Actions

Work Header

On a Pagan Path

Chapter Text

Sam Winchester did not have a normal childhood.

His mother died in a house fire the day he turned six months old. Instead of picking up the pieces and finding a way to care for his children, as any sane father would have done, John Winchester decided to take them on the road while he searched for the yellow-eyed demon who had killed her.

He didn’t raise his boys to be good, Catholic kids like Mary Winchester would have wished. John never spoke religion to them, never brought them to a church or taught them a prayer. If they learned from anyone else, he didn’t want to hear about it.

In a world where demons killed women beside their babies’ cribs, John was sure God was either absent or vindictive. He and his boys had no time for that.

Sam was a bright, precocious child. Often left in libraries to do schoolwork as his father and brother hunted, he read voraciously. Fiction, history, law – he wanted to be a lawyer one day, he decided when he was ten – ethics and science all caught his eye. Mythology was required reading as he grew old enough to help his family research what they were hunting; the better he knew the lore, the better he could keep them safe.

Of course he would eventually make his way to the religious corners of the library. The Christian didn’t hold his interest – demons were rare monsters, but there was nothing in the real lore about angels or any single God who ruled the universe. If anything, he had direct evidence to the contrary: on occasion, he had heard of hunters going up against lesser gods of old pantheons. One had somehow led Týr away from Nebraska and claimed to have convinced him to spend his time and energy in the Middle East – though even at thirteen, Sam was rather skeptical about the second half of that tale. He suspected that the Norse war god had simply grown bored and left to wreak havoc elsewhere on his own.

These were the religious books Sam was drawn to: the ones that made sense of old gods in new times. He loved the ones which made Sam’s life seem almost normal, or at least within the bounds of a normal worldview. They offered him an ethical system which reflected the life of a hunter: energies you put into the world come back to you and affect you; your actions are your own business, as long as you strive to hurt none and help when you can.

Sam read through the books of the new pagan movement avidly, writing down notes and thoughts in a notebook he kept hidden among his school things, where Dean and his father would never bother to look. By the time he was fifteen, he was sure that this was the path he wanted to follow – that this path made sense to him, and reflected his truth, as an outsider to the world who just wanted carve out his own space, and find a way make to make the world better somehow.

By the time he was eighteen, he was ready to dedicate himself not only to the Path, but to a specific aspect to it.

In all his research, his meditation and his soul searching, he had been drawn primarily to the Trickster figures: gods of laughter, chaos and change, but also of justice, wisdom, innovation and luck. From Loki to the Coyote and Raccoon to Puck, these were the gods and demigods who most encapsulated his worldview. Even as a lawyer, he thought, he would best serve them.

And so during his first Yule at Stanford, he decided to make it official. Wide eyed and idealistic, he expected his Dedication ritual to change his life.

He didn’t realize how right he was.

Chapter Text

Sam felt a little silly as he set up the altar in his small dorm room. As much as he had studied paganism and magick over the past six years, he had never had occasion to do anything like this himself. After all, he shared an endless string of motel rooms with Dean and his father. Even on the rare occasion that they had gotten an apartment or stayed with friends, he had never had anything like privacy.

Here, at Stanford, he had shared a small room with two roommates, and had never been able to count on privacy from either one. It was only by luck that they had both gone home early for winter break, and Sam had the room to himself for the Solstice. But even if it wasn’t tonight, he had planned this for ages. He had special dispensation to stay on campus over winter break, since he couldn’t go home to any family, and he’d be mostly alone on campus for the next two weeks until the winter session began. He had promised himself to do this over the break, but he was glad for the opportunity to do it on Solstice.

There were no written rituals for a dedication to a Trickster – at least none that he could find with his formidable research skills. So he had created his own.

He set up a standard altar: four small, colored candles representing the four directions of the compass, and a taller white candle in the middle to represent the Trickster himself. Tokens he had collected circled the center candle, separating it from the others: a raven’s feather, a rabbit foot, the ash of a birch branch, sweets that he had made himself in the student kitchen on the first floor of the dorm.

Reading from a hand-written script in a small journal, he began with a rather boilerplate invocation as he lit each candle in turn: a small prayer for the wisdom of each compass direction, followed by an invitation asking for the presence of the god himself.

He almost stumbled over the words, knowing what Dean or his father would say about this. But they weren’t there, and they hadn’t done the years of research he had. He knew what he was getting himself into. Knew it was safe; that it was the right thing to do.

He could feel the change in the air when he lit the final pillar candle. The hairs on his arms stood on end, the weight of the world seemingly converging in his room.

He started reciting the second part of the ritual: a supplication, asking for the Trickster’s blessing, wisdom and guidance.

“I ask for your guidance, your patience and your wisdom. I ask for inspiration and strength, and for the tools to change myself and the world around me. To change the circumstances of my fate, and create my own.”

The air in the room grew heavier, more charged as he spoke. But it didn’t have the sick, cruel feeling of a haunting; this was a fresh, hopeful power. One that made him feel confident, strong.

He transitioned smoothly, excitedly, to the third part of the ritual: the true Dedication. It was the point of the ritual, and the point of no return.

“I promise myself to you: to your service and worship. To your tenants: humor and wisdom; justice and just desserts; chaos and change. I dedicate myself, my soul, to you.”

“Is that so?”

The unexpected voice behind him made Sam jump. He turned and saw a man lying on his bed. Short and lean, the man had dirty blonde hair and a rough, short beard. He was wearing jeans and a black tee-shirt, pretty much like anyone else on a college campus.

“Mind passing over one of those pastries there, Sammy?” he asked in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Who – what are you?” Sam asked, rising to his feet and stepping away from the altar. He wasn’t armed like this – hadn’t even thought to put out an athame as part of the ritual.

The look the man gave him made him feel like a complete idiot. “Really? Didn’t you just invite me here? Who do you think I am?”

“You’re – the Trickster?” Sam asked, not quite believing it. For all that he had read about the Trickster taking the form of a human (or animal), he hadn’t expected him to come here or show himself to Sam.

“Well, duh,” the man said, holding out his hand demandingly. “Pastry?”

Sam tentatively grabbed an apple turnover from the altar and handed it over.

The Trickster smiled at him – and it was a handsome, inviting smile. “Thanks. You can call me Loki.”

“Loki,” Sam said slowly, feeling the form of it in his mouth.

“Mmm,” Loki agreed around the bite he was taking. He had his eyes closed and his mouth formed a smile as he chewed – in fact, he looked like he was in ecstasy as he ate.

Sam wondered if it was sacrilegious to find a god hot.

He watched, somewhat in awe, as Loki devoured the turnover in three more bites. He gave a small moan of satisfaction with each bite.

I did that, Sam realized. I made them, and look what they do to him.

When he finished, the Trickster took a few moments to suck each finger clean, making an erotic show of it.

“That was good, kid,” the Trickster told him, standing up. “Sure, I could make them myself, but it’s never the same. Something about food made by a devotee – there’s nothing else like it in the word. Well, almost nothing.” He looked at his hand, as if making sure it was clean. “Not many of you left anymore. It’s rare that I get a new follower.”

He had stalked over to Sam as he talked, and was just a few inches from him now. Sam froze as the god looked him over, as if in inspection. He choked on his words: “I – uh –”

“You look delicious yourself,” Loki told him, putting one hand on Sam’s chest suggestively. Sam leaned into the touch, impossibly attracted to this strange being.

He raised his head to meet Sam’s eye, a wry smile on his face. “It’s not a necessary part of the ritual. We’ve covered the important bits: you got the speech down pat, I ate something you made specifically for me. You’re mine, and I’m charged with the safety of your soul,” he explained, his words reverberating in Sam’s bones. “I promise you, I will do that. I promise I will keep you, I will protect your soul, for as long as it’s within my power.”

“But?” Sam asked, recognizing the word hanging between them.

“But the nature of things being what it is, this kind of magic is always stronger – more permanent – with sex. If you want it.”

“Yes. Please,” Sam said, the words falling from his lips before he could even process them.

Loki’s smile became wider, and he lifted his hand to snap his fingers. Instantaneously, Sam’s bed grew to huge proportions – big enough to take up almost the entire room.

Any other time, he would have been distracted by the power of the magic he was witnessing, but right now his attention was firmly on Loki. He dropped to his knees instinctively and lifted his hands to open the Trickster’s fly.

He stopped at the last moment, not sure if he was being too forward – if he was allowed to call any shots here, or if he was just along for the ride. Loki gave him a kind, understanding chuckle. “Knock yourself out; you won’t find me complaining.”

Permission granted, Sam opened the god’s pants and took out his already-hard dick. It was large for a man his size – or at least that’s what Sam assumed. He had never actually done this before – had never been this close to another man’s dick, nor paid enough attention to one to know.

But this wasn’t a man. This was a god, and one Sam almost could feel coursing through his being already. He wanted this – wanted to give him this, to be claimed by him in every way possible.

He opened his mouth and sucked in the head. He used his tongue to explore Loki’s slit, to massage down the shaft. He pulled it in as deep as he could, mindful of his teeth and gag reflex, but of nothing else.

“Wow, kid, you are something else,” the Trickster said, carding his hands through Sam’s hair.

“Mmmm,” Sam hummed, grateful for the appreciation, but not willing to pull back and give the god a real answer. He sucked and teased with single-minded determination to show the Trickster exactly how dedicated he was, and to make him feel just as good as he made Sam feel.

The Trickster wrapped Sam’s hair in his fingers and pulled back, forcing him off and away from his dick. Good thing, too, because apparently Sam had forgotten that humans have to breath as he was giving head like his life depended on it. He was panting as Loki told him, “You’re lucky I have the restraint of a god, Sam. That would have been over already for any lesser being.”

Sam smirked up at him. “Lucky me,” he said cheekily.

The Trickster smiled then reached down and pulled Sam up by the arm. Sam could only stand there, half in awe, as the god started pulling at his clothes, first his shirt then his pants, undressing Sam. Sam let himself be manhandled, somewhat surprised that the Trickster would do this by hand, but more so that he was doing it at all, instead of just telling Sam to strip. His movements were quick and sure, but also far gentler than Sam thought a pagan deity would be, and Loki seemed to delight in running his fingers over sensitive spots, making Sam squirm and hiss in enjoyment.

“You sure you want this?” Loki asked again when he was fully naked, unnecessarily in Sam’s opinion.

“Yes,” Sam told him. “Yes, please.”

The Trickster smiled again, then pulled Sam down for an otherworldly kiss. Sam could feel his warm lips, his beard scratching against Sam’s smooth-shaven cheek, the heat and insistence of his tongue. But also, he felt another, stronger wave of that mystic power that had permeated the room since the last candle was lit. It was like nothing he had felt before – like a lightning storm focused in the room, channeled through him. It was strange and beautiful and ecstatic, and he moaned into it, losing himself in it.

“Yeah, me too,” the Trickster whispered against his lips when he finally pulled back. “Heady, isn’t it?”

Overwhelmed, Sam couldn’t do much more than nod.

“On the bed,” Loki ordered, nodding at the greatly improved piece of furniture.

Sam complied eagerly, climbing on it and laying on his back, spreading himself out. He watched, entranced, as the god stripped his own clothes off. He stood there for a moment, looking at Sam, as though he was making up his mind about this.

“Please,” Sam begged.

The Trickster smiled. “Patience,” he chided, but he quickly climbed on the bed and crawled on top of Sam. “Tell me how much you want this,” he requested, his eyes blown with lust and anticipation as he looked down at Sam. “It’s power: consent, supplication, prayer. Tell me what you want. Pray to me. Give yourself to me. I’ll make this so good for you Sam, but I need you to do that for me, too.”

And that was hot: that this god, his god, needed something from him. Would beg for it.

“Please,” Sam said in a soft, rough voice, not yet knowing what he was asking for but trusting the words to come. “I want you – I need you to touch me.”

Loki put both his hands on Sam’s chest, then ran them down his sides, switching to his nails to scratch against his legs. Sam took in a breath as the god switched direction to concentrate on his inner thighs.

“I need you to touch my dick,” Sam told the god. “Please!”

Still tracing patterns with his nails on the inside of one thigh, Loki took Sam’s dick in his other hand. He started stroking it slowly, waiting for Sam to continue.

“I want you inside of me,” Sam confessed, desire so strong he was barely thinking. “I want you to finger me open, then I want you to fuck me.”

“You’d let me do that, Sam?” Loki asked, tightening his grip on Sam’s dick and quickening his strokes.

“Yes,” Sam told him, squeezing his eyes shut in an effort not to come right there. He lifted his knees, giving the Trickster a better access to his balls and ass. “Yes, please, Loki. Please, I want you to. I think – I think I need you to.”

The Trickster took his hand off Sam’s dick and snapped. Sam opened his eyes and saw that he was now holding a tube of lube. He liberally poured some over his fingers.

Sam had just enough time to think, Huh, who knew gods would use KY, before he felt a finger insistently pressing at his entrance.

“You want this?” Loki asked. “From me?”

“Yes,” Sam hissed out, his head falling back down on the pillow. “Yes, please.”

The Trickster smiled at him, clearly pleased as he started to finger Sam.

Sam had never done this before, either. He had had sex a handful of times, but always with girls, and always straightforward missionary style. A blowjob here or there, but he had been on the receiving end – nothing like this. It was incredible.

He kept up a steady stream of “yes” and “please” and “Loki” and “oh god, my god” as Loki fingered him thoroughly. He had sure, dexterous fingers, and he knew all the right ways to twist and push to make sure Sam felt it the most. On top of that, Sam could still feel the steady, primordial power of having a literal god in the room with him. It was, easily, the best thing he had ever experienced.

Each time Loki thought he was ready for it, he would ask for Sam’s consent for the next finger. Two stretched and scissored, three twisted and teased, and finally he got to four, which filled Sam up wide enough, but not nearly as deeply as he craved.

“Fuck me,” Sam begged eventually. “Please, Loki, my god, fuck me.”

“You want that Sam?” Loki teased.

“Yes,” Sam repeated.

“Ok, but I want you to get on your knees. It’s easier that way, the first time.”

“First time?” Sam asked hopefully. “We’ll do this again?”

 Loki raised his eyebrow in surprise. “Demanding,” the god accused with a playful wink. “We’ll see.”

Sam smiled as he turned over. He would be ok with doing this again. Hell, he would be ecstatic – he could only hope that this could somehow be regular.

Not that a god would have the time to have sex with Sam on the regular, of course, but a guy could dream.

He didn’t have much time to fantasize. As soon as he was on his knees, Loki was behind him, balancing his hands on Sam’s shoulder blades. “Tell me how much you want this, Sam,” he demanded as he let his hot dick lazily slide against Sam’s ass.

“It’s all I want,” Sam told him truthfully. It felt like lightening was crackling against his skin, along his back and shoulders, then down his arms and thighs. “I can’t think of anything else. Just want you. Need you. Please, Loki. Please, god.”

“Good,” Loki said, pulling away for a moment.

Sam was surprised when he slid in easily, slid all the way down. Sam didn’t know if it was the extensive prep, or an example of an application of godly power, but he didn’t feel any pain – barely a stretch at all, in fact. Instead it was just hot and sexy and good.

He started moving, sliding against Sam’s prostate in a truly heavenly rhythm. And then, when Loki reached around to start stroking Sam’s dick, he completely lost it.

“Ahh, Loki, yesssss,” Sam hissed out, coming suddenly all over the comforter.

“Sam,” Loki moaned, and Sam could feel him come. Felt him inside of him, filling him up hot and wet. Felt him deeper than that – felt him resonating in his very soul. Then he pulled out and started coming all over Sam’s back. Marking – claiming, Sam realized.

 Sam collapsed almost as soon as Loki was done, his knees giving out with the force of his own orgasm. He still felt the power of the god over him – felt it even stronger now, actually. He laid there in his own wet spot, completely unable to care about it, or the fact that a god was currently settling himself next to him, tracing what he only imagined were runes in the semen on his back.

Fuck if this wasn’t the best feeling of his life, and he just could not bring himself to be grossed out.

Loki chuckled beside him. “Wore you out, didn’t I?”

“Completely,” Sam confessed, turning his head to look at the Trickster. He was glistening with sweat, his dirty blond hair plastered to his forehead, but he was smiling broadly and his cheeks were flushed. He was beautiful.

“Here, let me clean you up,” the god said gently. He snapped again, and Sam could feel both his back and stomach dry. Sam sighed and closed his eyes, burrowing into his pillow. He almost reached out to the god beside him, but stopped himself. He doubted post-coital cuddles would be on the table with a divine being.

Loki sighed contentedly. “Go ahead,” he said.

Sam opened an eye to look at the god beside him.

“You want to touch me. Go ahead,” Loki told him with a smile. “It’s ok. You’re one of mine. If I’m still here, it’s because I want to be.”

“Oh,” Sam said, a bit stupidly. He reached out and wrapped an arm around the Trickster, sluggishly pulling himself up and onto the god’s chest.

“There we go,” Loki said, running one hand through Sam’s hair and wrapping his other arm around Sam’s back. He snapped again, and suddenly a blanket was over both of them, protecting him from the chill of the room.

“Go to sleep, Sam. I can’t promise I’ll be here when you wake up, but I’ll try.”

That was good enough for Sam. Almost immediately, he found himself falling asleep.

 

 

Loki, who was known by many other names and had hidden from even more, surprised himself by keeping his own word. He stayed the night with his newest devotee, Sam Winchester.

