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On a Pagan Path

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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.”

Chapter Text

Unfortunately, sex – even amazing, literally magical sex – could not fix all things.

The next morning, Sam woke up alone. Biting back his disappointment, he decided he needed to get back to work. He had jobs to work – monsters to hunt.

He was certain his god would be there when he needed him. In the meantime, he had luck magic to practice, too.

 

 

“The thing about magic, Samsquatch, is it’s all about intent,” Loki told him a few weeks later. “Yeah, you get to take some shortcuts when you invoke me – but only if I can help. If not, it’s all about your will and your intent.”

The two of them were in the attic of a haunted bed and breakfast. It was swelteringly hot from the muggy June heat, bur Loki had insisted.  Sam had come here for what he thought was a simple salt and burn, but Loki had met up with him as he arrived, telling the hunter it was time for another lesson.

“Ok. I intend to rid this place of a ghost. How do I go about that?” Sam asked, trying not to let his frustration show. Loki had yet to show him the spell to cast, or tell him the words to say. The god hadn’t even given him any runes or symbols to copy.

“You already know,” Loki scolded him. 

“I know to find a body and burn it. What else is there?” Sam asked.

“Magic,” Loki told him. “That thing you asked me to teach you. What have you learned so far?”

Sam bit back the retort that Loki had offered, and thought back on the lessons he’s had so far: luck, sex, some advanced runes, and simple cleansing spells. Nothing that would get rid of a ghost. Certainly nothing he could use against a demon.

“How to sit still for a long time,” he said sarcastically, thinking of the hours Loki had had him meditate.

“That’s a start,” the Trickster told him.

Sam frowned, frustrated, but Loki just stared at him, one eyebrow cocked. Sam searched for something else, but couldn’t think of anything.

“What did you do with the luck spells?”

And they really weren’t spells were they? He had just focused on what he had wanted to happen. “I concentrated on what I wanted, then I pushed my magic to make it happen?”

“I knew you were smart!” Loki favored him with a grin. “Intent comes first: that’s when you visualize what you want, concentrate on it.  The magic comes later. So what are you going to do about this ghost?”

“I’m going to concentrate on it leaving?” Sam asked.

“Where to? You have to be specific, or it’ll end up in the next house over,” Loki pushed.

Sam thought a moment. “Moving on to the afterlife? And then use magic to do it?”

“Exactarino!” Loki told him. His hazel eyes sparkled. Sam was pretty sure the Trickster was having fun.

“So, that’s it? Just concentrate hard enough and ghosts will disappear?” he asked, incredulous.

“Not exactly,” Loki told him. “I mean for me, yes. But you’re not ever going to be strong enough to do it that way. You’ll need a little help.”

“What kind of help?” Sam asked.

Loki held out his hand, revealing a small ring and a vial of salt in his palm. “Something from the deceased, some salt, the right runes. Almost like burning it, but without the mess. Usually easier to get your hands on a memento than a corpse, too, so that helps.”

Sam frowned, taking the ring and the vial from the Trickster. “So why don’t hunters do it like this all the time?” he asked.

Loki looked at him like he had two heads. “How many hunters do you know who want to go for the meditation crystals first and the guns as a last resort?”

“Point taken,” Sam said wryly, imagining exactly how Dean would react to this set-up. He placed the ring on the floor in front of him. “So what do I do with this? Put it in a circle of salt?”

“With the right runes,” Loki told him, holding out a piece of white chalk. Sam realized it was a prompt.

Sam took the chalk and thought on in a moment. “Kenaz?” he asked, naming the rune he identified most strongly with banishment. When Loki nodded he wrote it on the ground, two simple lines joined at an obtuse angle.

“And?” the Trickster prompted.

Sam thought back to the Norse runes Loki had him studying, trying to remember if there were any others he would use against a ghost. “Thurisaz?” he asked, unsure. The rune was for offensive magic, not banishment, but might be useful against the ghost.

Loki raised an eyebrow at him, then gave a measured nod. “Not what I would have chosen, but for a hunter it’ll work.”

Sam allowed himself a small, relieved smile. He had passed Loki’s first test. He drew the three closed sides of second rune beside the first.

Without having to ask, he put the ring between the two runes, then poured the salt in a circle around them all – deosil, or clockwise, in case it mattered.

“You’re good at figuring things out, Winchester,” Loki told him approvingly. “What next?”

“I’m guessing this is the part where I will them to move on?” Sam asked. “Is there something I should chant or something?”

“Do you need one? No,” Loki told him. “If you think it’ll help, you can make something up.”

“Alright. Any suggestions?” He knew Loki’s brand of magic didn’t really come with spells, but he found it easier to focus when he had something to say. Problem was, he was drawing a blank on something that wouldn’t sound absolutely ridiculous in front of the god.

“That’s all on you, kid,” Loki told him.

Sam made a mental note to look it up later – maybe something in Latin or Old Norse – and resigned himself to figuring this out silently. He straightened his back and put one hand on each of his crossed knees before taking a few deep breaths. As he felt his nerves steady and his heartbeat slow, he put both hands out over the ring and runes.

Go, he thought at the ghost. Which was, he realized a little lame.

“You’re not accessing your power,” Loki reminded him.

Right, Sam thought, closing his eyes. He reached down and into his consciousness, looking for that particular power Loki had shown him before. It was easier to find now after some practice, but it was still evasive. The other, darker, demon-tainted power called to him, and he had to wade through it, doing his best to avoid its touch before he could make it there.

“There you go,” Loki praised, voice smooth and complimentary. “Now try.”

“Spirit bound to this ring,” he intoned, wishing he had thought to ask for the ghost’s name. Still he could feel something – the stirring of the ghost, maybe its attention on him. He continued, “Move on. Leave this world for the next.”

He definitely felt something from the spirit this time. A moment of questioning, and then an aggressive push against his psyche. Sam struggled to keep his hands in place, flexing his muscles against the will of the ghost. Thurisaz flared in his mind as he concentrated on it for strength.

Move on,” he repeated, forcing the words through clenched teeth.

The ghost pushed back again, more forceful this time. Sam was almost bowled over by it. It took all his physical strength to stay in a sitting position, hand wavering over the ring, which was trembling on the ground of its own volition. He concentrated on his small spark of clean magic, willing it to push the ghost back.

You’ll find peace there, he thought pleadingly, jaw clenched so hard he couldn’t say the words. The spirit pushed back, but he didn’t feel like he was being run over this time. It was definitely weakening. Sam breathed in, imagining power coalescing around him.

GO, he shouted in his mind as he breathed out, imagining all that power rushing at the spirit.

There was no pushback this time. Instead, all resistance drained away almost at once, and Sam could almost hear a satisfying pop as the spirit dissipated.

“There you go!” Loki crowed.

Sam dropped his hands and opened his eyes, exhausted. “It worked?” he asked, not really needing to.

“Course it worked, Samsquatch! You felt it, didn’t you?” Loki put a hand on his shoulder with a little more force than Sam thought was necessary, but he didn’t complain. The thrum of the god’s ambient power felt good through his cotton shirt, rejuvenating him a little.

“I guess I did,” Sam agreed.

“Dinner?” Loki asked, and Sam realized he was starving.

“Please,” Sam said. “Let me just clean this up so the staff doesn’t find it.”

He looked down and saw that although the runes were untouched, the ring must have shattered. Metal shards had exploded in all directions, contained only by the ring of salt.

“Is that –” Sam asked.

“That’s what the salt’s for, Sammy-boy,” Loki told him with a wink. He snapped, and all of it – the runes, the salt, and the shards – were gone. “I’m thinking Greek. I’m craving a good spanakopita, maybe baklava for dessert. You good with that?”

The Trickster’s face was animated as he talked about the good, hazel eyes glistening. Sam couldn’t help but to smile, maybe a bit too fondly.

“Yeah, sounds great,” he told the god.

 

 

Two months later, Loki finally let him go after a demon.

It was late August, and Dean had been gone for far too long already. Whenever Sam asked about him, Loki got quiet and made an excuse to leave, or got a haunted look in his eyes and told him he just had to be patient and have faith.

Sam had stopped asking.

Instead, he had spent the summer honing his newfound skills.

Luck magic made it easy to swindle jerks out of money at pool – with Loki’s blessing of course – and he had almost mastered banishing ghosts. Protection spells came naturally to him, but he still practiced them religiously on the Impala, the Roadhouse and Bobby’s house when he stopped to see his makeshift family.

At least a couple of times a week, Sam found the Trickster god in his bed. Sam was equally delighted and guilty about that, but he figured it would stop when Dean came back and inevitably started sharing motel rooms with him, so he tried to let himself enjoy it for now.

Loki had wanted to start him on vampires or werewolves next – something less dangerous – but Sam had worn him down until he agreed to show him how to exorcise a demon.

So now they were in an abandoned barn in the middle-of-nowhere, South Dakota. Loki had insisted they be an easy drive from either Bobby’s or the Roadhouse, just in case. Sam thought he was being overly cautious, but who was he to argue with a god?

They had spent the afternoon warding the place, then tracking a black-eyed demon and luring it here. Loki had made pretty short work of it once they got it in place, tossing it into a chair and tying it up before it even realized it was in a devil’s trap. Now it was Sam’s turn.

He stepped forward staring at the demon uncomfortable.

“You smell like one of us,” she said, leering at him. She was in a pretty host: a curvy girl with a black bob and pale skin. She wore bright red lipstick that suited her so well Sam was sure it was the host’s doing, not the demon’s.

“You get exactly one warning to keep your mouth shut,” Loki told her, his voice dark. “Otherwise, instead of eviction, I’ll just end you.”

She sneered at him, but shut her mouth.

Sam closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and looked inward for that spark of clean power. It was natural now, pushing through the demon taint to call it up. It tingled over his hands, and he held them up, palms toward the demon, to direct it.

“Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus.

He had the words of the exorcism memorized for years, but Loki had cut it in half, taking out the part about the Catholic God and Church. Instead, he had told Sam to repeat the first half of it as he channeled a much more pagan power.

This was different than any other magic Sam had tried. His body sang with it, a rush of euphoria as it flowed through him.

“Omnis satanica potestas,” he continued by rote, letting himself get caught up in the spell. The demon started to smirk. She didn’t say anything, but everything about her expression would have been worryingly triumphant if Sam hadn’t been so distracted by the magic.

“Omnis incursio infernalis adversarii.” Sam started to raise his voice, letting it take on a more commanding tone. His body was vibrating with the power. Given the chance, he was sure he could get addicted to this high.

“That’s enough of that,” Loki snarled, interrupting Sam before he could get to the last line. The Trickster snapped, and Sam found he suddenly couldn’t move. The magic dissolved, leaving him bereft and powerless. Panicked, he looked at the god, but Loki wasn’t paying attention to him. Instead, he was striding across the room to the demon.

He casually put his fingers to the demon’s forehead, looking almost bored. As soon as he did, black smoke exploded in all directions, momentarily engulfing him and the demon. When it dissipated, Loki was standing over an unconscious woman. Even from here, Sam could tell that she was no longer possessed – he could feel it.

Loki snapped again, and Sam found he could move. He slumped down to sit on the floor before his knees gave out beneath him.

Loki came up and kneeled in front of him, one hand on his cheek, forcing Sam to look up at him.

“Sorry about that, Sam,” the Trickster said, looking the hunter over worriedly.

“What was that about?” Sam asked, controlling his voice. He recognized anger welling up inside him, but he (mostly) knew better than to direct it at the Trickster god. At least not without giving himself a chance to explain first.

But gods, that had felt good before Loki stepped in. Sam couldn’t help continuing, “The spell was working – it felt good. More than good – it felt like I was doing something I was made for. Why did you stop it?”

The Trickster looked down, regret clear in his eyes. “I shouldn’t have let you do that,” Loki told him, thumb tracing over Sam’s cheek. “I’m sorry. I should have known better.”

“What are you talking about?” Sam asked. “I was fine.”

“You weren’t,” Loki told him. He dropped his hand to Sam’s knee. “That poison in your veins was taking over, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.”

“I – what?” Sam asked.

“The demon blood. You were tapping into it. I couldn’t even get through to you when I tried to fix it. Didn’t you notice?”

“No,” Sam said soberly, his anger turning into worry. “That was what it feels like? Working with demon blood?”

“I guess. I’ve never done it before,” Loki said. “What did it feel like?”

“Euphoria,” Sam told him, looking down in disgrace. He wondered how the god would judge him for his confession. “It felt – it felt like I’d been made to use it. Like I’d found my purpose in life.”

“Demon tricks,” Loki spat out angrily. “It’s not. You’re not made for anything like that.” He put his hand back on Sam’s cheek. “Hey, look at me,” he demanded, in that voice Sam couldn’t even think of disobeying. It vibrated through Sam, and he listened before he could even think about it. “You’re mine remember? Mine. Not Alistair’s or Lilith’s. Not even Lucifer’s. I’d know if you were some kind of monster, don’t you think?”

Sam nodded weakly. “Yeah. You would,” he said. “It just – it felt like something I need to do.”

“Not something you’re going to do again,” Loki said, voice still stern. “I forbid it.”

Sam took a deep breath. His first instinct was to fight the god – hunters didn’t take directives well. His second was to listen to anything Loki told him. After all this was his god, who he had dedicated himself to.

“Ok. No more exorcisms,” Sam said.

“No more hunting demons,” Loki told him, his voice softened to a request.

Sam nodded. “No more hunting demons. At least not until I have better control.”

“I’ll take it,” Loki told him. “For now.”

Still, Sam couldn’t shake the gnawing feeling of guilt for how the exorcism had affected him. He concentrated on the god in front of him, trying to put his faith in him. Although he didn’t say anything, the Trickster must have been able to feel his desperation.

“Hey,” Loki said, wrapping his arms around the young Winchester. “I’ve got you,” the god told him.

Sam slumped down into him, awkwardly resting his head against his shoulder. He let himself be completely engulfed in the god, concentrating on the constant hum of power that surrounded him. He wondered if everyone felt it when they touched him, or if it came from their bond, or from Sam’s spark of magic.

Loki let him stay there for a few minutes, just running his hands through Sam’s hair. Eventually, though, Loki said, “Let me clean up here, bring goldilocks back home, then let’s blow this popsicle stand.”

Sam pulled back. “Yeah. I’m exhausted,” the hunter admitted.

“Back to the motel then,” Loki said, nodding. “I can’t stick around though. I have something to take care of.”

Sam nodded, understanding. It was crazy enough that a god would spend this much time with him. No matter how much he wished Loki would stay the night, it wasn’t his place to voice that.

“Yeah,” he said instead, looking at the young woman sitting prone in the middle of a devil’s trap. “I just want to get out of here.”

 

 

 Loki did not, actually, have anything to do that night. Except, maybe, run as far away from the young Winchester as he couple possibly go. Jupiter might be nice this time of year.

Of course, he wasn’t doing that either. 

Instead, he was in the same motel room as said Winchester, watching as the hunter laid awake, uneasy and unsure of himself. He could, of course, send the kid to sleep with a snap, but he thought he had probably interfered enough as it is, so he kept his fingers to himself.

You’re mine remember? Mine. Not Alistair’s or Lilith’s. Not even Lucifer’s.

What in Dad’s name had he been thinking?

He had told himself – promised himself – when this had all started that he wouldn’t get too involved. He wouldn’t get attached, and by this point he would be out, leaving Sam Winchester to deal with his fate on Earth. They could reconvene whatever messed up arrangement they had in the afterlife, if the human was even still interesting enough to get caught up with.

At the time, he had been almost certain he wouldn’t be.

But then Kali had pushed –

And damnit, but this wasn’t Kali’s fault anyway. The hunter was far too attractive, and he had never really done well with the whole self-preservation thing, had he? That’s why he had run in the first place.

And then here this kid was, dragging him back to everything he had spent millennia avoiding. He couldn’t help himself.

Mine, he thought, idly tracing the bond that tied him to the hunter. It was stronger now, almost unrecognizable from its original form – thick threads of multicolored power braided together. It had been initiated when Sam had dedicated himself to the Trickster, and he had accepted. It was supposed to be simple: a single green strand of power from god to follower, but nothing was ever simple these days.

It had changed drastically since he had agreed to teach Sam magic, but it had been changing for a while now. At least since the kid had died. Threads of white faith and red sex magic insulated the primary green bond. A tentative overlay of gold netting was starting to tie the entire thing together.

Pagans didn’t deal in golden magic. Gold was reserved for him, his father, and his brothers alone.

It wouldn’t be easy to break this way, or even to weaken it. But if they didn’t, he wasn’t sure if it was possible for the kid to become another angel’s vessel anymore. He didn’t want to think of what would happen when the big boys found out about that kink in their apocalypse plans.

Lucifer would –

Luci’s gonna kill me, he realized, every muscle in his vessel going tense.

He needed to do something. He needed a trick up his sleeve. A plan. He was a Trickster; wasn’t that was he was supposed to be good at?

He laughed cruelly at himself, making sure that Sam couldn’t hear. Some Trickster he was. He had nothing, and if he didn’t think of something soon, he was definitely going to die.

 

 

Sam didn’t sleep well since Dean was dragged to Hell, particularly not when he was alone. He wasn’t used to having his own room, and he couldn’t stop worrying about whatever was happening to his brother down there.

 He slept even worse in the weeks since his botched exorcism. He couldn’t stop wondering what he really was, and how the demon blood had tainted his soul. He clung to Loki’s insistence that he was not, in fact, a monster. But he still couldn’t shake the feeling that he would forever be damaged goods.

So when the Trickster popped into his hotel room close to 2 am on a Sunday night, Sam was both awake enough to notice and alert enough not succumb to instinct and grab the gun under his pillow.

“Little late don’t you think?” Sam asked dryly, happy to see the Trickster but too tired to show any enthusiasm.

“Thought you’d want to know right away,” Loki told him. “It’s starting.”

“What’s starting?” Sam asked, wondering if he should be worried.

“The fight for your brother’s soul,” Loki explained. “Can’t say if it’ll take hours or days, but I figure if you don’t want him waking up in a box six feet under, you better start digging

Chapter Text

The first thing Sam had done was call Bobby. The older hunter was angry to be woken up so early, and frankly thought Sam was losing his mind, but he’d only heard from Sam sporadically most of the summer. He was willing to humor him just for a chance to look him over and make sure he was okay.

Twelve hours later, Sam and Bobby were sitting in a field outside of New Harmony, Indiana, looking into the copse of trees where they had buried Dean. They were both sweating in the heat of the late summer, but their shovels were finally packed in the back of Bobby’s truck, and the coffin which held Dean’s body was lying on the ground beside what had been his grave.

Neither one of them wanted to open it until they knew he was back.

“So what? We just wait here?” Bobby asked, standing between the Impala and his truck.

“I guess,” Sam told him, leaning back on the trunk of the Impala.

“Any guess how long it’ll take?”

Sam realized he had no clue. “Hours? Maybe a couple of day?”

“Days?” Bobby asked. He looked at Sam as though he was insane. “Days? You couldn’t have told me that before dragging me out of bed at the ass-crack of dawn?”

Sam shrugged. “It could be any minute.”

Bobby harrumphed. “Alright. I’m gonna head into town, get us some food, some beer, maybe something to sit on while we’re out here. You get to babysit the box.”

Sam looked out at the plain pine coffin through the trees, then out at the long stretch of empty road in both directions. “Yeah,” he said. “Sounds good.”

He watched as the older hunter packed into his truck and drove away, then started to make his way back to the trees. Not that there was anything he could do there, but it seemed weird to stand on the edge of road just watching. There, he could at least keep out of sight from the rare passing car.

I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Loki’s voice rang clear in his head.

Sam looked around, but he didn’t see the god.

I’m not interested in my own family reunions. Don’t expect me in the middle of yours, Loki continued, and Sam could just see him rolling those expressive eyes. And for the record, I think it would be best if your brother continued to be in the dark about me.

“Noted,” Sam said. “So what am I supposed to do?”

He didn’t really expect an answer, so he was pleased when Loki told him, Just wait.

At least, he was pleased until he realized the Trickster had given him exactly no new information. “Okay,” he said, drawing out the word. He looked around, trying to find a good place to sit down and finding nothing.

So he leaned against the Impala and watched the field. “How long is this going to take?” he asked aloud.

Patience, Loki told him, something like a laugh just at the edge of the word.

Yeah, sure, Sam thought, somewhat annoyed. He knew better than to voice that aloud to a god, though.

A sudden, ear-shattering crack followed by an even louder boom turned his attention back to the copse of trees, and Dean’s coffin. Sam couldn’t immediately see anything out of the ordinary: it was an eerie, silent scene for a long moment.

