Sam rolled onto his side and groggily wrapped an arm around Stacy. Her fingers caressed down his abs in a distinctly suggestive manner, waking him up a bit. As he leaned in to kiss her there was a loud knock at his dorm room’s door. Sam looked over at the sound, then got up and slipped on his pajama pants before going to answer the door.
"I swear, he's always forgetting something." Sam complained aloud about Brady. Stacy shifted in the bed to take the warm spot Sam had just vacated. He opened the door expecting to find Brady without his key again, but he was so very wrong.
Dean & his dad were standing in the hallway. His dad's hair had started greying and there were a few aging scars that Sam didn't recognize, but for the most part dad was the same grizzled looking brute. Dean was tanned & leaner than Sam remembered with a highly trained unreadable face- he must've been concerned. Sam spotted what looked like a relatively recent burn peeking out below the cuff of Dean's right jacket sleeve.
Sam couldn't process their presence let alone his complex set of feelings. He wanted to throw punches or scream at them for turning their backs on him when he needed them most. He wanted to kick them out because he didn't need them in his life anymore. He wanted his big brother to give him a hug and tell him that they were alright. But before he could think of how to react, his dad stepped past him into his dorm room.
Stacy was fully awake in an instant. She grabbed the pillow she'd been using and tried to cover her naked body with it while scrambling off the edge of mattress to hide between the bed & the wall. Furcifer hissed at the sight of the two hunters, then ran under the bed. Everyone blushed from the encounter, but embarrassment was incredibly low on the list of emotions smothering the moment. Sam sidestepped to stand defensively between his family & Stacy.
"Sorry, we didn't know you had company." Dean offered, following their dad in with less confidence. He nearly reached out to tap his dad’s arm to get his attention, but John had taken another uninvited step further into the room.
"You're right you didn't know." Sam said as he looked at his dad’s invasion of his personal space. "Get out."
"Sam, we need to talk-" His dad started.
"You can't just show up anytime you like and expect me to just be cool with it." Sam told his dad & Dean.
"Sam," Stacy called out, peeking from behind the bed. "I should go."
"You stay, they go."
"I still really want my clothes."
Sam nodded at the perfectly reasonable request, then grabbed her red dress from the floor and tossed it to her. She caught it one handed, before clumsily trying to slip on the little dress without getting her breasts or ass more than two feet off the ground. Sam moved so that Dean & their dad could look at him without incidentally staring at Stacy getting dressed.
"I didn't know you had a girlfriend." Dean commented.
"That's debatable." Stacy muttered, then asked Sam. "Who are these guys?"
"My dad & brother."
Stacy froze, terrified by the presence of two hunters. All she knew about them was that their kind sought out and killed her kind. That was their life’s work. As far as she was probably concerned she was in an incredibly dangerous situation, with two killers between her and the only exit. In Sam's opinion, that was all the more reason to get Dean & his dad out of there.
Before Sam could tell them to leave again he noticed Dean's eyes taking a quick pass at the room. It was a normal impulse, but their dad's eyes noticeable lingered on a few things, staring in a more intrusive way. Sam glanced around his shoulder to see what his dad was looking at. The small table had a baggie of weed along with several pill bottles. The nightstand had an open bottle of lube and box of condoms. The drugs were a potential argument waiting to happen, but at least there wasn't anything remotely magic related.
"Excuse me, who the fuck are you two?"
Brady had returned from his shower in the coed bathroom down the hall. He was wearing a towel wrapped around his waist and stood in the doorway staring at the two strange men who were loitering just inside the door while Stacy was trying to discreetly get dressed.
"His dad & brother, what's it to you?" John responded in a tone that bordered on a growl.
"Brady, don't. I'm handling this." Sam tried to covertly ask for him to not make a scene.
Brady pushed his way into the room, which visibly confused Dean & John. The nearly naked Brady leaned over, grabbing a stocking from the floor and tossed it to Stacy. Sam noticed Dean's eyes widened slightly at the act that hinted at familiarity- maybe even intimacy. Dean put his hand on their dad's arm. Sam could almost see the pieces clicking into place in his brother's head.
"We should come back later." Dean suggested.
"Next time try calling first." Brady said as he collected his own clothes from the floor. "His number's been the same for like five years."
"Who in the fuck do you think you are?" John asked, offended by Brady's own indignation.
"His boyfriend," Brady responded without hesitation. Sam's heart was hammering in his chest. "and you'd know that if you two ever returned his fucking calls."
John stepped toward Brady, but Sam & Dean both moved to stop him. Dean pulled their dad back while Sam prevented Brady from taking a step toward John. There wasn't any doubt in Sam's mind that Brady had meant to provoke a fight, some long fantasized about opportunity to rescue Sam. Unfortunately, Brady didn't have any idea he wasn't antagonizing a trained killer. No one said anything for an uncomfortable moment, though Furcifer growled.
"Don't help, not right now." Sam suggested to Brady, before looking back at his dad. "We can talk, but not here."
“We drove 20 hours straight to get here-” John started.
“I don't care. We talk outside.”
“We need to talk about a private thing.”
“I'm not gonna be alone with you-”
Sam didn't actually expect for their to be a physical fight, but the idea of being alone with his dad & brother scared him a little. He could see himself feeling trapped again- maybe having an anxiety attack depending on where the conversation went.
“Nothing's gonna happen.” Dean tried to reassure him.
“I’m not gonna be alone with you.” Sam restated firmly. “So either we can go for a walk around campus or we don't talk, but either way you're leaving right now.”
“Sam, we don't want to-”
"The police station is like a block away.” Sam warned. “You don't want me to call the cops."
"You move to California and suddenly you're gay?" His dad said as soon as the three of them were outside.
