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Finders Keepers (The Sin Crouching at the Door Extended Remix)

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When Dean Winchester was twelve years old, John Winchester left on a hunt and didn't come back for three weeks, which was fifteen days more than he'd promised. Day fourteen, Sammy was furious with hunger, tantrum crashing down into sobs, big fat tears running down his blotchy face, and Dean went out to do what needed to be done.

He got back a couple of hours later, bag of food clutched in his sweaty hand. Except that the door to their nasty room was open and someone was carrying out a trashbag of stuff, looked like clothes. Like Sammy's clothes. Dean caught sight of the police officer standing just inside and he knew just how bad he'd messed up.

Dean slept behind the building for the next week, under some boxes he stacked up, waiting for Dad to come back and fix everything. The social services people came back a couple of times, looking for Dean. But Dean was already a decent hunter, silent and fast, so it was no problem to dodge them.

On the twenty-first day, the car rolled up into the parking lot. Dean was crying as he ran up to the driver's side, relief and shame twisted together.

"Dad," he got out, and his father turned to him and smiled.

His eyes were the yellow of chicken fat, streaked with brown like dried-out veins.

Dean squeaked. The thing riding in his father's body laughed as it eased out onto the pavement. "Hi, Dean-O. Where's your brother?"

Dean turned to run, but a hand jerked him back, and he was tossed into the backseat so hard that his head smacked up against the opposite-side door.

"Now, is that any way to greet your dad?" The thing loomed over him, halfway inside the car. For years after, Dean imagined himself being smart and popping the door open, rolling himself right out the other side and running. He rocked himself to sleep some nights with the thought that he might've gotten away if he'd been strong enough. If he'd been a better hunter.

Instead, Dean just wriggled, scared as any victim. The imposter grabbed his ankle and pulled him a couple of feet closer, Dean's hands scrabbling for purchase on the leather seat. "I said, where's your brother?"

Dean swallowed and thrust out his chin. "He's gone. They came for him and they took him and you aren't getting him back!"

John Winchester's head tilted, considering. "The tender mercies of the state, eh? That could be interesting. Meanwhile, what am I going to do with you? There are just so many possibilities."

Dean tried to kick out, but the creature just grabbed his other ankle. Then Dean's vapor-locked brain unfroze long enough to let him remember the first line of the exorcism he was trying to learn. "Ex-exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas—"

Its eyes flashed brighter and it snarled, reaching in to cuff him so hard his head went all floaty and fuzzy. "Oh, no, little boy," it said. "I'm bound to this fine fellow now. But I like your spirit. Your father thinks you're going to grow into quite the upright man, and looking at you I'm willing to take a chance that it's not just a case of proud papa syndrome. So you and I are going to do some work together."

****

Fourteen years passed.

****

Dean took a couple of days to track Sam down—he wasn't at his apartment, and none of his neighbors knew him enough to say boo about where he might have gone. They did know he was unfailingly polite, holding doors and hauling packages for the older people in the building, once scaring off some kids who'd been harassing a white-haired lady who walked with a cane and wanted Dean to stay for supper, trying to pump Dean for information about his supposedly good friend from high school. Dean declined as politely as he knew how and went back to his stakeout.

If Sam didn't come back soon, that could mean Azazel didn't know where he was. Which should have been a comfort, but not knowing where Sam was still made Dean's stomach twist. Most likely, anyway, it was just another one of Azazel's games: let Dean think he was going to get to see Sam and then rip him away, hold him out on the horizon as the reward Dean was never going to merit.

But Sam showed up at a little after five on the third day, duffel in hand, and an hour later went back out, heading to a bar.

Sam wasn't like Dean thought he'd be. His face had more angles, so stark that they needed softening by that ridiculous mop of hair, the only thing that was exactly the same as Dean remembered. He was about eight feet tall, taller than Dean anyway, which had never been part of Dean's imaginings. He moved like a predator in a rival's territory.

He still had the eyes, though: sincere and compelling. When he made the effort to smile, like when he got another drink from the bartender, the rest of the room faded away. The bartender fumbled his dishrag and tried to keep up a conversation, but Sam smiled again and peeled himself away from the bar, zig-zagging through the crowd until he'd found a good spot against the wall, where he could keep an eye on everyone else.

That first night, Dean only watched. Good thing, too, because he saw Sam go into the back room with three different guys, and leave with a fourth. He was worried, until he peeked in the motel window and saw that Sam wasn't some kind of sex freak. He was just getting paid for it. And Dean understood why: his brother had grown up (and up and up) into a fine-looking man.

While he was watching Sam count his money, he felt the tug of Azazel's command. He retreated to a nearby alley—it would be pretty fucking stupid to get caught standing in front of Sam's door—and called. Azazel would no doubt prefer him to use a cup of steaming blood, but the one blessing of being a powerless human was that Azazel couldn't ask that of him.

The alley stank of summer garbage and old urine, which made it a perfect setting for communication with Azazel. "Find him?"

"Yes, sir." It was hard to say which Dean hated more, hearing Azazel use his father's voice or having to yessir him like he was really Dean's father. But Dean had learned long ago that not all battles—actually, no battles to date—were worth fighting.

"Approach him?"

"No, sir." Dean gave a quick summary of what he'd seen. So far, it hadn't been that different from the other jobs, aside from Sam being missing for the first couple of days—he watched, he figured out whether the kids were manifesting powers and what they were, and he got an idea of just how psycho they were (an assessment he kept to himself).

So far, Sam was stunningly, amazingly normal.

"Hunh," Azazel said when Dean finished, drawing it out so it sounded thoughtful. Long practice kept Dean from rolling his eyes. "I suppose even a full scholarship to Harvard doesn't cover the incidentals, and I doubt darling Sammy wants to hit up any of the yokels who raised him for walking-around money. Still, you have to wonder why he's whoring himself. Don't they have work-study in Cambridge?"

Dean wasn't supposed to answer that, so he didn't. Anyway, he had no problem figuring out why Sam would be selling sex. Azazel had sent Dean out on missions in the human world often enough with nothing but empty pockets, or a knife if he was feeling generous. Sometimes it was the only money to be had without violence, and violence was risky when there was nobody who had your back.

Evidently, nobody'd had Sammy's back.

Azazel sighed. "Very well. Ingratiate yourself with him. I'll be talking in his sleep very soon, but I want you to set the hook."

"Yes, sir," Dean said, his voice as colorless as he could manage. He had to believe that Azazel would attribute any strangeness to the fact that he was about to see his brother again after half a lifetime. Dean had accepted after his twentieth escape attempt that he was basically incompetent, and he didn't expect things to end any better for him this time. But there were a couple of places in him that Azazel didn't own, and every one of them wore Sam's name. If Dean couldn't get them both out of this, he'd at least make sure that Sam didn't have to live through anything like Dean's last decade.

"And, Dean?"

Dean's hand clenched on the phone. "Yes, sir?"

"I have some sad news. Max Miller is dead. He was your least favorite of the ones you visited, as I recall."

"He was a serial killer," Dean pointed out, because mouthing off was the only thing of his own that remained to him.

He was reminded why he didn't do it that often when Azazel sent a lash of pain through him. Every muscle cramped. Dean curled up like a crumpled paper bag, his knees bashing the filthy ground, holding onto the phone only because his fingers were locked into a spasm. "He was my son."

Dean was too busy trying not to vomit to follow up with something stupid like 'Yeah, that apple didn't fall too far from the tree.'

"Go to your brother tomorrow, Dean. Get ready to bring him home." Azazel hung up. Rank wetness was seeping through his jeans, flies buzzing in his ears like Azazel had left sentinels behind.

Dean rocked himself, gasping, until he was able to struggle to his feet and leave.

****

The next night, Dean waited until Sam had taken care of a couple of guys, so he'd be feeling confident but willing to consider leaving if Dean made the offer sweet enough. Dean had to turn down more than a few offers himself, though most of them had nothing to do with money. When he was ready, he caught Sam's eye from across the room. He was pretty sure his smile was awkward, but that probably fit the profile, so it was okay. His stomach was twisting like Azazel had a hold of him, and he wished he'd skipped that second beer, but he had to keep it together.

Sam smiled back politely and Dean made himself wander over. Sam was about four inches taller than Dean, Dean decided when he got close enough to compare. Dean remembered this shrimpy little kid, always lost in a book, and he felt his smile falter as Sam looked him over with the careful calculation of someone who didn't expect the world to give him anything.

