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Weight Around My Neck

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Deep in an archive room on sub-floor two inside the Men of Letters bunker, Dean sits back on his heels, running a hand through his hair.  He’s surrounded by dusty boxes, and the flashlight he’s using for extra light on all the faded labels is getting sketchy, flickering, so his time is running out.  One last box then. Sam won’t be happy that he hasn’t found anything else about the demon curing ritual, but there’s always tomorrow. Crowley’s not going anywhere. And Sam’s not here anyway, he’s supposedly upstairs napping for the rest of the afternoon.

He pulls out a large cardboard file box from the bottom shelf, and a smaller wooden box falls off the top shelf and hits his foot. Dean bends down to pick it up, - when a box practically jumps out at you, it’s not exactly easy to ignore. He secures the flashlight under his armpit so it shines on the small box in his hands. He feels for a clasp or trigger around the edges of it, it’s only the size of a deck of cards, no labels or marks.  There’s nothing at first, the whole thing practically smooth and seamless. Oh c’mon, I need a break today, something to help us, he bitches to himself and the world at large, just in case someone helpful is listening.

Then it’s there, a small indentation near one of the box’s corners; when he presses it, another dimple appears on the opposite corner. Pushing on them together pops the lid up just slightly on an ingenious, clever little hinge.  Dean can see that the inside of the box is lined in a deep purple, almost black, velvet.  He turns towards the light in the hallway so that he can see if the box has anything interesting in it.

In the inadequate light he sees a dull gleam, and opening the lid the rest of the way reveals a small brass charm.  An all-too-familiar face looks up at him.  It looks so identical to the one he remembers that he wonders if it’s actually his old amulet, or its twin.  A shiver of recognition surprises him, along with a wave of intense emotion, and he almost drops the box.  He steadies himself with a breath and reaches out with one finger to touch it, make sure it’s real.  The feeling of it is exactly the same as he remembers; cold at first and then warmer than it should be, as if it absorbs more than just your body heat.  He traces his forefinger slowly around the whole face, - it’s been so long since he’s seen this inscrutable expression.  Just seeing it again makes the inside of his chest feel suddenly empty, like it had felt in the weeks after he’d dropped it in a motel trashcan.

There’s no chain or thong in the box, just the charm. The tauntingly closed-off face looks up at him, and he groans at the realization that now he’s got to decide what to do with the thing.  Was he meant to find it? It did practically jump out at him, and right after he’d made that little plea to the universe for help.  Dean shrugs to himself and pulls it out of the box, grasping it in his warm palm for a moment before shoving it down deep into his jeans pocket.  He takes the clever wooden box with him, just because he wants to examine the inner workings of the hinge in better light, and leaves the archive box pulled out so he knows where to start his search again tomorrow.

The amulet sits in his pocket for a couple days, poking at his thigh as he bends in the archives, searching through box after box that Sam sends him in after.  They’re slowly getting ahold of the Men of Letters filing organization, so it’s getting easier.  And it’s good that Sam’s even up and around enough to be directing this search.  Dean doesn’t mind doing the grunt work, because Sam still looks like he could break apart into a million pieces if he just takes a wrong step or too deep a breath.  If being a go-fer in all the dust is what he needs to do to take care of Sam, that’s what he’s doing.  Nothing else is more important to him now, not after everything that’s happened.

Dean finds a selection of silk cords in one of the ritual supply boxes, and chooses a black one; because red isn’t a color he’s used to wearing. He quickly threads the amulet onto it and knots it around his neck at the correct length.  Soon he’s standing in front of his dresser in his room with the door closed, staring at himself in the mirror for a long while.  The picture of his teenage self and pre-teen Sam looks up at him from where it’s tucked into the edge of the mirror.  The amulet winks from his much smaller chest, framed on a backdrop of his usual uniform of a plain black t-shirt and a big smile as he holds a much smaller Sam closely tucked under his arm, like he’d never be able to do now. 

Dean looks back up at his current reflection in the mirror and smiles, catching the sadness that never leaves his face even though he feels happier than he has in years.  Just seeing this amulet, even though it’s not his real one, is making him feel more like himself. He hesitates for a moment as images of what might happen assault him, - maybe he shouldn’t wear it. Just seeing it could make Sam mad, or bring up memories of that bad time. But the years without this thing around his neck are finally at an end, and hopefully so are the troubles between them.

!@#~!@#~

 “Sammy, ready or not, here comes dinner. Get your nose out of those books. Make some room.”

Sam looks up from the sheaf of onion-skin parchment papers he’s been going through, his eyes exhausted from squinting at the faint, spidery calligraphy.  Dean’s walking up the stairs carrying a tray with steaming plates of food, looks like spaghetti and meatballs, and an actual green salad.  He grins up at Dean as he sets the tray down next to him. “Thanks Dean, this looks great.”

“Hope you can deal with my first attempt at meatballs,” Dean says, leaning over Sam to hand him a bottle of beer and a plate full of food.

Sam looks up to take the plate and sees the amulet swinging down from Dean’s neck.  He stifles a gasp and turns it into a coughing fit to distract Dean, mind whirling at what it could mean. How could he have found it? Has Dean been going through his stuff?

“You okay there bud?” Dean thumps him on the back.

Sam finishes coughing and smiles at him, holding up his hands so Dean can see they’re actually blood-free this time. “Yeah, I’m good.”

Dean smiles at him and clinks their beers together. “Eat up then.”

Sam digs in to the food, mind still spinning out theories and wondering how the hell to even bring it up, but then he sees that there’s a different look on Dean’s face.  Like he’s figured something out, or is happier than usual.  Sam decides to not address the amulet issue directly, like Dean would be expecting him to. “You seem happier than usual, - let me guess, your Busty Asian Beauties subscription finally started coming to our new P.O. box?”

“Ha ha, no, I’ve got plenty of that vintage stuff to keep me busy.  Just happy about making meatballs I guess, ‘s stupid I know.”

“No, it’s not stupid.  And they’re good by the way, really good, I hope there’s more in the kitchen.” Sam takes the opportunity to drink him in all at one time; Dean’s relaxed posture in his chair, no white knuckles on the beer bottle or fork, and no extra frown wrinkles in his forehead. But his eyes keep going back to the amulet, lying there on Dean’s chest, just below the buttons on his Henley.

“So your appetite’s finally back, huh?” Dean asks, curious if Sam’s examination of him has anything to do with the amulet or if he’s just impressed with his cooking. Or maybe there’s just sauce on his shirt.

“Looks like. Especially if you keep whipping up stuff this good.”

“You could pitch in too you know.” Dean says.

“Naw, you’re enjoying it too much, I don’t want to take it away from you,” Sam teases.

Dean doesn’t say anything in response, just laughs and keeps eating, twirling his spaghetti up on his fork. When he goes to bed after doing the dishes with Sam, he’s still surprised that Sam hasn’t asked about the amulet yet.

Later that night, after he knows Dean’s gone to bed, Sam digs out his old duffel bag from the floor of his closet.  In the sewn-in hidden pocket, there is still a familiar lump that’s been there for four years.   He sits down heavily on his bed with the empty duffel on his lap, tracing the outlines of what’s contained in the secret place.  The more Sam thinks about it, Dean wearing an amulet that looks just like his old one without saying anything to Sam about it is a little insulting, and it hurts.  If Sam’s honest with himself, it hurts like a bitch, a reminder that the raw wound in his heart never really healed over. 

He finally rips open the stitching on the pocket and pulls out the old blue kerchief bundle, unties it and holds the original amulet in his hand. Sam traces the small face and remembers holding onto it tightly when Dean would hold him in the back of the Impala on those long drives with their father through the night. How it would make that deep red imprint in his palm that would last until the next day. He unrolls the silk cord and puts it over his own head for the first time since he’d had to wash his brother’s blood off of it. He never wore it again after Dean had thrown it away in that motel trashcan. Just kept it like the sentimental fool he knows he is deep-down.

!@#~!@#~

The next morning, Sam brings Dean a cup of coffee and a plate of bacon and fried eggs.  He leans over to place it in front of his brother on the table, amulet swinging down to catch the morning light. “One heart-attack special.”

Dean’s eyes go wide in surprise when he sees what’s got to be the amulet, his amulet, swinging right in front of his face. He barely schools his face in time, feeling like he has to practically sit on his hands to keep himself from grabbing for it. “Thanks Sammy,” He grunts out, taking a swig of coffee to calm himself down.

Sam sits down across from him with his own cup of coffee and bowl of yogurt, granola and fruit, smiling a secret smile that feels utterly foreign to his own face. How long has it been since he’s really smiled like this?  But it’s fun to see his brother struggle not to react.  Now he kinda sees why Dean did it, wearing it without saying anything.  The game is afoot. The question is who can get who to break first and actually ask or say something? Sam smiles even wider at the thought, and that makes Dean’s eyebrows go up in silent question. Which Sam chooses to ignore, like the amulet that Dean’s wearing, where did it come from?

Over the next week, they both find ways to highlight their new necklaces; forgoing over-shirts, walking around shirtless after showering, Dean even wearing his dead-guy robe with nothing  but boxers on underneath (but the amulet of course framed so nicely by the shawl-collared robe.)  Even with all this teasing, they’re both sticking firm with the not talking about it plan apparently, - there’s been too much raw emotion floating around since the failed third trial, leaving everything still a little combustible between them. 

Kevin notices though, and asks Dean about it while Sam’s down in the dungeon for another session with Crowley.  They’re playing some Xbox, which Kevin is, of course, winning.