Of course his dad would dwell on the relationship with Brady. He always been casually homophobic on the outside, so who knew what it meant for what was happening below the surface. Sam was fairly certain that his dad knew about bisexuality, so the fact that he'd ignored the naked Stacy being in Sam's bed by calling Sam gay was alarming. There was either some tunnel vision or blind ignorance at play, neither of which boded well.
"What do you want?" Sam tried to get them directed toward something other than his sex life.
"Someone claiming to be your doctor left a message saying you were sick." Dean explained.
"It didn't sound like nothing."
“She said there's something wrong with your head-” Sam closed his eyes & pursed his lips to prevent himself from making a face at the dismissive explanation of his medical problems.
“I get migraines.”
“Is there anything else?”
“I can take care of myself.”
“Is there anything strange going on?”
Sam couldn't think for a moment, completely blindsided by the question. Dean & his dad weren't just checking in on him because they were concerned about his health, they were investigating a lead on some job. Somehow he’d been dragged into a monster hunt and it involved his own family. His body was shaking, the adrenaline was kicking in for some sort of fight or flight response. He took a step backwards, away from them.
"Sammy-” Dean shifted his weight, but didn't take a step toward him.
“Don't call me Sammy.”
“Sam, there are people- your age, like you, that can- well..." Dean glanced around to make sure there weren't any passersby within earshot. "They all..."
"Can see the future?"
"No." Dean & their dad stared at Sam with somewhat candid surprise. "They can do all sorts of stuff.”
“You're some kind of psychic?" John asked. Sam looked at his dad anxiously, but didn't answer. “Do you have any idea how-”
John stopped himself from finishing the question. Sam could hear the critic & strategist in his dad's voice. His dad was probably tripping over himself trying to decide whether it was some tool they could use or whether Sam was even more of a screw up- hell, at this point he probably qualified as a full on abomination in his dad's eyes.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Dean asked, verbally sidestepping whatever fight their dad had almost gotten them into. Damage control had always been Dean's specialty.
"Why didn't I tell you? Who the hell are you two to me?” Sam's voice shook a bit, but then his voice started rising with anger. “You didn't return my calls. You couldn't come when Jess died- but now you come running for the freak show."
"Sam, you need to come with us." John stated. Dean's jaw clenched at the poorly timed demand.
"I'm not going anywhere. I have a life here." Sam crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"If you care about these people you'll leave.” Dean tried to reframe the situation. “The others, they were killing people."
“The others?” Sam’s mouth hung open a bit, stunned by a thought. “You found some of them?”
“We can talk about it in the car.” John said as he took a step toward Sam. He didn't want to talk about it in public.
“You're killing them.” Sam recoiled.
“Sammy-” Dean started.
“Don't you fucking call me Sammy!”
“They were killing people.” Dean spoke in a hushed voice, trying to get Sam to lower his own.
"Are you & dad gonna lock me up- or put me down?” Sam was shaking. “You really think taking me away from my friends is gonna be a good thing. Them I like, you two are the ones I'd go borderline homicidal on."
“That isn't funny.”
“Do I look like I’m laughing?” Sam spoke in a particularly cold tone.
Sam stared at the two of them watching him. Dean looked so tense that he was liable to spontaneously snap a tendon. Their dad was trying to keep a calm exterior, but Sam could read his little tells- chewing his lower lip, clenching & unclenching his hands by his sides, lifting his head to try mitigating the psychological effect of Sam's height advantage- he was pissed.
"Sam, we can fix this. We'll get you help." Dean told him, again trying for some positive spin.
"For what? My visions don't hurt anyone. I’ve never hurt anyone.” Sam huffed at a thought. “Or do you mean Brady?"
“I-” Dean started to answer, but John cut him off.
"You need to stop screwing around this second.” John ordered. “You’re confused. This isn't you, it's this place-"
"Please, I've blown guys in half the states in the country." Sam shot back. John slapped him in the face. Dean's eyes widened and he took a half step toward John. Sam nearly took a swing at his dad, but managed to stop himself. “Don't you ever touch me again.”
“Listen here you little shit. I didn't raise you to be some sort of back talking faggot.”
“You didn't fucking raise me. You weren't even there-” John hit Sam in the face again, this time with a closed fist. Sam thought about trying to dodge, but he let it happen. Dean balled his fist, but he didn't swing at anyone when he saw that Sam wasn't turning the punch into a full on brawl.
“You think you’re so tough & smart... I bet that one's gonna leave a bruise.” Sam said coldly. He could feel that special calmness that came with a combat high, but he wasn’t dumb enough to fight with his fists. “That's assault, that's two years in county. You know with the whole homophobic comment there's also a hate crime adder in California of up to three years and I can get a restraining order, but I won't need one. You committed the battery on school grounds during its normal hours of activity, you have no fucking clue how bad an idea that was. By the way, welcome to the Silicon Valley, where there are security cameras everywhere.”
Sam waved a hand around indicating who knew how many small black glass domes affixed to nearby walls & poles. Dean subtly cringed and their dad narrowed his eyes as Sam continued.
“I can have you arrested and your car searched without a warrant. How’s that gonna go for you? Possession of a sawed off shotgun is a violent felony in California- I wonder how many you're packing. The fraudulent credit cards in your wallet are a felony. Do you still take Vicodin without a prescription for your that slipped disc? Because believe it or not, but that's a felony. Between the illegal guns & drugs, it’ll easily trigger the Armed Career Criminal Act sentence enhancement automatically adding a minimum of 15 years to your sentence. And if you were counting, that's also at least three felonies, including one violent felony, which would trigger California’s Three Strikes law, adding 25 years to the sentence… In total, it looks like you'd be getting out of state prison maybe somewhere in the ballpark of 95 years old.
And if you think there's a chance in hell that you wouldn't get the book thrown at you, well, I have X-rays showing dozens of fractures from when I was a minor that weren't professionally set. So, I'm gonna say this one last time- Don't you ever touch me again.”