"Hi," Dean began, then faked another sip of his beer.

"Hi," Sam said back, amused. He leaned further back against the wall, letting his T-shirt pull out of his low-slung jeans. The worn shirt was tight over his biceps, a featureless gray that looked like it would be soft to the touch. His bangs were so long that, even pushed to both sides like wings, they were level with his eyes. His mouth was pink and looked slightly swollen, his skin clean-shaven. He had several moles, one near his nose, another near the corner of his mouth, another at the side of his chin, like someone had dripped chocolate on him. Dean remembered the one by Sam's nose, but either he'd forgotten the rest or they'd shown up along with the height and the muscles.

"You're new here," Sam prompted.

Dean nodded and cleared his throat. "I'm. Yeah. Looking for company."

Sam's gaze sharpened. "Really."

Dean felt the flush crawl up his neck and cheeks. That was fine, he told himself. Credible. "I've got a room and some cash burning a hole in my pocket." He sounded like a fucking fool; he struggled not to cringe. But Sam wasn't turning away.

"You're not that good at this," Sam suggested, smiling almost enough to bring on his dimples.

Dean made a noise that was supposed to be a laugh. "Guess not. Uh, good enough?"

"That depends." Sam shifted closer, leaning in so that their mouths were only inches apart. He put his hand on Dean's hip, curling a finger into one of Dean's beltloops. "You a cop?"

And this time Dean's relieved smile was real, because he was about as far from a cop as an elephant was from a donut. "I'm not a cop."

Now that they were touching, it was like the rest of the world had gone silent. Sam seemed to feel it too, shuffling them so that Dean had his back to the wall, all escape blocked by Sam's body. He was grinning as he put his free hand on Dean's shoulder. "And you're not worried that I might be one?" His breath was warm on Dean's cheek, his neck.

Dean fought to keep his eyes from closing. "You're not a cop."

"Yeah? You been watching me?" One of Sam's thighs was pressed up against him now, not quite against his groin. Underneath the beer and cigarettes from the bar, Dean could smell Sam's skin, sweat and something forest-dark.

"You know I have," he managed, bringing his hands up to rest on Sam's waist, touching damp cotton and a slice of warm skin where the T-shirt had given up the battle. He wanted to touch more, slide his fingers over the rest of Sam's hidden places. Usually he would have been frozen in place, imagining invisible armor, with someone else so close to his skin. Dean knew he should be freaking out over how distracted he was getting, but he was having enough trouble with the distraction itself without worrying about it. Okay. Back to business. "How much'll it take me to get you to come back to my room?"

Sam bent his head further, nuzzled Dean's ear. "What are we talking about?"

Dean took a deep breath. "Do you do blood?"

Sam snorted and pulled back. "Should have known." Dean frowned, because he didn't think he looked that kinky. Sam registered his reaction—kid had to be good at reading people, given his line of work, Dean figured—and kept talking: "Nobody as good-looking as you needs to pay for it regular."

Fair point, which Dean conceded with a shrug. "So, do you?"

"Mine or yours?"

"Yours," Dean said, and tried not to look too desperate. Their legs were still touching, which meant that Sam wasn't rejecting him, not yet.

Sam looked at him, those cat eyes narrowing as if trying to judge the precise degree to which Dean was a freak. "Costs extra," he suggested.

Dean shook his head. "Not a problem."

"You don't tie me down and you stop if I say stop."

He nodded. "I'm good with that."

"A thousand dollars," Sam said, and if Dean hadn't known just what to look for he would have thought that Sam was completely confident.

"Done." Dean wasn't about to negotiate; it wasn't his money, and agreeing quick would make Sam think there was plenty more where that came from, which might be useful. He pushed Sam back, gently and not without a reluctance that he didn't want to examine too much. "Let's get out of here."

****

After Dean flashed enough cash to prove he was for real, they didn't talk on the way. Dean was grateful. He always had trouble making conversation with civilians. Sam wasn't a civilian, but he thought he was, so the problem was the same.

Dean had picked a nice hotel, and Sam didn't look any more out of place there than Dean himself. Both of them able to pass as normal. Dean had a thousand questions for Sam, and no way to get answers. Maybe, if it worked out—

In the elevator, Sam stood shoulder to shoulder with him, even though there was plenty of room. He examined their reflections in the mirrored wall, eyes narrowed as if he was searching for something specific.

The scrutiny made Dean nervous, but it wasn't like he could call Sam out for excessive looking.

"Your freckles," Sam said just before the doors opened onto Dean's floor. "They're cute."

Dean successfully fought off the urge to swipe at his face or joke about flattery coming with the thousand-dollar package. He shrugged, feeling his expression twitch somewhere between a smile and a grimace, and led them down the hallway.

"By the way," Sam said as Dean tried the keycard for the second time (Dean really missed good old-fashioned keys, the way they used to be when Dad was the one who rented the rooms), "what's your name?"

Dean stopped, the hard plastic edges of the card cutting into his fingers. "You can call me anything you want so long as it's not John."

"Fair enough," Sam said, putting his hand on Dean's back, just above his waist. "You got any preferences for my name?"

Dean didn't trust his voice, so he just shook his head, and finally managed to get the door opened.

"Then I'm Sam."

He didn't know what it meant that Sam used his real name. Fuck, what did Dean think he was doing? He was going to fuck this up; he should tell Sam the truth, hope Sam believed the craziness, warn him to stay away from—

Like Sam was going to listen when some batshit trick who didn't even have a name warned him to ignore his own dreams, and powers he didn't expect or understand. Yeah, that was going to work out just fine.

No, the only way out was through. And Dean couldn't help the spark of hope that said that one Winchester alone wasn't enough, but two (Dean didn't dare to count higher than that, not even in his most secret thoughts)—two might be a lucky number.

While Dean had been flipping out, Sam had pushed past him, checking out the room. Dean approved of reconnaissance. Sam hadn't learned the truth about what Dad hunted before he'd been taken, but at least he'd eventually managed to figure out that the world didn't reward obliviousness. Dean squared his shoulders and followed, closing the door on the too-bright hallway.

When he turned, he found Sam already on his knees, looking up with a grin that would have been wicked even if it hadn't been at the level of Dean's crotch. Before Dean could react, Sam's hands were opening his belt and shoving down his jeans and shorts.

"Mmm," Sam said, almost as if he was talking to himself. "Pretty as the rest of you."

Dean's cock, already half awake, jumped under the ghost of Sam's breath.

Dean thought maybe he wasn't supposed to do this. Human brothers didn't do this, though he was sort of unclear why not; sex felt good and most things in life didn't. And fuck, Sam was good-looking, and he was willing, and doing what most people paid him for might even reassure him that Dean wasn't totally insane. Plus Dean knew for an established fact that there were a lot worse things than sucking a stranger's cock. Dean was clean, disease-wise anyway, and maybe Sam was even telling the truth about finding him pretty. Lots of people did.

Sam's mouth was sure, coaxing him all the way hard in ten seconds flat, and Dean didn't have the mental resources to continue the debate with himself while getting blown. He leaned back, palms flat against the door, and looked at Sam's thick, messy hair, blocking almost all of the view. Didn't matter; Sam's bunched shoulders and the slope of his back were enough to watch and Dean's other senses were reporting in just fine, the feel of lips and tongue circling him, hot wet suction making him shiver.

Sam swallowed and hummed. Dean's legs nearly gave out. And then Sam brought his hand up to cup Dean's balls, thumb pressed at the base of Dean's cock, cool huge palm weighing him, fingertips brushing up against his ass. Dean groaned and thunked his head against the door. Sam was only touching between his legs, but it felt like being wrapped whole-body in desire, sweet as sugar syrup.

Sam was doing something to keep the vibration going, and it was all too much. Dean's hips snapped once, twice, and he was gone, coming so hard his vision went white and only luck kept him upright.

When his vision cleared, Sam was tossing a balled-up tissue into the tiny trashcan halfway across the room. It helped, a little, to remember that this was just business as far as Sam was concerned. Dean felt a pulse of acid in his throat, wondering how many men Sam had taken to rooms like this, over how many years. Whether Sam had been scared the first time, or the second; whether he'd put his rules in place from bad experiences or just good sense.