Then, all at once, the trees began to bend away from the coffin, flying out in all directions. Sam cried out, simultaneously crouching down and running around the Impala for cover, closing his eyes and bringing his arm up to protect his face from flying branches. He was glad he did: a bright light burned his eyes, even through the arm and lids. Over the sound of breaking wood, Sam heard a high-pitched, deafening screech. It took all of his self-control to continue to protect his face instead of putting his hands over his ears to drown out the aural assault.

He fleetingly hoped he would have use of all his senses after this.

It was over as soon as it began. Sudden silence, and branches and debris stopped pelting his arm and body.

Sam lowered his arm and stood up, surveying the field.

None of the trees were still standing. The whole field was flattened, annihilated as surely as if a tornado had had wreaked it. The only thing left intact in the middle – in the eye of the storm – was Dean’s coffin.

“Dean!” Sam shouted, taking off and sprinting toward it without a thought to any continued danger. His brother was in there. His brother was alive in there. He knew it.

It was a struggle to navigate the downed branches and tree trunks while running, but Sam didn’t care. By the time he rushed up to the side of the box, almost tripping on it in his haste, he could already hear banging from the inside.

“Dean!” he cried again, urgently, letting his brother know he was there as he bent down to pry the lid off of it from the outside. Bobby had insisted that if they weren’t going to salt and burn Dean’s body, they’d at least nail him in with silver nails – for all the good it would do.

“Sammy?” Dean’s voice as muffled and rough, but Sam could feel his strength as he pushed against the lid of the coffin.

“Right here, Dean,” Sam told him. He got his fingers under the lip of the lid and gave one last mammoth tug.

The pine broke until their combined force, sending Sam flying backward, awkwardly holding half a board of wood. By the time he tossed it away and got his bearings, Dean was sitting up in the coffin, looking around, shock clear on his face.

“Dean!” Sam repeated, rushing back to his brother. He put one hand on Dean’s face, feeling the warm living flesh and wildly checking for a pulse at the neck.

It was there. Dean was alive. Sam looked down for a minute and –

Alive and very naked. At the moment, Sam didn’t think he cared.

“Sammy?” Dean asked, voice rough and hollow. Then, in a rush: “Sammy, what are you doing here? How did you get down here? Is this some kind of –”

“Hey, it’s ok,” Sam said, cutting his brother off and dropping a comforting hand to his bare shoulder. “It’s alright. You’re out of there. You’re back.”

“I’m – ?”

Dean looked around again, this time really taking in their surroundings. He started to breathe in deeper, visibly calming himself.

“I’m back?” he asked, voice shaky and rough.

Sam smiled. “Looks like.”

“On Earth? Alive?”

“Yeah, Dean, alive,” Sam told him. He couldn’t help himself – he wrapped his arms around his brother, enveloping him in a desperate hug. Dean – his brother – was here, in the flesh. He wasn’t in Hell, wasn’t suffering to save Sam any longer.

Dean hugged him back, tentatively at first. But then something broke, and he tightened his grip, holding onto Sam like and anchor.

“I’m alive,” Dean said, hushed and serious. Then, stronger, “I’m alive.”

“You’re alive,” Sam repeated back to him.

Sam reluctantly let go when Dean pulled away.

“Hey, let me get you some clothes before Bobby gets back,” Sam said.

“Bobby’s here, too?”

“He just ran into town,” Sam told him. “I’ll be right back.”

He ran to the Impala. He already had a duffle of Dean’s stuff packed in the back – stuff he had left at Bobby’s, and insisted the other hunter bring. He grabbed the whole thing, then sprinted back to his brother.

Dean hadn’t gotten out of the coffin yet – understandable, given his state of undress, but it was disconcerting seeing him there. He had a dark expression on his face, which didn’t bode well.

Sam tossed the bag into the foot of the coffin, then waited for Dean to speak.

“How?” Dean asked, looking sharply at Sam before turning to gather his things from the duffle. “What’d it cost?”

“What?” Sam asked, genuinely confused.

Dean glared up at him. “What? Was it just your soul, or was it something worse?”

“You think I made a deal?” Sam asked.

“How else?” Dean accused. He turned away from Sam and started angrily pulling his clothes on.

“Listen, I don’t know. But it wasn’t that,” Sam told him.

“Don’t lie to me,” Dean growled.

“I’m not lying,” Sam insisted.

“So what now, I'm off the hook and you're on, is that it? You're some demon's bitch-boy? I didn't want to be saved like this.” Dean stood up, shirt still in his hand, puffing his chest out at Sam.

And of course that self-righteous, accusatory bullshit made Sam snap. “Look, Dean, I wish I had done it, all right?”

Dean stepped out of the coffin and stalked up to Sam, shoulders square and radiating anger. “There's no other way that this could have gone down. Now tell the truth!”

“I am telling the truth!” Sam snapped. “Look, I would have made a deal in a minute. I would have opened the Devil’s Gate, I would have given anything. But I didn’t, because you wouldn’t want that. You were rotting in Hell for months. For months, and I couldn't stop it because I promised you I wouldn’t. So I'm sorry it wasn't me, all right? Dean, I'm sorry.”

It was half the truth. He would have, whether Dean wanted or not, had Loki not reassured him that Dean would be back. As it was, it had taken far too long for that promise to be fulfilled.

“It's okay, Sammy. You don't have to apologize, I believe you,” Dean said, relenting, one hand coming up to Sam’s bicep. It was good to feel Dean there, real. Alive. Then he asked somberly, “How’d you know I’d be back?”

“I got a lead on a hunt,” Sam said. Half-truth. Again.

“A lead? Really?” Dean asked incredulously.

Sam didn’t want to lie, but there was really no helping it. Loki had made it very clear that he didn’t want Dean to have the truth. “I was up against a something we’ve never seen before. He tried to bargain for his life with information. It didn’t work.” He delivered the last darkly, a promise of death in his tone.

“Nice,” Dean said with a smile, but it fell somewhat flat. Sam figured that was to be expected, after what he had just gone through.

He opened his mouth to ask about it, but then thought the better of it. Instead he said, “Get your shoes on. Bobby’ll be back soon.” Then, after a beat. “You hungry?”

“Starved,” Dean said, sitting on the edge of the coffin and tugging his boots on. Sam wanted to get away from the thing as soon as possible. “Where is the old man?”

“He left for supplies. We didn’t know how long we’d be waiting,” Sam told him, leading the way back to the Impala as soon as Dean finished lacing up his boots and grabbed his bag.

“Text him,” Dean said. “Tell him to find a diner or something. Greasiest place they’ve got. We’ll meet him there.”

Sam looked back at his brother incredulously, and a little grossed out – but he couldn’t help smiling when he saw Dean’s eager face.

“Sure thing,” he said, taking out his phone and pulling up Bobby’s contact info.  His brother was back.

 

                                                            

“Really?” Bobby asked Sam as soon as the brothers got out of the Impala near the dumpster behind a greasy spoon. Bobby had been explicit as to where they should park. “You sure?”

“It’s him, Bobby,” Sam said, barely hiding his smile.

“You tested him?” the older hunter asked.

“I’m not a demon,” Dean snapped at him.

Bobby glared at him, expression wavering between hope and distrust.

“Or a monster,” Dean added.

“You wanna prove that?” Bobby asked. Quicker than he looked capable of, Bobby had a flask out. Hold water – they knew what was in there without having to ask.

Dean grabbed it out of his hand and poured some of it onto his arm. “See? Not a demon.”

“Ghoul?” Bobby asked, hand going for the gun at his hip.

“He’s not a ghoul,” Sam said.

At the same time, Dean sneered, “Give me something silver.”

Bobby pulled a knife out of his jacket’s inner pocket and handed it to Sam gingerly.

“Give me that,” Dean said, annoyed. He grabbed it away from Sam dragged the blade against a flexed arm, hissing a bit at the pain. He drew blood, but nothing else.

“That’s enough,” Sam said, grabbing the blade away. He couldn’t stand to see Dean’s blood – it was too soon. He had just gotten him back and didn’t want to be reminded of how quick he could be taken away again.

“Welcome home, boy,” he heard Bobby say in a hushed, almost hesitant voice. When Sam looked at him, he saw the older hunter’s face was one of complete awe.

Bobby gathered Dean in a hug, and Dean reciprocated just as desperately as he had with Sam. He was obviously affection-starved down there, surely, but touch-starved, too? Sam didn’t want to think about it – or what else his brother had had to endure.

“Good to be back,” Dean said when they broke the hug. Then, in typical Dean style, he broke into a shit-eating grin. “Now that that’s out of the way: burgers? I’m starving.”

Sam would happily pretend he couldn’t see right through his brother’s mirth, at least for now. He figured Dean deserved it.

 

 

Loki stayed just long enough to make sure Sam was safely out of the way of whatever havoc the Righteous Man’s self-righteous savior would wreak before flying nearly across the globe. The last thing he needed was for the pride of the Heavenly Host to see him.

He was sick to his stomach just thinking about it. The lot of them, listening to Michael, completely ignorant to the plans of their Father, all of them incapable of seeing reason – bent on pursuing a family feud through the eons –

He changed his course midflight and headed straight to Antarctica, landed on a glacier where he could perch and pretend he was alone in the world. He needed to be as far away from humankind as he could get. He was dangerously close to letting his anger get the better of him, and certain that he’d blow his cover at the slightest provocation.

Sam didn’t deserve what was coming next.

Hell, Dean didn’t deserve what was coming next, or what had happened to him. But Dean wasn’t his. Sam was.

He needed to end this. Whatever spark was between him and his disciple, he never should have indulged in it. He had to leave Sam to Lucifer, let him deal with his fate on his own. That would be the plan.

That had always been the plan, he reminded himself.

Maybe when this was all over – when Luci or Michael won, and Loki was left to his own devices, in his own Hall in the Norse afterlife – he would get Sam back. If there was anything left of him.

Loki pounded his fist into the glacier below him in frustration, only a little surprised when the thing started to crack and crumble from the blow. Life was never fair, especially not for him. But this felt particularly egregious.

He lifted his hand to strike the glacier again, but let it drop away uselessly.  Poetic, considering how incredibly useless he was feeling just now.

Something flickered at the edge of his consciousness. Sam was praying to him, because of course he was. Loki knew he should stay here, make sure he didn’t show himself to Sam again.

But his wings were already spread and he was halfway to North America before he could think it through.

He’d have a bit more time with the Winchester before this all came to a head, he told himself. He was an expert at staying out of sight; there wasn’t an angel below Michael who would recognize him even if they saw him.  He’d just –

Yeah right, he told himself, seeing straight through his own bullshit.

He’d make it up as he went along. That was what he was best at, after all. Besides, Sam was alone, and there was something absolutely, devastatingly sexy about the idea of fucking him when they could be caught by his brother at any minute – not that Loki would actually let that happen, but it could still make things interesting.

Chapter Text

Sam wanted to insist that they head back to the Roadhouse that night, but Dean wasn’t up for that many people yet. He didn’t say so much aloud, but Sam could tell from the way he talked about motel magic fingers longingly (even though Sam knew he rarely actually wasted his quarters on them) and the way he dropped his head when Sam asked if he didn’t want to see Ellen and Jo tonight.

So Sam relented without much of a fight, and the three of them found a hotel between New Harmony and the Roadhouse. It was a nicer place than they’d usually spring for, but Sam thought Dean could use a few luxuries tonight.

One of those luxuries was a pool with a hot tub, located in a separate small greenhouse-like building behind the hotel-proper. Dean had been incredulous when Sam had told him he wasn’t interested, and had even asked Bobby to come along. The older hunter had shook his head and asked if Dean was insane before making his way to his own room for the night.

Dean had gone on his own, leaving Sam alone in their spacious double. Knowing he had some time, he dug through his duffle and retrieved the small silk black bag he kept at the bottom. He pulled a couple of chime candles out of it, and an offering dish. He had taken an extra slice of chocolate cake to go from the diner before, and he now arranged it on the dish between the two candles before lighting them.

He arranged himself comfortably in front of the makeshift altar and let himself drop into a light meditative state. “Loki,” he breathed out, knowing he would hear him even if he didn’t talk. “Thank you.”

“No need to thank me, kid,” The god responded, voice clear and close. Sam opened his eyes to see him lounging on the motel bed Sam had taken for his own.

“What?” Sam asked, a little shocked by the god’s appearance. He hadn’t expected Loki to actually show up tonight.

“I didn’t do anything,” Loki shrugged. “Dean’s fate has nothing to do with me. I just passed along some info.” He held his hand out expectantly.

Sam handed him the plate with the cake. Loki silently pulled a fork out of the air and stared eating.

“What happened to him?” Sam asked, snuffing out the candles and standing up. “Who brought him back?”

“You know better than that,” Loki told him. “I can’t tell you.”

“Is there anything you can tell me? What are we going to have to deal with now? Alistair? Lillith?”

Loki shook his head. “That’s not how it goes, Samsquatch. You get to figure this part out on your own.”

He finished his cake and put the plate down on the bedside table.

Then, with a move that should have been sleazy but just came off as incredibly hot, he reached out and pulled Sam toward the bed by his belt buckle. “Tell ya what. How about since I can’t tell you anything, I give you another type of distraction while you have the room to yourself?”

“Did you really think that was going to be smooth?” Sam teased, looking down at the Trickster even as he felt his blood start to rush with desire.

Loki, imp that he was, flattened his hand to feel Sam getting hard beneath it. “I thought it was going to work. Looks like it did,” the Trickster gloated.

Sam wanted to roll his eyes and get under Loki’s skin, but then that skilled hand started massaging him through his jeans and he found himself moaning the Trickster’s name. “Loki, yeah,” he breathed. “But – but what about Dean?”

“Deano will be a while,” Loki told him. “I promise we have time.” Then he reached up and grabbed Sam by the front of his shirt. He used the grip to flip the hunter over him and onto the bed on his back as though he weighed nothing.

“God – that shouldn’t be so hot,” Sam told him.

“You like it when I take control?” Loki asked.

“I like it when you touch me,” Sam snipped at him, not sure he could handle what the Trickster would do to him if he said yes.

“Patience,” Loki said, climbing up and straddling him. 

“Kiss me at least,” Sam begged, imploring Loki with his best puppy dog eyes.

“You’re gonna be the death of me, Winchester,” Loki said. He leaned down and kissed Sam hungrily. Sam met him, just as desperate, but something lurched in his stomach.

You’re gonna be the death of me.

Those words sat like a stone in Sam’s gut, echoing presciently.

Loki raised his head and cocked it to the side with a look as though he were staring through Sam. “What’s up Winchester?  I thought you wanted that kiss?”

“It’s nothing,” Sam said, shaking his head to clear it. “Fuck me?”

Loki chuckled, the sound coming from low in his stomach. “Eventually,” he promised. “But first, I had a few other ideas.”

“What were you thinking?” Sam asked.

“Dessert?” Loki asked.

“You just had cake,” Sam teased. He thought he knew where this was going…but couldn’t quite believe it.

“I’m a god. I get as many desserts as I want,” Loki told him. He lowered himself down again and kissed Sam thoroughly, pushing the hunter into the pillow and making him forget all his premonitions with that wicked tongue. When he lifted his head, he hovered just a few inches over Sam. “Let me eat you out?”

“Anything you want,” Sam told him, already wreaked. Loki’s pupils blew wide with lust – Sam loved how much that phrase got under the god’s skin.

 Loki snapped, and suddenly all their clothes were gone. Apparently, the god was just as desperate as he was.

“On your stomach, Winchester,” the god growled, turning him over bodily before he had a chance to move himself.

“Whatever you say,” Sam told him cheekily, grabbing for a pillow to put under his hips as the god arranged him so his legs were bent under his stomach, ass in the air.

“Sure you want this?” Loki asked, both hands running up and down Sam’s sides fervently. “It’s a little more intense than what you’re used to.”

“Completely,” Sam told him.

At the touch of Loki’s tongue, he was gone. He had never thought much about it before, how the sensation of a hot, nimble tongue instead of lubed fingers would feel against his entrance – how much deeper he would feel it. How intimate it was, or how vulnerable it would make him.

Sam kept up a steady stream of encouragement and praise, hardly aware of what was coming out of his mouth. “Yes, Loki – please, just like that. Please!” he begged.

The entire time, Loki’s hands kept tracing up and down the sides of his back, soothing and grounding him through it.

Finally, when Sam was instinctively rutting against the pillow beneath him, sure he couldn’t take any more, Loki lifted his head. “Had enough?” he asked cheekily.

“Fuck me,” Sam demanded, not entirely sure how he managed even that much eloquence.

Loki laughed wickedly. “Are you sure? I could go on like this instead. Bet I could get you to come without touching you.”

“Please, for the love god, fuck me now,” Sam gritted out.

“The love of me? That’s a pretty strange one, even for you,” Loki teased.

“I swear to – fuck!” Sam said, not able to find any reasonable way to finish that sentence while his god was bending down to nibble the back of his neck distractingly, hands coming down on Sam’s wrists to pin him down and further support Sam’s current theory that he was a tease and a dick. “Please?” he tried begging again, knowing how much the Trickster liked it.

“I guess I can’t say no when you ask so nicely,” Loki breathed into his ear. He nosed a bit more at the back of Sam’s neck, putting every hair on Sam’s body on end, before finally pulling away.

“Think you need any more prep?” the god asked.

“I’m good,” Sam told him. “Just need you.”

“You got me,” Loki told him, voice rough. “You sure?”

Sam forced himself to relax as he felt Loki’s dick pressing at his entrance.

“I’m ready,” Sam insisted, pressing back. “Please!”

Loki choked out something incomprehensible as he pushed forward, and then he was riding Sam hard. Sam bit his lip, part in pleasure and part to steel himself against the roughness of it. It was so good, though. “Yes,” he hissed out. “Yeah, like that.”

For the first time in a long time, he let himself go, tuning the world out and just concentrating on the pleasure and passion of the moment. Distantly, he heard Loki growling “Mine,” close to his ear.

“Yours,” he agreed.

It only took a couple of minutes before he was groaning out, “Loki – I – I’m gonna –”

“Do it,” Loki said in a low growl, reaching around to grab his dick and stroke it in time with his thrusts. “Come all over my hand, Winchester. Come on.”

Sam stretched his whole body out, pressing back against the god and pausing his thrusts. He threw his head back and moaned with his whole diaphragm. It felt like he was relieving himself of the weight of the world as he came hot over Loki’s fingers.

Loki stuttered against him, his orgasm wrenched from him as he watched and felt Sam’s relief. He thrust into him a couple more times, almost haphazardly, before pulling out and collapsing on Sam’s back.

“Wow,” the Trickster breathed in his ear. “That was –“

“That was great,” Sam finished for him. “I think I needed that.”

“Yeah, I kinda think you did,” Loki agreed.

Sam rolled over, peeling himself off the pillow beneath his hips before tossing the offending object off the bed.

“Think you’re up for another round?” Loki asked wickedly.

Sam barked out a laugh. “Really? I don’t know if I’m gonna move for a week, at least.”

“Guess I did my job then,” the Trickster gloated, lying up on the pillows, half sitting against the headboard.

“Yeah, that and then some,” Sam agreed, feeling happy and a little stupid. He shifted his weight, about to lean his head on the god’s chest, when Loki put a hand on his shoulder.

“Good thing we’re done, too, cause Dean-o’s on his way.”

“Seriously, Loki?” Sam groaned, raisin himself up on his elbows.

“When am I not serious?” Loki asked.

Sam gave him an unimpressed look, making Loki laugh again.

The god snapped, and Sam and the bed were both clean. “Lucky for you I have to get out of here. You can answer for your sass later.”

And then the god was gone, cold air rushing in beside Sam to fill the void he left. “Yeah, right,” Sam muttered, letting himself drop back down to the pillow. He knew he should expect letdowns when sleeping with a god but that was –

That bordered on cruel, Sam decided. He pushed himself up and into a sitting position so he could fish some fresh boxers from his duffle. He had them on and was looking for a pair of pajama pants when Dean opened the door.

“Seriously, dude?” Dean asked, frowning pointedly at Sam’s state of undress.

“I’m used to living on my own,” Sam told him with a shrug.

“Yeah, well, get un-used to it,” Dean groused. Then: “Something weird’s going on here. Sammy.”

“What do you mean, weird?” Sam asked.

“I mean like nothing I’ve ever seen before weird,” Dean told him, a hint of exasperation in his voice. “Out at the pool house.”

“What happened?” Sam’s hand hovered over his pajama pants, then moved over to pick up his jeans instead. He was pretty sure they’d be leaving the room soon.

“I don’t really know,” Dean admitted, looking shaken. “One minute, I’m in my shorts, relaxing in a really very excellent hot tub, the next I’m on my knees, hands over my ears, trying to get away from whatever’s making this high pitched noise. It broke all the glass in the place – shards were flying everywhere.”

Sam looked over his brother. He didn’t have a scratch on him, and his clothes were as new as when he had left, if a bit wet. “Glass flying everywhere? Really?”

Dean shrugged. “I know, it’s a miracle it didn’t hit me.”

