Sam’s phone dances across varnished hardwood. Illinois area code. Or, upstate New York. Pinch, bridge of his nose. “Hello.”
“Uh,” Girl’s voice. “Is this, Sam?”
“So, listen. There’s this guy here?”
Sam jumps. Library chair barks on the floor.
“I think he’s deaf or someth…”
Back pops and a shoulder grinds, stabbing for a pen.
“…a note for you. Says: ‘Forty eighty-eight, no… hang on… forty, dash, eighty-eight, man in black, tee plus thirty. Hey.” Gum snaps. “Are you guys okay?”
“Yeah, we’re,” Sam punches up—
Pontiac. Close to where he buried Dean, where Dean came back.
Sam can still smell that hotel room. Red light, tiger print.
Dean knocked; Sam thought he was pizza.
Mom merges onto the highway and floors it. Silvery waves warp the asphalt. “Sammy, I don’t like it.”
He scours satellite pictures, tries to think like Dean.
Cas leans up. “Michael—this, Michael—has some way of,” air quotes, “‘laying low.’ I might not know whethe—”
“I’ll know.” Sam grits his teeth.
“But,” Jack pipes up, “why won’t he talk to you?”
Sam glances left. “I… think that’s something else.”
Speakers murmur, let It be.
“And if it’s not your brother?” Cas asks.
Duffle beside him. “I got it covered.” Sam one-hands the zipper.
“You mean to expel Michael by force.” Cas lifts, turns the Hyperbolic Pulse Generator in his hands.
Lucifer Egg, Dean calls it. Sam’s mouth twists, eyes roll on muscle memory. “Just cause we sent the Redcoats back to England don’t mean we can’t keep their tech.”
“Sam, wait.” Cas grips his shoulder. “That warehouse,” one of Sam’s printouts. “Dean summoned me there.”
Sweltering, high pressure. Sam soaks his shirt unloading the car.
“You can’t do this alone, Sam,” Mom insists.
“I have to.” Holy oil splashes and spreads. “If it’s Dean, I don’t wanna overwhelm him. If it’s not Dean…” Sam wipes his hands, tosses the egg to Jack. “You’re the cavalry.” If Dean’s in there, even if Michael’s driving, nobody… “Go,” he begs Mom, assures Cas, orders Jack.
Scuffed feet to the car. Doors creak.
Sam cuts his palm, starts on the blood sigil he needs to fire the Lucifer Egg. Some of the wards Dean put up, back when he summoned Cas, seep through the old whitewash job. Key of Solomon. Aquarian Star. Sam loaned Dean the shirt he wore that day. Never did get all the paint out.
Dean approaches like a herd of cattle, clatters across the gravel lot. Smells like sweat and leather, wears a t-shirt, packs a duffel. Walks straight into the oil ring. Zippo glints; Dean fires it himself.
Heya, Sammy, shines all over his face.
Ten years ago—can it really be ten? Sam lunged. Ruby screamed. Dean ducked and Bobby swore, “It’s really him!”
He faces his brother. “Dean.”
Head bobs. Eyes blaze.
“How can I believe that?”
Dean shrugs. I wouldn’t.
Sam dry-laughs. “Mom’s here.” Digs for his phone. “And Jack, and Cas.” He texts: Nest set. Bring egg.
He meets them outside. “I don’t think Michael’s in there.”
“Sam,” Cas cautions.
“He lit the holy fire himself.” Sam takes the HPG from Jack. “But just in case…”
“Be careful, Sammy,” Mom says.
“Just, gimme another minute.”
Dean squints, cranes his neck, drifts too close to the fire.
Singed-hair smell, surely Sam’s imagination. Snippy, “Your car’s fine, dude.” He bites his tongue. “I’m sorry.”
Dean’s palms, head shake.
And all at once Sam knows what he looks like. Two days since he showered. Shirt’s all pit-stained, jeans stiff.
Dean’s hair, too long. Eyes shadowed. Chin ducks.
“All right, fine’s exaggerating.” He shows the egg and Dean grins. Geekboy. “You wanna sit down or something?” Unwraps his cut hand.
Thumb reopens the gash. “Hey guys?” Over his shoulder. “Fire in the hole!”
Sam plucked Dean’s Zippo from his fingers. Lit the whole crate of fireworks. Skyrockets screeched and snapped. Black powder. Blue smoke.
Anticlimax. Dean shields his eyes but otherwise…
Dean stops, halfway to the car. Sticks out his hand.
