Sam first notices the weird dinging noise in Paducah, and by the time they hit Kansas City, it's a full-on clank and rattle, the car thumping rhythmically every time the engine turns over.
"Uh, Dean," Sam says.
"Shut up, I know," Dean says, scowling out the windshield. "I just gotta find a place to stop for the night."
They end up at the Red Stallion Inn. The room's on the back side, and Dean pulls the car around. It's only mid-afternoon. Sam squints at the rusty lawn chair outside their room and decides he'll be better off inside. He hauls the duffels in. Dean's already got the hood popped and is up to his elbows in hot engine parts.
Sam's halfway through his Crichton novel when Dean comes banging in, smeared with grease. "We've got gremlins," he says.
"Gremlins," Sam says, not looking up from his book. "Uh-huh."
"I'm serious," Dean says. "There's not a thing wrong with the car, I checked her over and—"
"Dude, that car's older than you are," Sam says, "and you had to rebuild the whole thing, I'm sure it's not structurally sound anymore."
"Don't talk about her like that!" Dean yelps. "She's fine! It's those fuckin' gremlins. I know they're in there."
"Okay, you've lost your mind," Sam says.
Dean ignores him. "I bet there's a spell that'll get rid of 'em," he says. "They used to cause all kinds of trouble, uh, during one of the World Wars. Like, plane engines and shit. I bet I can exorcise the little bastards."
"Dean, no," Sam says. "The car doesn't have any gremlins, and you'll probably get us both killed if you try to cast some sort of spell on it."
"Can't I just try it?" Dean says.
"No," Sam says. "And you know I can stop you, so don't even bother. Go wash up, I ordered pizza."
"You didn't get pineapple on it, did you?" Dean asks, heading for the bathroom.
"Nope," Sam says. He thanks his lucky stars every day that Dean's so easily distractable. They eat some pizza, and watch TV before they go to bed, and that's that, as far as Sam's concerned.
Except the next morning he comes back to the motel room with coffee and donuts and finds Dean leaning in the bathroom doorway with his favorite shotgun. "Are you—what are you doing?"
"C'mere," Dean says, voice tight.
Sam sets down the plastic bag he's carrying. "Did the toilet overflow again? I don't think your shotgun's really gonna help with that, man."
"Quit being such a smartass," Dean says. "C'mere and look at this."
There are five gremlins huddled in the middle of the bath mat, their big ears flattened out. One of them hisses at Sam.
"God damn it, Dean, I told you not to do the spell! Can't you just listen to me for once in your life? What are we supposed to do with them?" Sam's irritated beyond belief. Dean's such an overgrown kid sometimes, and he never listens, and now Sam has to deal with gremlins.
"Shut up," Dean says. "I was right, okay? They were in the goddamn engine, and then I did the spell and they popped out, and now they won't quit following me around—little bastards, I thought I'd lost 'em for sure when I shut 'em in the ice machine—"
"Looks like that didn't work too well," Sam says.
"It hurt," Dean mumbles, lowering his shotgun and running one hand over his head.
"It fuckin'—I tried to leave 'em in there, okay, but I couldn't walk away from it, it felt like someone was puttin' a goddamn machete through my chest."
"A machete," Sam says.
"Yeah," Dean says. "Shut up, that's not the point. They won't—I can't get rid of 'em, Sam."
"So you, what, did you go and get yourself soul-bonded to some gremlins?" Sam asks, grinning despite himself, but Dean isn't smiling; he shrugs one shoulder, his eyebrows drawn together.
The gremlins blink their big eyes. One of them starts licking another one's head.
"They're really kind of cute," Sam says.
They spend the rest of the morning experimenting, but it turns out Dean's right: he can't get more than a few feet away from the gremlins without hunching over in pain, his face going white. Sam, feeling a migraine coming on at the mere thought of Dean being cooped up in the motel room for days on end, goes out to the car and digs around in the trunk until he finds an old LL Bean backpack.
"What's that for," Dean asks, suspicious.
"The gremlins," Sam says. "If you want to go out in public ever again, you're going to have to be able to take them with you."
"Backpacks are for little kids!" Dean protests.
"I don't hear you volunteering any ideas," Sam says, and Dean subsides into quiet sulking.