“If we were using real swords, you know I’d be kicking your ass, right?” Dean says.

“Yeah, yeah, tough guy, I know.” Kevin laughs.

Dean’s character dies a bloody, beheaded death onscreen. “God, again!”

Kevin sticks both hands up in the air in a victory V. “Woohoo, suck it Winchester!”

“I demand a replay,” Dean says with a scowl.

“First you gotta answer a question,” Kevin demands.

Dean gives up the put-on scowl to swallow the rest of his beer. “Shoot.”

“What’s with the matching necklaces all of a sudden?” Kevin points at the amulet hanging around Dean’s neck.

Dean peels the label off his beer, avoiding looking up at Kevin. “Long story.”

Kevin’s figured out a few things about getting Dean to talk by now, and hands him another beer from the repurposed silver wine bucket, ice sloshing noisily around in it. “And. . .?”

Stalling for a little time, Dean opens his beer and takes a sip, working out how to put it truthfully but without a lot of details, as he really doesn’t want to talk about it with Kevin, or anyone really. “Sam gave it to me when we were kids, and I always used to wear it, ‘til a few years ago, when I, uh, stopped. I found one just like it down in the archives here and started wearing it. I don’t know where Sam got his.”

Kevin sees how uncomfortable he’s made Dean and decides to risk just one last question. “Is his the original one then?”

“Maybe. I dunno. Let’s play again, c’mon, enough stalling. I need my revenge,” Dean says, clunking his beer back onto the table with a final sounding thud.

!@#~!@#~

When Sam takes a break from interrogating Crowley by writing up more demon purification ritual notes, and Dean’s out on yet another supply run, (something about needing a new video game that has cars instead of fighting), Kevin decides to ask Sam for his side of the story.

Kevin approaches the worktable where Sam has all his source materials spread out all around him. “Hey Sam, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, just let me write this down.” Sam finishes writing his sentence in the journal in front of him and looks up at Kevin.

“So what’s with the matching necklaces?” Kevin asks.

Sam reaches up and touches the amulet. “You mean this?”

“Yeah, that and the one that Dean’s wearing. They’re cool, I was just wondering if they were for something in particular,” Kevin says, hoping that he’s asked a leading enough question so that Sam will fall for it and give him a straight answer.

“I guess you could say that. I gave this one to Dean for Christmas when I was nine, when he first told me the truth about what our Dad was hunting. And he wore it every day until about four years ago. Then the whole apocalypse thing went down, and we’ve told you some of this, but the angels really messed with us. And he threw it away, but I picked it up and kept it.” Sam finishes by letting out a sigh he didn’t really realize he was holding, - telling the whole story without all the gory details wasn’t easy.

“Where did the one he’s wearing now come from?” Kevin asks.

“I don’t know, he hasn’t mentioned it, and I haven’t asked,” Sam answers, not meeting Kevin’s eyes because he feels stupid and petty just saying it. He knows he sounds like a third-grader.

“Why?” Kevin persists.

Sam makes an exaggeratedly irritated face. “You’re just full of questions tonight.”

“Don’t like seeing mom and dad fight, you know?” Kevin shrugs.

“Shut up, you brat. Or you’re taking the next shift of cleaning up after Crowley,” Sam threatens, shaking his fist in mock anger.

“Just seems like something that important would be worth a conversation, don’t you think?” Kevin asks gently.

“Yeah, you’re right. We’re working up to it, takes us a while sometimes,” Sam answers with a rueful grin.

Kevin drops the subject, realizing that he has no advice to offer on the subject of how to make it up to your brother/partner for throwing away an obviously important, meaningful gift, especially when you start wearing its duplicate all of a sudden.  He just hopes that they don’t put it off too long, because he really wasn’t kidding about the not wanting to see mom and dad fight bit. Sam and Dean are kind of playing that role for him right now, and it would suck to have them really at odds. Kevin hopes that by bringing it up with both of them, it will at least trigger a conversation.

!@#~!@#~

A few more amulet-conversation-free days pass, and then it’s time for Sam and Dean to meet Charlie for another LARP adventure.  They’re glad to be able to leave the Men of Letters bunker in Kevin’s capable hands. Crowley is securely locked in the dungeon and Kevin has sworn not to go near him while they’re gone.  Charlie, of course, notices their matching necklaces before they’ve even changed into their Moondoor gear.  Curiosity gets the better of her and she asks Sam as soon as she has him alone, (one of the good things about being queen is getting to order Dean around to go fetch her some mead.) “What’s with the necklace? Is that the one that I read about in the books? I thought it was gone. Didn’t Dean throw it out when you guys came back from Heaven?” 

Sam’s response is at first a little confusion, - he’d forgotten that she’s been reading Chuck’s books and knows all this detailed stuff about their history.  He answers her with honesty though, he owes her that at least. “I fished it out of the trashcan the second Dean left that motel room, after he threw it away. Figured it might come in handy at some point.” 

“Ah, I see, guess that detail wasn’t in the book. But, why are you wearing it now, Sam?” Charlie asks.

Sam shrugs, looking away. “Just felt like it, I missed seeing it.”

“Missed seeing it, or missed seeing it on Dean?” she challenges.

Sam mumbles, “Both I guess.”

“Has Dean noticed it?” Charlie asks, a little more gently but still insistent.

“I . . . uh, don’t know, he hasn’t really said anything.”

“Huh,” Charlie answers, dropping the subject for the moment.  If there’s one thing she knows after knowing them for a while (and reading all their history in those books), it’s that Sam will mull it over for a while and handle it in his own way with his brother, but it will take too long and probably cause them some problems. That means she’s got to bring it up with the other side of the equation, Dean.

Dean’s answer comes with an abrupt quickness that fails to hide the intensity of his feelings about the necklace and being questioned about it. “It’s a new one, I found it in one of the storage rooms in the bunker.”

“Why are you wearing it?” Charlie asks, handing him her tanker of mead across the camp table. It’s always too much to drink at once, and it tastes like crap when it’s been sitting out for too long.

Dean hears the unasked question, why are you wearing it when you threw the original one away and instead answers “I’ve been missing my old one all this time.”

“Does Sam know that?” Charlie challenges.

“Does Sam know what?” Dean challenges right back.

Charlie sees his defenses going up and softens her approach a little. “That you’ve been missing it?”

“I don’t know, yeah, probably, I guess.” Dean answers a little sheepishly, taking a small sip of mead.

“You know what you gotta do right?” Charlie asks, patting Dean’s knee under the small table.

Dean slumps a little in his chair. “I know.”

Charlie pushes, “You’ll do it right?”

“Yeah, yeah. God, you’re turning into such a pest! I think this is exactly why I never wanted a little sister.”

“You’re stuck with me now buddy. Like it or not,” she answers with all the power a Queen can command.

!@#~!@#~

The drive back from their LARP adventure is pretty quiet, both of them thinking on their conversations with Charlie, and how to bring up the subject of the amulets.  Neither of them find a way to talk about it, or chicken out, so they just put it off. Both hoping for a better time, not wanting to ruin the good weekend they just had off the clock for once.  Sam will never tire of seeing Dean in that blond wig, flowing locks bouncing as he strides about the camp, ordering everyone about like he’s been doing it all his life. Dean’s just thankful that Sam felt well enough to run around a little and have some fun.

The night settles around them as they get closer to home, stars coming out in the clear night sky. Dean wants to say something about the necklaces; he knows it will be better to get it over with, they’ve put it off long enough. Ripping off the Band-Aid and all that. But Sam looks so peaceful over in his favorite shotgun position, his left leg bent up on the seat and under him, body twisted to see out the windshield and be able to look at him.  He sees that Sam’s staring intently up at the sky.

“Whatcha see up there, Sammy?”

“Just remembering that night. When the angels fell, how beautiful it was.”

“You actually remember that?” Dean asks.

“Yeah, of course.” Sam answers.

“Thought you woulda blocked it out since you were in so much pain,” Dean observes.

“No, I remember it all,  - you leaving with Cas, me with Crowley, fighting Abaddon, giving Crowley all those shots of my blood and hearing him break down and beg to be loved.” Sam’s voice goes quieter, “You stopping me just in time, what we said, and the pain in my arms and throughout my whole body. Then you dragged me out and it seemed like the whole sky was falling. It’s a little fuzzy after that, until we were back here.” Sam’s voice tapers off, sounding like he’s tired all over again just revisiting the memories of that night.

“It was pretty cool. If we didn’t know what it was, we could have just been happy along with everyone else calling it the best meteor shower ever,” Dean jokes, grinning over at his brother.

Sam catches the flash of Dean’s white teeth, bared in a smile and returns one himself. “No such luck this time around.”

“Nope. And you didn’t miss much after the angels fell. I pulled Crowley out of that church and got him in the back seat. Hauled ass back here. Both of you slept the whole way,” Dean says, simply, even though they both know he’s leaving a whole lot of scary details out.

Sam shakes his head. “Guess sharing blood with a mere human was pretty tiring for him.”

“Yeah, almost turning human again really takes it out of you I guess,” Dean chuckles to himself, picturing Crowley in that weakened state, not able to protest being bundled up into the backseat of the Impala. 

They both go quiet after that for a while, thinking about Crowley still not giving up what they need, Abaddon still out there who knows where, and the angels roaming around Earth causing havoc.

“Think we’re ever going to get this right?” Sam asks abruptly, interrupting the silence.

“What?” Dean asks, hoping this isn’t about what he thinks it is.

“Demons, angels, who to trust?” Sam says.

