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Sight Lines

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Sight Lines

There's something eerie about driving into a small town just as real autumn twilight sets in, especially the kind of small towns you find in rural Appalachian territory. Tall pines loom in close over the winding roads and block all but the narrowest strip of overcast sky with their skinny grasping branches. Sweeping hills and valleys seem to tuck each village into its own isolated world. Impending darkness, already deep in the gaps between trees, makes claustrophobia threaten. Sam is used to long stretches of plains, where he can see on and on over yellow grass. Here, each curve in the road hides the next quarter mile. Gas stations and rundown liquor stores and intersections spring on them with no warning. Street signs are too few, 'Private Drives' too many, and there are no motels, only inns with gravel parking lots and mostly dark windows this late in the year. No one wise visits in November. It's ice storm season.

Rationally, Sam knows that this part of America isn't older than any other, that its history isn't any bloodier, but it feels that way. Appalachia spooks him like a hunched hag, cackling through broken teeth with her ancient, abiding anger. Sam's a plains-man, and she's a creature of once-great mountains. He doesn't belong here — if he belongs, anywhere.

Bilton, New York is the worst kind of hidden town, barely deserving of the label. People on their way up or down Route 29 probably don't even notice it as they drive through. One way in, one way out — take out the road and everyone is screwed. Nothing breeds monsters and ghosts and simple old human hate like a small community where everyone's known everyone for three generations or more.

The inn Dad stops at has two stories and rotted wood siding that almost fails to keep the forest at bay. Could be it's in Bilton proper — there is a dive bar in the clearing across the street — but just as easily it could be in some unclaimed area between townships. It doesn't look open, though Dad goes up and through the front door anyway.

Sam sulks in the back seat, furiously wondering how long they'll be here and if he'll have to find a high school to attend and where the hell that school might possibly be, while trying not to snap at Dean as he obsessively feels over the Impala for dings. Sam hates how small and puffy Dean looks in three layers of sweatshirt, hands tipped with white in the cold. He hates the crunching sounds of frosty gravel beneath Dean's boots. He hates Caleb for sending them on this job — these jobs — and he hates his Dad for pulling him from Eastmont High in Nebraska, where he almost had a girlfriend.

Maybe the inn will be closed and they'll have to find something else, farther down into the foothills. Somewhere less trapped.

The inn isn't closed. Dad comes back holding two room keys, each dangling from a thick wooden circle with the numbers painted on sloppily. "Come on," he says, opening Sam's door, letting the wind right in. "I got you boys your own room. Rate's real cheap this time of year." He smiles, like he's doing them a favor. Sam scowls as he climbs out of the car, shoving his awkward too-big hands into his too-small pockets.

"Awesome," Dean says, snagging a key and turning his own smile on Sam. "Come on, Sammy. We'll stay up stupid late and pig out on M&Ms."

Sam almost lets his scowl go because that could be cool, even though he knows Dean is trying to placate him. They're both trying to placate him. But as much as Sam hates that too, it works a little. Not having Dad immediately there with his correcting, ordering, demanding, will ease some of the bitterness sitting hard on his stomach. Dean always tries too hard, but he usually succeeds anyway when Sam gets full up on rage like this, especially if he can get Dad to leave them alone. Sam needs room to breathe, and all the best times are when Dad's elsewhere.

Dean is more content then too; Sam just knows it.

"No, you won't," says Dad, hauling their duffels out of the trunk with a grunt. "It's Wednesday. I've gotta get Sam registered at the school tomorrow so he can start next week. Early wake up, I want us all done with PT and showered by 8 am."

Dean's smile drops off. "Oh," he says, and Sam knows Dean isn't any happier about that news than he is. Well, good. They can suffer together.

So they are staying awhile. Sam manages to keep from stomping his foot like a brat, but can't help the jerky way he grabs up his duffel, the old military-issue green bag that houses everything he owns. Most teenagers at least get half a room. Mandy had her own bedroom, bigger than most of the motel rooms Sam has had to share with his brother and father his entire life, and she had her own bathroom too, where she first kissed Sam after he helped Christy throw up bile and Jager during their joint birthday party. Sam just has this duffel, doesn't even get his own bed usually. Sam gets Dean's cold feet on his ankles, and a tiny, haunted town in the mountains with winter coming.


They won't have to share after all, which is a nice surprise. Sam and Dean's Bilton room has two full-sized beds. Unfortunately, each bed is only covered with sheets and a thin quilt in kitschy woodsy colors to match the interior wood paneling, so they'll probably freeze in the middle of the night. The beds are packed into a space not quite big enough for them, leaving maybe a foot between the mattresses and just enough room to edge around on the far sides. It's not handicapped-friendly, to be sure. They share a rickety nightstand with one lamp, an analog alarm clock, and a rotary phone all crammed together on the pocked surface. The lamp doesn't come on when they hit the light switch — Dean has to fumble noisily through the dim grayness until he finds the short chain for it and pulls, illuminating what little else there is to see.

There's no microwave, no refrigerator, no headboards, but at least the room has a small television in the corner, a chair, and a set of drawers. One pillow apiece. Moose head on the wall. Sam throws his bag against the tall dresser and glares out the far window, tries to be grateful that they have a bathroom with a door instead of a curtain.

"Hey," Dean says, after stuffing his own duffel into a corner. Just 'hey,' and he puts a hand on Sam's shoulder as he says it. All the comfort Dean knows how to give is through touch. Not so good with words, Sam's older brother.

"This sucks," Sam says. He feels ten instead of seventeen, mean and whiny.

"Yeah," says Dean, and leans in to put his forehead against the nape of Sam's neck. It's just the right height, now that Sam's through his latest growth spurt, the same way Dean's shoulder used to be perfect for sleeping on in the backseat of the Impala. They're different, but they still fit.

"I really liked her," Sam admits. "And I hate New York."

"Me too," Dean says, breath hot through the back of Sam's jacket. "New York. Not Mandy. Too geeky and twiggy."

Sam gives a small, irritated huff because of course Dean thinks that. Dean only goes for girls with a C or higher cup-size, long legs, and a waist a Barbie doll could be proud of. Still, he's surprised; he didn't realize that Dean knew her name. "Shut up, she was hot."

"If you like boys. Bed?" Dean asks, though it can't be past six in the evening. Sleep is one of Dean's favorite solutions for Sam's moods, always hopeful that they'll wake up and Sam will finally be satisfied with the life their father has given them.

"You can. I'm gonna read," says Sam. Dean nods against his neck, and pulls away.

They make their way through the pre-sleep routine Dad's drilled since forever. Brush, floss, mouthwash, every day; can't have them needing dental work. Window sills and door jamb salted, knives under their pillows and loaded guns propped against the nightstand. Change into boxers and too-big sleepshirts. Sam thinks about Dean's offer, staying up late, maybe watching grainy PBS movies on the TV and eating the entire bag of M&Ms they bought at the last gas station, but he doesn't say anything as Dean climbs into the bed closest to the door. Dean sets the alarm clock for 6:30 am, then pulls the blanket all the way up over his head. Dad said they can't, so they don't. Sam wonders if it's easier, living in Dean's black and white world.

He unpacks the tattered copy of The Scarlet Letter he stole from the Eastmont school library. He'll never have to write the essay they had due on it, but he does want to reach the end at least. Sam suspects that he likes Nathaniel Hawthorne — maybe he'll see if the local library has other books by him. If they have a public library in Bilton, New York. He brings the book along as he tucks himself into his own bed, a bed he has all to himself for however long.

Sam doesn't read though. He rests the book on his chest, taps it mindlessly, and stares at the ceiling, trying to calm down, trying not to feel angry and disappointed and chilled and weirdly alone in the dim yellow light of their one lamp as each second goes by and by.

Within an hour, Sam is in Dean's bed, quilt, pillow, book too, and he hates most of all trying to figure out what he really, actually wants on any given day.


Overnight, the temperature plummets and the cold creeps in, just as Sam guessed it might. Old buildings, old insulation. Now the room is freezing the way only 4 am can be freezing, and Sam is half-awake enough to know it. He can sense that cold trying to crawl into bed with them like an unwelcome pet, plucking around the edges of their cocoon. Getting up will probably be more unpleasant than he can imagine, so he puts the idea of it away, lets himself forget that a next day exists. Sam can do that, he can drift comfortably in the pitch dark space under their combined quilts, because Dean's body is a furnace warming his world to cozy. The only cold part of Dean are his toes, like always, tucked high against Sam's shin, scritching in little sleep-twitches through the hair there. He needs to trim his toenails again.

Dean's not snoring, just breathing slowly, with only the faintest of sounds, but he's doing it right in Sam's face. Sam doesn't need light or open eyes to see the soft, slack circle of Dean's mouth, too close. Each exhale is a hot, sour rush that nudges Sam's bangs over his forehead, just enough irritating sensation and suffocation to bring him up out of a lovely, vaguely wintry dream. He doesn't pull away though. Dumb and heavy from sleep, Sam likes the way they've curled up face to face, sharing the uneven dip between the pillows, foreheads nearly touching. They both have their arms hugged up between their chests, pressed together, and their legs folded too, with Dean's higher on the bed so his feet kind of curve around the jut of Sam's knees and yes, there are his toes again, twitching.

For as long as Sam can remember, this has been the way he's woken up, tangled in sheets next to his brother. It's what they've always had to do, through years of motels across the nation, and even though Sam is seventeen now and it should probably be weird, it's not. It's not like they're exactly cuddling, Dean would put a very manly stop to anything like that, and they're definitely not clinging, because this is nothing like what Sam does after a nasty scare or too much blood. They're just … close, sharing something that feels like it could go on forever blending in and out with Sam's hazy half-dreams. Dean is more real in the dark, made up of sleep-sweat and phantom shapes and sensations, than he is in broad daylight. He's not brash and flirty and annoying and sometimes unbelievably naive, here.

Dean talks to Sam here, like this, and all his words mean love. Sam is certain, in this moment, that he wouldn't give this up for a bedroom and a bathroom all to himself, or for Mandy Schuler in Nebraska. Not for anything, not even &mdash

Then Sam's asleep again, and dreaming that their bodies are fanciful curlicues, sweeps of ink, two punctuation marks hiding from an author that wants to put words between them. If he could write them on a page and immortalize them like this, he would.


The Bilton Family Diner could have time-travelled straight from the fifties. Red vinyl, white plastic tabletops with silver edging, swinging bar stools, and a jukebox that's most recent update included The Everly Brothers, it's the whole cliche package. Sam is pretty okay with all that, despite the day he's having, because at least it's not dingy. In fact, it's surprisingly clean and bright inside, and warm too given the sleeting rain that started during their morning run and has gone on all day.

"Ballsville Spa?" Dean asks, utterly and gleefully immature in the face of Sam's dismay. "Seriously? Ballsville Spa Central School?"

"Shut up," says Sam as he works on ripping his napkin into tiny, tiny pieces.

"Ballsville Spa. You're really not shitting me?" Dean persists, because he's an ass. "Why's it called that? Why not Bilton Central? No, no, don't tell me. I think I can guess," and he waggles his eyebrows, all lewd and absurd, "eh, Sammy? I'm jealous. I could've used a ballsville spa at your age. Hell, I could use one now."

"Shut up, how are you so dumb?" Sam hisses. It's not like this place is packed to the seams, and Dean's voice has tendency to carry. He's probably already pissing off the locals, not even twenty-four hours in, like usual. Dean never learns; they're outsiders here and there are rules, and Rule Number One is don't make fun of anything local, only townies get to do that.

"Dean," Dad says, though he sounds more entertained than chiding.

"It's named after Eliphalet Ball, and it serves more than the Bilton township," snaps their waitress, coming up to the table with her order pad out like a weapon. "What can I get you?" and she says 'get you' like she's hoping Dean will answer 'a swift kick in the balls.'

Her name tag, pinned to a bright blue, high-collared dress, reads Thelma, and she's the kind of grizzled diner waitress that they mostly find at truck stops, somewhere between forty and sixty, wears big, dangly earrings and makes the best coffee around but won't pay enough attention to make sure you get timely refills. Wears incorrect name tags too, Sam would bet. He really doubts her name is Thelma given the flat, black-gray swing of her hair, and her deep, slanted eyes, but he could be wrong.

"Well, it's a good thing they didn't use his first name, isn't it?" Dean asks, turning his shameless flirt dial from the default 50% all the way up into the red zone simply by stretching out in the booth next to Sam and adding a smile. That certain smile that never fails and makes something in Sam's gut tighten up jealously. It's not fair that Dean gets to look the way he does, it's like a sick, cosmic joke played on the three of them and everyone they encounter.

"Her first name," Thelma says flatly, and Sam decides he likes her.

