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We Make Our Own Future

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Dean Winchester was never drinking again. Whether that was by choice or because he wasn’t going to survive this hangover he didn’t know yet; but as he half-laid on the bathroom floor and clung to the porcelain bowl waiting for whatever little was left in his stomach to take its revenge upon him for last night’s clear abuse of his body, he wasn’t sure that living was the better option anyway and had therefore begun to quietly pray for death. What he did know for certain was the bathroom floor was freezing, the overhead light was too bright, his back was sore as hell, and he was never drinking again.

Well, perhaps that was a bridge too far. He was at the very least never drinking tequila again. He hated tequila. And The Lord of the Rings. And life. And Sam Campbell. Not necessarily in that order.

It all had seemed very innocent last night. Certainly nothing that would have ended up with Dean feeling a desperate desire to scrape his taste buds off by way of his toothbrush in an attempt to rid himself of the dead rodent/stomach bile flavor currently coating the inside of his mouth in a semi-slimy, semi-fuzzy film that made him shiver with disgust. Dean had teamed up with Sam on a pretty routine vampire hunt and after tracking the vamps down yesterday neither had gotten killed or even seriously maimed while taking out the nest. A routine vamp hunt was not really anything to celebrate, let alone celebrate with a drinking game involving a large bottle of Don Julio (that shit was nearly $150 a bottle, which went a long way to convincing Dean), but it was one of those things that just kind of happened and now here he was.

It certainly didn’t seem like it would happen when Sam found The Lord of the Rings on cable while Dean worked on submitting the paperwork certifying the hunt had been successful. However, after listening to Dean protest that nerd stuff wasn’t really his thing, Sam stole the laptop and pulled up the official LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring drinking game rules. Dean read through them, quirked an eyebrow, and had remained skeptical until the first close-up of the One Ring came barely two minutes into the film, at which point he was convinced this was going to be awesome. And it had been awesome, especially after the halfway mark when they were both hammered and abandoned the movie in favor of pursuing other activities of a much more intimate nature. The “this is a bad idea Winchester” warning sign hadn’t even flashed once, and this morning Dean found himself waking up alone in the Holiday Inn room Sam had booked for them (Just because you’re getting us a fancy room, don’t expect me to be putting out, Campbell,” “Please. Don’t flatter yourself, Winchester,”) and making a mad dash for the toilet.

The events from the night before were a bit of a blur as he climbed shakily to his feet after what must have been at least a half hour vomit session, though he was aware both he and Sam had been willing participants. If his head hadn’t felt like someone had mistaken him for a zombie and left an axe buried in his cerebellum he might have been inclined to try to parse through why they’d both been willing participants but that was for another time. He wasn’t really clear on who had kissed whom first to start the whole thing off, but his short term memory banks at least had decided the expanse of Sam’s tanned chest (somehow soft and solid in equal measure at the same time), the absurd width of his shoulders (Dean couldn’t even see the overhead light they’d forgotten to turn off before tumbling to the floor; he had never felt so thrillingly petite), and the warmth and flavor of his mouth (the taste of pepperoni and green pepper pizza on Sam’s tongue was almost enough to outweigh the misery of this morning) needed to be stored away for future use; and though Dean really wanted to forget last night completely his dick was now actively trying to outvote his brain. His head throbbed as he glared down at the tent in his grey boxer briefs.

“You don’t get a say in this anymore, pal,” he grumbled before stripping to climb into the shower to see if he could gently clean some of the carpet fibers out of the rug burn on his back.

The water pressure in the shower was glorious and gave him a much needed jolt to help clear the fog from his head. The soap, shampoo, and conditioner were some fancy blend infused with gardenias and vanilla, and despite the huge mistake he’d made last night - and that encompassed both the tequila and Campbell - he was going to enjoy the built-in massage showerhead and stay here in the steamy enclosure until the water ran cold. This was so much better than he usually got to experience at the seedy motels he’d always stayed in with Dad; first as a little kid and then later on when they’d started hunting together again. God, he really was hungover. Three whole seconds thinking about life with Dad and he felt like someone had reached into his chest to squeeze until something burst, and now he was on the verge of tears like a ridiculous baby. He needed his stupid brain to just shut off so he could enjoy this shower, which of course meant his stupid brain was not going to shut off, and he soon found himself scrubbing with far too much force at his skin, hot tears mercifully masked by the water while he willed his dick to stop being happy with the memories of last night since that’s not ever happening again, goddammit, so just forget the whole fucking mess.

Because Sam Campbell and Dean Winchester didn’t like each other; not anymore, not since Dean presented as an omega when he was sixteen with only two years left until graduation and promptly got kicked out of Actaeon Academy, the most prestigious hunter’s boarding school for alphas in the nation. Before that they’d been...not exactly best friends, but certainly good friends, despite the four year age difference between them. Both boys were considered legacies within the community and had been admitted with little more than a handwave. Dean had been well into middle school when he and his baby brother, Adam, were dropped off in front of the school with half-empty duffel bags and the squeal of tires. Their father, John Winchester, was practically a legend within hunting circles, primarily for his talent in taking down the worst of the supernatural creatures that made all kinds of things go bump in the night, and secondarily for his violent alcohol-fueled temper. He did not play well with others and a challenge to his request to enroll his boys would have been unwise, even though John was in no position to pay the exorbitant tuition the school charged.

The admissions office was more than willing to overlook this minor point not only because of John’s well-known volatility, but because of who John’s father was. Henry Winchester was one of the highest ranking members of the oh-so-secretive Men of Letters - an organization shrouded in mystery and devoted entirely to the study of the supernatural - and a gifted practitioner of the magical arts. Though his temperament was known to be far milder and considerably more sober than his son’s, Henry was largely shrouded in mystery as well and no one in admissions cared to refuse to let his grandchildren into the school and risk seeing just how good he was with all those spells the MoL had collected over the centuries.

As for Sam - well. Sam’s grandfather was not only obscenely wealthy (old money thank you very much; the Campbells came over on the Mayflower after all) but very high up in the Federal Department of Hunters. Sam could have had his pick of any school in the nation, any university, any post-graduate college, could choose any career he wanted and Samuel Campbell would have only needed to pick up the phone to make it happen. Samuel had apparently caved for the first time when Sam insisted he was going to be a lawyer and went off to Stanford for a couple of years, until something happened that Dean never really caught the gist of and Sam returned to hunting. Dean had wondered when whatever it was that happened happened if Samuel had arranged it. The whole reason Samuel shipped Sam off to Actaeon in the first place was so he could follow in the Campbell family footsteps to become a hunter.

But their childhood...friendship? Dean wasn’t exactly sure anymore what it had actually been, that was a decade ago by now and at the end it certainly hadn’t proved to be any true friendship. Whatever it was had long since been replaced by the current open and mutual distaste they harbored for each other. Dean had noticed the break between them immediately after his presentation, and it was an old wound he wouldn’t admit that he carried, but he did. Male omegas were extremely rare, like a white rhinoceros or a Sumatran tiger, which should have made them cherished but didn’t. Instead, alphas largely saw it as some sort of flaw (though no such opinion was held about female alphas), like an error in evolution that needed to be raped out of existence. The majority of his classmates turned on him when they found out he was an omega; the Board of Administrators had expelled him before he’d even been released from quarantine in the Nurse’s Office where they’d locked him up during his first heat (and he was grateful, even though it had nearly killed him, that they’d at least had the decency to lock him away from all the knotheads); and when his father came to pick him up...well. That hadn’t exactly been the happy family reunion he’d hoped for.

The only ones who seemed to care that he was leaving the school were his younger brother, who at ten years old was reduced to sobbing like a toddler, and his best friend (truly a best friend) Benny. When Adam presented as a beta on his sixteenth birthday and was still allowed to stay and graduate from the alpha-only academy it had been another twist of the knife, and another underscoring of how Dean had landed himself firmly in second class citizen territory thanks to his biology. It was still a topic his younger brother was careful to avoid whenever they were together. Both did their best to act like Actaeon Academy didn’t exist.

That would have been much easier if Sam Campbell didn’t exist either, but of course because Dean’s life was one long running cosmic joke he did. Sam had no trouble remaining friends with Adam after Dean left school so it was impossible for the eldest Winchester brother to avoid the knowledge that his once-childhood - let’s call it friend - couldn’t stand being in the same room with him. Perhaps that’s why after all this time it still stung, despite being what most would dismiss as “typical kid stuff.” Logically Dean understood that’s what it was, and he should have been able to let it go. The reality that beta Adam, who was now out of the life completely and in college for nursing, was good enough for the high and mighty alpha Sam Campbell to stay friends with to this day, while Dean, a lowly omega quietly regarded as one of the best hunters in the country (behind closed doors, mind you - no one would ever admit how good he was publicly) ought to be barefoot and pregnant somewhere baking pies as far as Sam was concerned...it had Dean suppressing the urge to reach for his silver boot knife whenever he caught the smell of gunpowder, books, well worn leather, and green tea that indicated Sam’s presence in a room.

The shower was still putting out a steady stream of high pressure warm water when he decided he’d had enough and if he stayed in there longer he’d just make himself sick again. Wiping away the steam he checked the mirror over the sink to assess just how bloodshot his eyes were (very), and quietly cursed his stupidity at not turning and walking right out of the Roadhouse the second he caught Sam’s scent in the air four days ago. He started in on the scrubbing of his tongue, which still retained something of the flavor of a toad that had been soaked in alcohol and left to bake in the sun, poured himself a glass of water after feeling he’d done the best he could and that his breath at least smelled somewhat minty, then headed back to the bedroom to fish through his duffel bag for some clean clothes and his trusty bottle of aspirin. Absently he noted that Sam had left at some point when he was in the bathroom, but Dean’s head hurt too much to figure out how he felt about that right now. Later he’d probably be really pissed, but at the moment he just felt a conflicted mixture of sadness and anger, but he needed aspirin too much to bother with emotions.

After rummaging for a few minutes he gave up all pretense of attempting to keep his possessions orderly and dumped the whole bag on the maroon bedspread. He quickly found the small bottle he kept for traveling purposes so he didn’t always have to lug around the 500 count bottles he typically bought (why hadn’t he invested in aspirin stock yet? Oh right, hunting didn’t pay for shit), but also uncovered a folded piece of hotel stationary that certainly hadn’t been there when he packed and the roll of $400 FDH coupons he’d flung back in Campbell’s face at the bar. He could feel his cheeks grow hot as he looked at the coupons and blushed all the way down from his hair line to his chest, then opened the stationary to see what it said.

This doesn’t make us friends. - S.C.

P.S. - Buy yourself some decent scent blockers and save us all the trouble.

For a long moment Dean stared at the note from Sam and blinked, re-reading the two simple lines in the neat cursive writing. Not that he’d expected anything but continued disdain from the other hunter, but damn - it was one thing knowing someone despised you, but seeing it on hotel stationary in well practiced script? Shit like this was why he stuck exclusively to betas and omegas. Besides not having to deal with being knotted, he didn’t have to deal with the damn smug superior alpha attitude either.

He should have just thrown the note in the trash without reading it. Or burned it. Or thrown it in the trash and then burned it. Both the note and the coupons. But he really needed the coupons, it was the only reason he’d stayed on the stupid fucking hunt to begin with once he knew Sam had caught wind of it as well, it was convenient to have the coupons in hand and not have to wait for the automatic payment to hit his bank account, and fuck now he was crying again and no matter how many times he pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes the tears just wouldn’t stop. He grabbed a clean pair of jeans and shoved his legs in, pulled his favorite Metallica tee shirt over his head, threw on socks and his boots, then jammed everything back in the duffel. After pausing for a second, he stuffed the note and the $400 coupons into his pants pocket, just so he’d have a reminder in case Sam Campbell ever wanted to do shots of tequila with him again.

Almost on autopilot given how many times he’d done it, Dean did a sweep of the room to make sure he had his tool kit properly put back together with the correct number of knives, guns, and various and sundry warding items, laptop, all of his clothes, toothbrush and paste, before swinging his duffels over his left shoulder and jamming his jacket over both bags. He ran his hand over his face to clear away the tear streaks now that he was finally getting himself under control as he did a last visual sweep to make sure he hadn’t forgotten something before slamming on his sunglasses. Yeah, he was going to be walking through the hotel wearing sunglasses and looking totally hungover, but it’s not like he knew anyone here so it didn’t matter. He could hardly be the first person doing the walk of shame out of this place, no matter how many stars it got on Hotels.com.  

His head still pounded like it would split in two as he exited the building into the parking lot, and his stomach threw out some warning waves of nausea to caution him about how quickly he was moving, but he couldn’t possibly have cared less. Ignoring the alpha who wolf-whistled and made a comment about how he smelled good enough to eat, he flung his belongings into the back of the Impala and then threw himself into the driver’s seat. He apologized immediately to his Baby for slamming the driver’s door so hard - none of this was her fault - then heard his phone buzzing in the glove compartment. He fumbled with the lock (never drinking again) and dug through the fake IDs and car registrations to check it.

A message from John lit up his screen:

What the hell were you thinking taking on a vamp’s nest with Campbell? Call me.

And another:

Dean? Where the hell are you? Call me.

And another:

I never should have let you hunt on your own. You’re not a hunter, Dean! Call me!

There were another five texts, all under the contact “Dad,” but he didn’t bother with them. Dealing with one asshole alpha at a time this hungover was effectively his limit, and this morning that honor went to Sam Campbell. And Sam really was an asshole. Dean pulled his note out and read it again, before tossing it out the window and peeling out of the parking lot.

He’d known where he stood with Sam before this hunt, the stupid drinking game, and the mind blowing sex (thanks memory banks for retaining that fact clearly amidst the haze) and it wasn’t that he had expected any of that to change just because they now knew all the incredibly-embarrassing-outside-the-moment sounds the other made when he came. He was a big boy who’d had plenty of casual partners, and he knew the morning-after drill. It’s just that this was the first time he’d ever left the morning after feeling like a whore.

He watched the hotel disappear in his rearview mirror, and willed himself to leave behind his many lapses in judgment since he answered Ellen’s phone call and agreed to take this case. He certainly wouldn’t be making those mistakes again.

Chapter Text

If he was going to be honest about the situation, this whole thing really was Ellen’s fault. Ellen Harvelle ran the Roadhouse where this whole sordid turn of events began, and she had given him a head’s up about the vamp job. Not only that, she was trying to keep it under wraps until he could get there because he’d begged her not to tell anyone else; he needed the money and she had a soft spot for the solitary omega. Ellen was about the closest thing he had to a mother and the vamp job paid $400 in FDH coupons. He really needed those coupons.

So okay, maybe it wasn’t entirely Ellen’s fault. There was some key information he’d held back from her about his prescription running out, because he knew she’d want to help him out and he was twenty-six years old now, goddammit. He should be able to pay for his own necessities. But he couldn’t, and he didn’t tell her that he’d run out of his suppressants three days prior to getting her call because those things were damn expensive and she’d have insisted on getting them for him. (Just another way to keep oms in their proper place he had realized bitterly the first time he walked into the pharmacy and was told to hand over $267.37 for a three month supply.) Looking back at the whole mess now he’d really like to be able to tell himself this job wouldn’t have been worth it if he had any idea it was going to lead to one of the most miserable mornings he could remember in a long, long time, but when you came right down to it, he hadn’t had much choice.

Still. Maybe Dean could have walked away if he were a little less prideful, or if Ellen’s daughter Jo hadn’t been there all doe-eyed and offended on his behalf, or if Sam hadn’t been such a gigantic bag of dicks when Dean sat on the bar stool next to him in the packed-to-the-gills watering hole, or if the whole experience of getting to the bar hadn’t been such a nightmare. If just one of those circumstances had been different he might have been spared this morning’s condescending note, and he wouldn’t be driving Baby to the nearest pharmacy feeling like a two dollar hooker.

Normally Dean avoided Sam like the plague when he had the misfortune of being in the same room with him, so it wasn’t like he’d decided to sit next to him on purpose. There was literally nowhere else to sit in the whole building when Dean walked in and stopped beside the first booth at the front windows. He should have kept moving forward, but the shock of so many people contained within those four walls froze him in place. For a moment he even wondered if they were exceeding the fire code, and with how regularly he had to salt and burn things he had trained himself to ignore fire codes.

The Roadhouse wasn’t exactly the most popular joint on the way, way outskirts of town on its best day. Today it was so full one might surmise that every other bar and convenience store in a fifty mile radius had burned to the ground and left the surrounding towns with no other place to get a beer. Dean had never seen so many people in here; wondered if there were some kind of hunter’s convention he hadn’t been told about. Not that it would have surprised him if there was some kind of hunter’s convention he hadn’t been told about. Nine long, frustrating years of still being tethered to his Dad after leaving school had driven home the point that the hunting community at large was never going to respect an omega hunter, and especially not an omega hunter that looked like Dean.

Because Dean was beautiful. Really breathtakingly beautiful. Traffic stopping beautiful. Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant beautiful. From his pale skin flecked with freckles to his huge juniper green eyes framed by long charcoal lashes to his full, perfectly bowed and pouty pink mouth, there wasn’t an imperfection to be found when one gazed upon Dean Winchester’s face. Adam still teased him about being a Disney princess, and he’d been an omega for ten fucking years now. Adam had also unhelpfully informed Dean once that his face was the quintessential (that’s when Dean knew his brother wouldn’t be a hunter; no respectable hunter used words like quintessential) example of Da Vinci’s Golden Ratio. When Dean looked up Da Vinci’s Golden Ratio he’d flushed with embarrassment to the tips of his ears, and all that had done was make his looks even more striking. He knew this because his annoying little brother laughed and told him.

And that was just Dean’s face. His perfectly symmetrical, perfectly proportioned face, beneath a crop of short, thick, dark blond hair begging anyone within a five foot radius to run their hands through it and tug, was just the beginning of the way his body’s appearance betrayed his efforts to be taken seriously as a hunter on his own without Daddy to protect him from the big bad alphas that populated their world. Dean had trained endlessly to build up the muscle mass to fend off anyone or anything that came at him, and all that had done was underscore how perfect his body was as well. He was compact but powerfully built, from his broad shoulders through his thick biceps, down to his trim waistline and what he had been told more than once was an “eminently fuckable ass.” It was true that he had never been able to develop his abs into a true six pack, but apparently that just made him more appealing as the slight softness to his belly was a sign of fertility. At 6’1” he was taller than the average omega by a good seven to eight inches, and he would have been even taller were he not slightly bow-legged. He’d always found his bow legs irritating even though it didn’t slow him down at all (and when he had to, Dean could run). When he’d presented as an om his Dad had found his own special way to reassure Dean that even the bend to his legs wasn’t a flaw. It just meant he’d be able to wrap them around his alpha once he gave up this goddamned idea that he was going to be in any way useful as a hunter and accepted he was only good for pumping out pups.

“Can’t believe I couldn’t tell you were gonna be an om,” was how John’s drunken pep talk went at the motel the night he picked Dean up from school. “You’re a goddamn alpha’s wet dream.”  

That was why he wanted to find a seat as quickly as he could, and why he would have turned right around and left, shooting Ellen a “Sorry, something came up, be in tomorrow” text if he hadn’t really needed those coupons; the sooner the better. A quick scan of the room revealed two open seats at the bar - the only available seats in the whole dimly-lit space - and he knew he needed to get there before they were gone. Most hunters were alphas, and alphas were assholes, and he was in a sea of them, surrounded by half-drunk sharks. Only the pair of knotheads in the booth had bothered to look up when he stopped beside them, and Dean was glad he’d taken a minute to spray on some scent blockers before coming inside; otherwise he might have had a serious problem on his hands. It seemed the stench of multiple alphas and the milder smell of numerous betas mixed with alcohol, tobacco, and bar food was enough to provide him additional cover while he did his visual sweep. He was about to make a beeline for one of the the open stools when he felt a hand on his left wrist.

It was one of the alphas in the booth. Apparently the competing scents in the air weren’t enough to completely mask him after all. Either that or they just straight-up liked the look of him in his ripped jeans, bright blue Henley, flannel, and Carhartt. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d been stopped because of his looks. Fuck, he should have just kept wandering around looking for a seat. He silently cursed whatever gods were out there for denying him just one good day and tried to gently wrest himself free.

“What’s the matter darlin’?” the alpha sneered, sliming his way into Dean’s personal space as he tightened his grip. “You look lost.”

Dean knew the subtle growl that accompanied the way the alpha ground out the word “darlin’.” They’d definitely pegged him as an omega. The way the guy took a long, deep breath and held it for a second before releasing it, looking slightly dazed as he did so confirmed it. The jackass definitely had his scent. He was going to have to switch brands of blockers. (He was so glad scent blockers didn’t cost upwards of $20 per can. Oh wait, they did. Good thing he was here about a job - he was going to need every coupon of those $400.)

Dean glanced down at the hand still holding him, then up at the people in the bar. No one had noticed how cozy his new buddies were getting with him, not that he really thought anyone would have been much help. Most of the hunters were too busy at the pool table, playing darts, or shoveling greasy burgers into their mouths to have spotted him yet. There were some couples (really strange to see couples in here - definitely a convention he didn’t know about) moving on the dance floor to In Your Eyes, and wow Dean was going to have to have a talk with Ellen about the music choices in the jukebox. Peter Gabriel and the Roadhouse were just not compatible in his understanding of the world. He took another quick scan of the room, this time looking specifically for Ellen, Ash, or Jo. Ellen and Ash weren’t anywhere to be seen (probably in the back room), but Jo was at the bar. Just as he started to raise his free hand in her direction she vanished into the kitchen before he could catch her eye.

Great.

The alpha’s thumb was now rubbing little circles on Dean’s pulse-point while the scent of old sweat socks and regret flooded his nostrils. Why did every alpha have to be a goddamned stereotype? It really did get old after a while.

“You’re gonna wanna remove that hand if you wanna keep it,” Dean informed him evenly, his voice smooth and low as he reached carefully for the gun in the back of his waistband. If no one else had noticed them, he had a real chance to get out of this without causing a brawl. Dean didn’t doubt he could take this guy - he looked pretty hammered - but he’d rather not draw attention to himself unless he had to and a subtle flash of his pearl handled Colt seemed the quickest way to resolve this little problem quietly. “I’m not gonna tell you twice.”

His perfectly reasonable statement drew only a loud laugh from the alpha and his friend, who was now getting unsteadily to his feet while Dean registered that I Wanna Know What Love Is had started playing lowly in the background. Under different circumstances he might have laughed at the absurdity. As it was he’d been driving for six hours straight, his back hurt, his neck was stiff, and he just wanted to take a piss and have a goddamn beer.

“That so, pretty boy?” He was even more in Dean’s space now, close enough that Dean could smell the nachos on his breath and count the missing teeth. “I think maybe me an’ Clem (Clem? What was this, “Deliverance”?) oughtta take you outside and teach you to show alphas proper respect.”

The two alphas were either too stupid or too drunk to notice the flash of warning in the omega’s eyes or to see that the bright green irises had turned so dark they almost looked black, but Dean’s warning growl was audible even over the chatter of people, clack of pool balls knocking against each other, and hilariously inappropriate mood music provided by Foreigner. Both Toothless and Clem were really starting to encroach on his space now, and a quick glance in the immediate area of the door brought three more alphas to his attention who had taken notice of what was happening. He saw two of the three reaching for the insides of their jackets, because of course this was a hunter’s bar and by default nearly everyone would be carrying. Well shit. Clearly he shouldn’t have waited to draw his Colt to diffuse the situation but crying over spilt milk wasn’t going to get him anywhere now, so he calmly and slowly moved his hand away from his back. All three of the newly interested alphas were starting to sniff the air, which he was positive smelled faintly of an anxious omega despite the scent blocker, and their piqued interest in the standoff by the booth became immediately more disconcerting.

Dean began to calculate his odds of at least winging all five of them before they could disarm him and drag him outside and decided his chances were better at winning the lottery. He wouldn’t want to kill any of them as that was generally frowned upon in the community, and he certainly wasn’t interested in shooting some innocent bystander just trying to have some curly fries or hoping to get laid if he played enough ‘80s hits. He had already pressed his luck planning to fend off two alphas in a room full of alphas without assistance, even if Toothless and Clem were smaller than him and too drunk to stand up straight. Now that it was turning into five against one he could see this going sideways quickly, and he was not up for the very real possibility of being gang raped tonight in the parking lot. Toothless still had a grip on his wrist and along with Clem was trying to push him back towards the other alphas and Dean was thinking if he could get his boot knife he could at least take care of Toothless and Clem, maybe Jo would be back from the kitchen by then, which was precisely the moment he scented Sam.

This was exactly what he needed to make the evening complete. Two almost certainly inbred alphas putting their hands on him had been enough. Being utterly humiliated as a useless, defenseless omega in front of Sam Fucking Campbell was the icing on the cake. Not that he was going to be utterly humiliated, because now that he’d stowed the initial burst of panic at being stuck between two groups of alphas by the front door (wow those guys behind him were big) and no one having spotted him yet to see him being manhandled, he was putting together a doable plan on how to fight them off that involved his boot knife, Toothless’ beer bottle, and Clem’s fork. Those alphas were really going to regret messing with Dean…

Winchester!”

And just like that his whole plan fell to pieces. His good plan. His solid plan. His plan that would have worked because he was strong, squirrely, and fast. His plan that was now completely unnecessary, because Sam Fucking Campbell had just called to him across the bar using his alpha voice like some kind of goddamn white knight rescuing a princess from a cave of dragons, and now he couldn’t do anything but react to and focus on Sam. Who apparently had that effect on a lot of people, because now half the room had gone quiet and finally realized an omega had joined the party and was being openly threatened near the door. So now in addition to Sir Sam the Self-Righteous he had an audience of at least fifty hunters who weren’t going to get to see his excellent fork/bottle/boot knife escape, but instead had front row seats to a goddamn dinner theater performance about how chivalry wasn’t dead after all.

Sam had certainly dressed the part for this play in Doc Martens, dark, slim legged denims that probably cost more than Dean’s three month supply of suppressants, and a tight purple tee shirt with some kind of graphic under an unbuttoned gauzy white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. At the moment he looked much older than the twenty-two year old kid Dean knew him to be, and that was due in no small part to how tall and broad shouldered he was. And boy, was he ever broad and tall. Whichever direction you looked, there was more Sam to see. Tilt your head up where a normal person’s height would have stopped - there was more Sam. Look to the left or the right where a decent human being’s shoulders would no longer be taking up space - more Sam. Even his feet were bigger than feet were supposed to be. The guy was just enormous, and not in a “World Donut Eating Champion” kind of way, but in a “Bigfoot Might Be Real and A Lot Sexier Than Everyone Thought” kind of way. Everything about him was vastly more than was necessary to convey his alpha status, including the amount of confidence he was exuding at this particular moment that he would have no problem taking out the five guys by the door without needing the aid of a bottle or a fork.

The reality of Sam’s size actually took Dean’s breath away for a second. The last time Dean had seen him properly, and not just in passing, had been at Adam’s Academy graduation party two years ago. Dad had been on a job and Adam hadn’t wanted to upset Dean by making a big deal out of the event, but Sam insisted on having a bunch of Adam and Sam’s mutual friends over to his grandfather’s estate outside of Shreveport. Dean had realized then that Sam had surpassed him in height, but clearly he had kept right on growing and now had to be close to 6’5”. A mop of brown hair fell into his eyes and curled around his ears, just the right length to draw attention to his high, sharp cheekbones. His normally full mouth was pulled into a stern, thin frown, the nostrils on his wide, sloped nose flared as he inhaled to assess his dominance in the room, and the muscles in his angled jaw were flexing in clear irritation. His eyes shuffled through their full spectrum of color, from blue to green to hazel, flashing red briefly before settling on a dark stormy grey. He looked like an actual goddamned prince and for reasons that utterly escaped Dean, he was pissed.

The white shirt pulled tight as Sam flexed his shoulders in what appeared to be an attempt to control himself rather than as a threat, but it had the opposite of the intended effect on the assholes accosting Dean. It would have been impossible for anyone whose attention he held to miss just how large Sam’s upper body really was before whittling down to his narrow waist and hips. Or how large and veined his forearms were. Or his wrists. Or his hands. Dean found himself momentarily distracted as he wondered if Sam’s hands were large enough to hold both of Dean’s wrists at once or how easy it would be for Sam to overpower him now (he decided probably pretty easily, please god yes, before his upstairs brain wrestled control back from his downstairs brain). He thought ruefully that he should have just taken his chances with these five guys in the parking lot, since now he was breaking out in a sweat and still couldn’t take his eyes off of Sam because the bastard had said his name as a command.

Chapter Text

Surely hours must have passed as Dean and half the room stood with their attention locked on Sam, so it was with some confusion that Dean became aware Foreigner still wanted to know what love is as he managed to choke out in response, “Yeah?”

Sam took three steps forward. It was a dog on the purple shirt; a whippet or a greyhound or some other really skinny dog, stretched so tight across Sam’s chest Dean actually licked his lips. He felt the moment Toothless’ hand turned clammy, and he was fairly sure that new smell was Clem pissing himself - possibly evacuating his bowels as well - which did nothing to reduce how much Dean wanted to trade places with that dog.

Is there a problem?” Sam asked, still using his alpha voice.

Toothless finally let Dean go, and he could smell the fear pouring off the alphas behind him when they realized they weren’t just pushing around some pathetic little omega, but now had to deal with Sam Campbell. Dean would have liked to believe the only reason they were acting with deference now was because Sam’s grandfather was such a bigwig with the FDH, but he knew that was a very small part of their reaction to him. If they cared about who someone was related to they would have backed off the second they heard the name “Winchester” and not held on until Sam was clearly taking up Dean’s predicament as his own.

It was like Sam had walked into a room Dean wasn’t aware existed and flipped some kind of switch to make the other alphas cower in fear. Dean was never going to be able to flip that switch. Even worse, he had had enough of these encounters by now to know that even if he found the room he wouldn’t have the combination to get in and do anything. Meanwhile Sam not only had the combination to the room, he apparently owned the building the room was in.

Goddamn him.

“No.” Dean blushed a deep crimson as his voice cracked like a kid going through puberty, cleared his throat, and tried again. “No, everything’s fine here.”

You’re sure?”

Fuck, hadn’t anyone ever told Campbell how rude it was to use his alpha voice with an omega that wasn’t his mate? And why was it so hard for Dean to resist it? He’d become very good at resisting alpha commands.

“I said so, didn’t I?”

Sam regarded Dean sternly for a moment, clearly trying to determine whether he was telling the truth, and stubbornly refused to back down. Clem had squished his way back to his seat in damp trousers that were really starting to stink, leaving a puddle where he had been standing, but Toothless remained at Dean’s side. Though he was no longer touching him, his eyes were darting to the other three alphas, as if trying to decide whether they were still on board the “molest the omega” train. The standoff might have continued for quite some time or escalated into actual violence had Jo not finally reappeared from the kitchen and thrown the brilliant smile she reserved just for Dean his way.

“Dean!” She came to the end of the bar, the huge grin plastered to her face, and then quickly realized what was happening. A brief glance from Sam to Dean to Toothless had her pretty mouth turning down in a scowl and she pulled a shotgun from under the bar to lay across it in front of her, all in a matter of about five seconds. “There a problem here, Floyd?”

Floyd? Had Sam really just saved him from being sexually assaulted by two guys named Floyd and Clem?

God, his life sucked.

Floyd wisely decided not to take on the petite blonde beta with murder in her eyes, and stammered out, “N-no ma’am. Ain’t n-no problem here, J-Jo.”

“It’s kinda late Floyd,” Jo continued, her tone set in steel. “Your mates are prob’ly gonna be wondering where you are.”

“Yeah…” Floyd agreed, reaching over the booth for his jacket as Clem scrambled to his feet. “Y’know, I wasn’t even payin’ attention to the time, but you’re prob’ly right…”

Jo’s sweet smile returned.

“Probably. So you two should just be gettin’ on home and maybe don’t come back here for a long while. You want to keep the little ladies happy.”

Floyd and Clem practically fell over themselves telling her how right she was, and it didn’t escape Dean’s notice that Sam had finally gone back to his seat at the bar now that Jo clearly had things well in hand. More than that, Ellen had appeared at long last from the back room where Dean suspected she’d been and had noticed with dangerously narrowed eyes that something untoward was going on in her establishment. As she crossed to her daughter and they exchanged a few quiet words, Clem and Floyd took the opportunity to flee outright, banging through the door at practically a run. The three other alphas who had been thinking of getting back in on the action were now thoroughly engrossed in their beers and trying vainly to make themselves as small and anonymous as possible. Dean registered the bitter reality that he would have to thank two beta females and the most irritating alpha he knew - aside from his father - for publicly protecting his honor, and forced a smile onto his face in the hope that Ellen and Jo wouldn’t want to talk about what just happened if he looked like the happy-go-lucky, nothing-bothers-me, groping-is-a-normal-part-of-life-and-rolls-off-my-back-like-water-off-a-duck Dean everyone expected him to be.

As he finally started to move towards the bar for that drink he needed oh so badly the jukebox switched songs, and his trek across the main dining area where most of the patrons were still watching him was suddenly underscored by the opening strains of Dancing Queen, like some deity with a really twisted sense of humor had finally decided on the perfect Dean Winchester theme song. If a rugaru had burst through the door in that instant hungry for some long pig, he wouldn’t have bothered looking for a flamethrower.

And then he realized Sam had taken up one of those two remaining seats he’d been eyeing and he would have to sit next to him if he wanted to enjoy the safe haven of the bar. By that time Jo had turned her “Dean is here!” smile back on, which was the only good thing that had come out of this evening so far. He’d be damned if he’d walk away from that smile, but he wished that anyone other than Sam were sitting there.

Without even asking, Jo plunked a bottle of El Sol down in front of Dean and slid him the bowl of pretzel and peanut mix. Jo was one of his closest friends, and one of the only people outside of his brother, Benny, and his surrogate uncle, Bobby Singer, who respected his skills as a hunter and as a person, with no regard at all for his designation as an omega. Jo also harbored a desperate crush on him, which Dean quietly pretended to be oblivious to, seeing her more like a kid sister than anything else.

And even if he had seen her as anything else, he wasn’t stupid enough to cross her mother to pursue it.

“That was interesting,” Jo said with a smirk. “Looks like we can’t leave you alone for two minutes without you getting into trouble.”

Dean took a swig of his beer and attempted his own smirk at the situation, though it didn’t reach his eyes.

“Looks like it. What’s with all the people in here?”

“Midwest hunters’ convention. Didn’t you get the invite?”

Heh. He could at least take satisfaction that his gut was still on target.

“Nah.” He took another swig and a handful of the pretzels and peanuts. “They must not have my new address now that I’m up in Sioux Falls.”

“Must not,” Jo agreed, though her brown eyes twinkled.

“Can I get you something to eat, Dean?” Ellen asked as Jo got waved down the bar by someone needing a refill. “A man can’t live on bar mix alone.”

“Especially not when it’s stale,” Dean agreed, and his smile was genuine. “Nah, I’m good.”

Ellen regarded him for a moment with an openly concerned expression, one that always made Dean want to crawl through the floorboards. He was never going to be used to the Harvelles caring what happened to him, especially when his own father never had.

“You’re sure?” she pressed, drying a glass with the bar towel she kept over her shoulder. “It’d be on the house, as an apology for whatever that nonsense was you just had to put up with.”

Dean decided to go for breezy nonchalance and succeeded, even as he was acutely aware that Sam Campbell was right at his shoulder and vibrating from stress, as if he were just waiting for both Jo and Ellen to be out of the way before saying whatever crap it was he wanted to say.

“Well, if it’s gonna be like that,” Dean replied with a grin, “it’d be downright rude of me to refuse. Think I could get a double bacon cheeseburger with extra onion rings?”

“Medium well good enough for you?”

“Perfect. Thanks Ellen.”

She gave him one of her genuine, warm smiles, but the concern didn’t entirely leave her eyes. Jo was now stuck at the end of the bar with a couple of knotheads trying to get her number, and Dean soaked up all of Ellen’s motherly vibes before she breezed off into the kitchen with a, “You got it, hon,” and left him by himself with Sam.

Why Dean expected Sam to launch into whatever he was chewing on that kept him clenching and unclenching his jaw he wasn’t sure, but he did. He knew better, of course. Sam was a brooder, and when he was as deeply in a brood as he clearly was now he often needed prompting to say what was on his mind, and man did Dean not want to prompt him, preferring to just wait it out until Ellen or Jo came back. But the tension was just too much, especially after the Mexican standoff at the door, and all too soon he found himself saying, “You got somethin’ to say, you should just say it.”

Sam took a sip of the IPA in his glass and asked, “What makes you think I’ve got anything to say?”

“Maybe because I’ve known you since you were six,” Dean replied. The “duh” didn’t need to be said.

Sam considered this, flexed his jaw again, then nodded and took another sip before turning fully to Dean. Dean cast a sideways glance at him and noticed how the expanse of his chest and shoulders really just did go on for days.

“Just because I saved your ass a couple of minutes ago it wasn’t an invitation for you to get your omega stink all up in my space,” Sam said finally.

“Sammy, I get all tingly when you take control like that,” Dean countered, throwing a wink his way.

Sam blanched, then flushed, and Dean had a very hard time suppressing a full body laugh. However, after all the crap he’d been through since he got here ten-ish minutes ago he did not deny himself the Cheshire cat smile of flipping the script on Campbell. Sam was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of Dean flirting with him. Good.

“Don’t get the idea that’s going to be a regular thing,” Sam spat out when he had somewhat recovered. “I’m not your boyfriend.”

“You think that’s why I’m sitting here?”

“It’s not? You didn’t come slinking over here so I can protect you from the next guy who decides to...”

“Sam, do you see any other goddamn place in this bar for me to sit?” Dean demanded, the smile gone from his face as he whipped around to look at the younger man. “And don’t say the booth where those two knotheads were. You wanna go sit in Clem’s bodily fluids be my guest, but your name ain’t on this barstool and I’m not movin’ so I guess you’ll just have to deal with my omega ‘stink.’ And just so we’re clear, I don’t need anyone’s protection.”

“Coulda fooled me.”

“You got another asshole alpha giving you a problem, Dean?” Jo asked, having caught the tail end of the discussion as she returned to shamelessly flirt with him.

“This is none of your business, Jo,” Sam growled.

Jo couldn’t possibly have been less impressed. She actually rolled her eyes so hard Dean thought she must have pulled something.

“Spare me, Sam,” she sighed, sounding very tired. “I deal with you knotheads all the time. You all run around thinkin’ you’re so special because you won some arbitrary biological lottery. Alphas are the poster children for the dangers of handing out participation trophies instead of making kids earn their awards.”

Dean was in the middle of taking a swig and actually snorted, fighting back tears as he struggled between choking and laughing. Sweet Jesus, he loved Jo Harvelle. Sam attempted a witty rejoinder, but in the end just clamped his mouth shut. Jo’s eyes were twinkling again as she turned her attention back to Dean.

“You gonna be okay there Sweetheart?”

“Yeah, Jo, yeah.” Dean was still coughing a bit though, but it was worth it. “Thanks for that, I needed the laugh.”

Jo slid him another El Sol as he finished the last of his first bottle, and Sam pulled out his laptop, determined to ignore them. Dean noticed how Sam stole a glance towards the booth Floyd and Clem had occupied, scrunched his nose in distaste, and decided he was better off staying where he was.

“You just passin’ through or you headed to a job?” she asked.

“Depends,” Dean replied. “Gotta talk to your mom first.”

Jo lowered her voice.

“The thing outside of Laramie?”

Dean wasn’t surprised Ellen had told Jo. The young woman’s father had been a hunter, one that frequently met up with Dean’s dad, and though she’d wanted to go to a beta school for hunters Ellen had been flatly against it. It still didn’t stop Jo from poking around in the browser tabs and newspaper clippings her mom regularly sorted through and once Jo picked up on something Ellen knew better than to deny it. Dean started in on his second beer and gave a quick nod.

“Laramie?” Sam’s voice surprised both Jo and Dean, and they swung around in tandem to look at him. His frown had deepened, and Dean couldn’t read his eyes in the limited light of the Roadhouse, but if he wasn’t mistaken Sam’s scent was no longer simply irritated, but also a mixture of concern and fear. Neither of which made any sense. He lowered his voice so it was just the three of them in the discussion. “Are you talking about the rancher and cattle deaths day before yesterday?”

How the hell did Sam know about that? It wasn’t even up in the FDH alert system yet. Ellen was planning to wait for a text from Dean that he’d found the nest before reporting it so he’d be almost assured of the standard $400 coupon rate a vamp nest brought in. Try as he might to look casual, Dean could feel his face heating up. He didn’t want this to turn into a scene where other hunters might overhear details about the job by denying outright that that’s what they were talking about, but he didn’t want to confirm it either in case he could throw Sam off the trail. He needed that fee.

Apparently he didn’t need to say anything though, because Jo was already pouncing.

“That’s Dean’s hunt,” she hissed quietly, casting glances around the bar to make sure no one heard her. “Your granddad can send you any job you want; leave him this one.”

Sam ignored her and purposely moved into Dean’s space.

“Is your dad meeting you there?” he asked calmly, though Dean could see the tension had ratched up in his shoulders, which had not seemed possible a few moments ago.

“What?” Dean was genuinely confused. “No. Why would my dad be meeting me there? We haven’t hunted together in almost a year.”

“A year?” Sam’s eyebrows had leapt up underneath his bangs and Dean couldn’t even see them now. Dean really had no idea what the hell Sam’s problem was, and his scent was too muddled with varying emotions to give the omega any kind of clue. “You’ve been hunting by yourself for a year?”

Dean turned to Jo for help, speechless, but Jo looked just as dumbfounded about what Sam was reacting to. And Sam was definitely reacting. He took a long pull on his IPA, closed his laptop, ran his hands into his hair, and leaned forward on the bar. Then he just sat like that, forcing himself to breathe evenly. Dean didn’t want to ask, but he had to know.

“So...is there some reason you look like you’re about to have a stroke, or…”

“You’re an omega, Dean!” Sam exploded, whipping around to look at him and drawing the attention of a sizable portion of the bar again. Sam took a moment to compose himself as Dean felt heat rising up his neck while he tried to tamp down on the fury that was building in the pit of his stomach. “You shouldn’t be hunting alone. It’s too dangerous.”

“That so?” The ice in Dean’s voice surprised even him. He very calmly turned back to his El Sol and took a long, determined drink, then swung back to Sam, his eyes dangerous and dark again. “Tell me something Sammy. You know about this case. Is that cuz you were planning on taking this job?”

“It’s not the same and you know it,” Sam snarled.

“Why is that?” Dean shot back. “Because you popped your knot when you were sixteen and I didn’t?”

“Dean…”

“Listen, I know it can be hard for you trust fund kids to understand what life is like for us normal folk, but some of us have to make money if we wanna eat.”

“You want money?” Sam grabbed his coat and dug into a pocket as Ellen returned with Dean’s food and tried to figure out just what the hell was going on. She approached slowly, like one might do with a rabid raccoon, and flinched when Sam flung a wad of FDH coupons down on the bar. “We both know those signs point to a vampire nest, so there you go - $400 in coupons. Exactly what taking out a nest would pay. Now leave it to me.”

Dean grabbed the coupons and flung them back.

“Go fuck yourself, Sam.”

“Boys.” They snapped around to look at Ellen as she carefully set down Dean’s food. She glanced at her daughter who could do nothing more than stare back with wide eyes and shrug. Jo was totally lost by this point and standing there solely as moral support for Dean if he needed it, which he didn’t seem to at the moment. “Do I need to ask the two of you to go stand in a corner for five minutes until you can calm down and stop acting like a pair of toddlers?”

“He started it!” Dean exclaimed instantly.

What?” Sam practically shrieked.

“You did, though,” Jo stated, and Sam threw her a murderous glare. “Dude, you did. I know you alphas have this stupid ass thing with keeping omegas in the kitchen but…”

“I don’t…” Sam blanched a second time and looked like he might choke on his indignation. “I absolutely do not think that omegas…”

“Then what’s the big deal with Dean taking this job?” Jo demanded quietly, not wanting to draw attention their way again now that people had turned back to their food, friendly games of pool and darts, and slow dancing to ‘80s tunes (Echo and the Bunnymen now, Bring on the Dancing Horses - at least it was a step up from ABBA, but most bands were in Dean’s book).

It looked for a moment like Sam was actually going to grab hold of Jo and throttle her, which had Dean reaching for the Colt in his waistband for the second time tonight. Instead, Sam drew in a deep breath, spread his hands out on the bar, and took a moment to slowly exhale. It had the effect of both making him look larger and smaller at once, and when he finally turned back to Jo it was with the obvious intent of not appearing threatening, but reasonable.

“Look,” he began with deliberate control. “This isn’t personal. Dean’s an omega. You can’t say that he isn’t, since you brought biology into this. You two,” he looked pointedly at Jo and Ellen, “are betas. You have no idea what he smells like. That’s just a fact.” Dean opened his mouth to object, but Sam held up a finger and used his goddamn alpha voice again. “Dean, be quiet. Let me finish.

Clearly that didn’t win him any points with Jo, who crossed her arms and glared at him, but Sam simply took another calming breath before continuing.

“I get that you think I’m just being some kind of overbearing knothead, but believe me. An omega’s scent is designed to attract alphas. And alphas are predators. That’s the whole basis to all the stupid, primitive mating and claiming and heat and rut cycles, and I’m telling you, as a predator, that Dean’s scent is going to let those vamps know he’s near their nest before he even knows he’s near their nest. But even without all the alpha/beta/omega crap I just threw out - and honestly a lot of the time I wish I were a beta because it would be easier not to have to fight my instincts just to act like a decent human being - even taking all of that out of the equation, the fact remains that no one should try to take on a vamp nest alone. Without at least two hunters to take on a nest it’s a suicide mission.”

“Just because you couldn’t…” Jo began, but Ellen laid a hand on her arm to quiet her.

“Slow down, Joanna Beth,” she said, her eyes fixed on Sam. “He’s not saying anything that ain’t true. No one should try to take on a nest alone. Who’s your back-up, Dean?”

Dean glared at Ellen, supremely irritated that he was being made to explain himself like some kind of amateur, then turned to Sam and quirked an eyebrow. Sam stared back with a semi-scowl on his face, before realization dawned.

“Oh. Right. Go ahead and answer her,” he ordered sheepishly.

“Jesus,” Dean griped. “For your information I’d planned to call Benny once I got the intel from Ellen. Then I was gonna do some recon while I waited for him to get there.”

The pungent wave of hatred that poured suddenly from Sam was almost enough to force Dean off of his seat and back a few steps. Dean wanted to ignore it, but could see Sam gripping his pint glass as if he were trying to find out if he was actually strong enough to crush it in his palm, and the bottle of El Sol shook slightly as Dean raised it to his mouth.

“Benny Lafitte?” Ellen asked. “I thought he was outta the life.”

“He is,” Dean told her, “but he makes exceptions if I need help on a job.”

“So…” Sam had his hands pressed to the bar again and sounded like he was having a difficult time restraining himself. From what Dean couldn’t guess, but his eyes were wide as he turned to the obviously very upset alpha sitting next to him. “So, your plan was to spend a couple of days by yourself near a vampire nest gathering intel and just...what? Hope Lafitte gets there in time to keep you from becoming a chew toy and isn’t so rusty that you both end up dead or turned?”

Normally Dean would have taken up the challenge, but the anger coloring Sam’s face made him think better of it and he said simply, “The one thing I can say about Benny, he has never let me down.”

The intense aroma of rage mixed with the hatred of Sam’s scent. Dean’s brain couldn’t decide between fight or flight, leaving him frozen in place on his stool. The two people sitting behind Sam cast a sidelong glance at him, threw some money on the bar to cover their tab, and fled. Sam inhaled and exhaled slowly, then cleared his throat. It wasn’t comforting.

“You’re not going to stake out this vamp’s nest by yourself like an appetizer and just wait for Lafitte to show up,” he said at length. “If you’re dead set on doing this job, which you obviously are, then I’ll work it with you. I had a partner lined up for this, but she doesn’t play well with others so I’ll just tell her it was a false lead. This way you get your $400 coupons, no one else dies while you’re waiting on backup, and I don’t have to explain to Adam why I let his idiot big brother ride off alone and get himself killed.”

He fixed his eyes on Dean, and the omega could tell that Sam had dug his heels in and was not going to let this go. It was one of the traits that made him such a good hunter, young as he was, and why there were already whispers in the community that he had the potential to be the best of the best. Once Sam set his mind on something - solving, fixing, having - he kept at it until he solved/fixed/had whatever it was. While Dean would much rather work with Benny on this job, Sam was ready for a fight, and this was not the hill Dean wished to die on. Not today, anyway.

“Okay Sam. We can play it your way.”

“Good. Ellen, you got a pen?”

“Sure thing Sam.”

“Thanks.”

Ellen, Jo, and Dean all waited patiently while Sam grabbed a bar napkin and begin to write in quick, efficient strokes. Then he stood, whipped out his wallet, and casually tossed a $50 bill on the bar before sliding the napkin over to Dean.

“That’s the hotel I’m staying at and my cell number,” he said, making sure he had Dean’s eyes locked on his before he spoke. “When you’ve finished up here and have what you need from Ellen, text me the location and I’ll meet you there.”

“Yeah, right,” Dean scoffed as Sam swept his laptop into the messenger bag he’d had resting against his stool and swung into the brown corduroy jacket that was sitting atop the bag. “And I’m supposed to believe you aren’t gonna just run off to pick up this gig with whoever your partner is?”

Sam slapped his hand on Dean’s shoulder and just left it there for a second, his eyes blue-green as he fixed them on the omega again. For some reason, Dean suddenly believed all that crap Sam had just been spewing about omega scents and predators. He certainly felt like prey at the moment. He knew the redness was creeping into his cheeks and cursed his stupid omega hormones as Sam smiled for the first time since Dean walked in. He tried to school his facial features into something like indifference as his gaze fell from Sam’s eyes to his dimples, settling finally on his mouth, and failed quite miserably.

“Well Dean,” Sam told him, “I guess you’re just gonna have to trust me.”

Chapter Text

Sam had barely finished sashaying his way on out before Jo was up in Dean’s grill while he tried to recover his dignity and eat his cheeseburger.

“You’re not really gonna trust him, are you?” she demanded, her brow furrowed as she scowled.

“Course not,” Dean said around a mouthful of curly fries. “Do I look like a moron?”

“Don’t answer that,” Ellen ordered with a smile.

“Your face is gonna freeze that way, you know,” Dean told Jo, who stomped away petulantly, leaving him to his food. Ellen took her place in front of Dean, pulling her brown hair back into a ponytail as he took a swig of his beer. “What’s her problem with Campbell anyway? Not that I’m a fan, but he’s usually pretty polite to betas. He do something I should know about and break his knees for?”

“Nah,” Ellen replied easily. “Her problem is the same one most of us have. The kid’s swimming in cash, but goes out and takes paying jobs other hunters need. Plus just the size of him. He kinda dominates a room by default. Lots of alphas don’t like that.” She gave him a pointed look. “Especially when there’s an unmated omega in the room.”

Dean groaned.

“Not you too. What, have you been talkin’ to my dad?”

“You lookin’ to get your mouth washed out, boy? You know I don’t talk to John.”

“Bobby then?”

“You know Bobby don’t want to see you mated off to some knothead. Why would you even ask that?”

“It seems to be the theme of the evening.”

Dean slid his empty bottle over to her and she grabbed him a new one.

“That’s your third and your cutoff limit here,” she told him firmly, and he raised a hand in acquiescence. If he and Sam were on the trail of a vamp nest he needed to stay sharp, and drinking himself to sleep tonight wouldn’t exactly help that. “I’m not talkin’ about settling down and becoming some kind of 1950s househusband. I’m talkin’ about your brother.”

“Oh.” Dean laughed without humor. “That.”

“If by ‘that’ you mean he’s scared to death of all these jobs you keep takin’ on by yourself when you should be working with at least a partner, if not a whole crew, then yes, I mean ‘that.’ You know he’s just waiting for you to give up this life and go live with him.”

“And do what, Ellen? Be a civilian? Sit around twiddling my thumbs and baking pies while he’s off at work, waiting for when he finally meets a nice beta to settle down with and she decides she doesn’t want his single, loser, omega brother hanging around the house? I think I’ll pass.”

“You can’t really think that would happen.”

“What else is gonna happen? It ain’t like omegas got a whole lotta options in this world. I start down the path of ‘protect me, little brother,’ things are gonna end up just like they were with Dad. Eventually he’ll get sick of having to fend off every alpha within scenting distance and I’ll be out on my ass.”

You walked away from your father, Dean. Not the other way around. That was no small thing after the way he raised you. Don’t you take that away from yourself.”

Dean didn’t have a comeback for that one. He didn’t want to tell her the only reason he’d told his dad he was leaving was because Adam had given him an ultimatum two years ago and he figured if he didn’t strike out on his own soon his brother would follow through with it. That wouldn’t have gone very far towards his argument that he was a big boy who could tie his own shoes and everything.

The fundamental truth of the matter was that omegas were limited in ways that betas simply couldn’t understand, and trying to explain it was kind of like trying to explain the concept of flight to a fish. They were never going to experience the open, government-sanctioned discrimination so they could sympathize but never empathize. Which didn’t mean that Dean wasn’t grateful for the many betas he knew who thought omegas got a really raw deal and wanted to see things change, it was just exhausting always having to explain the many ways the legal system worked against him, and he’d rather spend his time doing just about anything else. This was especially true when you took into account the fact that omegas were an ever shrinking portion of society. There just weren’t enough of them around for the average person to know more than three or four, so how vastly inferior their lives were compared to the general public wasn’t something most people were even aware of or cared about.

Most omegas, for instance, never finished high school because there wasn’t a point in wasting school resources on people who were just going to spend their lives breeding and keeping house for some jealous and possessive alpha who liked having their om on a tight leash. If you were someone like Dean, who had almost made it out of high school, and wanted to either finish school or get your GED there were exactly three places in the whole country that offered such a program: NYU, UCLA, and Georgia State. Adam had bitched so much about Dean moving to North Carolina with him to get his GED that Dean had actually taken the time to look it up, and lo and behold there were no agencies in the state with a GED program for omegas. If his own brother didn't know that, he could be pretty damn sure the general population didn't either.

Between the three universities that did offer the program, none of them took more than twenty omegas every year, and besides needing to be signed off on by an alpha relative or mate they were prohibitively expensive. Even if they hadn’t been, Dean had no desire to move to New York City, Los Angeles, or Atlanta. Sure, big cities tended to have better laws against omega rape than small towns and rural America, but they also had a whole lot more alphas to contend with, and federal law stated that any unmated omega’s pup could be taken by the sire, whether they were a rapist or not. Dean may have been willing to press his luck in Ellen’s bar in the middle of Nebraska. He was far less willing to do so in the middle of downtown Manhattan.

If an omega really wanted something out of life that didn’t involve matehood and a dozen children, they typically had to find creative ways to go about getting it. Dean breaking away from John hadn’t exactly been the straightforward act of saying, “I’m leaving” that Ellen seemed to think it was. First, Dean had had to trick his dad into signing the Impala over by promising he’d give up the life if John put the title in Dean’s name. John had been mostly driving them around in a big, black Sierra Grande for the last couple of years anyway, opting to leave the Chevy at Bobby’s. Cars were one of the few things omegas were allowed to own, though they still had to have an alpha or a beta co-owner, so getting the Impala was possible but challenging. Next, Dean had to convince John that if he signed the car over to him and Adam, instead of keeping himself on the title, then Dean could move in with his brother free and clear without being a burden who was not even able to go out and get a job for lack of transportation. Finally, since Dean wasn’t an idiot he made sure to lay out this plan for John when he’d gotten good and liquored up after a successful hunt, and he made sure to have the paperwork ready for John to fill out and sign.

It had taken another couple of months to get John to actually go to the DMV and transfer the title over, and Dean had only accomplished that by finally allowing himself to get grabbed by a Rawhead. Since gentle prodding hadn’t worked to get the paperwork filed and he didn’t want to escalate to fighting about it and risk John changing his mind, Dean’s one remaining option seemed to be convincing John that he was going to get himself killed any day now. Luckily for Dean it had worked, and he hadn’t actually gotten killed. The minute he had the title and the keys he’d hot wired a car and taken off for Bobby’s, leaving his father in one of his preferred crappy motels about a hundred miles outside of Las Vegas. He’d managed to dodge John for about a year, and meant to keep out of his way for as long as he could. He knew once John caught up to him he really would have to go live with Adam, and he wanted to pretend that he had some choice over how his life went for a couple of years at least.

He didn’t tell Ellen any of this. Instead he said, “Any idea who this partner is that Sam mentioned? The last thing I want is an angry alpha breathing down my neck for cutting in on her territory.”

“All I know is a name,” Ellen replied. “Ruby. Don’t know anything about her, though. She tends to fly under the radar and doesn’t use any of the normal hunting channels.”

“Never heard of her. Course, I don’t really run with the cool, gossipy kids these days,” Dean said, and finally pushed his plate aside. “My compliments to the chef. You wanna give me the lowdown on these vamps?”

The bar was just starting to thin out as Ellen went over the file she had on the ranch killings about fifty miles outside of Laramie, Wyoming. It looked like the vamps had been quite active for a long time. Lots of cattle deaths had been reported over the last six years or so, but no people had been victims so it never made it onto the FDH’s radar. Whoever these vamps were they appeared to have finally foregone their vegan lifestyle. Now there was a dead human - the rancher of the latest herd of dead cows - and once people started dying vamps never stopped on their own. Human blood was just too damn delicious.

Dean had all the information he needed in less than half an hour but lingered at the bar anyway until there were only a handful of patrons left. Ellen had stopped Jo from giving him a fourth El Sol so now he was alternating between water and ginger ale while Jo talked to him about Adam and when his kid brother was going to actually come out and meet them. He’d been a voice on a telephone for a couple of years now and she was curious about putting a name with a face. Dean promised he’d work on it, since he really did like Jo and thought she might hit it off with his brother. Not that he was eager to play Match.com but he agreed with Ellen about discouraging Jo from getting into the life and Adam was very much out of the life. If they did meet and hit it off, great; and if they didn’t that was fine, too, but at least they’d each have a puzzle piece to Dean’s life slotted into place.

Eventually Ash appeared from the back room, flipping his glorious party-in-the-back mullet over his shoulder, and challenged Dean to a couple games of pool. No one mentioned the elephant in the room; that they were giving Dean reasons to stay in the bar and not leave until it was relatively certain he wasn’t going to get jumped in the parking lot. They didn’t want to embarrass him by offering to walk him to his car, but the earlier incident with Sam, Clem, and Floyd still lingered.

Finally around midnight there was a silent agreement that it was safe for Dean to leave without being accosted, and he grabbed the folder of information and the napkin Sam had left for him at the bar a couple of hours ago to shoot him a text about the location of the nest. He swiped a packet of silverware from behind the bar, stuffed the fork and knife into his front pants pocket, and waved to Jo and Ash as he headed out to the parking lot. The night air was cooler than he was expecting and he zipped up his coat. If that had the effect of making it look like he was just trying to stay warm as he walk-ran to his car in the unseasonable cold snap for early August that was supposed to last the rest of the week, so be it.

He’d just slid behind the wheel and locked the doors when his phone rang. He expected it to be his dad and was planning to ignore it, but when he checked it was the number Sam had given him. He started up the Impala to let her warm up as he flipped open his phone and held it to his ear with his shoulder to throw the car into gear.

“Yeah?”

Where are you staying? ”

“What?”

Where are you staying? We should go over whatever intel you got.”

“Can’t we just...go over that when we meet up?”

We can…

Dean sighed, pulling out of the parking lot and heading for the highway. This is why he preferred working alone if he could help it.

“What’s the matter Sam? You don’t trust me?” There was silence on the other end of the line. “Thought so. Goodnight Sam.”

Wait! Dean!”

“What?”

It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just think it would be safer if we traveled together.

“Goodnight. Sam.”

Before Sam could argue, Dean hung up the phone and tossed it into the glove compartment. Man he missed the days of landline phones, where you could slam the receiver down to make a point. Clicking a button on a cell phone and chucking it across your car didn’t really provide the same catharsis. Fucking Sam Campbell, acting like he was Dean’s bodyguard and if they weren’t attached at the hip something terrible was going to befall him. It had been ten years of people treating him like a damsel in distress who couldn’t so much as speak up for himself without breaking a nail. He was officially out of patience when it came to that.

He realized too late that if Sam was asking where he was staying that it might not have meant Sam wanted to come stay where Dean was to play Kevin Costner to his Whitney Houston, but rather he intended to have Dean stay in whatever undoubtedly nicer hotel he had booked. While, again, he resented being treated like a bird who had escaped his gilded cage and needed to be returned to its safety forthwith, Dean didn’t actually have anywhere to sleep tonight. He had planned to grab a room at The Good Life Motel, an old standby he’d stayed at with his dad numerous times just this side of the Wyoming border, but the events at the Roadhouse had spooked him more than he was ever going to admit to anyone and now his plan was just to find somewhere he could pull off and sleep in the Impala. As much as he was still pissed at Sam, he wasn’t the type of alpha to try anything and Dean would have been safe enough sharing a room with him. A nice room at a Marriott or a Hilton, though he wasn’t sure those existed in this part of Nebraska, and he hadn’t paid attention to what hotel Sam wrote down on the napkin. Certainly Sam would have booked something that would be better than the back seat of Dean’s car, much as he loved her. Of course he couldn’t call Sam back and tell him he didn’t actually have a place to stay, because he wasn’t willing to give him the satisfaction of coming to Dean’s rescue a second time in one day, so he sighed and determined he would make it as far as he could on I-80 before his body demanded sleep.

He was actually really proud of himself when he made it to only about an hour from Wyoming before he just couldn’t drive anymore. He pulled off at the rest stop in Sydney, got his phone out of the glove compartment so he could set an alarm for 7am, then climbed into the back seat to curl up under the blanket roll he kept in his car. He bunched up his duffel to use as a pillow, wondered sleepily how many aches and pains he was going to aggravate by not getting a motel room like he’d originally planned, and passed out.

He awoke to a loud pounding on the rear driver’s side window before his alarm had a chance to go off. Jerking awake, he noticed the windows had fogged up, and wondered what asshole was bugging him before 7am on a Tuesday. He was in the correct area for overnight parking, his plates and registration were legit, and last he checked it wasn’t a crime for your windows to fog up overnight. He considered pulling his gun, but decided against it. Monsters didn’t knock on your window, after all.

“What?! Jesus, stop!” he barked, sitting up and wiping part of the window clear.

“Dean?”

Christ, it was Sam. Standing outside his car, holding a cup of coffee, looking completely freaked out. Dean scrubbed his hand across his face and rolled the window down.

“Yeah?” he said, trying to stretch out his neck. “Whattaya want, Sam?”

Sam caught Dean’s scent flooding out of the car, which Dean knew had to be pretty strong after sleeping in it closed up all night. He didn’t take it personally for once when Sam took a step back, and instead took advantage of the space to climb out and stretch his back. Sam just stood there silently with his coffee cup threatening to fall from his hand.

“Did you...sleep here?” Sam asked after a very long time.

“Cheaper than a motel,” Dean replied. “Why? You stalkin’ me?”

“What? No!” Dean didn’t even try to suppress his grin. Man, it was easy to wind Sam up. “I headed out a couple of hours ago and just needed to stop for some coffee. Saw the Impala and thought I’d better check on you.” Dean quirked an eyebrow but didn’t say anything, and Sam actually blushed. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad working with Sam after all if he was going to respond like this to everything. It may not have been very alpha-like, but it was adorable. “Anyway, since we’re both here should we maybe go over the case?”

“Sure.” Dean grabbed Ellen’s folder from the car and held it behind his back. “I’ll trade you the intel for your car keys.”

“What?”

“Gotta make sure you don’t take off while I’m getting coffee, Sammy.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

So much fun. So much better than the way things went at the Roadhouse last night.

“You don’t wanna give me your keys, you can go get me coffee instead.”

“And how do I know you won’t take off?”

Dean fished his keys out of his pocket and tossed them over to Sam.

“You take my keys.”

“You’re just gonna give me your keys?”

“And you’re gonna give them back when you bring me my coffee. Otherwise I will murder you.” Dean turned on his heel and headed over to the picnic tables near the main building with the folder, shouting back over his shoulder, “It’s called trust, Sam! We’re gonna need it to take on this nest!”

Dean had time to go through all the notes again before Sam made it back with his coffee. His coffee which wasn’t really coffee but some kind of vanilla caramel latte thing. Dean gave it a skeptical smell, pushing the folder across to Sam so he could review the contents. They stayed there until long after Dean’s alarm had gone off, Sam looking everything over carefully, making notes on the various bits of information, and Dean sipping his latte thingy that really wasn’t half bad (not that he was going to tell that to Sam). At last Sam said, “Looks pretty straightforward. I’ve got a crossbow and some dead man’s blood we can dip the bolts in so we can incapacitate them before…”

Dean drew his thumb across his neck and nodded. Using dead man’s blood from a distance was a good way to go and the kills would be quick and quiet, so the main issue was finding the vamps. Sam suggested taking his Hummer over to Wyoming and coming back after the job for Dean’s car, but Dean wasn’t leaving Baby in a rest stop and anyway he didn’t want to ride around in Sam’s “blatant overcompensation for his dick size.” To which Sam simply raised an eyebrow and glanced at the Impala. They nearly came to blows.

Since they were only about two hours outside of Laramie it looked like this was going to be a three-day job, max, so long as it didn’t take forever to pin down the location of the nest. “Fifty miles outside of Laramie” was a pretty large and vague area to cover. They finally agreed to caravan to Wyoming, find a hotel, and take Sam’s car out to start the search. Dean was relieved they were traveling separately, since he still needed to call Benny and tell him he could sit this one out and he preferred to do that out of earshot after the way Sam had reacted the night before.

Dean would have liked something a little cheaper and lower profile than the Holiday Inn, but his aching back from a night sleeping in the back seat overruled any objections he wished to voice when Sam pulled into the parking lot and headed for the lobby. He wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of just one room, but he didn’t make too big of a stink about it because logistically it made sense. Sam booked the room through the weekend in case it took longer than expected to find the nest or one of them got hurt, then they changed into more casual clothes to go do some recon.

Posing as a newly mated couple (Sam’s idea) who were looking to buy some land (Dean’s idea) and interested in the surrounding territory, the two talked to just about anyone willing to give them feedback on this part of the state - which turned out to be a lot of people. The ruse was a good one and got a lot of the locals to open up, but if Dean hadn’t known how much Sam disliked him he would have thought he suggested it just so they would be constantly touching. The whole morning Sam had a hand on the small of Dean’s back or was running his fingers through Dean’s short, spiky hair, or resting his hand gently on the back of Dean’s neck, sometimes giving him a little massage. He seemed to really enjoy playing up the angle of them being in the blissful early stages of matehood. Dean would have pressed the issue but didn’t want to throw off the easy rhythm they’d developed because they were getting a lot of really good information. Plus, he kinda liked the way it felt to have one of Sam’s gigantic hands laying gently on him at all times, which was surprising. By the time lunch rolled around it felt like they’d spoken with half the city and there was so much casual touching they were starting to smell like each other. Definitely time to take a break.

Over lunch at a nice little diner in town they went through the notes from their conversations that morning, though it was really more of a formality than a necessity; something to talk about to pass the time. Everyone they interviewed knew about the rancher and warned against buying land to the northwest near Medicine Bow. Dean would have thought they’d rehearsed it if he wasn’t so good at reading people. The whole city really was just that frightened of whatever was happening up by Medicine Bow. It looked like they’d found where to start looking.

At the end of it all it took them a day and a half to locate the nest, and another day to wipe it out. It was ridiculously easy between the crossbow and the dead man’s blood. The worst thing than happened to either of them was when Sam fell through some rotted floorboards and ended up with a splinter from catching himself. They’d left early to catch the vamps while they were still asleep and were back in Laramie in time to have dinner at an actual restaurant (Sam insisted, even after Dean asked if it was a date and caused Sam to blush such a deep red he was nearly purple), and then headed back to the room to fill out the paperwork to get the FDH to certify the kill and deposit the money in their accounts. Sam ordered a pizza because they were both still hungry after the inadequate “actual restaurant” food, and gave a handwave when Dean tried to give him the laptop to enter his hunter number. The pizza arrived, Sam grabbed a slice and flipped on the TV, and that was when the drinking had started.  

Sam was relaxed for the first time in Dean’s presence in...god, years. Dean had forgotten how good Sam smelled when he wasn’t all irritated that Dean was in the same room with him; big and strong and gentle and safe. And the way he’d looked when Dean choked on a shot and coughed it out all over his shirt, full out laughing even as he asked if Dean was okay, his eyes sparkling blue-green and his dimples so deep. And the memory of how large and strong his hands were when Dean grabbed hold of him to help haul him out of the rotted floor back at the nest, or how he’d kept carressing Dean the whole time they were interviewing witnesses. And how hilarious he’d looked when he took a bite out of the pizza and half the cheese came off but it was too hot to eat it all at once so he had to bite some out onto his plate saying, “Shit, shit, shit” around the rest of the food in his mouth, sauce all over his chin. Dean had never been with an alpha before, hadn’t ever wanted to be with one because they immediately got all possessive and acted like they owned you, but Sam was just so adorable and perfect and attractive and soothing and how was Dean supposed to resist all of that? The short answer: he couldn’t, and when he’d had enough liquid courage that he felt like he could survive the humiliation if Sam rejected his advances, he literally threw himself across the couch and into Sam’s lap.

And now Dean was standing in front of the pharmacist at the South Bald Mountain Pharmacy in Laramie, trying to process what she had just told him.

“I said I’m sorry, Mr. Winchester. You’re going to have to see your own pharmacist in Sioux Falls. You’re simply too far past due for us to fill the script here without a consult from your primary physician.”

That’s what Dean was pretty sure was called “irony.” The overwhelming need to get the money for his suppressants had overridden his better judgement from the minute he walked into the Roadhouse, and now he couldn’t even get them until tomorrow, because Sioux Falls was a nine and a half hour drive and there was no way he’d get there in time to get to a clinic and get a refill for his prescription. Yeah, that was definitely ironic, no matter what Alanis Morissette thought the word meant. Dean didn’t even have words to argue, he just turned and quietly went outside to stand on the street corner and try not to panic.

He had never been off his suppressants since his dad put him on them, and he didn’t really know anything about them because there hadn’t been a way to research without John finding out he was looking up “omega shit,” and John certainly hadn’t told him anything other than, “Take these.” He had no clue what would happen if he was off them for a full week. This whole thing with Sam could have been completely avoided, and he felt a desperate need for a beer as he waited for the traffic to pass so he could shuffle safely to Hal’s Diner across the street without having to run. His stomach seemed to have recovered enough from the tequila to demand breakfast, but he didn’t want to push it. About the only good thing to come out of this mess was he’d learned he couldn’t actually trust Sam Campbell, and what’s more he wouldn’t, ever again.

In fact, if Dean had anything to say about it, he wouldn’t even have to see Sam for the rest of his life.

Chapter Text

Sam Campbell did not lead a charmed life. He was well aware that people thought he did, and he could understand why. His grandfather had a disgusting amount of wealth in numerous bank accounts, several of them outside the country, was one of the highest ranking officials in one of the most secretive government organizations in the States subjected to just about the least amount of oversight, and one day everything Samuel controlled would be passed down to Sam. That amount of money could buy an awful lot of comfort and security, but despite his advantages Sam had never really felt assured of either of those things. In fact, if anyone had asked what he thought about his life, the “c” word he would have chosen to describe it was “cursed.”

Rarely had he felt being cursed more acutely than as he sat in the main front window of Hal’s Diner, unshaven, unshowered, reeking of tequila, and watching Dean Winchester exiting the pharmacy across the street. He winced slightly in the sunlight, sliding sunglasses onto his face, and turned to check both ways as if he were going to cross. Sam unconsciously sucked in a breath and held it as he thought, Please, god, do not let him come over here. Of course, because Sam was cursed, Dean started towards the diner as soon as the traffic had passed.

He had fucked up so badly this morning, he just couldn’t deal with this now. He’d been too out of it when he woke up to really know what was going on or where he was, and had mindlessly pulled on a pair of pants and staggered down the hall of the hotel to get some ice for the headache that just might kill him. He was lucky the keycard to the room was still in his pocket since he certainly wasn’t with it enough to remember to grab it. It was when he came back in and heard someone puking in the bathroom that it came rushing back and he panicked.

Dean. He had slept with Dean. He had slept with Dean, and knotted him, and it had been amazing. Dear. God. No. He had to get out. Right now. He couldn’t look Dean in the face and pretend last night was nothing, or that either of them had been too drunk to know what they were doing. With the options of fight or flight it was obvious which one he should take.

Sam would have wondered if Dean were following him, but one: Dean had still been clinging to the toilet like a life preserver when Sam snuck his way out of the hotel room in just his pants, carrying the rest of his belongings with him all the way to the car, shirtless and barefoot, so Dean couldn’t have known where he went, especially not when he spent a solid hour in the Walmart bathroom suffering the after-effects of too much tequila; two: he’d left those coupons with the awful note behind with the intention of stopping anything that might threaten to start between them (which sure, he immediately regretted that but he needed Dean at arm’s length); and three: Dean Winchester could have anyone he wanted. He certainly wasn’t going to waste his time tracking down someone like Sam.

At first Sam thought he’d gotten a reprieve, for Dean had just about reached the restaurant when he looked up and seemed to have forgotten something. He crossed away and went down the other side of the street, and Sam let out the breath he’d been holding. Then back Dean came a few minutes later, looking at his cell phone. As it became clear that Dean was, in fact, headed towards Hal’s, Sam thought briefly and somewhat hysterically that he could make a run for it out the back. These places always had a back. They had to. Couldn’t get deliveries in through the front. So what if he’d have to force his way into the kitchen and would likely end up getting himself arrested? Absent-mindedly he grabbed his fork and ran his finger up the handle. He could use that if he needed to stab a cook in the hand to get away. It would be better than facing Dean asking why he just left without even saying, “See ya never,” or even worse, Dean’s complete indifference to him.

Of course, there was also the real possibility that the minute Dean walked into the diner Sam wouldn’t be able to control himself, and would haul him into the bathroom, lock the door, and just fuck him until the omega presented his neck and begged Sam to claim him. And Sam didn’t want that; not only because he wasn’t a caveman enslaved to his baser instincts, but because he knew Dean didn’t want that. Sure, last night had happened, and he didn’t think he would ever be able to forget the way Dean looked when he’d launched himself at Sam, capturing his mouth like a man who had just discovered a bottomless well after years crawling through the desert, but they’d been doing shots for a while and Sam wasn’t stupid enough to think that Dean’s sudden interest meant Dean was interested long term. Sam may have been drunk, but he was sober enough to know that the only reason Dean was mauling him was a mixture of alcohol and convenience, and Sam really should have put the brakes on, but…

Well. Dean’s hands were in Sam’s hair, tugging and scratching and holding their faces together so Dean could suck on his tongue and his lower lip. And then Dean’s mouth was everywhere else - his earlobe, his neck, the hollow between his collarbones - sucking and biting and licking. And Dean was literally in Sam’s lap, striping off his shirt, purring and insistent about what he wanted right now and whining about being the only one getting naked. Sam had barely been able to breathe, let alone resist the beautiful omega in his lap wanting him. And yeah, he knew Dean was drunk, but Dean was so clear about not being drunk enough not to know what he was doing, or what he wanted to do, or who he wanted to do or to express those urges clearly and convincingly, and Sam had spent the last two years since Adam’s graduation party yearning for Dean Winchester so badly he couldn’t think when Dean was in the same room.

So sue him if he couldn’t find it within himself to push Dean away or insist that they shouldn’t do this and instead picked Dean up like he weighed nothing in an attempt to get to the bed but only made it to the floor before his hands were down Dean’s pants. Sue him if he couldn’t stop telling Dean how gorgeous he was, how much he wanted him, trying to capture the mewling that came from Dean’s mouth as Sam sunk himself into Dean with a single thrust. Sue him if he let himself forget, for one night, that Dean didn’t want him the way he wanted Dean (loved, owned, claimed), would never want him the way he wanted Dean (mine, mine, mine), undoubtedly thought of him like a little brother (if he thought of him at all), and after last night would despise Sam as the knothead that he allowed himself be, aided mightily by tequila and the honeysuckle smell of Dean’s slick.

Dean was horny and Sam was there. That’s all last night was. He was under no illusions about happily ever afters, but he just couldn’t stick around for the, “Let’s just forget that happened” speech. Not from the most precious and rare creature Sam had ever come across; someone that seemingly everyone wanted, because everyone knew that when you found a unicorn you didn’t just let it go; someone that now had been Sam’s, if only for one stupid, misguided night.

Because if he were really honest with himself, he’d wanted Dean long before the party at his grandfather’s estate, and he just couldn’t take being let down gently.

God, how was he going to tell Adam that he’d slept with Dean? Adam would be furious. As soon as Dean had presented as an omega Adam had gone into overprotective hyperdrive and had yet to come out of that mindset. It had gotten so much worse since he graduated. He saw every alpha as a potential threat to his brother’s physical safety, and even though Adam was only a beta he had graduated at the top of his class and was not to be trifled with. He knew weaponry and hand-to-hand combat as well as any hunter the Academy had ever produced, had told Sam of all the disgusting comments their classmates made every time Dean swung by for his birthday in September, and kept up his training even after enrolling in college out of unapologetic fear of what might befall his brother out on his own. He’d been pushing Dean for years to retire, and since his first year in the nursing program at Duke, Adam had begged his brother to move out to Durham with him, get a GED, and pursue a real career that wouldn’t leave him surrounded by knotheads ninety-five percent of the time. Sam knew every reason Adam didn’t want Dean with an alpha, and he didn’t blame him.

Adam very well might kill Sam when he told him about last night. Well, unless he just didn’t tell him. But that would be worse, because what if Dean said something and Sam hadn’t mentioned it? Then Adam would feel doubly betrayed. No, if Sam hoped to maintain the longest friendship he had, he was going to have to find some way to bring it up without just shooting Adam a text that said, “Yeah, so, I slept with your brother, and I’m pretty sure he hates me, and you clearly haven’t noticed but I’ve been crazy about him for years. Any advice?” That would not go over well.

And it had been years. Sam could barely remember a time when the Winchesters hadn’t existed in his world. He had already been at Actaeon for two years when John dropped Dean and Adam off and walked away, and he felt an almost immediate connection to the younger Winchester. Like Sam, Adam was entering the Academy at four years old - the youngest age for enrollment. Like Sam, Adam had been dumped at the Academy having only just grasped his ABC’s. Like Sam, Adam had a last name that was famous, which meant every bully in the elementary grades would be out to prove they were tougher than him. Like Sam, Adam was smarter than most of the kids in his class, and wasn’t afraid to hide his intelligence. And, like Sam, Adam’s mother had never been in his life.

This last point wasn’t exactly identical, but it was certainly close enough for the young boys to bond over the lack of a mother. Sam’s parents had died in a fire when he was only six months old, leaving him to the care of his obsessive and emotionally detached grandfather. Instead of cherishing his only grandchild, Samuel had left the boy’s care entirely to a string of nannies who were free to neglect his needs so long as it didn’t result in any permanent damage. He had overheard some of the bigger kids talking about how his grandfather couldn’t stand another loss after watching his only child burn, and that’s why he kept Sam at such a distance, but Sam understood this only in the abstract way any young child could grasp such a complex subject. What wasn’t hard to grasp was that his grandfather didn’t want him, wasn’t interested in him, and didn’t care what he did so long as it didn’t tarnish the Campbell name.

Adam wasn’t rich, but his dad was John Winchester, and that was important, though Adam didn’t know why. Sam didn’t either, but it was a name he knew, like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, so he thought Adam’s dad was maybe the president? His grandpa didn’t like John, that Sam knew, and Grandpa worked for the government so odds were good that “President Winchester” was right and Adam was in some kind of witness protection scheme where you got to pretend to be other people for real. Adam’s mom was still alive, but he didn’t know who or where she was, or why he’d been taken from her. All he knew was that he had been taken from her, that his father hadn’t claimed her (whatever that meant), and because he was an alpha and she was an omega and he hadn’t claimed her it gave him the right to take any pup he sired by her, so he did. Neither Adam nor Sam really had any idea what dogs had to do with the President of the United States, but they were both pretty sure it involved something called sex that adults kept saying they’d explain once they were older.

When you got right down to it, the only thing important the two young boys didn’t have in common was their siblings - or lack thereof. Because Sam had no one outside a couple of cousins who openly disliked him, while Adam had Dean. This was a fact of which Sam was immediately jealous.

Sam had seen Dean when he and Adam were dropped off, and he’d been instantly pulled towards him in a way that was different from Adam. Hell, just about everyone in his class had seen Dean, but if anyone else had been similarly affected Sam didn’t notice. It had been recess, just before lunch, and the sound of John Winchester’s 1967 Chevy Impala had drawn the kids on the playground to the perimeter fence like flies to hamburger past its due date. The gorgeous black car pulled up and idled at the front gate, and out of the back seat popped Dean with his duffel, his blond hair in need of a decent trim and a sullen look on his pale, freckled face. He glanced over at the kids pressed against the fence, then turned around to help his toe headed little brother out of the car. Adam’s duffel was nearly half his size, and Dean took it and slung it over his free shoulder before closing the car door. Dean had barely had a chance to pull Adam back a few steps before the car took off, tires squealing out of the parking lot.

Dean watched their father pull away with an expression that spoke of experience far beyond a ten year old - even a ten year old at the Academy - before turning to put an arm around his much smaller, much younger brother. Clearly Dean had already been through some shit in his young life and had probably had worse things happen than getting dropped off like an unwanted cat outside a barn, but Adam? Well, the four year old was blubbering like a baby, huge tears spilling from his sky blue eyes, getting snot everywhere and wiping his face on his sleeves. Sam immediately felt bad for the kid; for both of them, really, because the longer Dean stood comforting Adam, the more obvious it became just how close he was to crying himself. It didn’t take a psychic to know they didn’t want to be here and hadn’t been asked if they’d like to enroll. Sam could definitely relate.

Dean had leaned in to say something to his little brother, which no one pressed against the fence could hear, but ended up calming the little boy enough that Dean could let Adam go and tussle his hair. Adam gave Dean a half-hearted shove, and Dean abruptly dropped both duffels on the sidewalk and turned to Adam, snarling like a wild animal. Despite himself Adam giggled, and Dean growled louder, flexing his skinny arms like Sam had seen on the pro wrestling shows the older kids put on in the common room on Saturdays. Adam giggled harder and Dean exclaimed, “Come on, I wanna see your game face!” and just like that Adam was growling back and flexing, getting right into Dean’s space until their foreheads were touching and they were snarling and getting spit everywhere, then they were both laughing and Dean scooped the duffels back up as they started for the entrance.

The next time Sam saw them was at dinner in the cafeteria. John had dropped them off in the middle of the day, so they hadn’t made any classes between registration, testing, and room assignments. When the head school counselor ushered them in, they had changed from the thin tee shirts and ragged jeans of their arrival to the Academy’s uniform: a white, short sleeved button down with a red crest on the pocket and matching red shorts (they would wear pants in colder months). Despite the fact that everyone looked terrible in the uniform and as a result hated wearing it, the eldest Winchester strode into the cafeteria like he owned the place, allowing the counselor to lead them over to Sam’s table where he was sitting, per usual, alone.

“Sam,” the counselor said to draw his attention away from his meatloaf and wilted salad, “I’d like you to meet Dean and Adam Winchester. Boys, this is Sam Campbell.”

“Hey,” Dean said, waving a hand dismissively.

“I think you’re my roommate,” Adam said.

“Really?” Sam looked at the counselor. “Isn’t Grandpa paying for a private room for me?”

Dean huffed and muttered something under his breath that Sam didn’t catch, but the counselor heard it. Whatever it was made the woman scowl.

“Sam’s grandfather is a very important person, young man,” she scolded, and Dean’s ears turned red, but he didn’t look up. “You’d be wise to watch your tone.”

“Whatever,” Dean replied, sounding bored. “It’s not like we’re going to be here that long anyway.”

The counselor was already ignoring him and turning back to Sam with an explanation.

“Your grandfather did pay for a private room, but with the renovations in the east wing there’s nowhere else Adam can stay for the time being. All the other elementary children have roommates.”

“I told you,” Dean seethed, “that he could stay in my room.”

“As we’ve already said, you’re in secondary school, Dean.” The counselor pinched the bridge of her very long nose as if dealing with this particular ten year old were mentally exhausting. “It wouldn’t be appropriate to have such a young child in your dormitory.”

Having decided that sullen wasn’t going to work, Dean turned on the charm and shot an impish smile the counselor’s way.

“People tell me all the time I’m not appropriate, so what’s one more thing?”

“No, Dean.” Having laid the conversation with Dean to rest, the counselor again returned to Sam. “I’ve got a call in to your grandfather to explain the situation and assure him you’ll be back to your private room as soon as possible, but in the meantime I thought you might like to get to know Adam a little better.”

“O-okay,” Sam said, and smiled, showing off the missing top and bottom tooth at the front of his mouth. “I can show you around after dinner, if you want.”

“That’d be great!” Adam exclaimed, grinning back at Sam.

“Gotta see how late it is after dinner,” Dean said firmly. “You’re going to bed on time for once if we’re gonna start school tomorrow.”

“Aw, Dean!”

The counselor pointed across the cafeteria at the buffet style food as she turned to go and told the two boys, “Food is over there. Take what you’d like.”

“Dinner!” Adam yelled, and took off across the cafeteria.

“Don’t run!” Dean shouted after him, hurrying to catch his brother as Adam obediently slowed down, waiting until Dean caught up with him and threw an arm around his small shoulders.

Sam had never thought much about his status as an only child, but suddenly he desperately wanted a brother. Older, younger, it didn’t matter - just someone to make him feel like he wasn’t completely alone in the world. Someone who would tousle his hair and fight to share a room with him and tell him not to run across the cafeteria. He’d been so starved for any kind of attention since his parents died that these few brief moments with the Winchesters were like a punch to the chest. Sam had wanted a lot of things in his short six years of life, but this want left every other want in the dust.

When Adam and Dean returned their plates were piled high with food from the buffet. Meatloaf, chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, spaghetti - about the only thing neither of them had included were vegetables. Dean even had three pieces of pie; blueberry, apple, and cherry. Sam scooted over quickly to give them room on his side of the table, and Adam dropped down next to him with Dean on Adam’s other side. Adam devoured the mac and cheese like it was his job, while Dean opted for shoveling mashed potatoes into his mouth.

“Oh man,” Dean said after a minute around the food he was chewing, his eyes rolling back in pure bliss. “These are soooo good. Must be real and not from a box.” He elbowed Adam. “How’s the mac and cheese?”

“Yours is better,” Adam said. At least Sam thought that’s what he said. He really couldn’t tell with how full Adam’s mouth was.

“Eat up while we can,” Dean instructed. “Dad’s gonna be back for us soon.”

“You’re dad’s coming back?” Sam asked, fascinated by how much food the Winchesters were actually managing to eat. It was like they hadn’t eaten in days.

“Yeah,” Dean replied. “Don’t worry Sammy, you’ll have your private room in no time.”

“Oh I don’t care,” Sam said, and he didn’t, which he could see shocked Dean a little, but he didn’t care about that either. Nor did Adam, who was hyperfocused on his meatloaf. “I’m happy getting a roommate! I’m always alone. Don’t really like it. It’s just that most parents only come around for holidays; Thanksgiving and Christmas, summer break and stuff.” He shrugged. “Not my grandpa, but most parents. Can’t remember one showing up during the school year unless somebody died.”

“Well…” Dean chewed his lower lip, looking briefly uncertain. “Our dad will. He’s just teaching me a lesson cuz I messed up.”

“What’d you do?” Sam asked, and Dean blushed, stabbing violently at his mac and cheese.

“Just...I messed up. I didn’t listen and I messed up. I don’t wanna talk about it.” He shoved a huge forkful of cheddar cheese covered elbows into his mouth. “You’re right Adam, mine is better.”

“Hey, you guys wanna come see my room now?” Sam was practically vibrating with excitement at the idea of having a roommate. Actaeon was a small academy with no grade level having more than eighty students, and Sam was one of the only kids in the whole school who didn’t have a roommate. It made him stick out, because everyone knew, and he felt like a freak. His grandfather throwing money around like that always made him feel that way, but especially when everyone was keenly aware of how much more he had than the average kid at the school. Most kids’ parents were spending every spare penny they had on the tuition; forget getting their kid a private room. “I’ve got a NES and my own TV and my grandpa just sent me a Gameboy!”