Dean blows out a small breath of relief. “Way I figure it. We’re working on the law of averages at this point. Pretty soon, we’re bound to choose the right path.”

Sam doesn’t reply, just seems to absorb Dean’s answer and switches off for the rest of the drive. They’re back home and inside the bunker well before midnight, as Dean had planned.

Dean unpacks in his room and rearranges his weapons collection on the wall, until he’s killed enough time and gathered enough courage for this conversation. After that uncomfortable car ride, he doesn’t want to put it off even for another night. “Sam, you got a sec?” Dean asks as he walks up the steps to the library.

“Sure, of course, pull up a chair.” Sam gestures at all the open chairs surrounding his worktable in the main library room. Luckily Dean has interrupted him before he got fully immersed back into the demon curing rituals.

Dean crosses the room, goes around the table and settles himself in the chair next to Sam, nervously plucking at the knees of his jeans.

“What’s up?” Sam asks, a little worried when he sees how nervous Dean seems to be.  After their fun weekend and the conversations in the car, he’d thought Dean was in a pretty good place.

“Just so you know upfront, this was all Charlie’s idea,” Dean says without further elaboration.

“Okay. . .” Sam says, now really wondering what this is about.

“She noticed, uh…our necklaces.”

“Oh,” Sam responds in a quiet voice.

“And she wanted to know if one of them was the one that was in Chuck’s books.”

“Oh,” Sam says in an even quieter voice.

Dean forces himself to look directly at Sam “I told her where I got mine.”

“And where was that exactly?” Sam asks, feigning nonchalance.

“Here, back in storeroom seven, couple weeks ago when we were looking for more on the demon curing ritual.”

“Huh, I was wondering,” Sam says almost too softly to be heard, but still looking at Dean.

“So, uh, where’d you find yours?” Dean asks, hesitating because he knows he already knows the answer.

Sam takes a deep breath and says in a surprisingly steady voice, “Picked it up out of a motel trashcan, a few years back.”

Dean closes his eyes as if he’s been physically hurt. “Ah…so it’s,” he says in a pained voice.

“Yeah. It is,” Sam answers, finally looking away. It’s too hard to see the emotion on his brother’s face.

Dean steadies himself, counting his breaths in and out up to ten, then asks, “How come you . . . ?”

“What?” Sam asks, looking over at Dean with a sharp snap of his head.

Dean startles a little at Sam’s reaction. “Why didn’t you, uh, give it back to me?”

“Didn’t see the point at the time, since you’d thrown it away.  And I kinda forgot I even had it until I saw you wearing that one,” Sam answers.

“Huh. . . Would you mind switching with me?” Dean asks.

Sam hesitates, mind turning over all the reasons Dean could be asking this. “Why?”

Dean’s forehead crinkles up in worry, not sure how to answer that. “Because it’s the one I wore all those years, this one doesn’t feel quite right.”

weight 2 amulets

Sam looks back and forth at the two necklaces closely, trying to spot any obvious glaring differences. The worried look on Dean’s face makes his decision for him. Dean’s got enough things to worry about, - this he can do for Dean. He takes the original amulet off, pulling the black cord over his head, and holds it out in the palm of his open hand, offering it for the third time to Dean. “Here.”

Dean takes his new amulet off and hands it over to Sam. They switch at the same time, so no one is without an amulet for very long. Dean’s got it back over his head in a flash, with Sam a little slower because he’s watching Dean’s face transform before his eyes.

Some of the worry and a lot of the tiredness seems to lift from the corners of Dean’s eyes, the lines around his lips from pursing them ease, and the worry wrinkles smooth away from his forehead.  He looks ten years younger, make that more like four years. All told, that’s about how long Dean’s been without his original amulet.  The amount of time that Sam kept it secret is still a tangible weight on Dean’s heart.

Dean holds it in his hand, tugging on it just a bit to settle it back into its rightful place, places his hands on the table, then looks up, meeting Sam’s eyes. “Glad you kept it Sammy.”

“Me too.  I’m just glad you still want it.”

“Course I do. I always did, ya doofus.” Dean hits him on the shoulder to emphasize his point.

Sam raises his eyebrows in disagreement. “No Dean, that’s not true, - you didn’t want it when you threw it away, and this whole time since you’ve been back, it sure didn’t seem like you did.”

Straightening his shoulders as if he’s adjusting to the weight of what this misunderstanding has meant to both of them, Dean says with an honest earnestness, “Well I did. No matter what you think.”

“Huh,” Sam says after a little while, the seconds adding up to more time than he knows he should have taken to answer.

“What, you don’t believe me or something?” Dean asks, unbelieving that his brother really doesn’t know this.

“Let’s just say that I’d like to. I wish it was that easy,” Sam says, wishing that he could just accept Dean’s words as truth.

Dean lifts a hand off the table and grasps the amulet hanging around his neck.  “Then maybe I ought to give it back to you until you do believe it.  Doesn’t seem right to wear this somehow.”

A slow smile dawns on Sam’s face, as he sees the naked look on Dean‘s. He obvious wants Sam’s formerly rock-solid belief in his big brother to be restored. There’s so much more Sam could ask, demand answers or even apologies, but too much time has passed, and when he thinks about it, Dean’s proven himself over and over again since that awful day when they’d just barely survived their visit to Heaven. “Naw, you keep it. I get it now.”

“Just like that?” Dean asks, eyebrows raised in skepticism.

Sam nods like he’s confirming something to himself. “Yeah.”

“So now we’ve got matching necklaces,” Dean muses with a little chuckle.

“Guess so,” Sam answers.

“What will the neighbors think?” Dean kids.

“Whatever they want to I guess,” Sam says, unable to hide the sadness from his voice.

“Hey, what’s that about?” Dean asks.

“What?” Sam says, looking down at his hands in his lap.

Dean touches him on the shoulder. “You sound sad or something.”

Sam shrugs, knocking Dean’s hand off. “I am, I guess.”

Dean puts his head down on the table and looks up at Sam at a funny angle, trying to get Sam to at least meet his eyes. “Why? I thought you’d like it that we finally talked about the necklace thing.”

Sam smiles in spite of himself. “I did like it. I do. I’m glad we worked that out. It’s just about what they mean.”

“Or don’t mean,” Dean blurts out before he can stop himself.

“Yeah.” Sam looks at him closely, nodding his agreement.

“Well that’s up to us isn’t it?” Dean asks, feeling a wild spark of hope surge up unexpectedly in his chest.

Sam pauses, hoping that Dean will say what that is exactly. “I suppose.”

Dean takes a deep breath. “I want this amulet to mean what it did back when you first gave it to me when we were kids. That you really trust me more than anyone else.”

Sam gets up from the table, pushing his chair back with a sudden sharp metal scraping sound. In a flash he’s pulling his surprised brother up out of his chair, holding him by the shoulders, looking at him with such sudden intensity they both feel like they’re caught by surprise in a current swiftly becoming an undertow. “I do, it does. I always did, Dean. Even without the necklace.”

Dean searches Sam’s face, asks him to answer the question he just did. “So what do you want yours to mean?”

“The same thing,” Sam answers before Dean’s done with the question.

“Done,” Dean answers before Sam’s done with his reply.

“Really? Cause you’ve said that before, and you still gave me quite a list of things to confess at that church,” Sam asks, raising one eyebrow at the memory of the whiskey poured out on Rufus’ grave and the words Dean had said about clean slates. That slate hadn’t sounded so clear back on the night the angels fell.

Dean thinks about it; remembers talking about trust and mistakes and things to atone for at Rufus’ graveside; that long list he came up with so quickly for Sam to confess. Recalls how it was all wiped out by Sam’s heart-breaking “So?” when Dean had told him to stop the third trial before he died.  And that’s what it comes down to, if he wants Sam to trust him, it’s got to be mutual, otherwise there’s nothing to build the rest of what he wants on top of. He’s missed the foundation of trust they always had, maybe as much as the physical relationship they once shared. So the only answer that makes sense is, “Yeah, really.”

Sam swallows, the dry, clicking noise audible and surprising in the sudden silence. “Dean, this is big.”

“I know,” Dean says, acknowledging just how big it is, for both of them.

Sam takes his hands off of Dean’s shoulders and turns to fiddle with his notebook on the table. “Wanna celebrate, do something fun?” Sam suggests, not wanting to let go of this moment, this night when maybe everything could come back together.

Dean doesn’t want to point out that they just got back from a whole weekend of doing nothing but exactly that. “Sure. Whaddya suggest?”

“Shooting range or swimming pool?” Sam asks with a grin.

“Tough choice, how hot did you get the pool up to?” Dean asks.

“’bout seventy-three or so, last I checked,” Sam says.

“Cool, but not too cold. Why are we still in here? C’mon.” Dean slaps him on the shoulder and slides his hand down to the small of Sam’s back, gently pushing him towards the steps.

“Alright, let me go get my suit,” Sam says, relishing the feel of Dean’s hand on his back.

Dean shakes his head, “No suits, it’s just us.”

“But Kevin,” Sam protests.

“He’s asleep for at least a few more hours, his note said he was up late with Crowley so he’s sleeping in. C’mon Sammy, chicken if you don’t,” Dean teases as they pause at the doorway.

“God, what are you six or something? Fine, can we at least bring some towels down with us?”

“Sure princess, and your floaties too,” Dean says, happy that his teasing is hitting the right spot tonight.

“Shut up Dean or I’m throwing you in with your clothes on. I swear I will,” Sam threatens with a smile that negates the threat immediately.