Dean nods, unfazed, tilting his chin up for maximum smile delivery. "What about 'Spa'?"

"There's a mineral spring nearby," says Thelma. "People used to believe the water could cure madness."

"Could it?" Sam can't help asking.

"No," Thelma says without looking away from Dean. "What can I get you?"

Dean looks right on back. "You pick, sweetheart. Whatever's the Ballsville Spa special, I'll have that and a side of fries."

They finish their order, then it's back to business. Sam only pays half attention as Dad explains the hunt, preoccupied with planning how he'll catch up on all the assignments he got today enough to keep his GPA where it needs to be. Lord of the Flies again, and a research project on James K. Polk, fun. The hunt sounds uncomplicated compared to the work Sam has to make up. A series of illnesses, local men being targeted by a wasting condition ending in coma. Shtriga? Maybe one with older tastes. Could be a succubus, Dad knows how to handle those. He'll probably be done with it a few days and spend the rest of time until winter break drinking himself warm at night. And for Christmas, he'll move them again, and consider it a gift.

It's all so depressing and dangerous and meaningless. Sam runs out of napkins to destroy, thinking about it.

In spite of his mood, Sam bursts into laughter (and even Dad joins in a little) when Thelma brings their orders out. Smiling viciously, she puts a small bowl of fries down in front of Dean, along with a tall glass of tap water, no ice.

"Ballsville Spa speciality," she says. "Enjoy your meal."


Dad says three things to them before they part ways after dinner: Remember the school bus stop is a half-mile south, Dean, try to get a job, and Here's some money. Be careful.

Technically that's four things, but Sam can't be sure if he meant be careful as in stay safe, don't get killed, I love you or don't spend it all on beer and pizza so he's counting them as one. It doesn't matter, Dad got the point across — he's not to be bothered.

It's the same as every other hunt since ... ever, though Dad got worse about it once Dean turned eighteen and could legally deal with most emergencies in addition to handling the day-to-day life things for all of them: setting up credit card scams and paying room fees and cooking and working odd jobs and turning up at parent-teacher conferences pretending he's Sam's guardian. Sam's still not sure if the shift is good or bad. Dad is gone more and taking Dean with him less, which is good, but Sam hates that expression Dean gets when they scrape too close to the bottom of the financial barrel and Dad is nowhere to be found.

Regardless, once the basics are taken care of — roof over their head, Sam in school, instructions clearly given — Dad leaves them to it and carries on mostly alone. This time it'll be easy for Sam to pretend his life is normal and relatively safe. A room to themselves means that Dad can't spread gruesome research over every available surface, and that he can disappear for long stretches of time without Dean developing a nervous tic, so long as he checks in by cellphone.

Normal and safe is superficial though, when you're seventeen and you still can't sleep unless it's in the same bed as your older brother. When said brother wakes you up at 6 am to do physical training for no reason other than 'Dad said so' and 'you never know when it'll be werewolves, Sammy.' When you come home to prepping salt and guns and holy water prioritized over homework, and you get to drink a beer with dinner at the bar because no one cards you once Dean gives them that shrug-smile-he's-with-me, and Dean'll give you pretty much whatever you ask for if you just ask for it. Except a different life. Not that Sam has really asked for a different life, at least not from Dean.

He wonders what would happen if he did.


The two next weeks are made of boring. Dad's hunt is slow, no connections and no leads to follow, just guesswork at this point. School is school, none of the girls Sam's met are interesting or interested in him, and there are only fifty people in his class so parties are a joke compared to the sprawling suburban wealth of Eastmont. Sam does go to the one Alexis throws on Friday, and he does drink too much Molson and make out with Sarah, but it's just eh, not worth the fruitless hard-on and the trek through the woods back to the inn. He wrote a paper on Lord of the Flies somewhere about three schools ago, which he turns in again on his second Monday and gets an A+ by the following Wednesday. The school system has a guidance counselor who sets up an appointment with him first thing to make sure he's 'adjusting.' Sam thinks she must be bored too.

Dean doesn't get a job. He tries for a few days, but no one is hiring a stranger out here, where jobs are scarce enough. By the time a week has passed he's made himself a regular at the pub across the street and people are paying for the chance to challenge him at pool, so that's just as well. Sam knows their Dad helped some, playing bait for the first audience, probably faking a limp and going on about the war, so it got them all real riled when Dean shamelessly trounced him. Dean sees Dad more than Sam does, helps him with the hunts when Sam's in class, but that's always been the case. Frankly, Sam barely sees their Dad at all, and when he does they stutter awkwardly through the kind of conversations that make Sam prefer his chemistry lab homework all over again.

They build another routine. Dean manages to swing enough money between fake credit cards and setting up day-time tournaments with the local veterans and retirees that he's not repressive about Sam's lunch money. He's got it pretty easy, in Sam's opinion. Gets up with Sam, works out, puts in a little time hunting, takes a tithe out of the pockets of lonely old men and chats up the pretty, pudgy bartender on the day shift like she's really gonna let him get lucky, until Sam comes home and they grab dinner and do target practice and hand-to-hand.

Usually they eat at The Irish Place, where Dean spends his days. Nancy makes killer sweet potato fries which Sam downs by the basket, and Dean eats for free because he's such a ridiculous flirt, and is bringing in better business. After that it's combat and hiking far enough out that shooting doesn't scare the neighbors, maybe homework if Dean is satisfied with Sam's aim and there's no research. Definitely a movie, beer, and candy if Sam is able to pin him for real. And that's new, but incredible — finally being strong enough to get Dean on the ground or against a tree and keep him there until he feels like letting go.

Then they go to bed. What was originally Sam's bed has become a flat storage space, covered in gun parts and discarded shirts, empty plastic tubs from their leftovers. They sleep together under the quilts in Dean's queen, and it easily fits them both. Dean always nods off first lately. He has a slow, sneaky way of doing it, one moment avidly pounding the bed rooting for the Swamp Thing, the next sinking down against Sam's side, head on Sam's hip, melting into sleep with beer-breath and calloused fingers on Sam's wrist. His short spiky hair flattens out oddly against the pillow case as he nudges into it, and Sam usually forgets about how his shins hurt from running, about how there's still dirt under his fingernails, about how Sarah snubbed him today in front of everyone, when he looks down to see Dean's thick, unfair eyelashes fluttering against his cheeks.


This time, Sam wakes up because he's sensitive to sound, and Dean's hand must be slick with spit or lube to be making smacking noises like that as he jerks off half a foot away. More spit than anything, given the raw skin smell of it.

Sam cracks his eyes just the slightest bit, so he can make out the shifting of the sheets and quilts through the veil of his lashes. The alarm clock is all that lights the room, but it's enough for Sam to make out Dean's profile, his parted mouth that catches the red light and gleams with each gasp, and the way dark gray shadows change as he thrusts up into his fist. Sam will always think of pleasure in terms of sound and smell first, because this is how he learned about it, how and when it works — waking suddenly to his brother in a motel bed with nothing but desire and saliva to ease the way

Dean reaches up and muffles some kind of hoarse sound with his left hand. Sam can see the outline of it, clenched hard over Dean's mouth, while his right works steadily on his cock. Shift, shift, blankets up down, up down, and the twin peaks beyond that where Dean has his knees wide open and up so he can dig heels into the mattress. The bed smells like them both, like the smell they make together sweating and turning at night, but over that is the weirdly warm smell of saliva and precome. It's too easy for Sam to pretend to still be asleep and twitch over onto his side, fetching up closer to where Dean's on his back, and Dean freezes so perfectly. Murky tableau of male sex, caught out, lets out a startled, frustrated sound.

If Sam doesn't move for long enough, if he adds a small snore, Dean will pretend too. He'll pretend he doesn't know Sam's actually awake and he'll start again. He'll let Sam stay here, close enough to catch the smallest change in Dean's method — Sam's method too, after years of being next to this. Even if he didn't sort of like it this way, Dean bringing himself off would get Sam there — he can't help but mix Dean and the physical memory of coming over his own fingers in his head.

Dean likes it best in the early, early morning. Likes to wake up slowly, fuck into his own hand like there's no finish line, and doze off again afterwards. Sam knows it, has heard it, smelled it, made it out in the darkness, for longer than he's understood what it means. The first time Sam put hand to cock with intent, it was after Dean had fallen back asleep and he couldn't help trying it for himself.

That was the first time. Now, Sam knows exactly what he's doing, and he lets his mouth fall open near Dean's shoulder and enjoys the heady, familiar scent of arousal. Dean starts moving again but he's slowed it down, riding each pull, raising his hips into it and giving these low, rumbling groans underneath his silencing palm. He's getting fiercer in holding himself still, not going any faster, so Sam wonders just how tight Dean's grip is, how that pressure looks in the lines of his fingers and cock. Sam sucks in breath after breath along with fibers from Dean's shirt, and keeps his own hardening dick inches off of Dean's hip.

Dean's knees drop fully open suddenly and one leg kind of shoots straight out stiff, his other hand twitching off his mouth to grasp the pillowcase as he comes, freezing up in a brutal curl. He orgasms like a soundless scream in a movie, mouth open and dark-looking but empty of sound. Sam's fingers spasm in the sheets with the strain of not reaching out to press inside and down on the hot length of Dean's tongue, wants to fill that emptiness with something, anything. Sam wishes he could could get off like that, like a silent movie star, artistically, but he's a thrasher and a shover. He grimaces his way through orgasm like it's hurting him, makes grunty noises without realizing and grabs at things.

Or maybe that's just a thing for him in general, because he's not coming yet but he's helplessly got a hand on one of Dean's thighs and is clenching it even as Dean shudders off his height.

"Sorry, sorry," Dean wheezes. "Dude, I just — there was this dream — "

"No, no, sorry," Sam hushes back, peeling his fingers one by one off Dean's warm skin. "Yeah, I know how you like, uh —"

Dean laughs, weakly, says, "Yeah, you know how it is."

"Right," says Sam. His cock is still a jutting, insistent force.

"You need — you gonna —?" Dean asks. Because Sam usually does need, and he usually is gonna, and Dean knows it. The same way they both know that sleep is just a pretense.

"Yeah. Yes," Sam groans.

Go for it," Dean murmurs, sleepy already but turning into Sam so they're a hot mess of knees and elbows and fuck-smell. "Gotchya, Sammy. S'ok."

So Sam digs a hand into his boxers and fists himself hard, not for a second letting up, because this time he can do it while his forehead and knees bump against Dean's. They don't kiss, that would be weird, but fuck, does Sam drown in Dean's recovering breaths and get off on the feeling of shoving his body close to Dean's in the dark.

It's just a thing that they sometimes do.


Dean is more tired than usual the next morning, refusing to acknowledge the alarm when it goes off and forcing Sam to lean over him to get at it. Sam pushes at him, but Dean just grumps and tells him to fuck off, and finally Sam has to pull all the covers off the bed to make Dean squint open his eyes and sit up. He looks honestly confused at to why he's awake, sleep lines on one side of his face and hair sticking up at crazy angles.

"... the fuck, Sammy?" Dean asks, scrubbing a hand over his face. "S'fucking cold."

"It's always cold," says Sam, because he's forgotten everything except the goosebumps on his skin at the sight of Dean with his boxers stuck damply to his crotch. The smell of their come is hanging faintly in the air, but utterly unmentionable now that the sun is rising, if ever. Sam's never tried to like … talk about it, but he suspects Dean would shut him down fast if he did, and probably call Sam a girl for even wondering what it might mean. Things like that don't mean anything to Dean.

"Ugh," Dean falls backwards again, throwing an arm over his face. "PT. Right. Shit, I feel like I barely slept. Not sure I can run this morning, man."

Sam kicks the mattress viciously, making Dean squawk, then turns for the bathroom so he can at least wash his hands. He says, "If I have to do it, you have to do it," instead of, "Yeah, well, you didn't really. And neither did I."

Sam has a theory that there are two types of people in the world. The first kind are regular people, like him and Dad and Mandy and Nancy the bartender, they're the sort that other people start to love over time. Not that the love is less powerful or real, but it's a growing thing, and it has to be nurtured, coaxed, earned, built into a lasting relationship brick by brick. They're the kind of people that not everyone is going to love, or even want to love.

Then there are people like Dean and, Sam thinks, his mother. She must have been like Dean, else where did Dean get it from? They're the second type. People that go through life and everyone around can't help but fall a little bit in love with them. And it's not safe or good, it blows up fast and too often it dies just as quickly, but they barely know they're doing it and even if you recognize what's happening to you, you can't help falling anyway. And when they leave you behind, when you really did love them, that's how people like John Winchester happen.

That's why Sam appreciates people like Thelma, who seem to be immune, for whatever reason, to that love effect. He knows that the kind of love normal people, people like him, inspire is the better, longer-lasting sort, but he can't stop resenting Dean for how easy it makes everything for him: attention and free meals and open doors and simple, meaningless sex. And he can't help being a little bit in love with his brother just like every other stupid person, and hating it.


