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Siren Song

Chapter Text

Sam didn't notice it right away. He was too grateful to have his brother back, too busy thanking God that his stupid gamble had actually paid off to see what was right under his nose. He'd taken a chance with Dean's life, all in the name of getting what Samuel wanted. It didn't help to tell himself that Dad probably would've done the same thing, especially if he'd known there was a cure, not when Sam knew the truth. They hadn't known the cure would work. It was an old recipe, one that he'd found in a journal when he'd been going through the Campbell archives, and the fact that it had actually done the job was more luck than anything else.

It took almost a week for him to remember that luck, always a fickle bitch, had never been fond of the Winchesters.

Actually, it was six days. Six days in which he watched Dean get paler and thinner, six days that Dean spent sleeping more than usual, six days of seeing him push his food around on his plate before he shoved it away while his meat, which Dean always preferred well done, got rarer and bloodier than Sam had ever seen it. He'd like to say that was what tipped him off, seeing the blood pool on his brother's plate and watching him stare at it, but he hadn't been that bright.

Oh, he'd known something was wrong. A deaf, dumb, and blind idiot would've caught on after the third straight night of hearing Dean puking in the bathroom, bringing up whatever little bit he'd managed to keep down for a few hours. He just hadn't known exactly how bad it was, or how much worse it could get.

Not until he woke up in the middle of the night to find Dean standing at the food of his bed, staring down at him with glittering eyes and gleaming teeth.

"Dean?" Sam sat up slowly, fingers twitching as he fought to keep from reaching for the knife on the bedside table. That was, until he saw the quicksilver flash of the blade in his brother's hands and realized that Dean had already beaten him to it.

He looked down at the knife. "I'm sorry, Sammy." And God, how long had his voice sounded like he'd gotten his vocal chords run over by a lawnmower? "I tried. I really did, but I just can't -"

"Stop." Fear was shoved aside by raw panic as understanding crashed over him. Dean wasn't going to try to gut him with his own knife. Sam had lived through this scene before, once in a stranger's house in New Harmony and again in the front seat of the Impala on their way to Detroit. This is good-bye. "Dean, you can't do this. -Whatever it is, we'll fix it. We'll - I dunno, we'll try the cure again or something."

Dean's laugh was a rusty, awful thing entirely lacking any sort of humor. "You don't think I've already tried that? Downed the fucking stuff every night since, dude. It just comes right back up."

So that was why he'd been getting sick all the time. Just like - Shit. "You got sick the first time, too," Sam said slowly, watching him carefully as the truth began to sink in.

"Yeah." Dean didn't offer anything else, but Sam could see him stiffen as he waited for his reaction.

His brother was a vampire. And not just temporarily, but a real, true, til-beheading-killed-him vampire. Somehow it seemed like Sam should have more to say than just, "Oh." He knew his mind should probably be going a million miles a minute right about now, but instead it seemed stuck in neutral. Finally, he managed to ask, "When did you -"

"I didn't." He shrugged. "Fuckers musta slipped it to me when I was out or something." Sam saw his brother's throat work as he swallowed. "I was hoping the cure would work anyway, but when it didn't -" He shook his head. "Can't keep going like this, though."

"So we'll figure something out." Whatever it took, even if it meant Sam started taking iron pills and feeding Dean himself. But he wasn't going to lose his brother over this.

Dean snorted. "Right. We'll just hit the local blood bank in the morning, right along with McDonald's." He raised his head to look at Sam. "Get real, dude. You know shit don't work that way."

Right. For about two seconds there, he'd forgotten that it was apparently Fate's duty to fuck up the Winchesters every single chance she got. "Just... gimme a couple days, okay?"

"You don't get it, Sam," he snapped. "Tonight I nearly went hunting! I thought about it, man, and it would be so easy. So fucking easy to hit a bar and chat up some chick, then go back to her place and..." He licked his lips. "I can't stop thinking about it," he whispered. "I've even thought about you, man. And I don't know how long I can wait til I - I gotta do this while I still can, Sammy."

"One night," he begged. "Please, Dean. I know you can keep it together for one more night. For me?"

Dean hesitated, then nodded. "But I'm ending this thing tomorrow." He looked back down at the knife, then held it out to Sam. Without another word he shuffled back into the bathroom, and it wasn't long before Sam heard the shower start up.

As soon as he was sure it was okay, Sam shoved the covers back and got out of bed. He grabbed his phone, automatically scrolling down to Bobby's name on the contact list before he stopped. Bobby was a hunter. Just like Dad and Samuel, and if he knew about Dean, Sam knew what he'd say. He'd tell him that it wasn't Dean anymore, that his brother was gone and he needed to take what was left down before he could start killing people. Any hunter worth his salt would say it. Hell, Dean had been about to do it himself, so why should Sam be surprised to hear it from Bobby?

So that meant he couldn't call Bobby. Or Samuel. Or any of the Campbells. This had to be kept secret, at least until they found a way to get Dean's bloodlust under control. Which meant Sam needed to stop thinking like a hunter and start thinking like someone else. The only problem was that he wasn't sure exactly who he should be thinking like. Someone who knew about the supernatural, that was obvious, but not a hunter. Not a supernatural creature, either - this was a human problem, even if it was about -

Of course! Sam's eyes lit up when he hit on the answer. His hands were shaking as he rummaged through the papers stuck into the journal he'd kept through the last year, praying that he hadn't somehow thrown the scrap he was looking for away. He paged through the whole thing twice before he found it, a crumpled, torn-off bit of paper with a name and number scrawled on it in a messy hand.

The bathroom door opened and he shoved the paper in his pocket, then slammed the journal closed. "There aren't any answers in there," Dean pointed out. "Those things never help when you need 'em."

Dad's journal hadn't saved Dean from Hell, and their own journals hadn't given them the answer when Lucifer and Michael were planning to lay waste to the world, but this time the little leather book just might have the solution to his problem. "I'm gonna go get you something to eat," he said, grabbing his jacket, wallet, keys, and phone.

He headed for the diner they'd eaten at last night, then fished the paper out of his pocket and dialed the number. After three rings, it was answered, the voice on the other end of the line carefully neutral in a way Sam was very familiar with. It was a variation on the voice he used when talking to law enforcement or dealing with other hunters who weren't Dean or Bobby. "Harris."

"Hi, Xander. It's, uh, it's Sam Winchester."

In the space of a heartbeat, the neutrality eased up, and Sam felt hope start to well up for the first time in over a week. "Hey, man. Haven't heard from you for a while, thought something might've happened to you. What's up?"

"I kinda need some help," he admitted. "And you said you knew about this stuff..." He'd meant to present the whole thing in neutral terms, lay it out like a case, but somehow he ended up spilling the whole thing into the sympathetic silence on the other end of the line. "So I'm hoping you won't tell me I'm totally screwed, here."

"No, you're okay. Well, maybe not completely okay, but I think I can help you out." He hesitated, then asked, "Just so we're clear, are you looking for help for your brother or you?"

Sam frowned, not really understanding the question. Help for Dean was help for him - how was there any difference? "I don't - what do you mean?"

"I guess I'm trying to see what you need, if you're looking for some kind of Vamp 101 for Dean or if you want someone to come out and help you... do what you gotta do," Xander explained.

"No! No, I - I'm not gonna - that's what I'm trying to keep Dean from doing!" he protested. God, he hoped he hadn't just made things worse instead of better. What if they wound up with someone else on their trail because of this?

"Vamp 101, then." Xander chuckled. "I call it Bloodsucking for Dummies, actually."

Sam laughed. "Yeah, sounds pretty much like what I need." Already a huge weight was being lifted with the realization that Xander wasn't calling him or Dean a freak, that instead he was going to help them out. "What do I need to do?"

"Keep him sedated and quiet if you can. Tie him up if you can't." Xander's voice slipped into a brisk, businesslike tone. "And tell me where you're staying. I'm gonna have an expert come talk to you, but it might take a day or two to get him out there."

"Yeah, okay." Sam gave him the address of their motel, then hung up once Xander promised to get his expert out to them as soon as possible. Staring down at the phone, he let out a slow, relieved breath. Things were going to be all right. Help was on the way; he just had to hold on til it got there. Shoving his phone in his jacket pocket, he started the car up and pulled out.

If he was going to keep Dean alive long enough for the expert to get there, he had to get some supplies first.

Chapter Text

Xander had said it might take a day or two to get someone out to them. It ended up taking three, and by the time there was a knock on the door, Sam was nearly ready to tear his hair out. He'd stopped by the morgue to get some dead man's blood, but most of it had run out a day and a half ago. And he needed to hang on to the last of it, which meant that he was left with a chained-up, insanely angry vampire to watch over. And Dean was not taking any of this well.

When he'd woken up after that first injection, he'd been absolutely furious with him spitting out curses and condemnation in a hard voice. If looks could kill, he would've been dead on floor, and in all honesty, he couldn't say he blamed him. Sam had betrayed him, after all, coaxed him to give him a day and then used that day to take his choices away. But his only other option had been to sit there and watch his brother kill himself, and that was out of the question. Better to have Dean alive and hating him than to have to bury him - again.

Dean's eyes shot over to the door, then back to Sam. He hadn't said a word since his voice gave out yesterday, but Sam could read the question there. "I'm sorry," he told him softly, opening the nightstand drawer and taking the last dose of dead man's blood out. At the sight of the syringe, Dean started shaking his head and yanking at the chains, frantically trying to get free. It hurt to watch his brother fight like that, straining against the tight metal links like a caged animal. It hurt even more knowing that he was the cause of it. "I'm sorry," he repeated, as he slid the needle into his arm and pressed the plunger.

The sight of Dean's face right before his body went slack would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Laying the empty syringe down, he went to answer the door. Xander stood there with a small blond man dressed all in black in front of him. "Hey," he said. "Sorry we're late. It took a little longer than I expected to collect Spike and -"

"Not garbage, you berk," the blond snapped. "You didn't bloody 'collect' me. An' don't think the Watcher's Council isn't gettin' one hell of a bill for this."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Evil vampire means you charge double," Xander told him, obviously repeating a frequent line. He looked at Sam. "Can we come in?"

"Yeah, of course." He stepped aside and Xander walked in, but the blond shook his head.

"Gonna need to be a mite more explicit for me, mate."

Sam looked over at Xander, who shrugged. "You wanted Vamp 101, and who's better qualified to teach it than a vampire?" Before he could argue that he didn't want Dean taught to be some kind of evil fiend, he added, "Spike's harmless." He ignored the affronted "Hey!" from the vampire. "Seriously, he has pain in the ass down to an art form, but he's not gonna hurt anybody."

Jesus. He was supposed to invite a vampire into the room so he could let it teach his brother how to survive. This was probably the stupidest thing in the world he could do, or at the very least in the top ten, but he said, "Come in," all the same.

Spike walked into the room and looked over at Dean, then back at Sam. "Right. Get your stuff an' get out."

"What?!?"

"Spike!"

Spike ignored Sam in favor of arguing with Xander. "Told you from the start - we do this my way or we don't do it at all."

"Then you don't do it at all!" Sam snapped. "I'm not leaving Dean."

Before he could say anything else, there was a hand slamming him back against the wall and a tiny blond snarling up at him through fangs - and Christ, what the hell was wrong with his face?!? "Listen up, mate," Spike spat. "I don't give a bloody damn about what the fuck you want. Get that through your thick, oversized head right now. You're the one that needs me. That means you don't get to go 'round givin' the orders, you got that?"

Sam glared down at him. "So I'm supposed to just leave my brother here alone with you?"

Spike smirked and gave him a condescending pat on the chest. "Lookit that. Seems you do have a brain under all that hair, after all."

Fear sliced through him, but Sam did his best not to show it. "And how do I know you won't hurt him?"

"Cause I'm tellin' you I won't, you stupid berk." Spike turned back to look at Xander. "Thought you said this nonce was smart?"

"He is."

Spike snorted and muttered, "Coulda fooled me."

"Look, Spike, you wouldn't handle it any better if some stranger wanted you to leave Dawn with them, would you?"

Sam didn't know who this Dawn was, but from the way the blond's face smoothed out, he guessed she was important. "Right, then. But you're still gonna have to leave. Fledges're notorious for their lack of control an' Slayer'll be a mite pissed off with me if I let her boy get hurt cause of it."

"I thought we talked about the whole 'her boy' thing," Xander interjected, but Spike ignored him. Sam was starting to think that it was a regular thing for him. "I can take care of myself, Spike."

"Didn't say you couldn't, but you ain't exactly up to a wrestlin' match with a feral fledge who hasn't eaten in days," Spike pointed out, and Sam wondered how he knew that. Did they have a way to tell when other vampires had eaten last? "An' I'm good, but I can't be right there standin' over him every second of the day, so you take Jolly Green here an' find somethin' else to do for a bit, yeah?"

Xander didn't argue anymore, so Spike turned his attention back to Sam. "Look, I ain't gonna softball it for ya. You're food, an' until I can get him to quit seein' ya as food, then you can't be here. After all, you can't train a dog with steak hangin' in its face, an' right now, you might as well have USDA stamped on your oversize ass."

Sam wanted to object to hearing Dean compared to a dog, especially after Spike had already called him feral, but then he thought about how Dean had talked about hunting, the light in his eyes and the teeth he hadn't been able to control. "How long?" he asked hoarsely.

"Long's it takes. Depends on him. If he's willin' to work at it an' he has decent control over himself, shouldn't be more'n a few weeks." Spike glanced back at him. "Harris says he went almost a week without feedin' an' he didn't attack anyone, so that's a good sign. But when he wakes up, he's gonna be pissed, an' that makes holdin' it all back harder."

There was no arguing with that, even though he wanted to. Sam sighed and went to get his bag, shoving clothes and weapons and research material in it. "Leave him a shirt," Spike told him. "It's got your scent on it, might help him to have it." He nodded shortly and pulled a shirt out, tossing it on the foot of his bed.

He tried to draw it out, but the habits of a lifetime were hard to break, and he and Dean had learned at an early age how to pack and leave in fifteen minutes or less. All too soon for Sam's comfort his bag was ready and he walked over to where his brother was slumped in the chair. "I'm sorry, Dean," he told him, laying his hand on the back of his neck. "I had to."

"Yeah, yeah, real touching moment," Spike commented. "Now both of you, get goin' before Sleeping Beauty here wakes up."

"How do you not just chop his head off?" Sam asked Xander as he headed for the door.

Xander laughed. "Years and years of practice, believe me."

Chapter Text

His vision was blurry. Dean frowned as he blinked to try to clear it, then frowned even more when he started to rub the sleep out of his eyes only to find that he couldn’t move his hands. What the fuck?!?

“Sammy,” he said - or tried to say. What came out was more like, “Ssssssaaaaaaeeeee.” He probably should’ve expected that, though, since his tongue felt about twice its normal size. Licking his dry lips, he tried again, and this time managed to produce a recognizable, if hoarse, “Sam,” before his voice gave out again.

What the hell had happened to him?!? He couldn’t move his arms, his head was pounding, and his vision still wasn’t right. “Fuck,” he groaned.

“Don’t expect you’ll be up for that for a while, mate,” an amused voice that was most definitely not his brother’s informed him from somewhere over his left shoulder.

“Who – "

“Might be best not to try talkin’ just yet,” the voice advised him. “You’ve been out pretty hard for a nice long while, now.” There was the sound of movement and then the owner of the voice walked around to crouch in front of him. Even blurry, Dean could tell that it wasn’t anybody he knew, and unless Sam had shrunk about a foot or so, lost at least 75 pounds, cut and bleached his hair, taken up smoking, and turned English sometime in the last however long he’d been out, it very clearly wasn’t Sam.

His confusion must’ve shown on his face, because the man chuckled and said, “Name’s Spike an’ I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m a friend of a friend - or maybe I should say a contact of a contact. Point is, your brother wants me to teach you all about vampires.”

Dean scowled. He didn’t need to know all about vampires! He knew how hide his scent and how to kill them, and that was all he needed to know. Anything else was out, since he wasn’t going to be around long enough to need it. “Why you?” he asked, wincing at the way his throat ached with the few words.

“Gonna need to get some blood in you before you can talk proper,” Spike advised him. “An’ as for me bein’ the one to show you the ropes, can you think of anybody better to do it than another vampire?”

Another vampire?! Sam had handed him over to a vampire?!? Or had this thing come looking for him all on its own? By why would it claim Sam wanted this if it had just kidnapped him? To get him to play along? Or worse - to keep him from realizing that his brother was dead? “Don’t want blood,” he ground out, forcing himself to speak around the pain. “Want Sam.”

There was no give at all in the vampire’s face. “Yeah, well, Sam ain’t here. An’ he ain’t comin’ back til you can convince me you got yourself under control, so you’re bloody well stuck with me for now.”

More blinking, and Dean’s vision was clearing up now, enough to let him glare at the vampire as it walked over to a cooler by the door and pulled out a bag of dark red liquid. It tore the end off, and even cold and across the room, the smell made Dean’s mouth water. He swallowed hard and tried to ignore the way his stomach clenched and growled. “Not eating that.”

“What part of ‘you need blood’ are you not gettin’, here, mate?” The vampire emptied the bag into a large coffee mug and shoved it in the microwave, but didn’t bother to look back at him.

Too bad, because maybe then it would have seen the resolve on Dean’s face. “I don’t want it,” he gritted out, and fuck, that many words hurt.

The microwave beeped and the vampire pulled the mug out. And if he’d thought it smelled good before, that was nothing compared to the heavenly aroma wafting off the cup now that it was heated. Jesus, he could feel himself starting to drool just thinking about it!

And apparently the vampire was well aware of it. “Still gonna try tellin’ me you don’t want it?” it gloated, tipping the mug towards him with a mocking look.

Like he’d eat anything that a vampire gave him. Dean swallowed convulsively and shook his head, clamping his mouth shut so he wouldn’t be tempted to beg for the fucking blood.

The vampire shrugged. “Suit yourself. You wanna waste away to a walking skeleton, that’s your problem.” And without another word, it raised the cup and drained it in several long swallows.

Dean had to close his eyes. He couldn’t sit there and watch any longer, couldn’t stand the hungry roll of his stomach, but at the same time, he couldn’t drink blood like any other vampire, he just couldn’t! This was why he’d asked Sam to take him out, the sure knowledge that he was so very, very close to becoming one of the things they hunted.

But Sam hadn’t been willing to let him go. That was always their problem; they just wouldn’t give up on each other, even when they really should. There was only one thing to do with this, he knew it and he knew Sam knew it. Dad would’ve done it, Dean knew that. But then, Dad had been ready to put a bullet in Sam’s skull if he’d needed to, and even though he’d promised, Dean had known from the start that he couldn’t do it. He’d have followed him to the dark side, walked into Hell at his side and helped him rule first. But now he understood what Dad had been talking about. It took becoming less than human, but he finally got it.

They killed supernatural beings. It was what they did, took out the bad guys to make sure that innocent people got to live out their lives in blissful ignorance and safety. And sometimes that meant they had to make the hard decisions and put a fallen soldier down. His future self had known that; he’d taken one of his own men down after a raid that went badly, turned and coldly fired on him like he was a rabid dog. But that was the truth, wasn’t it? ‘Only a matter of time.’ That’s what he’d said, and it was probably true. So why should it be any different for Dean now?

It shouldn’t. That was the answer, plain and simple. But Sam apparently thought he could - what? Save him? Dean was beyond saving now. He had to have blood to live, which put him pretty firmly on the side of the monsters. So what was all this about turning him over to a vampire, then? Did he think this was just some kind of lifestyle adjustment, and all Dean had to do was learn how to deal with it? This wasn’t some kind of fantasy, this was Dean’s fucking life! And he wasn’t about to start drinking blood and skulking around in darkness like some stupid wannabe. He was a hunter, dammit, and he wanted a hunter’s death and funeral pyre! He’d earned it, paid for it a thousand times over with blood, sweat, and tears, and he wasn’t going to let go of it so he could spend however long stalking glittery teenyboppers in bars.

And if meant he had to starve to death instead of something quicker, then so be it.

Dean held fast to his resolution for almost four days - or at least he thought it was four days. Time was a little fuzzy, and he wasn’t sure if that was the hunger or being tied to a chair night and day. Not that it mattered, really. He was aware of the vampire moving around, watching TV (and who’d ever heard of a vampire that liked soap operas, for Chrissake?), making phone calls (something about the metal band Slayer and someone it called Bit and Bite Size in a lazy, amused voice), and most of all, fixing blood. It seemed like every time Dean woke up, blood was being heated or had just been heated in the microwave, and while the vampire offered every time he looked over there, he kept refusing. He wasn’t going to drink, and that was that.

The problem was convincing his stomach that he was making the right decision. His aching, empty stomach that had actually stopped growling, almost like it was giving up on ever being heard. Dean wondered if that meant he was going to starve sooner or later. Either way, it didn’t matter. It would be better than being stuck here with the vampire and the ever present smell of blood.

The blood. Oh, God, the blood. It was slowly but surely taking over his world, and he was absolutely positive that he was going to end up crazy before this thing was over. He couldn’t get away from it, couldn’t close off his senses, couldn’t make his mouth not water when he caught the scent, and lately, he’d even been dreaming about it. Not vague sort of hunting dreams like he’d had before he’d talked to Sam, either. No, these were vivid, Technicolor epics filled with flowing rivers of sweet, sticky blood. Worst of all was that when he woke up with drool smeared around the corners of his dry as the Sahara mouth, he was almost always hard. And not just a little bit hard, either. Oh no, these were putting the boners he’d had at fifteen to shame, but unlike when he was fifteen, he couldn’t exactly go take care of it in the shower or anything. He had to sit there and suffer, squirming miserably in his chair and straining at the chains that held him when he couldn’t help it.

And he was pretty sure the vampire knew about that particular problem. He tried to tell himself that he was just being paranoid, but it seemed like every time Dean woke up aching and hard, the vampire was sitting there smirking at him, and every little movement just seemed to amuse it further.

When, exactly, had his whole life been reduced to being entertainment for a creature like this?

He meant to hold out, he really did. But sometime on the fourth or fifth day, when the microwave beeped, his hunger took control and he heard himself say, “I want some.”

The vampire turned around, its scarred eyebrow raising at it looked at him. “What was that?”

Dean licked his cracked lips and repeated, “I want some.”

A small smile formed on the vampire’s lips as he walked over to him, and the closer he got, the stronger the smell of blood got, and Dean could barely keep from whimpering with how bad he wanted it. “Say please,” the vampire said softly.

Anger flared through him, and he wanted to rear up, somehow knock the cup out of its hands, but he forced himself to choke the word out instead. “Please.”

“That’s a good boy.” The vampire set the cup down on the table a few feet away and Dean nearly cried when it turned away, but thankfully, it was just retrieving a straw from somewhere. It slid the straw in the cup and held it out to him. “Go easy, now. Try to drink it a little at a time.”

There was something in its voice, a note that was almost like… sympathy? Like it knew what it was to go hungry and have to beg for this. But that was ridiculous. Vampires didn’t go hungry, not unless they were stupid enough to cut off their nose to spite their face, and so far as he knew, that was primarily a Winchester trait. Rather than ask or argue, Dean opened his mouth and drew on the straw.

Oh, sweet baby Jesus! His dreams had been a dim shadow of the reality that was the sweet, savory heaven that exploded on his taste buds with the first long sip. He was dimly aware of someone moaning like they were having the best sex ever, and even more dimly aware that that someone was himself, but he didn’t care. Not as long as the blood kept sliding up the straw. When it disappeared, this time he really did whimper, and he didn’t have so much as a single ounce of shame about it.

“Shhh,” the vampire shushed him in a low voice that had something that might’ve passed for tenderness in it. “Gotta take it slow or it’s all gonna come back up an’ I doubt you wanna deal with that just now. Know I don’t.”

Dean shook his head, and when the straw came back, he did his best to sip it slowly, but it was hard. Like, really freaking hard. He wanted to down it in huge hungry swallows, knock it back like he used to do with a cold beer after a particularly grueling hunt, but better, because beer had never tasted as good as this. He sucked until the liquid rush became a trickle and he could hear the rattling gurgle of the straw against the empty cup as he tried to slurp every last drop up.

“There’s more where that came from, y’know,” he was told. “Say ‘thank you, Spike’ an’ I’ll make you up another cup.”

This time, hunger was far stronger than anger. “Thank you, Spike.”

The vampire nodded. “That’s more like it.” He sauntered back over to the microwave, fishing out another bag from the cooler and emptying it in the cup. “No more starvin’ yourself, got it?”

Dean nodded. He might not be exactly resigned to being a vampire, but he didn’t think he could go back to refusing the blood, not now that he’d had it. He was starting to understand why Lenore and her group had found it so difficult to go vegan, especially if they’d ever had the stuff he was getting now. “Got it.”

