding their opinions at the comment very well, because his mouth twitched slightly. "I guess that was a little over-the-top," he admitted, "but we're just old-fashioned romantics at heart."

"There's nothing wrong with that," said Marcus, firmly. "There's nothing more wonderful than a heart that's full of love."

Dean made a very quiet gagging noise beside him, and Sam stood up. "Hey, Dean, do you want to go check out the view over the lake?"

Dean practically jumped off the sofa, desperate relief radiating from every part of him. "Definitely," he said, firmly, and headed for the door.

"Come and find us when you get back," said Marcus, genially.

Victor gave them a large grin. "We found a backgammon board," he said, sounding thrilled. "I'm going to want to challenge you both to a game later."

Sam smiled weakly and escaped the room as fast as he could.

"If they come near me with a backgammon board," muttered Dean as they headed up to their room, "I'm going to make them eat it."

****
Gerald knocked on their door about an hour later to let them know that the others were back from kayaking, and that there was going to be a barbecue in about half an hour. Dean's face lit up at the mention of burgers and Sam was able to reassure Gerald that they'd be down in time for it.

In fact, they were early; Dean was desperate not to miss out on greasy, home-grilled meat. Brian was hunched over the BBQ, frowning slightly, and it was only a matter of minutes before Dean had taken over and was demanding that Sam bring him a beer.

"How's a man meant to grill without a beer?" he asked. Sam rolled his eyes, but got him one without bitching. Well, without bitching much anyway.

By the time Dean had charred all the meat to a crisp (Sam had pointed out that meat tasted better when it was a bit pink inside still, but Dean flatly refused to listen to him, claiming that he was saving Sam from a slow, miserable death from food poisoning) the rest of the tour group had gathered outside, settling down on chairs around the patio with beers.

Sam found himself sitting next to James, and spent ten minutes trying to work out a way to sneak holy water into his beer before he had to accept that it was a lost cause, and they'd have to come up with something tomorrow instead.

"So, have you always lived in South Dakota?" James asked Dean.

Sam frowned. Why was everyone so interested in their past today?

"Yep," lied Dean around a mouthful of burger. "Born and raised there."

"In..." James hesitated, "Lead, was it?"

"Yeah," said Sam. "We were both born there."

James frowned slightly. "Huh." Dean raised an eyebrow at him, which was about the only level of communication he could manage without spraying food everywhere. Not that that had ever stopped him before. "Sorry," said James, "It's just that I'm sure I know you from somewhere." He shrugged and turned back to his own food. "Maybe you just remind me of someone."

Sam and Dean exchanged slightly worried glances. If James had seen any of the pictures of Dean that the FBI had been spreading around a couple of years ago, they could be in serious trouble.

Dean swallowed his mouthful of burger. "Probably," he said, "If you've never been to Lead, then you won't have seen me anywhere. Sammy was the one who left for college."

James turned to Sam, face open with interest. "Oh? Where did you go to college?"

Sam only debated for half a moment before saying, "Stanford."

"You go?" asked Dean, obviously trying to turn the tables a bit on James's questioning.

"Yeah," said James, "I went to Chicago."

Sam nodded, faking interest, and idly wondered if Chicago had a program for bloodthirsty monsters. Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to check next time he got online.

****
They had a campfire after the BBQ, and Dean managed to eat an impressive number of s'mores before sitting back with a sigh of satisfaction. He spread his legs slightly and his knee knocked against Sam's. Sam automatically shifted his foot until it was aligned with Dean's. He'd spent most of the time the fire was burning with a vague nagging feeling of something being wrong in the back of his head, and it was only when Charlie took a deep breath and announced that he loved the smell of a woodfire that Sam realised it smelt wrong to him because it didn't include any human remains.

It was about that point he stopped enjoying himself, and a few minutes later, he told Dean he was tired and heading up to bed. Dean glanced at him with concern, then nodded and stood up too.

"We're off to bed," he announced, his arm curling around Sam's back.

Thomas glanced up at them, and then smirked. "I guess this is all a bit outdoorsy - has it got you in the mood?"

Dean's face lit up with his filthiest grin. "You know it, man," he said, smugly, before pulling Sam back inside the B&B.

"Don't you think you're getting kinda carried away with all this woods-make-me-horny crap?" asked Sam as soon as they were inside.

Dean shrugged. "Part of being an awesome boyfriend," he said defensively, his arm dropping away from Sam's back. "Making sure they all know you've got no complaints in the bedroom."

Sam rolled his eyes. "I've got no complaints so long as you don't hog all the covers."

"If you can't keep hold of your half, you don't deserve to be warm," said Dean firmly. Sam sighed, but let it go.

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Chapter Text

Sam slept badly that night, lying awake for hours while Dean softly snored next to him. When he did finally manage to drop off, he woke up several times with a start, but didn't really remember his dreams - only enough to know that they'd been unsettling. He was up nearly an hour before Dean, half-heartedly flicking through the few books they'd brought in case something jumped out at him about the hunt. Dean didn't say anything about Sam already being up and dressed, but Sam could see his forehead crease slightly with concern.

At breakfast, the people who had gone kayaking were complaining good-naturedly about aching muscles and stiff joints. Dean was annoyingly smug that they hadn't gone, and gave the table a diatribe about the pointlessness of vehicles without engines.

"It's about listening to the beauty of nature in silence," said Paul eventually, "It wouldn't be the same with an engine." Dean just blinked at him as if he had no idea what he was talking about.

"Dean's more about listening to the beauty of engines," explained Sam.

Dean shrugged one shoulder. "Give me a properly tuned V8 over birdsong any day." Sam was about to retort when Dean's hand casually covered his where it was resting on the table, and somehow he lost his train of thought. Bet he did that on purpose, he thought, trying not to twitch his fingers beneath the weight of it.

Dean left his hand there for the rest of the meal, only letting go when he stood up to get some more coffee.

"Anyone else want some?" he asked, which Sam thought was weirdly polite for him until he remembered they still had a couple people left to test with holy water. The only one who took Dean up on his offer was Brian, and Sam saw a look of frustration flit across Dean's face as he turned towards the table with the coffee pot on it.

****
They had to sit for nearly half an hour on the bus before they left, waiting for Paul and Ray. When they eventually came out, clothes slightly dishevelled as if they'd been thrown on in a hurry, even though they'd been dressed fine at breakfast, there was a ragged cheer.

They jumped on the bus and Brian started driving before they'd even sat down. "Next stop: Louisbourg," he announced. "Next chance for nookie not until Antigonish this evening, unless you get really creative."

"And absolutely no sex on the bus,” said Gerald firmly. “No matter how desperate anyone gets.”

****
It was a couple of hours on the bus before they got to Louisbourg, and Sam felt himself drifting off a couple of times on the way. He jerked himself awake each time, not wanting to spend another day with aching muscles from sleeping on the bus.

By the time they got off the bus, he could feel a headache starting to form just behind his eyes, and Dean was giving him the less-subtle version of his concerned look.

"You okay?" he asked as they got out in the parking lot.

"Yeah," said Sam, "just a headache." Dean's look didn't fade - they both knew how bad Sam's headaches sometimes got, even when he hadn't had a vision. "It's fine," Sam reassured him, "I just didn't sleep very well."

That made the crease in Dean's forehead ease slightly - Sam sleeping badly was commonplace now.

"All right, folks," announced Gerald, and Sam turned away to listen. "This is the fortress of Louisbourg. Well," he said glancing round at the modern building behind him, "This is the Reception Center of the fortress of Louisbourg. There's a free shuttle bus up to the fort, when you're done with reading about the history here. We're going to be here for a couple of hours, so if you don't want to stay with the group, just make sure you're back here at one. We'll drive down to the village for lunch then."

As the group began to wander in the direction of the entrance, Dean grabbed Sam's wrist. "You up for this? We could just walk down to the village and have coffee instead?"

Sam glanced at the Reception Centre, where he could see a man dressed in historical costume greeting people. "No, I'm good," he said. "Besides, they've got guys in costume. I wouldn't want you to miss out on that."

Dean rolled his eyes, but didn't protest as they headed after the rest of the group. He didn't let go of Sam's wrist either.

****
The fort was interesting, and there were more guides in costume once they got inside, as well as historically accurate food to sample, but Sam found himself not really able to concentrate as the pressure in his head grew. It was just starting to hover behind his eyes - not exactly bad yet, but with the potential to turn into something much worse. He did his best to ignore it and hoped it would just go away.

"Who do we still need to slip some holy water?" he asked Dean quietly as they stood in the bakery, chewing on some really tough soldier's bread that Gerald had bought for them to try.

"Andrew and James," replied Dean. They were standing to one side and talking quietly, but James turned to look at them as if he'd heard his name.

Dean took his chance, and grinned at him. "This stuff is pretty rank, huh?" he said, taking out his flask. "Want some water to wash it down?"

James smiled back. "It's pretty hard," he admitted, taking the flask from Dean. "Thanks." Sam held his breath for a moment, but James swallowed it down without any sign of discomfort.

Dean was trying to hide a scowl as he took the flask back. He exchanged a meaningful look with Sam, then they both flicked their eyes over to where Andrew was standing, chatting to Brian.

****
"You'll have to do it," Dean said to him later, as they were being shown around the Governor's Apartments.

"I'd prefer not to have to talk to him," said Sam, not needing to ask what Dean meant. "He might take it the wrong way, and I really don't want to have to fend him off again."

"Yeah," said Dean with a little shrug, "Well, I, uh, think I made a bit of an impression. I'm not sure he'll come within three feet of me."

Sam groaned. "What did you do?" he asked with a sinking sense of resignation.

"Would have looked weird if I didn't have a word with him, warn him off you," said Dean defensively.

"Godamnit, Dean," said Sam tiredly, unable to even summon the level of indignation he knew he should be feeling. The longer they spent on the road together, the more Sam got used to Dean's over-protective big brother thing, and the less he found himself minding about it. He wondered if maybe that was a sign that they'd spent too much time living in each other's pockets.

"I only talked to him," stated Dean firmly as they moved into the next room, both of them ignoring the historically accurate furnishings. "And it wasn't anything he didn't deserve to hear."

"So now he thinks you're a psycho," said Sam, who'd heard Dean's version of a verbal warning before.

"Possibly," admitted Dean. "But that gives you an in, right? You can apologise for me, make it clear he's got no hope, and slip it in his drink at the same time."

Sam could feel his headache beginning to really pound against his temples. "Yeah," he sighed.

****
He managed it at lunchtime. They drove back down to the village and found a sandwich shop to grab a quick lunch in before the long drive to Antigonish. Sam slid into the line behind Andrew and tried to think of a way to start up conversation.

His mind pulled a blank, his thoughts sluggish through the pain in his head, so he settled for a generic, "How's it going?"

Andrew started slightly, clearly surprised that Sam was speaking to him, then his gaze flicked over to where Dean was sitting. Sam thought he could detect a trace of fear in his eyes. "Okay," Andrew replied slowly.

Sam winced internally. Whatever Dean had said to him had clearly left a lasting impression. "Look," he started, but Andrew interrupted him.

"You don't have to warn me off," he said. "I got the message." He turned back to where the server was waiting to take his order. "Chicken salad sandwich," he ordered, "and an espresso."

"I wasn't going to warn you off," said Sam. Andrew's snort told him that he wasn't entirely convincing. "I figure whatever Dean said to you would be enough for that," he added.

Andrew gritted his teeth, still not looking at Sam. The server handed Andrew his coffee then turned away to fix his sandwich. Sam felt for the holy water in his pocket and carefully took the lid off, one-handed, wondering how he was going to distract Andrew's attention from his cup long enough to add it.

"Dean can go over-the-top sometimes when he's being protective," he said, trying to make it sound like an apology.

"That's an understatement," muttered Andrew, pulling out his wallet.

"He's not very subtle," admitted Sam.

Andrew was silent for a moment, and Sam was already trying to think of other conversational gambits when he replied. "Maybe not about that, but I think he hides how strongly he feels about you quite well. I'd never have made a move on you if I'd realised you two were that close - I'm not that much of a sleaze."

Sam suppressed his disbelief at that statement but he had enough experience with emotionally shut-off people to know an attempt at an apology when he heard one. "He keeps his emotions close to his chest," he said instead, feeling slightly guilty about discussing Dean's personality quirks with someone like Andrew.

"Yeah," agreed Andrew, taking his sandwich from the server. He hesitated as he handed over a twenty, then added, "Once you know what to look for, though, you can see just how deep it runs. You're lucky to have someone who loves you that much." His eyes flicked over to where Charlie was sitting with Gerald, talking animatedly. Sam took his chance and tipped holy water into Andrew's coffee, managing to get the bottle back in his pocket just as Andrew turned back for his change.

"Yeah," Sam agreed, not sure how else to respond to that.

Andrew picked up his coffee and sandwich. "I still think he's a jerk though," he added, then walked away, heading over to Charlie and Gerald's table.

Maybe, but he's my jerk, though Sam, then frowned slightly to himself. Not actually going out with him, he reminded himself, just as the server asked, "What can I get you?"

****
"Did you do it?" Dean asked excitedly, before Sam had even had a chance to sit down with lunch.

Sam nodded and slumped into the seat opposite him, setting the tray down on the table. Dean's gaze wandered over to where Andrew was sitting, and Sam followed his eyes. They both tensed as Andrew raised his coffee and took a sip. When he had no reaction, Sam sighed and wrapped his hands around his own mug.

Dean slapped the table in frustration. "Godamnit," he swore. "What do we do now?"

Sam shrugged. Dean frowned at him for a brief moment, then his eyes took in the single plate on the table. "You not eating?" he asked.

"Not hungry," said Sam. His headache hadn't responded to his attempts to ignore it, and had now reached the point where he just wanted to curl up somewhere dark and go to sleep. He leaned his head against the window and shut his eyes to block out Dean's worried look.

"Wait here," said Dean, standing up. "Drink your coffee."

Sam didn't have the energy to question him and did as he was told, only half-watching as Dean headed over to Brian.

What were they going to do now? This hunt was fast becoming impossible. Maybe they should just go the 'Ronald' route and take everyone hostage until the monster revealed himself. That would give Dean the chance to work out some of his frustration by playing the crazed sociopath, at any rate.

When Dean came back, he was jingling the keys to the bus. "Finished your coffee?"

Sam drained the last of it. "We going for a joyride?" he asked.

Dean snorted. "Not in that bus. Come on," he said, jerking his head towards the door.

Sam frowned. "What about your lunch?"

"I'm coming back for it," said Dean, which wasn't really an explanation, but Sam couldn't be bothered to interrogate him any further. He just put his cup down and got up to follow Dean. Dean put his hand on the small of Sam's back and kept it there while they walked out to the bus. Sam tried not to relax back against it too much.

Dean opened the bus up with the keys Brian had given him, and gestured Sam to climb on board. Sam, who had been half-expecting Dean to open up the back so that they could go through people's stuff, frowned.

"Come on, Sammy," said Dean. "You think I don't know what it means when you look like a day-old corpse? You need to sleep this off, so we're calling dibs on the back seat, where you can stretch your stupidly long legs out."

Sam glanced into the bus, and had to admit to himself that it sounded like a good idea. Dean disappeared around to the back before Sam could reply, so he just climbed on board and followed Dean's orders, trying to make himself as comfortable as possible on the back seat.

Dean joined him a few minutes later, bringing one of Sam's hoodies for him to use as a pillow and the pack of painkillers.

"Okay," he said once Sam had taken a couple of the pills, "You sleep, I'm going to eat my lunch."

"Okay," agreed Sam, letting his eyes slide shut against the light in relief. There was a quiet pause before he heard Dean leave the bus and shut the door. Once he was alone, and the pills had started to kick in, he dropped off as easily as if he was in the Impala's passenger seat.

****
He only half woke up when the others got back on the bus, opening his eyes when Dean picked up his feet and slid into the seat beneath them. Dean noticed his look, and gave him a reassuring smile.

"Go back to sleep," he said, patting Sam's ankle, and Sam did, falling into unconsciousness before the engine had even started.

****
When he next woke up, the bus was empty and parked in what looked like a small, slightly tourist-tacky village. He sat up carefully, not wanting to aggravate his still-aching head. He could see a small café nearby and spotted Dean through the window, sitting at a table with Paul and Ray. He was debating whether or not he had the energy to go over and join them when Dean glanced over at the bus and caught his eye. He stood up, said something to the others, and a moment later came out of the café door.

"Thank god you're awake," he greeted Sam as he climbed into the bus. "Much more of listening to those two, and I think I'd have gone mad."

"They are a bit much," agreed Sam, stretching. His muscles felt slightly cramped, but no worse than he was used to from sleeping in the Impala.

"You feeling better?" asked Dean, sitting sideways on the seat in front of Sam.

"A little," said Sam, ignoring the way his head still hurt and his eyes felt strained even in the low light inside the bus. "Where are we?"

 

"Iona," said Dean. "You're not missing much. You want to go in for a drink?" he asked, nodding back at the café.

Sam looked over at it, and could see Paul and Ray watching them through the window. He grimaced slightly. "Not sure I'm up to listening to them calling each other pet names."

Dean snorted. "I'm not sure anyone is," he said. He grinned slyly. "Although, if we want to make our charade convincing, maybe I should be calling you my 'most precious cupcake.'"

Sam rolled his eyes. "I think we've already got them all convinced," he said.

The grin fell off Dean's face, and he looked away. "Yeah," he said shortly.

Sam was definitely not up to dealing with Dean's attitude about the situation. He lay back against the window with a sigh.

Dean glanced at him with a slight frown, and pulled the painkillers out of his pocket. "Take a couple more of these, then go back to sleep," he advised. "We're nearly done here anyway, then we're driving down to Antigonish for the night, so you won't be missing much."

"Okay," agreed Sam, and a few minutes later he was sliding back into sleep.

****
The next time he woke up, he was feeling too relaxed to open his eyes or even to move for a few moments, although he could hear Dean saying his name.

"Maybe you should kiss him awake, like Sleeping Beauty," suggested an amused British voice.

Dean snorted, and Sam felt a hand on his arm, gently rubbing. "Sammy, time to wake up."

Sam blinked his eyes slowly open. "Dean," he said tiredly. "You might have given me too many painkillers."

Dean grinned. "Or maybe you're just lazy."

"Yeah," said Sam, sitting up and yawning.

"I bet he'd be fully awake if you'd kissed him," teased Jerry again.

Dean's face went blank, and Sam was certain for a moment that he was going to take Jerry's suggestion seriously, then he grimaced slightly and stepped back. "We're at the hotel," he said to Sam. "You only have to wake up enough to get up to the room, then you can go back to sleep."

"No, it's okay," said Sam, coming fully back to himself in the wake of the anticipation that Dean would kiss him. "I'm awake now - if I go back to sleep, I won't sleep later."

"So you'll come to the pub with us tonight?" asked Thomas. "We're having dinner at the hotel, then going to one near the university that Gerald knows."

Sam looked at Dean, trying to gauge the correct answer, but Dean kept his face neutral, and in the end Sam agreed. "Yeah, I guess we are." After all, they wouldn't learn anything new about the case alone in their room.

"Excellent," said Thomas, sounding pleased.

****
They walked to the bar. Dean muttered bitterly most of the way there about how much he missed his car. Sam just nodded in tired agreement, and tried to ignore how comforting Dean's hand felt, warm against his back. Dean seemed to have decided that his 'best boyfriend ever' act should include a great deal of casual touching and Sam had to banish the thought of I'm going to miss this when the hunt is over into the corner of his mind, along with his realisation that the only thing he'd felt when he'd thought Dean might kiss him earlier was a sense of anticipation, and none of the revulsion that he should be feeling. This charade's just messing with your mind, he reminded himself as they went into the bar. Besides, it's not like touching really means anything.

Dean got the first round, and Charlie distracted Sam from his thoughts by asking if he was feeling better.

"Yeah, I'm fine now," he replied with a smile.

"I can't believe you managed to sleep for that long on the bus. If I'd tried it, I'd have been jolting awake every few seconds."

Sam shrugged. "I get really tired when I have a migraine," he said, deciding not to mention that he'd spent most of his life sleeping in moving vehicles, with music playing just loud enough to invade his dreams.

"Do you get them often?" asked Andrew, and Sam felt Dean come up behind him, standing closer to him than was necessary to give him his beer.

Sam shrugged, trying to play it off as nothing. "Sometimes." Dean's arm found its way around his waist.

Andrew frowned slightly. "You ever been to a doctor about them?"

"No need," said Dean before Sam could reply. "They're just stress-related."

Andrew looked at him as if he was an idiot. "What's so stressful about being on vacation?" Sam could practically hear Dean gritting his teeth. "Look, I'm just saying," continued Andrew, looking back at Sam and ignoring Dean's glare, "maybe you should go see someone when you get home. They could well be just stress, but headaches that serious shouldn't just be glossed over."

Sam barely see Dean's face out of the corner of his eye, but whatever expression he was giving Andrew was enough to make him grimace slightly, shake his head as if giving up, and walk away.

Charlie gave a half-shrug. "Maybe you should listen to him," he said. "He's a pretty good doctor." He didn't need to add 'even if he's a crap boyfriend' for Sam to hear it.

"Maybe," he said, non-committally, and changed the subject.

****
They left the bar early. The others were settling in for a long night drinking and Sam wasn't really in the mood for that, even if Dean's over-protective hovering had let up long enough for him to join in. Apart from anything else, he'd probably taken too many painkillers that day to really drink much alcohol, and if they both stayed reasonably sober, maybe they'd be able to come up with another plan for the hunt.

They walked in silence after they'd left the bar and Sam was relieved that Dean hadn't decided to start bitching about their lack of a car again.

It was maybe five minutes before Dean spoke. "Maybe Andrew's right."

Sam blinked in surprise at a phrase he'd never thought he'd hear Dean say. "What?"

"Maybe you should go see a doctor," said Dean, eyes fixed firmly on the ground.

Sam snorted. "And say what? 'Hey, Doc, I get headaches that are somehow related to my demonic death visions. Should I be worried?' Be about five minutes before they cart me off to the psychiatric ward." Dean's mouth twisted downward. "It's nothing," Sam reassured him. "They're just headaches."

"Could be something," said Dean doggedly. "We shouldn't just assume that they're from that."

