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Every other month, usually on a Friday night, the three of them met at a bar in the middle of nowhere. It wasn't always the same bar, but it was usually an older, uncrowded joint just off of I-95 somewhere between Virginia and New York. One of them sent a text message with the location and time. This time around, Will had picked the spot, a place called "King's," sandwiched in between an empty lot filled with dust and a abandoned strip mall.

By the time Sam arrived, the other two were a few rounds in. The waitress came by to clear away the empties, and gave Sam a look as he went to join them. "Heineken?" he asked. She nodded and made her way back to the counter.

"What took you so long?" asked Will, by way of greeting. They'd picked the table furthest in the back, next to the jukebox and well out of earshot.

Sam took a seat. "Had to take care of a thing on the way here." He grabbed a handful of mixed nuts from the bowl in the center of the table.

"Your kind of thing?" Bucky asked Sam. He pointed a silver finger at Will, "Or his kind of thing?"

Sam shrugged. "Ghost haunting a rest stop."

Bucky's brow furrowed. "Really?"

"Yup. Remains were kind of…lodged between the microwave and the slushie-machine."

"Killed by the store manager?" Will asked.

"Yeah. How'd you—?" Sam smiled up at the waitress as she handed him his beer with a curious, vaguely disturbed expression on her face.

Will cleared his throat. "Lot of slushie machine robberies last year."

"What's a slushie?" Bucky asked.

"It's food coloring, corn syrup and ice. Disgusting," Sam said. "How's that new Doc working out?"

Bucky leaned forward, crossing his arms. "Pretty good, I guess. I'm remembering things."

"She's good," Will said, smiling, as he took a sip of his beer. "Recovered memory therapy is her specialty."

With a slight frown, Bucky unfolded his arms and leaned back in his chair. "They're not all good things." He grabbed his beer and took a long drink. When he set the bottle back down, it was empty. He raised his right hand, holding up two fingers.

Behind the counter, the bartender nodded.

"Actually, most of them are awful," Bucky added.

"I'm sorry," Will said. "But that's the risk. You want the good, you have to wade through the muck"

"My muck is full of strangers' corpses. Names and faces." Bucky swallowed. "Targets."

"You remember killing them?" Will asked.

"That's all I remember."

Will took a sip from his own bottle, still nearly full. The waitress dropped off two new bottles, and grabbed Bucky's empty.

As soon as her back was turned, Will pushed the new bottle in front of him gently towards Bucky, who was already starting in on the other. "Feel anything yet?"

"Not from the beer."

They each sunk deeper into their own thoughts, Will wondering if the jukebox was playing "Maneater" just to taunt him, Bucky trying to calculate how much he'd need to drink to get drunk if eight beers now had the impact of one.

After several long minutes of silence, Sam said, "You know, this one time…I was the Devil."

Bucky took another deep pull from his bottle.

"The Devil dwells within us all," Will said, smiling bitterly.

Sam scoffed. "No, not really. Just a few vessels. Everybody else would explode."

Will raised an eyebrow. "You consider yourself a vessel? For what?"

"I just told you," Sam said.

"The Devil?" Bucky scoffed. "He's real too?"

"If he was in your head once, how can you be sure he's not still in there?" Will asked.

"I'm sure."

"People that get in your head tend to leave a mark, in my experience," Bucky said, stiffly.

"Angels do, too," Sam said, "but Lucifer wasn't there to leave marks on me, he needed to...wear me to break the world."

"Wear you, like a suit?" Will asked.

"Exactly like that."

"But he's gone now?" A hint of a smile curved Will's lips. "Were you an ill-fitting suit?"

"I was tailor-made," Sam said, taking another sip of beer.

"We're supposed to just take you at your word that he's gone?" Bucky asked. He didn't sound particularly alarmed. "Is he just wandering around out there looking for some other poor sap to take over?"

"He can't just take over, that's the thing. Angels have to ask permission," Sam said.

Bucky pursed his lips. "So, you asked the Devil to set up shop? That's pretty wacky."

Sam frowned. "It's complicated. It was the only way to lock him back up."

"Are you his prison?" Will asked, eyes slightly widened.

"No. He's locked up tight in his cell. Where he belongs."

Bucky cleared his throat. "You beat the Devil?"

"Yeah. But, I mean I let him out in the first place, so…"

"It's important to clean up after yourself," Will said.

Bucky nodded. "Don't leave a trace."

Sam looked from Will to Bucky. "What's the worst mess you've had to clean up?"

Will's brow furrowed. He took off his glasses and began polishing them with the corner of his shirt.

"I took out three members of a summit committee once," Bucky said. "In an opera house. Had to be quiet. Used a silencer on two, knife on the third. She grabbed my hair, tore out a few strands." He looked down at the table. "I stayed until I found them all. Most of them were still in her hand, but a few were stuck in the carpeting."

After slipping his glasses back on his nose, Will said, "Feds can do a lot with hair."

"So can witches," Sam said.

"So can Hydra." Bucky frowned.