“Good.” Spike shoved the mug into the microwave and started it up. “Go over fixin’ it with you later,” he commented. “Wouldn’t do any good right now. You’re too busy thinkin’ about gettin’ the blood to pay attention to anythin’ else.”

It was true, but he didn’t say anything. He wasn’t about to admit how much he liked it, or how much more of it he wanted. Dean wasn’t sure how they were going to get more when the cooler ran out, but he really didn’t care about that now. Right now, all that mattered was the blood that he could smell heating in the microwave.

His stomach clenched when the microwave beeped and Dean gasped as he felt teeth push through his gums, sliding through flesh with the silken glide of a shark moving in the water. It was easy and painless, and weirder than he could’ve imagined. He knew there was no hiding them from Spike, but then he didn’t have to, did he? It was just the two of them - nobody here but us vampires, he thought with a mental chuckle.

He didn’t count on Spike’s whole face twisting up when he caught sight of his teeth. The mug clattered to the floor, and in an instant, Spike was looming over him, bare steel pressed against his throat. “You wanna tell me just what the fuck you are?” he snarled.

Chapter Text

Xander didn't bother him with unnecessary chatter, something Sam was incredibly grateful for. He'd accepted Sam's statement that he needed to drive as well, and aside from providing an address for a place in Iowa and a brief explanation of some kind of demon that was eating babies, he didn't ask questions or try to make him feel better about abandoning his brother. Instead, he turned the music up and dozed while Sam drove through the night.

They stopped for breakfast at the nearest Biggerson's, and maybe it was the familiar setting or maybe the years with Dean had programmed him to view diner tables as a comforting place to talk, but once the waffles, bacon, sausage, and fruit arrived, Sam heard himself ask, "So how did you get into this line of work, anyway?"

"Well, my best friend was turned into a vampire when I was 16, and then he was killed by the girl who became one of my best friends because she was the Slayer."

Sam frowned. He'd heard something about a slayer before, but most of the records he'd come across were pretty vague on the topic. "Slayer? That's something like a hunter, right?"

Xander laughed and stole a piece of his bacon. "More like a superstrong warrior," he said around his mouthful. "Think Xena mixed with Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in a tiny, blonde, shoe-obsessed package."

Now that was hard to believe. "Seriously? How'd she end up like that?"

"Beats me. I think it's a girl thing, though. Or maybe just a Summers thing, since her sister's nearly as bad. I'm telling you, Imelda Marcos has nothing on them."

Sam laughed. "I meant the whole Xena/Chuck Norris thing, not the shoes."

The other man shrugged. "It's a whole mystical thing, going way back to caveman times. Used to be there was only one at a time, but a couple years ago, my other best friend changed all that."

There was only one thing he could say to that. "How'd she do that?"

"Magic. She's basically the world's most awesome witch." When he caught sight of Sam's face, Xander frowned. "What, you got a problem with that?"

"Well... witches. I mean, they basically get their power from -" Demons. And most of them became demons themselves after they died.

Sam expected to see Xander get upset, but instead he just laughed. "Man, you wouldn't say that if you knew Willow. She's, like, the sweetest, geekiest person I know. Who just happens to be a royally badass witch as well," he added honestly. "But she's not about to go dark side anytime soon."

It seemed like there was more of a story there, but something in the other man's face warned him not to pursue it. Instead, he asked, "How did Spike end up hanging out with you guys? I mean, if your friend kills vampires and you help her, it seems a little weird to have a vampire helping you out."

"Oh, you have no idea." While they ate the rest of their breakfast, Xander told him about how Spike had started out trying to kill Buffy - and whoever had heard of a mythical vampire warrior named Buffy? It wasn't exactly a name designed to strike fear into the hearts of demons - then gotten caught by the military and had an experimental chip implanted in his head, and ended up fighting on their side once he discovered he could hurt demons. Apparently any violence was preferable to none. Sam supposed Dean would be glad to hear that, since it meant he wouldn't have to give up hunting.

They paid up and headed out, and once they were on the road, Xander continued with Spike's story. He'd fallen in love with Buffy, something it was easy to see that Xander didn't approve of, and gone to get his soul so he would be worthy of her. That was enough to make Sam jerk the car over onto the side. He slammed it into park and twisted around to look at Xander. "What do you mean, he got a soul? Didn't he have one to start?"

"Yeah, but he lost it when -" Xander cut himself off, but Sam could already hear the rest of that sentence: 'when he became a vampire'.

"Does that mean Dean doesn't have a soul?" he choked out. Jesus, what did that mean? What would a soulless Dean be like? Would he still care about him? Still call him Sammy? Still want cheeseburgers and beer after a hunt? Or would it be all about blood and killing now?

For a minute, Xander didn't answer him. Then he said, "Soul or not, if anybody can teach him to control it, it's Spike."

"Yeah, cause he's such a model of self-control," Sam retorted. It had taken a military experiment to get him to quit killing, and even then, he'd just switched from humans to demons!

"Actually, he is." When Sam scoffed, Xander shook his head. "This probably won't mean anything to you, but Spike used to be part of the Scourge of Europe. His sire was Angelus, and he's the meanest, sickest asshole son of a bitch I've ever seen. Like, nailing puppies to doors for the fun of it. That kind of thing."

"Fuck." Sam wouldn't have thought he could be surprised by the depths evil could sink to, but at least most of the ghosts and demons he'd hunted had a reason they did what they did. That was just... sick. "And he... made Spike?"

Xander shrugged. "Depends on who you talk to. Spike says he did, but Angel likes to say he didn't have anything to do with him. Calls him the littlest pipsqueak." He chuckled. "Truth is, I think he actually enjoys having Spike around. Makes life more interesting, y'know?"

He could understand that. "Yeah, I get it." Then he frowned. "Wait, you mean he's still around?"

"Don't worry, he's got a soul too," Xander assured him. Sam wondered if there had been some kind of two for one special. Were souls common things for vampires? "A gypsy tribe cursed him, like, a hundred years ago."

"So how come you know about Angelus and what he was like?"

"Cause he lost his soul." He laughed at the expression on Sam's face and added, "Willow put it back and he's fine."

Sam shook his head. "Sounds pretty exhausting trying to keep up." And he'd thought hunting was hard sometimes! Apparently just being Xander was a full-time job and a half.

"It makes sure there aren't a lot of boring days, that's for sure." One of Xander's hands twitched and Sam wondered if it had anything to do with the patch that covered his eye. "So how'd you get pulled into all this? Something tells me it's one hell of a story."

Sam turned back around in his seat, put the car in gear, and pulled back out onto the road. A few miles went by before he said, "I've been hunting since I was 12, and my dad's done it almost my entire life." There was no comment from Xander, just a silence that seemed to understand, and Sam found himself telling him all about it - his mother burning to death on the nursery ceiling when he was six months old, the demon blood he'd later discovered he'd been fed that night, growing up on the road with Dean as his only constant since Dad was too busy chasing the demon that had killed their mother to really spend time with them unless he was training them to join him on the hunt. He talked about Stanford and Jess and getting pulled back into everything when she died, about Azazel and his plans to make him the Savior of Hell, about Dean's deal and watching his brother die, then seeing him raised from Hell to become Heaven's chosen warrior. Last of all, he told him about Lucifer and Michael and the apocalypse they'd managed to avert when he jumped into the Pit.

Throughout his hours-long recital, Xander didn't say much, just listened. They stopped for dinner at some point, some roadside barbecue joint that Xander pointed out, and it was over a plate of ribs followed by sweet potato pie that would've made Dean cream his jeans that Sam finally finished talking. "Sounds like you've packed a lot of living into a few years," Xander commented, taking a sip of his beer.

"Yeah. I guess I just don't think about it much, you know? Makes it easier to deal with. But it seems like every time things get halfway stable, then something has to go and mess 'em up, like this - this thing with Dean." He still couldn't call it what it was, couldn't admit that his brother had been turned into a vampire, not out loud.

Xander chuckled. "Yeah, I hear you on that. Sometimes I think that's just how life is, one end of the world after another. Other times, I think it's just us. But maybe it's supposed to be that way. Giles once said that if everyone knew what was out there, then the whole world would stop working. Most of them need that ignorance in order to go about their daily lives. And when they come across something, once it's over they make up an explanation that makes sense."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, in high school, they always talked about gangs on PCP instead of vampires. Hell, the mayor turned into a giant snake at my graduation ceremony and we had a full-scale war, and two weeks later, my parents wanted to know why I hadn't found a job yet."

Sam shook his head. He'd seen the civilians they dealt with shaken up by what they encountered, but never thought about what they might tell themselves after it was all over and he and Dean left town. Did they come up with stories to explain it all? Write it off as a bad dream or some kind of high? "Yeah, I guess. I dunno. We don't really... follow up with people. Once the case is over, we just move on to the next one."

"Sounds pretty lonely," Xander commented.

"I guess," he said again, although in truth he didn't really remember being lonely. Yearning for the life he didn't have, envious of those who could sleep safely in ignorance of the things in the dark, sure, he remembered that, but not being lonely. There had always been Dean, his own personal north star, right next to him in the car.

He tried not to think about how he didn't have him there now. And worse, that he didn't know if he'd ever have him there again. Even if this thing worked, if Spike could teach him what he needed to know to survive, he might still lose his brother. But he had to try, all the same.

“So how’d you find out about these demons?” he asked, pushing his chair back.

If Xander thought the sudden move to leave or abrupt change in subject was strange, he didn’t show it. “Spike’s sire - you know, the one I told you about? Well, he kinda runs this law firm in LA, and they deal with this sort of thing. Pretty much their whole reason for existing, actually.”

Sam frowned. A law firm in LA that dealt with the supernatural? Something about that sounded familiar… His eyes widened when he remembered the scout that had come to talk to him a couple weeks before Dean showed up. “Wolfram & Hart? But they’re -"

“Evil, yeah, I know,” Xander put in wearily. “Except they’re not so much, anymore. Angel’s been working to try to turn it all around.” He shrugged.

“I was going to say ultra-exclusive and snobby, but I guess evil makes sense, too.” The women who’d been waiting on him in his professor’s office definitely hadn’t seemed all that non-evil to him, but he’d just chalked it up to her being a recruiter for a big law firm and being really good at her job. Now it looked like his first thought had been right. “So does this mean we’re working for Wolfram & Hart now, too?”

Xander laughed. “Hardly. I’m more of an independent contractor. Technically, it’s the Watcher’s Council paying my bills, but I set my own agenda, and part of that means I can take other jobs when I want to. And when it’s Deadboy, I make him give me Spike and charge him through the nose for everything.” He grinned over at Sam, the quicksilver flash of white offering up a glimpse of what he must’ve looked like before life and fighting the good fight had taken his eye and turned the hair at his temples silver. “I even have a company credit card to cover my per diem.”

Wow. Talk about having credit card fraud beat! “Seriously?” And even though he knew he shouldn’t ask, he couldn’t stop himself. “How much is it?”

“Enough that we can get an actual hotel instead of a dive like you were in before.” Xander paused, then seemed to reconsider. “Unless you want two rooms. Then we’re probably better off with something more middle of the road.”

Sam wasn’t sure he’d know what to do with an entire room all to himself. He’d spent so many years in Dean’s back pocket that he probably needed the sound of someone else’s breathing just to fall asleep. “I’m good with one room.”

Xander nodded. “Nice to know. Guess I’ve gotten too used to traveling with Spike, and when he’s around I have to get us separate rooms or risk staking him out of sheer frustration. He’s amusing as hell, but he also doesn’t know when to shut the hell up, which makes it kinda hard to pick someone up when he’s around.”

“Well, I’m used to Dean picking up girls,” Sam told him. “If you hook up with someone, I can always hang out in the car for an hour or two.”

“Thanks, but I don’t think I’m really up for it tonight.” Xander rubbed under his eye patch, and Sam caught a glimpse of a painful-looking line pressed into his cheek. “Besides, I’m more into hot guys these days than girls, and they don’t always require a bedroom for something quick.”

Sam forced himself to keep his eyes on the road. It was the first time he’d heard anyone not in college talk so casually about picking up a member of their own gender. “Yeah? You, uh, are you - I mean, not that I care if you are, but -"

“Relax, I’m not gonna try anything,” he assured him. “And I guess you could say I’m bi, but I’ve been in a guy phase for a while now.” A shadow crossed his face, something that spoke of a pain deep inside. “I don’t exactly have the best luck when it comes to women.”

He thought about Jess burning on the ceiling and Madison standing in her kitchen waiting for the kill shot, and nodded. “Yeah, I hear you there.”

Xander glanced over at him, and Sam could almost feel the question he wanted to ask, but to his credit, he didn’t, and they drove the next few miles in silence.

Chapter Text

“I'm a vampire,” Dean struggled to get out around the teeth that just wouldn’t slip back up.

“Bullshit,” Spike spat. “Pretty sure I know what a vampire is, mate, seein’ as I’ve been one for over a hundred years now, and you sure as hell ain’t like anythin’ I’ve ever seen.” The knife against his throat pressed in closer. “So I’m gonna ask you again, what the fuck are you?”

Dean craned his head as far back as it would go. It was funny - he'd basically begged Sam to kill him, but now that there was a knife there that could actually do the job, he was fighting to live. “Seriously, I’m a vampire!” He looked at the glowing yellow eyes that glared down at him and couldn’t resist adding, “But I don’t know what you are.”

Spike bared fangs - actual fucking fangs - at him and growled, “Might wanna think twice before you go runnin’ your mouth at me, boy. Not like I couldn’t take your head out without half an effort, tell your brother you got all suicidal-like, so I’d be real respectful when I talked to me if I was you.”

He wanted to tell him to take his respect and shove it where the sun didn’t shine, but that would just bring about a painful and bloody end, and Dean was discovering to his surprise that he actually wanted to live, if only so he could deliver the beatdown of a lifetime when he finally got free. And blood. He definitely wanted more of that, and he couldn’t get that if he were dead. So he nodded and dropped his gaze, eyes sliding away from those unsettling golden ones that were just a little too much like a lion’s for his comfort.

For some reason, this seemed to mollify Spike, because he grunted and Dean could feel the pressure from the knife ease a little as he stepped back. "Still gotta figure out what the hell you are," he commented. "Watcher might know. An' if he don't, can always call Angelus."

He didn't know who this Angelus was, but just from the way Spike said the name, Dean was pretty sure he didn't want to. "I need to call Bobby," he countered. When Spike's eyes narrowed, he hurried to add, "He knows just about everything about the supernatural."

"Got your own Watcher, do you?" The vampire seemed more amused than anything else at that. "You gonna try causin' trouble if I let you have your phone, then?"

Dean shook his head. While he wanted out, he also wanted Sammy back, and apparently the only way he was getting that was to play along. Besides, whatever Spike was, he needed to know how to kill him before Sam got back. "I just want to call Bobby."

Spike studied him for a moment, then turned around and went to get his phone from the nightstand. He scrolled through the contacts, then pressed the button and held it up to his ear just in time for Dean to hear, "What kinda mess have you gotten yourself into now?"

He did his best to ignore the low chuckle next to him. "I need some help, Bobby."

"Yeah, I figured that. Don't usually call at this hour unless you're in trouble," he shot back. "What is it this time?"

Shit, this was going to suck. "Well, I kinda got turned into a vampire. And Sam found someone to teach me about it, but he's not a vampire." At the offended, 'Am too!', that exploded from the blond, he hurried to add, "At least, he's not like me. His face is all... weird. And he doesn't have the teeth."

Bobby spluttered for a few more minutes, while Dean and Spike glared at each other, then said, "Okay, okay. Leavin' off the whole explanation of how you ENDED UP A VAMPIRE-" And both of them flinched with the way he raised his voice on that. "You're gonna have to give me some time to look this one up. I've never heard of different vampire species, or whatever it is you've got going on." Dean opened his mouth to ask him to hurry, but he didn't get a sound out before Bobby said, "I'll call you back," and the line went dead.

"Looks like your Watcher doesn't exactly have his shit together," Spike taunted, laying the phone on the table before he went to pull his own out of his coat. He punched a button and waited a second. "Watcher. Got a bit of a conundrum for ya. Seems that vampire Harris wanted help with ain't exactly a vampire at all." He listened for a second. "Well, the berk's got teeth, for one thing."

Dean knew exactly what he'd have said to that, and from the expression on Spike's face, this 'Watcher' of his had given pretty much the same reply. "Ha bloody ha, Rupert. What I mean is, he's got a full extra set - nothing like proper fangs." He turned to scrutinize Dean, and if he asked him to open so he could get a better look, Dean was going to bite him. "More like a shark's, actually. An' he don't vamp out right, no change or nothin'."

A shark. Heh. He kinda liked that, the thought of himself as a shark. Wait - did that make him a land shark? Dean had to bite his cheek to keep from laughing, especially when whatever was being said seemed to exasperate Spike even further. "Not like I can check that without burning myself, is it? An' I'm all for you lot extendin' your precious stores of knowledge, but I ain't volunteerin' for torture without one hell of a bump in my per diem."

Per diem? Did that mean he was paid?!? And if he was being paid just to be some kind of supernatural guru, then why the hell weren't Sam and Dean getting paid to kill evil things? "Hang on, I'll ask." He covered the phone and looked over at Dean. "You able to touch holy items? Crosses an' the lot?"

He frowned as he thought about it. "I haven't really tried, but we exorcised a demon a couple days after -" He wasn't sure what to call it, so just continued. "I didn't, like, burst into flame or anything, so I guess so?"

"That include holy water?" When Dean nodded, Spike turned back to the phone. "No, he's good there." More listening, then he asked, "You been out in the sun since?"

"Yeah." He didn't like it - the sun was too bright and he was usually tired enough that he felt like napping in the car, but he could do it. From the look on Spike's face, he guessed that it wasn't the same for him. And he didn't, he really didn't, feel just a little sorry for him because of that.

"Yeah, he can." Spike started pacing while he listened to whatever was going on. "Better make this good, mate. Cause if you an' Harris dragged me across the bleedin' country on a wild goose chase, I'm not above siccin' Angelus on ya." An aggravated huff. "No, he ain't lost his fuckin' soul again. It's a name, Watcher. Get over it." He shook his head, muttering, "Every bit as bad as him, you are. Thinkin' what the hell he's answerin' to at the moment makes a difference."

Okay, now Dean was actively curious about this Angelus. It was a weird name to start, but from the sounds of it, there was something about it that meant whoever this guy was, he acted differently when he was called it. He was seriously considering asking when Spike let out another sigh. "Right. Well, hit the books, then. But if you don't have anythin' for me by tonight, I'm callin' LA." A brief silence. "Because he's my bloody sire, you nonce!"

He hung the phone up, but apparently he wasn't done with the conversation. "An' he's been around longer'n any of you can even imagine. Not to mention he's traveled the whole bloody world several times over. You ever stop to think that might be able to help you out? Oh no, you'd rather just beat him over the head with every last little mistake he's ever made, just cause he slept with your precious -" He caught himself when he saw Dean staring at him.

"Watcher has an idea or two, but he's gotta do a little research," he admitted. Looking past Dean at the cup and blood on the floor, he shook his head. "You think if I let you up, you can drink some blood an' stay outta trouble while I set things to rights?"

Blood. Dean licked his lips at the thought of more blood and nodded. "I can take care of the clean up," he offered, but Spike shook his head.

"Nah. Need to get blood down ya." Spike dug into his front pocket and pulled out a key. "You can do the laundry when it's time," he informed Dean as he moved behind him to unlock the chains that kept him tethered to the chair. "Now, any funny business an' I'll beat the tar outta ya, then chain ya back up twice as tight, you hear me?"

"Got it," Dean agreed, pulling his hands up to rub at his wrists. As soon as legs were free, he was on his feet, rolling his shoulders and twisting from side to side, trying to work out the kinks that being tied up for days had left in his body. He knew he should probably thank Spike for letting him up, but he just couldn't imagine thanking a vampire - or whatever the hell he was. Not human, that was for sure.

Spike heated up another mug of blood, then passed it over and Dean sat down on the bed to drink while he watched Spike clean up. "Can I shower when I'm done?" he asked after a few minutes. It galled him to have to do that, ask for something as simple as a fucking shower, but he wasn't exactly sure what, beyond attacking him or running away, Spike might consider 'funny business' and he didn't want to find out the hard way.

Thankfully, showers didn't seem to be on the list, because Spike actually laughed. "Be much obliged if you would," he told him. When Dean gave him a puzzle look, he tapped his nose. "Hearin' ain't the only thing that's super-sensitive."

Which meant he was probably even riper than he felt. Dean ducked his head and muttered, "Sorry," then hurried to finish his blood so he could go get in the shower.

After what he was pretty sure was the longest, hottest shower ever, he put clean clothes on (and if he'd thought he'd appreciated them before, it was nothing compared to how he felt about them now) and walked back into the room to find Spike on the phone with someone. "Yeah, I got it," he told whoever he was talking to, holding a hand up to let Dean know not to say anything. "Still sounds more'n a little strange, though."

His own phone rang while he was still trying to figure out what might be strange, and without thinking about it, Dean went to answer it. "Yeah."

"Okay, so it took some doing to figure it all out, but I know what you're dealing with," Bobby's gruff voice informed him.

Thank God. "Yeah? What is it?"

"It's a vampire."

He shook his head. "Bobby, that doesn't make sense. I'm a -"

"I know what you are, ya idjit. And don't think we aren't gonna have us a long talk about that later, either." Great. Just what he didn't want to think about. "But it turns out there's more'n one kind of vampire, and what you've got there is a nightwalker."

Dean snorted. "So does that make me Blade or something?"

"No, you moron, you're not a damn daywalker. Now you wanna listen up and learn something or you wanna smart off to me some more?"

It was so much like things had been before all this shit went down that Dean smiled. "What, I can't do both?" he joked.

Just like always, Bobby ignored him. "Seems vampires aren't all the same. It depends on how they're - well, I guess you'd call it infected," he explained. "You've got a sort of mystical disease. The vamp gave you his blood and it started changing you, puts you in a kind of holding pattern. That's why you can still go out in the sun and stuff like that, even if it's not all that comfortable."

Dean nodded. "Okay, I got that much. You wanna tell me the rest?"

"Nightwalkers ain't human." Before Dean could point out that he wasn't either, not anymore, Bobby continued. "They're demons, walking around in dead bodies, but you can't exorcise 'em. Seems some of 'em found out how to tie themselves to one body, a long time ago, and then they basically ended up becoming their own species. Some kind of sick sort of hybrid, but they're more like what most people think about when they talk vampires. You know, can't go out in the sun, can't touch crosses, that kinda thing."

"So we're talking actual movie vampire, here." He laughed, and if the sound was a little wild, he was sure Bobby would understand.

"Basically, yeah." Bobby gave him a minute to let it sink in, then asked, "You need anything?"

A do-over for the last couple weeks of his life? "Nah, I'm good. Thanks, Bobby."

"You and me are still having that talk," he reminded him. "Soon's you get this thing figured out, I want you and Sam to get your keisters up here, you hear me?"

He smiled. "Yeah, I got it." They said good-bye and hung up, and Dean looked over to see that Spike had finished his call as well. "So, you're a demon," he said conversationally.

Spike nodded. "An' you're not." He took a seat on the other bed. "Watcher says he reckons you got some kinda mystical disease or some such."

"Does he know of a cure?" Dean knew it was probably hopeless, but he just couldn't keep himself from asking.

"Not bloody likely, mate." Spike snorted. "You're stuck with it, same's I am. Just stuck in a different way 's all."

"Great." He sighed, then tried to remind himself that it could be worse. A lot worse. "At least I'm not a demon," he muttered under his breath.

"Nothin' wrong with bein' a demon!"

Dean could hardly believe his ears. "Seriously? You're actually gonna sit there and tell me - oh, wait, right. Demon. Walking around in a dead man's meat suit."

"At least I'm a proper vampire, not some fucker who basically got infected with supernatural syphilis!" Spike shot back.

"Yeah, well at least I'm not a walking corpse!" Dean retorted, stung by the idea of this being some kind of fucked-up STD. "I'm still a person, and you're just a..." He gestured with one hand. "Thing!"

For some reason, that seemed to hit home. Spike jerked back, then shook his head. "Fuck. You," he said quietly, pushing himself to his feet. He stalked past him and grabbed his coat, pulling it on in a swirl of black leather. Before Dean could say anything else, he headed straight for the door, yanked it open and -

Reeled back when he smacked into some kind of invisible barrier. "Fuck!"

Chapter Text

"What the hell?!?"