Down in the pool room, with its wall of windows, high arched ceiling, tiled all in soothing art-deco patterns of blues and greens, their footsteps echo and the door closing behind them clangs. Then there’s just the quiet rustling sounds of the two brothers removing their clothes quickly. Neither wanting to be the first or the last to jump in the water. Dean turns as he’s finished shoving his jeans and boxers off to the side with the rest of his stuff, clad only in the amulet.  He sees Sam standing there, only a few feet away, in the same unclad state and his jaw drops, his whole body freezing as his hand closes around the amulet around his neck.

“Leave it on,” Sam says, stepping sideways and immediately sinking to the bottom of the deep end, below the sparkling pool water.

Dean watches the water close over the top of Sam’s head and shakes himself out of his frozen state. He looks down at himself, hand clenched around the amulet, cock half-hard already just at the sight of Sam.  This was his idea, so he has to get in, even though it’ll be cold in there. But it’s where Sam is. The Sam who told him to leave his amulet on like he’s in charge somehow. He dives in, smoothly breaking the surface of the water, heading straight for his brother at the bottom of the pool.  Dean circles him once and kicks back up off the pool bottom to breathe again. Sam popping up right behind him.  Dean turns and splashes water in Sam’s face, kicking into a backstroke away to the other end of the pool.

Sam follows in a crawl stroke, quickly catching up and smoothly flip-turning at the end, streaking off underwater. An unofficial race is on. Dean pushes off hard and strong, still on his back, and catches up once Sam surfaces halfway across the pool.  They meet each other’s eye as they speed along the surface, grinning like the children they used to be, swimming races in skanky motel pools after closing hours. They quickly near the end and Sam disappears underwater for another speedy kick turn, Dean right behind, pacing him.

Back and forth for a good five laps, completely and effortlessly in sync, until Sam slows down, stopping finally to hang on the edge of the pool, coughing with what looks like painful force.  Dean stops and puts a hand on Sam’s upper back, rubbing in a slow circle, his fingers tangling with the cord of the amulet that’s now hanging down Sam’s back. The cough doesn’t seem as bad as it was before the third trial, but he still hates it anyways, hates that Sam’s still hurting.

“You okay Sammy?” Dean asks with concern in his voice, holding onto the edge of the pool with one hand and Sam with the other.

“Yeah, ’m good,” Sam answers, turning to look at Dean, which brings them closer. Dean’s arm now over Sam’s shoulder, his hand still on the nape of Sam’s neck.  Sam feels the charge running between them ramping up, impossible to ignore any longer, opens his mouth to say something, anything.

Dean licks his lips slowly, looking at Sam’s opened mouth, lips pink and wet from the pool.  He feels the thrumming restraint in his brother’s body where his hand touches Sam’s back, and leans forward that last little bit to brush their lips together.

Sam responds instantly, like he was a swimmer up on the block just waiting to hear the starting pistol finally fire. His mouth already open, he takes advantage, swiping his tongue across the seam of Dean’s soft closed lips which open to him immediately, hands coming to rest naturally on Dean’s hips.  Sam’s fingers dig in deeper and pull Dean flush against him, feeling how hard Dean already is makes him groan with anticipation.

Still holding onto the edge of the pool with one hand, Dean grasps the long strands of Sam’s wet hair, pulling down on them a bit to make the angle of their kiss that much more perfect. He presses his hips even closer into Sam’s, relishing the feel and texture of Sam’s hardness moving against his own, so hot in the cool water that surrounds them.

Sam moves one hand between them, grasping both of their cocks and beginning a slow pressing slide, up to the top, fingers dancing over their cockheads, back down to their bases in his strong grip. His other hand moves to Dean’s lower back, holding Dean tight against him. It’s hard to get any leverage in the buoyant water, so they mostly have to work with some friction. By the sounds that Dean’s making though, it isn’t a problem.

“Sammy, faster, c’mon,” Dean pants into Sam’s mouth, fucking into him with his tongue, harsh and hot and wet.

Sam speeds up his hand, the fast movement churning the water around them so that it tickles and caresses with extra bubbles and waves. He can feel his toes beginning to curl, even though they’re scrabbling against the pool wall trying to gain purchase.

“Dean, you,” Sam gasps as his orgasm overtakes him, his release warming the cool water for a moment before it floats away.

Dean kisses him deeply, holding his convulsing brother hard against him, and that extra friction is what he needs to push him over the edge too, coming over Sam’s hand, his release mingling with Sam’s in the water around them.

Sam strokes them a few more times, shuddering in Dean’s embrace.  He lets them go and wraps his arm around Dean, pulling them backwards into the water. They float for a second before sinking together. Wrapped up and reborn. They kiss under water, bubbles streaming past their faces until they need to resurface for air, Sam holding Dean against him, treading water to keep their faces above the surface.

“You feel so good like this, Sam. Moving against me all wet and slippery.”

“Like this?” Sam pulls Dean in tighter and wriggles his body in an undulating movement from head to toe, moving like a river otter.

“Guh,” is all Dean can manage to say for a while as Sam corkscrews them through the water, continuously moving against him in a flowing wave. He kisses Sam whenever his mouth is close enough, burning through with joy at how good this feels to be with Sam again. He wishes it would never stop, that they could always be so close and so in-sync like they are right now, that the angels would leave them alone and go back up to Heaven where they belong.

They both see it happen and feel the results when their amulets float out from their bodies and connect. Touching between them as if they’ve suddenly decided to become magnets.  A soundless wave of energy passes through them, damped out quickly in the water, leaving a small circular trail of waves around them.

weight pool

“What the hell was that?” Dean splutters as they stop and stand up in the middle of the pool, still entwined together.

“Dean, look,” Sam says with alarm, looking between them at the amulets still stuck together like magnets, glowing so brightly it’s almost hard to see Dean’s face.

“Sammy, I don’t think . . .” Dean is cut off by a familiar sounding voice which resonates out from the joined amulets.

“Sam and Dean, it’s been a while,” the voice says from what seems like everywhere at once.

Sam recognizes him first, “Chuck?”

“Yes, Sam,” Chuck’s disembodied voice answers.

“What the hell is going on?” Dean asks.

“I was wondering if you’d ever figure those amulets out,” Chuck says, laughter ringing out and bouncing back off the high ceiling.

Sam gets them both over to the shallow end of the pool and pushes Dean down onto one of the wide steps, sitting beside him close enough so that their necklaces stay together.

“Chuck, how are you even talking to us?” Dean finally manages to ask.

“I left the amulets behind as a way to contact me in an emergency. They only work if they’re used by two human vessels who are attuned to each other, like you two are, - soul mates.”

“But hold on a second, we thought you were just a prophet,” Dean says.

“No, I’m a lot more than that, Dean. I’m God. I apologize for the deception. I assure you that it was necessary. Anyways, what’s the emergency?”

A dead silence falls as they take in this revelation, only the sound of their breathing echoing off the tiled ceiling.

Sam recovers first. “The angels fell. To Earth. Metatron kicked them out with a spell.”

“That’s why no one answered when I called last time. How long’s it been?” Chuck says.

“About a month,” Sam answers quickly.

“Guess I’ll have to come back. This isn’t what I’d planned,” Chuck says, sounding a little peeved.

“Well, sorry to interrupt your vacation or whatever, but it’s pretty messed up around here,” Dean retorts, definitely well past just peeved and not hiding it at all.

“Dean, I know you’ve had a lot to deal with, but you need to speak to me with more respect,” Chuck admonishes.

“I’ll start respecting you once you come clean up the mess your damned angels have made of this place! You left and they had no one to lead them. They started the damn apocalypse, did you know that? We stopped that though, you’re welcome by the way. Then there was the Leviathan, remember them, you made them and locked them up? One of your angels let them out of Purgatory. But we fixed that too.  Now that same angel, the one you keep bringing back to life, this time he helped empty out Heaven. And this is the result, humanity always stuck paying for Heaven’s fuck-ups.” Dean finishes, a little out of breath after that rant, - he’s been holding all that in for a long time.

“I will set it right,” Chuck promises, sounding very sincere.

“That’d be swell,” Dean answers with biting sarcasm.

Sam elbows Dean sharply in the ribs. “Thank you…uh…God,” he says a little more respectfully than Dean had.

They can hear the sound of a smile, which sends ripples of energy out from the joined amulets. “You may still call me Chuck if you like.”

Dean was affected by that wave of Chuck’s happiness, it makes him a little more tractable. “Thanks Chuck, we’d appreciate some help this time around, Sam and I can only do so much.”

“You’ve done much more than I’d ever imagined. You must let me give you a reward,” Chuck insists, sounding like he won’t take no for an answer.

“How do you mean?” Dean asks with no little suspicion.

“Like ‘Peace on Earth’?” Sam suggests.

“No, something just for you two,” Chuck answers, voice booming through the room and bouncing off the high, tiled ceiling.

Sam and Dean don’t say anything; just look at each other over the glow of the joined amulets hanging between them; searching each other’s faces and communicating silently like they have their whole lives.

What do you want?

Just you, happy, alive.

Us together.

“Oh, that’s all huh?” Chuck says with a small chuckle that reverberates through the whole room, causing several tiles to fall off the ceiling and splash into the pool. “Done! You will live a long happy life together, and when you die, you’ll go together.”

“Where?” Dean asks.

“Heaven. That’s always been the plan for you two.”

“Thanks, Chuck,” Sam says.

Dean asks, “That’ll be the Heaven that we share, right?”