“What’s a Gameboy?” Adam asked through a mouthful of spaghetti, his blue eyes bright with interest.

“It’s a gaming system.”

“What’s a gaming system?”

“You play games on it.”

“You mean like poker? Dean’s gonna teach me poker when I’m five!”

Sam really didn’t know what to say to that. Poker was a grown up game that involved chips and stripping, and if you lost you ended up owing people a lot of money. Which he didn’t understand at all. Pringles were tasty, but they didn’t cost a lot at the store, and they certainly weren’t a reason for anyone to have to take off all their clothes and have their knees broken. Dean saw the look on Sam’s face and shot him a rakish grin.

“I said I wasn’t appropriate,” was his only comment before sticking a forkful of pie into his mouth and groaning, cherry pie filling dripping down his chin. “God I love pie! Maybe it won’t be so bad if Dad leaves us here a while.”

Adam didn’t look quite as convinced, and gave a half-hearted shrug while picking at the remains of his plate. Dean opened his mouth, still half-full of pie, and pretended that he was going to puke all over Adam’s plate, which sent the youngster into high pitched giggling and protestations for Dean to stop. Dean did, but only after he seemed certain the smile on Adam’s face wasn’t going to disappear for a while, then scooped up all three pieces of pie and got up from the table.

“Come on Sammy,” he declared. “Show us your room.”

“We’re not really supposed to take food out of the cafeteria,” Sam told him, though he was excited to have been so easily accepted by the two other boys.

“I do a lotta things I’m not supposed to do,” Dean replied, his smile now bordering on coquettish. “Ain’t that right, Adam?”

“Oh yeah,” Adam agreed as took a huge bite from a super sized chocolate chip cookie. “A lot.”

“So come on Sammy, show us around!” Dean repeated before licking off his fork so he could take it with him without getting cherry all over everything. Sam wasn’t sure what it was about that simple action of Dean running his tongue along the metal tines, but he was immediately transfixed. Dean jammed it into his back pocket, saying by way of explanation, “A man should always have a fork on hand. Never know when you’re gonna need it.”

Then he turned on his heel and headed for the cafeteria doors, pie in his hand, fork in his pocket, and Adam trailing after him. It didn’t seem possible either of them had been upset to the point of tears earlier today - Dean was walking like he’d been here all his life and Adam was following like a miniature version of his brother, right down to Dean’s gait. Heads were starting to turn now as the brothers Winchester passed and everyone began to really notice the older of the two, almost as if they’d never seen anything like him before. Sure, the elementary kids had been curious about the new arrivals, but when the counselor brought them in at the beginning of dinner the students had been too wrapped up in eating to take notice of them. Now they did, and it was obvious everyone was in agreement that Dean was something very rare, and very special. What that was no one would know for another six years, but it was clear from that moment there was something.

Yeah, Sam had definitely wanted Dean a lot longer than Adam’s graduation party.

Chapter Text

Looking back on it as an adult Sam could admit it might seem the main reason he and Adam became such good friends was Sam’s jealous want of what Adam had. The thing was, that jealousy had cut both ways. Sam may have wanted a brother like Adam had, but Adam sure coveted all of Sam’s “stuff” from the minute they got to Sam’s formerly private room. And boy did Sam have a lot of stuff, all of it the newest and best. He had his own computer, TV, wall phone, dual cassette boombox, the Nintendo Entertainment System and Gameboy he’d mentioned to the brothers, a VCR (VHS obviously) with a stack of movies, and a whole bookshelf full of model spacecraft from Star Wars, complete with a Millennium Falcon suspended from the ceiling. His double bed had a Real Ghostbusters bedding set and a gigantic toy box at the foot. The large mahogany chest of drawers and desk matched the bed, and a thick, plush, pale blue carpet lay in front of the huge bay window, a Schwinn Aerostar BMX bike with training wheels parked on it.

It was entirely too much for a six year old, but then everything about Samuel Campbell tended to be too much except for the amount of affection he was willing to show his grandson. It certainly made the small twin bed that had been added on the other side of the room where Adam’s duffel had been tossed by the admissions staff seem paltry by comparison. Sam felt extremely self conscious as Adam and Dean stopped in the doorway to take in the wonders of the room, exclaiming quietly in unison, “Whoa.”

“Yeah…” Sam’s face grew hot with the blood rising to his cheekbones. “It’s a lot. Grandpa leaves me here breaks and holidays and just sends stuff instead of coming to visit.”

“Yeah?” Dean was taking in the room, glancing around at all the things Samuel sent to fill up the hole he was willfully leaving in Sam’s life. He dropped the apple and blueberry pie plates onto the desk and took the cherry pie and his fork over to Adam’s bed where he plunked himself down and dug into it again. “That’s shitty.”

Sam’s eyes grew wide.

“You said the ‘s’ word!”

“Dean says grown up words all the time,” Adam laughed. He dropped his voice conspiratorially. “He says the ‘f’ word too.”

“What’s the ‘f’ word?” Sam asked.

“Never mind what the ‘f’ word is.” Dean glared at his younger brother, who shrank in on himself. “You’re not supposed to know that word, Runt.” He shoved a huge forkful of pie into his mouth. “This is a cool room, Sam.”

“It’s okay,” Sam said, but he ducked his head and blushed. He had no idea why, but it really meant something that Dean thought his room was cool.

Dean gestured to the pieces of pie on the desk with his fork before taking another bite of his own.

“You guys aren’t gonna eat that?”

“Can we?” Adam asked, his face lighting up.

“‘Course. I didn’t get all three for me, I’m not a pig or somethin’.”

“Awesome! I call blueberry!”

“But…” Sam objected as Adam dug into the pie with his fingers, “we don’t have any forks.”

“What’d I say, Sammy?” Dean asked with a wink. “Never know when a man’s gonna need a fork.” He finished the last bite of his pie and rose from the bed to go over to Adam at the desk and flung an arm around his shoulder. “You gonna be okay for a while here Runt? Gotta go check out my room.”

Adam was suddenly very worried and looked up from the plate, his mouth and fingers stained purple.

“You gonna come back?”

“Course I’m gonna come back.” Dean smiled gently at his younger brother, then looked up hesitantly at Sam. “I mean, if Sam let’s me.”

“We’re not supposed to have people in our room after lights out,” Sam said, frowning. It wiped the grin off of Dean’s face, and Adam looked up at his big brother with wide, frightened eyes. Sam didn’t know what caused his sudden need to see Dean smile again, but boy did he ever need it. “But it’s okay with me!”

The smile returned and Sam’s heart felt very light in his chest.

“Okay. I’ll be back with my stuff.” Dean ruffled Adam’s hair and took off for the door. “Don’t worry though, it’s not like I’m gonna move in or anything. Just don’t think Adam should spend the first night here by himself, you know?”

Sam didn’t, but nodded anyway. He would have been fine with it if Dean had moved in. They could just switch out Adam’s twin for a bunk bed. There was plenty of room. He’d ask his grandpa about it the next time he called.

Dean was gone for a long time, which was okay because Sam wanted to properly show Adam his room anyway. It turned out they had so many things in common that they got on like a house on fire. Both liked Batman, dinosaurs, and Doctor Who. Both had seen every episode of Dukes of Hazzard in re-run and neither thought Coy and Vance were really Duke boys - they were just too wussy to be taken seriously. Both agreed that Jeanie was prettier than Samantha, Cindy Brady was annoying, and Thundercats was the best cartoon ever.  

Sam told Adam about his grandpa, and how he was rich but really mean, and how so far he’d only had Sam come home once in the last two years for some kind of big family reunion thing. He talked about his cousins Christian, Gwen, Mark, Johnny, and Tyler, who were all enrolled at Actaeon, and who he really didn’t like that much. Except for Gwen - she was okay for a girl. They were all a couple of years older and in the middle school and liked to bully Sam, which meant other kids liked to bully Sam as well, since obviously his pack of older cousins weren’t going to stop them. He asked his grandpa to get them to stop, but Grandpa just told him it would build character.  

Adam told Sam a little about his dad, who was gone on business a lot, and how he and Dean spent a lot of time with babysitters and a guy called Pastor Jim who Adam thought was a Cath-a-lick because he always wanted to talk to Dad about something called faith, and Dad never wanted to talk about it. So either Pastor Jim was a Cath-a-lick and they weren’t, or it was the other way around. Dean always asked about someone named Bobby and why they didn’t go to see him anymore, but Dad got mad whenever Dean asked, and Adam didn’t remember staying with a Bobby, so that must’ve been when he was really little or before he was born.

They both talked about their moms, or lack of them, and how Adam’s mom and Dean’s mom weren’t the same mom; that Dean’s mom was dead, and he didn’t talk about it, and Adam’s mom wasn’t dead as far as he knew. Adam was going to find his mom someday, but Sam shouldn’t tell his dad that please, and then maybe she could be Dean’s mom too, because Dean really missed having a mom and really needed one. Sam said someday he was going to figure out how his mom died, and who his dad was, because his grandpa wouldn’t talk about his dad at all and Sam thought he was lying about something.

The sun had long since set and “Lights out!” had been called when Dean finally came back to the room. Sam and Adam had resorted to huddling together with flashlights under Sam’s Real Ghostbusters comforter so the hall monitors wouldn’t notice any light coming from under the door. Sam had locked the door because some of the other kids had come into his room before and taken some of his stuff or pulled some really mean pranks (the time they’d saran wrapped him to the bed had not been fun), but he and Adam were too deeply involved with their conversation about The Neverending Story to hear Dean picking the lock. In fact, they had no idea they weren’t alone in the room until Dean flung the comforter off of them, yelling, “Boo!”, his duffel over his shoulder and sporting a freshly split lip.

“Jesus Christ Dean!” Adam exclaimed.

“Hey, language,” Dean snapped.

“How’d you get in here?” Sam asked, shining his flashlight on Dean’s face and reaching out to touch his lip. The smoothness of Dean’s mouth made him feel things he couldn’t understand, and he drew his hand back quickly. “What happened?”

“New roommate and I didn’t get along so good,” he said, then shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. You need a better lock on your door. That one was too easy to pick.”

“You can pick locks?” Sam said, enthralled.

Dean shot him the coquettish smirk again.

“I can do a lot of things, Sammy.” He left the younger boys on the big bed and went over to Adam’s smaller twin, throwing the duffel down on the floor like a pillow and grabbing the duvet. “I’m stealin’ your blanket, Runt. Don’t stay up too late. You’ve got school in the morning.”

“Yes, Dean,” Adam said automatically.

“‘Night guys.”

Dean rolled himself up in the duvet like a sleeping bag, turned his back to them, and went to sleep. Sam couldn’t believe he was just...sleeping on the floor. It wasn’t just that he’d never seen anyone sleep on the floor before; it was that the concept never would have occurred to him. You didn’t sleep on the floor - you slept in a bed. And everybody had a bed to sleep in...didn’t they?

Or maybe this was one of the things you did if you had a sleepover. That would make sense. Not everyone was going to necessarily have a bed if you had a sleepover so someone would have to sleep on the floor, right? Sam didn’t know, since he’d never been to a sleepover, but that seemed logical. It had to be kind of like camping, which he’d never done either, but inside instead of outside in tents, so yeah, obviously there would be at least one person who had to sleep on the floor if you didn’t have enough beds for everyone at a sleepover.

Now Sam was starting to get extremely embarrassed about not knowing the correct protocol for a sleepover, and he should, since they were having one. He hated not knowing basic stuff like this that everyone else seemed to. It made him feel like such a freak.

Adam clearly didn’t notice Sam’s sudden awkwardness as he clicked off his flashlight and said, “Yeah, we should go to bed. ‘Night Sam,” and rolled off the double bed to plod over to his own. He stepped on Dean, who grumbled, “Ow!” but just went back to sleep after Adam muttered “Sorry.” Adam crawled into his bed and under the sheet and blanket, curled up on his side facing Dean with one arm under his pillow, and quickly fell asleep.

Sam watched them for a minute to make sure they were sound enough asleep that he wasn’t going to wake them, then got out of his bed to change into his pajamas and brush his teeth in the adjoining bathroom. Most of the kids at the academy had to use the large, common bathrooms and showers, but when Samuel had set his grandson up in a private room he had insisted on one of the few that had a bathroom attached. It seemed to Sam that his grandfather wanted to do everything within his power to keep him separated from “normal” kids, when Sam wanted nothing more in the world than to be normal.

He wouldn’t learn for a while that if he wanted to be normal he shouldn’t look to the Winchesters as an example.

Over the next month or so, Sam Campbell and Dean and Adam Winchester settled into a comfortable routine. The first full week Dean let himself into their room to sleep on the floor next to Adam’s bed, but after that he seemed to have decided that Adam was safe enough without him right there all the time between the heavy warding on the school and the salt poured into the foundation. Since Adam was in kindergarten and Dean was in fourth grade (he’d tested poorly and been held back a year when they enrolled) their classes weren’t on the same schedule, but Dean made sure to eat breakfast with them every morning, pop in for a couple of minutes at recess to scare off any bullies, and then again at lunch, checking to see if Adam had any vegetables on his plate. After school Sam and Adam would head back to the playground or off to their room to play video games while Dean went off to the gym for hand-to-hand training, then they’d all meet up in the cafeteria for dinner, Dean always sporting at least one new bruise. After dinner they’d head back to Sam and Adam’s room and hang out watching TV or playing checkers or trying to teach Adam how to play Uno, and then Dean would head off to bed with an affectionately called, “Smell ya later, losers!”

One night at the very end of September Dean had stayed over again. Adam woke up the next morning happier than usual (and he was a pretty happy kid for not ever having had a mom and spending so much time traveling with his dad) and really excited, though he wouldn’t say why. Dean had to tell him to slow down about a dozen times on the way to breakfast, and remind him to brush his teeth, and point out that he had his shoes on the wrong feet, but he did it all with a laugh. By the time recess rolled around, however, Adam was starting to look a little anxious. By lunchtime he was definitely becoming upset about something, but still didn’t want to talk about it, and at dinner he was openly upset, and Dean was scowling and shooting glances his way every couple of minutes or so. After pushing his food around his plate and not really eating anything for half an hour he got up and left, ignoring Sam when he called out to him.

“Just wait here Sammy,” Dean said quietly, grabbing the two trays and heading with them to the garbage. “I’ll go talk to him.”

Sam nodded dumbly, having no other clue what he should do. He was very bothered that Adam was so upset, but he was only six, and outside of hugs and saying, “It’ll be okay,” he really had no other skills when it came to comforting someone. Especially when he didn’t know what was wrong. He gave Dean about a fifteen minute head start and focused on finishing his dinner before heading back to his room.

Sam didn’t really know what to expect, whether they’d be back in his room or Dean’s room or somewhere else. As he came up outside his bedroom door he could hear them inside. Adam was crying brokenly, sniffing and coughing and sounding completely miserable, while Dean was trying to reassure him with words that Sam couldn’t really hear. He did catch, “It’s not bedtime yet,” and “Lost track of time,” but that was about it. After a couple of minutes of standing anxiously in the hall, Sam slowly pushed the door open and went in.

Adam and Dean looked up at him together from where they sat on Adam’s bed, Adam’s shoulders slumped and face tear-streaked while Dean rubbed his back.

“Hey Sam,” Dean said lamely as Adam turned away and cried and sputtered some more.

“Hey,” Sam said before Dean turned his attention back to soothing his brother.

It felt like they stayed that way forever, with Sam standing awkwardly by the door, Adam blubbering, and Dean rubbing Adam’s back, while the sun slowly made its descent outside. It was probably really only a few minutes, though, before the phone rang, startling them all. Adam looked up quickly, Dean snapped his head around, and Sam jumped. Sam immediately headed to answer it while Adam stood up hesitantly, as if he were trying not to hope for something in case he ended up crushed.

“Hello?” Sam said into the receiver. He only ever got phone calls from his grandfather and those were arranged well ahead of time through the office so Sam would be in his room when Samuel called, otherwise the Campbell patriarch might have to call back and lose valuable business time.

The voice on the other end of the phone was a man. Not his grandfather - younger and deep, but with the same kind of authority that his grandfather used.

Adam? ”

“No, this is Sam.”

Sam? Where’s Adam? ”

“He’s here. I’m his roommate. Who’s this?”

His father. The office gave me this extension for him. Can you please put him on the phone Sam?”

“Oh. Sure.”  Sam held the receiver out to Adam, noticing that both he and Dean had moved a little closer. “It’s your dad.”

“It is?” Adam’s face lit up and he ran over and snatched the receiver from Sam. “Hi Dad!...Where are you?...Oh...uh huh....yeah...it was good...no, no one made cake...yes sir....yes sir...okay...I miss you Dad...when are you coming back?...Oh...okay...yes sir...he’s here...okay...yes sir...bye Daddy.”

Adam had gone through such a wide range of emotions while he was on the phone that it was impossible to tell what they’d talked about. He’d been happy, excited, quiet, and now bordered on morose as he held the receiver out to Dean.

“He wants to talk to you Dean.”

Sam watched as Dean went white as a sheet and hesitated a moment before coming over to take the phone from his brother. He wiped his hands on his pants before he did so, as if his palms were sweaty or something, but that couldn’t be the case because nothing made Dean sweat. He was the bravest kid Sam knew. Still, he thought he saw Dean’s hand tremble when he took the receiver.

“Hey Dad....I’m okay...Yeah, Adam’s okay...no, they split us up...Good, gotta repeat fourth grade though...Yeah...yeah...hey, Dad?...When are you coming to get us?” Dean’s grip on the phone suddenly tightened, and he turned his back fully to the two younger boys, glancing back over his shoulder at them as he lowered his voice. “What do you mean? Why?...But...but Dad...Dad, I said I was sorry...Dad...Dad! I’m sorry about what happened in Wisconsin, okay?...No I know I shouldn’t have gone out...Dad, I can keep Adam safe!...No, Dad, I can!...Well then can’t we go to Uncle Bobby’s?...Dad, I want to be with you...you shouldn’t be alone...You can trust me!...Dad, I promise...Well can you come for Thanksgiving at least?...What about Christmas?...I know how the job is but...Dad, we’re...Can’t you at least take us to Uncle Bobby’s for Christmas?...Then what about Pastor Jim?...Well they’re only far away because you’ve got us in this stupid school on the East Coast!...Dad, I’m sorry, please don’t leave us here!... Dad!...Okay...yes sir...yes sir...okay...I’ll tell him...okay...Bye Dad.”

Dean carefully and deliberately returned the receiver to its cradle, his back still to Sam and Adam. Sam didn’t know why he’d assumed Dean never cried, but it genuinely shocked him when he heard Dean’s voice break when he asked if they could go to their Uncle’s for Christmas. He refused to turn to them until his shoulders had stopped shaking and he was no longer sniffling, then wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his shirt and scrubbed at his face with his hands before he’d look at them.

He looked so sad. Sam immediately wanted to hug him, but knew that might be weird. Besides, Adam was right there and he was already walking over to wrap his arms around Dean’s middle.

“Sorry to ruin your birthday, Runt.” His voice was hoarse as he caressed Adam’s hair. “Dad thinks we should...uh...stay here where it’s safe, and where we can...learn to listen better.”

“At least he ‘membered,” Adam said, his voice muffled into Dean’s chest.

“Yeah,” Dean laughed ruefully. “Yeah, he did. So, uh...I’m gonna go brush my teeth and go to bed.”

“You can stay here tonight if you want,” Sam offered. Dean’s roommate was a kid named Gordon Walker, and he was a real jerk who had given Dean the split lip that first night after some stupid argument about vampires. Sam wasn’t sure it would be a good idea for Dean to go back to his own room when he was clearly upset and vulnerable. “We got room.”

“Nah,” Dean said, pressing his palms to his eyes again as a sob caught in his throat. When he took his hands away his big green eyes were watery. “It’s fine. I’ll see you guys tomorrow, okay?”

He dislodged himself from his younger brother, gave them both a nod, and left the room. It was clear he was crying again before he made it out the door, but he stubbornly refused to turn back. Sam had no idea what to say or do to make his friends feel better, so he just didn’t say anything. Adam walked quietly to his bed to sit and stare out the window. Autumn was coming on and the leaves were starting to turn. The air always looked different to Sam this time of year - like the sky was thinner or something. His grandpa had said something about the “veil between the worlds thinning” once right before he dropped Sam off at the academy, and how this was the time when restless and vengeful spirits were most likely to begin causing mischief, but this was the first year that Sam had understood what he was talking about. It seemed to cast everything in a blue-white hue, including Adam, who stayed still for a few more moments.

“Today’s your birthday?” Sam finally asked.

“Yeah,” Adam replied at length. “I’m five now.”

“That why your dad called?”

“Uh huh.”

“Did he sing you Happy Birthday?”

“He doesn’t do that kind of stuff.”

“Oh.”

“You’re lucky your dad is dead. I wish mine was.”

They didn’t talk the rest of the night.

Dean was different after the phone call from his father. He’d always had a kind of bravado, a confidence that he was the most interesting person in the room and everyone was looking at him. Once he’d spoken to his dad he was more reserved and serious, and buckled down on his school work in a way his teachers hadn’t thought possible. Sam had been confused at Dean’s total lack of interest in his homework and classes the first month they were there. Dean was obviously really smart, but it was like he couldn’t be bothered to learn anything the academy wanted to teach him. Now he finished assignments religiously before agreeing to do anything fun at night, though he still complained about how stupid the classes were. He also trained in the workout room even more than he had before, paying serious attention in his combat and basic weaponry courses rather than acting like they were beneath him.

The holidays were a little better. John didn’t come and get them for Thanksgiving or Christmas break, there were only a handful of kids left at the school, most of them Sam’s asshole cousins, and there were no classes or training sessions so Dean relaxed a little. He couldn’t unwind totally, however, because the reality that John wasn’t coming to even visit him and Adam hung heavily in the air. Sam promised the two boys that it would get easier. This was his third holiday season without anyone caring to come get him, and he was starting to train himself not to foolishly want to go somewhere and eat turkey or wait for Santa. They watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without Santa Claus, and every other Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas special that came on TV. They stayed up too late and sat around in their pajamas, and when the big box of presents arrived from Sam’s grandfather on Christmas Eve, Sam carefully pulled back the wrapping paper on every one of them until he found a My Pet Monster and Real Ghostbusters firehouse he could give to Adam and an Optimus Prime and Megatron he could give to Dean. Sam still had plenty of stuff - new clothes, new videos, new games for his NES, a chemistry set - so it was okay. He had enough stuff to overcompensate for Samuel’s lack of affection already. A few more toys were only going to make the effort seem more inadequate.

Christmas through New Year’s was awesome, due in no small part to Sam’s gifts. Based on the reaction he got from the Winchesters, he’d have been willing to bet this was the first time Adam had ever gotten Christmas presents and the first time in years that Dean had. Adam even declared it the “Best Christmas ever!”, which was saying something since both boys had been so sad about their father not even swinging by the school. Everything looked like it was getting better and the boys were settling in, until Dean got really quiet, withdrawn, and angry towards the end of January. Adam told Sam that Dean’s birthday had come and gone and their dad hadn’t called, and for the first time in his life Sam thought it might actually be better to have a dead dad than a deadbeat dad. Based on how often Dean showed up for breakfast with a black eye it was clear he and Gordon were still butting heads, and he was frequently getting hauled into the principal’s office for fighting with fifth graders, which threatened to undo all the progress he’d made.

Adam was starting to get really concerned that they’d kick Dean out of school if he couldn’t get his act together, so when Sam’s grandfather called in early March to ask what Sam wanted for his birthday, Sam told him he wanted Dean to move into his room. Samuel balked at the idea, but Sam drove a hard bargain. If Samuel didn’t want his grandson to start acting out in class, skipping assignments, and getting himself dragged to the principal’s office, he’d make sure Dean got moved into his room. Eventually Samuel caved, but only for the remainder of the school year. Sam was fine with that, as long as his grandpa fixed it so Dean and Adam could room together from next year on. That was a pretty easy sell, and for the first time in years Sam was excited about what he was getting for his birthday.

Dean was almost as hard to convince to move into Sam’s room as Samuel had been. For one thing, Dean didn’t like the idea of sleeping on the floor, which Sam thought was silly because obviously Dean and Adam could share the double bed and Sam would take Adam’s twin. That didn’t really make Dean feel better, since he figured that would just get Adam teased, but Adam turned on what could only be described as puppy dog eyes and the eldest Winchester brother finally went and got his stuff.

Rooming with Sam and Adam did wonders for getting Dean out of the doldrums, and by the end of the school year he’d caught up to where he should be and was on track to skip fifth grade and go directly to sixth if he enrolled in the summer school program, which he did. Sam was really in awe of the progress Dean made, though he missed how devil-may-care he was when they first met. Dean reminded him of Errol Flynn from The Adventures of Robin Hood, which Sam had caught on television one Saturday afternoon when he was five and immediately became obsessed with. If Adam and Dean had been around then they could have had all kinds of quarterstaff battles and sword fights on the playground, pretending to swing from the jungle gym like the Merry Men in the trees when they captured Sir Guy of Gisborne. Dean would have had fun with that when he first got there. Now Sam wasn’t so sure he’d see the point of having fun.

Summer breaks at Actaeon for the kids who stayed year round involved a lot of special activities and field trips, and they helped distract Adam from the fact that his brother was knee deep in books and training exercises most of the time and wasn’t really around much except for breakfast, dinner, and the time before bed. Dean didn’t talk too much about what he was learning in class, except to say it was a lot of math, English, history, and lore, and that he only really saw the point in learning the lore but it was still super boring. Adam didn’t know what Dean meant by “lore,” which was somehow the first time Sam realized that Adam didn’t know what Actaeon was. He really seemed to think it was just a boarding school their dad sent them to. Dean, by contrast, appeared to have known about all the terrible things lurking in the dark for a very long time, and was trying to keep his younger brother innocent as long as he could. Sam deeply admired the impulse, even if he wasn’t sure it was going to help Adam in the long run. After all, this was an academy to train hunters who would eventually work for the government. Not cluing Adam in on the “joke” was just setting him up for more ridicule farther down the line.

He said as much to Dean one night when neither were able to sleep, while Adam, who was going through a growth spurt, snored quietly beside his older brother in the double bed. Sam loved having both Winchesters rooming with him, but the start of school was coming up and the renovations to the east wing were almost complete. Adam wasn’t going to be his roommate much longer, and he wasn’t entirely convinced that either boy would stay friends with him if they didn’t have to.

“Quit thinkin’ so loud Sammy,” Dean mumbled without malice. “I’m tryin’ to sleep over here.”

“Sorry,” Sam said, though he could do nothing to stop the thoughts running through his head.

Dean was quiet for a minute before he spoke again.

“So what are you thinkin’ so loud about anyway?”

Sam shrugged under the sheet.

“Stuff.”

“Like…?”

“Well…” He sighed, exasperated. He didn’t get to talk to Dean one-on-one much, but he loved doing so when he could. And he didn’t know why he loved doing so, which made him feel like a weirdo. “They’re gonna be done with the east wing soon.”

“Yeah?”

Sam heard Dean turn on his side to look across the room. It was the end of July and even though Sam’s grandfather had paid to have a window air conditioning unit installed in his room, it wasn’t doing a whole lot to help in the heat. As a result, Dean was sleeping in just his pajama bottoms, and when Sam turned to look back at him the moonlight had fallen across his face and bare chest. He was beautiful. Sam suddenly felt very dirty, like the time he’d accidentally walked in on Gwen in her underwear, and looked away.

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “They’re probably gonna move Adam out of my room this year. I talked to my grandpa about makin’ sure he gets to room with you but...well…”

“What?” Dean chortled. “You gonna miss us?”

“Yeah, I am.” Sam was looking at Dean again. Crap. He’d meant to play that cool, but it had come out all earnest and sincere. “I just...kinda got used to havin’ you both around.”

“Well it ain’t like we’re goin’ anywhere ‘cept another part of the school. An’ I don’t think Dad’s gonna pull us out this year. He hasn’t even called us since June.”

“That’s good,” Sam said a little too quickly. Dean furrowed his brow, and Sam did his best to recover. “I mean...Adam doesn’t even know what this place is yet. He still thinks the Easter Bunny is real and werewolves aren’t. Why haven’t you told him? That it’s all real? Why hasn’t your dad? He’s a hunter, isn’t he? I mean, when you first got here I thought maybe he was the president, but...he’s a hunter, right?”

Dean looked very serious, and replied quietly, “Yeah, yeah he is.”

“So why not tell Adam how things are? He’s just gonna get picked on even more next year if he still doesn’t know.”

“I dunno Sam…” Dean chewed his lower lip. “I just...my mom...somethin’ bad happened to her when I was four, and Dad...it was just the two of us after, you know? And he was upfront with me about it, wanted me to be prepared and all that but Adam...Dad just kind of took him because he could, and nothin’ bad had happened to his mom, I think Dad just...wanted to have him in our family and I feel kinda like...I have to know, but Adam doesn’t? I kinda just want him to be a kid as long as he can here.”

“No one here’s a kid, Dean,” Sam said softly, and Dean nodded.

“I know, I just...I just want him to believe in Santa Claus instead of wendigos.”

“Yeah. I understand. I won’t say anything.”

“Thanks Sam.” Dean shot him a smile, a genuine one, which was something that Sam had learned was a rare thing. Sam’s heart did a little flip. “And as for us not bein’ friends with you anymore when Adam moves out, that’s just dumb. You ain’t gettin’ rid of us that easy.”

He winked at Sam, then turned over with a “‘Night Sammy” and went to sleep. Sam stayed awake for a long time afterwards though, listening to Dean breathe and watching the moonlight play across his hair. Hearing Dean say they were going to stay friends, no matter what happened, made him feel better about himself and his place in the world than he had in a very long time.

Chapter Text

Unfortunately what happened was the onset of puberty, and it happened to Dean a whole lifetime before it happened to Sam.

All through the second year Adam and Dean were at Actaeon they stayed friends with Sam just like they said they would. Even though they had a room in the newly renovated wing, which felt like they’d moved to a different state, the Winchester boys were hanging out in Sam’s room more often than not. Then Dean turned twelve and entered junior high the following autumn, and everyone began to take second and third looks at him. Boys, girls, it didn’t matter - everyone wanted in on Dean’s dance card, and Sam suddenly felt like if he wanted to stay in Dean’s orbit he was going to have to compete very hard with everyone in grades five to nine.

Dean still made an effort to hang out with Sam and Adam, but it became increasingly obvious that the differences between a twelve year old and an eight year old made maintaining the friendship as it had been a real struggle. And that wasn’t anyone’s fault, that was just reality. Seventh grade was where they really started in hard with the hunter training, and core classes in regular schools fell into the “elective” category. Most kids still took things like English, math, civics, etc., but only so they could pass in society and not because they felt it was really going to be useful. This was exactly the opposite of the way classes ran in the lower grades, and it just kind of happened that Dean seemed to drift away.

On top of that, their dad started showing up at the school again. He still never came at the holidays, and half of the time he forgot one or both of the boys’ birthdays and called them late, but the summer after Dean turned twelve John had clearly decided he was old enough to be on the road again. He showed up about a week after school ended, picked Dean up, and was gone with him until a few days before school started. Adam got left behind of course, and was not at all happy about it, but Dean said that Dad didn’t want him getting rusty, which seemed ridiculous to Sam as the whole point of Actaeon was to raise kids to be sharp on a hunt. Regardless of how stupid it was, John established a pattern that year of taking Dean away every summer right up until Dean left the school for good.

Dean drifted further away when he entered high school and Benny Lafitte showed up. Lafitte was a junior, and Dean was assigned as his “second.” This was standard procedure in the high school, in order to teach all the students how to work closely with another hunter once they graduated. It was so people like Gordon Walker learned to play nice with others, as there were going to be hunts one person couldn’t handle alone and Actaeon’s main goal was to send forth hunters who weren’t immediately going to get themselves killed. As a result, all freshmen were teamed with a junior and went through all field training until the end of sophomore year, when the junior had gone through their senior year and graduated and the sophomore had advanced to being a junior and got their own freshman as a second. It helped networking among hunters post-graduation as well, which in turn helped with the “not graduating kids who were just going to die” goal. Some duos hated each other and suffered through the two-year forced relationship, but not Benny and Dean. While it took a while for Dean to warm to the idea that he was being forced to work with someone not named “Winchester,” once he did warm to Benny it was like they’d been built to hunt together.

Benny Lafitte had presented as an alpha right on his sixteenth birthday, and had seemed to sprout overnight from a pale, slender kid with a warm Cajun drawl into a full fledged man with a thick neck, broad shoulders, and a barrel chest. His combination of creamy skin, sky blue eyes, dark hair, and neatly trimmed beard that apparently took zero effort to grow and maintain were exactly what came to mind when someone said, “He’s an alpha.” And that’s just what he looked like at sixteen. Alphas always grew into their designation, so he was only going to get bigger and stronger as he got older. He was also one of the best fighters in the school. He excelled at hand-to-hand combat and bladework, had mastered firearms and was currently working with crossbows and longbows. Dean was naturally very athletic and had always excelled in the physical training the school provided. Being paired with Benny brought Dean’s skills up to nearly an artform. The two of them won every intra- and inter-school competition between the hunting academies until they were national champions, setting multiple records that were going to be damned hard to beat.

Sam couldn’t stand Benny. Maybe it was stupid, but he knew that a scrawny ten year old kid like him was never going to be able to compete with someone who, on top of all his other awesome qualities, could legally drive. What’s more, Benny seemed to really like Dean, seemed to see beyond the glamor that left the other kids at the school interested in him only on a primal level, and knew who Dean really was. As for Dean, he genuinely enjoyed Benny’s company and trusted him in a way Sam had never seen outside of Dean’s relationship with Adam. That just made the whole thing worse. If Sam were really Dean’s friend, he would have been happy that Dean seemed to have found someone his own age that he could put his faith in, rather than always having to hang out with kids in middle school. Instead, Sam was wildly jealous of how close Dean and Benny were, and subconsciously started counting the days until Benny graduated in a couple of years and was out of the picture.

Then of course a couple of weeks after he turned sixteen Dean had presented as an omega to everyone’s shock, and before Sam was even able to process what had happened Dean was locked in quarantine in the Nurse’s office and Adam was beside himself. The admissions office had instructed him to pack Dean’s belongings so that their father could retrieve him once he had been reached, but Adam wasn’t allowed to see him. For his own safety, Dean would be staying in quarantine for the duration of his heat and however long it took after that for John to come.

It had only taken a couple of days before Gordon started spouting off about how he’d always known there was something “wrong” with Dean, and since Gordon was at the top of the junior class the underclassmen paid attention. Soon others were starting to sneer about how obvious it should have been, that Dean was just too pretty to be an alpha, and damn what they wouldn’t give to knot that ass. Benny got into a lot of fights that week, which just made Sam hate him even more; first, because Benny was big enough to fight the kids making those kinds of comments while Sam wasn’t, and second, because obviously Benny was going to claim Dean as soon as he got out of quarantine. It was only a few months until Benny graduated, and the school had apartments - albeit limited in number - for seniors who had claimed a mate over one of the breaks. It was rare, but it did happen. Benny could easily claim Dean and they could start a nice little family in one of the apartments and Sam would never even have a chance with Dean.

It was the very first time, at the tender age of eleven and a three quarters, that Sam understood what all of his strange, freaky feelings were: he wanted a chance with Dean.

Having no idea how to process this, Sam thought he should probably keep his distance from the object of his very immature and badly misunderstood affections. He’d only gone to the nurse about Dean once, and saw Benny was already there, shouting about how he’d been there “every day” and when were they going to let him see Dean, and turned around without even bothering to talk to anyone. He left the goodbyes up to Adam and Benny when John Winchester finally showed up two weeks later, half-hiding behind a couple of the other students at the fence to watch the proceedings while hopefully staying out of Dean’s sight. Sam heard the Impala before he saw it, and recognized the sound even though he’d only seen it a handful of times in the past six years. John pulled up to the front gate and didn’t even bother to turn off the engine and get out. He just sat there waiting for his son, the sound of the gorgeous classic car a warning to everyone pressed onto the snowy playground that they’d better not breathe wrong.

A minute or so passed until Dean came out, though it felt like much longer. He was an absolute wreck as he emerged from the front gate. His face was pale, eyes sunken, and he looked like he’d lost at least ten pounds, which he probably had. Anyone who hadn’t known what had happened would have thought he’d just gone through a severe illness, and that was pretty close to right. Sam knew enough about heats to have an idea of how intense and extended they could be if an omega didn’t have an alpha to help them out, and Actaeon’s policy for the rare occasion when a student presented as an omega absolutely forbade allowing the alpha students access to one. Actaeon Academy may have been prejudiced as shit against omegas, but that didn’t mean they would allow one to be gang raped on campus. It was about the only good thing Sam could see coming out of the whole experience, because he was about to lose Dean for good.

If anything highlighted for Sam what an awful, selfish piece of shit he was, it was his reaction to Dean getting kicked out of Actaeon. Years later he still thought back on it and hated himself. Rather than accepting he was just a kid feeling a lot of grown up feelings for the very first time and not having anyone who could help him figure them out, he thought if he’d really been a friend he would have swallowed his own emotions and been there with Adam, who was clinging to Dean’s side and sobbing, and Benny, who was stoically carrying Dean’s belongings as they walked him to the car. It was a ridiculous way to feel, but Sam had never been able to shake the guilt from his behavior that day.

Besides even his freckles looking blanched, Dean was limping slightly and his eyes were red rimmed and glassy. When they stopped beside the Impala and Benny opened the back door to put in Dean’s duffels while Adam turned to bury his sobs into his brother’s chest, Sam could see the tears spilling quietly out of Dean and wanted more than anything to run out and throw his arms around the young man he’d considered one of his best friends ever just a few years ago. Maybe it was just as well that Sam wasn’t out there, because Dean was clearly trying to hold it together, and if Sam had been out there it probably would have been worse.

This comforting thought was only able to take hold for a minute or so before Dean had let Adam go so Adam could run back inside to escape the cold and turned to Benny. At which point Dean lost it. His shoulders shook, his face scrunched up, and he just sobbed brokenly. Benny pulled him into a tight hug that dwarfed the omega and held on while Dean cried and cried and cried, Benny’s face a mask of raw pain. It would have moved Sam to tears had he not been a seething ball of jealousy. Benny was saying something in a low voice, attempting to soothe Dean, who was nodding and clinging to him and trying to pull it together but couldn’t. Finally John barked, “Dean! Get in the car!” and they had to let each other go. Dean took a step back but wouldn’t lift his gaze from the ground, pressing his palms to his eyes to try to stop the tears as Benny continued to talk to him, a hand still squeezing Dean’s shoulder. Dean nodded again and drew in a shaky, choked breath.

Dean! Car! Now!”

Sam recognized the alpha command, having heard his grandfather use a voice like that more than once, and decided right then and there that he hated John Winchester. His oldest son was having some sort of emotional breakdown after getting kicked out of a school where he was doing really well, and John was ordering him around like a little bitch. Dean was helpless to disobey, shot an embarrassed look at Benny and his classmates who were watching, and climbed quickly and quietly into the front seat, still trying to rub the tears from his eyes.

“Damn,” a voice said behind him, a voice Sam recognized; Gordon. He clenched his fists as John drove away, waiting to hear the rest of whatever shit Gordon was about to spew. “Too bad Winchester couldn’t stick around. That trick would’ve come in handy.”

A bunch of the older kids who had presented, including Mark and Christian Campbell, laughed at the idea of all the things they could have made Dean do by using their alpha voice, and Sam just couldn’t take it. He turned around and launched himself though the crowd at Gordon, getting in a surprise hit that almost laid Gordon out flat before Gordon was able to recover himself and return the favor. Samuel would be very upset to hear that Sam had been involved in a fight at the school, given how badly that would reflect on the family name, but maybe Sam could turn that around and talk his grandfather into getting Gordon kicked out of school. The guy was an obsessive asshole and definitely deserved it.

By the time the teachers stopped the fight Sam’s jaw was broken and both his eyes were swollen shut, and Sam wasn’t even going to need to talk to his grandfather - there was no way Gordon wasn’t getting expelled after beating up a kid five years younger. It wouldn’t even matter that Sam threw the first punch. Gordon was way beyond self defense and exhibiting the kind of lack of self control that got people killed out in the real world. Actaeon was not going to want him as an alumni. It made the eight weeks Sam spent with his jaw wired shut completely worth it.

Sam worried about his friendship with Adam falling apart after Dean left, mostly because Adam took it very hard and pretty much stopped talking to everyone, Sam included. He was ten now, and had never been without Dean outside of the last four summers. Fortunately Dean called him every week to check up on him, and swung by on Adam’s birthday (those glimpses of him never long enough for Sam), and the new kid they roomed with Adam was really sweet. His name was Garth Fitzgerald IV, and he was scrawny with a big nose and an “aw, shucks” way about him, but admissions seemed to have put a lot of thought into pairing him up with Adam because he had the exact kind of gentle, considerate nature the younger Winchester brother really needed to draw him back out. Sam couldn’t imagine Garth actually making it as a hunter, but he’d probably be really good at research, and he’d probably get kicked out on his ass the minute he presented as a beta (there were bets on how long after his sixteenth birthday that would take). Why they let him in in the first place no one could quite figure out; he wasn’t like Dean, whose father was a dominant alpha, making it seem logical to expect that Dean would be too, but Sam was glad they did because he really did help lift Adam’s spirits.

As if on cue, Garth presented as a beta the day after his birthday and did end up getting booted from the school. Even though Garth had always been a bit soft compared to the other kids, he’d really grown on Sam. It hit Adam very hard when Garth was shown the door, reminding him a lot of what had happened to Dean, and he was irate that Actaeon had let him stay just three months prior when he’d presented as a beta but wouldn’t make the same exception for Garth. The whole thing with Garth made it hard for Sam to play dumb about asking his grandfather to write a check to the admissions office to let Adam finish his education at Actaeon after Adam presented. Adam and Sam were by that time paired up for combat training the way Dean and Benny had been, and Sam hated lying to him when they were supposed to be a team.

Adam had raged against the entire system and considered just leaving to go hunt with Dean and his dad (Sam had nearly fallen over to find out that John still had Dean hunting with him - Dean was always alone on his annual visits to the school), but in the end realized he needed a diploma from somewhere if he wanted to get into college, which he did. Sam might have pushed Adam a little not to throw his education away because they shared the same desire to go to college, and he might have pushed a little because he still got to know what Dean was up to, and Dean still came by on Adam’s birthday (he was getting taller and stronger and his scent filled Adam’s room for days afterward). He’d even shown up to take Adam hunting for the two summers before he presented, after which John clearly saw no point in Dean going to get his brother anymore. Even if Sam and Dean weren’t ever going to be in each other’s lives in a meaningful way again, that was okay. Sam had by that point spent so many years with Dean as a fantasy that the older Winchester brother could never possibly hold up in reality. Besides, Sam was going to go to Stanford for pre-law just to spite his grandfather so they’d be traveling in completely different worlds. Better to just keep Dean a beautiful if painful memory and move on with his life.

At least, that’s how Sam felt until he decided to throw Adam a graduation party at Grandpa’s Louisiana mansion. It was one of Samuel’s prized pieces of property, one he rarely visited, that he’d bought years ago just so he could say it was his. Mark, Christian, and Tyler used it for throwing parties all the time. Even Johnny and Gwen felt free to ask for the place if they wanted to get a bunch of hunters together for an orgy or whatever that branch of the family did (Sam didn’t know, nor did he care); so Sam didn’t even hesitate to tell his grandfather he needed the place for the weekend. He’d dropped out of Stanford a few months prior to return to hunting after something had burned his girlfriend, Jess, to death on the ceiling of her dorm room. They’d only been together about a year, but her family knew who his grandfather was and where he worked, and he’d promised her parents he’d find out what had killed her and return the favor.

Anyway, that left Sam completely available and willing to host Adam’s graduation party when he found out that Adam’s dad hadn’t even made it to commencement, and hadn’t said anything at all about celebrating the event. Adam said more than once that his dad had kind of written him off once he presented as a beta, which was going to make it easier to go to college instead of joining the family business of saving people and hunting things, but left him worried that he was going to lose touch with Dean. He was upfront about wanting to get Dean away from their dad, but because hunting took them around the country he didn’t have much time to actually talk to Dean about it privately. So when Sam told Adam he was getting a party, no ifs, ands, or buts, making sure Dean got invited had seemed the obvious thing to do.

It was a huge mistake. Sam knew that the minute Dean arrived on the property at little after ten at night, pulling up in a two-tone 1969 Buick Special that had seen better days. Sam smelled him through the open car windows before he saw him - his scent a mixture of cherry pie, roses, coffee, and cloves - and immediately wanted to run. His mind flashed back to the days before Dean presented, when Sam kept thinking Dean smelled like honey but dismissed it because that was silly. Now here he was, hosting a party with thirty or so of his and Adam’s classmates, and he was glued to the top step of the veranda as Adam shouted, “Dean!” and ran down to practically tackle his brother as he emerged from the car with his duffel.

The years had been kind to Dean. He was twenty-four now and stunning. His bravado had returned, though somehow it seemed forced, but the smile he gave when Adam launched himself off the steps was genuine and made him look about ten years old again. He was still growing into his omega looks, which meant he was going to end up even more beautiful than he was in his ripped jeans and Led Zeppelin tee shirt, and Sam didn’t think that was possible. His hair was longer than Sam had ever see it - not quite the shaggy length that Sam liked his hair, but still, longer - and looked to have been bleached slightly, probably by the sun, since Dean’s flawless skin was sporting a healthy, glowing tan. As Adam enveloped him in a bear hug the duffel pulled against Dean’s tee shirt and showed the long expanse of his unmarked neck.

Intellectually Sam had known he wouldn’t see anything there. Adam would have mentioned if Dean had found a mate. But somehow seeing his perfect neck in person made it real.

Dean was still unclaimed after eight years.

Sam’s mouth went dry. He couldn’t speak. The year and a half he’d had in college had done a lot for his social skills and self confidence, even with Jess’ horrible death, but now in Dean’s presence he felt awkward and gangly and every bit just a twenty year old kid who shouldn’t even be on the same planet with Dean Winchester. Hell, Dean was probably the only person at the party who could even legally drink. Why had he been so gung-ho on making sure Adam invited his brother?

“Congrats Runt! You’re finally free!”

“I was starting to think you weren’t going to make it.”

“Me, miss a chance to hang out with you and a couple dozen alphas? Why would I skip that?”

“Jerk.”

“Bitch.”

“Where’s the Impala?”

“Dad wouldn’t let me bring her. Bobby loaned me this piece of crap. She’s ugly but she’s reliable.”

“Hey,” Sam said with a lame wave from where he stood rooted to the veranda.

Dean looked up and spotted Sam, and was quiet for a minute. He took a very subtle sniff of the air and looked perplexed, like he was trying to work something out. God, Sam wanted to be anywhere else. Inside the house, the bottom of the ocean, Mars - anywhere would have been better than here, being scrutinized by the gorgeous omega who had just showed up in his grandfather’s driveway. The gorgeous omega who also happened to be his best friend’s brother.

Then, at last, Dean said uncertainly, “Sam…?”

“Yeah,” Sam replied, laughing self consciously. “Yeah. Hey Dean.”

“Hey.” Dean approached the veranda cautiously, his eyes inscrutable. Sam tried to smile but it felt as forced as it looked. Dean continued to stare and then nodded. “Well. You got big.”

“Yeah.” Sam’s voice cracked. His voice fucking cracked (Lord, take me now). He nodded dumbly as if trying to reinforce that it was, in fact, him. “The alpha hormones do that.”

Shit. That was clearly the wrong thing to say based on the way Dean’s eyes flashed at him. Not a happy, flirty, “My god, Sam grew up all big and strong and I just want to jump his bones” way, but more of a “I am intimately aware of what alpha hormones do to people” way. Shit, shit, shit.

“I don’t know if you have a hotel nearby or something,” he said quickly, trying to save the situation, “but I told Adam that you could both stay over after the party if you want. I’m sure a lot of people are going to crash here anyway and this place has something like fifteen bedrooms.”

“Fifteen bedrooms?” Dean quirked an eyebrow. “Wow. Your grandpa really is rich, isn’t he Sammy?”

“My grandfather is excessive.” That came out a lot more bitter sounding than he meant. Goddammit it, why couldn’t he just talk to Dean like a normal person? “Anyway, come on in, most everyone is out back by the pool.”

“A pool! And me without my trunks. Too bad you invited so many people Sam, we coulda gone skinny dipping.”

Dean had come right up to Sam with a wide grin on his face, but it faded at Sam’s look of horror. Not that Sam meant to look horrified, he had just been preoccupied with forcing his dick to behave since Dean got out of that ugly ass car and if he didn’t get away from Adam’s brother right now something very embarrassing was going to happen. The color drained from Dean’s face and the smile vanished instantly. He looked like he’d been slapped. He stared at Sam for a few seconds longer, and Sam could have sworn he saw hurt flash through the jade green of Dean’s eyes, but Dean had clearly learned to suppress his emotions so his scent wouldn’t give away every little thing he was feeling. Adam, oblivious to the two of them, grabbed Dean’s duffel and said, “Come on, there’s a room upstairs with two twins. I snagged it for us.”

Dean’s eyes finally left Sam’s face and he forced the smile to return as he followed Adam inside.

“Good call, Runt. I’m always into twins!”

“God. Not everything is about sex, Dean.”

“Of course everything is about sex! How are we even related?”

It wasn’t until their voices died away as they went upstairs that Sam felt safe to release the breath he had been holding. He’d been so terrified of making a stupid comment he thought it was safer to just keep everything in, and as he finally exhaled he felt lightheaded. When he inhaled again Dean’s scent hit him like a tsunami and he blushed before hurrying off to one of the bathrooms. He was going to need to take care of the massive erection he had sprouted before anyone spotted his tented shorts. How the hell was he going to survive the night with Dean under the same roof?

Chapter Text

By the time Sam got his situation taken care of, Dean and Adam had taken up a pair of chaise lounges poolside, and Dean was cracking open his second beer. He had a plate of food piled high from the catered buffet Sam had arranged, and was watching the partygoers laugh and dance and mess around in the pool. Every now and then someone would glance in Dean’s direction, but for the most part they were all being respectful. That allowed Sam to relax a little and made it easier to remember to breathe, and when he did so he realized why everyone was mostly ignoring an omega in the middle of a giant group of alphas. The chlorine from the pool was so strong it was diluting everyone’s scent, and with so many people poolside it was almost impossible to pick Dean out of the mix. Sam noticed the chaise on Adam’s other side was free, grabbed a beer from one of the coolers, and made a beeline for it as casually as he could.

“...your nursing degree you’ll be able to patch me up after a hunt,” Dean was saying, taking a pull from the bottle in his hand. “Guess you going to college isn’t such a waste after all.”

“No it isn’t, Dean,” Adam said evenly, though his tone held a warning.

“I’m just teasing, Runt.” Dean gave him a shove. “You’re gonna have to re-learn all my Dean-isms.”

“That’d be easy to do if you got out of the life and came to North Carolina with me.”

“Adam…”

“I’m serious, Dean. I know how Dad feels about you. You’d be better off with me.”

“What, so you can turn into my bodyguard? Save me from all the assholes out there? No thanks, I can handle myself.” Dean took another swig, a long one, and cast a sideways glance at Sam. “Hey Sam. Startin’ to think you got lost.”

“No,” Sam said, trying not to blush. “Had to take a call from my grandfather.”

Dean snorted, choking on his beer.

“God Sammy,” he said as he recovered. “You’re a terrible liar. It’s okay to admit you can’t stand the way I smell. I won’t hold it against you.”

Now Sam really blushed.

“That’s not…” he started, but Adam held up a hand for him to stop.

“Never mind, Sam,” Adam told him quietly.

“Anyway,” Dean piped up, “I’m glad at least something good came out of me getting us tossed into that place. You’re gonna make a great nurse, Adam. I really mean that. Really.”

“Thanks Dean.” They were quiet for a minute, listening to the opening guitar riff of Ziggy Stardust, before Adam’s brow furrowed and he turned to his brother. “What do you mean you got us tossed into Actaeon?”

A hint of pink rose to Dean’s cheeks, and Sam felt suddenly like an intruder on something very private between the Winchesters, but he’d be damned if he was going to get up off the chaise when Dean looked so perfect and was only about four feet away. Dean pounded the rest of his beer and announced, “I’m empty. Want another Adam?”

“I haven’t even finished this one,” Adam said, wagging his half full bottle at his older brother. “You’re gonna end up getting drunk.”

“Yeah, probably. But I got you as a roomie again so I know I’m safe.” Dean may have smiled, but it didn’t belie how serious he was about feeling safe with his younger brother. “I’ll be right back. Maybe if Sam’s feelin’ really generous he’ll tell us where his gramps keeps the good stuff.”

“Not happening,” Sam replied with a smile, and Dean waved him off as he headed back towards the cooler.

“He’s always snippy like this when he’s been with Dad for too long,” Adam said quietly. “And he drinks too much. He drank himself to sleep almost every day for those two summers he came to get me. Dad makes him feel like such a worthless piece of shit.”

“Why does he stay?” Sam asked, even as he knew he shouldn’t pry. It made him too angry to think of anyone making Dean feel worthless for him not to ask.

“He doesn’t want Dad to be alone,” Adam replied, watching as Dean lingered by the cooler, pretending to assess the different beer choices. It was clear he was simply stalling before rejoining Sam and his brother. “Whatever happened to his mom...I dunno, he’s always felt like he needs to follow Dad around like a good little soldier. I think he’s scared that if they aren’t together Dad will end up dead, too.”

“That doesn’t scare you?” Sam said, shocked.

Adam shrugged.

“I barely know the guy. I was...what...four when he dropped us off? And all those summers he took Dean but never came back to get me? I didn’t even know what he did until I found out what Actaeon was for. I only had those two summers hunting with him because Dean talked him into it, then he had the two of us on simple jobs while he was off on real hunts. I think we had all of five conversations. He’s not a dad. He’s just this disembodied voice on the other end of a phone who calls to say happy birthday once a year.”

It was Sam’s turn to shrug. That seemed more than fair. He felt that way about his own grandfather. It was certainly a valid way for both of them to feel after spending their whole lives at a boarding school with more interaction with the teachers than their own family. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Adam felt no attachment to his father, it just seemed weird to see it juxtaposed with Dean’s unwavering loyalty.

“What are you guys talkin’ about?” Dean asked, having returned and already started in on his third beer. “The best styles for braiding each other’s hair?”

Sam found himself laughing. Now that he wasn’t overwhelmed by Dean’s amazing scent sending his hormones wild he could relax around him. It felt good.

“You’re one to talk.” He took a drink. “I haven’t seen your hair this long since the day your dad dropped you off.”

“Yeah, well…” Dean shrugged and sipped. “Tryin’ somethin’ new. Not sure I like it, too much hair to pull, you know?”

So much for relaxing. The innocent statement sent a jolt straight down to Sam’s stomach, and he looked at his feet as he again found himself struggling to control the noncompliant organ between his legs. Dean took it the wrong way, of course, and looked away as he cleared his throat, which struck Sam as funny (sad, not ha-ha). It was a good thing he would probably never see Dean again, because the way Sam was fucking this up Dean would never want to talk to him anyway.

“Speaking of the day Dad dropped us off…” How could Adam possibly be oblivious to what was happening? Oh, right. He was a beta. Stressed omega and irritated alpha scents went right past him. He stood up as Dean set his beer on the table next to his chaise. “What do you mean you got us tossed in…”

“You want me to toss you in?” Dean exclaimed, suddenly mischievous. “Okay!”

And he grabbed his brother and flung them both into the pool with a huge splash that soaked Sam’s shoes all the way back where he was sitting. There were a bunch of startled screams and gasps from the people in the pool and right around the perimeter, but it all turned to laughter when Dean and Adam popped back up through the surface and started splashing like they were kids again. After a couple of minutes of quasi-wrestling in the shallow end (Dean won), Adam called out, “Come on in, Sam!”

“Thanks,” Sam shouted back, raising up his beer, “but I’m good!”

“Wuss!” Adam replied with a laugh, and he and Dean went back to wrestling.

The truth was that Sam really wanted to jump in the pool with them and just relax and be a young man hanging out with his best friend and his best friend’s brother, but the way Dean looked with his shirt plastered to his chest and his uncharacteristically long hair hanging down over his forehead was too much. He was just too much beauty and charm and everything Sam had ever imagined he’d be. Sam could feel his heart pounding and hear the blood rushing through his ears, and there was no way he could join them when his alpha was shrieking out “mate.” Adam and Dean stayed in for a while with Sam just watching them, laughing from the safety of his chaise, and by the time they finally climbed out Sam was halfway through his second beer.

The two dripped their way over to their seats like a pair of wet cats, Adam’s white tee shirt translucent and Dean’s soaked jeans leaving very little to the imagination, and plopped themselves down, still giggling. They both dug into Dean’s plate of food, needing to replenish a bit of energy, and an easy silence settled in while Dean started looking for the bottom of his third beer. Adam and Sam both watched him drink it way too fast for a moment, before Sam finally said, “Why did your dad drop you two off at Actaeon?”

Dean drew the bottle away from his perfect lips and sat still in profile for a moment. It was clear he’d hoped they’d forgotten his comment. Sam might have been distracted away from his question by the small, enchanting frown on Dean’s face if he hadn’t caught the scent of distress flow off of him despite the chlorine on his skin, hair, and clothes. Sam’s instincts yelled at him to comfort the omega, but he fought against them to give Dean space.

God. No wonder Benny held him in a death grip when their dad picked him up all those years ago, if Dean had smelled anything like this.

“It...uh…” Dean clenched his jaw and cleared his throat. So. Whatever it was, Dean felt badly enough about it that he had to prepare himself before talking about it. Sam could smell him tamping down his emotions and wished he’d never asked the question. “We were in Fort Douglas, Wisconsin. There was this...thing. A Shtriga. I don’t know if they covered it at school, they hadn’t gotten to it by the time I...”

“They did,” Adam said. “Senior year. Albanian witch. Feeds off the ‘spirit of life.’”

“They prefer children,” Sam added, despite suddenly wanted to change the subject he’d begun. “Once they start in on a family they’ll go through all the kids.”

“Right,” Dean said. “So, Dad was hunting one of these things, had fed off of a couple dozen kids, and he...uh...he left us in this motel for a couple of days to go track it down. Left on a Wednesday, said if he wasn’t back by Sunday to call Pastor Jim.”

“I kinda remember that,” Adam said slowly. “We watched a lot of cartoons and you let me have the last of the Frosted Flakes or something?”

“Lucky Charms,” Dean corrected. “Yeah, so, Dad told me to stay inside with you, but, you know, you were a really annoying kid sometimes Adam…”

What?”

“It’s true,” Sam added, hoping to lighten the mood a little for Dean. Adam shot him a glare. “Hey, friends are supposed to be honest with one another. You were great, but sometimes you really needed to shut up about He-Man. That’s all I’m sayin’.”

Both Adam and Dean laughed at that, though Dean’s laugh was shaky and he was looking at his hands.

“Anyway, it was Saturday, and I hadn’t heard from Dad, and we’d been stuck in that motel since Wednesday, and you’d fallen asleep, and I just...I needed some air, you know? I just wanted to walk around and, I dunno, there was this video arcade attached to the motel and I figured I could just...go there for maybe an hour or something and then come right back and it would be fine. Except I lost track of time, and I was gone probably more like two or three hours, and when I got back...it was in the room with you.”

Adam went very white. Clearly this was not something he remembered at all.

“Did you kill it?” he asked quietly.

“No.” Dean looked like he wanted to evaporate into nothing. “No, I uh...I grabbed the shotgun Dad left with me but I froze. God, I was so scared! And then Dad came running in and he tried to shoot it, but missed, and it went back out the window and then he just...grabbed us and booked. Dropped us off at Pastor Jim’s about three hours away, but by the time he got back to Fort Douglas the Shtriga had disappeared, it was just gone. He left us with Pastor Jim for about a week - man, I thought he was never coming back - and then he picked us up and drove us to the academy and that was it. When he called for your birthday and I asked when he was coming to get us he said he couldn’t trust me to keep you safe so uh...he was gonna leave us there until I learned how important following orders was.” He looked up at his brother and his eyes were moist. “I’m really sorry, Runt. He gave me an order and I didn’t listen. I almost got you killed.”

“You were just a kid,” Sam said softly, but Dean shook his head.

“Don’t. You and I both know hunters are never kids, Sam. Not really.”

Sam wanted to say something, anything that would make Dean feel better about this, but didn’t have a chance because Adam was pissed.

“Are you telling me,” he said, his knuckles white as he gripped the beer bottle, “that Dad left us alone in a motel room with a monster roaming around killing kids? And he didn’t come back for days? And then he blamed you when it almost got me?”

“Adam…”

“No, Dean, I want to be sure I’m crystal clear on this. Because if that’s what he did, he’s an asshole. You were ten! I was four! We were only a couple of hours from Pastor Jim’s! Why didn’t he just leave us there in the first place? What, was he using us as bait?!”

“Adam…”

“I bet he was. I bet that bastard was using us as bait!” Adam stood up, his face full of rage, and downed the rest of his beer, slamming the bottle on the table. “You know what, that’s bullshit. That’s all bullshit. Dad is bullshit.”

People were starting to stare, alerted by the smell of a very distressed omega that Adam of course couldn’t scent. He paced for a few seconds while Sam literally sat on his hands to keep from stroking Dean’s face and neck to calm him, then whirled on his brother with the most intent look Sam had ever seen. He was even angrier than when Garth had gotten kicked out of school, and he’d been pretty damned furious then. Adam pressed on.

“This is what’s going to happen, Dean, and I’m not going to argue about it. You don’t want to come with me to North Carolina, that’s fine. I can respect that. But you’re not hunting with Dad anymore. The two of you are done. He’s always treated you like you’re his subordinate, not his son, and I know he’s gotten worse since you presented as an om. Don’t deny it, Bobby got in touch with me after you got expelled, I know what happened, what’s been happening. So either you quit hunting with him on your own or so help me the minute I’m done with Duke I will track you down and drag you back to Durham or wherever I end up by your hair. Are we clear?”

Dean had blanched, and Sam couldn’t stop himself. He scooted over to Adam’s chaise, rested a hand on Dean’s arm, and began sweeping his thumb up and down while giving him a little squeeze. Dean must not have minded because he didn’t pull away. It sickened Sam because he was too weak to keep his hands to himself and touching Dean was thrilling.

“We’re clear, Adam,” Dean said quietly, cowed.

“Good,” Adam spat, then turned to Sam. “Where does your grandfather keep the good stuff?”

“It’s…” Sam had never thought a beta would make him feel so flustered and intimidated, but it was happening. He was certain that if Adam hadn’t been his closest friend he would be in full-on alpha protective mode right now from the anxiety rolling off of Dean. Instead he fumbled to his feet, sliding his hand up to Dean’s shoulder, and started fishing into his pocket. “In the library. I have the key. Come on, we’ll all go. Give the audience a chance to disperse.”

“I’ll meet you there.”

Adam snatched the key from Sam’s hand and stormed off as Dean got shakily to his feet, which had the side effect of bringing him fully into Sam’s space. The intimacy was not lost on Sam, however Dean’s whole body was trembling not just from how Adam had laid into him (Sam understood omegas were sensitive to that kind of thing, but it was different to actually see it happening) but all the alphas who were fixated on the two of them. Some had started to casually scent the air. This could go south in a hurry if anyone wanted to be a dick.

“You okay?” he asked quietly, moving to make himself a barrier between Dean and the rest of the party.

“Fucking hormones,” Dean replied just as quietly, gently dislodging his shoulder from Sam’s hand.

Sam snorted.

“Tell me about it. Let’s go.”

Adam was already into a brand new bottle of Samuel’s good scotch by the time Dean and Sam caught up with him, which was the first time Sam realized this hadn’t been a good idea. Not necessarily because he didn’t want his friends getting into his grandfather’s liquor, but because Adam was dripping all over the Persian rug. And it wasn’t that Sam cared if the rug got ruined, he was just too fed up with his relationship with his family to deal with Samuel’s inevitable lecture about respecting the value of things. He grabbed Adam’s arm and steered both him and Dean out of the library, saying “Yeah, you guys need some dry clothes.”

Two hours later they were all sitting out by the pool again in dry wife beaters and shorts with the empty scotch bottle, Dean nursing his fifth beer of the evening, as the party really wound down. Sam had expected it to go on into the wee hours of the morning, but it had started around noon the previous day. About half the party-goers had already left, and the rest were starting to disperse now. That was when the night really turned. Apparently Samuel hadn’t told Sam’s cousins that the mansion was off limits for the weekend, or if he had they didn’t care, because as people were peeling off to climb into taxis Christian, Mark, and Tyler showed up and zeroed in pretty quickly on the only omega in the place. That would have been bad enough, but the only omega in the place had not anticipated running into Sam’s knothead cousins and was extremely intoxicated. Dangerously intoxicated. As was his normally overprotective beta brother. The only one of the three who was semi-sober was Sam, since he was the host of the party and thought he probably shouldn’t get shitfaced. Still, he wasn’t functioning at one hundred percent and instantly recognized the threat his three cousins presented.

Normally Sam would have dealt with this by calmly ejecting them from the property at the end of a gun, but he had enough alcohol in his system that he wasn’t able to curb his baser impulses when he saw the way Christian looked at Dean like a starving lion who had spotted a big, juicy steak. His alpha didn’t want to kick them out. His alpha wanted to fight for dominance, preferably until his cousins were covered in their own blood. Adam had all but passed out in his lounge chair, and Dean teasing him about being a lightweight not ten minutes ago was no longer funny. Adam was a lightweight and Sam had limited how many glasses he’d had, so Dean had drunk most of the bottle by himself, plus the five beers. Sam could feel his alpha rising as Christian threw him a huge smile and started over from the house, and Sam slid onto Dean’s chaise.

“Hey there Sam,” Christian called, though his eyes never left the omega. He stopped a few feet from the patio, the smirk on his face telling Sam he was more amused by Sam’s ire than threatened. “You didn’t tell us you were having a party.”

“You weren’t invited,” Sam snarled, and Dean reacted on instinct to Sam’s angry, protective scent, cuddling up against him with his nose in Sam’s neck.

“S’all right, Sammy,” he practically purred. “Don’ get upset.” He hiccuped, which would have made Sam melt any other time, but not now. “You smell so good when yer not mad.”

Sam couldn’t stop his arm from going around Dean to pull him in closer. The drive to protect him was overriding Sam’s ability to be keep his hands to himself. They ended up sandwiched together, hipbones touching and Dean turned inward so they were pressed chest to chest. Having Dean close enough to scent wasn’t doing anything to clamp down on Sam’s primal alpha need to defend him, and every fiber of Sam’s body screamed out “mine” in response. He ran his free hand through Dean’s hair and turned his mouth to Dean’s ear so he could speak softly and still be heard.

“Not now, baby.”

Baby? Had Sam’s neanderthal brain really just blurted out a pet name for Dean Winchester? The only thing that saved him from complete humiliation was knowing that Dean almost certainly wasn’t going to remember this in the morning, and Sam wasn’t exactly in control of what came out of his mouth right now. His alpha was in the driver’s seat.

And the omega in Dean responded by giggling. Actually giggling against Sam’s neck. Sam desperately wanted them to be alone right now, and had to make a concerted effort to keep his mouth off of Dean’s...well, everything.

“You called me baby,” Dean snorted, snuggling in even closer to Sam’s side and becoming very handsy. “Tha’s what I call my car.” He laughed brightly, ducking his head under Sam’s chin like he was trying to mold himself to Sam’s chest, then stood up abruptly. “I gotta pee.”

He staggered his way towards the house, but ran into the wall of Campbells, tripping into Christian and Mark. Sam’s eyes burned red with rage as Christian slid his arm around Dean’s back.

“Hey there, Dean,” he cooed. “Never thought we’d see you again.”

“You sure grew up nice,” Mark added, running his fingers across Dean’s jawline. He tipped Dean’s head so he could see his neck. “And still unclaimed. Now that’s practically criminal.”

Sam was about to literally tear their arms off when Dean smacked Mark’s hand away clumsily.

“Fuck off, dickwad,” he slurred. “Not interested. Never will be.”

“Let him go, Christian,” Sam growled, getting a hold of Dean’s arm.

“Sammy!” Dean extricated himself from Christian and pressed himself into Sam’s side again. “You’re still here!” He stayed there, sighing and smiling for a minute, before blinking up at Sam with wide green eyes. He looked from Sam’s eyes to his mouth and breathed heavily for a few moments, eyelashes batting, then jerked away, declaring for the second time, “I gotta pee.”

“I know, this way,” Sam murmured, shooting Christian and Mark a look that dared them to come closer as he led Dean into the house. He could feel them glaring as he practically carried Dean up the back steps and really hoped they’d try something. He was amazed at how quickly the adrenaline and alpha rage combined was sobering him up.

“Hey, Sammy?” Dean said as Sam hauled him to the upstairs bathroom. It seemed safer to get him as far away from the pool as possible, though the struggle up the stairs gave Dean plenty of time to get handsy again. God, when did Dean turn into an octopus? “Why didn’t you ‘n me stay friends?”

“Later Dean,” Sam said gently, helping him get to the toilet. “Focus on peeing, okay?”

“Okay,” Dean replied, dropping his pants unceremoniously and plopping himself down.

Thank god this was about the least romantic situation Sam could think of, otherwise he might be in real trouble being in such a confined space with a half naked Dean. Dean had a loose grip on the hem of Sam’s shorts, not letting him move farther away, and it was really all Sam could do to confine himself to stroking Dean’s face, which resulted in Dean’s eyes fluttering shut as he grinned like a kid who just got a three scoop sundae. Sam closed his eyes and took in a couple of deep breaths through his mouth so as not to become more flustered by the omega scent when Dean leaned into his touch.

“Listen,” he said, “I’m gonna go check on Adam. I want you to lock this door and don’t come out until I come back to get you, okay?”

Dean was starting to fall asleep, sitting on the toilet and leaning over onto the sink, but he snapped up when Sam spoke, which was good. Sam needed him to pay attention, because Adam was basically passed out downstairs and someone needed to make sure he wasn’t dying of alcohol poisoning. Sam couldn’t be in two places at once, and even if Dean was incredibly vulnerable at the moment he had to make sure Adam was okay by himself.

“You’ll come back?”

“I’ll come back. I promise.”

Dean licked his lips lazily, nodding, and Sam really needed to get out of the bathroom.

“‘Kay.”

“I’m gonna stay outside until I hear you lock the door.”

“‘Kay.”

“Don’t open the door until I come back.”

“‘Kay.”

All right, now he was just finding reasons to stay in the bathroom caressing Dean’s face, and he had to get back to Adam, but god it was hard leaving him here like this. Finally he pressed his lips to Dean’s forehead, which had Dean leaning into him again, smiling and sighing, and willed himself out of the room, closing the door behind him with a soft “click.” He stood and waited for Dean to follow and was just starting to think he’d have to go back in when he heard the toilet flush and stumbling feet come over to the door. After a couple of seconds he heard Dean messing with the doorknob, and there came a muffled, “Where’s the fuckin’ lock?”

“It’s a bolt lock,” Sam replied. “Look up.”

There was a pause, then “Oh,” and Sam heard the bolt slide into place. This was good. Dean could listen and follow instructions. He would be fine until Sam got back upstairs.

Only a handful of people were left saying goodbye to Adam by the time Sam got back to the pool. Sam suspected his cousins had taken advantage of his absence to hurry along the breaking up of festivities, the “don’t embarrass the family” mantra being part of their DNA. He was not thrilled about the idea of being alone with them; not because he was afraid of them (he hadn’t been since he was nine), but because of what Sam might do to them if not reined in by the guests. He debated calling his grandfather, his cousin Gwen, and even the police, but they weren’t technically trespassing and they hadn’t done anything outside of being their general douchey selves. He wished that were illegal, but it wasn’t.

Christian must have scented his annoyance because he turned from watching the two female alphas hugging a staggering Adam near the deep end of the pool to smile at Sam.

“There you are, cos,” he sneered. “I was startin’ to wonder if you’d taken Dean off and claimed him! I can smell how much you want to.”

“It’s time for you to go, Christian,” Sam ordered, struggling to contain the fury that was building in him again. “You weren’t invited to this party and this isn’t your house.”

“It’s not yours either,” Tyler said from behind the two older alphas.

“Neither is Dean, apparently,” Mark bit out. “You need to learn that if you want something you should go ahead and take it, or someone else will.”

Suddenly everything Sam could see went red, something he’d never experienced before and which surely would have scared the crap out of him had he not been angry enough to rip Mark’s head off with his bare hands. Rather than finding their youngest cousin intimidating as his alpha came out in full force, Christian and Mark laughed, which gave Tyler the confidence to join in with them, albeit a little more weakly. Internally Sam was begging them to keep pushing so he could pound their faces into the patio until they were nothing but a bloody mess, but there was a scream and a splash from the pool. Distracted by the sound, Sam automatically turned to see what had happened, his alpha wanting to know if it was a potential threat. He watched Adam trying to get back up to the surface of the water as one of the women jumped in to help him, the other reaching out from the edge, and that was when one of his cousins (he thought he saw Mark moving but didn’t get turned back in time) coldcocked him. His vision went black, his knees buckled, and he fell to the ground in a heap.

Chapter Text

It felt like he was out for a very long time before one of the alpha females, a pretty young woman with dark skin, was slapping Sam's cheek with a wet hand trying to wake him, water from her short, tightly curled black hair dripping all over his face. Opening his eyes just made his head hurt, so he resisted it for as long as he could, but after a couple of moments he couldn’t ignore the woman asking, “Are you okay? Sam!” over and over.

“Ow,” Sam responded, sitting up slowly and touching the back of his head where the pain was coming from. When he pulled his hand away there was blood on it. He felt very foggy and had a hard time focussing on - he thought her name was Tamara - as his stomach did a little nauseated flip. “What happened?”

“You hit your head,” she explained with a crisp British accent. Yes, Tamara. She’d transferred in Sam’s senior year when her parents moved to the States. “Careful, you might have a concussion. I’ve been trying to wake you for a while.”

“How did I hit my head?” Sam asked.

“Dunno,” she said. “Didn’t see what happened to you. Maggie and I were trying to get Adam out of the pool. We were just fooling around and he fell in, we didn’t think he was so sloshed…”

He realized that she was soaking wet and that made him very nervous. He knew how drunk Adam was. That’s why he’d come out here to check on him. But come out here from where?

“Is he okay?” Things were slowly slotting into place for Sam as he looked around for Adam. It felt like there was something important just at the tip of his brain but he couldn’t pin it down. “Did you get him out?”

“Yeah,” she said as he spotted Adam with the other woman, Asian with very long hair, at the far end of the pool, where he was coughing and sputtering but seemed to be fine. “Thought we weren’t going to, to be honest. He’s a lot heavier than he looks. Maggie knows CPR so she gave him a couple of breaths and he came right to. He also vomited all over the patio. Sorry.”

“No…” He was missing something important. He looked around the pool trying to figure out what it was that was driving him crazy. “No, that’s fine, we’ll buy the pool guy a fruit basket or a Mercedes or something to make up for it.”

Why would he suggest buying the pool guy a Mercedes? Mercedes were overrated in his estimation. Besides, jackholes like his cousin Christian drove them and Christian was…

It hit him like a bull in Pamplona that he couldn’t outrun. Christian, Mark, and Tyler were here. But it was just the four of them at the pool. His cousins were gone. And he’d left Dean alone in the upstairs bathroom to wait for him. The panic that swept over him had Tamara grabbing his arm fiercely in response to the spike of distress in his scent.

“What’s wrong?”

“Where are my cousins?”

“Who?”

“The other three guys. Did you see where they went?”

He struggled to his feet, his head trying to force him to stay down longer, and Tamara held on to steady him.

“You were the only one here when we got out of the pool,” she said, and Sam really felt like he was going to throw up. “What’s wrong?”

Sam was pushing her away and launching himself across the patio towards Adam. The kid was clearly still very drunk, but he looked a little steadier after having thrown up some of the alcohol in his stomach. It still felt like it took far too long for Sam to get Adam focused on him.

“Adam. Adam!” he said, shaking him until he was sure Adam recognized him. “You need to get up and come with me right now.”

“Wha…?” Adam didn’t look like he could stand, but Sam hauled him up anyway. “What is it?”

“Christian, Mark, and Tyler are here and I left Dean in the bathroom.”

“You...what?”

Adam wasn’t upset, just confused. It wasn’t comforting. Sam needed not to be alone in this feeling of absolute dread. Turned out he wasn’t.

“Wait…” the other female alpha - Maggie - said as she and Tamara hurried after them. “Adam’s brother Dean?”

“Isn’t he an omega?” Tamara asked. “Someone said that was him you were sitting with but we didn’t think…”

“That an omega would just walk into a party full of drunk alphas?” Sam said ruefully. “He thought he’d be safe with us. My cousins weren’t supposed to be here, I was supposed to have the house to myself for the weekend.”

They’d made it into the house, but the back doors had been locked and they had to go around to the front. Locked as well. Sam considered smashing in the back doors, but Maggie yelled, “Over here!”

The window to the library was open. Sam boosted Tamara, Maggie, and Adam inside before pulling himself through, then bolted for the stairs, taking them two at a time.

Dean!”

The seriousness of the situation clicked in Adam’s inebriated brain at last, and he was stumbling in the hallway after Sam, Tamara and Maggie helping to keep him from tripping over himself.

Dean!”

Sam had already made it to the bathroom, finding it empty with the door wide open. The lock was still in one piece, so Dean must have opened it either on his own or because his cousins found him and ordered him to. Sam wouldn’t put it past any of them to use their alpha voice to command him to open the door, or any other number of things. He became dimly aware that he was very close to hyperventilating as Adam and the other alphas caught up to him. Adam looked terrified and on the verge of tears.

“Where is he?” he demanded, but Sam was already off down the hall to the room with the twin beds Adam had picked for him and Dean to stay in overnight. “Sam!”

Dean wasn’t in the room (of course he wasn’t, it was stupid to think he’d just let himself out of the bathroom and wandered down the hall to peacefully fall asleep in his own bed, fortune didn’t smile on Sam like that) but his duffel was, and Adam’s bag was, and it didn’t take long for Sam to find Dean’s Colt and Adam’s H&K USP Match. He stuffed Adam’s gun in the back of his pants so he could also grab Dean’s Bowie knife and hurried back to the bathroom where Tamara and Maggie were trying to calm Adam down.

“Take this,” Sam said, holding the Colt out to Tamara, then giving the H&K to Maggie. “I don’t trust myself with a gun right now.”

“Sam…” Adam sobbed.

Sam whirled on him. His alpha was out and in no mood for weak little betas who wanted to cry when Sam’s omega was gone. He grabbed Adam’s shoulders and shook him, rougher than he meant to, until Adam stopped sobbing and held his breath.

“We don’t have time for you to break down,” Sam hissed. “You’re scared, I get it. But we can track Dean down by scent. You’re too drunk for a weapon, so stay behind us. He may need your help when we find him.”

May. He was being kind. He knew his cousins. If Sam and Adam were really lucky, they wouldn’t have taken Dean off the property, but there was no guarantee.

“Calm down,” Maggie ordered. “You’re stinking up the place.”

Sam let go of Adam and forced himself to stop freaking out for a minute. He could see that Tamara had stepped away from them and was scenting the air.

“Roses and cloves,” she said finally. “No wonder you’re acting like a nutter. Follow me.”

Just like that the three alphas and the beta were off through the house, Tamara leading with Sam and Adam in between, Maggie covering the rear. The scents were muddied with so many alphas who had passed through on their exit from the party and it was tough to follow at first, but once they got to the cellar door in the kitchen the omega smell became much stronger. The color drained from Sam’s face as he neared it.

“You all right?” Tamara asked when Sam began to shake with rage again. “Hey, you need to get it together.”

“My grandfather has a room down there,” Sam snarled. “Built out the basement from just a root cellar so he could construct it to the specs he wanted. Uses it for ‘discreet meetings.’”

“Discreet meetings? The kind he doesn’t want people finding out about because it would make him look like a sick fuck?”

“The kind that aren’t always strictly consensual.”

“Shit.”

“Let me go first.”

Tamara nodded, backing off from the door to give Sam access. He could hear something coming from the basement, and again the door had been locked. He couldn’t just kick it down without making a lot of noise, but he didn’t have to worry because Maggie was already moving forward with a bobby pin from her hair to pick it. It took her about half a minute to get it open and move out of Sam’s way so he could slowly swing the door open.

Welcome to the Jungle mixed with laughter and voices that he recognized as his cousins’ floated up from the basement. Not that he was a fan to begin with, but he was never going to be able to listen to Guns ‘N Roses again. They must have thought Sam was going to be out of it for a while, because they hadn’t even bothered to turn off the overhead light to give them more cover, so as the four crept slowly down the stairs they had a clear view of the thick metal door on the other side of the basement past all the storage boxes and shelving. Tyler was stationed outside on a chair as a lookout, but he was completely absorbed in whatever was playing on his iPod. Apparently he wasn’t a fan of GNR either.

At the bottom of the stairs Sam motioned for the two other alphas to go ahead of him to neutralize Tyler and pulled Adam down at his back. It became readily apparent why Tyler always hung so closely to Mark and Christian. He was worse than useless, and probably could have gotten himself killed stepping out of the shower, never mind on a hunt. He didn’t even realize he wasn’t alone in the basement until Tamara and Maggie were halfway to him with their guns trained on his head, and when he stood up to call out a warning Sam was already close enough that he could close the distance and press Dean’s knife to his throat in about two seconds. Tyler barely got out a squeak.

“Hey Tyler,” Sam snarled quietly, his vision bright red. He could feel his canines descending and was on the verge of losing control completely. “How about you get Mark and Christian to open up and I won’t have to slit your throat? Sound like a plan?”

Tyler nodded, wide-eyed. The stench of fear mixed with feces as the smaller alpha straight up shat himself. Wow, Tyler was pathetic.

“Try to tip them off and you’re getting a bullet to the head,” Maggie warned.

“Two,” Tamara clarified.

Tyler nodded and cleared his throat. Sam allowed him to turn towards the door, but kept an iron grip on his shirt for good measure.

“Hey! Christian!” he called. He did a good job of keeping his voice calm. “Man, open up! I think I hear someone upstairs!”

The voice from within the room was muffled by the door.

“What?”

“I think someone’s upstairs!” Tyler repeated. “Maybe Sam woke up? I dunno know. Let me in! We gotta keep it quiet down here!”

Sam could vaguely hear Mark saying something about the music, and the music shut off abruptly. Sam moved his grip to the back of Tyler’s neck as he heard the tumblers moving in the door lock.

“Goddammit, Tyler…” was all Mark got to say as he cracked the door before Sam, Tamara, Maggie, and Adam, using Tyler as a shield, forced their way into the room.

While Sam had always suspected his grandfather was a sadist, he hadn’t imagined that he would keep an actual space in the basement of one of his most beloved pieces of property for tying people to a bed and doing god knows what to them, but that’s apparently what he did. The room they were in was sparse, with a ceiling fan, a table near the door that had a stereo system on it, a trunk in the corner that was open and displayed an extensive collection of sex toys, and a bed against the far wall with handcuffs built into the headboard.

That’s where Dean was, lying on his stomach, naked and unconscious, his legs spread for the Campbell cousins’ viewing pleasure. Mark was shirtless and holding a camcorder. Christian was looming over Dean with his pants halfway down his thighs, though whether he was just finishing up or had just been getting started it was impossible to tell.

Maggie already had Tyler face down on the floor and Tamara was backing Mark up against the wall with Dean’s gun pressed point blank to his forehead, snatching the camcorder from his hand and letting it fall to the floor. Sam’s knuckles were going white from how much self restraint it was taking to keep from driving the Bowie knife into Christian’s chest over and over until the sheets were stained red.

“Get. Off. Him.”

“Hey Sam.” Christian’s easy smile as he tucked his hard-on back into his boxer briefs and zipped up his pants was in sharp contrast to the worry Sam could smell on him, but apparently the older alpha was just too stupid to take Sam as a serious threat and thought he could talk his way out of this. “Sorry about clocking you earlier. You didn’t seem like you were up for continuing the party. We got him all prepped if you wanna finally stake your claim.”

That was absolutely the wrong thing to say, because Sam snapped. He leapt at Christian with a roar, tackling him off the bed and driving the knife straight through his shoulder and into the floor, pinning him down with the blade. Mark and Tyler shouted various curses at Sam but were silenced by the steel of the gun barrels Tamara and Maggie were pressing into their flesh. Christian was screaming in terror or agony or both and struggling vainly to push Sam off of him, but all that did was anger Sam more. He wrapped his free hand around his cousin’s throat and squeezed. Christian’s eyes went wide as he started turning purple.

“Listen you worthless sack of shit,” Sam hissed, leaning in close so Christian wouldn’t miss a word of what he was about to say. Since his cousin didn’t understand the concept of consent, he opted for something he would understand: ownership. “Dean Winchester is mine. You don’t ever touch him again. You don’t ever even look at him again. He walks into a room, you better be walking out of it in t-minus one second. The only reason this knife is through your shoulder and not your throat is so you can tell every alpha you know that Dean is off the market unless he decides otherwise. As far as every goddamn knothead in the community is concerned, Dean belongs to me. I ever see him with a mark on his neck and find out he did not consent to it one hundred and fifty percent and I will gut whoever put it there and string them up by their entrails. That includes you. Do you hear what I’m saying? Am I making myself completely clear?” Christian frantically nodded yes as best he could, though he was on the verge of losing consciousness. “Are there any questions? Anything I need to repeat?” Christian shook his head vigorously, gasping. “You try anything when I pull this knife out and I will kill you without hesitation.” Again Christian nodded, and Sam finally let go of his throat, sneering, “Good talk,” before ripping the knife out of the floor, not giving two shits whether it did further damage to his cousin’s shoulder or not.

Christian shrieked and started bleeding and coughing and quickly passed out. Tamara hadn’t taken her eyes off of Mark, who had managed to school his features into a mask of submission. Tyler was on the floor with Maggie’s knee in his back, muttering, “Oh shit” over and over again. Dean hadn’t moved.

Adam had, though. At some point when Sam was threatening Christian with disembowelment he’d made his way through the chaos to the bed and covered Dean up with the sheet. Now he was sitting beside his brother, holding his hand and stroking his face, choking out an unintelligible string of words as he tried to get Dean to realize he was with him. The sudden lack of any kind of emotion in Dean’s scent snapped Sam out of his fury and he stepped away from Christian at last. Dean was there, but he wasn’t there.

Tamara recognized Sam standing down and moved to fill the power void before Mark got any ideas.

“Right,” she snapped. “So what’s going to happen now is you and your literally shitty cousin are going to get that waste of oxygen up off the floor and to hospital. Hunting accident. You know the drill. We’ll escort you out of the building, and if your jaw so much as twitches the maid’s going to be cleaning grey matter out of the carpet tomorrow. Sam will be holding onto that camcorder in case you get any ideas about going to the police to press assault charges. It’s my understanding his granddad doesn’t like bad press attached to the family name.” Mark’s nostrils flared, and his eyes flashed red for a moment, but she cocked the hammer on the gun and he pushed his anger down. She had him by the short and curlies, and he knew it. “You gonna be okay down here for a bit Sam?”

“We’ll be fine.”

“Good. The five of us are going to take a little stroll while you see to Dean.” She gave a jerk of her head towards Christian, who was losing a lot of blood. “Better get him up before he bleeds out and we have to get rid of the witnesses.”

Mark’s jaw clenched, but he didn’t test her. Instead he held his hands up and moved very slowly to haul Christian up off the floor. Maggie got Tyler up by the back of his shirt, and between Tyler and Mark they managed to drag Christian out of the room. It wasn’t until he heard them climb the last step that Sam let go of the knife and fell to his knees beside the pool of Christian’s blood. Blindly he reached out for Dean’s arm. He needed to touch him, make sure he was still there, still warm and alive. He was, but he was also pale and a little clammy, and very, very out of it.

Sam’s overwrought brain couldn’t process what Adam was saying, it was still mostly unintelligible outside of a lot of useless, “I’m so sorry”s, but he was able to numbly realize there was a glass of an amber liquid on the stand by the bed. It was cloudy, not clear like it should have been, and it was almost empty. That’s why Dean wasn’t waking up. They’d drugged him, either to get him down to the basement or after they got him to the basement. His cousins actually walked around with date rape drugs handy. Sam was in serious danger of being sick all over the floor.