Spike didn't bother to answer him, just yanked his phone out and punched a button. "Harris, start talkin'," he barked as soon as the line was answered.

"I'm gonna guess you tried to leave," Xander said evenly.

"You'd guess right there," Spike spat. "You wanna tell me why the fuck I can't?"

"C'mon, Spike. You know exactly why you can't."

Oh, he knew why, all right. "Red," he growled. "Set up some kinda barrier spell, didn't she?" The silence that answered him was response enough. "Coulda told me I was gonna end up trapped here, like some kind of fucking lab rat - again."

"Sorry. I didn't - we had to make sure Dean was contained, you know that." There was more than a little guilt in Harris' tone, and that at least appeased him somewhat.

"Shoulda told me, mate." He still wouldn't have been happy to find himself ending up in a cage, but at least it would've been through his own agreement.

Xander sighed. "Yeah, I know. At least it's just temporary, though."

Without a second's hesitation, Spike asked, "How long?"

"Until everything's settled with Dean." As an answer to 'how long', it wasn't a very good one, and the way Harris said it told him he was aware of that. Especially since settling things could mean any number of things.

But he could argue semantics later. Right now he had to figure out a way to get the barrier down. "Define settled."

"I, uh, I don't know exactly, but you know Wills. It probably has something to do with him accepting what's happened to him and the two of you getting along."

Spike could hardly believe his ears. "You don't know?!? You let the sodding bint put a spell up to keep us in here and you didn't bloody well find out how to take it down? What if the place catches on fire, huh? An' just how'm I supposed to get more blood when we run out? You think of that?"

"Actually, I did," Xander hurried to assure him, attempting to defend himself. "Okay, not the fire or anything, but the blood. Willow did something to set it up so that when Angel's contact drops the delivery off, it'll just kind of... show up in the room. And she said if you end up in real danger, you'll be able to get out, so I guess that would cover the fire problem."

Well, at least they weren't planning to starve him or abandon him here. There was, however, still one question to consider. "Does Angel know about this?" More damning silence answered him. "Yeah, figured he didn't. Let's get one thing straight, Harris - anythin' goes sideways with this, you're gonna be the one to tell him about it, you got that?"

"Yeah, I got it." And at least he had the satisfaction of hearing Harris' voice go up half an octave with that. Good. Let the boy think over what Angel would do to him if he found out that he'd basically trapped his childe in a room with a magical barrier. It would serve him right to have a couple sleepless nights over that. And maybe it would convince him not to take his sweet time getting back here.

"Right. Well, take care of the demon an' get your ass back here. He's drinkin' blood now, at least. I'll teach him the basics but I'm not responsible for more'n that, got it?" After the things they'd said, he doubted Dean was going to want to listen to him on any front, let alone some of the basic lessons on control that he knew he'd need once he went back out in the world again. Of course, right now Spike wasn't exactly in a mood to care about that.

He hung up the phone and turned to look at Dean. "Right, then. Long an' short of it is that we're screwed. There's a magical barrier on the door to keep us in here til things are settled, whatever that means."

Dean shook his head. "No. No, Sam wouldn't - he wouldn't do something like that!"

"Wasn't him who did it, mate. Harris turned it over to Red an' she set it up."

"Okay, so we just have to figure out how to take it down, then." Dean got to his feet and started pacing. "I'll call Bobby and see if he can -"

Spike shook his head. "The witch who set this up isn't some third-class dabbler, here. We're talkin' about a bint who's as close to a livin' goddess as anybody can get. Can't just wave some incense around an' chant a bit an' undo her work."

For a moment, Dean looked like he might protest, but then he sighed and said, "Yeah, big magic's not exactly our thing."

"Well, it is Red's, so we're stuck. Might as well make your peace with that idea right now. Fightin' it's only gonna get yourself hurt." He considered that, then added, "That's if she didn't add some kinda catch to it where fightin' it turns you into a newt or somethin'."

Dean gaped at him. "Does she actually do that? Turn people into newts and shit?"

Spike chuckled. "Nah, she's never been too big on the whole transformation thing. Makes for a good threat, though, an' she likes to use it when she needs to keep people in line. Works every time."

He could see why. Even if she didn't ordinarily follow through on it, he knew he wouldn't want to take the risk that she'd decide to make an exception for him if he pissed her off. Which he definitely wasn't going to do. Still, he wasn't about to just sit down and take this. He grabbed his phone and hit the speed dial.

Sam answered on the third ring, but he didn't give him a chance to say anything. "Dean, be nice," he told him, then hung up.

Dean stared down at the phone for a minute, hardly able to believe that Sam had actually hung up on him. He tried again, but it went straight to voicemail, and he wasn't about to leave a message, so he just disconnected and shoved the phone back in his pocket, then looked over at Spike. "Okay, fine. Do it."

"Do what?"

"Go all Yoda on me or whatever the hell it is you gotta do to get us outta here."

One eyebrow rose, and really, Dean was starting to get fed up with that particular expression. "You sure? Means you're gonna have to listen to me an' actually follow directions."

Whatever it takes, he reminded himself. Just as long as he made it through this so he could stangle his brother. "I'm okay with that."

Spike watched him for a minute, then nodded. "Right, then." He jerked his head towards the bed nearest the bathroom. "Get some sleep. We'll start workin' on it tonight."

Dean wanted to protest that he always got the bed near the door, then changed his mind. He usually slept there so he'd be able to protect Sammy if something came into their room at night, but without Sam there, he really didn't give a shit if a wendigo wanted to carve Spike up first. Besides, he hadn't slept in a bed for almost a week, and he was too tired to argue. He nodded and headed over to the bed, wondering just how long it would take to fall asleep in a room without Sam and with a vampire walking around.

He was out like a light before his head even hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

"Explain to me again why we're doing this and how it's not going to just piss her off more?"

Sam tossed up another shovel of dirt before he answered. "We have to burn the bones. It's the only way her spirit can rest. And it probably will piss her off - that's why you're up there with the shotgun and I'm down here doing the digging, in case she shows up."

It hadn't been a demon eating babies, after all. It was a vengeful spirit, a pioneer woman who had lost her own baby to a wolf, and who had turned that fate on others in her grief. Sam had thought it would be an easy hunt, but that was before he'd found out that Xander didn't know how to hunt ghosts. Demons and vampires and other things he'd never heard of, but not ghosts.

"I still think you should be up here," Xander pointed out, and Sam had considered that, especially when he'd seen how clumsily the other man handled the shotgun, but in the end, it was a race to the bones, and if Xander wasn't used to gravedigging, he could injure himself, or at least take too long to get the coffin exposed.

He added more dirt to the growing pile near Xander. "How is it that you've been dealing with the supernatural for years and never encountered even one ghost?"

"I didn't say I'd never dealt with a ghost," he defended himself. "Just that the ghosts I've seen haven't done anything like that. They were either there cause they had unfinished business or they were -" He cut himself off, and Sam got the distinct impression he'd said more than he meant to.

"They were what?" he asked, pushing the shovel in the dirt again.

"The First."

Sam was only half-listening, falling into the almost hypnotic rhythm of dig and toss, dig and toss, that always came with opening a grave. "The first what?"

"The First Evil." When the shovel slipped out of Sam's hands and thudded on the ground, Xander laughed. "Yeah, I know. That was kind of my reaction, too. It was pretty scary going up against it, too. Almost didn't think we were gonna win, but somehow, we pulled it off."

At that, Sam had to stop and look at him. Had he really just said - "But that's impossible," he blurted out. He'd read about The First Evil in one of Bobby's books, a really old one with crumbling vellum pages and a leather cover worn sooth and buttery through constant use, but even then it hadn't said much about it, just that it was ancient and powerful and undefeatable. So how come Xander and all his friends weren't ghosts themselves, if they'd actually fought it? And how did you fight something like that, anyway?

Xander just shrugged. "Impossible's kind of what we do," he reminded him pointedly. "Demons and vampires and ghosts are impossible too, or at least most people think they are. But I almost married an ex-vengeance demon and there's two vampires back at the motel that are pretty real, and we're here hunting a ghost. So yeah, I don't think there's too much out there that's really impossible."

Okay, so he had a point. Sam was about to ask how they'd managed to find out about The First, let alone defeat it, when his phone went off. Again. He sighed and pulled it out of his pocket. "I'm kinda busy."

"Not too busy to answer your phone, so you aren't in that much danger."

"What do you want, Dean?"

"I want you to come get me! I'm not spending another night with this -"

Sam hung up on him. He knew he shouldn't, especially since he'd just call back in a little while, but he was getting really tired of the frequent calls complaining about Spike and the things he wanted Dean to do. Nothing had sounded that unreasonable so far.

"Dean?" Xander asked, and Sam nodded. "Spike must be trying to get him to try something. Which means we should be hearing from the bleached menace right about -"

As if on cue, his phone rang. Sam climbed out of the grave and took the shotgun from him so he could answer it. "Hello? Yeah, I know. Look, Spike, can't you just -"

Apparently he couldn't just, because Xander fell quiet for several minutes. "Okay, but you know, you have to stop taking everything he says so seriously. He's probably just trying to piss you off, and you're letting him, so he's getting what he wants. Just ignore him and -"

He looked at his phone. "He hung up." Shoving the phone back in his pocket, he took the gun back. "Guess he didn't like my advice."

Sam laughed as he jumped back down into the grave and started digging again. "So how'd you manage the whole thing with The First?"

"It wasn't easy, believe me. We nearly got our asses handed to us, big time. But in the end we - shit!" The gun went off, which meant that Miranda Gentry had apparently figured out what they were up to and come to stop them.

"Just hold her off!" Sam called, putting on an extra burst of speed. There was a trick to it, the need to use quick jabs to clear dirt and keep the loads on the shovel light so he could move faster. "I'm nearly there - I think."

He could hear Xander swear right before the gun went off again. Sam was going to have to see about restocking salt rounds soon - he hadn't been ready for a ghost hunt, so they were using his reserves now, which meant there weren't that many shells left. Thankfully, it was only a few more minutes before he heard the hollow ring of the shovel striking the coffin lid. He hurried to clear the rest of the dirt away, then scrambled out of the grave. To hell with worrying about prying it open. They could just burn the whole damn thing, and her with it.

Dad would've called it sloppy hunting and Dean would've said it was reckless and risky, but they weren't out there with a dwindling supply of salt rounds and a novice to worry about. Not that he didn't think Xander could take care of himself, but he didn't have experience with ghosts, and that could be dangerous. Sam dumped the whole can of gasoline on the coffin, then grabbed the lighter fluid and squeezed some out as well. "Better get back," he yelled at Xander, who nodded and moved several feet back, then fired on the ghost again when she appeared across from him at the grave.

Sam pulled the matches out of his pocket, tore one off and struck it, then lit all of them. He dropped the whole packet in the grave, and stumbled back just in time to avoid the fireball that went up when matches met gas and lighter fluid. They hadn't salted the bones, but with that much fuel, he was pretty sure it wouldn't matter. Sure enough, it wasn't all that long before a ghostly figure reappeared and stared down into the burning grave right before it dissolved.

He turned around and grinned at Xander, who was lowering the gun and shaking his head. "So how about telling me that story over a beer?"

"Sounds good," he agreed, handing the gun back to Sam. "And you know, I never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss being in a graveyard at night. Although ours were usually less with the burning corpses and more with the bloodsucking fiends, but still."

Sam laughed and slung the gun over one shoulder, leaving Xander to pick up the bag with the lighter fluid and other supplies. They started walking back towards the car when his phone went off again. He groaned as soon as he heard the first strains of Thunderstruck. God, he was starting to hate that song. "Dean, for the last time, you need to deal with this yourself," he said as soon as he picked up.

"You're the one who stranded me here with this -"

He could hear Spike snap, "Go on, say it. This what?" in the background, and wondered what Dean had already called him for him to say that. But apparently it was becoming a familiar argument, because Dean just ignored him and concentrated on Sam. "You can't just abandon me, here, Sam!"

"I'm trying to do the best thing for you," he told him. And yeah, he knew he really shouldn't engage, that he should just keep hanging up, but he couldn't help himself. This was his brother, all the family he had left, and he couldn't turn his back on him, even if Dean kept saying he already had.

Xander's phone started up behind him,, and he stopped, then held the bag out to Sam. "That's it, I've had it. Here, take this."

He turned to take it from him, only to have him pluck his cell phone out of his hand. When he'd dug his own phone out of his pocket, Xander answered it and spoke into both phones. "Okay, that's enough. You two need to work out your own problems, whatever they are. I don't want either of you calling us until you've got it figured out or unless there's a major disaster. I'm talking apocalypse, here."

It was more than a little ridiculous to be watching someone standing in a cemetery on two phones at once, but either Xander was an old hand at ridiculous or he just didn't care, because it seemed perfectly natural to him. "Spike, I mean it. If you call me again just to bitch, I'm telling Angel on you. And Dean, I can always call that hunter-guy that Sam's told me about -"

"Bobby," Sam put in.

Xander didn't miss a beat. "Bobby, and ask him if he can come babysit you, since you obviously can't be left alone with someone that you haven't known for years."

Oh, that was a good one. Even three feet away, Sam could hear the sputtering coming out of both phones. "No arguments," Xander told them. "Get along, or get ready for me to start making calls." He hung up and looked over at Sam. "Think that'll do it?"

"As long as they don't call you on your bluff, it might."

He laughed. "I wasn't bluffing, and Spike knows it. He likes to talk about tattling on me to his sire, but he doesn't do it often. I, on the other hand, have gotten him to rein the blond menace in more than once, because I have absolutely no compunction about dragging him into whatever's going on. He created him, he can help control him."

Sam was discovering a whole new respect for this guy. "Using Bobby was a good idea," he admitted. "Dean wouldn't want him to see him like this." Bobby might also do what Sam wouldn't, and while Dean claimed to want it, Sam didn't think he honestly wanted to die.

"Well, I guess we'll find out if it works soon enough," Xander said, handing his phone back. He put his own back in his pocket and picked the bag up. "So does this whole beer idea include onion rings? Cause if it does, then definitely count me in."

He laughed and nodded. "That sounds good." With that, they both headed for the car, exchanging grins of mutual satisfaction as they settled in the front seat. Sam was surprised to realize, as he started the car up and put it in gear, that he'd actually enjoyed a hunt with somebody that wasn't Dean. And what was more, he was looking forward to the food and beer and hearing Xander's story, as well.

A night out with someone that wasn't his brother, and he couldn't wait. Huh.

Chapter Text

The night after he agreed to Spike's lessons, Dean remembered something that he'd either forgotten or missed in his most recent viewing of The Empire Strikes Back: Yoda was a sadistic dick.

Spike woke him up sometime after dark, sent him into the bathroom to clean up and change, then informed him of the coming torture by saying, "Don't know anything about your kind, mate, so we're just gonna come at this like you're like me."

His head still muzzy from sleep (or at least that's what he was going with as his defense), Dean had nodded and gone to sit down, but an iron grip around his arm stopped him. "What the hell?!"

"Been waitin' on you long enough," Spike told him. "Tonight you start fendin' for yourself. That means makin' your own blood. We'll work on safe huntin' later; need to know both in case you're somewheres you can't get blood except from the vein."

If he'd been asked, Dean would've said it couldn't be that hard to nuke a cup of any liquid until it was body temperature. Over the next few nights, however, he discovered how wrong he'd been. He either overheated it, which resulted in his burning his tongue when he was too impatient to wait for it to cool, or underheated it, which turned it into a gooey, coagulated mess. And Spike made him drink whatever disaster he'd concocted, smirking at him over the rim of his cup of perfectly heated blood all the while.

That was bad enough, but it was nothing compared to the other 'lessons'. Dean had to be able to move without a sound and disappear into a shadow, had to control his strength and speed until he needed them, had to withstand short periods in the sun (a lesson that was soon dropped when Spike realized that it wasn't nearly as painful for him as it was for his teacher), had to control his teeth around the blood, had to be able to find something by scent or tell what people were talking about in the next room... The list went on and on, and then Spike started in on contacts and demon languages, and Dean could all but feel his brain whimper in protest.

"Seriously, dude?" he asked when Spike started talking about something called Feeyarl. "You realize I'm, like, never gonna use this, right? Me and Sam kill demons; we don't talk to them."

"S part of the lessons," Spike said in a tight voice, and it wasn't until he was struggling to translate an impossibly long sentence that ended up boiling down to 'I like meat' that Dean remembered that Spike was a demon locked in human form.

He guessed he owed him an apology, but he didn't exactly know how to go about it. He tried calling Sam, but before he could really get anything else out, he was informed that his brother was on a hunt, and he needed to handle whatever it was on his own. Looked like Sam wasn't interested in vampire politics, although Dean bet that if the shoe had been on the other foot, Sam would've been the perfect student. He'd probably have the stupid language down now, while Dean could barely say 'Hello', 'Kill it' and 'Crush for me', although Spike said that there wasn't all that much to it beyond a few nuances. Dean doubted he'd be able to master those; nuance had never really been one of his strong points.

Neither was saying sorry, but he gave it a shot anyway. He heated up some blood, checked the temperature, then offered it to Spike, who accepted it with a grunt and went back to watching Gossip Girl (and seriously, one of these days, they were going to have to have a talk about his viewing habits. One soap opera was bad enough, but this was getting out of hand), leaving Dean to have his own blood in silence. Blair and Chuck snarked at each other in the background, and just when Dean thought he was actually going to form an opinion on those two, Spike said, "Good job with the blood."

"Thanks. It's, uh, it's not as easy as it looks," he admitted.

A corner of his mouth quirked. "Got that right. Took me bloody forever to figure it out. Use to drive me buggy, specially when Slayer an' her lot had it down pat in the blink of an eye."

"Who's Slayer?" he asked, but Spike ignored him. Apparently the conversational part of the night was over.

The next few days were as bad as the first. Dean couldn't do anything right, and it was starting to get to him. He called Sam again, but he wouldn't even let him complain, and he wouldn't consider coming to get him. When Xander answered the phone and threatened to call Bobby to come babysit them, Dean gave up. He was just going to have to get through this on his own.

It didn't help that Spike informed him that they were ready to start 'hunting'. "I don't need to know how to do that!" Dean protested, when he realized what he meant by hunting. "I've got the blood banks, remember?"

"An' what are you gonna do when you end up somewhere that doesn't have a sodding blood bank an' you're down to your last two bags?" Spike snapped. "Gonna pull out an' go find blood, leave some poor bastard to die cause you didn't pack enough or stayed longer'n you expected?"

"Of course not!" He didn't leave a job unfinished, he never had and he wouldn't now. That had been drilled into him for years, ever since he'd learned what was out there and how to kill it.

"So then you're gonna need to know how to get a bite without killin' somebody," Spike said, his tone as calm as if he'd said that Dean needed to make sure he carried an umbrella in case it started raining. "An' don't go thinkin' you can just go without, neither. You willin' to risk losin' a fight an' seein' your brother get hurt cause you were too weak from not eatin' to protect the two of you?"

That question didn't even need a response, not when they both knew the answer. "Fine. What do I have to do?"

"Start by not actin' like it's the worst fate in the world, for one thing. Easiest way to get a bite is to chat up the birds, an' with your face like it is now, they wouldn't come within a thousand square feet of ya."

"Talk to... birds? Dude, I am not chowing down on Tweety!"

Spike snorted. "The bints, mate." When Dean still stared at him, he shook his head. "Girls? You do like girls, don'tcha?"

"Of course I like girls!" And getting them had never been a problem. Although he wasn't sure how most of his one-night stands would feel about going home with a new scar on their neck.

"Right, then. So you hit up a bar, buy a girl a drink or two, chat her up, then take her out back. Give her a good time an' when she's right there, you take a little for yourself. Easy as pie, everyone goes home happy an' satisfied, an' more important, you don't get your head chopped off for killin'."

Sex and food. It combined the two things Dean loved, so he probably should've been over the moon at the prospect. Except... "What if I can't stop?" he mumbled.

Spike tilted his head. "What was that?"

"I said, what if I can't stop?" Dean repeated.

"That's why we're learnin' now, when there's no girl to worry about." Spike went to get a blood bag, but instead of pouring it out into the mug, he popped the whole thing in the microwave. "Gonna have you start with this an' work your way up."

Dean shook his head. "That's not what I meant. The blood tastes... good." Really good. He swallowed. "I just don't know if I can do this."

The blond's face softened. "S all right," he assured him. "That's what we're doin' here, teachin' you control before you get in front of a bleedin' human. An' I know it ain't easy. Had to learn to do this myself, but there was nobody to help me."

"What about your... whatever?" he asked, looking over at Spike as he pulled the bag out of the microwave. "That's what they do, right? Teach you what you have to know?"

He shook his head. "He wasn't there when I had to learn that lesson. Long story, involves souls an' Gypsies an' whatnot, but he'd already taught me not to lose it when I fed. An' that's where we're startin' with you."

Dean wanted to ask more, but Spike commanded him to change, and even though he didn't exactly 'vamp out' the way Spike did, he did quit trying to hold his teeth back. Spike held the bag up for him. "Go on, then. Drink an' stop when I tell you."

His first attempt was a disaster. First, he bit down too hard, which meant blood spilled all down his chin, but he was too busy swallowing everything he could to care. Then when Spike told him to stop, he didn't listen, just kept drinking. It took a hard shove to get him to let go, and even then he nearly went back for more until the scene in front of him sank in.

There was blood everywhere. Dripping down onto the floor from the bag, which looked like a wolf had torn into it and given it a good shake or ten. Painted all over Spike's hand, with droplets on his face, and Dean didn't even want to think about how they'd gotten there. He wiped his mouth and his hand came away with bloody smears painted on the back as well. "Go clean up," Spike told him. "We'll try again later."

Dean wanted to argue that, clearly, trying again was a bad idea. He couldn't control himself, that was was obvious. Why not just put him down now instead of making him go through all this? But something about the matter of fact way Spike told him to clean up kept him from going there. He went to the bathroom and washed up, and when he came out, the bag and blood was gone.

Two days and at least ten destroyed blood bags later, he wasn't quite as accepting. "Why don't you get it? I can't do this!"

"Course you can."

Not for the first time, Dean had thoughts of pulling the drapes open while Spike slept. "No, I can't! It's too - I just - I can't stop." He wanted to, had even tried pretending it was Sam, but that just made it worse. And then to rub salt in the wound, there was Spike, who'd demonstrated his own control by making a few neat little holes in the bag, taking two swallows, then closing it back up. "How do you do it? How can you just... stop?"

"Well, I'm older'n you by a good hundred years an' some, for one thing," he pointed out. "An' I know that human blood ain't the best you can have, for another."

He ignored the dig about his age in favor of the rest of what he'd said. Human blood wasn't the best? Did that meant there was something out there he might be able to eat instead, something that it might not matter so much if he lost his control with it? "What is?"

"Sire's blood." Spike's smile was tinged with something sad and longing, something that made Dean's stomach clench just looking at it. "Like havin' a steak after existin' on dried jerky."

Well, that wasn't something he was likely to get to try, even if he could stomach the thought of biting another vampire. Still, he couldn't resist asking, "Why is it so special?"

Spike just shook his head. "Can't really explain it. 'S got to do with the whole sire-childe bond thing." He cleared his throat and turned to pick up the blood bag again. "Right, then. Ready to give it another shot? Gotta get this right or you'll have a Slayer on your trail."

It wasn't the first time he'd mentioned that, and Dean jumped on it. "Okay, I gotta ask. What the hell does an '80s metal band have to do with vampires?"

He'd expected some kind of noncommittal answer, but he hadn't expected Spike to laugh so hard he actually had to sit down. "Oh, that's a good one, mate. Gonna have to remember that one for when she gets on a tear. '80s metal band. She'll have a fit when she hears that, she will."

Dean stared at him. "Wait, so Slayer's a -"

"Girl," Spike agreed. "One hell of a powerful one, too."

Great. Another powerful girl. Dean was starting to wonder if Spike knew any other kind. "So is she a super-witch, too?"

He snorted. "Slayer? Not bloody likely. She'd get the deck everywhere the second she tried a card trick, she would. No, she's a fighter. Stronger'n all get out, she is. Fast an' -" He smirked. "Flexible, too."

"You slept with her too?" Dean asked, staring incredulously at him. "What are you doing, working your way through the supernatural?"

"Why, you jealous?" Spike shot back. Before Dean could protest that he didn't give a crap who Spike slept with, he added, "Wasn't like that, anyway. We were - it's a long story."

Which meant the guy had gotten his heart stomped on, and hard. "Are you guys still -?"