There was no point in regrets. Dean was here now, and whatever needed to be done to keep them safe, Dean would be the one to do it.

He didn't bother pulling his jeans back up. That would have looked too strange, he thought, given why Sam believed he was here. So he toed his boots off and stepped out of his jeans, then realized that he probably looked way too much like a chicken, naked only from the waist down.

"You want to get all the way undressed?" Sam asked, as if picking up his brainwaves.

Dean chewed on his lip for a second, then nodded. He was going to have to strip eventually; best to get Sam used to it.

He dropped the jacket, kicked it into the nearest corner, then pulled his henley over his head. When his eyes cleared the fabric, he saw Sam staring openly, the first time Sam had shown even the slightest sign he was fazed.

"Yeah," he acknowledged.

The tattoos covered his chest, stopping a couple of inches above his navel; they went all the way around his back, over his shoulders and down his arms to where they ended under his wristwatch and the woven leather bracelet he wore on his right arm.

"Some of that's Latin," Sam said, then snapped his mouth shut as if he were expecting Dean to remark on the oddness of a hooker knowing Latin. Not really a surprise, though; Sam had always been bright as a new coin. Now, if Sam had recognized the Aramaic, Dean would have needed to worry that some other demon had gotten to him first. Sam's eyes were intent, following the lines of text as they snaked over Dean's body. "How many languages do you have on there?"

"All of 'em," Dean said, grinning to show the joke, though he wasn't actually sure. Some of the words he'd never been able to identify, and his best guess was they were transliterations of terms from languages with no writing system of their own.

"Mind if I ask why?"

It hit him like a car crash: Sam had asked for explanations since he could string three words together, and by the time he was six he could tell when Dean was just making some bull up instead of giving a real answer. Sam had always hoped that the world would go along with his desire for knowledge, and he asked with such enthusiasm that it was hard for anyone to deny him. This was the same Sam, and all he could feel was the desire to wrap himself around Sam and never let go.

Sam cocked his head, and Dean realized he'd let the silence go on way too long. "No," he hurried out. "I mean. It's weird."

Sam's dimples were back. "You hired me to bleed for you. I'm not gonna judge. But I'd like to know."

Dean breathed out. He could make up some story—Sam didn't know his tells any more—but he found himself hating the thought of claiming the tattoos as his own. Even if words didn't have real, raw power in Dean's world, he wouldn't have wanted to tell Sam that he'd consented to be marked like this. "The thing is, they're not—they're not really who I am. They were—I made a mistake. And. Well."

Sam leaned towards him, and before Dean could react he was running a finger over Dean's bicep. "When did you get these? They look—"

Pride warred with chagrin; Sam was too fucking smart for his own good. He could see how the tattoos had stretched irregularly as Dean had grown and gained muscle, but the ink was as solid black as if it had been applied yesterday.

Dean cleared his throat. "Can we just say I was really young and really stupid?"

Sam gave him a forgiving smile. "Okay. So, you have any more surprises for me?"

You have no idea, Dean thought, but he tried a grin. "Let's see what happens when you take your pants off."

Sam pulled off his T-shirt first. His chest looked even better without the shirt wrapped around it, the light showing every curve of muscle. He smirked when he saw Dean watching and slowed down a little as he thumbed open the button of his jeans. He was nearly bare, neatly trimmed hair surrounding his dick, which was impressive even soft; Dean found himself wanting to touch it, feel the slide of soft skin under his fingers, take care of Sam where Sam was most vulnerable.

When Sam was naked, he eased himself back onto the bed, his legs falling open and one hand straying down to rest near his cock, like the teaser ad for a porn site. His abs looked solid enough to build on, and Dean had to take a deep breath just to remind himself of his purpose.

He extracted his switchblade from the puddle of his jeans. Sam's face stayed pleasant, but his eyes narrowed a little in wariness as Dean approached. "You said I could, right?"

Sam was probably counting the money in his mind. Thinking about how many books it would buy, how many nights out with his college friends so that he could pretend that he was just like them, coddled and untouched. "Yeah," Sam said, and managed to sound casual. "But if I say stop, you stop, right?"

Dean nodded. He wasn't going to give Sam reason to bolt. He had a really sharp knife and over a decade of training: he could make the endorphin rush last longer than the kiss of pain.

"Spread your legs some more," Dean suggested.

Sam tensed.

"I'm not gonna go after your junk," Dean said, running his free hand through his hair. "Your thigh'll bleed quick and safe. Or, you know, safer."

Sam considered Dean's words. When he complied, splaying himself out like a centerfold as he leaned back against the pillows, Dean noted that for all his concern, his cock was far from indifferent, already thickening as Dean approached.

Dean sliced fast and shallow, opening up a cut not longer than two inches. More than that would be a waste, since this was just a test. Blood dripped down Sam's skin—shaved smooth, Dean realized when he put his fingers out to collect the blood. "You all right?" he asked, his voice breathy.

"Yeah," Sam said after a moment. He was shaking almost imperceptibly. Dean might not have noticed if they hadn't been touching.

"Okay." Dean swallowed and pulled back. "I just—I need you to hang on while I do this." He put the knife down on the bedspread and rubbed Sam's blood onto the back of his forearm, right on top of one of the Etruscan symbols he'd never satisfactorily translated. Quickly, before it could dry, he began the chant.

Dean was not much of a scholar, but he did have a knack for figuring out how stuff worked, which Azazel had never really appreciated even after years of watching Dean hunt and kill things. The binding spell that allowed Azazel to control him and torture him at will was powerful; its power came from Azazel's name and Azazel's blood. Dean knew the first and now he had the second, mixed with his own, which was major mojo in itself. He muttered the Latin he'd cobbled together, ignoring Sam's squawks in the background. Latin was classic, but he'd thrown some English in there at the end too, hoping that precision and intent would help it work. "Blood to blood, let blood break what blood made."

The blood flared into a flash of yellow, bright as the sun. And Jesus fuck it hurt, like having molten metal poured on him instead of blood. Burned like the marks had burned going on, Azazel laughing at him and the screams he couldn't help then at least he could swallow now, fight to stay conscious as what felt like a razor-blade arrow went through his arm, whirling as it went.

He could feel cool tracks on his cheeks when the haze of agony cleared. He was on his knees, swaying like a sapling in a storm.

"Your tattoo," Sam said. "It's gone."

Dean looked down at the bare skin, the first time he'd seen that patch of flesh clean and clear in almost fourteen years. "Just one character," he corrected, clenching his fists to keep from crying more or anything stupid like that.

"Fuck that!" Sam snarled, scrambling away across the bed as if he'd just now realized that he was only a few feet away from the freakiest thing he'd ever seen. "What the—how can blood erase ink that's under your fucking skin? What are you—what are you?"

Dean closed his eyes. It was hard to tell what answer would be the least bad, and the ritual required voluntariness. Usually demonic spells were pretty flexible about the concept of 'voluntary,' but since this one was supposed to cleanse it might not be fully demonic, in which case lying to Sam to get him to continue might sour the magic completely.

"This is going to be hard to believe," he said. "But I really need your help."

He looked at Sam through his lashes, head lowered submissively, keeping his shoulders down and willing Sam to notice that he was just as naked, just as vulnerable. He stayed on his knees.

The tears dried and the salt tugged at Dean's skin before Sam reacted. "Okay," he said finally, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. "Start talking."

Dean breathed out and carefully, slowly, joined him, sitting a couple of feet away, his hands clenched in the bedspread. "Ever had something happen that didn't make sense? Like, maybe you dreamed about something and then it happened. Or got mad at someone and have them get hurt right after?"

Sam frowned, like he thought Dean was making fun of him, and then he really frowned, like he was afraid Dean wasn't. "Keep going."

"Here's the rough part: you're special, but in a sucky kind of way. Uh, demons and magic are real, and you've got—powers. I'm kind of—if you can read the Latin, you know that I've got words of binding and obedience all over me. A demon did that, and I need you to get myself free of him." That was probably too fast, but Dean needed to get it out there, and he could fill in some of the details if Sam kept listening.

Sure enough, Sam's expression was somewhere deep south of skeptical. Apparently tattoos disappearing in a flash of light only bought you a couple of inches of unreality, and Dean was asking Sam to take the high dive.

"What's so special about my blood?" he asked, brows disappearing into his bangs, lips curled like he was going to make fun of Dean for any answer Dean could give.