Sam sighed, mentally thanking Andrew for stirring Dean's concerned-older-brother tendencies up. "I've been having them for years," he pointed out, "And they're not getting any worse or anything. They're just stress, Dean, it's nothing." He paused, then added, "I used to get milder ones sometimes at Stanford, during exam week."

Dean gritted his teeth, then let out a deep breath. "Yeah, okay," he said, grudgingly, giving in. "I guess this whole thing has been pretty stressful."

Sam nodded. "Yeah, I hate hunts where we can't get a solid lead, and just have to wait for the monster to make a move."

"Yeah," said Dean slowly, dragging the word out to two syllables, "but I actually meant the whole gay charade thing."

Sam blinked. "Oh, yeah. That too."

Before Dean could reply, there was a loud, scared yell from the wooded park that they were walking next to. They were both already running before Sam had time to process that the cry had sounded like Jerry. There was another shout and what sounded like a growl as they ran into the park, pulling their guns out as they got closer to the commotion.

"Thomas!" yelled Jerry as Sam pushed past the last couple of trees. Jerry was clinging to a branch several yards up a tree, reaching down towards Thomas, who was struggling to climb higher towards him. Below him snapped the bear-like monster, standing on its hind legs in a disturbingly man-like manner and reaching for Thomas's dangling leg with long claws.

Sam fired wildly, trying to at least distract the creature even if he couldn't hit it and give Thomas the chance to pull himself up out of reach. Dean fired a moment after him, and the creature dropped back down on to all-fours and snarled at them. Satisfied that Thomas was temporarily out of danger, Sam took the time to aim properly, hoping to get it in the heart.

There was a loud roar from behind him before he could fire, and Dean shouted, "Sammy!" and tackled him to the ground just as another of the creatures leaped at where Sam had been standing.

"Jesus fuck!" swore Dean, firing wildly at the second monster. Sam bit back his own swear words and turned his own gun back on the first creature without getting up from the ground, unwilling to waste the time.

Both creatures were moving too fast though, and they took off into the woods without either Sam or Dean getting a hit in.

"Fuck," swore Dean again as he climbed to his feet.

"Yeah," agreed Sam tersely, taking the hand Dean offered him and pulling himself up.

"Oh god, oh Christ," babbled Jerry from the tree. "You saved us. Again."

Dean snorted, and went to help Thomas climb back out of the tree. "Yeah, how about cutting down on the night-time walks?"

"We thought we'd be safe from bears in a park in the middle of town," said Thomas.

"Especially not two!" said Jerry, sounding shocked as he climbed down behind Thomas. "I thought bears were loner animals."

Sam exchanged a tired, resigned look with Dean. As tempting as it was to let Jerry and Thomas keep kidding themselves, the fact that they'd been attacked twice now probably wasn't a coincidence. If Sam and Dean had to keep an eye on them from now on, it would be easier if they at least half knew why. "Maybe they weren't bears," he suggested, turning back to keep an eye on the woods, in case they came back.

Jerry looked away from his anxious checking-over of Thomas for injuries just long enough to frown at Sam. "What else could they have been?"

Dean shrugged. "We're not sure yet, but that's twice they've come after you guys. You should probably be a careful for the rest of the trip, stick closer to me and Sam."

Thomas narrowed his eyes, and his gaze flicked from Dean's gun to Sam's. "Who are you two, exactly?"

Dean hesitated, then said, "We hunt things like that," nodding in the direction that the creatures had disappeared in.

"What?" gasped Jerry with wide eyes.

"Look," said Sam, taking one last look at the woods, then tucking his gun away and spreading his hands in what he hoped was a non-threatening manner. "Guys who've been on this tour have been being killed for a few years now. We're just trying to stop it."

Dean glanced warily at the woods. "We should get out of here, back to the hotel."

Sam nodded his agreement, but Thomas was too busy processing what had happened to listen. "Wait, you think that they're after me and Jerry specifically?"

Sam shrugged helplessly. "It's not likely to be a coincidence."

"And you can tell yourselves what you want," added Dean, "But those weren't like any bears I've ever seen."

Thomas rubbed his hand over his face, then looked at Jerry, who was gazing at the trees around them with fear in his eyes. Thomas put an arm around him comfortingly.

"Okay," he said, "let's go back to the hotel. But don't think that you're off the hook - you have some serious explaining to do."

Sam suppressed a sigh and exchanged another look with Dean. This hunt just got worse and worse.

****
They got back to the hotel without being attacked by anything else, only to be cornered by Paul and Ray as they crossed the lobby.

Ray took one look at their dishevelled, dirt-streaked appearances and his eyes widened almost comically. "Whoa, did you guys have an orgy in the park?"

Sam restrained a groan.

"More to the point," added Paul, "Did you guys have an orgy in the park without us?"

Dean frowned. "Don't you have to have more than four people for it to technically be an orgy?"

"All the more reason for you to have invited us," said Paul firmly.

Sam rolled his eyes. "We didn't have an orgy."

"Sadly," added Dean. Sam glared at him.

"If we did have one, though," said Jerry, "We'd definitely invite you guys. In fact, we'd probably invite everyone except Victor and Marcus."

"And Brian," said Thomas.

Sam frowned at him. "Why not Brian?"

Thomas looked at Sam as if he was an idiot. "He's completely straight. I'm not sure he'd appreciate the invite."

Sam blinked. "Brian's straight?"

"Jesus, Sammy," said Dean, shaking his head slightly, "How are you always so oblivious to these things?"

"He's probably too busy wondering when the mood's next going to take you, and leave him picking leaves out of his hair," said Paul. Sam tried to run his hand through his hair surreptitiously, and was only a little surprised to find a leaf in it. Why the hell hadn't Dean mentioned it earlier? He glared at his brother, only to be met by a smug look. Bastard.

"Speaking of the mood..." said Ray, tugging Paul towards the elevators, "We did come back early for a reason."

"Ooh, yeah," said Paul, seeming to complete forget that the others existed, and allowing himself to be led off. As soon as they were gone, Thomas levelled a look at them that demanded answers.

Sam sighed. "Better go to our room," he said, looking at Dean. Dean looked unhappy, but nodded his agreement.

****
It was more than a little awkward when they let Thomas and Jerry into their room. Sam found himself glancing anxiously around at their stuff, in case there was some sign that he and Dean weren't lovers.

As soon as the door was shut, Dean pulled out his gun and started to reload it, which Sam had half been expecting - Dad had worked hard to drill 'reload the first chance you get' into them both - but which made both Thomas and Jerry tense up even more.

"Look," said Sam, trying to sound like a normal person. Or, at least, more normal than Dean. "There's not much to explain. Something's been killing guys who were on this tour, so Dean and I are here to stop it."

Thomas snorted. "I think we're gonna need a bit more detail than that, especially if it's after us."

"Yeah," agreed Jerry. "Why should we believe you? Surely if this was true, Gerald or Brian would have mentioned something when we first got attacked."

"Unless it is Gerald and Brian," muttered Dean, too quietly for the others to hear. Sam kicked his shin.

"They didn't die on the tour," he explained. "They died afterwards, when they were back home. I can show you the articles, if you want."

Jerry paled. "So, these things are going to follow us back home?"

"Unlikely, with the Atlantic in the way," said Dean. "Maybe that's why they've come after you now rather than waiting. Either way, it doesn't matter," he added, closing the chamber of his gun with an audible click, "because me and Sammy are going to waste the fuckers." He held his hand out for Sam's gun to reload, and Sam passed it to him.

"Why us?" Jerry asked. "Why are they coming after us rather than the others?"

"We don't know," Sam admitted.

"And you don't know what they are, either," clarified Thomas. "Just that they're not bears."

"Not yet," Sam said with a shrug.

"Well, what the bloody hell do you know?" asked Thomas, frustration colouring his voice.

"We know how to kill them," said Dean firmly, handing Sam's gun back. "We're not going to let anything happen to you."

"Christ," said Jerry, sinking down onto the bed. "This is...this is ridiculous. You sure you're not taking the piss?" Thomas sat down beside him and put an arm around him, pulling him close to his chest.

"Sorry," said Sam. He hesitated, trying to find words to reassure them. "Dean and I...this is what we do. We're really good at it - we'll get these things, and then the whole thing will just be a bad dream."

"You should go to bed," said Dean, not unsympathetically. "We can talk about this tomorrow."

Thomas nodded and they left, Jerry still clinging close to Thomas. Sam shut the door behind them and then sank down onto the bed where they had been sitting. "This really sucks," he complained.

"You're telling me," grumbled Dean. "I can't believe that there's two of those bastards."

"Yeah," sighed Sam. "I guess it makes sense though - would be hard to hide that you're running off to rip people up from your boyfriend."

Dean took off his shirt, and headed for the bathroom. "This hunt just keeps getting better and better," he said, sarcastically.

****
They went to bed and turned out the light, both of them carefully maintaining the gap between them that Sam knew would disappear as soon as Dean fell asleep. There was silence for a few moments, then Dean spoke quietly into the dark.

"Did you mean what you said earlier? About us being good at this?"

"Yeah," said Sam, surprised.

"Huh," said Dean, and then was quiet.

"Well, I can't think of any other hunters around who can beat our successes," said Sam, trying to justify himself.

Dean snorted. "Or our fuck ups."

Sam shrugged, even though Dean couldn't see it in the dark. "Yeah, well, we only fuck up when it's ourselves on the line," he said tiredly.

Dean grunted in agreement, and didn't say anything else.

Photobucket
Not my photo - stolen from the Louisbourg website.

Chapter Text

Sam woke up slowly, feeling warm and relaxed. It took his brain a while to point out that the heavy weight resting on his chest was Dean's arm, and that even if that had become normal in the last few days, there should still be some vague discomfort about that realisation. Sam opened his eyes, blinking against the daylight, and carefully slid out from under Dean's arm without letting himself think too closely about it. It's just the bed-sharing thing, he reminded himself. The last person he'd shared a bed with had been Jess, who had tended to sleep pretty much completely on top of Sam, so that's what his sub-conscious was used to.

When Sam came out of the bathroom twenty minutes later, Dean was just sitting up in bed. "All right," he said, rubbing a hand over his face, "who are the monsters, Sherlock?"

Sam frowned at the automatic assumption that he would know. "I have no idea," he snapped back.

"Oh, come on, you must have some ideas, geekboy," said Dean hopefully.

"Do you?" asked Sam pointedly.

Dean made a disgusted noise. "I'm kinda relying on you and your enormous brain."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Well, beyond the obvious fact that it's not Thomas and Jerry, I can't help you."

Dean sighed with heartfelt disappointment. "You're letting me down, Sammy."

Sam glared at him. "There's something going on between Andrew and Charlie," he said, "So unless you sensed any unspoken tension between the monsters last night..."

"That might be just a front," pointed out Dean.

Sam shrugged. "I don't know. I think if Andrew was a monster who ate hearts, he might try and come across as slightly nicer. And he'd probably be trying to kill you, rather than anyone else."

"Yeah, probably," said Dean with an unrepentant grin. "So, what, it's Nick and James or Paul and Ray, or Victor and Marcus?"

"Or Gerald and Brian," Sam reminded him. "They're still the most obvious ones."

"Too obvious," dismissed Dean. "Killing people on a tour you run is kinda dumb, even for Gerald. Paul and Ray were in the lobby last night, right when we got in. And they knew we'd been in the park."

"I had a leaf in my hair - it wasn't exactly a stretch," Sam pointed out. "Nick was hanging around outside that hotel last time the monsters attacked, remember? And something seems kinda off about those two. They ask a lot of questions."

"Nah, it's not them," said Dean. "Nick's a fan of classic Chevys. Nothing evil has that kind of good taste."

Sam huffed in annoyance. "You can't judge people on which cars they like, Dean."

Dean grinned. "Sure I can. Besides, it's about as reliable as anything else we've got."

Sam had to admit the sad truth of that. "I can't believe we're on the eighth day of this hunt, and we haven't gotten anywhere."

"We know who they're after now though," Dean pointed out. "We stick close to Thomas and Jerry and we'll get our chance to kill these bastards soon enough."

"Yeah," agreed Sam, resignedly.

****
The trip that day took them on the ferry across to Prince Edward Island, where Gerald told them excitedly that they were likely to see more tractors than they ever had before. Thomas and Jerry spent the whole day as close to Sam and Dean as possible, especially when they got out of the bus to look at a lighthouse that was in the middle of nowhere, right on the end of a promontory, and surrounded by a narrow crescent of scrubby tangled bushes punctuated by the occasional tree.

"Relax," said Sam the fifth time he noticed Jerry glancing suspiciously at where the trees grew thickly enough together to be termed a wood. "It's the middle of the day, and both Dean and I are keeping an eye out. Nothing's going to happen."

"Right," muttered Jerry, but he didn't sound convinced and after they'd been up the lighthouse, admired the view and come back down again, he was the first one back on the bus.

"He's really freaked out," Sam told Dean in an undertone, looking around at the scenery as if that was why he'd paused before joining the others getting on the bus.

Dean nodded. "Yeah," he agreed. "Think he's going to calm down any?" He pulled the camera out of his pocket and aimed it at the lighthouse.

Sam shrugged. "Maybe by the time he's back home, with the Atlantic between him and the things that attacked them." He hesitated, then asked, "Do you think we should tell them that it's shapeshifters, and they're probably on the tour?"

"Hell no," said Dean immediately. "He'd be even more jumpy then, and probably give the game away." He glanced back at the bus, then stepped closer to Sam, close enough that Sam could feel the warmth of his body through his jacket, and let his eyes wander over the same landscape Sam was looking at.

"If we told him he wasn't going to just be jumped somewhere like this, not when we knew where everyone was, he might be less scared," Sam argued, half-heartedly, but he knew Dean was right. It just grated to see Jerry jumping at shadows.

"No," said Dean firmly. "We just have to pump these things full of silver. That should calm him down." His hand found its way to Sam's back, and Sam realised he'd been waiting for it.

He huffed with exasperation, trying to ignore the feel of Dean's hand. It's just a cover, because people are watching, he reminded himself. "Is there anything you don't think can be solved by shooting something?"

Dean scratched at the back of his head. "Your hair?" he said after a long pause. Sam rolled his eyes, and headed back towards the bus, resisting the temptation to run a hand over his hair to tidy it.

****
They arrived in Charlottetown in the middle of the afternoon and went straight to their hotel to check in.

"Okay," announced Gerald, "You've got half an hour to settle in, then we'll meet back in the lobby and I'll take you on a quick tour of the centre of town." He turned to look very deliberately at Paul and Ray. "Is half an hour going to be long enough?"

Ray, predictably, blushed, but Paul smirked and said, "How about forty-five minutes?"

Gerald grinned. "Fine, forty-five minutes, but you better all be back here then, fully dressed and looking presentable."

Sam followed Dean to their room, which was next door to Jerry and Thomas's. He wondered for a moment how Dean had managed to work that, then, remembering the pretty blonde who had been on the Reception desk, decided he didn't want to know.

Their rooms were on the ground floor, with a view out into a slightly derelict-looking alleyway. The others on the tour had rooms several floors up, except for Victor and Marcus, who were beginning to look worn from the pace of the trip and clearly weren't really up to walking long distances to their room. Sam wondered if the view was better from higher up, or whether they could just see more of the office block next door.

Dean headed straight for the bathroom to investigate the free toiletries. "This place sucks," he announced when he came out. "Only got shampoo, conditioner, and some body lotion gunk that smells really foul."

"Yet you're stealing it anyway," pointed out Sam, turning away from the window to watch Dean tuck the little bottles in his bag with the ones he'd taken from their other hotels.

"Damn straight," said Dean with a grin. "I remember how much hand lotion you went through when you were a teenager, and it doesn't seem you're gonna get laid any time soon, so it can't hurt to get in a supply, right?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and Sam glared at him.

Before he could think of a comeback, there was a loud crash and a muffled yell from the room next door. Sam grabbed for his gun instinctively, muscles moving before his mind had had time to fully process the noise.

He chased after Dean, out into the hall where he watched, adrenalin pumping, as Dean tried the door to Jerry and Thomas's room. It was locked, and Dean swore in a rough undertone as another, louder scream came from inside, then he took a quick step back and kicked the door in with one swift blow.

The monsters had obviously smashed in through the window, leaving shattered glass all over the floor. One of them had Jerry backed into a corner, pressed hard against the wall while it growled at him menacingly. The other was crouching over Thomas, claws hovering over his chest. Thomas didn't look conscious, and blood was soaking into the carpet around him.

Dean yelled something incoherent and shot at the creature attacking Thomas, distracting it before it could slice its claws into him. It jumped backwards, roaring angrily before it disappeared back out of the broken window in one quick leap. The other creature didn't even waste time on a roar, following close behind before Sam had time to squeeze off a shot. Dean ran to the window and fired several shots after them while Sam rushed to check on Thomas.

"Stay with them," Dean ordered tersely, then hopped out of the window after the creatures.

Sam felt the instinctive rise of annoyance at being told what to do, but one glance at Jerry and Thomas was enough to tell him that they couldn't be left alone.

Jerry had knelt down beside Thomas, his hands fluttering uselessly over his body as if afraid to touch him while he sobbed something that Sam couldn't understand. Thomas seemed to have woken up, or at least opened his eyes, but he didn't seem capable of doing more than gasping in air while his blood continued to seep out.

Sam tucked his gun back in his waistband and took a steadying breath. "Jerry."

Jerry's eyes moved up to Sam's face, but Sam could tell that he wasn't seeing him.

"Jerry, I need you to do something, okay? It's very important." Jerry's gaze sharpened slightly, and he gave Sam a little nod.

"I need you to go to the front desk and get them to call an ambulance, okay?" Sam continued, trying to keep his voice level and calm. "Then I need you to get them to phone Andrew's room and get him down here as quickly as possible." While he was talking, Sam grabbed the sheet off the bed and pressed it tightly against the long claw mark on Thomas's stomach, where most of the blood was coming from.

Jerry was already shaking his head. "I can't leave him..." he said, eyes drifting back down to Thomas.

"Jerry," said Sam, injecting as much steel into his voice as he could and then internally wincing when it came out sounding like his father's. "Thomas needs a doctor, and Andrew's the closest one. You have to do this, for Thomas."

That brought Jerry's eyes back up and he took a deep breath, then shakily nodded. "Right, okay." He stood up.

"Fast as you can," said Sam, turning his attention back to Thomas. Shit, that's a lot of blood. Jerry stumbled out of the room with one last, long look at Thomas's face, then Sam heard running footsteps disappearing down the corridor.

"It's okay," he said, when Thomas's pain-filled gaze landed on his face. "You're going to be fine." Thomas took another gasping breath and Sam had to wonder if he had any idea what was going on outside of the pain.

There was a noise by the window, and Sam turned to see Dean pulling himself back through, looking pissed. "I lost them," he admitted, and Sam swore.

"How is he?" asked Dean, nodding at Thomas. Sam gave him a helpless half-shrug that he hoped Thomas wasn't aware of, and Dean's face darkened even more.

"God damn this whole fucking case," he said with feeling, and Sam had to agree. "I just turned a corner and they were gone," Dean grumbled, crouching down. "Those fuckers move fast." Sam wasn't sure if he was offering that as an excuse for not getting them or just as a general comment. He left his response at a grunt, and concentrated on applying pressure to Thomas's wounds.

When Jerry came back, he left the door open behind him and dropped down beside Thomas like a puppet whose strings had been cut. "How is he?" he asked, panic running through his voice.

Sam hesitated for a long moment, torn between reassuring Jerry with a lie and being honest. "He'll probably be fine," he said in the end, praying that he was telling the truth. Jerry's eyes were fixed on the blood soaking through the sheet though, and Sam wasn't sure he even heard him. "Did you get a hold of Andrew?" he asked.

"Yeah, he said he'd be right down," replied Jerry, and Sam could tell he was beginning to freak out. "He's all I've got," he whispered hoarsely, one hand reaching out to gently touch Thomas's hair.

Sam felt Dean stiffen slightly beside him. "He's gonna be fine," he said, slightly gruffly. "You should talk to him, keep him calm." That was a good idea - concentrating on keeping Thomas reassured would hopefully stop Jerry from completely falling apart. Jerry looked back at Thomas, took a deep breath, then leaned down to whisper something to him.

When Andrew came in, he took one look at the scene, drew in a deep breath, and then took complete control, pushing Sam aside as he knelt down by Thomas. Sam sat back with relief and let him.

"I sent Charlie to get Gerald," Andrew said after a moment. "What the hell happened?"

"Bear attack," croaked Jerry before Sam or Dean could come up with anything more believable.

"Inside a hotel?!" Andrew asked incredulously, and Jerry just gave him a panicked, helpless look which stopped him asking questions.

"Jesus Christ," said a voice from the doorway, and Sam looked up to see that Charlie had brought Paul and Ray as well as Gerald.

"Someone should go to the lobby and wait for the ambulance," said Andrew with authority, and after a couple of moments of gaping, Paul and Ray disappeared. Gerald crouched down beside Jerry and started talking to him in a quiet voice. Sam heard the phrases 'insurance' and 'take care of everything.'

Dean caught Sam's eye and tipped his head towards the door. "Don't think we're needed any more." Sam nodded his agreement, and they quietly got up and left.

****
They took a look at the alley, hoping to find some kind of clue as to where the creatures had gone or what they were before the police turned up and cordoned off the whole area, but there was nothing.

When they got back to the lobby, both of them frustrated and Dean even more pissed than he had been before, the paramedics were wheeling Thomas out on a trolley. Andrew was close beside them, telling them medical details in a rapid spiel, while Jerry hovered behind, looking lost and frightened. Victor and Marcus had obviously been roused from their room by the commotion, and were standing with him. Victor was murmuring something quietly in Jerry's ear, while Marcus rubbed comfortingly at his shoulder.

"Looks like the gang's all here," said Dean, nodding over to where Paul, Ray, Charlie, Nick and James were standing, watching Gerald talk to a man at the reception desk.

"Any of them look like they know more than they're saying?" asked Sam in an undertone as they headed over to them.

Dean shook his head slightly as they came into earshot of the others, and asked them, "They know if he's going to be okay?"

Paul shook his head, wide eyes on the ambulance as Thomas disappeared inside it. "They were talking about surgery," he said.