“Or maybe something was controlling it?” Sam asked.

“Or that,” Dean agreed, nodding to the side of his head. “Take your pick of which one’s worse.”

“Right,” Sam agreed. “Any idea what it was?”

“No clue, but you bet I’m gonna find out,” Dean said. “Grab the EMF reader, I’ll text Bobby.”

 

 

Ten minutes later, the three of them were in the now-shattered pool house, looking over the wreckage. Sam kicked a particularly large shard of thick, green-tinted glass out of his way and took out the EMF reader. He started walking toward the pool, fiddling with the knobs on the reader as he did.

“Well somethings real interested in you, boy, that’s for sure,” Bobby said, voice gruff and worried.

“Yeah, but what?” Sam asked, still looking down at the reader. It was picking up exactly nothing, which was kind of weird in and of itself. Usually there was always enough ambient energy to give the thing a low baseline, but there was nothing here. Sam hit the side of the thing with his free hand, but nothing happened. “I think something’s wrong with this thing,” he told the others. “I’m not reading anything – it’s just flat-lining.”

 “Yeah, I don’t think it’s the reader,” Bobby said grimly. Sam turned around to see that the older hunter had his own device out. “Whatever it was that did this cleaned out anything ghostly in the area.”

“What the hell?” Dean asked. “Do we know of anything that eats ghosts?”

“Nothing I’ve heard of,” Bobby said. “Hell, I’d put a thing like that to work if I did.”

“Yeah, me neither,” Sam agreed. “Doesn’t look like the thing left any other marks either – no footsteps, no scent: nothing.”

“I didn’t see anything either,” Dean said. “It just made this terrible sound, lasted maybe half a minute before stopping, quick as it came.”

Bobby shook his head. “Got me.”

“So what do we do about it?” Dean asked, that strain of poorly-disguised fear in his voice again.

 “We do our research,” Sam told his brother, voice pitched to be as calming as possible. It was clear that it didn’t do much to calm Dean down.

“I know a psychic, not far from here,” Bobby offered up, obviously reacting to the same emotions Sam saw bubbling up. “I trust her. We can head there first thing in the morning.”

Dean looked at Bobby like he was about to protest – like he was about to tell him to take them there now – but then he took a deep breath. “Yeah, tomorrow’s good,” he said. “First thing.”

“I’ll check the lore when we get back to the room,” Sam reassured his brother.

“Yeah, I want to take another look,” Dean said, making his way carefully through the broken glass around the left side of the pool. “Make sure there’s nothing to find. Then I guess we should tell the front desk or something?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Sam agreed. He turned off the EMF reader and started to circle the pool from the right. Any hint you could give would be nice right about now, Loki, he prayed.

Of course, the god didn’t answer.

He followed Dean back to the room, keeping an eye on his brother. Dean was exhausted, on edge – Sam wasn’t sure how to help him, but he knew he might need him tonight.

“I’m gonna hit the hay,” Dean told him as soon as they got back to the room. He stripped off his shirt and threw it in the general direction of his bag – an almost unheard-of behavior for his militaristic brother. Sam was almost too surprised by it too notice anything else.

“Hey wait a sec,” he said, tilting his head and leaning down to get a better look. “What’s on your arm?”

“What do you mean, what’s on my arm?” Dean asked, sounding more annoyed than curious.

Sam gave him a pointed look, and Dean sighed. He walked toward the bathroom, stopping when he got to the mirror.

“What the Hell is on my arm?” Dean asked, voice low and almost angry.

Sam stared at the handprint-shaped scar on his brother’s shoulder. “Do you have any other marks?”

 Dean took a moment to look over the rest of his torso in the mirror, then shook his head and looked up at Sam. “Nothing. Not even what I left with – scars from when I was a kid, you know? They’re just gone. This is the only one.”

“Looks like whatever pulled you out of there left its mark.”

Dean frowned darkly. “Yeah, whatever it was.”

Sam looked down, resisting the sudden urge to pull his brother into a hug. He had just gotten back this afternoon, and now there was already so much on his shoulders. Not just Lilith and whatever demons he might have faced in hell – but some mysterious savior who wanted gods-only-knew-what from him. Sam wished he could shield him from it all – even for just a day.

“We’ll figure it out,” he promised his brother. “Get some rest. I’ll research the lore, and Bobby has that psychic for us to see tomorrow.”

Dean sighed. “Yeah, I guess. I just –”

He cut himself off from saying whatever he was going to say.

Sam reached a hand out and put it on Dean’s unscarred shoulder. “I know,” he said, giving his brother what support he could. He pretended not to notice when Dean subtly leaned into him.  “We’ll figure it out.”

 

 

“Sam, Dean. This is Pamela Barnes, best damn psychic in the state,” Bobby said. Sam looked at Dean, who was already laying on the charm as he smiled at the woman.

“Hey,” his brother said in what he probably thought was a smooth tone.

“Ah, hi,” Sam said, a little more intimidated by the older woman. She was beautiful, that was for sure, but she also looked like she could take him in a fight. She had a look about her too, one that made Sam think she could see right through him – which, if she was a psychic, was probably true.

“Mmm-mmm-mmm. Dean Winchester,” she said, not even looking at Sam. “Out of the fire and back in the frying pan, huh? Makes you a rare individual.”

“If you say so,” Dean said with a shrug and a smile.

Pamela noticed. She returned it with a coy smile of her own. “Come on in.”

Sam followed Dean and Bobby, staying at the back of the group and out of Pamela’s direct line of vision. The room was cramped, but dark enough that Sam could reasonably lurk in the shadows without seeming like he meant to.

He wondered if she could see the demon blood in him – or if she could sense Loki’s touch on his soul. He didn’t want to tempt fate either way.

“So, you hear anything?” Bobby asked, getting straight down to business.

“Well, I Ouija'd my way through a dozen spirits,” Pamela said, her voice matter-of-fact.  “No one seems to know who broke your boy out, or why.”

“So what's next?” Bobby asked.

“A séance, I think. See if we can see who did the deed,” she said, gesturing for them to continue following her deeper into the house. The room the entered was darker than the first, with all the windows curtained over for privacy. Sam recognized a few charms and spell components placed around the room, hiding in plain sight as casual knick-knacks. 

Although he couldn’t see the older hunter’s face, Sam saw Bobby’s discomfort in the way he suddenly changed his stance, as if preparing for an attack. “You're not gonna... summon the damn thing here?” he asked, voice uncertain.

“No. I just want to get a sneak peek at it,” Pamela told him, voice light and dismissive. “Like a crystal ball without the crystal.”

“I'm game,” Dean said, because of course he did. From the way he was looking at her, Sam knew his brother would be game for just about anything she suggested.

She seemed to notice it too, because she made sure to bend down with her back toward Dean when she spread a black tablecloth covered in symbols over the small table in the center of the room.

Sam took a step toward it, carefully studying the embroidered symbols. They were from a hodgepodge of cultures, mostly European, but most of them represented visions or future sight. A few warding symbols were embroidered around the edge, presumably there for the seer’s safety.

This psychic really knew what she was doing.

“Who’s Jesse?” Dean asked out of nowhere. Sam looked over and saw Pamela bent over in front of a cabinet, backside revealed enough that they could read the tattoo there: Jesse Forever.

The psychic laughed. “Well, it wasn’t forever.”

“His loss,” Dean smirked.

Pamela stood up and pivoted toward them, hands full of pillar candles. “Might be your gain,” she told him with a smirk.

Sam wondered if he really had to watch this, but bit his tongue. She was already turning toward the table to set up her candles, and maybe this would all stop when they got down to business anyway.

Dean turned to him with a cocky smile. “Dude, I am so in.”

“Yeah, she’s gonna eat you alive,” Sam told his brother, a hint of sympathy in his voice.

His words just made Dean puff out his chest more. “Hey, I just got out of jail. Bring it.”

“You’re invited, too, grumpy.” Pamela was suddenly looking up to Sam as she passed them again on her way for more supplies.

Sam opened his mouth to stutter a shocked decline, but she was already gone.

“You are not invited,” Dean told him.

Sam couldn’t help his spluttered laugh at the tone of Dean’s voice.

“Alright boys, take a seat,” Pamela said, gesturing toward the table. The table was covered with seven candles: five white pillars circling two taller silver and gold ones.

Pamela waited until they were all seated before lighting them: first the silver, then the gold, then each white one in a clockwise circle. Deosil – Sam understood it as the foundation of the séance as surely as she did.

“Right. Take each other's hands,” Pamela told them.

Sam reached out his hand to Bobby and Dean. Bobby raised a suspicious eyebrow at the psychic, but complied after a moment’s hesitation.

“And I need to touch something our mystery monster touched,” she continued, her left hand dropping under the table.

Sam bit back a laugh when Dean jumped. “Whoa. Well, he didn't touch me there!”

“My mistake,” Pamela said, voice airy and innocent.

Dean looked around the table nervously, then shrugged off his flannel. He pulled up one sleeve of his tee-shirt, revealing the scar Sam already knew was there.

“Okay,” the seer said, a note of satisfaction in her voice as she laid her hand over Dean’s shoulder. Then she started chanting: “I invoke, conjure, and command you, appear unto me before this circle.”

Sam closed his eyes, opening himself up to the eddies and waves of power she was churning up around the table, connecting the four of them. It focused itself through her, amplified like light through a reflector, before moving up and out toward some unknown target.

“I invoke, conjure, and command you, appear unto me before this circle,” Pamela continued her chant, voice strong and commanding.

Grounded and open to her power, Sam opened his eyes to see the magic as a hazy white glow, a cloud that enveloped them and the table. Only the light of the silver and gold pillar candles glowed through it; the flames brighter now than when Sam had closed his eyes. 

“I invoke, conjure, and command you, appear unto me before this circle.” Pamela’s voice rose, and with it her power began to swirl around the table manically. A television flickered on to pure static, causing Bobby and Dean – who were blind to the magic – to jump in surprise.

“I invoke, conjure, and command... Castiel?” She named the monster, and Sam could feel the name vibrating through his bones with its power. 

She continued, “No. Sorry, Castiel, I don't scare easy.”

“Castiel?” Dean asked.

“Its name,” the psychic explained before Sam could open his mouth. “It's whispering to me, warning me to turn back.” She took a breath and steadied herself within the maelstrom of power. The table began to shake, but she seemed oblivious to it as she chanted: “I conjure and command you, show me your face.”

Sam couldn’t hear the whispers Pamela did, but he saw as the magic began to coalesce, taking on a ghostly form. Something about it felt strangely familiar, and wholly dangerous.

“I conjure and command you, show me your face,” Pamela continued. She was starting to sweat with the effort, and for the first time, Sam heard her voice start to strain.

“I conjure and command you, show me your face.”

The table’s shaking became violent, toppling all but the middle two candles and snuffing them out before they reached the ground. Sam almost broke his hold on Dean and Bobby to catch them, but both the other hunters were holding his hand in death-grips.

“I conjure and command you, show me your face.”

“Maybe we should stop,” Bobby said, voice shaky and uncertain.

“I almost got it,” Pamela insisted. “I command you, show me your face!”

Sam saw it before she did: the coalesced magic forming something powerful and terrible: something Sam instinctively knew should not be there. His blood hummed in his ears; whatever it was felt dark and angry and demonic.

Without even thinking about it, he called up his own strange power and flung it into the center of her spell, coloring it in a sickly black and red design. “STOP,” he shouted, breaking Dean & Bobby’s grips and opening the circle.  The magic fractured and fell apart at the sound of his voice, dissolving almost immediately.

Before he could take a breath, Pamela was standing up and staring down at him from across the table. “What the Hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Stopping whatever that was!” Sam shot back, suddenly unaccountably furious. “We have a name, do we really need to invite it in blind?”

“I could handle it,” Pamela shouted.

“Maybe make that call once we’ve at least tried to prepare,” Sam argued, standing up and using his tall, muscular build to his advantage as he loomed over her.

“What, and just sit here waiting for it to come to us?” she snapped.

“Are you crazy?” he asked. “Are you blind? Whatever that was, we are not equipped for it right now.” He was so angry, he was literally seeing red at the edge of his vision. He raised his hand menacingly toward her –

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Dean said, standing up and putting his hands out between the two of them. “Just – calm down.”

“Calm down?” Sam asked incredulously.

“I am calm!” Pamela shouted at the same time.

“Well, you ain’t acting like it,” Bobby told her.

“Look, we have a name: Castiel. We can work with this,” Dean said, looking at Pamela. He turned to lock eyes with Sam. “And I don’t know what your problem is right now, but you’re acting like a freakin’ lunatic, so pull yourself together.”

Sam opened his mouth for a retort, but bit it back when he saw the look in Dean’s eyes. “Yeah. Right,” he spat out instead.

We’ll talk later. The words were as clear across Dean’s face as if he had actually said them.

“Right,” Dean said, clapping his hands together. “So Castiel. Sounds like a dick.”

“Knowing our luck,” Bobby agreed with a slight nod.

“Hopefully there’s something in the lore. We can research it. But first, is anyone else starving?” Dean continued. “I could go for a burger.”

 Sam just stopped himself from rolling his eyes at his brother. Only Dean would think food was an appropriate distraction. Just thinking about it, Sam could feel his anger swelling again.

He stopped himself. Why? Why would Dean wanting a burger of all things make him angry?

He took a deep breath, concentrating on the feel of the ground beneath his feet. He tuned out the sound of Bobby and Pamela’s voices and zeroed in on his breath, concentrating on grounding himself as Loki had taught him.

The anger subsided, leaving him feeling ragged – like the morning after a particularly hard night of drinking.

“Sammy? You with us?” Dean asked, putting a hand on his shoulder to get his attention.

“Uh, yeah,” Sam said, pulling his attention back to the people around him.

“So, lunch?” Dean asked pointedly.

“Yeah, lunch sounds good,” Sam said, still feeling raw and a little disoriented.

Dean gave him that look again – the one that promised a conversation later – but didn’t say anything else as he followed Pamela out of the room.

Chapter Text

Later didn’t come – at least not that night.

Dean sent Sam back to the motel with Bobby, with a promise to return with the Impala in the morning, after staying the night at Pamela’s. Sam didn’t blame him – dude had been down in Hell for months. He deserved a bit of fun.

But it meant that Sam was on his own again for the night, which was just fine with him.

Sam knew he should be burying himself in lore and internet searches, trying to find mention of this Castiel monster, but he couldn’t bring himself to concentrate on that. Instead, he sat cross-legged on the motel bed, back straight against the headboard, hands on his knees and eyes closed. His breathing was deep and regulated, and he could feel the heavy support of the Earth below him as he grounded himself to it.

Gingerly, he folded himself into his consciousness, not entirely sure what he was doing. He poked at the edge of his magical self-awareness, trying to understand it. What had happened to him this afternoon, and why had it had such a profound effect on him?

He almost prayed to Loki, to ask him for help with this puzzle, but he wasn’t sure he wanted the Trickster God to come. He felt like Loki would be profoundly disappointed in whatever Sam had let happen to him today.

And so he sat, meditating: chasing answers with no clear path. Although he felt magic on his skin and within him, he couldn’t find any traces of the red anger from this afternoon, even when he began to meditate on Castiel’s name.

“Castiel,” he said aloud, tasting it on his tongue. “Castiel?” he repeated, the name becoming something of a prayer.

Loki didn’t pop into the room, but Sam sensed him nonetheless. The feel of him was off – different – but Sam knew better than to question the limits of the Trickster’s adaptable identity. There was a curious note to him, and something like surprise before Sam felt him fade from the edge of his consciousness.

Sam sighed, opening his eyes. The bedside clock told him it was after midnight. If Loki wasn’t going to help him out, and he hadn’t figured this out for himself yet, he wasn’t going to get anywhere tonight. He slumped back against the headboard, defeated.

“I wish you’d tell me what’s really going on,” he said aloud, knowing he wasn’t going to get a response.

 

 

Sam woke to find a note beside his bed.

Do not go hunting for Castiel with your brother. –L

Sam frowned at the paper before crumpling it up and tossing it in the trash, making sure Dean wouldn’t see it and ask questions.

He got through a run, a shower and breakfast before Dean showed up in their room. He even got some research in on his laptop, fruitless though it was.

“Good night?” Sam asked sardonically, taking note of the bags under Dean’s eyes.

Dean shot him a satisfied smile. “The best,” he said.

“Well good for you,” Bobby said sarcastically, walking through the still-open door and shutting it firmly behind him. “Not sure if you forgot, but we have more important things on our plate than your libido.”

“You might say differently if you were the one who just got back from the big house,” Dean retorted.

The scathing look on Bobby’s face said more than any words.

“Castiel,” Sam interrupted. “Any luck finding him in the lore?”

Bobby shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Me neither,” Sam agreed, neglecting to tell them how little he had tried.

“Really? Nothing?” Dean asked, looking between them a little manically. “What do we do then?”

Sam shrugged. “More research?”

Dean turned his head to look Sam over. “Yeah, that’s always your answer. You over whatever it was you were on yesterday?”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Whatever it was I was on?” he asked, inordinately angered by the accusation.

“Yeah,” Dean said, puffing out his chest and heading into Sam’s personal space. “You didn’t exactly seem like you had it all together, is all I’m saying.”

“I was fine yesterday, and I’m fine now,” Sam told him, using his size advantage to lean over him threateningly.

“Alright, that’s enough,” Bobby said, getting between them. “We have bigger things on our plates than your egos, so maybe just put them away and get over it.”

“Right,” Sam said, pulling away.

“And you –“ Bobby said, pointing a finger at Sam. “Don’t think that means we didn’t both see you losing it yesterday. Don’t let it happen again.”

“Sure,” Sam said, flushing in embarrassment. He knew he deserved the dressing down - from both of them – but it still stung.

“Now, I don’t know about you boys, but I wanna get back to my library.”

Dean looked between them a minute, then nodded. “Yeah, the Roadhouse can wait. We’ll follow you back to Souix Falls.”

Bobby nodded. “Good. I’ll see you boys there,” he said before leaving the room.

“Ellen’s gonna be pissed if she’s the last to find out you’re back,” Sam warned Dean as soon as they were alone, though his voice was light.

“Yeah, well, I’ll make it up to her,” Dean said wryly.

Sam rolled his eyes. “Maybe ask Bobby to give her a call before we leave. I’ll pack up the Impala.”

Dean nodded. “Good call. I’ll see you out there.”

Sam watched him leave, closing the door behind him.

He sat on the bed, crossing his legs again, and took a deep breath. “This’ll probably be my last time alone for a while,” he said aloud, praying to Loki. “If there’s anything you think I should know about this Castiel, now would be the time.”

If the god heard him, he didn’t answer.

 

 

Turns out, Sam had a lot of time to himself on his hands.

That night, Dean and Bobby left Sam alone for the evening. Dean was in the mood for bars and pool and Sam just wasn’t. He had a stack of books from Bobby, and he was going to go through every one he could before he passed out. He had to figure out this Castiel thing before Dean did something stupid.

So he stayed at the Singer house, while Dean and Bobby had their night out.

“You know what they say about all work and no play, right?”

Sam smiled as soon as he heard the Tricskter’s voice. “I have plenty of fun. Most of it with you.”

He looked up at Loki, who was leaning up against Bobby’s big desk, where Sam was seated. The Trickster dipped his head to the side in an arrogant nod. “Best not to mess with a good formula.”

“No, probably not,” Sam agreed. He couldn’t help lifting his arms up to run his hands over Loki’s sides.

Loki seemed to have the same idea. The god straddled his lap and kissing him soundly.

“You got a private room in this place, Winchester?” he asked, grinding down into Sam’s lap. And Sam was used to the Trickster’s sex drive by now but his head was still spinning from the zero-to-sixty attention.

“Not here,” Sam said, his hands moving up under Loki’s shirt to trace over his skin. He pulled the Trickster in for another kiss, this one slow, deliberate, and promising. “Dean and Bobby won’t be back for a few hours. Can you take us someplace else?”

“Brazen today, aren’t you?” Loki asked, but his eyes crinkled with laughter.

“You like me like that,” Sam accused, knowing he was pushing his luck, but pretty sure he could get away with it.

He was right. Loki gave him a wicked grin before pulling away and snapping.

Sam suddenly fell into a soft bed, Loki taking advantage of his sudden unbalance and pushing him down onto his back. Before he could react, the Trickster was crawling up his torso, then licking his way into Sam’s mouth in a filthy kiss.

“You’re in a good mood,” Sam said when Loki finally pulled back and gave him a chance to breathe.

“You have no idea, Winchester,” he responded, and Sam thought he heard a note of darkness in his voice.

He pushed Sam’s flannel off, then pushed his shirt up, desperately, not even waiting to get it over Sam’s head before descending to press needy kisses and bites into Sam’s chest and stomach. Sam did the rest of the work for him, stripping off his shirt and unbuttoning his jeans before they were torn from him.