Dean knew that when he tried to look sincere he ended up worse off, credibility-wise, so he just gave it to Sam: "When you were six months old, a demon named Azazel fed you his blood."

"Six months," Sam repeated, like he'd been hypnotized. So, he remembered—not that they'd ever told him the supernatural part, but he'd known the timing at least.

Azazel had probably been lying when he told Dean about Mom, and Mom's deal. And even if he hadn't been, even if he'd been telling the truth because it hurt more, Dean was never going to tell Sam that part of it. "He killed—he did it to a bunch of kids, and he killed the parents if they got in the way. His blood's like, I dunno, demon steroids, and he's trying to see which of the kids grows up the most powerful. I don't know what the endgame is, he's not that stupid. But I can tell you this: if Azazel wants it to happen, there's no human on earth oughta agree with him."

"So how'd you get away from him?" Sam asked. And maybe he still halfway thought he was humoring Dean, but Dean could tell that 'six months' had rocked him.

Dean shrugged. "Didn't. Can't, as long as these things are on me. He sent me to check you out. I need to get the ritual completed before he tries to talk to me again. He just didn't think I'd figure out how to use his own blood against him."

"You realize you sound like a lunatic," Sam told him, still leaning back against the headboard. Dean's knife was inches from his hand, which Dean could only hope Sam found reassuring.

"You saw what you saw." Dean gestured at the newly empty space on his arm. "And I'm betting you've already started to wonder about yourself. Things you know that you shouldn't, things you can do that nobody else can."

Sam turned his face away. His jawline was sharp and clean, like an arrowhead. Dean wanted to trace it with his fingertips, slice himself open, reclaim every year he'd lost by touch.

"How do I know you're not the demon?" Sam said abruptly.

"What?" Dean glared at him.
Sam stared back, nostrils flaring, eyes bright with challenge, as if Dean ought to have a better answer.

"Seriously, what?"

"You could be—I admit that the Latin is for binding, but it's been a while and it'd be really stupid for me to confuse binding the righteous with righteous binding and set some big evil loose on the world. Maybe you need to be bound."

Dean groaned. "I'm not a freakin'—look, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, any of this ringing a bell? Demons can't abide the name of the Lord—"

Sam thrust his chin up. "So you say. You want my blood. Blood, that can't be good."

Dean gaped at him. "What do you want me to do?"

"Tell me your name."

"What good's that gonna do?" Dean complained. "Suppose I am a demon. D'you think I'm gonna give you some name you can look up in the Big Book of Demons?"

"I was thinking more Wikipedia," Sam said, though he had the decency to look a little embarrassed.

"Okay then," Dean said. He stood and pointed towards the laptop he'd stashed on the dresser. "Fire that bad boy up. Let some douchebag on the internet tell you what the top five signs of demonicness are, and then test me for 'em. And you should check for the top signs of vampirism, and werewolves, and the rest of the crew, because I might not be a demon but I could be a golem, or a rakshasa, or something even nastier. Except, oh wait, you don't know what the fuck you're looking for. That giant IQ gives you a leg up, but if you try to start from ground zero Azazel's gonna turn your brain into a milkshake before you get to the letter D in the supernatural alphabet!" Dean was nearly yelling by the time he finished, and he panted out his aggravation, waiting for Sam's response.

Sam's mouth had fallen open and his eyes were wide under raised brows. He looked like a puppy who'd been whacked on the nose for peeing on the carpet.

".... Sorry," Dean said, a little grumpily. He crossed his arms over his chest—his still-tattooed chest. "Look, there's people you can talk to about this stuff—hunters, guys who go after the bumps in the night." At least, judging from Azazel's mood a couple of times, he hadn't been able to use John Winchester's body to fool all of the hunters Dad had known; Dean had to believe that there were still a couple out there. "But they'll take time to find, and if we wait, Azazel's gonna figure out what's going on. Our only shot is to get me freed up and start making plans for how you survive this."

Sam flicked his hair off his forehead with a practiced hand, eyes still fixed on Dean. "We," he said.

"What?" Dean repeated. He was starting to remember how it was possible to love Sam and still basically want to beat his face in, at least at a sort of background buzz of want, all the time.

"Making plans for how we survive this." He picked up the knife from where Dean had abandoned it on the bed and held it out on his open palm.

And like that the anger was gone, collapsed like the roof of a burning building. Somehow, Sam was still Sam, with the same sweetness, looking after Dean even though he had no idea that Dean used to be his hero.

"Okay," Dean said, and sat down.

****

They did a larger patch of skin the second time. The aftershock was so painful that Dean grayed out, and he flailed back to consciousness terrified that Sam had freaked and decided to take off. But Sam was sitting on the edge of the bed beside him, holding a washcloth. Dean blinked and Sam wiped it across Dean's forehead, so cool and comforting that Dean shivered.

"Hey," Sam said softly.

Dean tried to grin up at him and wasn't sure he succeeded. "Hey."

"Are you sure about this?" Sam asked.

"Yeah," Dean said immediately. He would have accepted a lot worse to be free of Azazel's commands. He tried to push himself up, and Sam ended up hauling him back until he was propped up against the headboard.

Dean rubbed at his forehead. They should go again, but he still felt like he'd been skinned and rolled in salt, and he couldn't quite make himself say the words.

"I've got an idea," Sam said, and put his hands on Dean's hips as he bent his head. Dean groaned as Sam's mouth closed around the head of Dean's cock, which got interested right away.

"Oh—you don't have to," Dean got out, eyes slipping closed. The pain was already receding.

Sam pulled back an inch. "All part of the service," he said, and Dean wasn't in any mood to argue.

Sam's tongue was slick and sure. He swallowed Dean down like it was as easy as breathing, and Dean's hands clenched into fists as he tried to stay still. Sam didn't stop even as he brought his hands up, prying Dean's fingers apart and moving them until Dean had a good grip on Sam's head. Dean gave up on controlling himself, thrusting into that warm suction, like being drowned only perfect.

"I want to fuck you," Sam said when Dean was coherent again. "Can I?"

Dean stared at him long enough that Sam twitched uncomfortably. He clambered up Dean's body, bracing himself above Dean so that his knees touched Dean's hips and his arms rested on each side of Dean's head. Dean should have felt caged, but mostly he just felt a strange fizzy joy.

Sam bent his head so that their noses nearly touched. "Look, I know you probably think—but there's something here, I know you feel it just like I do, and it's not just the magic, which can I say by the way is just about the weirdest thing that ever came out of my mouth, and—"

"Enough already," Dean said, but gently, because Sam was only nervous and overwhelmed, and Dean would have to be a much bigger jerk to blame him for that. "Look, I—" Dean could do it, turn over for Sam and let him, and Sam would probably do his best to make it good. But things were already so fucked up, and he wanted—he wanted Sam to know him. "Not yet," Dean said. "When I'm free. If you still want to."

Sam's eyes were hazel, little streaks of dark green and brown mixed together in bursts like the petals of some complicated and exotic flower, all surrounded by a darker ring. Dean could have stared at him for hours. Sam tilted his head forward so that their foreheads touched—his hair was soft, almost ticklish, against Dean's skin—and breathed out. "Okay."

Dean still felt wobbly, like he was the one bleeding instead of Sam. He made no move to dislodge Sam.

"These bindings—" Sam said after a moment, tracing one of the words on Dean's bicep. He craned his head to look more closely. "Isn't it overkill to have so many? He must really want to own you." Azazel loved to do this, put Dad's hands all over him while Dean shook like a coward, fighting not to fight. But Sam's touch was cool, clinical, nothing like Azazel's delight. Dean shivered as Sam completed one of the phrases, medieval French. "What's that mean?" Sam asked, staring at his fingertips on Dean's skin.

"'My words mark my possession; his merit surpasses his iniquity,'" Dean said, turning his face away. He didn't like to think about the flattery Azazel had inked into him, from the Hebrew with its tzadik to the Maori that seemed to have something to do with a legendary hero. A lot of cultures would write boasts all over their funerary objects, sympathetic magic of a sort. But, even setting aside the disturbing implications for his ultimate fate, Dean knew the fine words were hollow. He was nothing like what was written on his skin, because it never would have gotten written there if he'd been smart and brave enough instead of shit-scared.