“Yes Dean, that’s the one.  What was it your friend called it? Winchester-land, if I recall,” Chuck says, and they can tell he’s smiling again because the water sloshes in the pool in happy-seeming, small wavelets.

“Okay, uh, good. Just checking.  Thanks, Chuck,” Dean says.

“You are welcome. I will see you soon. Tell Kevin to be ready for me.”

The joined amulets pulse brighter with their shared light for a moment, rising up between Sam and Dean, falling down against their chests with an abrupt thump, finally separated.

Dean throws himself off the step, splashing back into the water, floating on the surface looking up at Sam he holds out one hand.  Sam joins him and they float for a while joined by one hand, looking up at the tile ceiling which someone has to figure out how to fix.  They don’t say anything to each other. Because what can you say when God speaks to you in the voice of some schlub writer who wrote your story down because he was supposedly a Prophet of the Lord, when you’re naked in the pool, with your brother who you’d just had sex with for the first time in more than a year.

Finally Dean pulls them both under and starts swimming back towards the step.  As they return to the step, he breaks the silence with a deep thought. “Why is this pool so different? It’s not all gross with chlorine.”

“Yeah, it’s saltwater. Guess it makes sense with all the wards and demon proofing around here.  Feels a lot better on your eyes, doesn’t it?” Sam asks.

“Guess the pool’s even saltier now,” Dean jokes as they stand up to finally get out.

“Yeah, I’ll have to recheck the levels,” Sam laughs.

“Did we just hallucinate all that?” Dean asks.

“Don’t think so, look at the tiles over there that fell when He, Chuck, was laughing. We could create a whole new religion around this pool room, you know.”

“Come worship at the Holy Site of Brotherly Hand Jobs,” Dean says as he towels himself dry.

“Hilarious, Dean.” Sam throws his wet towel at Dean’s face.

Dean drops both the towels and steps back into his boxers. “You love it.”

“Yep,” Sam agrees, pulling his shirt back over his wet hair.

“So how’re we gonna tell Kevin that he’s finally going to meet Chuck?” Dean asks, his voice muffled as he pulls his shirt back over his head.

“We’ll just tell him. Make sure we leave out the naked details though.” Sam’s not too worried about Kevin finding out about them, but he doesn’t want to scar him for life. “He’s a smart kid, he might’ve guessed at least part of the story.”

Dean grins. “He asked me about the necklaces when we first started wearing them.”

“Yeah, me too. Did Charlie also?” Sam asks.

Dean puts his arm around Sam’s waist as they walk back up the wide stairs, bumping hips with him. “Uh huh. Guess we have nosy friends now.”

“I’m just gonna count that as a good thing for now,” Sam says, as he soaks up the feeling of Dean’s arm around him, holding him tight and close.

!@#~!@#~

Kevin is awake when they come back up from the pool level.  Not exactly awake, but in the process of waking up over a bowl of cereal and a mug of tea at the table they use for eating. Sam and Dean look at each other in surprise because it’s just past midnight and they thought Kevin was down for the night.  Everyone’s sleep schedules are off because of the round-the-clock Crowley monitoring.  But Kevin isn’t at all sure what they mean when they inform him of God’s imminent arrival and that he’ll likely look like a small bearded man.

“You mean like just a regular person?” Kevin asks, pretty sure that they’re just messing with him again.

“Yeah, we actually knew him, back when the apocalypse thing was going on, the angels told us he was a prophet. Guess he fooled them too,” Sam says.

“And he knows what happened with Metatron and everything?” Kevin asks, still skeptical.

“We told him everything. That’s why he’s coming, he promised to set things right,” Dean says, smiling at Kevin’s stubborn skepticism.

Kevin whistles in a low tone. “Whoa.”

“Yeah, whoa is a good word for it,” Dean says.

“What did he say again, about me specifically?” Kevin asks.

Sam smiles and answers, “All he said about you was ‘tell Kevin to be ready for me’”

Kevin shakes his head and looks alarmed. “I have no idea what that means.”

“Us either, sorry. That was the last thing he said and then ‘poof’, gone,” Dean says with a shrug.

“Hope it isn’t something I’m supposed to have read on one of these tablets, like the angel one.” Kevin sounds worried now, like he’s forgotten to study for a final exam.

“Can you reread your notes on the angel one? Maybe there’s something in there,” Sam suggests.

Kevin nods and takes a breath. “Good idea, I’ll check. Like right now. Did he say how soon he’d be coming?”

Dean shakes his head in a negative. “Nope, no timeline beyond ‘soon’.”

“Great. Well, thanks for the heads up I guess.” Kevin throws his hands up.

“No problemo. Thanks for talking to us about the necklaces,” Dean says.

“So they really were for something, besides just what they mean to you,” Kevin asks with a smile.

Sam and Dean look at each other, not really sure how to answer.

Dean finally settles on a short, “Yep.”

They head down the hall together. Dean splits off for his room since it’s first, and Sam hesitates, unsure whether Dean wants him to follow, or keep walking by himself to his room down the hall.  Dean doesn’t say anything, just goes inside his room and starts fiddling with stuff unnecessarily. “Sammy, get yer ass in here.”

“What?” Sam asks from his position still out in the hallway between their two rooms.

“You’re not gonna sleep down the hall, are you?” Dean asks.

“No. I . . . uh, I wasn’t sure,” Sam admits.

“Well, I want you to stay in here tonight, with me. That clear enough for ya?” Dean says.

“Yeah Dean, crystal, be there in a sec.” Sam disappears into his room, and Dean goes back to considering whether sleeping nude would be okay tonight or not. He figures yes, since they were just naked in the pool (and while talking to Chuck), so he pulls back the covers on the bed, shucks his clothes off, slips in between the sheets and gets comfortable. Just as he’s starting to get worried that Sam’s changed his mind, his brother’s shadow darkens the doorway. Sam stands there for a hesitant moment, drawing out the delay with a nervous fidget.

“Wouldja get in here already Sammy?” Dean grumbles and pulls back the covers in what he hopes is an inviting gesture. How did they used to do this before? He’s forgotten, but somehow they always ended up back here.  Sam’s across the room in a few strides, standing on his usual side of the bed, looking down at his brother’s naked shoulders for a hint as to what he should be wearing to bed. Why is he hesitating? It’s just so weird, like it’s the first time and the last time all at once. He takes everything off quickly and slips between the covers, rolling towards the heat sink that is Dean.

They tangle their legs together in the usual combination; this they remember, having done it for most of their lives even before the first time, when it all started. Sam nestles into Dean’s arms, even though they’d fit better the other way, because this is what he wants tonight. Feeling welcomed back into his brother’s bed. Hopeful that it’ll become their bed, because this memory foam thing is pretty damn nice.

“Y’re bed‘s awesome,” Sam slurs as he falls asleep in the comforting warmth of a Dean-scented cocoon.

“Night Sammy,” Dean says quietly, with a whispered, “Toldja so” that no one hears. He kisses the top of Sam’s hair, and leaves his face tucked in it, falling asleep smelling that familiar smell he’s missed.

!@#~!@#~

Sam is happy that he wakes up first, because he gets to decide how best to wake Dean up on this, their first morning back together. His eyes travel down from Dean’s relaxed face, down to his shoulders, his waist, and just below it, the sheet is standing up in the most inviting shape. Sam’s mouth floods at the thought, it’s been so long since he’s had Dean in his mouth, oh how he’s missed that taste, that feeling of being so full he doesn’t even care about not breathing. 

He slowly untangles himself from Dean, and inches the sheet down so that Dean’s exposed, happy to rediscover that Dean had slept without clothing, as that makes it easier to get to work.  He scoots himself down so he’s in a better position to hover over Dean and just takes in the sight of him, mostly hard morning wood, not completely full quite yet. He licks his lips in anticipation and blows as softly as he can on the whole length.  Dean stirs slightly, but doesn’t wake.  Sam licks around the head and all the way down the length of Dean’s cock.  He definitely wakes up then, with a mumbled, “Sammy?” Sam hums his reassurance that yes, it’s him, and Dean groans in response to the vibration that goes through him, centered where Sam’s hot, wet mouth has him enclosed in a sweet, sucking pull.

Sam’s glad that Dean’s awake now so that he can enjoy this, and so that he can look up and see Dean’s eyes on him, watching himself go in and out of Sam’s mouth. Dean throws his head back onto the pillow and lets himself thrust up into Sam’s mouth a few times, but finally he pulls Sam up by his hair, with a “stop, my turn now.”

Sam grins, with spit and pre-come sliding down his chin, he knees up closer to Dean and kisses him deeply, morning breath not mattering because of the taste of Deandeandean in his mouth. Dean pulls him up further, insistent hands under Sam’s ass, guiding him over closer to his mouth.  Dean looks up at Sam with a fierce need in his eyes. “Want it Sam.”

Sam groans at that unanticipated begging tone and feeds his ready cock into Dean’s open pink mouth. He cries out loudly at the feeling of perfect suction and heat and wetness. And it’s Dean, Dean taking him apart, he almost loses himself right then and there, but he pulls himself back over the edge. He gently pulls himself out of Dean’s mouth. Without a word he goes back down Dean’s body and takes him back into his mouth, holding Dean’s hips down firmly so that Dean knows he’s not going anywhere, just has to lie there and take being manhandled by his brother like they’ve both missed so much.

