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The Process of the Taking

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"Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself."

-- Gloria Steinem

 

Sam took a piss at the side of the road, twenty miles out of Thebes, Illinois, and when he reached for the car door he got an electric shock, crackling static stinging his fingers.

“Fuck,” he snapped, and shoved the tips of them in his mouth, sucking at them. The sky was swollen and dark with an oncoming storm, and Sam could feel the pressure gathering, a headache already growing tight and tense behind his eyes. Behind the wheel, Dean grunted, only showing the minimum of concern.

"You done?" he asked when Sam dared to try the door handle again and managed to squash back into the passenger seat. Sam stared at his fingers for a moment longer, and it meant something that Dean didn't start the engine, just waited, hands on the steering wheel.

"Yeah, yeah I'm good," Sam muttered, and rubbed his fingers along the back of his neck, feeling the hair there stand on end, trapped in static.

---

After a further week of electric shocks, Sam fried the Impala’s tape deck and finally admitted something was wrong.

“What the fuck?” Dean yelled, and screeched to a halt, the car nearly tilting nose-first into a ditch. They were in the middle of Buttfuck, Nowhere, and the sky was clear, the storm long gone. The tapedeck spat out sparks and smoke, and Sam could smell AC/DC melting inside.

“My hands,” Sam said eventually, because it hurt, like he could feel exactly how many volts were flooding his fingers. He knew for certain that he was holding a fatal dose. “There’s an electric charge in my hands.”

“What are you saying?” Dean demanded, voice dangerously low. He reached out as if to maybe touch Sam, and Sam flinched back.

”Don’t touch me!” He shoved at the door with his elbow, tried to get it open so that he could get out and discharge the energy somehow. “Just, don’t. I’ll hurt you.” Sam knew he sounded a little hysterical. He felt a little hysterical. Eventually, he managed to open the door and cast around for anything that would conduct, clenching his fists tight, feeling them crackle.

“Sam!” Dean was out of the car, but keeping his distance. Sam just shook his head and stumbled across the ditch to grab the wire fence separating the road from miles of scrubby fields. In one blissful moment, all of the charge seemed to seep away, until Sam felt almost normal again.

“God,” he sobbed, and peeled his hands away from the fence, feeling his palm stinging, burned.

He sat for a long moment in the mud at the side of the fence, feeling the damp of the grimy ditch water soak up into his knees. After a moment, Dean came over and crouched across from him, expression hard and closed.

“Wanna tell me what the fuck that was?” He reached out a hand to help Sam up, and barely flinched when he got a shock for his trouble.

"I think," Sam rasped, "I think it's like the visions. There was another psychic, he could do the same--"

"Gordon killed him," Dean interrupted, flatly. Sam nodded and scrubbed his hands over his face. When he pulled them away, his hair clung to his fingertips, and he swore. The charge was growing again, under his skin, and he took a step back from Dean, curling his fingers into his palms.

"Sam--" Dean began, reaching out his hand. Sam flinched away, pulling his arms up against his chest.

"No--just. Wait." Sam stood in silence, feeling it in his palms, swelling and fluctuating. It seemed to be pulsing--up and down, up and down, and at its lowest ebb Sam concentrated as hard as he could, imagining pushing it away, draining it out. For a second, nothing seemed to happen, and Sam swallowed back the acid bite of frustration. Then, slowly, the charge began to melt away, little by little until his hands felt normal again. Cold.

"I--" he whispered, and stared at his hands for a long time.

"You just keep that up," Dean said, eventually, and slapped Sam on the back on his way to the car. He was halfway to the road when he called back, "I hope you got cash to fix my tapedeck, you asshole."

---

After that, Sam made a conscious effort to touch Dean less. Most of the time he kept it under control, but there were odd moments--when he was tired, wiped after a hunt and hours digging graves--when he couldn't really hold it back. He burnt his fingertips closing the trunk of the Impala, destroyed two motel TVs. Sam didn't want to do that to Dean. Just thinking about it made him feel sick.

If Sam was walking a few paces further behind him, no longer laying a hand on his shoulder to emphasis a point, Dean didn't seem to notice.

It was fine. It was fine, apart from the fact that Sam felt disconnected, shut away. He was used to Dean being all over his space--Dean's shoulder pressed just in front of his as they walked, Dean's knees nudging against his beneath the table at a diner, Dean's hand clasped strong and callused around his, tugging him out of a grave.

Sam hadn't realized how often he touched Dean until he stopped, and he certainly hadn't realized how much he needed to touch Dean.

"How long you planning on keeping this up?" Dean asked one day, through a mouthful of fries. He had a lopsided scab on his face from the cut Sam had been too cautious to sew up. Dean had done it himself in the mirror with shaking, bloody fingers. It would probably scar.

"Keeping what up?" Sam kept his eyes on the journal, smearing dressing between a paragraph on spirit projection and a scribbled shopping list John had once jotted down--diapers, milk, silver odds, ammo for g.

"This 'Dean is a Leper' thing you got going on." Dean's eyebrows were raised, his lips settled into a sort of bad-humored pout. Sam had nothing to say to that face. "You think I haven't noticed?" Dean sounded pissed.

When they were kids, their Dad had been able to give Sam a dressing-down in public, in a diner, in a gas station right in front of a cashier. He would just drill on and on with a level, dangerous voice, and even though he was all pleasant business to look at--paying with a polite nod, hand heavy and fatherly on Sam's shoulder--Sam knew that underneath he was furious, the anger hiding cold and black behind his eyes.