“What’re we...what’re we gonna do Sam?” Adam kept trying to get control of himself, but it just resulted in a lot of snuffling and snot all over his face. “We gotta...take him to a hospital or something, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, we uh…” Sam felt the tears coming and didn’t even try to stop them. He’d fucked up so badly leaving Dean in the bathroom, thinking he could keep him safe. “See if you can...find his clothes and...um...I’ll get him up off the bed.”

“Yeah.” Adam sounded like he was four again. “Okay.”

Dean’s pants and boxers were inside out at the foot of the bed, his tank top crumpled in a pile next to the pillows. Adam collected them, sobbing and shaking as Sam turned Dean onto his back to wrap him up in the sheet. He looked like he was in a deep sleep, his face completely calm, no indication whatsoever that he had any idea what had just happened. His chest rose and fell evenly, his mouth hung open slightly, and his hair tousled across his forehead. Sam brushed some of Dean’s hair back and broke down completely, burying his face in Dean’s neck. He knew Dean was going to start to come out of it, probably sooner rather than later, and that he didn’t want Dean to wake up down in his grandfather’s sex dungeon, but he just couldn’t make himself move when Dean was so drugged Sam could barely smell him.

“Sam?” Adam was on the other side of the bed, staring at him with watery eyes that silently overflowed, Dean’s clothes clutched to his chest. “Do you need me to…” A sob broke from his throat, and he had to take a moment to just cry before he could continue. “Do you need me to help carry him upstairs?”

Sam pulled away from Dean, staring at the sheets, vision blurred, and shook his head adamantly.

“No, I got him,” he said, his voice rough. “Grab the camcorder, we need that video as leverage.”

Adam nodded and went to retrieve the camcorder from where Tamara had dropped it, holding it in the bundle of clothes as Sam got his arms under Dean’s lower back and knees. Sam had never really thought much about the advantages that came with being an alpha, but he definitely appreciated the extra strength and how relatively easy it was to get Dean’s dead weight up off the mattress and into a bridal carry. Dean’s head lolled against his shoulder, coming to rest against his neck, and Sam almost broke down again. Dean moaned quietly, the first sound he’d made, which kickstarted Sam into gear. He headed out of the room and for the stairs as quickly as he could, Adam trailing behind him, completely lost.

They were halfway to the front door to load Dean into Sam’s car when Maggie came back inside and stopped in the entryway, Dean’s Colt in one hand and Adam’s H&K in the other.

“What are you doing?” she asked, the smell of her bewilderment and concern filling the hall.

“We...need to get him to a hospital,” Adam choked, having barely gotten a hold of himself.

Maggie’s eyes went wide as she hurried to kick the door closed and came over to block their path.

“You can’t do that. You absolutely cannot.”

“What?”

Sam’s temper was rising. He barely knew this girl. Who was she to tell them what to do with Dean? Maggie smelled the change in his scent, set both guns on the side table near the door, and lifted her hands to show she was not a threat.

“Listen to me, please. My brother is an omega. I’ve done a lot of research into the laws in the southern states because Ed travels them for work. I wanted to make sure I knew how I could protect him if he ever needed my help. I know Louisiana om law backwards and forwards.”

Sam and Adam glanced at each other. They were both still wrecks, but it was clear they were thinking the same thing: they weren’t going to like where this was going.

“And?” Adam asked.

“Louisiana has passed some really bad legislation dealing with omega rape,” she said. “Really bad. Not that there’s anywhere in the country that has good laws, but we’re not in someplace like Connecticut where those assholes might actually end up in jail for one or two years. Louisiana’s very family oriented, and when it comes to omegas they tend to legislate in terms of keeping oms and pups together.”

“Dean…” Sam was getting confused. “Dean doesn’t have any pups.”

“And he’s been on suppressants since he was sixteen,” Adam added. “He won’t…”

“That doesn’t matter,” Maggie insisted. “About fifteen years ago they passed a law to try to counteract the federal one that lets sires take pups of unclaimed omegas. Louisiana had some of the highest rape statistics at the time, and a lot of omegas were getting attacked and left unclaimed when they were in heat, and when the perp got out of jail - assuming they weren’t just given community service - they would waltz up and take the pup.” Sam glanced at Adam, who had finally stopped crying. His face had gone white with splotches of red, as he seemed to be vacillating between anger and dread. “So the legislature came up with the idea that if you raped an omega, you would have to claim them, whether they got pregnant or not. They were actually trying to be compassionate, to force down the rape rates and keep omegas from losing their children. Why they didn’t just make rape penalties stiffer I couldn’t tell you, but they thought this would be better to keep pups and oms together. Of course humanity is pretty awful, and now instead of being the deterrent they intended it to be it’s just a way for sick fucks to claim an omega that’s not interested in them without facing the legal consequences of a rape charge.”

“They…” Sam thought again that he might be sick. “They force the victim to mate their rapist?”

“Basically, yeah.” Maggie looked like she wanted to just turn around and exit this conversation, but instead she moved closer to them still. “You don’t want to know the numbers of these cases. There have been efforts to change the law, but now Louisiana has some of the lowest rape statistics in the country because situations like this are now considered a civil matter so the legislature won’t touch it. If you take Dean to the hospital obviously drugged out of his mind they’ll run a rape kit on him, and if your cousins did...what we think they did to him the state will try to track them down through DNA for an old fashioned shotgun mating.”

“The hunter database,” Sam said. The FDH kept DNA on file for every hunter licensed through them for the identification of remains when a hunt went bad. Mark, Christian, and Tyler were all in the system. They’d be easy to find. There was the possibility that Samuel would try to shield the family from the disgrace of three Campbells drugging and gang raping an omega on his property, but it was more likely he’d see it as making the boys clean up their own mess and spin it into a political positive about how well the Louisiana law worked. Sam was feeling lightheaded. “We couldn’t legally stop one of them from claiming him.”

“You’re lucky though,” she told him, which made Sam want to throw up and Adam sputter. “You are. Most alphas have no idea what the different laws are state-to-state. Odds are your cousins have no clue they could stake a legal claim to Dean if they walked into a police station and made a statement about tonight.”

“What if they do?” Adam asked in a very small voice. “What if they do know, or someone tells them, and they come back here and try to say that they have a right to him?”

“Tamara is following them right now to make sure they go to the hospital,” Maggie said. “We stripped their car of weapons, and your one cousin is going to need some major work done on his shoulder. They won’t be able to come back here tonight so you have some time. You need to get Dean cleaned up so as much of their scent is off of him as possible, and then you need to mark him.”

This last statement was directed at Sam, whose eyes went wide. He couldn’t even comprehend what she was suggesting. Adam obviously couldn’t either, because he stepped closer in as if to protect Dean while Sam pulled the omega tighter to his chest.

“I can’t…”

“Yeah, you can. Unless you want to risk your two other cousins showing up tomorrow with the cops trying to take him out of here because he doesn’t have a claim mark or another alpha’s scent on him.” She ran her hand over her face as she took in the horrified looks on the two young men in front of her. “Listen. I know I sound like a cold-hearted bitch about this, but I told you. My brother’s an omega. I had to put together a contingency plan for something like this a long time ago. And I know other people who have been in this situation. An omega’s legal standing when something like this happens is dicey at best, no matter where you are. Right now you’ve got whatever video they were shooting, so if they come back tomorrow it will be he-said/he-said, just so long as Dean doesn’t smell like any of them have had access to him. Get him in the shower. Get their scent off him. Then Sam needs to either mark him or sleep with him…” Sam gurgled incredulously. “...and I just mean sleep, to make sure Dean’s covered in his scent. If it were me, I would do both.”

Sam and Adam were frozen to the floor, trying to process what she’d just said. It made sense, logically, but Sam was having a really hard time getting past how terribly he’d be violating Dean if he listened to her.

“Okay,” Adam said firmly, seeming to have zeroed in on what Maggie laid out as the only course of action. Shock appeared to have set in and he looked completely numb. “I’ll get him cleaned off and then Sam can do...whatever he needs to do.”

“Okay, good.” Maggie checked her watch. “I’m gonna leave you to that and see if I can meet up with Tamara at the hospital - make sure your cousins are staying put.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, his voice barely above a whisper.

Maggie nodded and drew in a shaky breath, the events of the evening seeming to hit her at last. She looked at Dean with anguished, glassy eyes, probably imagining her brother in his position.

“We won’t...we won’t tell anyone what happened,” she assured them. “No one needs to know about this unless Dean wants them to. It will just make it harder.” She hesitated a moment, then came forward and threw her arms around the younger Winchester. “Bye Adam.”

“Bye Maggie.”

There was a clear finality to their words. They were probably never going to see her or Tamara again; at least, not by choice. She turned to Sam, looking at him hard, and gave his arm a squeeze.

“You can do this, Sam.”

And she was gone.

Chapter Text

With Maggie’s advice still ringing in their ears, Sam and Adam numbly went to work doing what she’d told them to. Sam led Adam to the downstairs bath, which had an old-fashioned clawfoot tub in it and a hand shower. Adam put Dean’s clothes and the camcorder down on the floor and climbed in first so he could hold onto Dean while he cleaned him off. Sam lowered Dean down to Adam, gently removing the sheet and pulling it out from under him, and did his best to turn Dean on his side between Adam’s legs to give him at least a little bit of privacy. It was a very tight fit in the tub, so Sam turned on the water for Adam and handed him the sprayer once it had reached a nice warm temperature. Then he moved the shampoo and body wash to the floor where Adam could reach down and get them without having to move Dean too much. Adam began to carefully rinse Dean down, starting with his hair, while Sam fixated on the sheet he was still holding. It was covered in bodily fluids. They’d have to burn it.

Dean was starting to make little noises against Adam’s chest, like he was trying to wake up but couldn’t. Sam thought it might be best if he wasn’t there in the event Dean did come to, and left to start re-locking the house. He grabbed Adam’s gun from where Maggie had left it by the front door, tucked Dean’s in his waistband and methodically went around the first floor, throwing the deadbolts on the front door and double checking all the windows. Then he ran downstairs to retrieve the bloody Bowie knife and fitted sheet, turn off the light, and close the door to the awful “discretion” room. He did a quick sweep of the basement itself to make sure nothing got left behind, then hurried back upstairs, clicking the switch to plunge the space into darkness. He left the knife to soak in the kitchen sink, ran to the second floor to put the guns back in the brothers’ duffels, and changed out of his blood spattered clothes. Finally he went to check that the back doors to the pool were still locked (he knew they were, but he had to check anyway), where he hesitated. All the lights were still on outside and the music was still playing. The idea that a few hours ago they’d been having a great time celebrating Adam’s graduation seemed like a sick joke. Sam hastened outside to stop his iPod from shuffling through the party playlist and turned off the twinkle lights, pausing just long enough to grab a red Solo cup. If he was going to have to mark Dean he sure as hell wasn’t just going to stand over him and jerk off.

Jerking off right now actually turned out to be a pretty big problem. Sam looked in on the Winchesters when he came back in from outside, then headed for the powder room tucked under the stairs. He undid his pants and slid them down, grabbing his cock and trying to force it to comply, but it stayed limp in his hand, completely unresponsive to his touch; not a problem he’d encountered before. He tried to draw out memories to help himself along (Jess naked on top of him, her breasts bouncing as she moaned; the stripper his grandfather paid to take his virginity when he was seventeen; Dean snuggled up in his lap by the pool and breathing against his neck) but just ended up sagging against the sink and crying hopelessly. Dean would never forgive him for this. Adam probably wouldn’t either. Even if they did, he wasn’t ever going to forgive himself. It was a bona fide hat trick of guilt.

Before long Sam simply gave up, tucked himself back into his shorts, washed his hands, tossed the cup in the garbage, and went to check on Adam and Dean. The shower was still running and he could hear Adam talking quietly as he approached. He felt like he was eavesdropping, but Adam still had a lot of alcohol in his system and he didn’t want to leave him alone in there to try to wrangle an unconscious Dean in a bathtub not big enough for two grown-ish men. Besides, he could tell that Adam had started to cry again as well. They were really going to have to work together to get through this.

“...and when I get out of school you’re going to come live with me,” Adam was saying into Dean’s hair. “And I will keep you safe. No alpha is ever going to touch you again, I promise Dean. I’m so sorry I got so drunk…”

Adam was no longer washing Dean down. He was just holding him and rocking a little, the best he could anyway, the sprayer pointed so the water ran down Dean’s back and into the tub. It was awful, Dean still placidly sleeping and Adam trying not to fall into hysterics.

“I’ve got the house locked down,” Sam said quietly, dropping the fitted sheet on top of the one they’d wrapped around Dean. “You want help getting him out of the tub?”

“Yeah…” Adam replied, his voice very young. “Yeah, I think I’ve got him clean enough.”

Dean was starting to make noise again and for the first time since they found him he had started to move, trying to get out of Adam’s arms as Sam turned off the shower.

“Leggo…” he slurred. His eyes fluttered open but couldn’t focus on anything. They fluttered closed just as quickly. “Leggo me…”

The first change to his scent wafted up to Sam, and it was both upsetting and a relief. Dean was deeply distressed and confused, and more than a little afraid, but at least he was feeling something.

“Hey Dean,” Adam said, trying to get his brother’s face around to look at him. “Dean, calm down, it’s just me.”

“Leggo...me…”

It was more earnest this time, more frightened, as he struggled to crawl out of the bathtub as well as from under the deep fog blanketing his mind.

“Dean, it’s Adam! Calm down, you’re gonna hurt yourself…”

Adam tightened his hold, trying to keep Dean from tumbling over and cracking his head open on the floor. It was the wrong thing to do. Dean screamed like a trapped animal, falling into the plumbing fixtures as he caught Adam in the jaw with his elbow. Adam’s head snapped back and he fell to the far end of the tub, nearly knocked unconscious as Dean still tried to blindly scramble out.

The alpha in Sam kicked into gear again, and he was immediately on the floor by the faucet sending out soothing pheromones and touching Dean’s face, shoulders, and arms with gentle, loving strokes.

“Shhh,” he intoned as Dean instantly began to relax in response to Sam’s calming movements. “It’s okay Dean, it’s just Sam and Adam.”

“Ssss...am?” The green eyes honed in on his face, but remained somewhat unfocused. “Don’ feel good…gonna puke...”

“Okay, gimme a sec,” Sam said, and ran to the built in linen closet to grab his grandfather’s terry cloth robe. He rushed back to Dean, who was visibly struggling to keep the contents of his stomach down. He slid Dean’s arms into the robe and then dragged him to his feet and out of the tub. Neither bothered tying the robe as Sam helped Dean stumble to the toilet, where he promptly collapsed and started retching. Sam grabbed a washcloth from the little bar over the sink, ran it under cool water, and came back over to wipe down Dean’s neck. “You’ll be okay.”

Dean continued heaving into the bowl for quite some time, until his stomach was empty and nothing but bile was coming up. Tears were streaming down his face out of sheer misery and maybe some sense that something had happened to him, since his scent was becoming distressed again.

“Why’m I naked?” he asked between bouts of puking.

“You threw up all over yourself in your sleep.”

Sam snapped his head around to where Adam, somewhat recovered from Dean’s elbow, was climbing out of the tub. He quickly tamped down his confusion before Dean could smell it, though he wasn’t really sure Dean would be able to smell anything over his own vomit. Sam opened his mouth to speak, but Adam shot him a warning glare.

“I did?”

“Yeah,” Adam continued. “Told you not to open that second bottle of scotch. You had way too much to drink. Had to get you in the tub to clean you off.”

“Yeah?” Dean nodded into the toilet. “Sound…slike me…”

“You gonna be okay in here for a minute?” Adam scooped up Dean’s clothes, the sheets, and the camcorder from the floor. “I gotta get you some clean clothes and Sam’s gotta strip the sheets off your bed.”

Dean’s arm shot out to grab hold of Sam’s shirt while he shook his head furiously, still face down in the bowl. Sam glanced up at Adam, who was clearly signalling with his eyes that they needed to talk in the hall, so he scooted in close to Dean, running his hand up and down his back and leaning his forehead against Dean’s temple.

“We’ll be right back,” he murmured, doing his best to emit nothing but calm and reassuring emotions.

“Don’ wanna be left…” Dean had to stop and heave, his hand tightening on Sam’s shirt. “Other alphas…”

Adam came over and sat down on the other side of the toilet, running his hand through his brother’s hair.

“No Dean,” Adam said. “We’re the only ones here. The party’s been over a while.”

“Sssssure?”

“Yes Dean, we’re sure,” Sam promised.

“M…’kay,” Dean said, and threw up more bile.

Adam jerked his head towards the door, and Sam reluctantly let Dean go and freed his shirt from his grasp. His alpha screamed at him to stay with the omega, and it took a tremendous amount of effort to force the instinct back down and follow Adam into the hall. Dean’s stomach seemed to be stopping its revolt, but he was still clinging to the toilet seat with both hands. He’d be okay for a minute.

Sam expected to just be stepping out so they could still keep an eye on Dean while they talked, but Adam obviously had other plans and had moved almost all the way to the kitchen door at the far end of the hall. Sam could feel his alpha rising again and had to suppress a growl. He had no idea what Adam planned to say to him, but he was entirely too far away from (his mate, mine, mine, mine!) Dean.

“What?” he demanded, trying his hardest to keep his tone even.

“We’re not telling him,” Adam said flatly, as if there was nothing to discuss. “What happened. In the basement. We’re not telling him.”

“What?” Sam repeated, incredulous that Adam would even suggest such a thing. “Adam, he’s the one it happened to. He has the right to know!”

“Yeah, he does, but we’re still not telling him,” Adam insisted.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”

“Stop, Sam, and just let me talk for a minute, okay?”

“No, I am not keeping this from Dean.”

“Yes, you are. Because if you don’t he will never leave the life. Never. He will feel like he has something to prove, that he can protect himself without anyone’s help, he’ll probably never speak to us again…”

“That’s his decision to make. I know I would deserve it if he didn’t. I left him alone in a fucking bathroom, drunk off his ass and told him to just keep the door locked!”

“And I was so drunk I almost drowned while I should have been watching him! Jesus, I’m the one who got into the scotch in the first place! Neither of us helped him when he really needed help, and if he knows we let this happen he is never going to trust us again. He’s never going to trust me again, Sam! He’ll never stop hunting, he’ll never stop trying to show the world he’s just as good as any alpha out there, he probably won’t even live until he’s thirty! I don’t even want to think what this would do to his drinking. I can’t...I can’t have this driving him to be even more reckless than he already is. He’s my brother. I can’t lose him, Sam. I can’t. He’s all I’ve got!”

“I can’t lie to him, Adam.”

“So don’t lie! Just be vague about tonight! He got really drunk! He passed out before everyone went home! That’s all true!”

“But it’s only part of the truth. Lies by omission are still lies.”

Please Sam! This will kill him. I’m not overreacting, don’t look at me like that. It may not be immediate, it may not even be for years, but it will kill him. If he doesn’t die on the job he’ll drink himself to death. I’m begging you Sam. I’ll answer any questions he has, just don’t contradict me or volunteer information. We can’t tell him what happened. Please.”

What Adam was asking of him was so very wrong, and every synapse of the rational portion of Sam’s brain screamed it. “This is wrong with a capital W!” But emotionally he had very little left in the tank to hold himself together, and his alpha was fighting tooth and nail to get back to the omega in the bathroom. He wanted to keep arguing against this, and just didn’t have it in him to do so. He was exhausted. He was terrified for Dean. His head was really starting to fucking hurt. He knew he was going to regret this for the rest of his life. Finally he nodded and said, “This isn’t fair to Dean, but I’ll do my best.”

Adam looked like a tremendous weight had been lifted from him, and his eyes watered as if he were on the verge of hysteria. Clearly Sam wasn’t the only one who was emotionally spent. Adam nodded and huffed out a breath, rubbing the heels of his hands into his eyes as he struggled to pull himself together.

“Thank you,” he said, and clenched his jaw as if forcing down everything that was threatening to come spilling out of him. “I gotta go get Dean some clean clothes.”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed, adding as Adam started past him, “Give me all of that. I’ll find somewhere to stash the camcorder until tomorrow and go burn the sheets and the clothes in the fire pit out back.”

Adam nodded and transferred everything over to Sam before heading upstairs to get Dean something fresh to wear. Everything stank of Mark and Christian, and Sam couldn’t suppress a growl. He hid the camcorder in the breadbox, then took the rest to the brick fire pit east of the pool. A quick squirt of lighter fluid and one zippo later and the evidence from the basement was on its way to oblivion. Well, except that huge puddle of blood on the floor. Fuck it, Samuel could have that cleaned himself. He had a sex dungeon, for Christ’s sake. Couldn’t be the first time he’d had to clean up blood from something.

Sam stayed outside just long enough to make sure the fire was going strong before hurrying back to the bathroom. His alpha was insistent that he go to the vulnerable omega inside right now. Adam had changed into dry clothes and was on the floor with Dean against the wall by the toilet. Dean’s bathrobe still hung open, but now he was in a pair of boxers. Adam was having a helluva time convincing Dean to leave the bathroom. Dean seemed to be a little more awake, though his speech was still terribly slurred.

“Sssam,” Dean purred when he came through the door. He reached out with both arms like a toddler that wanted to be picked up. “Tol’ Runt I had to wait. ‘Til you came back.”

“You didn’t have to wait for me Dean,” Sam said, obliging the omega and squatting down so Dean could get his arms around his neck. He stood up, pulling Dean easily to his feet, and Dean’s head fell forward into the crook of Sam’s neck. “You could have gone with your brother.”

“Nnnno.” Dean shook his head lamely, holding tighter to Sam until they were pressed firmly together. His omega was taking over again and responding to the calm Sam was pushing out into the room. “You ssssaid to stay in the bathroom.”

Sam shot Adam a panicked look. Two minutes back in the room and Adam’s plan to hide this from Dean was already threatening to fall apart. Sam just held onto Dean for a moment, breathing in his scent in an effort to center himself, and rubbed his back.

“Well I’m here now, so why don’t we get you to bed, okay? You need some sleep.”

“You sssstay. With me.”

It wasn’t a request. Dean tipped his head back with obvious difficulty so he could look into Sam’s eyes, just a few inches from his. Their noses were touching and the warm puffs of air from Dean’s mouth were terribly distracting. His alpha was demanding Sam do all sorts of things to those lips that left the higher functioning part of his brain absolutely horrified. Adam cleared his throat, standing up against the wall so that he was directly in Sam’s line of sight. He did not look happy at the two of them wrapped up together. Sam swallowed and did the best he could to close himself off from his arousal, but damn it was hard (in more than one sense). He remembered what Maggie had said about needing to get his scent on Dean though, so he didn’t pull away.

“Okay Dean, but we’re just gonna sleep, okay?”

“‘Kay.”

He threw Adam what he hoped was an apologetic look, but it may not have been that because Adam didn’t look any happier as Sam helped Dean out of the bathroom. He had never wished more for a beta to be able to understand the dynamic between alphas and omegas, that Dean’s reactions to Sam were at base instinct level, and Sam’s responses to Dean were the same. It didn’t matter that Sam knew Dean was drugged and had just been through something horrific. His alpha demanded that he please the needy omega he was half-carrying to the stairs.

He was almost relieved when Dean swooned (it was more than just him passing out, this was real old-school Scarlett-O’Hara-wore-her-corset-too-tight swooning) about halfway up the stairs and Sam could just scoop him up and carry him the rest of the way. Adam was close behind, his eyes boring a hole in Sam’s back that he could actually feel. So now on top of everything else, things were getting awkward between him and Adam, and they were about to get worse because Sam was going to have to figure out how to fit his 6’3” frame into a twin bed with Dean.

Sam was both surprised and apprehensive when, as he went to put Dean down, Adam said, “Wait. We need a room with a bigger bed.”

Sam felt the color draining from his face as his brain battled his cock for control of his emotions.

“What?”

“A bigger bed.” Adam looked really unhappy about what he was saying, but he was insistent. “Both of you won’t fit on a twin and Maggie said he needs to smell like you.”

“Adam…” Sam felt like he was choking. “He won’t be comfortable if he wakes up with me alone…”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Adam!”

It doesn’t!” Adam was shaking, though whether it was from anger or sadness or a feeling of helplessness Sam couldn’t guess. Betas were so hard to read! “It doesn’t, Sam. It doesn’t matter. If your cousins come back tomorrow and try to legally say he’s theirs and he doesn’t smell like you...I have to protect him, Sam! I couldn’t protect him earlier, and he can’t protect himself right now. So I’m sorry, I know if he knew what we were doing he would never forgive me and I wouldn’t deserve to be forgiven but none of that matters because I have to protect him, do you understand?”

Sam did. He hated it, and he wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do, but he understood what Adam was saying. Moreover, his alpha understood the concept of protect omega without needing further persuasion. Protect omega was written in his DNA. He scooped Dean back up and headed for the next bedroom.

“There’s a full bed in here,” he told Adam, who was trailing behind. “We can sleep in here and you’ll be right in the next room.”

But Adam had spotted a rocking chair in the corner and was crossing to it even as Sam was laying Dean down on the bed.

“I’ll be fine over here.”

“What?” Adam must have cracked under the pressure. It shouldn’t surprise Sam, the kid was only eighteen. The law might consider him an adult but he really, really wasn’t. Hell, Sam didn’t even consider himself an adult, not really. They were in way over their heads. “Adam, you cannot stay in this room with us. If Dean wakes up and sees you he’ll know something is wrong.”

“I don’t care.” Adam plopped himself down in the chair. “You were right, I’m not leaving him in here alone.”

“He’s not going to be alone. I’m going to be with him.”

Adam gave him a pointed look and said nothing. Sam actually took a step back. He couldn’t have imagined this night getting any more terrible, yet here he was, eyes locked with a best friend who clearly didn’t trust him. The thought hurt deeply.

“I’m not...I would never do anything to Dean,” Sam insisted. “You know that, right?”

“I don’t know if I do,” Adam replied evenly. “I’m not saying you’re like your cousins, but you’re an alpha, Sam. I don’t know if you can control yourself around him.”

Adam looked from a stunned Sam to his brother, who was starting to stir. Sam felt like he was getting whiplash. First Adam didn’t care if he was alone with Dean, now he did. He wasn’t sure how much was alcohol and how much was stress. Adam pressed on.

“I don’t know if he can control himself around you, either. The way he’s acting around you...he never behaves like that around alphas. Even when he’s drunk.” He turned his eyes back up to Sam, and they were resigned. “I think he trusts you too much.”

As if to prove the point, Dean stirred and reached out his hand, murmuring, “Sss...am…” before rolling over to try to find him. Sam quickly sat and ran a hand through Dean’s hair to soothe him. Adam was clearly onto something. Sam glanced across the room at him and realized he didn’t look upset anymore, just very sad. Sam smiled weakly and nodded in agreement.

“I’m right here, Dean,” he said, helping Dean sit up to get the bathrobe off of him. “Let’s see if we can get you comfy.”

“M’kay…” Dean cooed, automatically leaning up against Sam to breathe into his neck. “Y’okay? Smell upset…”

“I’m just tired,” Sam told him, stripping the sleeves down from Dean’s arms and tugging until he shifted his butt off of the bottom of the robe. “You’re gonna get cold like this. Here.”

With a fluid motion he swept his t-shirt up over his head, rushing to turn it rightside out as Dean pushed himself closer to Sam’s now bare chest. Dean’s mouth hovered over Sam’s clavicle, and Sam hastened to pull his shirt down over Dean’s head, drawing one arm through at a time. Dean chuckled.

“I’m gonna smell like you Sammy,” he snickered, and fell into a full-on giggle fit as Sam guided him to lay down and got him underneath the sheet.

“Yeah, you probably will,” Sam replied, climbing under the sheet beside him. The minute he was prone, Dean snuggled up with his head on Sam’s chest and their legs tangled together. He was acutely aware of Adam in the chair in the corner and smoothed his shirt down Dean’s back. “Go to sleep Dean.”

“M’kay.”

In all of thirty seconds Dean was snoring softly. Sam glanced over to where Adam was watching them, and closed his eyes in anguish. He didn’t know how either of them were going to sleep, or what they were going to do when they woke up in the morning, but at least for now Dean was safe.

Too little,” Sam’s brain told him, “too late.”

It seemed crying himself to sleep was always going to be an option.

He woke before either Dean or Adam the next morning (afternoon?) with a terrible headache (he probably did have a concussion) and a raging hard on. Dean had rolled off of him at some point in the night and was laying on his left side, his back to Sam, his body rising and falling in a steady, even rhythm. Adam was snoring in the chair, his head tipped slightly over the back as he drooled down his chin. Sam grimaced as he slowly slid out of bed, praying the other two stayed asleep while he went to take care of his condition, which was becoming more painful by the second.

Absently he grabbed the bathrobe from where he’d tossed it to the floor and headed for the bathroom at the end of the hall. He slipped inside and bolted the door behind him, hoping he could take care of this quickly. It turned out that wasn’t going to be the issue it had been the night before, because this was the bathroom he’d locked Dean in, and it was filled with his scent. The bathrobe was, too. He pressed the fabric to his face and inhaled, and barely had time to get his pants down and his hand on his cock before he was coming all over the sink. He bit his lip so hard he drew blood in an effort to contain the yelp that tried to escape from his throat as he rode out the orgasm, which seemed to go on forever, then found himself sitting on the toilet as his knees gave out. He felt like a filthy pervert, and had to suppress the urge to cry at how disgusting he was having just jerked off to Dean’s scent after what happened last night. He took a few deep breaths, in and out through the mouth (not going to risk getting another stiffy he’d have to take care of), then wiped his palm across the porcelain, getting as much cum into his hand as he could. He used a hand towel to wipe up the rest, then dropped both that and the bathrobe into the hamper by the door.

Dean was starting to stir as Sam came back into the bedroom, and Sam went over and casually rubbed his hand along the back of Dean’s neck, reaching under the neckline of the shirt a little and then running his hand down the back of Dean’s (his) shirt. He had to fight back the bile rising in his throat the whole time, but he managed to get Dean marked. Hopefully he could convince Dean to keep the shirt on when he left.

Dean rolled over languidly at the touch and slowly opened his eyes to look at the source. He was able to focus much better than he had when he went to sleep, though he still looked a little dazed.

“Hey Sammy.” His throat sounded hoarse, but his tone was normal. A wave of happiness mixed with the coffee and cherry pie, and Sam wasn’t sure if he was supposed to have caught it or not. Dean had been very guarded with his emotions and what he let slip into his scent yesterday before they started drinking, and while he wasn’t completely sober yet, Sam could smell that he wasn’t drunk either. Sam didn’t want to assume Dean was purposely letting him know how he felt about seeing Sam first thing in the morning if it was something Dean couldn’t control right now. “Whatcha doin’?”

“Just checking on you,” Sam said quietly, sliding his hands into the pockets of his shorts to keep them under control. “You had a really rough night last night.”

“I did?” Dean’s brow furrowed as he thought about the night before. “I don’t really remember it after we opened the scotch...I feel like I got kind of grabby with you…” He blushed, the color highlighting his cheekbones. He looked young and innocent and gorgeous and like nothing bad had ever happened to him. “I didn’t do any embarrassing shit, did I?”

Dean didn’t remember anything. Sam should have been glad for that, but instead found it terribly upsetting. It wasn’t that he suddenly felt Adam was right; he just had no idea how he could even begin a conversation that started with “Good morning” and ended with “you were raped last night.”

“No.” Sam knew he had responded with too much force, so he tried to soften it with a smile as he sat back down next to Dean. “No, you weren’t embarrassing at all.”

“Cuz that’s kind of my thing. I’m sorta a fuck-up.”

Sam wanted to find every last person who had ever made Dean feel like a fuck-up and beat them to death, starting with his father. But clearly that could wait until after he had more practice controlling his emotions, since Dean was misinterpreting the pulse of anger that came off of Sam and withdrawing into himself. It was just about impossible for Sam to deny Dean what he needed when he was being so open, and Sam hastened to run a hand through Dean’s hair. Dean’s eyes closed and he started to purr softly.

“Dean, you didn’t do anything last night to be embarrassed or ashamed about,” he said firmly but gently. “I promise.”

Dean laid there with his eyes closed for a bit, enjoying Sam’s hand in his hair and taking in deep even breaths. After a minute he chuckled and looked up at Sam.

“I smell like you.”

Sam had fully expected that thought to upset Dean, but it didn’t. He just grinned sleepily, like a kitten getting its chin scratched. Sam was rapidly losing his ability to be a decent human being as his alpha became increasingly demanding. An omega was inviting him into his orbit. His alpha was pissed that Sam was even thinking of refusing to go, and his alpha was starting to win. Sam didn’t want to lay down facing Dean so he could brush his bangs back, but he did so anyway because Dean was there and he was basically sober now, his scent becoming clear and unmuddled and sending a tidal wave of want directly at Sam and Sam at that moment was incapable of resistance.

“Well, that’s because you demanded I sleep with you, Handsy McGrabberson.”

Dean chuckled, ducking his head and blushing, which had Sam’s heart practically beating out of his chest. Maybe Dean could hear how it pounded wildly, because he scooched closer, right into Sam’s space, and reached out to hover his hand an inch or so from Sam’s bare chest, like he was afraid to touch him without permission. Sam thanked whatever gods were out there that Dean was under the sheet and he was on top of it.

“Is that all we did?” Dean’s eyes were fixed on Sam’s mouth. “Sleep?”

Jesus. Dean clearly knew exactly what he was doing. He was like something out of a film noir, all breathy voice and suggestive glances. Any second now someone was going to cut away to a train going through a tunnel. Sam never needed a drink of water so badly.

“You were kinda out of it,” he murmured. “And I would never…”

“I know Sammy.” If Sam had to guess, he would have put Dean’s mouth at about 2.3 centimeters from his. Continuing to hold back like this was going to kill him, and it was lining up to be a slow, painful death. “That’s why I like you. Other alphas would.”

Reality came crashing down hard on Sam, bringing with it such self loathing and disgust that he was in serious danger of throwing up. He practically leapt off the bed and backed up to the door. Fuck, what had he just been thinking about doing with Dean? He really needed to work on getting a much better grip on his alpha instincts. Why hadn’t he presented as a beta so it wouldn’t even occur to him to dare touch someone who was assaulted last night and who didn’t even know because Adam made Sam promise not to “volunteer” information?

Shit. He was as sick a fuck as his grandfather and the rest of the Campbells.

Dean was sitting up now, staring at Sam with wide, confused eyes. The wave of hurt and sorrow that flooded off of him almost had Sam going back to kiss and hold and touch and claim, but he steeled himself against it. He would be taking advantage, and he’d meant it when he told Dean he’d never do that. Adam was waking in the chair, and stretched his neck out with a tired, “Ow.” Dean barely registered his presence and looked down quickly at the sheets when he realized Sam wasn’t coming back to the bed.

“I’m gonna go make us something to eat,” Sam said, which was possibly the stupidest thing to ever come out of his mouth because the only thing Sam knew how to cook was toast.

“Okay,” Dean said. His voice was very small.

“Okay,” Sam echoed dumbly, then practically ran from the room.

Sam was busy burning bacon and hating himself when he heard Adam yell, “Dean!” followed by quick footfalls on the stairs and the front door slamming. Sam hurried out of the kitchen to find Adam in the middle of the stairwell and caught the sound of a car starting and peeling out of the driveway. Adam whirled on Sam, then stormed down to him and gave him a powerful shove that almost set Sam on his ass.

“What did you do to him?” he demanded as the smell of an omega in abject misery took Sam’s breath away.

“Nothing…” Sam said, heading for the door. His alpha shouted to go after the omega and that’s what Sam was going to do.

At least, that’s what Sam was going to do until Adam grabbed his shirt, swung him around, and slammed him into the wall.

What did you do to him?” he roared.

That was a mistake. Sam’s vision went red again and he threw Adam back almost the entire length of the hall.

“I didn’t do anything to him!”

“Then why did he leave?!”

“Because I didn’t do anything to him!” Sam absently noted the confusion on Adam’s face as he paced the hall, his hands in his hair. This couldn’t be happening. He was going to lose his mind if he had to stay here much longer. “He wanted me Adam! He wanted me to hold him, kiss him, make him feel safe and desired and I rejected him! Do you have any idea what that does to an omega? No, god, of course you don’t! We pursue them, Adam. It’s never the other way around! Outside of a heat cycle omegas do not initiate until they’re mated. We make the advances. They accept them or reject them. They’ll go after betas any day of the week but with an alpha until they feel secure and wanted they never initiate, and he just went against all of his instincts and did and I just... ignored him!”

He was screaming now. He couldn’t help it. He was being torn in two from the inside.

“And I was disgusted with myself, for wanting to give him what he wanted after what happened to him last night, and he could smell it, and I saw the look on his face and he thought I was disgusted with him but I didn’t say anything I just...left the room to make fucking pancakes or some shit that I don’t even know how to make! I just left him there! Because I promised you I wouldn’t tell him, and I couldn’t do any of the things that he wanted when I know and he doesn’t!”

He stopped pacing and squatted down on the floor. He was hyperventilating now and his chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it. He was probably just having a panic attack, but it sure as hell felt like his heart was breaking and he might die.

“God I didn’t think he would bolt. I thought I could calm him down over breakfast.” He swung around towards the front door, using the wall to pull himself to his feet. “I have to find him before he does something stupid like sleeping with half the city…”

Adam was at his shoulder, trying to stop him.

“No, Sam…” he started, but Sam swung around, fangs out, and pinned him to the wall by his throat. Yeah, this was going to damage their friendship. Sam wanted to care about that but just couldn’t. Dean had been gone a couple of minutes now. Any longer and Sam might not be able to catch him. His alpha was roaring to be let out to find the omega.

You do not understand this!” he bellowed. “Do not get in my way!”

Adam held his hands up to show Sam had won, and Sam released him and headed for the door. He grabbed the keys to his car out of the dish on the end table by the door and registered the smell of burning bacon. He’d be surprised if either of the Winchesters ever spoke to him again.

Sam didn’t find Dean in Shreveport. In fact, he didn’t lay eyes on Dean again for six months. It was the most miserable six months of his two decades of existence, way worse than after Jess died. He survived it only by the grace of Grey Goose.

Adam must have done some research into alpha/omega dynamics, because their friendship did not fracture the way Sam expected. It was still a little frosty, but Adam was clearly making an effort to let the past be the past. Sam wasn’t going try to dredge anything up that Adam was content to leave buried.

Adam even tipped Sam off when Dean was going to be at the mandatory hunter training session on the Shojo, an uncommon alcohol spirit from Japan that had wiped out a brewery stateside before a team of hunters took it down. Sam could only pray that he could get Dean alone to try to fix the mess he’d made, but Dean had shown up with his father glued to his hip. Even if John hadn’t been there, the aggression, irritation, pissiness, and downright hatred Dean had pushed specifically at Sam would have kept him at bay. The desire and happiness was scrubbed from Dean’s scent like he weren’t actually capable of those emotions. It set Sam on edge, and his alpha responded with such indignation at a mere omega being so openly hostile that Dean literally flinched when he passed Sam on the way out.

And the pattern between them was set. Whenever Sam and Dean saw each other, Sam longed for Dean so hopelessly that Dean’s aggression drove his alpha immediately to anger at being rebuffed until it wasn’t hard at all for Sam to lie by omission about what had happened at Adam’s graduation party, because the odds were good that they were never going to actually have a conversation again; not only because Dean hated him but because Sam couldn’t form a coherent sentence with his upstairs and downstairs brains at constant war. Then a few days ago Sam had come out of the bathroom at the Roadhouse and seen Dean being accosted by those two rednecks and he could think of nothing else besides ripping those men to shreds to protect his omega. Oh, he’d been rude to Dean when he sat down at the bar next to him, because he’d so yearned to smell the roses and cloves again that if he hadn’t tried to put Dean off he would have devoured him. And then he found out Dean was there on a job, and he could not let him hunt it alone, even if Benny Lafitte (he had no idea why Benny hadn’t claimed him yet - maybe he was letting Dean get hunting out of his system) was willing to eventually back him up. Once he was in Dean’s presence and sharing a room and a car and pretending to be a happily mated couple he wanted more than anything for it to be real, and because he knew it would never be he needed to push Dean away for good. But now Dean was walking towards Hal’s Diner with the nonchalance he’d always had, and if he spotted Sam when he looked up at the window he surely didn’t acknowledge it, and god, Sam wished he hadn’t made it out of that vampire hunt.

Chapter Text

Dean honestly had the shittiest luck. He must have done something to deserve it, pissed off some pagan god somewhere, or really aggravated a witch, and he just wanted to know what it was he had done so he could try to make amends for it. First it was the news about his suppressants, which he was still freaking the fuck out about, and now, halfway across the street to Hal’s Diner he spotted Sam right there at a booth in the front fucking window. He was in the middle of the street so he couldn’t stop, and he was pretty sure Sam had already seen him so he couldn’t turn around and go back either. The only thing Dean had going for him at the moment were his sunglasses, which made it impossible for Sam to know if he’d been spotted or not.

Dean tried to get a handle on his emotions so that Sam wouldn’t immediately be able to scent how upset he was, but this morning had just been too much. Between the hangover and the note and the pharmacy he was too stressed, and he’d be surprised if he could make it two steps inside the door before bursting into tears. Goddamn hormones! He hated them. He knew that’s what the problem was. He’d been slowly coming to realize that this was exactly the way he’d felt for a couple of days before he presented. Irritated, emotional, irrational, and helpless to do anything about it. He wanted to behave like a reasonable adult. He knew he wasn’t behaving like a reasonable adult. But he was incapable of behaving like a reasonable adult. It was like he was in the passenger seat of a car his omega was driving, shouting, “You’re going too fast for the turn up ahead!” but unable to grab the wheel. He couldn’t go into the diner now, and he couldn’t not go into to the diner, so he did the only thing any self respecting omega would do: he stalled for time.

He really was quite proud of how quickly he made the decision, but Dean had always been a quick decision maker, even when under stress or emotionally overloaded. The decisions weren’t always good ones, but he was definitely someone you could count on to take action in a clinch. So, right before he got to the diner, knowing he was in full view of Sam, he stopped, patted his pockets, and made the universal, “Crap, I forgot something” hand gesture, complete with exasperated sigh. Then he turned around, went back across the street, and walked down to where he’d had to park Baby about half a block away. It wasn’t going to buy him a lot of time, because if he didn’t come back it would be obvious it was all an act, and while he shouldn’t care what Sam thought of him he did, and the idea of running away and letting Sam have Hal’s Diner like some kind of trophy was just too much. The right to eat breakfast at Hal’s was a battle he intended to win.

Fortunately the walk to the car provided him the time he needed to really clamp down on his feelings and their ability to broadcast his mood to the whole diner, and even more fortunately he remembered his cell phone was still in the glove box, so now he had a prop to help sell his little performance. He crossed the street from where he was, figuring it would look more believable that he hadn’t seen Sam if he came up along the sidewalk by the diner instead of going all the way back up to the pharmacy to cross like he was purposely trying to be in full view. That way he could be “casually” checking his phone as he approached, and it would give even more of the appearance that he hadn’t seen Sam and couldn’t have cared less if he did.

Jesus, when did he turn into such an omega?

Whatever shaman, deity, or wizard he’d pissed off must have approved of his little act. As he opened the door to step into Hal’s the opening trumpets of The Ring of Fire blared over the diner’s sound system. It was literally a perfect entrance, like someone saw him coming and queued it up to start the second he entered. Take that, ABBA. The universe had just given him a new theme song, and he couldn’t stop the smile that broke out on his face as he glanced around to decide whether he wanted to sit in the window booths (nooooo), the tables dotting the main area (eh), or the lunch counter (we have a winner). He didn’t fight the swagger in his step as he walked up to the counter to put in an order, knowing that half the patrons had noticed him and appreciated the whole effect. He didn’t even glance in Sam’s direction. Sam Campbell didn’t exist in a world where Johnny Cash announced Dean’s presence in the room. If only he were wearing his cowboy boots this moment would have been complete. He really needed to bring those on more hunts, so he’d been prepared in case something as awesome as this happened again.

It turned his whole morning right around, at least for the two and a half minutes the song was playing. A young waitress chewing on a wad of Juicy Fruit (at least that’s what it smelled like) placed a glass of water, menu, and cup of coffee in front of him without even asking, then wandered away looking bored. His head still ached dully, but his stomach really was feeling better and he flipped open the menu to figure out what he wanted for breakfast. He supposed at this point it was probably closer to brunch, which wasn’t good. He needed to eat and get on the road headed back to Sioux Falls ASAP.

That was when his phone rang. The phone he specifically went to the car for, and made a big show of checking right as he had walked past the front window just in case Sam was watching, and he’d forgotten to turn the volume down so it was loud and obnoxious. He’d have to answer it, even if he didn’t want to talk to anyone and just felt like enjoying the afterglow of that fabulous entrance. He really didn’t want to answer it when he saw the name on the screen.

Dad

Gripping the coffee cup to try to elicit some kind of support from the caffeine through osmosis, he flipped the phone open, hit the green button to accept the call, and held it to his ear.

“Hey Dad,” he said lowly, trying not to disturb the people around him.

Dean!” At least John sounded stone cold sober. “Where are you? Why haven’t you been answering my texts?”

Stone cold sober and pissed.

“I was on a hunt,” Dean replied, trying to stay calm against his father’s alpha voice. “Kind of hard to answer a text in the middle of a nest.”

I know you were on a hunt, I meant where are you, right now, so I can come and haul your ass back home!”

“Dad, I haven’t had a ‘back home’ since I was four and a half. You plannin’ to ground me, too? Take away my Lincoln logs?”

I’m not too crazy about this new tone of yours. That Campbell’s influence?”

“What?”

You heard me, Dean. He put all kinds of fairy tale ideas in your head about teamin’ up with him, makin’ you disrespect me like this?”

“First, I can think for myself. Second, how do you even know about me working with Sam?”

I have an alert set up in the FDH. Any time your name pops up I hear about it.

“You’re cyberstalking me?!”

You’ve been dodging me for a year Dean. I had to do something. Someone’s gotta try to get you to accept reality before you get yourself killed! I’m on my way to Laramie right now, so wherever you are you stay put. That’s an order!”

“Dad, I’m gonna hang up the phone and you’re not gonna call me again until you’ve pulled your head outta your ass.”

Dammit Dean! Vampires are nothing to screw around with! You’re lucky Campbell didn’t use you as bait!”

“How do you know he didn’t?”

Did  he?”

The fury in John’s voice was absurd. After Dean presented, John’s go-to move had been to use him as bait whenever the job required it. The hypocrisy was sickening, and Dean didn’t feel well enough to play nice.

“No, he didn’t. Just because that’s all you ever saw me as don’t mean that’s how other hunters work. You’d know that if you hadn’t pissed off everyone in the Midwest.”

That’s a pretty smart mouth, Dean.”

“I’m hanging up now.”

Dean, I swear to god, you hang up this phone I’ll take the Impala back the minute I find you.

“You can’t. She’s not yours. She’s mine an’ Adam’s.”

You think I care whose car the DMV says she is?”

“You’ll care when the cops arrest you for grand theft auto.”

Are you threatening me?!”

“I’m promising you.”

Dean…

“Bye Dad.”

DEAN!”

He clicked the phone shut and tossed it onto the counter, digging his hands into his hair. If he had any self respect he’d ditch the phone and get a new number so John couldn’t contact him. Adam would back that play. But then what would happen if Dad really needed him for something? What if he ditched the phone and his dad ended up getting killed? Dean was pretty sure he was one of maybe three people who would even work with John. He couldn’t just cut him off. Except now he knew John was using the FDH to track him and it was only a matter of time before his dad caught up with him. How the hell was he supposed to keep hunting knowing John was on his tail?

His phone was already ringing again and he was poised to answer it and tell his father clearly and concisely to fuck the hell off, but the screen flashed a different name.

Benny

Right. He’d promised to call when the hunt was over. Benny didn’t really know Sam and as a result didn’t trust his skillset. The diners sitting near him were going to think he was a jerk for constantly being on his phone.

“Hey man,” he said as soon as he’d picked it up. “Sorry I didn’t call, long night.”

How’d it go? You sprouting any extra rows of teeth or in need of a blood transfusion?”

“Nah, it was a cakewalk. Just too much celebrating afterwards.”

Uh huh. Campbell behave like a gentleman?”

Dean winced. He was glad Benny was all the way in Indiana. It was easier to pull off lying to him over the phone.

“Yeah, everything was fine. Gotta get on the road soon to head back home though.”

Okay. Send me a text when you get there so I know you ain’t been sold into the sex trade.”

Dean chuckled and felt warmth spreading across his chest. He wasn’t sure what he did to get a friend like Benny, but he would forever be glad he’d done it.

“Deal. Later Benny.”

Be good, Dean.”

He hung up and let out a sigh. He suddenly felt really tired and just wanted to be back in his crappy little apartment over the bar in Sioux Falls. It wasn’t much, but it was all his, and he didn’t have to control what anyone was able to scent about him. It was exhausting being unmated sometimes - like he was a walking aphrodisiac. For the first time in days he didn’t even care about the stupid suppressants. He just wanted to be in his own home where everything smelled safe and warm.

“What’s the matter hon? Lover’s quarrel?”

Dean looked up into the face of the middle-aged waitress standing ready to take his order. She had a kind, motherly aura about her, her long red hair falling in waves around a pretty face with gentle blue eyes. She looked familiar, but he couldn’t place her. His eyes flicked down to her nametag quickly (Dolores) before he looked back up and blinked.

“What?” he asked. “No, that was my dad and then just a friend…”

“Not the phone calls, sweetie,” she said, smiling at him. He debated pointing out she had lipstick on her teeth. He wasn’t sure of the protocol when it came to things like that and didn’t know if she’d appreciate it or be embarrassed. It didn’t really matter though, because she just kept right on talking and he wasn’t going to interrupt her. “You and your young man.”

“My what?”

“Your mate.” She gave him a knowing wink. “He’s been over there sulking for the last twenty minutes. Came in here lookin’ like something the cat drug in. Took him ten minutes just to figure out the menu. Right now he’s tryin’ real hard not to look over here.” She glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the window booths. “He ain’t succeedin’ too well though. Trouble in paradise already?”

Dean realized instantly why she looked familiar. They’d talked to her about buying a place in the area. Back when they were posing as a couple. So obviously she thought that he and Sam were mated. He could feel his face heating up and took a long, deliberate sip of his coffee. It would be easy enough to correct her, but he really didn’t have the energy for it.

“That’s one way to put it,” he said. “Can I...uh...can I get some scrambled eggs with a side of oatmeal, plain wheat toast, and some cranberry juice?”

“Sure thing.” She scribbled down his order and then leaned down confidentially. “Whatever he did, don’t keep him in the doghouse too long. Poor boy’s a mess.”

Dean pushed a little smile onto his face and took another sip of his coffee as Dolores went off to put his order in. He was curious just how bad Sam’s hangover had to be if she’d misinterpreted it as him being heartbroken or something of the sort, but he wasn’t about to look. Whatever agony he was in right now he had coming. He’s the one who brought the tequila.

Still, his omega was dying to know what the alpha was going through, despite what curiosity had done to the cat. He couldn’t scent anything from Sam’s direction - the guy had gotten much better at not letting every little emotion mix in with the leather and gunpowder. It was maddening. One tiny whiff of whether he was genuinely miserable, completely irritated, or royally pissed off would have been enough to settle him, but there was nothing. He checked his phone, trying to see if any part of it could be used as a mirror to take a peek at Sam across the diner, but it was useless, and even if it hadn’t been the angle would have been wrong. He played with his sunglasses on the counter, trying to slide them over to get a look, but the problem with the angle was still the same. There was nothing he could do to assess the situation with Sam without flat out turning around and looking. Well, maybe he could run to the bathroom and check on the way back, but that would be too obvious, and what if Sam left while he was in there? Or what if Sam followed him in and wanted to talk? Or yell at him? Or not yell at him? And why did the thought of any of those options bother him so much? Why did the only palatable outcome for him and Sam being in the same diner involve kissing and fondling and tongues down throats and lots and lots of nakedness? It made for a particularly uncomfortable wait for his hangover cure-all breakfast, adding another layer onto all of the emotions he was already suppressing. If this was what sex with an alpha did to him, he had obviously made the right decision to swear it off.

After an eternity of listening to Willie Nelson crooning about how the object of his affection was always on his mind, Tammy Wynette standing by her man, and Marty Robbins detailing his death in the West Texas town of El Paso, Dolores returned with Dean’s breakfast just as an alpha in a three piece polyester suit straight out of the 1970s took up the chair next to him. The guy reeked of hair tonic and horse manure, and Dean couldn’t determine if that was his scent or things actually on his person. He tried to ignore the odor as best he could as he tucked into his eggs, but it really was quite strong. He noticed the guy noticing him peripherally, but pretended he didn’t, wanting to just get through his breakfast as quickly as possible without incident, particularly now that he knew that John knew he was on his way to Laramie. But there was that pesky problem of him having pissed off some powerful entity, and after a few moments he felt a hand on his right thigh.

“Well,” the guy drawled, extra long and drawn out. Dean could feel himself being ogled. Clearly he should just not try to eat out in public anymore. “Hello there beautiful. Don’t think I’ve seen you around here before.”

Dean swallowed the eggs and took a sip of cranberry juice, his jaw muscles flexing.

“That’s cuz I ain’t from around here,” he said flatly. “You’re gonna want to remove that hand.”

“Ooo, feisty!” He could hear the guy’s greasy smile in his voice and closed his eyes, reminding himself that he needed his fork for his breakfast and couldn’t just drive it into the alpha’s throat. “Listen sugar, I know it’s early in our relationship, but whattaya say about you an’ me headin’ back to my place?” He gave Dean’s leg a squeeze and started running his hand slowly up towards the omega’s crotch. “Cuz I gotta tell ya - if you were mine I’d keep you all happy and knotted up at home...”

The snap of the alpha’s thumb as Dean wrenched it back and out of its socket was immediately drowned out by the man’s scream. In one fluid movement Dean used the dislocated thumb to twist his arm up behind his back with his right hand and then pinned the guy’s head to the counter with his own forearm across his neck, hearing the guy’s shoulder pop out of its joint as well. He used his left hand to grab his fork and stab it into the counter by the alpha’s face. The entire diner fell into silence as Dean leaned over him, fangs out, and pressed down on his neck to reduce him to a whimpering puddle of tears.

“Now, I know you understand English, cuz that’s the language you were using for your pervy pick-up lines, so I gotta assume that you’re just really stupid and I have to speak slower,” he hissed. “The next time an omega tells you to remove your hand, remove your fucking hand.”

“Dean…”

He hadn’t even scented Sam approaching, he was so pissed off and just done with this shit, but suddenly Sam was all he could smell - calm and soothing and gentle. He felt Sam’s hands on both of his shoulders, tenderly trying to pull him away from the blubbering man he still held pinned to the counter. There was nothing demanding about the way Sam tugged on him. It was somehow reassuring, letting Dean know that he wasn’t alone. His omega wanted to just turn into Sam’s chest, scent his neck, and hide, but the angrier part of him that was Dean Motherfucking Winchester refused to do something so weak and needy.

“This knothead needs to learn some manners, Sam,” he growled, tightening his grip on the alpha’s thumb, eliciting a yelp from the man.

Quite to his surprise, Sam moved around to his side and snaked an arm around his waist, pulling Dean insistently and protectively to him. Even more surprising was that Dean went willingly. If Sam had tried this at the Roadhouse, Dean would have hauled off and decked him. Now, however, he felt a wave of relief at being pressed up against Sam, like he was owned or something.

No, not owned. Claimed. He’d always hated that word, but how it felt was so different from what he’d imagined that his grip on the douchebag’s thumb automatically began to relax.

Undoubtedly for the benefit of the people in the room who had met them as a couple, Sam murmured, “Not now, baby,” right into his ear.

Not now, baby. Dean had heard Sam say that before. But when? Last night? No, it hadn’t been last night. Sam had said a lot of things last night, but that wasn’t one of them, he was sure of it. The not now, baby memory was more vague and harder to grasp even than the events of last night’s alcohol fueled copulating, and brought with it the strong odor of chlorine. The Holiday Inn had a pool, but despite Dean suggesting they go for a swim two nights in a row, Sam had been staunchly against it, so it must be from some other time the two of them were together. What other time had they been together near a pool?

Adam’s graduation party. Dean didn’t really remember a lot of it, because he’d polished off two bottles of scotch (well, probably more like one and a half, Adam had said he opened a second bottle but not how much he drank), but he did kind of remember sharing a chaise lounge with Sam at one point, so he was probably remembering that. It was all hazy, though. Why would Sam have called him “baby”? That was a particularly intimate pet name one didn’t just go around giving ex-friends from grade school that one never spoke with again. And if it was from the party, why was it filling Dean with such abject terror, distress, and dread? Had Sam done something to Dean there? No, as big of a jerk as Sam could be, he was not the sort of guy to take advantage. Yeah, there had been last night, but drunk as he was Dean had known what he was doing and had repeatedly consented. Besides, if Sam had done something to him, Adam would never have stayed friends with him, and Adam would have told Dean. So why did Dean suddenly want to be sick all over the floor of Hal’s Diner?

It took a minute for Dean to realize that Sam now had him cradled against his chest, and was caressing his face and saying things like, “Dean” and “Look at me,” and “What’s wrong” and “Dean!” They were on the floor and hair tonic and manure had escaped the diner. Well, obviously they were on the floor, since his knees had buckled, which he was starting to dimly recall as he feebly grabbed onto Sam’s shirt. He seemed to be hyperventilating, but he couldn’t really tell, because it kept going dark at the edges of his vision, like his mind was trying to shut down or something before anything more of the recollection of the party had a chance to solidify for him. It was all very confusing.

Sam was either a really, really good actor or he was genuinely worried about what was happening, because all Dean could smell was Sam’s fear. The scent helped to ground him and give him something to hold onto to pull himself out of whatever this was. He turned his face to Sam’s neck and just breathed for a moment, which steadied him somewhat and caused Sam to tighten his grip.

“Is he okay?” Dolores was asking, and Dean realized for the first time that they’d drawn quite the crowd of concerned diners. “I can call an ambulance…”

“No,” Sam said quickly at the spike of distress in Dean’s scent. “He’ll be fine he just...that happens a lot. People taking liberties. He can handle it but it stresses him.”

“Oh, I know how that is,” Dolores replied. Dean was beginning to feel like he could breathe normally again. “Ray’s one of our regulars. If I had a nickel for every time he swatted my ass I’d be a rich woman. Get him on over to your booth and I’ll bring his breakfast.”

“Thanks Dolores,” Sam said.

Dean felt Sam pulling him to his feet. This was familiar, too, and reinforced the “something very bad has happened” feeling. Dean couldn’t take it. He was going to lose the three bites of scrambled egg he’d eaten and bolted for the bathroom. He barely made it into one of the stalls before he was on his knees, heaving into the bowl. Apparently today was just for puking whenever a bathroom was nearby. He really regretted that he hadn’t died in the hotel room this morning.

The bathroom door clicked quietly behind him and he heard footsteps approaching the stall as his stomach settled a little. At least he hadn’t had enough to eat yet for this to be a prolonged vomiting session. He was already trying not to think about the fact that he was kneeling on the floor of a public restroom with his face in a public toilet. He gave himself another minute just to be sure his stomach was done, then sat back on his heels and flushed.

Wordlessly, Sam got his hands under Dean’s arms and helped him to his feet, then over to the sink where he could wash his hands, rinse his mouth, and splash some water on his face. His knees threatened to buckle again, but Sam was quick to grab him and hold Dean tightly to his chest. He didn’t even care that he was openly clinging to Sam now, or that his whole body had started trembling. He went along easily as Sam led him out of the bathroom and over to the booth by the window, and didn’t object when Sam got him down on the bench seat and then slid in beside him, making himself a barrier between Dean and everyone else in the diner. Dean turned into Sam’s side and breathed in his scent again, while one of Sam’s hands swept up and down his back and the other smoothed through his hair.

“You okay?” Sam asked softly when Dean’s breathing had returned somewhat to normal. Sam still smelled of fear and worry and something else that Dean couldn’t place. Dolores had already brought over his breakfast, phone, and sunglasses. “What happened?”

“I dunno.” Dean wanted to pull away from Sam but couldn’t. His omega still needed desperately to feel protected and safe. It was humiliating. “Something...a memory...I dunno. I couldn’t place it.”

“A memory?”

“You an’ me. At a pool, or something. It didn’t make sense.” Dean felt Sam go rigid, and his scent became anxious. It was easy to pull back then. “What?”

“The two of us at a pool?” Sam looked very pale. He knew what Dean was talking about. Dean didn’t know why that scared him, but it did. “What did you remember?”

“Ah, so this is what you ditched me for, Sam.”

Dean jolted into the corner of the booth and smacked against the window as the young, pretty blonde with cold blue-grey eyes slid into the bench seat across from them. She wore a dark printed t-shirt, black leather jacket, and irritated expression. The smell of rotten eggs and raw meat filled the booth. Dean’s dislike of her was immediate.

Sam’s scent changed from concerned to nervous, and he put a good foot of distance between him and Dean.

“Ruby! Hey. I told you I’d hook up with you later.”

This was Ruby? How could Sam stand to work with someone who smelled so disgusting? Maybe she didn’t smell disgusting to him, though. He had no idea what alphas smelled like to each other.

“Yeah,” she sneered. “I can see you were in a real hurry to debrief me. I take it this is Dean?”

“Yeah...uh...yes.” Sam was seriously flustered, and not like he’d been when Dean asked if dinner last night was a date. That had been cute. Nothing about this situation was cute. “Dean, this is Ruby, my associate. Ruby, this is Dean.”

“Charmed,” she said, snagging a piece of bacon from Sam’s plate without even asking. “You find anything interesting in the vamp nest or…”

“No,” Sam interjected. Dean got the distinct impression she was asking about something specific and Sam didn’t want him to know what it was. “It was just a routine hunt.”

Ruby slid her gaze to Dean and pinned him to the seat with a glare.

“I’ll bet.”

“Look, we were kind of in the middle of something Ruby…”

A sneer curled her lips and her eyes stayed on Dean.

“I’ll bet.”

“Could you just...give us a minute please?”

“Sure.” She swung around to look at Sam and stole another piece of bacon. “Though I never pegged you for a minute-man, Sam. Let’s get Dean’s opinion on that.”

Ah. So Sam was fucking her. Or wanted to fuck her. Or she wanted to fuck him. Maybe. Probably. Dean didn’t know. He was such a moron for caring.

“Ruby…”

“It’s okay,” Dean said, his voice returning to him at long last. He grabbed his phone and his sunglasses and pushed against Sam to be let out. “It’s okay, you guys can talk, I gotta get going anyway.”

“You didn’t eat your breakfast,” Sam objected, though he was allowing Dean to get past him.

“I’m not really hungry,” Dean told him, digging into his wallet for the coupons Sam had left him this morning. God, he needed to get out of here before the overwhelming sadness constricting his chest burst out into his scent. “I’ll grab something on the way home.”

“You don’t have to pay, Dean,” Sam said. “I got it.”

“No, it’s fine.” Dean clenched his jaw, pulling out a $20 coupon. “I came into some money this morning. Got paid for something I’m really good at.” If he’d been looking at Sam he would have seen the hurt flash across his face, but Dean was too busy jamming his sunglasses back on. “Later Sam.”

“Dean, wait…”

But Dean was already halfway out the door, the opening strains of I Fall to Pieces echoing through Hal’s behind him. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and walked doggedly down the street to cross to the Impala, half listening for Sam’s footsteps behind him. He didn’t know why he was listening, or why it was so disappointing when he didn’t hear anything, but he managed to hold it together until he got into the safety of his Baby. He didn’t even know why he was so upset, it wasn’t as if Sam meant anything to him, or that last night had been anything other than a release after a hunt gone particularly well, but he still had to sit there with the engine idling for what felt like a very long time, his arms crossed over the steering wheel and his forehead resting on them as he just straight-up sobbed.

It was like the morning after Adam’s party, which he did remember, and hadn’t thought about in a long time because it really hurt just too damn much to think about. Maybe he’d go to Bobby’s again like he’d done after that awful day in Shreveport when he’d practically thrown himself at Sam and been completely rebuffed. Hopefully he wouldn’t spend another week a bawling, inconsolable mess, because he had stuff to do and that had seriously scared Bobby last time. He really should focus on getting into a clinic and picking up his suppressants, but at this point what could a couple more days of skipping them do? He thought of calling Adam and asking if he could come for a visit, but Adam would want to know why and Dean obviously could not tell him what had happened with Sam. Adam hated the thought of alphas anywhere near Dean. He might be really upset right now, but it wouldn’t be fair to ruin their friendship when Dean had been the one to instigate things last night.

When he finally felt himself reasonably under control he threw the Impala into gear and headed out of town. Sam and Ruby were still sitting in the front window of Hal’s, and if he spotted Sam getting to his feet while he drove past - well, he didn’t care. If anything, the last twelve hours had proven the Benny was literally the only good, trustworthy alpha on the planet, and it was a lesson Dean didn’t intend to forget again.

Chapter Text

If Sam knew how to kill a demon, he’d have gutted Ruby before Dean even made it to the door. As it was, exorcism was the only effective method of getting rid of demons that he’d come across, which didn’t kill them but only sent them back to Hell. At the moment he really did need her around, even if he couldn’t stand her and doubted he could trust her, but after what she’d just pulled he was definitely ganking her the minute she ceased to be useful.

“You gonna say something Sam or just sit there looking like you sucked on a lemon?” she asked as she grabbed Dean’s plate and started eating his toast. She grimaced when she realized it was plain and pushed the whole plate away.

“I told you -” Sam struggled to keep his tone even. He really was furious. “That I was going to hook up with you later.”

“Please.” She’d gone back to devouring his bacon. “The way you two were snuggled up you wouldn’t be hooking up with me until after the honeymoon.”

“Can I get you somethin’?”

Dolores had come over to the table and was eyeing Ruby with open hostility. She shot a cold look to Sam, having apparently seen Dean’s hasty retreat from the diner the minute the demon had shown up. Great. Now the locals would think Sam was some kind of unfaithful asshole to his brand new mate who had just collapsed in front of them all, and that thought shouldn’t bother him because it’s not like they were really mated or ever coming back here again but goddammit, he wanted to scream that it wasn’t like that and Ruby was just a means to an end.

Ruby shot Dolores a grin that was laced with a threat and said, “Sure, Do-lo-res. I’ll have some bacon with a side of bacon. And some extra bacon for Sam here, since I’ve eaten all of his.”

Somehow she managed to make eating all of Sam’s bacon sound sexual. It did not win Dolores over to her side, but Sam guessed that was the point.

“You got it,” the waitress said smoothly, shooting Sam one more death glare before heading to put Ruby’s order in.

“So tell me truly Sam.” She smiled at him like the cat that got the cream. “How is pretty Dean in the sack? Worth the wait?”

“We haven’t…”

“Please. His scent is all over you. Not that I really care, I just like seeing you squirm. So. Much. Guilt.”

“What do you want, Ruby?”

Sam was getting impatient. No matter what bullshit he’d written on that note this morning, the only thing he wanted right now - that he could ever think of wanting again - was to go after Dean and make sure he was okay. He didn’t know what had happened after Dean took down that alpha at the counter, but it seemed like he’d remembered something about Adam’s party and him practically fainting, then hyperventilating and throwing up scared the shit out of Sam. He needed to get rid of Ruby so he could call Adam and tell him what had happened.

Everything that had happened.

Fortunately for Sam demons got bored very quickly with human drama and angst, and Ruby didn’t have a problem letting the subject go. Her knee bounced, vibrating the table as she waited for her bacon to arrive.

“The Colt, Sam,” she said. “I want the Colt.”

“So do I,” Sam replied. “Especially if it will kill the fucker that murdered Jess.”

“Then where is it?” she demanded. “I had it on good authority that those vamps took it from the rancher they killed. He wasn’t just some retired cowboy you know.”

“Yeah, I know.” Sam and Ruby shut up as Dolores returned with plenty of bacon. She gave Sam a third disapproving look and disappeared again. “But I’m telling you, it wasn’t there.”

“You think Dean took it?” she asked as she dug in. Sam had asked her once why she bothered to eat when she didn’t need to, and she’d told him one of the best things about being a demon was getting to indulge. It still kind of grossed him out to think she was walking around in basically a corpse stuffing it full of processed pork products. “Did you check his bag?”

“Dean didn’t take it,” Sam said. “We were together pretty much the whole time. And he’s not the type to find something cool without saying ‘hey come look at this cool thing I just found.’ It wasn’t there.”

“But you checked his bag.”

“I went in his bag for other reasons, and it wasn’t there.”

“What about a cavity search?” She was smiling again wickedly. Sam wanted to punch her. “Did you perform a good, thorough, cavity search?”

“Fuck you, Ruby.”

“Sorry, you’ve confused me with Dean.”

He glared at her for a long minute, but she just laughed. He couldn’t wait until he was done with her. If only he hadn’t promised Jess’ parents to track down the thing that killed her, and if only the thing that killed her hadn’t been some kind of high-up-the-food-chain yellow-eyed demon named Azazel, and if only it were possible to kill Azazel without the need of some mythic Colt crafted by Samuel Colt himself that could stop just about any supernatural being on the planet.

“The vamps didn’t have it, and I couldn’t exactly search the Elkins ranch without Dean wanting to know what the hell I was doing, so it’s probably there,” he finally said.

“Nope, I checked,” she told him. “First thing I did when you booted me off the hunt. His place was warded against demons before the vamps broke in and made a meal out of him, but after I had no problem getting in. It’s not there.”

“Well then someone else has it,” Sam snapped.

“Who?”

“How the fuck should I know? You’re the demon! You tell me who else Azazel may have pissed off that would want it.”

“Lots of fucking people, Sam. He’s a Prince of Hell.”

“Okay, so how about you see if you can figure out who has it and we can go get it from them!” He stood up to toss down some money on the table just as Dean drove past the diner. Shit! This was like Shreveport all over again. He should have stayed in bed with Dean this morning, not run away like a coward, and certainly not written that awful note. “I gotta go.”

“Fine,” Ruby sighed after him as he ran out of Hal’s to where his car was parked up the block.

He was starting to wish he’d never learned what killed Jess. He could deal with chasing an unknown entity to keep him going as a hunter, motivated without becoming a zealot. Knowing what it was seemed worse, as there was a finish line in sight but it seemed to keep moving farther off all the time. He recognized that he was beginning to chase that as the goal more than ending the thing that burned his girlfriend on the ceiling. He wanted this chapter of his life to be over.

It wasn’t that he hadn’t cared about Jess. He had, he really had, and maybe if she’d lived they could have been happy together long term. But she was his first real relationship, and as first relationships went they’d had a really good run, and it just felt like it was a lot to expect of him that he would give over the rest of his life to chasing down this Azazel when they’d only been together for a year. A year was nothing in the grand scheme of things, and while Jess’ death had been awful, a lot things that seemed much worse than her death had happened since to kind of make it pale in comparison. He realized it was terrible and shallow, but he was starting to feel more like sure, if this Azazel crossed his path he’d kill him, but hunting him down on purpose was a lot more trouble than it was worth. It wasn’t as if Jess had been the love of his life.

Besides, he’d done some research into the Princes of Hell and Azazel, and this demon was not someone to be trifled with. Why he’d gone after Jess remained a mystery, one Sam was beginning to feel was more important to solve than the location of this mythical gun that seemed about as real at this point as the Fountain of Youth. This was the fifth hunt where Ruby told him they’d find the Colt and the fifth time they came up empty. He was starting to think the damn thing didn’t exist and she was just stringing him along. Maybe next time she came calling he’d tell her to shove it.

By nightfall he was in South Dakota, so he didn’t see in the local Laramie news that Dolores Weatherton, 52, had been found with her neck slit open after her shift ended at Hal’s Diner and the police were looking for anyone with information to help them solve the case. The police were withholding the fact that at least a pint of blood was missing from the body and that trace amounts of sulfur were found on her clothes. It was a strange case that wouldn’t pop up on the FDH’s radar for a couple of weeks, and certainly not in time for Sam to put two and two together and realize that there were either other demons in town or Ruby was not what she appeared to be.

Right now though his chief concern was finding Dean, and at least confirming he’d made it home safe. Not that he had any idea where Dean’s home was. He knew he lived in or around Sioux Falls because he’d said so at the Roadhouse, so it was possible he lived with Bobby Singer.

Adam had told him a little about Bobby after Dean was expelled. Singer Salvage Yard was apparently the first stop John made when he picked Dean up and that had Bobby making a frantic phone call to check on Adam, who he hadn’t seen since the boy was about two years old. Bobby had called routinely after that to update Adam on what his dad and brother were up to, but Sam had gotten to know Bobby on his own the last couple of years. He was one of the most respected resources for hunters in the midwest, even if he was least likely to make it through the day without downing a twelve pack, and if you had any kind of question about any kind of monster you called Bobby first. He’d been a damn fine hunter himself back in the day if the stories about him were true, and he still went out on some of the easier cases, but since he hit forty he’d taken a step back from field work and opted for a support role. Apparently he never thought he’d live that long, and having done so was curious if he’d make it to fifty, which he had a few years back.

Sam and Bobby got on well enough, though Bobby sure as hell didn’t like Sam’s grandfather. That was okay, few people did, and Sam had resigned himself to always having to live down to Samuel’s name in the hunting world. Bobby at least respected that Sam wanted to do the job because it was important, and not because he wanted to take money out of the hands of hunters who really needed it. In fact, all of the information Sam had learned about the Princes of Hell had come from Bobby’s library. Sam knew from Adam that Bobby had always been very close to Dean, so Dean might be there, or he might know where Dean lived. Asking Samuel to check the FDH database for his address was out of the question, and Sam’s laptop wasn’t powerful enough to crack the department’s encryptions. Singer Salvage seemed the most reasonable place to start.

Unless Sam just manned up and called Adam to ask where Dean lived, but frankly he was putting off that conversation as long as he possibly could. The initial panic from the incident at the diner had subsided somewhat, and while he knew that talking with Adam was inevitable he wasn’t there just yet. His alpha was shouting loud and clear that once he found the omega he was claiming him so he couldn’t run away again. He didn’t want their conversation about Sam and Dean’s antics at the Holiday Inn to overshadow Sam’s worry that Dean had some kind of PTSD flashback, and he didn’t think he could separate the two incidents right now to focus on the one that was more important.

It was about eight o'clock when he pulled up Bobby’s long driveway and set his mangy old dog Rumsfeld off to barking. Sam knew Bobby had plenty of early warning systems on the property, but Rumsfeld certainly acted like he was the only one that mattered. Sam didn’t see the Impala anywhere as he pulled up to a stop a safe distance from where the dog was going nuts, and exited his SUV slowly just in case Bobby met him on the porch with a shotgun.

Instinctively Sam scented the air for Dean, but Bobby was burning something out back (smelled like tires) and whatever it was would have masked anyone’s scent. He headed slowly for the front door, but barely made it a couple of steps before Bobby showed up in the doorway, shouting at Rumsfeld to shut up and go to sleep. To Sam’s relief he was holding a beer and not a shotgun. He only opened the inside door, though, and left the screen door closed. Bobby obviously wanted there to be a clear boundary between where Sam was welcome and where he wasn’t, and “wasn’t” was inside the house.

“Heya Sam,” the old hunter said evenly, adjusting his weathered trucker’s cap so the shadow fell across his eyes in the dying summer light. “You come to return those books on demons I leant you a while back?”

“Hey Bobby. No, I uh...I still need those for a little bit,” Sam replied. He suddenly felt really stupid, like a kid coming to ask a girl’s father if he could take her to prom, and shifted uncomfortably where he stood. “I was wondering if Dean was here? Maybe?”

“Nope.” Bobby took a long pull on his beer, leaving Sam there in quiet agony. “Was here about twenty minutes ago though. Seemed pretty upset about somethin’. You got any idea what that might be?”

Sam didn’t need to see Bobby’s eyes to know they were hard and zeroed in right on him. Clearly the man knew he didn’t always need his shotgun to be intimidating. Sam was pinned down where he stood by the unseen glare and growing increasingly uncomfortable.

“I might,” Sam croaked.

Bobby nodded and had another drink.

“Feel like sharin’ with the class?”

“It’s…” Sam was starting to sweat. He could deal with alphas any day. Give him an unreadable beta and he was just plain out of his depth. He ran a hand through his hair and paused to rub the back of his neck. “It’s...complicated?”

“Uh huh.”

“Could you...could you maybe give me his address, or…”

“Ain’t you got his phone number? I hear tell the two of you just finished up a hunt together in Laramie.”

Bobby’s tone was pointed, and Sam thought he caught a flash of anger in his clear blue eyes. So. Dean had told him something, but probably not everything, and it honestly wasn’t just that Sam couldn’t stand Bobby’s judgement, he legitimately did not want to kiss and tell. Dean had a right to privacy without Sam blabbing everywhere that they’d slept together.

“I uh...I tried calling on my way north, but he didn’t answer his phone.”

That was a bald faced lie. He’d thought about calling Dean, about a hundred times on the nine hour plus drive, but he’d chickened out every single time he picked up his cell. He didn’t know what he would say if Dean picked up the phone, and he didn’t know what he would do if he didn’t. If Bobby knew differently he didn’t say so and let the matter drop.

“Well then, I guess he don’t wanna talk to you.” He gave Sam a little nod. “You should take that as a sign. Don’t forget to get me back those books when you have a chance.”

The last statement was thrown back casually over his shoulder as he closed the inside door. Sam would have called out to him if he thought it would do any good, but it was clear Bobby had put the subject to bed. He’d hoped for a little more sympathy from the man, even if he knew it was stupid to expect Bobby to realize how miserable he was or to care, particularly when he was so close to Dean. It looked like his options were down to calling Adam and begging to know where Dean lived or getting a hotel room and staying until he ran into him in the grocery store. The population of the greater Sioux Falls metropolitan area was only about a quarter of a million people. It was totally possible that he could just randomly stumble across Dean, right?

It took a while for him to stop standing in the middle of Bobby’s driveway like an idiot and climb back into his Hummer, and even longer for him to pull out the phone to dial Adam’s number. The sun had fully set by then and Rumsfeld had gone back to snoring in his doghouse. He was starting to think the decision to follow Dean had been a really bad one. He didn’t want to broadcast the fact that they’d slept together to Dean’s closest friends and family, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to tell anyone about his cousins assaulting him, and it seemed like both of those pieces of information were critical to getting anyone to understand why he had to find out where Dean lived and make sure he was okay. The thing was, Adam already had one of those pieces of information, and no matter how pissed off he was going to be about the other, he was Sam’s only hope, even if it resulted in the end of their friendship.

Summoning up as much courage as he had left after the way the day had gone, he pressed Adam’s number in his phone and waited for him to pick up. He was only an hour behind in Durham. Adam at least couldn’t get pissed off that he was calling late.

It rang four times before Adam picked up, just as Sam was hoping it was going to go to voicemail.

Hey Sam,” he said. “Long time no talk. What’s up?”

“Hey Adam,” Sam said, running a hand over his mouth. He was already starting to shake, anticipating the explosion. “I was wondering if you had Dean’s address?”

Adam laughed on the other end. It made Sam feel worse.

Why? You wanna be pen pals with him or something?”

“No, no, I uh…” He cleared his throat. “We’ve been working a job in Laramie the last couple of days and he left kind of sudden and I just wanted to check up on him.”

Why don’t you just call him?” Adam sounded confused. “If you were working a job you gotta have his number.”

“I...I don’t think he’d answer the phone if I called him.”

There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Too long of a pause. Sam felt his stomach sink.

Why? What happened in Laramie?”

It was Sam’s turn to pause. He had no idea how to respond without sounding like an asshole. When Adam spoke again his voice was cold.

Sam. What happened in Laramie? What did you do to my brother?”

“I didn’t do anything to him. I mean...nothing he didn’t want...”

I’m hanging up Sam.”

“No, wait, Adam, let me explain…”

I don’t want to hear it…

“Adam, please…”

Not in the mood to listen to you brag about your conquests with my brother, dude.”

“It wasn’t like that!”

Really? Then what was it like? What, you trying to find out where he lives so you can fill his apartment with flowers and profess your undying love or some such shit?”

“Adam…”

I can’t believe this. I knew I couldn’t trust you.”

“Adam, he came on to me!”

Sure he did Sam! He’s never looked twice at an alpha, but for you he’ll make an exception? What’d you do, drug him up like your cousins?”

Jesus Adam! Who the fuck do you think I am?!”

I think you’re the guy that wanted to fuck my brother the day after he was raped.”

“That’s not fair. I wanted to tell him. If he’d known, nothing that morning would have ever happened. He probably wouldn’t have let me touch him!”

That’s the problem Sam. You knew and you fucking touched him anyway.”

“He was distressed! Touch calms omegas! You’re in school for nursing, how can you not know this?”

That’s why you were all over him in the bathroom right after, right? Calming him? Makes me wonder what you were doing while I was asleep.”

“We weren’t doing anything while you were asleep! That’s why he left!”

Yeah, well obviously something happened in Laramie, didn’t it Sam? Did you knot him real good?”

“He wanted me Adam. His scent was cl...”

I swear Sam, if you try pulling that alpha and omega shit again I will track you down and kill you in your sleep.”

God, this was going so much worse than Sam had imagined. He wasn’t explaining any of this right, Adam was threatening him, and that was just pissing Sam’s alpha right the hell off. He knew he should feel terrible about the total destruction of their friendship, but he hadn’t even been able to get to the part where Dean had collapsed at the diner and that was a really fucking necessary detail.

“I’m sorry that you can’t understand all that ‘alpha and omega shit’ but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a big part of this.”

Oh I know it is. I get how you knotheads react to an omega. I saw the tape.

Sam gripped the steering wheel so tightly he was afraid he was going to bend it. Adam had taken the camcorder because after everything that happened to Dean they’d both been pretty paranoid about Sam’s cousins trying to steal it back, and they knew where Sam lived. Adam wasn’t going to work for the FDH, so his address wouldn’t be in the system, plus he’d be living in a dorm on a campus with fifteen thousand other people. Trying to get the camcorder from him seemed at the time like it would have been a lot more challenging, so Adam was going to take it in case Mark, Christian, and Tyler started something in the future and they needed to blackmail Samuel into getting them to back off. But they’d agreed never to watch it. If Dean ever remembered anything it was up to him whether anyone saw what had gone on in the basement, including his brother. Now Sam was furious.

“You’re giving me shit for doing something with Dean that he wanted when you watched…”

You want me to tell you what happened before we got there?”

“No, Adam, I don’t.”

You sure? Not interested in which one made him blow them before he passed out, who climbed on top first…

“Stop talking!”

Why? Does it upset you that I know now how alphas treat omegas?”

“I upsets me because you had no right!”

I had every right! I had every right to know what they did to him!”

No, Adam, you didn’t! Just like you didn’t have any right to decide we weren’t going to tell him what happened!”

So you’re blaming me because you can’t keep your dick in your pants around my brother?”

“Who’s blaming anyone here? I’m trying to tell you what happened between us last night and you’re basically calling me a rapist!”

How drunk was he?”

The question set Sam back on his heels. He suddenly didn’t care if he and Adam ever spoke again after this moment.

“What?”

I think I enunciated pretty fucking well.”

“You think I would purposely get him drunk…”

You are an alpha.”

And there it was. The thing that had been hanging over them ever since Dean ran from his grandfather’s mansion and disappeared on Sam for six months. Adam hadn’t trusted him then and clearly never would, no matter how it had seemed afterwards. Sam suddenly wondered if Adam had tipped him off to the Shojo meeting because he knew how much Dean had loathed Sam at that point and it would be an easy way to get Sam to stay away from his brother. The way this conversation was going Sam wouldn’t put it past him.

But Sam hadn’t gotten Dean drunk so he could fuck him. They’d had a great hunt, were getting along better than they had in years, and for once in the longest time their conversations were light and fun. The only semi-serious argument they got in was in that rest stop over which car to take; every other disagreement had been more flirty than angry. All he’d wanted when he suggested the drinking game was to keep them both relaxed so they’d finish out the hunt on an amicable note and maybe not butt heads so much in the future. The way Dean had reacted to him had come as a complete, if welcome, shock. If Adam wasn’t going to believe that, wasn’t even willing to listen to that, then his friendship obviously wasn’t anything worth losing.

“You know what, fuck you Adam. It wasn’t just about me knotting someone and Dean knew exactly what he was doing.”

Is that why you won’t tell me how drunk he was?”

“No, it’s because he was very clear about what he wanted and I wasn’t going to make another goddamned decision for him that he had every right to make for himself.”

What you did was take advantage of the fact that you know what your cousins did to him and he doesn’t. ”

Because you insisted on us keeping it from him! I told you it was wrong! I told you! And now that two years have passed, how the fuck was I supposed to bring that up, huh? Hey Dean, I know you’re pretty well adjusted and really want me to fuck you right now but let me tell you about the time that my cousins drugged you and dragged you down into my grandfather’s basement?”

How about just showing some fucking restraint? What happened to all that talk about being disgusted with yourself for wanting him? Two years go by and you just couldn’t resist him anymore?”

No, Adam, I couldn’t. And even if I could have, I didn’t want to! We’d both been drinking. He wanted me. I wanted him. We were on equal footing.”

Oh my god Sam, do you even hear yourself? He doesn’t know what he wants!”

“That’s funny coming from someone who didn’t even give him a choice, who never even asked if he remembered anything but just decided he didn’t need to know! So now he doesn’t know and he acted like it never happened to him because he doesn’t know it did, and you’re pissed off at me for not throwing him off because you still don’t want him making his own decisions!”

You’ve just been waiting, haven’t you? You’ve just been waiting for the chance to get between his legs.

“Be honest, would you be this pissed off if we’d told him right after, two years ago, and he still slept with me last night? Have you been pissed off about all the betas he’s been with since then? Or is it because I’m an alpha that this is such a problem?”

It’s because you know what happened to him.”

“So that means I should treat him like a leper? That I should treat him like Dean-who-was-raped-and-can’t-decide-what-he-wants instead of just Dean? You really think that would be better? Cuz it hasn’t worked out very well the last two years!”

You’re the one who said lies of omission are still lies.”

“Don’t you dare throw that back in my face.”

Why? Because you’re such a decent guy? Because you care about my brother so much and just wanted to make him happy? Spare me the white picket fence speech.”

“Because I asked if he was sure more than once and he was! Has it occurred to you that some part of him knows what happened and that’s why he acts this way around me?”

What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I make him feel safe, Adam. This whole hunt I could smell it on him because he wasn’t busy hating my guts and suppressing his scent. You asked if I thought he’d make an exception for me? Apparently he fucking will.”

My god, you are so full of yourself.”

“What do you think is going to happen when he really remembers and knows we’ve been keeping this from him for years?”

He’s not going to remember because I’m not going to tell him and you’re not going near him again.”

“You think it’s going to be that simple? He remembered something today and had some kind of anxiety attack! I don’t even know what set him off, but it was scary as hell! That’s why I’m trying to find him, to make sure he’s okay!”

There was a very long pause on the other end of the phone, so long that Sam had to check to make sure his battery hadn’t died or Adam hadn’t hung up. It was pitch black outside and the windows in his car had fogged up. The only thing he could see besides the glow of his phone was the faint outline of the windows of Bobby’s house where the lights shone through. Rumsfeld gave a half hearted “woof,” probably in his sleep as he dreamt of chasing rabbits.

“Adam?”

Silence.

“Please give me Dean’s address.”

Silence. Then:

Lose my number, Sam. And stay away from my brother. Or I really will kill you.”

Adam’s end of the call clicked off, leaving Sam alone in the dark. He leaned his head forward onto the steering wheel and just sat there until he started to think Bobby might come out to shoo him off the property and figured it was time to go. He wouldn’t go into Sioux Falls - tracking Dean down would come dangerously close to stalking - and he wouldn’t bother Adam again. Clearly he needed to forget the whole thing in Laramie, and anything else having to do with Dean. It was a good thing he had the Colt to look for, and a Prince of Hell to kill, because he needed some reason not to drive into the Missouri River on the way home to St. Louis. It looked like he was going to be spending a whole lot of time with his good friend, Grey Goose, until he found a way to work the Winchesters out of his system.

Chapter Text

Between the speeding and the crying, Dean was honestly surprised he made it to Bobby’s in one piece. He knew he should just shake last night and this morning off, chalk it up to a learning experience, and move on, but he couldn’t help feeling thoroughly and utterly used. He couldn’t even really blame this feeling on whatever hormone fluxuations were going on with him right now. He’d been stupid enough to let his guard down with an alpha after ten years of literally fighting them off everywhere he went: close calls in bus station bathrooms; near assaults in dark alleys; attempts to drug him in bars before he stopped drinking beverages that came in a glass instead of a bottle; that one time he’d had a woman break into his motel room while he was sleeping and Dad was still out drinking and he’d lost a chunk of hair when he threw her out through the window; the truck driver not even six months ago who stopped to “help” him when he was pulled off on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere changing a flat tire, and boy was he lucky he had the tire iron right in his hand at the time. He’d still let Sam right on into his space, and it wasn’t the tequila’s fault. Dean was just a stupid son of a bitch. Actaeon had clearly been right to kick him out. There was no point wasting time teaching an omega when omegas were too dumb to retain anything.