Loki pushed them down roughly, kissing and biting at Sam’s hips and thighs. He looked up, manically catching Sam’s eye for a moment, before sucking him down desperately.

“Loki!” Sam moaned, eyes squeezing shut as the Trickster did menacing things with his tongue.

That seemed to pull the demigod out of whatever trance he was in. He pulled off Sam suddenly and rested his head on Sam’s left hip, peppering it slowly with kisses.

“Everything alright?” Sam asked as he tried to catch his breath. He took a moment to look around the room for the first time. It was dark, Victorian, even, with gold wallpaper accented by heavy red drapes. The furniture – the large bed, two nightstands, and a dresser – were mahogany with gold accents.  There was even a gold chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It definitely wasn’t Loki’s usual style.

Loki didn’t respond. Instead, he crawled back up the bed and started kissing Sam again. This kiss was long and deep: languid, even. The Trickster was a taking his time, taking Sam apart slowly now. His fingers trailed down Sam’s neck and shoulders, then one hand made its way up to Sam’s hair as the other reached down to trace his abs.

“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Sam pointed out, pulling away from the kiss for just a moment.

Loki snapped lazily with the hand by Sam’s abs, and his clothes were suddenly gone. Sam smiled into the kiss. “Better,” he murmured.

Loki hummed into his mouth before descending wordlessly back down his torso, scattering kisses, nuzzles and soft bites across it as he did.

“Loki,” Sam murmured, but the god was still silent, lost in his reverie – worshipping Sam, he realized. “I want you,” Sam continued, knowing it gave Loki what he needed to hear Sam ask – to hear him beg. “Anything you want to give me. I need you.”

Loki took him into his mouth slowly, almost teasingly, before beginning to suck again.

Sam was already on the edge, so when the Trickster pushed up his legs and pressed slicked fingers into him, curving them to catch his prostate, Sam was gone. He came suddenly in the Tricskter’s mouth, crying out his name as he did.

Loki didn’t give him any time to rest. He pulled off Sam, but kept stretching him with his fingers – starting with two and slowly going up to four, still silent and looking driven. By the time he pulled his hand away, Sam was wrecked, unable to form words. He was lucky he could still control his moans.

“Please,” he managed, the word stretched out and labored as Loki took his ankles and put them over his shoulders.

Loki grinned slightly before lining himself up and pushing into Sam. He set a slow, measured rhythm, clearly serious about drawing this out as long as possible. Sam couldn’t complain. He was still uncharacteristically silent, intent, eyes intense as he stared at Sam’s face.

Sam felt himself getting hard again as Loki gradually sped up his tempo. Loki took him in his hand, jerking him off as he adjusted his angle and started to hit Sam’s prostate on every thrust.

“I’m gonna –“ Sam breathed out as Loki pushed him toward the edge.

Loki nodded and sped up more, his hips moving fast and needy now. Even though his silence was getting eerie, Sam was too caught up in lust for it to worry him. There was just him and Loki and the feeling of the god inside him. Sam squeezed his eyes shut and dug his fingers into the bed, using the weak support as leverage to push back against Loki.

This time when he came, Loki let loose right after him, an otherworldly growl escaping his throat as he filled Sam up. Through closed eyes, Sam could still see blindingly white light fill the room with the god’s power.

Loki pulled out and collapsed on him, head cushioned on his chest and chest resting on Sam’s stomach, sweaty and breathless as if he were human. Sam lifted one hand to comb through Loki’s hair.

“What was that about?” Sam asked tentatively.

“What do you think, Samsquatch?” Loki shot back, not lifting his head. If anything, he was leaning into Sam’s fingers. “That was about really good sex.”

Sam hummed at the response and let the silence hang in the air a moment.

“No, I mean – you weren’t talking,” he eventually clarified. “You were acting weird.”

Loki sighed and started to run his fingers up and down Sam’s sides again, as though he was going to go for another round. Sam caught his hands and held them gently in his own. He waited patiently for an answer.

“This is the last time you’re going to see me, Sam. Last time alive, anyway,” the Trickster said, still not lifting his head from Sam’s chest.

“You’ve said that before,” Sam said, not really believing him – not wanting to believe him.

“I mean it this time, Samsquatch,” Loki said, lifting his head. Sam saw tears in his eyes, though his voice was strong and clear. “You and Deano? You’re in too deep, and I can’t follow.”

“But –” Sam started.

Loki shifted back up Sam’s torso so he could interrupt the hunter with a soft, sweet kiss.

“You know you’re my favorite, right kid?” he asked, holding his head over Sam’s.

Sam looked up into his hazel eyes. They were soft and sincere – nothing like the laughing, opaque Trickster he had first met almost eight years ago. He put one hand up to cup the side of Loki’s face, rubbing his thumb over his cheek.

“I suspected,” he said, trying to keep his voice light and steady.

Loki kissed him again, soft and needy.

“Not supposed to have favorites,” he said wryly when they broke apart. “Never was good at rules.”

“I kinda love that about you,” Sam offered. It was the first time he had said that word to the Trickster, at least like that.

Loki gave him a tight smile. “I know.”

“Really? That’s the response you’re going with?” Sam asked, a little incredulous, but mostly needing to break the tension between them.

Loki gave a low, rumbling laugh. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Winchester,” he said. The light timbre of his voice was diametrically opposed to the way his body was clinging to Sam. He repositioned himself so he was fully on top of Sam, hip to hip, and shoulders resting on Sam’s chest, with his head resting in the crook of Sam’s neck. Sam wrapped his arms around him, holding him close.

“Can you stay the night, at least?” Sam asked, his throat going tight. Loki was being so strange, he didn’t have any choice but to believe him.

“Yeah,” Loki said, voice low in his ear. “Yeah, I think I can do that.”

He snapped, and the lights in the room went low. A blanket suddenly covered them, keeping them warm and cocooned together.

Sam gripped the Trickster tighter, trying not to notice how Loki clung to him, too. It shook him to the very core to realize his neck was damp with what must have been Loki’s tears.

That, if nothing else, convinced Sam how very serious the Trickster was.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Sam woke up in his room at Bobby’s house, alone. Loki must have worked some kind of illusion or something, because neither Dean nor Bobby seemed to notice he hadn’t been there all night.

In fact, both Dean and Bobby slept in, giving Sam most of the morning to emotionally distance himself from the night before. Loki had told him before that they would never see each other again – but he had never been so earnest. Sam had never known the god to cry. Sam believed him this time.

He couldn’t let Dean or Bobby see how upsetting that was. They would ask what was wrong, and he would have to lie. There was no way he could explain to them that he had been spending the last several years casually sleeping with a pagan god.

It didn’t feel casual last night. The thought came unbidden, and unhelpful. There was no use in dwelling over it now.

By mid-morning, they were all awake, and Sam was buried behind a pile of Judeo-Christian books. Bobby had plopped them into his lap before stalking over and sitting behind another a pile on his desk.

“What am I doing with these?” Sam asked, looking at the spines. Book of Jubilees. The Book of Enoch. Key of Solomon. The Bible.

“Research,” Bobby spat out.

“I can see that,” Sam said wryly. “Any specific reason I’m researching the Bible?”

“Apparently, this Castiel fellow’s an angel,” Bobby said. Sam could hear suspicion dripping from his words.

“He claims to be,” Dean corrected.

“You talked to him?” Sam asked, looking between the two of them.

“We summoned him last night,” Dean explained. Sam opened his mouth to ask why he wasn’t invited to the party, but his brother kept talking over him. “Dude was untouchable. We put up hundreds of wards – salt, devils traps, iron, you name it. Bobby buried a dozen shots in him, I stabbed him with Ruby’s knife, and he didn’t even notice.”

 “And then he told you he was an angel?” Sam asked, deciding to let it go. At least the exclusion had given him a night alone to spend with Loki.

“Look, he’s definitely not an angel, okay?” Dean snapped.

“Well then, tell me what else it could be,” Sam challenged him. “God or demigod, maybe –“

“We warded it against anything we could find, from the Aesir to Zeus,” Dean interrupted. “Look. All I know is that I was not groped by an angel.”

And yeah, that made sense. They knew how to ward against small-g gods, but angels? Sam couldn’t see another way around this. “Ok, look, Dean,” he started, trying to get his brother to see some sense. “Why do you think this Castiel would lie to you about it?”

Dean shrugged. “Maybe he’s some kind of demon. Demons lie.”

Bobby shot the two of them an unimpressed look.

“A demon who’s immune to salt rounds and devils traps. And Ruby’s knife?” Sam countered. “Dean, Lilith is scared of that thing!”

“Come on, man, don't you think that if angels were real, that some hunter somewhere would have seen one, at some point, ever?” Dean argued.

Sam gave a half shrug, looking back down at the books in front of him. “Yeah. You just did, Dean.”

Dean started pacing across the floor, irritated. “I'm trying to come up with a theory here. Okay? Work with me.”

“Dean, we have a theory,” Sam sighed. He pointedly did not look up to make eye contact with his brother.

“Yeah, one with a little less fairy dust on it, please,” Dean said scornfully.

Sam looked up, trying to feel more understanding of his brother. He had to admit, angels were pretty out of even their comfort zone, and it couldn’t be easy for Dean to contemplate one actually saving him from Hell. “Okay, look. I'm not saying we know for sure. I'm just saying that I think we –“

“Okay, okay,” Dean interrupted, clearly not in the mood for Sam’s empathy. “That's the point. We don't know for sure, so I'm not gonna believe that this thing is a freaking Angel of the Lord because it says so!”

“You two chuckleheads want to keep arguing religion, or do you want to come take a look at this?” Bobby asked, drawing their attention away from each other and onto whatever he had on his desk.

Sam stood up and walked over to him, positioning himself so he could read over both the other hunters’ shoulders.

“I got stacks of lore -- Biblical, pre-Biblical. Some of it's in damn Cuneiform,” Bobby told them. “It all says an angel can snatch a soul from the pit.”

“What else?” Dean asked.

“What else, what?” Bobby asked, looking up at him like he was an idiot.

Dean swallowed. “What else could do it?” he asked soberly.

“Airlift your ass out of the hot box? As far as I can tell, nothing,” Bobby said, annoyed.

“Dean, this is good news,” Sam said, putting a hand on his brother’s arm.

“How?” Dean asked, brushing it off in irritation.

“Because for once, this isn't just another round of demon crap. I mean, maybe you were saved by one of the good guys, you know?”

“Okay. Say it's true. Say there are angels. Then what? There's a God?”

Sam shrugged. He knew there were gods, certainly, but he wasn’t putting any money on Jehovah himself. There were plenty of explanations for angels that didn’t follow the purely Biblical canon.

Bobby disagreed, apparently. “At this point, Vegas money's on yeah.”

“I don't know, guys,” Dean said.

“Okay, look,” Sam said, knowing he had to say something to calm his brother down. “I know neither of us are exactly choirboy about this stuff, but this is becoming less and less about faith and more and more about proof.”

“Proof?” Dean asked.

“Yes,” Sam said, running through the possibilities. He knew Loki existed, of course, and they had heard of other gods. He wasn’t sold on the idea of one God to rule them all or anything, but that didn’t mean angels couldn’t exist.

Dean’s voice was suddenly derisive. “Proof that there's a God out there that actually gives a crap about me personally? I'm sorry, but I'm not buying it.”

“Why not?” Sam asked, wincing at the self-loathing of his brother’s words. “If not a god, then why not angels? We have demons already.”

“Because why me?” Dean spat out. He broke away from them, pacing across the far side of the room as if he wanted as much distance between himself and Sam as possible. “If there is a God out there, why would he give a crap about me?”

“Dean –“ Sam started.

“I mean, I've saved some people, okay?” Dean continued, ignoring Sam. “I figured that made up for the stealing and the ditching chicks. But why do I deserve to get saved? I'm just a regular guy.”

“Apparently, you're a regular guy that's important to angels,” Sam shrugged. “Maybe something more, if that exists.”

“Well, that creeps me out. I mean, I don't like getting singled out at birthday parties, much less by…Him,” Dean said.

“Okay, well, too bad, Dean, because I think they all want you to strap on your party hat,” Sam shot back, his patience wearing thin.

“Fine. What do we know about angels?” Dean huffed, his attention suddenly squarely on Bobby.

The older hunter waved his hands at the piles of books he had already given Sam and Dean. “Start reading.”

Dean looked at his pile of books, stacked on the couch, then Sam’s, stacked on the table next to an armchair. He looked back at Sam. “You’re gonna get me some pie.”

Sam sighed, watching as his brother stretched out on the couch with his first book. He looked at his pile, contemplating if he wanted to just ignore Dean and dig in.

He had some thinking to do, anyway. If there were angels, what did that mean about his relationship with Loki? He remembered dying, remembered Loki scooping up his soul like, but what if there was more to it than that?

He picked up the keys to the Impala. “Anything specific?” he asked.

“Pie, Samantha,” Dean said, looking up from his book to stare at him pointedly. “Whatever they’ve got.”

Sam rolled his eyes and walked out the door.

 

 

A week later, Sam still hadn’t heard hide or nor hair from Loki. They had gone longer before without contact, but this felt permanent.

“Seals? What does that even mean?” he asked when his brother had dropped into conversation that the angels were fighting them.

“You know what? I don’t even know,” Dean admitted, dropping his coffee cup a little too hard onto Bobby’s kitchen table. He didn’t seem to notice the dark liquid splashing on his skin. “Castiel – he came here last night and told me the demons are trying to set Lucifer free – because apparently he’s a thing, too.”

“Lucifer?” Sam asked, staring up at Dean.

“Yeah, if you’d believe it,” Dean agreed wryly.

 

 

Dean went back in time to see their mother sell Sam’s soul for his father’s life.

Sam didn’t understand how he could belong to both Alistair and Loki. Did his choice to dedicate himself to Loki supersede his mothers’ deal? Or was that why Loki couldn’t interfere now? Because Sam never belonged to him to begin with?

Sam spent the next night awake, alone, burning green chime candle after candle. As he stared into the flames, he didn’t even know what to pray for, or what magic to try. He just needed to feel Loki close to him.

He fell asleep at dawn, as empty and bruised as he felt at dusk.

 

 

When they finally came back to the Roadhouse, it looked as though Ellen was going to kill them.

“Three weeks in the land of the living, and you didn’t think we were worth the visit?” she asked, rounding on Dean. “What makes you think you’re even welcome now?”

“It’s not like that, Ellen,” Dean said, taking a step backwards. “We’re here now, right?”

Ellen’s glare was terrifying. “You should have been here three weeks ago.”

“I’ll make it up to you, I promise,” Dean tried.

“Yeah? How d’you think you’re gonna do that?” Ellen asked, and Sam could see a spark of humor in her eyes despite the edge in her voice.

Dean spread out his arms, half shrug, half swagger.

That broke her. Ellen cracked a smile before pulling him into a strong hug. “We missed you, Dean,” she said, voice softer.

“Trust me, I missed you, too,” Dean said softly into her hair, almost too low for Sam to hear.

Without breaking the embrace, Ellen looked up at Sam. “And you – don’t think you’re off the hook for letting him gallivant around wherever it is you’ve been instead of coming to see us.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Sam said with a smile. “How about a round for the bar? On us?”

“That’s a start,” she told him, finally breaking away from Dean. “Let me find Jo – she’s gonna be pissed she wasn’t here when you walked in.” She glared at Dean. “You will not make that up to her.”

“Jeeze, Ellen, she’s like a sister to me,” Dean told her.

“Good. Keep it that way,” Ellen said before turning back toward the kitchens to find her daughter.

Sam stepped forward to put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “You have cash, right?” he asked.

The scowl Dean levied at him was worth every cent they spent on beer that night.

 

 

Halloween. It had been over a month since Dean came back – and over a month since the last time Sam saw Loki.

 Sam and Dean found themselves in a small town, following the lead of an urban legend: razors in candy. Except in this case, four razors were found in a grown man who had eaten a single piece. He had died almost immediately.

When Dean pulled the hex bag out from behind the refrigerator, Sam felt his stomach drop. He messed up the rest of his interview – upsetting the widow with wild accusations of an affair – before he and Dean got out of there.

Witches always messed with his head. He felt like he should have some kind of affinity to them, like he should understand them. But to a one, the only ones he and his brother had met had been the kind to make deals with demons. He knew his magic was different – that it came from a god, not a demon – but he couldn’t help feeling dirty every time he came across them. Especially when he saw that look of disgust in Dean’s face.

“Witches man,” Dean said as they went through the esoteric hex bag, “they’re so friggin’ skeevy.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, hanging his head. The only reason Dean didn’t notice was because he was off the couch with his back to him, probably going back for another piece of candy. “It takes a pretty powerful one to put a bag like this together. More juice than we’ve ever dealt with, that’s for sure.”

It was a lie. With Loki’s help, Sam was at least as powerful as this.

But Sam didn’t have Loki’s help anymore.

 

 

When the second victim died, Sam realized that this witch was like him. Except, instead of worshipping the Trickster, he or she worshipped Samhain, the Celtic Lord of Darkness. He pulled up a gruesome spell in an old grimoire to show to Dean.

“If I’m right,” he said, holding up the old book, “this witch is summing a god. And not just any god: Samhain.”

“Am I supposed to be impressed?” Dean asked.

“Dean, Samhain is the damn origin of Halloween,” Sam explained, trying not to tip his hand to the fact that he had studied Celtic gods for years, and knew far more than this book could have told him. “The Celts believe that October 31st was the one night of the year when the veil was the thinnest between the living and the dead, and it was Samhain’s night. I mean, masks were put on to hide from him, sweets left on doorsteps to appease him, faces carved into pumpkins to worship him. He was exorcised to Hell centuries ago.”

“So, even though Samhain took a trip downstairs, the tradition stuck?” Dean asked.

“Exactly,” Sam told him. “Only now instead of gods and blood orgies Halloween is all about kids, candy and costumes.”

“Okay, so some witch wants to raise Samhain and take back the night?” Dean asked sarcastically.

“Dean, this is serious,” Sam implored.

“I am serious.”

“We’re talking heavyweight witchcraft. This ritual can only be performed every six hundred years,” Sam told him, pointing out a passage in the text.

“And the six hundred year marker rolls around…?”

“Tomorrow,” Sam confirmed.

“Naturally,” Dean sighed, looking down at the book. “What are we gonna do about it?”

“Find the witch,” Sam said grimly. “Make sure the last sacrifice doesn’t happen.”

 

 

They spent the next day tracking down their main lead: an emancipated teenager who had been suspended from school for violence against a teacher, and who was connected to both killings.

 Sam spent the day wondering what he would do when they found her. Loki had taught him binding spells – the kind that could be used against a witch, if needed. He kept the components in his pocket, careful not to tip Dean off to the fact that he had them, but he had no idea how he would be able to pull it off without letting Dean know about his extracurricular activities.

His head was still on his magic when they got back to the motel. It took him a moment to notice the intruder.

“Who are you?” he exclaimed as soon as he did, pulling his gun at the stranger in the trench coat.

“Sam! Sam, wait!” Dean called, running up from behind him. He put his hand over Sam’s, pushing down the gun. “It’s Castiel, the angel” he told him, lowering his voice. He gestured to the other man by the window. “That one, I don’t know.”

Sam stared at Castiel, stunned, as the angel turned around. He had believed Dean, sure, but half of him was still in denial – still wondering where Loki fit in all of this, and how his soul could belong to a pagan god when Jehovah’s angels were real.

“Hello, Sam,” Castiel said, his voice deep and rough.

“I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to –” Sam gestured with his gun, half apologetic, half stunned. He took a breath, caught himself. “It’s an honor. I’ve heard a lot about you.” He held out his hand to shake.

Castiel looked at it as though it were a poisoned blade.

Sam’s hand shook, and he almost withdrew it before Castiel tentatively gripped it. A shock went through Sam – the very touch of the angel interacting with the pagan magic in his soul or demon blood in his veins? Sam pressed his lips together, repressing hiss of pain.

“And I, you, Sam Winchester,” he said formally, covering their clasped hands with his other hand, as if to double down on the celestial power dominating the poison in Sam’s veins. His eyes hardened in disgust, and Sam felt his grip tighten as his muscles clenched. “The boy with the demon blood,” he continued darkly.

Sam let his eyes drop to the floor. Of course, he would be labelled like that by angels. Of course, they would see him as nothing more than his mother’s sacrifice: the tainted child, corrupted before he could speak.

He wanted to respond, swear at him, argue – but instead he pulled back against the wall, fading into the background as Dean talked to the angels.

Apparently Samhain’s rise would break one of the seals keeping Lucifer in his cage.

Also, the witch had marked Sam or Dean as her final sacrifice.

When Castiel tried to run them out of town, however, Sam couldn’t stay quiet.

“There are a thousand people here!” he argued.

“One thousand, two hundred and fourteen,” Uriel – the specialist – corrected him.