"Nah. That ship sailed a long time ago." The vampire glanced over at the TV and sighed. "She's with The Immortal, stupid berk all full of himself an' shit. But accordin' to her, he's 'fun', an' that's what she says she needs right now, so there's no talkin' sense into her just yet." His tone of voice made it clear that he didn't want to talk about it any more than that. "You mind takin' a break for a while? Top Chef's comin' on in five."

"Yeah, sounds good," he agreed, then asked, "Hey, if you're a vampire, how come you like watching cooking shows? I mean, you don't eat anything but blood."

Spike let out another one of those snorts that meant that Dean had just said something really stupid. "Dunno where you got that idea, mate, but I'm not about to go on a liquid diet anytime soon. An' some of those chefs are bloody brilliant, too. You see the one where this bloke came up with the banana scallops?"

That had been one of his favorites, and he'd actually managed to convince Sam to go to the guy's restaurant after the show ended. And the food had been every bit as good as it had looked on TV. "Oh yeah, that was a good one."

Dean sat down on his bed, and somehow, the two of them spent the next couple of hours arguing over Quickfires vs Challenges and who had really deserved to win Restaurant Wars last season. By the time Top Chef (and later, Iron Chef America and Chopped) was over, he was ready to give the blood bags another try. It helped to know that as long as he was getting the blood he needed, he could have all the bacon burgers and pie he wanted, and when he managed to bite in without getting it everywhere, he felt just as proud as he had the night he took his first werewolf down.

He tried not to remember the pride glowing in his father's eyes or wish that there was more than just a grudging respect in Spike's.

Chapter Text

Dean couldn't sleep.

He tried blaming it on the fact that it was one o'clock in the afternoon, but he'd been sleeping all day for a while now, which made that excuse so flimsy it shredded the second he looked twice at it. He supposed he could say it was because he missed Sam, or that he wasn't comfortable sleeping near what amounted to an animated corpse, but that wouldn't explain why he'd been doing fine up until then, on both those issues.

No, when he got down to it, he had to admit the truth. He couldn't sleep because he couldn't stop thinking about this sire thing. The way Spike looked when he talked about sire's blood, like it defined good, it made Dean wonder just how much he was missing out on. That whole thing about a bond sounded mystical and weird, but if that was the case, then Spike wouldn't want the blood, would he?

It didn't make sense. Dean rolled over for probably the 34th time that day and punched his pillow, trying to get comfortable enough to go to sleep. But he just couldn't turn his mind off, couldn't stop trying to figure it all out, and before he realized it, he said, "Spike?" When there was no answer from the next bed, he tried again. "Spike!"

"Mmph?" was the sleepy response.

"You awake?" Stupid question, of course he wasn't awake. It was early afternoon, which was like the middle of the night for them. They should both be sound asleep, but as was often the case, insomnia loved company.

Spike yawned and cracked his eyes open. "Whazzit?" And it was an odd thought, but the big, bad, bleached vampire that was his usual strict taskmaster seemed different in the middle of the day, sleepy and squinting at him, his hair tousled and free of gel. It was kind of adorable, actually, although Dean wasn't stupid enough to tell him that.

"I was thinking about what you said. About sires."

He fully expected Spike to tell him to knock it off and go to sleep, but instead, he yawned and rubbed his eyes, then pushed himself up onto one arm. "What about 'em?"

Everything. But that was pretty vague, so he settled on, "Well, you haven't really told me much about them, but they seem kind of important..." He trailed off, and hoped Spike would take it from there.

He groaned and ran a hand through his hair, leaving the short, bleached spikes standing on end. It made him look even cuter and more like a ruffled kitten, although that image fell away abruptly when he reached out to snap on the light and sat up in bed and the blankets slipped down. And yikes, where had all that muscle come from?! Not to mention, he was pale. Like... seriously pale. But it didn't look bad on him - actually, it was the complete opposite of bad, and Dean was definitely not noticing another dude's bare chest and stomach and thinking hot. Just like he absolutely wasn't wondering if Spike was wearing sweats or if he was actually sleeping naked. And even if he was, it was totally normal to at least be curious, seeing as he was rooming with the guy, after all -

"Know I'm hot, mate, but I thought you wanted to hear about sires, not drool over my body."

Dean felt his ears get hot when he realized he'd been caught ogling another guy. "Shut up," he growled. "You gonna tell me what I want to know or not?"

A chuckle answered him, and now his ears were downright burning. "Sire's the one who makes you," Spike said. "Cept they're more'n that, really. Bloody alpha an' omega an' everythin' in between, specially when you're new. They teach you to hunt, they protect you, keep you outta trouble an' teach you what you need to know. 'S like havin' your God walkin' the earth with you."

So sires were like a combination of Dad and Bobby and Sam and God, all in one person. But to think that it was supposed to be the vampire that had made him - he couldn't imagine thinking of that grungy fucker as any of that. "What if you get made by a lame ass vampire? Does that mean you're just stuck with a stupid sire?" And what if the vampire was dead by your own hand, his head used as a footrest after you'd sliced it off? Was he just as royally fucked in this as he'd been in most things?

"Guess I shoulda said that your sire's usually the one that makes ya," Spike replied. "Sometimes they're just the one that teaches you everythin' you need to know."

Dean frowned. "So does that make you my sire now?"

"Not bloody likely. 'S about more'n teaching. There's exchangin' blood, learnin' about what you really are, leavin' your human self behind." The blond turned to look at him. "Might not be human anymore, but you're still tryin' to act like you are. Don't wanna learn to hunt, don't wanna face up to what you are now."

"Just because I don't want to start chowing down on people doesn't mean I'm not trying to deal with this!" he protested, stung by the rapidity with which Spike had denied being his sire. Not that he wanted him to be, but he didn't have to act like it would be terrible if he were.

Spike shook his head. "Missin' the point, mate. 'S not just about the huntin'. It's all about the blood. You're feedin', but you aren't lettin' it in. The blood's everything. It keeps us alive, gives us strength an' warmth, binds sire to childe an' -"

"There you go with that whole binding thing again," Dean interrupted. "Like there's some kind of magical tie or something."

"There is." When Dean humphed in disbelief, Spike insisted, "Don't have to believe me if you don't want to, but it's there. Call it part of the magic that makes us possible. Don't know how it works, just that it's there."

Except that in his case, it wasn't. He hadn't felt anything for the asshole that had roped him into his little vampiric pyramid scheme - well, unless you counted disgust and a huge relief when he was dead. "How do you know it's there?" he pressed. "It's not like there's a button that's lit up or anything, so how can you tell?"

He laughed. "Feels like there is when you get a taste of sire's blood." Dean tried to suppress the sudden flare of jealousy as he continued. "An' I know cause I can feel it. Doesn't matter if I'm on another sodding continent or if I haven't seen the old bastard in a few decades. He's still my sire, like it or not, an' believe me, there's been plenty of times I've bloody well hated it. Berk thinks just cause he's got a hundred years on me, he knows better'n me about everything an' he just loves to lord it over me when he's right."

Dean scowled at the obvious affection in Spike's voice. "So what do the sires get out of this whole thing, anyway? It sounds like they do all the work, but I don't get why they'd want to."

"Eternity gets a mite lonely if you try to go it alone," Spike pointed out. "Might not travel in packs like bleeding werewolves, but most of us want at least one or two people around to talk to. An' they get everythin' that comes with a childe. Might be trouble, but there's nothin' like havin' somebody look at you like you bloody well hung the moon."

Dean knew what that was like. He'd had it with Sam when they were kids, and even though he'd never admit it to anybody, there were times he missed it, seeing his brother's eyes shine up at him like that. For a few too-short years, he'd been Sam's hero, capable of doing anything and solving any problem. And he guessed if that was what being a sire was like, he could understand why someone might want to do it. "So what if your sire dies before you learn everything you need to know?"

"Watcher would say you never know everythin' you should," he told him. "An' usually a dead sire means a dead childe, but sometimes you get lucky an' find someone else to teach you. 'S not the same as havin' your sire there, but it keeps you alive an' that's what's important, yeah?"

So basically, he was completely screwed when it came to the whole sire question. "Yeah," Dean echoed hollowly.

"That answer your questions, then?" When he nodded, Spike reached out to turn off the light, then lay back down, burrowing into the blankets until only the top of his head was visible.

Dean rolled over and tried to go to sleep as well, but he couldn't stop thinking about what Spike had said about sires being everything. He didn't have one, and from the sound of it, he wasn't ever going to get one. So did that mean he was always just going to have nothing?

It was a depressing thought, and not one conducive to an easy sleep. When he finally did manage to drift off, his dreams were troubled ones that left him restless and uneasy once he woke up. It was a feeling that lingered over the next several days. Dean told himself to snap out of it, just put it behind him and go back to his lessons, but he couldn't quite shake the sense of longing for the kind of connection Spike talked about it. Maybe he was missing Sam, or maybe it was something else, but anytime he remembered what Spike had said about eternity being a long time to be alone and how that whole bond thing stretched over continents and years, he felt lonely. And not just a little lonely, either. It was that deep, empty inside loneliness he'd only had before when Sam was at Stanford and he'd been on his own. He'd hated it then, and he hated it even more now.

"All right, spill it."

Dean looked down at the beer that had just been set down in front of him, then at Spike. "You have beer? How come you didn't tell me you had beer?"

"Cause I wasn't about to have you drinkin' it all so you wouldn't have to drink blood," Spike shot back, and okay, Dean had to give him that, cause he totally would've done just that. "But that ain't the point, so don't go tryin' to distract me."

"I wasn't -" he started, but Spike's snort cut him off.

"Right. An' I didn't ask Angelus to show me his favorite knives after I'd snuck out when he told me not to. 'S all a technicality an' you know it. Now, you gonna tell me what's eatin' you or am I gonna have to beat it out of you?"

He shrugged. "It's nothing important."

Spike shook his head. "Ain't buyin' that for a second. You been draggin' around here for three days now, like you're about ten minutes away from takin' a walk in the sun, an' I'm not about to have that."

"That wouldn't kill me," Dean said automatically, then remembered that sunlight was deadly for Spike. "Sorry. I wasn't trying to -"

"I know. Don't have to like it, though." Spike took a drink of his beer. "Is that what it is? You gettin' cabin fever, locked in here?"

"No. Well, yeah, but that's not it."

"So what is it, then?"

Dean picked at the label on his beer, staring down at it for a minute before he said, "I don't have a sire. And since I killed the vampire that made me, I'm never going to have one."

"That why you were askin' all those questions the other night?" Spike asked quietly. "About what happens when a sire's dead an' such?"

Dean nodded. "And I know it's stupid, cause I don't really even want a sire, but -"

"It'd be nice to know you had one if you needed 'em," Spike finished for him, and Dean nodded again. "Yeah, reckon I know what that's like."

"But you have a sire," he pointed out.

"Didn't for a long time, though." When Dean gave him a curious look, he shrugged. "It's a long story, involves Gypsies an' souls an' about a hundred years where I bloody well hated the bastard after he up an' abandoned me."

Dean was starting to wonder if Spike had any stories that weren't long ones. "So how can you - I mean, you live with him now, don't you?"

"Yeah, an' it's been work to get there, trust me. Thing is, he's my sire, simple as that. Not much we can do about it, cept do our best to get along, seein' as we're basically stuck with each other. An' while he can be a right poncy berk, he'll come 'round if I need him to."

He sighed. "See, the only person I've got who'll do that is Sam, and he's -" He swallowed hard and stared at his beer some more, unwilling to give voice to the traitorous thought that had been dogging him recently.

But Spike had no such qualms. "He's human an' you're not. An' whether you want to admit it or not, that's always gonna be there between you now."

"You have human friends," he muttered.

"An' none of us ever forget what I am, neither," Spike pointed out. "Now, I don't know if it'll work, but I'll do what I can to stand in for a sire for you - if you want it."

Dean's head snapped up. "What?!?"

"Don't know as it'll work, seein' as how I'm not sure if your kind even have sires," he continued. "But I'll do what I can. Even give you a bit of my blood now an' then as well."

He made a face. "I'll pass, thanks."

Spike chuckled. "Wouldn't be so fast to turn it down if I were you, mate. Won't be like sire's blood an' we might not be the same kind of vampire, but drinkin' the blood of anythin' older an' stronger than you's usually good for you."

Dean shook his head, and Spike dropped the subject. They finished their beer and went to work on some stealth exercises before he had to practice drinking and stopping again, and it might have just been his imagination, but Dean felt a little calmer, knowing that he had a sort-of sire now. A sarcastic as hell, soap opera addicted, sire, but a sire nonetheless. Sort of.

Chapter Text

"So what'd you do then?"

Sam leaned over and took his shot, then swore when he promptly missed. "Nothing. There wasn't like there was anything we really could do, you know? They hadn't killed anybody or done anything that could be proved, so we settled on just trying to scare them real good." He straightened up and took a step back. "Your shot."

Xander circled the table, looking for an opening. He hadn't won a game in the week they'd been playing, but that didn't keep him from trying. "So is this what you and Dean do when you're not off being Ghostbusters?"

He chuckled and watched Xander send the cue ball clacking uselessly against the other balls. "Yeah, pretty much."

"I know, I know, I suck." Xander grinned as he straightened up, and it was really hard not to find that grin completely charming. "Spike's tried to teach me, but somehow I just get worse."

It was hard to imagine somebody being much worse than Xander. "Well, maybe I can help you improve your game. Since I'm kind of a pro at this."

"Yeah?" Xander shot him a sidelong look that had more than a hint of flirtatiousness to it. "What else are you a pro at?"

"Not that," he teased, with a smile of his own. Although he'd had more than a few offers, and considered it a time or two, especially near the end of the semester when his grant had been running out. Something had always come through, and more than once that something had been a crumpled envelope with a couple hundred dollars slipped under his door. He'd never asked Dean where the money had come from, never even acknowledged the gift, but he'd always been grateful for it. "How about you? What are you a pro at?"

"Not that," Xander echoed, but that flirty smile was still there. "And definitely not pool." He leaned one hip against the table, watching as Sam bent over to choose his shot. "Guess you could say people are my strength."

Sam could feel eyes on him, and if he stayed low over the table a little longer than strictly necessary to sink two balls and miss the third, it wasn't a blatant invitation, but he liked knowing Xander was looking. He'd forgotten how good flirting could feel, that little spark where both of you tried to feel each other out and see if you were interested. "Maybe we should make the next game interesting," he teased. "Winner buys the loser a drink?"

"I already bought this round," Xander pointed out, idly twirling his stick in one hand.

If Dean were here, he'd probably come back with some kind of taunt about Xander buying the next one, cocksure and flippant, his attitude riding the line between asshole and self-assured but Sam wasn't Dean, so all he said was, "You wanna pick something else?"

Xander hesitated, some of his confident demeanor slipping away before he offered, almost shyly, "Loser could owe the winner a kiss..."

That couldn't have been easy, making a suggestion like that in the middle of a bar like this. Sam liked to think that Xander knew he wasn't the type to freak out and beat him up just because he hit on him, but there were guys out there that weren't so open, which made the move even gutsier, and worthy of something equally gutsy in return. "How about we just skip the game, then?" he asked, reaching out to take the cue out of Xander's hands.

He lay it down on the table, then moved closer, edging in until he was much closer than guys usually stood in bars. Raising one hand, he curled it around the back of Xander's neck, thumb stroking under his ear. "After all, we both know I'd win, so we might as well save time and get right to the kissing," he teased quietly.

Xander licked his lips, and Sam found himself fascinated by the sweep of his tongue and the wet shine it left behind. "Yeah, that works for me," he agreed, reaching up to slide a hand in Sam's hair and tug him down to meet him.

There weren't instruments playing, the world didn't move, and his whole life didn't change with the one kiss, but then, none of that had ever happened, so he wasn't that surprised. It was a nice kiss, though, and when Xander opened his mouth, Sam didn't hesitate to take advantage, moving forward to rub his tongue over the other man's. It was greeted with a faint moan, the sound spurring him on until they both had to break apart to breathe. "We should probably take this somewhere else," Xander suggested, and Sam was happy to agree.

"Yeah, that sounds good." He dug into his pocket and pulled money out, then tossed a bill down on the table. "C'mon, let's go."

They headed out to the car and Sam found himself glad that Xander didn't try to hold his hand or anything like that. Not that he didn't want people knowing he was hooking up with a guy - he had kissed him in front of a whole bar, after all - just that he liked having his hands free. Just in case. And apparently Xander understood, because not only did he leave Sam's hands open, he stayed on his left as they walked. When Sam glanced at him a second and then a third time, he shrugged and said, "Habit. You can only go out on patrol with a Slayer so many times before you learn not to block her reach."

He laughed as they got into the car. "One of these days, I'd really like to meet this Slayer of yours," he commented. "She sounds pretty amazing."

"Yeah, she is." There was clear affection in Xander's voice. "And I'm sure she'd love to meet you and hear some of your hunting stories."

"She probably has stories of her own that make me look like a rank amateur." Sam glanced over at Xander and grinned. He wasn't really paying too much attention to where he was going, just knew he wanted to find a place where they wouldn't have to worry about homophobic drunks interrupting them.

They ended up at a park on the outskirts of town, and it wasn't until Sam had pulled in and killed the engine that he realized Xander might've been expecting to go back to the hotel. He was about to ask if that's what he wanted when a hand reached out to pull him in for another kiss, and he decided thinking was overrated. With the first sleek brush of a tongue over his lips, Sam opened for it, and was rewarded with the discovery that the skill he'd been treated to back at the bar was apparently just the tip of the iceberg. He wound up scooting out from behind the wheel, but there was only so much space for two guys their size in the front seat of the Impala.

"Maybe we should go back to the hotel," he suggested after the third time he tried to move and ended up kneeing Xander in the thigh. He didn't really want to jump into bed with him, as much as he was enjoying kissing him, and was trying to think of how to explain that when he'd just said they should go back to the room they were sharing at the hotel.

He leaned in for another kiss, deciding to figure it out in another minute or two, but Xander stopped him. "I'm okay with going back to the hotel if you want," he said. "But I'm not - I mean, don't get me wrong, you're, like, insanely hot and everything, but -"

"No sex just yet?" Sam interrupted, and laughed when he nodded. "I was actually thinking pretty much the same thing."

"Great." Xander gave him a lopsided grin and a brief kiss. "So - hotel for more making out?"

"Absolutely." Sam ducked in for a longer kiss before he slid back behind the wheel. "You sure you're okay with waiting?" And God, he felt like a fifteen year old girl for asking that, but he really didn't want to complicate things with sex right now. He still had to make sure everything turned out all right with Dean, and now wasn't exactly the best time to be starting a new relationship, but he didn't want to completely miss out on the possibility of something with Xander.

"Oh yeah," Xander assured him. "Totally fine with it. Stellar, even." When Sam shot him a curious look, he shrugged. "I've had some experience with the whole jumping into bed way too early before, and it didn't come out good for anybody involved. I'd kind of like to avoid that kind of trouble again if I can."

He nodded, and started the car up. "I've been lucky enough not to have that happen, but I know it's possible to screw things up with it if you're not careful," he commented. "One of Jess' friends got pretty messed up in college thanks to something like that." Jess had taken her out to get drunk, then crawled into his lap and kissed him senseless to thank him for not being a jerk.

"It's pretty common," was the only reply Xander gave. He reached out to turn up the radio, and they drove the rest of the way with Bon Jovi singing about bad medicine.

When they got back to their room, Sam had a moment of uncertainty, worrying that he'd somehow screwed things up, but after he closed the door, Xander walked over to press him up against him and kiss him long and wet and hungry, and he was only too happy to return the favor.

It was a long time before they managed to tear themselves apart long enough to get into their separate beds. Sam lay in bed, lips tingling and cock aching in the very best way, and already he was looking forward to seeing what tomorrow would bring.

Chapter Text

He hadn't been all that sure before, but when he woke up hard for the second night in a row, Dean knew he was going crazy. It wasn't the being hard that freaked him out - if anything, he was glad to see that everything was still in working order and he wasn't going to end up being a supernatural eunuch. So that was okay, but the dreams he was having that were leading to the hardons, the ones where he sank his teeth into Spike's neck and Spike bit him right back… those really needed to stop. Like, immediately.

"Stupid subconscious," he muttered, then quickly glanced over at the other bed to see if Spike had heard him. Luck seemed to be on his side (for once), since there was no movement from the blond. It wasn't often Dean was awake before him, especially this late in the afternoon, so he decided to take advantage of the opportunity for some alone time while he could.

Slipping out of bed, he grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom, holding his breath until he made it inside, where he promptly locked the door before he was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Finally! Precious freedom, for however long it lasted. And yeah, he knew he wasn't being exactly fair, seeing as Spike allowed him plenty of alone time for bathroom breaks or showers, but there was a difference in showering with someone with freaky-sharp hearing right outside and showering all on your own, without anybody there to notice how long you took for it.

And right now, he planned on taking his own sweet time, dammit.

A quick shove left his boxers crumpled on the floor, and Dean stretched, enjoying the dirty little thrill that being naked always gave him. It didn't matter whether there was another person in the room or not; he'd always liked those first few moments when the clothes came off and it was just him in his skin. Sam would probably say it was his hedonistic side, but he didn't see any harm in it. So what if it was? It was an old argument between them, and Dean still thought he was right. Hunters lived short, brutal lives - why shouldn't he have an extra piece of pie or take the pretty blonde from the bar home?

He peed (which was still something that amazed him, that vampires actually had to pee. It kind of took some of the mystery out of it all, but in its own way, it was reassuring, too. So much had changed that it was nice to know some things hadn't) and turned the shower on, already looking forward to having all the hot water to himself. The mirror was already fogging up when he got in the stall and pulled the curtain closed, then stepped under the spray. Like always, the first sleek rush of hot water over his skin pulled a groan out of him, a sound of pure gratitude for how good it felt, and he stood there for several minutes, just soaking it all in.

After a few minutes, he reached out to grab the bottle of shampoo, dumping some out into his palm so he could later his hair up. He raked his nails over his scalp, shivering a little in the very good way at the sensation, and teased some of the soapy hair up into little peaks, just like he used to do for Sammy when he was little. He'd eaten that shit up, giggled and begged for more, and Dean had always been more than happy to give him what he wanted, whether it was the last bowl of Lucky Charms or shampoo mohawks. He missed those days sometimes, when he'd known exactly what Sam wanted and could give it to him, before things like angels and demons and apocalypses started tearing their world apart.

Shoving thoughts of his brother and their increasingly depressing lives out of his mind, Dean closed his eyes and leaned back, running his hands over his head as he rinsed. He reached for the soap and started lathering up, swiping it over his chest in circles before starting to wash up. And if he set the bar aside and closed a soapy hand around his dick, stroking it from half-hard to completely hard, then he was a guy, and this was just what guys did in the shower. Cleaning the pipes, had to make sure everything stayed in good working order. Nothing at all unusual about it.

He took it slow, figuring that after everything that had happened lately, what with being turned into a vampire and then getting mystically locked in a motel room with another vampire that wouldn't leave him alone, he deserved a little self-indulgence. And it didn't take much imagination to picture someone else in there with him, someone else's hand moving over him instead of his own. Or better yet, someone else's mouth, lips wrapped around him, swallowing him down...

Oh, yeah. That was it. Dean swiped his thumb across the head and moaned softly as he imagined it: the scent of sex rising on the steam, filling the room along with the patter of water on tiles and the faint sucking sounds, the slow bob of a blond head as he was treated to a long, luxurious blow job. Wait - blond? The figure in front of him raised its head and he saw bright blue eyes that shifted to yellow while he watched, lips parting to reveal gleaming white teeth and -

Holy shit! Dean yanked his hand away from his dick as though he'd just been scalded. No. Absolutely not! He was not going to get his rocks off thinking about another guy! Another vampire, at that - and he definitely wasn't going to think about teeth, either. Especially not vampire fangs - that kind of sharp thing was not something he wanted to think about getting anywhere near his junk, thank you very much.

His dick jerked and he bit back a groan at the heavy ache that was already pooling between his thighs. It was a sweet pain, one that had his hand drifting back despite himself. But that was okay - nobody ever had to know what he was thinking about. This was just between him and his subconscious, which had apparently decided it wanted to explore this whole scenario, sick as it might be. He told himself that he didn't need to add sexual frustration to the rest of his problems, and besides, it was just a fantasy. Everybody knew that didn't mean anything, like the chicks who got off on rape fantasies. It didn't mean they really wanted it, so this wasn't like him really wanting it or anything.