The following Wednesday starts their third week in Bilton. Enough time that Sam knows the name of every student in his tiny class, is lauded among their grandfathers for playing almost as good a game of pool as his older brother, and has memorized a path through the forest that gets him and Dean from the inn to their training clearing in under half an hour. He's saved up enough of his lunch money extra to buy a matching hat, glove, and scarf set at the Rite Aid which he wears to combat the growing cold. It hasn't snowed yet, but the ground freezes every morning, and the days just keep getting shorter and darker and more confining.

It's the week of Thanksgiving, so Sam has a couple days off from school, which is why he's leading his father into the woods along his path for some extra practice. On Dad's orders, of course. Not like Sam had anything he wanted to use his free time to do. Worse, Dean is back at The Irish Place running his afternoon poker hustle, leaving them with the rarest kind of moment — alone, together.

They don't talk until they reach the clearing. Dad looks around, nods approvingly at the bullethole-riddled trees Dean painted with targets. Each trunk carefully chosen as they recede deeper and deeper from the treeline, further away and harder to hit between branches and obstructed sight lines. There's a muddy, branchless section of the ground that Sam and Dean use for their hand-to-hand battles which Dad paces around slowly, as if he can evaluate their techniques even now.

"How's school?" Dad asks.

"Fine," Sam says, hugging his arms close so he can rub them a bit warmer. "How's the hunt?"

"Getting nowhere," says Dad, and he sounds — honest. There are emotions there: frustration, exhaustion, fear. Sam is taken aback when he admits: "Still not sure what exactly s'going on, what kinda monster we got on our hands here."

"What &mdash'" Sam starts, then pauses as he realizes he wants details, he wants to see if he can help. "Uh, you said before, about … men getting sick?"

"Boys, mostly," Dad corrects. He's not looking at Sam, instead examining the nicks and pocks of one Dean's targets more closely. As if Dean or Sam is stupid enough to leave the bullets in them. "Older boys and young men, everywhere between sixteen and twenty-four at this point. But only two have gotten sicker since we moved in, and even that's stopped this week. It's done with them."

"But no one else is getting worse? Maybe it was a real disease. Not our thing." Sam suggests.

"No disease I ever heard of. These guys, they don't die. They get drained, they fade, and they end up vegetables. It's sucking something out of them, but it's not blood, not life force. Vitality, or a quality like it. Not sure how to describe it," Dad says. "And once it's gone, it's gone for good, it doesn't come back. But no one's talking plain, and the victims are random. I don't know who'll be next. I can't make it out."

"You will," Sam says. There aren't many things he's sure of anymore, but his Dad's ability to hunt and put down the supernatural is one of them. Dean once told him that their Dad was a superhero, and Sam still believes that's true in spirit. He's just not sure if the sacrifices, the life they have to live, is worth it, or why it has to be them. And he and Dean, they never got a choice in the matter, did they?

Dad finally turns and they look at each other. "I will," Dad says, after a silent moment of consideration, nodding. "Yeah."

"You wanted to train?" asks Sam, uncertainly hoisting his shotgun. Feelings jumble about and mash together inside him into a confusing slosh. Usually it's easy for him to be angry at his Dad, and he's still (always) angry, but right now he's other things too, and he understands that he just reassured his father about hunting, which has never, ever happened before.

"How are you doing?" Dad asks, oddly.

"Uh," says Sam. "Okay. The same, I guess."

Dad nods, eyes sharp and unwavering. "And your brother?"

Sam blinks, shrugs. "Dean? You see him. I mean … Dean is Dean, right? He's good." He's always good, isn't he, smiling and seemingly impervious to all but the biggest shitstorms.

"Good," says Dad. "Good. Alright, show me how good you are with that double-barrel."

And just like that the conversation, if it was a conversation, is over. Sam shoots and fights and does push ups and runs until it's too dark to continue, and then Dad goes back to his research and his bottle, returns him to Dean for a Romero zombie movie marathon that lasts until 3 am.

It's not until late in the night, after Dean is snoring next to him, that Sam remembers that his Dad never asks pointless questions, not even for the sake of father-son bonding. Sixteen to twenty-four, I don't know who'll be next.

He was checking up on them. He was worried.


The next day is Thursday, the holiday, and Dean insists that they all go to the Bilton Family Diner again for the special Thanksgiving buffet. Unlimited turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, salad, and more, for only fifteen bucks per person. Drinks priced separately. Other than the three of them and a few sad, single diners, the place is empty. Most people in Bilton are family-bound. But Thelma is there bringing refills and making sure the buffet stays topped off anyhow, glaring and sweaty in her turtleneck dress uniform. Much to Dean's dismay and Sam's enjoyment, she's just as unimpressed this time around as the last. Dean's soda arrives with no ice.

Sam's content today; at ease in his skin for the first time in what feels like forever. His body is finally fitting decently, the sky stayed pretty clear and sunny, he got to sleep in then hang with Dean at the bar, and they've never gotten to celebrate Thanksgiving before. He eats until he thinks he might explode, enjoying watching Dad and Dean do the same, though Dean complains the whole drive back to the inn that he's going to throw up or pass out, whichever happens first, once they reach the room.

Passing out wins. Dean goes down onto his stomach like a felled tree, jacket and boots still on, while Sam's pulling the key from the lock. Sam manages to get his boots off for him, but figures the rest isn't worth the aggravation. He doesn't need to be wrestling a half-asleep, pissy Dean down to his lowest layers. Let Dean deal with it when the tryptophan wears off. In the meantime, Sam can watch old reruns of Matlock on mute and try to digest faster.

The light and the television are still on when Sam jolts awake sometime around midnight. He's slumped uncomfortably, his neck aching, the remote control resting loosely in his grip, and every warning instinct in his body is firing like crazy.

Sam snatches for the knife under his pillow as he sits up and scans the dim room. Something is wrong, something is very wrong, he knows it immediately the same way he knows his name and the feel of the knife hilt in his palm.

But there's nothing — He doesn't see anything dangerous, the lights aren't flickering, the room is cold but not more so than usual. No monster has smashed through the window.

Okay. Okay, is Dean …? Dean is right here —

Dean isn't breathing.

That odd silence, like Sam's never heard before, that's the absence of Dean's breath moving in and out of his mouth and lungs. That's Dean not moving at all, not snuffling or sighing or twitching under the quilts. That's what woke Sam up. Dean's just laying next to Sam flat on his back, must have rolled over after Sam dozed off, and he's still wearing his jacket and jeans, but he's not breathing. Like a dead person doesn't breathe, not breathing, not like someone holding their breath, and Sam never realized there was a difference in how that looked before. But Dean looks so Dean in spite of that, stubble down to his socks, that it freezes Sam up against a solid wall of bewilderment. How is it possible for Dean to not be breathing, usually he snores when he sleeps on his back, where is that perpetual sound?

Dean's mouth is open slightly, like someone pressed pause on him while he was in the middle of an exhalation, and his lips are starting to turn a pale, bluish color that makes Sam's stomach roll. His hands are limp on his unmoving chest.

Sam has one clear, terrible thought: Dean is dead.

Black panic descends on him, and he's thankful for it later, because it's what shocks him into moving — the sheer, unfathomable terror of that being true. Like a tidal wave coming upon him, a dark sucking force of unreal proportions, the stupefying concept of a world without Dean.

"Dean!" he yells, tossing his knife away so he can hurtle to his knees, grab Dean by the shoulders and shake him. The blade thumps as it slides off the end of the bed to the floor. "Dean!" Sam says again, higher-pitched, shaking Dean harder, violently. Dean's head falls back and his hands slip away, flopping, and Sam really, really shrieks it then: "Dean!"

And, fuck, thank god, fuck, Dean comes awake-alive on a hitching gasp, eyes going suddenly wide, chest arching outwards with a huge inhalation. He scrabbles for a hold on Sam's forearms and grips hard, crushing Sam's skin and bone under his fingers, as he gulps in breath after breath like a drowning victim. Sam stares at the color flooding back over his mouth and gives a hysterical laugh, tips his forehead against Dean's blissfully moving chest for however long it takes to re-memorize his brother's heartbeat.

"Sammy," Dean pants, " Sammy, what —?"

"You weren't breathing," Sam tells him, words muffled against Dean's heaving chest. "I thought you were dead."

"Jesus," Dean says. He takes a slow, shaky breath. One hand lets go of Sam's arm, comes up and pats Sam clumsily on the hair, pets it down where it curves behind his ear. "I don't know what the hell that was about. What the fuck? Sorry, man."

"I thought you were dead," Sam says again, clenching down on Dean's shoulders. His thumbs find and press into the pulse points on Dean's neck, find the skin there soft and warm and throbbing. Adrenaline pours out of Sam in a rush of exhaustion. There's happy blackness behind his closed eyes, filled just with Dean's smell and Dean's blood beating and Dean's huffing breath, back.

"And you freaked, you big girl," says Dean. He's got both of his hands up now and carding through Sam's hair, blunt nails that feel exactly right scratching into Sam's nape. "What'd you even do without me, kiddo?"

"Shut up," Sam says. "Throw a party or something, probably."

"So long as you get some hot chicks to come by and have a wet t-shirt contest in my honor," Dean says.

Inexplicably, that makes Sam feel a hundred times better. He can just imagine Dean as a ghost, perving around on naked women. He wouldn't have time for gory vengeance, he'd be too busy seeing the sights. And in the meantime, he'd haunt Sam and play pranks on him, pants him during school lunch maybe. Either way, he'd hang around, wouldn't he? He wouldn't leave. Even if he was dead, he wouldn't leave. He'll go with Sam anywhere.

"I don't know," Sam mutters, shaking his head slowly so his forehead slides over the skin just above Dean's collar, "I don't know what I'd do," and he decides he can't move from this spot, or certainly won't until Dean makes him.

"C'mere, pussy," Dean says, tugging on the back of Sam's shirt. Sam, not opening his eyes, unfolds off his knees and lets Dean manhandle him until he's laid out pressed all along Dean's side, fitting into the protective hug of one of his brother's arms. It's more awkward than it used to be when they could still have this kind of closeness without Dad frowning. Sam's bigger and broader, his feet hang off the end of the bed, his cheek is mashed against a button on Dean's jacket — but this way he gets to wrap one of his own arms just as protectively across Dean's waist, hand tucking up to rest on Dean's ribcage, moving up and down, and that makes the discomfort worth it.

"You gonna make sure I keep breathing, Sammy?" Dean asks.

"Yeah," Sam sighs. With his heart calm and full again, he falls asleep faster and heavier than he has in ages.


The second time Sam wakes up that night, it's much closer to morning, close enough that the color of the world outside their window is more gray than black. Early dawn, later than they usually rise, but it's not like either of them had setting the alarm on the priority list earlier. It's freezing in their room, and he and Dean are tangled like tree roots on top of the crumpled green and brown quilts.

Sam has Dean cupped in his arms, spooned against him, a warm and lovely thing that Sam's never had before. At some point, Dean must have turned over and away, and Sam must have followed, shaped himself against Dean's back, a mold that's happier than the one Sam usually fits into. Nose to nape and all the way down, knee to knee, with Dean's head on Sam's bicep more than the flat, cheap pillow and Sam's free arm stretched down and along Dean's side, resting there, hand to jean-covered thigh. Sam rubs his thumb at Dean's pant seam and lets out a long, waking sigh that moves the fine hairs on the back of Dean's neck. He can't believe Dean slept in his clothes the whole damn night. He can't believe he can wrap around Dean like this now.

His body is a wall between Dean and the door of their room, and he can't believe Dean is letting him take this place for once.

The only parts of Sam that are warm are the parts pressed to his brother. Sam shifts forward, trying to find the smallest spaces where they could be touching but aren't, and realizes he's hard. His cock is hard in his boxers right against Dean's ass, snugged tight. Two, maybe three layers of clothing between them, if Dean decided to wear underwear yesterday.

Sparks ping through Sam's body, imagining that. He could drop the hand on Dean's leg, skim it slowly forward and up, could get at Dean's fly, undo the button, pull the zip right down and maybe Dean would be hard too, under Sam's searching fingers. Dean likes to jerk off in the morning. Sam could —

And — oh, he wants to. He wants to do that.

There's a place in the distant, rational part of Sam's mind that realizes this is the first time he's really thought about touching Dean that way, though it feels so obvious all of a sudden. Yeah, he's had … hints of the desire to do it, when he's angry and Dean is wriggling to get out of Sam's hold, or Dean is making out with some girl in the backseat of the Impala and comes back smelling fucked. But it's always just been vague, half-processed fantasies when his guard is down, when they're doing those things that are normal for them but not really normal. Never, never has he been totally awake and thought: I want to get my brother's cock in my hand and make him come, hot, silent, and then beg me to do it again.