Dean's face closed down completely and Sam saw his hands clench into fists briefly. We failed him, he thought. We let our guard down, assumed they'd be safe inside the hotel, and we were wrong.

"Was it really a bear?" asked Charlie, disbelievingly.

"Uh, that's what it looked like," said Sam, wishing like hell they'd had a chance to come up with something else before Jerry said that. What would have been believable, though? he wondered.

"Jerry said you guys chased it off," said Nick, his eyes watching Dean's face closely.

Shit, did anyone hear the gunshots? How would they explain that if they had?

"We heard the racket and went to investigate," Dean said with a shrug.

"The police are going to be here soon. They're bound to want to talk to you," said James, and Sam had to suppress a wince. Having to lie to the cops was just the perfect ending to a really shitty day.

****
The Canadian police were as confused as everyone else by the idea of a bear attack inside a hotel room, but with three eyewitnesses and the nature of Thomas's wounds, there wasn't anything else they could do but give Sam and Dean sceptical looks and mutter to each other in undertones about American tourists. It was with obvious relief that they passed the whole incident over to wildlife officers after only a very cursory look at the scene.

Sam breathed a silent sigh of relief that they weren't going to have to cope with nosy cops on top of everything else that this case was throwing at them, and followed Dean back to their room.

"I'm so sick of this fucking case," said Dean as soon as the door had shut behind them, his frustration apparently only exacerbated by talking to the police. "I need a drink," he announced, grabbing his jacket and his wallet. "And I really need to get laid," he added in a mutter.

Sam sat down on their bed tiredly. Our bed...that should sound weirder than it does, he thought, but he couldn't bring himself to really care.

"All right," he said instead, glancing at his watch. It was either very late in the afternoon, or very early in the evening, but Sam didn't think Dean would have any problems finding a bar and a pretty girl. "I'm gonna go over our research again." Not that he thought he was going to find anything, but it was just about the only thing he could think of doing that might help a little bit.

Dean paused for a moment, half-way through putting his jacket on. "You're not gonna get your panties bunched about it?" he asked, slightly incredulously.

Sam gave him his most obvious 'my brother's a moron' look. "We're not actually lovers," he reminded him, and Dean acknowledged that with a wry twist of his mouth, and finished putting his jacket on. "Just, you know. Be discreet. Don't go into any bars too close to the hotel, and don't bring any chicks back here."

Dean snorted. "I'm not that dumb," he said. Sam couldn't restrain his huff of laughter at that, and Dean scowled at him. "Don't wait up for me, bitch," he said, opening the door.

"Don't wake me up when you get in, jerk," countered Sam, and Dean was rolling his eyes as he left the room.

Sam lay back on the bed with a sigh, restless discontent running through him. The evening stretched out in front of him, empty and full of questions he didn't have answers to. Maybe Dean had the right idea after all.

****
Sam was in bed and mostly asleep by the time Dean came back. He shut the door behind himself with a quiet click and didn't turn on the light, but it was still enough to rouse Sam out of his half-slumber. He turned over and watched Dean take off his jacket and start on his boot laces.

"Good time?" he asked in a hoarse voice.

Dean looked up with surprise and gave a brief half-shrug before his usual smarmy grin spread across his face. "There was this brunette with..."

Sam cut him off with a groan. "I don't need details," he bitched. Right now, the idea of getting a blow-by-blow account of Dean fucking some bar-fly brought a sour taste to his mouth. I'm too tired for this. "Just make sure you shower before you come to bed," he said, rolling back over and shutting his eyes again.

Dean snorted, but a moment later the bathroom light clicked on, and the door shut behind him. Sam fell asleep with the sound of water ringing in his ears.

Photobucket

Chapter Text

The day started slowly. Most of the tour group came down to breakfast late, then hung around in the dining room, not quite sure what was happening next. Sam and Dean sat at a table with Paul and Ray, making stilted, polite conversation that danced around the attack on Thomas and Jerry but never quite touched on it.

There was no word on how Thomas was until Brian came in around ten. "Thomas came out of surgery okay," he said immediately, and there was a general sense of relief. Sam felt muscles he hadn't realised were tensed relax.

"Gerald, Marcus and Victor are still with Jerry at the hospital," continued Brian. "I'm not sure what time we'll be leaving today, but it should be sometime before lunch. Gerald's just helping Jerry make all the arrangements so he can stay until Thomas is okay to travel back to England." He ran his hand through his hair, looking tired, and Sam wondered how much sleep he'd managed to grab. "Just stick around the hotel, and I'll come find you when we know what's going on."

Dean caught Sam's eye and twitched his eyebrows. Sam shrugged in reply. There didn't seem to be anything they could do except follow Brian's advice. After Brian left again, heading off to talk to the hotel manager, the others drifted away, and Sam and Dean headed back to their room. They were both already packed, so there was nothing to do but watch Canadian morning TV and pretend that they weren't both running through the previous night's events in their heads, trying to figure out how they could have stopped Thomas from getting hurt.

It was strange not having separate beds to sit on to watch TV. The natural dip of the mattress meant that Dean's shoulder ended up pressed against Sam's arm, and Sam found the weight of it almost as distracting as the memory of Thomas lying in a pool of his own blood.

An hour later, Gerald stuck his head round the door, looking exhausted. "We're leaving at half past eleven," he announced.

"Right," said Dean, and clicked the TV off. Sam wasn't even sure what they'd been watching.

****

The atmosphere on the bus was subdued. The seats where Thomas and Jerry should have been sitting stayed empty, and every time Sam looked at them, it felt like a slap in the face. Gerald waited until they were almost ten minutes outside of Charlottetown, then stood up awkwardly in the aisle, one hand braced on the back of his seat.

"Okay," he said, still sounding tired and lacking his usual spark. "The usual plan for today is to drive out to Cavendish, where people can go to the Anne of Green Gables Museum if they want, then there's a bike ride along the beach, followed by a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we cross the Confederation bridge to New Brunswick, usually with a quick stop at the nature centre on the other side, then arrive in Moncton in the late afternoon." He glanced at his watch. "We're running about four hours late. I'm thinking, unless anyone's desperate to see the Anne of Green Gables museum, we'll skip that, take a slightly shorter bike route, then have lunch and see how we're doing for time. Anyone going to be bitterly disappointed to miss it?" He glanced around the bus, but no one was willing to admit to being desperate to worship at the shrine of red-headed farmgirls. "Okay, that's what we'll do then," he said with a nod, and sat back down.

Dean sighed long-sufferingly, close to Sam's ear. "I'm so done with all this tourist crap," he said. "I just want to kill these damn things already."

Sam nodded and leaned against the window, looking out at the farmland passing them by. The bus seemed a lot quieter without Thomas and Jerry, and no one was willing to break the hush.

****
When they arrived in Cavendish, Brian pulled up at the gas station that would rent them the bikes for their ride. "If anyone doesn't want to go," he said, "I'll drive you over to the beach instead."

Victor and Marcus, unsurprisingly, stayed seated while the others slowly filed off. Their night in the hospital with Jerry didn't seem to have left them as exhausted as Gerald - in fact, they seemed almost refreshed. Sam could only presume that they'd managed to find a spare bed to sleep in at the hospital. Or maybe they knew where to steal the good drugs, thought the cynical part of his mind, the part that somehow always ended up sounding like Dean.

Dean stayed sitting down even when Nick and James, who were sitting in front of them, got off the bus. Sam poked his side for him to move, and Dean turned to give him a faint frown.

Sam sighed. "We're going," he said.

"The hell we are," growled Dean, not moving.

Sam stayed firm. "You said when we didn't go kayaking that you'd do the next thing," he reminded him.

Dean's eyes grew wide, and he glanced out of the window at the bikes. "Seriously, Sam? Cycling?"

"I want to go," said Sam, "And it's not like you're going to have to wear lycra shorts for it." A mental image of his brother wearing tight, multi-coloured cycling shorts flashed across his mind, and he shivered. "Unless you can't handle a short bike ride," he added, knowing that daring Dean was the best way to get him to do anything.

Dean's eyes narrowed, and he gave Sam a look that said he knew exactly what he was doing. "Fine," he bit off. He stood up and got off the bus, then eyed the nearest bike as if it was a Wendigo, before stalking over to it. Sam allowed himself a smirk. Just because Dean knew what Sam was doing didn't mean he didn't let himself fall for it every time.

****
The cycle route ran parallel to the beach for a while, over the dunes, and then across a small stream and up through a meadow. When they reached the top of the meadow, which was on a small rise, Sam paused to look out over the view. Dean came up behind him a few moments later.

"I think my nuts are retreating up into my body," he grumbled. "We could be sitting on the beach right now."

The bright sunshine and chance to just be riding through the countryside and enjoying it had put Sam in a better mood, and he grinned. "Just because your stumpy little legs can't reach the pedals," he taunted Dean.

Dean's eyes narrowed. "Oh, that's it, you're on, bitch," he said. He looked ahead to the path down the hill, across a bridge and through another field. "Last one to that tree," he said, pointing out a slightly stunted tree in the distance, "does the laundry next time something slimy explodes on us."

Sam looked at the tree, and his grin grew. "Deal," he said, putting one foot on a pedal. "Three, two, one, go," he said, just too fast for Dean to be ready to push off at the same time, and launched himself down the trail.

Dean was only a few seconds behind him, and Sam could hear clicking just over his left shoulder as he frantically changed gears. He put his head down and just let the bike go, speeding down the slope so fast that he was a little worried he was going to come off at the bottom.

He had to slow down slightly to turn onto the bridge, but he was still ahead and Dean had to slow too or risk catapulting himself straight into the river. Sam sped up again as he crossed the wooden bridge, and realised with a thrill that he'd actually managed to pull away from Dean a bit. He felt a burst of euphoria and pushed himself hard as he started up the slope on the other side of the river. Dean hated losing and it would be just like him to win at the last minute.

He didn't though, and the dizzy joy that Sam had as he soared past the tree first was every bit as satisfying as it had been the first time he'd managed to put his teenage growth spurt to use and come back from a training run ahead of Dean. He glanced back at Dean and grinned at his scowl.

"You lose, sucker," he crowed as they pulled up at the end of the trail, where James, Nick and Gerald were already waiting.

"Don't know when you got so good at cycling," bitched Dean, ever the sore loser. "It's not like..." his voice trailed away, but Sam heard the end of the sentence in his head anyway. It's not like we ever really had bikes when we were kids.

"My primary mode of transport at Stanford," he said, cheerfully, still riding the high of beating Dean at something, even something as petty as a cycling race. "Couldn't afford a car. Jess and I used to go on long rides at the weekends, when we had time."

"Who's Jess?" asked James curiously.

Sam felt his good mood start to slip away. "Ex-girlfriend," he said shortly.

James gave an amused whistle. "I'm not sure I'd risk mentioning an ex if I'd already managed to piss Nick off by beating him at something."

Sam felt his jaw clench as annoyance rose up in him, because Jess wasn't an 'ex', she wasn't some chick he'd gone out with for a couple of months before they both decided it wasn't working, she was Jess, she was warm cookies, shared study sessions and soft, blonde hair that smelt faintly of mangoes. He'd been going to spend the rest of his life with her, and she was more than just an 'ex'. "Well, it's not as if she's a threat," he said through gritted teeth. "She's dead."

There was a short, tense silence and James grimaced. "Sorry," he said shortly.

Sam took a deep breath and pulled himself together. He didn't mean anything by it, he reminded himself. He gave James a half-shrug. "S'okay. You didn't know."

Dean took a tiny step closer to Sam and put his hand on Sam's shoulder, rubbing it in a small circle over Sam's shoulder blade before letting it drop. The gesture was achingly familiar from the few other times that Dean had stepped over the usual Winchester line of 'physical affection is for girls' before this gig and all the enforced touching that went with it, and Sam let himself relax slightly at the reminder that Dean was there for him.

He looked back at James to see him studying Dean's posture carefully. Crap, thought Sam, what did we do wrong? Maybe the move had been too brotherly, too platonic. Would there have been more to it if they were really together?

Or maybe, pointed out an annoyingly helpful voice in the back of his head, you just heavily implied that you're not over your dead girlfriend in front of your current boyfriend, and Dean took it too well.

Sam glanced at Dean again, who was staring back down the trail where Charlie and Andrew were just coming over the bridge. He was frowning slightly but Sam didn't think he'd noticed the careful, assessing look that James was giving them. Sam reached out and took Dean's hand, squeezing it gently, and hoped it came across as a 'sorry I got worked up about my ex-girlfriend' thing.

Dean's reaction was almost comical - he started with surprise, head whipping round, then attempted to cover it with a casual smile at Sam as his brain caught up. Sam smirked at him, wondering why it was still so easy to catch Dean off-guard like that when Sam was so used to the charade now that it felt weird when they were in public and not touching.

But then, Dean had been the one initiating almost all of their contact - Sam taking that step had clearly caught him by surprise. That probably means he's cast me as the 'girl' in the relationship, he realised. All the gentle, guiding hands on the small of his back, the way Dean had taken care of Sam when he'd had his migraine...he was probably lucky Dean wasn't opening doors and pulling out chairs for him.

As Charlie and Andrew pulled their bikes up next to them, Sam resolved to take the lead with the touching a bit more. Especially if Dean was going to over-react like that every time - it wasn't often that Sam got to see his feathers ruffled.

****
When they settled down on the beach for lunch, Sam made sure to sit just slightly too close to Dean. Dean twitched uncomfortably for a heartbeat, then schooled himself to relax back into Sam. Sam suppressed a smile.

The bike ride had lightened the mood but the meal was still subdued, even with the sun shining down and the peace of the mainly deserted beach around them.

"You're not tempted to go swimming here then?" Brian asked Dean after ten minutes, clearly trying to recapture some of the banter from earlier in the trip.

Dean glanced out at the waves rolling in from the Atlantic and shrugged. "I don't want to get Sammy riled up about the potential danger of hypothermia."

Sam snorted. "I think I'd be more worried about you drowning," he said.

"Or being attacked by bears," muttered Paul. He had one arm clasped tightly around Ray's waist, as if he was afraid of what might happen if he let go, and Sam saw Ray flinch at Paul's words.

There was an awkward silence.

"It's unsettling to come face-to-face with how easy it would be to lose the one you love, isn't it?" said Victor.

Sam had a sudden flash of all the times he'd seen Dean knocked down or injured by something they were hunting. Dean made a tight fist, then reached out and grabbed Sam's knee, and Sam knew he'd been struck with his own memories of Sam being hurt. Sam put his hand palm down on to the sand behind Dean's back, and leaned back onto it until Dean was bracketed between his body and his arm.

Dean's grip sharply tightened on Sam's knee, then he settled back into Sam's body. His shoulders were stiff with tension, but Sam figured that he was the only one who could tell that.

Gerald cleared his throat. "Guess we better pack this stuff up and get moving," he said, breaking through the tension. There was still plenty of food left, but no one really seemed that hungry any more, not even Dean. Brian and Gerald packed it all away in a cooler and they all headed back to the bus.

****
As they drove over the Confederation Bridge back to the mainland, Gerald tiredly recited a list of facts and figures about it, clearly aware that no one was really listening but unwilling to give up the pretence of carrying on as normal.

They stopped at the nature centre on the other side of the bridge and drifted around it in their couples. Sam found himself staring at the information boards without taking anything in, with Dean hovering behind him close enough to touch. He was in one of his impenetrable silences that he'd deny to his dying day counted as brooding.

Before they got back on the bus, Sam went to the bathroom, locked himself in one of the stalls and tried to push down the memory of Dean's pale, tired face in the hospital after the electrocution, and the feeling that had gone with it, that he was going to have to watch Dean die.

He's alive, he reminded himself, but it took him a while to get that to penetrate into his brain. The door opened while he was working on it, and two sets of footsteps walked in.

"Anyone in here?" asked Nick's voice. Sam kept quiet, and pulled his legs up so that his feet weren't visible under the door. He really wasn't in the mood to have to pull on his mask of being Dean's boyfriend, just another happy holiday maker.

"No one here," said James, sounding relieved, and Sam had a sudden, horrified thought that they might want the place empty so that they could have sex.

"Jesus," said Nick with a sigh. "This is such a mess."

"I know," replied James, glumly. "I don't suppose you've got anything?"

"Nope," said Nick. "Still nothing to show for nine days work. Chambers is going to be pissed."

Sam found himself holding his breath. What the hell? What were they talking about?

There was a bang as the door opened again, more violently this time.

"Sam in here?" asked Dean's voice bluntly.

"Sorry, just us," said James.

Sam bit his tongue - no sense in giving away that he'd been eavesdropping. He just hoped furiously that they'd get out quickly so he could find Dean before he started freaking out that Sam had disappeared.

"Fuck," swore Dean, and Sam thought he was probably the only person in the world who'd be able to detect the faint edge of fear in his voice. The door slammed again, and Sam winced.

"What's up with him?" asked James.

"God knows," said Nick. "Those two are kinda weird."

"They're really caught up in each other," said James, thoughtfully. "Not sure if it's weird, or cute."

Nick snorted. "You're such a sap," he said affectionately. There was the distinctive sound of a kiss, and Sam started to worry again that they were going to have sex. Instead, he heard the door creak open. "Come on, let's get back to it."

The door shut behind them, and Sam let out a long breath. He waited another few minutes to make sure they were gone, then crept out of the stall. Seemed like there was more to Nick and James than met the eye, but before he could worry about that, he had to find Dean.

****
Dean was pacing next to the bus with a black look when Sam came out of the nature centre. His face flooded with relief for the briefest of moments, and he strode over and grabbed Sam's shoulder as if reassuring himself that Sam was still tangible.

The relief was covered by anger almost immediately. "Where the hell have you been?" he growled.

"I'll tell you later," said Sam, glancing over at the bus where they had a curious audience watching them through the windows. I wonder just how obviously Dean's been freaking out, he thought.

Dean was still glaring at him, one hand clinging to Sam's sleeve as if he'd forgotten it was there. Time for damage control, thought Sam, both in terms of reassuring Dean and trying to make sure the others didn't think they were completely weird. Without letting himself think about it too much, he leaned down and pressed a quick kiss against Dean's lips, just like he used to with Jess when she was pissed that he was late again.

When he pulled back, Dean was staring at him with a shocked expression.

"They're all watching us," murmured Sam quietly, and Dean blinked away his frozen look - not that it mattered when his back was to the bus.

"Right," he said roughly and let go of Sam's sleeve in favour of shepherding him back to the bus with one hand on his back. Definitely thinks I'm the girl, thought Sam with a sigh.

"Sorry to keep you all waiting," said Sam as they got on board the bus.

"If it'd have been both of you, I'd have thought all that stuff about nature had got the better of Dean's libido," said Ray with a grin.

"Why d'you think I was so desperate to find him?" asked Dean with a grin, seemingly regaining his composure. He didn't take his hand off Sam until they were both sitting, and even then he sat close enough so that their shoulders were pressed together. Sam bit his lip, and turned to look out the window as they pulled away, resigning himself to a period of over-protective smothering until Dean had managed to calm down.

Sam spent the next hour or so trying really hard to not think about the fact that he'd kissed his brother again, and that it had been almost easy, as if it was the natural thing to do. Nothing natural about any of this, he thought, darkly.

The others talked in hushed tones, and by the time they arrived in Moncton, the gloom in the air was almost palpable. They drew into the hotel parking lot in silence, and when Brian turned the engine off, no one moved for a moment.

"Okay, fuck this," he said loudly, turning round in his seat to look at them. "I'm going out tonight to get very, very drunk. Who's with me?"

"That sounds like an excellent plan," said Charlie.

"Yeah," agreed Dean. "I reckon alcohol is the only way to end today."

"Right then," said Brian firmly. "Those who want to get wasted, meet me in the lobby at eight."

****
"Okay," said Dean the minute their hotel room door swung shut behind them. "Where were you earlier?"

Sam sighed and set his bag down on the bed. "I was in the bathroom," he said.

"Don't lie," Dean growled. "I checked there."

"I was hiding in a stall," said Sam. "Nick and James...they were talking..."Sam trailed off and let his expression imply that it wasn't just your average tourist conversation.

That seemed to calm Dean down a bit, and Sam could see him pushing his anger aside to concentrate on that. "What were they saying?"

Sam sat down on the bed. "It's hard to say, exactly. Stuff about having nothing to show for nine days work, and someone called Chambers being pissed."

Dean frowned. "You think it's them? Nothing to show because Thomas is still alive?"

Sam shrugged. "No idea," he said, spreading his hands. "We should keep an eye on them, though."

Dean nodded, and paused in thought. "Nick's got a gun," he offered after a moment. "I saw it when we were biking."

Sam turned that over in his head with a frown. "Why would a monster need a gun?" he asked.

Dean shook his head tiredly. "You got me," he replied defeatedly.

****
Everyone was in the lobby at eight, and it was clear by the time they'd hit the first bar that most of them were in the mood for some serious drinking.

Sam, remembering the night in Halifax and the morning after too well, drank slowly and ignored the shots that Brian bought for everyone. Both he and Dean were on edge, keeping a close eye on their surroundings as they walked from bar to bar despite the fact that with everyone together an attack seemed incredibly unlikely.

It wasn't until they were all settling down in the second bar - dragging tables together and borrowing chairs from other people - that he followed this thought to its logical conclusion, looked around the group and thought, last night, two of these men tried to kill Thomas, and nearly succeeded.

It sent a cold shiver down his spine, and he found himself moving his chair slightly closer to Dean's in reaction. Dean glanced at him and obviously noticed something to betray Sam's thoughts in his face, because he patted Sam's knee comfortingly, then left his hand there.

Annoyance ran through Sam at the proprietary gesture, and he put his hand over Dean's, then laced their fingers together without looking at his brother. He felt Dean's fingers clench tightly around his knee for a second, then slowly relax.

"Okay," announced Brian loudly, "I'm getting another round of shots here, then we're going somewhere else."

"Somewhere with pool tables," said Dean, which Sam translated as 'somewhere I can be a manly man playing pool rather than a sissy boy holding hands with his boyfriend'.

Brian exchanged a look with Gerald, who was wearing his sparkly cowboy hat again. "Mulligan's has pool, right?" he asked.