He had had sex with devotees before – it made the bond stronger, and gave him a type of power angels wouldn’t understand and couldn’t trace. But this was different. There was something about the hunter-turned-student that drew Loki in and made him curious. He had abandoned his family, too, not out of hatred or selfishness, but pain. He knew Sam’s history, knew that his father’s obsession and brother’s misguided devotion had driven him away, and he seemed so incredibly familiar to the Trickster. It made him feel things he hadn’t allowed himself in centuries.

Loki wanted to have him again – it was almost uncontrollable, his appetite for him – but he also wanted more than just sex. More than a devotee or acolyte – if properly trained and allowed to grow, this Sam Winchester could be a forced to reckon with: someone who could challenge him, keep him company in the dark days to come. Something like a partner, if a human could ever partner with something like Loki.

He knew it was dangerous, of course. Could see the demon blood that tainted his veins, and even traced it back 18 years earlier, to when Sam was just a baby. He could fix that, though; he was one of the few who knew how. There was so much he could do for him – so much he could show him, teach him.

He could also see that Sam was a potential vessel. A strong one, even – his bloodline was one of the few that could carry an archangel. But there was no mark of grace upon him, and he doubted the angels would recognize him for what he was once Loki was done with him.

There was something he was missing, though. He was sure of it.

 

 

In the morning, long before Sam would have woken up naturally, Loki felt something new. Someone was outside the dorm building, looking up at Sam’s window as though he knew who was sleeping here. Gently, he extricated himself from Sam and snapped the bed back to its original size. He then made himself invisible to human eyes, and went out to have a peek.

Loki recognized the forlorn look on the man standing there: recognized in an instant how it felt to spy on one’s family, knowing it would bring both halves of a war down on you if you were caught. He knew what it was like to mourn, when the ones you were mourning were still alive and heartbreakingly close.

Dean Winchester was Sam’s brother. Loki knew it at a glance. He also knew, instantly, what he was. The Righteous Man. The Michael Sword. The vessel that would carry one brother against the other in the apocalypse.

Sam wasn’t just any vessel, Loki realized with a sick feeling. He was Lucifer’s vessel.

And last night, he had pledged himself to the Trickster. At best, Loki would be accused of theft, and forced to renounce his claim. At worst, he would be recognized for what he actually was.

The Trickster fled.

Chapter Text

Sam didn’t see the Trickster in the flesh after that first night, but he didn’t expect to. He had been blessed to see him even once, he knew – most people did not actually get a chance to meet their deities in the flesh.

He prayed, though. Often, about big things and small. He left out offerings of sweets when he could, and sometimes glad to find them gone by the time he got home that night, and other times burying them outside before replacing them in the morning.

He met good friends at Stanford, but found it hard to date. Even when a pretty blonde with the eyes of an angel tried to catch his eye in their pre-law study group, he couldn’t get hazel eyes and the weight of godly powers out of his head. He and Jess became fast friends, but he wasn’t ready for anything more than that with a mortal.

When Dean came during his senior year, pulling him out of Stanford and back into the hunting life, Sam found small ways to remember the faith he had put in that fantastic being. He was subtle about it; he didn’t need much and didn’t feel right asking for more than he needed, so he stuck to prayer, offerings and small acts of chaos or tricks – things that wouldn’t get anyone into trouble, but which were designs to give some comeuppance to those who needed it.

That first year back on the road, he performed his second real ritual. Desperate for a clue, he left his and Dean’s motel room and found a bit of space in the nearby woods. He lit his candles again, said the words that came to him in the moment, and invoked his pagan god. His skin tingling with the power of the magic around him, he begged Loki for a clue that would lead them to his father.

Loki didn’t come in the flesh that time, but Sam had a dream of a haunting at their childhood home. The case brought them to Missouri Moseley, the psychic who would give them the clues they needed to focus their search for their father.

Sam understood that these things were rarely straightforward, and it was not Loki’s job to make things easy, just possible. He was grateful that the god had given him anything at all, and made sure to give offerings of fine chocolate and homemade sweets to the Trickster every day for the next week.

 

 

The longer he was on the hunt, the more his faith was tested, though. Meg and her taunts were bad enough, and after a while he couldn’t really believe that his dreams and his weird psychic powers could possibly be given to him by the Trickster. The more he used them, or they used him, the more certain he was that they couldn’t be the product of a being who promised to protect his soul.

Or maybe they were, and the Trickster had lied.

He couldn’t bring himself to believe that either.

When they finally caught up with John Winchester in Jefferson City, it was clear Loki wasn’t the only one interested in his soul.

The yellow-eyes demon took over John Winchester, he told Sam something like the truth.

“I wanna know why.” Sam had asked it. “Why’d you do it?”

“You mean why did I kill Mommy?” the demon asked, yellow eyes glaring out from his father’s body. “You want to know why? Because she got in the way.”

“In the way of what?” Sam managed, distracting him from his brother just a little longer.

“My plans for you, Sammy. You... and all the children like you.”

 The Trickster didn’t come when he prayed.  They only survived because John was able to wrestle control from the demon long enough for Sam to shoot the thing out of his body.

 

 

When John Winchester died, sent to hell so Dean could live, Sam almost gave up faith.

Would his prayers ever be answered? Or was that first night the only time Loki would reveal himself in Sam’s life?

Faith doesn’t work that way, he tried to remind himself. Most people never meet their gods.

The first time Sam went to the Roadhouse, it felt something like home. Not like Stanford had been, and certainly not like the house Dean remembered in Lawrence – but a place of people like him and his family, where they could be themselves with something like family. Ellen was rough, and Jo was – well, having guns trained on them wasn’t exactly new for the Winchesters, and this time it was easy to forgive. Sam liked them.

It was on a whim a few weeks later, that while Jo was making eyes at Dean, Sam excused himself and made his way around the back of the place. It only took a few runes scratched into the right kind of stone, then buried at the right place to lay the protection spell he had read once. He kind of felt silly doing it, but he couldn’t stop himself.

If Loki still remembered him at all, maybe he’d lend his power to keep Harvelle’s Roadhouse safe.

 

 

Faith was a hard thing to hold onto, though. At every pass, as Sam and Dean tried to track down the demon who had taken their father, Sam felt alone – abandoned.

When he figured out what was happening on a university campus, he quickly convinced Dean to drop the case. Only a Trickster would have orchestrated the alien abduction that douchebag student had described. If Loki was here, and he hadn’t revealed himself to Sam, Sam didn’t want to get in his way. There was a bitter feeling to that, one Sam didn’t like.

After that, he stopped leaving offerings altogether.

 

 

Loki watched, hidden in the shadows, as Sam and the other tainted kids found each other at what he was quietly calling Camp Demonblood. The old, abandoned town seemed hazy, even to Loki’s eyes – the clear influence of so much demonic activity in one place for so long.

He had stayed away from this kind of activity for so long. Had worked so hard to stay under the radar until today, when he had gotten between a Prince of Hell and his chosen target. He hadn’t killed Azazel – hopefully he hadn’t even caught his notice as he had misdirected him to another bar a few miles down from Harvelle’s Roadhouse. He felt guilty to have let the massacre happen at all, but he wasn’t ready to show himself. Not yet, hopefully not ever.

He couldn’t let Sam’s friends die like that though – not when Sam was facing his first of so many trials; when he’d need those friends, and a place to call home so much more now than he ever had before.

So he had given his disciple a gift, one he hoped Sam would never even find out about. The Roadhouse was safe.

And now he was here of all places. Watching as his comfortable, safe, solitary life began to unravel before his eyes.

He watched with something like pride as Sam brought together the five kids – the blonde who killed her girlfriend, the tall black soldier, the frankly hilarious little dweeb with the penchant for pranks and weed, and the lying little bitch who had already given herself over to the demons.  He wanted to warn Sam, let him know exactly what was what, but he didn’t dare.  Sam was only going to live a handful of decades at most anyway, he told himself, then he’d have his soul. But if he showed his hand now, he was going to have to live with it for the next eternity.

He almost couldn’t stop himself when he saw Azazel touching his devotee’s thoughts. He was vibrating with the effort of controlling himself.

“You let that filth touch one of your own?” a smooth voice asked behind him, stepping forward to watch with him.

“Not in the mood right now, Kali,” Loki told beautiful the Indian goddess of destruction. He couldn’t help himself: he betrayed the anxiety he was feeling by snapping up a lollipop, putting the thing in his mouth as casually as he could manage.

She looked him over, eyebrow raised in judgement. “If he were mine, he would have never ended up here, demon taint or no.” She made a show of looking the hunter over. “In fact, he looks delicious. If you want to renounce your claim, say the word. I’ll take him away from here, show him things he’s never dreamt of.”

“Touch him and I will end you,” Loki said, glad to have someone he could take his frustration out on. He and Kali Ma went way back – she wasn’t exactly safe, but she was at least understanding.

She shrugged coquettishly. “Just a thought.”

“Well stop thinking it,” Loki snapped.

She pivoted to look down at him straight on. “Really, Loki, I’ve known you a long time. This is not the Trickster I know. I can see the bond between you. Why are you abandoning him to this?”

Loki watched Sam resolutely, with something like relief when the soldier, Jake, woke him from the dream the demon had invaded. “It’s not my choice,” he said at last, his voice cold and hard. “There are things more powerful than me at work here, Kali. You know what it’s like to be thwarted by a higher power.”

Kali spared no pity in the look she gave him. “Excuses,” she pronounced. “He’s yours. In this, there is no higher power.”

“You know, this is why if never worked out, you and me,” Loki groused. “You’re too serious. Never mind the hands.”

“Actually, it didn’t work out because you couldn’t be honest with me,” she corrected, her eyes dark with warning. “You’re still not.”

Loki shrugged halfheartedly, not bothering to deny it. “Occupational hazard.”

“You know what he is,” Kali told him, her sultry voice dark and dangerous. “You could stop this before it starts.”

“We lower-case-g gods can’t stop this: end is nigh, apocalypse now…you know what’s coming. Best we can hope for is we get to see the look on Odin’s face when he realizes he’ll miss Ragnarok.”

“We can’t, but you can,” the goddess urged him.

“I can’t,” Loki insisted. He tried a debonair smile on her. “Let’s get out of here, you and me. Blow this marble, let the winged ass-monkeys do their thing, maybe come back and build a little pantheon of our own with the humans who make it through.”

Kali was as weak to his charm as she ever had been – which was not at all. “He’s yours Loki,” she said sternly. “Your responsibility, like it or not. Or he will be mine.”

And there it was: the threat in her voice again. If he didn’t handle the archangelic vessels before things got out of hand, she would.

 “Alright, alright, I’ll deal with it,” he told her. “Just give me some time to figure out how.”

“I have your word, Trickster?” she asked.

He glared at her. “I said I’d do it,” he snarled, carefully not promising anything. It was a hard choice: saving the devotee he had taken a shining to, or let the apocalypse happen: a final end to the fighting that had haunted him for so long. He wasn’t about to let her know what he was wrestling with.

Never mind the fallout that would ensue if he actually did try to save Sam.

It mollified her enough. She nodded. “I’ll leave you to it then.”

She was gone as quickly and as silently as she had appeared, leaving Loki to watch as Ava and Jake brought the total number demon-blooded kids down to two.

He knew Sam wouldn’t be the last one standing. Kid could win in a fight against soldier boy easy as pie, but Loki knew the Winchester wouldn’t ever consider killing him.

No, he had to have honor. It was one of the things Loki liked about the kid.

So he continued to keep himself invisible, watching from the trees surrounding the town, as Sam and Jake argued over whether or not they would both get out of there alive. Watched them fight. Routed for Sam even though he knew the conclusion was foregone – and even if Sam won, there was no good end to this.

Loki saw it first when Dean Winchester and the other hunter, Bobby Singer, made their way to the town. Watched as the brothers found each other – as Jake stabbed Sam in the back. Even knowing it was coming, he stood frozen, candy falling to the ground from limp fingers.

He knew he could fix it now. The demons had their chosen one – they wouldn’t care a bit if Loki flew in and brought Sam back to life with his particular set of powers. He could fly them out of there, fix Sam’s body, and give everyone the happy ending they deserved.

But that would be a line in the sand. There’s no way Michael and Raphael would miss the fact that their plans were crumbling; they would certainly recognize just who was wielding the monkey wrench when it happened.

So instead, he swooped in, gathered Sam’s soul like a good pagan god, and left Sam’s broken body limp in Dean’s arms.

 

 

Incredibly, just after he knocked Jake unconscious, Sam saw Dean and Bobby on the road, walking up to meet him.

The relief that flowed through him was unimaginable. It was the end of a nightmare – his brother there to fight beside him; he’d won without bowing to the yellow-eyed demon’s will.  “Dean!” he shouted back, a smile on his face despite the pain in his side, despite the horror he had just experienced.

And then Dean’s face dropped in horror. “Sam, look out!”

Suddenly, there was just pain. A wound in his back, torn open with the twist of a cold knife. Jake, Sam belatedly realized his mistake in letting him live.

He fell forward, Dean’s arms there to catch him even though he didn’t remember seeing his brother running to him.

And then, suddenly as it had come, the pain was gone.

“Hey there, kiddo, you’re alright,” a familiar voice soothed him. Sam could feel that inexplicable, otherworldly power around him again, though it was much less pronounced than that first time he had experienced it in his dorm room.

“Loki?” he asked. He opened eyes he didn’t realize were closed, and found that instead of Dean, the Trickster god was holding him up. He had one strong arm around Sam’s torso, and the other buried in his hair. Sam relaxed, knowing he was safe with the Trickster.

“In the flesh – or a close approximation thereof,” the god said.

“But – Dean – did you –”

“Dean-o’s alright,” Loki told him, his voice more somber than Sam remembered. “Bit broken up, but he’ll recover.”

Sam looked around again, saw that they were in the middle of a copse of trees – the same type that had surrounded the abandoned town. He was – there was something off, ephemeral about his limbs. “I’m dead,” he said, the words coming out as soon as he realized it. “You let me die out there, with the demons.”

“Not much I could do about it,” the Trickster told him, real regret in his voice. “I can’t always interfere with life and death – not the way you’d want me to.”

“But demons –“

“Are a whole different set of dance partners altogether, Samsquatch,” the Trickster interrupted. “I can only do so much against them.”

Sam frowned. There was something not right about any of this. He knew his god’s strengths: that he had powers stronger than most pagans, and that even outmanned and outgunned, he was clever enough to win against even the strongest of enemies. That was what Sam had built his faith on, hadn’t he?

Why hadn’t he answered a single prayer? Why had he let him compete in those games the yellow-eyed demon had concocted? Let him die, even.

He opened his mouth to protest again, but Loki cut him off, a look of stoic determination on his face. “Listen to me, Sam. We’re gonna skip the afterlife tour for now. I only have you here for a bit, so think of this as a break.” He reached one hand up to cup Sam’s chin, his face softening into something wistful and sad.

Sam resisted the urge to melt into the touch, opening his mouth to ask exactly what that meant, but the Trickster silenced him with a shake of his head.

“Now, things are going to get bad after this. I can’t tell you how bad, but let’s just say it’ll make Sodom and Gomorrah look like a tea party. You’re gonna be asked to do some things you don’t like, but remember that sometimes, you just have to play the hand you’re dealt. We’ve all got our roles to play. But I’ll be here at the end of it all.”

“You mean –” Sam cut himself off, not willing to ask if his god was actually implying that he would be of no help in whatever he was warning Sam against.

“That’s exactly what I mean,” Loki said, apparently reading his mind. “Told you, there’s only so much I can do. Guys with bigger guns than mine are calling the shots here.”

“What about Dean?” Sam asked, resigned.

“What about him?” Loki shot back.

“I mean, if you’re going to take care of me – will you take care of him, too?”

Loki looked down, no longer meeting Sam’s eyes. “That’s up to him,” the god told him. “If he pledged himself to me, too? Of course. But right now, I think he’s making another choice.”

“What do you mean?” Sam blurted out.

Loki shook his head. “You’ll find out when you get back. You need a break for now. A little divine R&R maybe?”

 Sam shook his head. It was clear that he wasn’t going to win this fight – and that thought reminded him that he probably shouldn’t be fighting with the god he had pledged his soul to.

“Come on,” the Trickster said, pressing in close and running his fingers up Sam’s chest enticingly. “Let’s go find a distraction. I promise I’ll get you back as soon as I can – not that I know why you’d want to go anyway.”

Sam melted into the touch, finding himself completely at the mercy of his Trickster. He should protest – but he had been craving that touch for years. And really, he could at least let himself enjoy having the attention of his god for as long as he had it, he told himself. Given the circumstances, it didn’t seem like he’d get another chance.

He tried his best not to feel guilty as he leaned down so his forehead touched the Trickster’s.

Loki wasn’t one to waste an opening. Sam was immediately overwhelmed by the electrifying press of Loki’s lips, the honey-sweet taste of his tongue.

“Yes,” Sam sounded just a little bit desperate when he breathed into the kiss, remembering his god’s appetite for consent. “Please.”

“Good boy,” the Trickster told him as he pulled away, a crooked smile on his lips.

Sam couldn’t help smiling back in anticipation.

 

 

Sam was furious when he woke up alive.

Furious with Dean, who just couldn’t leave well enough alone, and always had to give the biggest sacrifice. Sam’s life for Dean’s soul was not a fair deal.