Now that he had permission, Dean let the whole thing play out. Spike, on his knees sucking him off until he was shoving forward, really getting close, letting him just about get there before he pulled off and shifted. He'd look up at him, wrap a hand around him and tease, maybe draw his nail over his slit - oh, yeah, just like that - and then when Dean was just about desperate for it, he'd sink his fangs in, right next to his dick -

Dean dug the nails on his free hand in at the spot he pictured Spike biting him, sudden and sharp, and either he'd been closer than he realized or the pain hit him just right, because it took him right over, had him spilling hot and slick over his fingers, painting the shower tiles white and splashing down at his feet. He had to reach out to brace one hand against the wall, the ceramic almost shockingly cool against his overheated skin, and that sent a new shiver down his spine, one that made his dick twitch in his hand while he wondered if those myths about vampire recovery time might not exactly be myths.

But he wasn't ready to go another round, even if his body might be up to it. Not with the images of his fantasy still lingering. He reached for the soap to finish washing up, then sprayed the shower down to get rid of the rest of the evidence. By the time he turned the water off and stepped out, he was ready to write the whole thing off as just one more weird thing that had happened to push his buttons in the right way. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn't the first time he'd had a strange stray thought cross his mind while he jerked off, and he was pretty sure it wouldn't be the last.

Of course, that didn't explain why he couldn't seem to stop staring at Spike's mouth for the rest of the night, or why he found himself watching intently when he shifted. There was something about how different it was for him that fascinated Dean, the way it took over his whole face, changing his eyes and making ridges on his forehead. And then there were his fangs - actual fangs, not just another set of teeth, but something straight out of a movie or TV show. He imagined they'd feel like needles sliding in, a moment of pain, that was all. Especially if he was being careful not to hurt him...

Shit. When had he gotten hard? He shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position, then when Spike looked over at him, tried desperately to think of a way to distract himself from his own thoughts. And from the scent he was sure he was giving off. "You play poker?"

A slow smile was his answer. "Been known to enjoy a game or two." It was exactly the kind of thing Dean said when he was looking for an easy mark, and the challenge of playing somebody with some real skill appealed to him.

He went to go pull the pack of cards out of his bag. "What kinda stakes do you want?"

"How about we worry about that when the play starts?" Spike suggested, getting up and heading over to the table to take a seat. Dean nodded and followed, sitting down in his own chair. He shuffled and dealt, and for a little while, they just concentrated on playing poker. It was familiar, something of his old life that he still had, and he let himself relax into the game and the nuances of it.

Two hours later, he'd won first shower and TV choices for a week, which was definitely worth having, even if he also had to heat all the blood up and do the growing heap of laundry for both of them once they were out. Spike had also somehow managed to get him to bet driving privileges and first pick of eating places for a month - Dean was still trying to figure out how he'd managed that one. He personally thought it was some kind of weird vampire power, even if Spike insisted that the whole thrall thing was 'all talk, mate. Nothin' to it at all.'

"I still say you're cheating somehow," he said, once Spike had won his soap operas back, but there was no real heat to the words, and Spike just chuckled.

"If I am, I'd be a bleedin' idiot to tell you about it." He shuffled and dealt, then picked his cards up. "Your stake, mate. Whatcha feel like losin' this time around?"

He thought over some of his options - washing the car, cleaning all the weapons in the car for the next ten hunts, and was seriously considering putting his Smith & Wesson up against that black leather coat when he heard himself say, "Winner gets to bite the loser."

Chapter Text

Spike stared at him for what seemed like forever, before he laid his cards down. "Right. I fold." Before Dean could even process that or think about what he'd just won, the blond pushed his chair back. "C'mere."

He tossed his own cards down and shoved his chair back fast enough that it hit the floor with a bang, but he wasn't paying attention to that. Not when Spike had reached out to grab his wrist as he rounded the table, pulling him down into his lap. And God, that was a whole new kind of awkward. Dean hadn't been in another man's lap since he was eight, and he'd certainly never straddled a guy like a chick, but here he was, sinking down onto Spike's thighs like he belonged there.

A cool hand drifted down along his neck and he shivered, more from nerves than anything else "Gonna let me have a taste first, pet?" Spike murmured, his voice dipping down into a husky register that was probably what whoever had come up with the phrase 'seductive purr' must have been thinking about. Dean nodded and put his hands on the back of the chair, then leaned in, tilting his head to offer up his neck while his mouth watered at the thought of getting to taste Spike's blood in return.

Spike chuckled, his hands smoothing up Dean's back to tug him in closer, and Dean could hear the crunch as his features shifted. A wet, almost sandpapery tongue licked him, and where once he'd shuddered away from it, now he was biting his lip in eager anticipation. Another lick, slower and wetter, and he wasn't thinking about how that tongue might feel anywhere else, he absolutely wasn't. "C'mon, do it," he growled. The waiting was fucking killing him!

Without any warning, Spike's teeth sank into his neck, and Dean's whole body jerked. There was pain, bright and shiny, but instead of making him want it to stop, it actually made him want more. His hands slipped from the chair to Spike's shoulders, fingers clutching at him to hold him steady as the whole world seemed to tilt around him. He could hear Spike's throat working as he swallowed, hear the wet sounds of his blood filling the other vampire's mouth, and that really shouldn't be something that set him on fire, but it did. Knowing that it was his blood that Spike was drinking, and even better, that he was going to get to drink Spike's in return...

"Oh my God," he gasped. Spike let out a kind of muffled groan against his throat and eased back, licking over the broken skin, and it was then that Dean realized that he was hard. Like cut through glass with his dick hard. He felt his dick jerk when Spike licked his neck again and told himself he had to get a grip before he lost it like a fifteen-year-old.

"Your turn," Spike told him, his voice like velvet stroking over his skin. He sat back in the chair, hands dropping down to Dean's hips. Raising one hand, he stroked his fingers down the side of his neck. "Right here," he murmured, tapping a place at the base of his throat, and Dean found himself leaning down to lick where Spike was touching. "Yeah, that's it. Lick and suck it a little... draws the blood to the surface." And it was weird to know that he was still trying to teach him even now.

It turned out that there wasn't much difference between sucking on a woman's neck to get her hot and sucking on a man's neck to get ready to bite him. And from the half-moan Spike made, Dean guessed he wasn't alone in getting worked up over this. Maybe it was a vampire thing? He licked him one more time, then when his teeth slid down, bit down as carefully as he could.

This time there was nothing halfway or muted about the sound Spike let out. He moaned, the sound loud and clear, and it went straight to Dean's dick. But as good as that was, it was nothing compared to the blood that filled his mouth. It wasn't warm like he was used to, but it wasn't cold, either - more like a cup of coffee that had been sitting out for a while. But the taste made up for that, better than chocolate, better than steak, better than pie, better than anything he could imagine. He swallowed, then swallowed again when his mouth filled up, and somehow, the jerky, uncoordinated swallows turned into drinking, fluid and easy as though he'd been doing it all his life.

A hand settled on the back of his head, pressing him closer and urging him on, and without really being aware of it, Dean was squirming in Spike's lap, hips grinding down as he tried to drink as much of that amazing blood as he could. He got it now, he really got it. This was what all the Anne Rice and Twilight shit kept hinting at, this was what was really out there, and he didn't want to stop. He didn't know if he could stop, not without having to be pried off by force. And maybe not even then.

Spike moaned again, and this time Dean echoed him, the sound muffled against his skin. He drew in another mouthful and swallowed, then jerked back in surprise when he started to come, hot, wet, and throbbing, right there in his jeans like a fucking teenager. A grunt slid out, then another moan as a shudder ran down his spine while his dick pulsed and jerked and all he could do was ride it out. There was nothing to do, and definitely no hiding it, not when he was soaking his jeans like a kid from a little bit of blood.

As soon as it was over, he scrambled out of Spike's lap. "I gotta -" he stammered out, then ran for the bathroom on wobbly, rubbery legs. He slammed the door and locked it, and if Spike wanted in, he could just tear the fucking thing off its hinges. Dean leaned his head against the door, one hand dropping down to press against the wet patch on the front of his jeans. Jesus! He could hardly believe that had just happened, and he wasn't sure what was more humiliating, that he'd gone off like a rocket without even being touched, or that it had been drinking another vampire's blood that had done it for him. Another male vampire. There was that, too. He could hardly believe it. One of the better orgasms of his life and he'd still been fully clothed, writhing in another man's lap like a horny slut.

He shouldn't be surprised. He tried to tell himself that he should've seen this coming, especially after what had happened in the shower the other day. But it was one thing to fantasize about something while you were in the middle of getting off, and another thing entirely to have reality sink its claws into you and tear you to shreds in the very best possible way. It hadn't been anything like what he would've expected, either the blood or the - well, he couldn't exactly call what had happened sex, given that he hadn't even gotten his pants open, let alone taken them off. Dean groaned softly and pressed his hand a little harder against his crotch, shivering as his dick twitched against the heavy, wet fabric.

Great. Now he needed a shower in addition to everything else. Working his fly open, Dean set about peeling his jeans off, kicking the crumpled, stained fabric aside once it was off. His shirt soon joined it and he stepped into the shower, then turned the water on. And he absolutely, definitely, determinedly, did not think of what had just happened while he washed up and rinsed off. It wasn't until he stepped out of the shower that he realized one very important thing: he didn't have anything to put on. Well, not unless you counted the clothes he'd just stripped out of, which Dean certainly didn't.

He sighed and stared down at his discarded jeans a little while longer before he said a silent fuck it, wrapped the towel as tightly around his waist as he could manage, and opened the door. Spike looked over at him from where he sat on the foot of his bed, and Dean was more thankful than he could imagine being for the low drone of the TV in the background. He opened his mouth to speak, but Dean shook his head. "Don't even, dude." He didn't know what Spike was going to say, but he knew he didn't want to talk about what had just happened. Not now, and in all likelihood, not ever.

It wasn't fair, he knew that. He'd been the one to suggest the card game, he'd been the one to make the bet, and he'd definitely been the one straddling Spike's lap like it was a bicycle. If Spike wanted to discuss this, it was the least Dean could offer, but he wasn't in a very fair mood at the moment. Right now all he wanted was to figure out a way to make all of this never have happened. But until he could do that, he'd have to settle for getting dressed and pretending things were still the same, that he hadn't basically thrown himself in a vampire's lap and begged for what he'd gotten - and a hell of a lot more, if he were being completely honest with himself.

Spike looked at him long enough for him to start to get uneasy, and Dean wondered if he was about to push for them to talk about it anyway. But after a minute, he nodded and turned back to the TV, dropping the whole thing without a word, allowing Dean to make a grateful escape to the bathroom to get dressed.

It wasn't until he'd pulled his underwear and jeans back on that he realized that Spike had agreed to let it drop. Huh. So apparently that was one good thing about messing around with a guy - when you said you didn't want to talk, they left it alone. He resolutely refused to think about how cataloguing said good things was a pretty good indication that he was looking for a reason to do it again.

Thankfully, Spike didn't say anything when Dean walked out of the bathroom, fully dressed once more. They both had their blood and watched TV for a few hours, until the first light started to show around the edges of the curtains. Dean let Spike have the bathroom first while they got ready for bed, and soon enough, they were settled in their respective beds, the room silent and dark once more.

That was when Spike finally said, "It's natural, you know."

Dean groaned and rolled onto his stomach. "Dude, I don't need a vampire puberty talk!"

"Apparently, you do." He let those words sink in before he added, "Same thing happened to me, y'know. First time Angelus sank fangs in me after I rose. Fed me his blood at the same time an' I was a goner. Bloody well soaked my pants like I was a sodding schoolboy."

He really should just go to sleep, but Dean couldn't stop himself from asking, "What did he do?"

Spike chuckled. "Laughed his ass off, then pinned me to the bed an' fucked me so hard I couldn't feel my own legs."

"So you were - you guys -" He'd wondered about that, but Spike had never been this blunt about it before. It was strange to hear him talk about another man fucking him like that, like there was nothing to it.

"Course we were. He was my sire, wasn’t he?” When Dean didn’t say anything, Spike added, "It’s what sires do."

"What, have sex with their vampire kids?" And if that didn't sound royally fucked up, then he didn't know what did.

He expected to hear Spike protest that it wasn't like that, but all he said was, "Yeah, usually. 'S part of the whole bonding process, brings you closer together."

Dean shifted to his side and looked over at the other vampire. "Seriously?"

He could barely make out the movement as Spike shrugged. "Pretty much. Gotta have somethin' to get you through those first years, yeah? An' if they're fuckin' ya, you're bound to do just about anythin' to keep 'em happy."

It actually made sense. A weird, twisted kind of sense, but then these were vampires they were talking about. They didn't exactly fit in with the whole white picket fence deal. "I guess. But what if you hadn't wanted to? I mean, it's not like you really got a choice."

Spike chuckled. "Wouldn't say that if you ever got a look at Angelus. He's about as hot as they come, even if I hadn't really thought about blokes like that before. But there's somethin' about the sire bond that means you want them as bad as they want you. Dunno what it is, but it's there, so when they take you to bed, you're bloody well thrilled to be there."

"Oh." Dean let that sink in for a minute, turning it over in his head. He tried to think about having someone that he couldn't help wanting, someone he'd be thrilled to end up in bed with, someone that he had a bond with that was anything like the sire bond. And the only person he could come up with was Sam, but he wasn't really into the idea of having sex with his brother.

"Point is, exhangin' blood's a big thing for us," Spike said. "Blood's everything, right from the start, an' that don't go away. Gets a little easier to control as you get older an' have a few more experiences under your belt, but it'll still hit you where you live anytime you get bit."

Which meant that Spike had probably been every bit as into it as he'd been, Dean thought. Then he remembered Spike moaning and urging him closer, and decided that there was no 'probably' to it. "So it's like sex, then."

"Pretty much," he agreed. "Still think you don't need a vampire puberty talk, then?" And if he'd thought that Spike was going to be at all sensitive and understanding about this, that little jibe pretty much put an end to that.

"No, I'm good." He rolled over on his other side and pulled the blankets up. "Night, Spike."

"Night."

With that, Spike fell asleep almost immediately. Dean hadn't realized it until just that moment, but he could tell the moment he was out - he stopped breathing, and the silence got strangely loud. He knew he needed to get some sleep as well, but he laid there a little while longer thinking about bites and blood and sires and beds, and if he felt like he was missing out, at least he never had to tell anybody about it.

Chapter Text

Neither of them talked about what had happened when they got up that night, and Dean was grateful that he didn't have to think about it anymore. He warmed up a cup of blood while Spike was in the shower, then went to take his own shower, and if he was very careful not to let his imagination stray while he washed up, it was just because he didn't want to take too long in the bathroom. He heard the phone ring when he was getting out, but it wasn't his, so he ignored it. Probably Xander checking in with Spike, making sure that Dean was being a good, obedient little vampire.

Except that when he came out, it was pretty obvious that Spike wasn't talking to Xander. Not unless there was a hell of a lot about their relationship that Dean didn't know about. Spike was laying back on his bed, one arm tucked behind his head. "Don't have to worry about me, luv. You know I can take care of myself, been lookin' after myself for years now. I'm a big boy, ain't I?"

Okay, those last words were just disturbing, or maybe it was the way he practically purred them out, like he was just daring anyone who heard them not to put a sexual spin on them. Especially when he laughed at whatever the other person said. "Yeah, I know you do. An' don't fret - blood's comin' all regular-like an' I'm gonna make sure the Watcher's Council pays through the nose for me bein' here."

More silence, and although Dean strained to hear, he couldn't make out anything the person on the phone was saying. "Yeah, he's all right. Still fightin' what he is, but he's hardly the first to do that, is he?" And it sounded like there was a story behind that, but Dean was too surprised to realize that they were discussing him to be too curious about it. "Oh, like you've always been happy just as you are? C'mon, pet, can't pull the wool over my eyes that easy. I'm the one who's listened to you bitch about your fate an' destiny more times than I can count."

Dean wondered if that meant it was the Slayer Spike had talked about. He'd said she was big on destiny, but apparently she'd changed it because she wanted something different. "Never said you were. An' I know I'm not, but I'm all the lad's got. Wouldn't want him to try muddlin' through without a sire, wouldja? Specially when you know what that did for me?"

Wait. What did he mean about not having a sire? Spike's sire was that Angel guy, the one he lived with, wasn't he? So if he was right there with him, what was he talking about? Dean knew he shouldn't be listening, but he couldn't help inching a little closer all the same. "Now, now, none of that, mate. You get in a fret an' Slayer'll have my head, go on an' on about you mopin' in dark corners an' blame it on me. Like you don't do enough of it just cause you fancy the whole dramatic vampire thing."

Not the Slayer. A vampire. A vampire that knew about him needing a sire. Which meant there was only one person it could be. And he knew what Spike had said about the whole sire bond thing and sex being one way to keep it strong, but knowing it used to happen and hearing the vampire that had bitten him and gotten him off just yesterday practically oozing sex appeal down the phone lines were two entirely different things. Not that there was really anything he could do about it, which meant he had to stand there and listen to Spike laugh at whatever was said. "Yeah, well you tell her she's not gettin' out of it that easy. I wanna meet this bloke, look him over an' scare the piss outta him right proper-like. We'll take 'em out for dinner when I get back. Yeah, nice place... Oh, don't gimme that. You can well afford it, we both know that. Didn't hear you bitchin' about money when you were gettin' that new plasma TV for the upstairs or when that PS3 mysteriously showed up on my doorstep after the doc suggested it for physical therapy."

Spike laughed again. "Right, then. Guess I'd better get off the line an' start teachin' so's he's ready. Shouldn't be much longer, I wouldn't think. He's a smart one, when he tries, picks it right up." A rueful chuckle. "Yeah, I know. Talk to you soon." He disconnected and looked over at Dean, who was trying (not all that successfully) to pretend that he hadn't heard a word that had just been said. "S'pose you wanna know what all that was about, yeah?"

He shrugged. "Whatever. Like your life's so interesting."

"Might be surprised," Spike told him, but he didn't go into any further details about his phone conversation. "You eat yet?"

"Yeah, while you were in the shower." The answer was automatic, given before he remembered that he was pissed off. "You can stop asking me that, you know. I'm not gonna quit eating, so back off, all right?"

There was undisguised amusement in the blue eyes that watched him stalk over to the TV to turn it on. "Someone's right touchy today," Spike said quietly, setting his phone aside and going to make a cup of blood for himself. "Wanna tell me what bee got in your bonnet, then?"

"Shut up," he shot back. "I don't have a fucking bonnet, and I'm fine."

A short nod answered him. "Right, then. Well, when you get the stick outta your ass, let me know. Still got a few more things to go over, need to make sure you can hold back vampin' out when you got blood right in front of you, or that brother of yours is gonna end up on the chow line first time he gets hurt in a hunt."

With that, he took his blood out of the microwave and went over to the table to boot his laptop up. It was a beauty, shiny and black, with all the bells and whistles that Sam would've creamed his pants over. Probably a gift from his sire, Dean thought, and even though he'd thought it was cool when he'd first seen it, now he considered it with a scowl. After a few minutes, Spike looked over at him. "You got a problem, mate?"

Yeah, your sire's a lameass who gives stupid gifts. But all he said was, "Just getting tired of looking at your stupid face, is all."

The scarred eyebrow rose, and he really hated it when he did that, like Dean was a child having a temper tantrum. And okay, he knew he wasn't acting much better than the average three-year-old, but he was pissed, dammit! He'd been cooped up here for weeks, and Sam hardly talked to him, just told him to work it out and hung up, but Spike's stupid sire seemed to have nothing to do but talk to him all he wanted. "Shut up," he growled, and okay, he knew he wasn't really being fair, since Spike hadn't actually said anything, but he didn't feel like being fair at the moment. Besides, that fucking eyebrow said enough.

Spike didn't say a word, just nodded and went back to doing whatever he did on his laptop. For a little while, the steady tapping of his fingers on the keys blended in with the sound of the TV. Probably writing something up for his sire, maybe a letter or worse, a report about Dean. He really didn't like that idea, but he wasn't about to demand to see it. Not when he could try sneaking a peek when Spike was busy putting away the blood delivery, or better yet, in the shower.

Unfortunately, it turned out that even a century-old vampire knew how to lock a laptop.

Dean glared at the password screen, then glanced over his shoulder at the closed bathroom door. He typed Sire, then Slayer, Angel, and Angelus when that didn't work. The screen stayed stubbornly blank except for that single box. Great. What the hell would he use as his password? Bond. Blood. Vampire. Each one was answered with a dull thunk of denial from the computer. Spike. Sex. Poker. Kiss. Bite. Still nothing.

With a frustrated snarl, he slammed the lid down and stalked over to his bed, flopping down on it and fuming some more. It was probably some kind of magical encryption, something that his sire had had done so nobody but Spike would be able to unlock the computer. Or else it was one of those stupid Fyarl words that was all vowels, sixteen letters to say 'kill'. Dean briefly considered going back to try out his limited Fyarl vocabulary, then decided not to bother. He wasn't all that sure he could manage to spell what little bit he knew, anyway.

He wondered what was on there that was so important and secret. Then he wondered why he even cared. Just because of one little bite? Please. He had much bigger things to think about than what one stupid vampire had on his stupid laptop. Things like - And, well - Okay, so maybe he couldn't think of anything right at the moment, but that wasn't the point.

Dean spent the next night doing his best to avoid talking to Spike. He managed to eat from the bag and stop himself four separate times, which was a record for him, but all his makeshift sire said was, "About time," before he went on about how important control was. Like he didn't already know that. He would've said something, but he wasn't speaking to Spike, so he just grunted and nodded, then went back to crafting his list of Top Ten Hunts He Wanted To Do As A Vampire or Things He Hoped Happened To Spike's Stupid Sire. Although, to be fair, there were considerably more then ten on the second list.

Spike left him alone for the most part, or at least Dean thought he did. He found out he'd been wrong when he woke up the following night to find himself handcuffed to the bed. "What the fuck?!?"

"Might as well not waste your energy tryin' to yank 'em apart," Spike said calmly. "Same witch that did the spell on the door set those up. They'll hold fast for a full-grown Morpesh, an' they're a helluva lot stronger than you."

Dean yanked on them a few times, more because he couldn't just give up than because he actually expected to get free. All he really managed to do was the rattle the chain on the cuffs. "Fine. You wanna tell me why you decided to tie me up again?"

"Not for that reason," Spike told him. "But I'm not puttin' up with this shit anymore. Might not be your actual sire, but that don't mean I'm gonna let you act like some spoiled brat without doin' somethin' about it."

He tugged on the cuffs again. "So what is this, a time out for bad little vampires?"

"More like pissy little bitches," was the response. "An' you're not getting' outta there til you tell me what the hell's been eatin' you that you've been actin' like a finalist in the universe's Biggest Dick contest."

Dean clamped his lips shut and shook his head. No way was he admitting to hating Spike's sire or anything like that, no matter what happened to him as a result.

Spike gave him a level look. "Gotta say, I didn't figure you for a hardheaded idiot." When Dean turned an angry look on him, he pointed out, "Already proved I can outlast you an' it don't bother me none to keep you locked up long's I have to."

When Dean still refused to answer him, Spike took a seat on the bed by his hip. "Way I see it, this whole kerfluffle started a couple days ago, right after I bit you. Now, I let that go so's you'd have time to process it all, but you've had enough time. So whatever's eatin' you about it, spit it out. Not gonna bite you again, so you won't have to risk your precious straight boy cred, can stop worryin' about that."

"That's not it," he argued, although there had been more than a few minutes of panic in the bathroom after it happened. It wasn't easy to just set aside a lifetime's view of yourself, and Dean Winchester had always been strictly for the ladies. Not that he hadn't had offers, but he'd always declined, never even been really that tempted to go beyond a kiss or two. Then a vampire bit him and he discovered that he probably shouldn't have been so quick to turn those offers away. And more, he'd started to wonder what else he might've been missing out on. But he wasn't likely to find out with Spike's sire in the way.

"So what is it, then?"

Dammit, he wasn't going to get out of this without admitting something. "I heard you talking to your sire," he finally muttered.

Spike looked puzzled. "Angel? Yeah, what of it? Always check in when I'm on a job, otherwise the old fart worries himself sick."

"Ididn'tlikeit."

"Come again, mate?"

Dean sighed. "I didn't like it," he repeated, very carefully not looking at Spike so he wouldn't have to see him laugh at how pathetic he was.

"I see." And that was the problem, Dean thought. Spike really did see, far more than he was comfortable with. "Jealous of my sire?"

Insanely jealous, but he wasn't about to admit it, so he settled for shrugging. "I thought you were supposed to be teaching me, not talking to him," he muttered, and even to his ears, he sounded like a six-year-old.

"You bein' here with me stop you from thinkin' about your brother out on the road?"

He blinked at him, surprised that he could even think such a thing. "Of course not."

"An' why is that?"

Dean gave him a dubious look. "Seriously?"

"Humor me."