Dean pinches fingers, shakes like jingling—
Mom balks, doesn’t want to give them up. Dean stomps, won’t walk another step. She studies him. Cool, assessing. Dean takes it, twitch in his cheek his only tell. Sam reassures her with a look and Mom folds.
Dean struts a lap. Sinking sun gleams off the bumpers. Fingers trail up, over the doorframe. Pause. He licks his thumb, rubs at a smudge. Slides behind the wheel. Jack, Mom, and Cas cram in the back. Sam slips in shotgun.
Dean throws a bankroll on the seat. Sam eyebrows and Dean taps his wrist.
Sam interprets, “Michael had a thing for watches.”
Smug head-bob. Wet, puckered lips. Impala chews up blacktop. Waterlogged corn waves at their flanks. Stunted, late spring snowmelt.
Barbecue takeout, family style. Chairs packed around the table in the brothers’ half of adjoining rooms. Dean stuffs green beans, baked beans, corn-on-the-cob. Nuclear smile, licking lips and sucking beer.
Bobby II on speakerphone. Mom and Jack, back and forth: What’s Michael’s next move? What’s theirs?
Dean shovels blackberry pie. Everyone ignores how he doesn’t talk with his mouth full.
Knocking, next door. A muffled, “Y’guys needed a rollaway?”
“Yes!” Mom shoos Jack and Cas out. “One second!” She locks up behind her.
Sam nods, offers the shower.
Dean’s eyes rake him. You need it more than me.
Sam sells exasperated.
Berry-stained grin. Dean turns an about-face, peels his shirt off. Scarred, freckled skin creases and shifts.
Sam sinks in a chair. Hides in his hands.
“We summon her,” Sam says. “We have a spell...”
Dean distributes beers and Bunkerburgers. Head shakes.
“Will that work?” Mom asks.
“Billie would require different offerings.” Cas turns down his plate.
Jack throws out, “The witch, Rowena—”
Dean knocks twice, loud. Notepad, next to Sam.
J E S S I C A
He draws a scythe—
Dean writes, Sam reads.
“Jessica. We need to talk to your boss. We know you’re watching, in case we do something stupid.” Sam grins. “How about hunting the archangel—”
Arms crossed, Dean nods a greeting.
Billie squints. “Huh.” Talks to him anyway. “Well?”
Dean bug-eyes, puffs out his cheeks. Sam loops her in: Michael, the apocalypse world. “You’re the only one who can stop him now. You have the only weapon—”
“And you think I’m gonna lend it,” hand on a hip, “to you.”
Dean’s hands wave. Sam translates, “No... no, we just want to call you when—”
“You spring the trap.” Billie considers. “I just empty it.”
Dean nods. Sam says, “You got it.”
They’ll flush out Michael faster if they split up. Nobody wants to leave Dean.
Still, big as the Bunker is… Breakfast table, built for four. Steering clear of each other’s bathroom time. So, many, more, dishes. Celibacy—and worse, sleeping separate.
They last twelve days.
Dean stampedes down the hall. Whiteboard, big black, OK FAMILY MEETING! Head of the map table, he crooks a finger. Sam falls in at his right flank. Dean hands him a folded page.
Sam reads: “You guys are killing me.” Sam snickers and Dean huffs. Sam goes on, “Cas, go check on Heaven. Mom and Jack, go rally the Rebel Alliance. Me and Sam, you’ll know if we need you. Let’s all quit fucking around and go get this winged dickbag.”
Dean snatches the paper and flings it down. Arms cross.
Sam chews on his bottom lip.
Dean smacks the table and Sam looks up. Dean spins his laptop.
Missing person, Collin Rich. Picture matches Michael’s former, alt-world vessel.
Dean twirls a hand. Keep reading.
Sam clicks the next tab… “Wow.”
Dean smacks the table again, triumphant.
Rich had a cousin once go missing. Jake Talley. Vanished from his unit in Afghanistan, never seen again. “Oh, we roll on this.”
Sharp nod, Damn straight.
Bobby II points them towards Abilene. Two lanes of blacktop, two hours and change. Mega-farms whizz by. Corn, wheat, and soybeans. Boarded-up town squares. Beat-up trucks.
Weird, without Dean’s blustering bravado. Still, Sam’s kind of amazed how little they need speech. Most of their day was always quick looks and quiet gestures. Radio plays. Sam shares some ASL he picked up from Eileen.