Rumsfeld was so used to the sound of the Impala that he didn’t make a peep when Dean came up the drive around seven thirty at night and pulled straight around to the back of the house. He hoped Bobby was still in the middle of dinner and not off listening to his “Teach Yourself Japanese” tapes to keep his fluency in the language from getting rusty, or down in the basement working on his panic room. The last thing he wanted after all the other painful crap he’d dealt with today was a backside blasted full of rock salt.

He could see Bobby at the sink through the kitchen window when he put Baby into park, turned off the engine, and climbed out to get his duffel from the back seat. It looked like he was setting something down (probably his shotgun) as Dean closed up the car and headed to the back stoop. Good thing it was still daylight or it might be a very unwelcome welcoming. As it was Bobby was drying his hands on a dish towel when he met Dean at the door.

“Hey Dean,” he said, letting the young man into the kitchen. Dean could feel Bobby’s assessing gaze as he headed for the fridge to grab a beer, keeping his eyes more or less pointed towards the floor. “Wasn’t expecting ya. How’re things?”

“Hey Bobby,” he replied thickly, hating how hoarse his voice sounded. As close as he was to Bobby, he’d normally never just walk right in and help himself to a drink without at least a few minutes of small talk. It was bound to raise Bobby’s suspicions, but he didn’t really want to talk to anyone about anything ever, ever again. “Things are good. Mind if I crash in the guest room for a couple of days?”

“Course not son. You’re always welcome here, you know that.” Bobby tone was soft and careful, as if he had summed up the situation minus some details and wanted to be careful about prying too much. Dean checked out the various types of beer in the fridge amongst the cold cuts and condiments. “Somethin’ wrong with your apartment?”

“No, just...just not in the mood for all the noise from the bar tonight,” he lied badly.

“Keep tellin’ you to move on outta there.” Bobby was still analyzing the situation as Dean finally just grabbed a twelve pack of Budweiser. “Want somethin’ to eat? I just finished dinner, could heat somethin’ up for ya real quick.”

“Just a...uh...just a sandwich would be fine.” Jesus, he was being such a dick. “You know what, I can make one, it’s not a big deal, just go back to doin' whatever you were doin’...”

He swung around to put the beer on the table and then went back to the fridge to get out the bread, meat, cheese, and mayo. Bobby hadn’t moved from where he stood by the door.

“Well, I was doin’ the dishes, but now that you’re here think I’d best set a coupla tires on fire out back,” he said evenly. “Your daddy’s been stoppin’ by unannounced lately tryin’ to track you down. Wouldn’t want him drivin’ up and scentin’ you.”

“Yeah, that...that’s probably a good idea,” Dean agreed as he moved mechanically to retrieve a plate and knife to take over to the table for his sandwich. Bobby was standing very still, like if he moved at all it would spook the omega and he’d bolt. “He’s been keepin’ tabs on my hunts, apparently. Not really looking forward to when he finally catches up, you know?”

Dammit. His voice was starting to shake and his vision was getting blurry. He couldn’t even keep himself together long enough to make a stupid sandwich and go upstairs to wallow in private. He saw a drop of salty water fall from roughly the area of his eyes and splash on to the table and sniffed, working faster on his food. If only he had grabbed an onion he’d have something to blame for the shaky breaths he was drawing in and having to pause his sandwich making to swipe at his eyes every couple of seconds.

“Why don’t you let me finish that and head on upstairs?” Bobby asked gently. “I’ll bring it up soon as I got the tires goin’ good. You gotta be tired after drivin’ up from Laramie.”

“How’d you know I was in Laramie?”

His voice broke and he quickly swallowed and cleared his throat. He was trying to push everything back down but it just kept bubbling up. He really needed to get a grip on this. He was about five seconds from asking Bobby for a hug. Stupid omega needs.

“FDH feed. Report of a vamp’s nest was up for about twelve hours yesterday and then it was listed as cleared by you an’ Sam Campbell.”

Dean laughed mirthlessly and stopped even attempting to finish making his food. That damn FDH feed. At least he was mostly done and just needed lettuce or something to give it a little crunch. Maybe. He didn’t actually care. He really was starting to crack and needed to get out of the room, his throat constricted and chest aching.

“Yeah, guess I am kinda tired,” he said, grabbing for his duffel and the twelve pack. “I’ll pick you up some more beer tomorrow.”

“It’s fine. Don’t need you encouragin’ my functional alcoholism.” That earned Bobby a snicker, but Dean still couldn’t look up at him as he headed for the entryway from the kitchen to the rest of the house. “The hunt went okay then?”

“Yeah,” Dean insisted, swinging around in the doorway and dragging his eyes up off the floor at last. He nodded his head a little too vigorously at the open concern in Bobby’s eyes. “Routine hunt. Everything was fine.”

“Things okay between you and Sam?”

“Sure. Same old same old.”

“Anything you wanna talk about?”

Dean had to draw in a breath on that and stared back at the floor. He had a lot he wanted to talk about but he sure as hell wasn’t going to. If there was one thing his dad had drilled into him over the years it was that all talking about how you felt got you was a kick in the teeth. He was damn good at knowing when it was safe to share and when it wasn’t, and while he probably could have told Bobby all about what happened in Laramie and gotten the old hunter’s sympathy there was no guarantee he wouldn’t get a “Boo hoo, princess” instead. Best not to leave himself vulnerable again today and just lock it down. He had lots of practice processing his emotions on his own and trying to work through them without help. He didn’t need a speech about how no one cared about his feelings.

After a few moments he shook his head and said, “Nope.”

“Cuz you look like crap.”

Dean laughed again and wound up crying, but Bobby stayed by the door, clearly unwilling to intrude on Dean’s space unless he specifically asked. It was at least obvious now that he wasn’t going to get lectured about no chick flick moments allowed in the house, but he still wasn’t up for a discussion and just wanted to go upstairs and start working his way through the twelve pack.

“Too much tequila,” he choked, his voice high and broken. “Thanks Bobby.”

He caught Bobby’s nod out of the corner of his eye and heard the back door swing open and shut as he made his way up the stairs to the guest bedroom that was unofficially his room. Bobby’s house had five bedrooms, four upstairs and one down, and though he did occasionally have hunters in need of a good patch job staying the night he did his best to keep them out of the front bedroom on the east side of the house. It looked out over the drive so Dean could see who was arriving if someone showed up while he was staying there and was attached to the first of two bathrooms off the hall, which could be locked from the inside to make it a private bathroom just for that bedroom. It gave Dean sort of his own little suite that could stay clear of the smell of various alphas that always lingered in the rest of the house.

Bobby may have been a beta, but after moving in a world where the wrong scent could set off a fight to the death he’d learned that smells were very important to the other two designations. He’d done a bunch of research into omegas when Dean presented and as a result the front bedroom was the only space in the house that was devoid of a clutter of books, cobwebs, and a semi-permanent coating of dust. Dean had often wondered if Bobby kept the room that way in an effort to convince Dean to move in with him, since that was something neither would ever ask outright. And it wasn’t that Dean hadn’t considered it, it was just that Bobby’s house wasn’t really the sort of place an omega could truly feel comfortable outside of that one room.

It wasn’t that Bobby was a slob, he simply had so many books, tools, weapons, spell ingredients, and other implements for hunting monsters it was straight up difficult to keep anything outside the kitchen clean, and there were books and odds and ends everywhere. Most of the stuff he’d collected was old, so “new” items often arrived with their own thin layer of grime. Dean had spent a large portion of his childhood and a decade of his adult life bouncing from disgusting motel room to disgusting motel room, having to squelch the urge to run whenever he spotted a new, strange stain on a comforter or carpet, and just the thought of living in a house as cluttered as Bobby’s gave him agita. He kept his own apartment spotless and rather sparse, but appreciated the extra pillows and soft blankets Bobby had added to the guest room to make him feel more at home when he was there. He hated the stereotype of omegas surrounded by scatter cushions and cashmere throws that were used in magazine and TV ads, but stereotypes came from somewhere and when it came to feeling better when surrounded by an excessive amount of creature comforts Dean was absolutely stereotypical.

Unfortunately no amount of pillows and blankets were going to help him get himself under control at this particular moment. He turned on the light, got the door to the room closed, dropped his duffel, and slid down to the floor bawling pathetically. It took a couple of minutes for him to calm down enough to be able to open one of the beers and start drinking himself to sleep, having developed the hiccups by then. He was glad he’d pulled back on his drinking since he got away from John, otherwise a twelve pack would have barely been enough to take the edge off. But after a year of limiting himself to no more than four beers a night (three if he was drinking at the Roadhouse, Ellen was strict) his tolerance had actually dropped a bit and he was going to be able to get himself good and wasted tonight in the safety of Bobby’s house.

If he had to guess, about fifteen minutes had passed when he heard what sounded like a very loud truck pull into the drive and Rumsfeld went absolutely bonkers. He had pounded the first beer and was halfway through a second one and he froze, wondering if it was his father. It was highly likely that John had just foregone checking Laramie after Dean hung up on him and decided to come straight to Sioux Falls to interrogate Bobby. He could smell the tires burning out back and just hoped they had been going long enough to wipe his scent, regardless of whether or not it was John, but especially if it was. The rush of fear and adrenaline did a lot to kick his self pity in the ass, and he hurried to the window, staying crouched down, to see who it was.

To say he was surprised when he saw Sam’s Hummer would have been an understatement. It was good he was already on the floor, or he might have fallen over. Why had Sam driven to Bobby’s all the way from Wyoming? Did he want to make sure Dean knew better than to try throwing himself at him again? Because if so, that message had come through loud and clear; no need to chase him to another state just to repeat it. It had to be something like that, despite how well he’d taken care of Dean in the diner. Alphas reacted on instinct to a distressed omega. He certainly couldn’t take Sam’s actions personally; he’d have done that for anyone. So he’d obviously come to tell Dean off again. There wasn’t any other reason for him to be here.

Except that he could see Sam’s posture from where his room was, and Sam didn’t look like he’d driven here all brash and hot under the collar to let Dean know he was a pest and not wanted and last night had meant less than nothing to him. Though he couldn’t see Sam’s face, the younger man looked almost...sheepish. Bobby hadn’t come out of the house, and Sam wasn’t going up on the porch, so whatever they were talking about the old hunter had clearly drawn a line Sam didn’t dare cross. They only talked for a couple of minutes before Dean heard the downstairs door close, and then Sam just stood there in the driveway like he’d grown roots. Dean watched him stare off at nothing and found himself straightening to stand square in the middle of the window.

The longer Sam stood there, the louder a large, traitorous portion of Dean's brain began to think, “Look up.” It was making him crazy, the way Sam appeared to be in no rush to leave Bobby’s driveway. After another couple of minutes Dean crossed his arms over his chest and tucked his hands under his armpits, squeezing his shirt in an effort to keep from sending Sam a, “Look up, Samantha” text. This really had to be hormones, how could he possibly still want to talk to Sam after today? Did he honestly hate himself enough to want Sam to stay and beat him up emotionally some more?

The answer of course was yes. When it came to self-loathing, Dean had the market pretty much cornered. Those two years when he and Benny were the rock stars of the school, setting records left and right, hadn’t been enough to counteract the early years on the road with John, or the years abandoned at Acteon, or the decade since when John seemed to be doing everything he could to purposely drive Dean into the waiting arms of the first alpha that walked by. John hadn’t even wanted the trophies Dean won in his combat competitions, and they’d only survived because Bobby had called to give the school his address to forward them. Dean learned at a young age that what he wanted didn’t matter to anyone, but oh he so wanted Sam to see him there and...what...storm the proverbial castle?

Absolutely. That’s exactly what he wanted. He even pulled the curtain aside so Sam would be able to clearly see him if he’d just fucking look up from the driveway. He was such a glutton for punishment. He stayed and waited for Sam to realize he was there so he could come up and tell Dean how despised he was. At least then he could take comfort in the knowledge that Sam felt something other than total disinterest in him. He’d learned from his father that at least if someone hated you it meant they felt something, and something was better than nothing.

When Sam had gotten into his car Dean had nearly run downstairs to tell him to stop, and just might have if Sam had left immediately. As it was Sam again didn’t move, sitting there in his Hummer until close to nine o'clock before he finally pulled away. Dean hoped against hope that he was just out there trying to work up the nerve to pound on the door and demand entrance, but in the end that hadn’t happened, and Dean’s courage had given out by the time Sam started up the car.

Then Bobby was knocking on the door so he couldn’t go downstairs anyway without looking like the sad sap that he was.

“Dean?” he asked quietly. “Got your dinner.”

“Yeah, come on in Bobby,” Dean said. Sam was just pulling away as Bobby handed him the plate. “Thanks.”

“Feel like tellin’ me why Sam Campbell just showed up askin’ after you like he ran over your puppy?” Bobby said, putting a hand on Dean’s shoulder as the young man looked down at the sandwich, which now had a bowl of soup, a pickle, and some crackers to accompany it.  

“It’s complicated,” Dean replied, going to the bed to sit down with his plate. He wasn’t really hungry at all but knew he should eat, so he picked at the chips.

“That’s the answer he gave me, too. You two rehearse that?”

Dean quirked a smile and chuckled a little. For some reason whenever he stayed with Bobby he always felt about eight years old, the age he was when John stopped taking him to stay there. He half recalled them fighting about Bobby wanting John to leave the boys with him permanently, and Christ, he wished Dad had done that. Yeah, Bobby had a temper sometimes and drank too much, but nothing like his father did and maybe neither of those traits would have been so bad if Dean and Adam had been living with him. Things could be so much different now.

“I’ll be okay Bobby. I promise.”

Bobby didn’t press the issue and just nodded.

“All right. Don’t stay up too late, ya idjit.”

He gave Dean’s hair an affectionate tousle and got a smile in return. Dean nodded in agreement and Bobby left him to his sandwich and beer.

Dean only made it through six of the twelve cans before he could barely keep his eyes open. He took the rest back downstairs to return to the fridge so they wouldn’t get warm, still feeling like he’d been stomped on. Bobby had fallen asleep in his recliner in front of the television, which was now playing an infomercial for the George Foreman grill. Dean clicked off the TV and covered Bobby with the blanket from the couch, then turned off the light on his way back upstairs. He had vivid dreams of Sam, so real he could smell him, and woke the next morning to a tear soaked pillow and painfully hard morning wood.

He stayed with Bobby three more days before heading back to his apartment over Marge’s Bar, which gave him plenty of time to take his growing anger at the events of the last few days out on some of the wrecks Bobby needed chopped up for parts. Bobby’s property may have bordered on being a junkyard, but it was a good place to work out aggression and a better place for stashing the bodies of dead monsters. The parts side business was an honest way to make a living without having to bring in FDH coupons all the time, and if anyone had really asked him, when he thought about the possibility of retiring from the life it always involved helping Bobby out in the yard.

Adam called him out of the blue on the road from Bobby’s house up to the city. He was always happy to hear from his younger brother, but this call was strange and had him wondering what the hell was wrong. Adam sounded very tense and said something about Dean coming to visit, and how it would be cool if he drove on out this week, because school would be starting shortly and he hadn’t seen Dean in a while and he’d really like to see him. That was disturbingly weird, when Dean had just been thinking about that a couple of days ago. Dean wondered if maybe Adam had started doing drugs, and promised he would come out sometime soon, maybe for Halloween. That seemed to satisfy the younger Winchester, but still when they hung up the phone Dean got the distinct impression that Adam didn’t want to let him go just yet.

Before heading to his apartment Dean needed to stop by the omega clinic to take care of the formalities necessary to refill his prescription for his suppressants. He hated the place. It wasn’t like hospitals, which always set him on edge; it was worse. While hospitals were sterile, scary places that you took people, sometimes to die, when a hunt went really bad, omega clinics were cold and detached, more like a veterinarian’s office than a place that was supposed to help people. That wasn’t quite right either. At least at veterinarian’s offices you got the feeling that the doctors cared about their patients. Om clinic staff gave off the distinct impression that their clientele were just dollar signs, which made sense since the government paid well for the reproductive care of omegas, but you’d better not have questions about your health or you’d get an annoyed sigh and told to “wait here” in a plain white room in your plain white paper gown while someone went and got a real doctor to help. And wait you would, sometimes for forty-five minutes, until an annoyed doctor would finally appear and condescend to you with the clear implication that you should be smart enough to Google this shit for yourself.

Dean waited an hour past his appointment time in the uninviting brown lobby with industrial carpeting with three female omegas and their mates. Two of them were obviously carrying. All of them were on edge. The alphas all scented him, but the beta receptionist wasn’t up for any nonsense and made it clear that any harassment would result in the alphas being immediately ejected from the premises. Well, at least that was something. Bored, Dean picked up one of the waiting room books to read and put it back down quickly when he realized it was a copy of Your Heat Cycle and You. If he had any say in it, he was going to his grave only having had the one, so he was not particularly motivated to acquaint himself with them. Finally his name was called and he went into the exam room to change and wait for the physician’s assistant.

Even with all the things he had encountered as a hunter, few matched the humiliation of twiddling his thumbs in a paper gown, his clothes folded into a neat pile on the chair beside the exam table, naked and waiting for someone to come stick a cold speculum up his rectum to check the health of his omega channel, prostate, and the gland that produced slick (he refused to learn the name of it). He normally was able to talk his way out of it by fluttering his eyelashes at the doctor (almost always an alpha), but being past the renewal date of his script by a week and a half there was no way he was getting by without one. After an interminable wait, which was probably only really about ten minutes, an actual doctor came in, much to his surprise, clipboard in hand, her eyes fixed on the chart in front of her. She didn’t even glance up at him.

“Good morning Mr. Winchester - may I call you Dean?”

“Sure.”

Huh. Doctors rarely showed omegas common courtesy. She must be new to the clinic, all fresh faced and unjaded. She did look young - big brown eyes and dark red hair pulled back in a bun. Maybe this appointment wouldn’t be so bad.

“My name is Dr. Milton. I see in your chart that your prescription ran out eleven days ago and you’re here to refill it,” she said crisply.

“That’s right,” Dean replied. “I was traveling and couldn’t get to a pharmacy right away.”

“Ah.” She made a note on the chart. “Well, I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do for you until after your next heat cycle. Any more than three days off of your suppressants and we need to wait for your body to reset itself, if you will, otherwise you risk serious complications like blood clots, stroke, and even death. The typical heat comes on four to six weeks after suppressants are stopped, so we’ll make an appointment for you to come back at that point for your exam and new prescription. Though I do have to warn you, you’ve been on these for quite some time and the longer you’re on them the more negative side effects you’re likely to have, so I would recommend that you not go back on them for at least a year. Otherwise your heats may never become regular again and there is the risk that you’ll eventually become infertile. Do you have any questions?”

It was the first time she had looked at him to realize that all the color had drained from his face and he was about to pass out because he’d forgotten how to breathe. She went to the door and calmly called for a nurse, then came back to lightly slap his hands and try to get him breathing again. It took a moment, but he finally sucked in a huge gulp of air and she immediately had to stop him from hyperventilating.

The nurse came in wordlessly and Dr. Milton said, “Smelling salts, please.” The nurse nodded and returned shortly with two little sticks, which she handed the doctor before disappearing again. Dean was beginning to calm down, but she held onto the smelling salts just in case.

“Are you feeling all right, Dean? I’m sorry, you clearly weren’t expecting this news.”

“Yeah, I…” Dean sucked in another breath and willed himself to calm the fuck down right now. “I just...I don’t know a lot about these things. That probably sounds stupid but my dad just kinda shoved the pills at me when I presented.”

“That’s a lot more common than you think, especially when a male omega presents,” she told him. “I take it there was no one around for you to ask? Your mother was obviously an omega.”

He shook his head more fiercely than he meant. She was very close to a landmine and he didn’t want her to step on it.

“My mom passed a while ago.”

She actually gave him a gentle smile.

“Then this talk is long overdue. Do you have any questions for me?”

“My...uh...my next heat…” He struggled to get the word out. It was ridiculous. He was a grown man who’d had a lot of (beta) sex. He knew the practical ins and outs of what part went in which hole, it wasn’t like he didn’t know vaguely about the birds and the bees; but the fact that his knowledge was only “vague” was supremely embarrassing. “You said it would happen in six to eight weeks?”

“Four to six weeks,” she corrected. “And it’s likely to be intense after a decade on suppressants. I would have at least three alphas lined up to help you.”

“Actual...alphas?” His skin turned crimson. “Don’t unmated oms usually get through them with...toys?”

“Oms who haven’t been on suppressants, yes. But with what you’re in for, there’s no way sex toys will be sufficient.”

God help him, he was in serious danger of being sick.

“Can...can anything else delay a heat? My job is very stressful, I’ve heard sometimes stress can throw off your..uh...cycle.”

He hadn’t actually heard that but he was going to toss it out there, just in case.

“No,” Dr. Milton told him. “That’s an old wives tale. Omega heats are actually extremely regular if not suppressed by medication. The only thing that would stop your heat at this point is if you’ve recently been knotted. Then pregnancy is always an option.”

Dean went from bright red back to ashen again in about two seconds flat.

“Wh...what?”

“Your father really didn’t tell you anything, did he?” She wheeled over to the sink counter and pulled a pamphlet out of the top drawer, then came back over to show Dean how his body actually worked. If he’d thought he felt embarrassed before he was wrong. This - this was what being embarrassed felt like. “Normally omegas go through a three month preparation cycle, where the uterus gets ready for implantation. Heats typically last five to seven days, during which time the omega will become pregnant with a ninety-eight percent likelihood if he or she has access to an alpha and condoms aren’t used. Oh - you should be sure everyone uses condoms when this heat hits unless you’re prepared for pups. If you don’t catch during your heat you’ll have two to three days of shedding the uterine lining, when I would recommend staying indoors - it’s just easier to clean up - then it all repeats. As I already mentioned, once this rhythm is established by your body it will run like clockwork. Three months of prep time, a brief window for impregnation, either you catch or you shed, three more months of prep time, and so on. When you’re on suppressants all of that stops, which to be frank confuses the hell out of your reproductive system, so when you skip or miss your suppressants your body essentially goes into overdrive. You’ve probably been noticing some excessive moodiness and irritability from the hormone surge for the last week, and alphas have probably been a lot more aggressive. That’s because the time to your heat is cut by one half to two thirds, but your fertility spikes within three days. Basically any time from three days after you’ve taken your last suppressant to the time when you come into heat your likelihood of becoming pregnant if knotted hovers around eighty percent.”

And now Dean was sick. At least he made it to the garbage can before he lost his breakfast, but that didn’t make it any better that he was kneeling on the cold clinic floor, bare-assed and shaking in front of a total stranger.

“I take it you’ve been recently knotted,” she said, and he nodded, squeezing his eyes tightly shut as if that was going to make this go away. “That’s okay. There’s medication we can give you to stop any pregnancy from catching. We’re technically only supposed to offer it when the knotting was non-consensual, but..frankly male omegas are rare enough as it is, it would be very difficult for you to have any quality of life as an unmated one. Unless the alpha is willing to claim you in the event that you are...”

“No.” He didn’t want her to say the word ‘pregnant’ or ‘carrying’ or ‘in the motherly way’, and he sure as hell didn’t want to think about Sam rejecting him again. Twice was enough. “No, he’s not interested. Can you get me these meds?”

“As long as it’s been less than forty-eight hours, yes. Any longer than that and I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do but wait.”

“It was almost four days ago,” Dean told her thickly. He had no idea what to do. “Can’t I start the suppressants now and just…”

“That would be incredibly dangerous. As I said, you’d already be at a heightened risk of serious complications. Taking suppressants while carrying could cause your uterus to rupture.”

That definitely sounded worse than being pregnant. He managed to get up and go back to the exam table, holding the gown closed behind him.

“How long until I can...pee on a stick? That’s what you do, right? Pee on a stick when you think you’re…”

He couldn’t even say it.

“Unfortunately, because of how the suppressants throw your system off your hormones are too badly in flux for any kind of test to determine accurately whether or not you’re carrying at this point.” She gave him an honest to goodness sympathetic look. “I’m sorry Dean. You’re going to have to wait the full six week window to see if you come into heat.”

“Okay,” was all he could manage, his voice trembling.

“I’m going to give you some literature to read,” she said. “Everything from the way heats work all the way through pregnancy and whelping, including alternative methods to avoiding pregnancy that don’t involve constant suppressants, such as the use of sex toys instead of alphas once your cycle is back to being regular. And I want you to read it - all of it. This is your body we’re talking about. You really should have an understanding of how it works.”

“Okay,” he repeated.

“I’ll leave you to get dressed. The literature will be at the checkout. Good luck Dean.”

He heard the door click closed behind her and just sat in shock on the table for a while. This is not how he had expected the day to go; not at all. He just wanted his damned suppressants, not a lecture about the facts of life and the revelation that oh yeah, the odds were really good that he was knocked up because his body sucked. At least now he knew why his emotions had been all over the place and why every alpha within a two block radius had been after him, more so than usual. He was “super fertile.” That was just great.

Well. It made sense why Sam had been unusually nice to him and why he hadn’t thrown Dean off of him in the hotel and why he’d chased him up to Bobby’s. He’d reacted to Dean’s hormones. Nothing more.

He didn’t remember getting dressed, or stopping by the receptionist for the literature, or getting in his car and driving to his apartment, but apparently he’d done all of those things because now here he was, standing in his open doorway listening to the jukebox downstairs twanging away. Marge’s was open but not terribly busy, since it was still the afternoon, and he strongly considered heading on down and drinking himself into oblivion. Everyone at Marge’s knew and liked Dean, and would watch out for him if anyone got too familiar. Then he realized that he probably shouldn’t be drinking just in case he was...that way...and threw himself down on his Salvation Army couch to stare at the TV, which wasn’t even on. He stayed there until the sounds from downstairs grew louder with the start of happy hour, and figured he should probably eat something.

The fridge was empty, but he still had an unopened box of Corn Chex in the cupboard. No milk to go with it, but at least it was something. Tomorrow he’d go grocery shopping, pick up some healthier shit to eat in case he was...that way...and after just a few handfuls of the dry cereal he was in the bathroom heaving again. At some point he had started to cry. He had felt miserable, scared, and alone a lot in his life, but nothing was as bad as this.

He was probably pregnant, and he couldn’t really tell anyone, because Sam hadn’t claimed him and that meant if he wanted he could up and take the baby. Just like Adam had been taken from his mother. Not that Dean really thought Sam would outright steal a child from him, but his grandfather was a very powerful man and could probably get the baby taken without too much trouble. Dean didn’t have a stable job or income, hell, he didn’t even have a high school diploma, and he was at the very least a problem drinker, not to mention the numerous psychological problems he probably had from being three steps ahead of a violent and bloody death since he was four years old. It wasn’t that he’d wanted a baby (now that it was possible he was carrying one it didn’t seem right to think of it as a pup), but if he had a baby he sure as hell didn’t want some asshole coming to take it away from him just because they could.

How the hell had this become his life?

The sun was going down when he finally made his way out of the bathroom back to the living room, wiping a towel across his face to try to sop up some of the cold sweat that had broken out while he was puking his guts out. Suddenly he caught the smell of dirt, blood, vinyl, and stale air. There was an alpha in his apartment. He stopped and grabbed the shotgun he kept in the broom closet by the kitchen and slowly made his way to the living room, where he spotted the man staring out his window. He was dressed in a fine suit, standing a little shorter than Dean, with dark hair and a profile that could cut glass. Dean leveled the gun on him and pumped the action to make his presence known.

“Oh Dean,” the man said. He sounded tired. “You have no idea how sad it makes me to know that your father brought you up to be an unthinking, unwashed ape.”

“That’s funny coming from a guy who smells like he hasn’t showered in a week,” Dean snapped. “Who the hell are you?”

Slowly the man turned to him, the sunset lighting his face up in golden hues. He regarded Dean for a moment with light blue eyes and then smiled.

“I’m very sorry. Where are my manners? Of course you wouldn’t know me.” He took a few steps towards Dean and held his hand out. “I’m your grandfather, Henry Winchester. And we need to talk.”

Chapter Text

Dean had a really hard time believing that the guy standing in his living room who was clearly only about ten to fifteen years older than him was his grandfather, but he routinely killed things that ate people’s organs, so he supposed anything was possible. He did know his grandfather’s name was Henry but he’d never met him, since he and John had broken off contact some time before Dean was born. Henry was involved with the Men of Letters, an organization that studied the supernatural but didn’t ever get their hands dirty. Dean didn’t know much about them but certainly thought they were a bunch of cowards. They occasionally worked with the feds but when it came to your average everyday hunter they maintained a strictly hands off policy, even when they had information that could help on a job.

If this really was his grandfather Dean doubted he was in any kind of real danger. The guy didn’t look or smell threatening, and obviously had never been a hunter. He didn’t have the posture, for one thing, and his hands looked way too soft. No, if Dean had to guess this guy spent his entire life around books, like some kind of office worker, and didn’t have the training to deal with anything worse than a paper cut. He lowered the gun, but kept his distance.

“My grandfather, huh?” he asked. Whoever this guy was he needed to get his game face on and act like he hadn’t just been crying and puking because he was probably carrying around Sam’s illegitimate love child like some sad heroine from a Jane Austin novel who was going to die of tuberculosis halfway through the book. He had six whole weeks to freak out about that, now was not the time. “What’s with the young face? You got a nasty picture stashed in your attic?”

The man smiled, clearly surprised.

“You’ve read Oscar Wilde?” he said.

“I suppose you’re surprised I can read,” Dean snapped. “What we me being an unthinking, unwashed ape.”

“My apologies. You did go to Actaeon, and they do have an exceptional core curriculum before they start focusing on turning all the students into blunt little instruments. It’s my understanding you were getting excellent grades until they expelled you.”

Dean gave him a sarcastic little smile. This guy clearly knew a lot about him. As far as Dean knew they’d sealed his records when he left. He’d called a couple of times to try to get his transcripts and was told they would only be released to an accredited institution where he was enrolled in a GED program. He wasn’t allowed to have a copy himself just to prove he was smart.

“Thanks for reminding me. If you really didn’t want me becoming an ape you should’ve offered me a spot with the Men of Stationery.”

“Men of Letters,” Henry said with a smile. “But you knew that. That was a test. You aren’t sure I am who I claim to be.”

“Can you blame me?” Dean asked. “No offense, but for a guy who should be pushing eighty you’re lookin’ pretty damn good.”

“We have spells to maintain our youth,” Henry explained. “Our organizational numbers have been dwindling for decades. Those of us that are left thought it best if we stuck around for a while.”

“Ah.”

“If you’d feel better calling your father to confirm who I am, I’ll understand.”

“I think I’m good. If you’re not who you say you are I’m just gonna have to throw you out the window anyway, so it’s fine.”

Surprisingly, that got a smile out of the guy. And he looked a lot like John did on the rare occasions when he smiled. Okay, Dean could buy that this guy was probably his long lost grandfather.

“You must be hungry,” Henry said, moving towards the sofa. For the first time Dean noticed there was food on the coffee table; specifically an array of Chinese food in a variety of containers. Even though he’d just been throwing up a few minutes ago his mouth watered. He needed real food and this was a definite upgrade from dry Corn Chex. “I know you’ve been on back-to-back hunts and thought you probably wouldn’t have anything to eat, so I brought dinner. I had no idea what you like and got several options.” He sat and began to open the cartons, listing off the contents as he did so. “We have sweet and sour chicken, pepper steak, pork lo mein, and Kung Pao chicken, each with fried rice. I thought it best to stay away from the seafood options. And I have egg rolls and wonton soup.” He pulled the last two out of a brown paper bag and laid out plastic ware, chopsticks, and napkins. “Not my usual fare, but one meal won’t kill me.” He smiled up at Dean - a genuine smile that made Dean suspicious because he did not come from a family that smiled genuinely - and raised a pair of chopsticks over a carton of fried rice. “Sit down Dean. I don’t bite.”

“I’m just supposed to trust that none of this is drugged or poisoned?” Dean asked, staying where he was by the kitchen.

“I could taste test all of it for you if you like,” Henry suggested. “Though I may have spent years building up an immunity to iocane powder. You never know.”

Had he...had he just referenced The Princess Bride? Dean didn’t know what to do with that, though he did finally put down the shotgun. Henry just sat there, smiling at him and digging into the pepper steak. Today was shaping up to be very, very strange.

“I’ll have the lo mein, I guess,” Dean finally said, and went to sit in the armchair at the end of the coffee table so they wouldn’t be sharing the couch. It was close enough to the side table with his one lamp that he could reach it if he needed to use it for a weapon. Henry slid the lo mein, a fork, and a pair of chopsticks over and Dean hesitantly picked them up, still waiting for the trap to spring. “Seriously, if your ‘organizational numbers are dwindling,’ why didn’t I get an invitation to join when Actaeon kicked me out? I’m sure it would’ve done a lot towards fixin’ your relationship with Dad if you got me out of hunting.”

“Unfortunately the Men of Letters has a strict policy of admitting only alphas,” Henry told him. “Mmm. This is quite good.”

“So...” Dean said around a mouthful of lo mein. He was right. It was good. “Change the policy.”

“It isn’t up to me, I’m afraid. Policy changes of that nature require a quorum of the membership, and there are no longer enough of us to constitute a quorum.”

“Figures,” Dean said ruefully. “You guys control all the other power roles on the planet. Not sure why I expected the Men of Letters to be different.”

“I’m sorry Dean.” He looked it, too. Dean could feel his anger rising and focused on eating his food. “I understand how hard life must be for you…”

That was a joke, and one that wasn’t particularly funny right at this moment, not after the day he’d had. Dean set down his lo mein and tossed the chopsticks onto the table to turn a glare towards this guy claiming to be his grandfather, demanding, “Do you? Do you really? Cuz I find that kind of hard to believe. You aren’t outnumbered four to one everywhere you go by people who want to knot you up and leave you sitting at home naked except for a claim mark and a collar. You get to vote. You get to own a house. You got to finish school. You can get any job you want. You knew no matter what happened you’d get to keep your kid. You want to buy a car you can go out and just buy it. You can inherit money from a relative without your mate having to sign off on it. You don’t have to fight some asshole off in your kitchen with a dish towel because you called the cable company to hook up your service and the tech who came out wanted to provide you with other services you didn’t sign up for. You don’t sit around year after year watching all those concerned, sympathetic betas, who make up half the population, say they want to protect the ten percent of us that are omega and then continue to vote alphas into office because even betas recognize the strength of an alpha, and by golly, they want strong people in charge, even if they make laws that basically keep omegas barefoot and pregnant, or renew laws that should have been scrapped about the time you were in diapers but just keep getting revised and tweaked instead. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it is broke, you just have to bang around the edges a little to get it fixed and maybe throw some more money at it, right? We’re the ruling class of alphas and we don’t ever throw out laws, not even ones that make life shitty for an entire designation of people!” He was on his feet by now, his eyes glowing gold and his teeth descended. “Spare me your sympathy Henry. I’ve got ten years of sympathy that ain’t keepin’ me warm at night or payin’ my bills. Sympathy ain’t gettin’ me access to my high school transcripts, or buildin’ a program where I can get my GED online, or makin’ it safe for me to blow a fan belt on the highway without a gun at my back and a knife in my boot. I got sympathy coming outta my ass. So say what you came here to say, but please don’t insult me by telling me you understand anything about my life.”

Henry regarded his grandson for a moment, slowly chewing his pepper steak, then set down his fork and dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a napkin. Dean could smell his irritation at being spoken to that way but honestly didn’t care. He meant it when he said he’d throw Henry out the window, and truthfully Hendry didn’t doubt he would or that he could. Finally he folded his hands in his lap and leaned back on the couch.

“Your father is chasing a very dangerous demon,” Henry said at last. “I need you to stop him.”

“Demons aren’t real,” Dean stated flatly.

“On the contrary, demons are very real and very dangerous,”  Henry retorted. “If you don’t believe me I invite you to ask your friend Bobby about what happened to his wife, Karen. Demons are real, and I need you to convince your father to stop chasing this one,”

“What makes you think Dad will listen to me?”

“Because you’re his son.”

That actually made Dean laugh. A real laugh, the first one that had burst out of him in days. Whoever this guy was, and Dean had all but decided he was Grandpa Henry, he was nuts.

“I think that sounded different in your head than it does out loud,” he finally said. “Cuz out loud it sounds ridiculous.”

But Henry was in fact dead serious. He stood up and took a few steps into Dean’s bubble, though he kept a respectable distance when Dean backed up.

“You’re his son, Dean. I’m asking you to make an emotional appeal to him.”

“Wow. You really don’t know what life is like for an omega, do you? Alphas like my dad don’t listen to us.”

Then make him listen.”

Dean had a hard time believing this conversation was taking place. For someone claiming to be a Man of Letters, Grandpa Henry was not a very bright man. He sat back down, over his anger from a few moments ago and now amused by Henry trying to use his alpha voice on him. It would have pissed Dean off if the attempt hadn’t been so pathetic. He calmly grabbed the lo mein and his chopsticks and went back to eating.

“Sorry Henry,” he said around a mouthful of food. “I’m gonna need something more than that if you expect me to pick up the phone and call John for anything.”

Henry sighed in exasperation.

“It’s complicated, Dean.”

“Oh,” Dean chuckled, “I understand complicated. Believe me.”

The room was silent for quite a while as Dean ate and Henry paced. Henry had severely misjudged his grandson if he thought he’d crack and agree to whatever Henry wanted if he just didn’t say anything. Henry was in Dean’s apartment, where Dean was completely comfortable, and Henry had brought him food. Dean could sit here in the quiet of his home and eat for hours without needing conversation from an absentee grandfather he just met. Henry seemed to have dug his heels in and plopped down to sit on the couch with his arms folded across his chest like a kid who wasn’t getting his way. Dean really saw the family resemblance now. John sulked in the same manner if someone pushed back against any of his plans and prevailed. Dean was settling in for a nice, cozy evening of Chinese food and faint jukebox music from Marge’s when his cell phone rang. Henry shot him a disapproving glare, as if daring him to answer it, which of course he did.

“Dean Winchester,” he said, staring straight at the alpha on his couch and challenging him to object to Dean answering his own goddamned phone in his own goddamned apartment.

Oh good, no one sold you into the sex trade.”

Shit. He was supposed to shoot Benny a text when he made it home. He’d completely forgotten.

“Fuck. Sorry Benny, it’s been...an interesting couple of days.”

Hopefully not involving you escaping from the sex trade.”

“No, nothing like that. Other stuff, though.”

Anything you wanna talk about?”

Dammit, he’d been doing really well shoving all the sleeping with Sam and pregnancy crap aside while he dealt with Henry, and now it was all rising back to the surface of his brain to be distracting, confusing, and upsetting. He got up from the chair, grabbed a couple containers of the Chinese food, and headed into the kitchen.

“Yeah, um, actually,” he said, his voice low, “but...not with you. Is Lisa around?”

Naw, she’s got a late class tonight. Won’t be home until about nine. You want me to have her call you?”

“If she can, yeah. I’d really appreciate it.”

Omega stuff?”

“Yeah.”

I do know a little bit about omega stuff, Dean.”

“I know, it’s just...more a thing where I need to talk to someone who’s lived it and not just lived with it.”

All right. You wanna talk to Ben for a minute? He’s yankin’ on my shirt. Ow! No pinchin’ Ben! Mama’s gonna be real upset when she gets home and I tell her you’ve been pinchin’ again.”

Dean could hear the six year old in the background obnoxiously apologizing and demanding to talk to him. He smiled, remembering how challenging Adam was at that age. It had driven him nuts at the time, but now he missed it, and how relatively easy it had been to be a kid. Being an adult sucked.

“Sure. Put him on the phone.”

He heard the receiver being handed off and then a high pitched voice asked, “Dean?”

“Yeah buddy, what’s up?”

Tell Daddy I want a dog, not a baby sister!”

Dean heard Benny snicker on the other end of the call and had to suppress a laugh.

“I think that ship has sailed, Ben.”

Pleeeeeease Dean?”

“Okay pal, tell him to put me on speaker phone and we’ll ask together, okay?”

Okay.”

He heard Ben set the phone down and a far away “Dean says put it on speaker phone” and then Benny was back.

Hey Dean.” He could hear the echo in the background and the amusement in Benny’s voice. “Ben says you wanna talk to me?”

“Yeah Benny. See, the thing is, Ben wants a dog and not a baby sister.”

Well now Dean I’m sorry, but it’s a little late for that.”

“That’s what I told him.”

Ben piped up in the background.

Deeeean!”

“Sorry kiddo, I tried.”

Can I at least have a baby brother then?”

No can do, pal.”

But whyyyyy?”

And now Ben was bawling. Dean snorted as Benny took the phone off speaker.

See what you did?” he scolded, but there was no heat behind it. “Now I’m gonna have to let him watch Spongebob to get him to calm down.”

“Just give him a pack of Oreos. That’ll do the trick.”

You are never babysitting for us again.”

“Big giant bag of M&Ms?”

Goodbye Dean. I’ll tell Lisa to call you.”

“Thanks. Be good Benny.”

The call clicked off on the other end and he set the cell down on the counter so he could run his hands through his hair. He should have thought to call Lisa when he got home from the clinic. She’d gone off her suppressants to have Ben and now this new baby that was due in a few months, and while he hated prying he didn’t think she’d mind if he asked how quickly she and Benny had been successful after they started trying. If it took a while he might be okay. If it was right off the bat that was a different story.

He’d completely forgotten that Henry was there, so when he turned around to find him standing at the breakfast bar separating the kitchen from the living room he jumped.

“Jesus,” he hissed, trying to get his heart down out of his throat. “You ever come back here again I’m makin’ you wear a bell.”

“I really do need you to talk to your father,” Henry insisted.

“Well, since you were eavesdropping you heard me trying to convince an alpha of something and failing, so there you go,” Dean snapped. “Proof positive I can’t get any alpha to do anything they don’t want to do. And Benny likes me.”

“John will listen, Dean.”

“Henry, I’m sorry, but I need a lot more to go on than a dangerous demon. Dad’s been chasin’ danger my whole life. How is this different?”

For a while Dean thought they were going back to playing mute chicken and was glad he’d brought the food into the kitchen with him. Then Henry ran a hand through his hair and scrubbed it down across his face (heh, so that’s where Dean got it from), and sat on one of the stools at the counter. He laid his palms down flat and spread his fingers, as if gathering strength from the formica, then after a few moments looked back up to meet Dean’s eyes.

“What do you remember about your mother?” he asked. Well. This was not what Dean was expecting. Everyone who knew Dean knew that at the top of his short list of hard and fast rules was ‘do not ask about his mother.’ Henry clearly didn’t know this rule, or simply didn’t care to follow it. “Do you remember anything about her at all?”

“I don’t…” Dean cleared his throat. “I don’t talk about my mom.”

It was meant to be the final word on the subject. Henry did not take it as such.

“But you must remember something about her. Surely John…”

“No,” Dean cut in. “No, Dad doesn’t talk about her either. Didn’t. Hasn’t.” He swallowed. “Won’t.” By the look on Henry’s face Dean could tell he wasn’t going to let this go. He felt his hands beginning to tremble and shoved them in the pockets of his jeans. Better to just get this over with. “Her...uh...her name was Millie. Midred, it was her grandma’s name, she hated it, wouldn’t answer to anything other than Millie and...uh...before she met my dad she was a singer.” He smiled as a memory, one of the few really clear ones he had of her, came to mind. “She used to sing me Elvis to get me to sleep. Don’t; I Want You, I Need You, I Love You...she really loved Elvis.” The songs spun through his head, the sound of his mother’s voice, devoid of a face, the feel of her weight on the edge of his bed with the airplane mobile hanging from the ceiling and spinning. “She looked like the mom from E.T. I don’t know if you ever...no, you probably didn’t, anyway, people used to always stop us and ask if she was Elliott’s mom and she’d say…”

He shouldn’t be talking about this. Too many things had happened today, he shouldn’t be talking about this, it would be too hard to keep himself under control, and Henry definitely was not safe to be vulnerable with. He could already feel his eyes beginning to water and the shaking had spread from his hands to the rest of his body.

“What would she say?” Henry asked.

Dean stared at him hard, his eyes glassy, trying to wall off the intense stab of pain he was feeling in his chest; the broken heart of a four and a half year old boy that was never going to heal throbbing as he cleared his throat.

“No, I’m Dean’s mom.”

His eyes stung, and the pain spread up to his throat, out to his lungs, and down to his stomach, until the whole core of his being just hurt . He clenched his jaw to attempt to physically lock down the emotions trying to drown him and broke away from Henry’s gaze.

“How did she die?”

“A rakshasa got her. We were alone. Dad was on a business trip. He didn’t hunt back then. She told me to lock myself in my room and not come out. So I didn’t until Dad came back two days later. It killed her and my cat...” That’s what was going to make him break down? The cat? Yeah, apparently it was. “Mr. Bootsy.”

Dean kept a picture in his wallet of him and his mom in front of the Christmas tree the year he got Mr. Bootsy, just before he turned four. Dean was grinning at the camera as he held out the little tuxedo kitten with a gigantic red bow around his neck, the poor thing looking terrified, while his mom sat on the couch in the background, slightly blurry but smiling contentedly and looking at him with unabashed warmth and affection. Every now and then he took it out and looked at it, just to make sure it was there; usually when he was really drunk and in need of a long, private crying session to let out the trauma of whatever awful thing had happened to him that day. But this was neither the time nor the place for a crying session. He got himself under control quickly and swiped at his eyes.

“John wasn’t on a business trip,” Henry corrected. “And it wasn’t a rakshasa.”

That was an odd thing to say. It was the worst moment of Dean’s life, and pretty clearly burned into his memory. The fact that Henry was contradicting something Dean had known to be true his whole life made him feel terribly uneasy. By the look on Henry’s face it was clear he was dead serious. Dean wished he hadn’t left the living room so he’d have a place to sit down.

“What...what was it then?” he asked.

“A demon,” Henry replied. “Named Meg. One of Azazel’s children.”

“What the hell is an Azazel?”

“A Prince of Hell.” Henry must have realized Dean was shaky on his feet, because he stood and went back into the living room to sit on the couch, giving Dean an opportunity to follow back to the armchair. “There are various hierarchies in Hell. There are Knights, Grand Dukes, Princes...Knights were created by Cain. Yes, I mean the Cain and Abel Cain. Princes were created by Lucifer himself.”

“Why…” Dean felt as if his whole understanding of the world was coming undone, like a knitted sweater with a loose thread that Henry was pulling. He didn’t understand any of this. “Why would a demon kill my mother?”

“Because before your father met your mother he was in love with another omega, but her father wouldn’t give John his consent to claim her,” Henry explained. “So the other omega made a deal with a demon. Azazel would ensure that John never loved again, and in exchange he would come back in ten years and she would give him whatever he asked.”

“Isn’t that the plot to half of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales? I feel like you shoulda started that with ‘once upon a time.’”

“Where do you think those stories came from in the first place? A long, long time ago they were called cautionary tales, not fairy tales.”

“I don’t see how this involved my mother. You said she wasn’t the one to make the deal.”

“She wasn’t, no, but when your father claimed her he didn’t love her. However, you were already a bun in the oven and he liked her too much to just leave her to the fate of an unmated omega.” Henry raised an eyebrow. “I think you might agree it wouldn’t have been the easiest life for you.”

Dean was fully willing to concede the point, even if it left him reeling. His father had been left a broken man when his mother died. They couldn’t rebuild their lives because without her there was nothing worth rebuilding. Of all the emotions John had kept buried from Dean over the years, his devastation at his mother’s death had never been among them. The idea that they hadn’t been wildly in love from the start just didn’t fit in the slideshow of Dean’s life. Henry was already continuing his bedtime story, having felt his grandson had had enough time to process this earth shattering news.

“The other omega, however, had never really let John go. Once your mother was in John’s life he stopped seeing her, but he wrote her all the time. They kept up their correspondence until you were about four and a half years old, when your mother found the letters. She demanded John cut off all contact with this woman or she was taking you and leaving. Which was when your father realized he’d grown to truly love her. He asked the other omega to meet him so he could return the letters, and while he was gone Azazel told Meg to keep up his end of the bargain. It’s taken John a long time to put all the pieces together, but now that he has he’s on a suicide mission to kill Azazel.”

This time when Henry stopped speaking he waited quietly while Dean took in everything he’d just been told. It was the most ridiculous story he’d ever heard. Princes of Hell, demon deals, love letters, and a woman scorned? It was like something from a bad young adult novel and yet it sounded completely plausible. People did this sort of thing all the time; not necessarily with demons, but certainly one of the biggest problems witches presented was all the stupid civilians who wanted love spells. He knew from personal experience how insane it could drive an omega to be rejected by an alpha they desired. It explained why Dad’s number one rule was “Don’t talk about Mom” beyond just the pain of being a widower at a young age with a young child. He felt guilty because he hadn’t loved her until the very end, and then he’d lost her.

So maybe just Henry’s delivery had been like a bad young adult novel. The story itself was practically Shakespearean.

When Dean was able to find his voice again, he asked, “You seem to have put this all together a lot sooner than my dad. How long have you known what killed my mom?”

Henry looked at his hands, his shoulders slumped slightly.

“A while. We have particularly effective methods of scrying.”

“So if this Prince of Hell and his daughter, or whatever, killed my mom, why would I ever want to stop Dad from ganking him?”

“Because it will kill him.” Henry stood restlessly and went to the window, looking out across the city. The sun was making its last desperate attempts to hold on to the horizon. When did it get so late? “Your father is an excellent hunter, Dean, but he’s also reckless and obsessive. He’ll do whatever it takes to kill Azazel, even if it means he dies in the process.” He stopped, smoothing his hand down across his face again. “I don’t want my son to die, Dean, but he won’t listen to me and I can’t blame him. My station with the Men of Letters required me to leave him too young. He’s never forgiven me for that. Which is fine, I’ve never forgiven myself.” He turned his intense blue eyes on his grandson, who was sitting numbly in the armchair. “Will you speak with him, Dean?”

“Yeah,” Dean said. His mouth was very dry. “Okay.”

“Thank you.” Henry gave him a nod, then headed to the door, where he’d apparently hung an overcoat up on the hook when he entered. Dean hadn’t even noticed it - too preoccupied with everything that had happened. He’d need to work on staying sharp, no matter what his stupid hormones or emotions or whatever were up to. His grandfather threw the coat over his arm, and then looked back at Dean and smiled. “And congratulations. No one will confuse you with the mom from E.T.

Jesus, Dean needed a drink.

Chapter Text

John Winchester was a terrible father. He was also a terrible mate. And his job involved killing things; sometimes people, but mostly things, and often too late to save the people those things had killed. Wherever John went, death followed. So it seemed that when you got right down to it, he was basically an all-around terrible human being. John knew this, which is why he drank most nights.

But it wasn’t why he was drinking now. He was drinking now because his oldest son had called him and wanted to talk about what happened to his mom. Someone claiming to be Henry Winchester - and by the description Dean gave, John figured it was indeed his long lost father - had showed up at Dean’s apartment, told Dean that John was hunting a big, bad demon, and taken an axe to the carefully constructed facade of the happy home life he’d tried so carefully to preserve for Dean after his mother’s death. Lord knows he hadn’t been able to preserve anything else for the kid. The least he could have done was let him think things between him and Millie had always been roses and sunshine and that there had never been, would never be, anyone else for him.

The conversation had not gone well. Dean wanted to know if what Henry told him was true, who the other omega was, and why John was willing to kill himself tracking down this demon if mom wasn’t the love of his life. John, being the ever thick headed alpha, bristled instinctively at having to explain anything to an omega, and it had all gone downhill from there. He regretted the way things had ended between him and Dean, especially when it didn’t do anything to help his efforts to get Dean out of the life, but John was a stubborn son of a bitch and certainly wasn’t going to call his son back and apologize, or fill in any more of the missing pieces to the story Henry had spun.

There were many reasons for this; reasons that were complex and hard to understand outside the moment, and could so easily be taken out of context. What Dean wanted to know was also deeply, deeply painful, and John didn’t deal with pain by talking - not when alcohol could just make him forget for a while. John had an awful lot he needed to forget, most of it centered around Millie, but just as much centered around Mary. Dean didn’t know Mary existed (well, he kind of did now, but she was still just a faceless ‘other woman’) and John intended to keep it that way. He didn’t want Dean mixed up with the Campbells, and if he knew about John’s first attempt to claim a mate John didn’t know how he could keep Dean from getting involved.

Mary Campbell was already a hunter when John met her, fresh out of Vietnam, and he’d immediately been smitten. He knew what hunters were because his father left to join the Men of Letters when he was fifteen and had explained that there were two branches of people who dealt with supernatural beings in the country. The Men of Letters were the scholars, and as Henry’s son John would be a legacy member, one Henry hoped would join him when he graduated from high school. The other were hunters, and they served more as the infantry to battle all the evils of the world. It was brains vs. brawn and Henry desperately wanted his son to join the brains.

Henry hadn’t anticipated what abandoning his mate and teenage son would do, however, and after watching his omega mother struggle to keep the house and the car and give John some stability through the rest of high school he had been drafted into the military and off he went to war half a world away. He made it through his first tour unscathed, but had been so changed by the horrors he saw over in the jungle that he found it impossible to acclimate back to civilian life. He went back for a second tour, and right before he came home his mother died of a particularly aggressive form of ovarian cancer. He landed just in time to attend her funeral, where he’d seen his father for the first, and last, time in years. John knew enough about the Men of Letters to suspect Henry had access to spells that could have saved her and instead he left her to die a horrible, painful death all alone. After the fistfight at the cemetery John had kicked his father out of his life and gone on to try to build something out of the tatters of his world.

He’d thought for sure that “something” would involved Mary Campbell, who saved him from a Woman in White. He was shocked to learn that the beautiful blonde omega was a hunter, but it turned out she came from a very long line of hunters and her designation had been no excuse for her to try to dodge the family business. Her father, Samuel, was rich and powerful and completely unimpressed by the mechanic not even from Lawrence who came to seek his permission to claim Samuel’s only child after a very short courtship. John supposed he could have just claimed Mary without asking, but knew the odds were good that he would disappear into an unmarked grave if he did so. It left him little choice but to accept Samuel’s decision and to try to change his mind.

Thus John had gotten into hunting, and proved he was a quick learner and efficient killer. He teamed up with some of the more well known and respected hunters early on -  Rufus Turner out of Vermont, Bobby Singer in South Dakota, Martin Creaser in Illinois, and Jim Murphy in Wisconsin - and built himself a reputation for being damn good quite quickly. It was with some surprise and a good deal of consternation that John learned nothing he had done was impacting Samuel’s opinion of him. Though he called Mary every week and set up a rendezvous with her any time he was near Kansas, Samuel refused to budge. It seemed they’d have to wait until something took him out on a hunt or he had a stroke or had some other such ill befall him before they’d be free to be together.

That’s when John had met Millie Baker. She’d been a revelation. She was a lounge singer at The Purple Room in Tempe, Arizona, and was so confident, easygoing, and charming he was drawn immediately into her orbit. It wasn’t the instant want he felt for Mary, who still retained her hold on his heart, but Millie was nice to be around and so very fun, smart, vibrant, and witty that they fell rapidly into a casual relationship and became very good friends. The fact that she had the same name as his mother certainly didn’t hurt matters any.

Millie’s father was an alpha with very progressive ideas about what she wanted for her daughter, while her mother was a bit more of a traditionalist and hated the idea of his baby girl off on her own, unmated, singing in some seedy bar in the middle of the desert. But Dorothy Baker had a successful stage career when she was young and no matter how her mate James felt, she was adamant that Millie have a chance at her own piece of stardom, regardless of her designation. Besides, James was quite the typical omega and a worry wart. Dorothy loved him, but she didn’t want Millie to be limited by his fears.

So Millie and John met, and whenever he was in Arizona he’d swing by to see her. That’s how he’d ended up helping her through a particularly bad heat in late April of 1978, and one broken condom later Dean was on the way. Henry hadn’t lied about the way things started off for them. John did not love her. But she was his friend; a good friend, one of the only ones he had outside of the hunting community. She was so bright and vivacious and sweet that he couldn’t leave her on her own to raise a baby, not after watching his own mother struggle for just a few years without his father, and he would never dream of taking the pup from her once it was born. It seemed the only honorable thing to do was to claim her, move her to his hometown of Lebanon, Kansas and give up hunting.

Mary had been devastated, even as John continued to profess his love for her and promise she would be the only one he ever truly wanted. The year or so he’d known Millie meant nothing compared to the five years he and Mary had been pining for each other, just waiting for Samuel to either give them his consent or have the decency to die. Mary begged John to run away with her and leave everything behind, but John staunchly refused. This wasn’t the way either of them wanted it to be, but he was going to be a father soon and things were different now. He couldn’t, and wouldn’t, walk away from his child or his child’s mother. That’s just not the kind of person he was back then.

Instead they poured all their love and longing into letters that each of them kept in a shoebox hidden carefully inside their homes. Dean had arrived on a snowy Sunday in late January, and one of the first things John had done after leaving Millie and the baby overnight at the hospital for them to recover was write Mary all about his brand new baby boy. How his eyes were green and he had a full head of dark blond hair, that he was pale and tall and had a serious set of lungs on him. How he wished that he was their son, and would send a picture as soon as he could. Mary had responded with enthusiasm, though he knew it must have hurt her deeply to know John had a child with another omega.

In retrospect, John had been such an unbelievable, pigheaded ass when it came to the whole thing with Millie and Mary. A real knothead, as the kids called douchebag alphas these days. Dean’s first year of life he was so busy chronicling every aspect of parenting for Mary and lamenting how it wasn’t the two of them in it together that he didn’t consciously register how wonderful of a mother Millie was. Dean was what one might call a “hold me” baby, and she never hastened to pick him up to soothe or caress him when he demanded it. Sure, it meant she was holding him most of the time, but Dean clearly thrived on touch. John had objected at one point that she was going to make a sissy out of his little alpha, and she had simply replied, “Even alphas need to be held sometimes, John.”

She was there to kiss every boo-boo, dry every tear, calm every nightmare, and mend every hurt, from the first time he fell learning how to walk to when he went head-first off the rocking chair into the windowsill and got a gigantic goose-egg on his forehead, to when the older boys up the street didn’t want to play with him because he was only three and “still a baby.” She baked pies and sang to him and cut the crusts off the corners off his sandwiches, telling him stories about his grandfather’s greatest roles back in the day, from Hedda Gabler to Lady Macbeth, and how she’d given it all up when she met Dean’s grandmother, because that’s what an alpha did when they truly loved an omega - they’d give anything to make their mate happy. She taught him more as an omega about the proper way an alpha should behave than John ever had, and he wished a lot more alphas had been raised with the basic understanding of alpha and omega dynamics that Millie provided Dean from a very young age.

Millie was the one who convinced John to get Dean that damn kitten, Mr. Bootsy, whom John missed to this day even if he would never admit it. That cat had been the cutest, sweetest little thing he’d ever seen, and finding him gutted on the bed next to Millie haunted him still. Dean had been begging for a kitten ever since the next door neighbor had a litter that summer, but John had never been much of a cat person and refused. Millie wore him down throughout the fall and by the time Christmas rolled around he had finally caved. It was worth it to see the look on Dean’s face when he opened the box with holes in it after hearing the little meows coming from inside, and John had raced to get the camera to capture the moment.

He should have spent more time with that camera and less time writing to Mary, he realized far too late. He had very few pictures of Millie. When he’d moved Dean out of the house after her death he had only grabbed a single photo album, and it was only half full. It hadn’t seemed possible that just two weeks before Millie had discovered his box of letters from Mary and thrown them at him the minute he’d walked in from the garage he co-owned. Millie was an expert at masking her emotions in her scent, and when he smelled the anger and the pain pouring off of her it had almost knocked him backwards. She’d sent Dean to the neighbor’s house overnight, so she didn’t have to hold anything back.

She’d demanded to know who “Mary” was and whether he was fucking her or just writing her. She felt she was owed that much after she’d raised his child, kept his house, and put up with his borderline-excessive drinking. She hadn’t wanted to hear his apologies, all that mattered was how he felt about this omega. She knew they hadn’t started out on the best of terms, but she’d been under the apparently mistaken impression that they were trying to build a life together. If that wasn’t the case then there was no reason for her or Dean to stay. He could go be with this omega and have pups with her instead. She and Dean would manage just fine without him.

His alpha’s response to her outburst knocked him over like a freight train. He had imagined this moment many times, when he and Millie were finally over and he would be free to be with Mary. Even though Samuel had finally mated her off to some guy named Steven who apparently came from an “appropriate” family line, she had staunchly refused to give up her unmated name in anticipation of the day she could become Mary Winchester. He always thought he would tell Millie how sorry he was, but he and Mary belonged together and she couldn’t stop true love, and he’d obviously send her money to support their son. That wasn’t at all what happened.

Instead, John felt his chest collapse at the idea of Millie leaving him. He was terrified of her taking Dean, but the thought of her leaving went beyond fear. His vision swam, his knees went weak, he couldn’t breathe, and his heart literally hurt, as if something heavy and spiked were pressing on it. He simply couldn’t imagine his life without her in it. She was his mate, the mother of his son, his everything. He loved her, deeply, and didn’t want to ever come home to a house that smelled like her but was void of her presence. He couldn’t believe it had taken him this long to realize it. He loved her, was devoted to her, would do anything for her.

He fell over himself to convince her Mary meant nothing to him, that she was a dream from long ago that he hadn’t been able to let go of, but if it meant he would lose Millie he would return the letters to her tomorrow and never contact her again. He could see that he had been blind for clinging to a fantasy when the reality of their life together was everything he’d ever wanted, he’d do anything, anything she asked to get her to stay. He’d cried and begged and kissed her and held her and taken her upstairs to their bedroom to make love to her and claim her again, and the next morning at Millie’s insistence he’d contacted Mary and asked if they could meet, because she doubted the omega who wrote those letters would accept it was over between them if he didn’t tell her in person.

John tried calling Mary’s house first. She’d given him the number in case he ever wanted to see her, but he’d never dared use it; too afraid her father would catch wind of his calls, or Millie, or her new mate. But the maid answered the phone and it was easy enough to play off being a random member of the community who needed her input on a case. The maid only knew that she was in Utah and couldn’t be of any further assistance. A few phone calls to some of his old contacts and John discovered Mary was on a job, staying at a place called the Starlight Motel, about a day’s drive away. It surprised him since she’d written just a few months ago that she and Steven now had a baby boy of their own, whom she’d named after her father.

It seemed awfully fast for her to be back out on a case, and he was suddenly very glad Millie was Dean’s mother instead of Mary. The love he’d felt for her had clearly blinded him to the fact that she had no maternal instincts whatsoever. He couldn’t imagine having a child with her now. He’d packed an overnight suitcase, picked Dean up from the neighbors, thrown the letters and bag into the back of the Impala, kissed Millie deeply on their front steps and whispered, “I love you,” before driving off to end things once and for all with Mary.

When he returned home mid-morning two days later, after an exhausting conversation with Mary - who had begged and wept and pleaded for him not to end things - and an even more exhausting drive back to Kansas, he found the house eerily silent and all he had been able to smell was the blood. For the first time in the five years since he left hunting he regretted not having a gun or at least a knife on him. The best he could do was grab the baseball bat in the coat closet by the front door before racing up the stairs after the odor trail, shouting, “Millie! Dean!”

He could hear a four year old’s tear-filed voice call out, “Daddy!” from the bedroom at the end of the hall, but didn’t make it there. The master bedroom was right off the landing and that’s where the smell was coming from. Millie was there, splayed out on the bedspread soaked in her own blood. Her eyes were open and staring unseeing at the ceiling and her skin was grey. Her throat was slashed and there was a large, wide gash down the center of her torso. Her white nightgown had turned red almost all the way to the hem. The cat was next to her, his intestines pulled out and laid to the side and his skin, which had been removed, turned over to look like a second cat next to him.

John froze in horror and grief. He couldn’t decide whether to go to her and hold her or throw up. He was only faintly aware that he was saying “No” over and over again, or that he had started to cry, or that the bat had fallen from his hand. He may have stood there for hours if Dean’s sobbing hadn’t snapped him out of it.

He ran to the end of the hall to check on his son, who was pounding on the door now and screaming “Daddy” repeatedly. The thirty seconds it took to convince Dean that it was really him and he could unlock the door seemed like an eternity. When the door finally opened he was bowled over by the smell of feces and urine. Dean was in a pair of soiled underwear and a shirt that said, “I Wuv Hugz” with a teddy bear on the front. He had apparently been using a toy bucket that Millie bought him so they could garden together as a toilet, which meant he hadn’t left the room. John dropped to his knees to run his hands over Dean’s face, arms, legs, everywhere to make sure he was okay before sweeping him into his arms.

“I had a accident,” Dean sobbed as John hurried with him back down the hallway, making sure to block his view of their bedroom.

“That’s okay buddy,” John told him, struggling desperately to keep his voice from breaking. “We’re gonna go to Mrs. Wilbert’s for a minute, okay?”

“Where’s Mama?”

John expected the pain in his chest would kill him at the question.

“She’s tired honey, she’s just laying down for a little bit.”

When the police arrived twenty minutes later they were sitting on Mrs. Wilbert’s porch, Dean in a pair of clean underwear courtesy of her six year old daughter and both of them wrapped in blankets as the crime team made their preliminary assessment of the scene. A pair of officers kept trying to ask John questions, but he didn’t have much to tell them, and was too deeply in shock to make much sense anyway. Mrs. Wilbert was able to confirm that she’d seen John drive off three days ago and he hadn’t returned until this morning. No other cars had come or gone from the house. Dean said that Daddy wasn’t home when Mommy told him to lock his door, and kept asking if anyone had seen Mr. Bootsy. The officers wanted to know if anyone had a grudge against his wife, but Millie had been loved by everyone. The neighbors would talk for years about that poor omega who was murdered while her alpha was away, and it took a long time before they stopped worrying about some crazed killer prowling their streets.

John knew better. He’d seen enough in his years as a hunter to spot a monster kill when he saw one. He just couldn’t stay there, not with the smell of his dead mate clinging to the master bedroom, and not when whatever it might be could come back for their son. He waited until Millie had been buried, then grabbed Dean, some of their belongings, and ran. When he heard several months later that Mary and Steven had been killed in a fire that destroyed their home and spared only their son he felt nothing. He was already well on his way to becoming obsessed with finding out what cut up his mate and killing anything supernatural he encountered on his quest for vengeance.

He would have had to be blind not to see what this lifestyle was doing to his son. He hadn’t been able to lie to Dean about what happened to his mother, though he’d spared him the gorier details and pulled the guilty monster out of thin air. Much as he wanted to preserve Dean’s innocence he couldn’t take the risk of allowing him to just be a little boy anymore. If whatever slaughtered Millie was after them too, he needed Dean to be prepared to fight for his life.

John’s fear for his first born son extended eventually to his second born son, and he ended up doing something he never thought he would; he took a pup from its mother. Adam’s mother had been a nurse at a hospital in Minnesota. John had come in to get patched up after a hunt, and she’d prepped him for his stitches. She was nice enough, and reminded him a little of Millie, and he’d dropped Dean off with Jim (who was now a pastor of all things) for the winter while he kept Kate Milligan warm. He should have tried harder to stay sober when she came into her heat, and when she called in early October to proudly declare him a father and ask if he would come back to claim her he knew what he had to do. He’d never told Kate what his job was, so she was completely in the dark about all of the terrible things that could come after their child. It was obvious he would have to file the paperwork to take Adam away from her so he could keep him safe as well.

He’d worried Dean would be jealous of a new baby, especially when John knew he was going to have to keep leaving them behind more frequently until Dean was old enough to watch Adam without having John there all the time. Bobby Singer of all people was more than willing to step up and watch an almost-seven-year-old and an infant for weeks at a time, which backfired when Dean was eight and Adam was almost two and Bobby wanted John to leave them with him permanently to give them some kind of stability. The fight over the boys had been violent, and Bobby had thrown John off the property and told him not to come back unless he wanted to be filled so full of rock salt he’d be crapping margaritas for a week. Eventually John had no choice but to leave the boys at Actaeon when Dean almost got Adam killed. He’d even reached out to his father, the only time they had spoken since the cemetery, to ensure they got in even though he clearly couldn’t afford the place. What good was having a father in a secret organization if he wasn’t willing to threaten some administrators to get his grandsons into a good school? He was surprised at how much easier it was to hunt when he wasn’t constantly worried about his children getting killed.

That had all changed when Dean presented as an omega, which John didn’t handle well at all. He had been noticing on their summer hunting trips how much the boy was starting to look like Millie, how much of her personality he had inherited. The confidence, easy swagger, and ability to command a room just by being in it were all Millie Baker. John may be respected as the biggest, baddest alpha in the county, but Dean had something more like star power. John had never wished harder that he hadn’t raised Dean in the life. Things were tough for an omega in civilian life, but he still would have had avenues open to him even without a high school diploma.

He tried to dump him with Bobby in an attempt to give him that alternative life, but Bobby had demanded John keep Dean with him. The beta could see how badly Dean needed to feel like nothing had changed between him and his father, that John still trusted him to have his back, but of course things had changed. Now in addition to worrying that a werewolf was going to eat his son’s heart or a djinn would drag him into a perfect dream world he could never escape, he lived in constant fear of a gang of alphas overpowering him and just taking Dean off somewhere to be raped and claimed against his will. John knew he’d never survive something like that happening to his beautiful boy; his heart couldn’t take that. He’d tried clumsily to push Dean into the arms of a couple of alphas he thought might be trustworthy, had even started using him as bait to try to get him so tired of the life that he’d just quit, but instead Dean had tricked him out of the Impala and gone off hunting on his own. John thought of reaching out to Adam for help in getting Dean to retire, but Adam hadn’t returned his calls in years.

And somewhere in the middle of all of that, John had managed to put together all the puzzle pieces of what had happened to his mate. Mary had made a deal with a demon, and gotten both Millie and herself killed. Now Dean knew about the whole thing and wanted him to give up trying to kill it, when he finally had his hand on a gun that could end the son of a bitch. Dean had begged him to give it up, said he knew they had their differences but he didn’t want John to die, and maybe he’d have felt differently if he knew exactly how badly his mother had been torn apart but John did not talk about Millie. So instead he’d tried to cow Dean into dropping the subject by spouting out some crap about how he didn’t expect an omega to understand how he felt, and if John had been worried before that Dean was going to start living off the grid and covering his tracks so well John would never find him, he was now pretty certain of it.

It would have been so easy to just stop with the lies and the secrets and be honest with Dean about everything, but - well, John was a terrible father. And it was easier to just open up a second bottle of whiskey than to open up to his son.

“Drowning your sorrows John? I’d have thought my little present would set your heart all aflutter.”

The smell of sulfur filled John’s motel room and he turned to look at the short demon with closely cropped brown hair, an impeccably styled suit, and a crisp British accent. John regarded him for a moment before turning back to his glass and his bottle.

“It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, Crowley,” John said, taking a long drink from the glass. “I’m just waitin’ for the catch.”

Crowley made his way over to pour himself a drink, giving John his best, most winning smile.

“All in good time, my besotted frenemy,” Crowley said. “All in good time.”

Chapter Text

Fergus MacLeod had been a little nothing of a man. Born to a natural witch who hated and eventually abandoned him, unlike his mother he wasn’t remarkable at all. He never loved anyone, abandoned his own child, and spent all of his money on drink. Eventually he traded his soul to a demon named Lilith, and in exchange got three extra inches tacked onto his less than impressive penis. When the hellhound came to claim him ten years later, he hadn’t even bothered to run. He was glad his miserable existence had finally come to an end.

Sadly, Fergus hadn’t thought much about Hell and what it might be like to be stuck there for all eternity until long after he had condemned his puny little soul. He of course knew the hysterical cries of “eternal damnation in the fiery pit,” but that had never been something he had taken literally. Turned out, it was literal. At least for Fergus. It seemed the reality was that everyone got their own private version of Hell based on what would be the most effective method of torture, and Fergus had always been afraid of fire so there you go.

Besides being roasted alive on a spit over a bottomless cavern of white-hot flames day after day, it turned out that time worked differently in Hell. A month on the spit was more like a decade. And for the first month no one came. He was alone in a cell with a cavern of white-hot flame feeling his skin melt, his muscles cook, his organs liquify, and his bones turn to dust while he screamed as long as his voice held out, and then longer inside his head until his brain had dripped out of his mouth. Then finally the door opened and a tall, thin demon with a narrow face and gleeful grin stepped in and snapped his fingers. He wore a black suit and a tri-corner hat, and Fergus wondered if he’d been a pirate in the land of the living.

The flame subsided and the spit stopped turning, and though a large portion of Fergus’ skin was already gone he gasped with relief, turning to thank his savior. His tongue was so swollen he couldn’t do anything more than mumble.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” The demon had a strange voice; somewhere between a tenor and a baritone and annoyingly nasal. This wasn’t the kind of voice one would expect of Hell’s best torturer, but that was okay. The way he moved across the floor like an asp, a black inner lid rolling down over his eyes, worked just fine. “Cat got your tongue?”

Fergus tried to speak again and ended up weeping, at least as much as he could weep with his tear ducts burned off. It filled the demon with glee.

“Something tells me you want down off this spit,” he said. “Am I right?”

Fergus nodded his head so vigorously he tore a half-cooked muscle in the back of his neck and shrieked in agony. The demon smiled, watching him suffer for quite some time, before snapping his fingers and changing the room into a plain brick cell with no spit and no fire and no half roasted Fergus. Instead, the Scotsman with the eight inch penis was back in one piece and dressed in simple black trousers and a long black overshirt. It was no worse than what he’d worn in the workhouse, and at least it didn’t smell like smoke.

“Thank you,” Fergus said in a thick Scottish brogue. The demon shook his head.

“No, no that won’t do at all,” he tsked. “You’ll have to lose the accent if you want to get anywhere around here. Nobody respects the Scottish. You’re only a step or two above the Welsh, and they’re the dregs of humanity. I’d recommend working on a nice, clipped British if I were you.”

“What do you mean if I want to get anywhere around here?” the Scotsman asked, not stupid enough to express his offense at the suggestion that he learn how to speak like a bloody Englishman.

“I presume you want to move up the food chain,” the demon replied, and with the snap of his fingers a chair appeared for him to sit on. “You did say you wanted off the spit.”

“Yes, yes I do.”

“Well Fergus, the only way out of being tortured is to become the torturer.” The demon drummed his fingers together, studying the puny soul in front of him. “You do the job well enough, and eventually you’ll make progress. We work on the merit system here in Hell. The harder you work, the higher you’ll climb. Maybe if you really keep your nose to the grindstone you’ll climb all the way to the top. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in?”

“Yes.” Anything to stay off of that spit. “Yes it does. Thank you for the opportunity…”

The demon snapped his fingers and Fergus’ mouth was instantly sewn shut. He tried not to panic, but he didn’t do a very good job.

“Don’t grovel. It’s unbecoming of a demon trying to climb the ranks.” He stood and waved his hand to dematerialize the chair, then headed for the door of the cell. “Oh, and you’re going to need a better name than Fergus. Spend some time thinking about it. I’ll be back soon to start your lessons.”

He left Fergus’ mouth sewn shut as he exited the cell.

“Soon” turned out to be a month (decade) later, by which point Fergus had nearly gone mad from trying to scream through lips that had grown together over the time between when the demon left him and when he returned. Fergus presumed there was a point to the exercise; perhaps teaching him about different forms of torture. Whatever it was, he imagined many more such lessons in his future. It didn’t matter. Anything was better than the spit.

The demon wore the same black suit and hat when he entered the cell, snapping his fingers to give Fergus back the use of his mouth. He watched as Fergus gasped for air - pointless for a soul, but old habits died hard - and smiled that same slithery smile.

“Have you thought of a name?” he asked, watching his pupil choke a bit from breathing too quickly after too long of not doing so.

“Crowley,” Fergus told him, his voice having taken on a gravelly quality from a decade of disuse. “Worst foreman I ever worked for.”

The demon seemed amused.

“I know the fellow,” he said. “We’ll start with him for your training. By the way, I’m Alistair.”

It was one hundred and fifty years before Crowley was good enough at what he did to earn a spot among the crossroads demons that would allow him to go topside. The travel of time for demons was in sync with the world of the living, and the world Crowley stepped into was vastly different from the one he’d left. There was a new country called the United States of America where the colonies had been. It had fought off the British twice and gone through a civil war. Machines called locomotives carried masses of people from one city to the next and connected many places in the countryside. Electricity had been discovered. Something called the telegraph carried messages from far off locales, even across the ocean between America and Europe. Within a few years the telephone would be invented, then the automobile, then the airplane. Motion pictures were invented. Radio was invented. The Titanic would be built and sink on her maiden voyage. World War I would kill millions of people. The Spanish flu would wipe out up to fifty million people worldwide. Women would win the right to vote. Television would be invented. The stock market would crash, creating a worldwide economic depression. World War II would kill millions more people. The blue death of 1958 would decimate the omega population, wiping out ninety percent of them before a vaccine was discovered in 1965. And all the while there were little wars here and there - the Korean War, the Indonesian National Revolution, the Greek Civil War, the Malayan Emergency, Vietnam - and on and on. It was a great time to be a crossroads demon and Crowley was walking the earth for all of it.

He had enjoyed his time torturing souls, learning how to find the various pressure points necessary to get the maximum value out of every punishment, but where he truly shone was as a salesman. He convinced James Dean and Marilyn Monroe to trade their souls for fame. Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Bob Marley all made deals with the proverbial Devil. He’d even made a play for Elvis, but the man was too naturally talented and good looking to need any help; besides which he was too devout to bite when Crowley threw out the lure. He had his own hellhound whom he had named Juliet, and she was a beautiful bitch that he wished the souls she reaped could truly appreciate. By the time he was tasked with contacting John Winchester for a little deal not in line with the usual contracts he sat at Lilith’s left hand. The only demon closer to Lilith was Ruby, and my, how he hated Ruby. Not only did Ruby think she was above the sales aspect of the job, she had been a witch in life, and Crowley hated witches.

He especially hated when they sat down next to him in his favorite club in Las Vegas and wanted to talk shop while he was working on chatting up three go-go dancers and a bouncer who were intrigued by the idea of an orgy. He had one of the dancers in his lap when Ruby sauntered on past his guards standing at the entrance to his private back room, swung a chair around to sit and declared, “Out.”

None of the humans took her seriously until she fluttered her black lids, at which point they couldn’t get out of the room quickly enough. Crowley rolled his eyes and sighed, exasperated.

“Was that really necessary?” he asked in the clipped British accent Alistair had recommended he take all those years ago. “One of them was sort of a virgin.”

“There’s no such thing as sort of a virgin,” Ruby sniped, and Crowley quirked an eyebrow.

“Depends on whether or not you count fifth base. Whatever do you want?”

“I heard about Lilith’s little job for you,” she said, grabbing his glass to finish off his scotch. “I want in.”

“Sorry sweetheart.” He gave her his winningest smile. “I’m not in need of a Gal Friday. But if I ever feel like posting a Craigslist ad I’ll keep you in mind.”

“It’s cute that you think I’m asking instead of telling,” she snarled. “You forget who sits at Lillth’s right hand.”

“Clearly whatever her right hand has been doing has left her...unsatisfied.”

He poured himself another glass of Glencraig and enjoyed the annoyed look she gave him.

“She’s making a play against Azazel.” Ruby fixed her steely gaze on him, as if she expected the name to strike terror into the ashy black remnants of Crowley’s heart. “You really got balls big enough to take on a Prince of Hell?”

“Oh, but I won’t be taking him on. John Winchester will. I’ll just be a little bug in his ear.” He stood and buttoned his suit coat, flashing red eyes at her along with a smile. “Sort of his Jiminy Cricket. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a little Hell to raise.”

She didn’t follow him out of the club, which he knew only meant that she’d be trying to cut her own deals to fulfill Lilith’s request. She undoubtedly knew the story behind the feud if she knew about finding the Colt and getting it to that patsy, Winchester, so she’d soon be approaching one of the Campbells to try to get them on board as an alternate assassin. If John was supposed to be the Lee Harvey Oswald, Ruby would make sure one of the Campbell’s was positioned on the grassy knoll.

And she’d likely have a good shot at roping one of them in. Mary Campbell had been the one to cut the deal that had Lilith up in arms. Her relationship with Azazel was strained from the eons he’d kept her under lock and key before she made her escape, and demon deals were her department. A Prince of Hell mucking around in the trade was bad for business. Nothing was more illustrative of this than the fact that he’d approached one of the highest profile hunting families there was to sell a bill of goods long on promises and short on specifics to the only omega in the clan and then drawn a lot of attention to himself by roasting her alive on the ceiling of her son’s nursery. Lilith had let it go at the time, but when he’d done the same thing to the son’s girlfriend it was officially beyond her tolerance level. Prince of Hell or not, Azazel had overstepped his bounds. Demonkind had managed to keep a very low profile since the Reformation and were generally not on anyone’s radar but a handful of priests that most of the Church laughed off as nutjobs. The kind of flashy killings Azazel and his children had been committing were going to raise an alarm that demons were not only real, but very active. Lilith had her own plans, and they didn’t involve ending up on the FDH’s daily feed of open hunts.

Crowley was the perfect demon to handle this kind of situation, as he valued discretion when conducting business. Ruby was all splash and short fuses, utterly lacking in panache. It made sense to Crowley when he heard that she’d made contact with Sam Campbell. The boy had stupidly promised his dead girlfriend’s parents he’d find out what killed her, was young and harbored enough of his mother’s obsessive streak to make him the obvious choice to approach over a bitter old man collecting Social Security. Crowley had passed by Mary’s cell on more than one occasion and all she did was ask when John was coming. Even in eternal damnation she refused to let go of him. If her son had inherited that tendency toward devotion he would make for an excellent stooge.

Headstrong as Sam was, he was also a huge risk for Ruby to place her bets on. He may have lost his mother and his girlfriend to Azazel, but he’d never known his mother and it was up in the air just how much his girlfriend had meant to him. When it came to having a horse in this race, Crowley would take John Winchester any day. His wife had been ripped apart by one of Azazel’s children, and his life with his young son had been destroyed. If you wanted someone to go on a suicidal quest for revenge, John was clearly your man.

Plus, he’d already been filling in the crossword about what happened to his wife for a very long time. Unlike Ruby, who showed up on Sam’s doorstep and blurted out the whole thing about Azazel like a badly trained Jehovah’s Witness, Crowley simply filled in a few extra letters and let John solve it himself. A man like him needed to feel he’d put the puzzle together on his own. All it took to get John on the team was a little finesse.

He had it on good authority that every year on Millie’s birthday John visited The Purple Room where they’d met. It seemed the opportune time to approach him, when he would be too deep in the bottle and his memories to put up much resistance. The only downside was that it meant Crowley would have to travel to Arizona, a state he did his best to avoid. In his mind there was no point in condemning anyone to eternal torture who was already purposely living in such a dreadful place.

John was well into a bottle of Jim Beam that he’d bought outright when Crowley sidled up to him and asked, “Rough night?”

Never one for small talk, John grunted simply, “You could say that.”

“It’s dreadful losing a spouse,” Crowley surmised. “I don’t speak from experience of course, but I have seen Deathwish. All five volumes. They should have stopped at two, in my opinion.”

“Do I know you?” John asked, turning on his stool to face the newcomer.

“Not yet, but I know you.” The bartender stopped in front of him, a tall, handsome blond with a body builder’s figure, and Crowley said, “Nothing for me, thank you.”

“Yeah?” John sized him up as best he could that far into his bourbon. “And who am I?”

“The outlaw, Josey Wales,” Crowley replied. John’s brow creased in confusion and Crowley thought perhaps approaching him when he was drinking hadn’t been a solid plan after all. “Clint Eastwood. Nineteen-seventy-two. Josey Wales has his family murdered by Union militants, spends the movie running from the law, in the end gets revenge on the man that butchered his wife and son.” John stared at him and blinked, which led Crowley to demand, “How do you not know this film? It’s a classic! It has a ninety-five percent ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes!”

“I think you have me confused with someone,” John replied.

“You’re John Winchester,” Crowley said, “and you’re here drinking yourself into a stupor over your poor, dead wife Millie. And I’m here to give you the tool you need to kill the thing that killed her.” At the last second he threw in, “For a price.”

It was a snap judgment, a last minute decision based on the intense look of interest on John’s face. He knew a bit about the Winchester line; they were quite famous as well, though more in the nearly defunct research world once dominated by the Men of Letters. It was rumored the Men of Letters had a lot of interesting things in their archives. Maybe if Crowley did a little more homework he’d find they had something of value to him that John could get, as anything having to do with the Men of Letters was heavily warded. It was definitely worth leaving things open ended with John.

“Who are you?” John demanded, his voice low and threatening.

Crowley allowed his eyes to roll over red, and replied, “Someone who can make all your dreams come true.”

John, of course, hadn’t taken that well, and and had nearly caused a shootout in the bar until Crowley had been able to convince him that one, bullets would be useless; two, he would certainly be banned from The Purple Lady for life, and three; Crowley was not interested in anything particularly nefarious, but was just looking for a favor to be returned at a future date, which would not involve John selling his soul, or his children’s souls, or his children’s children’s souls. He had an item he could offer John that would kill the demon who killed John’s wife, and all he asked was that at some point John retrieve an item for him.

If he had tossed out the hook earlier John never would have bitten, but Crowley had spent the better part of a year dropping off the bread crumbs for the hunter to follow right up to Azazel’s doorstep. As it was, he could tell how intrigued John was by the idea despite his better instincts, and all Crowley had to do was reel him in. The explanation of the gun that could kill almost anything was the clincher.

The Colt had been easy enough to find. The hunter who had it was an alcoholic (as most of them were) named Elkins who lived secluded on a ranch but had a certain favorite watering hole in the nearest town that he visited like clockwork every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Getting a lackey to chat him up a few of those nights had been all it took to confirm he still had it, and then a neat stack of thousand dollar bills to the two bartenders was all he needed to fund his own little remake of The Sting. That there was a local nest of vampires that took out Elkins’ cattle as well as Elkins the same day the bartenders swiped the Colt was nothing short of serendipity. It was easy enough to show up in John’s hotel room and present him with the fabled weapon while Ruby was running Sam all around the country chasing false leads. The deal was all tied up, until the underling he had tracking John reported he had been buying half a liquor store and his reserve appeared to be faltering. And so Crowley found himself in John’s seedy motel room outside of Cedar City trying to keep his horse in the race.

“You say ‘all in good time’ like I’m just supposed to trust you,” John was saying as Crowley attempted to keep his temper in check.

“Good god, don’t,” Crowley replied. “Never trust anyone.”

“That’s quite a sales pitch you’ve got there,” John said with a laugh. “You sure you’re the top crossroads demon they’ve got?”

“What can I say? I have a winning personality.”

“What are you doing here Crowley? You have a location on Azazel?”

“Not exactly.”

“Then what is it? We agreed we’d keep our conversations to a bare minimum.” He took a long pull on his drink. “I don’t need word getting out that I’m dealing with a demon. Lots of hunters wouldn’t take that news so well.”

“You seem upset, John. Anything I can help you with?”

“I think you helping me with this one thing is enough.” John sat quietly for a moment, drinking his bourbon, while Crowley regarded him and patiently waited for him to burst. John wanted to talk about whatever it was that had spooked him. The demon’s ability to read human nature and wait for them to hang themselves was one of the things that made him so good at his job. “My son called.”

“Florence Nightingale or Hannie Caulder?” Crowley asked. John looked at him blankly. “Racquel Welch. Nineteen-seventy-one. Have you never seen a film before?”

“My older son,” John replied. “Dean.”

“Ah. The pretty one.” John gave Crowley a warning glare, complete with growl, and the demon held up his hands. “Strictly an observation, not an expression of interest.”

“Yeah, well…” He looked at his glass, which was getting close to empty, and poured himself another drink. “He knows the truth about what killed his mom. Wants me to stop this before I end up dead.”

“I see.” Damn. Crowley hadn’t anticipated John’s sons getting involved. Adam he knew wouldn’t care, but Dean was a wild card. “Well, you can if you like. That’s actually why I stopped by.”

This was clearly not what John was expecting to hear. With narrowed eyes he asked, “What do you mean?”