The gremlins like the backpack. They make happy chirping sounds and pile into it as soon as Sam unzips the main pocket. They really are cute, five little heads poking out of the backpack, peering around and clutching at the canvas with their front paws.
"Saddle up," Sam says.
Their test run is to the nearby diner for dinner that evening. The casual way Dean slings the backpack around makes Sam nervous, but the gremlins stay quiet for the whole meal, and the only trouble they have is when a couple truckers start talking about Dean's mouth, which is pretty par for the course.
Dean unzips the backpack as soon as they're back in the motel room. "Huh," he says.
"What?" Sam asks, flipping through the TV channels looking for the news. Dean always leaves it on Animal Planet.
"They're asleep," Dean says.
"Maybe they're like parrots," Sam says. "It's dark in there, so they think it's nighttime."
"Maybe," Dean says. He settles the backpack next to him on the mattress. "I guess they are kinda cute."
Sam turns his face to the side so Dean won't see him smile.
Sam spends three days looking through every book he can get his hand on, but he can't find anything that would explain why Dean's got a harem of gremlins following him around, or any way to get the gremlins back in the engine, or in somebody else's engine—basically anywhere that isn't near Sam. He gives up and calls Bobby.
"Gremlins, huh," Bobby says. There's a pause, and then a muffled noise.
"Are you laughing?" Sam asks.
"No," Bobby says.
He's totally laughing. "Is there anything we can do?"
"Lemme get back to you on that one," Bobby says.
Ramsey, when Sam calls him, doesn't even try to pretend that he doesn't think it's the most hilarious thing he's ever heard.
"So what'd Bobby say," Dean says, later, when they're watching Die Hard for the eight millionth time. One of the gremlins is playing with his hair; Dean doesn't seem to notice.
"Uh, he'll get back to me," Sam says.
Ramsey's the one who calls him, though, a couple days later. He isn't laughing now, but his voice is still rich with amusement. "Not much you can do," he says. "Wait it out. Once gremlins decide to follow someone, that's that."
"So we're stuck with them," Sam says, his heart sinking.
"Until they get tired of your brother," Ramsey says. "He's an idiot. Never should've tried that spell; they'd have left the car on their own. Well. Good luck, son."
Sam breaks the news to Dean, who's working on a bag of Cheetos. Dean licks his thumb thoughtfully and looks at the gremlins, who are staring at him like he's Saturday morning cartoons.
"Guess I'll just have to be real boring, then," Dean says.
"Yeah, fat chance of that," Sam says, seeing how the gremlins' eyes track Dean's every movement.
"They can't stick around forever," Dean says. "Right?"
Sam shuffles into the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face.
Dean, of course, teaches the gremlins how to talk.
"Hell-ass," one of them says to Sam while he's brushing his teeth, a few weeks later.
He spits a mouthful of foam into the sink. "Dean, your gremlin's talking to me," he calls.
Dean appears in the doorway, sleep-rumpled in boxers and a t-shirt. The other gremlins trail after him, tussling with each other. "What's it sayin'?"
"I think it said 'hell-ass,'" Sam says.
"Awesome!" Dean says, pumping his fist victoriously.
"Motherfucker," the gremlin says.
"Oh my God," Sam says. "Dean! You taught them how to swear?"
"Man's gotta know how to cuss, Sammy," Dean says, smirking.
"They're gremlins," Sam says.
Dean rolls his eyes and scratches at his belly. "Thanks for pointing out the obvious, Einstein."
"Pussy is delicious!" one of the other gremlins says.
Sam bends over until he can rest his forehead against the edge of the sink, and moans into the porcelain.
It gets worse after that. They're in a lull between jobs, taking some time to catch up on sleep and let Sam's dislocated shoulder heal up, and Dean takes the opportunity to turn the gremlins into miniature versions of himself. Sam thinks he's losing his mind the day he comes back from the store and catches Dean introducing the gremlins to lesbian porn.
"Please tell me you're joking," he says, watching Dean fumble with the remote.
"We love boobies," one of the gremlins says. "So round and jiggly!"
Dean smirks and gives up on the remote. "Gotta show 'em what's important in life," he says. "They might get the idea that books and ugly hair are the way to go."