Sam thinks that with a clarity that strikes him like a live wire, his hips hitching into Dean's body as touching Dean spins and spins and spins to places Sam couldn't have imagined yesterday that his mind could ever go. But they must have been there, lurking deep. A whole new fantasy pool is opening under his feet like a trap, quicksand suck of crazy ideas. Him and Dean —

"Well, this isn't awkward," says Dean, then huffs an embarrassed laugh.

Sam scramble-rolls away so fast he goes painfully over the far edge of the bed into the tiny space between mattress and wall. "Ow, ow, shit!" he moans, then slumps, stays right where he landed. The fall is nothing compared to the burning pain of the blush on his face. He doesn't even care about what foulness he's breathing in by shoving his face into the wood panelling where carpet meets wall so long as he can hide long enough that his stupid, humiliating dick and the nauseating shame locking up his gut subside. Fuck, what is wrong with him? What the hell is wrong with him?

Naturally, Dean is laughing himself sick on the bed. He manages some words, like, "That was —" and "Ninja," and "Oh my god —" and "Never seen you move so fast!" between laughs and wheezes and beating a fist on the bed trying to contain himself. None of which change Sam's plan to hide, even though the mockery goes a long way towards wilting his erection. He grinds his teeth, makes fists so he can dig his nails into his palms and thinks of how cold he is, goosebumps all the way up his thighs, mixed together with his Dad's most furious expression, instead of shutting Dean up with his mouth. Because he could do that, he could.

Oh god, he's a freak. Bad enough that he's a little bit in love with his brother, love is okay, it's what you're supposed to feel even if it took a slightly wrong turn somewhere down the line. Worse to be so close, too close, knowing he's got that bentness inside, though he's always figured that's not enough to make him permanently fucked. Dean was right there with him, right? But this? This is ten steps further down the slippery slope to hell. One hundred. He might already be there.

"Oh, come on, Sam," Dean says. Sam hears the mattress creak as he leans over the edge of the bed. "Stop sulking."

"Fuck you," Sam snarls.

"You're freaking out, aren't you?" Dean asks, then laughs again, like the incredible jerk he is, "Stop taking everything so freaking seriously, dude, it's just a boner. Uncontrollable physical reaction. You're seventeen, I bet I felt like a hot chick in your dreams. Who was I? Hmmm? Britney Spears? Or that Buffy girl from the Cruel Intentions movie? No, no, you'd be more into the sweet one. Reese Witherspoon. You were spooning the tight ass of Witherspoon, weren't you, Sammy?"

"Shut up, please shut up, I hate you," says Sam.

"No you don't," Dean says, and reaches down to shake Sam by the shoulder. "Stop over-reacting. It's totally okay. Just … go jerk it out in the shower and I won't tell Dad we skipped PT, yeah?"

Sam turns and peers up at Dean with one eye. Dean looks completely calm. A little red in the face from laughing, but not an iota weirded out. Hell, he looks kind of pleased actually. Sam's heart makes a strange lurch at the upside-down, floppy-haired, crinkly-eyed, flushed smiling encouragement Dean has for him. "This sucks," he tells Dean, because it really does, no matter what Dean thinks he means.

"Yup," Dean nods. "You wouldn't believe how many awkward boners I popped at seventeen. Just be thankful it's me here and not Bobby, that's all I'm saying. At least I'm hot."

Bobby's grizzled face and hairy beer belly slam into Sam's head, and that's the end of his hard-on. Sam grimaces. "Gross."

"And awkward," Dean agrees. "Now get up, don't get it up, and let's see how many Raimi flicks the Blockbuster has that we can fit into one day. I think I'm still high on turkey."

And that's exactly what they do, even if it's the worst possible choice for Sam, holing up with Dean and snack food and entertaining zombie gore, makes the wanting so much worse with every cramped minute they spend living on top of each other. Sam turns it over and over obsessively in his head: wanting Dean. Dean's elbows and Dean's freshly-showered smell and Dean's careless chomping through a bag of cheetos. Him and Dean.

There'll be no distractions from Dean in a place like Bilton, he seems to be the only thing that can light up a town like this one.

Sam only gets away with the amount of staring he does because Dean spends most of the day asleep. And he feels sick about it, sure, but there's a tiny part of him wondering if Dean would really mind, it's not like he cares about normal, not like Sam does, and another, bigger part filled with the fear and the threat of losing Dean lingering from last night, that reminds him there could be worse things in life than wanting to make your brother come.


The Ballsville Central School has one computer lab hosting twenty ancient machines that barely run Oregon Trail without crashing. The keyboards are dusty where they aren't sticky, and the monitors have glare screens, which Sam hasn't seen since that middle school in Valdosta, Georgia with the leaky ceiling. Still, even if it takes hours, they do provide dial-up Internet access, and Sam stays late on Monday with a special pass from his Biology teacher to research.

Sam has insisted on sleeping with a hand on Dean's chest since the night Dean stopped breathing, and Dean has allowed it in spite of that first humiliating wake up call and trying to convince Sam that he's being a gigantic girl about it. Sam's not being a girl, dammit. Twice more, he's woken up and had to shake Dean out of suffocating himself. But Dean isn't interested in finding out what's happening to him, shrugs when Sam brings it up and tells him not to worry so much, he probably wakes up before it actually does him in, who knows how long it's been going on, anyway? And that proves it: Dean doesn't have a freaking lick of sense.

But Sam's not gonna let it go.

Vitality, Dad had said. That could mean anything.

And if Dean has stopped jerking off in bed before the alarm goes because of Sam's crowding, or for other reasons, well, Sam doesn't care. It can only be a good side effect. For both of them.

Once he's online, it's so easy Sam feels like an idiot for not putting it together on his own. Takes just one search to figure out what must be happening. Sleep Apnea: Symptoms include snoring, excessive daytime fatigue, slowed reaction time and moodiness, all of which Dean's had lately in addition to the breathing issue during sleep, though the signs didn't crystallize in Sam's head as symptomatic until now.

It explains so much — why Dean's been stopping to catch his breath, hands on his knees, during their morning runs, when just last month he could do five miles without flinching. It explains that time Sam came home from school to find all the pale freckled skin of Dean sleeping with nothing but a towel around his waist because he collapsed back into bed after showering. It explains why Dean has been so easy to grapple down, the way he went toe-curlingly, hotly pliant under Sam during their training on Saturday, staring up at Sam like he was dizzy from the impact. All a result of prolonged sleep deprivation, and the only thing that doesn't make sense right now is how Sam didn't notice the problem sooner.

It fits perfectly, and, amazingly, it's normal, verging on common. Mundane. What kind of monster is invisible, immune to salt lines, and slowly asphyxiates people while they sleep? Shit, he's a moron. Worse, Dean was mostly right. Sam sits back in his chair and lets the last spasm of fear siphon out of him. For once, for once it's not the supernatural, and he doesn't have to tell Dad. Because fat chance either he or Dean are gonna get Dean help for it if it's not lethal. Sam'll try though. He'll tell Dean. No matter what, Sam feels better just knowing. He can handle this. If he has to sleep next to Dean for the rest of their lives, pushing his palm over Dean's heartbeat, then he can do that.

It doesn't sound so bad.


"I think you have Sleep Apnea," Sam tells Dean on their trek out to the woods that evening.

"Sleep what now?" Dean asks.

"Sleep Apnea," Sam says, rolling his eyes. "It's a chronic condition where you stop breathing while sleeping. There are other symptoms too, like being tired all the time."

Dean eyes him. He looks both smaller and puffier in his layers than ever in the November gloom. "Okay. Sounds about right, I guess. How do we fix it?"

"Well," Sam hedges. "We'd have to get it diagnosed first, but usually it means you'll have to wear a breathing machine to bed —"

"Hell no," says Dean. "That's one of those gas mask things, right? This guy we helped on a hunt once had one of those. No way. We can't afford something like that. And what if we're attacked? Come on, Sam, I'd be so busy struggling out of it I'd be mincemeat in seconds."

"Not everything has to be about hunting first and foremost," Sam snaps, stopping in his tracks.

After a few more steps, Dean stops too, and turns to Sam with this infuriating put-upon expression, like Sam's the unreasonable one here. "Yes, it does," he says. "All it takes is one fuck-up, dude. One, and we're both dead."

"Then we're dead!" Sam throws his hands up. "We're dead either way, because there'll be one fuck-up no matter what we do! God dammit, Dean," he snarls, and lunges for his brother. Dean manages to dodge him once, but Sam's faster, more alert, and uses his momentum to shove Dean into a backwards stumble. From there, he can twist two fists in Dean's jacket and swing him, get Dean up against a birch tree before Dean can snap into full fight mode. Dean grunts from the impact, looks winded and wide-eyed with surprise.

"What the hell?" he yells, pulling at Sam's hands.

"See?" Sam asks, wrenching Dean back when he tries to squirm free. "You're exhausted all the time. What's more dangerous, you wearing a machine when we're in a safe place to sleep, or you fucking up in the middle of a fight because you can't think straight?! You're the one who's going to get us killed if you keep going on like this!"

What color there was drains out of Dean's face. "Get off me," he says coldly. "I'm only going to tell you once."

Sam keeps him there, stares at him, willing him to reach even a glimmer of understanding, but Dean's shut down. Dean's expression is a stubborn, unmoving mask. And Sam's body is knotting up with the echo of 'get off me' and wanting to do the opposite.

"Most people live every day without even knowing about the supernatural, and they're fine!" Sam says. It comes out like begging.

Dean's heel comes around the back of Sam's left knee hard. At the same time Dean brings both arms up, down, elbows into Sam's biceps, perfectly hitting the tender muscle spots that make his hands weaken. Sam's hold fumbles as he unbalances. Then Dean is free, pivoting around Sam, pinning him to the birch with both of Sam's arms pulled up behind his back, and all of it faster than Sam can get a handle on. He kicks back at Dean to no avail, furious, ashamed and three tons more of awful, gut-souring emotion.

"I'm fine," Dean tells him. "See? I'll be fine, Sam! End of discussion."

They don't end up training that day. They go back to the inn, where Dean showers and goes immediately to sleep while Sam sits at their small table and watches him, wondering if there's any way to fix all the broken things that make up his life.


On Tuesday, it snows all day. Tiny wet flakes that crowd out from the pale gray sky, though Sam can still see the sun as a huge pink disk on the horizon, pulling the day down with it. The trees are bare spikes, the forest thin-looking and starved with the onset of deep winter. Sam's walking up from his bus stop, hunched, hungry; his cheeks sting with each snowflake that lands, like they're carved out of tiny bone shards instead of cold water. The blanket of white they've begun to form doesn't look like it comforts the ground, not the way Sam usually thinks of blankets and all good things.

Dean meets him at the old wooden bar of The Irish Place, already drinking. His lips are getting chapped, neither of them are used to this much cold for so long. Sam wants to rub his fingers over them until they're smooth again, maybe swollen.

"No more training in the woods," says Dean, over Nancy's corned beef and cabbage stew. "Dad's orders, until further notice. S'too freaking cold. Sometimes I love New York."

"Sure," Sam says, sneering. "Can't afford for us to get sick, now can he?"

He hasn't talked to his father since Thanksgiving, days ago. It's easy to forget that he cares when he's just … not there. Like he's never really been there for them. Doesn't even notice that Dean is not quite okay anymore, and he sees Dean almost every day.

Dean frowns at him, but doesn't comment, doesn't say anything more after that. Dark shadows dig purple under his eyes, turning them distractingly green in contrast. The last few days, he's been quiet like this and growing tattered around the edges of his usual bravado and cheer, tired and grouchy, and Sam knows the apnea isn't only to blame. It's not like he wants to snap at Dean all the time, to turn everything between them sour. Dean's not Dad, he didn't get them into this situation and he doesn't call the shots. He can't help how tangled up Sam's becoming, but — But.

" 'Nother beer?" Nancy asks.

Dean nods and drinks it slowly once she pops the cap. He hasn't eaten most of his stew. It puddles in its bowl congealing while he tips and sips at the dark glass bottle, tiny little draws that keep his throat working. He's watching Sam eat instead, chin propped on one hand. Watching Sam and oblivious to Sam watching him back, or so it seems. Maybe he's not watching at all, and Sam just happens to be in the center of his sight line, happens to be occupying the spot the Dean has to look at to be comfortable zoning out. That could mean something, Sam thinks. Maybe.