Even more furious with Loki, who let it happen. Who had taken him away, showered him with attention, and distracted him while Dean was being a complete idiot.

He even tried to play if off like nothing happened, even when Sam had asked: “Dean... what happened to me?”

“Well, what do you remember?” his brother asked cagily.

“I-I saw you and Bobby, and…I felt this pain. This sharp pain, like... white-hot, you know, and then you started running at me, and,” he pressed his lips together, then deliberately lied to his brother. “Any that's about it.

Dean just went with it. “Yeah, that— that kid, stabbed you in the back. You lost a lot of blood, you know…It was pretty touch and go for awhile.”

“But Dean, you can't— you can't patch up a wound that bad.”

“No, Bobby could,” Dean argued before changing the subject. “Who was that kid, anyway?”

“That kid –” Sam started, but then stopped. It all made sense, what Loki had said about Dean making another choice. His stupid, reckless, idiot brother. “Did you sell your soul for me, like Dad did for you?”

Dean’s eyes went a little too wide, his voice too earnest. “Oh, come on! No!”

Sam stared at him, feeling tired and far older than his twenty-three years. “Dean, tell me the truth.”

“Sammy – ” Dean started, then he cut off, looking down guiltily.

“Dammit, Dean!” Sam spit out. “I knew it. How could you?”

“How could I not?” Dean spat back.

Sam couldn’t even dignify that with a response. “How long do you have?” he asked instead. “Ten years?”

“One,” Dean said darkly.

“O-” Sam couldn’t even get the word out for a moment, trying to process how he could have possibly heard what he thought he heard. “One year?”

Dean nodded.

“One year, Dean? Are you insane? Only one year?”

“It was all they would give!” Dean shouted at him gruffly. “What else was I supposed to do?”

“One year,” Sam repeated, softly this time. He had one year with his brother, before he was dragged down to Hell. One year. If he had only let things be, Sam would be with the Trickster still now, or in the Summerlands, maybe. Something like Heaven. He knew Loki would have taken care of him. Even dead, he knew he’d be alright.

But of course Dean couldn’t know that. He couldn’t tell his brother – not now, with the damage already done. Not unless they could fix it.

“Ok,” he said, softly. “Ok, we have a year. We’ll figure out a way out. We’ll fix it.”

Dean smiled a nodded, reaching over to put a reassuring hand on Sam’s shoulder. “I’m just glad you’re ok, Sammy-boy.”

Sam pursed his lips. He knew that look, and that tone. Dean had made up his mind, he wasn’t going to try to fix anything. He was ready to sacrifice himself.

Sam hoped he could change his mind.

 

 

Despite their best efforts, Jake opened the Devil’s Gate just like the yellow-eyed demon had planned. Never mind that he was dead now – that Sam had actually finished the job and killed the guy. The damage was done. Just like Dean’s soul.

It was too much for Sam to process. When they got back to Bobby’s that evening, he told them he was going to take a walk, clear his head, and he made his way into the junkyard.

He didn’t take any tools – no candles or anything. Nothing that would raise any suspicion in the all-too-likely event that Dean would come out and find him. Instead, he found a rather clear spot between a couple of junkers and sat down. Using his finger, he sketched out a few runes in the dusty dirt, hoping that after being so close to Loki so recently, this would do the trick.

“Loki, I know you can hear me,” he said, his voice soft but insistent. “I need your guidance here. I need to know how to help Dean.”

“We’ve all got our roles to play. But I’ll be here at the end of it all,” the Trickster’s words bubbled up in his memory.

You can’t mean that, Sam thought, though he knew the answer. If it weren’t true, the words wouldn’t feel too sacrilegious to give voice to.

He pressed his lips together. His path, this path he had chosen, was about outsmarting the big guns; about pulling an ace out of your sleeve when winning seemed hopeless. He had dedicated himself to that, and he would stay true to it. Hopefully, he would even be able to prove his god wrong.

 

 

Loki stayed away after Sam’s first death.

He watched. Of course he watched; how could he not watch as his favorite disciple fought Heaven and Hell themselves to save his brother from his tragic destiny? You can’t see that shit on TV – especially not in all the Technicolor glory of the Winchester Bros.

They never got close to figuring a way out of it – not really. Not even when they thought they were close, did they have a real way out of that contract. They hadn’t racked up the levels to beat Lilith, and even that wouldn’t have saved Dean in the end.

Good thing, too. Loki didn’t know what he would do if the boys were in spitting distance of winning. He told himself he’d stay out of it, but he was all too aware of the weakness this disciple brought out in him. In his most honest moments, he thought he might help.

In his darkest, most desperate moments, he almost cut that contract even shorter than the demons had promised. He just wanted it all over with already.

But he was strong, and disciplined, and had survived this long by knowing how to bide his time. So he watched as the Winchesters fought and cried and muddled through what they believed was Dean’s last year on earth.

And then he braced himself to watch some more. The weeks or months after Dean’s death – however long it took – were going to be hard for Sam.

It was going to be hard for him, too. Because as much as it broke Loki’s heart, Sam was going to have to think that his god had abandoned him.

Chapter Text

Being a hunter, Sam knew how to drink. He knew how to savor the good stuff, choke down the worst, and appreciate the numbness all of them afforded him. He and his brother had spent many a night on the hood of the Impala sharing a bottle of bourbon, swigging it down in turns and barely wincing at the burn. He had impressed college friends with his ability to drink hard liquor all night, never needing to chase his shots with beer or soda.

He had overdone it, on occasion. Although he was usually content to learn from Dean’s mistakes, he had made some of his own, particularly when he was still on the road with his family. He had paid the price for those mistakes too often for his taste.

He had never drank like this though.

The night Dean died – no. Scratch that. The night Dean had been dragged to Hell by a Hellhound because of what he had done for Sam – Sam took off. He knew he should go back with Bobby, stay at the Roadhouse with Ellen and Jo, keep close to the people who would try to make his life make sense, but he couldn’t.

He took the Impala, stopped at the first liquor store he found and bought himself a few of bottles of whatever bourbon was on sale. On a whim, he grabbed a small bottle of port on his way to the register.

An hour later, once he was sure he was far enough away that Bobby and the others would have trouble finding him, Sam checked himself into a motel and settled down with the first bottle.

He only got a third of the way through it before falling asleep, drunk and exhausted from crying.

The next day was a hazy blur. Somehow he got himself out of bed and out the door to find some food. He returned with a take-out back full of Loki-only-knew-what. Burgers, fries, mozzarella sticks and potato skins, he found when he opened the container and put it out on the motel table.

He proceeded to pick at it – starving but unable to eat – for a few hours, before he remembered the bourbon. He started drinking again slowly, able to eat more with each sip, but not really getting either down until around sunset, when he was finally numb enough to remember that Dean would have wanted him to take care of himself.

A few hours later, the bottle was almost empty. He had his candles out on the nightstand while he sat at the head of the single dingy bed. Four white votives, each in a corner of the compass. A taller, green candle in the center for the Trickster himself. The open bottle of port beside it. It wasn’t much of an altar, but it would have to do. His hands had faltered with drink as he set it up, and he had almost burned the place down lighting the candles, but it was important. He needed this.

“Loki,” he called out, not bothering with formal prayer or invocation.  Sam’s tongue felt thick in his mouth, but that didn’t matter compared to the fiery heat of his rage – which in itself was just a flimsy mask for his despair. “Loki, you bastard. You knew this was going to happen and you didn’t do anything! You didn’t even warn me!”

There was no answer, obviously, and that just made Sam angrier. “You promised me,” he reminded the god, his voice harsh and his words only a little slurred now. “You promised you’d keep my soul safe. How can you do that if you’re not here. How could you let him – how could you just watch while he did that to himself. To me?!”

Sam might have been imagining things, but he thought he felt the strange electric current around him that he remembered from the last times he had seen his god.

He took another long swig from his bottle. “Some god!” Sam chastised, taunting Loki if he was listening. “I devote myself to you – you ignore the blood some demon tainted me with, then make me watch as my brother kills himself. For me. Like I’d ever want that. Like my soul’s worth anything after that. You’re worthless!”

“Wanna say that to my face, Sam?” The Trickster’s voice was soft and almost gentle.

Sam turned to look around the small hotel room, almost falling off the bed in the process. He didn’t notice when he dropped the bottle of bourbon, letting it spill out all over the only pillows in the room. Loki was there, standing at the foot of the bed, looking at him with an unreadable expression.

“You let this happen,” Sam accused, letting his mouth run without thought. “You knew, and you let it happen. You didn’t even warn me first.”

Loki looked him over. “Yeah. That’s how these things go sometimes,” he admitted.

Sam stared at him, not sure what he meant, but not willing to give up his anger enough to actually ask.

“Bring him back,” Sam demanded. Begged.

“Not gonna happen, sweetheart,” Loki told him, throwing out the pet name sarcastically. “This isn’t my fight, and I’m not putting myself in the middle of it.”

The bourbon was leaking through the sheets now, and through Sam’s jeans. He forced himself to ignore it, keeping his expression hard.

“Okay,” Loki said, his face and body language suddenly softening. He took the few steps up the bed to stand next to Sam, then snapped. The candles went out, Sam’s leg was suddenly dry, and he saw the bottle vanish in an instant out of the corner of his eye. “I didn’t have a choice on this one. I told you: I’m just one god among many. These were powers beyond my control.”

“You abandoned me,” Sam shot back, not in a forgiving mood.

“You’re not wrong there,” the Trickster agreed.

“You’re going to again,” Sam told him certainly. It was how creatures like the Trickster worked, he knew. 

The Trickster shrugged. He picked up the bottle of port, sniffed it, and then put it back down. “Not really my thing, Samsquatch.”

Sam gave him half a shrug. “Apparently we don’t always get what we want in life,” he said mulishly.

Loki sat down on the bed beside Sam, just a few inches away, but far enough that it didn’t feel like his space was being invaded. “Listen, kiddo, I know this is tough, but none of us have a choice in this one. We gods like to go on about free will and all that, but this script was written long before you or I were around to make any choices. ”

“So what?” Sam asked. “We’re just supposed to go along with it then?”

“Nothing else for it,” Loki admitted.

“Well that’s bullshit,” Sam told him emphatically. He reached for his bottle, only be reminded it had disappeared. He plucked up the bottle of port instead, glaring at Loki. He probably didn’t want to upset his god by taking his offering back, but he couldn’t help challenging right now. And Loki had rejected it already anyway.

“Have at it,” Loki said, flipping one hand permissively.

Sam took a swig, his face puckering at the sickly sweet taste.

“Would it help if I told you you’d see your brother again? Alive, I mean.” Loki asked. Still mid-sip, Sam choked on the wine, spluttering and spitting it out on the bedspread.

From the look on his face, Loki had timed it that way.

“How?” Sam asked when he recovered.

“Ah, ah, ah,” the Trickster chided. “Privileged information. I’m already playing favorites here: you’re not supposed to know that one as it is.”

Sam gave him an unimpressed look.

“I know it’s not usually my shtick, but I’m serious here,” Loki said. “I mean, it’s gonna get worse later – way worse. Like you wouldn’t believe worse – but at least you and big bro will be there for it together.”

“Really?” Sam asked, not quite able to feel the emotions he thought he should at that.

“Would I lie?” Loki asked.

Sam’s unimpressed stare returned.

“Ok, sure. But not to you,” Loki assured him. “Not about this.”

“When?” Sam asked.

Loki gave a shrug. “That’s up to him. Nothing you or I can do to change that.”

 “Really?” Sam asked again as it sunk in. Dean would be back. He was in Hell now, but it wouldn’t be eternal damnation.

Would that be enough? How much would it change his brother, even to be there temporarily?

“Didn’t you already ask that one, kiddo?”

“I don’t know what else to say,” Sam admitted. “Is it – what’s happening to him down there?”

“That’s another one I can’t answer,” Loki told him. He pitched his voice a bit higher, with false joviality. “Ask me an easy one next?”

“Don’t have any easy ones,” Sam told him. He looked for his bourbon again, only belatedly remembering Loki had snapped it away, leaving only the disgusting port. Instead, he leaned back on his hands and asked, “What do I do until then – until Dean comes back?”

Loki gave him a bit of a shrug. “Hunt, I would bet. It’s kinda what you do.”

Sam tried to tilt his head thoughtfully, but found himself listing to the side instead.

“But for now, you should be sleeping,” Loki chastised him, his hazel eyes squinting in silent laughter toward the poor hunter.

Sam gave him a plaintive look, but even he recognized that the liquor was getting the better of him.

By morning, he wouldn’t sure if he had just dreamt it, or if his god had actually cajoled him into bed and under the covers. It wasn’t the godliest thing to do, but then again, as gods went, his was nothing if not unpredictable.

 

 

Loki watched as his disciple – as his vessel – slept, unaware of how easily he had been healed. In the morning, the only evidence left of his binge would be the sweet wine and the second, unopened bottle of bourbon.

Thirty-six hours. Less than two days. That’s how long his resolve had held before he had come to console Sam. He wasn’t sure if he should be disappointed in himself, or proud he had made it that long.

He snapped himself up some spun cotton candy, letting it slowly melt on his tongue bite by bite as he thought.

What had Sam been thinking: that he would kill himself with alcohol poisoning? That he should follow his brother to an early grave?

Why had he decided to call on his god instead of following through? Loki was amazed that Sam still had some spark of faith left in him after the last time they had seen each other. For a moment, he wistfully wondered if it was something you needed a soul for, or of there was really any hope for him and his brethren.

Knowing the future Sam represented, he wasn’t sure it mattered anymore either way.

Loki tried to put the thought out of his mind. He had changed things, coming here like this. If he kept this up, he was going to be noticed.

Still, something about this kid messed with his judgement. He wanted to be here. Wanted to taste him again, and not just because he belonged to him (though he was pagan enough that that was definitely part of it). Loki had such a soft spot for the kid, he wanted to protect him from everything that was about to happen, pull him away from the world and keep him safe.

The demigod put his head in his hands in a very human gesture. He should be gone by now – he should be back home, taking care of the dog, planning tricks, staying out of the war. Waiting for it all to be over.

Instead, he settled back in his chair and waited, watching Sam’s chest move with his breath as he slept.

 

 

 

Sam woke up slowly the next morning – not normal for him, since he was so often on hair-trigger alert. The way he and Dean lived their lives –

The memories of the house on the cul-de-sac where they faced up against Lilith swelled up in his mind. Dean, screaming about the Hellhounds. Shooting them. Dean being slaughtered, his soul pulled down to Hell –

The way Sam lived his life now, he corrected.

He took a breath. Opened his eyes.

Saw Loki on the motel chair, staring back at him. More memories flooded through him.

“Dean’s going to come back?” Sam asked, his voice hoarse with emotion, not hangover.

“Eventually,” Loki confirmed.

“You’re still here.” It was more of an accusation than a question. The Trickster god never stayed overnight with Sam, not even when they had sex.

The god shrugged vaguely. “You’re in a tough spot, Samsquatch. “Thought I might sick around for a few days, make sure you get through it ok.”

“You can do that?” Sam asked.

“I can do whatever I want. God, remember?”

“But last night you said –” Sam started to protest.

“Last night, I told you I can’t interfere with the big things, stuff above my level,” Loki explained. “This? This is my right. You’re my disciple. I can chill with you if I want.”

“But – ”

“But we have a hunt to get to,” Loki told him. “Which would you prefer: a vampire nest on the Jersey shore, or a demon in Nebraska?”

“Demon, definitely,” Sam said without speaking.

“Too bad, I want some saltwater taffy.”

Sam looked at him. “Jersey’s like a 22 hour drive from here.”

“Tsk, tsk,” Loki shook his head at him. “What did I already say about the god thing?”

Sam stared at him in consternation for a moment, and then decided that maybe it was too early in the morning to contemplate these things, and that he had already pushed his luck with his god enough last night. Instead, he pulled off the covers and got himself out of bed. “Alright. Let’s get to it.”

He needed the distraction.

 

 

Loki convinced Sam to stow the Impala at a garage for a few days, mostly by letting Sam watch as he drew some protective sigils over it to make sure it would remain unnoticed and untouched, then snapped them across the country to a nice little boardwalk on the shore.

“What are vampires doing at the beach, anyway?” Sam asked, looking out at the cloudless sky over the ocean.

“Apparently, they like the nightlife,” Loki said. “Can’t imagine why. Then again, I’ve only seen the MTV version of it.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “You watch Jersey Shore?”

“I’m hip with the times,” Loki told him flippantly. “Besides, reality TV: great way to find some people who need real poetic justice in their lives.”

“Can’t argue that,” Sam agreed. He tried not to think about how amusing Dean would find the idea.

He looked the god over, half in awe, half in pure confusion. He had only seen him a handful of times, but there had always been something otherworldly about him – something that made Sam’s skin stand on edge, put him in a state of constant need and anticipation. But now? Right now, he was actually comfortable.

Which, Sam supposed, was exactly what he needed. There was nothing comfortable about here and now, not with what had happened to Dean, or with whatever horrors Loki had warned him about. Loki felt like a lighthouse on this sea of storms.

“Thanks,” Sam said impulsively. “For this.”

Loki looked at him with a smile. “No problemo, Samarino. Least I could do.”