Dean could do it exactly like that. He raised his eyebrows, made jokes, flirted with the waitress, but when he spoke his voice was cold and level and betrayed exactly how angry he was. It made Sam feel small.

"Dean--"

"Aw, shut up," Dean interrupted, slurping a huge mouthful of Coke. He chewed down another handful of fries then raised a greasy finger to point down at the table. "You are not going to fucking fry me by accidentally brushing up against my shoulder. You keep on like this and we'll both end up dead."

Sam curled his fingers in against his palms and set his jaw. He hadn't shocked himself for at least three hunts; it took an effort to build the charge now, to keep it steady. He had so many barriers up against it, but still. He knew how easily he could hurt Dean. Kill him.

"You gonna start watching my back again Sammy?" Dean pushed his plate to the side until only inches of table stretched between their hands. "'Cause right now, the way things are goin', you might as well stay in the motel."

"Shut up," Sam grated, and Dean reached out and grabbed his hand--trapped it beneath his own, warm and callused.

---

In Nebraska that fall, they argued. It wasn't anything big, really: Sam wanted to go back to the Roadhouse, Dean wanted to go it alone. Sam was driving, and Dean was antsy, and they ended up shouting at each other over the dying strains of "Ten Years Gone". In the end, Sam just sped past the exit for the Roadhouse and snapped, "Shut up. Just, shut up."

Dean fell immediately silent, and stayed that way.

After a couple of hours, Sam started to feel guilty. Dean was just staring straight ahead, scowling, with his hands clenched on his lap. He looked furious. About as angry as Sam had ever seen him. Sam squared his shoulders, and kept driving.

The first motel he reached, Sam pulled over, even though the sun was barely setting. Dean said nothing while Sam booked a room, nothing while he pulled the Impala over and killed the engine. The silent treatment was starting to get old.

"Well?" Sam demanded. Dean climbed out of the car and stood facing the road. "Seriously, Dean, what? You're just not gonna talk to me now?"

Nothing. Sam clambered out of the Impala, too, and watched Dean for a moment before slamming the door shut furiously. When he spoke his voice shook with anger, rapidly escalating into a shout. "What the fuck is your problem, Dean? Tell me!"

It was as if someone had pressed a switch. Dean turned abruptly and leveled a finger at Sam, face twisted in fury. "My problem?" he hissed. "How about having a brother who doesn't seem to have any issues with using his mind control to shut me up!"

Sam froze, and felt the pit of his stomach drop away. "What--" His voice nearly broke on the word. "What did you say?"

"You, using your new mind-mojo, Sam." Dean jabbed his finger at Sam angrily. "It ain't cool."

Sam didn't speak, didn't move, didn't even breathe. He clenched his fists tight, gripping the cuffs of his jacket, struggling to stay still, to not just bolt and get as far away from Dean as possible. As if the fucking mutant electric hands weren't bad enough, now he had the whammy also?

"You didn't know," Dean stated flatly, and scrubbed his palm through his cropped hair. "Damn it Sammy, this too?"

Sam shook his head. He stared down at his feet, then at the door to the motel room, then the Impala. He could see Dean pacing from the corner of his eye, but he couldn't look right at him, not knowing that Dean had spent hours frustrated and gagged silent by his fucked-up demon powers.

"All right," Dean said, in the weary way he did when he had a plan but he didn't like it. "You just have to work on controlling it like you did before. Just--" Sam knew Dean was waiting for him to look up, so he did, meeting his brother's eyes reluctantly. "Just think before you say anything," Dean murmured.

Sam didn't even trust himself to agree out loud. He nodded, lips set in a hard line, jaw wound so tight it was almost painful. He followed Dean into the motel room and said nothing for the rest of the night.

---

Sam learned to control it, just like his hands. He slipped up now and then, murmured orders when he was still half asleep--things that Dean would have done anyway. Go away, and Dean half way across the room and glaring before Sam even realized what he had done. Stop that, and Dean's fingers stilled on the steering wheel.

Sam minimized the risk by simply not talking unless he had to. He didn't bicker back when Dean was bitching at him in the car, he responded to questions with nods and shrugs and pointed looks and learned not to sigh or frown or do anything that needed explaining. It was even worse than not touching. Sam felt as if his own voice was becoming unfamiliar, and Dean seemed to use Sam's silence as an excuse to talk more himself--rambling on about pointless bullshit for hours on end, singing, making strange noises, humming.

"Am I annoying you?" he pressed, stuck in traffic one day, skirting around Boston on the way to a haunting. "Am I annoying you? Sam. Sam. Sammy."

Sam grunted and shifted until he was turned completely away, shoulder crammed up against the door, knees wedged beneath the dash. There was condensation on the inside of the Impala's windows, outside it was damp and cold, the columns of cars stretching for a mile behind and in front of them. Sam hated traffic, Dean hated traffic. Sam hated how Dean got in traffic, antsy and irritated and annoying.

"Is this bothering you?" Dean continued, turning on the heater and directing a blast of it at Sam's face. Sam flinched, and Dean laughed, fiddling with the radio.

"You sure, Sam? All you have to do is say--"

"Dean," Sam interrupted, and they both froze at how laden that was. Sam took a few seconds to reel himself in. "Are you trying to provoke me into ordering you to choke on your own tongue?" he finished, voice carefully neutral. It took a lot of effort.

"Just trying to make a point here, Sammy," Dean said cheerfully. He turned up the stereo to full blast, and somewhere up ahead the traffic started moving.