He thought for a second. "Because it's Sammy. He's my brother, and I'm always gonna worry about him if I'm not with him." And sometimes when he was right there beside him, too. "That's just the way it is."

Spike smiled. "There you go, then." When Dean just stared up at him, he explained, "Sires an' their childer... it's like family. Always helps to keep an' eye on 'em, know where they are, especially for sires. Some of 'em worry like mother hens, need to know the chicks are all right. Mine's like that, tends to get all protective-like, sometimes. It's his way of makin' up for... things."

Dean wondered what he'd have to make up for, but something about the look on Spike's face warned him not to ask. "So how come he lets you go on jobs without him, then?"

He snorted. "He don't own me, mate. Truth is, I like a little time away sometimes. An' the money's right good, too. But I also like knowin' I'm out there doin' good that's bigger'n the patrols we do all the time."

"Yeah, I get that." He'd always liked that part of hunting. It was right up there with killing the bad guys, knowing that they wouldn't be able to hurt anyone else. For Dad, it had always been about chasing the demon that killed their mother, just like Sam after Jessica died. He wasn't entirely sure why Sam was still out here with him, unless he'd somehow forgotten how to live a normal life. And if that was the case, Dean wasn't entirely sure he wanted him to remember. His own brief flirtation with normality had shown him just how overrated the whole thing was. He belonged on the road, hunting and killing, especially now.

Spike studied him for a minute. "You got all that outta your system, then?" Dean nodded, and heard the soft click as the handcuffs were released. "Right, then. No more pissin' an' moanin' about Angel. Sides, he's off in LA an' I'm here with you."

"Not really with me," he said before he thought, then quickly sat up and rubbed his wrists.

"So that's the way of it, then, is it?" a low voice asked. Two fingers, slightly cooler than normal, slid under his chin to tip his head up. Blue eyes met his, dark midnight blue, and Dean licked his lips instinctively a split second before Spike leaned in and kissed him.

Chapter Text

Dean was no stranger to kissing, hadn't been since he'd worked up the courage to kiss Susie Linster back when he was twelve. She'd been fourteen, which meant it hadn't been long before she'd taught him how to French. He'd kissed a lot of people since then, from pretty little girls who opened right up for him to a couple of shy, sweet boys he'd had to tease a little, but none of them compared to kissing Spike.

For one thing, he wasn't in charge, here, and that was evident in the kiss. Spike was the one leaning in, slanting his mouth over Dean's, giving him little choice but to take it, and that was definitely different. He opened for him with the first brush of tongue over his lips, and felt Spike chuckle against his lips before he pushed him back against the bed and deepened the kiss. Pinned like he was, Dean discovered he could focus on how it all felt in a whole new way - the press of Spike's lips against his, the sleek glide of his tongue, the way he found himself arching up for more without really thinking about it until he had to wrench his head away to suck in a breath.

Spike smirked down at him. "Right. Forgot you still need to breathe." And that should've been creepy, the reminder that the guy he was in bed with didn't breathe, but instead Dean thought about how not needing to breathe could work when it came to giving head, and he groaned instead.

Apparently, Spike liked that, because he kissed him again, long and deep, then scraped his teeth over Dean's jaw as his hands slipped up under his T-shirt. "Gonna let me strip you?" he asked, his low voice sending all sorts of shivers up and down Dean's spine. "Lay you right out for me, give you what you've been beggin' for ever since you bit me?"

There was an answer to that. Dean knew there was, but he couldn't seem to make his lips form words, not with cool fingers tracing lines of fire on his stomach. Thankfully, Spike seemed to know what the whine that slipped out meant, because he breathed, "Yeah, thought so," and Dean's shirt disappeared. Not that he minded, though, especially when a fingernail teased over his nipple, sending a shock through his body that left him breathless and needing more. Yeah, definitely needing more of that.

Spike treated him to another long kiss that had him absolutely convinced that Spike's kind of vampire had some kind of mind drug in their lips, because he'd absolutely forgotten about any reasons he might not want to do this by the end of it. The only thing he cared about was getting Spike's hands and mouth on him as much as possible. "Please," he groaned, arching his neck back when Spike started teasing it with teeth and tongue. "Oh my God, yeah. That."

The answering chuckle vibrated against him in the best way, and then Spike's tongue was flicking at one of his nipples while his hands slid down his sides. Dean let out a sound he'd never heard anybody human make, but it didn't matter, not when there were teeth closing down on his nipple and oh, wow, apparently pain worked for him, because his cock gave a hard jerk, almost like he could come just from this. He knew he should probably be embarrassed, but it all felt too good, especially when Spike moved over to the other nipple to give it the same treatment.

He wasn't nearly ready for the hand that slipped into his boxers and curled around his dick. "Fuck!" he shouted, caught off-guard by just how fucking good it felt.

Spike raised his head and smirked at him. "Too cold?" he teased, his grip easing until there were just fingers trailing teasingly over his skin.

Dean just shook his head. Spike wasn't that cold - not nearly as cold as he might've expected, actually. More like slightly cooler, just enough to make all his nerve endings sizzle in reaction. He opened his mouth to say something, then moaned instead when Spike's fingers slid down to cup his balls and squeeze gently.

A self-satisfied smile told him the vampire was well aware of just what he was doing to him. Dean wanted to push him onto his back and answer the challenge he saw there, he really did, but he wasn't sure he could move without coming everywhere, particularly when Spike's had delved deeper and two fingers rubbed over his hole and electric shocks shot up his spine. How the fuck had he not known about this?!? "What d'you say we get you naked, hmm?" Spike asked in that low, silky voice that Did Things to him, kissing him as he rubbed over him again. "Get some better access, yeah?"

That sounded like a good idea. No, actually it sounded like a fucking fantastic idea. "Yeah," he panted, and just like his shirt, his boxers vanished, leaving him completely naked and alone on the bed, although that didn't last long. There was barely time to blink before Spike was crawling up the bed, nudging Dean's legs apart to make a space for himself between them. And God, could he feel any more like a girl?

Any thoughts of protest faded in the heat of Spike's kiss, though, and Dean moaned into his mouth when Spike's hand wrapped around his dick again, working him with long, slow, perfect strokes. "Spike," he managed to get out, and the vampire smiled.

"Yeah, pet?" He pressed his thumb against the sensitive spot right there and Dean thought his head might explode with how good it was.

"Are you gonna - I mean, you were -" He blushed, actually blushed at the memory of Spike's finger rubbing over his hole and knew he'd never be able to get the words out.

Thankfully, Spike was some kind of sexual savant, because he kissed him again and knelt up. And then it was there, a finger pressing just right, rubbing in a slow circle while a thumb stroked over the tip of his dick. "That what you want, luv?"

Hell, yeah, it was. Dean moaned and shifted, opening wider for it, and he knew he had to look like the biggest slut on the planet, but he really didn't care, not when Spike's hands were taking him apart in the very best way. He wondered if the rest of it was going to feel this good, or if it could possibly get better, and already knew he wanted to find out. "God, Spike..."

His orgasm caught him by surprise. A twist of Spike's wrist, a swirl of his finger, and Dean was coming all over his chest and stomach, shocked by the sudden shock of pleasure that jolted a cry out of him. "Shit!" He blinked up at Spike when it was over. "I didn't - I mean, I'm not usually that -"

"Don't worry about it," Spike assured him with a smirk. "First time an' all, can go like that." He bent to kiss him, then swiped two fingers through the come on his stomach. "Sides, makes for good lube, don't it?"

Oh, God. Dean felt his whole face get hot and heard Spike laugh just before the finger was back, but this time it didn't just press, it pushed. And it didn't hurt like he might've thought, but it definitely felt weird, having something pushing into him like that. "Relax," Spike told him, and Dean did his best to do just that, even if it wasn't easy, especially when Spike started moving the finger, easing it back and pressing it forward.

It was probably a good thing he was still kind of light-headed from coming, because he barely noticed when Spike pulled his finger out and gathered up more come. But then one finger became two and that was a very different thing. It burned, and made him feel uncomfortably full. He shifted, only to have the burning turn into pain as Spike pressed in further, and Jesus, if this was what butt sex was like, then why would anyone ever do it twice, let alone as often as he liked to have sex?!?

He found out two seconds later, when Spike's fingers pressed against a spot inside that nearly had him shooting off the belt. "Holy fuck!"

Spike chuckled. "Like that, do you?" He pressed against it again, rubbing a little this time, and Dean had to grab a fistful of sheet to try to keep from writhing around like a cat in heat.

"Like isn't really the word," he choked out, then moaned as Spike pulled his fingers back and pushed in with them angled perfectly to hit that spot. "Oh, God!"

"Yeah, just like that," Spike said in a low voice, and it wasn't until his other hand wrapped around Dean's dick that he realized that he was hard again. Spike chuckled when he saw him look down with wide eyes. "Vampire refractory time," he explained. "Call it a nice little perk."

Dean could get behind a perk like that. Especially when Spike fingered him into another orgasm, then fucked two more out of him before they were done. And okay, if this was what the butt sex was all about, then yeah, he could see doing it again. He looked over at Spike while he tried to catch his breath, gratified by how disheveled the vampire was. "I'd say wow, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't really cover it."

Spike laughed. "Yeah, know the feelin'." He reached out to stroke a hand down over Dean's stomach. "Next time I'll bite you - you'll come so hard you pass out."

He would've said that wasn't possible, but then he'd have said he was completely, entirely straight if he'd been asked a month ago. "Do I get to bite you, too?"

A flash of fang answered him as Spike reached out for him. And biting had never really been his thing, but Dean quickly discovered that Spike wasn't kidding about how hard he came when he had those razor-sharp teeth deep in his throat. Or later, when he was allowed to return the favor - he was actually shaking that time.

They spent two days - or maybe it was three (Dean lost track of time somewhere around his second blackout) - in bed before Spike looked over at him and said, "Right, then. Reckon it's time we let 'em know that you're ready, yeah?"

Dean stared at him for a minute, wondering if that meant that Spike was sick of him, if he was just going to pawn him off on Sam and walk away. "But - I mean -"

Spike chuckled and leaned over to retrieve his phone and kiss him at the same time. "Not goin' nowheres, pet. But I'm gettin' a mite sick of starin' at the same four walls. An' seein' as we don't get outta here til Harris makes that call to Red..."

A grin slowly spread across his face. "Yeah, that sounds good," he said as calmly as he could manage. "You want me to call Sam?"

Spike shook his head. "Already texted Harris," he told him, holding his phone up. "Now we just gotta wait it out til they get here." He laid his phone down on the nightstand, then surveyed Dean with a lascivious gleam in his eye. "An' I've got a few ideas as to how to make the waitin' more bearable. Wanna hear 'em?"

As it turned out, Dean did. Several times, in fact.

Chapter Text

He's ready.

The message had come in last night, while they were fighting a giant purple thing that Sam had never seen before but that Xander called a Gr'thuknik. Killing had been both incredibly easy and insanely complicated - they'd stabbed it in the ass with a stick that had been soaked in witch hazel. He still couldn't believe they'd actually killed something like that, and if that kind of thing was what Xander had done for years with the Slayer, then Sam respected him all the more. He'd just stick to shooting at things, thank you very much.

They'd gone to get a beer, and that was when Xander had checked his phone and found the message. He'd looked up at Sam, smiled, and handed the phone over. And there on the screen, in black and white: He's ready. Those two words had brought on a rush of relief and joy, and he's been grinning like an idiot but it hadn't mattered. As soon as they were finished with their beers, Sam dragged Xander back to the hotel room for some celebratory making out that didn't end until he had to push him away or strip his clothes off and lick him from head to toe. Not that he didn't want to do that - he did, he very much did, but they'd agreed on no sex until things were settled with Dean, and Sam knew he couldn't really count things as settled until he saw for himself that Dean was okay.

It took a day and a half to make the drive back, and those 36 hours were some of the longest of his life. He drove longer than usual, until Xander had to make him stop for the night, pointing out that Dean wouldn't be very happy with him if they got in a car wreck on the way back. Still, Sam was up at dawn getting ready for the drive, and only Xander's adamant insistence on coffee and breakfast kept them from hitting the road at 5:30. After driving for way too long, they finally pulled in to the motel they'd left a couple of weeks ago. Sam was yanking the keys out of the ignition when Xander reached out to wrap a hand around his arm.

"I need to go in there first," he said evenly.

The words didn't make sense right away, but when they did, Sam frowned. "Why? The message said he's ready, so -"

"Just… trust me on this. He's going to be emotional when he sees you, and I need to make sure his control isn't going to slip." A single brown eye was fixed on him, but there was no give in the other man that he could see. "This isn't a request, Sam. It's what I need to do before I can take the barrier down."

He wanted to see his brother, dammit! And not after this condition or that condition had been met, but now! He glanced down at the door handle, only to have Xander's hand tighten on his arm. "I can do this with you waiting here, or I can restrain you," he warned him. It was on the tip of Sam's tongue to say go ahead, given that he knew he could pick most locks, but Xander just gave him a steady look. "You won't get out of it until I'm ready if I have to do that. Will knows what she's doing - she's the one who put that barrier up, and they're still in there."

Fuck, he'd forgotten about the witch. Sam briefly toyed with the idea of making him follow through on his threat, then gave a jerky nod. "Fine. Go in." The sooner he got whatever he had to do in there over with, the sooner he could see his brother. "I'll wait here. But hurry up, okay?"

"I'll be back as soon as I can," he promised, then leaned over to give him a quick kiss before he slipped out of the car and headed up to the door. He put his hand against it and said something, and a pink glow shimmered against the dull green paint. Xander turned to look at him and held a hand up before he pushed the door open and walked in.

"Seriously?!? Spike, put some pants on, for Chrissake!"

A pair of black jeans thwacked him in the head, and Dean opened his eyes, blinking sleepily at the figure in the doorway. He was so unaccustomed to seeing anybody besides himself or Spike in the room that it took a few minutes to realize that there really was someone there. But not someone big enough to be his brother - not that that was a bad thing, given that he'd fallen asleep wrapped around Spike after round 3 (well, it was round 3 if you didn't count the shower. If you counted that, it was round 4 1/2.) was over. And while he and Sam shared pretty much everything, there were some things you just didn't need your baby brother to see, and your naked ass in bed with a vampire was definitely up there on that list.

"Shut it, Harris," was Spike's groggy answer. "Can't just come blastin' in here in the middle of the day an' expect to find me ready to go." He shoved the sheets aside and grabbed the jeans, snorting when Xander let out a squeak and quickly spun around. "Right. Cause you've never caught me in the buff before. Get over it, mate."

"You know, some people actually have a sense of decency," Xander pointed out.

"Good for them. Go wake them up, then, an' leave me alone," was the reply. Spike pulled his jeans on and fastened all but the top button, which Dean's attention immediately fastened on. "Can turn around now. I'm as decent as I'm gonna get."

"Which basically means not at all." Dean had to hide a smile at that, since it was pretty on the nose.

Spike waited until Xander turned around, then ran a hand down his chest as he smirked at him. "Whatever you say, mate." He let his hand linger on the waistband of his jeans, and it was totally not Dean's fault that he immediately imagined following the path with his tongue. Spike looked over at him and winked, and he knew he'd just been caught, but again, not his fault. He was doing that on purpose, dammit; he had to be, because there was no way he wasn't aware of his effect on people in general, and Dean in particular.

But apparently Xander had learned the secret to ignoring him, or else he was just immune. "Knock it off, Spike. Sam's out in the car and I don't want to keep him waiting too long."

The mention of his brother snapped Dean to attention. "Sam's here?" Xander nodded, although he didn't explain why Sam would be out there instead of in here, where he should be. Except for the whole naked thing. He should probably fix that.

Dean scrambled out of bed and started pulling clothes on, vaguely aware of Spike moving over to Xander and saying something in a low voice, then being answered equally as quietly. He briefly wondered what they were talking about, but right now, the most important thing was getting to Sam. When he started for the door, though, Xander and Spike were both in the way. "Move it," he growled impatiently.

"Not so fast," Spike shot back. "Gotta make sure you can handle this." He locked eyes with Dean, watching him intently, then said quietly, "Now, Harris."

What the hell was he talking about? Dean only had a second to wonder before he smelled it. Blood. But this wasn't like the blood from the microwave - or if it was, it was only distantly related to it. Like the difference between lobster and the crappy fake lobster filling in the rolls from most Chinese restaurants. His head snapped over to Xander, who was holding his arm out toward him, blood slipping over his skin in thick red lines that made Dean's mouth water. He could feel his teeth pressing against his gums, and he fought to keep them back. "What are you doing?" he croaked out, hands curling into fists as he tried not to fall to his knees and beg for a taste of the blood that smelled so good.

Neither of them answered him right away, but after a few seconds that stretched on forever, Spike said, "Gotta make sure you can handle it, pet. Blood from the vein's not like the bagged stuff we've been livin' on, even if we're getting' the good stuff. Smells different, don't it?"

He nodded, eyes still locked on Xander's arm. "Tastes different, too," Spike added, his voice dropping down into a low purr that really should be illegal, or at least come with a warning sticker. "Beats the bagged stuff all to pieces, flowin' hot an' sticky right down your throat. Bet you want a taste, don'tcha?"

Dean licked parched lips and nodded slowly. No use denying it, not when he was sure Spike could see the hunger written in every line of his body. "Can have it, y'know," Spike murmured in that same mesmerizing tone. "You're stronger'n him - he's just a human, can't really fight you off. Can be on him before he knows what's goin' on, just gotta rush him, get him off guard an' there you go. Fresh blood, all yours for the takin'."

He could do that. Really, he could. Dean leaned forward, hardly aware of the movement, or of the way Spike tensed opposite him. All he saw, all he smelled, was blood. That was the most important thing ever.

Wait. That wasn't right. Sammy. Sammy was more important. And Sammy wouldn't want him to do this. He wrenched his eyes away from the gleaming scarlet temptation, a growl rumbling in his chest as he fought with that part of himself that screamed for the blood, and even stronger, the part that whispered that Sam would understand, that he'd feed him himself if he asked him, open up a vein and let him drink…

No. No, he wasn't going there. Spinning around, Dean choked out, "No. No, don't -"

"Don't what, pet?" Spike's voice was gentler now. Closer, too, and Dean shook with how badly he wanted to turn and fling himself against the other vampire. But he was supposed to stand on his own, that was what all this had been about, right? And if he couldn't, then what was to keep them from saying he had to stay here until he could?

"The blood… he needs to get that wrapped up," he said numbly, and as soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized how true they were. If it was wrapped, then he wouldn't have to look at it, and even if he had to smell it, it wouldn't be quite as strong.

He didn't see the look Spike and Xander exchanged, or the nod from the blond that caused Xander to step back and pull a bandana from his pocket to press over the wound. All he was aware of was the hand that was laid on his shoulder. "You did good, luv," Spike told him. "It's over now. Just had to be sure you could hold it together around a bleedin' human."

"And what if I couldn't?"

Spike was quiet for a minute before he said lightly, "Then you'd've ended up with a hell of a headache. Might be faster an' stronger'n Harris, but you've got a ways to go before you're ready to take me on."

Most people probably wouldn't be reassured by the promise of a beating, but then most people weren't vampires. And most people hadn't grown up with John Winchester as their father. Dean relaxed instantly, comforted by the thought that Spike had been there to keep him from going too far off the deep end if he hadn't been able to control himself. "Thanks. Really, I - thanks."

Spike just nodded, then looked at Xander. "How's about you go run down to the diner an' see if they have one of those onion things? We've got some packin' to do before we're ready to hit the road an' the sun won't be down for a little while yet."

Dean frowned and would've protested that he could go out in it just fine, even if it wasn't all that comfortable, but then he remembered. Spike was a nightwalker, which meant the sun was deadly for him. He reminded himself that an hour or so wouldn't make that much difference, and when Xander asked what he wanted, looked over at Spike and asked, "Is a cheeseburger gonna make me sick again?"

He laughed. "Not as long as you're eatin' what you're supposed to regular-like. Problem was you were tryin' to eat it like you used to, like it was all you needed."

Okay, he guessed that made sense. "A double bacon cheeseburger with the works," he told Xander. "And extra fries. Oh, and apple pie!"

This time, both of them laughed, and Dean even joined in. "Looks like somebody's hungry," joked Xander. "All right, one onion blossom -"

"Buffalo wings, too," Spike cut in.

"Buffalo wings," Xander continued, without missing a beat. "A double bacon cheeseburger with everything, extra fries, and apple pie. Is that it?"

"Sounds right," Dean agreed, giving him a grateful smile, excited at the prospect of real food again. "Thanks."

Xander nodded and let himself out, leaving them alone. "Right, then," Spike said once the door closed behind him. "Reckon we'd better get ready. Doubt your brother's gonna wanna wait long. An' you need to eat before the food gets here. No sense stuffin' yourself on junk an' bein' too full for blood."

He nodded and headed over to the microwave to heat up two mugs, one for himself and one for Spike. "Gotta make sure you eat at least three times a day," Spike reminded him. "Two mugs per feedin' if you can manage it, yeah?"

"Yeah, but how come you're acting like this? You're coming with us, aren't you?" This was sounding way too much like last-minute instructions, the kind of things people said before they left, the kind of things he'd said to Sam at a bus depot and later in a house in Indiana, and he didn't like it.

Spike gave him a smile. "Plannin' to, but your brother might not fancy havin' somethin' like me ridin' along."

"You're not a thing." Even though he'd called him that more than once when he'd first shown up. "And Sam's not going to treat you like that. Hell, he's the bleeding heart between us - he'll probably start up a Vampire Rights group or something."

That earned him a laugh. "Reckon I'd like to see that. Course, even better would be seein' the Slayer's reaction to it."

"She wouldn't appreciate it?"

"Not hardly." Spike sobered up, and looked at him full on. "Listen up, cause this one's important. You come across some little slip of a girl an' she's not scared of you, even gives you lip right back, you get the hell away from her, you got me? Slayers don't mess around, an' if you're not me or Angel, they pretty much stake first an' ask questions later."

"Can't Xander tell them I'm one of the good guys?" Dean protested, grabbing a shirt and tossing it in his bag. "I mean, we're on the same side, here!"

"Harris can talk til he's blue in the face, but Slayer's the one gives the orders, an' she's never met you. An' she's not the type to trust someone she ain't set eyes on, even if Harris is vouchin' for ya. So I wouldn't wait to find out - you come up against a slayer, you leave her alone an' get your ass to the next state soon's you can." When Dean didn't say anything, he pressed, "You hear me? You stay away from those bints - they're trouble for the likes of us."

"Yeah, I got it," he muttered, although it really chafed being told to run away, especially from a girl. But these weren't girls, as Spike had told him several times. They were warriors with mystical strength, battle-trained and tested, and he didn't exactly like the idea of having his head chopped off, so he knew he'd listen.

Spike nodded. "Good boy." And those words really shouldn't make him want to do anything to hear them again, but somehow, they did. He expected Spike to start packing up as well, but instead he pulled out his laptop and started typing away again.

"What are you writing, anyway?" Dean demanded, curiosity finally getting the better of him.

"Promised Watcher I'd keep a log of everything," he said absently. "Seems you're one of a kind, so far as they're concerned, an' he wants a record of it all."

That pulled him up short. "Wait. So you're, like, documenting me? Like a lab animal?"

"Not exactly like that. Thing is, you're not a vampire - not the kind he knows, anyway," he added before Dean could point out that he was, too, a vampire, seeing as he drank blood. "But you're bein' taught like one." He chuckled. "Like Mowgli. Trust me, Watchers eat that shit up. Call it me earnin' our daily blood."

"But I thought your sire sent that," he pointed out.

"He does, but you can bet your sweet ass he's chargin' the Council through the nose for it. They're gonna get one hell of a bill when I'm done here, an' this is part of what makes 'em pay it." He smirked at Dean. "Thing is, they get the first page right off, just enough to make ol' Rupes hum an' say 'fascinating'," He used a very classic, PBS-type British accent for the word. "An' they don't get the rest til the money hits my account, so any problems they have with it, they can bloody well cram 'em up their asses right along with those soddin' drusy quartz meditation crystals they love so fuckin' much an' they bloody well know it."

Dean had to admit that it sounded like a pretty good system. Definitely better than relying on fraudulent credit cards and a faltering bank system. He wondered if the Council, whatever it was, could use another consultant, and was about to ask about it, as well as ask if there was something special about drusy quartz crystals that would make them extra good for meditation or extra painful to shove up the ass when he heard the door open. He forgot everything else when he heard, "Dean?"

He spun around at the sound of his brother's voice, smiling at him. "Hey, Sammy."

Sam looked like he'd seen a ghost. "Oh my God, Dean." He stumbled towards him, but quick as a flash, Spike was there to stop him.