“You wouldn't.” John’s voice wasn't nearly as commanding.
“I thought I wouldn't either, but then you came to my home, harassed me & my friends, and you hit me repeatedly. Now I just want you gone and I don't honestly give a fuck where you go to.”
The left side of Sam's face was hot & throbbing, undoubtedly starting to swell a bit. He paused a beat to see if Dean or their dad would try to argue with him, but neither did. John was equal parts fuming & unsure what to do with himself. Meanwhile Dean had turned slightly green.
“Dean can visit, you can even call in an emergency, but if you ever show up uninvited again I will immediately throw you to the fucking wolves.” Sam told his dad, trying to use however much of their shocked vulnerability he had left. “Now I'm going to go back to my place, where my boyfriend will spend the whole day trying to do whatever he can to make me feel better. Congratulations, you've accidentally helped me get some fabulous gay sex.”
Sam flipped his dad off, then walked back to his dorm room. It took all his willpower not to look back.
Sam took a moment to collect himself outside the door to his dorm room. He reached up to check the damage from the punch to his face. The skin high on his left cheekbone & around his eye was definitely starting to swell. He cringed at the mild pain the contact caused, but also what was about to happen.
He pulled some of his shaggy hair in front of his face, looked down at the floor, then opened the door. Brady & Stacy were both dressed, sitting on the bed talking. When he entered they looked up expectantly, but he didn't go toward them. Instead Sam started digging through his small freezer, collecting a handful of ice cubes to put in a towel wrapped baggie.
“No.” Brady said in some unconscious expression of disbelief as he got up from the bed and hurried over to him. Of course the medical student would recognize what he was up to. Brady gently brushed the hair away from Sam's face and froze. Brady's normal lightheartedness completely drained from his face.
“Brady-” Sam started.
“Those fucking! I’m gonna-” Brady yelled, completely enraged.
“Don't- Don't go out there.” Sam sidestepped to block Brady from heading toward the door.
“Which one of them hit you?”
“Stop.” Sam grabbed Brady's arms.
“I'm not gonna let them-”
“Just stop!” Sam's left eye was killing him, the tears on his tender skin wasn't helping. Brady stopped struggling against him to get out the door and looked back at Sam. “Please just stay here with me.”
Brady embraced him and Sam clung to him for a long while. After nearly a minute, Stacy appeared at Sam's elbow with the ice bag. He accepted it, holding it to his face for a bit. Brady led him to the bed, then helped him lay down
“How's your head feel?”
“Like I got punched in the face.”
“I mean like do you have a headache? Are you dizzy? How's your hearing?” Brady asked while pulling the ice pack away from Sam's face so he could assess the damage. “Do the lights seem too bright?”
“I have a slight headache, but I get headaches a lot.”
“Did you have it before you got hit?”
“I don't remember.” Brady's lips thinned at his answer.
“What'd you do right before you came back to your room just now?”
Sam nearly rolled his eyes at Brady's attempt to check his memory. It was a normal sort of test after a head injury, but it was still a little annoying. Despite the hit being pretty on point, he'd had worse.
“I threatened to have my dad arrested.” Sam answered. Brady nodded in an unreadable sort of way, then continued asking questions.
“Who was with your dad?”
“What was I doing that made it so I wasn't here when your dad & Dean arrived?”
“I wasn't here when your dad & Dean arrived. Do you remember where I was?”
Sam paused, trying to recall what had happened. Brady had come into the room wrapped in a towel, so he'd probably just taken a shower. He might've been asleep when Brady had left, but somehow he'd known that Brady was going to be right back- He couldn't quite sort out how he knew certain pieces of information. That was a bad sign.
“Can you take me to the hospital?” Sam asked quietly.
“Come on, we’ve got you.”
Brady drove while Stacy sat in the back seat with Sam in order to keep an eye on him. The drive to the hospital wasn't very long, but it felt like an agonizingly slow process. He couldn't tell if he was misperceiving time or if it was his fear dragging the minutes out- fear that there might be something wrong with him, fear about what a concussion might mean for his powers or possibly legitimate neurological condition- fear that maybe his dad had been watching for him to leave his dorm and was following them to the hospital.
Sam was pretty sure that Brady could sense his fear. After Sam checked in with the receptionist at the Emergency Room, Brady held his hand while they sat in the waiting area. About a half hour into their wait, Brady stepped outside for a few minutes to make a quick phone call, but as soon as he was done attending to whatever urgent matter Brady resumed his position- holding Sam's hand, head resting on Sam's shoulder, providing Sam with a headrest in turn.
When the nurse came out to get Sam she insisted on taking him back by himself. At first Sam thought it was because he & Brady weren't registered domestic partners, then he figured out what the actually concern was. After separating him from Brady, the nurse asked a series of questions designed to coax out whether Brady had been the one to hit him. He assured her that it had been someone else, but he didn't want to say who. She didn't seem convinced, though she didn't press the issue.
Unsurprisingly, he was diagnosed with a concussion and was prescribed several days of bed rest with casual monitoring by friends. Brady took them back to Sam's dorm room after Sam rejected the idea of staying at Brady's apartment for a few days. During the processing of discharge paperwork and the drive home, Sam had compelled Brady & Stacy to ask him questions meant to probe for any other gaps in his memory. They hadn't found anything beyond a few minutes just before his family had shown up, with a little fuzziness before & after. When they got back into the dorm room, Sam let Brady undress him and get him into bed. He didn't think he needed that degree of help, but he was too tired to fight for some sort of dignity.
The next morning there was a knock at the door. Stacy had gone home with some vague promise of returning with some family recipe folk medicine that Sam had understood to mean some sort of magical healing. It had only been a few hours since Stacy had left, hardly enough time to get up to her place & back, let alone to make a potion- though maybe healing potions were the sort of thing witches just kept in case of emergencies. Brady put a hand on Sam's chest, to keep him from getting up. Brady grabbed his hoodie, then started to get up to put on some pants and get the door.