“I wanted to let you know an associate of mine is also looking for the Colt, and she’s got her own gunslinger.” He suppressed a smile in anticipation. “Sam Campbell. I think you know of him?”

The scowl on John’s face did not disappoint. Mary’s son would be the last person John wanted after the yellow-eyed demon. John had spent the last twenty years on a hunt for revenge. There was no way he’d let some kid steal his kill.

“Why does Sam want in on this?” The scowl in his voice matched the one on his face. “It’s been my understanding that Samuel’s always been tight lipped about what happened to Mary.”

“And you would be correct,” Crowley informed him. “Not that anyone can blame him. Your dead daughter who is currently roasting in Hellfire doesn’t exactly fall under the category of polite dinner conversation. No, Azazel killed little Sam’s girlfriend and he’s out for revenge. Sound familiar?”

John blinked.

“Mary’s in Hell?”

“Obviously. Not exactly roasting though, more like pining for you and pissing off her neighbors because she won’t shut up.” He allowed himself to smile as John gripped his glass hard and looked away. “What do you think happens when you make deals with demons?”

“I’m going to Hell then?” John asked.

“Heavens no,” Crowley replied. “Well, maybe. Your life hasn’t been all tallied up yet, but as far as I know you’re still on the upstairs’ roster. What we have isn’t really a deal, you understand. More an exchange of favors.”

“Glad you cleared that up.”

Crowley could tell he was swinging John back towards the plan, but needed to be sure he didn’t sway again. Humans were truly exhausting.

“Does it bother you that Mary’s in Hell?” John looked back at him, his eyes cold. If looks could kill. “You don’t have to tell me, just making conversation. I am interested, though, what it’s like knowing that your former lover who inadvertently murdered your wife got a one way ticket to the pit.”

“She can rot, for all I care.” John drained his glass and poured himself another. “Don’t contact me again until you know where Azazel is so I can kill the son of a bitch.”

This is why he was the best at what he did. Whatever had been bothering John a few moments ago was forgotten and Crowley had his full focus back on the job.

“Until later then,” he said, vanishing with a snap of his fingers.

Yes sir, a little finesse went a long, long way.

Chapter Text

It had been three weeks since Sam had driven away from Bobby’s property in South Dakota, and he hadn’t really stopped driving since. He’d taken on a shapeshifter shortly after he got back home to St. Louis, then moved on to a wraith on Colorado, a rugaru in Tennessee, and a pair of vetalas in Dodge City. He really should have had a partner for the vetalas, but he was rapidly getting to a point where he didn’t care what happened to him. Surviving on too much vodka and not enough sleep had that effect. Well, that and desperately missing Dean; his eyes, his skin, the sound of his voice. Jesus, it was pathetic how he could think of practically nothing else. He’d almost driven back to Bobby’s after the Colorado job to beg him for Dean’s address, but his last conversation with Adam still rang in his ears and he’d begun to question whether maybe he had taken advantage of Dean at the Holiday Inn.

How drunk had Dean really been? Had he really known what he was doing? Wasn’t he, as the alpha, responsible for protecting an omega, even from themselves? And if the answer was “yes,” then shouldn’t he have tried harder (or at all, period, let’s be honest) to stop things before they went too far? Especially when he was keeping a huge secret from Dean, one that may very well have had a major impact on how things went down that night? He was drowning in the guilt of it all.

He really had intended to try to put the whole thing behind him and move on with his life, but when he’d gotten back to his apartment in St. Louis and unpacked his gear from the Wyoming hunt he discovered he’d grabbed one of Dean’s shirts by mistake when rushing to get out while Dean was in the bathroom. He should have thrown it out or washed it or given it to a thrift shop or handed it off to some homeless guy, he knew that. He certainly shouldn’t be carrying it around in the bottom of his duffel on these jobs so that all of his clothes smelled faintly of Dean. It was creepy and obsessive and pitiful, and he needed that shirt with him so he could smell the coffee and cloves and not feel utterly alone while he got drunk in his hotel room night after night. He hadn’t jerked off so much in all the years since hitting puberty as he did those three weeks, and was starting to think the old warning that “it will fall off’ might just turn out to be true. At the very least he had to start buying much better lotion.

Every day he swore to himself he’d get rid of the shirt, and every night before he went to sleep he’d hold it to his face so he could scent Dean in absentia. He slept better with the illusion of the omega next to him, but always woke feeling worse in the morning when the bubble inevitably burst. Adam had accused him of just wanting to knot his brother, of just reacting to his scent, but the way Sam felt when he woke up and Dean was never there went way beyond pheromones. Having Dean for one night made clear how empty Sam’s life was without him. It was like being half of a person. It was agony.

Maybe this is what love did to you. He didn’t know, having never been exposed to a loving, mated relationship. If it was, love was for the birds, that was for damn sure. He didn’t need or want this feeling. It made him irritable and cranky and feel like he wanted to just lock himself in a dark room and listen to The Smiths and The Cure until he died of dehydration, or maybe cirrhosis of the liver. He hadn’t decided yet whether he would bring alcohol in the dark room with him. To be honest, he probably would. It was the only thing keeping him relatively sane at this point.

A case hunting a bloody bones in Nebraska eventually brought him to the Roadhouse, where he spent the afternoon attempting to avoid Jo’s pointed looks and control his drinking so as not to be so obviously bordering on alcoholism while he listened to the Police trying to encourage Roxanne not to put on the red light. Jo would have been easier to ignore if he’d sat at a table instead of the bar, but he retained enough courtesy in his spiraling state not to take up space someone else could use and deny Jo the tips. Granted the place was all but empty so it didn’t really matter, but still, he didn’t want to be that guy when he already worried that she might have spit in his food. Fortunately she was holding her tongue and just glaring at him darkly every now and then.

He was on his fourth beer and picking morosely at his cold French fries when Ash came out of the backroom with his custom-built laptop and a can of PBR.

“Sam,” he said as he plunked himself down next to the alpha at the bar. “Need to talk about that algorhythm you got me runnin’.”

Sam had contacted him about seven months ago when Ruby first showed up to see if he could come up with a computer program that would scan for demonic activity in the hopes of pinning down Azazel’s location. Ash was a genius who’d been kicked out of MIT and the obvious person to go to for Sam’s needs. Up until now the program hadn’t shown any hits, so Sam should have been a lot more excited about whatever Ash wanted to show him. In reality he had all but forgotten about the whole tracking-down-the-thing-that-killed-his-girlfriend quest he’d had going on for over two years. It seemed so trivial compared to the other things occupying his thoughts these days.

He wasn’t going to tell that to Ash, though. Ash very well might beat him with a pool cue after all the trouble he’d gone through at Sam’s request. He put on his best gameface and swung around.

“Sure,” he said. “What have you got?”

“Maybe nothin’, maybe somethin’.” Ash turned the computer towards Sam for him to look at. On the screen was a map of the United States with a handful of dots on it. Sam studied it, his eyes growing wide. “Thought you might find it interesting, though.”

“This is every city I’ve been in in the last month,” Sam said. Ash was right. He suddenly felt very interested.

“What are you lookin’ at?” Jo asked, wandering over. Apparently if Ash was involved she’d be willing to lower herself to speaking to Sam.

“Sam’s got me running a program looking for demonic activity,” Ash replied. When the hunters over by the door glanced their way he lowered his voice. “Mass cattle mutilations, freak weather incidents, abnormal astrological events, that sort of thing.”

“You’re hunting demons?” Jo said quietly to Sam. If he didn’t know better he’d think he had just earned some grudging respect from her.

“One demon, actually.” He clicked on the first dot over Laramie to blow up the information. “Waitress found dead with her throat slit and drained of a pint of blood…” His eyes widened when he saw the date and the details. “I know her. Dean and I interviewed her for the vampire case we were on. We saw her the morning she died. How have I missed this?”

“Dunno,” Ash said. “It’s been up on the FDH list of open cases for about two weeks.”

“You think Sam checks the site?” Jo scoffed. “He probably gets handwritten lists of the best cases from his grandpa.”

“Shut up Jo,” Sam muttered, clicking on the rest of the dots. “She was a nice lady.” A real nice lady. Sam was surprised at how upset he was that Dolores the waitress was dead. “There’s a case like this in each of the cities I’ve been to on the day that I’ve left. Why has no one put this together yet?”

“How many people do you think keep tabs on you?” Ash asked. “It ain’t like you’re that popular. I mean sure, I have a tracker on your phone and it only took me about a minute to georeference your travels against the FDH job board, but Dean’s the only hunter I know who even notices you in a room.” He paused a second to give his statement time to land before adding, “Every time.”

Ash’s comment took Sam right out of the case. He forgot completely what he was looking at and just stared at Ash, wide eyed and blinking.

“What…?”

Ash squirted a glob of ketchup onto Sam’s plate and dragged one of his fries through it, shrugging.

“You’re like Harry and Sally. Obviously you’re Harry, and he’s Sally. Except for the food thing. You drive the servers around here nuts. He’s easy when it comes to food.” Sam stared at him, dumbfounded as he stole another fry. “Probably easier for me to spot as a beta. According to my molecular biology classes those pheromones make things way more complicated than necessary when an alpha wants an omega.” He pointed at Sam’s head and made a little twirl with his finger. “Fries your wirin’. ‘Specially if you got an omega that’s good at suppressin’ their emotions.”

Sam?” Jo burst out, barely containing her laughter. “Wants Dean?” She broke into high pitched gales that brought her mother out of the kitchen. “Shit, no wonder you’re such an ass to him! I can’t wait ‘til the next time he comes in here so I can tell him.”

Sam just about lost his mind. He could imagine few things worse than Dean hearing Sam wanted him from a third party. He’d probably think Sam had been going around the country blabbing about the Holiday Inn and then Dean would really never speak to him again.

“What’s goin’ on out here?” Ellen asked, drying her hands on the dish towel she carried with her. “You behavin’ yourself Joanna?”

“God, mom, yes.” Jo threw in an eyeroll just to make sure her exasperation was clear. She looked about thirteen. “We were just talking about Sam’s unrequited love for Dean and vice versa.”

“What?” Ellen looked at Sam, who was blushing deeply and wanted to melt through the floor. He was never coming to the Roadhouse again. “That true, Sam?”

Oddly enough Ellen didn’t seem amused by the situation. In fact, neither did Ash. Jo was the only one laughing. It wasn’t enough to get Sam to open up, though.

“It’s…it’s complicated,” he said lamely, and tried to change the subject. “Ash, can we get back to what your program pulled up?”

“Sure Sam,” Ash replied, grabbing his laptop to punch in a random string of letters and numbers on the keyboard, undoubtedly about to show Sam something really cool.

He didn’t have a chance, because Jo asked, “If you want to know about demons, why don’t you just ask your dad?”

“Cuz I ain’t talked to that sonofabitch in years,” Ash replied, and Jo hit him upside the head with her order pad. “Ow!”

“Not your dad, idiot,” she snapped. “Sam’s dad.”

“Joanna Beth!” Ellen exclaimed. “That’s enough outta you!”

“Mom, his dad has the biggest collection of demon lore outside of Bobby Singer…” Jo started, but clammed up at the warning glare her mother gave her.

Everything seemed to go very still in the bar as Sam turned to look from Jo to Ellen. Why would Jo bring up his father when his father was dead? Had been for over twenty years?

“What are you talking about?” he asked, dread spreading through his chest and a cold sweat trickling down his back.

Ellen glanced over at the hunters near the door, then grabbed hold of Sam’s arm and started dragging him towards her office at the back of the kitchen.

“Have a smoke, Tiny,” she said to the gigantic beta manning the grill. Tiny shrugged, set down his spatula, and pulled a cigarette from behind his ear as he headed for the back door. Ellen pushed Sam into the office ahead of her, closed the door and pulled the shades. “I’m real sorry about that, Sam. Jo was talkin’ out of turn.”

“She said my dad has the biggest collection of demon lore outside of Bobby’s,” Sam said. “‘Has.’ Present tense.” He was afraid to ask the question but he had to know. “Ellen, is my dad alive?”

She drew in a deep breath, running her hands through her hair, before fixing her eyes on him, so dark brown they almost looked black.

“Yeah Sam, he is. Your grandfather paid him off after your mama died to stay the hell on outta your life. Jo probably thinks it’s been so long that it doesn’t matter, but she don’t know your grandpa.”

Sam felt the sudden urge to sit, aided greatly by the way his knees were giving out on him. He groped around and found a chair behind him, sinking into it as Ellen came over to grab his arm and keep him from falling over. He felt really lightheaded and eventually had to bend over to put his head between his knees and breathe. Ellen ran her hand along his back as he struggled to stay conscious. It would be decidedly un-alphalike for him to pass out in Ellen’s office.

“You okay there Sam?” she asked after a few minutes.

“What’s his name?” Sam choked out. “Where is he?”

“Twin Lakes, Colorado,” she told him. “Name’s Steven Wandell. I’ve got his address here somewhere.” She looked around her desk until she found a journal and began to flip through it. “He’s on the paranoid side, house is all wired up with cameras and motion detection lights. I’d expect he’ll greet you at the other end of a rifle. You should go in prepared.” She’d found his information and tore it out, extending it to him across the desk. “I can’t guarantee he’ll be happy to see you, Sam.”

“That’s okay.” Sam got shakily to his feet and took the sheet of paper from her. “I can’t guarantee I’ll be happy to see him, either.”

“I’m real sorry I’ve been keeping this from you. It’s what he wanted.”

“It’s fine, Ellen, really.” It wasn’t, but so much anger was building towards his grandfather and this Wandell (he wouldn’t think of him as his father) that he didn’t have any to spare for her. “I know how intimidating Samuel can be. I really appreciate you telling me about him.”

“I wish Jo had used a little more tact about it.” Ellen gave him a small smile. He imagined she said that a lot. “That other thing she was bein’ tactless about - you and Dean…”

He could feel his face heating up and looked down at the paper in her hands. He knew Ellen, just not terribly well, and it was strange to have her trying to...what, mother him? The concept of that was completely foreign to him. He instinctively bristled against it.

“It’s…”

“I heard you,” she cut in. “It’s complicated. But I got news for you Sam. Life is complicated. And shorter than you realize. If I were you I’d figure out how to make things simple sooner rather than later. That boy’s somethin’ special.”

He looked up from the paper with Steven’s address to discover that her eyes were filled with warmth and sadness. He nodded stiffly.

“I know he is.”

“Don’t worry about Jo. I’ll make sure she keeps her mouth shut the next time he comes in.”

He gave her a small smile, supremely grateful, and headed back through the kitchen, dropping a fifty dollar bill on the bar on the way out without speaking to Jo or Ash. He headed back to his hotel room to sober up and get a good night’s sleep before heading for Colorado.

Twin Lakes was an almost seven hour drive from the Roadhouse, which gave Sam plenty of time to think about what he wanted to ask the man who had abandoned him as a baby for a quick cash payout. That probably wasn’t fair, knowing how his grandfather could have just as easily paid someone the same amount of money to make Steven Wandell disappear, but he didn’t care about fairness at this point. He cared about all the birthdays spent alone at a boarding school getting exactly what he asked for from his grandfather because his grandfather didn’t know him well enough to surprise him with a gift he just knew Sam would love. He cared about all the summer camping trips he didn’t get to go on because there was no one to get him out of school to visit the Grand Canyon or Mt. Rushmore. He cared about all the Thanksgivings he spent with canned cranberry sauce and turkey casserole because there weren’t enough students at the school to make a whole turkey. He cared about having to learn how to ride the BMX that sat in his room for over a year from his best friend’s older brother because the teachers at Actaeon didn’t get paid to teach bicycle riding and he didn’t have any other friends who knew how to ride a two wheeler.

There were an awful lot of things Sam cared about, and fairness wasn’t even in the top ten.

He thought it best not to try to surprise Wandell after dark, so he booked a room at the Leadville Motor Lodge and decided to track him down in the morning. There were less than two hundred people in Twin Lakes, barely qualifying it as a town, and Wandell’s house was easy enough to find after talking to some of the locals. Apparently he made an impression, and not in a good way. He was a bit of a snob and a recluse, and had just about everything delivered to his home rather than venturing out to rub elbows with common folk. At the Leadville post office they told him the guy ordered a lot of ammo through the mail, and while it was none of their business they suspected he might be one of those survivalist types, and if Sam knew what was good for him he’d stay the hell away.

His interviews led to a private drive off of Route 82 that lead up into the woods and wound for a very long time. At length the trees opened to a lawn that had obviously been clear cut long ago to provide enough sunlight for grass to grow, and in the center was a beautiful white farmhouse reminiscent of a horse ranch. It was two stories with a wrap-around porch and a front door with a frosted glass window and matching panels of the same width on either side. As Ellen had indicated, there were cameras stationed on poles all around the property with motion detecting lights bolted above them, the cables running back to the house to provide its owner with surveillance. A classic Volkswagon Beetle sat in the driveway alongside a brand new Ford F350 Super Duty XLT. An older model Ford Bronco with a plow attached was parked farther off, obviously for maintaining the long driveway in the winter. The entire property was immaculately maintained, and must have included fifty acres easily just surrounding the house and drive. It looked like Steven had spent the Campbell money well.

As Sam came to a stop behind the Volkswagon a cacophony of barking erupted from the house. If he’d had any thoughts of approaching the house unarmed, the sound of the dogs laid them to rest. He grabbed his Taurus 92 and tucked it in the back of his waistband before climbing out of the Hummer.

He hadn’t even gotten two steps when the front door opened and an alpha about his height and build stepped out with a shotgun trained on him. Two gigantic white dogs careened off the porch but didn’t advance on him. They just stood barking and growling, keeping Sam at bay. The alpha had hazel eyes, short, thick, dark brown hair streaked with grey, and about two day’s worth of stubble on his chin. He smelled of pine trees, campfires, and rum and regarded Sam for a very long time, waiting for his scent to waft across the drive. Finally he lowered the shotgun and called to the dogs.

“Orion! Apollo! House!”

The dogs refused to obey. They stayed barking and growling and eventually ended up in a fight on the porch. The alpha sighed in frustration.

Boys! House! Now!” he ordered, and they broke apart and ran back inside. He gave Sam a look he couldn’t decipher and set the shotgun down fully. “Great Pyrenees. Fantastic guard dogs. A fart from a butterfly will set ‘em off. Don’t listen to commands for shit, though. What can I do for you, Sam?”

Well. So far this wasn’t going at all like Sam expected.

“You...know who I am?” he asked.

“Course I do. Man doesn’t forget the smell of his own pup. Make it quick, I got things to do.”

“I’m sorry…” This really wasn’t going like Sam expected. “You want me to make it quick?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it?” Wandell looked bored. “You tracked me down for something, so out with it. I’m in the middle of researching a case and I’d like to get back to it.”

Sam’s alpha was rising and he didn’t know how to stop it. This man had left him behind like a forgotten toothbrush at a motel and now he wanted Sam to make it quick? His vision was slowly going red. He didn’t even know where to begin.

“Jo Harvelle said you could help me track a demon,” he finally managed. “Said you’ve got the best collection of lore outside of Bobby Singer.”

“I can,” Steven replied warily. “What do you want to track a demon for?”

“That’s my business.”

“If you’re thinking of going after the demon that killed your mother, I’d suggest you don’t.” The anger coloring Sam’s face apparently made Steven rethink his approach, and he wiped a hand across his mouth. “Why don’t you come inside? I have a few minutes.”

Oh, he had a few minutes. Sam was glad to at least know what he was worth. It was clear Steven had taken the money and completely written him off. He didn’t even wait for Sam to move or respond and headed back inside, leaving the door open behind him. Sam really didn’t have any other choice but to follow him, even though this trip had clearly been a gigantic waste of time already.

The inside of the house was an impressive as the outside, with dark hardwood floors throughout and wainscotting in all of the rooms. It was tastefully painted in whites and pale greens and gave off the impression of an older, simpler time. The furniture looked to be all solid walnut, and a wide staircase with a heavy, intricate bannister and rail aligned with the front entry. The two dogs were laying in two separate doorways; the larger one between the entry and what appeared to be a parlor to the left, while the smaller dog was at the far end of the hall guarding what was obviously the kitchen. Both launched into fits of barking again, their voices powerful and deep, when Sam entered.

Boys. Stop. Or you’re going in your crates.”

Steven came out of a room farther down the hall to the right, about halfway to the kitchen, and regarded the two hounds sternly. They gave a few pitiful woofs and then laid back down with loud sighs conveying their discontent at being stopped from doing their job. When he was sure they weren’t going to keep trying to scare off the newcomer he waved Sam over to him.

“Come on in Sam. Have a seat,” he said, and vanished through the door.

Sam followed and found himself in a large office with a wide bay window looking out over the grounds. There were sliding doors against one wall that appeared to be some kind of built-in closet that were locked. A large ebony desk stood opposite them with three separate computer monitors and towers whirling away. The other three walls of the room were lined with books, not a one looking new. This is probably what Bobby’s house would look like if he were independently wealthy and had the time to just sit around and catalogue without having to work.

Steven was standing behind the desk, waiting, with two shoe boxes stacked one on top of the other in his hands. He gave a nod to the chair across from him and Sam took it.

“Let’s get the family reunion part of this out of the way, since that’s what you came for, and then we can get down to the more important parts about this demon,” he said, and tossed both boxes down onto the desk. “I don’t know what you were hoping for by coming here, but the fact of the matter is your grandfather paid me to mate your mother because she was hung up on a no account hunter by the name of John Winchester and Samuel wanted an heir.” If Steven noticed the way Sam flinched when he said John’s name he didn’t show it, and instead took a seat in the desk chair and gestured to the boxes. “Those are their letters, you can read for yourself how your mother felt about the man. Even after he took a mate and had a pup she wouldn’t change her mind about him. Samuel got tired of waiting for her to come to her senses, and that’s where I came in.” He regarded Sam with utter indifference. “Sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but you were just a business transaction.”

That might have made Sam angry if it hadn’t felt so sick. He reached for the boxes and drew them into his lap, sliding aside the lid to take a look at the contents. He’d read them later, maybe, or burn them; he couldn’t decide right now. On the one hand this was the first tangible thing he’d ever had of his mother’s. On the other hand he wasn’t sure he was that interested in seeing her relationship with Dean’s dad laid out for him in black and white. Well at least his grandfather’s indifference to him made sense now. He was just like any other deal Samuel had struck. Steven was still talking though, which drew Sam out of his thoughts.

“As for the demon, if it’s the one that killed Mary you need to understand she had it coming. I know John broke things off with her when you were about three months old, and right after that his wife was killed. I’ve been in this business too long to believe in that kind of coincidence. Your mom got deep into the bottle one night after it all happened and wouldn’t shut up about it, but she was drunk so I didn’t understand most of it. I don’t know the specifics, outside of his name: Azazel. She’d made a deal and he was coming to collect when her ten years were up. I do know it had something to do with you.” His gaze shifted from indifferent to concerned. Sam didn’t take it personally. Steven undoubtedly would have looked at any young kid hunting a Prince of Hell that way. “It was just a couple of weeks before you hit the six month mark and it really had her spooked. I think that night when she went into your nursery she interrupted something, but I don’t know what. I just came in, saw her on the ceiling engulfed flames, grabbed you from your crib and ran. And I’d advise you to run as far and as fast as you can from any demon that crosses your path, but I doubt you’ll listen to me. I’m just your sire, not your father.” He stood and gave Sam a nod. “Wait here while I make up some hex bags to help keep you off of demon radar and then you can be on your way. My wife and daughter should be back from Leadville soon and they don’t know about you.”

Sam was dumbfounded.

“I have a sister?” he asked.

“No, I have a daughter,” Steven replied evenly. On his way out of the room he stopped at one of the bookshelves by the door and grabbed a small volume, handing it to Sam. “Keep that with you. Goes into detail on the different levels of demons, shows you how to draw a seal of Solomon - also called a Devil’s Trap - and has several exorcism rituals. Also has a drawing for an anti-possession symbol. I’d recommend getting yourself inked with one sooner rather than later. You’ve probably read most of it in Bobby’s literature but he likes his books returned and that one you can keep.”

He headed towards the kitchen, calling the dogs to him, and Sam heard the slow clacking of claws on the hardwoods as the boys decided whether they should really leave Sam unattended in the office. He wished Jo had never said anything. He could deal with a father shrouded in mystery whose name he didn’t even know much better than one alive, well, breathing, and with another child he didn’t want to know of Sam’s existence. He wondered if his mother had even wanted him and for the first time was glad she was dead so he couldn’t ask the question.

After about ten minutes Steven returned with two hex bags and ushered Sam to the door. He was to keep one on his person and the other in his car at all times. He told Sam a quicker way to get back to Leadville and wished him luck, then closed the door firmly in his face. Two hex bags, two boxes of old love letters, and a book on demons that had the same information he’d probably read in Bobby’s books were the extent of everything he was ever going to get from his father. He got in his car and drove back to St. Louis.

Over the course of the next few days he researched the people on the FDH jobs list that matched the map Ash had shown him, got an anti-possession tattoo on his chest, and poured through the letters his mother had written Dean’s father. The early ones were what he would have expected, all about how desperately they loved each other and missed each other and couldn’t wait to be together. Stories about hunts they’d been on, open expressions of longing to feel the other one pressed against them in the dark, some were downright pornographic. Then he got to the letter where John told his mother he was going to claim his friend Millie. An accidental pregnancy prompted the action, and he wouldn’t leave her unmated with a pup. The idea that John had ever been a decent human being hadn’t occurred to Sam, but then of course he wasn’t really a decent human being because all of his letters about his new son were filled with the desire that he had been theirs instead of his and Millie’s. But it was obvious from those letters that he loved his little boy, and as Sam began to read between the lines it became clear that he loved Millie, too. His mother’s letters grew increasingly desperate and explicit after Dean’s birth, as if she could sense John was starting to drift away and she needed to rope him back in with the only weapon in her arsenal; sex. But Steven said John had broken things off, so it hadn’t worked.

Mary only mentioned Sam once in all of her letters. It was two short lines about how she’d just gotten home from the hospital with her new son, and couldn’t wait for the four of them to be a real family. Outside of that no one would have known Sam existed. He had his answer as to whether or not she even loved him, it seemed.

Reading about Dean as a little boy did nothing to help him get over the omega. He couldn’t have imagined Dean that sweet and innocent; learning to walk, having nightmares, being obsessed with airplanes and fire trucks. He didn’t know why he’d felt that Dean had sprung fully-formed from his mother’s womb as the fearless, cocky, confident boy who got dropped off with his kid brother at Actaeon, but somehow reading about how he constantly wanted his mother to hold him when he was an infant flipped his understanding of the omega on its head.

Why had he fought so hard for so long against touching Dean? Years before either of them presented, he had seemed to know that Dean needed to be touched and held and caressed, that he was starving for it. How stupid had Sam been to ignore his instincts when his instincts clearly understood what would make Dean happy? Ellen was right. Life was short and he needed to at least tell Dean how he felt. Hell, he needed to tell Dean everything. After talking with Adam it was clear he was never going to tell Dean about the graduation party, and Sam couldn’t keep it from him anymore.

He just hoped the omega would answer the phone when he called.

Chapter Text

Dean was pretty sure that you weren’t supposed to be dismantling cars for parts if you were pregnant, but he’d basically moved in with Bobby, and he hadn’t given a reason, and he wasn’t just going to sit around on his ass all day like a freeloader. Besides, it had only been five weeks since he stopped his suppressants, and if he did have a passenger on board he was pretty sure nothing he did at this point could hurt it. At least, he hoped it couldn’t. He’d read the literature the doctor at the clinic had sent home with him, stowing it away under his mattress with his porno mags, and it had said no lifting of anything heavier than twenty-five pounds, but that seemed a ridiculous limitation given his build. It also seemed that a lot of the literature ran towards the alarmist, worst-case-scenario end of the spectrum, and it was all put out by the government anyway so he tended not to trust everything it said. He’d have to do some independent research at the library or something the next time he went into town.

He was never going to admit that he was quietly avoiding going into town. As an unmated omega he’d always needed to be on his guard against alphas looking for a good time, but lately just the idea of going out in public on his own left him genuinely afraid for his safety. He figured it was just hormones, but that didn’t help him to stop feeling that way. He was glad Bobby was a beta and couldn’t smell the change in his scent. Even the arrival of the mailman sent him running for his room these days. He was doubling up on scent blocker and applying it multiple times during the day in case anyone swung by Bobby’s to do some research or borrow a weapon or book, and he had several piles of tires ready to be burned out back if he really felt he needed to block his scent completely.

Bobby knew something was up, too. He may not be able to scent Dean, but he wasn’t stupid. He’d noticed how Dean’s eating habits had changed, how different smells made him turn green, and it hadn’t escaped his attention that he was looking a little fuller through the chest. Not the kind of fuller doing push-ups got you, either; the kind of fuller from glands starting to expand and fat starting to collect. He sure as hell wasn’t going to bring it up until Dean wanted to, but something told him it was only a matter of time before the two of them were going to be having a very awkward conversation that involved due dates, whelping, and diaper duty.

Well, at least now he had an idea of why Dean had been so upset all those weeks ago when he landed on his doorstep after the Laramie job, and why Sam had looked so un-Sam-like. He wondered if Sam even knew, since the boy hadn’t been back or tried to contact Dean that he knew of, but it was none of his business. Whatever Dean had decided to share with or withhold from Sam he probably had a very good reason for it. Unless he was just being an idjit. That was always a possibility too.

He tried not to peek that Thursday Dean got a phone call while breaking down an old Chevy truck, but he was damn curious as to who had Dean looking at his cell and hurrying away from the yard before answering. Maybe he’d ask later. If Dean was in for a nine month stay with him they couldn’t keep pussy-footing around each other like this anyway.

Dean caught Bobby trying not to be obviously interested in who was calling when his phone rang and he looked down to see it was Benny’s number. He knew he was going to have to come clean about what was going on with the old hunter sooner rather than later, but it was still a week from when he was supposed to buy a stick to piss on. He didn’t want Bobby picking out nursery colors when there might not even be a kid. He tried not to be obvious about noticing Bobby’s feigned disinterest and headed to the far end of the junkyard.

“Hey Benny,” he said when he was sure he was out of earshot.

Actually it’s Lisa,” replied the female omega on the other end. “Sorry it’s taken so long to call you back. Things here have been crazy prepping for the new baby and Ben just started first grade. Somehow he got the idea that Uncle Dean thinks a puppy is better than a baby. That’s been fun, so thanks for that. Benny said you had some ‘omega stuff’ you wanted to ask me?”

“Yeah…” He moved even farther away from Bobby and hid behind an old Dodge Charger that had fallen tragically into disrepair. “I...uh...I wanted to ask you some stuff about...heats? If that’s okay?”

Oh.” She tried to mask the surprise in her voice but didn’t succeed. “Oh. Yeah, that’s totally fine. I thought you were staying on suppressants until - what was it - the end of time?”

She laughed, which gave him room to laugh, and was a nice little distraction from his suddenly sweaty palms.

“Yeah, that was the plan but uh...something came up.”

Something came up? Like what? Did you fall madly in love with a tall, dark, and handsome alpha and now you’re thinking of motherhood?”

It was Dean’s turn to laugh, but it came off as incredibly forced because of course it was. He often wondered if Benny had found himself a psychic for a mate and it was because of moments like this. Once she’d gotten past the idea that Benny was pining desperately for Dean, and understood that the pair of hunters just really loved each other but it never had been and never would be that way, she had made it her mission to get to know her mate’s best friend and had succeeded surprisingly well. She knew how to scale Dean’s walls and dismantle his carefully constructed bravado and sometimes he really felt like she could just see straight into his soul. He reminded Benny all the time that he’d chosen well and was a lucky man, and never begrudged his friend getting out of the life immediately after claiming her.

“You read too many romance novels,” he told her, though he was pretty sure the tremor in his voice gave him away.

An om’s gotta do something to keep herself occupied when she gets too big to see her feet and has to sit around most of the time with her ankles elevated.” She paused, and when she spoke again her tone was dead serious. “So if you’re not madly in love, why would you even think of going off your suppressants?”

“It wasn’t...it wasn’t a conscious decision.”

What do you mean?”

“My script ran out and I only had about a hundred dollars to my name so I couldn’t refill it.”

What?!” Dean wanted to point out that yelling was probably not good for the baby Lisa was due to deliver in about a month, but he didn’t dare speak. “Why didn’t you call me?! I’d have put money in your account!”

“Because it’s embarrassing, Lis! It’s embarrassing that I’m a grown ass adult and can’t afford basic shit!”

Dean, you can’t just stop taking those! You’ll end up pregnant if an alpha breathes on you!” The fact that he said nothing in response was apparently all he needed to say. “How far along are you?”

“I don’t know if I am yet,” he said. “The doctor at the clinic said I needed to wait six weeks to see if I went into heat. I’ve got a week left.”

Well, most om doctors are alphas and they only know what they’re taught in school. Take it from a pregnant lady. If you were past the three day mark you better grab a test from the pharmacy and start picking out names. ” She gave him a minute to process before she started in again. “I’m assuming the alpha isn’t around. He - or she…"

“He,” Dean admitted. “Tall, dark, and handsome.”

He’d have been able to smell the change in your scent and you wouldn’t need to call me.”

“He…” Shit. That wasn’t in any of the pamphlets. “He would?”

He’d have been able to tell a couple of weeks ago. Any alpha should be able to scent you by now.” Well. That’s why he’d felt so paranoid about leaving Bobby’s house. “Was it at least your choice ? No one…

No. God no. Nothing like that. He isn’t...he’s not that kind of guy.”

I take it he’s someone from the community?”

“Yeah.”

Anyone I’ve heard of?’

“Sam Campbell.”

The guy you did the Laramie job with?”

“Yeah. We were hanging out drinking after the hunt and things kind of progressed...”

And you were off your suppressants and didn’t realize…”

“Pretty much.”

Benny hasn’t told me much about him, except he didn’t trust him to keep you from getting killed.”

“He wouldn’t. Sam was still a kid when Benny graduated. They never really knew each other.”

Obviously he’s not a kid anymore.”

Dean squeezed his eyes shut at the unbidden memory of Sam’s hands running up his chest and neck and into his hair and the feel of his lips against the hollow of Dean’s throat. He’d been doing a really good job not thinking about Sam this last month. The only time he showed up now was in Dean’s dreams, and whenever he dreamt of Sam it always ruined his morning.

“No. No he’s not.”

There was a long pause on her end, giving him plenty of time to wallow in his feelings of longing and utter stupidity.

Have you told him?”

Dean swallowed. Talking about him with Lisa was turning out to be physically painful, like his omega was wasting away without the alpha.

“No. I don’t plan to. He’s not...he’s not interested in me like that.”

How do you know if you haven’t told him?”

“Jesus Lis!” He could feel his throat tightening as tears sprang to his eyes. “I don’t want to be some kind of pity claim. Not everyone gets to have something like you and Benny.”

Why on earth would you think you’d be some kind of pity claim?”

He knew he’d get into some kind of discussion like this with Lisa. When she hadn’t called right back after he talked with Benny he had secretly hoped she’d just forgotten he wanted to talk to her, and he wasn’t going to press the issue, no matter how nervous he was about his current situation. She was always soft with him in a way that he needed, even though she wouldn’t put up with any of his shit. It was one of the things that made her such a good mom to Ben and perfect for Benny. He swiped his hand across his eyes to try to clear his blurry vision.

“Cuz you take away my badass car and winning smile and I’m basically ninety percent crap.”

Oh honey…” Great. Now he was sobbing quietly, his free arm wrapped tightly around his ribs like he could hold it all in if he was just strong enough. “You’re the only one who thinks that.”

“Don’t tell Benny, okay?” he begged, feeling like he was sixteen again and getting kicked out of school.

You think he’s gonna finally give up on you or something because you went and got yourself ‘with child’?”

“I don’t know, I just...I just don’t want him to know.”

He’s gonna figure it out when you come out for Christmas wearing maternity pants.” Clearly she’d been hoping to lighten the mood, but it only made him cry harder. “Dean. Sweetie. It’ll be okay. I promise. Get to the pharmacy and get yourself a test.

“Okay.”

"And you need to reconsider telling Sam. It’s very hard for an omega to carry for nine months without an alpha. They aren’t just good for opening pickle jars. Just their presence in the same room is soothing.”

“Okay.”

And call me! For anything! As long as it’s before nine o’clock, because that’s when I typically fall asleep on Benny’s shoulder on the couch and you do not want to wake up a super pregnant omega.”

That finally earned her the genuine laugh she was going for, and Dean started to get himself under control.

“Okay. Thanks Lisa.”

We love you Dean. All three of us.”

“I know.”

Keep me posted.”

“I will. Bye.”

Bye Dean.”

He heard her end of the call click off and flipped his cell phone closed as he got his crazy emotions under control. He’d really known deep down what she was going to tell him - just the fact that he turned into a blubbering mess simply thinking about telling Sam was enough of a clue - but it was still hard to accept. He’d been looking forward to one more week of denial before he had to welcome reality into his world, and he probably still could just push this whole thing to the back of his mind if he really tried, but it was all becoming very exhausting. He wiped his sleeve over his face to clear away the tear streaks and leaned down to see how he looked in the Charger’s cracked side mirror. Well, the tears were gone but he’d ended up getting dirt all over his cheeks. That wasn’t going to look suspicious at all. He rubbed at his cheeks with his palms to try to clean off the dirt and only made it worse, adding more dirt and reddening his face until it looked like he was blushing. Why couldn’t anything be easy for him?

He had just started back across the yard to where Bobby was still working on the truck when his phone rang again. He checked the display and felt his heart stop and then start again, thumping wildly. He looked for something to sit down on while he decided whether or not to answer it and had to settle for the hood of the Charger.

Sam

His omega screamed at him to answer the goddamned phone right this fucking minute, but the fact of the matter was that Dean was suddenly very lightheaded and didn’t think he could do so without passing out. This was the fifth day in a row Sam had called. His heart was racing and he was nearly hyperventilating at the mere thought of hearing Sam’s voice. This was probably hormones too, but he had been gradually learning that he couldn’t control those little fuckers at all and he didn’t trust himself to be able to carry on a coherent conversation. He waited what seemed like an eternity until the call finally went to voicemail.

Once his legs felt steady beneath him again he headed back to where Bobby was sitting patiently on the bed of the Chevy, his tools set aside and arms folded across his chest.

“We gonna talk about that thing we ain’t been talkin’ about?” he asked, causing Dean to blush a deep crimson.

“I uh…” The omega cleared his throat, running his hand across the back of his neck. “I need to pick something up from the pharmacy. Think you could come with?”

“Do I need to bring my bat to beat all the alphas away with?”

Dean could tell he was only half joking and managed a weak smile.

“Maybe…?”

Bobby climbed down off the back of the truck with a bit of difficulty and adjusted his hat and his flannel. He wanted to tell Dean to go wash up before they headed out, but thought they might have a better shot at making it through the pharmacy without attracting too much unwanted attention if he had a good layer of grime on him. He thought about calling Sam and telling him he needed those books on demons back ASAP and he should swing by to drop them off the first chance he got, but he didn’t want to stick his nose too much into Dean’s business. The last thing he needed was Dean running off with a pup on the way and getting himself into a whole heap of trouble. Plus he suspected Sam would kill him if he lost track of the mother of his child.

Dean looked a little peaked after talking to whoever had been on the phone, so Bobby decided he’d better drive and they climbed into his old, beat up Chevelle for the trek into Beresford. It was slightly closer than the city itself and the town pharmacy would have what Dean needed. Bobby didn’t think there was any need to subject Dean to the hustle and bustle of a giant CVS when Elmer’s Drugs carried the same brand of pregnancy tests as the big chain stores. They pulled up into the dusty parking lot and Bobby was relieved to see it was mostly empty. If he wasn’t mistaken (and he rarely was when it came to his boy) Dean was relieved as well. He killed the engine, grabbed his axe handle out of the back seat to lay across the front, and opened his door to get out.

He noticed Dean was just sitting there, staring at the axe handle like his butt and the passenger seat had formed a deep and meaningful relationship and refused to be separated. He leaned down, feeling his back pop, and caught the young man’s eye.

“That’s just in case we have to make a run for it,” he said. “Come on, it’s gonna be fine.”

Dean nodded, though his eyes were wide and panicked. Bobby had never seen him like this before, but suspected it was typical for a pregnant omega. Oms were vulnerable enough as it was. Walking around unmated with a bun in the oven was bound to attract an awful lot of unwanted attention, no matter how much scent blocker he was wearing.

There were only a handful of people in the store when the little bell over the door announced their entrance. Old man Elmer, a well known, white-haired beta was manning the pharmacy; an alpha husband and his beta wife were over by the coolers arguing over beer; a teenage beta with a spray of acne across her forehead was running the cash register, looking bored; and a female alpha was roaming the first aid aisle. The two alphas looked up when Dean and Bobby walked in and sniffed the air, which had the omega ducking his head and pressing into Bobby’s side as Bobby slid an arm around his back. The alpha by the cooler got a hard smack upside the back of his head from his wife, while the female in the first aid aisle tracked them carefully over to the omega hygiene and family planning section. She didn’t move from her spot, but the way she watched them was unnerving. Close to You was playing on the radio near the front that served as the store’s sound system and gave the whole situation a very surreal quality.

Dean was now on high alert and trying to keep track of where everyone was in the store, leaving Bobby on his own to pick out the best pregnancy test among the bunch. Clear Blue Om and RAPID Response both had regular television ads, so he compared the disclaimers on the back and decided to just get them both. He shoved them into Dean’s hands, which made him jump, and grabbed a bottle of prenatal supplements as well.

“All right, let’s go,” he said quietly, sliding his arm back around Dean to lead him up to the counter. He noticed with concern that the omega had started to tremble.

Dean put the tests on the counter and shoved his hands into his pockets as Bobby plunked down the supplements and reached for his wallet. Normally Dean would never let him pay, but he was too busy paying attention to where everyone was and didn’t think he could get his debit card out without shaking like a leaf. He could smell the interest of the two alphas in the store, particularly the female. She was shorter than him, only about 5’9”, but that didn’t always mean he could take her in a fight if she was really amped up; at least not in his current state with his hormones so badly in flux.

Bobby noticed how terribly his body was shaking and laid a hand on his arm while the bored teenage beta went to ring up their purchases.

“Calm down,” he said as quietly and gently as he could. “We’ll be outta here in just a minute.”

“I know,” Dean whispered back, squeezing his eyes shut in terror as the scanner malfunctioned and the bell on the door jingled. “I’ll be okay.”

But he wouldn’t be. Because two things happened at the exact same time that resulted in the omega nearly wetting himself.

First, the beta yelled all the way to the back of the store, “Elmer! Scanner’s not working! How much is a Clear Blue Om test?”

Second, Dean caught the smell of gun oil, sandalwood, tar, and dirt roads that made up his father’s scent. John had been the one jingling the bell on the door.

Time seemed to stop for everyone but the cashier, who was repeating her request to Elmer in the back because Elmer was half deaf and forgot to put his hearing aids in that morning. The female and the mated alpha stopped and looked over to the checkout aisle at the spike of distressed omega scent in the shop. The mated alpha’s beta wife stared at the new alpha who had just entered and was glaring at the omega and beta by the counter. Bobby wished more than anything he’d brought that axe handle in with him, and Dean reverted to about five years old. Everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to move first, and John was the one to rise to the challenge.

He stormed across the store, grabbed Dean by his arms, and pulled him in close so he could take a long, deep inhale of his neck. When he’d pulled back his teeth had descended and his eyes were fully red. Bobby had only seen him like this during their fight over the boys when Dean was eight and Adam was two, and he’d had to pull a gun on John to keep from being killed. Dean’s face was a panicked mask and he whimpered as his father shook him, hard.

“Who did this?” John growled, and pulled him in to scent his neck again. “Who did this Dean?!”

“Dad…” Dean cried, his voice high and frightened.

Bobby tried to insert himself between them, throwing his arms across John’s in an attempt to push them apart.

“Let him go John,” he ordered calmly, trying to keep the situation from escalating. The other two alphas were starting to react instinctively to John’s aggression, their hackles raised. John needed to back off, and quickly. “Let him go and let’s go outside to talk.”

“Not until he tells me who,” John snarled, and Dean let out a whine at how tightly his father was squeezing his arms.

“Dad…”

Dean was on the verge of tears and Bobby was officially out of patience. He pushed harder against John’s chest and leaned in to him, shouting, “Get! Off! Him!”

It was like Dean was back at Hal’s Diner, only so much worse. He could hear Sam’s voice - “Get. Off. Him.” - but it was attached to a feeling like being underwater and trying to get to the surface but being so turned around he kept swimming to the bottom. He could smell burnt steaks mixed with old shoes and wet dogs, then a second scent, mildew, sewage and gasoline, and someone was holding him down, someone was…

He broke free of his father, whose alpha anger had vanished the second he scented his son’s panic, and pushed his way out through the door to throw up in the parking lot. John and Bobby looked at each other just long enough to confirm neither of them knew what the hell had just happened, and then they were out the door after him. Dean had fallen to his knees before throwing up again and had managed to crawl halfway to the car in hysterics. Bobby froze just outside the store, at an utter loss of what the hell to do and John had begun to tremble as he approached his son, terrified by the anguish and fright in Dean’s scent.

Dean was only vaguely aware of either of them. He had to get out from under the water, to get his head up before he drowned. He could taste something bitter and slick at the back of his throat and vomited a third time, though there wasn’t much left in his stomach at that point. He still felt like he was being pressed down into something soft and smooth, and the weight of someone else on top of him, inside of him. When John grabbed his shoulders to try to stop him he screamed and fell back onto the car before curling up into a fetal position and sobbing.

John had never been so scared in his entire life. He stroked his son’s hair and shoulders, trying desperately to undo whatever had been done to him. It took a long time before Dean could look up at him, and even longer before he could focus. John was crying by then, completely beside himself.

“Dean…” he choked, running a hand down Dean’s face over and over as he sent out as many soothing pheromones as he could manage. It wasn’t a lot, but he could see it helping. “Dean, what’s wrong?”

“I think…” His voice was numb, his face void of emotion as giant tears rolled down from the green pools of his eyes. “I think someone…” Everything broke from his forehead down to his chest as a sob burst from his throat. “I can smell them, Dad, I can smell them all over me…”

“It’s okay Dean,” John said, though of course it wasn’t. He was on the verge of collapsing into a bawling mess, and that wouldn’t help anyone. Dean was crying helplessly, and John pulled him against his neck, rubbing his back in long, smooth strokes. “Just breathe, okay?” He felt Dean nod against his shoulder and grab the front of his shirt, taking big, deep breaths of his father’s scent. Dean suddenly seemed so small, like the little boy locked in his room wearing the “I Wuv Hugz” tee shirt and wondering where his cat was. The distress didn’t dissipate, but gradually his breathing slowed down, as did the tears. “Was it...was it the baby’s sire?”

Dean shook his head vigorously and his breathing picked up. John quickly stroked his hair and the side of his face, helping to calm him back down before he started hyperventilating and passed out or something.

“I think he stopped it…” he said thickly, but the declaration brought on a fresh bout of sobbing. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t tell me if he did…”

John looked back to Bobby, who was now at the front of a small crowd of everyone from the store wiping at his face to try to get the tears to stop coming. Old man Elmer was holding out the pregnancy tests to Bobby, free of charge. The alphas were sufficiently cowed. The beta wife was holding the pimply teenage cashier, who was sobbing; probably thinking this all happened because she had yelled for a price check. Bobby had never needed a drink worse in his life. All of them were completely horrified.

“It’ll be okay Dean,” John said again. “We’ll figure it out. It’ll be okay.”

He knew a parent shouldn’t lie to his kids, but in this instance he needed the lie just as badly as his son. It certainly felt in this moment like nothing was ever going to be okay again.

Chapter Text

It had been almost twenty years since the last time John Winchester sat in Bobby Singer’s kitchen, back when he had two small children to try to keep alive and too much pride to accept there might be someone out there who could do a better job at it than him. He’d stopped by to drop Dean off after the whole mess at the academy but he hadn’t gone inside. He figured at the time it would be easier for both him and Dean if he didn’t get his scent inside the house. With Dean having presented as an omega things like that were going to matter to him much more. Alphas might scent each other and bristle for a few minutes, but unless a mate was involved they settled down pretty quickly and just ignored the foreign smells. But while alphas smelled scents as fixed, for omegas they were mutable and entirely dependent on how the omega felt towards whoever it was. An omega who smelled like casseroles and summer breezes would smell like casseroles and summer breezes to every alpha who caught their scent. An alpha who smelled of cinnamon and musk to one omega might smell like swamp gas to another. The last thing any omega wanted was to have the odor of an unwanted alpha stinking up their home.

That was then and this was now. Now his boy was pregnant, unclaimed, and apparently recalling repressed memories of being raped by at least two alphas. Thank god it wasn’t the baby’s sire. John was having enough trouble processing this as it was. He didn’t think he could take it if Dean had to deal with a baby that was forced on him. Still, whoever the alpha was that had knocked up his boy was nowhere to be seen, and Dean wouldn’t even say who the guy was. If the baby’s sire wasn’t going to step up and provide Dean with the sense of safety and protection his omega instinctively needed, John sure as hell would. The rest of the psychological damage they could figure out how to deal with later.

Bobby sat across from John with the bottle of rotgut and the pregnancy tests and supplements between them, clenching and unclenching the hand around his glass as he fought the urge to go upstairs and check on Dean. They’d gotten home an hour ago and between the two of them managed to get him up and into bed. By that time the young man was so spent from the events in the pharmacy parking lot that he could barely walk. John left his flannel and jacket in with Dean so he’d have something to scent while the two of them went downstairs, and they hadn’t heard a peep since. Bobby wished to god now that he hadn’t insisted John keep Dean with him after he presented. He didn’t know if other hunters had done this for sure, but there were an awful lot of alphas in the community with very blurry lines between right and wrong and no respect for anyone that wasn’t an alpha as well. At the time it had seemed so clear that it would be more damaging for Dean to feel like his dad thought he suddenly wasn’t good enough to hunt with anymore. Obviously Bobby had misjudged what would be more damaging. He took a long drink from his glass as John picked up the Clear Blue Om box and regarded it absently.

“I take it you know who it is,” he said, tossing the box onto the table. He had never felt as much shame as he did about his behavior at the pharmacy that had started all of this.

“I have a pretty good idea,” Bobby replied.

“You know how to contact him?”

“Got him in my book.”

“Has Dean told him?”

“Dean hadn’t even really told me until today.”

“Then we won’t tell him either. Not until Dean wants him to know.”

John reached forward to grab the whiskey and refill his glass. How had today gone so wrong? It had started out simply enough - a plan to swing by Bobby’s to see if he had an idea of where Dean was, since Dean didn’t answer his calls anymore, and then stopping at that little pharmacy to pick up some aspirin because he was getting a headache and he was out. Before he’d even entered he saw Dean at the counter and then when he opened the door he’d immediately smelled the change to his scent and just reacted. He took a long drink and set his glass down, looking to Bobby’s wall of telephones with various agency names written by them.

“One of those have a speakerphone?” he asked.

“The FBI one,” Bobby replied, and went to pull it down off the wall to set it on the table between them. He grabbed his address book from the telephone stand by the back door and flipped to the “C”s. Sam’s name and number were on the first page. He hit the speaker button, filling the kitchen with the long droning of a dial tone and then punched in the digits. Both men worried for a minute that they were going to have to leave a voicemail, but then the line picked up.

Hello?”

Sam sounded drunk. In the middle of the day. Bobby didn’t like the implications of that.

“Hey Sam, it’s Bobby Singer,” the old hunter said. John’s eyebrows shot up at “Sam” and Bobby didn’t need to be an alpha to see Dean’s dad was pretty unhappy that Sam Campbell was his grandchild’s sire. “How’re you doin’ son?”

Couldn’t be better Bobby.” He burped. Definitely not like Sam. “You callin’ cuz you need your books back or is this social?”

“Kinda neither,” Bobby replied. “You been drinkin’ Sam?”

Yeah? So? Stupid.”

Bobby gave John a small shrug to express his doubt that Sam was going to be particularly helpful in his current state. John opened his mouth to enter the conversation, but Bobby held up a hand to quiet him. He didn’t like the look in John’s eye and wasn’t sure the call would go well if he jumped in right now.

“Sam, I got some things I wanted to ask you about Dean.”

The young alpha laughed mirthlessly and to the surprise of both men it sounded like he pretty immediately started to cry. Now they were really stumped. Sam just blubbered on the other end of the phone for a minute or so before he drew in a shaky breath and seemed to struggle to get himself together.

Not sure I can help you with anything there Bobby. I don’t know where he lives and he won’t answer my calls, so...yeah. Might wanna try someone like Benny who he’s willing to talk to.”

“I don’t think Benny’s gonna be able to help us with this, Sam,” Bobby said, and John had officially run out of patience.

“Sam, this is Dean’s father,” John said sternly, which elicited wild laughter from the other end of the line.

That’s great! That’s just fuckin’ great. You calling cuz you want your letters back?”

The conversation had just swung off course like a compass that lost its magnetic north. Bobby raised an eyebrow at John, who looked genuinely shaken.

“What are you talking about, Sam?” he asked.

Your letters! The ones you wrote my mom. Got ‘em from my father. Oops - I mean my sire. He made it pretty clear he doesn’t think of me as his son.”

“Sam,” Bobby started, uncertain of how to proceed. “Your father died when you were a baby.”

No he didn’t!” Sam sounded triumphant to know something they didn’t. “No, see, my grandfather just paid him to stay away and he did, because they’re both dicks.

“Sam…” John felt the desperate need to get control over the conversation again before Sam spun off on a tangent of apparently justifiable self pity. “Something happened to Dean and we need your help understanding what it was.”

There was a brief silence on the other end of the call. When Sam spoke again his voice was filled with fear.

Is he okay? Is he hurt?”

“If bein’ curled up in a parking lot havin’ a panic attack constitutes ‘okay,’ then he’s just ducky,” Bobby replied.

God.” The word was said so softly they almost didn’t catch it. “Can I talk to him?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea Sam.”

Bobby, please…”

“We’re callin’ you,” John interjected, “because Dean seems to think you know who raped him.”

The silence this time was prolonged, and when he finally came back on the line he sounded stricken.

He remembered?” he asked quietly. “Everything or just some stuff?”

John gripped the table so tightly Bobby was afraid for a minute he was going to split the wood.

“Well we don’t know,” John snarled. “Why don’t you tell us everything that happened and we’ll see what lines up with the flashback we just sat through with my son?”

I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there until after.”

John’s eyes flashed red, and Bobby tried to raise a hand to warn him to calm down but it didn’t work.

“Bull. Shit.”

I wasn’t.” Sam clearly didn’t appreciate the tone or feel even slightly threatened by the alpha sitting in Bobby’s kitchen. “I wish to god I had been, but I wasn’t. If you don’t believe me, ask your fucking son.”

I’m asking you!” John roared, standing and slamming his hand down on the table. A long crack extended up the center but it didn’t break. Bobby flinched in spite of himself. That table was solid oak. “Dean isn’t exactly in any condition to carry on a conversation right now!”

Not Dean, you asshole. Your other son. You have two, remember?”

John looked up at Bobby and blinked, immediately snapped out of his rage. He obviously wasn’t going to find his voice anytime soon, so Bobby asked, “You mean Adam was there?”

Yes, Adam was fucking there, and he knows everything that happened because he watched the fucking tape.”

“There’s a…” John felt sick. “There’s a tape?”

Yeah, see, I come from this great big rich family, and when you’re great big and rich sometimes you grow up without a conscience. Apparently some of my cousins think they can do whatever the fuck they want and that it’s fun to make home movies while they’re at it, so yeah, there’s a fucking tape. Adam took it in case we needed leverage against them. Great big rich families understand blackmail. I’ve never seen it. But Adam...well at some point he decided to break out the popcorn.

“Son,” Bobby said as calmly as he could, “you’d better start explainin’ real fast.”

Not much to explain Bobby. I threw Adam’s graduation party. Dean got really drunk. Adam got really really drunk. My cousins showed up unexpected and I couldn’t be in two places at once.” His voice broke, as hard as he was trying to keep this story matter-of-fact. “And we couldn’t get to Dean in time. The end.

John remembered Adam’s graduation party two years ago. Dean had made a really big stink about the kid getting out of school and how they ought to do something for him, but by that point John barely even knew the boy anymore. He was too embarrassed to admit that though, so he made up something about not being able to get out of a hunt. Then one of Adam’s friends (he now knew it was Sam) had sprung for one anyway, and Dean didn’t care what John said, he was going. He’d stayed at Bobby’s for about a week afterwards, but when he’d come back to hunting he hadn’t seemed that different. Angry, maybe a little sad, but nothing to indicate anything like having been raped.

Bobby was remembering the same thing. Dean hadn’t acted like he’d been assaulted when he’d shown up on Bobby’s doorstep with the Chevelle and cried and drank for a week. Not that everyone he’d ever known that something like that happened to - and in this life he knew far too many - reacted the same way, but he was sure then and was still sure now that Dean hadn’t been traumatized. If anything he acted more lovesick; kind of like he had when he showed up a month ago. His behavior then had struck Bobby as just like what had happened after Shreveport, and that had obviously been because of Sam so maybe two years ago it was as well. But whatever had happened between him and Sam back then was clearly not the same thing that had caused the episode in the parking lot.

Bobby’s head hurt. Heart did, too, because Sam was back to crying on the other end of the phone.

“Why didn’t you tell Dean?” he asked, and listened as Sam drew in a really shaky breath.

Look,” he choked, “I can’t help you. I really can’t. I wanted to tell Dean. You wanna know what happened and why we didn’t tell him, you’re gonna have to talk to Adam.” He tone was laced with ice when he said the youngest Winchester’s name. “And when you do talk to him, make sure to let him know I can’t even get Dean to answer the phone. It should make him real happy.”

“Sam…”

Bobby, I just need to forget about Dean, okay?”

Sam sounded like a lonely, lost little kid. The call clicked off, leaving Bobby and John staring at each other as they listened to the dial tone droning again. Bobby hit the button to take it off speaker phone and drained his glass. Despite everything he’d dealt with in his life he was starting to feel very out of his depth. Dean he knew; had known him for eight years before his dad stopped bringing him around. And then he’d gotten to know him again as a teenager and young man. Adam he’d only really seen when he was a baby and then gotten to know over the phone in the eight years he was alone at school. He doubted he even had a recent snapshot of John’s youngest son. Trying to figure out why Sam Campbell was insisting they call Adam had him feeling very uneasy.

He could tell by the look on John’s face that he wasn’t faring much better. John’s relationship with Adam had always been strained, and John had never blamed Adam for it after he really straight-up stole him from his mother, but he couldn’t imagine a scenario where something so violent would have happened to Dean and Adam would have not only known about it but kept it from his brother. Dean had basically raised Adam. They were very close. How bad was this exactly?

John definitely wasn’t in the right frame of mind to call his younger son, so he announced, “I need to take a walk,” and Bobby nodded. He wanted to check on Dean anyway. John grabbed one of Bobby’s jackets, not wanting to take his back from his son just yet, and headed out the back door.

Left alone in his house with a bottle of whiskey and his surrogate son, it took Bobby a bit to gather the willpower necessary to leave the former and check in on the latter. He was worried that as a beta he wouldn’t be able to provide the sense of safety he knew the omega needed right now, but he was more worried about leaving Dean upstairs to wallow in his thoughts for too long. And he was still troubled by the phone call with Sam. Dean was always so cautious, and such a strong fighter, and Sam was not the sort of alpha who would leave a “really drunk” omega on his own. Something must have gone terribly wrong at the party if Sam and Adam got separated from Dean and if Adam, apparently, had convinced Sam not to tell him what went on.

He could hear the shower running as he climbed the stairs, which made him slightly uneasy, though he couldn’t really pinpoint why. Maybe it was all the television shows and movies he’d seen where a running shower equated with slit wrists. Or maybe it was because it signaled a degree of vulnerability for the person on the other side of the door, and the last thing he wanted to do was make Dean feel vulnerable. He hesitated in case the shower stopped before he had to knock, and finally bit the bullet to rap his knuckles against the wood.

“Dean?” he called gently. “Are you okay in there?”

There was a pause from within and then the shower stopped. Bobby heard Dean moving inside, padding quietly around the room and then eventually across the floor until the footsteps came to rest on the other side of the door. Bobby waited patiently, practically holding his breath, until at last the door cracked open and he could see Dean’s pale face and red rimmed eyes.

“Hey Bobby,” he said quietly. He seemed unusually calm. Bobby thought he was probably in shock. “Sorry if I used all the hot water.”

It seemed a ridiculous thing to say, but Bobby sure as hell wasn’t going to point that out. For some reason Dean was worried about how much water he used, so Bobby would let him.

“I take morning showers anyway.” He tried to size up how Dean was fairing, but there wasn’t a lot to glean from how numb he currently appeared. “You feelin’ like you might be up for having’ somethin’ to eat? I can make you a sandwich or some soup, maybe?”  

“Soup would be good, I think.”

He didn’t sound very certain about that. In fact he sounded kind of dazed. And he was having a hard time looking Bobby in the eye. But at least he moved to come out of the bathroom, having pulled on a pair of jeans and several layers of shirts. That didn’t go unnoticed by the older hunter. Typically Dean’s wardrobe consisted of a tee shirt with maybe a flannel if it was chilly. Now he could see the shoulder line of an undershirt, the tee shirt, a Henley, and John’s flannel. It was like he was attempting to bury himself beneath fabric, or create some kind of armor out of everyday clothing. He moved quietly past Bobby and towards the stairs, shrugging his shoulders down and inward as if trying to make himself small.

Dean wanted so badly to act like things were normal, that he hadn’t sort of remembered what he had sort of remembered in the pharmacy parking lot, but he’d spent forty-five minutes in the shower trying to scrub the alpha smell off his skin before accepting that it was all in his head and he might never be able to smell anything else. Every atom in his body was vibrating with tension, alert for the possibility of an attack. Rationally he understood this to be ridiculous. He was at Bobby’s house. Bobby and his dad were there. Nothing was going to happen to him. He could relax.

Except that he’d figured out whatever had happened must have happened at Adam’s graduation party, because the feeling in the parking lot was like what happened at the diner hyped up on steroids, and what happened at the diner had definitely been a memory from the party. And both Sam and Adam had been at the party, had been specifically watching out for him at the party, but something very bad had still occurred. He couldn’t rely on anyone else to protect him, and he sure as hell didn’t feel like he could rely on himself right now. How could he possibly think he was ever going to be safe anywhere ever again?

He could feel his heart starting to race and his breath starting to come in short gasps, and he wasn’t even halfway down the stairs. He needed to lock this shit down. He wasn’t going to be any good to anyone like this, and he certainly wouldn’t be able to hunt if he was constantly paranoid that someone was going to jump out and drag him off into the bushes. He was Dean Winchester. Dean Winchester did not hyperventilate at the thought of going downstairs to eat some soup.

He wasn’t aware that he had stopped until he felt Bobby’s hand on his shoulder, which gave him such a scare that he wondered for a second if he was going to collapse against the railing. Bobby didn’t move any farther forward, but let Dean set the pace down the stairs. Dean counted to fifteen and by the time he was done he was feeling like he could make it to the kitchen without pissing himself. So maybe that’s what he would just have to do from now on. If something startled him he’d just count until he could move. It would be terribly impractical out in the field, but hey, if it could get him downstairs in Bobby’s house that was at least a start.

The sight of the pregnancy tests on the kitchen table froze him in his tracks. Right. That’s why they’d gone to the pharmacy in the first place. Which reminded him that Sam had called him earlier. Which reminded him that Sam had been keeping a big fucking secret from him about whatever had happened (and god, he just wanted to know; it would be so much easier if he just knew instead of having random sensations disconnected from anything tangible that allowed his imagination to run wild). He suddenly lost his appetite. Bobby stopped behind him again, watching and waiting as Dean appeared to be on the verge of another breakdown, but instead Dean just stood there and counted again. So fine, this time he had to count to thirty-seven, and his vision went a little black around the edges and he had to instruct himself to breathe, but this counting thing could ( maybe ) work. He took both boxes of tests off the table with shaking hands and stared at them for a moment, before declaring, “Well, let’s get this over with,” and striding off with as much confidence as he could muster to the downstairs bathroom. Bobby prayed to whatever gods were listening that John came back from his walk soon.

John, however, wasn’t taking a walk. While his son was peeing on four different pregnancy test sticks just so he could be sure, John was in the middle of a summoning ritual off behind some of the stacks of tires Dean had piled up throughout the weeks he’d been with Bobby so that when he lit the candles and set the ingredients in the bowl atop the sigil aflame the fire wouldn’t be seen from the house. He spoke the Latin incantation - Et ad congregadum...eos corum me - and waited. It was only a few moments before he heard from across the yard, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”

“I need your help,” John said, as Crowley walked towards the candles, buttoning his overcoat.

“You seem upset, John,” Crowley said. “I take it you finally watched Hannie Caulder?”

“You know what happened to my son?”

“I know everything that every hell-bound soul has done. And those three boys -” He raised his eyebrows. “Let’s just say they have quite a number of non-consensual notches on their bed posts.”

“I want names,” John growled. “I’ll give you anything you want.”

Crowley scowled and tsked, wagging his finger at the Winchester patriarch.

Never lead with ‘I’ll give you anything you want,” he scolded. “Have I taught you nothing?”

“I don’t care, Crowley,” John insisted. “I need to know who they are.”

“Sam wasn’t willing to give up his cousins then? Surprising. There’s no love lost between them.”

“Which ones?”

“First things first, John.” Crowley pulled a pen and a contract out of his inside coat pocket and unrolled it. It seemed to unroll for days. He flashed a smile at Dean’s father, and asked innocently, “Shall we discuss terms?”

John quirked an eyebrow and gave the demon a long, hard look. They’d been doing business for a while now and this was the first time it went beyond a quid pro quo and into contracts. He was going to have to decide, and quickly, what he’d be willing to trade for help getting the alphas who had raped his son. He was sure he could figure out which of Sam’s cousins it was on his own. The problem was more trying to go up against the Campbells. Samuel might be old, but he still wielded a lot of power. If he caught wind of John hunting some of his family members he’d retaliate; especially since it was John. And John had an awful lot to lose.

After a few minutes he held his hand out and waved for Crowley to give the contract over, snapping, “Lemme see that thing.”

“Of course.” For the first time since they’d met at The Purple Room John could believe that Crowley was Hell’s top salesman. He certainly had the easy confidence and smooth delivery down pat. “It’s just a standard rider. Given our previous agreement I’ve struck anything having to do with anyone’s soul, but I left in the clauses requiring an even trade for services rendered.”

“What would you consider an even trade?”

“Depends.” Crowley gave him a noncommittal shrug. “Do you just want names or would you like me to take care of it?” He held his hand up, fingers together, and smirked. “You say the word, I snap my fingers, they die a nasty, bloody, agonizing death.”

John was taking a long, serious look at the contract as he absorbed what the demon had just offered him. The wording and clauses certainly seemed straightforward enough. He was no lawyer, but he couldn’t find anything that would put him or his sons in danger - in this life or the next. While the idea of Crowley taking care of whoever had hurt Dean without John having to expose himself to the Campbells was tempting, he wasn’t going to agree to play Strangers on a Train without more specifics.

“What would you consider an even trade for snapping your fingers?” he asked at length.

“There’s a gentleman - a Man of Letters - who sold his soul to me decades ago and has been using his unique set of talents to dodge me ever since,” Crowley replied. “His account is overdrawn by about fifty years and I intend to collect with interest.”

John blanched and said, “It’s not my…”

Crowley feigned distress, covering his heart with his hand as he pouted, “Whatever must you think of me John? I would never ask you to kill your own father. It’s his partner, Cuthbert Sinclair. Bugger has built the two of them a fortress somewhere and even my Juliet can’t find it.”

“Juliet?”

“That’s right. You haven’t met my bitch.”

Crowley whistled, loud and long, and then stood quietly, looking at John with an impish grin. Within a few moments John heard a low growling and something moving among the trucks; something very, very large. Rumsfeld went nuts in his house and the vicious snarls of what sounded like a gigantic dog echoed in response. The noise grew closer until John watched as something brushed up against the demon, moving his coat. Crowley looked down with an expression another person might have taken for affection and patted his hand on something invisible and solid.

“That’s daddy’s good girl,” he cooed. “John, meet Juliet.”

There was more snarling from whatever it was that was standing beside the demon and John instinctively pulled his gun. The snarling grew louder and closer.

Down girl,” Crowley ordered, and the snarling backed away. He gave Juliet a scratch along her muzzle. “Back to your crate like a good doggie.”

The hellhound continued growling, but the growling grew fainter as John heard her moving back through the junkyard the way she’d come. Rumsfeld eventually quieted down. His heart was racing and sweat was pouring from his forehead and down his back. What was he getting himself into?

“So you want me to find this Sinclair and kill him?”

“And steal all my puppy’s fun? Perish the thought!” Crowley retrieved the contract from John’s trembling hands. “No, I just need him out of his hidey-hole.”

Something told John it wasn’t going to be quite as simple as Crowley was making it sound, but it seemed like a reasonable trade. John wasn’t a big fan of the Men of Letters as it was, and he thought he could probably use his father as a way in to get at Sinclair. This was probably the way people paved their roads to Hell.

“You’ve got a deal,” he said, holding out his hand for the pen.

“Smart man.” Crowley half extended the pen and then paused, holding it back. “One more thing. I understand that young Dean is in a delicate way right now; physically and emotionally. Hunting down Azazel must take precedent to that. No taking a leave of absence to tend to your son until you’ve put a bullet between Azazel’s eyes.”

“Dean needs me,” John objected, aghast at the thought he should just abandon him after what had happened today.

“Sorry John.” He didn’t look it, the bastard. “Them’s the rules.”

John considered this, but it didn’t take long for him to decide. He didn’t know how to help Dean without being there for him, and being there for Dean was simply outside his skillset. Seeing to it the alphas who had terrorized him died bloody - that was something he was comfortable with. He grabbed the pen from Crowley and scrawled his name at the bottom of the contract. The demon smiled at him.

“Brilliant. Typically I’d seal these kinds of deals with a kiss, but I feel that would be inappropriate given the circumstances.” He gave a fluid snap of his wrist and the contract rolled up into his hand so he could tuck it back inside his coat. “Time to get back on the road John. Chop chop.”

And he was gone. John cleaned up the elements from the ritual, dragged his foot over the sigil to erase it from the dirt, and headed back to the house.

Chapter Text

When John entered the kitchen he was greeted by Bobby’s shotgun in his face and quickly threw up his hands. Bobby’s eyes were wide and frightened, and he let out a deep breath when he saw it was only John.

Jesus! You just about gave me a damned heart attack!” he hissed. “What was Rumsfeld barkin’ at? Did you see anything?”

“What?” John’s heart was racing as well and it took him a minute to work through the question after almost getting his head blown off. Right, Rumsfeld hadn’t liked Juliet. “No, there was nothin’ out there. He must’ve seen a squirrel or something.” Bobby was already putting the shotgun down and moving away out of the kitchen towards the coat closet behind the stairs. “Where’s Dean?”

In answer to his question, Bobby knocked on the closet door and said softly, “It’s just your dad. There wasn’t anyone outside. Rumsfeld was just bein’ Rumsfeld.”

Dean had to count to seventy-two before he was able to open the door and take in Bobby’s anxious eyes. He felt like the only thing holding him together was duct tape and spit. MacGyver would be very disappointed at his ability to use what was on hand to keep himself from shattering to pieces. He couldn’t stop the terrible trembling that had started throughout his body as he stared out at Bobby and his dad from the back of the closet.

“Hey Dean,” John said quietly, advancing slowly on the closet. Shit. How did Crowley expect John to be able to just walk away when Dean was hiding in closets?

“Hey Dad,” Dean whispered in response. He couldn’t even make his voice work. This was really humiliating.

John held out a hand to his son.

“You wanna come out here with us?”

Dean appeared to be fighting his own body to make himself reach out and take John’s hand. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut as he slid his palm into his father’s and allowed himself to be pulled out from among the coats and against John’s chest. Being enveloped in his dad’s scent helped tremendously, and John was able to get him back to the kitchen with relative ease. That’s where John spotted the pregnancy tests laid out on the table on a paper towel.

The two Clear Blue Om tests had little plus signs and the RAPID Response each had a double line. Well. That settled it. He cleared his throat, unable to tear his eyes away from the first solid evidence of Dean’s baby.

“We...uh...we talked to Sam,” he said at last. “He couldn’t tell us much. Said we should talk to your brother.” He picked up one of the tests with the plus sign and stared at it, before holding it out to Dean. “How do you feel about this?”

“I don’t know,” Dean replied numbly. “Don’t know how I feel about much of anything right now.” He took the test from his father and looked at it for a while before turning to John and blinking his big, wide eyes. “Adam was there?”

“According to Sam.” Dean was clearly struggling to work this new information in among the pieces he had of what had happened, and John asked, “You want to call him and ask?”

“No.” The response was instant, despite how unnerved Dean looked. “No, we can...we can call him later.” A thought suddenly struck him and he whirled on John. “Could we go see him? Ask him face to face? He’s...he’s been askin’ me to come visit.”

The spike of hope in Dean’s scent left John feeling like the biggest asshole on the planet. Unless Crowley dropped in in the next five seconds and said a little road trip to Durham wasn’t outside the scope of the contract there was no way John could agree to drive Dean all the way to visit Adam. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so unworkable if they could fly, but Dean was terrified of planes. Not that John blamed him. Besides the idea of being dependent on someone else to get him from point “A” to point “B,” they still served drinks on flights to loosen everyone up and it was an enclosed environment with recirculated air. There only had to be one knothead on board and suddenly the possibility was very real that he’d be dragged into the restroom to join the Mile High Club. Nothing about air travel was safe for an unmated omega.

“I…” John could see Dean’s face starting to fall at the hesitance in his voice. “I can’t, Dean. I’m on a job.”

“What?” Dean and Bobby asked at once.

“I was just swingin’ by Bobby’s to see if he’d talked to you,” he said as Dean’s eyes grew moist and Bobby’s face turned red with fury. “I’m in the middle of a job. I can’t stay…”

“So drop the job,” Bobby demanded, since Dean couldn’t say anything and was just sitting there looking hurt. “Drop the damn job, John. Let someone else pick it up.”

“I...I can’t,” John told him helplessly.

Bobby was on him in two seconds, grabbing him by the shirt and turning to slam him into the refrigerator. Magnets scattered everywhere and a half-empty bottle of tequila fell to the floor and broke. Dean couldn’t stand the smell of it. His stomach turned and he ran for the bathroom.

You selfish son of a bitch!” Bobby roared. “Your son needs you! More than he has since his mama died! And you’re gonna walk away from him because of some hunt?”

“It’s not that simple Bobby,” John said. His alpha wanted out, but he wasn’t going to fight back against the beta, not when he knew how right Bobby was. “I don’t have a choice.”

“Of course you have a choice!” Bobby bellowed. “You’ve always had a choice! You just keep makin’ the wrong ones! What’s it gonna take for you to put your son first for once?”

“I am putting him first, Bobby,” John insisted, but the other hunter didn’t want to hear it, letting go of his shirt and walking away across the kitchen.

“Go on and get out then!” Bobby was having a real hard time not going for his shotgun as John just stood there staring at him from in front of the fridge. “Me an’ Dean’ll manage without you! I don’t know how, but I’ll get him through this on my own. Get on out if the job means that much to you! And if you go, don’t you ever come back!”

“I’m sorry,” John said weakly.

“I ain’t the one you gotta apologize to,” the beta snapped, his nostrils flaring as he watched John turn and head silently out the front door.

As John’s truck started and pulled out of the driveway Bobby couldn’t contain his anger anymore. With a roar he flipped the kitchen table, fully breaking it along the crack John had put in it earlier, the pregnancy tests, supplements, and nearly empty bottle of whiskey flying around the room. He whipped his hat off of his head and flung it against the back door before dropping onto one of the kitchen chairs, his hands in his thinning auburn hair. How the hell was he supposed to help Dean without John around? The boy needed an alpha, badly, one that he could trust so that the house would smell safe. He doubted right now that Sam fit the bill, though he should have been the obvious choice. But from what he’d said on the phone, Dean hadn’t been answering his calls before this morning happened. If Dean hadn’t wanted to talk to him then, he doubted he’d want to talk to Sam now after learning about the huge damn secret that had been kept from him. He thought of calling Benny, but Benny and Lisa had a new baby on the way in less than a month and besides, Bobby couldn’t imagine spreading around Dean’s business when Dean was still half in the dark himself.

He wasn’t proud of how long he had to sit there calming down before he could go check on Dean, but he didn’t want to go get him all hot under the collar and make things worse. He may not set Dean off with any kind of angry scent, but he knew that body language and tonal pitch could upset an omega as well. He had to get himself locked down before trying to fix whatever he could without a road map or a steering wheel.

Dean had only half-closed the door to the downstairs bath when he ran in to throw up, and Bobby could see his feet sticking straight out in front of the toilet, pointing towards the hall. Those cliched images of slit wrists ( or worse, pill bottles ) running through his mind again, he pushed the door slowly open to find Dean sitting with his back against the far wall, quiet tears spilling out of him. It froze the old man in his tracks. He was terrible at all this touchy-feely stuff.

“You okay kid?” he asked quietly, and Dean shook his head.

“I shouldn’t have locked the door,” the omega replied.

“What door?” Bobby said, confused.

“When mom told me to go to my room and lock the door.” His face fell and he broke into sobs, collapsing in on himself and pulling his knees up to his chest. “I shouldn’t have locked it. It would have been better.”

While it may have been true that alphas were the only ones who literally saw red, betas sure saw red figuratively, and Bobby certainly was seeing red now. He knew it was the wrong response, but he wasn’t going to ever accept that kind of talk from his kid. He was across the room and kneeling in front of Dean as fast as his old hips would allow, and took hold of Dean’s face in both his hands to make him look up.

“Now you listen here, dammit,” he snapped, the anger in his voice making Dean clam up instantly and hold his breath. “You don’t ever talk like that again, you got me? Your daddy took you away from me once and there weren’t nothin’ I could do to stop it, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you take you away from me too! You hear me Dean?”

Dean blubbered and sputtered and nodded and keened like a little kid, and Bobby ran a hand down the side of his face. Dean instinctively leaned into his hand, desperate for a soothing touch, and Bobby pulled Dean into a tight hug and let him cry for a solid ten minutes. Finally Dean seemed to have exhausted all the tears he had in him, at least for the time being, and Bobby was able to get them both to their feet.

He sent Dean off to his room while he cleaned up the tequila (he remembered Dean’s comment about “too much tequila” when he came home after Laramie) and made the soup he’d suggested before Rumsfeld erupted into barking and everything really went to shit. He desperately wanted to call Sam and get him out there on the next plane, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to take away Dean’s authority over the matter. He would, however, pick up the phone to tell Adam they were coming for a visit. Not right away, Dean would have to go to the clinic next week to confirm he was carrying and start setting up appointments, none of which he planned to tell Adam, and they’d have to figure out how to get Dean there since Bobby couldn’t leave the scrap yard that long and Dean sure as hell wasn’t in any condition to be driving to North Carolina by himself. It was a full twenty four hour drive, which meant it would probably be at least two or three days, which meant motel rooms or sleeping in the Impala by himself. That just wasn’t a realistic expectation at this point.

After getting Dean his soup and putting him down for a nap like a three year old, Bobby grabbed a beer and sat himself down in front of the TV to put his thinking cap on. For a while he felt a bit like Winnie the Pooh, telling himself to “think think think,” but after stewing for about half an hour it hit him - Ellen and Jo. Ellen had been trying to convince Jo to go to school for a while now. Maybe she’d be willing to take both Dean and her daughter out to Duke under the premise of getting Jo into the college spirit. He’d have to tell Ellen at least a little bit of what was going on, but Jo could be kept in the dark. She was a good kid but her mouth had a hair trigger. The less she knew about the situation the better.

It was eight o’clock and way past dinner time when Bobby thought he’d better go wake Dean up to feed him something and go over the plan he’d come up with to see if Dean would be okay with it. Dean was in a bit of a fog after the events of the day, which actually worked to help Bobby get him downstairs, a blue chenille blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a cape. The omega stood staring at the broken table in the kitchen in confusion for a moment before Bobby could swing him around and get him to sit on the couch behind a TV tray with spaghetti and meatballs on it. They watched a Highway to Heaven rerun that neither of them paid much attention to, and after Dean had eaten as much as he was going to, which was only a couple of bites, Bobby turned the volume down.

“I was thinkin’,” he said after clearing his throat, “that I could drive you down to the Roadhouse and maybe Ellen and Jo could take you out to see Adam. After you’ve had whatever appointments you need for your…” He waved his hand in Dean’s general direction, not sure what to call it right now. He’d always felt strange using the term “pup,” but Dean might not want to call it a baby just yet. “...situation.”

“Would we…” Dean had blanched, but not rejected the idea outright. That was good. “Would we have to tell them? Everything…?”

“No Dean,” Bobby was quick to reply. “No. I think we gotta tell Ellen some, but she don’t need to know everything. And all Jo needs to know is you wanted to visit your brother and her mom thought she might like to tag along and see what a real university was like so she wanted to make it a road trip.”

Dean still looked very pale but seemed to be seriously considering the idea. It didn’t seem possible to Bobby that just this morning they’d been tearing apart that Chevy without a care in the world beyond them both suspecting Dean was carrying and refusing to be the first one to bring it up. Finally he nodded and said, “Okay. We can call them tomorrow. It’ll give me time to figure out what to say. How much I want Ellen to know.”

He seemed to drift away inside himself and turned back to the TV to stare blankly at Michael Landon and Victor French. East of Eden came on right after it, but Dean only made it to the ferris wheel kiss between James Dean and Julie Harris before he fell asleep. Bobby considered waking him, but thought better of it and instead went up to Dean’s room to retrieve John’s jacket and shirt to lay across him so he could scent his father while he slept. Of course Dean woke frightened and disoriented in the middle of the night, but Bobby’s bedroom was on the ground floor so he was able to get to him quickly to calm him and then help him up the stairs to his own bed.

It seemed to Dean that they spent the entirety of the next day on the phone. Or rather, that Bobby did. Granted, his sense of time seemed strangely skewed. Everything seemed to take a lot longer than it actually did or a lot shorter than it actually did. Dean had heard of out-of-body experiences and wondered if maybe he were having one, but didn’t have the energy or sustained interest necessary to look it up. So it was best to leave the phone calls up to Bobby, even if it was exhausting having to answer the questions Bobby threw his way every now and then.

They needed to make an appointment with the clinic for the next week to go in for an official pregnancy test, then a second appointment was tentatively scheduled for two weeks after that. It would be canceled if the test came back negative, but the receptionist doubted that would happen. Then they called Ellen and explained in rough outline with limited details and no mention of Dean being in the family way what they needed her help with and why they needed to see Adam. Ellen was a broad-stroke kind of woman anyway so she didn’t need the nitty gritty. Had she been a painter she definitely would have been a Monet and not a Rembrandt.

Then they called Adam and asked if three weeks would be a good time for Dean to come for a visit. It would be be about a week before midterms, but Adam assured them that was all right. He was thrilled that Dean was finally coming to see Durham and raved about all the places he was going to show him. Dean would fall in love with it, he promised, and would never want to leave. His excitement may have been lessened if they’d told him the reason Dean was coming out was because he remembered something from Adam’s party, but if there’s one thing Dean had learned as a hunter it was not to give someone time to fabricate a story. He’d rather catch Adam off guard, because he’d be more likely to get the truth.

He hadn’t originally wanted to go this route with Adam. He’d initially seemed to be more upset with Sam, but Bobby told him about the tape and something had shifted for Dean. The idea that there was a tape of whatever horrible things had happened to him, and that Adam had it, and Adam had watched it seemed to snap something inside him and he shut right down. It was actually a relief, no matter how betrayed he knew he was eventually going to feel. For the first time since the pharmacy he was just comfortably numb. He’d never been a huge Pink Floyd fan, but he definitely appreciated that song from their catalogue now.

Finally they called Sam, which Bobby felt was only right because he’d been such a mess the day before, even though Dean felt little sympathy for him. They got his voicemail, so Bobby just left a quick message letting him know that Dean was okay and thanking him for his concern. He used the FBI line so he could put it on speakerphone in case Dean decided he wanted to say something, which was a mistake. Hearing Sam’s voice asking them to leave a message had broken through the numbness and reduced Dean to a puddle. Bobby knew this was going to take time, but lord, he hoped the crying would subside soon. He was rapidly running out of Kleenex for one thing, but much more importantly he didn’t think this kind of constant emotional upheaval was any good for Dean or the baby.

A week came and went and Dean did not go into heat, so they trekked into Sioux Falls and had Dean pee in a cup to verify what the four sticks he peed on already told them. He got the same doctor he’d seen the time before - Dr. Milton - who was glad to see him back and quizzed him on the literature she’d given him to make sure he had been reading it. When she noticed his significant change in demeanor and that he refused to be seen without Bobby (who was about as comfortable as a toad on a cactus) she asked if something had happened that she should know about, and after a bit of prodding Dean agreed to let Bobby give her the same highlights he’d given to Ellen the week before. Dr. Milton offered the services of a rape counselor who could attend his prenatal appointments if it would make him more comfortable, and strongly recommended that he contact the pup’s sire to see if he would attend them as well. Dean bristled at the idea, but she was insistent: having the alpha with him would make things easier and reduce his level of stress. The farther along the pregnancy went the more he was going to need to keep his stress down. Dean agreed to think about it before the next appointment, without having any intention of contacting Sam. He and Bobby were getting along just fine without an alpha in the house.

Except that they really weren’t. Bobby thought they were, because he couldn’t scent Dean’s constant fear and distress, and Dean was getting better at wearing an everything-is-normal-and life-is-fine mask. He’d heard the phrase “fake it til you make it” and it seemed to be a good strategy to go with for the time being. Sure he was a ball of anxiety and had no appetite and was growing increasingly afraid of leaving the house to go see Adam, and he really just wanted to drink himself into oblivion most days, but he had a baby to think about now and while he wasn’t going to pretend he was thrilled about it, he’d been raised to protect people that were smaller and weaker, and he certainly figured his kid qualified as both.

A couple of days before his second appointment at the clinic he broke down and told Bobby to call Sam and see if he could come up and maybe hold his hand. He felt ridiculous and weak, but his omega was demanding the presence of the alpha and continuing to fight against it was exhausting. Bobby grabbed the FBI phone again so that he could talk to Sam if Dean lost his nerve, but when they tried the number it had been disconnected. Dean went to absolute pieces at suddenly having no way to get in touch with Sam, and was barely able to get himself together in time for his appointment.

The rape counselor was there, a nice woman named Jody Mills who gave Dean her card, but her presence only took the edge off for him. She encouraged him to call any time if he needed to speak with her, and after confirming the pregnancy was not a result of the rape reasserted what everyone had already been telling Dean: he should get Sam involved as soon as possible. Dean managed not to sob the whole way through the appointment, but just barely. Bobby thought for sure they were going to have to call Adam and reschedule, but the night before they’d planned to leave for Ellen’s Dean determinedly packed a bag and put it in the Impala. He made sure to include plenty of clothes so that he could layer up, and brought the new jeans they’d had to buy him so he could sit down. He didn’t have anything like a bump yet, and probably wouldn’t for several more months, since Dr. Milton had explained that with his build and muscle tone his abdominal wall would not be flexible enough for the kind of pup pouch typically seen with an omega on his or her second or third pup until he was much farther along. Still, his middle had thickened all the way around; not really becoming fatty, just wider as his ribs started to expand to make room for the way his organs would gradually become rearranged as the baby grew and his uterus needed more space. It was freaky as hell, and all Bobby really got out of it was that Dean needed pants with a slightly larger waistband, so they’d stopped at Walmart on the way home.

It was a good thing it was early October by now, otherwise Dean would have looked really weird in his baggy pants, three shirts, and hoodie. The hoodie alone was probably going to tip Adam off to something being wrong. Dean never wore them, went on whole diatribes about how badly designed they were (“Why would you give a bad guy a hood to grab you by? An alpha came up with that, that’s for damn sure”), and despised looking like some preppy college kid, but for one thing they did wonders to hide an expanding middle and for another thing he could zip it all the way up and and hide the fact that there wasn’t a claim mark on his neck. In another month he’d have scarves as an option, but right now the only clothing choice besides hoodies were turtlenecks, and when it came to wearing turtlenecks he’d rather die.