Dean loses himself in the rhythm that Sam creates, alternating long, slow sucks up and down his length with quick swirls just around the head.  He pushes up against Sam’s hands, trying to thrust his hips but unable to, and that’s hotter than anything. Sam’s hair flopping forward and brushing his sensitive skin, the sounds Sam’s making, all of it is perfect, just what he’s wanted all this time. Just what he was missing in Purgatory. Them, us, we.

After a few minutes of working on Dean, Sam is suddenly devastated that he’d forgotten, how could he have forgotten this? What Dean looks like when he’s strung-out and desperate? The tips of his ears warm and pink, the flush flowing down the top of his chest, eyes closed so tight in concentration. And the noises that Dean’s making, how could he have forgotten these, how they make him feel, just hearing the deep almost angry growls and moans interspersed with his name in all its various forms, Sam, Sammy, Samsamsam. It’s no wonder that he misplaced these memories during the time they were separated, out of self-preservation. But now that Dean’s back under him, coming apart, there’s no way Sam’s ever giving this up again. He takes a breath and sinks back down, taking Dean all the way in this time, swallowing around the tip of his cock as it hits the back of his throat. 

Dean’s noises increase, and Sam meets his eyes which are suddenly open. The look on Dean’s face is worth everything to Sam; the surprising depth of his lust is so plainly written, that’s what taking Dean apart is about for Sam. Getting to see everything that Dean works so hard to hide. Sam hums in delight that he’s gotten him here, and Dean groans even louder at the vibration. Sam pulls off to ask, “Gonna come for me, Dean?”

“Yeah, Sammy, yeah.” Dean puts one of his hands on the top of Sam’s head to hold him down and pumps up once, twice, and a final time with his hips, his body going tight all over as he yells out Sam’s name with joyful abandon.  Dean falls back down, flat on his back, panting like he’s just outrun a wendigo.

Sam licks him clean and then rests his head on Dean’s thigh. Dean’s hand is still holding onto the top of Sam’s head, nails scratch-scratching back and forth so that Sam feels like arching and purring like a cat. “Sammy, god. It’s still so…”

“Yeah, I know, I heard,” Sam says, looking up the length of Dean’s body to his eyes, which are somehow glowing in the morning dimness.

“Come up here,” Dean insists, tugging lightly at Sam’s ear until he starts moving.

Sam crawls up and settles down so he covers Dean with his whole body, his hard cock poking into Dean’s belly. Framing his face between his forearms, Sam kisses Dean, licking into Dean’s mouth, sharing the taste, the essence, and it all seems so normal, but still so special that he can barely stand how good it is. Sam shivers as Dean bites his lower lip. “Hey, what do we do about you?”

“What do you want?” Sam asks, kissing and biting his way down Dean’s jaw to bite at the soft flesh underneath, scraping his lips through the stubble.

“Anything,” Dean whispers.

Sam goes still for a moment as all the images of what ‘anything’ means when Dean says it in this context come flooding into his brain. All the things they’ve done, everything that’s possible, and it all zeroes down to one thing for Sam. “Just want to be in you Dean or you in me.”

“How about both?” Dean pulls him back up and kisses him with more passion at the thought. It’s been more than a year now since he’s had this, and Sam will undoubtedly want to go slow, take forever to get him ready. And he’s guessing that it’s probably the same for Sam; they haven’t talked about it all, what he did or didn’t do with Amelia or other people while he was gone. Getting hard again is not going to be a problem.

Dean turns onto his side and pushes Sam a little so that he gets the idea that they’re both going to get each other ready at the same time.  Sam gets himself turned around and into position and looks down his own body at Dean, putting two of his fingers into his own mouth. Dean does the same and then they touch each other’s holes at the same moment, an audible gasp out of both of them, fingers going in slowly, catching a little since it’s just spit, gentle movements in and out.

Sam surprises Dean by taking first one and then the other of his balls lightly into his mouth and sucking ever so gently. Once Dean has recovered from that overload of sensation, he does the same to Sam, who reacts by having to grasp at the base of his cock not to come. They add another finger at the same time so that there’s more to adjust to now. Sam’s getting more excited at the thought of how they’re doing this at the same time, aching to be in Dean, feeling his hole expand and contract, gripping onto Dean’s fingers sliding in and out of him.

Dean stops suddenly and rolls away towards the bedside table, fumbling around in the drawer for a tube of lube.  He slicks up his fingers and tosses it to Sam who does the same.  They both renew their efforts, the glide even better now, warming up so fast at the friction. “Can you take another Sammy?”

“Yeah Dean, ‘m ready. You?”

“Yeah, do it,” says Dean, grunting a little as Sam presses in a third long finger. He’s reaching for Dean’s prostate, but he’s at a funny angle and he’s not quite getting there. But scissoring a little makes Dean lose it for a second, rocking back onto his fingers. “I could get my whole hand in there, Dean, you’re opening up so good for me.”

“Not today baby. Maybe later.”

“I know, just want you now. ‘m ready now, you go first, c’mon Dean.”

Dean pushes Sam onto his back and turns himself around. Climbing up onto Sam, he leans down for a kiss, one that’s flavored with both of them, and the desire that’s been held back for these months they’ve been back together. They moan into each other’s mouths at the sensation of their slicked-up cocks sliding against each other.

Instead of getting between Sam’s legs like he knows Sam’s expecting him to, Dean stays right there on Sam’s lap, where he lifts himself up slightly, reaches back to hold Sam’s hard cock in place, and sinks down slowly, taking him all in.

When Dean’s sitting on him, Sam realizes that finally it feels right, because it’s real, like he’d let himself forget. He’d given up the memory of this to escape the torment of not having Dean anymore. He goes still remembering the first time he’d been with Amelia, how he had to force himself to not allow Dean in the bed with them.  And when he’d succeeded, the huge sadness that had overtaken him afterwards when he realized that he’d been able to put away and wall of the memories of his brother as his lover as easily as that.

Sam can’t move, can’t be thinking this while he’s in Dean, the words escape him, even though he knows they’ll hurt Dean. “Thought you were dead. Didn’t think I’d ever have this again. Made myself forget you and me like this,” Sam says, eyes closed against all the emotion.

He sees Sam struggling with too much feeling, and Dean’s heart soars at the words he’s just heard Sam say. He knows that he can’t just expect Sam to fuck him without saying anything to acknowledge them. “Look at me, Sam.  Sammy, c’mon open your eyes,” Dean cajoles, hand on the side of Sam’s face with his thumb rubbing softly down his eyebrow. “You can’t get rid of me man, you know that. Not going anywhere Sammy.”

Sam shakes his head. “No more promises like that, they’re pointless, we both know that. But I promise you I won’t do it again. I won’t forget this.” He grips Dean’s hips and holds him tight, leaving his fingerprints in Dean’s skin, where they belong.

“Damn right you won’t, not if I have anything to do about it,” Dean says, beginning to move up and down a little, riding Sam gently at first. Starting to get used to the feeling of all that fullness and strength inside of him. He starts a swiveling figure-eight movement with his hips that makes Sam groan.

Sam plants his feet flat on the bed then so that he has more leverage to move up into Dean, pumping up into him hard, Dean leaning back a little onto Sam’s thighs. Sam thrusts up into Dean in a slow, pulsing rhythm , pulling almost all the way out by pushing Dean up a slightly, loving the feeling of Dean sucking him all the way back in. Soon he loses this control, the squeeze and flex of Dean surrounding him too good; it’s been too long and he pulses up a few more times, yelling out Dean’s name and a string of un-nameable phrases of love and praise.

Sam relaxes beneath him, resting there almost boneless after coming so hard, so Dean knows he doesn’t have long now, Sam’s probably too sensitive for too much more. But he pulls himself up off of Sam’s softening cock and moves down between his legs, lines himself up and pushes in slowly, not holding back the words and sounds that are expelled from him. All Sam can do is hold Dean’s shoulders up as Dean uses all his strength to pound into Sam in an uncoordinated rhythm that quickly becomes even more erratic and wild. It’s all about reclaiming and reconnecting and taking back what he’d thought he’d lost. Dean loses himself in the feeling of Sam holding him up, containing him, and comes yelling Sam’s name loud and strong.

!@#~!@#~

Sam walks up the stairs to the main room on his way to the kitchen. “Wow, you’re up early Kevin, thought you were going to sleep in.”

‘Well, I would have been, but you guys were really loud, you woke me up,” Kevin complains.

Sam goes red, and isn’t sure what to say, he’s just about to try something about when two people love each other, etc., when Dean shows up. “Morning Kevin. Anyone make coffee yet?”

“No Dean, I just got up, you guys woke me up,” Kevin complains again.

“Oh. Uh. Sorry ‘bout that. We’ll try to keep it down next time, huh, Sammy,” Dean says lightly, turning to tug on Sam’s amulet so that he’ll lean down just far enough that Dean can kiss him softly.  “I’ll go make us all some coffee. Sam, you want eggs?”

“Yeah, sounds good, thanks Dean,” Sam says, still red with embarrassment, lips still tingling from Dean’s unexpected kiss, still not sure what the heck to say to Kevin.  They can hear Dean whistling as he heads off into the kitchen.

“He always like this when he’s gotten some?” Kevin asks with a mocking grin.

“Uh…yeah.  Usually,” Sam stammers.

Kevin stops grinning and shrugs, “Cool, beats grumpy and bitching about being out of bacon like usual.”

Sam finally brings himself to ask, “So, uh, you’re okay with this, Kevin?”

Kevin looks up from his collection of angel tablet notes. “Yeah. Not like it’s a surprise or anything, Sam.”

“Oh.”

“What? You thought it was some big secret or something?” Kevin asks.