“It's Dean- just me. Can we talk?”
Brady started moving with new agitated purpose, but Sam lunged from the bed, grabbing Brady's arm. The sudden movement made Sam a bit dizzy and it was probably visible based on the way Brady hastily tried to brace him. Brady's face was screwed up in a wavering scowl as he looked back & forth between Sam & the door.
“It wasn't him.” Sam told Brady. “Don't- please, don't do anything.”
Brady nodded, though he was clearly too upset to risk using words -always a bad sign with Brady. He made sure that Sam was settled in bed again before putting on his pants and opening the door.
Dean stared at Brady before looking at Sam, who was seated up in the bed. When Dean saw Sam's visibly injured face he subtly planted his feet, probably in anticipation of Brady trying to tackle him. After waiting a second or two, Dean cautiously entered the room. Dean pulled up a folding chair to be near Sam's side of the bed.
Sam was suddenly uncomfortably aware that he was naked, lower body covered by a blanket, but clearly naked. Brady climbed back onto the bed to sit beside Sam- well, less beside and more behind. Brady wrapped his arms around Sam and kissed his neck just below the ear. The act of affection was undoubtedly meant to antagonize Dean, a display of male-male affection as well as some strange way of showing Brady's possessory interest. Sam supposed it wasn’t as bad as it could've been- Brady could've easily slid a hand below the blanket. To his credit Dean only momentarily averted his eyes.
“Can we have a little privacy?” Dean asked.
“No.” Brady answered for Sam and unconsciously tightened his hold. “He's hurt and you aren't gonna-”
“Brady.” Sam gently pulled Brady's arms away from him. “It's okay.”
“I'm not gonna hurt him. I've never touched him.” Dean offered, thankfully being sensitive to Brady's concerns. “I just want to talk.”
“Talking can do plenty of damage.” Brady replied in a nearly venomous tone.
“Please,” Sam squeezed Brady's hand. “I'll be fine.”
Brady kissed Sam on the lips before getting up to leave. As he walked by Dean he intentionally let the right zipper of his hoodie swing wide and hit Dean in the face. For a split second Sam was ready to jump in to break up a fight, but Dean only pursed his lips at the slight.
“Your boyfriend’s kinda a dick.” Dean commented as soon as they were alone.
“Unlike you, he's not used to seeing me with a black eye.” Sam jabbed.
“That's not fair.”
“It feels pretty fair.”
They sat there staring at each other for several seconds. Sam wasn't sure whether to bring up the concussion, but decided against it. Despite his private reserve & public immaturity, Dean was actually a very clever person with plenty of experience with concussions. He'd probably recognized the possible injury as soon as the punch had landed. Except for the need to wrangle their dad, Sam would've liked to think that Dean would've taken him to the hospital himself. But that assumption was based on a person Sam hadn't known for roughly six years.
"When did you change your name?" Dean asked, breaking the unpleasant silence.
"The first few weeks."
At the time he'd been too upset with his dad & Dean to endure hearing the name Winchester on a regular basis. He changed it to his mom's maiden name, Campbell. It wasn't his favorite, but he wasn't quite prepared to make something up. Back when he was thinking of proposing to Jessica, he'd planned on taking her name, Moore, but that hadn't happen. The idea of eventually taking Brady's last name was knocked out because Brady was actually a surname- his boyfriend's given name was Tyson. It'd be too damn confusing to be named Sam Brady.
“It made it harder to find you.” Dean commented.
“That's not why I did it.” Sam clarified. “I could've been really easy to find if you’d just called me and asked where I was.”
“We both know you wouldn't have seen us.”
“I would've agreed to meet with you.” The unspoken exclusion of their dad hung in the air for a moment.
Dean pursed his lips slightly, possibly realizing that he'd misjudged their relationship. It wasn't as damaged as he'd believed- or at least it hadn't been until he'd showed up unannounced. Now Sam wasn't sure how to feel about the situation.
“We need to talk about how we're gonna deal with this psychic thing.” Dean pushed ahead to the reason why they'd come to begin with rather than risk being dragged into a moment of vulnerability.
“We aren't gonna deal with anything. It's my situation and I'm handling it.” Sam replied firmly. “I'm not about to throw away my whole life because of your & dad’s knee jerk reaction to me being a bi psychic.”
“Like I care if you fuck guys.” Dean muttered, then quickly added. “Fucking dickbags is something else.”
“Wait-” Sam replayed Dean's words in his head. After last night he wasn't expecting to get anything positive out of their interaction. “You aren't mad about the bi thing?”
“Please, I've known for over a decade that you like guys.” Dean rolled his eyes slightly. “If anything it was the girl that was surprising.”
“How'd you know?”
“I went to pick you up from school when you were in eighth grade. I saw you kissing some boy behind the gym.”
“You didn't say anything.”
“What's there to say?” Dean shrugged with a false casualness, but didn't make eye contact.
“That it was okay. That you wouldn't-” Sam pursed his lips, unable to speak through the tightness in his throat.
“You were fine-”
“You knew that wasn't true.” Sam whispered. “You're such a fucking liar.”
“What do you want from me?”
“I used to think I knew.” Sam replied. “Distance comes to mind.”
“You know I can't go back to dad telling him to back off unless I can say that you have things under control.”
“And you realize how hopeless any attempt to take me against my will-”
“We aren't gonna fucking kidnap you.” Dean said a little offended by the thought. “It was hard enough keeping you in the car when you were five.”
Dean wanted Sam to convince him that things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Sam wasn’t sure how to do that without outing all the witches that he knew. He didn’t know just how much he could tell Dean and trust that it wouldn’t come back to bite him- either through their dad finding out or Dean taking some sort of brotherly initiative on his own. Sam decided to evade the issue, at least until he knew just how devoted a son he was these days.