He interviews old friends and distant relatives. Dean leads research.
“Y’know…” Sam dares, “you get your voice back, you can pawn all this shit back on me.”
Dean flips the bird, turns a page and his back on Sam.
All they find out, they already know: Collin Rich dropped off the globe, same day Dean showed up at that barn.
Sam puts the word out, Dean books them a king and takes Sam apart. Full body massage, turns limbs to liquid. Slick fingers pry him open, joined at the lip. Shared shower, Sam’s face in the wall and a foot on the tub edge. Dean, on his knees between Sam’s cheeks.
Jolted awake, shot to his ribs. Dean thrashes, sweats. Mouth wide, screaming without sound. Eyes open, see nothing. Sam risks getting clocked again, moves in.
Black powder. Blue smoke. Gold, purple, and green strobed overhead. Dean’s eyes changed shade. Sam ran, tucked to his chest.
He squeezes. Dean sucks in air. Pats Sam, checking for injuries. Shrugs him off and conks out. Sam seals against his back.
Cold front’s blowing in and the trees know it. Leaves shake, silver side up. Skinchangers, running a drug ring, took them to Poplar Bluff. Messy. Rough on the weapons.
Sam cleans guns; Dean hiss-click sharpens knives. Trash bags and newspapers spread on the table. Room stinks like CLP.
“What am I missing?” Sam tests the action on his nine. “Whatever’s… keeping you quiet…” Eyes on his hands, magazine drops. “What do you need from me?” Wind whips outside.
Dean rolls off the bed, offers a hand. Shift in his jeans when Dean bends him over. Sam and thunder shake the dresser. Eyes in the mirror. Dean strips both their pants, kicks Sam’s feet apart. Preps him rough. Sam exhales, grits teeth.
Dean grips his chin. Nose at his ear. No words, just breath: Take it.
Sam can’t even blink. Thick, crooked fingers hook him. Dean burns his way in. Hips connect. Sam arches. Knees dip. Heat creeps and sweat beads. Dean thumbs Sam’s nipples. Hips spear on a hard pinch. Sam yelps. Storm roars. Torment. Twisting and pulling. Nails, down his sides and up his thighs. No blood but fever-red. Rain jackhammers; hailstones fall. Dean’s gaze never wavers. Sam squirms. Barely keeps his balls clear of the dresser.
All stop. Dean slips an arm around him. Licks up his neck. Sky lights and explodes. Bedside lamp dies; room goes dark. Dean sinks teeth in Sam’s shoulder. Sam howls, lurches. Head thumps the mirror and Dean lets loose. Saws. Teeth and heat and suction bruise his back.
Fires, chains, and flesh danced with the Devil at Sam’s six. “You don’t know what’s real?” Dean said. “I’ve been to Hell. Okay…”
Lightning glimpses. Left hand jerks Sam, right grips his windpipe. Thighs slap. Thumb digs in Sam’s neck and he buckles, limp on his brother’s dick. Long flash, kind that forks spiderwebs between clouds. Loud, rolling rumble. Dean fucks him, brutal.
“It feels different.”
Sam throws him backward, trips him to bed. Shirts off. Knees and elbows knock and bounce. Sam growls; Dean bites. Thirty seconds of pinching, scratching, fight and fuck. Dean upper-hands, shoulder under Sam’s knee. Pets his rim, plunges in. Sam sidetracks, shakes, rides Dean’s hand until…
Trembling. Dean chuckles, noiseless. Sam yanks his grown-out hair. Dean hisses and Sam aches. Leg hooks, tumbles them. Sam pins biceps, Dean tickles his elbows, Sam dives. Teeth rake Dean’s collarbone, join of his shoulder. Sam pulls, bares Dean’s throat. Dean bucks under him, claws at his back. Sam bites bruises. Rips at whatever’s locked Dean down. Dean pants, dick bumps Sam’s ass, chest shudders.
Sam still had killer-Plucky glitter in his ears. Lucifer mocked, “You think your real brother would hurt you like this?”
Rain lets up. Bedside lamp blinks on. Sweat gleams at Dean’s temples. Pupils wide. Lips (and eyes) puffed up and red. Indents—purple half-moons, points and ridges, ring his neck.
Lube, foot of the bed. Sam greases Dean, wipes his hands on a crumpled shirt. Dean pinches. Sam grunts. Dean’s tongue snakes out. He lines up, feeds in his dick as Sam sinks. Thumb swirls where Sam splits.