Gerald nodded. "Yep, and it's only a couple of blocks from here."

"Awesome," said Brian, standing up, "Then we have a plan." He headed for the bar, already pulling out his wallet.

Sam leaned in close to Dean's ear, taking a perverse pleasure out of making sure he was close enough to make it look as if he was nuzzling it. "We need more cash?"

Dean flinched. "No," he said, then plastered on a fake-looking grin. "I just want to beat your ass a couple of times."

"Whoa!" exclaimed Paul, who was sitting next to them. "WAY too much detail about your sex life, man."

Dean twitched again, and Sam snorted to himself as he took another drink of beer.

****
The pool tables were at the back of Mulligan's and Dean dragged Sam over to them as soon as they'd gotten a beer each, then proceeded to hold true to his word and kick Sam's ass. He played far more aggressively than he usually did when it was just the two of them. Sam figured that what he really wanted to do was to pick a fight, but that didn't fit with the people they were pretending to be in front of the other tour members.

Instead, he settled for barely letting Sam get a shot in, shooting him sharp-edged grins whenever he pulled off a particularly tricky shot or managed to snooker Sam so that he couldn't help but foul when he did finally get a turn at the table.

The pool table next to them was being used by a gang of rough-looking guys who were talking just a little bit loud and pushing each other around just a little too violently. Sam, used to hanging out at biker bars, ignored them until one of them said, "Oh, Jesus, looks like the fags are back in town." He nodded over at the table where Gerald and the rest of the group were downing shots that were a nasty-looking blue colour.

One of his friends grimaced at the sight. "Man," he complained, "I thought this was a decent bar."

Dean was facing away from them, leaning over the table to set up a shot, and Sam could see his spine stiffen, then slowly relax. He took his shot as if he hadn't heard, but after that it seemed his game plan had changed. He took to brushing up close to Sam as he moved around the table between shots and when Sam took one of his few and far between turns, Dean stood too close behind him and murmured advice close to his ear.

Sam glared at Dean the first time he did it, and Dean grinned unrepentantly back. Sam stifled a sigh - it figured that if Dean couldn't openly start a fight, he'd find someone to provoke into starting it for him.

It took the men a while to notice Dean's behaviour, but once they did Sam could almost feel the tension ratcheting up another notch every time Dean let his hand linger too long on Sam's back, or leaned in too close while Sam was taking a shot. They didn't say anything immediately, content to just offer Sam and Dean hard glares and to mutter dark things to each other that would no doubt have made Dean kick their asses if he'd heard them.

Dean's distraction from the game of pool, as opposed to the game of baiting homophobes, meant that Sam finally had a chance to win, and when he potted the black and stood back from the table with a triumphant grin, Dean gave him a big, proud smile. "Well done, baby," he said and patted Sam's ass in what was probably meant to be a congratulatory manner.

Sam was still stuck on Baby?! when things turned nasty.

"Excuse me," said the biggest of the men, "Do you think you and your bitch could turn it down a bit? You're putting me off my game."

Dean's eyes narrowed, but Sam saw a brief flash of triumph before he turned round to face the guy, and felt a sense of resignation overriding his indignation at being described as Dean's bitch. There was only one way this was going to end.

"Maybe it's just that you're crap at pool," drawled Dean. "Me and my boy aren't doing anything wrong."

And now I'm 'his boy', thought Sam, indignation rapidly becoming anger.

"You're making me feel sick," countered the guy, throwing his cue down on the table. His friends came round to back him up, and Sam took a moment to size them up.

Dean grinned. "Well, if that makes you feel sick, I dread to think what this is going to do," he said, and turned to Sam with a look in his eyes that told Sam that whatever was coming, he wasn't going to like it.

He was right. Dean crowded him up against the pool table, clenched his fists in Sam's jacket, and yanked him down into a kiss, shoving his tongue into Sam's mouth as if he thought it was hostile territory that needed to be conquered. Sam was paralysed by shock for a moment, then his anger surged into fury. As if baby and my boy weren't enough, now Dean was using Sam as nothing more than a prop to piss some bigots off. He grabbed Dean by the waist and yanked him closer, fighting back for control of the kiss, unwilling to let everyone in the bar think that he was the kind of boyfriend who just sat back and took whatever Dean chose to throw at him.

Dean's mouth opened easily under Sam's assault, and for a moment Sam wasn't thinking wrong or brother, he was concentrating on the feel of Dean's lips under his, and the thrill of Dean just surrendering to him rather than fighting every inch. He ran one hand up Dean's back to the nape of his neck and clung on while exploring every part of Dean's mouth.

Then Dean was suddenly gone, yanked away by the guy Dean had been so set on antagonising. "Fucking faggots," he spat out, then reeled back his fist and smashed Dean in the face, splitting his lip open, and just like that, it was on.

Sam was no stranger to bar brawls, and this one went like most of them - Dean took on several of the guys at once, moving too fast for them to get a solid punch in, while Sam stood at his back and kept the rest of them occupied. The guys clearly had experience with drunken fighting but they were really no contest for the Winchesters and after the first punch none of them landed any good hits on Sam or Dean.

Sam laid out one guy who came at him with a pool cue and out of the corner of his eye, he could see Dean playing with the lead man, lashing out with a punch that must have broken ribs and then dancing out of the way of his opponent's fists. It was only a few minutes before they got pulled apart by the bartenders and a couple of regulars and ejected from the bar, but it was long enough for Sam and Dean to leave reminders on all the guys who'd been playing pool that would take a couple of weeks to fade.

The other tour members followed them outside. "What the hell was that all about?" asked Nick, but Dean wasn't listening.

He spat blood into the gutter and grinned slightly manically at the lead guy, who had an impressive black eye just starting to appear. "You want to call me a faggot again?" he asked.

The guy glared at him but was clearly unwilling to risk another fight, especially not now all the others were there. "Sooner you fairies leave town, the better," he said, then he and his friends took off.

Dean turned to Sam, triumph lighting his face up, and Sam had to roll his eyes. "One day you're going to bite off more than you can chew," he said, but it was hard to sound reproving when adrenalin was still racing through his veins, and Dean's victorious smirk drew an answering smile out of him. He was trying really hard not to think about the kiss and the way he hadn't even remembered to be disgusted that he'd kissed Dean again until now. He was especially not thinking about the way that it had made his blood pulse in a way that he hadn't felt for years.

"We've had trouble with them before," said Gerald. "I'm sorry that that's a side of Canada that you guys had to see."

"I don't think you'll be having trouble with them again," said James. "Where the hell did you guys learn to fight like that?"

Dean snorted. "Me and Sam are the only openly gay couple in a small town. We either learnt to fight, or we moved to San Francisco."

"San Francisco is a lovely place to live," said Marcus, mildly.

"I'm sure," said Dean, sounding anything but, "it's just not really our scene." He ended the conversation by turning to Sam and giving him a visual check over for injuries. "You okay?" he asked.

"I'm fine," said Sam, internally rolling his eyes at Dean's mother hen routine. "You're the one bleeding," he pointed out.

Dean put one hand to his split lip, and inspected the blood that blotted on to his fingertips.

"We should go back to the hotel so that you two can get cleaned up," said Gerald. He looked worried again, and Sam realised, looking round the group, that the fight had made everyone stressed again, just as they were starting to put the attack on Thomas behind them.

"No need to ruin everyone's night just because Dean can't avoid confrontation," he said. "We can go back on our own."

"They were asking for it," muttered Dean sullenly. Sam ignored him.

"We'll see you in the morning," he said, grabbing Dean's elbow firmly and pulling him off in the direction of the hotel.

*****
They didn't talk on the way back. As soon as they were out of sight of the others, Sam dropped Dean's elbow and moved slightly further away from him, desperate for some distance from his brother. The reality of what had happened was rapidly crashing down on Sam - kissing Dean as if he'd meant it, forgetting the charade for those brief moments and enjoying it.

When they got back to their room, Sam took advantage of his longer legs to stride into the bathroom ahead of Dean. "I'm gonna shower," he said, then shut and locked the door behind himself without looking at Dean's face.

He turned the shower on, then sank down onto the toilet and put his head in his hands. He couldn't keep hiding from himself behind the idea that he was starved for intimacy, or that his subconscious was confused by the game they were playing - this thing with Dean had gone beyond any pretence now. That kiss had left no doubt that his feelings for Dean had passed merely brotherly miles back, and were heading straight for the realms of taboo and illegal.

There was a thump from the room, and Sam started. He took a deep breath and pulled himself together enough to undress and actually get into the shower. Maybe it was just a fluke thing, he tried to tell himself. Just the atmosphere of the bar, all that testosterone swilling around.

Except there was no testosterone in the shower, nothing he could blame for the fact that he'd been half hard ever since the kiss and that the more he thought about it, the harder he got.

In the end, he gave up trying to analyse everything he was feeling and just wrapped one hand around his cock, bracing the other on the wet tiles. Moments from the last few days flashed through his mind as he stroked himself - the warmth of Dean's hand on the small of his back, patting his knee, lingering on his shoulder; the hundred little touches he'd casually worked into their pool game; and the feel of his mouth beneath Sam's - possessive and claiming when they'd been in the club in Halifax, soft and warm this afternoon when Sam had kissed him to reassure him and the rush of the all-consuming kiss in the bar earlier.

He tried to block it out with his usual masturbation fantasies - Eliza Dusku in a cheerleading outfit, Jess laying out on the bed beneath him, smiling up at him - but somehow when he came, all he could see was the slope of Dean's shoulders in that tight t-shirt he'd worn to the club and the curve of his ass in the boxers he slept in. He bit his lip hard to stop himself saying Dean's name, and then stood for a long time, breathing deeply and trying to shake off the certainty that this was going to fuck everything up.

I won't let it, he thought fiercely, and turned off the water with a hard yank on the tap. He took his time drying off, trying to push his feelings down and lock them away so that when he came out of the bathroom, Dean wouldn't look straight at him and know something was up.

When he did leave, it turned out that he needn't have bothered. Dean had clearly given up waiting for the shower and was already fast asleep in the bed. Sam let out a sigh of relief and crawled in on his side, trying to ignore the way his heart sped up at the close proximity of Dean.

He thought resolutely, When I wake up, let it all have gone away, and shut his eyes.

****

 


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Sam woke up alone. The other side of the bed was already cold and he wondered glumly if Dean had slept there at all, or just faked it until Sam was asleep and then slipped out to find a chick to fuck, to prove to himself that he wasn't the kind of guy who kissed his brother and liked it.

Sam pushed down the thought that he was the kind of guy who kissed his brother and liked it because he still wasn't ready to deal with that quite yet. Instead, he got up.

When he went downstairs for breakfast, Dean was already at the group's table, talking to Brian. He looked up when Sam came over and grinned. “Morning, kiddo.”

Dean only ever used that fake-cheerful tone when he was wound up about something and hoping Sam wouldn't notice. Sam took a deep breath and smiled back, taking a page out of Dean's book for once. If they both pretended nothing was up, maybe the fact that the kiss last night had gotten a little out of hand could be pushed out of their minds. Hopefully, by the time the hunt was over, he'd be able to forget that there had ever been more to this than acting.

“Morning,” said Brian, then he nodded at Sam's face. “Nice bruise you've got there.”

Sam's hand went up instinctively to prod the bruise on his cheekbone. He shrugged self-consciously.

“We definitely dished out better than we got,” said Dean with satisfaction. “Those guys'll be regretting messing with us.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “You started it,” he pointed out.

“He hit me first,” said Dean indignantly.

“Sure,” agreed Sam, “And you didn't provoke him at all.”

Dean shrugged as if that was of no importance, and Sam let it go.

“What's the plan for today?” he asked Brian.

“Fort Beauséjour and Grand Pré,” said Brian.

Dean groaned. “Oh, man, not another fort.”

Brian grinned. “Chin up – only this one, and one tomorrow, then we're done with them.”

“I'm going to go into some kind of history coma,” said Dean gloomily.

“I thought you liked the cannons,” said Sam, trying to cheer him up.

“I liked the first couple of cannons,” said Dean. “But seen one, seen them all, and it's not like I get to fire them.”

“I bet Sam will let you fire his cannon,” said Paul in a lascivious voice from further down the table.

Sam winced, and Dean's face turned black. “Christ, don't you ever think about anything else?” he snapped, then abruptly stood up and strode out of the dining room.

Paul watched him go, looking shocked. “What's with him?” he asked. “It was just a joke.”

Sam shrugged, trying not to think about just how freaked Dean must be to be blowing up like that. “Probably just got up on the wrong side of the bed,” he said. Or didn't bother to sleep at all.

****
When Sam went back upstairs after breakfast, Dean had already packed up all his stuff and disappeared. Sam packed slowly, putting off having to go down and find Dean as long as possible in the faint hope that he'd get over it if Sam gave him an extra ten minutes.

Dean was waiting for him in the lobby, a frown creasing his face. “Jesus, Samantha, how long does it take you to put your make-up on?” he bitched, grabbing the room key from Sam. “I've been waiting to check out.”

“Keep your pants on,” said Sam, but Dean had already turned away to the front desk, pinning on a grin for the girl behind it and saying something in a low voice that made her blush and giggle.

Sam scowled to himself and took his stuff out to the bus. Nick was helping Brian load the bags into the luggage compartment, and he squinted slightly at Sam when he took his bag from him.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Fine,” said Sam shortly, knowing he sounded anything but.

Nick's frown deepened. “I know it's none of my business, but Dean seemed kinda down this morning as well. Is something up?”

“Damn right it's none of your business,” said Dean from behind Sam, “but we're fine.”

He put a hand on Sam's shoulder, rubbing gently up then down, and Sam had a sudden flash of what that might feel like over his bare skin rather than through three layers of clothes. He couldn't help it – he flinched, and Dean's hand fell away.

Nick looked sceptical, and Sam repeated Dean's words, in defiance of the obvious. “We're fine.”

****
They didn't talk on the drive to Fort Beauséjour. Dean sat far enough away on the seat that they weren't touching anywhere, but somehow Sam could still feel Dean's body heat through his clothes, which did funny things to his thoughts.

Maybe Dean's right, maybe I do need to get laid more often, he thought the fifth time he had to quash the memory of Dean's waist beneath his hands, the texture of his lips under Sam's. But something this strong couldn't be just a by-product of celibacy, surely? It felt as if a wall had been broken down inside Sam's head, and now all he could think about was Dean and sex. It was insane.

****
By the time they got to Fort Beauséjour, Sam was barely able to look at Dean. They all got off the bus, and he glanced around at their surroundings, trying to shove it all back down.

“I'm going for a walk,” announced Dean abruptly.

“What?” asked Sam, surprised.

“I'm done with history geekery,” said Dean. “I'll meet you guys back here when you're done.”

“I could come with you,” offered Sam.

Dean shook his head, already moving away. “We both know you want to see the fort. I'll see you later. Just...just keep an eye out.”

“Right,” said Sam, giving up. “You too.”

Dean nodded an acknowledgement and turned away. Sam watched him go, then turned back to the rest of the group.

“Trouble in paradise?” asked Andrew snarkily.

Sam glared at him, hands curling into fists at his side. “He just needs some time alone,” he bit off. “Let's go.”

****
The tour around the fort passed in a blur. Sam couldn't keep his mind off Dean and the way this stupid charade was messing with them. He wasn't going to let it win though - new and disturbing desire to fuck Dean aside, they were brothers, and hunting partners, and Sam wasn't going to let anything mess that up.

“Here we see the foundations of the Officers Quarters,” announced the guide that Gerald had turned them over to, with some relief, at the ticket office.

“Uh,” interrupted Charlie, pulling Sam out of his thoughts. “I'm just going to nip to the bathroom.”

Mandy, the tour guide, stared at him with faint horror. “But you'll miss part of the tour!” she exclaimed.

“I really need to go,” said Charlie. “I'll catch up with you later.”

“Fine,” said Mandy through tightly pursed lips, and Charlie disappeared back towards the main visitor's centre.

****
Charlie never came back and Sam started panicking about finding his body somewhere, and then having to explain to Dean why he'd let him go off alone.

Dean leaning against the side of the bus when they got back, head tilted up towards the sunlight and his eyes shut. Sam wondered why he'd never really noticed Dean's beauty before, and just stared for a moment.

Dean opened his eyes and frowned at him. “What?”

Sam shook the moment away and stepped closer, lowering his voice so the others wouldn't hear. “Charlie's missing.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Really?” he asked, not sounding concerned.

Sam frowned. “Yes, really, Dean. And there are two killer monsters running around, remember? He could be in danger.”

“Or,” said Dean, still not moving, “he could be over there with Gerald.” He nodded over Sam's shoulder, and Sam spun around to see Charlie and Gerald coming towards the bus, laughing.

Sam scowled. “Well, he's been gone ages. Anything could have happened.”

“Right,” agreed Dean, still smirking, and Sam scowled harder.

“Sorry guys,” said Charlie when he and Gerald were close enough. “I got completely lost and couldn't find you again. Did I miss anything?”

“Mandy nearly had a breakdown when Ray dared to touch some ancient, crumbling fortifications,” said James.

“I'm a tactile guy,” said Ray with a shrug.

“I thought for a moment she was going to break out a cane,” added Nick.

Paul grinned. “Trust me, that would only have encouraged him.” Ray flushed pink and squirmed slightly.

“Another day, another unwanted detail about your sex life,” said Andrew with a heartfelt sigh.

Paul just shrugged unrepentantly.

****
“So,” Sam asked Dean in a quiet voice once they were back on the bus, “just what was Charlie doing off by himself for half an hour?”

Dean frowned. “You don't think he's one of them?”

“I don't know,” shrugged Sam. “Just seems a bit weird, that's all.”

Dean snorted. “I'll add it to the list,” he said. “Nothing about any of this is normal, not even by our standards.”

“True,” agreed Sam resignedly, and settled back against the window.

Dean's walk seemed to have sorted out some of the tension in the air between them. Maybe it's just that we're spending too much time together, even for us, thought Sam. Once we're back to normal and Dean can go off to a bar and fuck whoever he likes, things will settle down again.

Sam forcibly had to push away the mental images of Dean fucking some girl and the tangled mess of jealousy and lust that came with it. This whole thing is getting out of control.

He worked hard to keep his mind on the case rather than on his brother, and by the time they arrived at Grand Pré, he was certain that he had absolutely no ideas on who the monsters were or what they might do next, but he'd managed to keep his mind off Dean for nearly two hours.

“What happens if the monsters just go undercover, then after the tour follow Jerry and Thomas back to England to finish the job?” he asked Dean quietly.

Dean shrugged. “We ask Bobby if he knows any hunters over there, and send them all we know.”

“Okay,” agreed Sam, and then felt guilty for wanting the excuse to hand the case over to someone else so that they could forget about it.

“All righty then,” said Gerald, clapping his hands. “Grand Pré National Historic Site.” He was back to the excitement he'd had before the attack on Thomas.

Dean let out a stifled moan. “Please, please don't let it be another fort.”

Gerald glared at him. He was about as intimidating as a chipmunk. “It was the site of an Arcadian village. There's a visitor's centre, a church, and a park, where we'll have lunch. You can have a couple of hours to explore after that.”

“Fantastic,” said Dean sarcastically.

“If you're not careful, you won't get any lunch,” Gerald warned him.

“Whoa,” said Dean, holding up both his hands. “Let's not get hasty here.”

“If you get banned from lunch, I'm not smuggling food for you,” Sam told him.

Dean gave him a betrayed look. “My own br – boyfriend would let me starve?” He only stumbled for a moment, but it was enough – Sam saw Nick frowning out of the corner of his eye.

He shrugged at Dean. “Maybe we could come up with a deal. You got anything to trade?” he asked. Dean pursed his lips in annoyance and Sam got hit hard by an image of Dean 'trading' just that, on his knees with his mouth sealed tight around Sam's cock.

“That won't be necessary,” said Gerald, and for a moment his voice sounded as if it was coming from miles away. “I'll let you eat this time, but any more sass from you...” He let his voice trail off suggestively.

“I'll be good,” promised Dean. Sam couldn't hold back a snort of disbelief. Dean glared at him.

****
“I don't get it,” said James as they settled down for lunch. “This trip was billed as a cultural and historical tour – if you hate history so much, why are you on it?”

Dean shrugged. “Sam wanted to come.”

“Aw,” said Marcus, “That's sweet.” Dean winced.

“I don't know,” said Victor slowly, “Sacrifices for love are better if you don't complain about them afterwards.” Dean started to look incredibly uncomfortable.

“If Dean ever stopped complaining, I'd probably think he was possessed,” said Sam, trying to cut through the weirdness.

“There you are, then,” said Marcus to Victor. “It's just how their relationship works.”

“Okay,” said Dean loudly, clearly incredibly disturbed. “That's enough discussing our relationship. Someone pass me a sandwich.”

****
After lunch, they all wandered over to the church together and Sam found himself walking next to James.

“Dean seems a lot more cheerful than he was this morning,” he remarked, apparently casually.

Sam gritted his teeth, bracing himself for another interrogation badly disguised as a friendly conversation.

“He just needed some time alone,” he repeated for what felt like the hundredth time.

“Right,” said James, nodding. He hesitated, then asked, “Did he find a bar?”

“What?” asked Sam, thrown. “Maybe, I don't know. Why?”

“Sam,” said James slowly, and he took a deep breath. “Is Dean...does Dean drink too much?”

“What?!” repeated Sam incredulously. “What the hell kind of question is that?!”

“Well, he...” started James, but Sam didn't let him finish.

“No, fuck that – I don't want to hear any more crap.” He shook his head, then sped up his pace to get away from James and catch up with Dean.

Dean was talking to Nick, but one look at Sam's face was apparently enough to make him abandon the conversation. “What happened?” he asked.

“James asked me if you were an alcoholic,” Sam told him.

Dean blinked in surprise. “Huh. Well, I guess that explains some of the things Nick's been saying.”

Sam ground his teeth. “What is up with those two and asking questions? Do you think they're after the monsters as well?”

“Nah,” said Dean. “If they were hunters they'd be asking about the attacks, not wasting time on our fake relationship troubles.”

“Yeah,” agreed Sam. “Okay, so what? Add it to the list of weird crap?”

“Might be easier just to have a list of stuff that isn't weird,” pointed out Dean. “Except no one would be on it.”