“And you’re willing to kill them all?” Sam asked.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve purified a city,” Uriel confessed mildly. Sam thought about the people – the kids – he had met here, and he wanted to punch him. He wanted to take him down, kneecap him and spit in his eye as he kicked him in the stomach.

His vision was tinged with red.

Without Loki, he realized, the demon power in his blood was dominating his senses.

“Look,” Castiel said, clearly trying to keep the peace. “I understand this is regrettable.”

“Regrettable?” Dean asked, his voice mirroring Sam’s disgust.

“We have to hold the line. Too many seals have broken already,” Castiel explained.

“So you screw the pooch on some seals and this whole town has to pay the price?” Dean snapped.

“It’s the lives of one thousand against the lives of six billion. There’s a bigger picture here.”

“Right, cause you’re bigger picture kind of guys,” Dean spat out.

Sam took a breath. This wasn’t right. Nothing about this was right. These angels were anything but.

“Lucifer cannot rise,” Castiel insisted. “He does and Hell rises with him. Is that something that you’re willing to risk?”

“Alright, we'll stop this witch before she summons anyone,” Sam offered. “Your seal won't be broken and no one has to die.”

“We're wasting time with these mud monkeys,” Uriel chimed in, his voice poisonous and cold.

Castiel threw him a dirty look before turning back to Dean. “I’m sorry, but we have our orders.”

“No, you can’t do this,” Sam argued, striding forward on long legs to loom over Castiel. “You’re angels! Aren’t you supposed to be the good guys here?”

“We have no choice,” Castiel said firmly.

“Of course you have a choice!” Dean argued. “I mean, come on, what? You’ve never questioned a crap order, huh? What are you both, just a couple of hammers?”

Castiel’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Dean. “Look, even if you can’t understand it, have faith. The plan is just.”

“How can you even say that?” Sam asked.

“Because it comes from heaven; that makes it just.” Castiel parroted the tautology without irony.

“Oh, it must be nice, to be so sure of yourselves,” Dean said sarcastically.

Castiel tilted his head, his whole attention on Dean. “Tell me something, Dean, when your father gave you an order, didn’t you obey?”

That caught his brother by surprise. Sam could see the flinch, the moment of hurt before Dean responded. If the situation hadn’t been so dire, he would have reached out to him. “Well sorry boys, looks like the plans have changed,” Dean said eventually.

“You think you can stop us?” Uriel asked.

Sam almost snapped at the words. This angel – this murderer – was taunting them, acting as though he was better than them. If Castiel was disgusted by him, Sam could only imagine what Uriel felt for the demon-blooded mud monkey. He took a deep breath, ready to call out to his magic against these two.

Before he could react, Dean was in Uriel’s face. “No, but if you’re gonna smite this whole town, then you’re gonna have to smite us with it, because we are not leaving. See, you went to the trouble of busting me out of hell. I figure I’m worth something to the man upstairs. So you wanna waste me, go ahead, see how he digs that.”

“I will drag you out of here myself,” Uriel threatened.

Dean’s posture changed, so Sam could see his cockiness even from behind. “Yeah, but you’ll have to kill me, then we’re back to the same problem. I mean, come on, you're gonna wipe out a whole town for one little witch. Sounds to me like you're compensating for something.” He turned around and looking imploringly at Castiel. “We can do this. We will find that witch and we will stop the summoning.”

“Castiel!” Uriel snapped. “I will not let these peop–“

Sam was surprised when Castiel raised his hand and shut Uriel up with a look. “Enough,” he said, although Uriel’s mouth had already snapped shut. He looked back at Dean. “I suggest you move quickly.”

When they blinked out of existence, the sound of rushing wings in the air, Sam let out the breath he was holding.

Chapter Text

They didn’t stop the witches from breaking the seal.

Hell, they didn’t even have the right witch, not until it was too late. Didn’t even realize there were two of them until they found themselves saving the second.

Sam thought on his feet. He knew the old gods, had studied them all before choosing the Trickster as his own. Samhain was easily tricked into thinking they weren’t there when he used the witch’s blood to mask their faces.

They chased him to an old mausoleum, where he was already wreaking havoc.

Sam left Dean to save a bunch of kids from zombies, of all things, and fought Samhain on his own.

The god was still weak, but Sam was human. He really shouldn’t have stood a chance.

He breathed, like Loki had taught him, and grounded himself. He pulled his magic from that peculiar spot in his consciousness, chanting words of containment. “Balla. Balla an dia. Balla Samhain.” He concentrated on the god’s name, imagining a wall of power building up around him, containing him from doing harm.

Samhain laughed.

“You think you can stop me, Samuel William Winchester?” he asked, raising one hand.

Sam saw the power before he felt it: a wave of dark, corrupted magic. Samhain may have once been a god, but his time in Hell had twisted him, made him feel almost demonic. The demonic analog of what Hell did to a human soul. His power flowed over Sam, leaving him unharmed.

Unharmed, and awake.

Sam’s vision went red. Anger flowed over him instantaneously, overtaking rational thought. He reached within himself and found an answer to that corrupt power.

“That’s not gonna work on me,” he said darkly, forgetting his chant – forgetting everything Loki had taught him. Instead, he stalked up to the god and raised his fist. Samhain was quick to respond in kind.

Sam had an edge in the brawl. Besides having a few inches and quite a few pounds of muscle on the god’s vessel, he was immune to Samhain’s magic. Every time it touched him, it gave him a better hold on his own demonic taint.

Sam reached back to draw Ruby’s knife, and the god took advantage of his momentary distraction.

Samhain managed to get him in a choke hold, and then throw him across the room. Sam lost his grip on Ruby’s knife when he landed, and it clattered uselessly on the floor by the room’s entrance.

Sam caught his balance, reached out, and held him, using a combination of Loki’s training and his own demonic blood to hold the god, contain him.

Loki! He prayed.

There was no answer.

He didn’t know what to do from there.  He couldn’t do anything else, just hold him, watching as Dean came out of the crypt, watching the two of them.

“Dean, the knife!” he managed.

Dean got his wits about him and picked up Ruby’s knife. Sam closed his eyes, concentrating on holding the god, hoping somehow Dean wouldn’t realize what he was doing.

Samhain stopped struggling. He didn’t – couldn’t? – die, but Sam felt it as his power dissipated, falling back to Hell. He released his own power, and fell back, exhausted, against the wall behind him.

“Sammy, I think we need to talk,” Dean said meaningfully.

Sam wanted to pass out. Instead he looked up at his brother and nodded. “Yeah. Later.”

Dean looked him over, realized how exhausted he was, and nodded. “Don’t think you’re getting out of it.”

 

 

The fight left him torn the next day.  Sam should never be able to beat a god like that – he knew that as a mortal and acolyte of the Trickster, there was no way he should be able to hold Samhain with just his mind.

And yet he could.

Was it because his faith was wrong? Had Loki helped him after all, or was whatever demonic influence that was inside him stronger than anything Loki had taught him?

Sam knew the answer. It was because he was tainted. Demonic.

He remembered Loki’s words, vividly, from that fateful early summer night, when he had almost taken Ruby up on her offer.

“But you use power from demons, it doesn’t matter what promises you made back in Stanford. This thing between me and you? It’s over. Those are the rules.”

Well, it had been over for a month now anyway, hadn’t it? Anything Sam was holding onto was an illusion. Loki wasn’t coming back.

“Tomorrow.”

Sam jumped at the word, looking around. He saw the dark skinned angel, Uriel, sitting on Dean’s motel bed.

“November 2nd, it’s an anniversary for you,” the angel continued.

“What are you doing here?” Sam asked.

Uriel didn’t seem to notice as he continued. “It’s the day Azazel killed your mother, in order to get to you. It must be difficult to bear, yet you so brazenly use the power he gave you. His profane blood pumping through your veins.”

“Excuse me?” Sam snipped.

Uriel got suddenly quiet and dangerous. “You cannot use your abilities.”

“And what was I supposed to do?” Sam spat back, angry that this strange angel was echoing Loki’s admonition. As if he didn’t know. “Samhain would have killed me, and my brother and everyone.”

“Don’t use them,” Uriel repeated.

“If Samhain had gotten loose in this town –” Sam started

Uriel interrupted him. “You’ve been warned, Sam Winchester.”

Sam looked him over, regarding his bland expression and cold eyes. “You know? My brother was right about you, you are dicks.”

Uriel stood up and crowded into Sam’s space threateningly. “The only reason you’re still alive, Sam Winchester, is because you’ve been useful. But the moment that ceases to be true, the second you become more trouble than you’re worth, one word. One, and I will turn you to dust.”

“Is that so?” Sam asked.

“Boy with the demon blood,” Uriel said, face and voice twisting as though the words themselves were too disgusting to bear saying. “The fact that Heaven allows you to live is beyond my comprehension. Give me one reason, and I will correct the mistake.”

There was a flutter of wings, and the angel was gone.

 

 

Loki watched, warded, as Uriel threatened Sam. He had come with half a mind to tell the hunter off himself – scold him for letting Samhain get under his skin, for using his demon powers under Samhain’s control.

The kid hadn’t even known what the demon had done – how he had pulled his punches, concentrating on corrupting Sam instead of winning. Loki didn’t understand it, but the god was good and truly Lucifer’s servant now, and it disgusted him. All of it did.

Loki knew that he would have to watch Sam go down this road. That sooner or later, this was his destiny. But he couldn’t help himself; he wanted to keep Sam safe for as long as he could.

And now this dickless angel was trying to do what should be his job.

Loki was furious, though he knew he should be relieved. He wanted to lash out – to tell the angel what an absolute dick he was being, punish him for his insolence.

And yet, Uriel was doing him a favor. He couldn’t confront Sam. He had to keep his distance. Uriel was just saying what Loki wanted to.

He couldn’t be seen here – couldn’t let the angel know who he was or why he was there. Instead, he cowered behind his wards.

He almost broke when Uriel left. Sam looked so upset – almost broken – by the exchange. He could feel Sam’s conflict about his blood and his powers. He could almost touch the frosty edges of Sam’s doubt.

He would give almost anything to save him from that. Almost.

“Sorry bout this, Samsquatch,” he said aloud, though the young Winchester couldn’t hear him. “You’re on your own here.”

Sam was going to die – and worse. His soul was slipping away from Loki’s grasp, every time he touched the demonic power in his veins. Loki would have to watch that, too. Might as well get used to the agony of it now.

 

 

Later comes in the Impala, on their way to the Roadhouse that night.

“What the Hell is going on with you, Sam?” Dean asked out of the blue, right when Sam was beginning to zone out.

“What do you mean?” Sam asked, knowing exactly what Dean meant.

“Samhain. How did you –” he waived his hand at the Impala’s dash, “do whatever you did with him? You using those demon powers again?”

Sam sighed, not really knowing how to respond without outing his relationship with Loki. The only thing running through his mind was how much he wanted to avoid this powers, because of Loki. “I don’t want to,” he said eventually. “What was I supposed to do though? Samhain was going to destroy the town.”

“What, so this was like a one-time thing?” Dean asked. “I’m supposed to believe that?”

“Give me some credit,” Sam shot back. “I didn’t have a choice there. At least one of us was going to die.”

“You could have waited for me before running in blind like that. We should have gone up against him together,” Dean groused.

“You know that wouldn’t have worked,” Sam told him. “You needed to save those kids. And we couldn’t let him get away, or raise more monsters.”

Dean sighed, giving in as much as Sam expected him to. “Those powers – they’re dangerous.”

“I know,” Sam told him, sincerely. “I don’t want anything to do with them.”

Dean looked over, making eye contact with him for a second before looking back at the road. “You mean that?”

“One hundred percent,” Sam told him, momentarily flashing back to the disgusted look in Castiel’s eyes when he had met Sam. To Loki’s voice when he had warned him against demonic power. “I promise, Dean. I don’t want anything to do with this demon blood thing. I just want it gone.”

I was the absolute truth, and it allowed him to keep Loki a secret. It didn’t feel good, but Sam was beginning to resign himself to that.

That seemed to be enough for his brother. “Me, too, Sammy. Me, too,” he said before reaching out to crank up the volume.

Sam leaned back in his seat and watched out the window, knowing he could look forward to another couple of hours of Led Zeppelin before they stopped for the night.

 

 

By Thanksgiving, Sam had a morning routine: he would wake up before Dean, go for a run, and find an out of the way spot at least a mile from whatever motel they were staying at. He almost never stopped in the same place twice, and he’d often keep a look out for new places while they were working a case.

On the way, he would pick up some small treat – a doughnut or chocolate bar or piece of cake. If there wasn’t a place to stop on the way, he kept a few chocolate bars in his bag to bring with him.

When he stopped, he would pull out small focus stone he carried in his pocket. He had painted a crow’s feather onto the flat surface, and had charged it with a touch of power.

He’d sit down, holding the stone, and spend at least ten to fifteen minutes there, praying to Loki. The Trickster never answered, but it made Sam feel closer to him. It strengthened his resolve against using the demon blood in his veins, and helped him grow in the kind of magic Loki had taught him.

When he finished, he would leave the treat, still safely ensconced in its wrapper or bag, at the base of whatever tree he had been sitting by. If Loki didn’t find it, he felt a little bad about the litter, but he didn’t want to bury them. He could just imagine the look on Loki’s face when presented with a dirt-covered doughnut.

He never got any indication that the god was watching, or that he appreciated the gesture, but Sam clung to the ritual. It gave him something both Winchesters were in short supply of lately: faith.

 

 

The seals broke, one by one. Over forty so far, and so few left to go. Sam tried not to ask Dean about Hell, though it became more and more clear that he was haunted by those memories.

Castiel spent more time with them: mostly with Dean, but Sam could still see that he had trouble being near Sam. He still felt his blood respond to the angel’s presence, though it became easier to bear with time. No matter how hard he tried, he would never be redeemable in the eyes of the angels.

And then one day Castiel and Uriel asked Dean to torture Alistair, Hell’s champion torturer. Sam wondered if he would ever be able to forgive Castiel for that.

Once they were gone, Sam grabbed a map from the back of the Impala and sat at the motel table. He pulled a small stone from his bag of tricks and started chanting as he held it over the map, pulling on that place of power.

Luck, he thought. Trickster’s luck to show me the way.

He tossed the stone straight up in the air and moved his hands away from the map, still chanting. The stone fell to the left, pulled by magical power. It landed in a small town no more than fifty miles from the motel where Sam sat.

 

 

Little over a half an hour later, after a second, more exact finding spell, Sam was walking into the basement of an abandoned church. It was dark, unlit, and shadows made weird impressions on the concrete walls and floor. Sam almost didn’t notice the angel standing guard in the large main chamber.

“Sam. What are you doing here?” Castiel asked, walking up to him to stop him.

“Where’s Dean?” Sam asked.

Castiel opened his mouth to answer, but a long, pained moan interrupted him. Alistair. Sam looked over to the door at the far end of the basement, question answered.

“You can’t go in there,” Castiel told him.

“Like Hell I can’t,” Sam said. “You can’t ask him to do this.”

“We already have,” Cas told him, placing one solid hand on his shoulder. As gentle as the touch was, there was also a deep strength there, and Sam knew he couldn’t fight the angel. “He’s already helping us. Let him do this.”

“This needs to end. Now,” Sam said.

He could still hear Alistair from the other room. “And it is written, that the First Seal shall be broken, when a Righteous Man sheds blood in Hell. As he breaks, so shall it break.”

Sam wasn’t supposed to hear that. His eyes widened as he looked at Castiel. The angel looked back at him, eyes sad and resigned.

“Is it true?” he asked.

Castiel’s chin dropped and he lowered his eyes to the ground. “We had thought it better not to tell you. We thought it would be easier for him.”

Sam took a deep breath. Castiel was right, of course. “This needs to stop,” he repeated. 

“I can’t –”

A crash from the interrogation room caught both their attention. Sam heard Dean’s strangled gasp, then Alistair’s much clearer drawl. “You got a lot to learn, boy. So I'll see you back in class bright and early Monday morning.”

Castiel dropped his hand from Sam’s shoulder and rushed toward the room. Sam followed on his heels as fast as he could.

 Sam got there just in time to watch as Castiel attacked Alistair from behind, getting him to turn around before he plunged Ruby’s knife into the demon’s chest.

Sam rushed around them to kneel by Dean, getting him on his back and checking the damage. He was bleary-eyed, slipping in and out of consciousness, with angry red marks around his throat. Sam pushed his head back, doing his best to open the airway, but he was terrified of the damage that had already been done.

Behind him, he heard Alistair and Castiel fighting. Alistair must have gotten the upper hand, because he heard a loud crash, and then Alistair’s self-satisfied chuckle.

“Well, like roaches, you celestials,” the demon sneered. “Now, I really wish I knew how to kill you. But all I can do is send you back to Heaven.

Sam turned to see Alistair holding Castiel against the wall, then begin to chant in Latin. He wished there was something he could do for the angel, but he didn’t have power against a demon like that. Not power that he was willing to call, at least.

“We’ve gotta get out of here,” Sam said, looking back down at Dean and trying to come up with anything resembling a plan. As soon as Cas was exorcised, they were screwed. “Stay with me, Dean. I need you to stay with me.”

Loki, I need you, he prayed desperately – uselessly.

He took his brother’s hand and squeezed it. “Come on, Dean, I need you to help me out here,” he babbled. He couldn’t even stabilize him. What was he going to do about Hell’s torturer when he couldn’t even get Dean to keep his eyes open?

He flinched when the room erupted in a flash of bright light. That would be Castiel, sent back to Heaven by Alistair’s spell.

“Well hello there, Sam,” the demon said, turning back to the hunters. “Always thought we’d meet, you and I.”

“Go to Hell,” Sam said, standing up and turning toward the demon. If he could keep himself between Alistair and Dean – keep his brother safe – maybe they’d have a chance. Maybe he’d be able to stall him long enough for Castiel or Uriel or someone to get back to them. Maybe he could keep Dean alive.

“Now, Sam,” Alistair said, voice pleasant and calm as he took a step toward Sam. “We’ll get there, don’t you worry. But first, maybe a talk, you and I. You know I’ve heard so many interesting stories about you, right? Legends, even.”

“Stay away from me,” Sam hissed, glaring at the demon.

Alistair chuckled. “You haven’t been using your gift. Don’t you know it’s rude to ignore a gift like the one Azazel gave you?” Alistair asked. “That’s princely blood in your veins, you know. You’re almost royalty.”

“Yeah, well, he can have it back,” Sam spat back.

Alistair frowned. “I’d teach you a lesson for that, boy, if Hell didn’t already have plans for you. As it is, I’m sure you’ll come around, sooner or later.”

Quicker than Sam could dodge, the demon reached out and touched his head.

Sam blacked out before he hit the ground.

 

 

“You failed me. What do you think we’re going to do about that?”

Sam heard the words as though from far away as he slid back to consciousness. He was lying on a hard surface somewhere, with cold, heavy manacles around his wrists and ankles.

He opened his eyes, but could just dimly see that he was on another concrete floor, this time in a dank room with stone walls.

“I tried my best.” Sam recognized Ruby’s voice as she responded to Alistair.

Alistair. Who had exorcised Castiel to Heaven. Who Dean had been interrogating –

“Dean,” Sam managed, suddenly overcome with concern for his brother. Even that seemed too much for him. His eyes closed again on their own as he fought against exhaustion.

“Ah, awake then, Sam?” Alistair said. Sam could hear the click of his boot heels on the concrete get closer as he approached. His hand suddenly went through Sam’s hair, gentle at first, then pulling his head back roughly.

Sam couldn’t help opening his eyes again. When he did, he saw Alistair kneeling next to him, and Ruby standing just a few paces away.

“Come here, girl,” Alistair said, and Ruby complied, walking up right beside him before kneeling as well.

Alistair looked her up and down. “Yes,” he breathed out. “You’ll do.”

“I’ll do?” Ruby asked, and Sam could see fear in her eyes.

“As the corrupting agent of our young princeling,” Alistair explained, nodding to Sam.

Ruby shook her head manically, her whole body tensed to flee. “You can’t–“

“For one of the most loyal demons in Hell, you’re awfully stupid, aren’t you?” Alistair asked, grabbing her wrist. “You should know by now that I can do whatever I want with you.” He smiled grimly. “Think of it as a reward; after all, how better could you serve Lucifer? You’ve made a mess of every other time you tried.”

Alistair removed his hand from Sam’s hair and pulled a knife out of nowhere. He tugged on the arm he was holding, slashing it open at the wrist.

Sam jerked back at the sight of Ruby’s blood, but Alistair already had a hold on his head again. Even as Ruby pulled away, begging him to stop, he pressed her wrist to Sam’s mouth.

The first drops of demon blood were hot and acrid on his tongue. He felt fire, and power beyond anything he’d experienced before.