Bobby considered trying to talk Dean out of bringing two handguns, a sawed off, a couple of boot knives and his Bowie knife with him on the trip but decided against it. Adam didn’t live on campus anymore so Dean wouldn’t have to worry about getting picked up by security with a gun in his belt (wouldn’t that be as fun as a theme park ride?), and if going in heavily armed made Dean feel better, Bobby wasn’t going to say anything. It was hard enough watching Dean try to imitate pre-parking-lot Dean Winchester as it was. Ellen and Jo were going to be an interesting test to see how well his current, forced swagger matched the easy confidence he’d had a couple of weeks ago.

They left Sioux Falls around lunch time and got to the Roadhouse in time for dinner. Jo and Ellen were already ready to go in a rust red Wagoneer with a white roof. They stood by the driver’s side as Bobby pulled the Impala up alongside them and got out. Dean was busy counting to fifty-three while Bobby walked around to give Ellen a hug and give Jo grief about the scowl on her face. He could do this. He would be okay. He didn’t trust Ellen and Jo to protect him from a bee sting at this point, but he had his Colt and his Bowie and boot knives and he was pretty sure he figured out how to move with something that kinda sorta looked like confidence in the right light. And if he got too nervous the hoodie had pockets right in the front and he could jam his hands into them until they stopped shaking, which they were now. Dammit. He bit the bullet and swung the car door open to climb out, forcing himself to smile and hoping it just looked strained and didn’t cross the line into crazed.

Ellen smiled at him gently, her eyes looking pained and like the sight of him hurt deeply. He swung quickly to look at Jo, who was oblivious and just barely managed to smirk.

“I hear I got you to thank for this road trip?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Sorry,” he said. “Promised Adam I’d come see him but uh...I haven’t been feelin’ that well lately. Didn’t want to drive myself.”

That was easier than he thought it would be after having barely talked to anyone besides Bobby for close to a month. Of course, none of it was a lie. If he had to come up with a lie on the spur of the moment that was going to be a lot harder.

“You do kinda look like shit,” Jo said, crossing over to assess him. He struggled to keep up the everything-is-fine-don’t-look-too-closely-at-the-cracks mask he’d been practicing in the mirror so that he could pass outside the house as someone who wasn’t losing his mind half the time. She reached out to rub his arm and he successfully managed to suppress a flinch. Little victories, he reminded himself. “What happened, you forget your hair gel?”

She knew him too well not to have noticed that he’d stopped styling his hair and just kind of combed it and left it to do what it wanted. It left him looking like he’d just rolled out of bed with it kind of half-matted down over his forehead and sticking up along the side. It was very much not like him. Crap. He’d forgotten when practicing his “normal” face that there were other aspects of his appearance that should be tended to as well to complete the facade. He gave her a little smirk and a shrug, growing increasingly uncomfortable under her assessing gaze.

“Runnin’ low on funds,” he replied. Okay, lying was still doable on-the-fly. “It was either scent blockers or pomade.”

Jo gave him her hundred watt smile and a small shove. It made his stomach lurch dangerously but he just shoved his shaking hands into his pockets and gave her a shoulder bump, hoping she didn’t notice how badly his whole body was trembling. She didn’t.

“Let’s get your stuff into the car Dean,” Ellen said as she and Bobby watched the interaction carefully. “We’ll swing by the house to have dinner and stay there for the night, then we can head out in the morning.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Dean replied with a small smile.

He fumbled with the back door handle of the Impala so he could grab his duffel and haul it out and over his shoulder, cursing his stupid emotions at how much of an effort it took just to do normal things without collapsing into hysterics. He felt very exposed out in the parking lot, even though he knew Bobby was carrying a gun and he knew Ellen would be, too. He schooled his features back into the calm, cool, and collected mask and went back to throw his stuff into the back seat and climb in. If Jo, Ellen, or Bobby noticed him immediately lock the back doors they didn’t show it. After a few minutes of goodbyes with Bobby, Ellen and Jo climbed in and the old hunter leaned down to give Dean a reassuring smile. He mouthed the words, “You got this,” then walked back over to the Impala.

Dean didn’t have it. He very much did not have it. But he was damn determined to fake it until he did.

Chapter Text

Adam couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this excited and frightened at the same time. Probably when his acceptance letter offering him a full ride arrived from Duke University and he couldn’t make himself open it for three days in case they were rejecting him. Duke was his top choice for a school, and if he hadn’t gotten in it would have felt like the end of his world. Looking back on it now it had been so incredibly naive of him to think a stupid letter could have held so much sway over his emotions when there were things far worse than not getting in to the school at the top of his list.

One of those far worse things was the main reason he was frightened, despite really wanting to see his big brother, who hadn’t come to visit since he ditched their dad in Las Vegas and drove all the way out to get Adam’s signature on the title to the Impala and celebrate that she was finally his. Dean had beamed and they’d gone out drinking, and for the first time in a long time since leaving Actaeon Dean hadn’t gotten drunk. It was like having the freedom to go wherever he wanted whenever he wanted had set him free and there was no need to use beer to forget about the deep, dark cell his father had him trapped in. He’d hung around for a couple of days, flirting with Adam’s beta friends and wooing a couple of them (one girl, Elka, still talked about how he was the best sex she’d ever had a full year later), then took off in his Baby. Adam had literally never seen him so happy.

Adam, of course, hadn’t had anything to drink the entire time Dean was visiting. He hadn’t had anything to drink practically since his graduation party. The friends that he’d made freshman year all thought he was some kind of prude or teetotaler, and he’d made up a story about how his dad was an abusive alcoholic who’d beat him as a kid. It’s not like it was too far off. John drank too much and was distant, though he’d never actually raised a hand to either of them; at least not as far as Adam knew. He personally had never felt the back of John’s hand, and though the way John ignored Dean’s emotional needs qualified as abusive, especially for an omega, Dean had never complained of being hit. So he’d told everyone that he didn’t want to fall into that trap, and they’d accepted it, even if they did keep trying to press him to loosen up and just have a beer or two.

It struck him as really odd, the way people treated alcohol. Crackheads didn’t continually pressure you to try crack after you’d said “No thanks.” No one doing cocaine insisted that you just do one line so you could lighten up. And all the potheads he knew basically responded with “Okay, cool” when you said you didn’t want a hit. Why everyone seemed to think it was normal to continue to push a mind-altering substance at him that he’d repeatedly refused as if somehow he was the one behaving inappropriately really raised his hackles sometimes.

They probably would have stopped if they’d known why he wouldn’t touch the stuff. That he’d gotten blind stinking drunk one night after graduation and left his omega brother vulnerable and it had ended with his former best friend needing to wipe his jizz on his brother’s skin in order to keep a trio of assholes from coming to drag him away into a forced matehood in the stupid, backwards state of Louisiana. He never should have watched the tape of that night after winter finals his sophomore year, but his girlfriend Claire had dumped him and he’d gotten wasted for the first time since the party. She was his first girlfriend, his first sexual experience, and she was a cold hearted bitch. They’d been together over a year and he’d twisted himself into a pretzel for her. When she’d dumped him for an alpha she’d called him a weak little beta and said she needed a real man. It brought up a lot of the shit he’d buried since that night in Shreveport, and he’d decided fuck it and figured out how to hook the camcorder up to his television.

He’d been fantasizing off and on of tracking down Christian, Mark, and Tyler and just straight up slitting their throats while they slept, but he had so much to lose now, and he had been out of hunting for what felt like a lifetime. He figured watching the tape might spur him into taking revenge for what they’d done to Dean, since he obviously wasn’t strong willed enough to follow through without prompting. He’d kept up his fighting skills from Actaeon but still worried that college was making him soft. He’d thought he was adjusting just fine to civilian life, but every now and then the bloodlust of the hunt demanded a target, and he had three of them. He was just (by Claire’s assessment) too chicken shit to do anything about it.

So he’d watched the tape, drunk off his ass, thinking it would light a fire under him and he’d finally use his winter break to hunt down the bastards that had hurt his brother. It was such a mistake. Such a terrible, horrible, awful, undoable mistake. He couldn’t even make it all the way through. Hell, he could barely watch most of it, and sat through what he could get through with his eyes cast down to the floor, just listening for the most part. He could hardly think of Dean now without images of what had been done to him flashing through his mind. It was a good thing the nursing program was almost universally made up of betas, because he could barely control himself in the presence of an alpha now. He’d been so glad that he and Sam didn’t really see each other anymore. He could maintain a friendship with an alpha if they were just a voice on the other end of the phone. Had Sam still existed in Adam’s physical world he wouldn’t have been able to look at him without wanting to beat his face in.

His roommate, Becky, had just about needed to physically restrain him after the phone call with Sam almost two months ago now when Sam had told him about Laramie. She’d tried to convince him it was no big deal, that they were grown-ups who could make their own decisions, and yeah, she’d be upset if her best friend slept with her brother too but it wasn’t worth killing someone over. Becky of course did not understand anything about the situation, or that Adam literally meant to kill Sam, and Adam made a mental note to find himself another roommate for his senior year. He didn’t doubt her opinion was heavily influenced by the photo Adam had taped to the fridge of him and Sam at Adam’s graduation. She’d mentioned how “firm” Sam looked more than once. When he took the photo off the fridge and went to tear it up she’d asked if she could have it, and while he definitely thought it was weird he’d tossed it at her. As long as she didn’t put it back up on the fridge he didn’t care what she did with it.

It should have mollified him when he talked to Dean a few days later and his brother sounded fine, but it didn’t. Something had cracked in Adam the night of the party, and no matter how he’d tried to act like everything would be fine if Dean never found out what had happened to him he knew deep down in a box he’d buried and wouldn’t open ever if he could help it that it wasn’t in any way true. He’d studied enough in the nursing program to understand muscle memory, and knew that Sam had probably been right to say on some level Dean was probably aware something had happened to him. Still, it was easier to cling to the idea that someday soon, maybe right after he graduated, he’d be able to convince Dean to come live with him, and they’d get an apartment with a security system and a bunch of guns and a big ass Rottweiler, and Adam would never let any knothead near his brother again, than it was to accept the reality that life, as a rule, was fraught with danger and Adam could no more protect Dean from every alpha on the planet than he could stop the earth from revolving around the sun.

When Bobby and Dean called to say that Dean was thinking of coming for a visit and was going to bring along his friend Jo and her mom so Jo could look at the college Adam had gone into cleaning mode and driven Becky nuts. Adam knew Jo and Ellen were from the Roadhouse but had never met either of them, so he wanted to make a good impression, plus he knew how much of a stickler Dean was for cleanliness. It was the first time that Dean had actively tried to meld the hunting world with Adam’s academic world, and he desperately hoped that meant Dean was thinking of getting out of the life. He didn’t expect he’d cut everyone off that he knew when he retired, and Adam liked Jo and Ellen, at least from the conversations he’d had with them. He’d make this weekend so great that Dean wouldn’t be able to imagine going back to a life filled with literal monsters and economic instability and he could finally start to give his brother the nice, safe life he deserved. However, he couldn’t shake the gnawing feeling that something was about to go horribly wrong.

He hadn’t known what he was expecting when Ellen and Jo called to say they were only about ten minutes away from his apartment in Old West Durham, but it wasn’t a brunette beta with steely eyes and her tough-as-nails daughter whose handshake was as firm as any man’s. There was a frontier quality to both of them that he liked immediately. These were the kind of women who, a hundred and fifty years ago, would have given birth to a child in the morning and then gone to help raise a barn in the afternoon. He didn’t expect Duke would be a particularly good fit for Jo, but he could see why Ellen wanted her daughter away from hunting. She was smart, tough, and attractive. There was no reason for her to commit herself to a violent life and potential early death. He felt the same way about Dean.

If he hadn’t been so distracted by the two betas he might have really noticed that Dean hadn’t gotten out of the car yet, but his brain only registered it absently, figuring he must be going through his things before getting out. It took to the count of twenty-seven for Dean to exit the back seat, carrying his duffel over his shoulder, and Adam broke away from Jo’s questions about the house they lived in and how far it was from campus and exclaimed, “Dean!”

“Hey Runt,” Dean said as Adam enveloped him in a hug. “How’re things?”

“Better now that you’re here.” He pulled away to look at Dean with a smile, and noticed that his brother’s smile looked strained. Also, Dean hadn’t done his hair and he was looking ashen, with slight dark circles under his eyes. In addition to that he had stiffened slightly at the hug and was wearing very un-Dean-like clothing. It raised his alarm bells immediately and he ran a hand along his brother’s arm. “You okay? You don’t look very good.”

“It’s been a long trip,” Ellen broke in, coming down to maneuver Adam casually away from Dean. “Why don’t you show us around? I’ve been tryin’ to convince Jo of the wonders of college for a while now.”

“My mother, who lives to embarrass me,” Jo said with an eye roll. “I’ll grab our stuff and be right up.”

“Okay,” Adam said. “Apartment three, second floor.”

Ellen steered him away and into the house, and almost had him through the entryway into the front hall before Adam was able to see Dean’s full body flinch as a guy rode by on his bike, wolf whistling at Jo as she was getting their bags out of the back of the car. He saw Dean reach for the back of his waistband, almost like he was carrying, but Dean would have no reason to bring a gun to Adam’s apartment. They were ten minutes from campus. The worst thing he was going to encounter out here were soccer moms who hadn’t had their second cappuccino this morning and were counting the minutes until wine o’clock. He might have gone back if Ellen hadn’t been chattering at him about having an apartment in a house instead of on campus and strong-arming him inside. He just barely caught Jo stopping to check on Dean before the door closed, and he noticed that she looked really worried. That made him wonder if he should be really worried, too.

Becky was waiting for them in the living room, bursting out with how excited she was to finally meet some friends of Adam’s from his “old life,” even though Adam had just met Ellen three minutes ago. Apparently Adam hadn’t made a huge secret about being part of a hunting family, and of course he never lied when asked where he’d gone to high school, but still. Becky seemed to think that hunting was just the sexiest profession ever, which brought a thin-lipped smile from Ellen. When Dean made his way into the apartment with Jo, she sized him up and declared, “You’re...not what I pictured.” It was clearly time to get her out of the house.

“Becky, why don’t you go run to the store on the corner and get us some beer?” Adam suggested, manhandling her towards the door.

“But you don’t drink,” Becky objected, trying not to be ushered out when there were new and interesting people in her living room. “Hey! Do you guys know Sam Campbell?”

Dean blanched and Ellen reached out quickly to grab his arm in support, but Jo snorted and said, “Yeah, we know Sam. Real knothead that one.”

She’d meant it as a deterrent, but it seemed to just make Becky more interested.

“Really?” she squealed, and Adam went back to shoving her towards the door.

“Beer Becky,” he snapped. “Now. Dean, what do you want? El Sol?”

“Nothing for me, thanks.” Dean’s voice sounded forced as he dropped his duffel on the floor. Adam looked back at him and thought he looked worse than he had downstairs. What the hell was going on? Was Dean sick and no one was telling him? “I gotta use the bathroom.”

“Past the kitchen,” he said, pointing to a doorway that led off to the bathroom and bedrooms. “All the way at the end of the hall.”

Dean nodded and hurried off down the hall as Becky continued to object to being booted from the apartment.

“What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever hunted?” she asked Ellen, at which point Adam shoved her out the door. “Hey! Adam! I don’t have my keys!”

“I’ll let you in when you get back,” he informed her, and she stomped her foot and stormed off. “Sorry about that. She seemed fine when I found her on roommates.com. References checked out and everything.”

“They probably wanted to make sure she didn’t come back to live with them,” Jo snarked, and he laughed.

“I didn’t think of that.” He gave her a smile and headed into the kitchen. “You guys hungry? I think I’ve got a frozen pizza in here and I know we have some snack-type stuff. Crackers, chips, carrots and hummus. Unless you want to go out and grab something to eat before Becky gets back. I have a feeling we’re going to be stuck with her all night if we don’t get rid of her now.”

“Sounds good to me,” Jo said. “Not to make any snap judgments, but I don’t know how you can live with that.”

“I think we’ll wait for Dean to get back out to decide,” Ellen said politely but firmly. “Like I said, it’s been a long trip.”

“Maybe his stomach’s feeling better now though,” Jo suggested before turning to Adam. “He’s barely eaten the whole ride out. Keeps getting nauseous halfway through his meal.”

“Nauseated,” Adam corrected, finding this bit of news disconcerting. She raised an eyebrow at him and he smiled. “Sorry, force of habit. They’re adamant about using the correct terms in my biology classes. He’s been like this how long?”

“Just a couple of days,” Ellen interjected smoothly. “Bobby said he ate something that disagreed with him when we met up.”

“Still,” Adam said. “Food poisoning only usually lasts two to three days. Maybe we should take him to the hospital on campus…”

“I think it’s probably just that and our car. Dean’s not used to sittin’ in the back and we ain’t got the best suspension. No need for a hospital visit.” She hooked her arm through Jo’s and smiled at him. “You know what, why don’t we go grab somethin’ to eat and bring it back? I noticed a diner down the street, we’ll just go get some burgers or somethin’. Give you two a chance to catch up? We can waylay Becky on the way back if we see her.”

Adam laughed at the thought of his obnoxious roommate being waylaid.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea. Thanks Ellen.”

“Sure thing.” She swung her daughter around towards the door. “Come on Joanna Beth.”

Jo was thoroughly confused.

“Mom…” she sputtered. “We just got here…”

“And we’ll be gettin’ right back. Come on.”

Jo shot Adam an apologetic look, which got her a smile from Dean’s younger brother, and they vanished out the door. Adam had already decided that he really liked Ellen and Jo and that this weekend was indeed going to be awesome, and headed down the hall to check on his brother, who had been in the bathroom a really long time by this point.  

“Hey Dean, what happened?” he called. “Did you fall in?”

The door to the bathroom was closed, and as Adam approached the hairs on the back of his neck began to stand up. It sounded distinctly like Dean was in there crying. Why would Dean be crying? Was he really feeling that sick? He knocked softly on the door.

“Dean? You okay?”

The crying stopped and the water ran in the sink for a minute, then after a few more moments Dean opened the door and walked past Adam towards the living room, not even looking at him. Something settled in the pit of Adam’s stomach that felt very much like fear, and he broke out into a cold sweat as he followed his brother back down the hall. Dean sat down on the couch, spreading his hands on the coffee table to stop them from trembling (how long had Dean’s hands been trembling?) while he looked at his feet. Adam was really frightened now, though his conscious mind didn’t understand why. His subconscious, however, already knew the general direction this was going.

“Dean? Talk to me.”

Dean picked up a text book that was sitting on the coffee table - Designation Delusions: The Overemphasis on Pheromone Importance in Alphas and Omegas. He opened it to the Table of Contents and then flipped to the foreword before reading aloud.

“It has long been held as fact that alphas are the dominant designation, betas the neutral, and omegas the submissive,” he said. “But what if we’ve all been sold a bill of goods? What if pheromones have far less to do with behavior and thought patterns than cultural assumptions about designation? In this book we will attempt to unpack the differences between the three designations, showing omega brains are not hardwired for empathy and alpha brains are not hardwired for aggression, but instead that both designations’ stereotypical behavior usually excused as being because they were ‘born that way’ are in fact mutable and can be changed significantly by environmental factors, and that pheromones have almost no impact on the way the designations relate.” He closed the front cover and tossed it back down on the coffee table. “Guess it’s easy to tell which books around here were written by betas.”

“It’s actually a very interesting theory with a lot of academic research to back it up,” Adam told him. “Several thousand college students volunteered for one study at Harvard alone…”

“Several thousand, huh?” Dean raised an eyebrow at him. “How many of those several thousand were omegas?”

That was an odd question, one Adam had never thought to ask.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Some, I would think.”

“Really? At Harvard? When your average omega doesn’t even graduate high school? You think there were ‘some’ out of ‘several thousand’ and that makes it interesting...what did you call it...academic research?” He picked up the book and tossed it across the floor. “You takin’ that for your nursing degree?”

“No.” Adam picked it up and set it on the kitchen counter. “It’s an elective. Designation Studies and the Impact of Society on the Omega.”

“Huh.” Dean scratched his chin. “So the professor teaching that’s an omega?”

“No…” Adam was really getting confused. “Professor Harrington is a beta.”

“Right. And Professor Harrington teaches these kinds of things based on personal experience? That the designations are a ‘social construct’ and alphas and omegas are just usin’ biology as an excuse for the way they behave around each other?” Adam stared at him, blinking. “Don’t look so surprised that I understood that crap, Runt. I did almost graduate from high school.”

“I know Dean, it’s just…” Adam laughed. He was completely baffled by the conversation. “I’m not sure why we’re discussing my designation class.”

“I just find it interesting,” Dean told him. “There’s all this talk about how alphas are the ones keeping omegas down all by themselves, but what I’m seeing here are a bunch of betas standin’ around discussin’ us with no actual input from the boots on the ground and makin’ decisions about who we are and what we need without even botherin’ to ask how we feel.”

“Dean, what…”

“Cuz I’ll tell you, Adam, your Designation Theories professor may have a bunch of degrees and done a bunch of ‘academic research,’ but that don’t change the way I feel right now.” Adam could see Dean had started to shake, but had no idea what to do to make him stop. “And the way I feel right now is like someone’s gonna bust down the door and drag me off into your bedroom or maybe into the kitchen or maybe pin me down right here and just rape the shit out of me, and god, I just want a big, strong alpha that I know I can trust to curl up against and scent so they can keep me safe. I know that it’s stupid and needy and weak and it’s humiliating and it isn’t really gonna make anything better but it’s the only thing I fuckin’ want. It’s the only thing I can think about, that could possibly make me stop being pants shittin’ scared for more than five minutes. Problem is, Adam, I don’t know any big strong alphas that I can trust outside of Benny, and he’s expectin’ his second kid any day now, so I can’t exactly move in with him and his mate and ask him to chase away the bogeyman.” Dean’s eyes were big and wide and watery, but he didn’t stop. “Now, there used to be another big strong alpha that I thought I could trust, but it turns out he’s been keepin’ a really big secret from me, and from what he says he’s been keepin’ it because you told him to. I haven’t actually talked to him, though, because he changed his number and I’m too afraid of leavin’ Bobby’s house to track him down, so I figured the next best thing was to come here with my two beta bodyguards who don’t in any way make me feel protected, even though I’d never tell them that because they mean well and they’re doin’ all they can, and talk to you.”

Adam was trembling almost as badly as Dean now. Fuck. Dean knew about the basement. Adam didn’t know how to respond, outside of saying weakly, “I can explain…”

“I don’t want an explanation.” Dean interjected calmly. He didn’t seem to care how pale Adam had become. “I understand you’ve got a porno with me in the starring role. I’d very much like to see it.”

“Dean…”

“I’m not askin’, Adam. I’m tellin’. I’d like you to go downstairs and keep Ellen and Jo and your weird roommate out of here while I find out somethin’ I should have known about a couple of years ago.”

“How did you…” Adam’s mouth went dry as his eyes grew moist. “Did Sam…”

“I just told you, Sam didn’t tell me shit,” Dean replied calmly. Too calmly. “Don’t make me say it again, Adam.”

Adam felt the world tipping off its axis. He couldn’t let Dean watch that tape. Dean didn’t know how bad it was. Adam had to protect him from what he was asking to see.   

“Dean…” He took a step towards the couch. “You don’t want to see it.”

Dean was on him before he could blink. Adam had never known omegas could be so fast or so strong. Logically he should have known, because it was Dean, and Dean was not a normal omega, but he was still in shock as he looked at his brother’s shining golden eyes and descended canines. The only time Adam had ever seen him like this was at the beginning of the tape, and it was wildly different in person. It seemed to click for him for the first time in his life that omegas were not simply betas with a heightened sense of smell and a lower sense of self worth. Dean had him on the ground, pinned beneath him, with his massive left forearm pressing down on Adam’s throat and his boot knife in his right hand. He slammed the blade into the floor beside Adam’s head. Adam thought somewhat hysterically that his brother might actually kill him.

Don’t tell me what I want!” Dean roared, a tear sliding out of his left eye and down the bridge of his nose to splash on Adam’s face. Another one from his right eye followed immediately after. “You don’t get to decide what I want! No one gets to decide that but me! Get me the fucking tape and get out of here!”

Adam nodded, struggling desperately to breathe, and Dean rolled off of him and went back to perch on the couch, his body tightly coiled and ready to pounce again if necessary. Adam coughed and rolled away, standing up with difficulty. He turned and regarded Dean for a moment, before heading off to his bedroom to find the camcorder and cables to hook it up to the television. He paused in the entry to the hall and looked at his brother, his heart racing.

“Do you want me to hook it up…” he asked quietly. “I can…”

“I got it.” Dean didn’t look at him. “Put it down and get out.”

“Dean…”

Dean shot to his feet and fixed a cold, hard stare on Adam, daring him to finish the sentence. Gone was the uncharacteristically timid Dean who had startled when the biker passed. This was the Dean who still held the majority of Section 1 Hunter Qualification - Alpha Division records at the national level, who had been hunting professionally since he was twelve, and who was possibly the best hunter there was, even if no one would ever admit it. Adam could feel the tears running down his face and wiped them away. He set the camcorder and connecting cords on the coffee table before heading down to the front stoop to wait for everyone else to come back.

Chapter Text

The instant the door shut behind his brother Dean collapsed to the couch, shaking all over. He was surprised that his knees had held out on him until Adam was gone, but he was continuing to accept the little victories. Still, no matter how his anger had just fueled him he was now feeling spent, and he needed to find the reserves to hook up the camcorder. Part of him, a large part, was shouting that there was time to abandon this plan, that he didn’t really have to watch the tape, but he pushed those thoughts away. He’d spent weeks imagining the worst possible scenarios his traumatized brain could dream up, some of them very, very bad, and while he may very well see that much of that had happened, he couldn’t see a way forward if he didn’t know. He’d built his entire life around knowing what he was fighting, no matter how horrible. He didn’t know how he was supposed to fight something that hadn’t been defined in concrete terms. He went back to the bathroom to grab the trash can just in case he needed it to throw up in, then started hooking up the camcorder.

It only took a couple of tries to get the cords hooked up the correct way and get the recording from the camcorder to display on the screen. He told himself over and over that this was just like watching a scary movie. If it got to be too much he would just close his eyes and wait until it was over. That was better than most of the horrors he dealt with in his daily life. After two years he’d only remembered bits and pieces of this, whereas he could recall in vivid detail no fewer than five hunts where he’d almost died that still woke him from his sleep drenched in sweat. These were just going to be images on a screen, and he would be able to look away if he needed to without dying. He was sure he’d be able to tell what was going on by the sound for any parts he couldn’t watch, and it would still give him the confirmation he was looking for. He picked up the trash can to hold in his lap and pushed “Play.”

The quality of the video was sharp, and full color. Dean noted the room the video was being taken in. It looked to be made of cement block and was windowless. The camera was jiggling, which meant someone was holding it instead of using a tripod, and it was trained on a large bed with no comforter but only sheets. The handcuffs built into the headboard did not escape his notice.

Tyler Campbell was the first person in the frame, looking past the camera and laughing. He was holding a glass of cloudy amber liquid.

Come over here Dean,” he commanded using his alpha voice. “Have a drink.”

Dean watched himself stumble into frame. He was unsteady on his feet, but his expression was murderous. Wordlessly he took the glass from Tyler and took a sip.

Drink it all,” Tyler ordered, and Dean, too drunk to resist a command from an alpha, did.

Have a seat on the bed.”

It was a different voice; Mark Campbell. Dean was glaring off camera, his eyes glowing gold as his canines descended in rage, but he obeyed.

Put your teeth away.

Dean watched his canines retreat on command as Mark walked into the frame and grabbed his jaw, tipping his face up to look him square in the eye. A third voice came from behind the camera; Christian Campbell.

“Tyler go keep watch outside.”

Tyler actually pouted.

“You guys are gonna leave time for me, right?” he whined. “The roaches only last about twenty minutes.”

“Go outside,” Christian snarled, and Tyler stomped off screen like an angry toddler.

“You look like you wanna say something, Dean,” Mark was saying. “Speak, bitch.”

Dean’s speech was terribly slurred, but he knew exactly what he wanted to say.

“I’m gonna cut off yer dick an’ feed it to you,” he hissed, and Mark grabbed his face violently, squeezing his jaw.

Stop talking and open your mouth, Dean,” he ordered, stripping off his shirt and dropping his pants.

Dean watched in horror until Mark rubbed his rock hard cock against his cheek, and then he closed his eyes tight and told himself that he didn’t have to look, no one was going to make him look, nothing would kill him if he didn’t look, he just needed to know roughly what happened, that didn’t mean he had to see it. The comments Mark was making now were too much, vile and dirty and suggestive, and he covered his ears as well. He could still hear Mark and Christian’s muffled commentary, and didn’t look again until they sounded annoyed. He opened his eyes to see what was happening and discovered that he was now looking at himself unconscious sideways on the bed. Mark apparently hadn’t finished with his mouth, because he was extremely irritated.

“That’s easy for you to say, you got off!” Mark snapped at the camera.

Jesus, Christian had jerked off to whatever Mark had been doing. Dean leaned into the garbage can and threw up, tears springing to his eyes.

“Well he’s passed out, so get his clothes off and take him for a ride!” Christian snapped. “Don’t know what you’re so pissed about. He’s gonna be easier to handle this way anyway. No risk of getting bit.”

“Fine,” Mark grumbled, and started to strip off Dean’s shirt, which he dropped by the pillow before pulling down his shorts and boxers.

Dean covered his ears and closed his eyes again as Christian and Mark started in with more commentary, even more disgusting than before. He could still hear enough to know exactly what was happening, and began to hum to himself desperately to try to drown it out. The humming wasn’t enough though - he could still hear too much - so he reached back into his head for something soothing that could help him just get through this. Millie charged forward to protect him.

Pardon me if I'm sentimental when we say goodbye

Don't be angry with me should I cry

Now when you're gone, yet I'll dream a little dream as years go by

Now and then, there's a fool such as I

Mark was grunting and shouting in the background and Dean could feel himself starting to hyperventilate in response. He rocked himself as he tried to make the music in his head playback louder, tried to remember all of his mother’s inflections when she crooned him to sleep, the way her hands played through his hair, and sang along with the memory of her to keep himself breathing.

Now and then, there's a fool such as I am over you

You taught me how to love and now

You say that we are through

I'm a fool but I'll love you dear until the day I die

Now and then, there's a fool such as I

He could hear Mark come and leaned over the trash can to throw up again. This had been a bad idea. He had been wrong. Jesus he had been so very wrong. Knowing wasn’t better. Knowing was worse. Adam had been right. He shouldn’t have hooked this up. He needed to stop throwing up so he could turn it off.

Christian had switched the camera with Mark and turned on some music - Welcome to the Jungle. The two alphas were laughing as Christian climbed up onto the bed, dropping his pants down to his thighs and rolling Dean onto his stomach.

“Let me show you how a real alpha handles an omega,” he said, and Dean reached with a shaking hand for the camcorder to turn it off, but wasn’t quick enough and had to stop to grip the garbage can and throw up again as he saw Christian thrust into him.

While his face was in the trash can the video took a hard left turn. Someone pounded on the outside door, and he heard Tyler’s muffled voice.

“Hey! Christian! Man, open up! I think I hear someone upstairs!”

Christian stopped and pulled out, frozen and looming over Dean.

“What?”

“I think someone’s upstairs!” Tyler repeated. “Maybe Sam woke up? I dunno know. Let me in! We gotta keep it quiet down here!”

Sam ‘woke up?’ Why had Sam not been awake?

The camera was swinging around away from the bed as Mark walked to the door, snapping, “Godammit, Tyler…”

Mark was opening the door, but he barely had it cracked before he was rushed. Dean saw flashes of Tyler with Sam right behind him, and what looked to be at least three other people. There was a series of shouts and it sounded like at least one person was being taken to the floor. The camera caught a glimpse of a young black woman with what looked like Dean’s gun backing Mark up against the wall, then the camera was batted away and fell to the ground. The lens ended up pointed at the floor beside the bed. The image jumped for just a second before the camera continued recording.

“Get. Off. Him.”

It was the memory from the parking lot. Sam was talking to Christian. Christian was making gross comments about Dean being prepped. Sam made a sound unlike anything Dean had ever heard, guttural and animalistic and suddenly there was more shouting and Sam and Christian were half in frame on the floor. Sam had Dean’s old Bowie knife, the one he hadn’t been able to find after leaving Shreveport. He’d impaled Christian through the shoulder, and there was more screaming, and then Sam was strangling Christian one-handed and declaring that Dean was his and anyone who touched him was going to end up gutted like a deer. Dean had stopped throwing up and started trembling. He’d never seen Sam alpha-out before. It was terrifying, but at the same time he wasn’t terrified anymore. His omega recognized the safety of Sam’s alpha, and while he didn’t feel exactly calm his growing hysteria was rapidly subsiding and he was able to breathe again as he stared at the screen, transfixed. He heard Adam crying in the background, could make out that Adam was talking to him, but not what he was saying. Sam ripped the knife out of Christian’s shoulder and stood up mostly out of frame. He was gigantic. It made his omega feel even safer, if still not anything close to calm. There was blood everywhere from the knife. He heard one of the women talking, telling Mark exactly what was going to happen, making it clear the three cousins were very close to being shot, salted, and burned in the backyard if they didn’t play their cards right, then Mark and Tyler were getting Christian up off the floor and dragging him out of the room.

A few moments later Sam collapsed back into the frame, reaching over towards the bed - towards him. He and Adam were both crying. Adam sounded hammered. Sam was leaning over. It looked like he was trying to scent Dean. They agreed to take Dean to the hospital. It took a long time to get him off the bed. Sam was saying to get the camcorder so they’d have leverage. Adam was bundling the camcorder up in Dean’s clothes.

The camera kept rolling.

They were going upstairs - had he been in some kind of basement? Adam was carrying the camera. Sam was carrying Dean. Most of the shots were of the wall or the floor or sometimes some fabric. Someone came back inside. A girl, the third person from the basement that wasn’t Adam and wasn’t the girl who had taken out Mark. She was saying something about laws. Bad laws. Terrifying laws. Laws that would let Mark or Christian claim Dean. No one had been there to know who had done what to him, so the possibility that any of the cousins could claim him had been very real. Adam was clearly scared they would come back to try to force Dean into matehood with one of them. It seemed a valid concern - it was two years later and suddenly it was all Dean could think about; the possibility of Mark or Christian staking a claim. Dean would need to make sure he didn’t take any jobs in Louisiana just in case. There was something about Sam needing to get his scent on Dean, needing to mark him to prevent his cousins from coming back for Dean. Dean felt filthy listening to it. Sam was appalled at the idea. Adam got immediately on board with what the girl was saying. He sounded numb. The girl left.

The camera kept rolling.

Sam and Adam were getting Dean into a bathroom. Adam put the camera on the floor with Dean’s clothes. He could hear Sam helping Adam get him into a bathtub and a shower started. He saw Sam moving bottles of something to the floor, then the sheet dropped over the camera so there was only the sound. Sam was going to go lock up the house. Adam was going to wash Dean. Sam’s feet padded away out of the room. There was the sound of the shower, and of Adam crying, and then after a while he started talking.

“Dean? Dean, could you wake up? I really need to talk to you, Dean, I’m really scared, I don’t know...I don’t know how to fix this. And you always know how to fix things. Always. I need you to wake up and...and tell me how to fix this. I remember, when we were little - I think I was maybe five - I started asking questions. How come dad left us at the school? Why did the older kids have guns? Why did Dad travel around for work all the time? And you used to beg me, ‘Quit asking, Runt. Man, you don’t want to know.’ You just wanted me to be a kid, as long as I could. You just wanted to protect me from the truth. And when you presented, and they made you leave, I promised myself that when I got out I was always going to protect you . Just like you protected me. All those things everybody kept saying, every time you came to visit. It made me so mad the way they all looked at you, they way they all tried to smell you, and I swore, I swore that I would keep you safe from them. It was my responsibility, you know? It’s like I had one job. I had one job and I screwed it up. I blew it. All I had to do was watch you, and I couldn’t even do that. I couldn’t even watch you for one fucking night. How am I supposed to live with that?” He was sobbing. Dean could barely understand what he was saying. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, Dean. Please tell me what to do. God...I have to keep you safe. I don’t know how to do that like this. I can’t keep you safe if you won’t leave this life cuz you’re always gonna be surrounded by them. I need to get you out of hunting, Dean. I swear, I’m gonna get you out of hunting, and when I get out of school you’re going to come live with me. And I will keep you safe. No alpha is ever going to touch you again, I promise Dean. I’m so sorry I got so drunk…”

Sam was back. The house was locked up. Dean heard himself waking up. Heard a struggle in the tub. Heard himself scream. Sam was soothing him. Getting him out of the tub. Dean was throwing up, asking why he was naked. Adam was lying - straight up lying . Telling Dean he’d had too much to drink. Making Dean think he’d just been irresponsible. They needed to get Dean some clothes, but Dean didn’t want Sam to leave. Sam sounded reluctant to go, but then Sam and Adam were leaving the room. Someone scooped up the clothes and the sheet and the camera. They left the bathroom and walked for a ways. Adam was insisting they weren’t going to tell Dean what had happened. Sam was upset, objecting - they had to tell him. Adam said he was scared Dean couldn’t handle knowing. They blamed themselves for what had happened to him. Sam never expected Dean to forgive him. Adam was worried Dean would never trust him again. Adam wore Sam down, and after a few minutes Sam promised to do his best not to say anything. Sam was going to burn the clothes and the sheets while Adam got Dean dressed, and the camcorder was popped into the darkness of what might have been a cookie jar or maybe a breadbox.

There wasn’t any more audio and the battery eventually died.

Dean sat on the couch staring at the blank TV screen for what felt like years, then grabbed the trash can and bolted for the bathroom. He didn’t really have anything left in his stomach, but it rolled anyway. He was surprised at how little he was actually feeling besides the nausea, but imagined he was simply too overloaded at the moment to process what he’d just watched. He was almost certainly in shock and would probably not be able to get out of the car tomorrow. When his stomach had settled he emptied the trash can into the toilet, flushed, and rinsed it out in the shower. If he’d been thinking clearly he would have left it there for Adam to clean up - he sure as hell deserved it - but he was on automatic and his omega wouldn’t dream of leaving vomit uncleaned. He went back to the living room, grabbed his duffel, shoved the camcorder into it, and headed downstairs.

At least now he knew.

The walk down to the front of the building gave Dean plenty of time to start to feel again, and what he was feeling for the most part was anger. Intense anger. At the Campbells, at the Louisiana legislature, and at Sam and his brother. At least Sam knew he shouldn’t be forgiven. He’d said so on the tape. But Adam - how could Adam have thought he had any right to keep this from Dean, or to demand that Sam go along with keeping this from Dean? When he was spouting off that bullshit about Adam’s omega class he had no idea how close he actually was to the truth. Adam didn’t trust him to make his own decisions. Omegas were too programmed by society to know what they actually wanted as far as Adam was concerned. In his mind Dean might as well be a child. He was no better than the alphas he wanted to protect Dean from.

By the time he’d made it to the front stoop he was seething and pushed right past his brother, his brother’s stupid roommate, Ellen, and Jo. The stupid roommate was complaining about how long they’d been outside, and Adam looked like he’d just been face to face with a Wendigo without a flare gun on hand. Dean ignored the confusion and concern on Jo and Ellen’s faces, respectively, and headed off down the sidewalk.

“Dean, where are you going?” Ellen asked.

He didn’t even glance at her.

“Bus station. Catchin’ a ride back home. You guys have a nice weekend.”

“Dean…” Jo said, and he heard someone running after him.

“Dean, wait…”

It was Adam. His stupid, stupid brother Adam. Dean swung around, dropping his duffel to the ground, and stopped him in his tracks with his glowing gold eyes.

“Walk away Adam,” he warned.

“I can’t...I can’t just let you wander around Durham, Dean…” Adam said helplessly.

He looked like he was about to cry again. Dean couldn’t have given less of a fuck. He advanced on Adam and shoved him, violently.

“Oh, you can’t let me?” he sneered. “How are you gonna stop me, Adam? More lies?”

And now Adam was crying, his shoulders shaking, as huge tears rolled down his face and his breath came in short gasps. Ellen had taken a couple of steps towards them, but Jo and Becky were frozen on the front steps of the house.

“Dean…” he choked. “I’m so sorry…”

Adam was coming up with the wrong things to say all over the place today. Dean hauled back and swung with everything he had, laying Adam out on his ass on the pavement. Adam turned over to spit the blood out of his mouth. It felt like maybe he’d cracked a molar.

“Sorry ain’t good enough,” Dean spat, glaring down at him. “Sorry isn’t gonna give me back the two years you just took from me that I coulda been dealing with this. Sorry isn’t gonna make me trust you, or forgive you, or give up the life to move in with you, or whatever other crap you were hopin’ for. Sorry’s not gonna fix shit .”

“I made a mistake,” Adam wept, holding onto the ground so he wouldn’t fly off as the world broke apart around him. “Please Dean…”

“Sometimes that happens,” Dean told him coldly. “Sometimes people make mistakes, and some of them can never be fixed. Bye Adam.”

He moved back to his duffel, swept it up off the sidewalk, and stalked away down the street. He couldn’t be near his brother anymore. He would do something he really regretted, like breaking his nose or his knees or some other part of his body that wouldn’t result in permanent damage but would certainly give him an outlet for the rage that was overflowing from him. And he couldn’t be this angry and this out of control in public. He needed to stay aware of his surroundings. He had to fight his omega instincts when he heard Adam cry, “Dean!” after him like his heart had broken, and pressed on, heading for the diner on the corner. His stomach had recovered from the earlier events and he was starving. He’d grab a bite to eat, find out where the nearest bus station was, and get the hell out of this place for good.

The diner was a themed place called Cherry’s, with neon lights, booths that looked like the rear ends of classic cars, servers in retro clothing, and what appeared to be a real honest-to-goodness vintage malt and milkshake station behind the counter. Each of the booths had a tabletop jukebox that connected to the sound system and allowed the patrons to select a song from the catalogue without having to get up and walk over to the actual jukebox that stood against the far wall by the entrance to the bathrooms. The sign at the front instructed him to seat himself, and he surveyed the packed diner for the best spot while Earth Angel echoed through the joint. A couple of people were starting to scent the air, but he was still too heated to care. He spotted a booth over in the far corner from the door by the windows and stalked over, throwing his duffel in and grabbing a menu. He’d been there for about a minute or so when a young male server with close cropped dark blond hair, giant blue eyes, and tons of freckles, wearing a striped shirt and suspenders came over to give him a cheery smile while Dean focused on ignoring the diners sitting nearby who were trying to glance in his direction without being too obvious about it.

“Hi, and welcome to Cherry’s!” the server announced far too happily for what Dean was going through. “I’m your waiter, Alfie. Can I start you off with something to drink?”

“Coffee, black,” Dean said, barely glancing up at him, then remembered he wasn’t supposed to have caffeine. “Wait, no, milk, please.”

“Sure thing!” Alfie noted it down on the pad and grinned at him again. “I’ll grab that for you and be right back to take your order!”

“Thanks.”

Alfie practically skipped away as Dean’s adrenaline and anger began to wane and the reality started to sink in that he was probably never going to be able to stand talking to Adam again. Alfie returned about sixty seconds later and set down his glass of milk with a smile before disappearing. Dean took a sip as his chest clenched and he tried to clamp down on the deep sadness that washed over him at the thought of the encounter on the sidewalk just now being the last time he ever saw his brother, but goddammit, the jukebox had switched to You Really Got a Hold on Me. Whoever the omniscient being was that had given him Johnny Cash for a theme song the last time he was in a diner really seemed to want to fuck with him now. When the song switched to All I Have to Do is Dream he was sure of it, pulled up the hood on his sweatshirt and turned to the window so he’d have a little bit of privacy while he sat there and cried. He didn’t know how he was supposed to get past this. His dad was gone, picking a job over taking care of him for about the ten thousandth time in Dean’s life; his brother had completely betrayed him in ways that Dean really couldn’t even begin to process outside of the all consuming rage he’d just experienced; and he was utterly torn between hating Sam and wanting to be held by him, which didn’t even matter because he had no way to contact him to either beat the shit out of him or climb into his lap and never leave.

He was startled momentarily out of his spiral by his phone ringing. God, he did not want to talk to anyone right now. He didn’t think he’d ever want to talk to anyone again, but he saw the name on the screen and had to pick it up, trying to even out his voice.

“Hey Benny,” he said, hoping his friend didn’t notice the tremble.

Dean!” Benny sounded thrilled. “We got ourselves a baby girl, man! Seven pounds, three ounces. Namin’ her Elizabeth, after Lisa’s mom.”

Shit. Dean needed to get himself together right now to respond appropriately to his best friend. He was not going to be the kind of jackass who took a baby announcement and made it all about him. He sucked in a deep breath and did what he could to clamp down on his emotions, but the fucking song switched to The Great Pretender, and he just wanted to figure out who the sadist in this place was that was playing all these stupid songs and pummel them with their tabletop jukebox. God, he had chosen the worst diner ever to try to grab a bite to eat in.

“That’s great Benny,” he said, and he meant it, he really did, but his voice was a vile betrayer and didn’t want to play along with the pretense that everything was fine. “I’m really happy for you guys.”

Yeah, it was quick, too.” He could picture Benny’s grin on the other end of the phone. He hadn’t heard him this happy since Ben was born. “ Almost didn’t make it to the hospital. Thought we were gonna have to spend a fortune getting the car detailed.” He laughed, and Dean tried to stifle the sob before it broke out of his throat but couldn’t. “Dean? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Benny,” he choked, huddling into the corner of the booth and wishing he could just disappear.

Before Benny had a chance to say anything he felt a hand on his shoulder and reacted instinctively. He dropped the phone and was on his feet with his Bowie knife out, his eyes wide and furious as he whipped around and pinned Alfie to the wall beside his booth, knife to his throat. The poor kid thrust his hands into the air as quickly as he could as Dean registered the sound of chairs skidding back and tipping over as the startled diners sitting near him backed away en masse. He could vaguely hear Benny on the phone, demanding to know what was wrong as he glared into Alfie’s terrified eyes.

“Please, sir,” he said, his voice trembling. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay…”

“Don’t. Touch. Me.”

“Yes, sir, I’m sorry…”

“Dean?” Ellen’s voice behind him preceded her touch on his arm, which was good or he might have taken her straight down to the floor. “Honey, let him go and come back with me to the car, okay?” Dean’s base instincts were locked in fight mode, and did not want to back down, even as he knew at the higher functioning levels of his brain that he needed to let the poor kid go before someone called the cops. But he couldn’t. It was like he was floating above himself, unable to control anything that his body wanted to do in this moment. “We’re so sorry about this.” She was talking to Alfie now, trying to diffuse the situation, as she pulled gently but insistently on Dean’s arm. “He went through somethin’ real traumatic recently and he’s havin’ a very hard time.”

“It’s okay.” Alfie’s voice was still shaking as he looked at Ellen over Dean’s shoulder. He took a deep breath and fixed his big blue eyes back on the omega. “I didn’t mean to scare you, you just looked really upset.”

Dean finally came back to himself at the sincerity in the kid’s voice, blinked, and stepped back from Alfie, his face turning a deep crimson. He moved to pick up the phone, where Benny was still yelling frantically for him.

“Hey, Benny, I’m gonna have to call you back later, okay?” he said numbly.

Dean!” Great, he’d scared the shit out of Benny on the day his daughter was born. Why Benny bothered with him Dean didn’t know. “Jesus, Dean, are you all right?”

“No,” Dean replied simply. “No I’m not. I’ll call you later, go be with Lisa.”

Dean!”

He hung up the phone and turned to Alfie, who hadn’t dared to move. They needed to get out of here before he found himself getting arrested for assault and brandishing a weapon at the very least.

“I’m really sorry,” he said quietly as Ellen grabbed the knife and the phone from him and tossed them into his duffel, snatching it out of the booth to throw over her shoulder.

“It’s okay,” Alfie replied, flashing him a nervous grin.

“No,” Dean told him, his voice cracking. “Nothing’s okay Alfie.”

“Come on,” Ellen said, hurrying him out the back as the sound of sirens began to approach from a great distance.

They were two hours outside of Durham before Ellen spoke to him again. They’d left Jo behind - she’d didn’t know what the hell was going on, but she was pissed at the way Dean had treated his brother, and since she’d planned to come for the weekend she damn well was going to stay for the weekend, and she knew how to take a fucking bus. Ellen didn’t argue with her. If she really was going to get Jo off the path to becoming a hunter and into a college she’d have to deal with leaving her behind eventually anyway. They’d already settled it before she went to get Dean so that she could bundle him into the car and take off as soon as they got out of the diner, before the police could track him down. It was a good thing he’d worn the hoodie - the diner surveillance didn’t have a really good shot of him.

“You can’t be doin’ things like that, Dean,” she told him calmly. “It’s not good for the baby.”

He was too desensitized to be able to register the shock he felt that she knew, since he and Bobby certainly hadn’t told her.

“How did you…”

“I’m not entirely unfamiliar with pregnancy.” She cast a sideways glance at him. “You tell Sam yet?”

Was he that transparent? Apparently he was. He leaned against the window and turned away from her.

“No.”

“You gonna?”

“Yes. No. Maybe. Pick one.”

“You should. Bein’ pregnant ain’t always the most fun experience on the planet.” Dean didn’t reply, and she glanced at him again. “I’m just sayin’ think about it.”

He looked over at her and suddenly felt exhausted. He really should have just talked to Adam over the phone. This whole thing had been way too much, and Ellen was doing a piss poor job hiding how concerned she was for him.

“Okay,” was all he could muster before he turned back to the window and went to sleep.

Chapter Text

Sam didn’t know how he was still alive, or why. After the conversation with John and Bobby he’d attempted to drink himself to death, but the bartenders in the club he’d frequented the last few days before he spoke with them saw how upset he was after he took the call and only served him three more drinks before cutting him off. He’d stumbled to the nearest 7/11 and bought a couple twelve packs and didn’t really remember anything after that, certainly not how he ended up naked in bed with the petite brunette alpha named Kathy (or was it Kristy?) who was barely half his size, telling him he’d just missed a phone call and asking if he wanted a pizza. He checked his voicemail and discovered he had a message from Bobby about Dean, whom he had just sworn he was going to get out of his system no matter what it took. After five days straight of calling and not having Dean pick up the phone once, he needed to get off the Dean Winchester ride before he got any sicker. Now listening to the voicemail he vaguely remembered talking to Bobby the night before about Dean being upset, but it was all foggy and almost completely void of any detail. He felt very much like Michael Corleone. Just when he thought he was out, Bobby pulled him back in.

Dean was fine. He thanked Sam for his concern, and that was the entirety of the message. Things got very awkward with Kristy (or was it Kathy?) very quickly, because Sam’s alpha was out and it was enraged. It didn’t want to hear about his omega from a voicemail, or from some kindly beta who said only that Dean was “fine” and Sam didn’t need to worry about him, especially when he had no idea why Bobby would feel the need to make that phone call because he could barely recall the night before and certainly not why he should be worried. It had been a month since he’d last been able to touch Dean and scent him. This was not the way things were supposed to be between them. He was not supposed to be five states away worried sick about why he was getting messages saying Dean was “okay” with the clear implication that he hadn’t been okay at some point and unable to get his omega to return a fucking phone call, let alone see him. His alpha wanted to storm up to Sioux Falls, claim the omega, and drag him off to somewhere like Vermont where they could get away from hunting, buy a nice house in the mountains filled with however many throw pillows his mate wanted, get a couple of dogs, maybe a cat since Dean had mentioned once years ago in passing that he had a cat as a kid, and start making as many babies as possible. The baby making was the thing he wanted most of all, and he wanted it now. He was tired of just having a shirt with a fading scent and his hand to keep him company. That his house in the mountains and a dozen babies and blissful lifelong matehood scenario was not actually how the situation was playing out and he was instead waking up with a random alpha who smelled like rum and engine grease and a confusing message on his voicemail was simply intolerable.

He was aware that it was his own damn fault for having written that stupid note so many weeks ago, but back then he had been worried about what Adam thought and couldn’t possibly believe that Dean would actually want him. Now Adam had turned into a gigantic dick, and really, how stupid had Sam been to care in the first place? He was an alpha and Dean was the omega he wanted. Things had become way too complicated because he’d worried about the feelings of Dean’s idiot beta brother for far too long, and Adam couldn’t even understand the way alphas and omegas related. And when it came to whether Dean would ever want him, Sam would do whatever it took to prove he was worthy of his chosen omega. If Dean wanted to play Aphrodite, Sam would be his Adonis; the Robin Hood to his Maid Marian; the the Pyramus to his Thisbe, but without the lion. But first he had to get Dean to talk to him instead of having to keep going through damned betas who meant well but were clearly positioning themselves as barriers between the two. Kristy/Kathy barely managed to get her clothes on before fleeing the hotel room as Sam tore it apart, after which he snapped the phone in half before going out again to drink himself into oblivion.

It hadn’t occurred to Sam, because he’d stopped keeping track of the days, that he was just about due for his annual rut, which made his response to the situation with Dean that much more intense. The drunken one night stand with Kathy/Kristy should have been his first clue, since he was not a drunken one night stand kind of guy, but the bill for the trashed hotel room really made him stop and think when he finally woke up with the worst hangover he’d had in his entire life. That’s when he pulled out a calendar and finally did the math. He only had one, if he was lucky two days left before he was going to want to sleep with everything on two legs that walked past him. No wonder he’d spent the last few weeks looking for the bottom of every liquor bottle within arm’s reach. The two most routinely uncomfortable weeks of his life were hours away, he was separated from the omega he wanted, and he hadn’t made any plans for it at all. The last few years since Jess had died he’d gotten through it with a discreet personals service that specialized in aiding unmated alphas during their yearly hormonal spike, as an alpha in a rut could be very dangerous in the event they were unable to find willing partners. These services were popular and booked well in advance, and getting the kind of help he needed on a moment’s notice was going to be all but impossible. Before that he’d made do with heavy doses of suppressants started the month before, but they left him feeling disconnected from himself and depressed to the point of being suicidal so he’d decided after he met Jess he wasn’t ever going back on them.

It was way too late to start the suppressants now and even if it had been possible to get in with a service Sam’s alpha knew what it wanted, and what it wanted was Dean; no imitations or substitutions. An alpha or a beta from a service (it was illegal to employ omegas as sex workers) was simply not going to do when his alpha needed the thrill of the chase this time. The problem, of course, was that he couldn’t possibly show up at Bobby’s house with the hope that Dean was still there and expect to be welcomed with open arms. He didn’t even trust himself on the phone at this point. “Hey Dean, long time no talk, I’m literally in a rut” was not a pick-up line he planned to ever use, and no matter what he was about to go through he was never going to force Dean to do anything physical that he didn’t want. Luckily he didn’t have to. Apparently betas responded enthusiastically to big, strong, bitter, heartsick alphas in the middle of a testosterone surge and he was too desperate to care about the moral implications, so he just started fucking his way across the Midwest. For two weeks straight, every bar he hit had at least one person looking for a quick hookup and he was more than willing to oblige. Sometimes he took them back to his hotel; sometimes he went with them to their apartment; sometimes they locked themselves in single stall bathrooms in whatever bar they’d met; sometimes they went out into the alley behind the dumpster. He never got their names, rarely gave them his, and always made sure he wore a condom. Some would try to give him their phone number, and he’d write it down and then toss it the minute he passed a trash can. He made no promises and professed no love, and was in the middle of fulfilling a biologically driven necessity, so he shouldn’t have felt dirty afterwards, but he always did, scrubbing himself clean in the shower before going to sleep with Dean’s shirt. Dean was the only one he wanted, and if he couldn’t have him then he might as well get used to what his life would be without him; a string of meaningless encounters with nameless strangers and a lot of guilt-driven drinking.

At the end of the fortnight when his hormones had finally subsided and his head had cleared of all the doubt fueled by so many encounters with people who were not his omega, his first thought was to call Dean and tell him how much he missed him, how much he wanted him, how he would do anything for him, but of course he was trying to crawl out from under the shame of just having slept with no fewer than thirty nameless strangers within two weeks because he’d been a moron who wasn’t paying attention to his datebook. He knew neither of them were virgins, but still, it felt completely wrong calling Dean when he still smelled so strongly of sex with other people. Few things would put an omega off faster if Dean agreed to see him (please god let Dean agree to see him before he fell any farther apart than he already had, he did not want to go through his life like this). He needed at least a week before his scent would return to normal and Sam could even hope to approach Dean. Besides which, he'd broken his phone. He had just gotten a new one from his carrier and hadn't even had a chance to update his contacts when his grandfather phoned with disturbing news. Steven Wandell had been killed in a house fire about three weeks ago. The arson investigators hadn’t been able to find any accelerant in the house, which had left them initially stumped because of the burn pattern, but the forensics team had managed to recover some of the surveillance footage from Steven’s hard drives. It seemed the last person to see him alive had been Sam, and the police wanted to talk to him. Samuel advised him to abandon his apartment, ditch his phone, and lay low until his grandfather was able to grease enough palms to make the whole thing go away; by which he meant keep the family name out of the papers and Sam out of jail.

Sam was more than willing to do what Samuel suggested, though, because the fire sounded an awful lot like what had happened to his mother and Jess. Combined with the murders in each of the cities he’d hunted in recently that Ash had tracked, it certainly seemed like something not very good was following him around, and maybe he should keep his distance from Dean for a bit until he figured out what was going on. Much as he didn’t trust her, he doubted it was Ruby doing the killings for the simple reason that she could have popped in on him at any of those places if she were attempting to get his attention. He didn’t have the hex bags hiding him from demons until after his meeting with Steven, which is when these events seemed to stop. There would have been no reason for her to butcher people or incinerate his sire if she were looking to talk with him. Especially if she were looking to talk with him. Few things would get him to trust her less than if she went around murdering innocent people.

He was in a hotel in Scranton, Pennsylvania when he decided to try summoning Ruby to find out what the hell was going on. He’d never attempted a summoning ritual before, but there was a detailed description of how to do one in the book Steven had given him, and it didn’t look like it was that hard. Some of the ingredients were on the strange side, but the rest was basic - candles in a specific arrangement, an urn or cauldron to ignite the ingredients in, and a sigil on the floor beneath. There was a basic Latin incantation he would need to recite, and he would need to inscribe her name in his own blood on the inside of the bowl before adding ingredients, but that should do it.

Do it, it certainly did, and Ruby was pissed when she found herself in Sam’s suite at the Marriott.

“Where the hell have you been?” she demanded the instant she arrived. “I’ve been trying to find you for weeks.”

“Nice to see you too, Ruby,” he snapped. Ruby was not amused.

“What the fuck do you think you’re playing at, Sam?” she demanded. “A game of hide and seek?”

“I had some things I needed to take care of,” he told her, and that was all he was going to tell her. She didn’t need to know he was probably now the subject of numerous, ‘for a good time, call’ notes scrawled on bathroom walls everywhere between Ohio and North Dakota. “Would you happen to know why the last set of jobs I took ended up with someone I interviewed getting their throat slit and a bunch of their blood drained?”

“Of course I know, you moron,” she snapped. “Meg has been on your tail for a while now. At least until you dropped off the radar after visiting daddy dearest.”

“Well then, I guess I was right to drop off the radar.”

“No, Sam, you were an idiot to drop off the radar. If Meg was following you that means Azazel wanted tabs kept on you, and if he can’t keep track of where you are for too long he’s going to start doing things to get your attention, like burning your sire’s house down with him inside pinned to the ceiling. You better hope he hasn’t figured out about your boyfriend or Dean’s gonna be the next one roasted like a marshmallow. Hopefully you've been staying away from him.” Sam blanched while Ruby paced the room like a caged tiger. “Just my luck to pick the stupidest son of a bitch on the planet to try to take him down.”

“He’d go after Dean?” Sam asked, his head swimming.

“He went after Jess, didn’t he?” Ruby demanded. “And you didn’t even really love her that much, remember? Killing mommy, daddy, and your girlfriend isn’t enough to get you to twenty paces at high noon. You think he’d overlook the fact that you got your chocolate all up in Dean’s peanut butter and now want to start making Reese’s Pieces if hurting him gets you back on the gameboard?”

Sam didn’t say anything and just sat on the bed with his head in his hands. She hadn’t said anything that wasn’t true, but it still left him feeling ashamed. He’d completely thrown aside hunting Azazel once the mess with Dean started because he hadn’t really loved Jess that much. This had seemed worth it when he started, but now he barely cared. Once he had slept beside her, kissed her, held her, made love to her, wept at her grave, but that had been a lifetime ago and now he had a difficult time recalling her face. He certainly had no reason to avenge his mother’s death, especially after learning about her and John Winchester and finding out who she really was through her letters, and that made him feel ashamed too. She may have died when he was just an infant, and she may not have written of him with the same glowing terms that John used when talking about his son, but she was still his mother. He should feel something about her death, but he really just couldn’t care. Likewise, he didn’t care that Steven was dead. How could he when he’d just met the guy and it had been made clear that the man felt less than nothing for him? He was more upset about Dolores in Laramie than he could ever be about Steven Wandell, and he certainly had been more interested in staying off the police’s radar than in finding out if his death was indeed connected to Azazel.

But if Azazel was going to turn his attention to Dean - that was an entirely different story.

Ruby knew it, too. She’d had Sam pegged from the moment she showed up on his doorstep: smart, stubborn, and headstrong but so hamstrung by a propensity to feel guilty about everything from sending back food at a restaurant to crossing the street without using a crosswalk he was going to be easy to play to do her dirty work and undercut that stupid Scotsman whose ego was getting entirely too big for his kilt. Why Lilith wanted him handling Azazel instead of handing the job off to Ruby to begin with she didn’t know, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to let someone like Crowley show her up. It had been easy to play up the angle of Sam’s promise to Jess’ parents at the beginning, but now that she knew about Dean Winchester she was even more certain she could keep Sam on task. She even had something to sweeten the pot, but she’d been keeping it in reserves just in case a situation like this arose.

“Look,” she said, softening her tone and crossing to sit next to him on the bed. “I get why you were trying to dodge me. People were dying. You were the connection. I’d have thought maybe it was me that was doing it, too. But we’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize. Finding the Colt. Taking out Azazel. And now that I know why you pulled a Houdini I have a gift for you.” She pulled a knife out of the inside of her jacket that at first glance looked a lot like a Bowie knife, except with a serrated blade and less of a curve. This knife also had symbols carved into the blade and was fixed in the antler of a stag. She held it out to him by the blade so he could take hold of the handle. “This was crafted by the Kurds several thousand years ago and can kill most demons. Could go a long way towards protecting your damsel from the great red dragon if you want it, St. George. It’s not going to take out the higher-ups like Azazel, but a low-level grunt like Meg won’t stand a chance against it.”

Sam took the knife from her, turning it over in his hand to examine it before asking, “What about you? Will this work against you?”

“Sure,” she replied with a shrug, standing and moving away from the bed. “But without me you’re not going to find the Colt, and without the Colt you’re not going to kill Azazel, and without killing Azazel you’re never really going to be able to make sure Dean’s safe.”

She saw the way his eyes flashed at the mention of protecting Dean and had to suppress a grin. Sam was just so easy to wind up.

“Have you found the Colt?” Sam asked, judging the distance between the two of them to determine how quickly he could close in on her and whether he could test out her demon killing blade before she managed to vanish.

“I have an address.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. “A motel outside of Jefferson City, Missouri. Room 42. It’s heavily warded or I’d go get it myself.”

“And Azazel?”

“Still trying to track him down.” Sam took the paper from her and stared at it for a long moment, his brow furrowing. “What’s wrong Sam? You have that stupid look you get on your stupid face when you’ve got a stupid idea running through your head.”

“Steven told me something,” he said without looking at her. “He said that when my mother made the deal with Azazel I was supposed to be a part of it. Do you have any idea what he wants with me?”

“You were probably meant to be one of his special children,” she told him, bored of the topic before it even got started.

That certainly didn’t sound good to Sam.

“What the hell is that?” he demanded, and Ruby sighed.

“An experiment he’s been working on for a couple of centuries now. He was curious how much demon blood a human would have to drink, and how young they would have to start drinking it, for him to have the maximum influence over them with the minimum effort.” She shrugged. “Basically he wanted to figure out if you could encourage a human to go dark if you just added a little bit of extra special vitamins to the formula at an early enough stage.”

“I have…” Sam felt like he’d been punched in the chest. “I have demon blood in me?”

“How the hell should I know?” Ruby wanted to officially be done with this conversation. This was a rabbit hole Sam didn’t need to be going down. “Have you developed any strange psychic powers? Premonitions? Telekinesis? Mind control?”

“No…”

“Then you’re probably good,” she snapped. He didn’t look convinced, and she sighed. “Look, Sam, if you were one of these kids you’d know it by now. You’d have had dreams that came true, or you’d stop a person’s heart with a touch, or you’d have super strength - real evil villain kind of stuff. Azazel wanted to have people in power positions that he could control so humanity would fall more and more into the pit without him having to get off his ass. He’s got serious delusions of grandeur -  sees himself as the second coming of Lucifer.”

“Lucifer?” Sam’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. “Like, the fallen angel Lucifer?”

“Well bravo, you did go to Sunday school after all. Starting to see why it’s important to put a bullet between his eyes?”

Sam did. He really did. The thought of what his mother had put him in danger of made his stomach turn. How many of these “special children” were out there? What kinds of positions of power had Azazel put them in? If they were like him, from families who could buy their way out of just about anything, they could reach the highest levels of society and government with relative ease, and he had no idea how any of them could be tracked down and dealt with - presuming they were already going dark.

This was way more than he signed up for.

“Any idea how long the Colt is going to be at this address?” he asked, looking at the slip of paper again without really seeing it.

“It’ll probably be gone by the end of the week, and then I’ll have to track it down again,” she replied. “If I were you I’d get driving. And lose the hex bags, Sam. Otherwise we’re not going to be able to have these nice little chats.”

She was gone without so much as a wave of her hand, leaving Sam trying to figure out how the hell he’d gotten himself into this. The answer was obviously that he hadn’t. His mother had. He was just trying to clean up the mess. But how much of that mess was he really going to be on board for cleaning up? This was supposed to be a straightforward job. Find the Colt. Kill Azazel. What Ruby was talking about could shape up to be the rest of his life if he wasn’t careful. And he didn’t want this to be the rest of his life. He wanted to go back to school, get the law degree he’d been planning on, settle down and have the kind of family he didn’t growing up; birthday parties at pizza places that smelled a little funny, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas trees, Fourth of July barbecues, trips to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone that didn’t involve trying to gank a vengeful spirit, minivans and soccer games and school plays and dance recitals. Normal stuff that hunters didn’t get to have. He wanted all of it, and he wanted it with Dean Winchester, and what Ruby had just dropped at his feet ran counter to all of it. It was going to be really difficult to get to sleep tonight, and he needed to sleep because he had a long drive ahead of him if he was going to make it to Jefferson City to get the Colt before whoever had it had moved on. Regardless of what he decided to do about all the “special children,” he needed to at least take out Azazel to make sure he never went after Dean.

He left Scranton before dawn the next morning and was in Jefferson by 10pm, having stopped only for gas and to grab something for lunch and dinner. The address Ruby had given him was for the Moonlighter Inn, but he opted for the Best Western because it offered free breakfast and had both an indoor and outdoor pool, and a swim to stretch out his cramped legs after driving all day sounded like a good idea. In the morning after grabbing some coffee, fruit, and croissants from the breakfast buffet he changed into the black suit he wore when he wanted to use his Federal agency connections and headed over to the Moonlighter. After flashing his FDH credentials to the receptionist at the desk, he explained that he was tracking a potential skinwalker who had rented room 42 and needed whoever was working the desk to call him the minute the occupant left. The receptionist, a guy in his late twenties with blue eyes, black hair, and a pinched expression who had introduced himself as Jimmy, looked like he might be a problem. He was entirely too interested in hunting as a job and kept asking what he could or should do if the guy came out to give him trouble. It took a lot of convincing on Sam’s part to make Jimmy understand that the best thing he could do was call in the professionals and keep his head down.

Sam found a library near the Moonlighter Inn where he could hunker down and wait for the call from Jimmy while seeing if he could find anything in the ancient history section on the knife Ruby had given him. It was rare there was any quality lore in public libraries, since most people in the country knew if you came across a strange book that talked about weird stuff you should turn it over to the FDH, but it was better than doing nothing. He pulled out his phone about a dozen times to call Dean, not knowing if he’d pick up an unknown number or let it go to voicemail and thought better of it each time. He needed to stay focused on getting the Colt, and that would be almost impossible to do if he heard Dean’s voice. He was distracted enough as it was by missing Dean. He didn’t need to purposely make it worse.

It wasn’t until about four o’clock that Jimmy finally called Sam to tell him the guy in room 42 just left. He said it in a conspiratorial tone and used phrases like “Roger that” and “Ten-four” that had Sam legitimately worried the guy thought this was some kind of crime thriller and he’d spent the day Googling skinwalkers so he could be of service to the Feds. It took a while for Sam to shoo the guy away after he let Sam into the room using his master key.

Sam checked the blinds to make sure they were closed, then clicked the lights on to see what he was dealing with. The room certainly wasn’t what he expected. Whoever this guy was, he was old school. There were photos and newspaper clippings all over the walls with handwritten notes and theories on various cases, all connected by thumbtacks and different lengths of colored yarn. Each case was set on a map of the area the monster appeared to be hunting, presumably so the whole thing could be rolled up quickly and packed away. It was a little low tech for Sam’s liking, but still, it was impressive.

The far wall by the entrance to the bathroom caught his eye, where a strip of paper was pinned at the top that read “Azazel” with a question mark under it. There were strings leading down to two other names he recognized: “Ruby” and “Meg.” There wasn’t much on Ruby, but Meg had a full description written out of what to look for to indicate her presence. Under “Meg” was a line running down to a picture of a woman with a pouf of chin length blonde hair smiling and holding a little blond boy who looked to be about three years old. The boy was wearing a pointed birthday hat and grinning, chocolate cake smeared all over his mouth. The name “Millie” was written under the picture. Sam’s eyes went wide.

Millie was John Winchester’s wife. He had just walked unaware into the motel room of a dangerous hunter who had more than enough reason to shoot him on site after what Sam’s mother had done to John’s family. Forget the Colt, he needed to get out of there five seconds ago.

Just as he was turning to head back out as quickly and quietly as possible he heard the click of the gun in the dark bathroom behind him. He froze, cursing himself, and slowly raised his hands. He prayed he could talk his way out of this and that John hadn’t been drinking, as Sam knew he was wont to do. It sure would suck if he got shot by Dean’s father before they could get around to making all of those babies.

“I hope you’ve got a good reason for being here, son,” growled the angry alpha behind him. “I’d hate for housekeeping to have to clean up a lot of blood.”

Chapter Text

He should have checked the bathroom. It was stupid for him not to do a full sweep of the room as soon as he got in, but the clippings on the wall had straight-up distracted him. Though it was possible that John had snuck in through the bathroom window - presuming there was a bathroom window. In which case he should have done a sweep of the exterior of the motel to make sure John wasn’t lurking somewhere outside before Jimmy let him in. Either way, Sam had really screwed up.

“You didn’t go anywhere, did you?” he asked.

“Nope. Spotted someone who looked like a Fed going to talk to the front desk this morning. It was easy enough to pay that guy Novak off to tell you I’d headed out. Turn around nice and slow and keep your hands up where I can see them,” John was saying as Sam tried to figure out what to lead with to get himself out of this mess. Mentioning he was head over heels for John’s eldest son didn’t seem to be the way to go, and bringing up the salted and burned remains of his friendship with his youngest son probably wasn’t going to help either. Maybe they could bond over their mutual dislike of his family. He really just needed a segue into their obviously shared goal of finding and killing Azazel. He did as John said and turned around nice and slow. “Mind telling me who you are and what the hell you’re doing in my room?”

“We...uh...we’ve never met but we’ve spoken on the phone,” Sam said, noticing how John reacted to the sound of his voice. “I’m Sam Campbell. It’s nice to meet you sir.”

Well, that didn’t work. John’s eyes flashed red and he was backing Sam up to the wall with the barrel of the gun pressed hard against his forehead. Sam’s alpha wanted to react with force, bristling at the aggression from the older man and certain John could be easily trounced by someone younger and stronger, but Sam pushed the feelings away. He was pretty sure no matter how strained Dean’s relationship was with his father it wouldn’t help Sam’s chances if he left the man seriously maimed.

That was when it hit him. The initial rush of adrenaline at realizing he was in John’s room had caused him to forget for a moment that John had been with Bobby when they spoke and they had both been with Dean. Sam took a quick inhale of the room, searching for Dean’s scent in case he was back to hunting with his father, and swept the place with his eyes for evidence of a second person. There was nothing. Just the one bed was unmade, and there was only one duffel. Dean wasn’t here.

But if Dean wasn’t here, that meant he was alone. And now that he was thinking about it really hard, John had said when they spoke on the phone that Dean had been distressed. Granted, Sam had no context whatsoever for Dean being distressed so it could be about anything - maybe someone keyed the Impala for all he knew - but an omega in distress needed an alpha around to feel safe. So was Dean okay now, or was he with another alpha? Or was he still just with Bobby who, as a beta, wouldn’t be able to provide him with any real sense of calm if something were actually wrong with him? Sam felt a wave of panic at the idea that Dean might be alone and upset about something with no one to soothe him, and then he felt a wave of anger that John wasn’t with his son.

John smelled the conflicting emotions flooding off of Sam and shot him a grim smile. This is the kind of kid he could have liked under other circumstances. He didn’t smell of the arrogance that had rolled off of his grandfather, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was related to the bastards that had hurt his son and then lied about it he might have been the kind of alpha John would have nudged Dean towards in times gone by. But he didn’t believe Sam’s story about not knowing what his cousins did for a second, and he certainly couldn’t stomach liars. The kid had better have a damn good reason for having broken into his room or he was at the very least leaving here with a busted jaw.

“I wish I could say the feeling was mutual,” John said after giving Sam a good fifteen seconds to sweat it out. “I hope you’re stopping by to return my letters. Otherwise I can’t think of anything we have to discuss.”

The letters? What letters was he talking about? Sam thought for a minute, masking his confusion, and managed to pull from somewhere deep in his brain that he had talked to John about the letters between him and Mary. Must have been part of that phone call. He decided to just pretend he knew what they’d said to each other. Saying otherwise might make John think he was playing some kind of game, and the man was clearly not in the mood for games.

“Sorry, I don’t carry the shoeboxes around with me,” Sam told him, his voice even. “Didn’t realize this was your room. If you want to give me a forwarding address I’ll be happy to send them along. I don’t have much use for them.”

John didn’t know what it was, but something about the way the kid carried himself made him feel like it would be okay to take a step or two back without getting jumped. It might have been the utter indifference in his tone when he spoke about the letters. He’d expected some kind of outrage that John and Mary’s relationship had ruined his life, but there was none of that. He slowly uncocked the gun and tucked it in the back of his pants.

“Steven tell you anything about your mother and me?” he asked, watching as Sam’s jaw flexed. He might have put the gun away too soon.

Sam was still two steps behind in this conversation. So they’d talked about the letters and his sire. What else was he missing?

“Not a lot,” Sam replied. “She was hung up on you, Samuel didn’t approve, she cut a deal with a demon and ended up dead.”

“So did my wife.”

“Yeah.” Sam glanced over at the case board for Azazel. “He suspected the deal had something to do with that, but he didn’t know for sure. I’m sorry.”

“Sorries ain’t worth much in this line of work, Sam. You’re old enough to have figured that out.” He walked over to look at the picture of his wife and his son, thinking about how different things might have been if he never met Mary. “You talk to Adam recently?”

That was a strange question. Adam and Dean didn’t have the same mom so why would John ask about Adam? Maybe this was some kind of quiz to make sure Sam really was who he said he was, since the "real" Sam Campbell would obviously know those kinds of details.

“Adam and I don’t talk anymore.”

“No?” John raised an eyebrow at him. “Because of Dean?”

Sam wasn’t sure if John knew about Laramie or if he was talking about something else and erred on the side of caution.

“Adam holds a particularly dim view of alphas,” he said. “It was stupid to think we could stay friends long term.”

“Right.” John gave him a thin smile, his eyes hard and assessing. He didn’t know if Dean had called Sam to tell him he was carrying yet and decided he wouldn’t bring that up. “All that stuff you said you came in after.”

What the hell was John talking about? Sam wished to god he could remember that phone call.

“That’s right,” he agreed firmly. “Have you talked to Adam recently?”

“Adam hasn’t taken my phone calls in years,” John said, his voice tinged with regret. “We gonna cut through the bullshit and get down to brass tacks?”

It was interesting after all this time to be in the same room with the alpha who had done so much damage to the two boys who had in so many ways shaped Sam’s world since he was six years old. Despite the grey at his temples and in his beard he certainly didn’t look like anyone’s father. There was a set to his jaw and a lack of warmth in his eyes that didn’t compute when Sam thought of a dad. Not that he had anything to compare it to - all he had was a sire, and one who had been willfully absent his entire life. But still, all those years he’d imagined what his father would have been like before being bitterly disappointed he’d pictured someone who openly cared for his offspring. He couldn’t imagine John ever looking like that. He must have really been something in his heyday with that steely gaze and the confident way he held a weapon, but it made no sense that he would have kept two boys with him that would have obviously cramped his lifestyle instead of packing Dean off to relatives (unless there just weren’t any) and leaving Adam with his mom. Sam could respect the man’s straightforward nature, but he couldn’t respect much else about him.

“An acquaintance of mine tipped me off to the location of a gun that I need to gank the demon that killed my girlfriend,” he said simply, and held his arms up to indicate the room. “She didn’t bother to mention whose room it was.”

“An acquaintance? Care to be any more specific than that?”

“Not really.”

“This girlfriend. Did you love her?”

“At the time.”

John smiled to himself. He knew how that felt.

“But it’s not like she was the love of your life?”

Dean sprang into Sam’s mind at the question; the way his fingertips felt as they ghosted over Sam’s chest, his teeth nipping at Sam’s earlobe, the fullness of his lower lip, the curve of his neck from his shoulder up to behind his ear, where his scent was strongest. Sam pushed down the growing feeling of want that was spreading through his chest and swallowed the remorse about Jess. He told himself that he shouldn’t be ashamed just because she had never made his heart flip when they were in the same room the way the simple memory of Dean could, but clinging to shame was one of his trademarks. He would always feel guilty about her death, but he knew he needed to stop feeling bad about having moved on.

“No.”

“So why risk going after a demon as high up the ladder as Azazel?”

John was genuinely curious. He’d started this hunt seeking vengeance for his wife, and now he was locked into it so he could get vengeance for his son as well. But as far as he could tell this kid had his whole life ahead of him, had access to a cozy trust fund, and stood to inherit an awful lot of money as soon as Samuel shuffled off his mortal coil. It seemed stupid to go up against a Prince of Hell for a girl he’d loved “at the time.” Had Sam made the same kind of deal John had with this acquaintance he’d mentioned?

Sam looked at John for a long time, debating how much he should tell him. Everything he’d heard from the Winchester boys led him to believe that John was pretty black and white in his thinking. If he told John about the “special children” he couldn’t be sure whether the man would simply take him at his word that there wasn’t anything demonic about him or if he’d see him as just another monster. If word spread around the community that there was something wrong with Sam he could find himself on the bad end of a hunt pretty quickly. Still, he’d learned the hard way where lying got you. He wasn’t eager to repeat the mistakes he’d made with Dean when it came to Dean’s father.

“According to my fa - my sire,” he began, choosing his words very carefully, “you weren’t the only part of my mother’s deal. I was too.”

He could smell the spike of distrust and wariness in John’s scent, and didn’t miss how he moved his hand towards the back of his waistband where he’d tucked the gun.

“Meaning?” John asked evenly, his eyes trained on the young alpha.

“He was hoping to infect me with his blood.” Something flashed through John’s eyes that was so quick Sam couldn’t identify what it was before it was gone. “My mom walked in and stopped him. Or interrupted him, at least. That’s why he killed her.”

“So which was it?” John was definitely weighing whether or not he could get a head shot off before Sam closed the distance between the two of them and wrestled him to the floor. “Stopped or interrupted?”

Sam shrugged, hoping if he appeared nonthreatening it would help diffuse the situation. He could scent that John’s alpha was starting to amp up again and he really didn’t feel like getting shot today.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But apparently if he’d managed to dose me I’d have noticed some of the effects by now, and I haven’t lifted a car off of anyone recently or started bending spoons with my mind.”

“You think this is funny, son?”

John was about three seconds away from drawing his gun and blowing this kid’s head off. Jesus, if he did have demon blood in him what did that mean for Dean’s baby? Would the pup be born corrupted? How was he going to break this news to Dean, especially when he’d been so damned fragile when John left? Would Dean even listen to him? He couldn’t tell Sam anything about the baby if there was even a chance that he was going to turn into a demon’s bitch one day.

“No, I don’t,” Sam said flatly. “I don’t think anything about this is funny. Two years ago I was in my sophomore year at Stanford. I had a plan for my future, friends, a girlfriend who had introduced me to her parents, a life away from sirens and poltergeists and Jersey devils, and it was a great big middle fucking finger to my grandfather for deciding when I was four years old that I was going to follow in his footsteps and become a hunter. I was out of this life and then this yellow-eyed bastard torches my girlfriend’s dorm room with her in it, apparently to drag me back in because - thanks to my mom - he has unfinished business with me.” He stared at John, hard. He was flush with anger after laying it all out like that. He’d always resented his grandfather for the way he’d run Sam’s life, never giving him any choice over which path to take, and knowing that his mother had taken it one step further and tied him to a demon was really too much. He drew in a deep breath to try to push the fury away before his alpha took over and beat John into unconsciousness so he could toss the room and find the Colt. “I want out of this life, Mr. Winchester. Maybe you can live this way, but I can’t.” He shook his head, looking over at the picture of Dean and his mom on the Azazel board. “That’s not true. I can. I just don’t want to.  I shouldn’t have to just for having a shitty omega for a mom. I didn’t ask for that and it’s not my fault.” He looked back at John, who was listening closely to what he was saying. “I want to have a house and a family and a regular nine-to-five job where I don’t have to worry all the time that I’m going to get eaten or eviscerated. I can’t get out of this life with something like Azazel hanging over my head. That’s why I want to kill the bastard.”

The older alpha regarded him thoughtfully for quite a while, trying to gauge his sincerity. That little speech seemed awfully well rehearsed, but it was possible the kid had just spent a lot of time thinking about these things. He understood the impulse to want to get out of the life. It was traumatic and awful and created a lot of alcoholics, drug addicts, and mental institution residents out of the hunters who didn’t die young. Still…

“No one ever really gets out of the life, Sam.”

They were both startled to the point of jumping when Sam’s cell phone went off. John drew his gun on instinct when Sam reached for it, but the young alpha held his hands up again quickly and kept himself bullet hole-free for the time being. He quirked an eyebrow in question at John and after getting a quick nod fished the phone out of his inside jacket pocket. His brow furrowed when he saw the caller ID.

“Who is it?” John asked.

“My grandfather,” Sam said, a scowl turning the corners of his mouth down. “He never calls unless it’s something important. I have to take this.” John cocked the hammer of the gun again as the call went to voicemail. Sam shot a glare at Dean’s father as the phone began to ring again. “He’s just going to keep calling, and if I don’t answer he’s going to put a track on my phone. I’m serious. Samuel is a paranoid control freak.”

John considered his options as the phone range through to voicemail again and then started ringing for a third time.

“Fine. But no tricks.”

Sam huffed out an exasperated grunt.

“You think I can work ‘John Winchester has me at gunpoint’ naturally into conversation?” He pressed the green button and held up a hand to keep John quiet. “What can I do for you Samuel?”

Sam! Thank god! I was starting to think something had happened to you!”

Samuel sounded sincerely and uncharacteristically frightened. This was not like him. His entire life Samuel had retained an air of detachment and disinterest when it came to his grandson. This was quite possibly the most emotion Sam had ever heard in his voice. It was unnerving.

“Yeah…” he said warily. “I’m fine. Was just...in the bathroom. Couldn’t get to the phone.”

Jesus Sam, I need you to come home as soon as possible.

“Home?” Sam asked, his eyebrows shooting up. Sam legitimately couldn’t remember the last time he had been “home” to know where Samuel was even talking about.

The family compound in Lawrence. I don’t care where you are or what you’re doing. I want you to drop it and get there now. I’m heading out on a plane in one hour.

“I…” Sam couldn’t help suppress a laugh. “I’m not coming ‘home’ to Lawrence.”

Goddammit Sam, the head of the FDH just came into my office. Your cousins are dead!”

Samuel had been genuinely rattled by this news, which was a surprise since Sam was under the distinct impression that death no longer affected him. He looked over at John, who still calmly had the gun trained on him.

“Which cousins?” he asked. “I’ve got a bunch.”

Tyler, Mark, and Christian.” Now Sam was really looking at John and trying to keep the fear out of his scent. “You know I don’t keep too close tabs on them but I haven’t heard from them in a while so I thought I’d better send out some feelers. God...Sam…” It sounded suspiciously like Samuel was crying, but that couldn’t be happening because his grandfather was a cyborg incapable of human emotion. “Something turned them inside out!”

“What...what do you mean?”

I mean inside out, Sam! Everything that should have been on the inside was on the outside! They’d been that way for a couple of weeks.” Sam thought he might be sick at the visual. It wasn’t that he thought his cousins deserved better. It just sounded like a disgusting scene for some poor unsuspecting person to come across. “You need to come home until we find out what did it. It could be after all of us.”

Sam may not have known what did it, but for some reason he was sure he knew who had it done. He turned slightly to peer at John out of the corner of his eye instead of head on. The lack of expression in the man’s face was starting to unnerve him. How had John known about his cousins? Had Adam told him? He said he hadn’t talked to Adam in years. Was that just some kind of ruse? Dean couldn’t possibly have told him. Dean didn’t remember. Unless he had. But if he had, John certainly wouldn’t be here right now, he’d be back at Bobby’s or wherever Dean was by now making sure he felt secure. No alpha would ever leave an omega going through something like what Dean would be going through if he had remembered. So he could rule out Dean in the conservatory with the candlestick on his “Clue” scorecard in trying to solve this mystery, but he was still sure John was whodunnit.

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not,” he said at last. “Those three were never very good at the job. Probably just got in over their heads with something.”

Sam this is serious. I want you home right now!”

“Can’t, Samuel,” Sam said firmly. “I’m in the middle of a hunt.”

Sam!”

“I gotta go. Bye.”

Sam!”

Sam clicked the call off then walked to the bathroom, acutely aware of John at his back, and tossed the cell into the toilet. He’d have to pick up a burner phone so his grandfather couldn’t track him. He should ditch the Hummer, too. Dammit, he had that thing set up just the way he wanted.

“Trouble back at the ranch?” John asked evenly.

“Apparently some of my cousins have died a gruesome and untimely death,” Sam replied. “I’m sure you don’t know them. Mark, Tyler, and Christian. They were quite a bit below your skill level, you wouldn’t have worked any jobs with them to be able to pick them out of a crowd.”

“You don’t say?” John sounded only half interested. “That’s a damn shame. Real sorry to hear it. My condolences.”

Sam turned around to lean against the sink and try to read John, but it was impossible. The guy really was good.

“Thanks. It couldn’t have happened to more worthy individuals.”

It was a few more seconds before John let a smile crack his face and lowered the gun. It was a good thing too, since Sam was just about to break out into a cold sweat. John headed out of the bathroom and after a minute Sam felt safe to follow.

“You’re gonna have a hard time stayin’ off the radar of someone like your grandfather,” John said as he started to pull the case boards down off the wall to neatly roll them up for transport. “All that money buys you a lot of eyes and ears.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Sam said. “I’m pretty good at disappearing. I aced all the covert ops classes at Actaeon.”

“Yeah?”

John stopped and regarded him with something like interest. Sam hesitated for a moment as an idea took hold, before taking a step towards the older hunter. This might be a very good plan if Sam could convince John of it.

“Yeah. I was thinking...being that we’re after the same thing…”

“I’m gonna stop you there,” John cut in. “I don’t need a partner, and I’m not particularly interested in having a kid tag along that I’m just gonna need to keep from getting killed.”

That made Sam’s alpha bristle. He didn’t do anything to push the flash of anger down this time.

“I’m good, John,” he said firmly. “I’m damn good. Ask Adam or Dean if you don’t believe me.”

John sighed. He should have seen this coming.

“Look, Sam, I don’t play well with others,” he said tiredly.