Sam thought for a long moment. “Brian?” he suggested.

Dean shook his head. “He's way too normal. That definitely counts as weird.” Sam nodded in gloomy agreement.

He glanced ahead to where Paul and Ray were looking up at the church, walking close together and with Paul's arm draped around Ray's shoulders as if it belonged there. It made him suddenly realise that Dean wasn't touching him as they walked for the first time since the early days of the tour. Sam felt his back twitch slightly as if it missed the weight of Dean's hand, and he realised with a sinking feeling that in only a few short days he'd come to take their level of physical contact for granted.

He glanced over at Dean, who was squinting up at the church roof, and carefully put his hand on Dean's shoulder, thumb rubbing up against his neck. Dean flashed him a startled look, then glanced away again, over at Nick and James. After a moment's hesitation, he put his hand on the small of Sam's back, and Sam felt something inside him relax slightly.

“Dean,” he said quietly, not sure what he was going to say, but feeling like he had to say something.

Dean interrupted. “I swear, Sam, if you try and talk about this, I'm gonna gut you.”

Sam wondered what exactly Dean meant by this, but instead asked, in an innocent voice, “Do you think one of the others will take a picture of us in front of the church if we ask?”

Dean glared at him.

****
By the time they left Grand Pré Sam thought he probably had a handle on this thing. He was still having the occasional unwelcome NC-17 moment, but he wasn't letting it affect the way he acted towards Dean. This was his problem, and regardless of whether or not he could make it go completely away, he wasn't going to risk his relationship with Dean over it. He'd just push it all down and out of his mind as much as possible until it wasn't a problem any more.

Isn't that what you hoped to do with the nightmares about Jess's death? asked a snide voice in the back of his mind. Sam ignored it.

Gerald was jigging slightly with excitement when they got back on the bus. “We've got a surprise for you,” he announced with a grin.

“Is it another fort?” asked Paul, glancing at Dean.

“Well, it's not quite that awesome,” said Gerald.

“Shame,” called Dean.

“It's not even historically themed,” continued Gerald.

“You're breaking Dean's heart,” said Charlie with a grin.

“It does involve free alcohol,” said Gerald and he bounced on his heels a couple of times.

“Awesome!” exclaimed Dean. “You know how I love alcohol.” He glared over at James, who had the grace to flush and look away.

“I've arranged a free wine-tasting at a local winery,” explained Gerald, the words bursting out of him as if he couldn't contain his joy any longer.

“Oh, cool,” said Ray happily.

“If it goes well, the owner might arrange to make it a regular thing for the tour,” said Gerald, looking at Dean, “So if you could, you know, not get in any fights, that would be awesome.”

“I'll keep an eye on him,” promised Sam, patting Dean's leg, and was proud that he managed to make the gesture without wondering what the skin of Dean's thighs felt like under his jeans. Well, without wondering about it much.

“He started it,” muttered Dean under his breath. Everyone ignored him.

****
They all got slightly tipsy at the winery. The owner gave them three types of white wine, then five types of red wine and followed it all up with some port. Dean decided that white wine was for chicks and gave most of his to Sam, but happily drank the rest.

Afterwards, Sam leant back against the bar and watched the others buy bottles for friends and relatives. Everything was swimming slightly in a haze of goodwill.

Andrew and Charlie were having a tense argument over whether someone called Maria would prefer the Riesling or the Chardonnay, and Sam watched them for several minutes.

“Maybe we should get Bobby a bottle,” he said to Dean before he'd really thought about what he was saying.

Dean snorted. “We buy Bobby wine, and he's just going to ask us where the fuck his beer is. We'll pick him up some Molson's before we get on the ferry.”

“Who's Bobby?” asked Nick curiously from next to Sam.

Dean glared at him. “He's the reason I'm an alcoholic,” he said. “He used to beat us when we were kids.”

For some reason, Sam found this really funny, and he started sniggering helplessly.

Dean gave him an amused look. “Wow, you're really wasted.”

Sam shrugged a shoulder. “Wine goes straight to my head,” he excused himself.

Dean snorted. “Sammy, name one drink that doesn't.”

Sam had to think about that. “Bud Light?” he offered.

“Doesn't count as alcohol,” dismissed Dean. “Come on, let's get you back on the bus before you make an idiot of yourself. You know Gerald'll blame me if the owner kicks us out.”

Sam nodded, “And then he'll find another fort to punish you with.”

“Yeah,” said Dean, taking Sam's arm. “Can you walk in a straight line?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “I'm not that bad,” he said. He didn't shake Dean's hand off though.

Dean got him back on the bus, then sat down beside him with a sigh. “God, I'm glad to be out of there. Something about people who get excited about wine creeps me out.”

He'd pushed his shirtsleeves up at some point, and Sam found his eyes fixating on the skin of his wrists, just above his watch. He wondered what it would be like to bite right there. He took a deep breath, then shut his eyes firmly, leaned his head on the cool window and tried to think very hard about something – anything else.

****
Sam wasn't the only one feeling merry, and as soon as they arrived at the hotel in Wolfsville it was agreed they'd take long enough to dump their bags in their rooms, then meet back at the bar.

The drinks flowed pretty steadily for a few hours, although Sam took it as slowly as he could. James bought Dean a beer and attempted an apology for his earlier comment. Dean let him fumble through it and drank the beer, but the smile he gave James didn't come close to reaching his eyes.

By the time Sam and Dean went up to their room, Sam had drunk enough to feel disassociated from the world around him. Nothing seemed real except Dean, who seemed twice as real as normal. Sam couldn't take his eyes off him. He sat down on the bed and watched as Dean started to untie his boots. Dean had good hands, he decided. Strong hands.

“Quit looking at me like that,” growled Dean after a couple of silent minutes.

Sam blinked, trying to cover what he'd been looking at. “Like what?”

Dean glared. “Like that. Like you've forgotten to stop acting like my boyfriend.”

Acting. Right. “Last night,” asked Sam, the question spilling out of him before he could stop it. “Was that just acting?”

Dean's body went rigid, but he didn't ask what Sam meant. “We're not talking about this,” he said firmly.

“Dean,” said Sam, plaintively.

“I'm not talking about this,” clarified Dean, getting up and pacing across the room.

“I just want to know,” said Sam, trying to sound reasonable.

“Nothing to know,” insisted Dean. “It's nothing. We'll kill these bastards, get back to the States, and everything'll be back to how it should be. You don't need to worry about this.” He paced across the room again, and ran a hand through his hair. “I'm going out.”

He headed for the door, and Sam stood up fast to stop him.

“Wait,” he said, and then, without planning it at all, he was kissing Dean again, holding tightly to his jacket. There was no audience to perform for, no excuse, just the two of them and an empty hotel room.

For a moment, he thought Dean was going to kiss him back. He froze for the longest moment of Sam's life, then pulled away.

“Sam,” he whispered, eyes flicking across Sam's face, looking for something. “We're brothers,” he said distantly, as if he knew he had to say the words, but they didn't mean anything to him.

“I know,” said Sam, hoarsely.

“We can't,” said Dean desperately, then kissed Sam so fast that the press of his lips had barely registered before he'd stepped away. “We can't,” he said again, and disappeared out the door, shutting it firmly behind him.

Sam stared at the door for a long moment, lips still tingling. “Fuck,” he said with feeling.

****
Sam lay on the bed, watching the ceiling spin and wondering if it was because of the alcohol, or because his whole world was shifting. Footsteps and quiet conversation came down the corridor towards their room, and Sam listened automatically, even though he could tell it wasn't Dean.

“...the way he takes such care looking after him,” said Marcus's voice through the wall. “It takes years to build up that level of devotion. Your kids are nowhere close to it.”

Victor's reply was lost as they passed further down the corridor. Sam sighed. Those two were definitely on the weird list. Not at the top though – Sam was pretty sure he and Dean won that one.

He shut his eyes and tried very hard not to worry about whether Dean would ever come back, or whether this had all just got too weird for him. They still had a case to solve, after all. Dean hated not finishing a case.

Photobucket
I didn't take this photo, I stole it from the Grand Pré website.

Chapter Text

Sam woke up to find Dean watching him, frowning slightly.

“Jesus,” he said and sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Have you even slept?”

Dean ignored the question. “Up and at 'em, Sammy,” he said, turning away. “We've only got two days left to catch these monsters. I'm going for breakfast - come down when you're ready.” He left the room before Sam could say anything.

So they were back to the game of pretending nothing had happened. Sam contemplated that for a second, then rejected it. He'd kissed Dean, and Dean had kissed him, and it was insane and big and a little frightening, and he was damned if he was just going to push it all back down and ignore it. The resolve to do something about it, to stop just trying to pretend it wasn't happening made him feel lighter, as if a weight had been taken off his shoulders.

****
Dean was eating something incredibly greasy when Sam came down to breakfast and nodding distractedly while Paul told him some story that involved a lot of hand gestures. Sam dropped into a seat next to him, kissed his cheek and took advantage of his moment of surprise to steal a piece of bacon.

Dean paused mid-bite and glared at him. “Don't mess with my bacon,” he grumbled.

Sam grinned at him. “What's yours is mine, right?” he asked.

“Dude, we're not married,” snapped Dean, and Sam could see he was genuinely pissed. He widened his grin until Dean's eyes narrowed.

“What's a little bacon between lovers?” he asked, and Dean looked like he was going to have some kind of fit.

“Sam,” he growled.

Sam patted his shoulder, then let his hand drift across to Dean's neck, his fingers trailing across his skin and stroking the short strands of hair there. “Relax,” he said. “I'll share mine when it comes.”

Dean clenched his jaw so tight that Sam thought he was going to crack teeth, and turned back to his breakfast.

****
Dean left the dining room before Sam had finished and was already on the bus, chatting to Brian, when Sam brought his bag out. Sam sat down next to him, as close as he could. Dean tensed, but didn't shift away.

“Brian was just saying how unusual the attack on Thomas was,” Dean said. “Apparently he's never heard of anything like it.”

Brian nodded. “And I've been doing this tour for years now.”

Sam put his hand on Dean's thigh, higher up than either of them had dared before now. Dean's leg twitched. “I guess something must have provoked them then,” he said.

“Maybe,” said Brian doubtfully, then his eyes settled on something outside the bus. “There's Victor and Marcus,” he said, standing up. “I better go help them with their bags.”

As soon as he'd gotten off the bus, Dean pulled away from Sam. “You can stop that shit now,” he said.

“Stop what?” asked Sam innocently. Dean glared at him. “Okay, fine,” said Sam, relenting slightly. “Just give me a good reason.”

Dean stared at him as if he was insane. “We're brothers,” he hissed.

Sam felt frustration rise up in him, and he knew it showed on his face. “If that really bothered you, nothing would have happened last night.”

Dean's mouth twisted at the reminder, and he glanced away for a moment. When he turned back, he leaned in close to Sam, voice dropping to a harsh whisper so that Brian, who was throwing bags in the back of the bus, wouldn't hear. “It's incest, Sam. I'm your brother - you really think you could fuck your brother?”

Sam deliberately put his hand back on Dean's inner thigh and slid it up to his crotch. At his touch, he could feel Dean's cock grow half-hard, and he ran his finger up the length of it, more than a little surprised by his own audacity. Dean sucked in a sudden breath and Sam felt his own cock twitch in response.

“Yeah,” he said with a dry mouth, “I could fuck my brother. Could you?”

Dean stared at him desperately for a moment, then smacked Sam's hand away. “No,” he rasped, but Sam didn't think he'd even managed to convince himself.

“Good morning, boys,” said Victor, climbing on to the bus. “Isn't it a lovely day?”

Dean pulled completely away from Sam, and turned to the window again. “Just peachy,” he said sarcastically.

Sam sighed. It figured it wouldn't be that easy.

****
It was only a short drive to the Bay of Fundy, where they all climbed down to a beach and watched the tide come in while Gerald went into one of his long speeches about the unusually high tidal range in the Bay. Dean stood next to Sam while Gerald spoke, but his gaze was fixed hard on the horizon. When Sam slid his hand into Dean's back pocket, his only reaction was the brief flex of his jaw as he clenched it.

Gerald finished speaking, and the others started taking pictures.

“Want me to take one of the two of you?” Gerald asked them after taking one of Paul and Ray posed with their arms wrapped around each other.

“No thanks,” said Dean, still not looking at Sam. “There's nothing I really want to remember about this moment.”

Gerald raised both eyebrows in surprise and glanced at Sam, but he didn't say anything, just turned away to ask Nick and James.

Sam sighed and pulled away from Dean, putting his hand in his own pocket instead. Somehow it felt much colder in there than it had in Dean's.

****
Gerald took them on a hike after they'd finished photographing the beach, up a steep, wooded hillside. The group strung out as they climbed up it – Gerald and Charlie strode off together, and Andrew came up behind them with Nick and James. Paul and Ray lagged far behind Sam and Dean, whispering what were either sweet nothings or pornographic suggestions to each other, if their expressions were any indication. Marcus and Victor took one look at the slope of the path and opted to stay with the bus and Brian.

Sam and Dean climbed in silence. Sam tried to think of something to say to break it, but gave up when all he could think of was: But why won't you fuck me?

Instead, he tried to reason it through to himself. Dean clearly wanted this on some level, or he wouldn't have kissed Sam last night, or reacted like he had to Sam's hand earlier. Something was holding him back, though, probably some crazy illogical line of thinking that Sam would never be able to guess at in a million years. He let the silence build for another ten minutes, then couldn't stop himself from speaking.

“I don't get it.”

Dean sighed. “Me neither, Sammy, but apparently lots of people think schlepping through woods and looking at trees is a good time.”

Sam ignored him. “I know you fucked those two sisters in Delaware, so it can't be the incest thing.”

“Man, they were hot,” reminisced Dean fondly. “And not my sisters. Besides, everyone knows threesomes are different.”

Sam didn't, and for a moment he was tempted to suggest inviting Andrew to join them if Dean really thought that was true. The idea of sharing Dean with anyone, but particularly Andrew, made a cold burst run down his spine. “No way, man, it's not that,” he said instead, then thought for a moment. “Is it the gay thing?”

Dean snorted. “Dude, I've been fucking guys since I was nineteen.”

Sam stopped walking and stared at him. “You have?”

Dean stopped as well, and turned back to Sam, twitching an eyebrow. “I can't believe you never noticed.”

Sam gaped at him. “You never said anything! You brag about women all the time – you never mentioned any men.”

Dean shrugged. “It's different.”

Sam was struck dumb. How had he managed to miss that? He started to go back through the last few years, since he'd left Stanford, trying to pinpoint any signs he'd missed.

He was so distracted that the first he knew of the attack was a growl and Dean yelling his name, closely followed by a heavy weight sending him crashing to the ground. He instinctively rolled with the creature's tackle, trying to get away from its teeth and claws. He kicked at its gut and tried to get at the gun tucked in his waistband. Claws raked down his arm and it burnt with pain.

“Sam!” yelled Dean again, and there was a gunshot. The bullet went wide – Dean was probably too scared of hitting him to aim properly - but the monster was distracted long enough for Sam to kick it again and drag himself out from under it.

There was another growl from Sam's left – the other monster – followed by more shots and then Dean swearing. Sam finally managed to get his gun out and aimed it at the creature that had tackled him. It froze when it saw the gun, then took off into the woods before Sam could get the safety off. He popped off a couple of shots at its retreating back, but he was still on the ground, and the angle was all wrong.

Both creatures disappeared as quickly as they'd arrived, and Dean fired after them a couple more times, then dropped to his knees beside Sam.

“Jesus, Sammy, you okay?”

“Yeah,” breathed Sam, sitting up and clutching at his arm where the monster had clawed him.

“Let me look,” said Dean, batting Sam's hand away and carefully pulling back the remains of Sam's sleeve to take a closer look. “It's just a scratch,” he said with relief. “You'll be fine.”

Sam had already known that, but he let Dean fuss over his arm for a bit. “Did you manage to wing either of them?” he asked.

Dean shook his head. “They were too damn close to you.”

“Yeah,” agreed Sam, standing up. “Guess we know what their plan is now Thomas and Jerry are gone.”

Dean stared at him. “You think they came after you deliberately?”

Sam shrugged, and cradled his injured arm against his chest. “They came straight for me,” he pointed out. “Neither of them went near you, right?”

“No,” said Dean slowly, “But then I had my gun out. Could just have been coincidence.”

“True,” Sam admitted, privately doubting it. Nothing was ever that easy for them.

“Let's get you down to the bus and sort out your arm,” said Dean.

Sam glanced up at the path ahead of them, thinking about the view from the top of the hill out over the bay, and nodded reluctantly.

“And here's another question,” said Dean as they turned to go back down the hill. “The others weren't that far ahead of us – surely they heard something?”

“Maybe they're all in on it,” suggested Sam, gloomily. “Maybe they're just waiting for the campfire this evening to cut us into small chunks and roast us on sticks, like wieners.”

Dean gave him a weird look. “Your brain is a scary place sometimes,” he said.

****
Back down at the bus, Brian was talking on his phone, but he hurriedly hung up when he saw them coming.

“Jesus, what happened to you?” he asked.

“He fell out of a tree,” said Dean before Sam could come up with a lie. “Caught his arm on a branch and scratched it to shit.”

“What were you doing up a tree?” asked Brian. Dean started to smirk. “You know what?” he added hurriedly. “Don't answer that.”

Dean got Sam's bag from the back of the bus and pulled out a couple of clean shirts for him to change into. Sam pulled off the ones he was wearing and sighed when he realised they were pretty much toast.

The claw marks were already closing, but Dean cleaned them anyway with Sam's old t-shirt and a bottle of water that Brian gave them. He stood close enough to Sam that Sam could feel his breath over his bare skin, and he had to take a deep calming breath.

Dean squinted at the wound. “If it wouldn't make Brian wonder why I've got such a big med kit in my bag,” he said quietly, “I'd stick a dressing over it, but it should be okay for now like that.”

Sam nodded. “If you're all done,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady, “I want to put some clothes on. It's cold.” The temperature wasn't the real reason behind the goosebumps on his skin, but he wasn't sure Dean wanted to know just how much his proximity was affecting Sam.

Dean slapped his hand against Sam's chest. “You need to man up, Sammy.” He left his hand there for a lot longer than Sam was expecting, and slid it slowly down Sam's chest to his stomach before letting go. Sam stared at him, but Dean's expression was carefully blank.

A slow moment passed, then Dean turned away. “You seen any of the others?” he asked Brian.

“No,” said Brian, and Sam pulled himself together enough to start pulling his shirts on. “Marcus and Victor went back down to the beach not long after you all set off. Why?”

Dean shrugged. “Just thought Paul and Ray were behind us, is all. We didn't see them on the way down.”

Brian grinned. “Maybe they were off 'climbing trees' too.”

****
Marcus and Victor came back from the beach with beaming smiles, talking about two 'simply adorable' sea birds they'd seen, who 'just must have been in love.'

Andrew, Nick and James were the first back from the hike, and they were surprised to see Sam and Dean already at the bus.

“Did we go the wrong way?” asked Nick. “I thought it was just Charlie and Gerald in front of us.”

“We changed our minds about hiking,” said Dean with a shrug. “Too much damned nature.”

James raised an eyebrow. “I thought you liked nature?” he asked.

“I think I'm reaching my limit,” replied Dean.

Charlie and Gerald weren't far behind them, and then there was a long wait for Paul and Ray. Sam watched Dean pace around the bus and tried not to think about the possibility that the monsters had gone after easier prey when Sam and Dean had chased them off.

When Paul and Ray did turn up, they were dishevelled and Ray had more than one leaf in his hair.

“Sorry,” said Paul when he saw they were all waiting. “We decided to take a page out of Dean's book.”

“It was pretty uncomfortable,” added Ray. “Not sure I'd do it on a regular basis.”

“Sam fell out of a tree,” Brian told them with a grin.

Ray looked at Sam with respect. “A tree? Wow.”

“Was anyone not having sex in the woods?” asked Gerald. “This group is kinda feisty – I might have to keep you better chaperoned.”

“We weren't having sex in the tree,” protested Sam weakly. No one looked like they believed him.

****
It was over an hour's drive to Annapolis Royal, where they were scheduled to have lunch, and Paul and Ray spent most of it picking leaves and bits of twig out of their clothes. Sam couldn't help wondering if they'd gotten there because they'd had sex, or because they'd been running around the forest in animal form.

“I hate this case,” he said in an undertone to Dean. “I hate the way we have to suspect everyone.”

“I hate that someone on this bus tried to kill you an hour ago, and we're about to sit down and have lunch with them,” replied Dean tersely. Sam grimaced at the thought.

****
They had lunch in a bar in Annapolis Royal. Afterwards, Gerald announced it was time to get back on the bus to go to the nearby fort of Port Royal, but Dean flat out refused.

“Me and Sam are staying right here,” he said. “You can come pick us up when you're done.”

Gerald hesitated, then shrugged. “Fine,” he said reluctantly, “But you'll be missing out.”

“I think I'll cope,” said Dean.

The others all went off with Gerald, although Paul looked back at them with longing as he left the bar.

“Right,” said Dean the moment they were gone, “we need to figure this out, and fast if they're coming after us now.”

Sam nodded. “What've we got? Paul and Ray were the last back, and we should have met them on the way back down the track. Unless they actually were just having sex.”

“Wouldn't put anything past those two,” said Dean. “And they really don't seem the type.”

Sam sighed. “Dean, if any of them seemed the type, we wouldn't have a problem.”

“True,” admitted Dean. “Okay, they're on the suspect list. What else we got?”

Sam shrugged. “Gerald and Charlie somehow went from in front of the others to behind them without them noticing. And Charlie was acting weird yesterday.”

Dean thought that over. “Yeah,” he conceded, “but they've only really seemed friendly in the last couple of days – and Charlie was with Andrew when Jerry and Thomas were attacked.”

Sam sighed and sat back. “Well, Andrew, James and Nick were all together, so we can cross them off the list, right? Unless there turns out to be three of these things.”

Dean nodded. “Brian was on his own – could be him and one of the others, if they managed to get away on their own for a bit.”

“Victor and Marcus were off by themselves,” pointed out Sam.