---

That night they stayed in a motel with an overwhelmingly caramel decorating theme. The carpets, the curtains--even the tiles in the disheveled little bathroom, all slightly varying shades of golden brown, creating the strange optical illusion that the beds were two marshmallows floating in a sea of toffee sauce. It nauseated Sam, and he turned his face into the pillow and closed his eyes, inverted blue after-vision swimming behind his eyelids.

"Are you asleep?" Dean asked, sitting heavily on the other bed. Sam could hear him shifting and rummaging in his bag, checking his shotgun, unsheathing his knife and sliding it beneath the pillow.

"Yeah," Sam murmured, stretching his legs out a little more. Despite the color scheme, it was a nice room. The bed was soft, even if he could curl his toes around the foot of it. Dean switched off the light and swung into his bed, making it groan and creak.

"Goodnight," Dean said, voice clear. He seemed to wait for an answer from Sam, and when he didn't get one he huffed, irritated. "You can start talking again tomorrow. Okay? "

Sam ignored him and rolled over, falling asleep with one foot hanging off the bed and his arm curled up beneath him. The cramp woke him up a few times in the night, and once he maybe thought he heard Dean mumbling, lips pushed into the fabric of his pillow, "Miss your fucking voice."

In the morning, Sam decided it was a dream. Dean hogged the shower, used up the last of Sam's shampoo and was generally a pain in the ass. Instead of taking it silently, Sam went on a nice long rant at the very top of his voice about just how difficult Dean was to live with. By the end of it they were both grinning, and Dean badgered Sam for hours after that with questions, and pointless conversation--stupid things, just to hear him answer.

"I always wear you down," he crowed, hunched down in the passenger seat for a change, rummaging in the bottom of a very large, very empty bag of M&Ms.

---

Dean noticed it first. Sam spent an irritated morning in a public library, with Dean across the desk from him--doing very little in the way of researching the local coven, and kind of a lot in the way of staring. He went through a cycle: tapping his pencil against his book, turning the page, staring at Sam for about a minute, then turning the page back and resuming with the pencil tapping. Sam let him do it, trying his best to just ignore Dean's odd behavior and do his own research, but eventually he had to admit defeat, slamming the books shut with finality.

"What--" he began, and realized that he was dangerously close to forcing Dean to answer. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he finally managed, as he strode out of the library, Dean trailing just behind him, still staring.

"Dunno," Dean said, pausing at the foot of the steps and watching Sam walk around the Impala. "Here, Sam--" He tossed the keys, completely off course, no way that Sam could reach them. They fell in the gutter, which was clogged up with rainwater and trash, and Sam made a face. "--Catch?" Dean finished lamely, before sighing and moving to pick up the keys himself.

---

Dean stared at Sam all through dinner as well, and eventually he just couldn't take it any longer.

"Why the hell are you staring at me?" Sam snapped, snatching his fork from the table and stabbing it into his chicken viciously. Dean watched him do that too, eyes fixed on his hands. Sam huffed, "Dean!"

"That fork," Dean murmured, tearing his eyes from Sam's cutlery to meet his glare head on. "Where was that a second ago?"

"Uhh, on the table?" Sam raised his eyebrows, waiting for the punchline. When it didn't come, he frowned, concerned. "Are you ok, Dean? You're acting pretty weird."

Dean sighed, shoulders slumping for a moment before he tipped his head back up and there he was, eyebrow raised, lips twisted into a wry almost-smile. "Just fucking with you, Sammy," he said, and stole a piece of Sam's chicken without even blinking.

---

That night, Sam's bed shifted a foot along the wall. He woke up and walked right into Dean's mattress, misjudging the distance and stumbling over to fall on his back among Dean's tangled sheets. The bed smelled of him, just sweat and a little of something else that was more specific. Sam could hear the shower running, and wondered what exactly was so funny about moving his damn bed.

He got up and shoved the bed back with a grunt. By the time Dean swaggered out of the shower with a too-small motel towel wrapped around his waist, Sam was already parked in front of the laptop re-reading obits and chugging coffee. He waited until Dean had his jeans on before asking, just in case it led to a wrestling match.

"Why'd you move my bed?"

"Huh?" Dean was rummaging around--for a T-shirt, probably--voice distracted.

"My bed. Why did you move it?"

Dean didn't reply, and when Sam heard the jangle of keys, he turned. Dean was still just in his jeans, the cord of his pendant dark against his pale chest. He grinned, a flash of white teeth and tossed the keys towards the door, in completely the wrong direction for Sam to stand a chance of catching them.

"Catch," he said as he tossed them, and Sam lifted his hand on instinct alone. He felt something like a twitch, the mental equivalent of a shiver, and the keys swerved completely off course and hit his palm perfectly. Dead on. Dean shook his head, still grinning. "The real question is, Sammy--Why the hell did you move your bed?"

---

It turned out that Dean had been watching Sam shift things with his mind for weeks. Just little things: pencils and pens rolling towards his hands, the telekinesis swelling out instinctively to correct his aim, to draw little things towards him. He hadn't even noticed the fork sliding along the table to his fingers, unaided. He hadn't noticed the tables and chairs shifted a few inches here and there as he slept. Dean had.

"Finally, an awesome power," Dean cheered, when with a little effort Sam managed to lift a knife in the air with his mind. A tension headache had started to grow right between his eyes, but it was almost worth it. "I mean the electro-hands, that's pretty cool, but this--this is awesome."

Sam shook his head and let the knife drop on the table, "Knowing my luck, I'll strangle you with it while you sleep."

Dean just laughed, like that was the funniest thing Sam had ever said. Sam wanted to warn him, remind him that these new powers were just drawing him closer and closer to the Demon, to his destiny. For once though, the fear fell flat--because the shudder of the telekinesis inside him reminded him of before: trapped and helpless but for this power. This power that saved Dean's life.