"We're still doing morning PT though, right?" asks Sam, the best apology he can come up with, which is kind of backwards because he knows Dean hates running even more than Sam does, but feels obligated to be the stickler about it so their Dad will give him that curt nod of approval and Sam won't start a fight. Sam knows this, and more, about his brother, all the little, unspoken things like how Dean prefers brunettes but will go easy for a redhead, and how he tried smoking but hated it, and that he doesn't care about matching socks but won't wear a belt if he can't find one the same color as his boots, and what his hands do while he's getting off.

Dean blinks, sits up straight and rubs a hand over his face. "Yeah," he says. "Five miles, every morning, black ice or no."

"Ok," Sam says. "Can I have the rest of your stew?"

The worst thing is how surprised and relieved Dean looks that Sam didn't get pissy about it. "Sure," he says, sliding it over. "Have at it."

"You boys better think about walking home soon, the storm is gonna get bad tonight." Nancy tells them. She's bundled in a big, unflattering pink turtleneck, hair back in a matching scrunchie, entirely too young to be so frumpy and mothering, like she's trying to fit some stereotype she's not ready for yet. But she's still pretty, and Dean likes her, and she can cook food better than Sam's ever had before, so Sam can't be rude to her even in his head, as much as he wants someone else to rail at right now.

God, how is he not vibrating with the muddle of emotions he's bouncing between? Like a pinball, all over the place, and then all at the same time: want, worry, anger, frustration, confusion, shame. Sam needs to hit something, hate something, hug something, just something, run, scream, come, fight. He focuses on eating, that helps.

"You go, Sammy. I got a game planned," says Dean.

Nancy gestures at the tiny TV hanging in a corner above the back-bar, showing the huge mass of red and yellow sweeping over New England and eastern New York from the ocean. "Honey, I don't think anyone's gonna be up for poker tonight. Not even Edgar."

Dean snorts at that. "Fucking Bilton," he mutters, gulping the rest of his beer. "Alright, we'll get outta your hair."

"Fucking New York," Sam adds viciously.

"Amen," says Nancy.


Bilton and the surrounding areas take half a foot of slick, heavy snow overnight, though the county manages to get the main roads uncovered in time for the morning commute. Sam wakes to the roar of plow trucks at 4:45 am and resets the alarm clock, making sure neither of them have to venture out for a run in the ongoing blizzard. He waits until he absolutely has to leave to meet the bus before hauling Dean out of bed; the idea of Dean sleeping without Sam there scares him.

The weather gets steadily worse, dark through the school windows like the sun never rose, but it isn't until Sam's third period English class that the county gives up hope of keeping up with the snow and orders the schools to close before the roads become impassable. Figures that all the snow of winter would dump on them at once. All forecasts indicate that the Nor'easter won't ease for another twenty-four hours at least. Two feet total snowfall is predicted.

Sam's never seen a natural storm like this, never had a snow day. It's unreal. Mrs. Carson, the guidance counselor, gives Sam three bottles of water and a huge decorative candle from her office before he gets on the bus — in case the power goes, she says. Stay warm. She's the only person who knows Sam's living at the inn. That freaks him out more than the other kids talking about their parents' generators and their memories of the '94 ice storm that took down the local grid for nearly a week.

They could be well and truly trapped here.

What normally takes forty-five minutes, bus ride and walk combined, takes two hours. The driver skips the regular stops and drops each of them off at their own homes, going at a snail's pace with a quarter mile of visibility. Sam refuses to meet anyone's eyes when they pull over at the inn, just gets out and bolts for the building, as much as anyone can bolt through a foot of unplowed gravel parking lot. Please let him never have to go back to Ballsville Central, please, please, if there's ever gonna be a good moment in his life for his Dad to decide to pack them up and move on, this is it.

His shoes and socks are soaked by the time he gets through the door, freezing snowmelt climbing up the legs of his jeans, dripping from his bangs. Sam curses, shedding layers, and he's down to jeans, undershirt and button-down when he freezes up with a dull shock of arousal because he sees Dean, and Dean is slung low in the one chair they have, legs spread, and he's watching a woman get fucked on the TV.

Boxers and socks are all Dean has on, but at least his cock's not out. Sam's not sure what he would do if Dean was already stroking off. Bad enough that Dean's barefoot, shorts riding high on his thighs, nipples tight and jutting for attention, pink from pale skin. The idea of licking them until Dean kicks him off crosses Sam's mind, and he sways an involuntary half-step forward before catching himself.

"Dean!" Sam yells, belatedly. "Really? Turn it off!"

"S'not my fault you're home early," Dean snaps. "Shut up, sit down, and watch with me, okay?"

"What?" Sam sputters. "School closed because of the storm! The power could go out. I mean, what? I'm not going to — "

"Just do it, Sam!" Dean uses the same tone he uses when he's ordering Sam to get the fuck down so I can shoot! and run, run, Sam!, which is why Sam obeys instantaneously. He sits on the end of the bed and fixes on the TV, another one of the good little Winchester soldiers.

Maybe there's something important, must be, it must be something for the hunt. Dean doesn't command like that unless he thinks he has to.

The woman is a dark brunette, has the traditional porn star body, tiny waist, shaved crotch and big tits. A wide, curly tattoo on her lower back. Exactly Dean's type. Her eye makeup is smeared, probably from the obligatory cock-sucking introduction. Sam watches as the camera pans in, focuses close on the dick pounding her from behind, pistoning in and out of her body while she moans absurdly, whines for more, harder, yeah. And Sam is seventeen, for fuck's sake. He's hard in under a minute, cramped uncomfortably in his jeans, which are still sticking chilled to his calves.

So far it's a porno, just a gross, typical porno, nothing more.

"What the hell, Dean?" Sam asks, white-knuckling a hand on each of his knees. "Is this about Dad's hunt?"

Dean doesn't look away from the screen, glassily watches the fucking go on as he taps the remote control impatiently on the arm of the rocking chair. "What? No. Shut up."

"Then why are we —" Sam starts.

"I need you to tell me if this is hot," says Dean, inexplicably.

Sam's perch on the bed puts him to the right and slightly behind Dean, just enough that he can look at Dean and Dean, intent on the TV, probably won't realize. So Sam does that, gapes at his brother in total confusion but unable to stop from taking in the lean lines of him, stretched out mostly naked, his adam's apple in stark relief and the narrow span of his hairless ribs, the reflection of light in his eyes. Sam has a brief, spinning sensation of vertigo as he realizes his shoulders might be broader than Dean's.

Then Dean groans, teeth coming down on his plush lower lip, and Sam glances back at the TV to find that the actress's ass is getting worked open on three fingers.

He'd thought maybe he had this tamped down and under control. He was wrong. That sucking pool of fantasy opens back up under Sam's feet, though he's done so well ignoring it, even in the shower, and suddenly —

He's the faceless man on the screen. He's fingering Dean ready, three fingers twisting deep and slick with lube. He's got Dean on all fours, echoing her, Yeah, gonna put your cock in my ass? I want you to, want you to fuck me in the ass, oh, fuck yeah, god, that's so good, but Dean would sound so much hotter than she ever could on those stupid, lame words. If Dean was begging for it, he could talk an angel down from heaven. And jesus...Sam doesn't just want to get his brother off; he wants to fuck him.

It's not two porn stars. No. It's Sam hauling Dean over onto him. It's Dean straddling Sam backwards, gasping throatily as he shoves down onto Sam's dick and Sam grabbing his thighs wider, showing Dean off. It's him and Dean, fucking sloppily.

"I'm not crazy, right? It's hot, isn't it?" Dean asks, wrenching Sam back to reality where all he's grabbing are his knees and his cock is throbbing untouched, eking precome pulse by pulse into his underwear.

"Uh huh," Sam says. "It's — really hot."

"You're hard as rebar," Dean says. "You could come from this, if you touched yourself."

"Yeah," Sam breathes. He could, especially if Dean keeps saying shit like that. He wants to. Any line he's drawn in the past about what he would give if Dean asked him for it is exactly that — a silly line in the sand, blowing away in the slightest breeze.

"That's what I thought," says Dean, and clicks off the TV.

Wind roars outside, fills the sudden silence with something too similar to moaning. "Sam," Dean says, "Sam, I think something's really wrong with me."

Sam blinks at Dean, icy worry seeping through the desire, curdling his blood. "What?"

Dean's face is crumpled, fatigued. His cheekbones seem starker, popping out in the shadows. "I feel like … I can't … I know it's hot, right. In my head," he taps the remote control against his temple, "I can feel it, turned on, but it's like, does not compute. I'm so tired, and I … I can't get off. I can't get off, I can't even get, you know, wet."

Sam's eyes drop to Dean's lap, where he couldn't let himself look before, and there it is, Dean's hard cock tenting his boxers, and Dean's other hand resting close next to it like he's been surreptitiously rubbing. No damp spots though, not like there should be. Dean twists towards Sam and brings a knee up, hides himself from Sam's gaze with his body and his glare, and Sam flexes his hands on his knees, thinks, focus.

"That's … no," Sam says, shaking his head. "It's just — you're overexposed or something. Bored. Have you tried?" He makes a crude obvious jerking motion.

"Of course I have!" Dean barks. "Nothing! It feels normal, but I never get there. I'm telling you, dude, I'm fucking broken. I'm sexually broken. It's been over a week since I got off!"

Okay. Okay, Sam can fix this, he has an idea. They need to be practical about it, and Dean's gonna be fine. "You're overreacting. Let's try a different one," Sam says. "Something more hardcore. And you … you know." He gestures again. "Try again, for real." Sure, that won't be nigh impossible to get through without sinking their relationship like the Titanic. And Sam never does anything for selfish, reckless reasons.

"You're not serious," says Dean. "With you right here? Not a chance, man."

"Oh, so now that's a problem?" Sam snaps, lifting his chin. Fuck Dean, like he's not the hypocrite here, the one who sat Sam down and got him raring hard. No way is Dean getting away with the moral high ground on what's okay and not okay for them anymore — there's no place for either of them to stand on, just a shifting mess of what they do and what they don't, never mind normal. "It never stopped you before," he says, standing, and that shuts Dean up for the entire time it takes Sam to scrounge the lube out of Dean's duffel and trade it into Dean's hand, taking the remote control for himself, careful not to let their skin brush.

Dean's still and white and staring up at Sam, gorgeous in a way that makes Sam's heart pang, half-angry, half-yearning. Because now Sam's done it, brought it out from under the covers. Because they never acknowledge it, but there it is suddenly, swinging between them like a hanged man waiting to be cut down, impossible to ignore. And Sam's glad, viciously glad.

"You are serious," Dean says finally. "Do you know how fucked up this is? And it won't work, anyway."

"This is us, Dean," Sam bites out. "We've always been four steps left of brotherly. I'm halfway to eighteen, you're twenty-one, and we still sleep in the same bed. Are you going to let me try to help or not? You started this."

Dean searches Sam's eyes for about thirty solid seconds, then licks his lips, nods, snaps open the lube with his thumbnail. Sam sits back down on the bed and clicks on the TV again. He doesn't care what's going through Dean's head right now, too exhilarated, heart pounding. They're going to do this, and it'll be a real thing, they'll own it out in the light. And maybe —

Dean reaches inside his boxers, but doesn't pull himself out. Like that'll make a difference.


Sam tries lesbians first, two hot blondes that barely get a movement from Dean until one starts in with a strap-on. He learns a lot about what Dean likes as Dean lets himself get into it, a breath at a time. First his muscles relax, shoulders slumping, arm easing strokes faster once his legs stretch out and fall slack. Then his mouth, opening, little noises that say to Sam, 'yeah, this' or 'no, not into it.' Those sounds come through loud and clear, in spite of the storm wind rumbling outside and the terrible eighties music soundtracks.

Dean likes anal more than is probably healthy. He likes Asian girls, and girls that take charge, is bored through a guy's comeshot but loves it when the girls come loud and for real. BDSM doesn't add anything for him. Just give him some good, old-fashioned nipple-play and focus on the penetration, and he's putty. Sam's making notes in his head and mocking himself for it at the same time. I could do that and Dean liked that and oh, well that's great, like it'll ever matter.

He tries bondage, and double penetration, and gangbang, and group sex parties, all good on a running scale, if you're talking about the kind that goes nowhere. They go through everything available for order on the inn's porn subscription, rack the bill sky high. All of it, no matter how crazy, even the gay threesome, which Dean seems not too adverse to, actually. Sam keeps his eyes on the porn, it's easy with this Dean-filter in his head. He stays silent, and does not watch Dean trying to come, jerking himself the same way he always does, varying bursts of long, slow, hard pulls with rapid, lighter ones. Sam has never needed to see.

Nothing gets Dean off. He gasps and arches and clearly wants it, hot like sin in Sam's peripheral vision, the way he fucks up into his fist, but it's as if a switch in his body's been turned off, and he doesn't have the juice to run his dick anymore. He can't translate from brain to cock. It goes on and on, always just almost, and yes, okay. Something is really wrong with him.