"Easy, there, mate. Reckon you an' me need to have a word or two 'fore you get all caught up in the whole reunion bit, yeah?"

It was easy to see that Sam wanted to refuse any request that would keep him away from his brother any longer, but when Dean nodded, he did the same and allowed Spike to shepherd him out onto the patio. As soon as he saw Spike step outside, Dean looked over at the window, but there was no sunlight left around the edge of the curtain, so he guessed it must be dark out. Or close enough for it not to matter. Telling himself to be patient just a little longer, he started sorting through the laundry, separating it into piles depending on how badly it needed to be washed. That was going to be his first move after dinner, finding an all-night laundry to hit up. Spike might not mind going commando, but Spike didn't spend twelve and fifteen hours at a time on the road with a massive engine rumbling under him. Before he went anywhere, Dean was making damn sure he had clean underwear - and more than just one pair, too.

Chapter Text

Spike closed the door securely behind them, then turned around to face Sam. Holy fuck, the man was a sodding giant! He almost looked like he'd grown since the last time Spike had seen him - or maybe he just seemed bigger because he was pissed. Still, he was human, which meant Spike could take him easy, so he wasn't that worried about it.

Although it seemed the same couldn't be said for Sam. "What did you need to talk to me about?" he asked, gaze flicking anxiously past Spike to light on the motel door. "Is Dean - is everything okay?"

"Right as rain," he assured him. "Just need to make sure things stay that way." He crossed his arms and stared at the human. "You know what you're gettin' yourself into, livin' with a vampire?"

"Honestly, not really," Sam admitted, and Spike had to give him points for honesty, if nothing else. "But it's Dean, so we'll figure it out."

Just like that. His brother might be a vampire, might need blood to live and violence to thrive, but he was accepted without question or hesitation, just because he was his brother. No need to prove himself, no battles to fight or challenges to go through to show he could be a good man. Spike tried not to be jealous, but it wasn't easy. Instead, he reminded himself that this easy acceptance was a good thing. "Right, then. Reckon Harris has already gone over the whole blood supply chain, an' if he hasn't, just ask him. Watcher's Council has a right nice set up an' they're not likely to mind you lot getting in on it. Might not have the selection Wolfram an' Hart has, but they're a lot more up front about their strings. That's worth a powerful lot, more'n enough to make up for havin' to go without the full menu." Although that otter and deer combo Harmony liked to mix up for Angel was a pretty powerful temptation, but he wasn't about to tell a hunter that. Or Angel, either, for that matter.

Sam just stared at him for a minute. Finally he asked, "What don't I know?"

He couldn't resist chuckling at that. "Pretty sure the answer to that is 'a hell of a lot', mate. You know more'n most humans, though. Just not as much as others." And that was nothing compared to what most decent vampires and demons know, but he wasn't about to go there. Some things just weren't mentioned, no matter what.

Of course, that answer didn't even come close to satisfying the hunter. "Maybe I should rephrase that. What aren't you and Xander telling me about Dean?"

Spike shrugged. "Hard to say, seein' as I don't know what all Harris has said." Probably way too much, if the man was this suspicious. He knew he was dodging the question, and pretty transparently, too, but if a little bit of artful sidestepping could end this whole conversation before it really began, then he had no problem doing it.

Sam was quiet for a moment. Then he looked back at the car and at the motel door, and Spike could see him put it together. He drew in a sharp breath. "Why wouldn't Xander let me come in with him?"

The boy really was too smart for his own good. "Pretty sure you can figure that one out on your own, mate." And he knew he was probably courting disaster with his refusal to just answer the questions, but there was no way Spike was going to lay it out for him, even if he already knew why. Or maybe especially then.

Sure enough, Sam hardly missed a beat before he said, "In case something went wrong." And the way the words came out, slow and soft, told Spike that he hadn't even considered that possibility before right that second.

He nodded. "Figured it'd be a mite kinder to keep you out 'til we knew." It was a promise he'd made to himself long ago, one he reminded himself of every time he went on one of these consultant gigs for the Council - nobody was ever going to have to live with the memories of destroying someone they'd loved. Not on his watch, not if he could help it.

"Knew what?" The words were tight and strangled, and Sam took a step towards him, but Spike held his ground. "What did you do to him?"

"Taught him to control it, is all. No need to worry - he passed the test with flying colors." Better than Spike himself could've done that young, he was sure of that. But then, Dean had reasons to fight it that he hadn't, reasons like a brother and a soul, not to mention a calling.

"What would you have done if he failed? There's nothing - what could you do about it, anyway?"

Spike regarded him with an even gaze. He didn't even consider lying to the hunter, although he knew that in retrospect, he might well wish he had. "Do my job - I'd take care of it."

"Take care of it?" Sam repeated blankly, like he'd never heard the words before. "What does that mean?"

This was his chance to smooth it all over. He could offer up some excuse, say he would've taken Dean back to the Watcher's Council or brought his sire in to help, anything to calm the boy down, but he doubted he'd buy it. And if Spike hoped to have even a shred of a chance at fitting into Dean's life, he owed them both the truth. "I'd've put him down," he said quietly. "Woulda been a kindness at that point." Because he wouldn't have done it unless Dean had gone mad with the bloodlust, and at that point, the brother Sam knew would've been gone.

Unfortunately, Sam didn't see it that way.

Chapter Text

Sam saw red. His fist shot out, plowing right into Spike's jaw. "You were going to 'take care of it'?" he spat, hitting him again. "You son of a bitch! You really thought you could just fucking get rid of him and I wouldn't kill you for it?"

Spike might have tried to say something, but Sam hit him again. He took a step back, only to have Sam advance on him, and this time he buried his fist in his stomach, pleased to see that vampires doubled over just like anybody else. He barely noticed that Spike wasn't fighting back when a hard shove sent him stumbling back, then sprawling on the ground, and Sam was on him in seconds. "Fucking asshole," he grunted, kicking him as hard as he could. "You can't do that, can't take him away from me like that."

He kicked him several more times before there was a sudden flurry of movement behind him and then there were hands on his arms pulling him away. Sam tried to fight against the hold, struggling to get back to Spike. The only thing he cared about was eradicating the threat to Dean, the threat that he'd been stupid and careless enough to leave alone with his brother, all the while Spike was planning to take him out. "Let me go!"

"Sam, stop it!" Dean's voice was enough to cut through the haze that surrounded him, and he turned to look at him. His brother. The brother that Spike would've taken away from him. That thought made him turn and lunge for him again, but Dean was stronger than him now, and he yanked him back several steps. "Sam, get a hold of yourself! What the hell's got into you, huh?"

"I had to," he shot back, trying to wrest his arm free, but Dean held on tight.

"You had to beat the guy senseless?"

The screech of tires cut off whatever response he might have given. He wasn't all that surprised to hear footsteps running up to them or see Xander come running up, and he wondered dully if he'd known about it, if he'd been in on it from the start or if the vampire had lied to him, too. Sam looked at Spike, who was still sitting on the ground, then at the human that knelt down beside him. A knife suddenly appeared in the man's hand, gleaming in the porch light, and the look he turned on Sam said quite clearly that he was prepared to use it if he needed to. He'd actually cut him. To defend a vampire.

Some small, rational part of Sam pointed out that the vampire didn't actually look like much of a threat at the moment. Blood was trickling from both his mouth and nose, and there were dark blotches on his chin, cheek, and one eye. Good, he thought. He hoped the kicking had hurt even worse. Threat or not, he'd planned to kill Dean, and that deserved every little bit of punishment Sam could deal out.

Xander looked at Spike, and when the vampire nodded, got to his feet. "You wanna tell me why you feel like hitting him after we've been helping you guys out?" And that wasn't the guy he'd made out with a few nights ago or the one he'd spent the night with last night. It was a hunter every bit as deadly as the Slayer he used to patrol with, a threat in his own way as big as the vampire on the ground.

Sam gave him a hard stare. "I'm pretty sure you know why I hit him," he said in a low voice. When Xander didn't say anything, he knew, and he didn't even think as he took a step towards him. "You knew about it, didn't you?"

"Knew about what?" Dean broke in. "C'mon, Sammy, get a grip. You're not making sense, here, and you're sounding a little crazy tinfoil hat with all this talk."

"You don't get it," he protested. "He was going to -"

"Going to what?" Dean gave him a little shake when he just shook his head. "Sammy, look at me." Sam tried to focus on him, but that only made him think about what he would've found if things hadn't worked out. Would he have come back to see Dean's head laying on the floor, his bright green eyes open and dull as they stared up at nothing? Would he have found him burned to a crisp, only ashes and a ring or two? Or would he ever have found anything? Would he just have woken up one day to find Xander and Spike both gone, with no explanation or sign of what they'd done to his brother? The very thought of it made him feel sick. "Talk to me here, man. What was he gonna do?"

"Kill you," he said numbly, his mind still focused on the ways it could've been done. Vampires might be stronger than human, might be faster and heal quicker, but they weren't immortal. And when they died, there was no Heaven for them. He and Dean wouldn't spend eternity together the way they were supposed to. "He was going to - if you couldn't control it, he'd have killed you."

He felt Dean freeze, and one hand came up to cling on to his jacket, trying to make sure he was still there, and more, that he didn't try something stupid that might get him killed now. "Is that true?" he asked in a quiet voice, but he wasn't asking Sam.

"Can't think we were gonna let you go on your merry way slaughterin' everyone if it didn't take," Spike muttered. "Had to consider more'n just you, mate. An' if we failed an' hadn't taken you out, there'd've been a Slayer hot on your trail soon's you blinked."

Xander looked from Sam to Dean, then slowly sheathed his knife. "I promised I'd help," he reminded Sam. "And sometimes that means doing what somebody else can't."

"And what were you going to tell me if you'd had to do that, huh? Or were you even going to say anything?"

"Of course we would!" Xander seemed astonished that he'd have even thought that, but one look at the vampire, and Sam wasn't so sure. "Look, we didn't come here planning on it, but we had to have something in case -"

"In case I turned out to be a killer like you used to be, isn't that right?" Dean was still talking in that low, eerily calm voice. He didn't sound like Dean, and that alone was enough to make Sam wary.

To his credit, Spike didn't even try to deny it. "Not gonna be responsible for unleashin' another Angelus on the world," he told them. "Taught you how to hunt an' if you think I wasn't gonna be good an' bloody sure you could control it, then you're stark raving."

"Fine," Sam bit out. "He can control it. And you can get the fuck away from us before I make sure you aren't the one being 'put down'." He glared at both of them before he turned and started leading Dean back into the room. "And don't bother checking on us or I'll find out just what happens to your kind of vampires in sunlight!"

Dean glanced back over his shoulder, but didn't fight as Sam urged him away from Spike. "He would've killed me," he said slowly, like it was just now sinking in. "He really would've... holy shit."

Guilt clawed at his insides. "I'm sorry," he said. "I wouldn't have left you with him if I'd know what he was - if I'd even thought about it. I never would've let him do that." Except that he'd abandoned him, left him to Spike, and he would've been too late to stop it if Spike had decided Dean was a threat.

"It's okay, Sammy." Dean pulled him in for a hug and Sam held on, shuddering as he thought about how very, very bad this could've gone. "I'm fine," Dean reminded him. "Not gonna go all bloodthirsty or anything, so Spike can - they don't have to worry about me."

"Yeah, I guess." He drew in an uneasy breath and slowly stepped back. "Hopefully we won't have to see them again."

As if to prove that Fate hated them with a vengeance, there was a knock on the door, and when Sam went to open it, he found Xander waiting. "What do you want?" he asked, his tone about as far from friendly as it was possible to get.

"I need to get Spike's bag." Sam glanced behind him, but there was no sign of the vampire. "He's in the car, and he won't come in, but I'm not gonna just leave his shit here."

For half a second, he was tempted to say he'd have to do just that, then he nodded shortly and stepped aside. "Fine."

Xander stepped in and looked around. "Which bed is Spike's?"

"I'll take care of it," Dean said. He jerked his chin at the table. "His laptop's right there." Then he picked up a black leather duffel and strode over to the bed he usually slept in, where he started shoving clothes in it.

Sam didn't say anything as Xander moved past him to retrieve the laptop and the bag hanging over the back of the chair. A tense silence reigned in the room for several long minutes while both Xander and Dean packed up, until finally Xander broke it. "He needs blood." Glancing at Sam, he added, "At least four bags."

"The cooler's over by the microwave," Dean said, still sorting clothes and shoving them in the duffel.

Xander started to go over to it, but Sam reached out to stop him. "Wait. What are you supposed to eat if you give all the blood away?" he asked Dean, who didn't even look up at him.

"I'll have some more sent over," Xander promised. "But unless I want to drive a big pile of ashes around, I gotta get Spike settled before sunup." And it was pretty obvious that he wanted to put as many miles as he could between him and the Winchesters while it was still dark.

It was on the tip of Sam's tongue to say that Spike could burn for all he cared, but when Dean glanced up at him and shook his head, he sighed and went to pull five bags of blood out of the cooler. That left three for Dean, which he guessed was enough for a day. How much did vampires need per day, anyway? He would've asked Xander, but he didn't really want anything more to do with him or the fucking Watcher's Council that he apparently answered to. Better to wait until he was gone and find out from Dean.

He looked over at his brother, who was zipping up the duffel. When he'd finished, he picked it up and took it over to Xander. "Here you go."

"Just so you know, he wouldn't have done it unless he really had to," Xander told him as he took the bag from him.

Dean shook his head. "Whatever." He turned around and stalked into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

Xander turned to Sam. "You can still call if you need me for anything, you know," he said quietly. "Or even if you just want to."

"I won't," he said shortly, knowing he was being rude but not caring.

With a nod, Xander turned around and walked out the door, closing it carefully behind him. Sam stared at it, then trudged over to the bathroom door, tapping lightly on it. "He's gone," he called out.

"I'll be out in a minute," was the muffled response.

Sam walked over to the table to sit down, already trying to think about their next move. Find blood, that was the first priority, and then find a hunt, he supposed. Keep moving, keep hunting, keep saving people, just like they always had. And hopefully they'd manage to forget that they'd ever spent the last couple of weeks trusting the wrong people.

Chapter Text

After three weeks on the road, Sam was ready to scream. Traveling with a vampire wasn't as easy as it might've been, and traveling with a vampiric Dean was even worse. He insisted on driving, just like he always had, but the sun hurt his eyes if he was out in it for more than a few hours, so they ended up on the road at night most of the time. That might not have been too bad, but since they usually took the back roads, the lack of street lighting meant they missed their turnoff more than once. And Dean was too damn stubborn to ask for directions, just like he was too damn stubborn to take a break from hunting long enough to get his bearing as a vampire.

It was that stubbornness that had gotten him killed.

He'd insisted on going out with Sam when Bobby had called to tell them about something that looked a lot like a wendigo attack nearby. They'd hunted wendigos before, and Dean insisted that his new strength and speed would help them out, and it had - right up until the wendigo managed to claw him. He'd staggered back, but Sam had barely noticed, too busy concentrating on the fight in front of them. It wasn't until he dropped it and turned to look at Dean and saw him in a heap on the ground that he'd realized what had happened, and even then he'd been too focused on getting him back to the motel room to notice the claw marks. By the time he put it all together - the claw marks, and the fact that wendigos, who ate humans, were sure to have dead man's blood on their claws, and that dead man's blood in an open wound would get into the bloodstream - it was too late. Dean had slipped into unconsciousness, leaving Sam to keep watch over him as his heartbeat, already unnaturally slow, faded to a stop.

Sam had called Bobby, then headed for the nearest liquor store to pick up several bottles that he fully intended to climb into and stay in. He'd locked the door to keep the maid from going in and finding his brother's body, a body he knew would have to be burned, but he hadn't been ready to think about that. He'd tried to put off going back to the room, but eventually he had nowhere else to go, so he'd forced himself to return, only to find Dean sitting on the edge of his bed, sucking a blood bag dry. It hadn't been his first one, either, at least not if the empties scattered on the floor at his feet were any indication.

When he'd heard Sam come in, Dean had lowered the bag and looked up, smiling brightly at him, and that was when he'd seen it, seen his brother's familiar features twisted into a demonic mask like the nightwalkers that Xander had told him about. He'd edged towards his bag, intent on getting the stake he'd put in there after Spike left when the thing spoke. Called him Sammy, asked him if he wasn't happy about getting his brother back, and Sam was lost. It might not be Dean in there anymore, but he didn't think it mattered, not when it came to staking him the way he knew he should. Not when he'd just lost him.

He'd told himself that he'd do it later, but that had been almost two weeks ago, and he still hadn't managed to do more than make sure he was sleeping with a cross, just in case the thing inside Dean decided it was tired of pretending to be his brother. There'd been a few close calls in the beginning, neither of them really aware that sunlight was now apparently as deadly for Dean as it was for Spike, and exorcisms were out of the picture, since Dean couldn't touch crosses or holy water anymore. But other than that, it was almost like having the real Dean around, bitching about having to stay inside and watch Dr Phil all day instead of going out when he wanted a cheeseburger.

But it wasn't Dean. Not really. At least, it wasn't a Dean Sam recognized.

The Dean he'd grown up with, the brother who had loved and protected him since before he could remember, that Dean was gone. A lot of him remained, but there was something inside that was different. It was like his compass was broken, or maybe just reoriented so the needle was no longer fixed on Sam as the center of his world. And that was okay, it really was - Sam was a big boy now, and he didn't need to be the sole focus of his brother's attention all the time anymore. It was just that there didn't seem to be anything - or anyone - else that had taken that spot, so Dean's needle was just spinning aimlessly.

Something was wrong. Something that Sam didn't know how to fix. Dean needed help, and over the past few days, Sam had started to think that there was only one person that might be able to give it to him. One person who probably hated both their guts, and with good reason.

He waited until Dean fell asleep the next morning, then got good and drunk, and spent the better part of the day staring at his phone, trying to convince himself to just make the fucking call already. It was only when Dean started to shift around on the bed like he was getting ready to wake up that he managed to get past the main screen. This was for Dean, who'd always made sure he had what he needed, whether it was a new notebook or the last of the Lucky Charms. With a nod, Sam scrolled through his contacts list to the last name he'd have ever expected to call again.

"Hello?" The voice that answered was about as far from friendly as it could get, so he guessed that meant Xander knew it was him.

"Hi," he said. "Listen, I know you probably don't want to talk to me right now, but -"

"Yeah, you've got that right," Xander said, but at least he hadn't hung up on him yet.

"There's something wrong with Dean," he blurted out. "I need to talk to Spike, but I don't have his number. I was hoping maybe you could -"

"Forget it," he cut in. "After what happened, I'm lucky I'm still allowed to talk to Spike. You're not gonna get within a thousand miles of him without lots of bad shit happening to you." Then, as though his earlier words had just processed, "What's wrong with Dean?"

Sam very nearly blurted out the whole story before he remembered that Xander worked for the Watcher's Council. And the Watcher's Council, from what little he'd been able to find out about them, liked to study supernatural creatures. What if he told Xander and Xander told someone there and they came to collect Dean for experiments or something? "I don't know," he said, and it wasn't really a lie, since he honestly didn't have a clue how all of this had happened.

"But you think Spike will?" Skepticism was clear in Xander's voice. "You get that he's just a regular pain in the ass vampire, right? Not some kind of vampy guru or anything."

"Yeah, I know. But Dean -" Dean trusted him. Or at least he had until everything had fallen apart, and maybe he could again, especially if Spike could help him through this latest fucked up development. "I just need to talk to Spike." Hopefully he could explain the problem to the vampire, and even if he couldn't or wouldn't help them, he might know someone who would.

Xander made a noise of derision. "You need to talk to Spike - after you broke four of his ribs and busted his face up. Right."

"What happened to calling you if I needed something?" Sam asked, desperation making him turn to the last words Xander had offered him.

"You said you wouldn't," Xander reminded him. "And Spike's not with me anymore, so you're barking up the wrong tree, here."

Fuck. "So tell me where he is," he pleaded. "I'll talk to him myself." He'd apologize over and over again, grovel, do whatever it took to get the help his brother needed. And right now, like it or not, Spike was what his brother needed.

"I can't tell you that," he said coolly, and Sam realized that he was going to have to outright beg if he had any hope of getting the help he was asking for.

For the briefest second, pride warred with worry, but it wasn't long before worry won and Sam swallowed his pride. "Please," he said hoarsely. "Please, I need - Dean needs him. I can't help him with this."

"And what if he's - what if Spike says he can't help him?" Xander demanded.

"Then I'll do it myself," he promised. "Or hold him down for Spike. Whatever it takes."

There was a long silence before Xander said, "He's at Angel's. In LA. I'll text you the number." He hung up before Sam could say thank you, leaving him listening to the dial tone.

Chapter Text

His cell went off a little before midnight. Angel snapped the neck of the Darr'hesh he'd been toying with and answered it. "Hello?"

"Hi," a stranger's voice said. "Is this Angel?"

"Yeah, and who's this?"

"You don't know me, but my name's Sam Winchester. Spike was helping my brother and -"

Angel hung up on him.

Two minutes later, his phone rang again. "What?" he snapped.

"Please don't hang up. I need to talk to you about -"

He hung up again.

This time it was less than a minute before it went off. Angel accepted the call and growled, "Look, hanging up on you is a hint. It means I. Don't. Want. To. Talk. To. You. And if you keep this up, I'm going to track you and that piece of scum with you down and shred you into little tiny pieces, starting with your fingers, so you won't be able to call anyone ever again! Do you understand me?"

Silence crackled on the line before Spike said, "Just wanted to know if you fancied orderin' from Chang's before they closed, mate."

Instantly, guilt sliced through him. "I'm sorry. I'm just... getting calls from -"

"Lemme guess. Andrew, right? " Spike chuckled. "Poncy berk just don't know when to quit. Think he might be gettin' a crush on you even bigger'n the one he has on me. Course, that don't make you better lookin' than me, just means his taste has gone downhill, is all."

He shook his head while he fought laughter of his own. Leave it to Spike to turn even the clueless would-be Watcher's crush on them into a contest. "Trust me, Spike. Andrew is all yours."

"God, I hope not!" He sounded truly horrified at the prospect. "Anyway, you fancy Chang's? Finished patrol a mite early, feelin' a bit peckish."

Which was Spike-speak for wanting an excuse to not have to go straight to his room when he got back to the hotel. He must be feeling lonely, but being Spike, he wouldn't admit it. Not until it got bad enough to drive him into Angel's room in the middle of the morning. "Yeah, Chang's sounds good," he agreed. "Get me an order of eggrolls? Oh, and some of those potstickers that Wesley likes. And -"

"I'll just get the usual an' they can fight over whatever's left in the mornin', yeah?" Spike chuckled and Angel could almost see him shaking his head at him. "See you back at the digs."

He hung up and debated cutting his patrol short before reminding himself that he had a duty to the innocent citizens of Los Angeles. And the not-so-innocent citizens as well. Which meant he needed to finish patrol before going home to the dubious reward of greasy Chinese food and his childe's company. His phone rang halfway through the last block, and even though he really didn't want to answer it, he knew he had to. It could be Spike or Wesley or -

"Please, just listen to me for two minutes." Or a fucking pain in his ass.

"Who gave you this number?" he demanded. He had to know who to kill, and how painful he was going to make it.

"That doesn't matter," was the answer, after a brief hesitation.

Luckily, Angel had an answer for it. "Tell me or I hang up right now."

"Xander," was the immediate response. "But it was only because I told him that Dean -"

He hung up. Xander Harris. Great. Just great. One of the few people he really couldn't hurt as much as he'd like to. And in Xander's case, he'd like to. He'd most definitely like to, but he'd been put on the Do Not Touch list a long time ago, and didn't seem to be coming off it anytime soon. Well, he might not be able to hurt him, but that didn't mean he couldn't seriously threaten him next time he talked to him.

The next time his phone rang, he didn't answer it. He ignored it the next two times, as well. Thankfully, it seemed like the message was received, because there were no more calls for the rest of the night. That still didn't stop him from 'accidentally' dropping his phone off a four-story building during patrol the following night, or from requesting a new, unlisted number from Wesley when he put in for a new phone.

The Winchesters had already fucked his boy over. Even if he hadn't yet told him exactly what had happened while he'd been gone, Angel could see that. The Spike that had come back from the assignment with Xander was a far cry from the one that had left, quieter and less irritating, sometimes so much so that he barely seemed like Spike at all. It wasn't a welcome change, especially when the pain in his eyes said that he hadn't left of his own accord. He tried not to let it show, put up a good front right down to his usual insulting nicknames, but Angel had learned to see past his boy's defenses long ago, and these weren't nearly s well-constructed as the ones he used to throw up. No, these changes were from whatever the Winchesters had done to him, and Angel wasn't about to give them a chance to come anywhere within a hundred mile radius of him again.