"I'm so glad you're disabusing them of that notion," Sam says dryly.
"Whatever," Dean says. "You gonna watch with us or not?"
Sam hesitates, groceries in hand. The two girls on the screen are making whimpering noises and licking at each other's cunts. "Um, okay," he says.
The next afternoon, when he wakes up from a nap and Dean's showing the gremlins how to disassemble and clean a handgun, he just rolls over and goes back to sleep.
The gremlins go on jobs with them, zipped snug inside Dean's backpack. Dean negotiates with them every time: exactly how quiet they need to be, in return for exactly how many French fries.
"You can't keep feeding them all this junk food, man," Sam says. "They're gonna get clogged arteries."
"But they like it," Dean says, like that's any sort of answer.
"You're gonna get clogged arteries," Sam says.
"Sammy, I'm gonna be dead long before my diet catches up with me," Dean says, and it's depressing enough of a thought that Sam slumps down and stares out the passenger window for the rest of the afternoon, not even trying to make conversation.
The gremlins behave, though, and after a while they start to get really good at detecting spirit activity, which saves Sam's ass pretty spectacularly in Pine Bluff, when he's paying attention to Dean's latest concussion and completely ignoring the vengeful ghost of Sally Bloomfeld creeping up behind him. He buys them a chocolate milkshake, and after that they start wanting fries and shakes after every hunt.
"You've created a monster," Dean says. "Five of 'em."
"Man, shut up," Sam says.
In Iowa, Sam leaves Dean alone in town for an hour while he does some research at the local library, and when he goes back to pick Dean up, the gremlins are all wearing little knit caps, each one in a different color.
"Dude. What the hell," Sam says, watching as the gremlins clamber out of Dean's backpack.
"I couldn't tell 'em apart!" Dean snaps. "It's goddamn color-coding or whatever."
"So what's stopping them from trading caps with each other," Sam says.
"They wouldn't do that to me," Dean says. "Would you, guys?"
"Nope," says the one wearing a blue cap. "We love you, Dean."
"Hear that, Sammy? They love me," Dean says, leaning back against the seat and grinning. He slides his shades on and rolls down the window. "You gonna drive or are you just planning on hangin' out in the parking lot all day?"
"I want McDonald's," says the gremlin in the red cap.
"Jesus," Sam mutters, and turns the key in the ignition.
A few days later, Sam learns that Dean has named all of the gremlins.
"Maybe we could get some cat food for them," Dean says, wheeling the cart through the grocery store. "We can't just keep feeding 'em Lucky Charms, you know? I bet cat food's got all kinds of nutrients and shit."
"Sure," Sam says, hunching further into his hoodie. The store's freezing, and he's almost eager to get back outside into the dripping heat.
"And I think we should get some fruit snacks, I know Sally—"
"Wait," Sam says. "Who's Sally?"
Dean clears his throat. "Um. She's, uh. One of the gremlins? The one with the—"
"With the pink cap," Sam says. "Oh my God. Dean! Now you're naming them?"
"Well, I can't just keep calling them 'hey you,'" Dean says, defensive.
"Uh. Why not?" Sam asks.
"Because," Dean says.
He calls Ramsey. "Dean's started naming the gremlins," he says, and then hangs up when all Ramsey does is laugh until he wheezes.
The thing is, Sam doesn't really mind the gremlins. They're cute, and Dean enjoys them a lot, and they don't cause any trouble—they willingly hide in the backpack whenever Dean asks them to, and they don't eat much, and they mostly just follow Dean around and splash in the sink while he showers.
Sam is hideously jealous.
He used to be the one that Dean shared his Cheetos with, and told about his freaky sex dreams, and argued with over which movie to watch. And now Dean spends all his time curled up on his bed with the gremlins, or letting them sit on the dashboard while they're in the car, and Sam hates it. He starts staying away from their motel rooms most of the time, sitting in coffee shops with his laptop, or hiding in the library all day.
He's lonely. He hasn't been lonely since he left Palo Alto. Dean's been a constant presence, annoying and brash and everything Sam needs, and now Dean doesn't need Sam anymore; he's got five new companions who like all the same things he likes and don't back-talk and Sam is miserable. He wants his brother back.
"Let's go out," he says. "Go to a bar, shoot some pool, maybe. You wanna?"