He knew he should pull back, close his mouth – but he couldn’t move with Alistair’s grip on him. He swallowed against his will –

And lost himself completely. It hit him all at once: he was lightheaded, desperate with the need for more. Sam latched onto her wrist frantically, suckling desperately until her veins dry.

Alistair ran his hands through Sam’s hair encouragingly, mimicking Dean’s cadence as he spoke. “That’s it, Sammy-boy. Drink it up. It’s going to be okay now; everything’s going to be okay.”

Chapter Text

Loki felt it the moment demon blood touched Sam’s lips. He had been enjoying a night alone, holed up with his dog in a hideaway house he had built in the Rockies a few decades back. He had certainly not been thinking about the young Winchester, or the apocalypse looming over them, ready to upturn their lives. At least, he was trying not to.

The feel of the demon blood shot through him, pulling all his attention to his young disciple.

“Mine,” he growled, eyes blazing dark green with white-hot irises. His wings itched to spread – to fly him to Sam – and only years of hard-won self-control stopped him from doing just that.

The instinctive reaction shook him to his core. He needed to stay away from Sam Winchester, this human hunter who elicited such an impassioned response from both his sources of power.

He could feel it though: every bit of him rebelled against standing still as Sam drank the demon bitch’s blood. Unbidden, he saw the image of Alistair with his hands through Sam’s hair, mocking Loki.

Much as he’d like to pretend otherwise, the Trickster demigod did not have the self-control to sit back idly and allow that. His resolve melted away, and with it went everything he had worked so long to protect. He was power and light – his core a golden pillar of celestial fire, surrounded by the deep green power of a demigod of epic strength in its own right.

This demon had no right to lay a hand on Sam, and he would not allow it to continue.

He spread his wings without thought, wrapped himself in an invisible shroud, and flew.

 

 

It was a gruesome scene.

Alastair had them in the back room of a deconsecrated – corrupted – church. There was little in the room: a couple of wooden chairs, a shelf full of banker’s boxes, and a small desk. The desk had been cleared of whatever it should have been used for, and held only devices of torture: knives, rusted tools, vials of blood and toxins. The only light came through a stained glass window: the image of Mary, veiled in her blue robes with tears in her eyes. Several of the panes had been broken out and laid in shards on the floor.

Sam was on the floor across the room from the window, still shackled to the wall, black-red blood dripping down his chin and staining his clothes. His skin was flushed, and Loki knew if he touched him it would be hot. His eyes were glassy and faraway – the demon blood had overwhelmed his system, sending him into something like an addict’s high.

The crumpled form of the demon Ruby lay lifeless near Sam’s head, but the hunter didn’t notice. Instead, the little focus he had was on Alistair, who held another bleeding demon near Sam.

“Don’t you worry, you’ll get all you want,” Alistair crooned. “Get all you need.”

Sam moaned, needy and broken.

Loki – Gabriel – bared his teeth. An angel blade was in his hand for the first time in more centuries than he cared to count. It felt cool and heavy and right as he flew into the room and buried it into Alistair before the demon noticed him there.

A second swing landed in the heart of the nameless bleeding demon, and lightning flickered in his eyes and mouth before he fell, too.

Gabriel raised one hand toward the only door in the room, slamming it closed and locking it with barely a thought.

He fell to his knees before Sam, who was shaking and whimpering now. He reached out to the young hunter –

It almost broke him when Sam cowered away, the demon blood in him making him instinctively fear everything Gabriel was.

Gabriel’s eyes glowed golden with power and rage. He wished he had taken his time on Alistair – had made him suffer for what he had done.

Sam,” he said in a voice of power. The Winchester froze, unable to move despite his fear.

Gabriel reached out again and touched his forehead, thinking to put him to sleep until he could figure out how to deal with this new situation.

He was too open to the Winchester, though – they had shared too much. As soon as he made contact with his skin, Gabriel could feel the fear, the power and loss and pain coursing through Sam. He couldn’t leave it there, unabated.

Grace flowed from the god to the hunter, burning out every vestige of demonic taint – even Azazel’s legacy. Gabriel chased down every drop, burning it away with holy light and healing power. Loki replaced the old, tainted magical channels with new healthy ones, strengthening the bond between acolyte and god as he did.

The two personalities – two powers in one exquisite being – lifted Sam into their arms, carefully remaking him into everything he was supposed to be before Azazel touched him.

He spread his wings, thinking to fly Sam back to his brother. At the last moment, he realized Castiel was with Dean – Castiel, who would surely recognize him.

Loki came back to himself then, realizing how much he had already shown, and how close he was to giving up everything he had worked for.

He flew Sam to Bobby Singer’s house, leaving him in one of the guest beds.

Then he flew, as far and as fast as he could, to a safe haven far from Heaven or Hell. He would keep an eye on Sam – how could he not, when their bonds were so much stronger now, and no longer hindered by demonic influence? – but he would do it from afar.

 

 

When Sam woke up, he was surprised to be in a familiar room.

He had thought –

Alistair had –

He closed his eyes, trying to figure out just what had happened. He remembered going after Dean and the angels, remembered Alistair overpowering Dean and then Castiel, remembered –

There was a strange room, where Alistair had killed Ruby. Where Sam had drank her blood like a drug.

No!

He couldn’t remember anything after that. He couldn’t even remember how the rush of demon blood in his body felt, though he had a somewhat detached feeling that it was overwhelming. He had wanted more, even.

He was sure he didn’t have any in his body now.

How?

“Care to explain to me what you’re doing in my house, and why I didn’t know about it when you came in?” a familiar voice asked.

Sam opened his eyes to see Bobby standing in the doorway, arms crossed as he stared down at Sam. “Wish I knew,” Sam said, voice rough and shallow.

“And what in the Hell does that mean?” Bobby asked.

Sam shook his head. “I – Dean – is he alright?”

“Dean?” Bobby asked, raising an eyebrow. “What did you boys get yourselves into?”

“I don’t –” Sam broke off the end of the sentence, trying to find words.

“Know, yeah, I heard ya,” Bobby told him, his voice sounding tired. Over it. He held out the flask he’d been hiding in his crossed arms and splashed it on the bed. Sam winced away from the cold droplets uncomfortably, but it didn’t burn him. He glared at the older hunter.

“You want me to stab myself with a silver knife, too?” Sam asked.

Bobby shrugged. “If you’re offering,” he said off-handedly, drawing out a knife and handing it to him handle first. From the way his hand hovered over the gun at his hip, Sam knew it was not a casual request.

He rolled his eyes, but drew the blade over his arm. When Bobby nodded and relaxed, he asked, “Happy? Can we figure out if Dean’s alright now?”

“Dean’s fine. Or as fine as he ever is when you two are separated. Called this morning. Said you were missing, something about demons, but wouldn’t give me the details,” Bobby told him gruffly. “Told me he’d call me back when he had a plan.”

And that did sound like Dean, Sam thought. “So he’s alright?” Sam persisted.

“Near as I can tell,” Bobby told him. “Not like he’d say if he weren’t.”

That, also, sounded like Dean.

“I’ll give him a call, get him here. You look like you need a shower and a meal,” Bobby said.

Sam looked down at himself. He was out of his flannel, but his white undershirt was brown with dried blood. Gross.

At least both the brothers kept a few spare outfits here.

“Thanks, Bobby,” he said. “I think I’ll take you up on that.”

 

 

The water of the shower was hot and hard, exactly what Sam needed. He scrubbed himself raw, meticulously cleansing himself of every remnant of Ruby’s blood.

Once he was sufficiently clean, he took a few minutes to breathe in the steamy air. He suspected who his savior had been, but he almost didn’t want to hope for it.

“I mean it this time, Samsquatch. You and Deano? You’re in too deep, and I can’t follow,” Loki had said. And long before that: “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.” Which in itself was an echo of a dream between life and death: “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.”

Sam thought he might understand the role Loki was talking about now – a Prince of Hell, hadn’t that been what Alistair had called him? So why had he been saved? Who had the power to change the script?

Loki? Sam prayed, even though the Trickster hadn’t answered him in months.

He took another deep breath, grounded himself, and concentrated on amplifying his voice, lending his thoughts the strength of his magic.

And wasn’t that a surprise? Now that the demon blood was out of his system, it was easier for Sam to reach that native power Loki had shown him.

Loki, he prayed again. I could really use some answers now. I could really use you right about now.

He was disappointed by the silence, but, as usual, he wasn’t surprised.

 

 

Sam wound up meeting Dean at a motel halfway between Bobby’s place and wherever the older Winchester had found himself that morning. Dean insisted on seeing him tonight, and despite Bobby’s protests, Sam knew better than to argue. If he didn’t meet Dean there, Dean would just drive the sixteen hours straight to get to him.

“What the Hell happened to you?” Dean snapped, almost as soon as Sam was through the door.

“I told you on the phone: I have no idea,” Sam reiterated, tossing his bag on the awful brown and green motel rug. He threw his arms around his brother, relieved to see him alive and whole. “Alistair had me, then suddenly I was here. I don’t remember how.”

“Angels?”

 Sam pulled away from Dean, keeping both hands on his shoulders, and shrugged. “Don’t know. Did Cas patch you up?”

“He’s good for that,” Dean said with a wry smile. He tilted his head to the left, as though thinking. “Good for a lot of things. Maybe he can shed some light on your sudden reappearance. If angels are behind it, he’d know, right?”

“Maybe,” Sam agreed, letting go of Dean’s shoulders and sitting on one of the motel beds. “Couldn’t hurt to ask.”

Especially now that his blood didn’t have any of the demon taint, Sam realized silently. How would Castiel react to him now? Would he still avoid eye contact and treat him as persona non grata? Would he think Sam was worth something now?

Sam shook the thoughts from his head and turned his attention back to his brother. An atheist, Dean always looked so uncomfortable praying to Cas. He avoided it whenever he possibly could.

“Uh, Castiel? We could use your help figuring this out,” Dean said aloud, looking up at the dingy motel ceiling.

There was no answer for a minute, and Sam looked away, certain it was a lost cause. He stood up and grabbed his bag, thinking to bring it back to the bed to unpack some necessary items.

“Castiel, get your feathery ass down here,” Dean said a little louder and more frustrated, surprising Sam.

“I’ve told you, blasphemy is not acceptable in prayer, Dean” Castiel’s deep voice made Dean and Sam both jump.

“Maybe if you answered the first time,” Dean grouched.

Castiel glared at Dean almost fondly from where he had appeared by the motel door. “I have other responsibilities beyond you and your whims,” he said dryly. “What did you need me for?”

“You know how the last time we saw Sammy, he was just about to be carried off by Alistair?” Dean asked, gesturing meaningfully at Sam.

“Surprise,” Sam said, giving Cas an awkward wave.

“Yeah, we don’t know how he’s back or what happened to him. Any ideas?” Dean asked.

Castiel looked at Sam, shock registering on his face. He stepped hurriedly toward the hunter, blue eyes becoming dark and intense.

Sam tried to back away, but found himself crowded against a wall as the angel scrutinized him, closer than he had ever been before.

“What happened?” Castiel demanded.

“That’s why we called you here, we don’t know,” Sam said.

“What happened to your blood?” Castiel reiterated, voice hard and dangerous.

“What do you mean?” Sam stammered out, though he thought he knew exactly what the angel meant. 

Castiel seemed to take him at face value. “The demon blood in your veins. It’s gone.” The angel leaned in even closer, almost touching Sam now. Sam’s eyes darted toward his brother for help, but Dean was just staring at them, dumbfounded.

Castiel continued, voice lower in what sounded like confusion, or maybe awe. “It’s like it’s been replaced by…” The angel snapped back to attention, spine going straight and chin high. He looked back at Dean. “I must go. Michael needs to know –”

The sound of a sudden snap cut Castiel off, and Sam felt a familiar feeling of his god as he popped into the room. It was stronger now than it had ever been before: that deep, thrumming feel of being close to Loki.

“Whoa, now, Cassie, hold your horses. No need to go crying to big bro just yet.” Castiel was suddenly flung into the motel chair, seemingly unable to move.

“Who the Hell –?”

“You, too, Deano,” Loki cut him off, though he didn’t seem to use and godly powers on him.

“Loki, what are you doing here?” Sam asked, looking the god up and down. His hazel eyes burned golden, and he looked – well he looked terrified, if Sam was reading him right.

“Loki?” Dean asked. “Like from the Avengers?”

Sam shot his brother a look that clearly said to shut up.

“Like the Trickster demigod, actually,” Loki quipped. “Do I look like the type for pleather pants and gold headdresses? Really?”

“That’s -” Castiel started, but Loki raised his hand and snapped, shutting the angel up with what seemed to be duct tape over his mouth.

“Cat’s out of the bag I guess. Or angel,” Loki said. He looked at Castiel entreatingly. “Could I convince you to not tell anyone about this one?”

Castiel’s eyebrows knitted together stubbornly, and although he still couldn’t speak, Sam could read the fury clear in his face.

Loki sighed and walked up to where Castiel had been standing in order to stare straight into Sam’s eyes. His expression was earnest, sad, and just a bit hopeful. He pressed his lips together and took a deep breath before continuing. “Gabriel, okay?” he said at last, voice soft and resigned. “They call me Gabriel. Or did, once.”

Chapter Text

“They call me Gabriel. Or did, once. Better to hear it from me, I guess.” He stared at Sam, and Sam could see deep regret in his hazel eyes.

“Gabriel?” Sam asked, dumbfounded.

“Brother,” Castiel strangled out. When Sam looked over to him, the duct tape was in his hand and he was giving Loki an earnest, entreating look. Everything clicked into place: Sam understood.

“The archangel, Gabriel?” he asked.

The god - archangel - gave a slight shrug. “The one and only,” he said ruefully.

“So you’re not really a god?” Sam asked. He lifted a hand to touch this being who had been the center of his world for so long, but pulled back at the last moment. Loki looked chagrined at the movement.

“Demigod, technically - and I know I’ve told you that before,” Loki, or Gabriel reminded him. “And I’m both. I think you would have figured it out by now if I was a complete scam.” He smiled at the last, and Sam couldn’t help smiling a little with him.

“You lied to me,” Sam accused.

“Never,” Gabriel said, his eyes earnest as his expression hardened. “I told you what I could - I told you more than I had told anyone else in a millennium.”

“But -”

“Listen, Sam, this is more complicated than I can explain right now,” Gabriel continued, interrupting him.

“You’re supposed to be dead,” Castiel said, and Sam could hear hurt and wonder in his voice. “No one has seen you in –”

“About eighteen hundred years?” Gabriel filled in the blank, turning to look at Cas desolately. “Yeah. I wanted to keep it that way.”

“Brother –” Castiel started again.

“Wait a minute,” Dean interrupted. “How does an archangel become a Trickster?”

Gabriel gave a sad half-shrug. “My own private witness protection. I skipped out of heaven, had a face transplant, carved out my own little corner of the world.” He looked at Sam again. “Loki is real. That power – that bond– there’s nothing angelic about it.”

“What does our father think?” Castiel asked.

“Who knows? Daddy doesn’t say anything about anything anymore,” Gabriel said, his voice light but his eyes sad.

“Our father –“

Our father is gone,” Gabriel snapped at Castiel, his eyes glowing bright green for a moment. “Ask Michael,” he said, voice calmer but still sharp as steel. “Ask Raphael. None of us have heard from him, not in a long time.”

“What happened?” Sam asked. “Why’d you leave?”

“Do you blame him?” Dean asked, and Sam could see that he was upset by being blindsided by this whole situation. “I mean, his brothers were douchenozzles.”

“Shut your cakehole,” Gabriel snapped, glaring at Dean. “You don’t know anything about my family. I love my father, my brothers – love them. But watching them turn on each other? Tear at each other’s throats? I couldn’t bear it, okay? So I left.”

“And now you’re back?” Castiel asked.

“No,” Gabriel told him. “I’d rather no one knew I was alive. I plan to sit this one out.”

“Then why are you –” Sam stopped mid-sentence, realization dawning. “You saved me from Alistair. They’re going to figure you out. Because of me.”

Gabriel nodded, looking miserable. “Looks like.”

“But why?” Sam asked.

Gabriel stared at him, lifting on wry eyebrow. “You really have to ask, Winchester?”

Sam flushed, thinking of that last time he and Loki were together, of how broken the god had been, saying good-bye to him. “I – no,” he said. “I guess not.” 

He wanted to reach out to him, to feel him solidly in his arms. But Dean and Cas were still there, and they needed answers.

“So what is this?” Dean asked. He turned to Sam. “How are you even involved with this? When did you start associating with Tricksters on a first name basis?”

“Stanford,” Sam gritted out. “Can we talk about that later?”

“Stanford – in college?” Dean snapped. “You’ve been hiding this from me – from your family – since college and you just want me to accept that? Really?”

“You don’t need to accept it – I just need you to leave it until we have some privacy,” Sam told him.

“No, Sam,” Dean said, shouting now.  “I don’t care that this Trickster – this archangel – is here or not. We’re talking about this.”

“I’m here because I saved your brother,” Gabriel interrupted, his voice getting dangerously angry. “You could show some gratitude. You – all three of you – have no idea what Alistair had planned for him. What’s waiting behind door number one – and you only get one choice.”

“So tell me,” Sam said, voice gentle but firm as he pulled Gabriel’s attention back to him. “What’s going on?”

Gabriel looked at the three of them, meeting Dean and Castiel’s eyes before turning back to Sam. Sam held the Trickster’s gaze, waiting for him to talk.

“The apocalypse,” he said at last. “When the seals are broken, when Lucifer gets out, Revelations happens.”

“Revelations?” Dean asked skeptically.

“Yes, Dean-o, Revelations. Did I stutter?” the Trickster glared at Sam’s brother before looking back at Sam.

“That’s what you meant, isn’t it?” Sam asked. “Every time you told me the script is already written. Revelations.”

“That’s about half of it, yeah,” Gabriel confirmed. He looked between Sam and Dean meaningfully. “Michael and Lucifer will need vessels if they want to bring the fight to Earth. Brothers: deeply bonded but turned against each other. That’s where you two come in.”

“No,” Castiel said, shooting up and putting a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Our Father would never –”

“No, he probably wouldn’t,” Gabriel agreed. “But dear old Dad’s not calling the shots anymore, and Mikey’s never been a big fan of peace.”

Castiel opened his mouth as if to protest, but Gabriel put up his hand again. “Think about it. You already know the angels and demons worked together on this whole apocalypse thing, but how high does it go up? Who do you think put Uriel up to culling the angels? Who do you think held the order to save Dean for months until the Righteous Man broke in Hell?”

“I –” Castiel started, then closed his mouth.

“Yeah, exactly,” Gabriel quipped. “It’s a set up. Sam’s death, Dean’s deal, right up to the first Seal breaking. It’s been right in front of you the entire time.”

“So how do we stop it?” Dean asked. “Angels need permission, right? Sammy and I refuse your brothers, they can’t have an apocalypse, right?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Don’t know. I might have already stopped it by burning the demon blood from Samsquatch here – or they may just see it as a taunt.”

“They’ll force you, Dean,” Castiel said, his voice soft but sure. “If my brother is correct,”

“Which I am,” Gabriel interjected.

“They won’t take no for an answer,” Castiel continued. “They’ll torture you, take everything you love – coerced permission still counts as permission.”

“Like Hell they will,” Dean said.

“They will break you, Dean,” Castiel insisted, voice hard and dangerous as a steel blade.

Gabriel snarled. “Yeah, angels can be just as bad as Alistair,” he agreed. “A hundred times worse, even, because they think they’re doing it in service to Dad, instead of just for their own sick pleasure.”

Sam looked between them, reading their faces. Dean’s eyes were wild, ready for a fight but lacking focus. Castiel looked lost, broken. Gabriel – Gabriel just looked lost: sad in a way Sam had rarely seen him before.

“We’ll figure it out,” Sam told them, keeping his voice as calm and certain as he could. “But we need some time to think. Can we talk about it in the morning?”

“No, we can’t talk about this in the morning,” Dean spat out.

Sam glared. “If you can’t take a break, Loki – Gabriel – and I can get out of here for a while instead.”

“You’re staying right here,” Dean snapped.

“Then give me some space,” Sam snapped right back. “Just a couple of hours. Please.”

Dean sighed, scowling in defeat. “I need a drink. Cas?”

“You know I don’t drink alcohol, Dean,” Castiel told him.

“Well it’s about time you started,” Dean said.

“Cas, you’ll keep him safe, right?” Sam asked. “And Gabriel’s secret? At least for tonight?”

Castiel looked between them. “Yes,” he said, clearly not pleased. “But tomorrow I go back to Heaven. I need to see for myself if Gabriel is correct.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, knowing Gabriel wouldn’t.

“You really think staying here alone is safe, Sammy?” Dean asked. “With him?”

Sam stared at his brother. “Trust me. It’s ok.”