“You don't have to do everything he says.” Sam revived the years dead conversation. “If you want out, I know people here. I could help you get a job-”
“Don't.” Dean held up his hand. “I'm not quitting-”
“It's not quitting-”
“Just stop!” Dean snapped, breaking his cool exterior. Clearly the topic was something that he thought about- or maybe pointedly avoided thinking about.
“Don't you want to be something more than a killer?” Sam tried one more appeal.
“You know what I want? What I've always wanted?” Dean was trying to calm himself down. “All I ever wanted was to for you & dad to be safe- how was I supposed to do that when you both were fighting all the time?”
“You never sided with me.” Sam pointed out, voice little more than a whisper.
“How would that’ve gone?”
“For me? Better.”
“Yeah, well, I wanted you to leave.”
Dean’s words hit Sam harder than any punch. Sam had to place his hand on the mattress to help steady himself. He wasn’t sure how to process the statement. Dean was distant, but Sam had always assumed that the two of them had gotten along. On some level Dean had to care about him otherwise he wouldn’t have kept Sam’s secret about liking guys for four years- actually a decade based on their dad’s surprised reaction. Before Sam could think of what to say to something like that, Dean continued.
“At least if you were gone you’d be safe and I didn't have to worry about… well, this.” Dean gestured at Sam's black eye. “And it turns out you aren't even safe. I don’t know which is more dangerous, you going with us or you staying here.”
“I’m sick no matter where I am, at least here I don’t have to watch out for dad.” Dean pinched the bridge of his nose at the statement.
“It’s not just being sick. There’s something going on with those other kids with powers. We think you might end up in danger, that’s why we came to take you somewhere where we can control the situation.”
“You & dad don't get to control me anymore, to tell me what to do for my own good.” Sam countered. “This is my fight and you can offer me your help, but I get to make the calls.”
“Sam, you've been out of the fight for years. You're sick. You're surrounded by civilians.” Dean sighed. “Whatever this is, it's big and you're weak.”
“You haven't been in my life for six years.” Sam’s voice had turned cold. “You have no idea what I am, but I promise it's not weak.”
“That's not what I meant-”
“You know, I really wanted to forgive you.” Sam groaned. “Christ, you always make things so hard.”
“I meant physically-”
“Can't you just say you're sorry? Just fucking apologize for once instead being so concerned with defending yourself.” Sam asked. “I'll forgive you and then we can pretend things aren't so fucking awful.”
“I'm sorry.” Dean offered after a painfully long silence. “About more than just calling you weak.”
“I forgive you, about more than just the ‘weak’ thing.”
Honestly, in that moment more than anything Sam wanted to hug Dean, but he knew that wasn't in the cards. It was an exceptional rare occurrence in general, not to mention the fact that Sam was technically naked. Sam self-consciously readjusted the blanket around him to make sure he was amply covered. The act killed any sort of sentimentality between them and Dean looked around the room while changing the subject.
“What's the deal with this psychic thing?”
“I get these visions of things that are going to happen- well, that might happen. I stopped one from happening, so they aren't guaranteed or anything.” Sam explained. “It’s mostly people dying. I didn’t know what they were for about a year and a half. I just thought I’d snapped or something. Too many years of seeing what we saw finally come back to kick my PTSD into overdrive.”
“You have PTSD?” Dean's eyes widened subtly, but he didn't make any faces betraying judgment.
“I’ve been doing better lately. I really like my therapist.” Sam stopped himself from suggesting that Dean find a therapist. At the very least hopefully just knowing that Sam saw one had destigmatized it slightly. He decided to turn the conversation back to something Dean was probably more comfortable with. “Tell me about your leads.”
“Dad & I have been working with a hunter named Gordon Walker. We met him about a year ago. We were investigating a demon- dad thinks it might've killed mom.” Sam’s curiosity was piqued by mention of a demon, but he was completely floored by the mention of their mom. They never talked about Mary- Sam had only ever heard his dad mention her during the occasional evening of intoxicated lamenting. Evidently Dean had been working the case long enough to forget the earth shattering nature of anything having to do with either demons or their mom because he continued without elaboration. “Gordon was going after another thing that kept intersecting with us. He asked us to help him with a hunt. When we got to the town there was already something going on- it was like a virus that infected people, made them crazy & violent. The virus was demonic.”
“There's a demonic virus out there-”
“We contained it.” Dean replied with his professional tone that always made Sam uncomfortable.
“You killed them.” Sam speculated. When Dean didn’t respond Sam moved on. “Was that when you killed the guy tied to the chair? The one who said that something wasn’t in him.”
Dean’s composure cracked. He scooted his chair back a few inches, but didn’t take a defensive posture. Sam realized that Dean had no idea what his visions actually looked like. To Dean he’d just been talking about some random encounter and Sam had spontaneously known some intimate detail about it. Under different circumstances Sam might try to mess with Dean, but there was too much potential for harming their fragile relationship.
“I saw it, in one of my visions. I didn't know it was a psychic vision back then.” Sam shook his head. “That must've been mid-December.”
“We wasted them in early January.” Dean stared at him, visibly unnerved by the range of Sam’s power.
“I tried calling.” Sam covered his face with his hands, accidentally touched the injury, then put his hands down. He'd halfheartedly tried to reach out to Dean after the vision- if he'd known it was really and that there was potentially time to stop it he would've done more. Maybe lives could've been saved. “God, I feel like I might throw up.”
Dean picked up a trash can and passed it to him. Sam rested his forehead on the rim of the metal container. Thankfully there weren't any used condoms or other pungent contents to encourage vomiting.
“A few weeks later we found out what Gordon was hunting.” Dean continued. “People in their late teens to mid twenties, with powers, most of them with a parent that had died in a nursery fire when they were exactly six months old.”