"Is your name anywhere on there?" Sam asked, not quite making it to casual.

Dean shook his head. "He—a name would give power. So I don't—he won't let me use mine."

Sam glanced up from the tattoos, surprised and then comprehending. "And if I undo all this and get you to give me your name," Sam said, beginning to follow a line of Arabic down Dean's inner arm, "will you be free, or will you be mine?" His fingers clamped down when Dean twitched, holding him in place.

Dean didn't want to think about who owned him. Sam's cock was a thick solid weight, rubbing against Dean's belly. Dean reached up and grabbed his hip. "I could take care of that for you. If you wanted."

"It's your dime," Sam said, but he bit his lip and thrust down against Dean, hot and heavy, and Dean wasn't going to deny him.

Dean flipped them over and brought his hand to his mouth, licking his palm slowly, enjoying the way Sam's eyes fluttered as he watched. Sam's cock felt just as good as Dean had thought it would, thick and firm under soft skin, fitting his hand like they were made for this.

He set his mouth on the jut of Sam's jaw, licking and nipping against the solid curve of bone. Sam was just getting new stubble, sharp against Dean's tongue, almost-pain adding to the pleasure of touching him. His cock was jumping in Dean's hand, wet at the head when Dean tested it with his thumb.

Dean slid down the arch of Sam's neck, loving the way Sam pitched and groaned underneath him and the flavor of Sam's skin, salt and a hint of something raw and powerful. "You taste so good," he said, not even thinking, and it was like nothing he'd ever done before but he wanted to take his time, touch every inch of that golden skin. So he pushed himself up on his free arm and started tonguing his way down Sam's body, across the arches of his collarbones, stopping to investigate every mole he found, some flat and indistinguishable from skin and others raised just enough that he could drag his teeth over them to get Sam to gasp and curse.

By the time Dean had worked his way down to Sam's abs, Sam had one hand running restlessly through Dean's hair and the other pressing steadily on his shoulder, pushing him down. Dean only resisted because he could feel how much Sam was enjoying the trip, how Sam shuddered and fought for breath, his fingertips hard on Dean's shoulderblade and rubbing the back of Dean's neck just below his hairline. Dean was barely moving his hand on Sam's dick and every minute or so Sam would complain about that, or at least Dean thought that's what he meant to do, but the words came out bitten-off and garbled, so Dean just kept on going, only being careful enough about where he put his hands so as to avoid the just-closed cuts on Sam's thigh.

At last his mouth was only an inch away from Sam's fat cockhead. Dean paused to get a better look, and Sam growled like a hellhound and cupped his hand over the back of Dean's head—palm as big as a shovel, so fucking hot, and Dean realized he was talking only when Sam said, "Shut up, shut the fuck up and suck me," voice breaking.

And the terrifying thing was, Dean wanted to, really wanted to, same as he'd wanted to put his hands and his mouth all over Sam. He knew they couldn't afford this, begging for disaster in every single way, but he couldn't stop.

So he opened his mouth and licked the red, leaking head, bitter and almost soapy, then took as much as he could in one thrust, still working the base with his fingers. He wriggled to get a better angle, loving Sam's grunts and whimpers, relaxing into it and letting Sam fill his throat, hollowing his cheeks and letting his spit dribble out onto his fingers, getting them slick so that he could cover as much of Sam's cock as possible.

Sam was making all sorts of sounds, nothing controlled about him except the steady pressure of his hand on Dean's neck, sweaty and clutching. Dean rolled his tongue, feeling the veins standing out, and maybe even another mole; later he'd take his time and find out for sure. He swallowed, and Sam's nails scraped his scalp as Sam shot down his throat.

Dean pulled back before he could choke, but he kept swallowing because Sam just kept making this groaning noise, like Dean was nearly killing him and he never wanted it to stop.

"Jesus fuck," Sam said at last, easing him off. Dean's jaw was sore and his lips were numb, but he felt as happy as when he'd made his first bullseye. "Uh, sorry I didn't warn you."

Dean looked up the length of Sam's body, all flushed skin and long planes of muscle, and raised an eyebrow at Sam's rueful expression. "Turnabout's fair play, dude."

Sam's mouth pursed as if he were about to point out that he was the one whose job it was to take it however Dean wanted, but he stayed silent, and Dean was grateful for that.

"Make it up to me by getting rid of more of this crap," Dean suggested.

Sam's mouth curled. "I guess I could do that."

****

After the next round, Sam let Dean recover without the aid of orgasms, which was probably smart overall—Dean was too young for a heart attack, but he didn't much want to test the proposition. Still, it left room for Sam to ask all sorts of questions about Azazel, what Dean knew, what he'd seen.

"These aren't fun memories, you know," Dean said when Sam wanted details.

"I trusted you enough to cut myself open," Sam pointed out. "I think I've earned some information. Some trust from you."

There wasn't anything Dean could say to that, so he just fought back the scowl and made himself talk, like he was giving a report on someone else. "He's a demon. He likes pain."

"He doesn't—he hasn't—?" Sam's hand slid over the curve of Dean's ass, and Dean understood what he was being asked.

"No," pure truth. Azazel had never used Dad's body as that kind of weapon, maybe because Dean could have tuned that out, at least after a while. Or maybe it was because of something Azazel had said to him once when he was eighteen and fresh off an attempt at defiance—self-hypnosis, Dean guessed was the best word for it—that had left him screaming on Azazel's worktable for hours, possibly days. The words had been weird enough that Dean had paid attention through the haze of agony: You don't get to enjoy it, boy. Not yet. Dean still didn't like to think about what that might mean.

But Sam was waiting, his expression indicating that he wanted to hear a lot more than a single denial. "He likes me to fight. Sends me up against ghosts, vampires. Last month it was a werewolf, nearly took my arm off. He'll heal me up after," he explained, off Sam's curious inspection of his naked and mostly scar-free skin.

"So demon powers can be used for healing," Sam said speculatively.

Dean bit his lip. "Even so, it comes from nowhere good."

Sam made a humming noise, as if he was marking the topic for later investigation. "If you're not one of these special kids, how come he's interested in you?"

"Not anything I haven't asked myself," Dean admitted. "Azazel took my family away when I was a kid. The things he did to me—" He could feel his lips trembling and hear the thickness in his own voice, so he shut his mouth before it could get worse. He cleared his throat and turned his head away from Sam. Azazel liked seeing his tears; but then again, Azazel liked seeing him struggle against them, so it was lose-lose either way.

None of that explained why Dean was so interesting, though. Initially, he'd had no theory at all about why Azazel had made him keep up the weapons training and learn basic magic. The first time Azazel had given him the details of a hunt and told him he could do it if he begged, maybe save a whole family, Dean hadn't believed a word. Except for the begging, anyway. But it wasn't a chance he could afford to lose, so he'd swallowed his pride (it had tasted like blood) and abased himself.

The ultimate purpose of Azazel's errands definitely was not to rid the world of monsters. Now, his best guess was that Azazel was going to use him as the final exam, some sort of mechanical rabbit for his 'children' when it came time to collect and groom them: Beat the human who knew what was coming for him, prove you're worthy to survive.

That was a detail he could give Sam later.

"I think it's more fun for him to work on someone who knows what's coming," he said, because that was true too.

"I'm sorry," Sam told him, which was so wrong that it made Dean's throat close up.

Sometimes, when Dean had been near rock bottom, he'd pretended that he and Sam had gotten taken together, that they were living in a big mansion with foster parents who loved them and bought them everything they wanted and let them eat ice cream for breakfast. It had never been quite right, because there was always Dad and Mom hovering in memory, but he'd still imagined Sam happy. Seeing him now, Dean knew it hadn't been like that—he'd always known, really, but the last shreds of fantasy were gone. It didn't seem fair that Sam had avoided Azazel but still ended up fighting for scraps; but then, fair was for other people.

Dean realized that he had no clue whether Sam was living with anyone, dating. Anything like that would offer Azazel a hostage—and, he had to admit, would make him pretty goddamned jealous. "What about you? You have a girlfriend, family, someone at home?"

Sam jerked. After a moment, he said carefully, "I don't know if I have a family."

"What do you mean?" Dean asked, because that answer was begging for clarification.

"When I was eight years old, Georgia CPS came and took me out of the shithole my father had us stashed in. I never saw him again."

"Us?" Dean prodded.