“I’m kind of afraid of that,” Sam said, more sincere than he meant it. What on Earth could possibly be worse than his brother dying? How was he supposed to deal with the grief of losing Dean, with the guilt of him being in Hell because of Sam, and then plan whatever else was in store for them later?

Hearing the note in his voice, Loki looked him over. “This distraction thing isn’t really working, is it?”

“I’m trying,” Sam said.

Loki sighed and snapped again. They were suddenly in a small but high end hotel room, standing beside a large bed that took up most of the space. The walls and bedspread were a rich cobalt blue, and the plush carpet and sheer curtains were a soft white, giving the room a calm, inviting feeling. It felt safe.

“But maybe you shouldn’t have to try so hard,” Loki told him softly, voice colored by compassion. “Not yet.”

Before Sam could really comprehend what was happening, the god pulled him down to the bed with that preternatural strength, and pulled Sam into something like a hug.

This close, Sam could feel the god’s power in his bones: the danger of it, and the draw. He could also feel more there: the strength that was freely offered. It was astounding to realize he had something greater than himself to lean on, to hold himself up with.

Sam couldn’t help himself. He wrapped his arms around his god and just held. At first, he couldn’t do much else but shake: with grief, with fear, and with relief. Then, as he relaxed, he started to cry. Great wrenching sobs at first, followed by silent tears as he exhausted himself and his emotions.

Loki held him the whole time, giving him all the strength and time he needed. He didn’t speak, but he didn’t have to. Sam could feel him there.

Sam didn’t know how much time had passed before he pulled away, but it felt like days. “Sorry,” he said, automatically as he pulled away. He suddenly felt silly – he was wasting all this time of a god’s to feel sorry for himself. To wallow, instead of getting back to the family business Dean had left for him.

“Hey, there’s nothing to be sorry about,” Loki told him, reaching up to wipe the last of the tears from his eyes. “I told you, I’m here cause I want to be.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, for the second time that day.

“You’re welcome,” the god said seriously. “Now, what do you need? Food? Nap? Sex?”

Sam let out a huff of a laugh. “All of the above, but not right now,” he said. Though he should probably eat, his stomach was a ball of knots. “Maybe start looking into this vampire nest? I think I need a distraction.”

“I think we can do that.” Loki snapped, and suddenly a couple of stakes and crosses that looked like they just came out of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were laying on the bed next to him, as well as two large machetes.

Sam smiled. “You’re gonna go in with me? With a machete? Really?”

“Course I’m coming. And how else do you hunt vampires?”

“Don’t you have some…?” Sam’s voice trailed off as he searched for the words. “Godly power or something?”

“Sure, but what’s the fun in that?  I can’t make it too easy on you,” Loki said with a wink. “Then it wouldn’t be a distraction.”

 

 

Hours later, Sam found himself and Loki cleaning out the last of a small vampire nest. They had been holing up under a bar, feeding on drunk patrons on their way out at the end of the night – especially if they were on their own or could be seduced away from their party.

Sam shouldn’t have been surprised that Loki wanted a machete instead of his more divine strengths. From the look of things, he knew exactly how to use it. He was just about dancing through the dark basement, swaying and spinning this way and that, anticipating each vampire’s attack as it came. Sam was entranced by the movement of his dirty blonde hair and the intensity of his hazel eyes. The god had some pretty awesome fighting moves; Dean would love to spar with someone like that.

Sam pushed the thought to the back of his mind. He had already broken down once today; no reason to let it happen again.

And besides, he was racking up quite the kill count of his own. There had been about twenty vampires here when they got in, and Sam had taken down at least a third. Which, when you’re competing with a god, is still pretty impressive.

He watched Loki as the Trickster took out the last two. They were both attacking him, from opposite sides of the room. Loki swept his machete around to cleanly lop of the head of one, then used his momentum to push the other toward Sam. Sam wasn’t nearly as agile, but he had good reflexes, and he caught the vampire’s shoulder with his off-hand. He pushed it to the ground and finished it off with a devastating downward swing of his knife.

“That it?” he asked when he looked up.

Loki was looking around. “Looks like,” he agreed. “Not that I’m gonna do this often, or probably ever again, but I’ll clean up here.”

The Trickster snapped in his signature style, and the room was clean. Hell, Sam was clean, he realized, no longer sticky with sweat and blood.

Loki took a look around and, apparently satisfied, snapped again, transporting them back to the chic hotel room from this morning.

This time when he looked at the bed, Sam noticed how big and soft it looked. Perfectly plush, too.

He looked over at Loki, suddenly very aware of the adrenaline rushing through his veins; of the grace and strength of the small god’s movements when he fought beside Sam; of how very close he was to this singular being.

“You ok, there, Samsquatch?” Loki asked, looking him over.

Sam couldn’t help himself, he moved toward the Trickster, leaning into his personal space. They had done this once before, the night of his initiation. When he had promised his soul to Loki. He knew what this was: adrenaline and grief and need all rolled into a not-so-healthy coping mechanism, but he thought maybe he needed this.

“Can we –” he started, tripping on the words as he rushed to get them out.

Not that the god needed it spelled out for him. He understood. “All you have to do is ask,” he said, his eyes dilated wide with arousal.

Caught between lust and worship, Sam raised his hands, but didn’t know where to put them. Didn’t know what to do; what was ok, and what would go too far.

Loki took pity on him and reached up to pull Sam down into a bruising kiss, one that tipped Sam’s anxious mind over into pure lust.

Barely thinking of what he was doing, he found himself dropping to his knees, desperate for Loki’s taste, his touch. “Please,” he moaned, running his fingers over the zipper and button of the Trickster’s jeans.

“Yes,” Loki told him, pulling him in so Sam’s nose was rubbing against hard cock beneath the fabric. “Whatever you want. Whatever you need, Sam.”

Sam hurried to unfasten his jeans, then push them and his boxers down in one motion. As soon as his cock was free, Sam’s hands were on it, rubbing down its length.

Loki reached down and took his cock in one hand, the other cradling the back of Sam’s head. Gently, he rubbed the head of it against Sam’s lips.

Sam opened his mouth to pull it in, but Loki held him back be the hair for a moment, teasing him as precum dripped onto his bottom lip.

“Ask nicely, Sam. You remember what I said about consent and prayer, don’t you?”

Of course he did.

“Please,” Sam begged, pulling lightly against the hand in his hair. “Please let me suck you off.”

“That’s it,” Loki told him, releasing his hair.

Sam dove forward, taking the cock in his mouth. It was only the second time in his life he had done this, but it was just as good as the first. At first, he just sucked enthusiastically, concentrating most of his attention on the head and slit, but wetting the rest enough to use his hand to pull down. Then he had an idea.

Let me make you lose control. Please, Loki, Sam prayed as he sucked him down further. There’s nothing in the world I want more than to taste you come.

Loki’s breath caught in his throat, and Sam smiled. Apparently he had caught the god by surprise.

“I’m going to come if you keep that up, Sam,” Loki said, his voice a deep, sonorous growl. It was almost inhuman, and it went right through Sam, making his own already-hard dick strain against his pants.

Please do, Sam invited his god desperately. He prayed it like a mantra. Please, Loki. Please come. Come for me.

That was it. Loki was losing control, coming hot and hard in Sam’s mouth. Sam tried to swallow it, but pulled out almost instinctively when it began to overwhelm him, letting the last few spurts fall on his cheek and chin.

Not that Loki seemed to mind. He had a thing about marking what was his, Sam remembered.

Loki looked down at him with that fond, crooked smile Sam loved so much. Briefly, headily, he wondered if it would ever be enough for him to be with a mortal, after seeing that look in his god’s usually shrouded eyes.

“Your turn, Romeo,” Loki told him, pulling him up from the floor and manhandling him onto the bed before he could react. “You might want to lose the clothes.”

Sam hastened to comply, toeing off his sneakers and socks and kicking them toward the door even as he was unbuttoning his jeans. He was so wrapped up in what he was doing that it took him a moment to realize what Loki was up to.

He stopped short when he saw. The god was fingering himself, stretching out his own hole, as if Sam was the one who would –

“Better get a move on, or I might start the fun without you,” Loki told him with a wink. “Actually, I think I already have.”

Numbly, so shocked and aroused that he could barely process what was going to happen, Sam continued with his task. His eyes were glued to the Trickster as he pushed off his jeans, then pulled off his flannel. By the time he had dealt with his undershirt and boxers –

“There we go,” Loki told him. “I knew you could follow directions if you tried. Now, just lie down and let me take care of this.”

The Trickster was on him then, straddling him, one hand on Sam’s cock as he directed it –

And then Sam’s breath was catching in his throat, as the full weight and heat of the Trickster god surrounded him. It wasn’t just his dick – he could feel Loki everywhere.

“Dad, you feel good, kid,” Loki breathed.

 And – “What?” Sam asked, sure that he had misheard that last line.

“I said ‘man you feel good,’” Loki told him, looking at him like he was just a little crazy. “The dirty talk not up to par? I can turn it up a notch.”

“No, perfect,” Sam told him, reaching up to run his fingers over the paunch of the Trickster’s stomach, then pull his nails down the inside of his thighs. “Not sure I’d survive another notch higher.”

Loki gave him a salacious wink before bending himself in half, somehow reaching down to kiss Sam as he started to thrust slowly with his hips. And wow: Sam could feel Loki’s dick rubbing against his abs, already hard and throbbing again.

Sam moaned, unable to further process anything with that amount of stimulation. He had just enough time to reached out and catch the god’s back to pull him in further before he started to climax.

It was like nothing he had experienced in his life. Loki came again as soon as he did, spraying all over Sam’s stomach and chest. The effect of his tightening muscles on Sam’s dick was indescribable. All Sam could do was moan and ride it out.

After the last aftershocks had rolled through him, Loki pulled himself off of Sam and curled up against his side, his small form fitting nicely against Sam’s long one. Sam could feel him tracing sigils in the come on his stomach and chest, just as he had done on his back last time, but he couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes and look.

“That was really good,” Sam said stupidly instead, gasping a bit as he tried to catch his breath. “I think I needed that.”

“I think you did, too,” Loki told him smugly. Sam figured he deserved to be a little smug, after what he had just done. Besides the whole god thing and all, too.

“I think I’m going to pass out,” he admitted after a moment. After everything that had happened – yesterday, last night, this morning, and now this. Dean and the Hellhounds, Loki and his support – both divine and worldly. He couldn’t process it anymore. His mind was just shutting off.

“Go ahead, Samsquatch,” Loki told him, using what was quickly becoming a familiar nickname. “I’ll even stick around until you wake up.”

That was good, Sam realized. Right now, that was what he needed to hear.

Content in the knowledge that at least he wouldn’t be alone, Sam relaxed and let sleep take him.

 

Chapter Text

Sam woke up the next morning feeling immediately guilty. Dean had been dead – his soul in Hell – for less than seventy-two hours, and he was already having sex.

Having sex with the pagan god who wouldn’t even warn them what was happening. Who wouldn’t save Sam fast enough to stop Dean from getting himself into Hell in the first place.

“Whoa, there, it’s ok,” Loki said, putting a soft hand on his cheek and cajoling him out of the dark space his mind was headed to.

Sam opened his eyes to look at him, doing his best to overcome his morning bleariness and glare. “No, Loki. Nothing’s ok,” he said icily.

Loki sighed and started to stroke Sam’s hair, face more serious than Sam remembered seeing it before. Sam could feel the feather-light touches of his god’s power reverberating in him, and it took all his stubborn control not to lean into the touch. “Look. I know things are hard right now. I know you’d rather Dean here, alive and safe. I can’t give that to you, much as I would like to.” Sam could see real regret in his eyes. “But he’ll be back, I promise. That’s not on me, but I guarantee you that the ones who bring him back will make sure he’s good as new. You’ll have your brother again.”

“This didn’t have to happen,” Sam groused, still not sure how to take that information. It was a relief, to know that Dean would return. It was good, and comforting, and made him want to put all of his faith back in his god. But Loki had known he was going to Hell, and he didn’t stop it.

“You’re going to have to have faith in me on this one, kid,” Loki told him. “That was going to happen whether I intervened or not. Me changing the script would have just made things worse, in the end.”

Faith. What a twisted word, in this world. Here Sam was, with his personal god, naked next to him in bed; shouldn’t that be the bedrock of religious faith?  He knew his god, on a very personal level. And yet –

“I’ll try,” Sam conceded. “I just feel so guilty. Like –”

“Well stop,” Loki interrupted him. “There’s nothing for you to feel guilty about.” He raised himself up on one arm so he was looking down at Sam. “How about this. You go get a shower and get dressed. I’ll snap us up some breakfast. Then I’ll take you back to your car. You need to get back to your friends at the Roadhouse today.”

“Why?” Sam asked. He’d rather stay away. Loki was ok to have around right now, because he knew even more than Sam did, but Sam didn’t want to be around any of the other hunters. He needed his space.

“Because it’s good for you,” Loki told him. “I can’t be here for you all the time, and now is not a good time to be alone.”

Sam caught himself before he rolled his eyes at the god. “Fine,” he said, pushing away the covers to get up. “Not like I have a choice if you really want me there.”

“Nope,” Loki said, popping the ‘p.’  “But you already knew that, I think.”

 

 

While Sam busied himself in the bathroom, Loki lounged on the large bed, trying very hard not to think of the hunter. This kid was doing a number on his good sense; Loki found himself drawn to him in ways he had never expected. It wasn’t just that he was a vessel, either.

He had so much potential on his own merits. With those big puppy dog eyes and that frame that went on forever – and was still growing! – never mind the shining, opalescent soul beneath…It was like the kid was built just to tear down his defenses.

And tear down them he did. Last night, Loki almost forgot everything he had become, ever bit of identity he had fought so hard to create. His defenses shattered in the moment, he had even opened himself to his divine absent Father. He had almost been something like the being he once was.

Sam had noticed, too. Had asked about it, in the moment. Loki hoped he didn’t remember it now. What would Sam think, if he knew the truth?

He glanced over at the bathroom, spying on Sam in the shower through the wall. Even after a full night of sleep, the kid looked drained, holding onto the tiled wall to support himself as he soaped up.

The demigod sighed.

He was doing the right thing, sending Sam off to rejoin his hunter friends. Sam was in trouble, he knew. He’d be hunted, seduced, turned into his worst possible self. But Loki couldn’t be there for the kid every step of the way, not when he had this effect on him. Who knew what he would do if he really became attached?

He felt guilty, but there was no helping it. 

As soon as Sam was out of the shower, he snapped up a buffet of breakfast meats, eggs, pancakes and sweet toppings, fruit, and coffee. The least he could do was give his disciple everything he could for now.

 

 

 Late that afternoon, Sam was alone, driving up the highway that would bring him to the Roadhouse. Loki’s last order before he had disappeared had been to go back there, and he was sure that he owed his god that level of obedience, at least. But he planned to hightail it out of there as soon as Ellen knew he was ok. Maybe even pick up a case.

That’s what Dean wanted him to be doing, Sam thought: keeping up the family business. Or something like that. He didn’t really know what he should be doing right now.

He had told Bobby that he was going to bring Dean back; had promised it. But Loki said Dean would be back, and he believed it. Should he be trying to somehow make it happen faster? Or should be concentrate his efforts on getting revenge on the demons who had machinated all of this?

Or maybe he shouldn’t be doing anything. Dean had been clear in his wish that Sam not use his psychic powers – the powers that came from the demon blood in his veins – but maybe it would be better to stay away from them altogether.

He wished he knew.

He parked the Impala outside the Roadhouse, took a few breaths, and then made his way inside.

The room went silent as soon as he entered, all eyes suddenly on him. Looking around, he wanted to turn around and bolt. He didn’t need their stares, or their pity –

But then he suddenly had his arms full of Jo Harvelle, who was hugging him, tears in her eyes. “We heard. Bobby called. I’m so sorry, Sam,” she said against his chest.

“Thanks,” he responded before gently extracting himself from the hug.  “I – uh, it’s hard. But I’m going to get him back.”

“Sam Winchester, how do you plan to do that?” Ellen asked from behind him, disapproval and sympathy competing in her voice.

Sam gave a little shrug. “Don’t know. But it’s going to happen.”

Ellen shook her head, then put her arms around him in a warm maternal hug. “Just don’t do anything stupid,” she told him. “We can’t bear to lose you, too.”

“I won’t,” he said. Lied, probably.

“Come on,” Ellen said, one arm around his midsection. “Let’s get you a drink.”

Sam shook his head. “Not drinking,” he told her. “Not today. I was hoping for more of a distraction.”

She raised one eyebrow. “What kind of a distraction?”

“Case?” Sam asked.

Ellen shook her head. “No way,” she said definitively. “You just lost your brother. I’m not sending you out hunting alone.”

“But –”

“No buts,” Ellen said, and Sam could see anger in her eyes. Or fear. “You can’t be thinking straight, and you don’t have backup. If something happens to you –”

“I have backup, though!” Sam blurted out.

“Really?” Ellen asked, surprised. “Who?”

Sam bit the inside of his cheek, thinking. He certainly couldn’t tell her it was the pagan god he worshipped behind Dean’s back.

“No one,” Sam said eventually, not knowing what else to say. Any name he could give she’d know, or know how to find.

She sighed, clearly sad and worried for him. “Tell you what. You’re going to have some lunch. Then we’ll make you up a room and you can stay here a while. Take some time.”