Dean snorted. “I think if they were our monsters, they'd move slow enough for us to actually shoot them.” He thumped the table in frustration. “Man, this is like one of those stupid logic puzzles you used to do as a kid.”

“You were always really good at those,” Sam remembered.

Dean laughed. “No, I used to sneak a look at the answers in the back.”

Sam gaped at him for a moment in betrayal. “You jerk! I thought I was just really slow at them!”

“Well, you were kinda slow for thinking I'd do them the proper way,” said Dean, quirking an eyebrow.

Sam shook his head. “You're such a bastard.”

“Yep,” agreed Dean happily. “Want another drink?”

Sam raised his eyebrows, remembering what had happened the last couple of times they'd been drinking. “You trying to get me drunk? Cos I'm pretty sure you don't need to. I'm the one trying to persuade you to have sex, remember?”

Dean sighed. “Maybe I need to be drunk,” he muttered.

“Look, Dean,” started Sam.

“No,” interrupted Dean. “Sammy...” He pursed his lips and looked away, his gaze travelling round the bar. When he looked back, resolve had hardened his eyes. “Just, no, Sam. We're not doing this, and we're done talking about it.”

Sam scowled with frustration. “If you'd just tell me why, I'd shut up about it.”

Dean snorted in disbelief. “You never shut up about this kind of shit,” he muttered.

“I know you want it,” insisted Sam, sitting forward. “You can't hide from me – last night, and earlier...” he trailed off when Dean laughed harshly.

“Sure,” he said mockingly. “I'm just an open book to you.”

Sam gripped tight at his own knee to stop himself reaching out for Dean. “Come on, man,” he begged. “Just give me a reason.”

Dean leaned forward on the table between them, his voice dropping to a harsh whisper. “You want a reason?” he asked angrily. “I'll give you several. You're my baby brother, it's not right, you don't really want this, and I said No. No means no, Sam, even if I'm not a chick.”

Sam frowned. “How do you know if I want this or not?” he asked, ignoring Dean's other reasons.

Dean sat back with a sigh. “I know you, Sammy,” he said tiredly. “I mean, come on – did it ever even cross your mind before last week?”

That was true, and Sam took a moment to find an answer, before his brain caught on to what Dean hadn't said in his list of reasons. I said no was not the same as I don't want this. “Had it crossed yours?” he asked slowly.

Dean didn't reply. He didn't even look at Sam, just clenched his jaw tightly and glanced across the bar for a long minute.

“I'm going to phone Bobby,” he said after a silence that seemed to last forever. “Update him, see if he's got any ideas.” He got up and left the bar without looking back at Sam, leaving him behind to blink under the weight of the revelation.

Just how long had Dean been thinking about this? And if he'd wanted it for a while, why wasn't he just going for it now it was on offer?

You don't really want this. If Dean really believed that Sam was just suffering from temporary insanity and would change his mind later, there'd be no way he'd let anything happen. Sam just had to convince Dean that he did want this. Well, that couldn't be too hard, right? He sighed and resisted the temptation to knock his forehead against the table.

****
He sat in the bar for another ten minutes, trying to work out a plan of action that wouldn't end with Dean running for the hills. When he eventually gave up and left, Dean was just outside the door, leaning nonchalantly against the wall as if he wasn't waiting for Sam.

Sam leaned next to him without a word and they watched the traffic pass together for a few minutes.

“Bobby's still got nothing,” said Dean eventually.

Sam nodded – he'd expected as much. There was another silence while he tried to work out some way to put his thoughts into words that Dean might actually hear, but his mind was a blank.

“Bus'll be here soon,” said Dean, neutrally.

“Yeah,” agreed Sam, then just gave up and took a plunge. “Look, Dean,” Dean tensed as if waiting for a blow. “You're wrong about me not wanting this.”

Dean snorted. “Right,” he agreed sarcastically.

“I don't know how to prove that to you,” said Sam. “And I'm not even sure I should have to – you should trust me to know what I want.”

Dean didn't say anything for a long time, and Sam couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not. Either Dean was thinking about what he'd said, or he was ignoring it. Still, at least Sam had tried. He mentally put the ball in Dean's court, and fixed his eyes firmly on the corner of the road that the bus would appear around.

Just as it sailed into view, Dean sighed, sounding emotionally drained and pissed off all at once. “You should make sure you know whether you're going after this so hard because you actually want it, or because you just can't stand it when anyone says no to you.”

Sam whipped his head round to stare at him, but there was no time to reply. Dean stepped forward before the bus had even stopped moving, waving at the others on board with a false grin. Sam had to take a deep breath before he put his own 'happy tourist' face on, and forced down the emotional turmoil in his head.

****
Sam wasn't sure if the tension between him and Dean was obvious when they got back on the bus to head for Kejimkujik National Park, but he didn't really care what anyone that wasn't Dean thought at the moment. Dean spent the journey talking to the others, loud and cheerful, and Sam wasn't sure if he was still hopeful someone would drop a clue, or if he was just avoiding Sam.

Sam didn't join in, instead he leaned his head against the window and watched the landscape flash by, trying to work out what he should do next. Or even if he should do anything. Dean had made it clear that he wanted the whole thing forgotten after all, and it was true that Sam had never thought about it before. Maybe it was just a weird glitch caused by the case and their emotional proximity. Maybe Sam was just pursuing it through stubbornness and he'd end up changing his mind.

Except that he could still remember exactly how it had felt to kiss Dean in the pub; the rush of emotion and the sense of rightness and the warmth of Dean's body beneath his clothes. Now that he'd felt that, however briefly, he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to forget it and he certainly couldn't ever imagine not wanting to do it again.

The bus pulled in to a rough parking lot at the end of a long lane, surrounded by trees, before he'd come to any conclusions. There was a small collection of tiny wooden cabins scattered through the woods and grouped around a clearing.

“Okay, guys,” said Gerald, happily. “This is my favourite place that we stay on the tour. We've got the whole place to ourselves.” He waved a hand through the trees. “There's a lake just down there – absolutely beautiful, and this evening we'll have a campfire in the middle of the clearing. And yes, I do have the makings of s'mores, because I'm awesome. If you all want to settle in and unpack, then meet me by the lake, it's absolutely gorgeous to swim in.”

“Is that an acceptable substitution for not getting to swim in the sea?” Brian asked Dean.

Dean grinned widely. “Better,” he said. “No salt.”

Gerald mock-glared at him. “And, people, please can we keep the sex-in-the-outdoors to a minimum? I don't want to get asked not to come back here.”

“No worries about us,” said Ray. “That was way too uncomfortable to want to repeat immediately.”

****
The cabins were small, but comfortably furnished. Sam dumped his bag on the large double bed that took up most of the space, and glanced around at the tasteful wall-hangings, wondering what it would be like to go back to their usual tacky motel rooms. Dean rifled quickly through his bag and grabbed his swimming shorts and a towel.

“It's a communal bathroom,” he said. “I'm going to find it. See you down by the lake.” He left without looking directly at Sam, and Sam bit his tongue, then sighed. He pulled out his own shorts and changed into them, then headed down to the lake.

Most of the others were already down there, splashing around just off a short dock, but Dean wasn't there yet.

“Hey,” said Brian with respect from the water where he was leaning back against the edge of the dock. “Nice tatt.”

Sam glanced down at the symbol on his chest, slightly uncomfortably. “Thanks,” he said, resisting the urge to rub it. It was still new enough to be a slight surprise every time he glanced down at his body to see it there. “What's the temperature like?” he asked.

Brian kicked his legs up. “Bit cold,” he admitted, “but okay once you get in.”

Sam nodded, then took a running jump and dove into the water. He'd swum in enough lakes to know it was all about getting in quickly and getting used to it. The first shock of water was very cold, and he pulled himself underwater for a few strokes to let his body adjust. The water was very murky, and he made a mental note to avoid swallowing it as much as he could.

When he came up for air, flicking his hair back out of his eyes, Dean was standing on the dock, watching him with a slight frown.

“Cool!” said Paul. “You guys have matching tattoos!”

“Oh, now that's adorable,” said Victor. He and Marcus were sitting on the dock together, fully clothed but with their pants rolled up so that they could dangle their legs in the water.

Dean winced. Sam let his eyes linger down his brother's body, not just over the tattoo which stood out black against his skin, but down over his chest and the hard muscles of his stomach.

I want to lick along his abs, he thought. I want to taste the skin over his hipbones. That's not just confusion or stubbornness.

“Ray,” said Paul excitedly, “We should get matching tattoos!”

Ray looked less than convinced. “Don't they hurt?” he asked.

Dean shrugged. “It's not as bad as everyone thinks,” he said.

“It's a big commitment, though,” said Sam, watching Dean's face. “Something you'll have for the rest of your life.” Dean met his eyes, and Sam tried to convey what he really meant with his eyes. From the way Dean's jaw clenched, and then his eyes looked away, Sam figured he got it.

“Definitely adorable,” said Victor with a sigh.

“I want to tattoo my name on your ass,” said Paul to Ray.

Ray blanched. “Uh, maybe for our five-year anniversary.”

“One year,” suggested Paul.

Ray shook his head. “Five years,” he said firmly.

“Aw, come on,” said Paul, paddling closer to Ray. Ray squeaked slightly, and Sam wondered where exactly Paul's hand was, then bleached the thought from his mind.

“No sex in the lake,” said Gerald firmly.

Paul pouted and pulled away. “That's no fun,” he sulked.

“It's way more fun for the rest of us,” muttered Brian.

Dean took a running jump off the dock, but rather than dive in like Sam had, he bombed, sending up a massive splash.

Andrew, who was treading water close by, was drenched. “Watch out,” he bitched when Dean surfaced, grinning like a kid. Dean's glee at pissing Andrew off made Sam want to kiss him until that happiness was aimed at Sam. Instead, he turned away and started swimming out towards the centre of the lake, wondering what he was going to do if Dean didn't change his mind. He wasn't sure he could cope with wanting Dean but not being able to have him.

****
It was dusk when they finally got out of the water and getting cold enough to raise goosebumps on Sam's skin. He wrapped his towel around his shoulders and headed back to their cabin.

Dean hesitated for a moment, then nodded in the direction of the shower block. “Gonna have a warm shower first,” he said. “I'll see you in a bit.”

Sam pursed his lips and nodded, wondering how long Dean would keep avoiding being alone with him. Pretty soon it was going to get really annoying.

He rubbed himself roughly with the towel, then pulled on his clothes fast in an effort to warm up. He did his best to dry off his hair, but it was too long to be easily towel-dried. He thought glumly to himself that Dean's would probably be pretty much dry by the time he came back, and wondered if having longer hair was really worth it. A brief memory of just how bad his ears had looked when he'd had short hair after the Nair incident reminded him that it really was.

He left the cabin without waiting for Dean. He's probably just waiting for me to be gone anyway, he thought bitterly and headed towards the centre of the clearing, where he could see Gerald crouching next to the firepit and frowning.

There was a brief spark as he lit a match and then he swore when it went out without setting alight the small twig he was holding it against.

“Your twig's too big,” said Sam.

Gerald looked up at him with a grin. “That's what the all boys say,” he smirked, and Sam rolled his eyes at his own stupidity setting that one up.

“Let me,” he said, crouching down next to Gerald and taking the matches away from him.

Gerald surrendered them easily. “Brian usually does this bit,” he admitted.

Sam broke the twig up into small pieces, grabbed a handful of dry leaves for the first spark, and then tried again. It lit from the first match, and he sat back on his heels with a satisfied grin.

“Not bad,” Gerald allowed.

“I've had a lot of experience,” said Sam, and then regretted it.

Gerald snorted with amusement. “Baby, I don't doubt it.”

“Flirting with the tourists again?” asked Charlie from behind them.

Gerald turned round to grin at him, then stood up. “Well, I try to make sure everyone has the best possible time,” he said. “If that involves stroking their egos a bit, then sure.”

Charlie winked. “Oh, darling, you can stroke my ego any time.”

Gerald laughed. “How about you just help me get the marshmallows and graham crackers from the bus, while Sam does his manly fire thing?”

Charlie shrugged. “I'll settle for that,” he replied.

Gerald glanced at Sam. “You're okay here?” he asked.

Sam nodded and waved them away. “I promise I won't burn the forest down,” he said.

“No,” agreed Gerald as he and Charlie headed off back to the parking lot. “You're far too experienced for that.”

****
Nick and James came out to the campfire just before Dean did, and sat down together on one of the logs that surrounded it, talking quietly to each other. When Dean came out, he stood and watched Sam adding wood to the fire for several moments, and Sam tensed slightly under his scrutiny.

Dean didn't say anything though, just waited until Sam had the fire going well enough for it to not need any more attention and had shifted back to sit on the nearest log, then he sat down next to Sam. Dean leaned in close enough that Sam could feel his breath on his cheek and he thought for a single heart-stopping moment that he was going to kiss him.

Instead, he said in a quiet undertone. “They were talking about us in the bathroom.”

Sam's eyes darted over to James and Nick, then he forced himself to look away. “About your 'alcoholism'?” he asked, just as softly as Dean.

“No,” replied Dean. “They were talking about our scars – how we had too many for a mechanic and a law clerk. Then James mentioned the fight the other night – the way they were talking, they're definitely investigating.”

“But they're not hunters,” said Sam.

Dean shook his head. “They'd have recognised our tattoos,” he pointed out, and Sam nodded, sighing.

Dean kept his head close to Sam's, and Sam could tell that Dean's hair was already dry like he'd predicted, while his own was still damp at the ends, curling coldly against his neck. Dean shifted, as if he was going to move back now that the conversation was apparently over, and Sam moved his arm without thinking about it, looping it around Dean's back and keeping him close.

“Sam,” said Dean warningly, glancing over at Nick and James again.

“Don't panic,” said Sam, “just sitting with my boyfriend.”

“I'm not your boyfriend,” whispered Dean harshly.

Sam sighed. “No,” he agreed. “You're more than that.”

Dean tensed up but didn't move, although Sam could feel his discomfort almost emanating in waves. “Sam,” he growled.

“No,” said Sam quickly, before Dean could start. “Just listen, Dean. I can't prove to you how much I want you unless you give me a chance. Either you trust me to know my own mind, and we do this thing, or we're going to be stuck trying to pretend it's not there for...for ages.” Dean didn't speak, or even move, and Sam sighed, leaning his forehead down on Dean's shoulder for a moment as if he was just a kid again, and Dean still had all the answers.

“I can't imagine ever not wanting this,” he confessed quietly into Dean's shirt, not sure if he could even hear him. “But if you want to wait, then I guess we'll wait. Just...don't make me wait forever. Please.”

Dean shifted his shoulder under the weight of Sam's head, and drew in a breath as if he was going to speak, but before he could say whatever it was, James let out a loud gasp.

“What the hell is that?”

Sam lifted his head to see one of the monsters standing in the shadow of the nearest cabin. When it saw Sam looking at it, it growled.

“Fuck,” swore Dean, sounding more pissed off than surprised, and they both stood up.

“Keep away from it,” Sam instructed James and Nick as the monster growled again and started to prowl towards them. Sam couldn't help noticing that its eyes were fixed on him intently as it moved closer. Great, it really is after me.

“And close to the fire,” added Dean. He started circling round to the left, keeping his eyes on the creature and his hand on the butt of his gun. Sam gripped his own gun with one hand, but didn't draw it yet. So far, the monsters had always fled the minute they saw a gun and Sam wanted this one to get close enough for him to have time to shoot it before it disappeared again.

“Where's the other one?” he asked Dean, unwilling to take his eyes off the one that was now definitely stalking him to look around.

“No idea,” said Dean. “Let's just get this one now and worry about the other one later.”

“Okay,” agreed Sam, just as the monster went from its slow slink towards him into a rush of motion. He drew his gun fast and managed to get off two shots, at least one of which went wide, and then threw himself to the right as it jumped at him, roaring. There was another roar from his left, where Dean was, and several fast gunshots just as Sam managed to roll out of the path of the monster's leap.

“Found the other one,” yelled Dean, but Sam couldn't spare a moment's attention to look, even when there was another growl and more gunshots. The dim part of his mind that was keeping track pointed out that not all the gunshots could be coming from Dean, or he'd have run out of bullets already, but Sam really didn't have time to worry about where the other gunshots could be coming from.

He stood up as fast as he could, and spun around to where the creature that had leaped at him had landed. It snarled at him, and he raised his gun, certain to hit it this time, now that it was at point-blank range and trapped between him and the fire.

Just before he fired, there was a yell from Dean and a roar from his left, and the other monster leapt on him. His shot missed and the creature he'd been targeting jumped straight over the fire and ran full-tilt for the trees. The one who'd knocked Sam down scrambled after it, zigzagging to avoid the bullets that Dean sent flying after it. They both disappeared before Sam had even stood back up.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” swore Dean.

The door of one of the cabins surrounding the clearing banged open, and Andrew rushed out, then stopped suddenly in shock when he took in the scene in front of him. Sam and Dean weren't the only ones with guns - Nick and James were both holding guns in a casual, familiar way, and Sam remembered the extra gunshots he'd heard.

“What the hell is going on?” Andrew asked in a freaked voice.

“Who are you guys?” Sam asked James and Nick.

“Special Agent Nicholas Harding, FBI,” Nick replied, and Dean muttered a curse word.

“That's all we need – the damned Feds,” he bitched.

“Holy crap, Nick,” said James in a shocked voice, bringing up his gun again and pointing it at Dean. “I've just worked out where I've seen him before. He's that Winchester guy Henriksen is obsessed with.”

“Fuck,” swore Nick, bringing up his own gun.

“Which would make you his brother,” continued James, waving his gun at Sam.

“You're brothers?!” asked Andrew incredulously.

“Look, guys,” Sam said, trying to sound calm. “It's not what you think. We're not psychos, we haven't killed anyone.”

“Let me guess – all just a case of mistaken identity; wrong place at the wrong time. Like accidentally being on a tour that a serial killer is targeting,” said Nick, his gun not wavering at all.

“Serial killer?!” asked Andrew in a voice that was almost a squeak. Everyone ignored him.

“We're here for the same reason you are,” said Sam. “To stop the murders. And those things,” he gestured off in the direction the monsters had disappeared in, “are the ones responsible, not us.”

Nick scoffed. “Michael Turner wasn't killed by bears in the Canadian wilderness.”

“No,” agreed Dean, “He was killed by shape-shifting bear-monsters in his own home. But unless we quit fooling around, waving guns at each other, we'll be killed by shape-shifting bear-monsters in the Canadian wilderness.”

“What the hell?” exclaimed Andrew. “Will somebody please explain to me what's going on?”

“We need to find the others,” said Sam, glancing back at the woods. “They could attack again.”

“You're both under arrest,” disagreed Nick, cocking his gun. “Put your weapons down.”

“Like hell we will,” said Dean. “You put your weapons down.”

“We're not the ones under arrest,” pointed out James.

“Yeah, but you are the ones whose guns are gonna be useless if those things come back. Unless the FBI switched to silver ammo without telling anyone.” Dean's reminder about the monsters made Sam glance over at the edge of the woods, and he saw a dark shape watching them from just beyond the tree line. He swung as fast as he could, but it was already gone by the time he fired.

The shot cut through the tense stand-off, and he dropped the hand holding his gun. “They're hanging around this time,” he said to Dean.

“It's the perfect place for them to finish this,” realised Dean. “Nothing but woods for miles. If they want to kill someone before the tour ends, they'll do it this evening.”

“We need to get the others,” said Sam. “If they decide to go after easier prey...” He turned to James and Nick. “Just give us tonight. If you still want to arrest us in the morning, we won't put up any resistance, but let's worry about the monsters first.”

James was staring off into the woods, with wider eyes. Nick glanced at his face, then at the woods himself, before looking back at Dean. Sam saw his resolve waver. “I don't know,” he said slowly.

“Look,” said Dean heavily, “these sons of bitches are stalking my brother. No way I'm going to just give my gun away.”

Nick twisted his mouth in indecision, then sighed and put his gun up, clicking the safety on. “This is such a mistake,” he muttered.

“Best decision you've made all week,” said Dean with a smarmy grin as he dropped his own gun arm, but Sam could see real relief underneath it.

“We really need to find the others,” said Sam, glancing around the clearing again.

“Hopefully, we'll find all of them except two,” said Dean grimly. Sam winced at the reminder that they were hunting two guys that they'd spent the last two weeks with, and started running through where everyone had gone.

Paul and Ray had left the lake while almost everyone else was still swimming, so that they could have sex. Or, at least, that was what they'd implied. Marcus and Victor had gotten bored of watching the others swim not long after that, and gone back to their cabin. They'd tried to imply they were going to have sex as well, but Sam had privately thought they were more likely to just have a nap. Gerald and Charlie were getting the s'mores supplies from the bus, but shouldn't they have been back by now? Surely they'd have heard the gunshots?

Dean met his eyes with a serious look that said he knew what Sam was thinking. “Paul and Ray's cabin is closest,” he said softly. Sam nodded, glanced back at the woods one last time, and followed him down the little path that led to the other cabins.

****
Sam had to talk Dean out of just bursting into Paul and Ray's cabin, guns waving. Instead, they knocked politely, and Paul answered the door clearly half-asleep, and with a towel wrapped round his waist that Sam was willing to bet hadn't been there just a moment before.

“What the fuck?” asked Paul, taking in the guns. “What the hell is going on?”

“No time to explain,” said Dean tersely. “Get Ray.”

“And get dressed,” added Sam.

“What?” asked Paul in confusion.

Nick sighed. “Jesus,” he said to Sam and Dean, “You guys really don't have any people skills, do you?” He turned to Paul. “James and I are undercover FBI agents. There's no need to panic, but everyone's lives might be in danger. Get dressed quickly – we're going to get to the bus and get out of here.”

Paul's eyes went wide. “Christ,” he said shakily, and turned away, leaving the door half open.

Andrew snorted and shook his head. “'No need to panic but everyone's lives might be in danger'? And you think Dean doesn't have any people skills?”

Sam turned slowly round as Nick glared back at Andrew, checking the dark shadows between the trees and the cabins. Nothing seemed to be moving, but for some reason he couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched. His wariness must have transmitted itself to Dean, who also turned to gaze around at the area, then knocked twice on the ajar door.

“Hurry up,” he called. There was some muffled muttering from inside, then Paul and Ray appeared, fully clothed.