They fell silent once more. Sam ordered them a plate of fries that were lukewarm and vaguely soggy. But it was food, and it helped. Sort of.

"What happens when you remember everything?" Will asked, licking salt from his thumb.

Bucky met his eyes. "I don't know. I remember enough to know that what I did wasn't by choice. But it still feels like it was my fault."

Sam huffed. "Tell me about it."

"There were…dozens I killed during the war, before I, uh— before Hydra got me, but after? I lost count. And I'm pretty much still missing chunks." He nodded to himself. "Big ones."

"Thousands are dead because of me," Sam said. "There were earthquakes, tsunamis that Lucifer called up just to make me watch, and that's not counting all the ones I—" He swallowed, hesitating.

"Not your fault," Will said. "If it wasn't your choice, then those deaths weren't yours. They belong to him not you."

"Doesn't change anything for them," Sam said. "Does it?"

Will shook his head. "No, but it does for you."

"A lot of them were mine," Sam said, lips curving down. "Especially if we're not just counting humans."

"The inhuman things you've killed," Will said. "Were they born monsters or did they become them?"

"Both," Sam said. "There are all kinds of monsters." He sighed. "And sometimes people are way worse."

"Got that right, kid," Bucky said.

"The first time I died, it was from a knife-wound to the back," Sam said studying his bottle.

"Spinal cord severed?" Bucky asked.


"The first time you died?" Will raised an eyebrow.

Sam nodded.

"How many times did you die?"

"Five," Sam said. "Feels like more though.”

"Seems like plenty to me." Bucky's lips curved into a half-smile. "I thought I died when I fell. But then I woke up." He looked at his left hand thoughtfully. "They did something to me before I fell. Experimented on me."

"You think that's why you didn't die?" Sam asked.

"I know that's why."

Will leaned closer. "They gave you something—same thing they gave your friend?"

"Don't know. Same food group, I think. Made me stronger, faster. Harder to kill."

Sam huffed. "Any side-effects?"

"Can't get drunk anymore. Metabolism's all out of whack."

"That's it?"

"Mostly. I think so. I mean, the only others I know that have something like this in their system... kind of hard to compare." He shrugged and took another drink. "We've all got issues, but I'm pretty sure mine are from gettin' my brains scrambled."

"The pieces never really fit together the same way anymore, do they?" Will asked out loud, though his eyes were focused on the back of his own hand.

"No, they don't," Sam said.

There was a rumble outside the bar, an old motorcycle. Bucky's eyes brightened, and he stood, pulling an old leather wallet out of his jacket. "My ride's here." He dropped a five on the table. "Good luck with that dinner party, Will. Sounds like it'll be a gas."

Sam caught a glance of a man in a brown leather jacket just before the door closed behind Bucky.

"He seem happier to you?" Sam asked Will.

Will shrugged. "More content. Self-awareness is... crucial to a sense of well-being."

"Hm." Sam drained the rest of his beer. "Not sure about that. I think I was happier before I knew what I was capable of."

"Happier maybe," Will said. "But were you really you?"

"Most of the time." Sam set his empty bottle on the table and added a twenty to the five Bucky had left. He had a habit of forgetting inflation. Sam was starting to think it was an act.

Will added another twenty to the other bills and stood. "I'll take care of this." He moved to the bar to pay as Sam slipped his jacket on.

"See you in eight weeks," Will said, handing Sam two singles.

"You have a ride?" Sam asked.

"Don't need one. I'm right down the highway."

"At the Red Roof?"


"Me too."

"Let me guess: You're on the fourth floor, corner room, facing the parking lot. You have the do not disturb sign on the handle, and everything of importance is stashed in your car."

"Not everything," Sam said, quietly. "But the tools of the trade, yeah." The night air was brisk and the slight breeze felt good against Sam's skin as they walked down the road.

The highway was mostly empty, except for the occasional truck. "How're the dogs?" Sam asked Will.

Will smiled. "They're good. Winston's still got that digestive issue, but other than that...". He looked at Sam. "You ask about them every time we get together. You want a dog?"

Sam laughed softly. "Yeah, yeah I do, but I can't."

"Why not?"

"We don't really have a yard."

"Dogs like to run."

"Yeah they do."

They continued in silence for a few more minutes, until the motel came into view. The parking lot was empty save for the Impala, a worn down Honda and a Kia that looked like a strong gust of air could knock it over.

Will's steps slowed near the end of the first floor of rooms. "How's your brother?" he asked, reaching into his pocket for his key.

"Better." Sam swallowed before adding, "Better, but different. What happened--it changed him."

"Is he still human?" Will opened the door.

"Mostly." Sam caught a glimpse of a stag's head mounted to the wall. Definitely not standard for this particular Red Roof.

Will smirked. "Best we can hope for, sometimes." He stepped inside and turned back to Sam. "See you in two months?"

"Wouldn't miss it," Sam said, waving as he turned towards the stairs. A hunter, a profiler, and a soldier walked into a bar…Sam thought. "There's a punchline here somewhere," he said, as he opened the door, flipped on the lights and looked at the two empty beds.