Sam shook his head. “I don’t need time, Ellen. I need a case.”

She looked him up and down, clearly skeptical.  

“Listen,” Sam said, as forcefully as he could manage. “I know I’m not in a good place now. But sitting here thinking about it isn’t going to help me out of it. I need to be out there, doing something.”

Ellen tilted her head and opened her mouth to speak.

“It’s what Dean would have wanted me to do,” he continued before she could get a word in. “The family business. It keeps us grounded, even when everything else is going to shit.”

Ellen sighed again. “Alright. You stay here one night, I give you a case in the morning. IF I think you’re up to it. Deal?”

“Deal,” Sam told her.

“I could go with him,” Jo piped up. “I would be great back-up.”

“No,” Ellen said sharply, glaring at her daughter, “you would not.”

 Sam almost smiled and made a teasing remark when he saw Jo’s pout, but then he thought how Dean would have reacted, and his mood sunk.

“I’m not really hungry for lunch,” he told Ellen instead. “But I’d appreciate that room.”

“Let’s get you to it then,” she said kindly, keeping a hand on his shoulder as she showed him the way.

 

 

Sam didn’t come out of the small room Ellen had given him until dinnertime that night, when his hunger grew more poignant than his desire to avoid the crowd. Ash and a few familiar hunters were in the main room of the tavern, but Sam avoided them, going straight to Jo to ask for a burger before finding an obfuscated seat in the back of the room.

“You can’t just hide here, you know,” Jo told him when she brought his burger out.

“I’m not really up for a crowd,” Sam told her honestly. All he could think about when he looked around the room was how much fun his brother had in this place; how he’d be shooting pool with Ash or doing shots with Jo by the end of the night. “I just want to get on the road.”

Jo sat down and gave him a sympathetic face. “Listen, I know. You don’t want to be here, and you’re doing it for my mom. I’ll talk to her for you, make sure she sets you up with something in the morning.”

“What’s the catch?” Sam asked.

“No catch,” she told him, and Sam realized she was blinking back tears. “I miss him, too. Already. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling. Bring him back.”

“He’ll be back,” he told Jo, not knowing what else to say. “He’s not going to spend an eternity in Hell.“

“How can you be so sure that?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Faith, I guess.”

 

 

Jo was true to her word. Despite Ellen’s better judgement Sam was off on a ghost hunt the next afternoon: people had been dying in connection to an old boarding school that had been converted into a hotel. Ellen had admonished him to be careful, and had told him that she would keep the small room he had taken open for him if he needed it. Had offered him something like a home base, even.

Sam had given her a hug, not knowing what to say, but knowing he couldn’t accept her offer. Home wasn’t a luxury he could have while Dean was in Hell, much as he wanted it.

A few hours later, he was pulling into a motel just outside Sioux City. Sam could see Ellen’s protective fingerprints all over the choice: it was less than 2 hours from Bobby’s place, and close enough to get to the Roadhouse without a pit stop. The case itself seemed cut and dry. But it was a hunt; it was work. And it would give him something to do while he figured out his mission.

This should be a quick salt and burn. Shuttered hospital, haunted for a decade, recently taking the lives of a handful of daring teenagers: the script almost wrote itself. Sam just had to show up, find the bones and take care of them. Easy.

“Whatcha up to, Samsquatch?” Loki asked, suddenly in the seat beside Sam.

Sam was very glad that he had already parked the car, because the surprise of suddenly having a Trickster next to him would have definitely caused him to crash it. Dean would be pissed-

Sam bit back the pain of his grief at the reminder that his brother was no longer here. “Hunting,” he said shortly.

Loki gave him a measured look.

“Look, I went to the Roadhouse. Ellen gave me a case. I’m keeping busy.”

“What are you hunting?” Loki asked seriously.

 “Ghosts,” Sam said. “Wanna help? It would probably be easier with a god on my side.”

“Not this time, Sammich,” Loki him, visibly relaxing. “You’ve got this.”

“What if it’s something I can’t handle?” Sam asked. 

“Stick to ghosts. It’ll keep you out of trouble,” Loki told him, his voice serious, despite his relaxed body language.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Sam told him. “I’m going to get a room. Interviews with the families start early tomorrow.”

“Want company?” Loki asked, wriggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Sam opened his mouth to respond, but then remembered who he was talking to. How did you tell a god you had given your soul to – who you were supposed to worship and obey – that you missed your brother and sex just wasn’t on the table? Could he do that?

Loki put a hand on his chin, gently guiding Sam’s head so he looked the god in the eyes. “That was an offer, not a demand,” he said. “You’re not there, you say no. I’m never going to ask anything else of you.”

And really, Sam could just lose himself in that touch. His devotion – his love for the god almost eclipsed everything else he felt, especially when he could just barely feel that otherworldly power flowing through Loki’s fingers on his face. Almost.

“Not tonight,” he said, almost disappointed in himself. “I just – I can’t.”

“I understand, kiddo,” Loki told him, spreading his hand out so that the palm was on Sam’s cheek. “You know this isn’t just a one way street – I want what’s best for you, too.”

Sam gave a weak smile and leaned into the Trickster’s hand. “I know,” he said. He did. He trusted this god, foolish as he sometimes thought it was. Loki had promised to protect his soul; he believed in those words.

“Maybe some company though?” Sam asked, not really believing his own forwardness, but not wanting the god to leave.

“Of course,” Loki said, then pulled his hand back. Still looking into his eyes, Sam wondered if the god had expected those words to fall out of his mouth so readily.

Sam nodded and got out of the car. He wasn’t surprised to see that Loki wasn’t following him when he went in to get a room for the night. He would meet him inside.

He got through checking in and finding his room as quickly as he could. Despite turning down sex, he was excited to see Loki again. He ached for him; Loki was the only light he had in this world without his brother.

Loki was indeed waiting for him. He had already changed the room to suit his own needs: a larger bed, much cleaner and more comfortable looking than Sam expected in a place like this. A blazing fireplace on one wall, and a large buffet on the other, with a small café table set up with two settings, complete with glasses of water and wine. Sam could smell a dozen wonderful scents coming from it, not all desserts that he knew the Trickster was personally partial to.

“You didn’t have to do this,” Sam said, looking around the room. He put his bag down beside the bed and bent down to take off his work boots.

“I don’t have to do a lot of things,” Loki said with a shrug. “I wanted dinner.”

“Do you even need food?” Sam asked. He shrugged off his flannel and toed off his socks, leaving just his jeans and tee shirt to relax in. Then he went over to the Italian buffet Loki had set up and took one of the two plates waiting beside it.

Everything looked wonderful: chicken parmesan, eggplant rollatini, stuffed shells, calamari…at the end of the table were cannoli and Italian cookies and panna cotta. Sam had skipped lunch, and hadn’t even thought he was hungry. One look at this and he was suddenly aware that he was starving.

“I don’t need it,” Loki admitted. “Doesn’t mean I don’t like it.”

“I hope you like it enough to eat for a family of five. You do know it’s just the two of us here, right?” Sam asked, loading his plate up on a little of everything but the desserts even as he teased. He was still growing.

 “Don’t worry so much,” Loki told him. “I’ll send the extra to an orphanage or something.”

Sam looked at him fondly, and – oh. That was not a feeling he should be feeling toward a deity, even his own. There was something almost human about Loki sometimes – and that was a thought Sam shouldn’t indulge in too often. Gods were not human.

He turned back to grab another meat ball, hoping the god hadn’t noticed his unease.

They ate dinner quietly, enjoying the meal and the company, but in their own heads – or whatever that meant for a god like Loki. Sam knew he was retreating into himself, but he couldn’t help it. He was a mess of emotions, and he wasn’t doing a very good job of processing any of them. And every time he thought he was out of it, thoughts of Dean and what he was doing – what was being done to him – would intrude and chase him back down into the worst of it.

Eventually, he couldn’t help himself. He asked, “What’s happening to him down there?”

Loki gave him a long look, then shook his head. “You don’t want to know, that, Samsquatch.”

“I have to,” Sam protested.

Loki raised an eyebrow. “Do you think he wants you to know?”

Sam shrugged. He moved his food around on his plate, but he had lost his appetite. “It doesn’t matter. I need to know.”

“He’s being tortured, Sam,” Loki said, his voice hard but not without sympathy. “Leave it at that.”

Sam nodded obediently. “I’ll try.” He pushed his food around for another minute or two with his fork before dropping the utensil to the table beside the plate. He had only had a half a dozen bites, but he couldn’t eat another bit.

 Loki let him sit there for a moment before taking his hand. Sam let himself be gently led to the bed, where they could sit down comfortably side by side.

“Did I ever tell you I used to have brothers?” Loki asked, tracing his thumb over the tendons and veins of Sam’s hand, which he still held.

“No,” Sam said, putting his head back against Loki’s shoulder and looking at white stucco ceiling. “Nothing about that is in the lore, either.”

“And I’d appreciate if you didn’t add it in,” Loki told him. He just sat there for a minute, holding Sam’s hand, arms and legs pressed against each other. Sam was quiet, waiting for him to speak.

“There were three of them,” Loki said finally, voice soft and a little distant. “Are, I guess. They’re still alive, though I haven’t seen them in millennia. Don’t think they’ve been to Earth almost since your kind came down from the trees.”

“Where are they?” Sam asked before he could stop himself.

Loki shrugged, his arm moving gently against Sam’s. “They have their own places in the universe. Used to be, we all shared all of it. We were inseparable, the four of us; I damn near worshipped them, I loved them so much. I was the youngest – the troublemaker, really, but there was never any malice back then.

“Somehow it all changed. I won’t go into it, but these days most of their time is spent fighting each other. They have this whole eternal war thing going on, which I never wanted to be a part of. Any one of them would use me in that fight in an instant, and that would break me. I couldn’t imagine hurting a single one of them, even if it wouldn’t bother them to do the same to me.” He huffed out a breath of air. “So I made a choice. I left, them and everyone else I had ever known or loved. Permanently. A long time ago.”

He turned his body so that he could look up into Sam’s eyes.

“You see, I know what it’s like to have a brother – a whole family – beyond your reach. Even knowing it would take less than a thought for me to get back to mine, I can’t ever do that, not without destroying myself in the process.” He gave Sam a crooked grin, but it came off as melancholy. “At least you know you’ll have yours back soon.”

When? Sam thought, but kept it to himself. Loki didn’t deserve that selfishness, especially when he was confiding in and comforting Sam. “I wish I could change that,” he said instead.

“Me and you both, kid,” Loki told him. “Just – just think about it,” he continued, a look of almost defeat in his eyes. “You’re not alone here, you’ve got family that’ll back you up at that Roadhouse, and up in Sioux Falls. Don’t do anything that’s gonna make them mourn you that much sooner. Make sure Dean has a brother to come home to.”

Sam nodded, just as seriously. “Yeah, I’ll keep that in mind.”

Loki rearranged himself so that he was sitting close to Sam again, his head on the hunter’s chest.

Tentatively, Sam brought his hand up to stroke the god’s soft hair. When Loki didn’t protest, he didn’t stop.

They stayed like that a long time, quiet and lost in thought.

 

Chapter Text

The next day, Sam threw himself into his case. Loki had left before he had gone to bed that night, off on business too important and too sensitive to explain to Sam, so he was on his own today.

Even alone, interviewing people felt normal. It felt good. He was doing something – something that Dean would approve of. Hunting some ghost who was leaving hotel guests bloody and dying in their rooms, though few of them were actually killed. There was something tentative and unsophisticated about the case that gave it an interesting level of intrigue.

Dean would have had fun on this case; it was just novel enough to catch their attention, but the characters Sam met were more remarkable: a librarian who acted like something out of Dean’s fetish magazines; a teacher who thought he was god’s gift to women, including his students’ mothers (and who was not subtle about it); and the creepiest groundskeeper Sam had ever met.

Sam was actually trying to get out of his meeting with the last one.

He was sitting in a small conference room with the hotel groundskeeper, who had apparently gone to the boarding school that the building had originally housed several decades ago. Gregory Jones was a tall, thin man with greasy, lanky hair hanging around his face and sunken in eyes that seemed to bore straight through Sam.

“I’ll be in touch,” he said smoothly, closing his stenographer’s pad as he got ready to get up and make his escape.

Gregory leaned forward on the small round table that separated the two of them. Even from here, Sam could smell his sour breath as he spoke, his voice suddenly urgent. “No one listens to me, of course. They don’t care, but I was here when it happened.”

Sam started, surprised. He settled back into his seat and flipped the pad open to a fresh page. “When what happened?” he asked.

“When them kids got in into their head to get themselves killed here,” the groundskeeper told him, as though it was obvious. “I might’ve been younger than them, but I was a student here, too. I knew what was going on.”

Sam hadn’t heard of any deaths when he had researched online. “Can you tell me what happened back then?” he asked, keeping his voice calm and measured.

“Was a while back, long before the school went under,” Gregory told him. “A few boys thought it would be fun to show off. Official story was they snuck onto school grounds after hours and got to the roof. Three of them fell off. They died before they were found. The fourth got scared and musta had a heart attack or something, because he was found dead in a bathroom on the first floor.”

Sam hadn’t missed the phrasing Gregory had used. “What was the real story, the unofficial one?”

Gregory shook his head. “That last kid, he was a strange on. No one even knew why he was with the other boys. Those three were all friends, of course, did everything together. Football, baseball, heard they were all headed to the same college, even, and remember those days not many of us went. Rich kids, you know, whose dad’s had some power around here.

“So this other boy, he was found dead, but it wasn’t a heart attack that did it. Kid was tortured in there. Beaten bloody, hit a bit too hard in the head. No one wanted to talk about it at the time – it was swept under the rug by them rich parents – but we kids all knew.”

He went silent, looking off in the distance.

“So you think the other boys did that before they went to the roof?” Sam asked.

“Know they did, more like,” the groundskeeper told him. “Not that anyone would admit it. Kids at the time, we thought it was the boy who did that, lead them up to the roof after and pushed them off.”

Sam nodded. It certainly would fit the pattern, at least up until a point. If it was the first kid’s ghost, he might be doing exactly what was done to him, without always killing as a result. If it was the other three, that would make it much harder, though.

“Could you give me the names of all four children, and the date this happened?” Sam asked.

“Course,” Gregory said, clearly surprised and happy to realize Sam was taking him seriously. Sam jotted down all the information he rattled off.

When he finally left the building, he was surprised to find a woman with bright red hair and mischievous green eyes leaning on his car. The parking lot was otherwise completely empty. “Sam,” she said, a sly smile spreading across her face.

“Who are you?” Sam asked, his hand instinctively going to the gun on his hip.

“Don’t you recognize me?” she asked. She looked down at her outfit. “You wouldn’t, I guess. New meat suit. Same ol’ me.”

Sam’s hand shifted toward his flask, glad he had thought to fill it with holy water this morning. Still, he was silently curing himself for leaving the demon-killing blade in the trunk of the Impala.

“I guess you need a little more help,” she said, pushing herself off the Impala and swaggering a little closer to him. She looked up at him through her lashes. “It’s Ruby, Sam. I’m here to help.”

“Seriously?” Sam asked, relaxing minutely but still not sure how to respond. 

Ruby turned suddenly and walked toward the passenger door, putting one hand on the handle before looking back at Sam expectantly. “You know what sounds good? French fries. I'm starving. I just escaped Hell. I deserve a treat.”

“Who asked for your help?” Sam asked, getting his bearing.

“You have no idea what I've been through. When Lilith gets pissed, she gets creative. You want to hear about the corners of Hell I've seen, Sam?”

“No, I don’t,” Sam told her, mostly truthful. A part of him still wanted to hear what may be happening to Dean right now.

“And the things I had to do to convince her I was sorry?” She gave him a put upon look. “That I could be trusted.”

“Well, coming back to ‘help’ me will definitely get you a fat Christmas bonus,” Sam told her.

“Very funny,” she pouted. “I’m a fugitive. For you, Sam – I took all this risk to get back to you. So yeah, I deserve some damn french fries.”

“Who asked you to come here?” Sam asked.

“I’m just trying to help.”

Sam pressed his lips together. He knew Loki wouldn’t like for him to ask the question, but he couldn’t help himself: “Can you help me save Dean?”

Ruby shook her head, looking down. “No. Nothing I know of is powerful enough to do that.”

Sam shrugged, then walked up to the Impala and opened its trunk. “Then I have no use for you. “

“What?” Ruby asked. Though he couldn’t see her as he searched the weapon cache, he could hear the surprise in her voice.

After a moment, he slammed the trunk shut, the demon killing blade now in hand. “Whose body are you riding, Ruby?”

She looked down at the blade nervously, though her voice was still full of bravado. “What do you care? You've never asked me that before.”

“I'm asking now.”

Ruby tried to shrug it off. “Some secretary”

“Let her go,” Sam demanded.

“Sam…”

Sam looked down at his blade. “Or I send you right back to Hell,” he told her.

She rolled her eyes like a bratty teenager, but then opened her mouth. Black smoke streamed out of the woman’s body and into the sky.

Sam rushed forward and caught the girl before she fell.

“Thanks for that,” she said, getting her wits about her much more quickly than Sam would have expected. “Who are you. And what just happened?”

“How long was she in you?” Sam asked.

“I don’t know. The last thing I remember was going out for lunch this afternoon.”

“What’s the date?” he asked.

“May 20th,” she answered, correctly.