“Yeah. I guess. We just don’t usually tell anyone.”

“It’s not like you guys have to say anything. It’s pretty obvious how you feel about each other.”

“Oh, okay,” Sam says quietly. So Kevin did mean what he said about mom and dad fighting the other day, he really does see us that way. Together.

Dean comes back shortly with everything on a tray. When they’d first moved into the bunker, Sam had thought it would be easier to just eat in the kitchen at the small table, but Dean had argued that the main library room was so much nicer. Dean’s made it clear that it’s worth it to him to carry the food a few steps further. The kitchen table reminds him too much of all those tables in all those motel rooms, kinda rickety and unsubstantial, while the library tables are solid and never going anywhere.

While they’re eating, Kevin tells them that as far as he’s figured out, the angel tablet says the only preparation he needs to be making is to be well-hydrated and rested. 

“Hold on, all you have to do is have some extra water and take a nap? Man, you’re getting off easy compared to what Sammy had to do in the Trials,” Dean says through a mouthful of eggs.

Kevin frowns at the sight of eggs being mashed in Dean’s mouth, and at the reminder of Sam not actually finishing the job that cost him his mom. “It may have a slight translation problem. Metatron is fond of mixing his metaphors.”

When they’re done, Sam’s doing the dishes, because whoever cooks doesn’t have to clean up, that’s their rule. So Dean’s relaxing, reading Kevin’s angel tablet notes. “Is there anything that we should be doing?” Dean asks.

“I don’t think so, unless Chuck told you something else that you haven’t told me,” Kevin says.

“So you’re calling him Chuck too?” Dean asks with a knowing grin.

“Yeah, it’s just too hard to conceive of, you know? That God is someone you can actually talk to and see and stuff. I found a picture of him online, that author guy, and it’s easier to think of him that way.”

“He really fooled us. Me and Sam. Guess he fooled all the angels too, Cas sure had no idea. I hope I get to tell him someday. For a while there, he was really stuck on finding his missing father,” Dean says.

“Aren’t we all,” Kevin answers in a weary tone.

“Kevin, he’ll probably offer you a reward of some kind, - he did to Sam and me last night, so you should think about it. Maybe he’d be able to tell you who your dad is,” Dean offers.

“Don’t know if I’d want to know that. When Crowley was holding me prisoner, he wouldn’t shut up about it,” Kevin says.

“Yeah, maybe better not to know,” Dean agrees.

“What’d you and Sam ask for?” Kevin asks.

“Kind of personal, dude,” Dean says, clamming up.

“And talking about my absent father isn’t? Whatever, Dean,” Kevin says with a huff, going back to re-reading his notes.

After a long day of reading through everything they have on the angel tablet and previously documented visits from God in the Men of Letters library, Sam and Dean take off for a supply run. Having two extra mouths to feed is putting a strain on their stash of food. Before they leave, they tell Kevin to let Crowley know they’ll bring him back the bon-bons he was requesting. An hour later, Kevin’s not thinking about bon-bons or Crowley or anything else, because Chuck has arrived and, after verifying that Kevin is okay with being a temporary vessel, has taken him over.

“You put the stuff away, I’m going to go check on Crowley and ask him about the idea I had in the car,” Sam says as they walk back into the Bat Cave, arms full of loaded-down cloth and paper bags.

“Dean, Sam, it is good to see you again,” Kevin says in a voice that is everywhere at once, his eyes glowing with blue-white intensity.

“Hey Chuck,” Dean says slowly, guessing that’s who he’s talking to instead of Kevin.

Sam is awestruck, struck dumb, thunderstruck, all those things. He’s in the physical presence of God after all, not just hearing his voice. He feels like he should do something besides just a ‘hey’. He goes for a slight bow at the waist and says, “Hello, Chuck, we’re glad you’re here.”

“Didn’t know you were taking over Kevin, he gonna be alright afterwards?” Dean asks.

“Yes, Dean, my Prophet will be fine. I just had to take him over temporarily so that I didn’t have to journey all the way back here. I’m in the middle of working on a project on the far side of the universe, a new kind of galaxy, and I can’t be away from that project for too long.”

“Is there anything you need us to do to help?” Sam asks.

Kevin’s face smiles, and the energy that beams out of him soothes all the rough edges inside Sam and Dean, like a balm applied to a burn, suddenly everything feels better. “I just need Crowley and a body of water, salt water preferably.”

“How big does it have to be? We have a salt-water swimming pool downstairs,” Dean asks.

“Ah yes, I remember this place now. The pool should work just fine. Crowley and I have to be in the water to dampen the effect on our corporeal bodies.”

“Well, let us show you to our dungeon then,” Dean says.

“You’ve got him in a dungeon?” Chuck asks, sounding very surprised.

“Where else are we supposed to keep the former King of Hell?” Sam asks.

“I thought he was cured,” Chuck says.

“No, I, uh, stopped the third trial right before the very last part,” Sam says, with a guilty edge to his voice.

Chuck makes a hmmm’ing noise. “Oh yes, I forgot about that third trial, it’s been a while since I had Metatron write those trials down for me. I’m glad you stopped it in time Sam. So Crowley’s mostly cured then. Well, that’s going to make this a bit more interesting.”

“Will you finish curing him?” Sam asks.

“I’ll leave it up to him. Free will and all that. Even for demons,” Chuck answers.

“Just not angels,” Dean says with disdain, remembering what Cas and Anna had suffered when they first showed any signs of it.

“True, they weren’t made for it, not like humans,” Chuck says.

“Is that something you could change?” Sam asks.

“Why would I?” Chuck asks.

“Oh, I don’t know, so maybe this sort of shit-fest wouldn’t keep happening,” Dean snarks, stalking off towards the dungeon.

Sam leads Chuck down to the pool room. “The angels have all lost their grace, but they don’t have souls, and they don’t have free will. If you just put them back in Heaven, won’t it be even worse now that they’ve seen what they’re missing?” Sam explains the theory that Dean and he have been talking about for weeks.

“You telling me how to run things, Sam?” Chuck asks, with a sharp, challenging tone that shakes a few more of those ceiling tiles loose, splashing down into the pool.

“No, no, of course not. Just arguing the case. Sorry, that’s what I do,” Sam says, feeling ashamed that he’s basically tried to tell Chuck how to do his job.

“Pre-law, I’d forgotten,” Chuck says.

Sam shakes his head in a negative. “That was a long time ago.”

“Still, you’ve got that knack. Maybe you should go back to it,” Chuck encourages.

“I’ve thought about it, pretty recently in fact,” Sam admits.

“But you stuck with Dean and hunting,” Chuck says.

“Yeah,” Sam says, “It was the easiest and hardest decision I’ve made this whole year.”

“That was the wise choice, - you weren’t made to be apart, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now.”      

“Then why’d you have to make us brothers?” Sam blurts out suddenly.

“It’s complicated, but know this, Sam, - what you and your brother are to each other is what I always wanted for humans, all humans. And when that doesn’t happen for people, when the choices they make because they have free will lead them down the other way, that’s how demons come to be.”

Chuck stops talking and the words settle into Sam, deeply changing how he thinks about him and his brother, their relationship, and what demons really are. “So we’re the opposite of demons?”

“Pretty much.” Chuck nods.

“Did I really do the right thing? Stopping the third trial?” Sam asks, because the guilt he’s bearing for not following through is crushing him, and this is something Chuck would know the answer to.

“Depends on why you stopped,” Chuck says, blue-white eyes shining brighter as he watches Sam closely.

“Because Dean asked me to. He told me I came first.”

“Then yes, Sam, of course it was the right choice. You and Dean have never gone wrong when you stay together. Surely you’ve noticed that by now. Any guilt you have about not closing the Gates, just get rid of it. They really weren’t meant to be closed, except in an emergency, and I don’t think this was one. If you’d died, Dean probably would have created another issue anyways, so it all worked out. Well, except for the angel part, but that wasn’t because of you two.”

“No, it was Cas, getting taken in by Metatron, - the dude’s persuasive,” Dean says, coming up behind them with Crowley in tow.  Dean meets Sam’s eyes to communicate that yes, he heard the whole thing, so quit being guilty already.

“So here’s your mostly uncured demon king.” Dean props up Crowley near Chuck so that he can see him; Crowley’s pretty out of it, and not really with them.

Kevin who is Chuck reaches out with two fingers and touches Crowley’s forehead. The fog seems to instantly clear from Crowley’s eyes and all the injuries he’s sustained from the Winchester’s attempts at persuasion disappear.  Crowley stands up straight with no support from Dean, and the restraints all fall to the floor with loud clanks that echo off the tile ceiling.

“Crowley, I am here to set things right. And you have a choice to make. I can cure you the remainder of the way and you’ll be your original self again, or I will undo what Sam has done to you and you can go back to being a demon.”

“Will I still remember all this if you undo it?” Crowley asks in a hushed version of his accent.

“Yes,” Chuck answers.

“Then cure me the rest of the way. I can’t be a demon again, not when I’ve come back this far,” Crowley decides.

“A wise choice,” Chuck says, reaching out again with two fingers to Crowley’s forehead.

A yellow-white light surrounds the two of them. When the glow fades, it seems to be drawn back only into Crowley, who still has a bit of the light lingering around him. “Wait just a second here. I thought,” Crowley says in his sarcastic voice, restored to full-strength.

“No, you are not human, my son,” Chuck says, as if he’s waiting for Crowley to catch up with something majorly important.