Sam lifted his head up from the trash can to stare at Dean. Ever since finding out about that he had some supernatural aura he'd been concerned about the possibility of hunters or something similar coming after him. Now he knew that he was part of a larger group of people, who really were being hunted. Through some blind luck he had changed his name after moving to the fringes of hunter territory- or at least far from where all the Midwest & rural hunters ventured. He might be harder to find than the average person, but he couldn't let his guard down.
“Does he know about me?”
“Not as far as I know. If I'd known you were having psychic visions I'd have just killed Gordon right there & then.” Dean sighed. “Now I've gotta go find the guy again.”
“He’s not the kind you can talk out of things?” Sam asked, causing Dean to just shake his head. Sam rubbed his face, carefully avoiding his eye. “I can't believe this whole mess could be that old- when I was only six months.”
“Something gave me these powers, the same as them. The fires can't be a coincidence. Maybe it did it when we were babies?” Sam mused. He briefly considered telling Dean about the demonic mark on his soul and the whole mess with the many Hells, but he didn’t want Dean to get startled. The last thing he needed was for Dean to suddenly decide that their dad was right and that Sam was in over his head- Well, Sam wasn’t about to argue that he had the situation tidily in hand, but at least he was the best person to try pulling it all out of a nosedive. “I'm trying to figure out what happened. I've been looking online-”
“You gotta be careful with that.”
“I am careful-”
“I know you are, but I'm serious.” Dean pursed his lips. “Gordon works with other hunters on this stuff. And I don't think they're the kind to give you a pass on account of you being a- that you used to be a hunter.”
“How does he find them?” Sam asked, both hoping to figure out how to protect himself and to use the method himself to locate the people from his visions.
“I don't know. I guess I'll have to find out before I kill him. I'll let you know if I can get anything out of him.” Dean shifted in his seat. “I know you don't li- tolerate the killing much. Me killing Gordon and his buddies, is this gonna be a problem for you?”
“He's killing people and he’ll try to kill me…” Sam found that variable being removed from the equation hard to argue against. “I appreciate the help.”
“Don't thank me yet. I haven't done anything.”
“Even just the intel is helpful.”
“I'll keep you updated.” Dean assured. They stared at each other for a few seconds, not sure where to go after just discussing Dean's intention to murder someone.
“I have to ask for a big favor from you… I don't even know how to…” Dean raised an eyebrow while Sam took a moment to consider his resolve. “If dad touches Brady I'll kill him. I'm not even exaggerating. If he tries to hurt Brady… I need you to make him understand that that's a line he can't cross.”
“You're serious?” Dean's mouth hung open slightly in disbelief at Sam’s threat- hell, Sam could barely believe it.
“I'm not gonna let him mess up anything else that I care about.” Sam explained. “I couldn't take it if...”
“Are you two serious?” Dean clearly wasn't thrilled by the possibility.
“I think maybe yeah. We’ve been on & off for a few years.”
“Does he treat you right?”
“He worships the ground I walk on.”
“Damn well better.” Dean muttered, then his gaze settled on the bruising around Sam's left eye. “He takes care of you?”
“Yeah.” Sam assured. “He's a med student, very nurturing for a dickbag.”
Sam let a little smile spread across his face to show Dean that he was trying to lighten the mood. Dean tilted his head from side to side in acknowledgment of his earlier undue insult to Brady, but he didn't actually apologize.
“Are you really sick?” Dean asked after a moment. “Not the concussion- I mean the brain thing that your doctor called us about.”
“I don't know. With the psychic thing it's hard to know where one stops and the other begins.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“I don't think so.” Sam replied reflexively, then sighed. “There's one thing I was… if… God, this is awkward.”
“You can't have my kidney.” Dean offered to make Sam smile.
“Nothing so serious.” Sam replied despite it being a lie. “I… I have Brady listed as primary on my advanced healthcare directive- so if I can't make medical decisions he can decide for me, but with the two of us being guys and we aren't… I don't know how well that'd hold up if dad fights it. I've got you listed as the backup in case Brady gets blocked out. If it comes to it, please do what Brady thinks is right.”
Dean stared at him with a stillness that Sam recognized as fear. If there had been any minuscule doubt that Dean was listening to him before, it was gone. He wasn't prepared to hear Sam talk about his living will- Sam was barely prepared to voice his concern that it might become necessary at some point. Dean took a long while to process what Sam had said. Sam appreciated that he wasn't reacting on impulse with something as important as this.
“You're asking me to side with some guy I don't like over dad?” Dean finally asked.
“I'm asking you to respect my decisions if it comes to it.”
Stacy's “holistic medicine” wasn't an instant fix by any means, and that was probably for the better. It would've been hard to explain away unnaturally effective healing to someone with a specialization in pharmacology. Though Sam thought that Brady had periodically seemed so distracted since getting back from the hospital that maybe he wouldn't have noticed at all. Despite not resolving the black eye, the chalky potion that Stacy gave him had stopped his concussion symptoms and eliminated the lingering pain.
Once the swelling had gone down on the second day, Sam had allowed himself to be dragged to the mall by Stacy. He wasn't really one for shopping- that usually required disposable income, but he decided sacrifices had to be made. The bruise on his cheek and circling his eyes had turned purple with a thin sickly yellow green bordering it. In general he didn't care about bruises, but he didn't want the injury to come to the attention of Dr. Neves, or his very concerned professors, the student services faculty- basically anyone who might attempt to investigate.
He'd never worn makeup before, but he supposed there was a first time for everything. Stacy had tiptoed around the word “makeup” and instead only referred to it as “color corrector” or “concealer”. When he assured her that he wasn't embarrassed her face lit up like a child on Christmas morning- or at least how he had seen it on tv. He briefly considered backsliding a bit on his professed comfort with the makeup experiment when he saw Stacy immediately grab a shopping basket.