A few more days passed with no phone calls, and he thought that was the end of it. But apparently he underestimated the Winchesters' stubbornness, because Monday afternoon while he was going through yet another pile of paperwork when the intercom beeped. "Boss, call for you on Line 2," Harmony chirped. "Some guys says he has to talk to you, that it's a matter of life and death?"

There was only one person it could be. "Tell him to fuck off," he said, without looking up.

Silence answered him. "Seriously?!?"

"Yes. And if he calls again, don't bother me with it." There were certain perks to being in charge, and he was going to exploit this one for everything he could get.

"Sure thing, Boss." The intercom clicked off, leaving him in peace again. A peace that proved to be far too short-lived for his taste. About two hours later, the intercom chimed again. "Boss? That's guy's calling back."

He threw his pen down on the desk. "I thought I told you not to bother me with it."

"But he's not asking for you," she hurried to assure him. "He wants Spike, but he's not upstairs. I tried Wesley's office and the sparring room, but he's not there either. So I thought maybe you -"

"Tell him that Spike doesn't want to talk to him," he growled, keeping himself from vamping out only with one hell of an effort.

"But -"

"Harmony!" Her name came out in a near roar, and he could practically see her start shaking in response.

"Yes, Boss. I'll tell him," she squeaked, and the intercom clicked off immediately. With a satisfied grunt, Angel returned to work, and if he spent a little time thinking about ways to torture the Winchesters, that was his business.

Two days, his office phone rang. "Angel? Could you come over to my office for a moment, please?" Wesley's cultured tones gave no sign of what he needed, which probably meant it was big. World-ending big, most likely.

"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute." He wondered what ancient prophecy was threatening humanity this time, and for just a second, entertained a brief fantasy where he took a trip to Jamaica and left everybody else to worry about the apocalypse. Not that he would, but it was nice sometimes to think about it.

He signed the last two papers and dropped the stack off on Harmony's desk on his way out. "When you're done processing those, you can go home early. I'm meeting with Wesley, and we'll probably be working on whatever he's got for the rest of the day."

"Really?" She beamed up at him like she'd just been handed the key to a blood bank. "Thanks, Boss!"

Angel was feeling pretty pleased with himself when he walked into Wesley's office. He was heading a formerly evil law firm and not doing a bad job of it, and now he was going to get to save the world. Again. There were two strangers already there, probably part of the prophecy, and he nodded at them before he turned to his friend. "What is it this time?"

"Angel, have a seat," Wesley told him, which probably meant the thing had already started.

Taking a seat, he half-laughed. "You know, we really should've expected this before. I mean, we haven't had anything big since the fight with the Circle, although that was enough to last me several years, believe me. Hey, you think we should set up a prophecy department, see if we can't get ahead of some of this stuff for once?"

"We already have one," his friend said dryly. "They report to me every other Thursday. And it does seem like there might be something in a few months, but that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about." He looked over at the strangers. "This is Sam and Dean Winchester."

Angel vamped out and lunged for both of them. Chairs hit the floor as both men stood up, and a knife appeared in the taller man's hand. He turned to tear his throat out, but there was a purple flash and both he and the taller man ended up on the floor. "Angel, you should know better than that," Wesley said mildly. "There's no violence allowed in my office."

Oh, right. The anti-violence spell. The one that he'd specifically put in place at Wesley's request to protect both the books and the specter that guarded them. "Yeah, I forgot," he said, glaring at the two men as he got to his feet.

"I can see that." And anyone who wasn't familiar with Wesley would miss the dry humor in the statement, but Angel had spent too many years among Englishmen not to notice it. He gave him a look that told him he didn't think he was funny, but sat back down in the chair nonetheless. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way, can I explain what these two are here for?"

"I know what they're here for," he growled. "And they can't have him."

Wesley frowned. "Him?"

"Spike." Angel and the shorter man spoke at the same time. "He thinks we're here for Spike," the man explained to the other.

"We're not here for Spike," he hurried to assure them. "Although, he might be the person to help..." He looked at the shorter man, who shook his head.

"Spike's staying right here," Angel said firmly. "He doesn't need either of you bothering him anymore."

Wesley looked at them for a moment, then seemed to realize just who they were. "So they're -" He looked at Angel, who nodded. "I see."

"No, you don't," the tall one said. "Dean, can I -?" When he shrugged, he said, "Dean's a vampire."

Both Angel and Wesley looked at him as though he were an idiot. "We know," Wesley pointed out. "It's why you asked for help the first time."

"No, you don't get it. He's a vampire. Like Spike!"

"That's impossible," Angel said. "There aren't any vampires like Spike. Good thing, too," he muttered. The world could only support one Spike, and sometimes even that was a strain.

"Dean, show him," he ordered, and his brother nodded, then vamped out. "See?"

Angel and Wesley looked at him, then at each other. Finally, Wesley said quietly, "We can see he's a vampire. But that doesn't explain why you seem to regard it as such a remarkable fact."

"Sammy, let's just go," Dean told him, and it didn't take an expert eye to see the misery written all over him. "They don't get it."

"What don't we get?" Wesley asked, and Angel could tell he was just itching to pull out a notepad and start taking notes.

Dean sighed, and his features eased back into place, leaving just a sad-looking young man. "I wasn't like this before," he explained. "I was a different kind of vampire - Bobby said it was like a disease or something. And then I -" He glanced at Sam, who nodded. "I died, and after it was over, I woke up... like this."

"Fascinating," the Englishman breathed. "Do you know if Spike made Mr Giles aware of your condition when he was there?"

He shrugged. "He called somebody, but I don't know who it was."

"I need to make some calls." Wesley walked around the desk to retrieve a book, and Angel knew it was only a matter of time before his friend forgot they were all there.

He turned to look at the Winchesters. "Spike doesn't know you're here," he said flatly. "I'm not going to tell him, and neither will any of my people. You two leave your contact information with Wesley, then get the hell out of my office and don't come back."

With that, he stalked over to the door and yanked it open, then headed out of the office, but not before he heard Sam's muttered, "Asshole. Just who the hell does he think he is?" and Dean's quiet response, "Spike's sire."

Chapter Text

Spike's sire. The words followed him all the way back to his office. At least the little pipsqueak knew who - and more importantly, what he was, but at the same time, Spike wouldn't have told him that unless they'd gotten close. Close enough to leave Spike broken when he'd been left, yet again.

Guilt swamped him at the reminder that he'd been one of the ones leaving Spike, and he was almost relieved to find Spike in his office, sprawled out on his couch like he belonged there, remote in one hand and Angel's favorite blood mug in the other. It was enough like his old self that Angel reacted without really thinking about it. "You know, if you want an office that bad, I can assign you one."

"Might work for you on retainer, but that doesn't mean I'm chompin' at the bit to be part of Evil, Inc," was the surprisingly mellow response. Spike finished off his drink and turned the TV off, then looked over at him. "So what's the big noise, anyway?"

"What big noise?" he asked absently, pressing the button for what he hoped was the intercom. "Harmony, what have I said about giving Spike my blood?"

"Not to do it, but -"

"Right. And guess what he's drinking right now."

"Your blood, but -"

He didn't give her time to come up with any excuses. "Right again. And if it happens again, you'll be back in the typing pool for a week." It was an empty threat, since he wasn't about to put up with a temp just to teach his secretary a lesson, but hopefully she wouldn't realize that. "Now bring us some more blood - and hold my calls for the next hour or so."

"Sure thing, Boss."

The intercom clicked off, and Angel shook his head.

"Should go easier on her," Spike told him. "Not her fault she's all hair, eyes an' -" he smirked. "- other assets."

"Shut up, Spike." He rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to ease the tension headache that had been building ever since he'd allowed Dru to keep the new vampire she'd brought home.

"Right." Spike set his cup down and clapped his hands. "So what's the deal? Harm said you were in Percy's office talkin' about somethin' big."

"It was nothing," he said shortly. And he damn well intended to make sure it stayed nothing. But there was a look in Spike's eyes that said he wasn't about to give up, so he decided to try to change subjects. "I need to hit something. Let's spar."

One eyebrow rose. "You. Wanna spar. Mind tellin' me just who you are an' what you've done with the uptight berk that calls himself my sire?"

He growled before he even thought about it. "You can fight me or you can get fucked through the nearest flat surface, how's that for uptight?"

For a minute, he didn't say anything, and Angel wondered if he might actually pick the second option, but then Spike laughed and got to his feet. "Right, then. If you're that eager to get your oversize ass handed to you, might as well get goin'."

They headed for the workout room, and if Angel caught his childe staring at him a few times on the way there, he didn't say anything. As soon as the doors closed behind them, Spike's fist shot out to clip his jaw, and he was quick to answer with a backhand.

Spike worked his jaw briefly, testing it for damage, then smirked at him. "Might oughta do this a little more often, mate. Slayer's love taps were way harder than that."

Angel answered him with a fist in his stomach, taking no small amount of satisfaction at seeing Spike grunt and double over. "That's more like it," he gasped, and damn if the idiot wasn't grinning like he'd just been handed a new video game. Angel tried to kick him, but he managed to evade it, and the fight was on.

They moved back and forth across the floor, trading blows, kicks, and insults until they broke apart, both breathing hard from the exertion. "So you mind tellin' me what all this was about?" Spike asked. "Not that I ever mind a good spot of violence, but -"

"No." Angel stalked over to the weapons rack and grabbed two towels from the stack beside it. He tossed one to Spike and used the other himself.

"Right, then," his infuriating childe muttered. "No need to tell Spike anything. Just wait'll the next apocalypse an' point me at whatever nasty wants to take all our heads off. All I'm good for, so far as you lot see."

"What? No! Spike, that's not - is that really what you think I -" He stared at him, wondering why he'd even begin to believe that was all he thought he was, some kind of weapon for Angel to use.

Spike just shrugged. "'S what I am, ain't it? You need me to fight, Harris an' Watcher need me to run off an' do what they need, Slayer needs someone at her back, an' off I go."

Angel wasn't sure who he hated more at that moment: the Winchester, Xander and Giles, or himself. "You don't have to do anything to earn your keep, you know," he said quietly. "You're welcome here just because you're my childe."

A snort answered him. "Right. That's why you sent for me the second you heard about that bloody chip, so's you could be a proper sire an' take care of me, yeah?"

He winched. "I should have." But he'd been so caught up in Darla and Drusilla and the prophecy that would never come true for him anyway that he'd lost sight of everything else. "Spike, is that why you've been so... different after you came back? Is it something they -"

"Not talkin' about them," Spike cut in shortly. "What happened, happened. 'S over an' dissectin' it ain't gonna change any of it." He turned and slung his towel into a corner. "Fuckin' Winchesters can go rot for all I care."

Any doubts that Angel might have had that he was doing the right thing evaporated when he saw the raw pain in his boy's eyes. He dropped his own towel and walked over to Spike, laying a hand on his shoulder. "I know I wasn't there before," he said quietly, thinking of how often that had been true for Spike, how many times he might have needed or wanted his sire only to have him absent - or worse, hate him and try to kill him. "But I'm here now."

He could feel Spike tense under his hand, and he braced himself for a hard left hook, but instead, he turned around and fisted his hands in Angel's jacket. "Fuck me over again an' I swear I'll stake you in your sleep," he told him, and when Angel shook his head, he yanked him down into a hard kiss.

There was nothing tender about it, but tenderness wasn't what Spike needed right now. The heat of battle was still running high, so Angel wasted no time in shoving his childe up against the nearest wall and setting about reminding him that, soul or no soul, he was his sire and always would be, proving it with his body and his blood in the most basic of ways. The tenderness could come later, when they finally made it upstairs to a bed; he'd tend to his wounded heart and soul then, and hopefully, Spike could emerge from all of it a little more whole than he'd been at the start.

Neither of them noticed the figure that stood in the doorway of one of the observation rooms above. Neither of them saw green eyes flash to gold or heard the faint growl that gave way to a choked-off sob before he turned and fled from the scene below.

Chapter Text

"What are you doing?"

Dean didn't even bother to turn around and look at his brother. "What does it look like I'm doing?" he snapped, shoving another shirt into his bag.

"It looks like you're packing, but I thought we talked about this and -"

"No, Sammy, you talked about this. You're the one who decided we had to come out here in the first place, and you're the one who decided we should stay and let them poke me and prod me and run all sorts of stupid tests on me, and you're the one who apparently didn't hear me the last seven hundred times I said I wanted to leave, already!" He tried cramming his spare boots in behind the shirt, but they wouldn't fit. Without even thinking, Dean sent them sailing across the room. "Goddammit!!"

To his credit, Sam didn't say anything right away. Instead, he went to pick up the boots, then sat down on the edge of his bed. "I could try calling Xander again," he finally offered.

"I thought he said to basically lose his number," Dean shot back.

"Yeah."

"So calling him probably wouldn't help." Dean's shoulders slumped. "I'll just have to figure it out on my own, I guess."

"That's not fair," his brother protested, but they both knew that didn't meant shit. Fair had never been a part of the Winchesters' lives, not since Dean was four and a fire took mother and home away from them both. "Look, Angel's Spike's sire because it was his blood that made him a vampire, right?"

"Yeah." He looked over at him, wondering where he was going with this.

"And you're a vampire - well, this kind of vampire because Spike's blood made you one, right?"

Suspicion was starting to grow, because now he thought he saw the logic, and it was leading nowhere good. "Yeeaaahhh."

Sam smiled at him. "So that makes Spike your sire! And if he's your sire, then he has to take responsibility for you instead of just abandoning you." He looked proud of himself for figuring all of that out.

Dean just gave him a hard look. "Hate to break it to you, Sammy, but he's not likely to see it that way. His blood might've done this, but it was that other vamp that changed me. And it wasn't like he was trying to make me like him. It just happened." He shrugged. "For all I know, he wouldn't have given me anything if he'd thought it would do this."

"But -"

He shook his head. "No buts, dude. It is what it is, and I want outta here. I'm done being a lab rat."

"One more day," was Sam's counteroffer. "Just give it one more day and maybe -"

"I said no, Sam!" Dean slammed the bag in front of him down on the bed, only to have it buckle under the assault, legs giving way with a metallic groan. Dammit. He stared down at the wreckage and, not for the first time, thought seriously about taking a very long predawn walk.

His outburst seemed to have shaken Sam as well. He'd jumped up when the bed gave way, and now he stood staring at the wreckage right along with Dean. "I'm just gonna… let Wesley know we're leaving," he said slowly, keeping both hands where Dean could see them as he backed out of the room.

Great. His own brother was afraid to turn his back on him now. Dean wondered how much longer it would be before Sam started sleeping with a cross under his pillow. He bent over to zip up his bag, then yanked it up and stalked out to the car. Might as well get it loaded so they could get the hell out of LA as soon as Sam got back. He wanted to be in another state before sunrise, and if he couldn't manage that, he'd settle for somewhere outside the county lines.

Anywhere, really, as long as it was far away from Spike and his precious sire.

Dean unlocked the trunk and set his bag in the back, automatically keeping the hatch area clear. He stared down at it without really seeing anything for a minute, wondering why he'd ever agreed to come to LA in the first place and what the hell he'd thought would happen once they got here. Not that it really mattered, since they were leaving, but he had to admit that it might have been nice if -

No. He absolutely wasn't going there. Dean reached up and brought the trunk down, taking a step back as he closed it. He was getting back out on the road, where he belonged, and he wasn't going to worry about LA or stupid vampires who were all wrapped up in their sires or anything else like that. He was going to keep doing what he'd always done, and if he did it as a vampire, then so be it. Anybody who had a problem with it could bite him.

He pulled the keys out of the trunk lock and shoved them in his pocket, already itching to leave when he heard a voice behind him. "Dean? Is that you, mate?"

Chapter Text

Spike hadn't bothered telling Angel he was going out on patrol, sure that he'd come up with yet another excuse for them to stay home if he asked. He'd been acting strange lately, always keeping Spike around, watching over him like he was a fledge again. If he didn't know better, Spike would think his soul had gone walkabout again, but Angelus wouldn't spoil him like Angel did.

Although that was suspicious in itself. It had started a couple weeks ago, ever since he'd come back from that meeting with Wesley that ended with him fucking Spike up against the wall in the training room - and on the mats in the training room, and over his desk and on the couch in his office, and then in the elevator on the way upstairs… Okay, so that had been a pretty damn good day. But ever since then, Angel had been letting him pretty much get away with murder. And while it was nice always getting to watch whatever he wanted on the telly, having the last egg roll or the last bag of otter's blood, it was starting to get a little weird, too.

Especially anytime he mentioned leaving Wolfram & Hart. He'd suggested they go down to the pub Wesley fancied for a beer the other night and Angel's answer had involved some freshly warmed deer blood, the leather couch, his tongue, and Spike's ass. By the time Spike had gathered up enough brain cells to remember what he'd wanted to do, the pub had been closed for hours. Patrol usually turned into a contest to see who could kill the most nasties, and he wouldn't have minded that, or the prize, either (topping his sire was something he didn't think he'd ever get tired of), but he was winning way too often for it to be a question of skill alone.

Angel was letting him win, and that could only mean one of a few things: either his sire had suddenly decided he just couldn't get enough of taking it up the ass and didn't want to ask for it or he was feeling pretty damn guilty about something. He'd always done that whenever he was in the wrong - not that Angelus admitting to being wrong all that often, but there was that trip to Sweden after he'd discovered that he'd nearly killed Spike for something a human sadist had done. And the one to St Petersburg when Spike had taken the blame for Dru's corpses. And the one… Okay, so maybe sometimes he'd played up a denial on purpose, but when he had time alone with his sire to look forward to, who could blame him?'

But he hadn't precipitated this, hadn't complained about going out with Harris or brought up the many times he'd been left to fend for himself, hadn't angled for any of it. Everything was being handed to him, and it was starting to get… boring. Spike hadn't realized just how much he enjoyed matching wits with his sire, playing his guilt against his demon, demanding things he had no right to just to watch the vein in Angel's forehead throb until he wasn't doing it anymore. Now if he so much as hinted at anything, it was handed over. He'd even brought up astronauts and cavemen the other day, trying to tempt him into a bracing shouting match, but Angel had just looked at him, sighed, and headed off for Wesley's office. Where Spike wasn't allowed to go.

That was something else, and something he couldn't say he cared for one bit. He'd been locked out of that area of the building, the area magically warded to keep him out, which only convinced him there was something pretty damn good back there. And he didn't think it was Wesley that didn't want him finding out what it was. The ghost might've threatened him with banishment after he'd caught him calling up porn in his precious templates or kicking his feet up on his antique desk, but he wouldn't go through with it. Not when Spike was pretty much the only entertainment he had these days. So if not Wesley, then that meant it was done at Angel's request. Question was, why would he want to keep Spike out of there? What was he hiding that was so secret? And why keep it in Wesley's office instead of his own?

Spike was so lost in thought that he almost didn't see the big black car before he walked into it. He managed to stop himself just in time and swore under his breath as he shook his head. "Gonna end up squashed flat as a bug if you don't get your head outta your ass," he muttered to himself. He turned to walk around the thing and froze when he saw the man standing at the tail end of it.

Dean. Jesus fucking Christ. Spike watched him close the trunk and turn away, clearly unaware that he wasn't alone in the parking lot. This was where he needed to walk away. Or better yet, run. That was what he'd do if he had half a brain, get as far from Dean Winchester and that brother of his that was almost certainly close by as humanly possible. But instead he heard himself ask, "Dean? Is that you, mate?"

He saw him freeze, saw his shoulders go stiff, and braced himself for an attack, but instead, Dean just stood there for a minute. Spike seriously considered running off anyway until he heard him swallow and say, "Yeah, it's me." His voice sounded rough, raspy and heavy, like he'd been on one hell of a bender.

"You gonna turn around?" he asked before he remembered that Dean didn't want to see him. "Or are you waitin' for me to get lost first? "

"No, I just… didn't think you'd want to see me." There was something odd about the way he said that, strained and stiff, like he was being extra careful of his words. Like the Slayer when she called expecting him and got Angel instead.

He started to take a step forward, then stopped himself. "Reckon you're the one on my turf, seems like you're the one mighta wanted to see me." Unless he hadn't known he'd be here. But he had to realize there was a chance of running into him, right?

Dean didn't answer right away, his whole body still tight and stiff. "I was leaving. Me and Sam - we're heading out as soon as he gets back."

Spike had thought he couldn't hurt more than he had when he first got here, but he was wrong. Hearing Dean talk about leaving - again - was like a fist in the gut. "Right, then," he bit out. "Guess I'll let you get to it."

He spun on his heel and stalked off, more than ready to put as much distance as he could between them. When Dean called his name, he really tried to ignore him, but Spike had always sucked at ignoring someone he cared about, and like it or not, Dean Winchester was on that list. Still, he didn't turn around, just snapped, "What?"

"You're happy, right? With your sire?"

It was probably the last question he would've expected him to ask. "Yeah, I guess." And that might not be completely fair to Angel, but it was the truth. He wasn't who Spike really wanted, just like Spike wasn't who he really wanted, and they both knew it. They'd just gotten very good over the years at making do with what they could have rather than spend much time pining after what they couldn't. "Wait. How'd you know about -"

Dean didn't answer right away, then finally he said, "I saw you."

That was enough to make Spike whip around. Dean still hadn't turned to face him, but that didn't stop him from heading back over to him, stopping just a few feet away. "When?" he asked in a low voice.

"A couple weeks ago. You guys were in the training room. Sam and I were supposed to stay in Wesley's office, but I just wanted to see -" He cut himself and shook his head. "Guess I got what I deserved, huh?"

Wesley's office. A couple of weeks ago. Spike's head was spinning as the pieces all slotted together in a rush. Dean. Angel had known he was there; that's what he'd been hiding, why he'd had Wes set the spell up to keep Spike out. "Soddin' bastard," he swore. "He knew you were there, didn't he?"

Dean nodded. "He told me to stay away from you when we got here. I wanted to talk to you, you know, apologize and everything, but he said you didn't want to see me, no matter what."

Spike took another step towards him. "He doesn't speak for me," he reminded Dean. "An' I can tell you that thinkin' I'd've been pretty damn interested in hearin' what you have to say. You gonna turn around, pet? Mite uncomfortable, havin' this whole conversation with your back."

But Dean didn't turn around. Instead, he tensed up, like he was ready to run off. "I'm fine."

"Yeah, well, I'm not." One more step and Spike was within striking range. And not a moment too soon, because as soon as he reached out and his hand brushed over Dean's shoulder, the younger vampire tried to run. But Spike hadn't spent years under Angelus' tutelage for nothing. He tightened his grip and used Dean's movement to swing him around, but whatever he was expecting, it wasn't what he saw. He could only gape in astonishment at the sight in front of him.

Dean swallowed hard, although he made no further attempt to get away. "It's okay, you can say it."

"Say what?" Spike was too caught up in staring at him to get more out than that.

"I'm ugly."

Spike burst out laughing before he realized that Dean wasn't sharing in the joke, and then the laughter died as quickly as it had started. "Seriously?" He shifted, watching Dean just as carefully as he had the first time he'd done it for him. "You think I'm ugly, too?"

Dean was shaking his head before he'd even finished asking. "You're hot, you know that. But I'm all -" He gestured at his face, where the same ridges and planes that marked Spike's were clearly visible.

"Just like me." Although he had no fucking clue how that could've happened. He moved a little closer and reached out to brush his fingers across one of the brow ridges, smiling as he remembered Angelus showing him just how sensitive that spot could be. And just like Spike had, Dean drew in a sharp breath and shivered. "Trust me, pet, you're not ugly."

But Dean didn't believe him; he could see that in his eyes. Hoping he wasn't completely misreading things, Spike leaned in to kiss him, keeping it short and chaste, just in case this ended in being punched in the nose. Experience with the Slayer had taught him that punches hurt enough - bitten tongues were hell to deal with, even if his healed in a matter of hours instead of days. "Not ugly," he repeated, smiling at him. "Least not to me."

Dean's shoulders slumped as he sighed, almost as though he'd actually been worried about it. The next thing Spike knew, there were hands curling around the lapels of his coat and he was yanked back in for a longer, wetter, deeper kiss. They were both breathing hard by the time it ended, and Dean grinned at him, yellow eyes dancing above his fangs. "Good to know."

Dean still wasn't too clear on what had happened to him to make him what he was now, and he didn't have a clue where they were going from here, but he had three things he knew would see him through all of it: his baby, his brother, and his sire. And he wasn't going to let go of any of them anytime soon.