---

The telekinesis was the worst, sometimes impossible to summon, and always impossible to stop. It seemed to have been unlocked by his efforts to control it, and Sam spent an uncomfortable three weeks knocking over coffee cups and shifting furniture wherever he went. At night he sometimes woke up with his bed pressed flush against Dean's, their covers tossed aside and Dean sleeping sprawled across the join.

Dean thought it was fucking hilarious. Sam got his revenge in a small way, by using what little control he had to irritate Dean, puffing phantom air across the nape of neck, tugging at the hem of his T-shirt. Dean grumbled and shifted and tried to brush him off, but Sam got pretty good at winding him up that way--pinching his earlobes from the other side of the room and waiting until he was halfway through chatting a girl up before poking him in the eye.

One morning, Sam woke up with his bed thankfully still in its place, and caught Dean shuffling towards the bathroom. He was still muddy from their tussle with a ghoul the night before, and his hair was pushed up in all directions. Sam didn't think, he just gestured, hand shifting a little under his bed covers. It felt like reaching out, like stretching over and running his fingers through Dean's tousled hair, straightening it up. Sam barely even registered that he had actually done it until he realized Dean was staring down at him, flushed.

"Your hair's a mess," Sam mumbled, and closed his eyes.

---

Winter and spring ran their course without any revelations, and Sam finally got used to what powers he had. He fried a ghost in Arkansas with his hands, effective enough to rival rock salt. When the Impala wouldn't start, leaving them adrift in Colorado, and Dean spent two hours coaxing and tinkering with her to no avail, Sam eventually just marched over and pumped a handful of electric charge into the ignition until the engine finally spluttered and groaned to life. Dean started suggesting that Sam go in and sweet talk information from the hospital receptionist, and if Sam used his whammy it was only a little bit.

He still woke up every now and then to find his bed a few inches closer to Dean's, but Dean stopped bringing it up and Sam stopped caring.

That summer they dealt with ten demonic possessions in a row, and Sam spent every minute between hunts looking for signs and omens, wondering whether the war was starting, whether his time was coming. Dean was constantly in a bad mood, and Sam knew why. It felt like everything--the Demon, their destiny, whatever it may be--was lying heavy and oppressive over them.

Nothing happened, and then. Sam started feeling things.

---

They went to the funeral of a little girl--an only child, coaxed from her bed by a lonely spirit. They had been too late to save her with rock salt and fire and Sam had watched her die, helpless. It was hard to think of all the children who would be safe now when faced with the result of such an individual tragedy. Dean stood a little too close to Sam at the back of the church, his shoulders tense inside his ill-fitting suit. Sam met the eyes of her mother on his way out and she smiled weakly--to her, he was the police officer who had tried his best. He had just been about to nod when he felt a wave of despair, anguish, grief. It was so sudden and intense, and so rapidly gone that he stumbled, gripping Dean's arm so as not to fall.

"Vision?" Dean muttered urgently and Sam shook his head. It was nothing, it was gone. Dean kept a grip on him all the way out to the car, and Sam let him.

---

Back in the motel room, Sam didn't say anything, just packed away his suit and sat hunched over his laptop, surfing vaguely for a new job but not trying too hard. Dean was stretched out on his bed with a beer, and Sam wanted to say something about how much he had been drinking lately, but couldn't really find a way to word it. He ignored the TV, flipping from channel to channel as Dean brooded his way through a six-pack.

After a while, Sam felt an ache grow in his stomach, out of place. It felt as if he wanted something, craved it more than anything in the world and it was terrifying. He shifted, scrubbing at his hair and trying to focus on the computer screen in front of him. It wouldn't go, it wouldn't quit, and it wasn't until Sam looked up at his brother, stretched wide-legged across his bed that he realized what he was feeling wasn't his. It was Dean's.

"Dean," Sam started, and stalled, not knowing where to go from there. Dean looked over, and the feeling of want grew, hitting Sam sharp and sweet in the gut. "What do you--what is it you want?"

For a few heartbeats Dean simply looked confused. He shifted up, eyebrows raised, ready to make a joke--then stalled, seeing something in Sam's expression that made the question perfectly clear. All of a sudden the want was gone, wiped away completely and replaced with something else: frantic, panicked fear.

Sam physically recoiled, and that seemed to slam something closed inside him. He couldn't feel Dean's fear anymore, but for a split second he could see it on Dean's face, and that was enough. Sam stood, knocking his chair over. Dean was afraid of him.

"Sam," Dean started, raising both his hands, palms out. Sam shook his head and backed for the door, not trusting himself to speak. "Sam, wait--what did you see?"

Dean thought it was a vision, and Sam wanted to laugh because it wasn't anything like that at all. He had been able--just for a moment--to feel what Dean had been feeling, and realize that all along Dean had been pretending he wasn't afraid. Had been lying. Sam swallowed back bile and fumbled for the door handle.

"Just wait!" Dean ordered, and despite himself, Sam stopped. There was a long and loaded silence; Dean stood and took a few steps forward, squaring up as if he expected to be hit. "What did you see?" he asked, voice low and even.

"I saw--I felt--" Sam's voice was ragged in his throat, "You were afraid of me, Dean." The words sank like a stone in the room, and Dean looked confused, taking another step forward.

"Is this something new?" Dean asked calmly, and Sam nodded, tightening his fingers on the door handle. "Listen, listen Sammy, I am not afraid of you, I have never been afraid of you. So just stop the fucking drama and sit. The fuck. Down."