“You can't see the bruise unless you're really looking for it.” Stacy offered as she hovered beside the saleswoman, who was doing a demonstration on Sam. The saleswoman held up three tubes of lipstick for Stacy to choose from- definitely a mauve. Stacy nodded in approval as the lipstick was applied, then continued. “I can help you with the concealer until you get the hang of it- or any of the other makeup too.”
“You know, just because I like men doesn't mean I'm effeminate.” Sam commented before pressing his lips on a folded tissue at the saleswoman’s instruction.
“Wait till you see yourself.” Stacy replied, then grabbed some eyeshadow from a nearby display and handed it to her accomplice. “When we're done I can take a picture of you in full glam and you can text it to your dad. Show him what that punch in the face turned into.”
“Picture of you in makeup with Brady's dick crammed halfway down-”
The saleswoman jerked slightly, smudging the eyeliner.
“Listen you need to back off-”
Sam could hear Brady talking to someone in his dorm room. He opened the door in a minor panic at the thought that maybe his dad or Dean had come back. Instead he saw Brady staring down at Furcifer, who was looking up at him with an expression of equal annoyance. Both Brady & Furcifer turned to see Sam walk in.
“What's going on?” Sam asked. His heart was racing from the left over adrenaline and newfounded concern that Furcifer might pull something.
“Your cat got in here again. And he's being aggressively affectionate.” Brady replied, but Furcifer let out a little huff before hopping onto the bed to watch them in comfort.
“He's not my cat-”
“Unless you're planning on dumping him on the side of the highway he's basically yours.” Brady shot back, colder than Sam would've expected. “If he keeps showing up-”
“I don't know how he gets in.” Ignorance felt like the safest & simplest lie. “How am I supposed to stop him? He's a cat. They don't understand privacy.”
“He likes you. Just make him go away.”
“Again, cat.” Sam gestured at the tabby. “It's not like I control him.”
“At least put him outside when I come over. At least to start.” Brady conceded some ground.
Sam opened the door. For a split second he started to merely nodded at the hallway to let Furcifer know to leave, then he realized how much that would've undercut the argument that he didn't control the cat. He walked over to his bed and tried to pick up the tabby. Furcifer rolled onto its back, inviting a belly rub. Sam scooped up Furcifer, who started purring obnoxiously. The tabby looked back at Brady over Sam's shoulder, meowed, then gave Sam's neck a gratuitously slow lick before allowing itself to be placed in the hallway.
“Are you wearing makeup?” Brady asked once the door was closed and Sam had gotten further into the room.
“Stacy's idea.” Sam shrugged as he put the bag of cosmetics down on his table.
“My dick is really confused right now.” Brady said with an uncomfortable expression on his face. He tilted his head to the side, chewing his lower lip as his eyes swept Sam a few times. “Maybe play with your hair a bit-”
“I'm taking this off before you decide you like it.”
Sam dug through the bag and pulled out the makeup wipes. He carefully removed the lipstick and upper eye makeup, but tried to leave as much of the concealer that was hiding his black eye as possible. Brady peeked in the bag, then withdrew a tube of lipstick.
“Stacy said she'd take it if you didn't like it on me.” Sam explained.
“Do you like it?”
“Eh, not in particular.” Sam shrugged while throwing away the used wipe. “It's not bad, just not my thing.
“Then she can have it. You're most attractive when you're confident.” Brady leaned in to kissed Sam but stopped short. His eyes looked tired in a way that Sam wasn't accustomed to. Sam wondered how much sleep Brady had actually gotten in the last two days. He'd been tense, but in that moment he just seemed off.
“You uncovered the bruise a bit.”
“Shit.” Sam glanced around trying to remember where he might have a mirror.
Brady grabbed the makeup and started applying it to Sam's cheekbone. Sam sat, watching Brady carefully work in ominous silence. Normally helping Sam with his makeup would be the sort of thing Brady would've spent hours joking about, but so far not even a mischievous smile.
“Are you okay?” Sam asked.
“I'm fine.” Brady said flatly. His eyes flickered up to confirm Sam's skeptical reaction before amending his answer. “I'm just stressed.”
“I have a project that I'm working on. Its deadline is creeping up on me.”
“Anything I can do to help?”
“Just be patient with me,” Brady requested, then glanced back at Sam's watching eyes before adding. “And keep taking care of yourself. I might not have the time or energy to bring you food or hold you down to the bed if you get in one of your moods.”
Sam was caught off guard by the last part. Aside from the concussion, he'd been feeling pretty well for a couple weeks and Brady hadn't needed to take care of him during that time. The reference to one of Sam's “moods” was clearly directed at his mental health- he wasn't sure why Brady would bring it up. It made Sam feel a bit anxious, unsure if maybe he hadn't noticed some symptoms.
“I'm doing better.” Sam countered, less self-assured than he would've liked.
“You're long overdue for one of those manic periods.” Brady commented as he worked with the makeup.
“I get insomnia.” Sam corrected.
“You also get hypomania.” Brady replied. “I've seen you pull three consecutive twenty hour days where all you do is study & organize every fucking thing in the room in some bizarre new ingenious way.”
“I haven't done that in years.” Sam said defensively. “I’m on some medication that helps me sleep.”
“Are you taking mood stabilizers?” Brady's eyebrow rose, but he didn't meet Sam's eyes. “I've seen you taking a lot of pills in the last week or so. It's good for me to know what you're on in case something happens.”
“Endep & some edibles. They help with my anxiety & depression-”
“They're probably helping keep you out of the other end.” Brady commented, making Sam feel strangely under the microscope and defensive.
“Stop fucking gaslighting me.” Sam snapped, pulling back from Brady. “We were talking about you.”