“I don’t –”

“You don’t have to like it,” Sam interrupted. “But I spent most of the time you were gone with him. He just saved me. I think I’ll be alright.”

Dean frowned, and Sam knew he’d have to answer for that, too. But not tonight.

“Please? I promise I won’t leave this room.”

“I’m not gonna hurt him,” Gabriel chimed in. “If that’s what I wanted, I’d have left him with Alistair, don’t you think?”

“Fine. But if he’s not here when I get back, I’m praying to Michael myself,” Dean threatened. “I’m guessing he’ll take my call.”

Gabriel shrugged. “If that makes you feel better, sure.”

Dean rolled his eyes angrily, but seemed at least a little placated. Sam watched as he let himself be ushered out of the room by Castiel.

“So, I guess we have some talking to do, huh?” Gabriel asked after a moment, sitting on Sam’s bed.

“Yeah, I think we do,” Sam said. He was – he wasn’t sure what he was. Angry at being lied to? Disappointed that his god was just another dick-with-wings angel? Relieved to finally understand what Loki had been hinting at all this time?

Terrified of what would happen to himself, Dean and Loki – Gabriel – when this all went down?

“You saved me,” Sam said, letting it all catch up to him. He sat down beside Gabriel on the bed. “Even though it meant stumbling right back into your family’s line of sight.”

“I didn’t plan on it,” Gabriel said mulishly. He looked up into Sam’s eyes. “And I’m not gonna lie: a part of me still wishes I hadn’t. But the outcome isn’t all bad.”

“So, what does this mean? Are you going to get Castiel to stay quiet, go back to just being the Trickster? Or…?” Sam’s voice trailed off, not able to voice what he was thinking.

Gabriel reached out and put a tentative hand on Sam’s knee. “The way I see it, I have two options: relinquish my claim to you, let you fulfill the so-called destiny my dick brothers have in their heads for you unhindered.” He paused. Took a breath. “Or I join you. Help you fight against my brothers. I pretty much burned all my other bridges in that show of force with those smokebags yesterday.” He lifted his other hand and put it on Sam’s cheek. “You and I both know I’m never going to let you go. Not unless you’re the one asking me to. I’ve tried and failed too many times now.”

Sam’s heart pounded in his chest wildly as he tried to process the thought that this archangel-god was more devoted to him than to his own brothers.

He leaned into Gabriel’s hand. “I want to be mad at you,” he said finally. “For the lies, for not pulling me off this path sooner. But I get it. They’re your family. By all rights, I shouldn’t expect anything from you at all. I shouldn’t even have what you’ve given me so far.”

Gabriel looked down at that. “Not sure what else I’ll be able to give you,” he admitted. “I was never really the fighting type. I have no idea how we’re gonna stop this, if we even can. For what it’s worth: I’m sorry. I should have been able to shield you from all of this, if my brothers weren’t so stubborn. You’re supposed to be just mine.”

Sam put a hand under the Trickster’s chin, thinking maybe he had earned the right to do this. He lifted Gabriel’s head, and seeing that he was allowed that, he tentatively leaned in to kiss him softly.

“I am just yours,” Sam whispered against his lips. He pulled back a little. “And you’re a demigod who specializes in outthinking everyone around you. Dean and I never back down from a fight. We’ll figure this out together.”

“You really think you can overcome destiny?” Gabriel asked.

“I think we’re already changing the script,” Sam said, tossing his words back at him. He raked his hands through Gabriel’s hair, then rested it on the back of the Trickster’s neck. “Besides, I don’t think I believe in destiny anymore.”

“I always did like the idea of free will,” Gabriel admitted. He tilted his head, looking at Sam quizzically. “How is it you’re taking this so well? I’d have thought for sure you’d be screaming at me, trying to banish me, something. I was ready for you to repudiate our bond.”

“From what I understand, that would be a mistake,” Sam pointed out.

“You’re not wrong,” Gabriel agreed.

“Even if I could, I wouldn’t,” Sam admitted. “I’m too deep in this, too.” He leaned in for another quick kiss, showing Gabriel exactly what he meant.

Gabriel gave him a small smile when he pulled back. “Glad to hear it, kid.”

Sam sighed. “The way I see it, you’re a Trickster. You’re a demigod. You were never telling me the whole truth, and I was better off not knowing. I expected you to keep things from me.”

“Even things like this?” Gabriel asked.

“I mean, I’d rather you didn’t,” Sam admitted. “But yeah, you’ve always played your cards close to your chest. You’re too cryptic for words. That’s kinda what makes you you.”

“Yeah?” Gabriel asked, looking a little awed.

“Yeah,” Sam agreed. A thought popped into his mind. “You talked about them, didn’t you? Right after Dean was taken, you told me about your own brothers: how much you loved them, and how much they hurt you. Even when you couldn’t tell me everything, you told me that.”

“I really shouldn’t have,” Gabriel told him.

“I’m glad you did,” Sam said, leaning in toward the Trickster. He kissed Gabriel, firm and sure and loving – putting all the emotion he didn’t have words for into it. That otherworldly thrum against his skin felt more distinct, almost overwhelming as Gabriel kissed back. It felt like joy and awe.

Was that what his god was feeling? When he pulled back, he could see those emotions reflected in his eyes.

“I –” Sam started, trying to find his words. “Dean’s gonna be back at some point, with Castiel. I don’t want them to – but I’d like you to stay close. With me. The night, if you can,” Sam told him, at a loss for words. “We can try to think this through, plan, whatever, but I really need you here.

Gabriel smiled. “You know if they catch my scent I’ll lead angels and demons both right to you, right? I’m like a living fossil. Everyone’s gonna want a piece of me.”

Sam smirked. “I know. We can handle it. You’ll help.”

“Alright,” Gabriel told him. “I’ll stay.”

 

 

Loki – Gabriel – and Sam stayed up well past midnight with no sign of Dean or Castiel. Instead of planning, Gabriel told Sam stories of his youth, things even the prophets and the Scribe didn’t know. Stories of him and Raphael and the other angels – though he avoided mentioning either Michael or Lucifer. Sam told stories of him and Dean, glad to have someone to share memories with.

When Sam started nodding off beside him, Gabriel urged him to get to bed, promising to stay beside him the whole night.

“Dean’s gonna be so pissed when he sees you in my bed,” Sam warned him as he started drifting off to sleep. Gabriel was lying beside him, feeling warm and happy in a way he hadn’t let himself feel in centuries.

“Guess it’s time you two grew up and started sleeping in separate rooms, then,” Gabriel quipped back before thinking about it.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Is this going to be a regular thing?” he asked.

“We’ll see,” Gabriel said, not even sure why he was trying to walk it back. He wanted to be near Sam Winchester, and now that the cat was out of the bag, there was no reason he couldn’t have that small boon for whatever time he had left.  “Yeah,” he amended.

Sam smiled at him. “Good.”

“As for Deano, I’ll make sure there’s some space between us when he gets back. But I’ll be right here until you fall asleep,” Gabriel promised.

“Good,” Sam said through a yawn. It was, frankly, adorable.

“Get some sleep, Sam,” Gabriel laughed at him.

“Mmmm,” Sam agreed. “G’night, Gabe.”

Gabriel smiled at the nickname. It suited him better than Gabriel, though not as well as Loki, he thought. “Good night,” he echoed, leaning down to kiss the Winchester on his long hair.

Once Sam was asleep, he put a hand on the hunter’s shoulder. “I don’t know, but I think I might be in love with you, kiddo,” he said once he was sure the Winchester wouldn’t hear him.

Then he slipped off the bed and onto the motel chair, waiting for Dean and Castiel.

Chapter Text

It was very late when Dean and Castiel made their way back to the motel, and Dean was very drunk.

Gabriel had anticipated that, and held himself preternaturally still, making sure the hunter wouldn’t see him. He watched as Castiel escorted him to his bed, helped him take off his shoes, and then tucked him under the covers when he passed out.

“You do that for him often?” Gabriel asked, voice cruel with sarcasm if only Castiel were capable of noting it.

“More than I would like, but less often that I’m willing,” Castiel replied evenly. “We must talk, brother.”

Gabriel kept his face placid, though he wanted to flinch from the word. He was no one’s brother anymore. “Then let’s get out of here,” he said. “Let these two chuckleheads sleep.”

“Where are we going?” Castiel asked.

“Follow me,” Gabriel replied. He spread his wings and flew to one of his many hiding places – an older one, which he didn’t use often anymore. It was a hidden cave in the islands off the coast of Nova Scotia. Although his power kept it dry and comfortable enough, he had far more comfortable places with modern conveniences hidden all over the world.

“Why are we here?” Castiel asked as soon as they both landed in the heart of the cave.

Gabriel snapped up a fire for warmth and light, then looked around to check the wards he had engraved into the walls. They were all in place. “Because it’s safe, and we can talk here without being overheard,” he told the angel dryly. “Is there a place you’d rather be?”

“No,” Castiel said, looking up at the runes calmly. “This will work just fine.”

Gabriel shot Castiel an impatient look. “So, you wanted to talk. Talk.”

Castiel frowned at him. “How – what could you possibly say to explain what you’ve done, Gabriel?” he asked. There was no malice in his tone, only confusion and sorrow, which surprised Gabriel. “You abandoned us. You embraced power not meant for angels, and made yourself into something else. How long has it been since you’ve even seen another angel?”

“One thousand, eight hundred and fourteen years,” Gabriel told him, answering the last question first. “And two hundred and seventy-one days.”

Castiel just watched him, eyes calm and questioning.

“Look, it’s not like I wanted this,” Gabriel told him. “Especially not at first. You wouldn’t understand what it was like – you weren’t there when it was just the five of us: Mikey, Luci, Raph, me, and Dad. We were happy. And then came the angels, then the humans, and things were fine. Until Luci threw his first temper tantrum, and Michael dedicated himself to war, and Raphael and I were just stuck in the middle.”

“Raphael stayed,” Castiel pointed out.

“I’m not Raphael,” Gabriel shot back, anger and pain flashing so bright they must have glowed in his eyes. “I tried – trust me, I tried everything I could think of. I begged them for peace, pushed them together. Fought in Dad’s war under Michael, just like he asked me to. Played the good Herald.

“It wasn’t enough. Even after Luci was put in the cage, nothing was ever the same. Michael found war, and it agreed with him. Dad was gone. I tried for centuries, but it didn’t help. There was no place for me there anymore.”

Castiel’s expression stayed hard and questioning. “What about the other angels?”

“What about them?” Gabriel asked.

“You abandoned us, as well.”

Gabriel shook his head. “You all had exactly what you needed: a strong leader, discipline, regiment. Everything I never dealt well with.”

“If what you say is true, our ‘strong leader’ has been trying to orchestrate an apocalypse. Wouldn’t it have been better if you were there to help stop him?” Castiel pressed.

Gabriel looked at him for a long time, trying to articulate a response. Eventually, he reached up, putting a hand on the younger angel’s shoulder. Castiel flinched, but didn’t move away.

It had been centuries since he had last been this close to another angel, and the feel of it – the spark of his grace – rushed through Gabriel, soothing a pain he didn’t remember a time before. He pulled back quickly, shocked by the sensation.

“I wish I still saw the world like you.” Gabriel admitted, trying to keep his voice casual as Castiel looked at him with confusion in his eyes. “You really think that would have worked? That I could have stood up to Michael? That any angel would be allowed to stand beside me?” He gave Castiel a meaningful look. That’s not the Heaven you live in.”

Slowly, Castiel raised his hand to put over Gabriel’s. “It could be,” Castiel told him. “Brother, you could lead us off this path.”

Gabriel shook his head. “Not my place. Even before, it wouldn’t have been. But now? I’m only half archangel.”

Castiel took a step back, out of Gabriel’s reach. “So what do we do?” he asked angrily. “How do you suppose we fix this?”

Gabriel shrugged. “I didn’t plan on being in the front lines for any of it,” he admitted. “I was supposed to ride out this war, figure out a place for myself after the chips landed.”

“And now?” Castiel asked.

Gabriel shook his head. “Now I don’t have many choices. I’m still working them out, ,” he said, then smirked. “I’ve recently been reminded that I usually have a card or two up my sleeve.”

Castiel looked him over, clearly struggling with whether or not he should trust him.

At last, he said, “I’m going to Heaven. I will not betray you to our brothers, but I need to investigate this for myself.”

Gabriel crossed his arms and walked away from him, turning his back to the angel while he stared at the cave walls. “Watch out for yourself up there,” he said eventually. “They’re not going to take kindly to direct questions.”

“I’m not an idiot, Gabriel,” Castiel chastised him, sounding more like a Winchester than an angel.

Gabriel looked over his shoulder, raising one eyebrow at Castiel mockingly. His expression softened when he saw Castiel’s determined face. This could be an ally for him and Sam, if they played their cards right. “I’m just saying, be careful,” he said.

Castiel gave him a curious look. “I will,” he said gravely. Then, in a burst of wings and speed, he was gone.

Gabriel stayed in the cave for a while longer, tracing and strengthening the old Enochian symbols with his pagan power idly as he thought. This was all on his shoulders now, he realized. He would have to come up with a plan to stop his brothers. Even if Castiel turned out to be an ally, he was a foot soldier, not a general. Asking him to lead would disastrous, and the Winchesters didn’t have the knowledge or power.

The realization made him sick to his stomach. He had fought against this so hard, for so many centuries. And now he was back to square one, because of a human acolyte with a beautiful soul.

Thinking of Sam, he couldn’t help smiling. It was worth it, he thought. If he could save Sam – if he could keep him – it would be worth it.

 

 

When Sam woke up the next morning, Gabriel was gone. Castiel was, too, though Dean was snoring terribly in the other bed.

So his brother had gotten wasted last night, and probably needed the angel to put him to bed, Sam thought. Dean only produced sounds at that particular decibel before he woke up with a hangover.

Sam decided he was not equipped to deal with that yet, so he readied himself for a run as quietly as possible and slipped out of the motel, leaving a note beside a bottle of aspirin and water on Dean’s nightstand.

He thought about the day before as he ran. Loki – Gabriel – had given everything for him. The Archangel Gabriel had been in hiding for centuries, and he had revealed himself to save Sam. The weight of that act felt palpable on his skin, slowing his strides as he let it sink in. No one – nothing in this world – had ever cared about him that much, except maybe Dean.

Sam turned down the main drag, and found the only bakery in the town. It was an old, outdated place with yellowing walls and a cracked tile floor, but the pastries looked good, and the bakers were friendly. It only took a moment for Sam to procure a couple of pastries full of ham and cheese for his and Dean’s breakfast, a mini blackberry pie for Dean, and a small, decadent turtle cheesecake for Gabriel.

By the time he got back to the motel, Dean was up and showered, and not looking too bad.

“Hey,” Sam said, looking around to see that they were still currently angel-free. “I brought breakfast. And pie.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “What? Are you buttering me up now?” he asked.

Sam shrugged. “I can give it to Gabriel if you don’t want it,” he said without thinking. “Tricksters have a thing for sweets.”

“Don’t you freaking dare, Samantha,” Dean shot back. Sam put the box with the cheesecake on his nightstand, then sat down at the small motel table with the rest. He handed Dean his breakfast, then tucked into his own. It was more fattening than he’d usually eat in the morning, but the pastry was good and light, and the filling was high quality enough that he could indulge.

“So,” Dean said, after a few bites. “We gonna talk about this?”

Sam shrugged again. “What’s there to talk about?”

“Seriously? What’s there to talk about?” Dean asked. “How about you running around with a pagan god behind our backs for years? Or the fact that you didn’t know that he was an angel – an archangel. How did this even start?”

Sam looked at his pastry, not really sure how much he wanted to tell Dean. He wasn’t ashamed of any of it – how in the world could he be ashamed of anything to do with Gabriel? – but he wasn’t sure how much Dean needed to know. “College,” he said at last. “I mean, high school I guess. That’s when I started looking for something like religion. But I met Loki in college, the first time.”

“So this had been going on the whole time we were looking for Dad? You were sneaking off with him while we were trying to figure out this demon stuff, or to get me out of the contract with Lilith?” Dean asked.

Sam shook his head. “No, not really. I only saw him the once in college, and then not again until – well, until I died. But even then, he wasn’t physically there.”

“You remember that?” Dean asked. “Being dead?”

Sam nodded. “Loki had me,” he admitted. “He would have taken me to whatever afterlife he – well, he oversees, I guess? I don’t really know; he can’t tell me much. But I wouldn’t have gone to Heaven or Hell, because of him.

“I didn’t see him again after I came back, either,” he continued quickly. “Not until you were gone, and I was on the brink of doing something really stupid to get you back. He came and promised me that you’d be back, then he – uh, he helped me out until you were.”

“And then what? He bailed on you?”

Sam shrugged noncommittally.

“Sounds like a dick,” Dean said, ever the instigator.

“Not really,” Sam argued. “He gave me some tools to survive – to make sure I wasn’t using my demon blood.”

“Whatever it was you did when we were at Pamela’s séance?” Dean asked, voice gruff with worry and maybe anger.

Sam nodded. “Yeah,” he admitted. “Ruby came one night, offered to teach me how to use my demon blood to defeat Lilith. I prayed to him, told him I was thinking of taking her up on it, and he offered to teach me his brand of magic instead.”

Dean’s eyes shot open. “Magic, Sam? Really? You learned magic from a pagan god? What the Hell did you have to promise him for that?”

“Nothing,” Sam said. “I mean, my faith, yeah, and that I wouldn’t use my demon blood for anything. But nothing I wasn’t willing to give.”

Dean looked suspicious still, but somewhat mollified by that. “And Ruby and Alistair weren’t so happy about that?”

Sam shook his head, remembering flashes of his time captured by Alistair. “Alistair called it a gift from Azazel – the demon blood. They wanted me to use it – to drink more of it.” He pressed his lips together and looked down, wondering how much he should tell Dean. Slowly, he continued, “Alistair killed Ruby. He force-fed me her blood, and was going to do the same with another demon before Gabriel killed him. Then he – Gabriel – burned it all out of me.  Even Azazel’s blood. That’s what Castiel sensed.”

When Sam looked back up at Dean, his brother had put his breakfast down and was staring at Sam, thinking. “So no more demon blood?” he asked.

Sam shook his head. “No more demon blood.”

“And you have – what? Magic instead? Like, moving shit with your mind?”

“Not really,” Sam said. “I can turn luck for or against someone. I can banish a ghost with a spell instead of having to exhume a body. Sometimes I can sense things that other people can’t. Nothing huge, not without Gabriel there to back me up – but it gave me an edge when I was hunting alone.”

Dean nodded. “How long have you been sleeping with him?”

Sam opened his mouth and sputtered, caught completely off-guard by the question. “Um – ah, college, the first time. Then again after you died,” he managed after a minute.

“Well, no wonder you’ve been living like a monk since Stanford,” Dean remarked.

Sam rolled his eyes and took another bite of his breakfast.

“So what, you’re gay?” Dean asked, and there was no heat or anger in his voice anymore, just curiosity. “You never said anything.”

“Not really,” Sam said. “Bi, maybe? I don’t really think of it like that. I mean, Loki – or Gabriel – isn’t exactly human, and I haven’t been interested in anyone else since. That kind of stuff seems meaningless.”

Dean raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Well as long as I don’t have to see anything,” he grumbled. “I guess telling you to be careful would be a waste of breath. What kind of pie did you get me?”

“Blackberry,” he said, trying not to roll his eyes. “Fresh out of the oven.”

 Dean inhaled the last of his pastry, then grabbed for the last box in the bakery bag.

“And don’t blame me if you get a stomach ache later,” Sam warned. “I figured you’d take a break between those.” He couldn’t help the small smile he hid behind another bite of pastry. That had gone a lot better than he expected.

“Oh, and we’re going back to Bobby’s as soon as I’m done with this,” Dean added, pointedly ignoring the warning. “Don’t think you’re going to get away without filling him in on absolutely every detail.”

“Everything?” Sam asked. “Even the….” He let his hand drift vaguely toward the bed, making Dean grimace.

“Alright, maybe not everything. But the important parts,” Dean amended.

“Ok. Give me fifteen minutes. I have to take care of this,” Sam said. “Um – it’s a Gabriel thing. I’ll be back.”

He stood up and grabbed the last box from where he had left it beside his bed, then left the room before Dean could ask where he was going.

He took it to the lone picnic bench that stood on what passed for a lawn behind the motel, then sat down to pray.

“Hey, Loki. Gabriel. I brought you an offering, before we head out of here. I wanted to say –“

“You really don’t have to do that anymore, Sam,” Gabriel interrupted, popping onto the bench beside him. He reached out and grabbed the cheesecake, a fork materializing in his hand as he did. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not gonna turn you down. But the offering thing? I think we’re a little beyond that.”

Sam looked at him curiously. “Beyond that? How does one get beyond making offerings to their god? Or demigod?”