“I hope we're going to get a proper explanation for this,” grumbled Ray.

“I wouldn't bet on it,” bitched Andrew. “I haven't yet.”

****
They didn't get as far as Victor and Marcus's cabin. They were passing the long building that housed the bathroom facilities when they heard a loud groan from inside. Sam and Dean froze and exchanged worried glances with Nick and James, before carefully moving towards the door, guns in hand.

There was another sound as Dean carefully pushed open the door – a long, breathy moan, and it was enough to tell Sam that it wasn't monsters that they were walking in on.

Gerald was leaning against the wall, pants round his knees and head thrown back while Charlie knelt before him, enthusiastically sucking his cock. Sam stopped in surprise, just as Gerald opened his eyes to see them.

“Fuck!” he said loudly, and pushed Charlie off his dick. Charlie looked around, and then collapsed back on his heels when he saw them, his eyes focused beyond Sam and Dean on where Andrew must be. Sam turned round to see Andrew's reaction himself, feeling like a voyeur at a car-wreck.

Andrew's lips were pressed so tightly together that they'd gone white. For a moment, Sam thought he was going to turn and run, then he took a deep breath and released it.

“The tour guide, Charlie? How...completely lacking in class.” Charlie went red but didn't move, ignoring the way Gerald was frantically pulling up his pants. Andrew let out a harsh bark of laughter. “This holiday was meant to be a new start,” he gritted through his teeth. “I guess you just don't care enough to even give us two weeks.”

Charlie's nostrils flared angrily, and he stood up. “Me?” he asked, “You were the one going after Sam before we'd even been here two days!”

“Nothing happened,” said Sam quickly, but neither of them were listening to him.

“You joined the Mile High Club with the steward on the flight up here!” yelled Andrew. Charlie winced. “And then you had the gall to act as if I wouldn't notice!”

“I figured you were too busy with your damned medical journals,” said Charlie bitterly. “You usually are.”

Andrew glared at him. “I always notice when you cheat on me,” he said, hurt so thick in his voice that Sam could practically see it. Charlie glanced down at the floor.

“O-kay then,” said Dean carefully. “Let's save the rest of this for later – we need to find Brian, Victor and Marcus first.”

Gerald cleared his throat, and edged around Charlie. “Brian's staying with a lady-friend tonight,” he said. “What's going on?” he asked, noticing the guns and tense expressions for the first time.

Dean ignored the question. “Wasn't he staying with a lady-friend when we were in Halifax?”

Gerald shrugged. “He has a lot of them.”

Dean grinned widely. “A girl in each port. I knew I liked the guy.”

Sam felt bile rise up in his throat, and he turned to leave the bathroom. “We should get to Marcus and Victor's cabin,” he said.

“Why?” asked Gerald, as the others followed him out. “What's going on? Where did you get those guns? You know you can't hunt here, right? This is a national park.”

Sam ignored him, and glanced round at the shadows, which were getting deeper as night fell properly. Was something moving behind that tree? He stopped to squint at it properly, bringing his gun up.

“Sam?” asked Dean softly.

“Something moved,” he said, straining his eyes against the dying light.

“Everyone keep back,” ordered Dean, and Sam felt more than saw him coming up to stand beside him.

There was a roar from behind them, surprised yells and a particularly girly scream from Ray, and then a heavy weight sent Sam crashing forward. He lost his grip on his gun, and it went flying off into the dark.

“Sam!” yelled Dean in fear, and Sam felt hot breath on his neck, and the sharp sting of claws raking down his back. All the breath had been knocked out of his body, and for a moment he struggled just to breathe.

Fuckfuckfuck gotta get my knife. But his knife was tucked in his boot, and he was trapped under the monster with no hope of getting at it. Teeth grazed at his neck like a warning, and he jerked away, then flung his head suddenly backwards, catching the creature with a hard blow. It gave a yelp and its weight shifted, but it didn't move off him. Pain radiated from everywhere it was pressing down on him, and the effort of breathing with something so heavy on him began to make his lungs burn.

There was a growl and gunshots from where Dean had been, and Sam realised he wasn't getting any help from that corner because the other monster had Dean pinned down. Besides, any shots that hit the one on Sam's back would go straight through and into Sam at this range.

Sam tried head-butting the monster again, but it was ready for that trick now and easily avoided him, shifting its back legs so that he could feel claws digging into him through his jeans. It wasn't attacking him properly though, even with his neck right under its teeth, and he wondered why, even as he tried to work an arm free to defend himself with.

There was another three quick shots, and Sam wished he knew how many were from Dean, and how many from Nick and James. Surely Dean's gun must be getting low on ammo? The monster on Sam's back growled slightly, then shifted back until most of its weight wasn't on him any more, and grasped at his shoulder with one massive paw, claws sinking into his skin and making him swear with pain. It started to pull him roughly round, and he thought, of course. It wants to get at my heart while it's still pumping.

He flailed hard with his arm when it came free from underneath him and hit hard at the monster, but it just ignored Sam's blows and growled again. There was another loud shot, and a pained cry from the other monster.

“Get off him!” yelled Dean, “Or I'll finish your friend off!”

The creature paused and Sam took the chance to buck up against its weight.

“Move off him, or I'll shoot this bastard in the head,” said Dean.

The monster gave something that sounded like a little sigh and shifted backwards off Sam. Sam took a deep breath as soon as most of the monster's weight was off him, then pulled himself up to his feet. Dean was holding his gun on the other monster, who was collapsed limply on his side, blood seeping out from a bullet wound in his flank. The others were all huddled back against the wall of the bathroom cabin; Nick and James stood protectively in front of them, holding their guns.

“You okay?” Dean asked.

Sam took a moment to check. “Yeah,” he decided after a moment. He glanced around for his gun, but wherever it had flown off to, he couldn't see it.

The monster who'd attacked him stood up high on its hind legs and shook itself all over, violently, like a wet dog. When it paused, it looked less like a bear and more like a person. It grimaced at him, then shook again, until it was recognisable as Victor.

“Holy shit,” murmured someone from behind them, but Sam ignored it in favour of bending down to pull his knife out of his boot. His clawed-up legs and the strained muscles in his back loudly complained about the motion, but he was damned if he was going to end up in another fight without a weapon.

There was still something distinctly bearlike about Victor when he started talking, a rough note like a growl in his voice. “You boys have really made this trip entertaining. It's almost going to be a shame when I rip Sam's heart out.”

“Why me?” asked Sam, stalling for a moment so that he could get at least some of his breath back.

Victor grinned widely with teeth that were too long and pointed for a human mouth. “Because you're the most loved person on this trip, Sammy,” he said. “And that means you'll be the most mourned.” He turned to Dean. “Your grief is going to taste so sweet.”

“You son of a bitch,” Dean growled at him.

Victor's grin grew. “Oh yeah, stay angry,” he said. “You're too stubborn to kill yourself like Kyle – years of beautiful grief, all gone in the time it takes to swallow a bottle of pills. So sad.”

“You feed on grief?” Sam asked incredulously. “What about the hearts?”

“Heart is good for you,” said Victor primly. “Full of iron. And it gives us a link in to all that lovely pain.”

“Oh, screw this,” said Dean. “No one's going to eat Sammy's heart.” He pulled his gun up fast from where it was still pointed at the wounded monster, who must be Marcus, realised Sam, and pulled the trigger when it was aimed at Victor's head.

There was a dull click instead of the loud bang Sam was expecting and he realised with a sinking feeling that Dean had lost count of his shots as well.

Victor laughed viciously and turned back to Sam, already morphing back into something much wilder. “Say goodbye, Sammy,” he growled, and then sprang at Sam, hands elongating into claws in mid air.

Sam threw himself backwards and held his knife out, letting the weight of Victor's body drive him onto it, then sliced upwards, trying to hit as many internal organs as possible. Victor grunted and snapped at his neck, and Sam shoved him as hard as he could, then rolled them over until he was on top. He pulled his knife free with a tug, sending blood splattering down his clothes, and slashed it across Victor's throat. Victor gave a half-choking exhale of breath, then his eyes went dark and his body went limp.

Sam let out a long breath and got off the body, then collapsed down on the grass. Dean was standing over Marcus's body, holding his own knife, and he met Sam's eyes for a brief moment.

“Okay?” he asked. Sam nodded. “Awesome,” said Dean, and kicked Marcus's body. “Thank fuck that's over.”

****
Nick and James helped them dig a rough grave at the edge of the clearing with the firepit in it. The others watched in numb shock as they slung first Marcus's body, then Victor's, into the hole, soaked them down with petrol and set them alight.

“Still want to arrest us?” asked Dean as the flames engulfed the bodies.

Nick shook his head tiredly. “No, I reckon you get a free pass on this one.” There was a long pause, then he added, “I can only speak for me and James though. We're going to have to contact the police about Marcus and Victor's 'disappearance' and our reports will have to include information about the two of you that will probably mean they'll work out your real identities.”

Sam sighed. “Yeah, we know,” he said. Usual thing - save the day, then get the hell out of Dodge before we get arrested.

“Soon as we're done here,” said Dean, “we'll head back to the States.”

Nick nodded in understanding, his mouth twisting unhappily. Sam looked down at the fire burning in the hole and thought about going back to how things were before – being so close to Dean all the time but not having the excuse to touch him and watching him go off with every pretty girl prepared to drop her panties at the flash of his grin – and suddenly the smell of burning flesh made him feel queasy.

He stepped back from the grave. “I'm going to pack up our stuff,” he muttered, and headed back to their cabin without looking at Dean.

Victor had managed to claw up Sam's jeans and shirt as well as his back and legs, so he changed into clean clothes and tucked the old ones into his bag to be thrown away later. When he'd gotten all their stuff shoved back in their bags, he dumped them by the door and went to see if he could find where his gun had flown off to when Victor had tackled him earlier. He wasn't going to leave it to be found by some over-zealous Mountie unless he had to, not when it had his fingerprints all over it.

James joined him when he walked back through the clearing where the others were and followed him in silence. Sam wasn't sure if he wanted to talk or was keeping an eye on him, but he'd reached the stage where he didn't really care.

James watched as he cast around the area they'd fought in, but it was fully dark now and Sam couldn't completely remember what direction the gun had gone in. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, he turned to James with a scowl, meaning to ask him to help. James was standing by the dark patch of blood where Victor had died, staring down at it. Sam made a mental note to clean it up later. The fewer clues they left the police, the better.

“Do you do this kind of thing a lot?” James asked suddenly.

“Pretty often,” admitted Sam warily.

James nodded. “This was my first time,” he said, still staring at the blood soaking into the grass. “I'm a desk-jockey really. I work in the Fraud division – I wasn't really lying when I said I was an accountant. It's just I'm the kind with a badge.” He paused, then added reflectively, “I'm not sure I'm any good at this undercover investigation thing.”

Sam frowned. “How come you're on the case then?” he asked.

James shrugged. “They needed a gay couple. And Nick's been on Violent Crime for years. I just...I didn't think it would be like this.”

Sam snorted, and resumed the hunt for his gun. “I'm pretty sure most FBI cases don't end with shapeshifting monsters.”

“Yeah,” agreed James. He toed at the blood for a moment, then let out a long, tense breath. “I need...I'm gonna find Nick,” he muttered, and walked back towards the clearing with fast steps.

Sam turned back to poking at the bushes. He wasn't really surprised when Dean appeared a few minutes later.

“You better not have lost that gun,” he bitched, watching Sam.

“We can buy another one,” Sam pointed out. Dean scowled at the suggestion, just as Sam had known he would. Dean got sentimentally attached to all their weaponry – Sam wasn't entirely sure he hadn't given all their guns names.

Dean joined in the search, going through the long grass growing at the base of the cabin wall. “Evil guys are all burnt,” he offered after a few moments of silence. “The others are just filling in the hole now.”

“Good,” said Sam. Was that the gun, or just a stick?

“They're going to wait on calling the police till tomorrow – tell them they just woke up and Victor and Marcus were gone.”

Sam nodded. “That'll give us some breathing space.” It was just a stick. Damnit, where had the damned thing gone?

“Yeah,” agreed Dean. “Gerald says there's a rest stop about forty-five minutes' walk away, so I reckon we just hike over there, then steal a car and head for the ferry port.”

“So we should be back in Maine by morning,” said Sam, straightening up and casting his eye back over the ground around them. Maybe it had gone further than he thought, and made it all the way over to the line of trees?

“Yeah,” said Dean again, sounding distracted. He muttered, “Oh, fuck it,” under his breath and grabbed Sam round the neck, pulling him down into a hard kiss.

Sam froze in shock for a moment, then his brain kicked in. This is what you want, it reminded him, and he grabbed at Dean's shoulders, pulling him closer even as Dean was pushing him back up against the cabin wall, still desperately laying claim to Sam's mouth with his tongue. Dean's hands descended down Sam's body, clutching hard at his clothes, alternatively pushing and pulling, as if Dean couldn't quite decide what he wanted to do with Sam.

Sam just pulled Dean in as close as he could, feeling the hard line of his body pressed tight up against his, and let Dean burrow his hands underneath Sam's clothes until he was grasping at Sam's waist.

Dean pulled back for a second when he reached skin, and Sam thought for a horrible moment that he was going to pull away again, but instead he hissed, “Do you know how many times you could have died tonight?”

Dean didn't wait for an answer before diving back into Sam's mouth, blocking any words Sam might have come up with. His fingers slid beneath Sam's waistband, and Sam sucked in a sudden breath.

“We might never have had this,” muttered Dean against his lips, and then suddenly fell to his knees, pulling hard at Sam's jeans.

“Dean,” Sam managed to say, every vein in his body pumping fast with lust. “Dean.”

Dean yanked down Sam's pants as soon as the zipper was open, pulling down his boxers at the same time. He paused for a long, heart-stopping moment in which all words fled Sam's brain and just stared at Sam's cock, then leant forward and sucked it down, taking Sam in deeper and harder than he'd ever have expected.

“Fuck,” exhaled Sam, “fuck, Dean,” but he couldn't string together anything more coherent than that, not when Dean was sucking his cock as if he'd die without it, as if he'd been waiting his whole life just to feel Sam in his mouth.

Sam clutched desperately at Dean's head, then thought better of it and pulled his hands into tight fists instead, not wanting to do anything that might make Dean stop. When he came, he couldn't stop himself from gasping out Dean's name, and Dean clutched hard at his hips as he swallowed down Sam's come.

“Jesus fuck,” Sam breathed out, leaning all his weight back against the wall behind him as his knees threatened to give in.

Dean sat back on his heels and smoothed a hand over Sam's hip. “We're still not talking about this,” he said in a warning tone.

Sam couldn't bring himself to care, too caught up in Dean blew me. And it was awesome. He let himself slide down the wall, ignoring the rough burn of wood against the injuries on his back, until he was sitting on the ground in front of Dean.

“Dean,” he said again, and reached a hand out to touch him, swiping his thumb over Dean's lips, those lips that had just been wrapped around his cock.

Dean squinted at him, looking worried. “Did I break your brain?” he asked. “I mean, I know I'm awesome, but...”

Sam cut him off by leaning forward and pulling their mouths together, kissing Dean with everything he was feeling. He clutched at Dean's face, not wanting to let go for a second, then let one hand drift down to Dean's crotch, where he could feel the hard line of Dean's cock pressing against his jeans. He squeezed it gently and Dean flinched away.

“Not here,” he said, glancing back towards where the others were.

“But you will let me later?” asked Sam, suddenly unsure. It would be just like Dean to not let Sam give this back to him.

Dean nodded jerkily. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, just...later, Sammy.”

Sam nodded, letting it go, and kissed Dean again, deep and thorough, like a promise of what was to come. “I'm gonna hold you to that,” he whispered. Dean shivered, then cleared his throat and sat back, away from Sam.

He frowned slightly, then reached down to pull something out from underneath him, grinning with triumph when he saw what it was. “Found the gun,” he said happily.

Sam couldn't stop himself from grinning back. “Then we're all set to blow this popsicle stand,” he said.

****
They gave Gerald their mobile number – 'in case anything else weird happens' – said goodbye to the others, and set off towards the rest stop. They were both walking too close together, hips and shoulders jostling, but Sam waited until they'd turned the first corner and were definitely out of sight of the others before reaching out for Dean, sliding his hand into Dean's back pocket. Dean shot him an amused look, but didn't say anything. He just walked even closer.
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Chapter Text

When they got to the rest-stop, Dean hot-wired a Pontiac and took off fast in the direction of Yarmouth before whoever owned it could come running out of the tiny service station. He drove with his foot heavy on the gas, occasionally tapping a rhythm on the steering wheel, and Sam knew that if they'd been in the Impala with Dean's tape collection, rock music would be blasting.

As the adrenalin started to wear off, Sam began to become uncomfortably aware of the scratches and bruises all down his back and legs from where Victor had held him down. He found himself hunching forward so that his back didn't rub against the seat and trying hard to put as little pressure as possible on the backs of his thighs.

After about twenty minutes, Dean let out a frustrated huff of air and pulled over on to the edge of the road.

“You gonna let me look at your back?” he asked.

Sam sighed and glanced around at the cars passing by on the road before turning his back to Dean and carefully pulling his shirts over his head. Dean turned on the overhead light and leaned in close to examine him. Sam held very still under his scrutiny, but couldn't stop himself from twitching slightly when Dean put a hand on his shoulder.

“He didn't bite you, right?” asked Dean, running his hand gently down the edge of Sam's shoulder-blade, skirting one of the scratches.

“They weren't werewolves,” Sam pointed out, trying to keep his voice steady. “We don't even know if they were contagious.”

Dean's hand stopped moving. “Sam,” he said in a warning tone.

Sam made a face to himself. “No, he didn't bite me,” he said in a long-suffering tone.

Dean nodded and continued his examination, tracing his hand further down Sam's spine and making him shiver. “You hurt anywhere else?”

“Back of my legs,” admitted Sam, then deliberately lowered his voice. “Want me to take my pants off?”

There was silence for a very long minute and Sam began to think that Dean was going to say yes. He was trying to work out the logistics of sex in the front seat of the car when Dean cleared his throat and moved back.

“Not here,” he said regretfully, then reached into the back to grab his duffle. “We haven't got time to clean those now, but you should take a couple of painkillers so that you can sit without squirming.”

Sam reluctantly pulled his shirts back on and took the pills Dean handed him. Dean watched him swallow them, then started the car and got back on the road.

****
They abandoned the car in the parking lot at the ferry port and got tickets as foot passengers, both of them trying not to look around too obviously for law enforcement officers.

There was an hour's wait before the next ferry, so they found a couple of chairs that faced the door in the waiting room. Dean twitched nervously every time it opened, but the long night and the effects of the pills made Sam way too tired to care if they ended up being arrested by the Canadians. In the end, he just shut his eyes and let himself doze off, leaving Dean to it.

When Dean woke him to get on the ferry, Sam's head was cushioned against Dean's shoulder. Neither of them mentioned it.

Sam would have been quite happy to just find somewhere on the ferry to continue his sleep, but Dean hustled them into a restroom before the ferry had even left port. He checked the cubicles to make sure they were alone then blocked the door with a trash can. Sam watched him with a growing sense of anticipation.

Once Dean was sure that they weren't about to be disturbed, he turned to Sam. “Shirts off,” he said tersely.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “What, you're not going to take them off for me?”

Dean glared at him. “I'm going to clean those scratches,” he said.

Sam pushed down his disappointment and pulled off his shirts as Dean dug around in his bag for their first aid kit, then ran some hot water into a sink.

Dean's hand was gentle as he cleaned the scratches and Sam watched his frown of concentration in the mirror. He traced over every single one of Sam's injuries, even the ones that Sam could tell were little more than a red line, and Sam had to work hard to keep his breathing calm and even, especially as Dean's hands strayed further down, towards his waistband. When he poured on the disinfectant, Sam dipped his head and sucked in a breath at the sudden sting. When he looked back up, Dean was staring at him in the mirror. Sam locked eyes with him for a long moment, then Dean looked away, glancing back down at Sam's back as if he'd been caught out.

“All done,” he said, clearing his throat, and Sam turned round to face him, leaning back against the sinks.

“There's the back of my legs as well,” he reminded Dean. “Want me to take my pants off?”

Dean glared at him as if he'd suggested they ditch the Impala for a Toyota, then reluctantly nodded. “Don't get any ideas, though,” he warned. “This isn't a good place for getting frisky.”

Sam laughed as he undid his jeans and pulled them down. “Dean, you've probably had sex in more restrooms than most people have even been in.”

Dean scowled, and gestured at him to turn around again. “Yeah, well, this is different,” he said.

Sam raised an eyebrow, turning to brace himself on the sinks again. “Because we're on a ferry?”

Dean crouched down behind him and Sam had to shut his eyes against a sudden rush of mental images of what he could get up to in that position.

Dean didn't reply immediately. Instead he started cleaning out the claw marks down Sam's legs but after a couple of quiet minutes, he muttered in voice so quiet that Sam was positive he wasn't meant to hear it, “Because you're worth more.”

Before Sam could comment, Dean doused him in disinfectant, and Sam let out a gasp of shock and clenched hard at the edge of the sinks.

Dean stood up and stepped back. “Right, you're done,” he said with fake cheeriness. “Get your clothes on.”

He busied himself with packing everything away while Sam slowly pulled his jeans back on, doing his zipper up carefully over his half-hard cock. Dean was already hovering by the door, bag over his shoulder, by the time Sam had pulled his shirts back on and hefted his own bag.

“Ready?” asked Dean.

“Not quite,” said Sam. Dean quirked an impatient eyebrow at him and Sam just grinned as he stepped forward to kiss him, rubbing one thumb over Dean's cheekbone as he sucked gently on Dean's tongue. “Thanks,” he said when he stepped back.

Dean stared at him for a long moment, then shook his head, moved the trash can and opened the door.

****
Dean's relief at getting back to the Impala was almost palpable. He ran his hands down over her body as if looking for any dents that might have mysteriously appeared in the last two weeks while she sat in a garage.

“Hey, baby,” he said, as if it was perfectly normal to talk to a car. “I'm sorry, I'll never leave you again. Especially not for a fuck-ugly minibus.”

Sam rolled his eyes but left him to it, opening up the trunk so he could dump their stuff inside. “I take it we're leaving now?” he asked.