Sam dragged in a long, ragged breath. "I felt that woman in the funeral, Dean. I felt her grieving. And then I'm just sitting here," he let go of the handle to gesture at the overturned chair, "and it feels like you want something, like you need it and then I ask and you're afraid, fucking terrified. And I felt that, so don't lie to me."

Dean looked suddenly furious, lips tight, jaw set and still. He stayed where he was, halfway across the room, hands fisted at his sides. Sam couldn't move, couldn't say anything, and the table shuddered, the windowpane vibrated in its frame. When Dean finally spoke Sam knew it couldn't be a lie.

"I'm not afraid of you," Dean whispered, mouth tight around the words. "I'm afraid you'll find out."

"Find out what?" Sam asked, softly. But he wasn't using his whammy this time, and Dean said nothing, ducking his head. The anger burned right out of Dean, just like that, and he scrubbed his hand through his hair, cussed under his breath.

"Move over," he said, eventually, and Sam stepped away from the door. Dean shouldered on his jacket, grabbed his keys and left. Sam stood exactly where he was until he heard the Impala roar away and then he slammed both hands down on the table, hard enough that one of the legs buckled.

"Fuck," he shouted. He had no fucking idea what had just happened.

---

Dean came back when it was so late it was early, drunk and stumbling over his things to get to the bathroom. Sam listened to him throw up and clean up, then shuffle through to stand beside Sam's bed. He didn't say anything, and Sam wasn't sure if he even knew Sam was awake. He just stood, and for a moment Sam could feel him again, that want mixed up with something more bitter. Dean sighed, and stumbled back into his bed, soon falling asleep, his breathing settling low and steady. It took Sam longer.

---

They didn't talk about it the next morning, Dean sullen with his hangover, and Sam too confused by his new power. It was more subtle, and half the time Sam couldn't tell if he was feeling his own uneasiness or Dean's. He found a possible hunt in Fairfax, Virginia, and Dean spent a few hours doing something to the Impala, then they set off just after noon, the mid-summer sun warming the car.

They stopped at a 7-11 just inside the Virginia state line for two Slurpees, blue raspberry for Sam, cherry for Dean. In the check-out line, Sam saw Dean's collar was upturned, and fixed it without raising his hand, letting his ghost-fingers just brush against Dean's neck for a moment. Dean shuddered, and the want was back, hitting Sam low in his stomach. He let out a little noise of surprise and beside him, Dean tensed up.

They drank their Slurpees in silence, watching the traffic rumble past, letting the Impala heat up in the sun. Sam wanted to say something, to make it ok, but all he could do was suck on his straw and watch the road, and feel the unhappy pulse of Dean beside him.

Eventually, all the ice melted and Sam was left sucking on air. He looked at Dean, who was glaring morosely at the dash. The whole effect was completely ruined by his lips, stained bright and cherry-red by the Slurpee. Sam couldn't help himself, he laughed, sounding surprised.

"What?" Dean grunted, turning to face Sam and tossing his empty cup in the back. His hair was flat at the front, and Sam could see the dark shadows under his eyes from lack of sleep, from the stress of the whole goddamn summer piling up. He looked soft and worn out, like the faded flannel shirt he was wearing, and Sam faltered, feeling a need that was all his own.

Dean wanted something, and Sam was beginning to think he wanted it, too.

"Your mouth, man," Sam said, smiling. Dean checked himself in the side-view mirror, and laughed too. He made a vague attempt to scrub the red stain off, and glanced back at Sam, bright lips pursed into almost a pout.

"Better check your own face there, Vanity Smurf."

Sam just stuck his blue tongue out, and that time, he was ready for Dean's want. Expecting it.

---

By the time they reached Fairfax, Dean's feelings had faded into a faint thrum in the background, and Sam had to concentrate to distinguish one from from another. It was a relief not to feel every twitch of irritation and flush of amusement that Dean felt, and Sam relaxed for the first time all day.

They ordered pizza, and ate it slumped together on the bed in front of the TV, Dean changing the channel with a greasy finger every two minutes. He seemed to be making up for the awkwardness of the morning by talking over every show they came across--That presenter's boob-job sucks. Can it really fly that fast? Who the hell would eat something made out of bird spit?

Sam just ate and watched and listened, feeling--for the first time in a long time--like he wasn't barreling towards his destiny at full speed.

"So was that another new power then? Last night?" Dean asked, tacking the question onto the end of a speech about how much better he'd be at disarming bombs than MacGyver, as if it were perfectly reasonable. Sam shifted and tensed up on the bed, not entirely sure how to answer.

"Yeah," he mumbled, eventually, reaching for another slice of pizza. Dean nodded, still watching the TV. Sam watched Dean. His face looked young and earnest, lit up blue by the screen, and Sam sighed. "It was kind of empathic--I felt that woman grieving, at the funeral, and when I got back to the motel--"

I felt you, wanting me, Sam didn't say, picking off a chuck of ham from his pizza that was burnt and tossing it back into the box.

"Yeah," Dean murmured, still not looking away from the screen. Sam was pretty sure that the documentary on manta rays wasn't that fascinating.

Sam watched him, watched his jaw clenched too tight and his fingers twitching on the remote. Sam watched Dean do everything he could not to turn around, not to face Sam. He needed to shave, and his collar was turned up again--Sam fixed it without moving, just a whisper of a touch. He watched Dean shiver.

"Sam," Dean said, and it was a warning. Sam turned back to his pizza, no longer very hungry. Dean shut off the TV with a sigh, and sat right up, scrubbing a hand through his hair, and closing the empty pizza box.