"Can't," Dean moans, when Sam starts up another movie, some variation of girls gone wild. Sam risks glancing over — Dean's given up touching himself. His body's limp, wasted in the chair, arms hanging off the armrests, head tipped back, eyes closed. Sweat is beading in his hairline and above his mouth, where someone could lick it off before moving into a kiss. "So tired, Sammy. No more. I can't. It's not working."

Sam's aching and angry from being hard for so long with no reprieve, from seeing the Dean in his head contort, suck and fuck and come beautifully, layered over the actors on the screen. From this not working, not fixing Dean. And he's tired too, and sick of himself, feeling like he's had Dean backwards and forwards and upside-down, like he should be gross with come and sweat and saliva, but with all the frustration of the fact that he hasn't really gotten to have a bit of that. He hasn't even come.

They're halfway through the opening scene of a deep-throating cheerleader, but Sam's looking at Dean now, and he can't help it anymore. He gives up not touching himself. He closes his eyes and pushes the heel of his palm down on the thick bulge of his erection, quick relief, then scrambles at his button and zipper, the slit in his boxers. Doesn't care that Dean's right there, awake, Dean's been right there for most of Sam's life, Dean's presence only ever makes it better, makes it finally when he gets his cock out of his shorts and jeans and Dean's chair creaks and his hand makes a slick sound, starting up moving again.

"Sam," Dean hisses.

"Sorry, sorry, it's too much," Sam babbles, palming his shaft roughly, wet with so, so much precome he doesn't even need lube.

Sam rubs two fingers over and over the head of his dick as he leans back and braces his other hand on the bed, spreads his legs as much as he can, hampered by denim. When he does wrap a hand around himself, his hips tilt upwards shamelessly. Dean's maybe watching him do this, is doing it with him, is doing it because Sam's doing it, and he wants to make it look as good as it feels. If that's even possible, given how good it feels, stripping himself quickly with all of Dean's desperate attention his to bask in, hoping Dean wants him back, and not just his ability to get off. Light's already flashing behind Sam's eyelids.

"Hell, Sam," Dean grunts. "You have no idea how much I hate you right now."

Sam forces his eyes open so he can see Dean watching him, all jealously-parted mouth, sex-flushed without the actual sex, hand buried to the wrist in his boxers. Dean flinches his gaze down, jerks his hand away, fingers coated in lube gleaming backlit by porn, and jolts zing to the tips of Sam's toes.

"Maybe if we —" Sam blurts, then grits his teeth around the words. Too late, too far.

"Maybe if we...?" Dean slowly repeats to the carpet, like it's a riddle or a revelation. Then he stands up and steps closer, stumbling slightly. He has to grip the back of the chair for balance. It creaks. His boxers cling to the outline of his cock, also lube-wet. "Maybe if we what?"

"Suck me," the man in the porno says, perfectly and horribly timed.

"Don't, oh god, —" Sam says. He stares up at Dean and thinks it must be somewhere in his face, because Dean has realization dawning over his. Or it could be in the way he can't seem to stop rolling his balls in one hand, stroking his dick with the other, each downward pull smooth with more precome, despite Dean looming. "I want —" So much. Everything.

"What? Want me to get involved, maybe? Get hands on? You want me to get hands on with you, Sammy?" Dean rumbles.

"Oh shit, oh shit," Sam whimpers, because Dean is dropping to his knees between Sam's feet, is sliding his hands up from Sam's ankles to his thighs. Sam clutches himself and staves off coming just a bit longer before Dean grasps Sam's wrists, pulls his hands off, and stares at Sam's cock with his mouth open. Darts his tongue out to dampen his lower lip, and Sam groans. "Please, yeah, I —" Dean has to suck him now, he fucking has to.

"You think this'll help me?" Dean asks, flicking his eyes up to Sam's. The look in them is all sorts of bone-tired and not okay, his grip on Sam's wrists shuddering. "Or do you just ... want it?"

"I —" Sam stutters again, stupidly wordless. His hips jerk up helplessly and Dean's bent so close over him, the blunt head of Sam's cock skids across his mouth and cheek, leaves a smear of clear precome like sloppy lipgloss behind.

Dean reels back, throws himself away from Sam and the bed and, overbalancing, lands sprawled on his ass on the floor. "Oh, fuck!" he says, panicky and high-pitched, scrubbing the back of his hand over his mouth, turning it red and dry, unslicked. "Sam! What the fuck? What the fuck? We can't."

And rage snaps through Sam like the devil's whip, what little control he had left exploding at the seams. "Fuck you, Dean!" He snarls, and lunges off the bed after him, crawls up Dean's body putting his hands everywhere he can manage, Dean's shins, knees, thighs, waist, saying, "Fuck you! You fucking tease, you don't always get to call the shots!"

Dean's trying to scramble up, away, but not hard enough, he's not fast or strong enough anymore, and Sam's too far gone to care. Doesn't know exactly when he decided he was going to try for this, no matter how fucked up it makes him, but he's going to push and shove and hold until he gets his way. Dean always gives him whatever he asks for, in the end.

He wrestles Dean flat, slams his hands down on Dean's wrists with all the strength he can muster, and hitches his knees up under Dean's thighs, forcing Dean's legs beautifully wide, perfect pale slim-muscled stretches that make Sam think of fucking Dean until he can't walk on them anymore. He wants that more than he can put into words. And if he weren't so angry right now, he could probably get off on holding Dean levered under him like this, spread mostly naked.

"Holy shit, Sam, stop. We can't do this," Dean says, dazedly shaking his head, but his cock jerks and he does this archy, half-fighting writhe that makes Sam have to struggle to keep him down and punches Sam's breath out of him, it's so hot. Sam's no expert, but he knows that kind of writhe doesn't mean 'get off me.'

"No!" he says. "You do this to me, and you don't care. You know, you have to know you're doing it. I think you want me, Dean. Or at least you want me to want you, I don't know what freaking head game you're playing anymore." The minute Sam says it, he realizes it's true, all of it. It gives him a dirty thrill to think of Dean wanting him. Each wanting the other, the two of them, like the start of a Jerry Springer episode, and here's where they finally spiral down together.

Dean scrunches his eyes tightly closed and insists, "We can't."

So Sam leans in, hovers his mouth right over Dean's and tells him, "I don't care. I say, we can."

"Sam," Dean breathes out, eyes opening dark like the pit at the end of the world.

Sam kisses him. He starts it meanly, biting at Dean's lips, but Dean opens his mouth immediately and the kiss goes soft and wet and good. Sam shudders as Dean curls their tongues together, sucks Sam's into his mouth and edges it with his teeth. It's more than enough of yes for Sam, the way Dean sighs and invites him deeper, using his body in tiny ways, little shifts and movements, to tell Sam yes like sweet relief. Sam licks along the roof of Dean's mouth, and out past his teeth so he can suck hard at Dean's addicting lower lip. They kiss, and it all slides into place, snick-snick, all the pieces of Sam fit unbroken, now that he's kissing Dean the way brothers never do.

At first, Sam thinks the blank, pitch darkness is because he's closed his eyes. The bump-grind-moan of the porno in the background is gone because it ended. Or maybe because he's lost all the senses that don't matter to him in feeling Dean back off a bit and rub their mouths together sweetly, the way it should have started. He only realizes the power's gone out when he pulls back to get a look at how red and swollen Dean's mouth must be now, and he can't.

"Wow, how much does this blow?" Dean asks out of the darkness, ironic and breathless. Kissed that way, by Sam. And Sam doesn't even get to see.

Sam makes an incoherent noise of frustration, and drops down to kiss Dean again. Slips their mouths around to find the best angle to push his tongue in deep and get Dean sucking it again, digging a groan out of the very bottom of Sam's lungs. He doesn't want to move from this spot. If he moves, lets Dean up, that could end it, couldn't it? No, he wants to stay here, where Dean's not fighting him anymore. He has what he wants here.

"Sam," Dean gasps and twists his head to get free of Sam's mouth. "The freaking power is out. We have to —"

"Fix you," Sam interrupts, pressing kisses over the side of Dean's face and nudging his cock along Dean's, making them both hiss. He can hear Dad about to come along and spoil everything. No. Power or no power, Dean is Sam's right now, and he's gotta seal it between them or it'll all teeter over and break apart. "Bed," he says, "let's, it'll be warmer and. I have a candle in my backpack. Bed. And we'll fix you."

"Yeah, okay," says Dean, easy, shivering up into Sam. "We can do that."

Sam doesn't take his hands off of Dean as they fumble to their feet. Touches him blindly where they stand, fitting together differently in the dark. When they can't see each other, it's not so hard to keep brother, my brother at bay and think only of the small distance Dean has to tip his head back so Sam can kiss him again. This time slower, a kiss like a promise, close-mouthed and hard.

The whole afternoon's been lost and it's full dark outside. No way to tell what time with the alarm dead. Sam keeps a hand on Dean's leg even as Dean slides onto the bed and Sam's scuffling around in his backpack until he finds the candle Ms. Carson gave him. He always keeps a lighter in the side pocket. Then he has to let go, nerves singing with anxiety, to light it and set it on the beside table.

Leaning on his elbows in the pillows, Dean's pulled the covers up over his waist. His boxers are on the floor. His lips are just the perfect amount of kissed that Sam imagined they would be. Sam's so glad to be able to see him there, his stomach flips. Love, he thinks, is wanting to see this exact same thing every day forever. This isn't just a little bit in love. Sam's foolishly all in.

"Tell me this is okay," Dean says, swallowing.

"Of course it's okay," Sam snaps, ricocheting back to angry as Dean's expression twists with doubt, feeling like he could judder out of his skin, the hardness of his cock eating away at any sense he can make of his own mind. He strips his button-down and t-shirt up over his head as one, throws them away all tangled together. "You think you're hurting me or something? Raping me? I'm seventeen. And I'm stronger than you." He shucks his boxers down with his jeans, leaves a pile that includes his socks in just moments and he's naked too.

"Jesus, Sam," Dean mutters, wincing.

"I want you," Sam tells him, lifting the quilts and sheets for himself and crawling in, crowding into Dean's body. "Want you," he says again, and drags Dean down, down the bed, laying him out flat, straddling him. He wants to pin Dean's hands again, loved how that felt, but instead he draws the covers up over them completely. Light barely makes it in under the edges of their cocoon. This is their space, a world they created that comes into being only between them and in bed, under blankets. He can tell Dean more this way than with words, this is Sam speaking Dean's language — Dean's watching Sam unwaveringly, understanding, fingers restless petting up Sam's thighs and shooting tingles through Sam's bloodstream, so Sam tells him, once and for all, "Love you."

"Me too. All of the above. Man, we're so fucked," says Dean, with a weak laugh.

"Gonna do that to you. Fuck you," Sam says, half-smiling as Dean's eyes go dark and dilated. "Yeah. But first I think I wanna suck you, see if that gets you there."

Dean opens his mouth. Closes it. Opens it again and says hoarsely, "Sounds perfect, Sammy."

Kissing Dean is still new. Sam didn't expect how hot it would be, just on its own, Dean's mouth firm and smart against his, his scratchy stubble. No surprise that Dean knows what he's doing, bringing a swirl of tongue to trace along the inside of Sam's upper lip. Sam goes with it for a minute, but his cock is straining and furious, and he's thinking: more and soon. He kisses Dean's mouth, then his chin, and his throat, teeths over Dean's collarbone and eases down. Dean clutches Sam's hair as Sam indulges himself in licking one of Dean's nipples. And yes, Dean really does like that, if his twitching cock means anything. Sam flicks the tip of his tongue over the very tip of the nipple, back and forth, and Dean groans.

Someday soon, Sam'll stay there all day, like he imagined. He'll bite and suck and tease until Dean's begging him to stop. Maybe get Dean to come from it. Not now, though. Now there's a long, slow slide low down, into the suffocating airlessness of the deep blankets, but that's not what makes Sam's heartbeat ratchet higher. It's feeling Dean's body beneath him, and the hot length of his cock slipping sticky up Sam's skin, from his belly to his chest and further. Sam shifts in, uses one hand to pull Dean's leg out, knee up, and he fits so nicely in between. Wonders if he might develop a fetish for forcing Dean's legs spread around Sam's shoulders, leaving all that scent and skin and long, eager cock open for Sam's enjoyment.

"Come on, Sam, come on," Dean urges.

Sam watched the pornos. Those and others, in the past. He doesn't hesitate. With one hand, he brings Dean's cock up, wraps his fingers at the base, and then he's sucking down as far as he can go. Dean's cock is wide and throbbing on his tongue, unfamiliar taste of salty skin and lube, heady thick smell of sweat and Dean and arousal. Sam bottoms out against his fingers, pride and power surging through him, because this alone, this one suck, has Dean arching and gabbling nonsense praise, and Sam can take it. He takes Dean deep.