Dean nodded absently, examining a tiny spot on the paintwork. “Yeah, if the Feds are looking for us, then Bar Harbor will be crawling with them as soon as they get their act together.” He finally gave up his inspection, and got into the driver's side.

Sam settled into the passenger side seat, surprised by just how familiar and comfortable it seemed after two weeks on a bus. Dean turned over the engine and grinned gleefully at the roar.

“Now that's what an engine should sound like,” he said. Sam snorted, then relaxed back against the window and stretched his legs out as much as he could.

“Wake me up when you want to switch,” he said tiredly, letting his eyes slide shut.

“Won't be any time soon,” said Dean as they turned out of the motel parking lot. “Me and my baby've got some catching up to do.”

Sam didn't bother responding and was asleep before they'd even hit the freeway.

****
When Sam woke up, the sun was high in the sky, they were pulled over on the edge of the freeway, and Dean was poking the strip of flesh that was showing where Sam's shirt had pulled up.

“Your turn to drive,” he announced when he saw Sam's eyes were open, but he didn't move his hand. Instead, his fingers brushed lightly over Sam's stomach, making his flesh tingle.

“Uh, right,” said Sam, still only half-awake. He sat up properly, hoping that it wouldn't prompt Dean to stop touching him. It didn't.

“Where are we?” he asked, glancing around.

Dean shrugged. “Somewhere south of Boston,” he said. He clenched his hand into a fist and ran his knuckles across Sam's hipbone, then sighed tiredly and pulled away. “I'm beat,” he said, opening his car door. “Definitely your turn to drive.”

Sam shifted over as Dean walked round the car and settled down into the passenger seat. “Don't crash my car,” he murmured, and Sam grinned. He could count on one hand the times he'd driven the Impala and Dean hadn't told him that first, and most of them involved Dean being unconscious, or not knowing that Sam had the car at all.

“Don't worry,” he said, patting Dean's leg reassuringly. “I'll be gentle with her.”

Dean snorted, but Sam could tell he really was exhausted when he didn't add any further threats. Sam pulled back out onto the road, and let himself fall into the rhythm of long-distance driving.

****
Sam drove for five or six hours, until the sun was starting to go down, trying to keep his eyes and concentration on the road and not on his brother, who stayed in deep sleep for pretty much the entire drive. He found it increasingly hard as the afternoon wore on not to fixate on the fact that they'd probably have sex before another day had passed. He allowed himself a tiny gay freak-out at around four o'clock, mostly revolving around the mechanics of the whole thing. Whose ass? Whose dick? What if I get it wrong and mess the whole thing up? He wished he'd had more time to do some research.

He followed that up with an incest freak-out. Oh, God, I'm thinking about having sex with my brother. Then he took a deep breath and started calming himself down before Dean woke up. This is Dean. Doesn't matter if he's my brother, or if we don't get it quite right first time. It's Dean.

It was nearly seven when he turned the car into the parking lot of the Milky Way Motel. Dean opened his eyes almost as soon as the engine was off and Sam wondered if he'd really been asleep, or if he was just so tuned in to the sound of the Impala's engine that he automatically woke up when it ended. He stretched awkwardly and glanced around.

“Where are we?” he asked.

Sam shrugged. “Middle of Pennsylvania somewhere. I figured we were far enough away to stop for the night.”

Dean nodded. “Man, I'm starving,” he complained. “Let's get a room, and then I want a massive steak. And pie, today is definitely a pie day.”

Sam rolled his eyes as he got out of the car, wondering exactly which days Dean didn't think were pie days.

They both went into the motel's office but Sam let Dean do all the talking, content to just look at the tourist pamphlets in the rack.

“Room for the night, please,” said Dean cheerfully, slapping down a credit card.

The man behind the desk nodded. “King or two queens?” he asked, and suddenly there seemed to be a vacuum in the room. Now that the case was over, they didn't need to sleep in the same bed and Sam wasn't sure just how this thing they had was going to go. He felt Dean's eyes on him, and he carefully kept his face neutral, concentrating hard on the poster for Cherry Springs National Park.

International Dark Sky Park! it exclaimed excitedly, while the pause seemed to grow and grow, until Dean cleared his throat awkwardly.

“Uh, king, I guess,” he said. Sam stared at the picture of a starlit sky above the dark silhouette of pine trees and tried hard not to break into a grin.

****
Sometimes Sam was almost convinced that Dean had his own psychic power; the ability to find a restaurant serving exactly what he wanted to eat within five minutes' drive of wherever they were staying. There was a steakhouse just down the road from the Milky Way Motel which, according to the sign outside it, was famous county-wide for its blueberry pie.

Dean's gleeful grin made him look roughly five-years-old, and Sam wondered if the fact that it made him want to kiss him meant there was something wrong with him. Something wrong other than the whole incest thing, obviously.

Dinner was quiet but not awkward. Dean was far too focused on his food to make conversation, and Sam was content to just eat and watch his brother now that he was allowed to take note of things like the way Dean's lips looked around a French fry, or the way his eyes lit up when their pie came out. Dean glanced up at him once or twice as if he could feel Sam's eyes on him, but beyond frowning in a faintly confused manner, he didn't react to Sam's attention.

Well, not until he'd paid the cheque, anyway. “Come on, Sammy,” he said, throwing down a generous tip as he stood up. “Let's go back to the room, where you can stare at me all you want.”

Sam grinned at him as he stood up. “Think I might want to move up to touching by then,” he said.

Dean smirked. “I think that can be arranged,” he said and left the restaurant, walking slightly faster than he usually did. Sam felt anticipation thrum through him and followed close behind.

****
The Milky Way Motel had been decorated with a very definite astronomy theme. Their room had stars not only on the ceiling but all the way round the walls as well, laid out in the precise positions and constellations as the Pennsylvanian night sky. The light was a large yellow globe, obviously meant to look like the sun, and for some reason there was a telescope in the bathroom. Sam didn't look at any of it as they entered the room. He was too busy watching Dean as he dumped his keys on the side and took his jacket off, wondering exactly how this was going to go and getting nervous again.

Dean turned round and smirked at him, but Sam could see something tense and hard in his eyes, and he realised with a shock that Dean was just as nervous about this. The idea that Dean could be nervous about anything sex-related was just so ridiculous that Sam grinned back, then crossed the room and kissed him.

After a second of delay, Dean's tension seemed to melt and he grabbed at Sam's shirt, pulling him down harder against his mouth. Their tongues met, and Sam let all his apprehension be washed away in the tide of Dean's lips under his and his tongue laying claim to Sam's mouth. Sam let his hands slide up under Dean's shirts, desperate to finally touch his brother's skin. Dean shifted his hips closer to Sam's when Sam ran his hands up the smooth skin of his sides, and twitched slightly in a way that made Sam wonder if he was ticklish. Sam stroked round to Dean's back, pulling him even closer until he could feel Dean's erection pressed hard against his thigh through two layers of jeans.

“Fuck,” muttered Dean, pulling back from the kiss. He grabbed the edges of Sam's shirts and tugged them up. “Get these off,” he demanded.

Sam was only too happy to obey, stripping them off over his head and throwing them to one side before smoothing down the static mess of his hair. “You too,” he said when he looked back at his brother to find him almost frozen in place, looking at Sam as if he'd never seen him before.

Dean nodded jerkily and took his shirts off with slightly more care than Sam had shown. He reached out for Sam and kissed him again, hungrily, and Sam caressed his hands over Dean's shoulders and back, feeling the muscles and scars that he knew almost as well as his own. Dean pushed him backwards until Sam could feel the bed behind his legs, not letting their mouths break their connection for a second. Sam grabbed a tight hold around Dean and let himself fall backwards onto the bed.

“Jesus,” breathed Dean once they'd landed in a pile of limbs. “Give a guy some warning.”

Sam just laughed, caught up in the euphoria of having made it this far, and pulled Dean down hard against him, seeking out his mouth again. Dean shifted until his thigh was pressed tight against Sam's erection, and Sam had to fight not to thrust up against it like a horny teenager. He couldn't seem to stop touching Dean, running his hands all over his upper body, desperate for every inch of warm skin. Dean seemed to be having the same problem if the way his fingers ran up Sam's chest, across his shoulders and then back down to his nipples was any indication.

Sam could feel Dean's erection pressing hard against his hip, and he experimentally pressed up against it. Dean bit off a curse against Sam's lips then pulled back, his hands holding tightly onto Sam's biceps and keeping him down on the bed when he tried to follow after Dean's mouth. Dean just looked down at him for a long moment, and Sam was on the verge of saying something impatient when Dean's head dipped, and he bit hard at Sam's collarbone, then sucked until Sam was sure there'd be a mark. He heard himself make an unintelligible noise that a distant part of his brain, the part still capable of rational thought, realised Dean would probably mock him for later, but he couldn't bring himself to care as Dean's tongue flicked over his neck, burrowing into the hollow of his throat.

Dean pulled back and looked down at his handiwork with satisfaction, then glanced up at Sam's eyes. He took a deep breath.

“Last chance,” he said. “We can stop here, never mention it again, and things would probably go back to normal.”

Sam gaped at him in disbelief and struggled to find his voice for a second. “No way we could go back after this,” he said eventually.

Dean pursed his lips, and shrugged a shoulder. “Well, okay, almost normal,” he said.

Sam stared at him hard for a moment. “Is that what you want?” he asked slowly. “Do you want to pretend this never happened?” Dean flinched almost imperceptibly. If their faces hadn't been so close together, Sam probably wouldn't have seen it. “Or, do you want to go all the way with this – see how just how fucked up we can get?” He lowered his voice slightly. “Cos that's what I want. I don't want to stop – not now, not ever.”

Dean frowned slightly, gazing at him hard as if he could see into Sam's mind. After a moment he nodded, then sat back completely. “Okay,” he said. “Then you're going to fuck me.”

Sam sucked in a hard breath as a surge of lust spiralled through him at Dean's matter-of-fact words, and he sat up, reaching out for Dean again.

Dean dodged backwards to avoid him. “Get your boots and jeans off,” he said. “I'm gonna...we're gonna need some stuff.”

It took an almost superhuman effort for Sam to pull himself together enough to nod and concentrate on his boots. He squinted down at his laces, wondering how he was supposed to be able to cope with them when his whole body was thrumming with the prospect of fucking Dean. As he pulled open the knot, he remembered exactly why he'd taken to wearing sneakers while he was at Stanford. Quickie sex was just so much easier in shoes you could toe off, and Jess had been a real fan of quickie sex.

When he finally managed to get them off, followed in a rush by his jeans, Dean had stripped down to just his boxers and put a couple of things from his duffle on the bedside table. The moment Sam's jeans hit the floor, Dean was on him again, kissing him hard and fast and thrusting their hips together.

“Gonna be so good,” he muttered breathlessly against Sam's lips, and Sam could only make an incoherent noise of agreement and pull him closer. His fingers found the edge of Dean's boxers and he slid them beneath, down over Dean's ass, then tugged impatiently at the material.

“Off,” he growled, and Dean shivered, then hesitated.

“You're sure about this?” he asked again, and Sam banged his head back against the pillow in frustration.

“Yes, I'm sure,” he said. “Is English not getting through to you? Want it in Latin? Ancient Etruscan?”

Dean rolled his eyes as he sat back to pull his boxers off. “Bitch,” he said, but Sam wasn't listening any more, too busy taking in the sight of his brother stripped naked for him, his cock hard and heavy already, curving up towards his stomach. Sam reached out for it without thinking, running his finger up it like he had on the bus, but this time without the barrier of jeans and boxers between them.

Dean shuddered, and Sam grinned at him, then wrapped his hand around it and pulled upwards in a firm stroke. “Jerk,” he said, and Dean's groan was half lust, half exasperation at the pun. Sam pulled at Dean's cock a few more times, getting used to the feel of an unfamiliar cock in his hand and the way Dean's breathing had gone short and stuttery, then Dean pushed his hand away.

He took a couple of deep breaths, then looked down at Sam with a grin. “Got a ways to go yet,” he promised, and Sam grinned back. Dean's hands caught on Sam's boxers, and then he hesitated again.

This time Sam didn't hold in his long-suffering sigh. “Pro certo habeo,” he said firmly.

Dean's mouth twitched with amusement and he yanked hard on Sam's underwear, moving backwards as he pulled it down. “Such a geek,” he said, but it sounded more affectionate than insulting. He sat back on his heels once Sam's boxers were out of the way, and just looked at him for a moment, until Sam began to feel uncomfortable and propped himself up on his elbows, meaning to reach for Dean and bring him back down where he could touch him, kiss him, taste him.

Dean evaded him and pushed him back down onto the bed, running his hand down Sam's chest and across his stomach. He leaned forward to lick a stripe up the inside of Sam's thigh, and Sam gasped in surprise, then as Dean's mouth moved closer to his cock, in pleasure.

“Dean,” he hissed as Dean's lips trailed over his skin, and his tongue ran up the length of Sam's cock. “I want...I want...” but he couldn't work out exactly what it was that he wanted, not when Dean sealed his mouth around the head of his dick and sucked, hard. “Jesus fuck,” he muttered instead, and felt more than heard Dean's laugh.

When Dean sat back, his lips were red and wet, and Sam couldn't stop himself from grabbing Dean's shoulders and pulling him up so that he could kiss them and taste himself in Dean's mouth. He couldn't seem to let go of Dean, probably grasping at him too tightly, but Dean didn't seem to mind if the way he kissed Sam back - hard and almost violent, before pulling back to bite briefly at his jawline, was anything to go by.

“We're doing this,” he growled into Sam's neck, and certainty rang in his voice. Sam nodded a little frantically.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Really fucking soon,” he added, and Dean laughed again.

“Well, all right,” he said and sat back, straddling Sam's hips. He grabbed the lube from the night stand and squeezed some sloppily onto his fingers, then raised himself up on his knees, his hand disappearing behind him. Sam found himself holding his breath, unable to look away from Dean's face as he frowned with concentration, then let out a hitching little noise that let Sam know exactly what he was doing. Sam reached out blindly for his brother, clutching hard at his thigh in shock that this was actually happening.

Dean's breathing got heavier and heavier, until Sam couldn't just watch any more and he sat up, slipping his arm around Dean's waist to hold himself steady, and kissed the nearest piece of his skin, sucking at the centre of Dean's chest until there was a mark to match the one on Sam's collarbone.

“Dean,” he murmured, letting go of his thigh so that he could trace down Dean's arm to feel what his fingers were doing. He ran his fingertip around the tight edge of muscle that surrounded Dean's fingers, feeling where the lube had made Dean's body slick, and Dean sucked in a harsh breath.

“I want,” said Sam, “please, Dean, let me.”

“Yeah,” gasped Dean, “God, yeah, okay Sammy.” He slid his fingers out, and Sam replaced them with his own, clutching Dean tighter round the waist as he felt the heat inside him.

Dean was holding on tightly to Sam's shoulder as if it was all too much and he couldn't hold himself up on his own any more. Sam experimentally scissored his fingers, stretching Dean open, and Dean dropped his head forward until his forehead was resting against Sam's.

“More,” he demanded. “Need more.”

Sam nodded, and pulled his fingers out before replacing them with three. He curled them over inside Dean, and Dean groaned and clutched hard at Sam's shoulders so that Sam could feel his nails digging into his skin.

“Yeah, okay, I'm ready,” said Dean breathlessly. He sat up, pulling away from Sam, and Sam couldn't resist pushing his fingers in as hard as he could one more time, just to see Dean's reaction. His body tensed with sudden pleasure and he spat out a curse word, clenching his eyes shut.

When he opened them, he glared at Sam. “I want your cock now,” he growled and it was Sam's turn to shudder under an overload of lust. He pulled his fingers out without any more teasing, and let Dean push him back down onto the bed.

Dean's grin as he ripped open a packet and rolled a condom down onto Sam's cock was almost feral, and Sam had to shut his eyes against it, so turned on he was worried he'd come before they actually got anywhere. Dean would never let him hear the end if he did that. He counted down from ten slowly in his head, trying to calm his breathing.

When he opened his eyes, Dean had repositioned himself so that he was straddling Sam's waist, and he took a firm hold on Sam's cock, making him gasp and almost lose it, then slowly lowered himself onto Sam, encasing his dick with the most amazing tight heat that Sam had ever felt.

“Jesus fuck,” he swore, grabbing at Dean's thigh again.

Dean ignored him, his teeth chewing at his lower lip as he carefully worked Sam's cock inside himself. Sam had to shut his eyes again rather than watch his brother fuck himself open on his cock, but that only made the sensations more intense and meant he didn't have any distraction from the noises Dean was making deep in his throat.

When Dean paused, Sam as deep in him as he could go, he put his hands onto Sam's chest, resting his weight there.

“Open your eyes,” he said hoarsely, and Sam couldn't stop himself from automatically obeying. Dean grinned down at him, his eyes even brighter than they had been when the pie arrived at dinner. “Okay?” he asked, and Sam had to choke back a laugh at the idea that anything could be wrong with him right now.

“Just....just fucking move,” he said. Dean's grin grew wider, and he raised himself up slightly awkwardly, then sank back down. Sam found himself clutching hard at Dean's thighs again, everything in him suddenly desperate just to thrust upwards. Dean did it again, getting into a rhythm, resting more of his weight on Sam's chest with every push down, and Sam knew that it should be getting difficult to breathe, but it was hard enough to breathe anyway with Dean doing that, with the feel of him so perfect around Sam's cock. He was dimly aware that there was a hoarse gasping noise coming from his throat and that he was holding so tightly onto Dean's legs that he could feel every shift of his muscles, but it was all lost in the intense pleasure of the moment.

“Jesus, fuck, Sammy,” groaned Dean. “You gotta...you have to fucking touch me.”

Sam blinked at him, his brain too caught up in what was happening to his dick to work out what Dean meant, and then he found his gaze drifting down to where Dean's cock was hard and heavy with blood, curving tightly up against his body in a way that looked almost painful. It took him a moment to co-ordinate his limbs enough to let go of Dean's thigh with one hand and grab his cock instead, but the noise Dean made when he did was worth it.

“Fuck, yes,” and his inner muscles did something that should have been illegal and made Sam choke out a moan and tighten his grip on Dean's cock in reaction, which was a cycle that could only end really, really well. He stroked hard at Dean's cock until he could feel Dean beginning to lose his rhythm, muscles shaking beneath Sam's hand. Sam sat up, grabbing Dean round the waist again to hold him steady and pump his cock fast and hard a few more times, until Dean came with a grunt of Sam's name, his muscles tightening around Sam's cock in a way that made Sam just want to throw him down on the bed and fuck him as hard as he could.

He didn't have enough patience or stamina left in him for that though, and instead he just grabbed hold of Dean's hips as hard as he could, and fucked into him where he was, thrusting his hips up as much as he could and pulling Dean down against him.

“Fuck, yeah,” gasped Dean, still coming down from his orgasm. “Come on, Sammy...make me feel you.”

“Dean, god, Dean,” groaned Sam, and Dean pushed down, rolling his hips, and that was all it took. Sam's orgasm was like sledgehammer blow, crashing through every part of him, and he couldn't do anything more than hold tight to Dean and let himself feel it.

When he came back to himself, he felt wrung out and Dean was shifting uncomfortably. Sam let go of him and held onto the base of the condom so that he could pull away, then fell backwards onto the bed. He tied off the condom and threw it towards where he thought the trash can was almost on autopilot.

Dean collapsed down next to him with a sated sigh. “Man, I'm gonna ache in the morning,” he complained, but he didn't sound pissed about it.

Sam sniggered, and turned his head to look at Dean, who was sacked out on the bed as if he was never going to move again, eyes already shut. Sam watched him for a while, noting the marks he'd left on his brother's body and wondering why it was so hot to see them. Dean's breathing slowed down, and he shifted slightly to get more comfortable. Sam noticed the condom on the floor over his shoulder – he'd missed the trash can by miles.

“Dean,” he said, meaning to tell Dean that as he was closer, he was going to have to get up and move it.

Dean's shoulders tensed up. “We're still not talking about this,” he said firmly.

Sam stared at him for a moment, then snorted. “Yeah, okay,” he agreed, deciding that the condom could wait until morning. He sat up and pulled the blankets up over them both, turned the light out and settled back down into bed.

He wasn't at all surprised when Dean turned over ten minutes later and slipped his arm around Sam's waist, pulling him close.

****
Roughly a month later, Dean stopped off at their PO Box in Effingham, Illinois. Sam stayed in the car and watched Dean as he bent down to pull out a bundle of mail. He supposed it was just the flush of newness, but he still couldn't seem to keep his eyes off his brother.

When Dean got back in the car, he tossed a handful of what looked like letters from credit card companies in the glove compartment, then dumped a bulging envelope into Sam's lap without saying anything. He started the car up and headed back out of town, ignoring Sam's puzzled look and deliberately not meeting his eyes.

When Sam opened the envelope, a bundle of photographs spilled out. The one on top was of him and Dean at the Fisheries Museum, arms around each other and big grins on their faces.

Sam raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You got them developed?”

Dean shrugged one shoulder. “Figured I could use a new picture for next time you go missing.”

Sam rolled his eyes and looked back down at the pictures. He went through them slowly, examining each one carefully, matching the details up with his memories. Most of them were of him and Dean in front of various landmarks and views, and Sam noticed how their coupley poses became more relaxed and natural-seeming over the course of the two weeks. He studied the few group shots for some sign of evil that they'd missed in Victor and Marcus's faces, but there didn't seem to be anything.

The last photograph was of Dean on his own, in front of the church at Grand Pré. He was grinning cheerfully at the camera, but his eyes were fixed on something slightly to the left, as if he'd gotten distracted at the last minute. Sam could tell that the grin was fake and that Dean was one photograph away from losing all patience and destroying the camera.

He looked at the photo for a long time, then folded it up and stuck it in his wallet. Beside him, Dean snorted.

“For next time you go missing,” said Sam, then he bundled all the other photos back into the envelope, and put it in the glove compartment.

****
Three days later, he borrowed Dean's wallet to pay for gas, and found the picture of them in front of the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove inside, carefully cut down so that it would fit. He grinned to himself as he paid the cashier, but didn't mention it when he tossed the wallet back to Dean.
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