“But you’re my son, Kevin, - he’s my son, I’ve never told him,” Crowley says, sounding less like himself with every word. Then he looks up at Chuck-Kevin searching his face for answers, and Crowley’s eyes go wide.  “I forgot, how could I have forgotten?” Crowley cries out in anguish and goes to his knees in front of Chuck. “I am so sorry! Father, can you ever forgive me?”

“Yes, Camael, of course I do. Stand up, we have work to do.”

Crowley who now is Camael stands with his head bowed.

“None of that, I said you are forgiven. Please, into the pool, we must do this quickly,” Chuck orders.

Camael starts walking steadily towards the edge of the pool steps. “What are we doing, Father?”

“I’m going to put the angels back where they belong and since I’m only visiting temporarily. I need your assistance to make it happen,” Chuck answers, stepping into the pool and holding out his hand to Camael.

Camael, who was Crowley, and Kevin who is Chuck walk into the pool, fully clothed, down the steps until they are up to their necks in the salt water. Chuck turns to Camael and puts his hands on his shoulders, nods at him to do the same.  “Brace yourself, it will be hard, but all will be well,” Chuck says. Camael nods in response, eyes wide with anticipation.

“So he’s an angel or something, right Sam?” Dean whispers to Sam as they watch what’s happening in the pool below them.

“Yeah, Camael’s one of the archangels, he’s the one who kicked out Adam and Eve from Eden.” They hear a low rumbling sound begin, the ground shaking slightly beneath their feet, and the water in the pool rises up in one quivery, Jell-O mass to the ceiling. The two figures still contained within the shimmering body of water hovering above the empty pool. 

Dean can see out through the wall of windows, where brilliant flares of flaming light are shooting up from the ground, going up into the dusky twilight sky like ground-based missiles being fired. He points out the window so Sam will see it too.  “It’s like the reverse of when the angels fell.”

“It’s beautiful,” Sam says with quiet awe. He looks over with concern at the figures held in the block of water hovering above the floor of the pool. They seem so still.  The pace of the lights going up into the sky slows until there are no more. Another rumble sounds and the water suddenly drops all at once with an enormous, crashing splash back into the pool. A lot of it washes out, drenching Sam and Dean who look on in stunned surprise until they see that Chuck and Camael are floating face down in the water.  Without a thought, the brothers jump in to haul them out, pulling them up onto the steps and onto the blue tile pool surround.

“Kevin, I mean, Chuck’s not breathing,” Dean says, leaning over Kevin’s prone body in full emergency response mode.

“Crowley, uh, Camael isn’t either. Do we do CPR?” Sam asks from the same position over Crowley.

“I guess so. They’re pretty much human bodies. Worth a shot.”  Dean starts in with a breath into Chuck-Kevin’s mouth, then some chest compressions.  Sam does the same with Crowley-Camael.  After a few minutes, they stop, - nothing seems to be happening.

“He said they’d be ok,” Sam says, sounding beyond disappointed.

“Well, it was a pretty big deal, all the power it took to do that,” Dean says.

“But Kevin,” Sam protests, voice trailing off.

“I know, Sam. But he was ready,” Dean says, trying to sound like he actually believes it.

“No, it’s not fair! Kevin never chose this! He never chose any of this!” Sam yells, desperate that they’ve lost yet another friend to all this destiny crap.

A watery cough brings his attention back to Camael, who says in Crowley’s accent, “Hey, moose, could you get off so I can sit up?”

Sam scrambles back off of the archangel. “You’re okay?”

“Yeah, looks like. What about?” Camael looks over at Chuck-Kevin, lying there with his dark eyelashes feathered over his cheeks. He could be sleeping except for the water still draining off of him. Camael reaches over and shakes his shoulder and says, “Father?”

Chuck-Kevin’s eyes open slowly, still on fire with that unnatural blue white blaze. “Yes, son, I am here.”

“Just checking.  Why am I still here though? Shouldn’t I be back up there with everyone else?” Camael asks, sounding like a lost little boy for just a moment.

“Ah, Camael, still questioning, I see. I want to try something new this time, and you will be the one to explain it to the angels for me.”  He reaches out and holds the side of Camael’s head for a moment.  “You understand now?  Go home, tell them, and be at peace.”

Camael turns to look at Sam and Dean. “I know I can’t apologize to you for what I’ve done, the people I’ve taken from you, what I put you through, but I will do what I can to make it up to you somehow, I swear it.”

Dean looks down at this being who appears as Crowley, but a Crowley transformed by an inner glow that is highlighting his handsome profile. “Tell Cas goodbye and thanks from us and we’ll call it even.”

Camael nods seriously, and says, “Done.” He looks once more at Chuck-Kevin and smiles, then vanishes with a puff of air and a sound of ruffling feathers.

“Kevin will need a lot of care for a few days, - you’ll be there for him?” Chuck asks.

“Yes, of course,” Sam says.

“There will no longer be angels on earth. Their instructions are clear, and I will be interested to see what they’ll do with what I gave them.”

“Did you actually give them free will?” Sam asks.

“Yes, I did. But they’re supposed to stay in Heaven, so they don’t have that option available to them for the foreseeable future.”

“So, you’ve closed the Gates of Heaven?” Dean asks.

“Not exactly, but you won’t have to worry about angels any longer,” Chuck answers.

“What about Hell and the demons, who’ll be in charge since Crowley’s gone?” Sam asks.

“I’d imagine it will stay the same, and there will be the usual sort of battle. Not up to us though, is it, gentlemen? I need to be getting back. Oh, by the way, the amulets might work again; they were originally supposed to be only for an emergency, a one-time-use-only thing, but just in case, I think they could be used again. ‘Just until things settle down’,” he says, his fingers jerking in the universal air quotes fashion. “Thank you again, you can count on the promise I made to you, as much as you can count on each other. Goodbye.”

Sam and Dean have to look away from the bright light pouring out of Kevin’s body as Chuck leaves him. Kevin collapses to the floor, Sam catching his head just in time before it would have cracked against the tile floor.  “He’s really out of it, help me carry him.” Dean reaches down and they haul a soaking wet Kevin back to his room.  They undress him, towel him dry, find some sweats and a t-shirt to dress him in and tuck him into bed.  He seems fine, just deeply, profoundly asleep.

They walk back to Dean’s room and quickly undress for bed, still both very soaked from the splash of the pool and carrying Kevin.  Just another fun evening in the Bat Cave, swimming with God and an archangel who used to be the King of Hell.

“I’m still gonna keep wearing this,” Dean says when he’s taken his wet shirt off. He stands in front of the mirror looking at himself holding onto the amulet tightly.

“Even after all that?” Sam asks.

“Especially because of all that.  It’ll be a reminder, of what we’ve done here,” Dean says, looking at Sam in the mirror’s reflection.

“Here where?” Sam asks, confused.

Dean turns around to face Sam. “Duh, in the world.”

“So what are we? Sam and Dean Winchester, protectors of Earth?” Sam asks with an edge of sarcasm.

“Guess that’s what we ended up as. Surprised everyone, didn’t we Sammy?” Dean grins up at him.

Sam smiles and shakes his head. “And no one really knows.”

“I don’t have a problem with that,” Dean says, happy with their anonymity.

“Maybe Kevin will write about us after we’re gone. Add onto the Carver Edlund stories,” Sam suggests.

Dean hits him in the shoulder. “Shoot, we forgot to ask Chuck why those books keep getting published.”

“I pretty much just don’t want to think about it if you don’t mind,” Sam says, pretending to shudder in fear.

“I wouldn’t, except Charlie keeps bugging me about stuff all the time,” Dean says.

“Again, I’ll say, that I’m counting it as a good thing that we have nosy friends now.”

“You really got what Chuck told you, right Sammy?”

“Yeah, I did, did you?” Sam challenges, sitting down on the side of the bed.

“Toldja so.” Dean says with a cry of triumph, pouncing on Sam in what he’s happy to now think of as their bed.

Sam flips Dean handily, pinning him down with his arms above his head. “No, I’m pretty sure I told you so first.” He sees Dean start to argue and leans in, kissing him briefly on his protesting lips and flopping off to one side, saying into the pillow, “Whatever, night.”

“We gonna tell him?” Dean asks as he curls in against Sam’s side, hand on his lower back.

“Who? What?” Sam asks, lifting his head from the pillow to look at Dean, doubly confused about what he’s going on about.

“Kevin, that Camael was his father,” Dean prompts.

“I guess so. If you think he really wants to know,” Sam says, not sure if he’d want to know, were he in Kevin’s position. “It’s not like the information that your father is an angel who you can’t ever meet or talk to will really change much for him, right?”

“Maybe that’s why he was a prophet, since he was the son of an angel,” Dean offers.

“We really have some weird friends. Nosy and weird,” Sam says, echoing his earlier thought about their friends.

“So Crowley was both a demon and an angel. Never could figure that guy out.  Guess he couldn’t figure himself out either,” Dean says.

“Well, Anna forgot she was an angel. So we know that it’s possible. Maybe that’s why the third trial was so painful for him. It was uncovering all that, not only his humanity, but his angel history,” Sam suggests, remembering how moving it was to see Crowley transformed before his eyes.

“It’s a whole lot to forget,” Dean agrees.

“No one would believe this, Kevin probably won’t. Maybe we should just forget it all,” Sam says, sounding frustrated.

Dean tugs on the amulet, which is lying on Sam’s bare chest. “That’s the point of these Sammy.” He leans forward and kisses Sam’s skin around the amulet, laying his head there with his ear over Sam’s steadily beating heart. “Not forgetting.”

~FIN~