Sam stared at the far wall. "I had a brother."

Dean rubbed his hand over his mouth. "Yeah? What about him?"

Sam shrugged; the motion looked fake, mechanical. "He was out when CPS came. I don't—I don't know if they ever found him. He—I was pretty mad, and it's hard to place an eight-year-old boy, even harder to place a twelve-year-old, even if they're well-behaved which we weren't. So they never tried to reunite us." His mouth sealed shut, lips pressed tight.

"What was he like?" Dean hadn't meant to ask, and then he hadn't been able to help himself.

Sam sneered, not at Dean but more generally. "No," he said. "I can't—that's not for you."

Dean was warmed by that, and when Sam looked over to make sure that he hadn't pissed Dean off, Dean just shrugged, like he was confident Sam would tell him if and when he'd earned Sam's trust.

"Ask me something else," Sam suggested, looking up through his bangs.

Dean thought it over before complying. "Do you mind it?" He waved his hand around.

Sam understood him, because Sam's brain was even more overdeveloped than his arms. He shook his head. "It's just—it's useful, you know? I don't pick anybody really disgusting, and—I don't like when they want to negotiate, like we're friends or they're hot or whatever so they ought to get a discount. But mostly, it's just something I do to get by."

Dean nodded, relieved. He didn't think Sam was lying. Sam seemed tough, and while he would have liked it better if Sam had never needed to decide between eating and going to his knees, Sam was going to need that solid metal core to survive Azazel, that willingness to make his mind and his body do what was required.

"Bet this was not how you expected this night to end," Dean said, and smiled.

Sam grinned back, all white teeth and mischief. "Actually, even with all the ominous warnings, it's not so bad. I mean, better I know a demon's after me than just have him show up on the doorstep. And better to face it with you."

Dean felt his skin heat, and that just cut the dimples deeper into Sam's cheeks. "Go again?" Dean suggested, before he could say something stupid like 'please don't hate me for bringing this into your life.'

Sam nodded and patted the bed next to him. "On your stomach," he said. "Let's start working on your back."

****

Dean came to with the washcloth on the back of his neck, cool water seeping onto him and drawing out some of the nausea and pain. "Thanks," he said, and Sam replaced the washcloth with his hand, rubbing gently at the tensed muscles until Dean whimpered a little.

"Look," Sam said, pointing to the mirror across from the bed.

Dean clenched his teeth and forced himself up on his elbows, craning his head over his shoulder. He was familiar with the symbols on his back; had to be, planning to erase them. But now there were shocking bare patches, one on the back of each shoulder, in the shape of Sam's hands. They looked like wings.

"I never had anything that couldn't just be taken away," Sam said. "Even the scholarship—But you. You're gonna be mine, right?"

Dean knew a lot better than to nod. Anything could be taken away, anytime. That was life, whether or not you were lucky enough not to know it, and the last thing they were was lucky.

He nodded anyway.

Sam growled and pushed him back down, straddling his hips and pressing his swelling cock into the crack of Dean's ass. It didn't take long until they were sweat-slippery and Sam was riding him hard, hands clenched around Dean's shoulders just above where Sam's blood had washed Dean clean. He bit the back of Dean's neck, then licked the stinging marks. The agony of the ritual seemed very far away. Dean thrust his ass up, trying to match Sam's rhythm. The slip-slide of Sam's dick was aggravating, teasing, as his own hips worked, grinding down into the bed.

Sam put all his weight on one hand, shoving Dean into the mattress, and lifted up so that he could jack himself, his knuckles sliding over Dean's back, rubbing hard against the knobs of his spine. Dean bit at the pillow, eyes closed, pulsing his hips and trying to work a hand under the combined weight of their bodies so that he could take care of himself.

"So pretty," Sam mumbled, "that skin, nobody's seen it but me—fuck, you'll let me—"

Sam gasped and spurted hot over Dean's back, stroking himself through the final spasms and then rubbing his fingers through the mess, smearing it up and down as if it were blood for the ritual. "Wanna try?" Sam asked, with that eerie synchronicity of thought, and Dean bucked up and came, untouched.

"Gonna fuckin' break me," he mumbled into the pillow a couple of minutes later. He was four years older, after all, and he kind of wanted about eight hours of sleep before going again. But even though Azazel couldn't sense the binding breaking any more than he could have sensed Dean's cellphone breaking, eventually—soon—he was going to try to get hold of Dean, and then events would get a lot more uncontrolled.

Sam leaned over and nuzzled at the line of Dean's shoulder. "I haven't even gotten started," he promised.

****

After the next round ended with Dean coming back to consciousness with Sam's mouth on his, the heels of Sam's hands pressed bruisingly hard into his sternum, Sam refused to use any larger amounts of blood. "If I didn't know CPR, you'd be dead," he snarled, lips peeled back from his teeth. Dean wasn't sure that was true, but Sam was the one with the knife. Plus they were both exhausted, that late-night heaviness in the brain mixing with the residual pain until Dean was just glad that Sam was willing to continue at all.

They took longer breaks, dozing side by side on the bed until one of them prodded the other back to consciousness. Dean dreamed once, something with Dad in it. He never forgot the difference between Dad and Azazel, any more than he forgot Sam; even in sleep, he always knew whether he was having a dream or a nightmare, no matter how human Azazel made his eyes look.

Mostly they were awake enough to chat, random snippets Dean prodded out of Sam (who finally admitted to having a Harvard degree and a plan to go to law school, which was going to be a huge fucking problem but one Dean was prepared to put off for later). Sam could probably tell that Dean was mostly evading personal questions, but Sam had enough to learn about the supernatural that Dean could still hold his own in the rambling conversation.

"At school I never met anybody who really understood," Sam said at one point, his hands resting loosely on his stomach. "The things most of them took for granted—new shoes whenever, trips home, grabbing dinner in the Square if they stayed too late at the library and the dining hall was closed. I could've—I made some friends, but mostly I just took classes and tried not to fuck up. You know, when I told my last set of foster parents I got into Harvard, the woman—she really liked me, she told me so and I believe her—she sat me down and told me, real serious, that I'd never make it and I'd just get hurt, and wouldn't it be better to try community college? And she was sincere, she was trying to do the right thing. Nobody there believed in me and nobody at school knew me."

"She should've known better," Dean said when he could speak. His chest hurt, thinking of what Sam had accomplished, all on his own. "You—you're special."

"So you've told me." Sam's mouth was twisted wryly as he canted his head towards Dean, their foreheads nearly touching, sharing the same pillow.

"No, not the demon blood. You. And once Azazel's dead, you can show the whole world."

Sam stopped, his eyes flicking from side to side as he thought something through. "The demon blood—is that why I'm—" He flushed, but Dean could see the things he wanted to say. Smarter. Faster. Stronger. Better than other people.

"Nah," Dean dismissed. "I've checked up on some of the others for him. They weren't anything like you."

Sam frowned. "Why'd you pick me, then, if I wasn't the first? Or have you been trying this with the others?" His fingers clenched on Dean's hip.

Dean could have offered the difficulty of finding someone willing to bleed on him—Sam's initial professional willingness was the first thing that had gone right for him in years, really—but Sam needed to know the truth, or at least a part of it.

"You're strong enough to fight him. The others—they'll use their powers, all right. But when he starts making promises about ruling the world on one side and suffering on the other, they're gonna jump the wrong way."

"And you think I won't." Sam was rubbing his thumb over Dean's hipbone now, tracing the curve and moving down to the crease of his thigh. "How could you know that?"

Dean shrugged, as best he could while lying down. "Anybody tries to sell you some story about how easy it would be to be in charge, how you'd make the right decisions and all it would cost is somebody else's suffering, you're gonna tell 'em to fuck off. Plain as the ginormous nose on your face." Sam's scowl flipped into a smile in about five seconds, and it made Dean feel a little better. He should have been there to say it every day of Sam's life.

****

Later, Dean paid a ridiculous surcharge for middle-of-the-night room service and watched Sam answer the door in his boxers. Sam said he wasn't feeling the blood loss, and he didn't look shaky when he was carrying the tray or inhaling the steak and fries.

When Sam was finished, they returned to the bed. Dean hoped that they could finish after a few more rounds, because he felt like a chicken getting chopped up, like every iteration was cutting him down to the bone.

Sam cleared his throat and Dean shifted onto his side to face him.