Hips tilt; Dean shifts in him. “This is real, Dean.” Ass flexes and Dean arcs. “I’m real.” Palm climbs his breastbone. Curves at his throat.
“You didn’t need to breathe, remember?” Dean’s hand closed. Sam thrashed. Dark spots encroached.
Sam swallows. “You ready?”
Dean nods, clenched neck. Won’t look.
Sam twists his jaw. “Face me.” Bottomless pupils, ring of white around. “I never have to hear your voice again; you understand?” Dean tenses. “I miss it, every day, but especially,” Sam squirms on Dean’s dick, “times like now.” Dean thrums under him. “But, if you don’t—”
Fingers cover Sam’s mouth, circle his wrist, press him to Dean’s throat.
“You are hot like this.” Sam’s dick jumps. “Think you can get me off before you pass out?”
Dean thrusts, Sam shudders. Braces on the headboard, pets Dean’s neck. Dean claws, pinches Sam’s ass, rakes his chest. Sam slides, smooth ride, hand tightens. Dean chokes. Grabs on, jerks rough.
Race like this, Dean should cheat. That’s it, Sammy, milk my cock. Make me shoot up in you, wreck that hole. Sam wells up, fights it. Fucks Dean’s fist. Tighter, Dean writhes. Sam squeezes, everything. Dean’s mouth gapes, hips spasm, eyelashes droop. Tears streak toward his ears. Grip slips. Limbs go limp.
“Dean.” Sam shakes him, makes him look. “You need to breathe.”
Air rushes in, most sound Dean’s made in weeks. Board stiff, stuttered exhale. Sam tips over and paints Dean’s stomach. Come burns. Sam bites, rakes that obscene bottom lip, makes Dean hiss.
Sam hears, prays he’s hearing, Ssss—
Acres of circus tent line the Missouri highway. Heat ripples. Dean blasts rock radio, drums his fingers, bobs his head.
Sam fidgets. Sweat stings the few spots Dean broke skin. Bruises: teeth and fingers. Nipples tender, trapped in a t-shirt Sam should’ve checked was Downy soft. Ache in his ass, well. That’s not new.
Dean cuts his eyes across. Cocksure grin.
“Shut up.” Sam flinches.
Dean’s eyebrows waggle. Barring his low, sinful groan over breakfast, he hasn’t said anything else.
FIREWORKS! sign says. EXIT NOW!
“We’re gonna splurge.”
Crowds mill between rows of folding tables, stacked ten-, sometimes twenty-deep: Black Cats, bottle rockets, M-80’s and mortar shells. Huge electric fans move sticky air. Red-striped big top corrupts colors.
Dean’s eyes changed shade. Sam ran, tucked to his chest. Dean grinned down.
Sharp tug, Sam’s lapel. Nose at his ear, Dean whispers, “Gonna burn a lot more’n a field this time.”
Sam grunts a yes.
They stuff the trunk. Dean starts the engine. Sam slips in shotgun.
This time, Dean designs a firing solution. “We light master fuses, here, here, and here,” like, full-on schematics. “Oughta get ahhh, ten-minute show?”
Low-water lakeside. Baked silt, long sandbars. Humid. Katydids, mayflies, and mosquitoes. Dean tinkers as the sun sinks.
Finally, “Fire in the hole!”
He launches a volley and trots back. Sam raids the cooler and props a foot on top. They sit on the hood. Gunpowder and fuses. Whistle-snap and sulfur smell. Longnecks clink.
“They can only hold on so long, once you tell em to get out.” Eyes on the sky, Dean speaks.
Red, silver, and blue fans. Rapid pops.
“Guess you knew that.” Quick glance, half a smirk.
Purple streaks and shimmers.
“Dean, you don’t have t—”
Cluster of screamers, pow-pow-pow. Sam shies.
“So, he’s tryin to change my mind, and I figure, no way I can slip up, say any, magic words if…” Palm down, Dean draws a line.
Whoosh, crack. Whoosh, crack.
“When he left,” swallow, “you know… S’a smart play. Get me to give up fightin, make me think I already won.”
Chin bobs. “Time to light Round Two.” Dean hops off.
Sam watches him strut. Bowlegged silhouette in their camping lantern. Fuse flares; Dean runs.
Sky bursts alight.
Sam tucks to his chest.
Bang-crackle. Flower shapes.
Dean folds him up. Eyes change shade.
Sam tiptoed, brushed their lips.