Fuck, he's gonna splay his brother wide and make him come. He's in the middle of doing that, of sucking hard on the slide upwards. He's making Dean curse him when he pops clean off the head for a deep breath before going down again. And again, getting into it, full on slurping blow job, Dean using his heels on the bed to follow Sam's mouth with his hips. Sam has to dig his cock into the mattress for some small relief from the searing hotness of having this, giving it.

He's thinking of how Dean gets himself off in the night, of the aching, slow rhythm of his hard final pulls. He tries for that. If this is gonna happen, Dean's gotta be close. Hours of tense hardness and desperation, and now them together like the best sin on the list. Sam's eyes are watering with how hard he sucks, each time he comes off Dean's cock, and the tightness of Dean's fingers in his hair, and the struggle to breathe beneath the covers. Saliva is dripping down from his mouth, over his knuckles and Dean's taut-drawn balls. Sam has to come up quickly for a hitching moan, struck by Dean and wet and how much he wants Dean to come but, selfishly, not as much as he wants to fuck Dean through it.

"Lube," he tells Dean, then sucks him in again.

"Oh, shit," Dean says, his voice muffled by the blankets and the sound of Sam' racing heart in his ears. Dean twists, and Sam rides it, licking up off his cock, hears Dean pant and scrabble into the drawer in the bedside table. Of course there's lube there too. Sam rolls his tongue around Dean's cockhead; still no precome.

The lube gets shoved down between them for Sam to grab, already open. He kneels back just to catch his breath, and clumsily squirts far, far too much over his shaking fingers. It gets all over the sheets, all over Dean where Sam grabs him and shoves his legs wider. Dean throws the covers off of them. Candlelight rips across Sam's dark sight line, and he can see what he's made of his brother by it.

Dean's a languid mess, eyes like green ocean glass, drugged on pleasure and exhaustion. Knees up and out, cock and balls slick, and in the light, Sam finds the pucker of his hole and presses his fingertips to it.

"Oh, god, Sam," Dean gasps, as Sam pets at him, spreading the slick. "Can't do this much longer. Feel like I shoulda come ten times already. Gonna fucking die."

"Not before I fuck you first," Sam says, smiling wickedly, and Dean lets loose a wild laugh.

"Okay," he says. "I'll hold off until you're nuts deep, how about that?"

Sam doesn't bother replying, he figures dropping down to lick Dean back into his mouth and pushing his middle finger in to the second knuckle at the same time is answer enough.

"Shit, oh!" Dean says, grabbing the pillow next to his head, as he's always been inclined to do near the end, Sam knows. If this is going to work, it'll be soon. And it'll be perfect, Dean's silent pulsing orgasm. Sam can practically taste it. He sucks faster, up and down, jaw aching.

Dean's ass is a hot clench around the full length of Sam's finger. He works it deep in, and out only enough to twist in a second alongside. Too fast, not fast enough for his leaking cock. Two fingers all in, scissoring, and Sam's on the verge of not caring if Dean needs more. Three now, he's gotta put three in now. Shove them in there and trust that Dean can take it.

Dean whines, long and low, as Sam does exactly that. Three fingers, slicked up and slowly, slowly opening Dean's hole. Dean's back bows with the strain, but he manages them, white-knuckling the pillowcase with his mouth open and panting. Better than any porn star, Sam knew he would be. He can't concentrate on sucking Dean off anymore, world narrowed down to the piercing need in him and the sight of part of him sinking inside his brother. Sam keeps his fingers folded together within the silky heat of Dean's ass, just rubbing inside, hitting a spot that makes Dean whimper over and over, his cock spasming in an empty mockery of orgasm.

"You like getting fucked," says Sam, awed. "You like it so much. I knew you would."

"Sam," Dean moans in this lovely, broken way that will live forever in Sam's mind as the best his name ever sounded. "Now, now. You're killing me."

Sam unfolds his fingers into a wide, flat line, all side by side, and draws them out of Dean like that, rapt at the sight of Dean's swollen, pink asshole going obscene around them. They look huge, or Dean looks small, in comparison. Stretched enough for a cock now. Slick-ready and Sam's lining up to push in with both his hands holding Dean's thighs high behind the knees, curling him up in the perfect angle to get fucked helplessly. He's so light and, Sam sees, skinny. Too skinny, vulnerable and bruised beneath the eyes, his eyes that are hazy unerring on Sam's face, like Dean might pass out if he looks away.

Not like this, Sam thinks suddenly. Not this time. Next time.

"Over," he says, rolling onto his back and bringing Dean to a straddle over him. Hands on Dean's ass, Sam manhandles him just right, this way it'll be just right, and Dean is pleasure-limp and pliant, goes easily where Sam wants him. Sam pulls the blankets over them again, as much as he can, because Dean's shivering weirdly. "Like this," says Sam. "You and me."

Dean sinks down then, guiding tight and explosively good onto Sam's cock like he was shaped for it. Snick-snick, them, fitting, practically audible. It seems to take Dean by surprise, his pale mouth dropping wide and eyes firing awake again. Awake like Sam needed. Overwhelmed, Sam thrusts up shallowly, wants it hard and fast but he's willing to wait for Dean this time. If he can wait at all, his cock is already nine-tenths of the way there, just at being inside. Dean's skin is cool, too cool. He leans back slightly, rocks on Sam's hips, bracing his hands at either side of Sam's head, and Sam gets that much deeper. They both groan.

They fuck for the first time like that, like old lovers might, in the middle part of the evening, under the covers, and slowly, staring mesmerized at each other. Dean stays low and close over Sam, rolling in tiny circles, working the thick length of Sam deep and keeping him there. Sam grabs at Dean's ribs and waist, his hips, holds on breathlessly through the tortuous intensity of Dean riding him with only enough energy left to get him there. There's some dreamlike quality to it, the darkness and the storm and the flickering single candle and Dean white like an apparition making impossible pleasure trickle through time thicker than molasses.

It doesn't take much more than the slick friction clutch of Dean's ass and Dean, leaning down to whisper with awed, quiet words, "You're fucking me, Sam. You're fucking me."

Sam comes grasping Dean hard, impressing finger-shaped bruises on his upper arms, in silence.

Dean doesn't.


They're sleeping in a sloppy, naked mess of skin and sheets, or Sam is — was — was sleeping halfway to happy on dreams of rain and forests and hot chocolate drunk from tree bark bowls, when he snaps awake with the same stricken sense of danger he felt nearly a week ago. The room is unnaturally cold, a damp cold that sticks to the bones, their many blankets doing nothing to keep it out. Sam shivers, sits up. Ms. Carson's candle is burned down to a stub, sputtering in a pink pool of wax. The wind is quiet. Everything is quiet.

Dean's not sleeping. Dean is frozen stiff in a rictus of battle, hands caught in the motion of clawing the air, expression twisted with rage-terror, looking up, up to the ceiling. He doesn't so much as blink, though his eyes are wide and bloodshot, lashes laced with ice. He looks diminished, blue under his nails, bones jutting into paper-thin skin like they might break through. He's not breathing, that's not frosty breath seeping slowly up from his scream-parted mouth. It's something else entirely.

Sam looks up, horrified. That was his mistake before, all those times he woke up to Dean in frozen suffocation, he realizes sickly. He never looked up.

Long, dirty black hair is spread like mold across the ceiling from wall to wall, creeping clumps of it twitching around like tentacles. It curls down over the window, the door jamb, even into the bathroom. And it's growing, crawling inches at a time down each wall to surround them. Hanging from the hair, slack and grotesque with gray skin yanked taut at the hairline, is a human head. Just a head, disembodied, grinning a too-wide grin and eating up with red, jagged teeth the essence that's leaving Dean. Chomping it like candy in the air. Strings and globs of torn flesh, muscle, tendon, and the thin purple tubes of veins dangle from the neck of it, glistening with undripping blood.

"No!" Sam yells, and leaps up, knife to hand. He slashes at it, bouncing on the mattress, and it snaps at it him like an animal. But its eyes glint with human intelligence, a smug and lazy satisfaction. Entitlement, almost. It grins wider and wider, splitting its face nearly in half with a smile of wicked complicity that turns the blame on Sam, tells him this monster thinks he's just as monstrous, and enjoys it.

"No," he says again, and stabs the knife straight into that smile.

The creature, whatever it is, screams some hideous, grating howl and rears back. Its head sinks into its hair, disappears into the dark pit of of it, sucked away until the hair is all that's left and it's streaming towards the vent, a river of oily blackness rippling through the tiny slits and then gone, faster than Sam can blink.

It came in through the vent; they never salt the vents. They never salt the vents.

"Dean!" Sam drops back down to Dean and shakes him wildly. Dean comes to still fighting the monster, weak as a kitten as Sam wrestles him calm. But this time it's different, no mocking reassurance. Dean looks at Sam for just a moment in recognition before his eyes fall closed again and he goes listless into unconsciousness.

Coma. These guys, they don't die. They get drained, they fade, and they end up vegetables.

"Come on, Dean!" Sam demands. "Wake up. Wake up!" He slaps Dean hard enough to whip Dean's head to the side, and Dean comes back to him again gasping. Sam drags him up and makes him stand, swaying confusedly, nude body covered with gooseflesh, while Sam wrenches open their duffels.

"Clothes," Sam tells him, throwing jeans and a t-shirt at Dean. "We're going to Dad."

The clothing falls at Dean's feet. Dean's knees start to buckle, but Sam's there. Sam catches him and doesn't cry or throw up with hating himself even a little as he pinches Dean over and over to keep him awake and gets them both into something approaching a state where Dad won't figure out how they spent the storm.


It's a miracle that Dad doesn't shoot them, given how Sam, lugging Dean's sagging form, kicks open the door to his room at the inn so hard the lock tears out of the wall. He almost does, wakes from a dead sleep with his gun pointed at Sam's head, but he's got fast enough reflexes to avoid mistaking his children for monsters. All it takes is one more second and he's up, taking half of Dean's weight, helping Sam guide Dean through the darkness to his bed.

"Here, light the candles." Dad presses a lighter into Sam's hand and points at the table. "Fucking New York. What happened?" he asks, peering into Dean's eyes once Sam, fumbling, gets the wick of a long, tallow candle to catch fire. Dean's pupils are pinpricks. Sam stands awkwardly back, hands flexing, curling compulsively, lost when off of Dean, but he's afraid to touch or be too close now Dad's — Dad's got Dean. There's always been something proprietary about the way their Dad handles them when they're down, like he can fix them just by making sure the world knows exactly whose kids they are.

"This thing," Sam's voice breaks, and he stops to brace with a deep breath. Quick and clear information, Dad always taught them. "It was a floating head surrounded by long, black hair, and it was sucking some kind of essence out of him."

"Bobby called it a nukekubi. It eats life." Dad tells him, then slaps Dean himself, harder than Sam could manage, knocking Dean onto his side. Sam flinches at the red, low-lit splash of color on Dean's cheek, darkening like a blush, like the flush Dean wore while Sam fucked him, only hours ago. Dean's gray t-shirt doesn't hide the bruises Sam left on his arms, and, oh god, Dad will know, he'll see how Sam's fingers fit each mark perfectly. How can he not see what they've done?

Dad pulls Dean back into a sitting position, commands, "Stay awake, Dean. If you fall asleep, there's no guarantee you'll wake back up. Do you understand, son?"

Gritting his teeth, Dean nods. "Yes, sir."

"I thought he had sleep apnea," Sam says miserably.

Dad looks at him sharply. "For how long?"

"One, maybe two weeks," says Sam, and Dad's expression is like a punch to the stomach. Because Sam missed it. If he'd tried to get more involved with the hunt, he would have known what to look for. But he didn't want to, only wanted normal and wanted Dean, and Dean got hurt because of it. Sam let this happen.

"We have to kill it now," Dad says. "Tonight. Before it digests. When we kill it, all the life it's taken from your brother should be released."

"How?" Sam asks, itching to do exactly that. Wants to kill this thing, violently, in a way he's never felt before. He gets it suddenly, why they live this life. He'd give a lot to have it be him and his knife again, and this monster gone from the world for hurting his brother.

"We have to kill the body while the head is detached. It'll die by any normal means. But I still don't know who it is. Dammit!" Dad slams a hand on the bed, then rubs it over his face, dragging down on the lines of worry etched there.

"I do." Dean rasps. "I saw her face, before she..." His head starts to sag, drooping heavy towards his chest.

Sam's faster than Dad for the first time, grabbing Dean by the chin and jerking his eyes up. "Dean! Who is it?"