“I'm not gaslighting you. You have diagnosed mental disorders- probably one or two undiagnosed-”
“Don't fucking do that.” Sam sat up more so that he was looking down at Brady. “Don't fucking attack me because you want to change the subject. Don't try to pull one of your fucking tricks, not with me. Not when I'm just starting to feel- things… again.”
The expression of annoyed inconvenience that had grown on Brady’s face over the last minute wavered visibly into something much less clear. His mouth moved slightly, but in an uncharacteristic moment he couldn't find any words. He leaned back in his chair, then put down the concealer. He wasn't on the offensive anymore. He'd been caught in whatever the hell he'd been doing.
“I'm sorry.” Brady's voice was quieter than Sam was used to hearing. “I didn't mean to do that to you, I just… I shouldn't have done that.”
Brady was easily the most manipulative person that Sam knew when he wanted to be. It wasn't a quality Sam liked, but at least Brady avoided using truly underhanded tricks on him. That was part of the unspoken rules of their relationship. They both knew that Sam had insecurities that were off limits to Brady's morally dubious interpersonal skills. Based on Brady's distressed reaction he hadn't meant to lapse into such a potentially devastating attack. Something was very wrong.
“You haven't talked to me about your therapy appointments since…” Brady began, then closed his mouth and huffed. He wasn't prepared to talk about their fight and Jessica's death. “You don't need to tell me everything. I know that you probably talk about me- and that's fine, but I'd like to know what's going on with you.”
Sam noticed that they were still talking about him. Brady wasn’t being as aggressive anymore, but he was still being evasive.
“I'll talk to you about my therapy sessions,” Sam started, earning a faintly hopeful look from Brady. “But first we’re talking about you.”
“There's nothing to talk about, I'm just stressed.”
“Bullshit.” Sam crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You aren't the only one who can pick people apart. You've been agitated, even after my family left. You've been really clingy lately-”
“I'm not clingy.”
“I feel like you're gonna pee on me to warn the other dogs-”
“Well if you-” Brady started to joke around in a brand new type of dodge, but Sam cut him off.
“No dumb sex jokes.”
“I'm worried about you.”
“Yeah, well I'm worried about you too.” Sam did let up.
“My problems aren't the kinds of things you need to worry about.” Brady tried to derail Sam once again.
“How am I supposed to know that unless you fucking talk to me about them?” Sam threw his hands up in frustration. “You want us to have a relationship again- like a real one, something that means something- you have to give a little on your end.”
“I give you everything.” Brady said taken aback.
“No, you only give me your best. I want your weakness too. You don't get to be the strong one all the time. You don't get to be the suave one-” Brady leaned in quickly and kissed him. Sam returned the penetrating kiss for a moment, then gently pushed Brady off of him.
“You're perfect and you have no idea because you're such a fucking idiot.” Brady argued. He stared at Sam with an oddly defeated expression. “My dad would kill me if he found out about us.”
“Your dad?” Sam blinked at him, completely thrown by the statement straight out of left field.
“I'm worried about what he'd do if he walked in on us.” Brady elaborated. “Yours punched you in the face and I- I couldn't do anything to stop it. It got me thinking about my dad.”
“Are you worried about getting cut off?” Sam asked. He'd only ever heard of Brady's relationship with his dad within a monetary or networking capacity. “You know I don't care about money.”
“I know.” Brady exhaled a pain laugh. “I'm worried what he'd do to us. He's a powerful asshole with very firm ideas for how things should go. And we- like us together don’t fit in his plans.”
“Is your dad a mob boss or something?”
“No, but he might as well be.” Brady shook his head. “I'm worried he’ll want to see me in late April or early May.”
“End of the school year?”
“About then.” Brady gave a noncommittal shrug. “If he shows up without warning like your dad did. I just don't want anything to happen.”
“Wait,” Sam's stomach knotted. “are you worried about him getting violent?”
Brady pursed his lips, trying to figure out how to respond for too long.
Brady had never really talked much about his family. His dad was some hot shit businessman, who’d barely contacted his son in the last five years. Sam had never heard Brady talk about his mom- Sam had always assumed the subject was too sensitive to talk about. Maybe she'd died or was just emotionally dead, smothered by the same oppressive force that had turned Brady into what their classmates had liked to describe as a snake. Sam had the vague impression that Brady had siblings or cousins, but wasn't sure how many or their genders. Every single relationship with the family was strained. Sam had known that Brady didn't like his dad, but his concern about physical violence brought the whole thing to another level.
“Did he hurt you?”
“This is why I didn't want to talk to you about it.” Brady gave as a non-answer.
“Brady, this is fucking serious.” Sam grabbed Brady's shoulders. “If he's violent you need to tell me.”
“He's violent.” Brady said, but didn't elaborate. “I've got this thing coming up. He's gonna pop back up in my life- our lives. I don't want you getting hurt.”
“Don't meet with him.”
“He’ll come to my place. He’ll find me.” Brady countered. “I'm gonna have to see him one way or another, I know it.”
“Just lie to him.”
“I plan to.” Brady assured. “I'm just... worried.”
Sam was pretty sure the word Brady had been searching for was scared.
“Have you ever been in a fight?” Sam asked, desperate to know how bad their circumstances really were. He could probably get back into good enough shape to fight off a single attacker without too much effort, but he didn't know whether Brady was remotely capable of defending himself.
“I fought that guy that tripped you during our first year.”
“You blindsided him into a brick wall. That's not a fight.”
“It was a short & strategic fight.”
“That's it, grab your coat.” Sam said as he got up. “I'm teaching you how to defend yourself.”
“You can't risk getting hit in the head again so soon after your concussion.” Brady warned.
“Trust me, you aren't gonna be able to hit me in the head.”
“You…” Brady opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it. Sam watched Brady put on his coat. As they walked out of the dorm in search of a sparring area it occurred to Sam that Brady hadn't asked where Sam had learned to fight, but honestly Sam was just relieved to not have to come up with another lie.