Gabriel looked him over, forkful of cake already in his mouth. He smirked, then swallowed. “I don’t know. Regular sex. Deep magical bond. Apparently going up against an apocalypse together. Asking for devotions and offering on the regular on top of all that seems a little gauche, don’t you think?”

Sam smiled, amused. “Yeah, I guess so. So does that mean no more sweets?”

Gabriel’s eyes went wide. “No, definitely not. I will take all the sweets. If I don’t get them from you, you know I’m just going to have to look elsewhere for them. But skip the prayer and the ceremony, unless you really need it. I’d much rather a gift from my beau.”

“Is that what I am?” Sam asked.

Gabriel leaned in and kissed Sam firmly. Bright fireworks went off behind Sam’s eyes when he closed them, and his lips tingled with the god’s power when they broke apart. “I thought we went over this, Samsquatch. You’re much more to me than that.”

Chapter Text

Bobby, when he heard he details of Sam’s rescuer, was not impressed.

“What the Hell were you thinking, boy?” he asked, standing at his desk and veritably shaking in anger.

Sam was pacing around the room, trying not to snap at the older man. Dean was out, getting dinner because he had had enough for one day and didn’t need to witness the drama (his word) of Sam filling Bobby in, and Gabriel was off giving them space. “I’m just a prayer away if you need a quick escape,” the archangel had told him.

“I was thinking about myself, Bobby,” Sam told him calmly. “About my soul. Who I wanted to be. What I wanted to believe in. The rest – all that came later, after I had already made up my mind.”

Bobby scowled. “So, what? You started praying and he just showed up? And you thought that was normal?”

Sam shook his head and turned away, trying not to smile at the memory of meeting Loki for the first time. “Of course it wasn’t normal. But I wasn’t raised to normal,” he reminded the older man. “It worked, though. And he’s been here when I needed him most.”

“But you didn’t even know what he was,” Bobby argued angrily. “Do you even know what he is now? The whole of it?”

“Something that’s actually saved his ass from being Satan’s bitch, so maybe give him some credit already,” Gabriel answered. Sam followed his voice to find him suddenly stretched out on the couch, scowl marring his usually-jovial features.

“What?” Bobby said, pulling out a handgun as he looked the Trickster over. He turned to Sam. “This him?”

“Yes it is,” Sam said, weary of seeing trouble unfold before his eyes.“Bobby, this is the archangel Gabriel, also known as Loki, the Trickster god. Gabe, meet Bobby. And be nice, please?”

Bobby lowered the gun a few inches and glared. “Give me one good reason not to run you through with a bloody stake right there.”

Gabriel shrugged. “Because it wouldn’t work?”

“Can we put the weapons away please?” Sam pleaded.

The older man harrumphed, but holstered his gun. “What are you doing in my house?”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “I’ve come for family board game night,” he snarked. “Look, Sam did the best he could with what he had. Better than Heaven’s bet, since he managed to do it all while avoiding and demon powers – for the most part. Between you and Dean-o, I don’t get why you’re so hard on him.”

“And what? Because you come in here and tell me it’s all okay, I’m supposed to believe you?” Bobby asked, taking a menacing step toward the archangel. If it were any of Gabriel’s brothers, Sam had no doubt that that move alone would have gotten Bobby killed. As it was, Sam still thought he should probably intervene.

“Hey,” Sam said, positioning himself between the two and spreading out his arms. “Can we just calm down a minute?” He turned to Bobby. “Gabe’s been around for almost a decade now, and all he’s done is help me or leave me alone. If he wanted to hurt me, he’d have done it by now.”

“Samsquatch, I’m –”

He turned to interrupt Gabriel. “And Gabriel, I know you’re not going to hurt me. But this is new to Dean and Bobby, and it’s gonna be new to anyone else we bring into this, so maybe a little patience? Please?”

Gabriel nodded. “Yeah, okay. I can try.”

Sam looked over to Bobby, who just shook his head and stalked into the kitchen. “I need a drink.”

Sam shrugged, knowing that was as good as an agreement as he was likely to get from the old hunter. He sat down beside Gabriel, reaching out to rest his hand on the Trickster’s leg.

It was almost instinctive now, his need to touch Gabriel.

“So you want to blow this popsicle joint? Have a night alone, just you and me? Finger food and a very large bed?”

Sam shook his head regretfully. “Dean’s gonna be back with dinner in a few minutes. Figure we should start strategizing, given what you told us about your brothers.”

 “I told you, I got nothing,” Gabriel said. He leaned forward and combed his fingers through Sam’s hair. “My whole plan had been to wait it out. To be honest, I’ve been trying not to think about what I’d do in this position.”

“Well, we have some time, right? We’ll figure it out.”

“Yeah, I’m sure we will,” Gabriel said, but Sam could hear the lie in his voice.

He turned to take the god’s face in one hand. “Hey, I told you. You’re brilliant. And even if you don’t figure this out for us? Dean and I are pretty resourceful ourselves. You’re not going to lose me.” He willed Gabriel to feel all his love and confidence in him through their bond.

It seemed to have worked, because Gabriel smiled and brought him in for a kiss. “You’re good for me, Winchester. You know that?” he asked. “Stroke my ego.”

Sam opened his mouth to make a crude joke, but then heard Dean clear his throat behind him. Sam tried to scowl through a laugh. “You set me up for that, didn’t you?”

“Guilty,” Gabriel confessed, his voice ringing with his own mirth.

“Excuse me, am I interrupting a moment here, Samantha?” Dean asked dryly. When Sam turned to look at him, he saw his older brother still in his boots and jacket, balancing three pizza boxes and a case of beer. “In Bobby’s living room?”

Sam looked down, running his fingers through his long hair to hide his blush. “Uh, no. Not at all.”

Gabriel snorted inelegantly. Some angel.

“Yeah, well, next time? Take it somewhere else,” Dean told them. And Sam had to admit, despite his short tone and glare, Dean wasn’t taking this so badly. “C’mon. Dinner.”

 

 

Gabriel disappeared just as they started a very awkward dinner. He must have seen the edge in Bobby’s posture, and predicted the old hunter’s sniping remarks and cold stares.

Sam was sure he wouldn’t see him again as he got ready for bed that night. He had said he had some business to take care of – loose ends before he stepped away from being a full time Trickster for a while. Sam could only imagine he meant finishing up some long cons and pranks that took time to build.

So the younger Winchester was surprised to see Gabriel in his room just as he was settling in.

“What?” Gabriel asked, lounging on the twin bed and watching Sam as he walked barefoot into the spare room, eyebrows shooting up in surprise. “What did you think I meant when I said I was gonna stick around?”

Sam stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. “Guess I thought it was too good to be true,” he admitted.

Gabriel winked. “Have a little faith.”

Sam smiled, looking Gabriel over appreciatively. “In you? Believe me, I do.” He leaned back against the door. “You gonna let me onto that bed?” he asked, eyeing how Gabriel stretched out, taking up more space than he should, like a cat.

Gabriel smiled, sly and slow and promising. “I’d ask you to join me, but I’m pretty sure you’d fall out of this bed if you tried. You wanna get out of here? Find a bigger playground – somewhere where no one’s gonna care how loud we get?”

“Where were you thinking?” Sam asked.

Gabriel shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter, as long as it has enough space for me to get you naked.”

“Alright,” Sam said, stalking over to the archangel and leaning down to run teasing fingers down his chest. “Let’s get out of here. Just have me back by morning.”

“Sure thing, Winchester,” Gabriel said, reaching up to wrap one hand around Sam’s wrist.

He snapped with his free hand, and suddenly the room around them changed. Sam looked around at what seemed to be the master bedroom of a large winter cabin: it had a rustic design, with a huge stone fireplace at one end and an oak four-poster bed covered in downy comforters and quilts on the other. Along the far wall were a row of huge windows looking out into a clear starry night over a dark forest. Gabriel was lying in the middle of the bed, looking very small in the huge space.

The fire roared to life, and the lights dimmed with another snap from the angel.

“Where are we?” Sam asked, looking up at the ceiling. There were symbols carved all over it, and more into the tops of the walls, in a language Gabriel hadn’t taught him.

“A little cabin in the Poconos,” Gabriel told him. “One of many hideouts I maintain.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “This is yours?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Yup.”

Sam shook his head. “There’s a lot I don’t know about you.”

“I’m mysterious. You like that about me,” Gabriel shot back.

Sam tilted his head, regarding the Trickster. It was true, of course: Loki’s mystery and power had drawn Sam in almost as much as his personality. “Yeah, I guess,” he teased with a half-smile.

Gabriel saw right through him. “Get over here and kiss me, Winchester,” he demanded, giving him an unimpressed look.

And usually, Sam would jump to follow a direct order from the demigod. But this time he paused, wondering. Gabriel had told him to lay off the offerings and worship. He had talked as though he and Sam were partners, not just god and acolyte. Sam knew Gabriel would still gain power – and get off – from prayer and supplication, but…

“Not yet,” Sam said, giving him a shy smile.

“Oh?” Gabriel asked, raising an eyebrow. “And what are you going to do while I wait?”

And that was the question, wasn’t it? Now that he has said no, he needed a plan.

Or maybe he had one. Sam unbuttoned his jeans and played with the fly just enough to give the illusion of indecency without showing anything off.

“I don’t know,” he teased. “Maybe watch and find out?”

“Hmmmm,” Gabriel hummed, eyes narrowing into a hungry leer. “I like to watch.”

 Sam could feel himself blushing, but pretended not to as he started pulling up the bottom of his undershirt, just enough to show off some of his abs. “Yeah? Like what you see?” he asked, prompting Gabriel to talk. He let the shirt fall back to his waistband before shrugging off his flannel, flexing his arms a little ridiculously as he did.

From the look on his face, Gabriel wouldn’t describe anything he was doing as ridiculous. His eyes went straight to Sam’s biceps, then swept over his shoulders.

“I’d like to see more,” Gabriel replied.

Sam smiled and pulled his shirt up again with one hand, spreading the other over his own abs, then running his fingers up his chest suggestively. Gabriel lifted himself up onto his elbows and leaned forward for a better view.

“Lose the shirt, Winchester,” Gabriel told him.

Sam tilted his head again, as if considering the idea.

Gabriel’s eyes went wide when he saw, pupils dilating in the firelight. “Or do you want me to ask nicely?” the archangel mused, catching onto Sam’s game. “Please?”

 And how could Sam say no to that? “Alright,” he said as casually as he could manage before slipping the shirt over his head. He let his left hand fall back to his chest, fingers ghosting over his nipples, as his right hand started to play with his fly again.

“What’s it gonna take for me to get you out of those pants, Sam?” Gabriel asked, purring out Sam’s name like an invocation. One hand was on his own groin, Sam realized, rubbing himself over his jeans. “Another please?”

Sam looked the demigod over, trying to decide what he wanted tonight. He knew he was pushing his luck, but he let himself suggest: “I want you to take out your dick. Let me watch you play with yourself.”

“Bold.” Gabriel’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, but he didn’t hesitate to comply. Sam licked his lips hungrily as Gabriel opened his pants just enough to pull out his dick and start to play with the head. “Your turn.”

Sam pushed down his pants down to his ankles, but left his black boxer briefs on, tented and damp with precum. He stepped out of them slowly, then dipped his hand into his underwear to palm his dick. Gabriel watched every move.

“If you don’t get over here and touch me now, I’m coming to you,” Gabriel warned.

“Can’t have that,” Sam said, eying the angel, still fully clothed, dick out, and exactly where Sam wanted him. He stalked over to the bed and crawled on top of him.

Finally, Sam gave him what they both wanted, and started kissing him needily. Gabriel’s hand moved from his own body to Sam’s, tracing his muscles for a moment before pushing down his boxer briefs. Sam didn’t stop him; he just kicked them off and out of the way as he lowered his mouth to Gabriel’s throat.

“What are you going to do with me now?” Gabriel asked, both hands on Sam’s ass and back arched in pleasure.

Sam looked up at him and smiled, then pulled away completely. “Stay right there. Let me take care of you.”

“Oh?” Gabriel asked.

Sam didn’t answer. Instead he moved down to take Gabriel’s dick in his mouth.

“Ohhh,” Gabriel breathed out, sounding a little surprised. “Oh yeah, there you go. You’re so good to me, aren’t you?” He threaded his fingers through Sam’s hair, but didn’t apply any pressure. “So good for me. Gonna get me off like this, you all naked and greedy for me?”

Sam sent him a prayer – a mental image of what he wanted – as he relaxed his throat, swallowing Gabriel down.

“Ugh – careful, Sam, you might make this end too soon,” the demigod moaned. “You’re so beautiful – my bright, beautiful boy, aren’t you? You want me to paint you up? Cover you in my come? Get you all dirty then fuck you like that?” And that was so hot: hearing Gabriel give voice to Sam’s fantasies.

Sam moaned an affirmative, then sent another silent prayer.

“Oh, damn, you’re going to be the death of me, Sam,” Gabriel moaned, closing his eyes at the image. He balled up his fist in Sam’s hair and pulled him back, immediately replacing Sam’s mouth with his own fist as he cried out.

Hot lines of cum landed across Sam’s chin, neck and chest, marking him.

Before Sam could react, Gabriel flipped them so Sam was on his back, straddled by the still-fully-clothed archangel. “You want that Sam?” Gabriel purred, voice dark and deep and wreaked. “You want to fuck me against the windows, let the world see what you are to me?”

“Yes,” Sam panted, his dick getting painfully hard at the thought. Gabriel ground his ass down against him, giving him friction but nothing near release.

“Then hop to it, Samsquatch,” Gabriel told him, hopping off the bed and snapping. A low bench appeared against the wall, the perfect height for Gabriel to stand on and allow Sam perfect access.

“Just let me get – ” Sam started.

“No need,” Gabriel told him, looking over his shoulder and wiggling his eyebrows at him. “Super-powered demigod, remember? I’m already lubed up and ready for you.”

Fuck,” Sam breathed out, jumping off the bed and toward Gabriel. He pushed him bodily toward the windows until he was on the bench, both hands and quickly hardening dick against the glass, then pushed down his pants just enough to get access to him.

Still dripping with Gabriel’s come, he mouthed at Gabriel’s neck as he fingered him, confirming that he was wet and open and messy for Sam already – then he was pressing back against him, hot and needy and begging to be fucked.

“Come on, Sam,” Gabriel moaned as Sam stroked the tip of one finger over his prostate. He leaned in, letting his filthy, come- and sweat-covered chest press against Gabriel’s tee-shirt. Gabriel didn’t seem to mind as he pressed back into him. “Don’t keep me waiting here.”

Sam bit down on Gabriel’s neck, earning him another moan from the Trickster, before lining himself up to press into him. With one hand on his hip and the other on his chest, pushing his shirt up, Sam slid in.

“Yeah, Sam, just like that,” Gabriel said, panting for it now. Sam looked down to see him fully hard again, smearing the window precum. “Look at that, look out there,” Gabriel continued. “Think anyone can see us? Think anyone sees you here, fucking me?”

“Gabriel,” Sam breathed, then bit down again, hard, even though he knew he couldn’t mark him. He started moving, thrusting into him and pushing him further into the glass.

“There you go,” Gabriel said. “Yeah, make it good for me. Make me feel it.”

This wasn’t going to last long, not between Gabriel’s mouth and Gabriel’s ass. Sam reached forward and took Gabriel’s dick in his hand, jerking him to a second orgasm just as he was about to come. “Come on Gabriel, come for me,” he growled into the shorter man’s ear.

Sam rode Gabriel’s high, coming inside of him as the Trickster cried out, head thrown back onto Sam’s shoulder. He waited until Gabriel was spent, then leaned bodily against the window.

“That – I didn’t know you had it in you, Sam,” Gabriel said after they both took a moment to catch their breaths.

“Hmmm, you’d be surprised,” Sam said, feeling sleeping and silly now. “Did anyone see us out there? Was there anyone to see?”

Gabriel shook his head. “Not this time. Why? Want me to arrange an audience?”

Sam opened his mouth, then thought the better of it. That sounded – well, it sounded hotter than it probably should, and he wasn’t sure he should tell Gabriel that.

The Trickster could probably read it on his face anyway. He laughed at him, then leaned in for a deep, thorough kiss. “And on that note, I think it’s time to get you to bed, Samsquatch,” he said. “We can compare fantasies in the morning.”

“Mmmm, I like the sound of that,” Sam replied, pulling away from the now-filthy window and half-walking/half-falling toward the bed. When had his legs given out beneath him? “Over morning sex?”

Gabriel smiled widely. “Whatever you want, Sam,” he said, cleaning them up with a snap. “I kind of like it when you calling the shots.”

Sam smiled at that, then pulled Gabriel close for a messy, heated kiss. He kind of liked the sound of that, too.

 

 

The next morning, Sam woke up in his bed at Bobby’s place, Gabriel sitting next to him reading a supermarket tabloid – the kind Sam didn’t think he’d seen since the 90’s. Sam blinked at him stupidly for a moment, then decided it was safer to just make his way downstairs for breakfast. Questions would lead to the kind of thinking he was not ready for.

At breakfast, Bobby had a job picked out for them. Only Sam and Dean, he had insisted – no Trickster help. It was an easy one, most likely: an antique shop with a ghost problem. They weren’t even sure if it was a problem the owner wanted fixed, or if it was even real; Bobby had learned of it from an advertorial in their local paper. But it was local, and it would give them something to do besides research as they decided on the best way to take on the apocalypse, so they went with it.

Whether or not it was real, he was under strict instruction by Dean that they were doing this by the book. No magic. All old-fashioned hunting.

Which is how Sam found himself with Dean in the comic book shop adjacent to their target, wishing he could just indulge in the offerings in stock instead of talking to the somewhat awkward man behind the counter.

“Uh, can I help you?” the guy said, looking over Sam and Dean’s suits and trench coats uncomfortably.

“Sure hope so,” Dean said with practiced ease. “Agents DeYoung and Shaw. Just need to ask you a few questions.”

“Notice anything strange in the building, last couple of days?” Sam picked up the line of questioning easily.

“Like what?” the man asked.

“Well, some other tenants reported flickering lights,” Dean explained.

“I don’t think so,” the man said, face going from nervous to skeptical. “Why?”

“What about noises?” Sam continued. “Any skittering in the walls? Kind of like rats?”

“And the FBI is investigating a rodent problem?” the guy asked skeptically.

Sam sighed. This was going poorly, but he pressed on anyway. “What about cold spots? Feel any sudden drops in temperature?”

To Sam’s surprise, the guy started grinning like an idiot. “I knew it!” he exclaimed ecstatically. “You guys are LARPing, aren't you?”

“Excuse me?” Dean asked before Sam could.

“You're fans!” the guy tried to explain.

Sam raised an eyebrow. This was getting seriously weird. “Fans of what?”

“What is LARPing?” Dean asked, and Sam could hear how he strained to keep his annoyance from his voice.

“Like you don't know,” the guy said with a conspiratorial smile. When the hunters didn’t respond, he offered, “Live-Action Role-Play! And pretty hardcore, too.”

“I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about,” Dean said.

“You're asking questions like the building's haunted,” the guy went on. “Like those guys from the books. What are they called? Uh...Supernatural. Two guys, use fake IDs with rock aliases, hunt down ghosts, demons, vampires. What are their names? Uh... Steve and Dirk? Uh, Sal and Dane?”

“Sam and Dean?” Sam asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.

“That's it!” the guy crowed.

“OH MY GOD, I love those books!” a very familiar voice cried out behind them. Gabriel.

“You're saying this is a book?” Dean asked, pretending he hadn’t noticed the archangel.

“Books,” the guy elaborated. “It was a series. Didn't sell a lot of copies, though. Kind of had more of an underground cult following.”

“Only the best series ever,” Gabriel interjected. Sam turned around to see the Trickster flitting around the store like an overgrown teenager, eyes wide and simpering. He was dressed in a very loud, out-of-character red button down covered in yellow lightning bolts.

It was an act, Sam realized. For some reason, Gabriel was following them on their hunt, interjecting himself while pretending not to know them. Sam wasn’t sure how to feel about that.

The man gave Gabriel a smile. “Yeah, I only heard good things,” he said in the kind of voice that probably meant he was lying for the sake of customer service. He moved out from behind the counter and led them to the bargain books bin. Gabriel followed, leaning against Sam awkwardly as he peered down at the books and sighed dramatically.

“Let’s see….um, here.” The clerk thrust what looked like a paranormal romance into Dean’s hand. “That's the first one, I think.”

Supernatural by Carver Edlund,” Dean read slowly, and Sam could feel his eyes widen with surprise. Dean flipped it over and started reading the back. “Along a lonely California highway, a mysterious woman in white lures men to their deaths.”

And that sounded just like –

“Give me that!” Sam demanded, snatching the thing out of Dean’s hand. He turned to the clerk. “We're gonna need all the copies of "Supernatural" you've got.”