Sam nodded. No more than a couple hours then – probably not enough time for Ruby to have done real damage. “I’m a friend. And that was a mess I’m probably going to have to clean up later.”

 

 

Sam spent enough time with the secretary to let her use his cellphone to call work and to get her a bus ticket back home. She would be back in her own house by nightfall, which suited Sam just fine. One less casualty on his conscience.

Then he got ready to work. He booked a room for the night at the hotel in question, hoping the ghosts would make it easy on him and show up if he got the first part of his plan wrong.

Then he headed to the library to do some more research. None of the boys had been cremated; instead, they were all buried in town. He found the approximate locations of each plot and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

 

 

He was, of course, still alone late that night when he had to start work.

“This is going to be fun,” he told himself aloud as he got into the Impala, pretty sure he was going to regret deciding to dig up four children’s graves alone in one night. But the other option was to stick around and try to figure out which ghost showed itself.

“What’s gonna be fun?” Loki asked, making Sam jump in surprise. The god was sitting in the passenger seat, legs up on the dashboard. He took an M&M from a bag in his lap and tossed it into the air before deftly catching it in his mouth.

“Jesus, you scared the crap outta me,” Sam said, willing his heartbeat to slow down. “What are you doing here?”

“Got bored,” Loki told him. “Needed a distraction. Thought you might help.”

Sam frowned as he started up the car. “A distraction?”

“At least long enough to make me forget about that killjoy, Odin,” Loki said. He held out his M&Ms to Sam, who put up a hand to decline.

Sam looked at the god in disbelief. “Odin?”

“You know who I am, right?” Loki asked, eyebrow raised.

“Of course, I just –“ He paused, trying to find the right words to placate him.

“Hey, relax. It’s a lot for you humans, I know. Just forget about it and drive,” Loki said, putting a hand on Sam’s knee. It may have been meant to calm Sam down, but it did anything but.

“Yeah, ok,” Sam said, shakily pulling out of the parking lot and onto the road.

“Where are we going, anyway?” Loki asked.

“Graveyard,” Sam told him shortly. “What happened with Odin?”

“Nothing, is the problem. Old fart won’t even see me, never mind anything else” Loki said with a pout. Then, more curiously, “Why are we going to a graveyard, Sam? Getting all emo boy on me?”

“Salt and burn,” Sam told him. “I have a few ghosts to deal with. Want to help?”

Loki was silent for a minute as they drove. “Not really my thing, Samsquatch. I’m supposed to stay out of your messy day-to-day life.”

“You seem real good at that,” Sam said sarcastically, remembering vividly how Loki had dealt with the vampire nest just a few days ago.

Instead of taking offence, Loki laughed. “Yeah, well, I’m kinda shit with rules anyway,” the god admitted.

“So you’ll help?” Sam asked hopefully.

“Sure, why not?” Loki agreed. “But don’t think I’m going to make a habit of it. I may be keeping an eye on you while your brother’s away, but I’m not used to manual labor.”

“Sure thing,” Sam told him, hoping that not a word of the declaration was true.

Loki played with the radio stations as Sam drove, flipping between classic rock and bubblegum pop. Sam bit his tongue, finding it more endearing than annoying but knowing exactly what Dean would say if he heard it: Hands off! Driver picks the music; shotgun shuts his cakehole.

Eventually, Sam turned into a large graveyard on the outskirts of town and drove down the road to an older part. The boys had been buried near the back, when the adjoining church was still new. 

Despite his familiarity with paths like it – or maybe because of it – the dirt road seemed creepy and heavy with the spirits of the dead. Sam half expected to see a lady in white pop up in front of them.

How many of the people buried here were in Hell, with Dean? How many paths did the afterlife have? Where did all of the others – the ones they didn’t have to deal with here on Earth – end up?

“I thought you kids were over getting creeped out by cemeteries. Sure you don’t want to start holding your breath before a spirit steals it?” Loki teased as they parked, picking up on Sam’s unease.

“I’m fine,” Sam said. He took a breath. It was just the nearness of Dean’s death playing with his head. “Can we just…?”

“Sure thing, kiddo,” Loki said, opening his door. “Who are we looking for?”

“Four graves,” Sam said, handing over the paper with the boys’ names to Loki. “Evan George, William Smith, Michael Rodgers, and Trent Baker. All born between 1952 and 1953, all died in 1965.”

Loki looked up at him with a bit of surprise in his eyes. “Kids. You’re salting and burning children?”

Sam shrugged. “I don’t decide who comes back as ghosts. Still my job to protect the living from them.”

Loki frowned. “And this is the only way you have to deal with the situation?” he asked.

“Do you have any other suggestions?” Sam asked. “You are the god here.”

“Demigod, actually,” Loki corrected absently, looking like he was lost in thought.  “Not that there’s a real difference there on the power scale.”

“Are you trying to tell me something?” Sam asked.

Loki winked at him. “Don’t worry about it kid, I’ve got this one.”

The god – or demigod – hopped out of the car. Sam followed warily, not sure what he had gotten himself into.

“Just a minute, Samsquatch,” Loki said before disappearing with a snap. Sam warily made his way to the trunk to grab a shovel, but he was back, once again standing in front of the Impala, before Sam could do more than open it.

Loki looked around for a moment, then walked decisively toward a single grave.

“This is the one,” Loki told him, staring at the grave. “Trent Baker.”

“How do you know that?” Sam asked. That was the youngest of them, barely twelve years old when he died of the wounds the others had inflicted on him in the school bathroom.

“Demigod,” Loki reminded him, a note of exasperation in his voice. “I just went and paid our friend a visit.”

“You can do that?”

“I can do a lot of things,” the Trickster told him, a tired, old note in his voice. “I usually choose not to.”

Solemnly, Loki knelt down at the grave and put his hand to the earth. A pure white light raced from his fingers and into the ground. There was something incredible pure, and incredibly unfamiliar about that light – it was like nothing Sam had ever felt before, even in the presence of the Trickster.

It made his blood burn, and he turned away from it automatically.

“It’s taken care of,” Loki said somberly after a few minutes. Sam turned back to see he was standing again by the passenger door of the Impala.  “No need to dig up children. Not tonight, at least.”

 

 

Loki stayed with Sam all the way to the hotel. He only disappeared when it was time to get out of the car.

Which, ok, it was disheartening to have the god disappear on him without even a good-bye or some warning, but Sam was cool with it. He was pretty tired anyway, and who could really expect the undivided attention of a god?

He laid out an offering of chocolate to the Trickster before going to bed, and was pleasantly surprised to find it gone by morning.

 

 

Loki was an idiot.

As soon as Sam was safely back at the hotel, he fled, not sure what the repercussions of the night would be but wanting to be as far away from them as possible.

What had he been thinking? He had not used that power in so long, he had almost forgotten how to call it, how naturally it flowed from him, how it was a part of him.

A part of him which he wanted nothing to do with. Not anymore.

He flew up north, to the Arctic Circle, far from prying human eyes. He had a nice cozy cave up there where he could see the aurora borealis when the mood moved him to. Right now, he stayed in the back of it, far from any view of the sky – far back enough that no casual observer, supernatural or otherwise, could see him. He was ensconced in the preternatural warmth and protection that emanated from the runes he used to decorate the walls.

What had he been thinking? Only that he didn’t want to see Sam digging up the bodies of children; that Sam’s soul shouldn’t be tarnished like that. That he could spare him this, at least – even though he knew this wasn’t the first time Sam had done something like this, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

I’ve got it bad, he realized silently.

And that was not good. Of all the disciples he had ever had, Lucifer’s vessel was not the one he should be hung up on.

Even after it was clear that no one noticed his imprudent use of power, he told himself he would stay there all night. That in the morning, he would find some jerks in need of just desserts, and he would spend his time doling them out. That he would go back to who he was before he had gained a Winchester as a devotee. He would sit back, relax, and wait for the end of the world, hoping no one would notice him in the chaos of the Apocalypse.

But by dawn he was back in the hunter’s room, watching Sam sleep while he munched on the chocolate that had been left for him.

 

Chapter Text

Bobby: Where are you, boy? We’re worried.

Jo: Sam I swear to god if you don’t start answering my texts, I’m coming after you.

Ellen: Remember you still have a room here if you need one. Be safe.

Ash: I know you’re only three hours away from here. Your phone’s not that hard to track. Stop by and let Ellen know you’re alright or I’m going to give in and tell her where you are.

 

Sam frowned at his phone, ready to dismiss the texts, as was his new nightly habit, but the last one gave him pause. Ash probably did know exactly where he was, and even if he was usually cool, Sam was sure Ellen could pressure him into coughing up his location. She had a knack for things like that.

It had been a month since he had been to the Roadhouse. A month since Dean had died. A month that he had been on his own, almost completely. Loki had helped him cope for those first few days, but Sam hadn’t seen the god since.

He sighed.

I’ll be at the Roadhouse tomorrow, he sent to Ash. Then, for good measure, he copied and pasted the message into his conversations with Ellen and Bobby before shutting his phone off for the night.

He laid down on the cheap motel bed, barefoot but still in his jeans and flannel, and pulled a copy of Good Omens from his bag.  He had finally killed a demon today after a week of hunting it: the first he had killed on his own. He thought he deserved a night to himself.

So he was more than a bit annoyed when he heard a knock at the motel door.

He put his book down and went to get it with a heavy sigh.

A hot, dark haired girl stood in front of him grinning like the cat who got the cream. “Proof,” she said holding out a piece of paper. “This body is 100% socially conscious. I recycle. Al Gore would be proud.”

“Ruby?” Sam guessed. When she nodded he took the paper and skimmed it. It was a medical report. “You grabbed a coma patient?”

She gave half a shrug. “You didn't want me to take a body with someone in it. I made sure that the spirit was gone. Apartment was empty. You happy?”

Sam stared at her for a moment. Instead of answering her question, he asked, “Why are you here?”

“I can't bring Dean back. But I can get you something else that you want,” she told him, the words falling out of her mouth quickly. She must have realized she had very little time to convince him otherwise.

“And, uh... what's that?” he asked. He really wasn’t in the mood to play ball.

“Lilith.”

Sam’s eyes went wide with the implication. He could get revenge for Dean – make sure he was something like safe when he got back, whenever that would be. Then he realized her game. “You want me to use my psychic whatever.”

“Look, I know that it spooks you –“

“Spooks is not the word for it. Why?” he asked.

Ruby looked up at him, her new dark eyes imploring. “Look, Lilith is one scary bitch. When I was in the Pit, there was talk. She's cooking up something big – apocalyptic big.”

“So you want us to kill her.”

“Eventually,” Ruby confirmed. “But do you want to go in there and half-ass it like before? We have the time to get it right. Let's get it right. Train you up. Make sure you’re ready for the big leagues.”

Sam set his jaw. “What do you want from me?” he asked. Dean wouldn’t be happy when he got back – but if Sam could kill Lilith, maybe he could convince his brother it was ok.

Her expression softened into a smile – into something flirty and playful, actually. “A little patience…and sobriety. Promise me that… and I will teach you everything I know.”

“I need more than that,” Sam told her. “How?”

“You have demon blood in your veins, Sam. You just need to know how to use it. And maybe amplify it,” she told him coyly. “You could have every demon in Hell bowing to you, obeying your every whim. You can stop them, contain them if you wanted.”

“Or set them loose?” Sam guessed, thinking back to the night Jake opened the Gate to Hell.

Ruby shrugged. “Free will. You humans get all the choices.”

So it’s a choice, Sam thought. I could control it.

What would Loki think?

“I don’t know,” Sam told her. “Let me think on it?”

“If we’re going to do this, we should start now, Sam,” she told him.

“Look, I have to meet friends tomorrow anyway. You’re not welcome there,” he added the last as she opened her mouth to protest. “I’ll meet you back here in two days, let you know then, alright?”

She looked him up and down. “That’s the best I’m gonna get from you, isn’t it?”

“Looks like,” Sam told her, tilting his head in an approximation of a shrug.

“Alright,” she agreed. She took out her phone and checked the time. “Two days. I’ll meet you back here in forty-eight hours. Exactly.”

She turned and sauntered off. Sam closed the door and locked it before she had made it a dozen steps. He thought about making a devil’s trap in the floor beneath the dirty grey carpet, but thought the better of it. Ruby was gone, and he’d be safe for tonight.

Instead, he took out some candles and some good chocolate he had bought a few days earlier. He was pretty sure Loki was still keeping an eye on him, and he thought it would be best to ask his god before making a decision about Ruby. If Loki was strongly against it, it wasn’t like the Trickster god was shy about popping in and sharing his opinions.

He used a pocket knife reserved for just this purpose to carve runes into two thin, green chime candles: starting from the top with those that represented Loki himself, then working his way down with runes for wisdom and clarity. He then arranged them on the motel table with a white pillar candle between them. He lit the center one with a match, then used its flame to light the other two, invoking Loki’s name as each caught fire. Finally, he placed the chocolate between them as he asked the god for guidance.

He pinched out the flame of the larger candle, but the ritual required that he allow the other two to burn out on their own. According to the lore, it was important that each rune by consumed by the flame for the ritual to be complete. He left them there, burning into the night as he returned to his book.

Some hours later, when they were burnt through and he was ready for bed, he found himself drawn back to the table, standing over it in something like meditation.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing here,” he confessed, looking at the burnt out candles and the lonely piece of chocolate. “Please, tell me something. Let me know if these are powers I can use, if I should trust Ruby, or if I should leave it all alone.”

When he realized there would be no answer, he turned away, defeated, to find his bed.

 

 

“Of course you shouldn’t trust her kid; she’s a demon,” Loki scolded.

Sam couldn’t hear him of course. Loki was careful to make sure he was completely shrouded from his disciple.

He shouldn’t even be here, but he couldn’t make himself stay away when Sam called him so clearly, and when he could feel Sam’s confusion and need. He knew that this was Sam’s path – that in the grand scheme of things, Sam had to take Ruby’s lessons and learn to use the demon blood that coursed through his veins.

It tore him apart, though, knowing what had to happen. Sam was his. He was perfect, and oh so tempting, and Loki knew he had to step aside and let his disciple be destroyed from the inside out. Eventually, he knew, he would have to relinquish his claim on Sam

“You let that filth touch one of your own?” Kali’s voice echoed in head, like an archangel blade to the heart.

“I’ll do what I have to,” he said aloud, dismissing the thought. The words tore him up inside just to say.

He waited until Sam was asleep before stealing away with the chocolate. The least he could do was to make sure the kid realized he had heard him when he woke up.

 

 

Sam tried to put Ruby out of his mind as he drove to the Roadhouse the next day, but he couldn’t help fixating on her offer.

What if she could teach him how to defeat Lilith? Would he need it later? Would Lilith be after Dean once he got back? He couldn’t see her being satisfied with losing him, even if he had fulfilled the technical terms of his contract by going to Hell in the first place.

What else could he take down besides Lilith? How many more lives could he save?

He thought about asking Bobby’s opinion, but quickly decided against it. Bobby wouldn’t condone working with demons again. He wouldn’t even let Sam finish the sentence.

And he was probably right, but Sam couldn’t put the thought down. Would he be able to do enough to stop hunting someday, settle down into a happier life?

What would a normal, happy life would even look like for him? Loki’s face flashed through his mind, and he remembered that the chocolate he had left for the god was gone this morning. He was sure that he wouldn’t see his favorite deity nearly as often if he retired from hunting, which was reason enough for him to never leave the family business.

He had gotten a late start, so by the time he got to Ellen’s Roadhouse, it was already mid-afternoon. Too early for a good crowd to have gathered to take Ellen and Jo’s attention, but late enough that the place would be full of familiar faces.

 He steeled himself as he got out of the Impala. He knew there would be questions about what he had been doing for the last month, who he had been with, what he had hunted. They wouldn’t be happy to hear he was going after demons on his own – and would be even less pleased to hear he had been visited by gods and demons alike.

Resolving not to tell them anything, he covered the dusty ground between the Impala and the bar’s door with long strides.

He was both overwhelmed and glad to see Bobby there, chatting with Ellen at the bar. Ash was drying glasses behind the bar, and Jo was cutting a lemon.

Sam wasn’t prepared to have the breath knocked out of him by the depth of his feels of loss for his brother. Seeing Bobby here after not seeing him since they buried Dean – knowing he had made the drive just to make sure Sam would show up and that he was ok – it brought everything rushing back to him.

He almost turned heel and left, but Jo had already seen him. She dropped her knife and hurried around the bar to race up to him, throwing her arms around his torso before he could leave.

“Sam! Mom said you were coming today!”

“Yeah, I – uh, I kinda got the message you guys wanted to see me.”

“Damn right we wanted to see you, boy,” Bobby said, getting out of his chair and making his way to Sam, Ellen just a few paces behind. “You disappear after that, don’t answer our calls or show up anywhere near another hunter, and you think we’ll just, what? Let it go?” His expression was fierce, but Sam could see the real disappointment in his eyes. “You think after losing Dean, we’re gonna sit around while we lose you, too?”

Sam winced, feeling chagrined. “Sorry, Bobby,” he said. “I’ve been –”

“We know,” Ellen said, cutting him off and putting a hand on his bicep. “We have, too.” She gently led him to a table – a booth in the back, where he wouldn’t have to deal with much of the crowd, but where he wouldn’t be able to easily slip out without their noticing either. Bobby sat down across from him. “You hungry?”