"What you said, before. About getting angry and having someone get hurt."

He put his hand on Sam's wrist, not squeezing, just resting there. Sam's skin was a little cooler than his own, but it felt just right.

Sam's eyes were unfocused; he wasn't seeing anything in this room. "The first time it happened was when I—when I lost my family. I was furious at my dad for leaving us, and then Dean left. He was only looking for food, we needed food, but I was so mad. I hated them both. I wanted them to stay gone. And then the cops came and took me away."

Dean had to drop his eyes and swallow a couple of times before he could speak. "That wasn't you. You didn't do that."

"You said—" Sam's voice was rising and Dean had to cut it off.

"The powers only start up at puberty, and unless you were this freakishly large before you were ten, I'm thinking what happened was that somebody left an eight-year-old kid alone for two weeks and somebody else noticed."

Sam's eyes were still sad, brows mashed down in distress, but he relaxed a little. "But I can learn to control it, right? Now that I know it's real."

Dean nodded. "Wouldn't be much good to Azazel if you couldn't." Azazel didn't expect all the kids to be able to ride their demon blood instead of getting ridden, but Sam had been a stubborn little fuck at eight and now he was a stubborn big fuck, so Dean didn't foresee any difficulty controlling the powers.

"Can you help me?" Sam had his head turned away now, so he didn't have to ask to Dean's face. Sam must've spent most of his life looking for help he rarely got, Dean thought—God only knew how much worse it had been after Dean had lost him.

"Of course," he said. "I mean, I know the theory anyway. You're gonna have to do the hard stuff."

Unexpectedly, Sam sniggered, and Dean's brain caught up with what he'd said. "Ah, fuck you," he complained. Sam just laughed harder, and then it was time to keep going.

****

The last mark to go was the first put on, right over Dean's heart. It looked like a tangle of worms, and it was one of the symbols Dean had never translated. Going on, it had felt like a three-dimensional object, a spiked globe embedding itself into his flesh.

Dean didn't like to think about those first weeks, back when he'd kept thinking 'this can't get worse,' half prayer and half certainty, and all ignored and disproved.

"You ready?" Sam asked, raising the knife. Dean had a moment of wishing that he didn't need to hurt Sam to get himself free, but reminded himself that Sam was in for a lot worse in the alternative, and Dad had never let Sam avoid pain when it was necessary, like when they had to move for a hunt.

He nodded.

Sam reached down and drew a delicate line across his thigh. He looked like a real mess, psych ward stuff for sure if anyone else saw. He'd been careful, though—Dean didn't think a single one of the cuts would leave a scar.

Sam collected the blood on his fingers and started to paint it over the symbol, tracing each line. "Go clockwise," Dean warned him. "I dunno what it means, but widdershins is never your friend. At least not if you're not evil."

That earned him a smile, a little twisted, a shared 'how-weird-is-this?' that got Dean smiling back, even though he was so wound up that he felt like his skin might tear like cobwebs, burst open like an overripe fruit.

The blood was already cool by the time it touched his skin, drying tacky. Sam was a little aggressive with the coverage, tracing over every line twice, and Dean was selfish enough not to ask whether he was using too much. Tomorrow, Dean would feed him juice and burgers until his strength was back up. Tomorrow, when he was free.

At last, Sam finished, and tilted his head up so that they were staring into each other's eyes. Sam's face was tight with fatigue (and maybe bloodloss), skin still golden but with a tinge of gray underneath, stubble now heavy enough to sting if Dean had given in to the impulse to rub against it like a cat.

"Here goes nothing," Dean said and began the ritual invocation. Sam's voice joined him—quick learner.

As if the binding knew that it was nearly frayed to breaking, the pain began before he finished, like being pushed into a pile of hot coals, burning across every inch of his skin that had already been cleansed and then a spike into his chest. Dean struggled to complete the chant, hanging on to Sam's voice when he'd forgotten the meaning, stumbling towards the finish. Distantly, he felt Sam's arm wrap around him, pulling him into Sam's chest so that the final words tumbled out onto Sam's skin. Sam continued on after Dean had stopped, meaningless noise now. Dean tasted salt and metal, and then his head filled with light, the pain booming and pounding inside him like thunder, too great for his skull to contain.

His vision cleared slowly. He still felt like something had pulled his ribs out through his skin, then dipped them back in to puncture his heart, but the pain was starting to fade or at least the nerves were burning out. Sam was stroking him, starting at the nape of his neck and pushing all the way down to the curve of his ass, murmuring nonsense. Sam's skin was wet where Dean's face was pressed against him, sweat and tears and, unfortunately, snot; Dean felt himself flush even through the rest of the discomfort.

He snuffled, wiping his face as best he could. Sam froze, then put his fingers on Dean's chin to tilt his face up. Dean struggled, but not for long.

"It's done," Sam said, almost breathless.

Dean didn't need to look down, because Sam had told him. He didn't think, just closed his eyes and reached up, grabbing Sam's face and pulling him down into a kiss. Messy and tear-salted and free, like he was flying, like a foretaste of what killing Azazel was going to be like, his blood pounding so hard in his veins that it was like going over Niagara Falls, but he was never going to crash.

Sam kissed back like he'd invented it, pushing Dean down until he was flat on the bed, smoothing his hands down Dean's chest and over his arms, squeezing like he needed to make sure Dean wasn't going to melt away.

When Sam broke away for air, he was smiling so wide Dean stopped chasing his lips and grinned back. He felt like his insides had been replaced by helium, Sam's weight the only thing keeping him from floating away.

"You gonna let me fuck you now?" Sam growled.

"Yeah," he breathed.

"Stay there," Sam ordered, slapping his hand down on the center of Dean's chest—Dean's unmarked, untouched chest—before he rolled off to go rummage through his discarded clothing, coming up with a packet of lube and a condom. Dean snorted when he saw the condom—he'd been covered with pints of Sam's blood and it seemed a little, well, hypertechnical to worry about a teaspoon of come at this point. But it was Sam's party.

Sam followed his gaze to the little square and raised one eyebrow, then chucked it over his shoulder. "Kind of freaky that I totally know what you're thinking," he said, smiling, as he approached.

Dean bounced his head against the pillows a couple of times, just because he could. "Kind of freaky that that's what you think is kind of freaky."

"Shut up," Sam suggested, grabbing another pillow and shoving it under Dean's hips, which turned out to require a lot of Sam's hands all over Dean's legs, stroking and pushing until Dean was in just the right position.

Sam's hard-on kept poking Dean, so he didn't expect Sam to take much time with prep. Except that Sam apparently had a thing for delayed gratification, because he settled between Dean's legs like he was preparing to do a detailed survey, mouthing at Dean's balls as he worked one thick finger inside, experimenting until he found the exact angle and pressure that made Dean arch up so hard he nearly brained himself on the headboard. He clenched his fingers in the bedspread and drummed his heels on Sam's shoulders, and all Sam did was run his tongue up the seam of Dean's sac and slide another finger in.

"Okay, fine," Dean panted, squirming to try to screw himself further down on Sam's hand. "You're a sex god, now fuck me."

Sam pulled off with a wet smack that had Dean clenching his jaw against the whimper that wanted out. "Is that any way to talk to the guy who saved you?"

Dean curled his upper body upright as best he could, looking down at his stiff dick bobbing next to Sam's face. "Yeah, if the guy who saved me just did it so he could tease the fuck out of me."

Sam twisted his fingers up and spread them a little. Dean bit his lip hard as his eyes rolled and his head snapped back. Sam made a sound suspiciously close to a giggle, but then, blessedly, he used his free hand to get hold of Dean's hip and haul himself up Dean's body, pressing Dean back down into the mattress.

Dean's knees hooked over Sam's shoulders as Sam pulled his fingers out and finished slicking himself. He pushed up against Dean, resting for a second so that Dean could feel him, and Jesus fuck he was huge, and Dean had never really liked this part anyway, and this was Sam and no matter how much Dean wanted to make Sam happy this was so far from smart—

They groaned in tandem as Sam pressed inside, long slow slide that seemed like it was going to split Dean apart. Dean's hamstrings complained as Sam moved inexorably down, folding him nearly in half. Dean made himself breathe, turned his head so that he could close his eyes and get through it.