"Guess I'll hit the sack," he said, unnecessarily. Sam didn't need his new powers to tell Dean was nervous. "Gotta hunt tomorrow."

"Dean," Sam murmured, and when Dean still stood up and shifted away, he repeated, "Dean."

There was no real effect, lacing someone's name with the whammy--Sam knew that, but it made Dean shudder, and buzzed in the air like a charge, swelling up between them.

"You don't want to do this," Dean eventually said, voice tight. Sam couldn't see his face, only his hand pressed tense across the back of his neck, and the awkward set of his shoulders. Outside Sam could hear a police siren, and they both stood frozen until it faded away.

"I know what I want," Sam whispered, clambering off the bed. Dean flinched, scrubbed at his hair again then headed for the bathroom, ducking his head against Sam's gaze. He barely made it halfway before he slammed up against an invisible wall, Sam instinctively doing whatever it took to keep Dean from getting away. He could feel Dean's chest heaving from where he stood, the warmth of his skin beneath his shirt, and just like that the quality of the touch changed. Sam wasn't holding Dean in place anymore, instead stroking down the planes of his chest, feeling him shiver.

"Sam," Dean choked out. Sam slid invisible fingers up to Dean's shoulders, over his jaw, into his hair. He tugged, and felt Dean turn towards him, felt Dean wanting. By the time Sam made it across the room, and put his real hands on his brother, Dean's mouth had fallen open, and it was too easy just to lean forward and kiss him.

Dean made a noise, a ragged kind of moan, and pressed fast against Sam, lips hard. He raised his hands but didn't touch, shaking and tense as Sam licked into his mouth, dragging his hands across Dean--real, invisible, Sam couldn't tell anymore. He could taste pizza on Dean's tongue, and beneath that, the hot slick of his mouth. It shouldn't have been so good. It shouldn't have made Sam so hard. He curled his fingers tight in Dean's soft flannel shirt and dragged his mouth down Dean's jaw, pressing his nose into the stubble lining the hollow of his brother's cheek.

"Sam, god," Dean moaned, raising his hands to press against Sam's shoulders. Sam couldn't reply, too busy opening his mouth against the pulse in Dean's throat and stroking his tongue there, feeling Dean alive beneath it. Sam used his mind, couldn't stop using his mind to touch Dean, to run ghostly palms down his back, to stroke his hair, his chest. He felt like he could feel every square inch of Dean beneath him, muscles tensing and shuddering, heartbeat thudding hot beneath his skin.

"Stop," Dean groaned, pushing against Sam, wriggling against his hold. "Stop!"

Sam pulled away, but only enough to murmur, "Dean," voice so low and hot it was hard to tell where desire ended and the whammy began. Dean pulled a kind of full-body shudder, and Sam felt it through his hands on Dean's chest, his touch on Dean's back, Dean's hair.

"I want this," Sam murmured, and drew back just enough to watch Dean's eyelids lower and his mouth slide open, expression stretched tight between worry and need. Sam wanted to kiss it away, push Dean back down on the bed and force it away, but he could feel the faint thrum of Dean panicking, and he waited.

Dean sucked in one, two deep breaths and Sam loosened his grip until he was only brushing the surface of Dean's shirt, hovering close enough for Dean to just feel him.

"Fuck," Dean muttered, and surged forward, shoving Sam hard enough to propel them both onto the bed.

Sam bucked his hips up hard, and felt Dean's belt buckle cutting into his stomach. The angle was off, and Sam ended up mouthing the thin skin at the base of Dean's throat instead of kissing him, using his mind to hold Dean close, push his hips in, tug his head back. Dean gasped and moaned when Sam manhandled him, clutched at Sam and breathed stuttering and hot against his forehead. Dean braced his hands flat on Sam's shoulders, pushing him down against the bed, and pushing back up against the hold of the telekinesis. The combination of Dean's hips and hands diving down and his back pushing up made Sam throw his head back and moan. He was so hard it was fucking embarrassing, rutting against his brother in a grubby motel bed.

"Off," Dean muttered, tugging at Sam's t-shirt, and Sam wasn't even clear on the technicalities of it, he just had it off, tugged from around him and thrown away in two seconds flat, Dean arching down to lick a stripe across his bare chest. Sam shuddered and groaned and the bed shook. Dean laughed--Dean laughed and it was as if something clicked inside Sam. This was ok, this was good, this was right. "Well I know when I'm doing something right," Dean mumbled, smile already pressed against the skin of Sam's stomach. Sam couldn't help himself, he flushed, and the lamp on the bedside table shifted a few inches, Dean pressing his tongue flat against the whisper of hair above Sam's waistband.

Sam ran his fingers over the back of Dean's neck and stroked lower with the telekinesis, slipping between Dean's shirt and his skin, feeling the sweat pooling in his lower back, stroking down his ribs, across his chest. He brushed against Dean's nipples and Dean twitched, pushing his hips down against the mattress and closing his eyes. Sam did it again, and Dean moaned against his belly. The sound of it was hot and sweet and went straight to Sam's dick, trapped uncomfortable inside his jeans.

Sam undid the buttons of Dean's shirt with one smooth flick, hands still buried in Dean's hair, and he had to grin. It was an awesome power. Dean seemed to think so too, kneeling up and stripping his shirt off the rest of the way. His chest was flushed pink, and Sam could see the edges of his scars, pale in contrast. He pushed up and kissed them, breathing words and nonsense into Dean's skin. He felt as if he was melting, Dean stroking at his back and pulling him up to kiss him again and again, too many times for them to be just any two people. They were Sam and Dean Winchester and they were doing this, together. Sam moaned.