"Nah," Dean says. "We're gonna stay in and watch Survivor."
Sam goes out anyway. He sits at the bar and drinks three beers, misses Dean's warm presence at his left elbow. It sucks. He gives up and goes back to the motel. Dean's asleep, passed out on top of the comforter. The gremlins are all huddled in the crook of one of his elbows. Sam thinks about killing them, snapping each one of their little necks. It would be so easy.
He brushes his teeth instead.
Another thing about the gremlins is that because Dean acculturated them, they don't have any real idea of what is and isn't appropriate to say.
Sam and Dean are eating Chinese take-out one night while the gremlins practice doing somersaults beneath the table. The one with the orange cap—Dean might call it Ed, but Sam isn't sure—pulls out of a tumble and says to Sam, "You know, Dean says your name when he jerks off in the shower."
Dean goes bright red, a swift flush rising out of the collar of his shirt. "What the—Edward ," he says, and leans over to smack at the gremlin with his chopsticks. "C'mere, you little shit, I'm gonna—"
"You do! You do!" the gremlin says.
"Up," Dean says. "All of you, come on, out in the parking lot, I think it's time for us to have a little chat—"
Sam's frozen through all of this, lo mein half-chewed in his mouth. The sound of the door closing behind Dean is what sets him moving again. He sticks his chopsticks in the take-out carton and presses the heel of his hand to his forehead. His pulse is going too fast, all fluttery, like he has a fever or is nervous or something—although why would he be nervous, it isn't like Dean really wants that, the gremlins just get these ideas sometimes because they don't understand how human society works; it doesn't mean anything.
Dean comes back in, still flushed. The gremlins follow him, eyes downcast, all of them subdued. "Sorry about that," Dean says. "I'm not sure why he—um. I guess he just—"
"It's okay," Sam says. "It's not like you really—"
"No. No, of course not," Dean says.
"Right," Sam says. He clears his throat. "Fortune cookie?"
It feeds Sam's jealousy. Even though he knows it's not true—it can't be, can't be true—he wonders what real confidences Dean has shared with the gremlins, things he's told them that Sam might not ever know. It's been too long since he knew Dean's secrets.
The gremlins seem to decide that it's their personal mission in life to torment Sam constantly. Any time Dean's out of earshot—in the bathroom, or pumping gas, or even just passed out on the bed with his headphones on—one of the gremlins will sidle up to Sam and say things.
"He was doing it this morning," the one with the red cap says. Dean's been in the bathroom for fifteen minutes, doing God knows what. "When you went to get coffee. He rolled over in bed and shoved his hand down his boxers, and then after a while he started moaning your name. Does that mean he wants to fuck you?"
"Jesus," Sam says, and manages to inhale the Dr. Pepper he's drinking.
"I just thought you might want to know!" the gremlin says, and scuttles off under the bed, where the rest of them are napping.
In eastern Oregon, Sally says, "I think you two should kiss. It'd be hot."
Sam rolls his eyes and says, "Dean's been showing you too much porn."
"The other day we watched one with two guys," Sally says. "It was hot."
"Can you even feel arousal?" Sam asks.
"Dean said it was hot," Sally says, like that's good enough for her—and maybe it is. Shit, her, Sam doesn't even think gremlins have genders. Dean's fucking with his world-view.
Somewhere in Colorado, Dean goes off with the gremlins for an entire afternoon, and reappears around dusk with two bottles of tequila and a look on his face that Sam doesn't care to examine too closely. "There's pizza in the car," Dean says. "Couldn't bring it all in at once, sorry."
"I'll go get it," Sam says, and uses the two minutes it takes for him to walk out to the car and back to attempt to get his heart rate back to something like normal.
They eat the pizza and then start doing shots, methodically, Dean licking and salting his own hand and then popping the lemon slice into his mouth, post-liquor, beaming a yellow grin at Sam. Sam doesn't have time for the formalities; he swigs straight out of the bottle, five harsh gulps in a row, the liquor burning all the way down to his belly.
"Whoa," Dean says. "Slow down, cowboy, we've got all night."
"Let us try!" the gremlins say.
"I dunno, guys, this shit might fuck you up pretty bad," Dean says.