"Thelma," Dean sighs out, tilting so Sam's cupping his cheek. Sam jerks away, lets Dean's head drop suddenly and meanly, but at least it shocks Dean into waking up more and lifting his head on his own. "Thelma," Dean says again. "The waitress. Bitch couldn't take a joke."

"From the diner," Sam says, whirling to their dad.

Dad nods grimly, "On it."

The Bilton Family Diner is usually open 24/7. Whether or not it's closed from the blizzard, they don't know. The phones are down. It doesn't matter, anyway. Dad can break in, find the employee records, and hopefully track Thelma, or whatever her real name is, down while she's vulnerable.

"Keep him awake, Sam," he orders, all the certainty in the world in his tone as he puts a hand on Sam's shoulder, says: "I know you can."

Sam swallows and nods. If only Dad knew how well he could do that, maybe his trust wouldn't be so sure.

Dad leaves with three different guns holstered unseen on him: rocksalt, silver, and iron bullets, just in case. Then Sam and Dean are alone again, and the first thing Sam does is fix the salt lines, and add one in front of each vent opening.

Sitting on the bed, Sam fits his hands into Dean's, slots their fingers together and holds tight. Dean's hands feel like they could break in Sam's grip, but he holds back, watches Sam, blinking slowly, and each long sweep of his lashes lower and higher seems to count out the minutes that pass. In the steady candlelight, Sam squeezes until his knuckles go white every time Dean starts to drift, whispers, "Awake. Stay awake with me."

The room is familiar, almost identical to their own, except made strange because Dad sleeps in the bed on the wrong side, and Dad's things are all over. Bottle of Jack, slew of notes, printouts tacked to the walls, his rugged, battered and gigantic laptop on the floor. Dad's smell rises up from the unmade sheets and blankets they're sitting in instead of the scent they make together. His quilts are more yellow than green and there's a bear head on the wall instead of a moose. But the walls are lined with the same wood-panelling that Sam will forever associate with a good Thanksgiving, and he has Dean close.

"Dean," he says eventually, bumping his forehead into Dean's.

Dean refocuses on him, bleary but there. "Yeah, Sammy?

"We're okay, right?" Is it fair to ask Dean when Dean doesn't know how to give him anything but one answer? Sam doesn't know, never thought before about how little he's ever cared if Dean doesn't get the fair end of the bargain between them. He just wants to hear a yes. Yes, Sammy, I love you. Yes, I want you. Yes, I'll come with you when you leave.

"We're awesome," says Dean. "Or we will be, soon as Dad ganks that psycho."

"I told you not to make fun of the town."

"Shut up," Dean smiles, a tiny, exhausted pull at the left corner of his mouth.


They know immediately when Dad's succeeded at ganking Thelma, because Dean is blasted backwards onto the bed like he's been tackled by an invisible 350 pound linebacker, jerked right out of Sam's hands. He skids a good foot across, his feet go flying up in the air and all the breath is knocked out of him on a short, painful grunt. Life, light, whatever it is, it slams into him, a latticework of hot frost that glimmers on his body before it shatters. A thousand needles of white energy sink in through his skin, in only moments gone, and Dean takes a gulping breath that goes deep, deep, and laughs, and Sam laughs too.

"Oh my god," Dean says, hitching up on his elbows. He's got real color again, hues of pink and beige instead of bruise-blue and white. "I feel a crap ton better. Dude, how was I even functioning? God damn and thank you, Dad."

Dean hasn't grinned so hugely in ages, and Sam can't resist the urge to crawl over and kiss him. He cups the back of Dean's head — Dean's warm, lovely warm — and slides his mouth onto Dean's, fits their lips together and oh. Dean goes into it eagerly, fiercely, kisses him back with a wicked twist of tongue that opens Sam's mouth and tangles them soft and wet and wide. It's like kissing a different person, this Dean who uses his teeth to tug on Sam's lower lip, who leans in and smiles around the tease of Sam's tongue in the hot, slick place under his upper lip. One thing is the same though: Sam gets jolts of sweet, anticipatory pleasure right down to his toes from the way Dean draws Sam's tongue in and sucks on it. Even better with Dean tugging on Sam's shirt one-handed, making it this close, mashed mess of mouth and tongue, chins rubbing, dirty deep.

"The things I'm gonna do to you," Dean promises, muffled into Sam's mouth. "You have no idea, Sammy. None."

Sam bites down on Dean's lip hard and then, grinning, says, "Bring it."

"Oh, oh, fuck," Dean breaks away. "Sammy, I —" He doesn't finish that, cuts off with a groan and an arch that has him falling away onto the bed. Sam leans back, startled, sees Dean's hands scrabbling clumsily with his zip and button, the hard line of Dean's cock uncomfortable-looking under the stretch of his jeans.

"Sam!" Dean says. "Gonna, oh, shit —!"

And this is is the sight of Dean coming. Sam memorized the shadows of it years ago. Never had enough light to make out the infinitesimal flutters of Dean's eyelashes or the true angle his knees make, opening out, but he knows this long bend to Dean's back, and the shape of his mouth, just not the kiss-red color revealed in candlelight. Dean comes hard and all over himself in his jeans from a kiss. Sam's kiss.

Dean sags when it's over, limp and strained-beautiful. "Wow," he says dumbly. "Fucking finally, right?" Then his voice fades low, one leg twitches, and he mutters, "Oh, what &mdash ? No way — "

"Holy shit," Sam breathes, hurrying to kneel between Dean's legs and push Dean's hands away, ripping open the button himself. Strips Dean's pants off so much faster than he got them on, and just in time too, because Dean's grappling with the bedspread, cock unflagging, and starting to arch again.

It's hitting Dean all at once, Sam realizes. Every time he should have come over the last week. Every time from last night. It's all gonna happen now, in their Dad's bed — and Dad on the way back home.

Dean groans this one out, rocking his hips up with the force of it while Sam watches breathlessly, hovers over and presses his hands on Dean's knees just to see if they'll go a tiny bit wider throughout. They do. Slick come jerks out of Dean's cock, drips down the red, hard length of him. Dean blinks dazedly at Sam in the short interval right after, says, "Is this what I think it is — oh, holy fuck!"

After the third time, Dean's eyes are wet under black damp lashes, and he can't catch his breath. "Sam," he says. "I can't do this, I can't."

"You can," says Sam, entranced.

"I don't have anything left!" Dean snaps.

"I don't think that matters," Sam tells him, because that last time there was nothing much at all smearing from the slit of Dean's cock, but it looks like Dean's about to go again anyway. How many times must he have tried to jerk off? Ten? More? How many times would Sam have made him come earlier? How is it possible that Dean, wrecked and almost sobbing through his fourth orgasm in a row now, has Sam harder untouched than ever before? He could almost go along for the ride, gripping Dean's flexing thighs.

"Help," Dean begs weakly, before his throat snaps taut again. "I need you to —" He snatches at Sam's wrist, shoves his hand down in the thick pool of Dean's come.

Sam knees up closer, scoops as much as he can onto his fingers and pushes them at Dean's hole, and fuck, it's still sticky slick and ready for him from when they fucked before. Two fingers slide right in, all the way in, sending Dean straight over another cliff of orgasm, beating his heels into the mattress and riding hard onto Sam's hand.

"Yeah, yes, nnngh," Dean manages in between, shuddering. "So good. Not what I meant, but okay — "

"Don't care what you meant," Sam says harshly. "Not gonna jerk you off when I can fuck you. Fuck, you're so hot like this. Want you like this all the time, every day. And you'll fucking love it."

"Kinky," Dean groans.

Right as the next one comes along, Sam gets another finger inside and works all three, thrusting them like a cock, pumps in and out while pressing down on Dean's belly with his other hand, bracing Dean still for him so he can slam that sweet spot over and over. If only he had a...a dildo, or a vibrator, that would be so hot right now. Another promise, another time, god, all the things Sam's gonna do to Dean.

"Can't, I really can't..." Dean writhes, tears streaking out along his temples into his hair. His cock jerks, coming empty and painful from the hoarse way he shouts it. He grabs at Sam's arms, just for something to hold. His body clenches down on Sam like a hot, slippery satin vice, and Sam moans his own hoarse words back, pure nonsense combinations of 'hot' and 'perfect' and 'fuck.'

"I can make you," Sam promises, threatens: "Gonna make you."

He's losing count, tied up rapt with the splotchy flush on Dean's face and neck. Losing count of orgasm and time, doesn't mind though. All he needs forever is him and Dean and a bed.

"Sam, with me," Dean mumbles, pulling on Sam's shoulders. "Come with me, at least once, yeah?"

"God, yes." Sam says, slipping his fingers free. "Up, come up —" It's Sam more than Dean that gets Dean up enough so Sam can pull his t-shirt over his head, gets Dean naked again. He should always be naked, never have to put clothes between them. Dean comes again, barely enough strength left to bow into it, both arms thrown over his face to mask his whimpering, while Sam strips off to match.

"Turn over," Sam demands, and when Dean doesn't or can't comply, muscles burnt out on pleasure, Sam shoves him that way, onto his belly, and hauls his hips up so his ass is spread pornographic. His hole dark pink and swollen. Sam can't help dipping his fingers back in, shivers at how easy they go. His blood pounds in his ears, behind his eyes, white flashes across the vision of Dean's back and the blush-pink nape of his neck.

"Sam!" Dean cries, fisting the covers and full on seizing up through another wrenching orgasm. Sam's using the hand not screwing finger number four into Dean's tight clench to pet Dean's back, gleaming with sweat, to ease him out the other side. Thank god he's out of jizz. Thank god, or they'd never be able to fix Dad's bed enough to hide this. It'd be all over the sheets.

Fuck hiding this Sam thinks insanely. Let Dad find them, see Sam rubbing his cockhead all around Dean's finger-full hole. Then Dean would have to choose Sam, wouldn't he?

"Having fun back there?" Dean snarks, wriggling. "Because I might seriously die this time, bitch, and then how mad will you be?"

"Shut up, I'm getting to it," Sam replies, with a punishing twist of his fingers.

"Oh, fuck!" Dean's head drops between his shoulders. "Yeah, whatever. Just take your fucking time, then, Sammy. S'not like I'm gonna wait on you."

Sam's not even trying to be gentle this time. Four-fingers wide and complaining, Dean can take it what he gets, has to. He fits his cock to the root in Dean with one rough shove, nearly forcing Dean onto his stomach. Dean's arms buckle, either from Sam filling him up on cock or from the next orgasm that clamps him down tight, maybe from both. Sam doesn't care, just grateful that he's in and it's so good, and it turns any other words Dean was readying into little, broken noises.

Dean's down to his elbows at an even more perfect angle for the brutal fucking Sam's gonna give him, everything it wasn't earlier. And Sam's glad their first time was like that, but this is — this is satisfying on a whole separate level, letting go and nailing Dean like it'll fix everything if he can just get deep enough. Sliding Dean further across the bed in juddering thrusts, and having Dean come on his cock like a wet dream, every word he starts to form slammed into something like 'nnnn' under Sam's pace. He keeps trying though, just like Dean, trying to tell Sam what to do when Sam's obviously got this one under control.

Blood's singeing fire-hot in him on how incredible it looks, the ridge of his cockhead, the thickness, nudging over and over through the stretched rim of Dean's ass. Sam digs his thumbs in and pulls Dean's cheeks wider, staring, knows what's creeping up on him from the corners of his eyes and it's not all good, he doesn't want this to end.

"You like that?" Dean moans, rolling his forehead against the covers desperately. "Bet it looks so good, you fucking me. Come on, Sam. I'm gonna — one more time — " he sobs, helpless from the pressure of it. "Come over with me."

Like driving the Impala straight off the edge of the map, they go down together in explosive flame. Sam comes like a Mack truck, hammers Dean into the bed and Dean lets it make a wreck of him, lets that one wrench every last bit out, loud and sloppy.

But it's not one more time. It's again after that, and then again. Sam strokes the sweat and tears out of Dean's eyes and comforts him the best he can. Dean passes out once it's finally over, a good, restful and earned sleep. Just in time to miss the power coming back on, and Sam laughs. How appropriate. He drags them into the bathroom and turns the shower on, because they are a copious, ridiculous mess.

Sitting behind Dean on the floor of the tub, under the hot spray, Sam plans. He knows two things. One, he wants this forever, this light and full and happy content love. Two, all he has to do is ask for it. Right?

By the time Dad gets back, Dean's unconscious and clean, Sam is making notes about the case on Dad's laptop, and Dad doesn't ever have the slightest clue.


They leave Bilton, NY and the Ballsville Central School District that weekend, after Dean's recuperated to their Dad's standards. Sam's almost sad to see it disappear in the first curve of the road behind them, cut out of his sight line as easy as choosing to leave.

Not easy at all.