He rolled Dean over, still kissing him, flattening his hands against his chest and feeling Dean's heart thudding faster and faster. He stroked down until he could cup Dean's erection through his jeans and squeeze it, flickering another ghostly touch just inside the waistband, between jeans and hot skin. Dean groaned loud and his breathing grew harsh and Sam couldn't get enough of it. He pushed Dean into the mattress hard, holding all of him down with invisible stroking hands. Dean tossed his head and panted as Sam fumbled at his zipper--Dean struggled against the telekinesis, rubbing against it, making Sam feel raw and rough with need.

The hair on his arms and the nape of his neck stood on end, static crackling on the polyester bed covers, and when Sam reached for the button on Dean's fly he stung his fingers with a sudden electric shock.
"Shit, shit!" he gasped, but Dean was laughing again, stroking through Sam's hair and watching it cling to his fingers with the static. Sam stared at his face for a moment, and loved him so fucking much, he didn't know what to do. He clenched his fists, and breathed slow and heavy, and when he unfurled his hands again the charge was gone.

"Sex with you is dangerous," Dean murmured, eyebrow raised, and something about the sultry tone of that, and the way his lips were red and swollen made Sam drop down and kiss him hard. Sam tugged at Dean's fly and as soon as it was open, slid his hand in to palm Dean's cock, curving hot and hard, just for him.

"God, Sammy," Dean broke away from the kiss and thumped his head back against the bed. He looked as if he was in pain, brow crinkled, biting his bottom lip hard between sharp white teeth. Sam knew better. He pulled back a little, just enough to see all of Dean stretched beneath him, see his cock, thick and flushed in Sam's hand. For a moment, something opened inside of Sam and he felt everything, all of his want, all of Dean's and everything else, every touch and movement and sensation Dean was feeling. He could feel his own power stroking down Dean's chest, down his chest, feel the sensation of his hand curled around Dean's cock, curled around his own.

It was too much, too fast, gone a moment later, and Sam shuddered and gasped, thrusting his hips down against the mattress and gripping Dean tighter, stroking him, rubbing a shaking thumb across the glistening tip of his cock. Dean was making fucking beautiful noises--groans and bitten-off moans, sounds that were almost the shape of Sam's name. He pushed his hips up into every stroke, and Sam pushed down against the mattress in the same rhythm, feeling himself pushing closer and closer, his breath catching and stuttering in his throat.

"Sam, Sam," Dean moaned, and tightened his fingers in Sam's hair, tugging him up. "C'mon, come here."

Sam went, unfolding to kiss Dean but leaving his hand still wrapped around Dean's erection, feeling it pulsing with Dean's heartbeat. He used his mind to push Dean's sweaty hair away from his forehead, tender for a moment, and ghosted the touch down to stroke Dean's bottom lip, watching it dent inwards under the invisible pressure, watching Dean's eyes lose focus and his face flush even more. Dean opened his mouth and sucked in and it felt like Sam had two fingers inside his brother's mouth, even though he could see it, hot and wet and open.

"Dean," Sam's voice was cracked and low, and the bed trembled a little along with it. Dean writhed on the bed, pushing his hips up into Sam's hand, eyes fluttering closed. Sam slid out of Dean's mouth and stroked down his jaw, pulling at his cock again, slow--too slow to do anything more than frustrate Dean.

"I want--" Dean said, gasping and shifting beneath Sam. "I want it, Sammy, god, please. Please." Sam could feel it already, Dean's want, humming tense between them.

"I know, I know," Sam murmured low, and kissed Dean, dragging down his jeans and underwear, slow and steady until Dean was completely naked and shaking beneath Sam. Sam kept one hand curled around Dean's needy cock, and flattened the other to his hip, stroking the fragile skin there, then down to where it joined his thigh, thumb curling around behind the weight of his balls. Sam slid his hand back as he flicked his tongue across the inside of Dean's cheek, soothing even as he stroked Dean's cock once, a little rougher. Dean sobbed, digging his fingers into Sam's shoulders and spread his legs, his want rushing over Sam in a ragged thrust when Sam dragged his thumb over his entrance.

"Sam," Dean gasped, breaking the kiss, "Woah, Sam--you need, you're gonna need to--" He trailed off, voice shuddering as Sam slid his fingers over the tender skin again. "Bag," Dean managed, running a hand up Sam's neck to his jaw, stroking his face, burying it in his hair. Sam met Dean's eyes, and didn't even get up. He knocked a chair over tugging the duffel towards the bed, and spilled Dean's clothes everywhere, finding a condom and lube without lifting his hands from Dean's body.

Sam's fingers were shaking as he slicked them up, circling Dean's entrance with the tip of one, stroking his cock with his other hand. Dean shivered, and groaned as Sam pushed in, making bitten-back sounds and pushing his hips up into Sam's fist. Sam kissed him, in the center of his chest, and worked his finger deeper inside, going slow. He could feel it, a phantom of the burn that Dean was feeling, and beyond that the need and the strange pleasure of it.

"Fuck," Sam swore. His cock was still trapped, hard inside his jeans. He tugged so hard on the fly trying to pull them off that it almost ripped. Dean groaned and laughed at the same time, and Sam pushed a second finger inside him, feeling the burn again, seeing it on Dean's crumpled face and kissing it away.