Then Sam's hand curled around his cock just as Sam shimmied his hips, setting off fireworks in Dean's brain. Sam was so big he could bend down and kiss Dean like this, jerking Dean off as he slammed into Dean and his tongue invaded Dean's mouth. Dean was owned, possessed, but he wanted it, wanted Sam to put his hands on every inch of skin, would have been happy if Sam had made him bleed like Sam had been bleeding for him.

Dean shot so hard that he whited out, head filled with lightning and cotton-candy bliss. When he checked back in after however long, his face was wet and Sam had both hands pinning his shoulders, pounding into him like Sam was hoping to make the bed collapse around them.

Dean's overstrained legs slipped down and he squirmed until they were bracketing Sam's hips. Sam barely seemed to notice the new angle except to brace his knees more firmly and lengthen his strokes. Dean's whole body was still ringing from his orgasm. He felt hollowed and light as bird bones, floating on the tide, Sam crashing over him, groaning into Dean's mouth as his hips snapped hard once, twice, three times and went still.

Sam weighed about two thousand pounds, so hot and sweaty that Dean's exposed skin felt chilled by comparison, Sam's chin digging not-so-comfortably into Dean's shoulder. Dean was never planning to move.

Eventually, though, Sam peeled himself off, just enough that he could look down at Dean, his pupils still blown wide, his nostrils flaring so that his nose looked, improbably, even larger. Dean kind of wanted to grab him by the ears and do some sort of sappy victory dance with their foreheads pressed together, except that there was no way he was getting vertical any time soon even if he'd been uncool enough for that.

After a minute of pure staring at each other, grinning fools the both of them, Sam reached down and ran his fingers through the slick on Dean's belly, then raised them to his mouth and licked. "I could get used to this," he said. "Hey, now that you're free from the evil overlord, you gonna tell me your name?"

Dean couldn't help the shudder. "You might not want to hear it," he warned, the pleasure draining out of him, replaced with rising dread.

"What, 'cause the rest of what you've told me is so comforting?" Sam scoffed. But he eased himself out of Dean and rolled over, so at least he wasn't staring into Dean's eyes any more. There was silence, and when Dean snuck a glance at him Sam's face was nearly blank. Sam was processing, putting together what he already knew. A drum beat in Dean's chest, too fast.

"Two weeks," Sam said. "How'd you know my dad had been gone for two weeks when the police came?"

"You know how I know," Dean said, his voice almost broken. "A week after that, Azazel came for me."

"No," Sam said, putting his hands up to cover his face.

"My name is Dean Winchester," Dean said, for the first time in fourteen years.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Sam didn't sound angry so much as confused, and Dean breathed a little easier.

"I couldn't," Dean admitted. "Not with his marks still on me."

"And after?" Sam was still talking through his fingers, but he hadn't gotten out of the bed, so Dean hoped that he hadn't made matters any worse than they would have been already.

"I—I wanted you to," he said. It came out almost inaudible. "You—and you feel so—I just wanted to feel good."

Sam was silent a long time.

When he spoke again, each word came out edged in sharpened steel. "If you lie to me again, explicitly or by omission, I'm gone. I'd rather do this alone than not be able to trust you."

Dean nodded quickly. Sam inspected him, and Dean had spent so long trying to hide his emotions that he almost wept with the desire to make Sam see how he'd do anything to get Sam's trust.

"You weren't trying to play me," Sam said, like he was testing the words. "You really couldn't tell me your name?"

"I swear," Dean said immediately. "I wouldn't—it's my job to take care of you, and I know I fucked up, but there's still so much you need to know—"

"Okay," Sam soothed, putting his hand on Dean's chest. "Okay then. There's something I have to tell you, too."

Dean fought to push himself up, suddenly terrified. "What?"

"I've been having these dreams," Sam said, staring at the ceiling. "He said that if I did something for him, I'd get a reward. I didn't believe it of course, but I looked up the news reports anyway, and the deaths were exactly what he'd said in my dream. So I went to Saginaw and I followed that kid around. I saw."

Max is dead, Dean remembered.

"Somebody needed to do something!" Sam insisted, like Dean was arguing with him instead of staring like a crash test dummy. "The police, they'd never believe it. So I used my gifts—" and the worst part was, he said 'gifts' like he meant it—"and I took care of him."

Dean felt like he'd fallen through the surface of a frozen lake. The world was better off without Max, no question. And if Azazel had offered Dean the option—but Sam, Sam wasn't supposed to have to make those choices. Worse than that, Sam was listening to Azazel. If there was anything Dean had tried to buy with his obedience—God, he'd crawled on his hands and knees, and thanked Azazel for the privilege—it was the chance to keep Sam away from that poison. "Demons lie," Dean whispered, too broken to speak more loudly.

Sam smiled, a terrible grin, like Azazel's. "Yeah, that I got. If he wanted me to trust him, he shouldn't have worn Dad's face in my dream. But he was telling the truth about how dangerous Max was, and about the powers. And then you showed up. Once I saw the tattoos, I figured you were my reward. I didn't think—he didn't tell me who you were."

Dean shook his head, trying to deny everything.

Sam reached over and pulled him into a hug. Dean couldn't fight—no, he didn't want to fight. Sam felt too much like home. "It's okay."

Dean hitched a laugh.
"No." Sam's voice was tender, his arms so tight that Dean could barely breathe. "I've got you now. He's not going to hurt you any more. He didn't know about the blood ritual, you fooled him, and now we're together."

And even with Sam's confession, even knowing that Sam had been expecting an emissary—fuck, he kept talking about ownership, like he was just taking title from Azazel—even with all that, Dean couldn't help but lean into him, because the faint pulse of hope was more than he'd had in years.

"I'm sorry," he whispered into Sam's shoulder. "I'm so sorry."

Sam's hand cupped the back of his neck, cradling him as Sam threw his leg over Dean's hip, bringing them even closer together. "Don't, Dean. You were a kid, there was nothing you could do."

But Dean had to confess. If Sam didn't know, he was going to keep thinking he could handle Azazel. "It's not just your dream."

"What?"

"Dad," Dean began, and then had to push everything he was feeling into the darkest corner of his mind. "Azazel possessed him." His eyes stung. He'd thought that he had no tears left after the ritual, but apparently that was another thing he'd gotten wrong. "I don't know—I don't even know if he's still in there." Sometimes he couldn't help himself and imagined what it had to be like, his father's suffering, his disappointment that Dean hadn't found a way to give him peace.

Sam made a noise, not quite skeptical. Maybe he wasn't mad at Dean for abandoning him, but apparently he was holding a grudge against Dad.

"You don't understand," Dean tried. "He's possessed," like that would mean anything to Sam. "Worse than what Azazel did to me. He killed Mom, he possessed Dad, and now he's trying to make you into something—"

"Okay," Sam said. "Then that's part of going after the demon. If there's a way to save him, we will. Dean," like his name meant something, like Sam had never forgotten. "I dream about a gun. It's got symbols on it, like it's special. Maybe—maybe that's what we need to find."

The funny thing was, hearing about Sam's dream actually made him feel better. Azazel had plans; therefore those plans could be defeated, if they could only figure out how. Sam was strong enough to resist Azazel's seductions. He had to be.

"Sam. Sammy." It felt like the only word he knew, and he'd been mute for years.

Sam ran his hand down Dean's back, comforting and unsettling all at once. "Dean. Look at me."

He had to try twice before he could manage. Sam's eyes were hot but still somehow calculating.

"We're fucked up, I get that. But you don't care, do you?"

Dean shook his head. Sam had been all he'd dreamed of for so long, distant and huge as the moon. Having him now—no, Dean didn't have any lines to cross when it came to Sam.

Sam smiled, just a tiny bit, his lips still soft pink even as the hours had brought out the dark stubble surrounding them. He looked like what someone who'd never met a demon would call devilish. "I don't either. Not enough, anyway. You found me, and we're gonna make Azazel, and any other asshole who thinks he can fuck with us, sorry. You always told me the Winchesters were badass, you remember?"

Dean thought maybe he did. Even if he hadn't, he still would have nodded.

"So we're gonna get some rest, and then when we wake up I'm gonna fuck you 'til you scream—" he paused to enjoy Dean's shudder—"and then we're gonna get to work. You with me?"

Dean took a breath, the smell of Sam, of them, heavy and thick. "To Hell and back, Sammy," he said. "To Hell and back."

END








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