“I don’t either, but we want the same thing and we’ll get it quicker if we work together.” Sam could see John considering it, the wheels turning in his head as he weighed the pros and cons and pushed forward. “It makes sense. You know it does. Whoever goes after this thing is going to need backup. It’s obvious you tend to do things the traditional way, clipping things out of newspapers, but I’m really good with computers. We can double up on the research and find him twice as fast. I’ve even got Ash running a scan for demonic activity.”

“Ash?” John looked skeptical. “Roadhouse Ash? Business in the front, party in the back?”

“Ash went to MIT,” Sam said. “He’s a certified genius. His IQ is somewhere in the one eighties.”

“I’m not exactly the most welcome man at the Roadhouse these days,” John told him. “If I showed my face I’m pretty sure Ellen would fill it full of buckshot.”

“Then clearly you need me to be a go-between,” Sam said earnestly. He knew he could get John to see the logic behind this if he could just get him over the fact that Sam’s last name was Campbell. “And we wouldn’t be going up against Azazel with just the Colt. My...acquaintance gave me a knife that kills demons. She said it’ll take out anyone low level that Azazel would have surrounded himself with.”

“She did, huh?” That definitely had John’s interest piqued. A demon killing knife could come in very handy if Crowley tried to change the terms of their arrangement. “You had a chance to try it out yet?”

“No, but I know a demon I want to try it out on,” Sam told him. “Her name’s Meg. You’ve got a bunch of notes about her on your wall.”

John nodded bitterly.

“She’s the bitch who killed my wife.”

“She’s been following me around slitting people’s throats on every job I’ve worked recently.” He thought of Dolores, who had helped him take care of Dean. He may not have the same animus towards this Meg that John held, but he definitely had reason to want her dead. “I’ve been doing some research and I think that’s how demons communicate with each other - through spellwork involving lots of blood. I think she’s been telling Azazel where I am. I’ve been carrying around a hex bag for a couple of weeks to dodge them, but if I got rid of it…”

“He’d be able to find you again.”

“We could trap him.”

Sam had him all but convinced, he could see it. It paid sometimes to be a stubborn son of a bitch. John took a moment to pace and think it all through, running a hand through his hair as he considered this plan. It did have an awful lot of advantages. Whatever program Ash was running would undoubtedly be quicker than combing through newspaper and waiting for tips to come in from the community or checking the FDH feed constantly in the hope of spotting something helpful. It would be good to have someone watching his back, and if Sam really did have a demon killing blade that would come in damn handy. It would also give him a chance to determine whether Azazel had managed to do anything to Sam that would make him a threat to civilians or to Dean, plus it wouldn’t hurt to get to know his grandchild’s sire and keep an eye on him if he did turn out to be dangerous.

After a solid five minutes of thinking and pacing, John finally looked at Sam and said, “All right. Grab your gear. You’re riding with me.”

Sam looked practically giddy at the decision, throwing John a huge grin that showed deep dimples. He looked like he was about twelve. Maybe this was a mistake.

“It’ll just take me a couple of minutes,” he said, heading for the door.

“All right. We need to get you a prepaid phone and get rid of your car so Samuel can’t find us.”

“I was already planning on it.

“Good. And Sam?”

The young hunter looked back at him from the doorway, excitement still lighting his face at the thought that he might actually be able to close this chapter of his life very soon and open a whole new book with his omega.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“While we’re figuring out how to trap Azazel, we kill as many bad things as we can,” John told him firmly.

The bright smile lit up Sam’s face again.

“Deal,” he said without hesitation, and was gone.

Chapter Text

It had been almost two full months since Dean had gone to visit Adam and Bobby was worried sick about him. He’d asked what had happened when Dean got home, but Dean had been very tight lipped about the whole thing and Bobby hadn’t wanted to pry. He could surmise how things went anyway because of the camcorder. Dean had brought it back with him, probably figuring Adam didn’t need to see the tape again, and Bobby had watched out the kitchen window as Dean set it on the trunk of a wreck he’d been planning to break apart for scrap and then took a crowbar to it. The first hit smashed it thoroughly, but Dean just kept swinging. He swung and swung and swung, little pained grunts escaping him, demolishing it to bits and punching a hole through the metal of the trunk lid before swinging around to smash a window in another car and then dropping the crowbar to the ground, exhausted and panting. Bobby didn’t count, but if someone put a gun to his head and told him to guess, he’d say Dean must’ve swung that crowbar close to twenty times. It went a long way towards illuminating for the old hunter how poorly his boy was doing.

His second prenatal appointment was about a week after that and Bobby asked hesitatingly about strain and how much Dean should be helping out with around the yard. It was going to be another few weeks before they’d be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat to make sure it was okay, and while Dean was not what you might call enthused about his condition Bobby thought things might be far worse if anything happened to the kid because Dean was going around beating up cars with crowbars. His anxiety level was already way too high, he wasn’t eating well, and even though he was tired all the time he barely slept. Jody and Dr. Milton both stressed the importance of getting the alpha involved as soon as possible, but one of the few things Bobby had been able to accurately determine was that Dean was pissed off at Sam and vacillated between wondering if they might be able to find him through the FDH database to ask him to come to his next appointment and hoping he was somewhere being a kitsune’s lunch. And his opinion was even harsher when it came to Adam. As far as Dean was concerned, he didn’t have a brother, and there was no wavering on that point. Adam became person non grata in the house pretty immediately after Dean’s return from Durham, and it was a point Bobby didn’t want to press.

Benny had desperately wanted Dean to come out and stay with him and Lisa after Dean had Bobby call him on the speaker phone and tell him what was going on so that Dean wouldn’t have to talk about anything he couldn’t just yet. For the first time he was okay with Bobby coming clean about the whole sordid mess - the rape, the pregnancy, Sam, Adam - and for a while there Bobby had thought an angry alpha was going to drive out from Indiana and bust down his door. But Lisa had just had a baby, and Dean staunchly refused to impose. He told Benny that if he dared leave his mate to come rescue his stupid ass from the stupid mess he’d gotten himself into, Dean wouldn’t be at Bobby’s house when he got there and he wouldn’t call Benny again until after he needed advice on changing a diaper. Benny had finally backed down, but insisted Dean was coming out sometime between Christmas and New Year’s even if Benny had to come out and roll him to Indiana, and then he’d point blank told Dean what everyone else had said: no matter how badly the guy had screwed up, Dean needed to call Sam.

Dean didn’t, though, and not just because Sam had changed his number. Halloween came and went, as did Thanksgiving, and he seemed to take one step forward and two steps back the whole time. He was able to leave the house now, sometimes by himself, without being incapacitated by a panic attack, but only with a great deal of effort and a whole lot of preparation. The new scent blockers Bobby had found for him did a lot to move Dean towards that end. They were a spray that he could apply not only to his skin but his clothes as well for a double layer of scentless-ness and they worked extremely well. Between them and the collection of hoodies he’d acquired to hide his neck and the tiny pup pouch he was starting to sport he felt safe enough to pass among society for brief periods of time. Well, that and the Bowie knife that now never left him. Bobby had mentioned it once and Dean had just shrugged and said he was a fan before singing a couple of bars of Life on Mars. When Bobby pointed out to the idjit that the two “Bowies” were pronounced different Dean just sang louder. It made the beta glad that Dean was trying to remember how to joke around - his sense of humor had always been one of his best defense mechanisms against the harshness of the world - but he didn’t think walking into McDonald’s with a fourteen inch knife tucked under his shirt to buy an apple pie and chocolate shake was exactly a good thing.

Bobby was shocked out of his socks when Adam called at the beginning of December and begged to speak with Dean. Up to that point the boy had had the good sense to give his brother a very wide berth, but something had happened and he needed Dean’s help. It turned out that Adam had managed to track down his mother, and they’d been corresponding and talking on the phone for about a month. She still lived in Minnesota, where she’d met John and had Adam, and Adam had been planning to spend the winter break with her so they could get to know each other. The last time he’d spoken to her was over a week ago, and while he thought it was possible she had gotten cold feet and was just trying to ditch him he knew the hospital where she worked and had called to check on her. She hadn’t shown up to work in all that time. They’d even opened a missing person’s case with the authorities but the police had found literally nothing at her house except her car in the driveway. There were no signs of forced entry or a struggle, or that she’d done anything other than pack a bag and walk out. It was like she had just vanished. Adam had been out of the life so long that he was rusty and had no pull with the FDH to get another hunter with the agency to look into it. He couldn’t even get it on the jobs board. He knew he had no right to ask, but he wanted to know if Dean could meet him there to check it out. He promised not to try to do any brotherly-type stuff and that it would be strictly business; just a hunt like they used to go on.

Bobby was even more shocked when Dean agreed to meet Adam at his mother’s house to see if he could figure out what had happened. He didn’t want to point out that at about four months pregnant he shouldn’t be going off to hunt anything more dangerous than a new pair of shoes that wouldn't pinch his growing feet, but Dean had promised if it looked like anything serious he would call in someone more equipped to handle it. He still hadn’t told Adam about his “condition” and didn’t see any reason he would need to anytime soon. It wasn’t like the two of them were brothers anymore.

If Dean had been honest he’d been desperate to get out of Bobby’s house, but he’d forgotten how to do so. He hadn’t been in one place so long by choice since getting dropped off at Actaeon and he was getting antsy. It wasn’t anything having to do with Bobby, either. He was just feeling a creeping sense of agoraphobia that he was sure was only going to get worse as he got bigger and less easily mobile and really couldn’t go anywhere by himself because he was the size of a house and didn’t fit behind the wheel of the Impala anymore. He had been trying desperately to regain his sense of confidence and autonomy and had been completely unsuccessful in doing so. This might be the last chance he had to prove to himself that he would be okay to venture out into the world on his own before having to worry about going places laden down by diaper bags and a tiny person who was completely dependent on him for their very survival. He needed to get his anxiety under control before he ended up so entrenched in his fear of “what if”s that he became a shut in.

“You sure about this?” Bobby asked, watching as Dean, bundled in a black wool coat over several layers of shirts, a thick scarf tied around his neck, loaded up the Impala with his gear in the dropping December temperatures. “I can always come with if you’ve changed your mind.”

“I’m good,” Dean replied, even though he wasn’t. “You know what they say - go big or go home.”

“Got your scent blockers?”

“Whole duffel full of them.”

“Okay. Call me when you get there.”

“Yes mom.”

He flashed Bobby a shaky smile, got into his car, and pulled away as a light snow began to fall.

It was only about a two hour drive up to Windom where he booked a room at the Blue Lamplighter Hotel and waited for Adam to arrive after shooting him a text. Adam had opted for flying into Minneapolis and then driving down, so he’d be there before midnight. Dean thought of getting two rooms so the kid wouldn’t get the idea that this was any sort of bonding exercise, but his bank account was running on the low side. The government subsidized expectant omegas regardless of their mating status in an effort to ensure healthy pups so he had regular money coming in but not a ton. He needed to start thinking towards saving up for things like onesies and burp cloths, though he suspected Lisa and Benny would shove boxes full of stuff at him as Elizabeth outgrew things and they needed to make space for new, bigger clothes.

He took the hours he had between when he arrived at the Lamplighter and when Adam got there to call Bobby, then break out the packet of wipes he’d packed and scrub down every surface in the room before he dared to unpack any of this things. The aversion he’d always held towards cheap motel rooms was amped up now, as his sense of smell was ever sharper and his need for cleanliness bordered on obsessive-compulsive. Even high end hotel rooms were never really clean. He wished he’d remembered to pack his slippers. There was no way he’d be able to take his socks off to walk from the bed to the bathroom, there was no way he could take the socks home to be washed after they’d come in contact with a motel room floor, and there was no way he could keep his shoes on like he would have done under other circumstances because then he’d just be tracking the bacteria from the ground outside all over the room. God this had been a terrible idea.

Feeling that he’d gotten enough germs wiped off that he could sit at the little table by the window with his laptop and do some research, he plunked himself down and started looking into the local news. After only a half hour or so his stomach rumbled and demanded he fill it. He’d stopped on the road to buy himself the food and went to grab it from the mini fridge. It was ridiculous how hungry he was these days. He thought he’d eaten a lot before but now he wanted to eat all the time, and he was exceptionally cranky when there was no food nearby for him to stuff in his face. Apparently growing a kid took at least as much energy as ganking a lamia.

It made you tired, too. He’d read in a couple of places that the first three months were the worst, and they’d certainly been for him with feeling constantly nauseated but never enough to throw up. That created an interesting dichotomy with the persistent hunger where he was always hungry but food was too gross to actually eat. All the pamphlets he’d read from the clinic said he should have started getting an energy burst around week fourteen but he was past that by a couple of weeks now and still fucking exhausted most of the time. He supposed that could be put down to his emotional state, since he knew he was hovering dangerously close to the edge of depression, and while normally he’d just drink his way through until it got better or he pickled his liver that was obviously not an option now. Jody Mills was still pestering him to attend therapy to help deal with everything on his plate, but while he may certainly be suffering the after effects of the assault it was just the latest in a long string of traumas he’d dealt with over the course of his young life. If he started picking at the scabs now he wasn’t sure there’d be any amount of therapy that would stanch the eventual bleeding.

He woke with a start and grabbed for his gun when he heard the knock on the hotel room door a few hours after he’d sat down with the laptop and the ham and cheese sandwich he’d bought from a corner store. He’d fallen asleep on the table, leaving behind a pool of saliva where his face had been. He wiped at his chin with the back of his hand, stood and stretched out his back (which had not appreciated the way he’d been leaning over the table), and went over with his gun cocked to check through the peephole and see who it was. It was Adam, of course, huddling into his jacket and shivering in the snow. Dean put the gun away and opened the door for him, moving back to the table as he came in.

“Hey Dean,” he said quietly, moving into the room just far enough to close the door behind him and then stopping as if waiting to be instructed what to do.

“So, your mom’s not the only one missing,” Dean replied, not looking up from the laptop. “There’s a bartender named Joe Barton who vanished a day or two before. We can go check out your mom’s house tomorrow and then we’ll go interview the people at the bar.”

“The cops have already been over her house,” Adam said. “They didn’t find anything.”

“Yeah, well, they don’t have my eyes,” Dean stated flatly, then got up and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, carefully making sure he never looked at Adam. “Get unpacked and get to bed. We’re going to start early tomorrow.”

“Okay,” was all Adam got out before Dean closed the bathroom door in his face.

Dean’s planned “early start” turned out to be eleven o’clock, when Adam finally got up the nerve to go and wake him after getting up around eight, going to grab them breakfast, and then coming back and watching a couple of hours of morning television. His gentle shake of his brother’s shoulder got him a gun in the face as Dean reached under his pillow when he woke with a start and whipped around with wide eyes. Adam was quick to back off and after a couple of tense seconds Dean put the gun down.

“...time is it?” he asked blearily, rubbing at his eyes with the back of his hands as he yawned.

“Eleven.”

“Eleven?” Dean looked up at him with huge, angry green eyes. He sprang off the bed and headed for the shower. “Why didn’t you wake me? Is that food?” He opened the bag from Hardee’s that sat on the top of the mini fridge, took a whiff, and immediately recoiled. “God, not bacon.”

“What?” Adam actually laughed a little. “You love bacon.”

“Yeah, well, not anymore,” Dean said grimly. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that one of the worst moments of the last few months was coming down for breakfast at Bobby’s one morning and discovering he could no longer tolerate the smell of bacon. It turned his stomach every time. “I’m gonna grab a quick shower and then we’ll go.”

“I got you coffee, too,” Adam offered, but Dean simply grabbed clothes from the dresser in the room and tossed back over his shoulder, “No coffee, I’m good. We gotta get going.”

Adam was utterly baffled but didn’t dare press the matter further. Dean had always been a relatively early riser from years at Actaeon where he could get in an extra hand-to-hand training session before classes and he considered bacon and coffee two of the major food groups. To see him get up late and then turn down both made him very worried that Dean wasn’t handling the whole graduation party tape very well, but it was obviously not a subject he was able to broach with him if he wanted to keep all of his teeth.

Dean’s quick shower took closer to twenty minutes, due mainly to how thoroughly he was dousing himself and his clothing with scent blockers. It was enough that even Adam with his beta nose could detect the cloud of chemicals when he came out. He was dressed similarly to the way he had been when he visited in Durham; lots of layers under a hoodie. Adam noticed his face looked a little fuller and that his pants were just a bit on the tight side. He’d never known Dean to retain weight from his terrible diet and drinking habits because he worked off so much energy hunting. Why did he look like this? Was he just sitting around drinking and eating at Bobby’s house? Adam desperately wanted to know what was going on but didn’t dare ask.

It was about a fifteen minute drive to Adam’s mother’s house, and with the alternate side parking they had to go up around the corner to find a spot and then backtrack in the chilly Minnesota morning (mid-morning? early afternoon?). It was a nice house with a large front porch and a heavy front door which was, of course, locked. Dean gave Adam a little head shake so he would block Dean from view of the street while he got out his lockpick kit to let them in. It only took a couple of pokes and twists before the door popped open and they hurried in.

The electricity was still working so they could flip on the lights as they needed and split up to search the rooms. Dean knew they probably should have stuck together, but being in Adam’s presence was a hell of a lot harder than he thought it would be. He was still so consumed with anger at the lies and giving Adam the silent treatment wasn’t nearly as cathartic as he had expected it would be. Splitting up seemed to be the only possible option to keep from getting into a fistfight with him, and he was very much not in any condition to be getting into fistfights.

There was nothing on the ground floor so they met back at the front door and headed upstairs, going methodically through each of the bedrooms. In what was obviously Adam’s mom’s bedroom Dean found his first clue. There were scratches on the floor just at the edge of the bed that trailed underneath it. It also looked like there were marks on the floor where something had been shoved up against the door. Dean called for his brother and Adam came at a run.

“What is it?” he asked, his heart rate spiking with fear. He had been hoping Dean wouldn’t find anything and they could accept that the cops were right. Dean finding something meant odds were good a very bad thing had happened to his mother.

“Those look like scratch marks to you?” Dean said, indicating the floor.

Adam squatted down to check it out. The color drained from his face.

“Yeah,” he said, and got down on his side to look under the bed. “There’s a big grate under here. Must be a cold air return.”

“All right, move the bed,” Dean ordered, and Adam rolled onto his back to look up at him with large, confused eyes. Dean handwaved to try to dismiss it. “I...hurt my back at Bobby’s last week and I don’t wanna aggravate it in case I have to kill something, okay?”

That seemed plausible enough to Adam, but was still very weird because it was just a queen bed. With the mattress, box spring and frame it couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred and twenty pounds. Dean could slide that aside in his sleep. Still, he wasn’t going to say anything and shoved the bed away so they could get at the vent and pull it up.

Dean took a second to shine his light down and check for immediate threats. Six months ago he wouldn’t have thought twice about shimmying down there, much as it would have sucked, but now he was pretty sure crawling around on his belly in the floor ducts was a big no-no. He surveyed everything he could, then stood up and declared, “Well, down you go.”

Okay, this was very much not like Dean.

“What?” Adam asked. “You want me to go down there?”

“Yep,” Dean replied. “Don’t like the feeling of being confined.”

“Since when?” Adam demanded, and Dean fixed him with a hard stare.

“Since recently,” he snapped, and Adam backed right down. This was probably some sort of punishment for lying to Dean, and Adam knew he deserved it so he didn’t argue anymore. Dean pulled his gun out of the back of his pants and handed it over. “Here, take this down with you just in case.”

“‘Kay,” Adam said, and crawled head first into the ductwork.

He had only made one or two turns through the tight junctions of the ductwork with the gun and a flashlight before he came across a grizzly sight. Blood was splattered all over the ducts and there were large chunks of flesh everywhere, some of it with hair still attached. Adam fought back the urge to vomit and backed out of the ductwork as quickly as he could.

To his surprise, Dean found himself actually concerned at how pale Adam looked when he scrambled out and went to stumble to the bed. The kid was shaking like a leaf, had dropped the flashlight, and barely had a hold on the gun. Years of big brother instincts overrode his anger and he hurried over to put a hand on Adam’s shoulder and get him to look up.

“Hey,” he said, giving him a little shake. “What is it? Talk to me?”

“Blood,” Adam told him, sucking in giant breaths of air to try to get the smell out of his nostrils. “Lots of blood. Some hair and skin.” He grew even paler, looking at the floor. “So much for meeting my mom, I guess.”

“Sorry,” Dean said quietly, then whipped out his phone to call the FDH. “Looks like this officially became a hunt. I’m gonna call it in real quick.”

“What?” Adam was getting to his feet, looking confused. “You’re going to call it in instead of tracking down whatever did this and killing it?”

Shit. How was he going to get out of this without just being a total dick? He had every right to be a total dick of course, but this was his kid brother’s mom and no matter how mad he was he couldn’t be a dick about someone’s almost-certainly-dead mom.

“Adam, we have no idea what this could be,” he responded, trying to sound reasonable. “All we know is it’s something that eats people, which doesn’t narrow down the list very much. There’s just the two of us, and you’re rusty as hell.”

“I’m not that rusty,” Adam snapped, and Dean gave him an irritated look.

“Really?” he asked. “Did you even pack a gun?”

“I...I don’t have a gun anymore,” Adam admitted sheepishly.

“I rest my case. We’re calling in backup on this. Someone else can climb around the ducts and figure this out. It’s not worth us getting killed over.”

Dean was out of the bedroom already and halfway to the stairs. Adam was starting to wonder if he was dealing with a shifter, because whoever this guy was did not sound like his big, badass hunter brother at all. He grabbed Dean’s arm and almost got punched.

“Dean,” he said when his brother dropped the arm he had cocked back. “This is my mom . I may not have known her, but I wanted to. Please. Help me figure out what’s going on here.”

Dammit, Adam had turned on the Big Blue Eyes. Dean would have thought he’d be immune to them with how fucked up their relationship was right now, but he suddenly couldn’t say no to the kid. It wasn’t fair that Adam could still wrap him around his finger with just a look when his actions had done so much damage to their ability to relate to each other as brothers. This was already crossing over into territory where he knew he should be calling in someone else to take care of it, but Adam had those stupid pleading eyes and Dean caved, at least for the moment.

“Fine,” he sighed. “We’ll go talk to the people who know the bartender and do some more research into the area, but I mean it Adam. If it turns out that this is anything bigger than a really hungry dog we’re getting back up. I’m too pretty to get eaten this week.”

He turned on his heel and started downstairs, Adam right behind him. They switched off the lights in the house and came out on the front porch to lock it up before heading out. He turned the collar of his coat up against the wind, which was picking up, and had glanced back to make sure Adam was still behind him when he smelled it.

Gunpowder, books, well worn leather, and green tea.

Followed immediately by gun oil, sandalwood, tar, and dirt roads.

He whirled around in time to see Sam and his dad coming out of the house across the street, thanking the woman at the door whom they had clearly been interviewing since they both wore their Fed suits. They hadn’t spotted or scented him yet because of the blockers, so he popped the collar of his coat higher and took off down the porch steps at as quick of a walk as he could without running or attracting attention to himself. He thought he was going to make it away clean, but then Adam, who could not smell the two alphas across the street and was looking to where his brother was, called from the porch in confusion, “Dean?”

He had made it about halfway up the block, so Adam had to call loudly after him. He tried not to turn to look, but couldn’t stop himself. He needed to know if he’d been spotted.

He had. Sam and his dad were staring right at him from across the street. Both looked stunned to see him, and he started backwards at a frantic pace as Sam started to move, leaping down the full length of the porch stairs. Dean didn’t hesitate, he turned and ran for the Impala on his super fast bow legs, trying not to slip and digging his keys out of his pocket as he went.

“Dean!”

He glanced back at the sound of Sam’s voice in time to see him almost get hit by a car. His dad was hurrying across the street to intercept Adam, who was taking off after Sam and Dean with a furious look on his face. Dean didn’t look back again but went for his car with everything he had. Lisa’s words rang in his ears, “He’d have been able to smell the change in your scent.” He wasn’t ready for this discussion. He had made it to the driver’s side door, gasping and shaking and had just gotten it unlocked when he felt Sam’s huge hands on his shoulders and he found himself being spun around against the car window.

He didn’t know what he expected, but it certainly wasn’t the clear scent of joy that was flooding off of Sam as he straightened Dean’s coat and ran his hands down Dean’s face and neck, grinning at him with his dark wavy hair growing increasingly plastered down on his head by the snow, white fluffy flakes catching on his eyelashes. It took everything Dean had not to lean into Sam’s touch.

“Dean!” he exclaimed with a huge smile, trying to catch his breath. “Why’d you run?”

“Heya Sammy,” Dean responded weakly, at which point the wind picked up again and Sam caught a whiff of him.

Dean watched the confusion wash over Sam’s face as his nostrils flared and he tried to pick out the change in Dean’s scent. It was hard with all the blockers, but the tumblers began to click into their slots, and a few seconds later one of those huge hands was on the side of Dean’s face, gently holding him in place while Sam’s other arm went around Dean’s back to keep him still so Sam could push aside the scarf and press his face to Dean’s neck to breathe in deeply. Dean whimpered slightly, pinned between the enormous alpha and the car, feeling Sam’s grip on his back tighten and Sam’s fingers slide into his hair. His heart thrummed as Sam’s scent washed over him, enveloping him in a cloud of warmth and protection, and then Sam’s mouth was on his, desperate and hopeful and hungry. He tasted like pancakes and happiness and lazy Sunday mornings lounging in bed, and though Dean had expected something like this would have panicked him oh my word it didn’t. Quite the opposite, he felt little sparks lighting up every one of his nerve endings and he latched onto Sam’s hair to pull him in closer, going up on his toes to press himself against the full length of Sam’s body like if he could just get close enough it would fuse them into one being. Sam responded by backing him up flush against the Impala and kissing him even deeper, until they were both dizzy and only being held up by the car. It seemed to go on forever but was over far too soon when Sam finally pulled back and looked at Dean’s puffy pink lips, his eyes blown wide. Dean’s omega was singing as they both gasped for breath, and he could smell the desire mixed with joy in Sam’s scent.

Sam had the biggest smile Dean had ever seen. The sun would have had to admit defeat against it. His dimples were like canyons and his eyes were dancing as he studied Dean’s face, kissing him quickly and urgently again before asking, “When were you gonna tell me?”

Dean’s heartbeat picked up for an entirely different reason as his anxiety spiked and the color drained from his skin, freckles included. The million watt smile slid slowly off of Sam’s face and was replaced by confusion.

“You were gonna tell me, weren’t you?”

Dean didn’t know what to say so he didn’t say anything except, “Sam…” in an effort to quell the growing hurt in the alpha’s eyes. After standing there in the snow for a few moments, taking in huge deep breaths and trying to calm himself, Sam snatched the keys from Dean’s hand and yanked open the door.

“Get in,” he said, shoving Dean down on the seat. Dean caught a glimpse of his father and brother, who had stopped a little ways from the corner. Sam shouted back to his dad, “We’re going to the hotel John,” then slid behind the steering wheel and shut the door.

“Sam…” Dean tried again, and quickly found himself pinned down by glowing red eyes.

Not another word, Dean,” he ordered in his alpha voice, reaching over to pull the seat belt across the omega’s lap. “We can talk when we get to the room.”

Dean wanted to object but of course couldn’t, nor could he tell Sam to slow down as they sped off down the street. The portion of his brain that was Dean Fucking Winchester was seriously pissed off at being manhandled into his own vehicle, but his omega told it to shut the hell up. His alpha was here now, and he already felt safer than he had in months.

Chapter Text

It had been weeks now that John and Sam were hunting together without any clear plan in place of how they were going to trap Azazel, and it was beginning to become apparent to both of them that this partnership might not work out. While they might share the same end goal, they were ultimately just too much alike to do anything other than butt heads half the time. John was used to giving orders that were to be obeyed without question. Sam was used to being the smartest one in the room and having everyone fall into line behind his obviously correct way of doing things. Both of them were stubborn as mules, and everything seemed to be a dick measuring contest, from research to the best way to pack John’s truck. They were at each other’s throats half of the time, and they were getting absolutely nowhere hunting the yellow-eyed demon.

The one thing they were managing to do was kill a lot of things that needed killing, which was a great outlet for all the pent up aggression the two felt for each other, and John’s respect for the kid was growing even if he still didn’t really like him that much. Sam had set up several bank accounts and credit cards under various aliases so he could still get at money without his grandfather noticing and he let John put all the closed jobs into the system under his name without asking for a dime. They’d taken care of a goblin infestation in Maine, a yeti in New York, a pagan god in Ohio, and a soul eater in Michigan. They had just finished clearing a nest of okami in Wisconsin when they spotted the long string of unsolved grave robberies on the FDH feed in Windom, Minnesota, the same town where John had hunted a pack of ghouls just over twenty years ago, so it was obvious they should head on over and check it out. Even if it meant John might run into Adam’s mother it was definitely worth it to make sure he hadn’t missed anything, and that if he had they weren’t going to progress from eating the dead to chomping on the living. It was an easy call to make.

It hadn’t taken long after checking in to the AmericInn over in Jackson (too ritzy for John’s taste - he would have preferred the Blue Lamplighter Hotel closer to town, but it was Sam’s money so he wasn’t going to argue too much) to catch wind of the fact that Joe Barton, who helped John on the case all those years ago, had gone missing. When they headed out to speak to the staff at the bar where he worked they heard about Kate Milligan, so off they’d gone to interview her neighbors to see if they heard or saw anything suspicious.

They’d parked a good ways down the street from Kate’s house, since there weren’t any spots close by what with alternate side parking, and walked up the street knocking on doors. They weren’t really getting anywhere, but the little old lady who lived across the street from Kate said she was certain she saw her milling around inside the night before, but that she hadn’t seen her since. She walked them to the door asking if there was a number she should call if she saw Kate again, and while they were standing on the porch giving her their details the wind picked up, and a few moments later they heard someone shout, “Dean?”

The men recognized the voice as Adam’s, and after turning sharply to try to scent the air they’d spotted both Adam and Dean across the street. Dean was moving away fast, halfway up the sidewalk towards the end of the block, but Adam was standing on his mother’s front porch looking confused. Sam figured he was probably going to have bruised ribs from how violently his heart tried to break free from his chest, sprout wings, and fly across the street. He didn’t know if John had seen him too, and he really didn’t care. Dean turned back and saw them on the porch and then started backing quickly away.

Under other circumstances he may have paused to try to figure out what was going on, because Dean actually backing away from him was weird, even with what had happened in Laramie. He would have expected Dean to stand his ground, maybe punch him (he certainly deserved it), but not that he would run. As it was, his alpha didn’t care why the omega was taking off. It meant he was finally going to get to chase , and how badly he needed on a primal level to chase and catch Dean was just embarrassing.

He leapt off the porch and was off across the street, shouting after Dean, who was now actually running, before nearly getting taken out by a teenager in a Corolla. He hesitated just a second to give the kid a “Sorry” handwave before taking off again. Dean had a good head start on him and was surprisingly fast. No wonder he and Benny won all those competitions before he presented. Omegas had tremendous stamina once they started fleeing and were well known for being fleet of foot, but Sam had never seen anyone run as fast and flat out as Dean was moving right now. Even with his longer legs Sam was having a hard time closing the distance between them and had started to genuinely worry he wasn’t going to catch him. He didn’t want to end up being Apollo watching Daphne turn into a laurel tree and caught a break when Dean rounded the corner and stopped beside the Impala, trying to get her unlocked.

How long had she been parked there? Sam and John certainly would have noticed the car if it had been there when they started canvassing the street, though admittedly they hadn’t exactly been paying attention to traffic. It wasn’t the sort of car that went unnoticed. Dean had gotten the driver’s side door slightly ajar when Sam finally got to him, whipping him around to get a look at his face and confirm it was really him.

It was. God, it really was. Sam didn’t know what to do with his hands. Well, he did, but he certainly couldn’t do that in the middle of the street, and definitely not without Dean’s permission. He’d wanted desperately to call him for weeks and weeks, but hunting with John glued to his hip had left him with very limited privacy to do anything personal. It was almost like John was trying to keep tabs on him. He got to piss and shower by himself and that was about it, and while it had occurred to him to turn on the shower and use it as a cover to try to get the omega on the phone he thought that the sound of a shower in the background would come across as incredibly perverted and decided against it. He’d figured after this hunt he would suggest he and John take a night off to relax and had planned to use it as an opportunity to get some time alone to ring up Bobby’s house and see if he could get Dean’s number to put back into his contact list. Seeing him face to face was so much better.

The way Dean had looked slightly nervous at having Sam so close to him was disconcerting, especially coupled with the mad dash for his car and attempt to escape. Dean was good at masking his emotions as it was so Sam probably wouldn’t have been able to read him anyway, but he also appeared to be doused in scent blockers because Sam couldn’t smell him at all, even from a foot away. Then the wind had blown in from the south and carried with it just the faintest trace of Dean’s scent, and it was...different somehow. There were still the roses, the coffee, but now something else underlaid it. Something that was really hard to pick out. Vanilla, maybe? Sam’s big higher level monkey brain couldn’t process what he was smelling, but his Stone Age alpha brain could. He grabbed Dean and held him still so he could try to scent past all the blockers and almost didn’t believe his nose. It was a baby. Dean was carrying a baby. No, more than that. Dean was carrying his baby.

Dean was carrying his baby .

His heart went back to trying to break through his ribs and he found Dean’s mouth like it was a magnet drawing him in. He was delicious - strawberries and cream and sunny summer days and the house in Vermont with the dogs and the cat and the pillows and all the babies in the world and every other thing Sam had ever, ever dreamed of. And Dean was pulling him in tighter, pressing them together, trying to mold his body to Sam’s. His brain broke and he found himself unable to think of anything besides “Dean” and “baby.” Mostly “baby.” Over and over again, playing on a loop in his head. Baby baby baby baby baby. He had never felt so happy, couldn’t imagine himself ever being this happy again, except maybe the next time he was able to scent Dean and smell a baby, and god, he hoped that was going to be as soon as possible after this one was born because they were having a baby and it was the best thing that could have happened to him. He wanted to populate New England with little Sams and Deans, or Samanthas and Deanas, he didn’t care, just as long as they all had ten fingers and ten toes and Dean’s eyes. Jesus, he needed to stop kissing Dean before his heart literally burst with joy, which felt like a distinct possibility in this moment.

The joy was short-lived when his big monkey brain grasped the reality that Dean apparently hadn’t been planning to tell him about the baby. Not soon anyway. Maybe not ever. His alpha rose up indignantly at the thought the omega would keep something like that from him, and he shoved Dean into the car and took off for the AmericInn so there wouldn’t be a screaming match in the middle of the street. Everyone on the block had already gotten an eyeful of their public display of affection. He didn’t need to follow it up by making the fight that he knew was coming public as well.

They were about five silent minutes into the twenty minute drive back to the hotel that was only going to take fifteen with the way Sam was driving (undoubtedly too fast for the road conditions) as his brain sputtered out “Dean baby angry baby Dean baby baby angry alpha angry,” when Sam suddenly realized he couldn’t smell anything anymore besides his own fury at having nearly been denied his child. Dean had clamped fully down on his emotions as effectively as Sam’s alpha command had clamped his mouth shut, but more than that there was no scent. At all. In the confined space of the car with nothing but stagnant air aside from the warmth being put out by the fan, Dean’s scent had vanished. What’s more, the baby’s scent was gone as well. Sam tried to subtly sniff the air, which got him a worried sideways glance from Dean, and considered pulling over to the shoulder to slide across the seat and get his nose up against Dean’s neck again, but he thought that might result in the omega fumbling the door open behind him and escaping the car. The idea of chasing Dean down again along the side of the road was not a welcome prospect, since it certainly looked like he was trying to figure out how to get away. There was no way Sam was going to allow that, not with the new information he now had. As if to confirm Sam’s suspicions about him trying to run again, the minute they pulled into the parking lot of the hotel Dean was messing with the seat belt to get it off. Sam barely had time to throw the car into park and grab Dean’s arm before he could get the passenger door open.

“I don’t think so,” he snapped, turning off the engine and pulling the keys out. He threw the driver’s side door open and dragged Dean across the bench seat behind him, getting an iron grip around his upper arms so he couldn’t go anywhere Sam didn’t want him to. “No more running Dean.”

They got a couple of sideways glances from other guests as Sam strong-armed Dean through the lobby and up to his room, but the glower on the alpha’s face was enough to keep everyone at bay. Whatever was going on, the smaller man he was manhandling did not appear to be in any immediate danger and he didn’t ask for help, so they decided it was none of their business. Sam swiped the keycard into room number 228 and shoved Dean inside, slamming the door behind him.

“Jesus Sammy, what the hell!” Dean snapped, his eyes all fire and fury, since Sam had ordered him in the car to talk when they got back to his room. “Are you tryin’ to break my arm or something?”

Sam wanted to respond, to yell and accuse and demand to know why Dean hadn’t called him the minute he got a plus sign on a stick, but Sam wasn’t in charge of himself in any way at the moment. There was still no scent from Dean except for a mild spike of irritation, and it had now been a full twenty minutes at least since the alpha had been able to smell his child. He was officially in a panic and in no way capable of rational thought. He grabbed Dean and tried to scent him again, but the air in the hotel room still smelled faintly of Sam and John and the last couple who had been in there (another pair of alphas, which didn’t help reduce Sam’s irritation or protective instinct to a level anywhere near reasonable), and as he inhaled sharply at Dean’s collar he discovered immediately that his clothes were covered in the completely unacceptable scent blocker. Sam threw off his overcoat and suit jacket, then spun the confused Dean around and yanked off his coat, then his hoodie and his outer flannel, drawing a string of protests from the omega.

“Sam!” Dean was having a hard time blocking his emotions, and a wave of distress rose off of him as he tried unsuccessfully to bat Sam’s hands away. Normally Sam would have soothed him instantly, but his alpha was too frantic and glad to be able to smell something that he couldn’t stop stripping the layers off. “Sam, stop!”

“Quiet,” Sam growled, though he wouldn’t make it a command, grabbing Dean’s wrists to stop him shoving at his face as he took another long inhale from Dean’s stomach all the way up to his chest.

Still nothing. He grabbed the hem of Dean’s tee shirt and whipped it off over his head with a single, desperate tug, then grabbed the white wife beater underneath and simply ripped it off of Dean’s chest.

“Sam!”

Sam ignored him and scented him again. The blockers were all over his skin, too. Sam was officially starting to go batshit crazy and toed off his shoes quickly before dragging Dean towards the bathroom.

Sam!”

Dean was really desperate now. He had no idea what was going on or why the alpha was acting this way, but Sam’s red eyes and the low growl emanating from him were terrifying. Sam didn’t even acknowledge him, but just turned on the shower, climbed into the stall fully clothed, and dragged Dean in after him. Dean yelped at the cold spray that took a minute to warm, plastering his hair to his head as he sputtered and got held in place so Sam could dump shampoo on him and start scrubbing him with a washcloth. He tried to wiggle free, but Sam easily held him where he was one handed as he batted fruitlessly at Sam’s chest and arms while Sam washed him from his head down to his waist.

Sam! Stop it!”

Dean was dangerously close to bursting into tears but Sam just wouldn’t be deterred. After a few minutes in the shower he dragged Dean out from under the spray and they squished their way out of the bathroom. Dean barely managed to grab a towel before he was shoved across the room and onto one of the beds. He tried to scramble away but Sam was on him in seconds, his suit soaking wet and dripping all over Dean, white dress shirt translucent and clinging to the sculpted muscles of Sam’s chest and stomach. Sam straddled Dean as he squirmed and tried to get at the knife in the now soaking wet sheath on his hip, then pinned Dean’s forearms down at his side and leaned in to take a long, deep inhale of Dean’s neck from shoulder to ear. Dean was screaming at him to get off, but Sam didn’t even appear to hear him, until after far too long of a moment Sam rose back up, sat all the way back off of Dean, and closed his eyes, relaxing visibly as a tremor ran through his body.

Dean took the opportunity to kick Sam square in the chest with both feet and send him flying back off of the bed. He rolled off sideways, grabbing the towel and holding it against his chest with one hand to get some semblance of modesty back while finally getting his knife out with the other and ended up in the corner of the room between the bed and the closet as Sam stuggled up to his feet. His eyes had cleared and he appeared to actually see Dean for the first time since they got there. It clicked into place what he had just done and a wave of guilt flooded off him towards the omega.

“Dean…” he said, his hands shaking as he reached carefully towards him. “God, Dean, I’m so sorry, I would never do anything…”

“Well, you kinda just did, Sam,” Dean replied bitterly, at which point the hotel room door behind them was flung open by John and Adam, who advanced in with guns trained on Sam.

Sam turned instinctively to put himself between Dean and whatever threat was coming through the door behind them, but Dean took the opportunity to dart into the bathroom and slam the door shut. Sam exclaimed, “Dean!” and tried to go after him, but heard both guns cocking and stopped, raising his hands slowly. He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain this when his chest was starting to clench as the panic of the last few minutes subsided and he really registered how he had been behaving since they arrived at the room. Dean was never going to forgive him for that.

“You wanna tell us what that was all about Sam?” John said in the dangerously calm voice Sam had learned usually preceded someone getting shot.

“God, John, I’m so sorry.” Sam was desperate to make him understand, to figure out how to fix this. “He was wearing so much scent blocker…”

“Yeah, so fuckheads like you will leave him alone!” Adam spat, but John was looking at Sam with something like understanding and started to lower his weapon.

“And?” the elder Winchester asked.

“I couldn’t smell anything. I couldn’t smell him, I couldn’t scent the…” Sam bent over, his hands on his thighs, as the world spun and the ground tipped and he started to hyperventilate. “I thought something had happened, that I’d scared him so badly or the running had been too much…”

His back found the wall and he slid down it onto his rump, putting his head between his knees before he passed out. He heard John uncock the hammer and sheath his gun, then take a few steps closer.

“But he’s okay?” he asked quietly, suddenly deeply concerned.

“Yeah…” Sam said, then laughed bitterly. “I mean, as much as he can be after I just tore his clothes off and shoved him into a shower with me.”

“You son of a bitch…” Adam hissed, advancing on him, but John got between them quickly.

“Adam, stop,” he ordered. “You don’t understand what’s going on here.”

“Then maybe you should fucking tell me, Dad!”

“Alphas can scent their children a long time before they’re born,” John explained, stopping at the shocked look on his son’s face. “Dean didn’t say anything?”

The gun in Adam’s hand suddenly felt very heavy and he let it fall to his side. A lot of things in the last day fell into place, and all the crying and baggy clothes when Dean came to visit a couple of months ago did, too. It was like getting punched in the solar plexus, realizing their relationship was so badly damaged that Dean wouldn’t have told him. Apparently Sam had just found out too, judging by whatever had gone on in the room before they got there.

“No,” he said quietly. “No, he didn’t tell me.”

John was looking back at Sam, who was shaking violently.

“But the baby’s okay?” he asked, and Sam nodded before leaping to his feet and going to the bathroom door.

“Dean?” Sam called, trying the knob and finding it locked. He could have forced it open easily but didn’t dare. Dean didn’t answer, but he could hear muffled crying, like the omega was trying to be as quiet as possible. “Dean? Baby? God I’m so sorry, please open the door.” The crying turned to sobs and Sam ended up weeping, helplessly pressing himself against the wooden barrier between them. “Please, Dean, I’m so sorry…”

He flinched at the hand on his shoulder and turned to see John trying to gently move him away from the door. The older alpha could smell the despair pouring off of him, but knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere. He had Sam’s duffel in his hands and pressed it into the young man’s arms.

“Sam, why don’t you and Adam go get another room and you can get changed into some dry clothes,” he suggested evenly. “I’ll take care of Dean.”

“But…” Sam started, not even sure what he was going to say. Dean needs me? I can’t leave him like this? Dean clearly didn’t need him, and he’d obviously have to leave him like this if he had any hope of salvaging anything between them after his appalling display.

“It’ll be fine. After you’ve got a room you and Adam can go get their stuff from wherever they’re staying.”

“The Blue Lamplighter,” Adam offered, and John snorted.

“See?” he said triumphantly to Sam. “Told you we should have stayed there.”

Sam nodded dumbly, choking back tears as he tried to get himself under control, then took the duffel and wandered out of the room like an eight year old who had been grounded. Adam followed, looking slightly dazed. With Dean still locked in the bathroom, it seemed that John was the only grown-up left of the quartet. Good thing he’d had a lot of practice at this “dad” thing, even if he did suck at it. Obviously he’d better start getting good at it quickly.

“Hey Dean?” he said after the two younger men left. “You wanna open up? Sam’s gone.”

It was a long, tense sixty-three seconds before John heard the door unlock and Dean cautiously opened it a sliver. He was an utter mess, eyes puffy, nose red from too much wiping with hotel room toilet paper, teardrops still clinging to his lashes. He was still clutching the towel to his chest, his hands shaking, while his pants left a puddle on the floor.

“He left?” Dean whispered. John nodded and his son’s face crumpled with another bout of sobbing. John moved quickly into the bathroom to wrap him in his arms and close the door behind them. “I was so scared, Dad…”

“I know Dean,” John soothed, running a hand up and down Dean’s back. “I know. I’m sorry that happened.”

“Why would he do that?” Dean squeaked, and felt his father sigh.

“Well, he was scared too.” That got a bitter snort out of his son, but John pressed on. “No, I mean it, Dean. I know you can’t scent the baby - omegas can’t detect changes to their scent like that, not any more than an alpha can tell if their scent has changed - but alphas…”

“I know,” Dean interjected. “I know they can.”

“Yeah, but you don’t understand what it’s like.” John continued the long, soothing sweeps up and down Dean’s spine until his son notched his head onto his shoulder and started breathing in his scent. “The first time you can scent your child...There’s nothin’ like it Dean. It’s like Heaven come down to earth, no exaggeration. It’s magic. And if that scent goes away -  god, there’s nothing scarier. Nothing.”

“What do you mean, goes away?” Dean asked, calmed enough that he could back away a little to look at his father.

“Those scent blockers,” John explained. “Hell, Dean, I didn’t even know you were there until your brother yelled your name. I couldn’t smell a damn thing, and I’ve known what you smelled like since before you were born. Well, at least the cherry pie and coffee. When we were outside in the wind Sam could probably just get a hint of you and the baby, but by the time you got back here I doubt he could smell anything.”

“So you’re saying it’s okay that he just...what, tore my clothes off?” Dean demanded, his anger rising.

“No Dean, what I’m saying is…” He sighed. He was never going to get through to Dean this way. He took a step back and removed his coat and then his flannel, which he wrapped around Dean’s shoulders so he’d be draped in John’s scent to help calm him. As he slipped Dean’s arms into the sleeves and buttoned it up like he used to when his son was too small to work the buttons, he said, “When your mom...when she was about five months along she went out to the grocery store while I was at work. This was back when things were starting to get pretty bad for omegas, and while even back then no one would think of touching a mated om they still got a lot of...unwanted attention. So she loaded up on the scent blockers and she put on a new dress that she hadn’t worn yet so it didn’t have her scent on it already and I don’t know what she did to her hair, but she did something to her hair too, so that she wouldn’t smell at all while she was getting the milk and bread and whatever else she picked up that day.” John smiled at the memory of her going grocery shopping. Dean was enthralled. His father never talked about his mother this way. John grabbed another towel and started drying off Dean’s hair, shaking the smile away. “Anyway, she must’ve gotten home right before I got out of work, because she hadn’t cleaned any of the blocker off, and when I walked into the kitchen...it was the scariest thing that had happened to me, up to that point in my life, period. Worse than ‘Nam. Worse than any hunt I’d been on before we mated. I could barely smell her and I couldn’t smell you, at all. I just about lost my goddamn mind. Where the fuck had she been, why was she putting away fucking groceries, why wasn’t she fucking sitting down, what the fuck had she been doing while I was at work, had she fallen down the fucking stairs, why the fuck hadn’t she called me, why the fuck hadn’t she called the doctor, why the fuck was she doing anything - I’d never screamed at her like that before. Never did afterwards either. I scared her half to death, Dean. Dragged her over to the kitchen sink and made her scrub off her neck until it was practically raw so I could be sure both of you were okay. I didn’t even care that she was screaming and crying and trying to get me to let her go. When I finally stopped she hit me with a cutting board and locked herself in the bedroom and I had to get Mrs. Wilbert from next door to come over and calm her down. Mrs. Wilbert was an alpha so she got it, but it was a solid week before your mom would let me back in the bedroom.” Dean was listening very intently to him, the distress having left his scent, and John cupped his son’s face in his hands. “I’m not sayin’ what Sam did was all right, or that you need to forgive him right this second. I’m just sayin’ that I know what that kind of fear is like, and I swear to you, it makes it so an alpha can’t think straight. We just can’t. It’s all instinct, all ‘protect offspring’ - no frontal cortex input whatsoever. It’s like something just short circuits and we can’t stop until we know one way or the other if the baby is still there. So no more scent blockers around Sam, okay? Or you’re gonna lose all your shirts.”

John was pleased when that elicited a small laugh and a head duck from his son. Dean looked down at his squishy boots and nodded.

“Okay, no more scent blockers around Sam,” he agreed. “But I’m still pissed at him. He owes me, l don’t know, two dozen roses or somethin’ after that.”

John scoffed.

“Don’t let him off that easy,” he said. “That kid’s got more money than God.”

And there was the full belly laugh he wanted. He convinced Dean to get out of his wet shoes and jeans and to hang out in a towel until Sam and Adam got back with his clothes, then went to see what was on the television and order some room service because Dean was starving. He got an appetizer, two entrees, dessert, and a milkshake and told them to put it all on Sam’s card, and he didn’t even feel the slightest bit guilty. If he was going to have to put up with being scrubbed down in the shower, the least his baby’s father could do was feed him. They were in the middle of Hercules, which John bristled at having to watch even though Dean insisted it was a great movie and he was going to have to get used to watching these things if he ever wanted to see his grandkid. When it got to Go the Distance he understood why his son liked the movie and put his arm around Dean’s shoulders to tug him a little closer. By the time the Muses were trying to convince Megara to admit she loved Hercules Dean was asleep on his chest, tucked under the comforter from one of the two queen beds, and John thought maybe he’d been wrong all those weeks ago. Maybe things would eventually be okay after all.

Chapter Text

The ride to the Lamplighter was quiet and uncomfortable for the former childhood friends. Both were miserable over the current state of their respective relationships with Dean, and both were sitting next to the person they normally would have talked to about it but now couldn’t even look at. Adam was still angry with Sam for Laramie, Sam was still angry with Adam for making him lie about the party, both of them were angry with Dean for shutting them out, and both of them were angry at themselves for being angry with Dean. He had every damn right to shut them out if he wanted to, but that didn’t mean they weren’t hurt just the same.

And then there was the whole Dean being pregnant with Sam’s baby thing, which Sam wanted to sing about from mountaintops and Adam couldn’t even begin to process because it was his big, strong, godlike older brother carrying around a pup, and even though Adam had known for a decade that Dean was an omega and obviously knew that omegas were at the heart of their nature maternal, the idea of Dean, with his broad shoulders and thick arms and give ‘em hell attitude wearing maternity shirts and pants just didn’t compute. Dean was a warrior, not a mother; someone who cleaned up blood and stitched up gunshot wounds and popped shoulders back into place, not someone who cleaned up vomit and sang lullabies and soothed away nightmares.

Except that Dean already did do all of that. He’d already done that with Adam when he was very little. Hell, he’d done that for Adam all the way up until he got kicked out of school, even while he was setting all those national qualification records. He helped with homework and showed him how to fold laundry and let him crawl in bed with him when there were really bad thunderstorms outside because Adam hadn’t gotten over his fear of thunderstorms until he was nine. So really, Adam’s problem with the idea of Dean being a mother centered around what he thought an omega was supposed to be and thinking that conflicted with his idea of Dean instead of accepting how his omega brother actually was. It was exactly what Dean had accused him of back in Durham.

What made it even worse was he could tell that Sam was thrilled about the baby; and not just that he was having a baby, but that he was having a baby with Dean. Anyone who had seen the way he’d reacted to Dean on the street could tell he was thrilled, could tell it wasn’t because Dean was an omega, could tell it was because Dean was Dean. That wasn’t just your average lovers making up after a fight kiss, that was a bona fide “you have made my life complete by giving me a child” kiss. That was the kind of kiss most people only dreamed about, that you only saw in movies because no one really kissed with that much passion; at least not in public. It threw into question everything he’d ever thought about alphas, that the only thing they cared about was knotting someone, that the number of pups they sired was more a matter of pride than of affection, and that in general they saw an omega mate as a prize, something to inflate their ego and prove they were better than all the other alphas who had to settle for beta mates, as opposed to someone they cherished. He had known Sam a very long time and had never seen him as happy as he was today. Which meant that it was possible Adam had been misjudging Sam all along.

As for Sam, he sat in the passenger’s seat of John’s truck feeling like the guilt of the situation just might crush him. More than just throwing Dean around the hotel room like a rag doll, practically ensuring he would never feel safe with Sam again, there were all the weeks he had thought of calling but talked himself out of it. Laramie had been roughly four months ago. That was four months of time he could never get back - months when he could have been with Dean, making him feel loved and cared for, making him feel secure enough that he wouldn’t want to douse himself with so many scent blockers no one could smell anything on him. Yes, Dean could have called, but after that awful note Sam left he couldn’t possibly have expected him to. He’d been such an unbelievable ass for such a long time and he had no idea how he was ever going to make anything up to Dean.

They pulled into the Blue Lamplighter parking lot and Sam went to empty the room of Adam and Dean’s things while Adam went to check them out. He recognized Dean’s laptop and duffels from the Laramie job but was surprised to see how many more weapons he was carrying. There was an empty duffel that he presumed was for Dean’s clothes, which he had unpacked and laid neatly in the room’s dresser. He had a tremendous number of shirts, at least two week’s worth, unless he layered up every time he got dressed like he had been today. Sam got them all back into the empty bag and went to do a sweep of the bathroom. He recognized Dean’s blue toothbrush, thinking the green must be Adam’s, and found the bag of scent blockers, which had apparently replaced the first aid kid. There were no bandages, no antiseptic ointment, not even a bottle of aspirin. The only thing even remotely like medicine was the bottle of prenatal supplements. In the place of the basic necessities for a hunt were a dozen cans of scent blocker. Sam wouldn’t have thought he’d need that much for a simple job and wondered how much of that stuff he actually sprayed on himself before he left the room every day. He picked it up and read the back to see what was in it, and if it was even safe to use. At the bottom of all the instructions in bold black type it clearly said, NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE WHILE CARRYING . Beyond being disconcerting that Dean was spraying himself with stuff that could hurt the baby was the idea that Dean was willing to risk hurting the baby. Granted, Sam was still trying to get up to speed on how the omega was feeling, but Dean had never been someone who would purposely put others in danger. What was going on with him that he would ignore that kind of warning to drench himself in this stuff? On top of everything else there weren’t any styling products for his hair, which also struck Sam as wrong, though he couldn’t pin down what it was about the simple lack of hair gel that bothered him so. It was such a small detail, but Dean took a great deal of pride in how he looked before he went out into the world. Sam had teased him about it pretty mercilessly in Laramie. To not see something that had been a basic part of Dean’s hygiene regimen just didn’t sit right. Everything about Dean’s belongings made him uneasy, and he wondered what else he had missed besides the positive pregnancy test in the time since he’d last seen Dean.

Adam only had one bag full of clothes and nothing else to indicate he’d even prepared for a hunt, so Sam grabbed everything but the scent blockers and got it out in one trip. The beta was waiting for him by the truck already and grabbed his bag from Sam, noticing that they were one bag short.

“You missed something,” he said. “Dean brought three duffels.”

“He doesn’t need one of them,” Sam told him, piling Dean’s things into the bench seat between them.

“The blockers?” Adam guessed, and Sam’s jaw flexed as he pushed back his rising anger at just the thought of them. “He needs those.”

“He doesn’t need those,” Sam insisted.

“Yeah, Sam, he does.”

“It says right on the goddamned can that they’re not recommended for pregnant oms. I’m not bringing them.”

“Sam, you’re not hearing me. He needs those.”

“Why would he need those when he’s got me?”

“Are you gonna be with him every single second?”

“He doesn’t need me to be with him every single second.”

“You sure about that? Cuz when he came to see me in Durham two months ago he was a mess, and that was before he watched the tape.”

Adam’s words stopped Sam dead in his tracks as the puzzle came together. Realization dawned that the phone call he couldn’t remember must have been about Shreveport. John hadn’t said anything about the call or what had happened afterwards in the time they’d been hunting together, but Sam figured with whatever he was missing if something were really terribly wrong with Dean, John never would have left him, so he must be okay. Yes, he’d suspected John knew about his cousins and had made arrangements for their untimely deaths, but after spending a lot of time mulling it over he’d decided that Adam must have been the one to tell John, even if John insisted they didn’t talk. That was the only thing that made sense with how disinterested John seemed in his older son - never mentioning Dean, never calling him - and no matter how strained their relationship was, John would want to hide any involvement Adam had in the Campbell cousins’ deaths. Now that he was aware that Dean not only knew about Shreveport but had actually watched the tape and had been alone all this time he felt utterly horrified. What kind of memories might that encounter in Sam’s hotel room have brought back? No wonder Dean pulled a knife on him and wouldn’t open the bathroom door. Maybe he should listen to Adam, even though listening to Adam had gotten them where they were now. But those blockers...Dean shouldn’t be using them when they could hurt the baby. Sam had no idea what to do. The sudden urge to get back to the AmericInn was overwhelming.

“Still don’t want me to tell you what they did to him?” Adam asked, his eyes cold.

“If Dean wants me to know he’ll tell me,” Sam snapped.

Adam gave him a disgusted nod and went around to climb into the driver’s seat.

“Coward.”

They didn’t talk at all on the way back to the AmericInn, and by the time they pulled into the parking lot Sam could tell that Adam was seething. They couldn’t keep going like this if they planned to share a room, which they clearly needed to for at least one night. The case they were on involved Adam’s mom and Sam and John couldn’t just cut him out of that. As Adam turned the car off Sam asked, “Why did you watch the tape anyway?”

Adam looked for a second like he was going to ignore Sam and get out of the car without answering, but instead turned back to grip the steering wheel and stare out the windshield into the cold, snowy dusk. His jaw worked for a while as he thought of what he wanted to say. He really didn’t want to get into this discussion with Sam now. Hell, he didn’t want to get into any discussion with Sam ever, but they were going to be tied together by his brother’s impending bundle of joy and he wanted to be in his neice or nephew’s life, so he decided he needed to come up with some way to be around Sam without getting an ulcer.

“I got dumped,” he said bitterly. “And I got drunk. And I figured if I watched it I’d finally have the guts to kill your cousins for what they did to my brother.” Sam didn’t say anything, waiting to see if Adam was done, and after a few moments the beta continued. “And I...I needed to make sure I never forget. That I never get sloppy like that again. Cuz...cuz if I ever get that shitfaced it might not be me that gets hurt, you know?” He glanced over at Sam, his eyes glassy. “Dean’s gonna have to live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of his life. I thought, why should I get to come out of it not knowing what the consequences were? Didn’t seem right for him to carry it alone.”

“That why you keep wanting to give me the details?” Sam asked quietly.

“No, it’s so you know how bad it was,” Adam replied.

“I get that,” Sam said, turning to look at him. “But I still think it’s his story to tell me, not yours.”

Adam looked back for a few moments before nodding and getting out of the car.

John answered the door to room 228 when Sam quietly knocked, holding Dean’s two bags while Adam went down to put his stuff in room 251. The television was playing quietly in the background and the sweetness of Dean’s changed scent when the door opened just a little made Sam’s head swim. John glanced over his shoulder and then stepped out into the hallway, keeping the door open just enough that he wouldn’t get locked out.

“Hey Sam,” he said quietly. “Dean’s asleep. You got his stuff?”

“Yeah.” Sam handed over the two duffels, not sure what else to say. He was badly shaken by his conversations with Adam, with getting Dean’s belongings and seeing how different they were from what he used to carry, at knowing now that Dean was aware of every detail of what had happened in the basement, of feeling like he was in the dark in general and not knowing where he was going to find a flashlight. “Is he okay? I didn’t hurt him, did I?”

“No, he’s fine,” John replied, and added in answer to the question Sam hadn’t asked, “The baby’s fine too, far as I can tell. You just scared the shit out of him. That’s gonna take him a while to get over.”

“I know.”

“What room are you guys in? I’ll leave a bunch of my clothes with Dean so he can scent me and we’ll let him sleep and we can get back to workin’ the case. I think the sooner we get him off of this job the better.”

Sam had to clamp down quickly on his alpha before it freaked out completely at the idea of his pregnant omega on a hunt.

“He wasn’t actually gonna work it, was he?”

John could feel the tension ratchet up in Sam and how he was trying to suppress his growing anxiety and quickly said, “No, he was just gonna do some research to make Adam happy and then hand it off to the FDH.”

“Oh, okay.”

“I’ll meet you in your room in fifteen.”

“Okay, we’re in 251.”

John gave him a nod and went back inside as Sam headed off down the hall. He flipped the extra door latch at the top of the frame and noticed that Dean was waking up on the couch when he turned around. His hair had dried sticking up on the side of his head and he looked around for a minute in sleepy confusion as he figured out where he was. John was worried momentarily he might panic, but there was no distress in Dean’s scent, just lethargy.

“Who was that?” he asked, his voice thick with drowsiness.

“Sam was just dropping off your stuff,” John said, taking the duffels over to toss them on the bed that wasn’t rumpled and damp from Sam’s earlier panic. “I was gonna head down to their room to talk about the case. You want me to send Adam down here to sit with you?”

“Adam’s not gonna want to come sit with me,” Dean said, crossing to the bed to get out dry underwear, pants, and socks to pull on with his dad’s flannel. He slid quickly into the boxer briefs and the jeans, trying not to think about his bare feet being in contact with a hotel room carpet. “Something killed his mom. He’s gonna want in on the hunt.” Before John could think of what to say to that, Dean was going through the second duffel, and then back to the first frantically. “Where are my blockers?”

“What?”

“My blockers!” Dean was starting to get upset, digging through both duffel bags and starting to dump their contents out on the bed. “I had a whole bag of blockers, where are they?”

“Those were the only bags Sam gave me,” John said, growing very concerned at the mix of distress and anger that was starting to flood off his son as he searched in a frenzy through his belongings. “Dean, calm down…”

But Dean would not calm down. He needed to have his scent blockers. He couldn’t leave this room without them. He didn’t think he could make his father understand and didn’t even try. He managed to force himself to quit throwing clothes around the room in an effort to find the spray cans that simply weren’t there, and clenched his fists to try to stop them from shaking.

“What room are they in?” he asked as calmly as he could.

“Two fifty-one.”

“Thanks.”

He was across the room and out the door before John could stop him, storming down the hall looking for the door with 2-5-1 on it and filling the hallway with his furious pregnant omega scent. He passed a couple of people who literally turned and were visibly fighting the urge to press themselves up against his neck, and man did he hope one of them tried something because he was itching for a fight. John was trying to figure out where he put the keycard to their room so they could get back in and was only halfway down the hall after his son when Dean got to the room where Adam and Sam were, smelling the scent trail of Sam outside. Without so much as a word he took a step back, lined himself up, and kicked in the door.

The entire lock mechanism exploded inward, giving Dean the satisfaction of being able to follow up the kick by slamming the door wide open as he stalked inside to glare at Sam, who was sitting at the table by the window in complete shock, his laptop open in front of him. Adam had been in the bathroom brushing his teeth and came out with the brush still in his hand, looking around startled and confused. Sam’s eyes went wide as Dean stared daggers through him then went to the dresser to start digging through it.

“What did you do with them?” he demanded, flinging Sam’s clothing everywhere.

“With what?” Sam asked, struggling to get with the program. Five minutes ago Dean had been asleep in his room and now he was here filling Sam’s room with the intoxicating scent of his omega. Even with the rage spilling off of him he smelled amazing. Sam didn’t dare say that though, he wasn’t an idiot.

“You know fucking what!” Dean spun on him, his eyes gold and canines descended. “My scent blockers! Where they fuck are they?!”

“I didn’t bring them from the other hotel,” Sam replied calmly. He certainly wasn’t about to lie about forgetting them.

“You son of a bitch,” Dean growled, storming to him and shoving him back up against the table. “What are you trying to do, trap me here?”

“No, Dean, of course not…” Sam started.

Really?” Dean’s voice was high and disbelieving. This was not good. “Well how the fuck am I supposed to leave my room smelling like a free all you can eat buffet?!”

“Dean, just listen to me for a second…”

Holy shit, Sam was just as dumb as Dean’s stupid ass little brother. How was it possible that his dad of all people was the only person in Dean’s life right now who wasn’t a gigantic raving moron? He pulled back and swung, his hit to the jaw sending Sam toppling over his chair.

“I don’t have to listen to shit from you!” he roared, launching himself at Sam as Sam scrambled to his feet and tried to deflect some of the blows Dean was throwing. Dean didn’t hesitate and just continued to clobber him. “Those were mine! You had no fucking right to leave them!”

“Dean, stop!” Sam yelped, getting the irate omega into a bear hug and pinning Dean’s arms down to his sides.

It was the wrong move. Dean thrust his forehead straight into Sam’s nose and the alpha let him go with a shout, blood spurting everywhere as he staggered back into the wall. Dean reached around for something, anything to hit him with and got his hands on the laptop, swinging back with both hands to slam it upside Sam’s stupid fucking head.

“Dean!”

Suddenly John and Adam were both on him, Adam coming in from the side to get both his arms around his brother while John came from behind and got one arm under him and the other on the laptop before he could swing. Dean roared, lifting both feet to push off of the table, which sent the table toppling over but catapulted all three of them back across the room and drove John’s lower back straight into the dresser. It got John off him with a grunt, though his father maintained control over the laptop, but Adam still had him in a deathgrip that he was not about to let go. Dean swung his fist, now free of his improvised weapon, but Adam ducked under it and forced Dean backwards until they went flying over the coffee table and he was pinned on his side to the couch.

“Dean!” Adam shouted as John hurried over to grab his swinging arms with one hand and start sweeping the other over his son’s face and back to try to force him to calm down by overwhelming him with pheromones. “Dean, you’ve got to stop!”

“Fuck you Adam!” Dean bellowed. “Get the fuck off of me!”

“Dean, you’re going to hurt the baby,” John said desperately.

I don’t care! I don’t care about the baby!” the omega roared. “I don’t want the baby!”

Dean might have raged on endlessly if Sam’s tomented scent hadn’t filled the room, wiping away the omega scent like it didn’t even exist. It was enough to get Dean to at least look over at the alpha, who was standing by the window looking ashen and devastated. He was breathing very heavily and shaking, blood still dripping from his nose. Unable to look at the omega he was instead staring at the floor as the house in Vermont went up in flames.

“The blockers you had were crap,” he said in a tremulous voice when Dean had finally stilled enough to listen. “They may have worked but they weren’t safe. I was looking up options for you to use while carrying. Figured I could have a bunch overnighted to the hotel. I was gonna tell you when I dropped off your stuff, but you were asleep. John, can I borrow the truck?”

“Sure Sam,” the older alpha replied quietly, and Sam grabbed his jacket and the keys from where they’d fallen off the dresser to the floor and walked out. “Adam, go with him, make sure he doesn’t wreck my truck.”

“Yes sir.”

Adam grabbed his coat and hurried out after Sam, glancing back at his brother with a look somewhere between pity and anger. Dean had finally stilled on the couch, but he was panting hard and his heart was racing. John sat down slowly next to him, laying a hand on his son’s leg.

“Did you mean that, Dean?” he asked, keeping his voice even.

Dean was coming down off the high from the anger, and turned away from his father’s carefully neutral gaze. That had gotten far uglier than he would have thought possible. Apparently he was a whole lot angrier at Sam than he had realized, and a whole lot less able to keep himself in check. He shouldn’t have said that. He may have meant it in the moment, but it wasn’t how he really felt. It wasn’t the baby that he didn’t want. It was all the extra stuff that came with carrying: the hormones and the emotions that he clearly couldn’t control and the nausea and the way his pants kept getting too tight and how tired he was all the fucking time and how his shoes didn’t fit and how he knew he was so much weaker now.

No, weaker wasn’t right. He was delicate now. And he worried about how delicate he was all the damn time. It wasn’t just being delicate that he worried about either. He worried about everything. He worried about lifting too much weight. He worried about how many preservatives were in his food. He worried about slipping on the steps and falling. He worried about whether he’d remembered to take his prenatal vitamins. He worried about whether he was getting enough calcium. He worried about how much stress he was under. He worried about how much sleep he was getting. He worried if he was going to be able to save enough money for a crib and a car seat and if he could even secure a car seat properly in the Impala and what he would do if he couldn’t because he had no way to get another car. He worried about sudden infant death syndrome and bathtub drownings and getting distracted and forgetting the baby in the back seat on a hot day. He worried about the way the seatbelt was positioned on his lap and what would happen if someone rear-ended him and he went flying forward and the lap belt was too high up or he ended up going stomach first into the steering column. He worried about the umbilical cord getting wrapped around the baby’s neck and strangling it before it could even be born. He worried constantly that something he was doing was going to hurt his passenger, who he couldn’t blame for how he was feeling because the kid hadn’t asked to come along right when he discovered he’d been drugged and assaulted and lied to about it. It wasn’t right to blame him or her for any of it when it was entirely possible that if Dean had known about the assault when it happened and had been given time to process it then he might be jumping for joy about this. And no, he wasn’t over the moon the way Sam had been when he caught him on the street, but that didn’t mean he absolutely hated the idea of having a baby or that he didn’t think he would eventually be happy about it - even if “eventually” wasn’t until the baby was born. He loved kids. He really did. He was great with them. He had never thought he’d get to a point in his life where he would be stable enough to have them, but he’d always secretly hoped he would. It was just way, way more complicated than fending off “is it a boy or a girl” questions and strangers asking to touch his belly or commenting on how he was glowing, and that didn’t even take into account all of the conflicting feelings he had about Sam.

And boy were his feelings conflicted. He’d been scared when he saw Sam on the porch, and then he’d just wanted to melt into him when they’d kissed by the car, and it had seemed like things could actually get better for the first time in a long time, but then there had been the clothes tearing and the shower and the feeling of being safe around Sam was just gone. They could have maybe gotten past that eventually after his dad explained why it happened, but now Dean had just said quite possibly the worst thing to have ever come out of his mouth after Sam let him beat the crap out of him over a misunderstanding, and as his rage waned he was worried that he had hurt the baby and he wished Sam hadn’t left so that he could fold himself up in his arms and scent him while Sam told him it would be all right. None of that even began to touch the stuff around the party and the lying and how were they even supposed to broach that subject when Sam had literally torn a shirt off of him earlier and Dean quite possibly had broken his nose a few minutes ago? His omega was horrified and kicking and screaming to go after the alpha and beg for forgiveness, but the non-omega part of Dean felt like crawling into a hole and covering himself over with dirt so he could just lie there and rot.

“No,” he replied quietly after quite some time. “No, I didn’t mean it. I was just...really fucking angry.” He looked at his father, trying to control his breathing as his heart set a frantic pace. “Can you still...do we both smell okay?”

“Yeah, you’re both fine,” John told him firmly. “But don’t make a habit out of doin’ things like that.”

“I won’t.” Dean looked at the hole he had exploded in the door and the total disarray of the room. Well, at least he knew he could still fight off more than one person if he needed to. Little victories. “I don’t think I’m getting those roses now.”

John helped his son up off the couch as someone from the hotel stuck their head into the room, looking utterly shocked.  

“Excuse me,” she said, taking everything in with wide eyes. She scented the air quickly, her eyes going red as she fixed them on Dean. “I heard there was some kind of problem up here.”

“Yeah…” Dean blushed, rubbing his hand along the back of his neck. For the first time in forever the sight of glowing red eyes didn’t phase him, not when he was standing in a room that reeked of Sam. “You’re gonna need a new door.”

“Evidently,” she said. She did not look amused.

“His mate locked himself out of the room and panicked,” John explained, giving her a knowing grin. “I’m sure you can imagine, your pregnant husband on the other side of the door…”

Well, that changed things for her and she smiled.

“Yeah,” she agreed with a chuckle. “It’s funny how scary a door can be sometimes.”

“Terrifying,” John said with a smile.

“Okay, I’ll send someone from maintenance up to replace it.”

“Thanks.”

She was gone with a little shake of her head, leaving them staring at the destruction around them. After a minute John dug around for the remote and plopped himself down on one of the beds, clicking on the television. Dean suddenly found he had no idea what he should be doing while they waited for maintenance.

“Are we just gonna sit here and watch TV until they get back?” he asked at last, desperate for direction.

“That’s what I’m plannin’ on doin’,” John replied. “Can’t leave the room unoccupied with a big hole in the door.”

“‘Kay.” Dean sat down next to his dad and leaned against him until John put his arm around the young man’s back. It was a lot less humiliating than asking for a hug. After a minute he added quietly, “What if they don’t get back?”

“They will.”

Dean wasn’t so sure.

Chapter Text

Adam had absolutely no idea what to say or do to make Sam feel better. Honestly, he was surprised that he wanted to with the way they’d been going at each other recently, but it was obvious Dean’s comment about the baby had pretty much left the alpha shattered and after knowing him for so long Adam would have needed to be made of stone not to care what Sam was going through. He’d managed to convince Sam to give him the keys to the truck so they wouldn’t end up in an accident getting out of the hotel parking lot, and now he was trying to find the nearest bar so Sam could get “blind stinking drunk” while Sam sat with his bruised face turned to the passenger door window and silently cried.

As surprised as he was that he wanted to find some way to comfort Sam, Adam was even more surprised at how angry he was with Dean. Not just angry, but for the first time unwilling to feel bad about being angry with him. Adam knew how wrong he had been not to tell Dean about the party, how wrong he had been to talk Sam into keeping his mouth shut, but the two of them weren’t Dean’s enemies and the comment about the baby had been way beyond the pale, particularly when Adam was sure it wasn’t true. It wasn’t just the way he wouldn’t crawl around on his belly in the heating ducts, or refused coffee, or wanted to immediately hand this job off rather than working it himself. All the way back to Durham he had been acting like someone who was trying to be careful. He’d refused the offer of beer, he was layering himself in clothing so the physical changes he was going through wouldn’t be obvious, he clearly hadn’t been working any cases, and he was drenching himself in scent blockers so alphas wouldn’t smell that he was pregnant and see him as an easy target. He’d always been someone to wear blockers based on circumstance rather than as a matter of course, and even when he felt the need to go heavy on them he never went to the point where he masked himself completely. Adam would have bet money that the extra level of caution went beyond just the trauma of the rape and into protecting the little girl or boy he was growing. To shout that he didn’t care about the baby and didn’t want it struck Adam as crossing the line from justifiably angry to unnecessarily cruel, and Dean was not cruel by nature. That he had apparently wanted to hurt Sam so deeply about a situation that had clearly overjoyed the alpha really gave Adam pause about how well his brother was dealing with everything, and whether he and Sam were ever going to get to a point where Dean would talk to either of them again without contempt. He could take it if his relationship with Dean was permanently damaged, but Dean’s kid had a right to know both of his (or her) parents and to not have her (or his) mother going in for the kill every time his (or her) father was in the room.

They pulled into the bar where Joe Barton had worked, finding the parking lot already starting to fill up. Sam was out the door before Adam even had the truck in park, wiping at his face and shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. Adam mercifully hadn’t wanted to talk on the drive over, and if Sam was really lucky he could get inside, buy himself a bottle of Grey Goose, and be a couple of shots in before he had to say anything to his beta babysitter. Because what could he possibly say? Thanks for driving me here, please go away while I kill myself through alcohol poisoning? That didn’t seem a reasonable conversation to have, even if it’s what he fully intended to do. Maybe if he got drunk enough and belligerent enough Adam would just leave him there and he could go choke on his own vomit in the alley out back and Dean could be rid of him once and for all, since there was obviously no hope they were ever going to be together because of how badly Sam had screwed things up. Dean hated Sam, and he hated Sam’s baby, and so really, what the hell was the point of living? As far as Sam could see there wasn’t one.

He was already at the bar when Adam came in through the door and hurried over while Sam poured his first shot. The place was pretty crowded, the sound system quietly twanging away the opening strains of Fade Into You. Sam had downed a second shot before Adam got to the stool next to him and was busy pouring a third. He was going to get so drunk Adam was afraid he was going to have to carry him back to the hotel, and Sam had gotten way too big for Adam to carry anywhere.

“What can I get for you hon?” the bartender, a middle aged, redheaded alpha asked as Adam plunked himself down next to Sam.

“Cranberry juice and lime,” Adam replied, watching Sam down his third and then fourth shot as the bartender poured his drink and gave the lime a twist.

“You his DD?” she said, casting a wary eye at Sam.

“Yeah. He had a really bad day.”

“I should have listened to you about the blockers,” Sam said morosely, shooting back his fifth shot as the bartender wandered away.

“We really should get some food or something,” Adam told him. “If you drink that whole thing you’re going to kill yourself.”

“Yep,” Sam slurred in response.

“Look, I know you’re upset, but Dean didn’t mean what he said.”

“Yeah, Adam, he did. It’s not like I can blame him.”

“He was just trying to hurt you, Sam.”

“Yeah?” Sam raised an eyebrow at him with a laugh, his eyes growing moist. “Mission accomplished then.”

Sam turned back to his bottle of vodka and leaned against the bar, pinching the bridge of his nose and sniffing as he willed himself not to fall apart in public. He should have just gone to a liquor store and bought out a couple rows of the good stuff and found a bridge to hide himself under and die. If he weren’t a complete coward he’d just put a gun in his mouth and end it.  He very nearly lost it before taking in a shaky breath and pouring himself a sixth shot.

Adam grabbed his arm to stop him before he could toss it back, causing Sam to turn to him with glowing red eyes, a threat in his stare. Adam refused to back down.

“I know my brother, Sam,” he said firmly. “I don’t know how much you know about what’s gone on the last couple of months…”

“Nothing,” Sam spat. “I don’t know fucking anything. Your dad and Bobby called maybe two months ago but I was wasted and I don’t even remember a tenth of what we talked about, and your dad hasn’t said anything. Not even about...”

He couldn’t even talk about the baby now that he knew Dean didn’t want it and pulled his arm free of Adam’s grasp.

“Well then you’ve missed a lot. Hell, I’ve missed a lot.” Adam turned to stare miserably at his cranberry juice. “This is the first time he’s even talked to me in months, and it’s only because something seems to have eaten my mom. After this it’s probably going to be back to the silent treatment.”

Sam actually stopped for a second and just stared at the alcohol begging to be lifted to his mouth, then tossed it back and slid the shot glass away from him a little.

“I’m sorry about your mom,” he said after a long silence as the alcohol began to hit his system and dull the pain just enough that he could think about something other than how his world had blossomed and then imploded in less than twelve hours. “I know how much you wanted to find her when you got out on your own.”

“Thanks.” Adam sipped his cranberry juice and shrugged. “It’s not like I knew her, but thanks.” He picked up a menu and flipped through it, ignoring the long intro to Pictures of You playing in the background. “You want a burger? Or you still on that healthy salad kick?” Sam chuckled and grabbed for a menu as well. “I don’t know how you look like that when you eat like a rabbit.”

“It’s mostly hormones,” Sam told him. “Being big and muscley is about all they’re good for. Most of the time they just fuck with my head.”

“Yeah, I know,” Adam said quietly. “I...uh...I kind of used that against you at your grandpa’s house. Not on purpose, I mean...it wasn’t like some evil master plan, but...” Sam was looking at Adam warily, not sure where this was going. “The way you reacted, when we found him. That wasn’t...that wasn’t just a ‘shit what’s happened to my best friend’s older brother who I haven’t really talked to in almost a decade’ thing. I saw how you tried to scent him, how upset you got when you couldn’t. How you’d been acting around him all night. It wasn’t...inappropriate or gross like other alphas, you know? It was kinda funny. And god, I’ve seen my brother pick up a lot of people, okay, and he was trying so hard to flirt with you and you were just being so respectful. I don’t know why he dragged me into the pool instead of you with you being so oblivious.”

Sam’s brain seemed to have stopped working as he stared at Adam, who had closed the menu and was trying to catch the bartender’s eye. It certainly felt like it. He definitely couldn’t think straight, and it wasn’t just the booze.

“Wh...what?” he sputtered.

“You think he didn’t know what he looked like in those wet jeans? Or the shorts and the wife beater? Those clothes weren’t even his because he doesn’t own shorts. He raided my duffel for them. He hates shorts because of his legs, and a tank top that would completely expose his neck and the fact he’s not claimed? Not happening. Believe me, Dean knows what he looks like every single second of every single day. His looks are one of his most effective tools out in the field. He disarms people, makes them underestimate him. Watched him do it so many times.” The bartender had returned as Sam tried to still the whirring in his head while Adam ordered food. “Bacon burger, medium well, extra pickles if you can swing it. He’ll have a ceasar salad with a double order of grilled chicken, thanks.”

“Chips or fries?”

“Fries.”

“You got it honey.”

She was gone. Sam was still trying to jumpstart his neurons so he could absorb what Adam was telling him.

“It was hilarious, the look on your face when he mentioned skinny dipping.” Adam laughed, actually laughed at the memory of how hopeless Sam had been back then. He looked at his juice and the laughter died away as he grew somber. “Anyway, afterwards I knew if I could appeal strong enough to your primitive protective brain I could get you to agree with not telling him. It’s not like I was trying to screw things up, I was just... so scared about what would happen if he knew, how he would react. Which, you know, seems like I had reason to be, but...I mean, I know a lot of what’s going on with him right now is because we lied about it but he’s just...he’s not doing well, Sam. He’s just not. And I did go to a school for alphas. I kind of know how you guys think. I...I just didn’t understand how the two of you were relating to each other. You were right about that. You were right about everything.” He shrugged. “I still really don’t get the pheromone thing, but you obviously make him feel safe, so…”

“No I don’t,” was all Sam could say. He was still stuck on the idea that Dean had been acting irresistible on purpose. Things could be so different if Sam had just jumped in the damn pool.

“Sam, he charged down a hotel hall with no blockers on, kicked in a door, and then tried to beat you to death with a laptop,” Adam stated flatly. “Add all the screaming on top of that and he probably alerted the whole floor to the fact that he was there. If he didn’t feel like you could kick anyone’s ass who came after him he wouldn’t have done that. I’ve seen what he’s like when you’re not around. Hell, he came after me in Durham but I could tell he didn’t feel like he could just go at me without keeping track of who was at his nine and six. He knows you’ll protect him, even if you’ve got blood all over your face cuz he head-butted you. He’s just pissed off right now. He’ll get over the thing with the blockers. Give him some time to cool off so you can actually talk to each other. You know, have a real conversation about how fucked up everything is. And maybe, I don’t know, buy him some throw pillows or something. His love for throw pillows is insane. We worked this case once with a haunted Bed, Bath & Beyond - I almost bit it because he couldn’t tear himself away from the bedding aisle.”

Sam’s primitive alpha brain roared in triumph at having correctly deduced his omega was a throw pillows kind of guy. His monkey brain, however, was still playing catch-up, and his emotions were way far behind the game.

“Agent Campbell.” Sam was jolted out of his thoughts by the middle-aged blonde alpha in front of him. It was Joe Barton’s wife, whom he and John had talked to earlier today. “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No,” Sam said. “No, it’s fine, Mrs. Barton. This is...uh...this is Adam Winchester. He’s Kate Milligan’s son.”

Mrs. Barton’s eyes went wide at hearing this, and to Adam’s surprise she threw her arms around him.

“God! Adam!” she exclaimed, pulling away to look him full in the face. “You look so much like Kate. Jesus, she never stopped hoping you’d come back to find her. I’m so sorry, I know she’s missing too.”

“Yeah…” Adam swallowed around the lump in his throat. “I was planning to come out for winter break.”

“It’s just awful,” she said, becoming choked up herself. She regarded him for a moment before turning back to Sam. “I’m sorry to interrupt your dinner, but I was actually going to call you. There’s something weird out back by the dumpsters. I thought you should see it.”

“Oh!” The alcohol hit Sam suddenly and he felt his equilibrium shift. “I’m uh...I’m not in the best of shape right now…”

“Please? It’s kind of this glob of flesh and hair and I can’t tell if it’s an animal or...or something else.”

She looked really frightened, and dammit if Sam’s instincts didn’t kick in to want to stop her from being frightened. He knew he should wait until their food got there and he had something in his stomach besides vodka, but Adam was with him so he thought it would probably be okay just to go check out a gross pile of flesh in the alley. Adam didn’t seem to think it sounded that dangerous either, because he looked at Sam and gave a shrug to indicate it was his call and Adam would follow whatever he wanted to do. In the end he decided he’d better get the glob out of the way before he tried to eat anything, or he just might throw up whatever he tried to put into his stomach.

“Lead the way,” he said, sliding off of his stool and pausing for a moment to regain his balance. Adam put a hand on his back to steady him and shot a worried glance his way, but Sam just gave a little nod to indicate he was fine and they headed out the back after Mrs. Barton.

The alley was disgusting; all the smells of spoiled food and leftovers and empty liquor bottles mixed with urine and vomit. Sam hated alleys, especially when he had six shots of vodka in him on an empty stomach. Mrs. Barton was hurrying ahead of him over to an area at the far end of the alley near a sewage drain. The light to the back door of the business nearest it had blown, so that entire half of the alley was dark. Sam took out the flashlight he kept in his pocket and he and Adam headed over.

“It’s this, here,” she said, pointing to a sizable pile of what indeed looked to be flesh and hair with a good amount of blood mixed in. Sam and Adam squatted down to have a closer look, Adam fishing a pen out of his pocket to poke through the pile and try to determine its origins.

“God, I don’t miss this at all,” he said, spotting something white at the bottom of the pile. “Is that a tooth?”

“Or bone.” Sam was leaning in as well, trying to separate it out with his own pen. “Mrs. Barton, when did you…”

That’s as far as he got before the bartender’s wife brought a two-by-four down across the backs of their skulls, sending them both into darkness.

When Sam woke it took a few minutes for him to realize that he was strapped down to a table in a dark, mildewy room with a spray of light coming from somewhere up above. His arms were tied out at his sides to the table legs by his head, while his feet dangled slightly off the other end table and were similarly tied down. Several layers of duct tape were secured around his chest, effectively immobilizing him except for his head, which was screaming at him from the two-by-four blow. He looked around the room the best he could and found he was in a basement. The light coming in was from a street light or maybe the moon outside a block glass window. Adam was tied up upright against a supporting beam, ropes around his feet, thighs, and chest, his arms tied behind the post. Adam’s head lolled and Sam could see a trickle of blood running down his neck from the back. Sam pulled against the ropes and strained against the tape with everything he had, but whoever had done this had been thorough. Even with his muscular alpha frame he wasn’t going anywhere.

“Adam!” he barked as loudly as he dared, trying to wake up the beta. “Adam!”

That elicited a minor groan from across the room, and Adam seemed to stir, attempting to lift his head.

“Sam…” he slurred, continuing to struggle to wake up.

Okay, good. Adam was still alive. It didn’t help Sam figure out how to get out of these ropes, but it was better than being stuck down here with a corpse. He grappled against the ropes again with a roar, and heard footsteps on the stairs. Whoever it was moved slowly, as if building up anticipation for their entrance as he fought, and a few moments later three figures walked into the room: the missing Kate Milligan, Joe Barton, and his wife. Joe and the missus came over to the table while the thing that was Kate crossed to Adam, grabbed a handful of hair, and raised up his head. The sudden jerk brought Adam around with a gasp of pain, and after a minute he opened his eyes and looked at the thing holding his hair. He recognized her from the picture she’d sent.

“M...mom?” he asked, confused.

“That’s not your mom,” Sam said. “It’s a ghoul.”

Not-Joe-Barton laughed, pulling a long, thin knife fillet knife out of a sheath in the back of his pants.

“Very good Agent Campbell!” he cried. “Did you figure that out all on your own or did John Winchester help?”

“He thought he might not have gotten you all last time he was here,” Sam said, and cried out as the ghoul cut a long slice along his forearm and leaned down to lap up the blood like a cat.

“Oh, he didn’t,” explained the ghoul that looked like Adam’s mother. “He got our parents, though. Left us scavenging the graveyard for rotten meat.”

She pulled out a similar blade and made a shallow slice down Adam’s throat to suckled the blood from his neck. Adam gave a shout as the third ghoul came over and dug a short knife into the upper right side of his torso. Adam yelped, and then screamed as the ghoul dug its finger into him to scrape out some blood and fatty tissue.

“We weren’t even hurting anyone, just taking the flesh of the dead,” the third ghoul said as the first continued licking at Sam’s arm, then wandered over to carve a chunk of meat out of Sam’s left side to gnaw on like a piece of beef jerky. Sam’s accompanying shriek echoed through the house. “But up rolls John Winchester and blows away mom and dad. Makes you wonder who the monster is.”