Sam rubbed his cock against Dean's hip, slicking the skin there, brushing against the back of his own hand, still curled around Dean's dick. He flexed his fingers inside Dean, kissing him and swallowing up all the broken sounds he made. God, it was almost too much--it was too much, Sam's cock rubbing sensitive against Dean's smooth skin, the taste of Dean's hot mouth, the ghostly ache and the pleasure Sam could feel, an echo of his fingers inside Dean.

"Sammy, fuck. Just do it," Dean moaned, and Sam turned and pressed his forehead to Dean's shoulder. He fumbled for the condom and struggled to slide it on, all coordination gone, moving his free hand to brace Dean's hip, thumb curving dark against the pale stretch of his brother's stomach.

"This way?" Sam asked, voice shaking, as he slid his fingers slowly out of Dean and slicked up his cock. Dean just spread his legs and lifted them as an answer, letting Sam slot his hips between them. He felt the head of his cock against Dean's entrance, felt Dean shuddering.

"Please, please, Sammy," Dean gasped, voice trailing off into something like a whine, and Sam pushed forward, pressing into Dean, tucking his head forward and gasping. Fuck, fuck, it hurt--Sam could feel Dean hurting, even through the rush of pleasure, and he stopped, watching Dean's face, his frown, and the hard set of his mouth. The pain faded a little as Dean relaxed, but still Sam waited, stroking his thumb across Dean's stomach. It was torture, it was hell. Sam wanted to move, fuck, do anything but he waited, just the head of his dick inside Dean.

Dean opened his eyes and groaned, "God, just fucking get on with it--" and broke off into a moan as Sam thrust forward, all the way in, feeling it hurt, but feeling something else: the edge of pleasure beneath all. Dean felt it too, and pushed his hips into Sam, ready for the next thrust as Sam fucked into him. Sam was making noise, but he could barely hear himself over the roar in his ears--Dean was so fucking tight, arching up from the bed and rubbing his cock against Sam's flexing stomach. Sam watched him, watched the shapes his mouth made as he moaned, the stretch of the tendons in his neck as he tossed his head.

"Dean, Dean," Sam groaned, the whammy lacing Dean's name, thick and low with lust. Dean bucked up and Sam thrust forward and he slid against something inside Dean that made him shudder and convulse, choking out Sam's name. Sam felt it, too--the second-hand flush of a completely different kind of pleasure and fuck, it was too much. He dropped his head to press against Dean's shoulder again, kissing and licking the sweat there and fucked him harder, sliding one hand over to fist Dean's cock.

He was close, so close, and he could feel Dean was too, chest heaving, gripping the sheets on either side of him. Sam bit Dean's shoulder, just enough to feel the sting of it echo through his own skin, and then he used his mind to stroke every millimeter of Dean's skin he could, just for a moment feeling the whole of Dean shuddering and gasping around him. Dean swore, pressing his head back against the pillow, baring the pale column of his throat, and Sam saw his orgasm hit, felt it run through him as Dean shot all over Sam's hand and his stomach. Sam groaned and came immediately after, thrusting one last time into Dean, pushing his face into his brother's neck and just riding it, white bursting behind his eyes, fireworks, waves crashing, the whole fucking deal.

Sam heard something shatter, but he kept his face turned into Dean's skin, waiting until the last of the pleasure shuddered through him and he could pull out, Dean making an uncomfortable noise. When Sam finally looked up, stripping off the condom and rolling to lie beside Dean, the motel room was a lot darker than it had been before.

"Think you smashed a lamp, Sammy," Dean murmured, voice hoarse and amused. Sam sighed and sunk back down, shifting until his head lay next to Dean's on the pillow. After a moment, he tugged the sheets over them and stretched an arm across Dean, flattening his hand against Dean's chest. Dean's heart was still beating fast, and when he yawned, Sam heard his jaw cracking.

"Dean," Sam murmured, voice thick and slow. He was going to fall asleep, fucked out and loose-limbed, curled around his brother, just like that.

"Yeah, yeah," Dean said, softly and curled his arm up to stroke a hand through Sam's hair. Sam closed his eyes and just let go.

---

Summer was ending and Dean let Sam drive again, heading west for a hunt in Nevada. It was hot and sticky in the car, and no one else seemed to be going their way, the road stretching deserted behind and in front of them for miles. Sam hooked his arm along the back of the seat and played with the hair at the nape of Dean's neck; it was getting longer, enough for him to slide his fingers between and tug.

Dean made contended noises and didn’t say much. The top of his nose was sunburnt and peeling, and he had a handspan of bruises on his arm from the poltergeist job they'd just finished.

"We should stop later," Dean muttered lazily, scratching his stomach. Sam could feel him wanting, slow and hot and willing to wait.

"Maybe," Sam murmured, and skimmed a phantom touch down Dean's chest, just teasing. Dean wriggled against the seat and scrunched up his face, lips pursing comically.

There were more bruises under his t-shirt, maybe even a broken rib from where the poltergeist had hurled him against the sharp corner of a kitchen counter. Sam had held the thing still with his telekinesis, shivering and transparent in the air, and he had fried it, pumping more volts into the son of a bitch than was really needed. In the end it had crumbled in a light show of sparks and flickering colors, and Dean had whooped hoarsely from the floor, one fist raised in a weak gesture of victory.

"Man, you kicked that thing's ass," Dean said warmly from the passenger seat, as if he had read Sam's thoughts. "Maybe something good's come out of these powers after all."

Sam thought about it, about all the possibilities, what awful things his powers might promise. He thought about it, but for the first time in a long time he couldn't believe in it. He had it sorted out; it was fine. It was good. He tugged his fingers through Dean's hair again, and wound down the window, enjoying the beat of the wind against his face.