“A little,” Sam confessed, feeling like a scolded child.

She waved at Jo, who smiled at him and said, “I hope you like burgers.”

“She’s not hunting?” Sam asked as soon as Jo was out of earshot.

“I’ve managed to convince her to stick around for now,” Ellen said. “Not that it’s any of your business.”

Sam raised an eyebrow at her, but he knew well enough to take her seriously. She looked at Bobby knowingly and gave him a sharp nod. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

Bobby leaned forward, eying Sam up. Sam could see that the old man had been drinking already today, but his eyes were still sharp. “Now, you gonna tell us just what you’ve been doing this past month?”

Sam gave a shrug. “Huning,” he said, honestly enough.

“Is there a reason why you couldn’t answer a text, then?” Bobby asked.

Sam deflated even more under the force of accusation in his voice. “I just – I need to be alone for a while,” Sam told him. “I needed to figure things out. To make sure –” he shook his head, not sure he should voice what he had in his head.

“To make sure what?” Bobby asked. “Make sure you join him?”

“No!” Sam said, shocked by the insinuation. He rubbed a hand over his face, getting control of himself before he continued. “No, I’m not trying to get myself killed, I swear.”

“Then what are you up to?” Bobby asked.

Sam looked at Bobby sullenly for a long time, but the old man met his eye and wouldn’t back down. Finally, he lowered his eyes. “I’m going after Lilith,” he confessed.

“You’re what?” Bobby asked, outraged. “Alone?”

“I haven’t figured that our yet,” Sam told him. “I’m still looking for a plan. I would have told you once I had one.”

“Well I’m glad to hear that, because I’d at least have a chance to get that damn fool idea out of your head!” Bobby threw back. “What are you thinking? Lilith!”

When Dean comes back, I want him to be safe, Sam thought, though he knew better than to say that to Bobby. The old man had already called him crazy the night Dean died, when he had sworn he would find a way to bring his brother back. Who knew what he’d think if Sam told him it was already promised.

“I don’t know,” Sam said instead, voice brooding where Bobby’s was fuming. “I just – she’s the one who did all this. She’s the reason Dean’s down there.”

Bobby shook his head, deflated. “Idjit,” he said, voice half annoyed and half fond. “You can’t – this is one of the top dogs in Hell,” Bobby said, voice earnest. “You can’t just go after her like some run of the mill ghost or something.”

“I’m not,” Sam assured him. “I’m just – I need some time. To figure out what I’m doing now, to figure out if there’s a way to take Lilith out. I promise, I’m not going to go after her alone.”

It wasn’t even a lie. It wouldn’t be if he took Ruby upon her offer, either.

Bobby looked him over for a long time, then nodded. “You’ll keep in touch?” he asked.

“Yes, Bobby,” Sam said, sure he couldn’t bring himself to once again hurt this man who was more a father to him than John Winchester ever had been. Not now that he saw how worried Bobby was.

“Alright, then,” Bobby nodded.

Sam smiled. He was still shaken up and raw inside, but he was comfortable here. “I hope Ellen doesn’t mind,” he said. “I thought I’d stay the night – she offered me a bed whenever I needed it.”

Bobby motioned to get Ash’s attention. “Might as well get a drink in you, then.”

Sam smiled, knowing he had been forgiven. “That sounds good.”

 

 

Dreams haunted Sam that night. He hadn’t drank enough to keep them at bay, and his defenses were down in this familiar, comfortable place.

He was seeing visions, really. He knew what they were, even if he didn’t want to admit to them.

Dean, younger than when he had died, driving up to the Roadhouse with Bobby. They found it burnt down, the wreckage still smoldering.

“My god,” Bobby breathed, overcome by the carnage.

“Any sign of Ellen?” Dean asked.

“No,” Bobby told him, looking around. Smoke drifted around them, and Sam could feel the heat of it, smell the charred wood and flesh. “No Ash, either.”

Dean walked up to what looked like the remains of a pool table, where a burnt body laid. Dean bent down to examine the watch still around the corpse’s wrist.

“Oh, Ash. Damnit!” he swore. The words were gut-wrenching; was this the future? Would this happen once Dean returned?

A beam fell, reigniting in fire as heated but uncharred wood hit the air. Dean started coughing, and Sam could just catch a glimpse of Bobby grabbing him and pulling him out of the ruins.

Then, his vision was lost in the smoke until another figure solidified before him: his father. John Winchester was raging at him, trying to tell him something, but no words were coming out of his mouth. The only word Sam could read on his lips was ‘Dean,’ over and over again.

Sam tried to get closer to him – to hear what he was saying – but with every step he took, John got twice as far from him. Eventually, his father faded from view entirely, leaving Sam alone.

Sam looked around and found himself in the middle of a vast, empty plain. Wind began to whip around him, blowing through his clothes and leaving him shivering. He turned, trying to put his back to it, and found a Trickster’s altar in front of him: a huge stone slab lain across four pedestals, each carved with intricate runes and images of coyotes, ravens and other aspects of the Trickster.

He staggered toward the altar, thinking to find something like peace there, that Loki would protect him. But when he got close enough to fall forward, arms splayed over the stone, he found himself stumbling back at what he saw.

The burnt impression of two giant wings, feathers splayed as if in flight, scarred the smooth surface of the stone. And Sam somehow knew they were connected to –

”Loki!” he called, but only the howls of the wind responded.

Suddenly, the wind died away and the altar melted from his view. Instead, he was in front of a dark, foreboding house. He’d never seen it before, but he knew at once that it was in Missouri, just outside Jefferson City. He’d driven through this area a million times with Dean and John Winchester.

Lights were flashing in the windows – unnatural lights, tinged red.

Sam was somehow pulled closer to the house, suddenly peering through the window. He realized the red wasn’t the color of the light at all – he had been seeing blood reflected in the windows. So much blood – Sam didn’t know how many people were in there, but it seemed like dozens, surely dead by now.

Streams of black smoke poured out of the house. Demons. Sam could almost hear them laughing, delighted by the carnage they had created.

Frozen in sleep, there was nothing Sam could do about them. He didn’t even have a knife on him – and he couldn’t have done anything with it if he did. There was nothing he do about demons in their natural state.

Nothing yet, at least. In his dream, he suddenly knew what Ruby had to teach him. Exorcisms were cheap compared to controlling demons – banishing them back to Hell – with just the power of his mind.

 

 

Sam woke up that morning knowing exactly what he needed to do.

Bobby and the Roadhouse crew were disappointed to see him leave so soon, but Sam shoveled down his breakfast and left them with a renewed sense of determination, and an almost overwhelming feeling of urgency. He had to meet with Ruby, had to tell her he was going to take her up on her offer.

He was almost laser-focused on it, and found it difficult to concentrate even on driving back to the last motel he had visited – the one he had said he’d meet Ruby at.

He hadn’t actually checked out, knowing he’d be back here one way or another: either to take Ruby up on her offer or to kill her with her own blade. He made his way back to the same room, finding it still cluttered with the things he hadn’t bothered cleaning the previous morning: a book on the nightstand, some laundry strewn across the floor, and the remnants of his ritual from two nights ago on the table. He had kept it there deliberately, wanting to remind himself that Loki had come, had eaten his offering. Yesterday morning, the thought had warmed him, made him heady with the delight of having the attention of his god.

Today, looking at it, it made him cold inside.

What was he doing? What would Loki say about this?

The Trickster was known for being subversive, for having a tolerance for gray areas between good and evil. Would he condone working with demons?

Of course he would, a voice in his head told him. He felt an itch under his skin, urging him to turn his thoughts away from Loki and anything the Trickster might think.

But the candleholders and pillar candle sat there as beacons. Sam was drawn to them, almost as much as he was drawn to thoughts of revenge on the demons who had taken his brother.

A prayer couldn’t hurt, could it? Or a quick ritual, to make sure Loki knew what he was doing.

His skin crawled at the thought, even as his mind fixated on the new task. Part of him wanted to meet with Ruby now, to learn everything she had to teach him.

Another part of him needed his god’s guidance. He pulled some tools from his bag: his knife and two fresh chime candles: purple for wisdom and gold to signify the god himself.

Methodically, he began to carve the runes he needed, looking up a couple as he went: Trickster sigils at the top, with the Norse runes for Loki for good measure. Then runes for wisdom, good and evil, revenge and justice. With each stroke of his knife, he felt that discomforting feeling that he was doing something wrong, but he held on to his faith that times like these were made for invocations to one’s god.

He lit the pillar, then began to speak as he lit the chime candles. The words didn’t come naturally as they usually did, and he tripped over himself a bit.

“Loki, Trickster, show me the way. I call upon you, spirit of justice, balance between wisdom and mischief, to lead me on my path.”

He took a breath, losing his words. Unable to keep to the formal cadence, he continued, “Loki, I need you to listen to me. Ruby – Ruby says she can teach me how to use my powers. I – I want to control this thing inside me. I want to fix things, to stop these demons, to make sure Lilith will be out of the picture when Dean’s back. I need to learn –”

“Stop,” Loki said, interrupting his stream of consciousness and shocking Sam with his sudden presence. His eyes glowed bright in the candlelight, the hazel looking almost pure gold.  “I’ll teach you.”           

 

Chapter Text

 

“You’ll teach me?” Sam asked, dumbfounded as he stared at his god.

“Listen, you have choices here. I know you have this power, and I can’t convince you not to use it – it’s not allowed, for one, and you humans have this whole free will thing going on, for another. But if you purposefully use power from demons – power like what she wants to teach you? It doesn’t matter what promises you made back in Stanford. This thing between me and you? It’s over. Kaput. Your soul belongs to them. Them’s the breaks.”

He looked away and rubbed on hand over his face, clearly waging an internal battle that Sam wasn’t privy to. He looked like he wanted to pace, but Sam thought that might be too human an instinct for a god to succumb to. Instead, he made a guttural sound of disgust deep in his throat – at Sam, the situation, or himself Sam couldn’t know – before looking back at Sam and continuing. “You use it the way I teach you, to do what I condone? You’re in the clear. Capiche?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, staring at his god slack-jawed. “Capiche.”

“Good.”

Sam shut his mouth, belatedly realizing it had been open. He blinked a few times trying to wrap his mind around what had just happened. “You’re going to teach me to use my powers,” he said flatly. “Can you do that?”

“We’re about to find out, aren’t we?” Loki said. His voice sounded strained – drained.

“What do you mean?” Sam asked.

“Nothing,” Loki told him, and Sam could see by the look in the god’s eyes that he shouldn’t push further. “You want to start now?”

“I – ah,” Sam looked at the door, then at the motel alarm clock. “Ruby’s gonna be here any minute now.”

Loki’s expression went dark. Sam thought he saw golden sparks flickering in Loki’s eyes, betraying his rage, but they flickered in and out of existence so quickly, he hoped he was imagining them.

“Get rid of her,” Loki told him flatly. “Make sure she knows you’re not interested, but don’t tell her anything about me. Kill her if you want to, but don’t even mention my name.”

“Uh, sure,” Sam said, somewhat taken aback by Loki’s tone. He corrected himself quickly, remembering just who he was talking to. “I mean, of course. Whatever you want.”

Loki’s expression didn’t soften. “Good,” the god said. “We’ll start tomorrow.”

He snapped, and Sam was suddenly alone in his motel room, feeling like he had dodged a bullet – but jumped in front of a loaded canon in the process.

Sam did the only thing he could, given the situation: he got to work clearing his altar, carefully snuffing out each candle and wrapping them in a cloth before returning them to the box he kept for such things in his duffle.

Then he found the demon killing knife and waited for Ruby.

He didn’t have long to wait. She was punctual, arriving 48 hours to the minute after he had last seen her.

She didn’t waste any time when Sam opened the door to her knock. “Decision made, Sam?” she asked, looking up through her lashes flirtatiously at him.

“Yeah,” Sam told her. He hadn’t opened the door more than a few inches – just enough to see her – and he continued to block the entrance to the room with his bulk.  The hand that held the jagged silver knife was hidden behind the door as well. “Yeah, actually, I did decide. No.”

“Excuse me?” Ruby asked.

Sam shook his head. “No, I’m not going to do it,” he told her clearly. “I’m sorry.”

“Really, Sam?” she raised an eyebrow, then leaned into him, putting a hand on his abs in a more familiar way than he expected from her. “You’re not interested in vengeance? In making sure Lilith isn’t a threat anymore?”

She tried to press in closer, but Sam stopped her before she could make full body contact with him. He took her wrist and plucked her hand from his stomach like something unclean, then pushed her away gently. “I’m not interested. I’m not telling you again.”

He fingered the hilt of the knife with his other hand. He didn’t want to kill Ruby; she had helped them so much when they were trying to protect Dean from Lilith, even if it hadn’t worked in the end. She had given them so much when Lilith had banished her back to hell.

But he would if he had to.

“Sam, I can teach you to exorcise them with a thought. Think of how many lives you can save,” Ruby purred. She kept her body a few inches away from his, but she was still leaning in seductively.

“You have two options,” Sam told her flatly, moving the hand with the knife into view. “You leave me alone, or I send you back to Hell.”

She glanced down at the knife, then up at Sam. “Strong words, but I’m just trying to help you,” she said. “Does it make you feel powerful, carrying that thing around?”

“I don’t need your help,” Sam told her evenly. “Do you really want to try me?”

She sighed, finally moving back and out of his personal space. “Fine. But don’t come crying to me when you find yourself caught between Lilith and a hard place. She’s not going to leave you be, you know.”

Sam bit his tongue against his first instinct: asking her what she meant. Instead he said, “I’ll be fine.”

Ruby shrugged. “You know how to find me if you change your mind.”

Then she pivoted away and melted into the shadows. A few seconds later, he saw the headlights of a car come on, then tear out of the motel parking lot.

Sam drew a devil’s trap under the door mat before he locked up for the night, hoping it would keep away any disturbances, but even that didn’t let him rest easy.

 

 

Loki watched Sam that night.

He wanted to stay away – he definitely should be staying away, leaving the kid to his own devices and letting him figure out his potential alone. But he was fixated – obsessed – with him. He couldn’t bring himself to leave him alone.

He knew that Lucifer would have the kid soon enough, and it would all be over shortly after. Lucifer would rule over Earth, Michael would have his showdown, and Loki – well, Loki would be gone. Dead, maybe, or he might just skip out and leave Earth for good. Or maybe he just wouldn’t be Loki anymore.

Helping Sam would just help Lucifer in the end. It would make him stronger, make him more likely to hunt Loki down. Might even give him the kind of juice that didn’t come in the archangel starter kit. Would he force him back into a life that he wasn’t fit for, or just kill him, Loki wondered?

He had been something else the last time he had seen Lucifer. He remembered it clearly: the Morningstar cast down, looking to him for help. He might have if he could – he had tried to broker peace in the past between Lucifer and Michael, but that time had been different.  That time, Michael had had the backing of the big guy himself.

Loki tried to put the memories out of his mind. That was not a life he wanted to revisit. That wasn’t who he was anymore. He wouldn’t go back.

And yet, here was Lucifer’s vessel, the one human on Earth Loki couldn’t get out of his head.

There’s always free will, Loki told himself. Maybe by teaching Sam, he could stop the future. Maybe he could give the kid the tools to say no.

Unlikely. This book had been written a long time ago, before he had picked up the Trickster mantle. There was no way some kid from Kansas, tainted by demons’ blood, could possibly change that.

And yet.

He pulled a slip of paper out of thin air and laid it on the bedside table.

The end of the world, he thought to himself. Hope’s gonna be the only luxury humans have left.

Hope and luck.

 

 

Sam found the note as soon as he woke up that morning. It didn’t say much, just an address in a town a few hours away, and a time: 9:00 PM, typed in bold face. Dress nice, was scrawled in a neat, angular, handwritten script beneath.

Sam couldn’t help smiling to himself. Was that Loki’s hand? Sam wondered passingly how often Loki used it – what would a god need penmanship for?

He was raised to take orders, so he packed up and got on the road quickly. If he made good time, he’d be able to get a few hours’ rest at another motel before whatever Loki had planned for him tonight.

 

 

When Sam showed up at the address, dressed in dark suit pants and a fitted black button-down shirt, he was surprised to find a non-descript door in the side of a commercial building. The sun had just gone down, and in the gray twilight, he couldn’t make out anything out of the ordinary about the suburban side-street. There was nothing to warn him of what Loki had planned inside.

Belatedly, he realized that Loki might not have left the note. If Ruby or another demon had come into the motel any way other than through the front door, they could have left it just as easily.

But how would they know Sam expected instructions about tonight? Why would they think he would follow them?

Sam knocked on the door, and it opened slowly, revealing a tall, broad-chested bouncer. His greasy dark hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he was dressed in a nice, fitted suit. He looked like he could bench press Sam without bothering to take the jacket off. “Name?” the guy barked out.

“Sam Winchester,” Sam said, hoping that was the right thing to do. Loki hadn’t given him an alias, and it didn’t look like this guy was going to wait around while Sam figured one out.

The bouncer looked down at something in his hands, then nodded. “Alright, you’re on the list,” he said. “Games are in the back, but high roller tables are off limits without invitation your first time.  Food’s up front. Any trouble, and it’ll be the last mistake you make, got it?”

“Got it,” Sam said, a bit intimidated. Where was his brother when he needed him?