The ghoul that was not Kate carved another cut on Adam’s neck, still not very deep, but enough that he was now bleeding substantially all over his shirt as she said, “When we learned little Miss Milligan’s son was coming home we thought he’d be excellent bait for daddy to come back, too.” She smiled up at Adam, who was starting to look very pale, blood staining her teeth. “But we got hungry in the meantime.”

“Fresh meat is so much better,” the third ghoul told them before latching onto the wound in Sam’s stomach and starting to chew while the other two ghouls sucked on Sam’s arm and Adam’s neck.

Both men were screaming and dangerously close to passing out when the basement door burst open and John was storming down the stairs with a pump action shotgun, getting the ghoul that had been attached to Sam’s stomach with a slug that burst its head like a melon, bone and brain matter spraying all over Sam and the ghoul sucking on his arm. The other two ghouls sprang at John, knives at the ready, and he got one of them on the way down, its head exploding in a pink cloud, but the last ghoul managed to knock the gun away and take him to the ground, trying to bring the knife down into his eye. John blocked it with both arms, finding himself quickly in a fight for his life to keep the knife from finding its desired home and the ghoul from sinking its teeth into his neck.

“Adam!” John shouted as his son did pass out while the alpha on the table struggled to try to slip his blood-slick arm out of the restraint. “Sam!”

Adam’s head had lolled back down and his shirt was quickly turning deep red at the collar and the stomach. John continued his desperate fight as the ghoul pressed one of its arms down across his neck to cut off his airflow and sank its teeth into his shoulder. Sam managed to get his right arm out but was having tremendous difficulty untying his left wrist because of all the blood on his hand. After an eternity of struggling against the monster John finally managed to launch it backwards off of him and tried to regain his breath and get his head to stop swimming so he could go for the gun. The ghoul was already on its feet and heading for him, knife extended above its head when Dean thundered down the stairs with a baseball bat and cracked it square upside the left temple. It reeled, advanced on him, and swung around with the knife, swiping at his stomach and drawing a long line of blood from his ribs. Dean gave a pained shout as Sam screamed out his name, then swung the bat up and brought it down right on top of the ghoul’s head, sending it crashing to the floor. John got his hands on the gun at last and turned to blow its half-split-open head off as it came back again for Dean, then he ran to the omega as Dean collapsed on the stairs.

“Dean!” his father yelled as the young man leaned against the wall shaking and panting, but Dean waved him off.

“It’s just my ribs,” he gasped. “Get Adam.”

John paused a moment to swipe his hands down Dean’s face to help calm him before grabbing a knife from amongst the gore on the floor and hurrying to cut his younger son free. Sam was trying desperately to get his other hand loose but was only causing himself to bleed a whole lot more, and after a few seconds Dean got his Bowie knife out of its sheath and hurried over to start on Sam’s bindings.

“Dean…” he gasped as the omega got his other hand free. “God, Dean are you okay?”

“I’m fine Sammy,” Dean said, though Sam could see how badly he was trembling as he worked on sawing through the ropes holding Sam’s feet and then the duct tape. “I’d’ve been here sooner, but uh...I got this thing with basements.”

Dean got Sam’s chest free and the alpha shot off the table and grabbed the omega, pressing Dean tightly to him and instinctively bringing his face to Dean’s neck to scent him past the fear rolling off of him. He could feel Dean’s heart pounding and how fast he was breathing and pressed his mouth to the omega’s hair, sweeping his uncut arm up and down Dean’s back. Dean clutched the back of Sam’s shirt and buried his face in Sam’s chest, using the mass of the alpha’s frame to hold himself upright as his knees gave out on him. The trembling worsened, and Sam pushed his own terror away so that he could focus on soothing Dean before he collapsed.

“You smell like me,” Sam murmured in an effort to distract the increasingly distressed omega.

“Had to put on one of your shirts when the old lady across the street called and said she saw Kate movin’ around the house.” He got his arms around Sam’s neck so he could burrow in closer. “Only way I could get out of the hotel. Some idiot got rid of my scent blockers.”

Sam chuckled, kissing Dean’s forehead and petting his face, trying not to worry at how anxious Dean’s scent was becoming.

“Did you try hitting him with a laptop? Cuz I’d have totally hit him with a laptop.”

“Didn’t work out so well.” Dean’s breathing was becoming fast and shallow. “I gotta get out of this basement, Sammy.”

“Sam, check their pockets for the truck keys,” John ordered, trying to wake his younger son. “It’s parked right outside, they must’ve driven here in it. Dean, I need help with Adam.”

“You gonna be okay?” Sam asked the omega, leaning him against the table.

“If you’re quick,” Dean said, trying to swallow down his rising panic.

Sam frisked the ghoul that had fallen by the table and then went to the one Dean had gotten with the baseball bat, lucking out and finding the keys in its pants pocket. Dean was on his knees at the table, leaning heavily against it and struggling to slow his breathing down. Sam hauled him to his feet as John snapped, “Dean!”

“I’ll get Adam,” Sam told him as Dean clung to him. “You need to get Dean upstairs right now.”

“I’m okay,” Dean insisted quietly, turning his face up into Sam’s shoulder to breathe him in.

“You’re not,” Sam said, walking him across the floor to John. “Trade you.”

“Saw your jackets upstairs inside the door,” John told him, struggling with his unconscious son. “The truck’s right outside. Get him into it.”

Sam managed to hand Dean off to John and grab Adam to throw him into a fireman’s carry. Adam moaned as Sam jostled him, which was at least something, since Sam’s back was growing increasingly wetter and warmer with Adam’s blood, not to mention the side of Sam’s shirt from where the ghoul had gouged him. He hurried up the stairs the best he could, John and Dean at his back, and caught the spike of panic in Dean’s scent as they got close to the door to the upstairs. Sam turned back with his bleeding arm to grab for Dean’s shirt and haul him forward into his side. They’d just made it to the top step when Dean passed out, nearly taking Sam and Adam down with him.

“Dean!”

He tried to drag him forward by the collar but couldn’t get him to budge when he was also carrying Adam, trying not to drop him, and still losing blood himself.

“Truck, Sam, now!” John ordered, getting his arms under his older son to hold him against his chest. “It’s probably a panic attack, I told him to stay up here. Get Adam in the truck and come back for Dean.”

Sam didn’t move, his alpha completely unwilling to leave the omega and the baby behind, even in the safety of Dean’s father. Only when John finally barked, “Sam! Now!” was he able to move forward to where their jackets were piled on the floor, grab them, and hurry out to the porch. The ghouls had been stupid enough to park right in the driveway, so at least he didn’t have to go far with Adam through the snow to get him into the truck. He fumbled the keys into the door lock with his rapidly freezing fingers and slid the young beta into the passenger seat, throwing the coats over him before running back inside for John and Dean.

The first thing Sam scented when he re-entered the house was the worry rolling off of John as he tried to help Dean get to his feet. Sam noticed there was a considerable amount of blood on the floor where Dean had been laying, and that his ribs where the shirt was slashed were wet and shiny. He was awake, but barely, and his skin was pale. A fine sheen of sweat was building on his forehead and he was still breathing very hard.

“Sam…” he gasped, reaching for the alpha.

“What’s wrong?” Sam demanded, running over to scoop Dean up against his chest.

“I think the ghoul cut him deeper than he knows,” John said, tossing him a set of keys. “Get him in the Impala and meet me at the hospital.”

Chapter Text

Dean woke up to shouting, bright lights, beeping, and the feeling of needing at least one more blanket to actually be warm. The last thing he remembered clearly was being in Adam’s mom’s basement after cutting Sam off of a table where a group of ghouls had been snacking on him. Before that he’d been frozen at the top of the stairs, listening to the gunshots and the fighting down in the dark, and had needed to count to one hundred and ninety seven before he could make himself move to save Sam, his dad, and his brother. He’d managed to get the last ghoul off of his dad so John could kill it, but as soon as the adrenaline wore off he began to see flashes of the room from the tape. The cement, the lack of light, the way Sam was splayed out on the table, it was all too much. He tried to power through it and wasn’t going to say a word about what was happening, but it took such a long time to get Sam off the table, and then John needed help with Adam, and then Sam had to get Adam upstairs because he was too much weight for John and after being wrapped up in the cloud of safe Sam scent, his dad’s tar and dirt roads wasn’t enough. Obviously they made it out of the basement because they weren’t there now, but how they got out and where they were he had no idea.

Gradually he became aware that he was in a bed, in a flimsy gown that tied in the back, with scratchy definitely-not-his mesh underwear on, an I.V. in his arm, and Adam on the other side of the room. So. He was in a hospital. He didn’t think he’d been hurt badly enough to go to a hospital but he hadn’t exactly been paying attention. Adam definitely looked a whole lot worse. He was pale and hooked up to a couple of machines monitoring his heart rate and breathing and had one of those oxygen tubes in his nose. The beeping was coming from him.

The shouting was coming from the hallway. He couldn’t make out what was being said because the door to the room was closed, but one of the voices sounded distinctly Sam-like. He went to stand up and go see what the hell the shouting was all about, which is when he realized he had some kind of band strapped around his middle. It was attached to a machine that was printing out a long strip of paper and looked like the seismographs from Tremors. The sight of it was disconcerting, since he was pretty sure he didn’t have a graboid inside him. He turned to see if he could figure out how to unhook it, and felt a sharp pain in his ribs. Moving the hospital gown aside he saw that there was an alarmingly large bandage on his right side, and when he pulled it back there was a neat, alarmingly long row of stitches. It hurt like a sonofabitch, but was a good stitch job.

His omega was insisting that he wait patiently until either the Sam-like voice came into the room, probably attached to Sam, or someone in authority came in to tell him what was going on, but that required patience and Dean had none of that when hospitals were involved. He was hooked up to too much stuff to walk over to his brother and try to wake him up, and he didn’t want to start shouting in a hospital room and have them come in and restrain him or something, so he did the next best thing: he raided the little table beside the bed for things he could chuck across the room at his kid brother and try to wake him up.

Adam must either have been hurt really badly or they had him sedated, because he didn’t even stir until Dean beaned him in the head with his water cup. Even then he didn’t really wake up, he just kind of shifted around, found a more comfortable position, and went back to sleep. Man, it was a good thing Adam had gotten out of the life. He’d get himself killed sleeping that soundly in a hospital.

He was about to toss the empty water pitcher at him as a last ditch effort when Sam stormed into the room carrying a duffel bag, his nose and arm bandaged, his face black and blue. He was followed by John, who had a bandage peeking out from the neckline of his shirt, and a slender, attractive brunette with green-blue eyes and an expression dripping with contempt. She wore a business suit with some kind of ID tag clipped to it, carried a file folder with her, and smelled like burnt bacon, which made Dean’s stomach do an unhappy flip. Hospital administrator of some sort. That did not fill Dean with confidence.

“Sam, it’s just for a couple of weeks,” John was saying, but whatever was only a couple of weeks Sam was having none of it.

“Couple of weeks my ass,” Sam snapped, whirling on him. “They’re bureaucrats, John, once they get him in the system he’ll never get out of this fucking state! If you won’t sign him out of here, I will!” He was beside Dean in two long strides, kissing his cheek like that was something they did regularly (or ever) and started looking over the seismograph thingy. “Dean, get that I.V. out of your arm, we’re leaving.”

“Mr. Campbell, if you attempt to remove this omega from these premises I shall be forced to inform the authorities,” the administrator was saying in a crisp British accent. “I understand your grandfather is an important Director at the Federal Department of Hunters, but I assure you that agency has no jurisdiction over these matters.”

“Fuck you very much, Ms. Talbot.” He was digging into the duffel bag pulling out clothes. “Dean! I.V.!”

Dean sprang to attention and ripped out the I.V. as best he could without tearing a hole in his arm and starting it bleeding everywhere. Sam was shoving clothes at him and unwrapping the strap from his middle.

“Sammy, what’s going on?” he asked as Sam was undoing the hospital gown so he could pull a tee shirt down over Dean’s head.

“We’re getting out of here, that’s what’s going on,” Sam said, but the administrator was advancing around to address Dean directly.

She plastered a fake-ass smile on her face, bending slightly at the waist to look him straight in the eye as she spoke to him.

“Dean,” she said in a sickly sweet voice. “We’re discussing something very serious about your care. The state of Minnesota wants to protect you while you’re carrying. You want that, don’t you?”

Dean stared at her for a minute, looked at his father, and then up at Sam.

“Why is she talkin’ to me like I’m fuckin’ five?” he demanded, then turned back to the British bitch. “No, I don’t want the state of Minnesota to protect me while I’m carryin’. Whatever you’re askin’ I do not consent.”

“She doesn’t need your consent, Dean,” John said. He sounded old and tired and very unlike the man who had taught Dean since childhood to avoid law enforcement and protective services agencies like the plague. “You’re an unmated, pregnant omega and in the state of Minnesota apparently that gives them custodial rights over you.”

Dean’s eyes went wide at this.

“Like hell!” he shouted. “I’m going to be twenty seven in a month and a half! Plus I’m not a Minnesota resident! Check my fucking driver’s license!”

“Minnesota doesn’t recognize out of state omega driver’s licenses as proof of residence,” Ms. Talbot explained tersely, clearly disapproving of his word choice. “As I’ve explained to your father and the baby’s alleged sire…”

Alleged?!” Dean’s eyes went even wider as he gaped at her, then he turned to Sam and grabbed his clothes. “You were right, we’re leavin’. Where are my boots?”

“Dean, just calm down for a second,” John said.

“He doesn’t have to calm down,” Sam snapped. “If you want him to calm down sign for his custody and I’ll get us a hotel for the next two weeks until they can run the test.”

“I can’t do that, Sam,” John shot back pointedly. “You know I can’t.”

“Well Adam can’t, he’s recovering from surgery!” Sam thundered. “So maybe table this quest for just a little while and keep Dean out of a fucking halfway house!”

“I. Can’t.”

“I don’t need anyone to sign for my fucking custody,” Dean hissed. “I’m a fucking adult, I’ll sign for my own damn custody.”

“I’m afraid that’s impossible,” Talbot told him. “Omegas simply do not have the mental capacity required to make their own decisions when it comes to matters of their health.”

“Don’t have the mental…?! I’m not listening to any more of this.” Dean was looking for where Sam put his pants. “Sam, you know where my keys are? I’m gettin’ outta this backwater.”

“If you attempt to leave this state we will set a nationwide alert for you as a runaway and once the authorities find you they’ll simply bring you back.” She gave Dean a long, hard stare with her cold blue-green eyes. “And then instead of staying the two weeks necessary until you’re far enough along for us to conduct a DNA test to confirm Mr. Campbell is in fact your pup’s sire you will be kept here for the remainder of your pregnancy.”

What?” Dean had gotten up off the bed and was now standing there in just a tee shirt and underwear, only one leg in his jeans, his back pressed up against Sam, who he noticed was shaking with the waves of rage pouring off of him. “You can’t hold me hostage just because I’m knocked up!”

“Yeah, she can,” John said in the same tired tone. “I’m sorry Dean, I had no idea this state had those kind of laws in place for omegas. I wouldn’t have brought you in.”

“And then he almost certainly would have miscarried,” Talbot said with a shake of her head, writing notes in the folder she’d brought in with her. “Looks like we’re definitely doing the right thing by taking him into state custody.”

Dean had gone white as a sheet at the word “miscarried” and grabbed for Sam’s hand. He felt Sam’s arm tighten around his back and the alpha pulling him into his chest and Sam turned off all of the rage he was emitting like switching off a light. Dean heard him whispering something about just a little bleeding, and it didn’t make the word any better. He could feel Sam sweeping long caresses up and down both of his arms and started to shiver in the tee shirt and boxer briefs, feeling very exposed. He became dimly aware that his cheeks were damp and that Sam was holding him, and he slotted his face into the crook of the alpha’s neck so he could breathe in the soothing smell of green tea and gunpowder.

“I didn’t mean what I said about the baby,” he whispered to Sam, his voice shaking. All of those stupid worries overwhelmed him and he tried to stop crying and shaking but damn, he was terrified at the thought of what might have happened to his passenger while he was taking blind curves at too high a speed and running red lights. “I really didn’t.”

“I know.” Sam tightened his hold, pressing a kiss to Dean’s temple and massaging the base of his spine. “The baby’s fine, it’ll be okay, we just need to get you out of here.”

“The omega is far too distressed to continue this conversation.” Burnt bacon walked over to Dean’s bed and pushed one of the call buttons on the pillow speaker tied around the bed frame. “It’s time for you two to leave. I’ll get one of the nurses in here to sedate him.”

Dean looked like he was trying to crawl inside of Sam’s frame with the way he clung to him at the prospect of being sedated. In about half a second Sam had turned Dean counterclockwise so he was half shielding the omega with his body and had his Taurus out of the holster at his back shoved straight in her face, his eyes glowing. This was clearly something new for Ms. Talbot and as her eyes flashed red as well as she held her hands up and stepped back from the bed.

“Anyone tries drugging him and things are going to get real ugly, real quick.”

“Mr. Campbell,” she said, aware that she needed to diffuse the situation but not having the temperament to do so, “I think we can all agree that it won’t help matters any if I need to have you ejected from the building by security and barred from contact with the omega.”

“How well do you think that’ll go for you?” Sam asked far too calmly.

“You’re upsetting the omega, Mr. Campbell.”

“His name is Dean, and you’re the one upsetting him. Maybe if you fucking leave I can calm him down.”

“Sam, put the gun away,” John snapped, running a hand through his hair. “Ms. Talbot, I’m gonna make this real clear. Since you said out in the hall that I’m the only one who can take custody of Dean because his brother is incapacitated, as Dean’s legal guardian I refuse any and all sedatives on his behalf. Unless he suddenly needs surgery he stays awake. I’m thinkin’ there’s some form you’re going to need me to fill out for that?”

“Fine.” Sam stared at Ms. Talbot, gun still in her face, until after the nurse had come in from the hall and she said, “The omega needs his I.V. reinserted. Mr. Campbell needs a few minutes to calm him and then I expect you can get him hooked back up.”

“Yes Ms. Talbot,” the nurse replied, ducking back out of the room and casting a sideways glance at Sam.

“Happy?” she snarled at Sam, and he put the gun away. She turned to John. “I’ll be right back with those forms.”

She gave Sam one more withering glare, straightened her jacket, and exited the room. Sam turned his back to the door to envelop Dean again.  

“I’ll figure out a way to fight this,” Sam told him softly, running a hand through his hair and down his neck.

“It’s not worth it,” Dean replied dully. “It’s only two weeks. I’ve been through worse.”

“I’ll see if I can get your grandfather to come sign for you,” John said. “It’s kind of complicated, contacting him, but he might be willing to help.”

“Sure Dad.” Dean had no illusions about Henry coming to help him. There was exactly one Winchester that Dean could count on, and that was himself. “Whatever.”

“I’m sorry, Dean. I wish I could get you out of here but…”

“I know. You have a job.” He glared at his father over Sam’s shoulder. “It’s that demon, isn’t it? That one I asked you to stop hunting?” John didn’t say anything. Dean pulled away from Sam, his anger rising, and took a few steps towards his father. Sam didn’t let him get any farther before grabbing his hand to rub small circles in his palm. Dean’s anger spiked briefly as he fought off how much the simple act of Sam rubbing his thumb into his hand calmed him, but his omega was purring at the gentleness of the touch and he just couldn’t stay angry. “You wanna tell me what happened to Adam, since I’m the one that’s gonna have to take care of him when he gets out of here? Assuming I’m not still on lockdown?”

“The ghoul nicked his liver pretty good,” John told him. “They had to open him up to fix it. “

“How long is he gonna be stuck here?”

“They don’t know. They’re gonna have to watch him until they’re sure the bleeding has stopped, and then he’s gonna have a long recovery when he gets out. At least two months.”

“And you’re just gonna leave him.” Dean’s anger spiked again and Sam moved in against his back, continuing to circle his thumb in Dean’s palm and using his other hand to rub circles into the back of Dean’s neck. It was very distracting. “Stop it, Sam.” Sam stopped it instantly and Dean’s omega whined at the loss. “Never mind, keep doing that, it’s nice.”

“Dean, I know you don’t understand this…” John started, and his son snapped, “You’re right, I don’t. So why don’t you just sign those forms for me and go chase your white whale? I gotta call Bobby and let him know what’s goin’ on. If the wardens around here think I have the ‘mental capacity’ to use a phone.”

He went back to the bed and sat down, pulling the sheet and far-too-thin blanket up over his legs so he wasn’t just there in his boxer briefs and a tee shirt. He grabbed the pillow speaker and turned on the TV as the nurse came back in to insist he change into a hospital gown and reinsert his I.V. He refused to let her reattach the seismograph thingy, and she told him she’d be sending in the doctor shortly to make him see sense. Man, he hated hospitals.

“I’m sorry, son,” John told him, and he sounded it, but if there was one thing Dean knew by now it was that sorries from his old man weren’t worth the breath needed to speak them.

“Just go already,” Dean replied sourly. “Sam, why aren’t you rubbin’ my neck? You got me into this mess with your stupid tequila and your stupid Fellowship of the Ring. I think I’ve earned a neck rub.”

Sam hastened to perch on the edge of the bed and resume rubbing Dean’s neck as John gave up trying to talk to his son and walked out. They sat in silence for a long while, Sam making small circles with his thumbs where Dean’s neck met his shoulders as Dean tried very hard not to just lean back into Sam and cuddle him. He was still a jerk, after all. He’d still lied to Dean for two years. Just because he was good at backrubs it was in no way getting him off the hook.

It was just that...well, it had been months since Dean felt safe letting someone touch him. He missed being touched so terribly. If he were going to be honest, he’d been missing it since his mother died, but it was different missing something that wasn’t constant but he knew he could get just by flashing a smile at the pretty beta waitress bringing his beer and missing something he thought he’d never be comfortable with again. Bobby had done everything he could to make things seem like they might someday go back to being something that closely resembled what life had been like before, but Bobby was not a hugger by nature. He wasn’t a caresser. He’d stepped up to the plate as best he could, but he was a beta, and it could never be enough. That wasn’t Bobby’s fault, it was just biology.

“Dr. Sexy, MD?” Dean could hear both the smile and the scorn in Sam’s question. “Really?”

“The man wears cowboy boots to do rounds, Sam,” Dean snapped without any real irritation behind it. It would be hard to sound irritated when Sam’s big, strong hands were going to work on his shoulders, easing the knots that had been worsening there since he’d decided to get a stick to pee on and everything fell apart.

Sam just laughed.

“Exactly my point.”

“If you want to pick the show, you can get confined to a hospital by the state next time.”

Dean hadn’t meant it to sound bitter, it just kind of came out that way. Dammit, was he ever going to be able to just relax again? He was getting tired of not being able to joke around without everything that came out of his mouth sounding like a Greek tragedy. Why couldn’t things just be normal? He desperately missed who he used to be. Sure, he drank too much and his eating habits were terrible and his job was fraught with trauma and danger and he was probably not going to live to see forty, but he knew how to unwind and have fun and enjoy things and just let it all go for a little bit. Where had that guy gone and why couldn’t Dean get him to come back?

Sam leaned forward and slid his arms around Dean’s stomach, resting his head on the omega’s shoulder before sweeping a hand up and down Dean’s chest. The omega inhaled sharply, caught between enjoying the sensation and not liking the feeling of having Sam pressed up against him. Why it bothered him sitting when he had been fine having Sam stand behind him he had no idea, but he felt the sudden urge to leap off the bed.

“Is this okay?” Sam asked quietly, stopping his hands right around the tiny little swell that was showing in Dean’s belly.

“I think maybe stick to the shoulders,” Dean replied, doing his best to keep his tone even.

Sam was trying to be nice and Dean didn’t want to ruin it, but now he was having a hard time thinking about anything else besides the fact that Sam was behind him on the bed and it was uncomfortable even though Sam wasn’t doing anything outside of trying to soothe him. So now on top of everything else he was a malfunctioning omega who couldn’t be soothed. Sam was back to rubbing his shoulders, but even that was making him want to crawl out of his skin. Why Sam was even bothering to stay in the room with him at this point he had no idea.

“You wanna tell me what’s going on?” the alpha said, sensing Dean’s discomfort and removing his hands.

“I don’t...I don’t really know what’s goin’ on,” Dean told him. “What you were doin’ was fine and then it just...it wasn’t.”

“Okay, I can stop.”

Dean felt the bed shift as Sam moved away, and immediately missed his closeness. He felt his chest tighten at the loss of Sam pressed against him, and was relieved almost to the point of tears when Sam came around to sit in front of him on the bed. This must be exhaustion from everything that happened the day before and all the crap with the bitch from social services or whatever. Dean had grown accustomed to being a basket case, but this was just ridiculous.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Sammy,” he said with a weak little smile. Sam’s eyes were full of concern, all blue-green flecked with gold, like the little solar systems they showed in a CGI rendering of the universe on the Discovery channel. “I think I’m defective.”

“You’re not.” He could tell Sam wanted to reach out to touch him but no longer dared. It made him incredibly sad. “You’re just dealing with a lot, Dean. And I certainly haven’t helped any. The way I acted yesterday - I don’t even know how to begin to say I’m sorry. John should’ve let you hit me with the laptop, it’s the least I deserve. I don’t blame you for coming after me about the blockers or kicking the door in or what you said about the...You shouldn’t ever have to be afraid I’m going to put my hands on you like that, and if I ever do again don’t even think twice about driving that knife into my stupid, thick skull. It would have served me right if your dad or brother shot me, the way I was behaving. I’m lucky they didn’t.”

“Yeah.” He laughed at the understatement of the millenium. “So, uh...I’m pregnant.”

Sam blinked his big beautiful eyes and cocked his head. He looked like a confused puppy. Dean felt his pulse racing and his face getting hot.

“I know.”

“No, I’m…” Dean looked down at his hands, at his stomach, at the way his waist was wider and his now decidedly convex abdomen. “I’m tryin’ to restart yesterday. I think we can both agree it...didn’t go well.”

Sam blinked again and said quietly, “Oh. Okay.”

“So…” Dean cleared his throat. “Like I said, I’m pregnant. And uh...it was an accident I didn’t...you know, I wasn’t tryin’ to trap you or anything back in Laramie…”

“I never thought you were.”

“It just...I ran outta my suppressants and I couldn’t afford them and that’s why I needed the job. I didn’t mention it at the time cuz I thought it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t know that I was gonna develop super baby-making powers practically overnight.” That got a chuckle and a little grin out of Sam so that his dimples made an entrance to the party. Dean felt his heart do a little flip and looked back down at his hands. “And...you know, I should’ve told you, and I thought about it but you...you didn’t seem all that interested and then the thing in the parking lot happened and then you changed your number.”

“What thing in the parking lot?”

“I had a...I had a flashback. Worse than the diner. A lot worse. I thought Bobby and Dad told you when they called.”

“Yeah…I was in a bar getting hammered at the time. I don’t actually remember what we talked about. I never would’ve just dropped off the face of the earth if I knew.” Sam frowned, running his hand through his hair and over the back of his neck. He wasn’t sure how much he wanted to get into with Dean right now, but knew he would have to eventually tell him about what happened to his sire and that he was hunting the same demon John was after, something of which Dean clearly disapproved. “And my phone, that...that just kind of happened. I wasn’t trying to ditch you. And then my rut hit and I really didn’t think it would be a good idea to get in touch with you, and then I started working with your dad and Jesus, that man’s never heard of privacy.”

Dean laughed, and Sam felt warm and tingly all throughout his chest and down into his groin. He suppressed the wave of longing that tried to drown him before too much of it seeped into his scent. He thought after yesterday he wouldn’t ever hear the sound of Dean’s laughter again.

“Oh believe me, I know. Try bein’ seventeen and horny around him.” He blushed deeper, seeming to screw up his courage before asking, “So your rut, huh? That couldn’t have been fun. Or maybe it was.” Sam didn’t say anything and looked over at Adam. “Was it?”

Sam thought about those two weeks when he was off getting laid while Dean was dealing with, god, all of the things he now knew Dean was dealing with and felt himself being crushed under the weight of the shame anew. All the faces he couldn’t remember, all the names he didn’t get - he wouldn’t want to talk about it with Hugh Hefner, never mind someone who was stuck in Minnesota for two weeks because Sam had gotten him pregnant. Dean couldn’t really be asking about this. Maybe he was trying to punish Sam for the lying.

“It’s not...it’s never fun,” Sam told him. “Well, I mean, it was okay when I was with Jess and there are services I’ve used a couple of times but...it’s not ‘fun’ being that out of control. Not able to rein myself in. It’s like how I was in the hotel room yesterday. I can’t stop until I find someone who’s...willing. It’s terrifying thinking of what I might do if I ever can’t find someone willing and I don’t have a service lined up. And the suppressants are worse. The literally made me want to kill myself. It kinda caught me by surprise this year.”

“So what’d you do?”

Jesus, Dean really did want to talk about this. It was definitely a punishment. Sam thought about it for a minute and shrugged.

“I started in North Dakota and worked my way east?” Sam didn’t know what reaction he expected out of the omega at that admission, but it certainly wasn’t the full belly laugh that he got. Dean laughed so hard he turned red, his eyes dancing, and Sam couldn’t help but start laughing too. “What? Why is that funny? It was two days before I could walk straight at the end of it.”

That made Dean laugh even harder, so hard Sam was afraid he might fall off the bed. Sam couldn’t believe Adam was sleeping through the whole thing as Dean clutched his middle and wiped away tears from the corners of his eyes, trying to slow his breathing down as he simply guffawed.

“Oh god…” he said after a minute, his voice high and filled with glee. “God Sammy, I’m sorry, you just look so embarrassed about getting laid. It’s like you’re twelve and just woke up with your first morning wood.”

Sam turned beet red and tried to look indignant, but Dean had hit the nail pretty much on the head with how he felt.

“Well, it’s kinda weird talking about this with you, that’s all.”

“Why?” Dean was still swiping at his eyes. “Because we’re talking about sex? I hate to break it to you Sam, but you and me have actually had sex.” Sam ducked his head and laughed, the dimples reappearing as he grinned up at Dean from under his hair. “There’s nothin’ to be embarrassed about. Sex is great, you know? It’s got lots of benefits. It’s a great stress reliever. It releases endorphins. It’s a good workout. It feels amazing if you’re doing it right, and it lets you connect with someone. Touch someone.” The smile slipped from Dean’s face as Sam turned his full attention back to the omega. “And they get to touch you. You get to be intimate and vulnerable, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. When do we get to do that with our job, you know? Just...touch someone without them tryin’ to kill you or thinking that you’re gonna die.” His eyes had grown shiny and wet as he looked past Sam and stared at the far wall, mourning the loss of who he had been. “I know a lot of alphas think that an omega who sleeps around deserves whatever they get. Betas do too. They all just kinda think we’re not supposed to want it if we’re not in heat, not unless we’re mated. But what are we supposed to do if we’re not? Never have anyone touch us? Or hold us? We’re just supposed to go without any kind of connection to someone else ‘til we just give in and let someone claim us?” He turned his huge, green, imploring eyes to the alpha, willing him to understand. “You shouldn’t be embarrassed about it, or think we can’t talk about it. It reminds you you’re still alive.” His voice dropped, thinking of a few minutes ago when Sam’s touch had gone from soothing to frightening for no reason whatsoever, and he said sadly, “I used to really like sex. It was one of my favorite things.” Sam reached forward to gently take his hand, rubbing little circles on his wrist to try to drive away the sorrow that was pouring off of him. Dean drew in a shaky breath, fixing his eyes on Sam’s face and wishing he weren’t such a morose jackass, bringing down the room, and that the dimples would come back. “I told you about the baby. Got any secrets you wanna tell me Sam?”

Chapter Text

Sam looked at Dean for a long moment, at the tears welling in his eyes and the way he was trying to breathe in calmly through his nose to hold himself together. He knew what Dean was asking about; knew that he wasn’t going to be able to tell the omega anything he hadn’t seen on the tape. But it was obviously something he still needed to hear from Sam himself, because no one had actually told him. He’d remembered, and he’d seen the tape, but that wasn’t the same as having Sam and Adam tell him, so he scooched a little closer on the bed until their knees were touching. He wanted to be close enough in case Dean needed to scent him, then ran his hand down Dean’s face and neck. The omega leaned into his touch, looking pained.

“You remember a couple of years ago when I threw that party for Adam at my grandfather’s house in Shreveport?” he asked quietly. Dean closed his eyes and nodded, a tear leaving a trail down his left cheek. “After we got into the scotch, you and Adam ended up really drunk and...some of my cousins showed up. They were obviously interested in you but you told ‘em to fuck off because even drunk you’re still the toughest guy in the room - you’re still Dean Winchester. But you needed to pee and I got you upstairs into the bathroom and had you lock yourself in cuz I was worried that Adam had alcohol poisoning, so I had to check on him even though I didn’t want to just leave you alone. I thought...I don’t know what I thought, I thought I could scare my cousins off or intimidate them or maybe just mark my territory so well they’d back down but...Adam fell into the pool and it distracted me and one of them hit me with something and when I woke up…” More tears were spilling down Dean’s cheeks, though his eyes were still closed, and his distress was spiking so Sam got one leg up around him and slid in closer to try to wall him in with his body. “There were a couple of female alphas still there who’d gotten Adam out of the pool. Everyone else was gone. He’d nearly drowned, and my head was splitting and I was really fuzzy on what was going on. Then I remembered you were in the bathroom. But you weren’t.” His voice shook as Dean choked back the sobs that were trying to break out of his chest by way of his sternum. Sam took a second to swipe at his own tears that were threatening to spill down his high cheekbones and angled jaw. “We found you in the basement. They’d drugged you, and obviously assaulted you, but we didn’t get there until after, so I...I can’t really tell you what they did. And we got them off you and got them out of the house, but one of the girls told us…” His voice broke completely and he swiped furiously at the tears on his cheeks. “Jesus, Dean, Louisiana has some fucked up laws. It sucks that we’re stuck here for two weeks, but Minnesota’s got nothing on Louisiana. God I was terrified. The idea that one of them could come back and just take you…” The horror of the moment seized him briefly, and it took a few seconds for him to shove it back down in the pit where he’d buried it. “Anyway, Adam didn’t want to tell you, because he thought it would...I guess send you off the rails, and that you’d just start getting really reckless and get killed on a hunt or maybe drink yourself to death. And I knew it was wrong. I knew it was Dean. I knew I shouldn’t go along with it but you were by yourself throwing up in the bathroom and my head really hurt and I just wanted to get back to you. I needed to be with you, or know that someone was with you, making sure no one...and I knew there wasn’t anyone else in the house, but I’d left you in the bathroom before, whatever I had to do to get back to you I was gonna do it because you were vulnerable and you’d just been…”

Sam stopped and sucked in a breath, and after a moment Dean quietly said, “Raped. You can say it, Sam, it’s what happened.”

Sam’s alpha rose up in fury at the word, at the simple acknowledgement that someone had violated Dean; that someone would dare touch him in a way that he didn’t want, that someone would make him fear intimacy and use something that had been one of his favorite things and clearly brought him comfort as a weapon. He didn’t know what John had to do to literally turn his cousins inside out, but he was glad he’d done it. He fought down the urge to break anything he could get his hands on and continued.

“And you’d just been raped. And it’s no excuse, I should have told you anyway, no matter what I said to Adam, but the next morning when you woke up and you didn’t remember anything...It was like...it was like that first summer at school, when I asked you why you hadn’t told Adam what your dad did, and you said that you just wanted him to be a kid as long as he could. Not that you were a kid, but…” He cradled Dean’s face in his hands, wiping away the tears with his thumbs. “You just had this innocent look on your face. Like you’d never had one single bad thing happen in your life. Not one. No shapeshifters, no skinwalkers, no ghosts, no gunshot wounds or stabbings or broken bones or dead moms or getting kicked out of school or alphas who got too handsy at a bar. You were just happy, and peaceful, and beautiful, and I was too much of a coward to take a sledgehammer to something you thought was just a night of getting really drunk and cuddling. I have no excuse for it, I was just a fucking coward, Dean. And then after...you wouldn’t even look at me for the longest time, and it made me such a mess I couldn’t even talk to you, and even if I could have talked to you, what was I gonna say? Hey Dean, can I buy you a beer and tell you about this horrible thing that happened to you and is probably gonna ruin your life? The lie just got so big the farther we got from it. I knew once you found out it was just gonna break everything, and I’m sorry, god, I am so sorry, but I didn’t know how I was supposed to break you. And now that that’s happened, I want to put you back together again, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that, either.”

“Neither do I,” Dean whispered. He was quiet for a moment before asking, “Do you wanna know what they did?”

Sam slid one hand into Dean’s hair to sweep down through the thick tresses. Though his hair was still relatively short, it had to be almost twice as thick because of the pregnancy hormones, and it was so soft Sam just wanted to bury his face in it and stay there forever. He ran his other hand down Dean’s cheek and along his neck to his shoulder. Dean seemed torn between which hand to lean into.

“Only if you want to tell me.”

“I don’t.”

“Okay. But if you ever do...”

“I won’t.”

“Okay.”

All of a sudden it was like they were back in Laramie, with Dean in Sam’s lap and his mouth slanting across Sam’s, his tongue demanding entrance. Sam’s brain didn’t know what the hell was going on and his body didn’t care. On some level he thought he probably should be stopping this, since he’d just brought up a serious trauma that the gorgeous creature straddling him had gone through, and it wasn’t like they were on the best of terms yet, but he didn’t want to second-guess Dean or why he was doing this or deny him something he wanted. Especially not when Dean’s lips were so soft and his tongue was trying to memorize the inside of Sam’s mouth and he was pressing himself desperately to the alpha’s chest and Sam’s fingers were still running through Dean’s thick, soft mane. Sam was getting dizzy from how violently his heart was pounding and the way the blood was rushing away from his head to other parts of his body as Dean’s hands went up into his hair and tugged. The room was suddenly filled with the smell of honeysuckle and Sam moaned, running his hands up Dean’s back to hold the omega flush against him, finding the skin of his back beneath the inadequate covering of the hospital gown and pressing his fingers into the smoothness and warmth of the Dean’s flesh.

Just as suddenly as the kiss started Dean was throwing himself off of Sam, grabbing the I.V. stand and running for the bathroom as his stomach lurched violently. This was not fair. He had decided to kiss Sam. He had wanted to kiss Sam, wanted to see if he could wipe away some of the filth and humiliation he’d been feeling since the pharmacy, but especially since watching the tape. He wanted to be able to do things like kiss and caress and hold and be held without being overwhelmed by fear and disgust, and he was pissed that he couldn’t just get over it. He felt like a tease and such an ass, getting Sam all worked up just to have to go dry heave into the toilet because his stupid brain refused to let his body just enjoy something. And he had been enjoying it, the taste of Sam and the feel of his huge hands kneading into his hair and back, right up until he felt the slick start to dampen his underwear and Sam moaned and all he could see was Mark dropping his pants. He clung to the seat of the toilet waiting for his stomach to stop revolting against him and trying not to break into total hysterics as he heard Sam’s footsteps coming into the bathroom. He was glad they hadn’t fed him yet so he wouldn’t be throwing up anything substantial, but he was also starting to feel lightheaded from the lack of calories and put a trembling hand on the floor to hold himself up.

“Dean?” Sam’s voice was very soft and full of concern as he clearly struggled to get the enormous erection he was now sporting to go away. Dean tried to apologize but was stopped by the panic he could suddenly scent off of the alpha, who a second later was running across the bathroom to him. “Dean, shit, you’re bleeding!”

Dean was feeling a little woozy from the vomiting and the stress and need to eat and looked down at his side where the stitches were to try to see how badly he’d torn himself open. He was very confused when he saw his hospital gown was clean, and it wasn’t until Sam hauled him up off the floor that he saw the thin line of blood running down the inside of his leg. Sam scooped him up and grabbed the I.V. stand as Dean’s brain tried to comprehend what was happening to him, but he was having a hard enough time keeping his vision from going black. Good lord, he was turning into a regular Victorian woman and should probably get his own fainting couch. Sam got him back in bed and frantically pushed the call button for the nurse before going to yell out the door for a doctor, and that’s the last thing Dean registered before he couldn’t fight off the darkness anymore and the world slipped away.

It took entirely too long by Sam’s estimation for the nurses and a doctor to show up, though it was probably only about a minute or two. They shooed him away from the bed as they took Dean’s blood pressure and hooked him back up to the fetal monitor. The doctor, a petite beta who didn’t even acknowledge the alpha in the room, ordered one of the nurses out to get a transchannel ultrasound, speculum, and portable ultrasound. Sam bristled, growled, and got himself unceremoniously kicked out of the room when the troupe of medical professionals shifted Dean down towards the bottom of the bed, lifted his knees, and stripped off his boxers as the nurse who had been sent out and yet another nurse wheeled in a cart carrying the various instruments the doctor had called for. He was barely able to get the doctor to tell him anything after wearing a rut in the hallway outside Dean and Adam’s room, since he wasn’t family and he was only the “alleged” sire of the pup, but he caught the words “incompetent cervix,” which didn’t sound like a good thing, and very shortly, much to Sam’s horror, they were wheeling Dean off to surgery. One of the nurses took pity on him and assured him it was just “minor” surgery, but it was surgery nonetheless.

Adam was actually awake before they brought Dean back, though he was groggy and not feeling particularly well. They brought the portable ultrasound machine back in to take a swipe of his abdominal cavity to confirm that the bleeding in his liver was subsiding. They would need to keep him there for at least a week, likely closer to two to monitor him, but at the moment they were cautiously optimistic. He was young and healthy and had arrived at the hospital soon after the attack. He had good odds of making a full recovery.

Because Adam was awake Sam was able to find out exactly what was going on with Dean, why he’d been whisked away, and what to expect now that he’d come back. He had gotten his behavior under control enough to be allowed back into the room, and while he couldn’t ask questions he was able at least to hear the whole conversation while he sat next to Dean and fought back the urge to smother his face in Dean’s neck to breath him in. The doctor explained the omega had a condition where the cervix had begun to dilate as the pup increased in size and weight and they’d had to perform something called a cerclage. The condition was quite rare among female omegas and betas, but extraordinarily common among male omegas, impacting eight out of ten. It had something to do with genetics, and Dean would have been checked for it at his next appointment as a precaution even without the scare that had brought them into the hospital. They had hoped the bleeding from the day before would stop on its own, but when it had returned they had confirmed both via the transchannel ultrasound and with the speculum that Dean was suffering from this condition. They’d also confirmed with the portable ultrasound that the pup was doing well and there were no other underlying conditions such as placenta previa or placental abruption, but even without those complications if they hadn’t performed the cerclage Dean would undoubtedly have miscarried before the end of his second trimester.

Despite his nursing classes Adam didn’t understand half of what they were telling him due to the pain meds, and kept asking why they weren’t waiting for Dean to wake up from the general anesthetic to explain it to him themselves. Apparently in Minnesota omegas were not considered capable of understanding anything having to do with their health care and in the case of an unmated omega their health concerns were communicated to the nearest relative, even if that relative was doped up on morphine. If there was no nearest relative the state made all medical decisions on behalf of the carrying om, including what to tell them and what to withhold.

Dean would have to take it easy for several weeks, and for the remainder of his pregnancy he would have to avoid strenuous activity. He would need to schedule more frequent appointments with his own Om-OB/GYN to monitor his progress and ensure he was not in further danger. It was likely he would need to delivery surgically, as the typical regular knotting required for a natural whelping would be far too strenuous for his condition. Adam was glad for the morphine, as this was not a discussion he was looking forward to having with his older brother - both the part about no strenuous activity and the other part that involved using the word “knotting” in a sentence dealing with his sibling - and the wooziness from the drugs definitely took the edge off. The doctor did give Adam the option of signing Dean over to the state of Minnesota to care for until the pup arrived, but even high as a kite Adam wasn’t falling for that. They also wanted to move Dean to the maternity wing to monitor him, but Adam wasn’t falling for that either. If he and Dean were both going to be stuck in the hospital for any length of time they damn well were going to be stuck in the same room. He wasn’t letting Dean out of his blurry sight.

Sam had called Bobby while Dean was in surgery and filled him in on everything that had happened in the last day (had it really only been a day?), and Bobby made the two hour drive in an hour and a half. He was no more successful than Sam in getting the doctors to discuss Dean’s care, but at least with Bobby sitting guard in Dean and Adam’s hospital room Sam felt it was reasonably safe to go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat and maybe some coffee, as by that point he was exhausted. The idea of cafeteria food didn’t exactly thrill him, and under different circumstances he might run outside the hospital to grab some actual food to bring back for him and Dean, since he didn’t know the last time Dean had eaten, but with words like “incompetent cervix” and “surgical delivery” rolling around his head he was lucky he could force himself out of the room, especially when they’d really put Dean under and he still wasn’t awake yet.

The cafeteria had meatloaf and mac and cheese on the menu, and Sam thought wistfully of the first time he’d met Dean and Adam and how they’d piled their plates full of everything the school had to offer. Sam felt a bit like doing that now. With all the stress from when they’d gotten to the hospital last night through when Dean had been whisked away for his “minor surgery” it hadn’t occurred to Sam that it was close to twenty-four hours since he’d actually eaten, having been interrupted by the Mrs. Barton ghoul before he even got a bite of his salad. Sam got both daily features plus a sandwich, soup, yogurt, and a couple bags of chips. He decided once he was done eating he’d pick up some of the mac and cheese to go and a couple of pieces of pie for Dean, since he didn’t know the last time the omega had eaten either and he needed more calories than the I.V. drip was going to be able to provide. He tried to eat as quickly as he could, his irritation and impatience rising the longer he stayed in the cafeteria. Undoubtedly it was because most of the people in there were visitors and not wearing scent blockers. He’d noticed most of the staff were heavily blocked so big 6’5” alphas didn’t go around tossing doctors and nurses away from their pregnant and bleeding omegas, but now he was in a sea of smells his brain interpreted as threats to Dean and he was having a hard time not snarling every time someone passed him. It was especially hard not to launch himself across the laminate tabletop when an alpha with dark hair, sharp features, blue eyes, a three piece suit, and a briefcase sat down across from him without invitation, removing a fedora from his head to set down between them.

“Hello Sam,” he said pleasantly, and the alpha bristled.

“If you’re with that bitch, Talbot, I’m gonna have to stop you before you start,” Sam snapped around a bite from his roast beef and provolone on sourdough. “I’m not going to try to convince Adam to sign Dean over to the state in John’s absence, or move him to a separate room, and I’m sure as hell not going anywhere until after you’ve run the paternity test, so just save your breath.”

“What? Oh, no.” The man smiled, which wasn’t necessarily reassuring but definitely made Sam rethink his initial instinct. The hospital administration had much oilier smiles than this guy. “I’m not with the state. I’m Dean’s grandfather, Henry.”

Well that was a load of horse shit. Whoever this guy was he couldn’t have been any older than his early forties, if that. There was no way he was John’s dad.

“Of course you are,” Sam snarked, and went back to inhaling his sandwich.

“Would you like to see my driver’s license?” the man asked evenly.

Sam automatically reached for the gun at his back when Henry slid his hand into the inside of his suit coat. Much as he didn’t want to have a shootout right here in the cafeteria he wasn’t about to let whoever this guy was get the upper hand that easily. But instead of pulling out a weapon the man withdrew a wallet and flipped it open to toss across the table. Sam eyed him warily, then picked up the wallet to review the license tucked inside.

The Kansas driver’s license definitely said “Henry Winchester” on it, listing a home address in Lebanon, KS. It had what was probably the correct height, weight, eye, and hair color for the man sitting across from him, and the picture was definitely the same. However, this license was old - very old, dated 1963, made of paper and printed in black and white. It was either genuine or a very good copy. Sam wished they were in a library instead of a hospital so he could do a quick Internet search to see if he could find an image of what Kansas licenses looked like back then. He suspected they’d look like the one in his hand. Besides, why would anyone fake a driver’s license from 1963?

“That Just for Men is working wonders,” he said, handing the license back. “You sure you’re not Benjamin Button?”

That elicited another genuine smile from the man who apparently really was Dean’s grandfather.

“A Fitzgerald reference. I was definitely right to come talk to you.”

“Talk to me about Dean?” It seemed strange to Sam that Henry had sought Sam out when John said he was going to contact him about Dean. Although Henry was from a different era and was an alpha; a strong-willed, highly intelligent one by his scent. Maybe he thought discussing custody issues regarding an omega with the omega directly was beneath him. “Have you been up to see him yet?”

“No, Dean’s an omega.” Well, at least Sam had anticipated the old school sexism correctly. “There isn’t really anything I can do for him.”

“You’re not here to sign him out of state custody?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sam,”

“John didn’t contact you?”

“Unfortunately I haven’t spoken to John in years.” Confusing as this statement was, it was said with a deep sadness that definitely convinced Sam he was talking to John’s dad. But if John hadn’t contacted him, why was he here? “I’m not sure how much you know about me, Sam. I’m part of an organization; a research organization known as the Men of Letters.”

“Yeah, my grandfather told me a little bit about you guys,” Sam said. “He always thought you were pretty useless and not much more help fighting monsters than a bunch of librarians.”

“That sounds like Samuel,” Henry stated coldly. “He never appreciated what we had to offer in the way of help on cases. I’m hoping you don’t share his viewpoint.”

Sam gave a shrug and sipped his coffee, replying, “I’ve always thought librarians were underrated.”

“Excellent.” The smile was back again. Sam was starting to see some of Dean in the way Henry smiled. It made him want to wrap up this conversation as quickly as possible and get back to the omega’s room. “I wanted to extend and offer to you to join our ranks. Give up hunting and become a Man of Letters. You’re certainly qualified, and you’re the kind of new blood we’ve been wanting to infuse the organization with for quite some time. Unfortunately hunters like your grandfather have established a highly efficient assembly line for training others in the physical aspects of the job of fighting the supernatural and steered many potential candidates away from the research end of things.”

“Oh!” Well, this was not what Sam was expecting, but it was not an unwelcome conversation at all. He’d never wanted hunting to be his life, but he did like helping people. It was why he’d been drawn to the law; to try to do some good in the world. This was definitely something he might be curious about once Azazel was taken care of, once he didn’t have to worry about a demon coming after him or Dean again. “I didn’t realize the Men of Letters were taking...applicants. Resumes? Sorry, I know you guys exist but that’s about it.”

“That’s the answer I tend to get when extending these kinds of offers.” Henry didn’t tell him he was the first person they’d extended an offer to in thirty years. Sinclair was monitoring this conversation, as he did all conversations Henry had with anyone outside their two-man fortress. This was just supposed to be an overture to get Sam thinking about life away from the hunting world. “So it’s something you’d be interested in?”

“Well, interested enough to hear more about it,” Sam said as a particularly large and offensive-smelling alpha entered the cafeteria and surveyed the area like he was looking for fresh meat. Sam bristled, his eyes flashing red, and had to suppress a growl. He decided immediately that he’d had plenty to eat and it was time to get back to Dean. “Not right this second, though, do you have a card or something? Some way I can contact you?”

“Certainly,” Henry said, reaching into his inside pocket again to withdraw a stiff slip of paper just slightly larger than a business card, which he extended to Sam. “This is a communication spell. The necessary ingredients are on one side, instructions for casting are on the other.”

“The Men of Letters do spellwork?” Sam asked, impressed. This was definitely an organization worth exploring.

“It's more of a Grecian Formula that keeps me looking this way,” Henry replied with a smile. “You’ll think about it then?”

“Of course,” Sam said, slipping the card into his wallet. “Thank you. Now, about Dean…”

“Ah, yes, you said something about signing him out of state custody?”

“Yeah, in Minnesota the state can take custody of an unmated omega who’s carrying unless a family member who’s an alpha or a beta signs for them. He’d rather not be stuck in temporary housing for the next two weeks until they can run the necessary tests to prove I’m the sire and I can take custody of him.”

Henry cocked his head to the side and looked at Sam as if he didn’t understand what the younger alpha had just said to him. After a moment he seemed to realize what Sam was talking about and said, “Oh! Oh, well of course you have my permission to mate with Dean.”

“What?” Henry looked even more confused at the horror on Sam’s face. “No...no, that’s...no, I’m not asking for permission to claim Dean as my mate. Not that I wouldn’t like to, but I’d never just... do that unless he was willing.”

“Sam.” There was that smile again, though this time Sam didn’t find it friendly, not at all. It was condescending, like Henry thought he was just some kid who needed to have things carefully explained to him. “I’ve met my grandson. And while he is definitely impressive, at the end of the day he is only an omega. Omegas don’t know what they want. They need an alpha to tell them. So just tell him you’re going to claim him and get on with it.”

This was also not the way Sam pictured this conversation going. He felt his anger rising and only tamped down on it because he suspected if he allowed it to boil over he would beat Henry senseless and get himself banned from the hospital all together.

“I would never claim Dean against his will,” he said firmly, his mouth set in a hard line. “What I’m asking is for you to sign for Dean’s custody so that in two weeks when they can run the paternity test you can sign him over to me and we don’t have this problem again. John was going to contact you about it but obviously hasn’t yet.”

“I’m sorry Sam.” He looked it, too, but that did nothing to stop Sam’s anger from swelling again. “I just came to talk to you about becoming a member. I have to get right back to my duties with the organization. There’s no way I could sign for Dean’s custody if it requires me to stay two weeks.”

“Jesus…” Sam was on his feet, fishing out his wallet to retrieve the card, which he flung back across the table before picking up his tray. “Forget it then. I have my own douchebag of a grandfather to avoid. I don’t need to add Dean’s to my list. Have a nice life, Mr. Winchester.”

He stalked off to the garbage cans and dumped his trash before heading over to the food line again to pick up something for Dean to eat. Henry regarded him bitterly before uttering a curse under his breath and heading off through the hospital. In the lobby he made a quick detour to a family restroom that was a stand-alone and would allow him to lock the door. He opened the briefcase and removed the small bowl and necessary ingredients to complete the communication spell, saying the incantation quietly and hoping he didn’t set off the smoke detector overhead. After only a few moments the image of a man with dark, slicked back hair, a weasley face, and his own three piece suit complete with bow tie appeared in the mirror over the sink.

“Well that couldn’t have gone worse,” the mirror man snapped.

“I told you I should have played the angle of being here to sign Dean out,” Henry snapped back. “An alpha will always put his omega first. You’d understand that if you’d ever cared for anything outside of your collections and spells, Cuthbert.”

“How many times must I insist you call me Magnus?”

“As many times as I’ve refused to use such a ridiculous name when referring to you.”

“Well now we’ll have to come up with another way to get him into our lair.”

Henry scoffed. He hated that he’d tied his fate to this man with a blood oath that kept them bound together until one of them died, especially when Sinclair had tricked him into drinking the potion that provided him with his eternal youth. He had been too trusting and stupid when he first met the man to have any idea what he was getting himself into, and now he was thoroughly stuck.

“Our lair?” he echoed. “You’re taking this supervillain role you’ve cast yourself in far too seriously.”

“We need the Werther box opened, Henry,” Cuthbert-Magnus hissed with and especially sour look on his face. “We need Sam’s blood.”

“Azazel has other children out there.”

“None of theirs is pure enough. We need the strongest alpha’s blood for the ritual to work.”

“Very well,” Henry sighed. “But I expect you to keep up your end of our agreement. I help you get Sam, you release me from our pact.”

“You say that as if you don’t trust me, Henry.”

Henry bit his tongue nearly clean through. Why he’d believed Sinclair when he said the two of them could rebuild after the Men of Letters had been decimated by a Knight of Hell was something he’d long since forgotten. Perhaps he’d thought someone who rose to become a recognized master of spellwork within a year of joining the organization and who discovered the necessary incantations to destroy the Knight, Abaddon, was worthy of his loyalty. Now he cursed the day he laid eyes on the man and wished for nothing more than to return to his family after far too long, to get to know his grandsons and his great grandchild, grow old, and die peacefully in his sleep. Of course he couldn’t trust the man, but instead of saying that he stated simply, “I’ll need to replenish some of my ingredients and will be back within the hour,” before turning on the tap to extinguish the spell. He gathered up the small bowl, dumping its contents down the toilet and flushing them away before packing everything back into the briefcase.

He thought for a moment of asking at the desk for Dean’s room, but had no idea what to say to him, not when he planned to take away the sire of his grandson’s pup. Best not to even let the young man know he’d been there. He popped the fedora on his head, hoping the next person who used the bathroom would think its occupant had simply been smoking some reefer, and headed out of the hospital without another word. He’d learned how to walk out on his family nearly forty years ago. No reason to change things now.

Chapter Text

By the time Sam returned to the room both Dean and Adam were awake, though neither looked particularly well, and Bobby seemed to be in desperate need of a break. Sam spotted the pile of tissues on the bedside table next to Dean and surmised he had taken the news of everything that had happened since he passed out hard. The old hunter stood up slowly when the alpha entered the room and appeared to be fighting having to leap to his feet and flee. Sam couldn't blame him. Dean had left Sioux Falls two days ago in good health and now he was confined to the state of Minnesota for two weeks having just had surgery to prevent him from losing the baby. It was certainly a lot to take in.

Bobby felt guilty as hell for wanting to get out of the room, but he wanted to get out of the room because he felt guilty as hell and needed to find a public restroom where he could shut himself into a stall and have a good cry without anyone knowing that’s what he was doing. It wasn’t a very manly thing to do, but he thought he might just turn into a blubbering mess if he had to sit here watching The Terminator after Dean had finally gotten himself together and was working at pretending he was fine when Bobby knew nothing could be farther from the truth. He’d been trying so hard to let Dean set his own pace and make his own decisions about everything that he hadn’t put his foot down to keep him off of this hunt. Even though Adam had explained as best he could under the influence of so many pain killers that Dean would have been checked for his condition at his next appointment anyway, he might not have gone through the fright of the two episodes of bleeding and he sure as hell wouldn’t have had some kind of wand shoved up his channel while he was out cold, or been put under without his say-so, or be stuck in this damn state for two weeks where no one would talk to Dean directly but addressed everything to Adam instead.

“I’m back,” Sam said as he went to set the pie down next to Dean. “Brought you some pie and some mac and cheese. I wasn’t sure when they were planning to feed you. I think the mac and cheese is still warm, you should probably dig in.” He held the container out to the omega, who was staring blankly at the television. “Dean?”

“Thanks Sam.”

Dean spoke so quietly the alpha barely registered what he’d said, and Sam tried not to let his concern seep out into the air as he watched Dean turn to look at the food like it had dropped down from outer space and then reach out to take it with shaking hands. It was immediately apparent that Sam should have tried to get by on the thoroughly inadequate snacks from the nurses’ station instead of going down to the cafeteria.

“How’re you doing, Adam?” he asked, not wanting to launch right into anything with Dean when he seemed very fragile. “Still feeling good?”

“Spectacu-lacular,” Adam replied and giggled. “They’re givin’ me aaaalllll the drugs, Sam.”

“Think I’m gonna go get myself some grub,” Bobby announced, and Sam gave him a quick nod before he hurried from the room.

Dean was still staring at the styrofoam container with the plastic fork stuck in the top like he couldn’t figure out how the thing opened. Sam gave him a minute to collect himself before he slowly slid his right hand into Dean’s left and swept his thumb up and down the entire length from Dean’s wrist to his fingers. His touch seemed to shake Dean awake, and the omega drew in a stuttering breath and opened the take-out box with fingers that were still trembling.

“They had to wake me up so they could put me under,” he said after a minute, staring at the pasta and stabbing it violently with the fork. “How stupid is that? They didn’t even ask if it was okay, they just said they needed to put me to sleep for a little while. They already had that...those metal duck bills in and...uh...expanded.” His face flushed as a huge tear splashed down onto his stomach and he shoveled some food into his mouth, looking determined to keep himself together. “I told them to stop, but they didn’t...they didn’t care.” A few more tears fell but it just made him set his jaw even more firmly and stab the macaroni so hard he was punching holes in the bottom layer of styrofoam. “They just did what they wanted to.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop them,” Sam said, and Dean knew he wasn’t just talking about the special brand of assholes that worked at the hospital.

“Dean,” Adam slurred from his bed across the room, “You jus’ say the word, an’ when I’m better I’ll come back here an’ kick their asses, okay? Cuz I’m not gonna be better for a while an’ you’re gonna be huge by then so you can’t come back here an’ kick their asses so I’ll do it for you. Cuz you’re my brother. An’ I love ya.”

Dean laughed and cried and stared at his food.

“You’re really stoned over there aren’t you, Runt?” he asked. “Feel like sharin’ some of those meds?”

“Oh, man…” Adam said, his eyes rolling around the room. “If I could I tooootally would. You would love this, Dean.” He noticed for the movie for the first time and declared, “Oooo! I love this part! ‘It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever...until you are dead!’ Reese was the shit, man…”

“You like Reese?” Sam said, looking over at him in surprise as he moved his hand to run it casually up and down Dean’s arm like he was on autopilot. “He’s such an alpha.”

“Yeah, but he protects the shit outta Sarah Connor,” Adam replied in something like awe. “He fuckin’ dies for her, ya know? An’ it should be super creepy that he fell for her from jus’ a picture, but it’s not. It’s like...I dunno, true love or something.”

“Well...she’s his omega,” Sam explained simply. “Of course he’s willing to die for her. That’s our go-to move.”

“Man...you guys are lucky. Alphas an’ omegas get all the good movies. Betas jus’ get rom-coms.”

“There’s nothing wrong with rom-coms.”

“Name a rom-com you’ve even seen recently.”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“Okay, one - not a rom-com, no matter what the poster says. Two - Clementine is clearly an alpha an’ Joel is her omega.”

“What are you talking about? Those are two dysfunctional betas who can’t communicate and don’t have scent to fall back on.”

“The whole reason they break up is cuz he doesn’t wanna give her kids, an’ then she does that stupid headstrong thing where she jus' makes a decision for the both of ‘em an’ gets her memory wiped. Nice try, though.” Adam’s head lolled back on his pillow and he closed his eyes, looking drained. “Wake me up if someone comes back in an’ is a dick to Dean. I’ll throw my bedpan at ‘em. I need a nap.”

Sam shook his head, chuckling, as Adam got himself comfortable and very quickly fell back to sleep. It was nice being able to talk to him again. He didn’t think that was going to be possible after the phone call from Bobby’s driveway. Of course the meds he was on probably had a lot to do to help his chattiness. Still, it was nice.

He realized after a moment or two that Dean was very still, and while there was a little anxiety coming off of him it was nothing like the distress Sam had been able to scent when he first came into the room. He had stopped running his hand up and down the omega’s arm while discussion Clementine and Joel and was holding Dean’s left hand in both of his. He took some time to study the size of Dean’s hand in his - that even with his square palm and thick fingers it seemed small and delicate, despite how strong Sam knew it to be. He pressed his lips to the palm and cast a look at Dean sideways from under his bangs.

“You’re quiet,” he commented, his heart picking up a bit as Dean started to sweep his thumb over Sam’s index finger the way Sam had been doing earlier to calm the omega. “You okay?”

“‘M scared,” Dean told him softly. “Adam and Bobby tried to explain what happened but it didn’t make much sense. The nurses won’t tell me anything.”

“Well Adam was really out of it when you came back,” Sam said. “He kept telling them to just wait until you woke up because he was getting confused but they wouldn’t listen to him. You just have to be careful, that’s all. Nothing that’s gonna stress you, no...uh...knotting...nothing that’s going to put a lot of strain on you.”

“No stress? Well, I guess that rules out my whole life right now.” He withdrew his hand from Sam’s to grab his pie from the table by the bed. “That no knotting thing is gonna suck for you, though. Sure you wanna stick around for that? Not that...I mean not that I figured you’d stick around, I mean, you don’t have to, I’ll be okay...” Dean had turned resolutely to his pie, the tremor in his hand betraying the emotions that he had closed off from bleeding into his scent. He shoved a huge forkful into his mouth and nodded as he chewed. “Good pie.”

“Dean…” Sam said, ducking his head a little to try to catch the older man’s eye.

“Cuz I mean, I’m a mess,” Dean responded with an unhappy laugh. “If I were you I’d get as far away from me as fast as you can. You don’t want to be saddled with the kind of baggage I got.”

“Dean…”

“Especially now with whatever this thing is.” He gestured vaguely in the direction of his groin, knocking the pie off of his lap and to the floor. He was back to shaking terribly and losing his pie just about undid him. He looked at Sam at last with huge, dewy eyes. “See? I can’t even eat a fucking piece of pie like a normal person.”

“Dean…”

“I’m just all kinds of fucked up, Sam.”

Dean was rapidly working his way into hysterics with everything that had happened in just the last couple of hours, never mind anything from before. Even though he didn’t really get the full scope of his condition, he did understand that it was serious, and he really could have lost the baby, but the way the hospital had treated him just left him feeling completely violated. He wanted to get out and go home to Bobby’s, but he was stuck here for at least two more weeks, part of it in some sort of state-run facility for knocked up omegas like some kind of nunnery out of the 1940s, and it was just too much; would have been too much for anyone. He was so relieved when Sam moved to the bed and wrapped him in his arms without the omega having to ask. If he hadn’t still been hooked up to the fetal monitor he would have curled himself into a little ball on Sam’s lap.

“I know,” Sam said quietly, “but it’s not like you need me to go up against a T-800 Model 101 or anything. That’s where I draw the line.”

Dean giggled against his neck and said, “You’re such a dork.”

“You think it’s hot,” Sam laughed, running a hand through Dean’s hair as he got another giggle out of the omega. God he loved how soft his hair was like this. The thoughts of the dozen babies in Vermont began to rise slowly from the ashes.

“Yeah, yeah I do,” Dean murmured, peering up at Sam from under his eyelashes as he blushed.

It was an awfully good thing they were in a hospital and Adam was in the next bed and Dean had just been through ( minor ) surgery and he kept bursting into tears every couple of minutes, otherwise Sam wasn’t sure how he would have resisted those kinds of looks without rupturing a major blood vessel. Dean had locked his eyes onto Sam, tipping his head up a little so their noses were almost touching, soft little puffs of air huffing out of his soft, lovely mouth. He thought back to Adam’s comment the night before about Dean knowing exactly what he looked like every second of every day, but when it came to these kinds of moments he wasn’t sure if Dean was doing it on purpose or if he was just so naturally beguiling he simply had to flash his green eyes and the entire room would drop its pants. It was certainly what he wanted to do most right now, and was actually grateful when he heard Bobby clear his throat in the doorway.

The old hunter was staring resolutely at the floor when the two young men turned to him, his face beet red, and he sputtered, “You boys never heard of puttin’ a sock on the doorknob?”

Dean looked horrified at almost having been caught doing...well something with Sam and flushed all the way down his back, ducking his head into Sam’s chest and trying to bury himself. It was delightful, and Sam couldn’t help but break out laughing. Bobby just grumbled his way back over to the chair with his coffee, sitting down to watch the movie.

“Glad someone thinks it’s funny,” he huffed.

Bobby and Sam spent the rest of the day watching television with Dean, since apparently The Terminator was just the start of a marathon that included all three films. By the end of Rise of the Machines they’d hatched out the plan for the next two weeks, as Dean was going to get shuffled off to one of the state homes in just a couple of days and Adam was going to be stuck by himself recovering from his liver surgery. Sam was planning to stick as close to Dean as the state would allow and Bobby would come up every couple of days to give Sam a breather and check in on Adam. In the meantime he’d be getting his house prepped for Sam and Adam to both move in. Dean insisted it was fine if Sam stayed in his room on the front of the house and Adam could take the bedroom on the other side of the bathroom but Bobby was adamant about making up two guest bedrooms just in case something went sideways. Adam woke up in time for dinner, mostly because his medication was wearing off, and blearily agreed to whatever Dean and Bobby thought was best. Bobby’s back got stiff sitting in the hospital chair and around eight o’clock Sam gave him the keycard to his hotel room and told him to go get some rest. It sure made Bobby feel ancient, needing to hit the sack so early, but there was a reason he’d retired from hunting in the first place. He was getting too old for this.

With Bobby gone, Dean scooted over on the bed as best he could so Sam could climb up and cuddle him. He didn’t even have to ask, Sam just seemed to know when Dean slid aside to free up room on the bed that it was so he could sit there and snuggle up against him. They twined their hands together and turned the volume on the television down and talked about things that had happened in the years after Dean left school; how Dean tricked John into signing over the Impala; that the worse case he’d worked so far had involved a Cupid, which meant there was a lot of naked hugging involved; how the bar below his old apartment in Sioux Falls was owned by a tough-as-nails omega named Marge and even though it had been kind of a dump he missed it. He talked briefly of his childhood, too, that his mother’s favorite song had been Don’t and she’d made the best homemade applesauce and his cat had been named Mr. Bootsy and he wasn’t sure he’d ever want another pet. Sam mentioned meeting his father, but not what had happened to him, just that he was more of a sperm donor than anything else, and how he apparently had a sister out there somewhere that he was obviously never going to find; about the years he’d spent at Stanford and how it had felt nice to be normal for a couple of years, even if he was mostly just faking it; how he left because Jess had died, and how he hoped some day he could go back and get a degree in something. Not necessarily law, but something. Dean mentioned the GED he was never going to be able to get, which made Sam feel guilty, which had not been Dean’s intent, and that led to a simple apology kiss that turned into a lot more than a simple apology kiss and was fortunately broken up by the petite young nurse with short blonde hair who informed Sam that visiting hours were over, because Dean’s gown was only held on by a couple of flimsy ties in the back and they’d finally unhooked the fetal monitor and Dean’s lips were bright pink and kiss swollen and his brain wasn’t trying to cockblock him yet. Sam managed to talk her into letting him stay for just a couple of minutes, since trying to stand up and leave the room at that precise moment would be nothing short of humiliating, and Dean laughed so hard he got the hiccups. Sam tried to kiss them into stopping, which didn’t work, and he was lucky his little problem had actually gone away by the time the nurse came back to really kick him out, since he was still lost in the scent of Dean’s roses mixed with vanilla and just a hint of caramel.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” the alpha breathed against the omega’s lips before the nurse grabbed him by the arm and dragged him from the room.

“You really have to be more careful,” the nurse scolded when she came back to check Dean’s blood pressure and his I.V. bag, then take a quick scan of his abdomen with the portable ultrasound that had been assigned to their room to use checking both Dean and Adam. “The cerclage will take time to heal into place. You need to abstain from knotting until after your next Om-OB/GYN appointment.”

“We weren’t…” Dean turned a deep red at the idea of having sex with Sam in a hospital room with his brother sleeping in the next bed. Maybe the old him would have snuck off into the bathroom with the alpha, but the “new” Dean found the prospect of potentially being walked in on horrifying. Besides, he wasn’t anywhere close to ready for that and was pleasantly surprised that he and Sam had almost made it to second base without his stomach revolting. “We were just kissing.”

“Listen honey,” she sneered as she cleaned the gel off of the ultrasound wand and Dean’s stomach, “I know how you unmated oms get once the hormones hit you. You’ll jump on anything that can get it up. But this is a hospital and that kind of behavior is simply inappropriate.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count,” she said, going over to check on Adam. “A pretty thing like yourself gets carried away during a heat and finds a big, strong alpha to knot him real good, then starts thinking things are going to be perfect. The white picket fence, the two car garage, the in-ground pool in the backyard, and all the babies you can pop out, right? And it never fails. Once the pup pops out and the hormones ebb the alpha loses interest and is back out looking for another hole for his knot.”

“What the hell?” Dean snapped, his temper flaring even as the little voice in the back of his head that always told him he wasn’t good enough pointed out she was probably right. “You need to work on your bedside manner, lady.”

“It’s Meg.”

“Whatever, Meg. No one asked for your opinion so why don’t you get the hell out and let me go to sleep?”

“Yeah, Meg,” came Adam’s groggy voice from the other side of the room. “Get the hell out. I got a bedpan with your name on it if you don’t.”

Meg glanced across the room at Adam, shooting him a tight, threatening smile. He opened an eye to glare in her direction and she turned her attention back to Dean.

“Just trying to help,” she told him. “I’ll be back to check on you both later.”

Dean woke from a heavy sleep as the sun was coming up and beginning to peek its way through the half closed blinds. He had a bit of a headache, probably from all the stress the day before that he was supposed to try to avoid from now on. He thought back to the night before, of cuddling and talking with Sam, of the kissing and caressing and how it hadn’t scared him, and while that didn’t mean it wouldn’t scare him if they ever got around to doing it again, he counted it as quite a bit more than a little victory. It was the last thing he would have thought he’d want after the way he’d been treated by the hospital and the awful thoughts it had stirred up, but it had happened so naturally he hadn’t wanted to fight it, hoping things would go better than they had that morning, and they had. They still had things to work through, obviously. Sam had still lied about something Dean should have known about years ago, and he hadn’t gotten over it, but it had been clear yesterday that Sam wasn’t expecting Dean to just get over it; wasn’t expecting anything from Dean beyond whatever Dean wanted to give. He didn’t act like he had some right to hold Dean or kiss him just because they were having a baby together, and all of touching Sam had done throughout the day had been to soothe; never to claim or hurt or demand. He acted like he was thankful for any contact he was allowed, and he certainly hadn’t tried to push anything farther than Dean was comfortable with. And maybe it was just the hormones or the pheromones or the hormones and the pheromones, but the way the surgery happened sure as hell would have been a lot worse if Sam hadn’t been there with him.

As he came to more fully, he was overpowered by the acrid smell of iron, and rubbed sleepily at his eyes, trying to find the source. A few moments later when he could focus he saw that something had been scrawled on the wall across from his bed in what looked like red paint. It was difficult to make out in the half light of the morning, but after blinking a couple of times he was able to see that it read, “AZAZEL SAYS HELLO.”

Azazel. That was the name of the demon his father was hunting. Dean shot up in bed, demanding, “Adam, wake up.” It was only then that he turned to his brother and discovered the origin of the smell.

Adam was lying motionless on the bed, his eyes staring at the ceiling, unblinking. There was absolutely no color to his skin, but his hospital gown and bed were stained red with the blood that had gushed from the gash at his throat and the deep cut that ran down the center of his torso. Dean was frozen in horror for a long moment, before finally launching himself off the bed and across the room, ripping the I.V. out of his arm. He grabbed his brother’s face as he screamed for him to wake up and Adam’s head almost came off in his hands from how deeply his throat had been slashed. Dean was screaming and sobbing and shouting for someone to come and help him, but nobody came for the longest time. He was clinging to Adam and sobbing when two nurses finally came in, both of them shrieking at the sight of the omega drenched in his brother’s blood and Adam’s unseeing eyes fixed straight above him. Suddenly Dean felt a terrible pain in his abdomen and doubled over, blood running down both his legs to mix with Adam’s on the floor. Two more nurses and a doctor were there almost immediately, and they tried to roll Dean onto his back out of the pool of Adam’s blood as the omega screamed, “Sam!”

Sam woke in his hotel room, drenched in sweat from the nightmare that had just jolted him awake. He was gasping and shaking and possibly crying, and his head hurt terribly and it felt like he had a bloody nose. The dream had been so vivid, he could have sworn it was real, and looked over at the clock. Just past midnight. He’d only left Dean a few hours ago and fallen asleep immediately, not even bothering to take off his shoes. Bobby was snoring quietly in the other bed and Sam couldn’t believe he hadn’t awakened him. He was sure he must have cried out in his sleep. Regardless, he was going to wake him now. He needed to get back to the hospital to check on Dean, no matter how stupid he might feel when he saw that everything was fine. Bobby didn’t understand what the hell Sam was talking about, but it was clear the boy was scared out of his wits, so he threw on some pants and his boots and they took off for the hospital in the Impala.

The nurses tried to stop the hunters from storming into the Winchesters’ room, but a panicked alpha the size of Sam was not something any of them were willing to take on before security got upstairs. They were willing to follow them to the room, warning them that the guards were on their way and had tasers, and they were just far enough behind that they could see the young nurse with the blonde hair who they didn’t recognize standing over the patient in the far bed with a long silver knife in her hand before she threw her hand out and the door slammed shut.

Sam and Bobby had their guns out instantly, firing shots into her center mass, but she flicked her wrist and they were both thrown into the wall by the door. Bobby was knocked unconscious, but Sam just got the wind knocked out of him as she turned and the black lids flipped over her eyes.

“Well hello, Sam,” she said smoothly. “I’ve been looking for you for a long time now.”

“Let me guess,” he said, fighting to stand up. “You’re Meg.”

“Smart boy. Our father wants to speak with you. He’s tired of you hiding from him.”

“He’s not my father.”

Sam gave a shout as she lifted her hand and he was pulled into the air by his throat, gasping and choking and struggling to break free of the invisible grip as she advanced on him slowly, no need to rush when she was in complete control. She smiled up at him, an oily grin he recognized from all the times he’d seen Ruby, like there was a secret demon grin that you had to master before they let you topside. She clicked her tongue at him and shook her head.

“Poor Sam, so deep in denial. A dream brings you here and yet you still won’t believe it.” With a jerk of her hand Sam went flying across the room into the windows, hitting so hard the glass cracked. He cried out at the way the windowsill dug into his lower back and his shoulders screamed at him from the force of the blow. She still hadn’t let go of her hold on his throat. “The farther you run from us, the worse this is gonna be. Stop fighting it and give in. All my father wants is the Colt and your compliance, and you can have your apple pie life with your perfect mate and all the babies in the world.” She dropped him to the ground and he felt his ankle twist, hoping it hadn’t broken. He laid there hacking, almost vomiting from the strain on his throat, as she walked over and squatted down next to him to grab his hair and pull his head up. “That sounds reasonable, don’t you think? Isn’t that what you want? Whattaya say, Sammy?”

Before the demon knew what was happening, Sam had whipped the knife Ruby gave him from the sheath at his back and slammed it into her lung. A yellow glow like electricity coursed through her, flashing and running along the bones of her skeleton as she stared at the alpha in genuine shock.

“Go to hell,” Sam snarled, and Meg crumpled lifeless to the floor.

He became aware, past the ringing in his ears, of the pounding on the door across from him, of people shouting and demanding to be let in, and then the door burst open and two large, burly security guards practically fell into the room, tasers drawn. Bobby was still unconscious, Dean and Adam were both sleeping soundly - probably drugged, there was no other way they wouldn’t have awakened - and Sam was still trying to regain his breath. The nurses were checking Bobby, Adam, Dean, and Meg, confused when they saw the bullet holes and stab wounds but no blood. Sam pulled his FDH identification from his jacket and explained there was no blood because the vessel had been dead a long time. They would probably never know who she really was unless they got lucky with a missing person’s search, but she could be from anywhere in the country. The only thing they could do at this point was call it into the agency and let them know there was a sighting and kill of a demon in Minnesota, and that there were two patients who would need FDH protection. Sam hated it, because it would draw his grandfather back into his world, but at least it gave him a way to get Dean’s case under the Fed’s purview and Sam could get him back home to Sioux Falls. As far as he could see that was a pretty even trade.

Now he just needed to figure out how to tell the omega it wasn’t only John who was hunting Azazel.

Chapter Text

Dean knew he was supposed to be keeping his stress level down, and he really wanted to, but it would be a whole lot easier if the Universe didn’t keep dropping bombshells on him. He’d gone to sleep the night before feeling okay for the first time in a while. He didn’t quite feel safe, since Sam had gone back to the hotel, and that bitch of a nurse had sure tried to rain on his parade, but he hadn’t been jittery and on edge, only able to close his eyes for an hour or so before some terrible memory from the basement woke him. Quite the contrary, he’d slept all the way through the night without stirring once, dreaming instead of the lazy kisses he’d shared with Sam before visiting hours were over, and how unexpected and...well, nice it had been. Typically Dean scoffed at the word “nice.” There were so many better adjectives to use to describe something, but in this instance “nice” was definitely the correct one to pick, given how sweet and void of pressure the make-out session had been. Even after he felt Sam’s considerable length stiffening against his thigh the alpha hadn’t made any attempts to progress the situation and had simply kissed Dean deeper, letting him set the pace. It was a complete shock to wake up shortly before dawn and find he and Adam were in a different room, that they’d both somehow managed to sleep through the move, and that the door, walls, and windows were now covered with protective sigils and warding. Sam and Bobby were sleeping uncomfortably in the visitor’s chairs - it was obvious they were uncomfortable by how their necks were cricked - and Bobby had his double barrel over his lap. Sam’s right hand was clenched around a large, serrated knife even in sleep. There were also two FDH officers stationed on either side of the door. He could tell they were officials with the bureau by their suits and matching haircuts. What the hell had happened while he was asleep?

As if sensing Dean was awake, Sam’s head jerked up and he looked around blearily until his eyes landed on the omega. Dean scented the wave of panic mixed with relief coming off of him and didn’t know quite what to do when Sam practically threw himself onto Dean’s bed, alternating between kissing him passionately and shoving his nose against Dean’s neck and behind his ear to scent him. It wasn’t exactly unwelcome, but it was definitely disconcerting, and now Dean really wanted to know what the hell had happened while he was asleep. Just as soon as Sam stopped kissing him. Which he didn’t need to do anytime soon because this was nice, too.

Bobby clearing his throat was what finally stopped Sam from trying to kiss every inch of Dean’s face and neck, but Sam didn’t pull away the way he had the night before, he just sat there with his forehead pressed against Dean’s and his hands in the omega’s hair, his eyes squeezed shut. The two Feds at the door were politely looking anywhere but the two of them and Bobby’s face was bright red as he again stared at the floor.

“Mornin’ boys,” he groused, which still didn’t move Sam from off the bed. Dean gradually realized that the way Sam was sitting was a protective stance, like he was using his body as a shield between Dean and the rest of the room. “I’m real serious about that sock on the door if you’re gonna be stayin’ with me.”

“Hey Bobby,” Dean said, a little dazed from not having time to breathe with all the kissing. “Why the fancy room decorations and guard dogs?”

For some reason that made Sam tighten his hold on Dean’s head and neck and press himself in closer. The panic was still rolling off of him, and the way he was acting had officially gone from “nice” to “scary.” Dean turned his head a little in the hope Sam would open his eyes and look at him, because he needed some reassurance that things were okay, and he needed it now. He knew how scary Sam could be. If something had scared him , Dean wanted to know what it was.

Sam crushed their mouths together one more time before murmuring against Dean’s lips, “There’s something I need to tell you you.”

That had been this morning, before he had been discharged from the hospital, and now he was going furiously through Sam’s hotel room to make sure he wasn’t missing anything while Bobby and Sam watched him and tried to bite their tongues. Bobby broke first.

“Dean, you need to calm down, son.”

You calm down Bobby,” Dean snapped. Not his best retort ever, but he was actually working very hard to clamp down on the rage coursing through him before he was overwhelmed by it. He just wasn’t succeeding very well. “I just wanna get out of this stupid fucking state. Where are my blockers?”

“I got rid of them, remember?” Sam told him evenly. Shit. He’d forgotten that’s what the laptop fight was about. How could he have forgotten that? It was only two days ago. Man, pregnancy brain was real and it was a bitch. “I haven’t had a chance to order the replacements for you that I found.”

“Well, that’s just fan-fucking-tastic,” Dean spat. “Bobby, you’d better go bring the car around. Looks like I’m gonna have to make a run for it through the lobby.”

“Dean,” Sam sighed. “Look, I’m so…”

“Sam, I swear to god, you say ‘I’m sorry’ one more time I’m swingin’ with the laptop again.” He turned to look at the beta rooted where he stood by the door. “Why aren’t you gettin’ the car?”

“I don’t really feel comfortable leavin’ you both alone right now…” Bobby said. “Feels like I’m gonna come back up to Sam’s teeth all over the floor.”

“You always did have good instincts,” Dean snarled.

“Dean, I was gonna tell you.”

“Oh really Sam?” Dean gave a little laugh, looking at him wide-eyed. He was starting to get out of control again, and he wanted to stop, but those goddamned hormones wouldn’t let him. His blood was starting to boil and if he didn’t release some of the pressure he was going to explode worse than he had over the scent blockers. “When? When were you planning to tell me that you’re hunting the same damn demon as my dad and are probably going to get yourself killed right along with him?”

“Once you got out of the hospital,” Sam replied, and that really made Dean laugh. Sam knew he should just sit there and take whatever Dean wanted to dish out right now, but last night had been terrifying and his alpha wasn’t in the mood for the omega to be all bluster and fury and brashness. “You think that’s unreasonable? You almost had a miscarriage yesterday! You needed surgery! It didn’t seem like the most appropriate time to bring it up!”

“You had plenty of time to bring it up, Sammy,” Dean hissed. “You were tellin’ me about Stanford just last night! You don’t think you could have slipped, ‘and that girlfriend who died got fried by a demon in her dorm’ into the discussion?”

“So I could freak you out after you’d finally calmed down?!”

“You know, I’m getting really sick of you thinkin’ it’s better to lie to me if it means protecting me.”

“Who was lying?”

“Fine, withholding information.”

“Dean, that is not what I was doing.”

“Really?”

“Yes, once they moved you out of the hospital to the interim facility I was going to tell you all of this.”

Really?”

Yes!” The two stared at each other, both furious, and for a moment Bobby wondered if he should get out of the room because they seemed on the verge of having really angry sex and he did not want to be there for that. But Sam pressed on. “I was obviously going to have to tell you when I showed up to paint the warding all over your room to keep you safe while you were stuck there, but I would have told you either way! I was just waiting for a day, maybe two, until things settled down and you hadn’t just spent two days bleeding and needing an operation to keep you from losing the baby! I didn’t expect a demon to come after you in the hospital!”

Why?” Dean’s eyes were as wide as saucers. He couldn’t believe how stupid Sam was. He really was going to end up dead right along with Dad. “It’s a demon, Sam! Why would it think hospitals are off limits?”

“Dean, I’m sorry…” Dean actually went for the table lamp on the nightstand since he was standing between the beds, but Sam was on him and stopping him from swinging before he could get a proper wind-up, one hand on Dean’s wrist and the other around his back, pinning them together. “Stop. Trying to hit me. With things in this room.”

Dean had to at least give Sam credit for not making that a command when he easily could have, and he wrestled his wrist free and set the lamp back down. Sam held on for a few more minutes, overwhelming Dean with his scent, which his omega loved while Dean bristled at it at the same time. He wanted to stay angry at Sam for years, but it was physically exhausting to be this upset and it wasn’t good for the baby, so in the end he would be doing more harm to himself than he would be to Sam. His omega wanted to just scent and purr and reward the alpha for being so big and strong and protective and press little butterfly kisses to his jawline to apologize and calm his ire, but Dean would be damned if he did that when he’d already let Sam win and given up the lamp. He could feel Sam’s big hazel eyes on his face, trying to will him into giving the alpha a peek of his green orbs, and he stared at Sam’s shoulder instead, feeling his face flush.

“Send the blockers to Bobby’s,” he said after a long time, and Sam finally let him go. Dean could scent his hurt and clamped down on the remorse that tried to burst out in his own scent. He moved around the alpha, saying, “You can come down after they move Adam to the FDH facility. I don’t want him left alone. I gotta pee, I think your kid’s sleepin’ on my bladder.”

The door to the bathroom slammed behind him and Sam closed his eyes and sighed. Not that he thought things were going to be easy with Dean after everything that had happened and all the things Sam had kept from him, but he really had planned to tell Dean about Azazel, just not right after the cerclage surgery. He didn’t want Dean stuck in the state facility unaware of what might be after him, but it had seemed like a terrible time to bring it up when the doctors had undoubtedly stirred up memories of the rape with the way they’d handled the whole thing with his condition, like Dean had no say over his body at all. He wanted to at least get Dean out of the hospital and away from the people caring for him but not about him, and he hadn’t even had a chance to bring up the possibility that he had demon blood in him because Dean had cut him off as soon as he learned that Sam had been keeping something from him again. They were probably going to have to go through this all over again when Adam finally got moved to the Hunters’ hospital in Chicago where the wardings were built into the steel frame of the building and salt was laid into the foundation. He’d had a huge argument with his grandfather to ensure Adam would be protected for the length of his recovery and he’d had to promise to let Samuel know where he ended up and to always answer his phone. The hospital here estimated it would be close to two weeks before they’d feel comfortable moving Adam, so unless Dean was willing to continue the conversation calmly when he came back out of the bathroom it would be two more weeks that Sam was “keeping a secret” from him. He certainly didn’t want to tell Dean about his unknown situation over the phone.

But was it really unknown? Meg had called him one of Azazel’s children. No hesitation, no question about it - she was sure. Yes, she was a demon and demons messed with your head, but that dream he’d had that sent him running to the hospital had sure seemed real. Not just that, but Meg had been standing over Adam with a knife, ready to carve him up, when Sam and Bobby got there. He might have to admit that was more than just a dream and something closer to a premonition. He was going to have to hit up B