“Good,” the bouncer said. He opened the door wide enough for Sam to walk in, then closed it promptly behind him. “You don’t want to see me again until you leave,” he said as a last warning.

“Noted,” Sam said, mostly to himself, as he walked into the building.

It was dark in the hall, but he followed it all the way down. He was pretty sure Loki hadn’t brought him here for the food.

At the end of the hall, he found a nondescript wooden door. When he opened it, he was surprised by the scene that greeted him.

Dozens of people sat chatting and drinking around a spacious room, many of them at tables where they were clearly gambling. Blackjack, poker, some dice games Sam didn’t recognize: there were plenty of ways to have fun and lose money. In one corner, a band played smooth jazz just low enough that it was easy to talk over. A huge oak bar stood at the opposite wall, where a few patrons sat with their drinks. All around the room, women in black dresses walked around with trays, taking drink orders and exchanging spent glasses with full ones.

This was something Sam knew how to handle. He walked over to the bar, taking a seat where he could easily watch the room until he knew exactly what Loki wanted him to do.

“Whiskey sour,” he ordered, pretty sure that this was the place for neither beer nor straight bourbon.

The bartender was quick. Sam put a few bills on the bar, including a generous tip, before turning back to the room.

“Not your usual kinda place is it, Sam-a-lam?”

Although he heard Loki’s voice clearly to his right, when he looked around, the Trickster god was nowhere to be found.

“What am I doing here?” Sam asked under his breath, hoping no one was watching him.

“Tch, tch, tch. No one’s going to want to play with you if they think you’re crazy. Use your inside voice.”

“My –?” Sam cut himself off. Loki was right – he was going to look crazy if people saw him talking to himself.

“Pray to me, Sam,” Loki told him, his voice deep and resonant in Sam’s head. The feel of it, paired with the words themselves, made Sam’s dick twitch in his pants. Because of course that would turn out to be a kink.

“Tease,” Loki’s voice came with an amused feeling, subtle but crisp.

“What am I supposed to be doing here?” Sam asked silently.

“Watch,” Loki told him. Sam felt his attention drawn to a table in the middle of the room, where a group was crowded around a table, intently watching a woman in a sleek dark blue cocktail dress and blonde pixie haircut throw dice. He wandered over, drink in hand, to watch the craps game.

She threw a 7 on her first roll, and the dealer started handing out chips.

“One more for the lady!” Someone said, and the stickman nodded. He picked up the dice and handed it to her.

“This is her third round. First time, she rolled an eleven,” Loki whispered to him.  “First lesson in Trickster magic: Luck.”

“Luck?” Sam thought, watching as people started putting chips on the edge of the table, increasing their bets.

“Focus,” Loki told him, instead of answering the question. Sam could feel Loki with him now, directing his breathing, gently prodding his thoughts. “Deep breath. Feel yourself connecting to the ground beneath you. You’re not ready until you’re calm and grounded.” The god waited a moment as Sam followed his directions. ”Good. Now, you’ve used this kind of thing before, when you were using your powers. Focus on me, on the reasons you follow a Trickster. Then imagine her luck changing – imagine the dice coming up snake eyes.”

“Why?” Sam asked.

“Trust me, I have a list as long as your wrist why she doesn’t deserve the luck. She’s petty, vindicitive. But the guy next to her? The one who’s gonna lose it all on her if she rolls snake eyes? That’s the real villain here. A loss to him means less power to lord over those who don’t deserve it,” Loki told him. “Now, concentrate on snake eyes.”

Sam could see the image in his head, of this spritely woman rolling ones. He took a breath, thought of Loki, and reached out for his power. It was oddly familiar, a subtle vibration in his chest and playing out through his veins, a source of strength and fear all at once.

Almost immediately, he was batted down. “Not that power,” Loki told him.

“What do you -?” Sam started to question, but he was cut off when he felt what the god was doing inside him. Somewhere else – not where the demon magic had lain, but somehow beneath and behind it, was another place of power. It sparked when Loki touched it, and he could feel it flash within him, arcing toward the woman just as she made her roll. It was small but potent; it tasted sweet and sensuous, like Loki himself; it felt playful, but like Sam could bring down a building with it if only he could figure out how. There was no explaining it in human terms.

The dice landed. Snake eyes.

Sam stared at them, wondering if he had done that.

“That’s what luck feels like,” Loki told him. “Think you can do it yourself? Make sure the next roll is a winner? The next one deserves it.”

“I can try,” Sam said, watching as both the woman and man left the table, disappointed. He reached inside, looking for that power, but he couldn’t find it. All he felt was the old source of his visions and telekinesis. 

This time the feel of Loki in his mind was subtle and fleeting. “Like this,” the god told him, somehow pressuring Sam to dig a little deeper. He pulled away just as Sam felt like he was getting close.

Sam could almost taste it, though: that apples-and-honey flavor in his brain. He stretched just a bit more, concentrating on the dice, imagining a three and a four on their faces.

Something clicked, and he could feel the power burst out of him in a quick spurt. The new man rolling the dice – a short, balding guy in an ill-fitting blue suit – let them fly. Sam watched in awe as they rolled across the table, bouncing back to land on a three and a four. Just as he had imagined.

“Did I do that?” Sam asked, somewhat in awe. “Or was it the demon blood?”

“That one was all you,” Loki told him “With a little help from yours truly. You’ve got real power, kiddo. Why do you think those demons want you so bad?”

Amazingly, Sam could feel the warmth of Loki’s pride as the god talked to him. “How about you hang around, get some practice, and I’ll meet you back at your hotel later?” The overtones of the request were clear: Loki was interested in something carnal. “I may have another lesson or two for you tonight.”

“As you wish,” Sam told him.

It wasn’t until after Loki had left his mind that Sam realized the implications of phrase he had used. He hoped the god hadn’t noticed, or wouldn’t recognize the reference.

Then again, he kind of hoped Loki had.

 

 

By the time Sam got back to his motel room two hours later, sex was the last thing on his mind. He had sat at the craps table, occasionally betting but mostly trying to change the rollers’ luck, for the better part of the evening. Apparently, luck magic was hard work when you didn’t have a god in your head boosting your strength.

Loki was already there, waiting for him. The god was sitting in the blocky gray armchair, reading what looked like a grocery store tabloid with something about pregnant men on the front. Sam decided not to think too hard about it when Loki tossed it down and made it disappear with a snap.

“Any luck with the luck spells?” the Trickster asked, smarmy smile spreading across his face. He was wearing his green canvas jacket, black shirt and a pair of jeans – casual for a god, but a look Sam liked on him.

“A bit,” Sam told him. He toed off his dress shoes and shrugged off his jacket before sitting on the bed. He had long ago undone the top buttons of his dress shirt, and he was still itching to get out of the dress clothes Loki had told him to wear, but he wasn’t sure if he should take the rest off yet. “They’re harder than they look.”

“Wore you out?” Loki asked, his eyes dark and suggestive, though his tone seemed genuinely interested.

“You could say that,” Sam admitted, though he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t interested in the promise behind the Trickster’s eyes.

“What if I told you I had another trick up my sleeve?” Loki asked, his voice soft and husky, and he leaned forward. A small smirk played on his lips. “One that would fix that.”

“I’m all ears,” Sam told him.

Loki stood up and stalked toward him, every inch of him emanating dangerous power. He pushed Sam all the way back so he was lying down on the bed, head on the pillows, the Trickster hovering over him on all fours. He was very close to Sam like this, and Sam found himself fixating on the gold flecks in his hazel eyes. “Here’s the thing about sex, Sam: it takes a lot of energy, but it generates exponential power. Want me to show you?”

“Yes, please,” Sam choked out. He knew he didn’t have the energy for it, but like this, with his god hovering over him and promising so much, there was nothing else he could say.

Loki smiled widely.

“Do you care about these clothes?” the god asked.

“Not particularly,” Sam told him.

“Good, cause I don’t want to wait.” Loki put his hand on Sam’s shirt and suddenly the fabric began to burn away from his fingertips. A green-white flame burst outward, though it was just warm and tingled against his skin. There was something exhilarating and erotic about the feel of the clothes disappearing and leaving his bare skin – until it suddenly reminded him of where his brother was.

“Can we - can we do this the normal way?” Sam asked, quickly but stiltedly when Loki moved his hand to his pants.

Loki paused and looked up at his face, one eyebrow raised questioningly.

“It’s just – it reminded me of Dean. Of Hellfire,” Sam told him.

Loki’s face was suddenly back up, nose to nose with Sam. “This,” he said firmly, one arm gesturing widely. “This is nothing like Hellfire.”

“I know,” Sam told him apology in his voice. “It’s just – not tonight. Another time, once Dean’s back, sure. But –“

“Ok,” Loki said, his voice somewhat softer, fingers trailing over Sam’s now-bare abs and chest. He leaned down and kissed Sam deeply and thoroughly.  When he pulled away, he quipped, “I’ll just have to find other ways to blow your mind.”

“I’m sure you won’t have any trouble,” Sam assured him, his voice light and teasing.

“Well obviously,” Loki retorted. His nimble fingers quickly unbuttoned Sam’s trousers, then pulled them off before Sam could really process what was going on. “Briefs. Nice.”

“Needed them with the pants,” Sam explained.

“They look good,” Loki told him. “Better off, but good on.” He splayed his fingers over Sam’s hipbones, playing with the skin just over the top of his briefs, before hooking them down under the elastic and pulling them off, too. Sam was fixated on Loki’s expression of raw, unfiltered hunger when he saw Sam’s naked cock. If he hadn’t been fully engaged before, that look had him hard and aching for the Trickster.

“No fair,” Sam complained. “You’re still fully clothed.”

“Easily fixed,” Loki said distractedly. He halfheartedly snapped, and his clothes disappeared, too.

As soon as they were gone, Sam reached out to touch Loki’s torso, but the god swatted him away. “My turn,” he scolded.

“But it’s been your turn,” Sam complained.

“It’s a long turn,” Loki told him with a wink. “You’ll have to trust me to make it worthwhile.”

“I do,” Sam told him. “Trust you, I mean.”

Loki smiled widely, a self-satisfied smile. “Are you sure you want this, Sam? I’m going to show you some things you’ve never experienced before.” The last was almost a warning.

“You always do,” Sam told him. “And yes, I want this. Whatever you want, whatever you’ll give me, I want it too.”

“Dangerous words to say to a pagan god,” Loki warned him. “Even more dangerous for a Trickster.”

“I told you,” Sam insisted. “I trust you.”

Loki smiled again, and this time there was nothing Trickster-like about it. This smile was warm and sweet and wondering. It made Sam feel like he was the only thing on the god’s mind; that he was special; something to be treasured.

Sam was sure he was right to trust him.

He reached out and pulled Loki down for another deep kiss. The god complied, running his fingers up and down Sam’s sides, then down to his thighs as they kissed. When they pulled away, Loki was already lifting Sam’s legs, bending on and putting the other over his shoulder.

“I’m going to prep you, then I plant to thoroughly fuck you,” Loki told him, running his nails against one inner thigh. “Is that ok?”

“More than okay,” Sam told him, only just keeping himself from wrapping his hand around his own cock. Loki would make this good for him – would make it worth the wait – but god this was already more than he could handle.

“Hands behind your head if you can’t keep them to yourself,” Loki ordered. “You ok with that, too?”

“Absolutely,” Sam told him, stretching out his torso as he weaved his fingers together and put them behind his head. He knew what he looked like when he flexed his abs and stretched his arms like that, and he did his best to give Loki a good show.

Loki seemed to appreciate the effort. “You’re a menace,” he said teasingly.

“High praise from a Trickster,” Sam shot back.

Loki smirked, then surprised Sam with one finger, coated with warm lube, pressing right at his entrance.

“Yes, please,” Sam said without prompting.

“Here’s the thing, Sam,” Loki said as he started to move in Sam, loosening him up. He crooked his finger at just the right angle to catch the prostate, and Sam’s whole body tensed up. “When you humans have sex, it’s usually a lot of fun, but there’s more going on beneath the surface.”

“Yeah?” Sam asked, hands still behind his head as he squirmed under Loki’s fantastic ministrations.

“I told you when you dedicated yourself to me, right? Sex is power. Consent is power. All of it – there’s more magic in one act than in any dozen human rituals.”

“Mmm,” Sam moaned, flexing the leg thrown over Loki’s shoulder as Loki twisted his finger and hit is prostate again.

“You want another one?” Loki asked, smirking.

“Yes,” Sam begged. “Yes, please.”

Loki pressed a second finger in slowly, then began twisting inside of Sam.

“All that sex magic,” Loki continued. “Sometimes it makes a child. Usually it goes to waste.” He shrugged, then scissored his fingers. Sam tried his best to relax. “Most humans can’t use it, and even if they could, it’s a terrible thing to do without consent. It’s poison if it’s not given freely. By both parties. Even I can’t use it without being corrupted – part of why I always ask.” He winked. “The other part is how sexy it is.” He tilted his head to the side and looked Sam in the eyes. “Speaking of: what do you want, Sam? I can’t tell when you just rut against me. Use your words.”

“More,” Sam demanded, already ready for a third finger – or god, please, Loki’s cock.

“Are you sure?” Loki asked.

“Please,” Sam begged.

Loki pushed in a third finger. At first, it was almost too much, too fast. Sam took a few breaths, forced himself to relax as the Trickster held still inside him, and then he pressed down urging Loki to move.

“Move, please,” he asked. 

Loki started twisting his fingers inside him again, helping Sam stretch out.

Sam took another breath, then asked, “What happens with consent? With sex magic?”

Loki looked up at him again, his eyes dilated with lust. “You want me to show you?”

“Yes,” Sam asked, knowing how the god craved his consent. “Yes, please.”

“Let me get you ready for it,” the god said, turning his fingers to stretch Sam even further. Sam did his best to relax, then forgot everything when Loki wrapped his capable hands around his dick. “And maybe get you a bit more excited in the meantime,” Loki teased.

“Trust me, I’m excited. And ready,” Sam said, rather impulsively, eyes shut tight.

“Tsk, tsk,” Loki chided. “Let me have my fun, Samsquatch.”

Loki continued on for another minute, one hand loosely wrapped around Sam’s dick, with the other stretching him out. For his part, Sam doggedly kept his hands behind his head, flexing and pushing against Loki’s fingers.

He was riding an ecstatic wave, lifting his hips and pressing down against Loki’s fingers, when the god abruptly pulled them away. “Now I think you’re ready,” he said. When Sam opened his eyes, he saw the Trickster looking him over hungrily.

“Please,” Sam said before he could ask.

Loki pulled Sam’s other leg up over his shoulder and lined his hips up to Sam’s. “Are you sure?” he asked.

“Just fuck me already,” Sam demanded, growing tired of the questions.

Loki grinned. “Like I said. Consent.” He paused for a moment, then pressed into Sam, fucking him slowly. “This is what it feels like, Sam,” he said, before bending forward, stretching Sam even further, and putting two fingers to Sam’s forehead, just between the eyes.

Suddenly, Sam was awash in new feelings: energy, tingling all around him; a deep connection to Loki, but another pervasive connection to every other living thing. As Loki started to thrust into him, Sam could feel the energy against his skin activating, sending shocks over him.

“Relax,” Loki advised. “Lose yourself to it.”

Sam closed his eyes, trying to let go of the new feelings and let them wash over him. As he did so, the sparks of energy began to permeate his skin. He felt –

His eyes popped open. He felt good, actually. Rejuvenated. Like the last few hours hadn’t even happened.

“It’s a heady feeling, isn’t it?” the Trickster asked, knowing smile wide on his face.

“Yeah,” Sam panted, somewhat overcome with it. “I – please, Loki. More.”

Something in Loki’s face fell for a moment – in disappointment, maybe. But he listened to Sam’s request, starting to thrust harder and faster.

Sam shifted his hands so he was clinging to the edge of the mattress, hands still over his head, and pressed down into each thrust. He had never felt anything like this – was sure he would never feel anything close again – and he tried to savor every moment.

Then Loki’s hand was on his dick, in earnest this time, pumping him in time to his thrusts.

Sam started to come almost immediately, with the Trickster right behind him. The feel of it was – fireworks, maybe; explosions. He tried to grasp it, to have some kind of control over it all but –

Loki collapsed on his chest, both of them spent, and the feel of the magic was gone.

Sam felt completely rejuvenated though.

“Wow,” Sam breathed out when he could muster the words. “That was –”

“Amazing,” Loki finished for him.

He smiled. “Yeah, that. Is that what it’s always like for you?”

Loki shook his head without looking up. “Almost never,” the god confessed. “Like I said, consent is important. I haven’t had that kind of connection since – I don’t remember when. And my memory goes back very far.”

Sam’s smile grew wider as he basked in the words.

“It won’t be like that every time,” Loki warned him.

Every time. The phrase made Sam smile.

“Can you teach me?” Sam asked. “To do what you did there?”

This time the Trickster looked up at him. “Eventually, maybe. But not yet. I think you’ve had enough for one day.”

Sam wanted to argue, but he knew the god was probably right. And yet. “I feel so much better now. You don’t expect me to go to sleep like this, do you?”

Loki started tracing his hands up and down Sam’s sides, sending an erotic thrill through him. “If you’re up for it, I have a few ideas to wear you out.”

Sam smiled at him, excited by the prospect of a creative Trickster. “I’m up for anything.”