"We have tummies of iron!" the green-capped one says.
"Okay, just the fact that you're calling it your 'tummy' makes me kind of doubt that," Dean says, but he pours some of the tequila into a little bowl, and the gremlins all cluster around it and drink.
"Eww," Sally says.
Sam can't help it: he starts laughing, rolling around on the bed. "You've failed as a parent!" he yells. "They don't like the tequila!"
"Well, it's not for everyone, I guess," Dean says, and does another shot.
Sam steals the bottle from him and drinks until the room's spinning. He's got a gremlin sitting on his chest and he doesn't even care. It's cute, and kind of fluffy when he pets it, and he likes the way Dean's looking at him, all soft-eyed and... longing, kind of, in the two seconds Sam lets himself think that word.
"Hey," Dean says gently. "I think you've had enough, Sam."
"No," Sam says. "Gimme—another shot, uh. I can take it."
"You can, but you probably shouldn't," Dean says, wresting the bottle away and setting it on the nightstand. He climbs on the bed with Sam and curls into him, his palm over Sam's navel rising and falling with every breath. Sam's nerves feel electric, sparking, like sparks from a peppermint when you bite down on it in the dark, a lame science experiment he did in fourth grade. He doesn't know why he's thinking about it now, looking at Dean's mouth.
The gremlins are all asleep by now, snoring softly. Dean picks up the one sleeping on Sam and sets it on the other bed, where it snuggles in with the others.
"They're cute," Sam says.
"I know you think so," Dean says.
"They keep—they tell me stuff, Dean. They say that you—I dunno, Sally told me that I should kiss you, she said it would be—she thought it would be hot." Sam throws one arm over his eyes, hiding from Dean, from the hot intensity of Dean's gaze, burning him.
"They don't know how to keep their mouths shut," Dean says.
"So it's true," Sam says.
"What do you think," Dean says.
"I think—I don't know. Dean." Sam puts his hand over Dean's, both of them feeling the motion of his ribs. "I think. I want to know what your mouth tastes like right now. I bet it tastes like tequila."
"Only one way to find out," Dean says, and then he's lifting Sam's arm away from his face and leaning in and then their mouths are touching, dry and warm, and Sam turns into Dean, slinging his arm over Dean's neck. Dean makes a low noise in his throat and opens his mouth, his tongue slicking out to glide over Sam's lip, and Sam's drunk as fuck, yeah, but he wants it—the sweet liquor of Dean's mouth, the sweeter pressure of his hand gliding along Sam's hip, like Sam is something he wants to hold closer, doesn't ever want to let go.
Sam hears himself making sounds but can't stop them. He presses closer, slipping one of his knees between Dean's, their entire bodies aligned just so, like the mechanisms of a gun clicking into place.
He doesn't know how long it goes on. Dean pulls back eventually, strokes a hand through Sam's hair. "You're so fucked up," he says.
"I'm not," Sam says. "Kiss me again."
Dean does, and then he's rolling off the bed, heading into the bathroom. Sam sighs and shifts his shoulders against the mattress, settling in.
"Here," Dean says. He's holding a glass of water, one hand beneath Sam's neck to help him drink it; and then he's turning off the lights, and crawling into bed with Sam, holding him, and Sam feels like there's something else he should be wanting, but it's all right here: Dean's arms around him, the two of them together in the quiet dark.
The next day, Sam's half-convinced the whole incident was a dream, until his arm brushes against Dean's while they're jockeying for space in front of the sink, and Dean blushes, hot and sudden; and then when Sam gets out of the shower, Dean's gone to McDonald's and brought back an Egg McMuffin.
"Thought it might help with the hangover," Dean says, and rattles the bottle of ibuprofen.
Sam's not even all that hungover, but he learned years ago to take what he can get when it comes to Dean. He eats the sandwich in the car while Dean drives them along bumpy back roads toward the interstate. He feels weird about what happened last night, a low rumble of unease that he tries to ignore, but he's also stupidly glad to have Dean's attention again, and he soaks it up like his roots haven't had water in years: Dean's sidelong glances, the way he tunes the radio to the Motown station instead of making Sam suffer through more Metallica. He doesn't even care that his head hurts. Dean rolls down the window, and the gremlins sit in the back seat and sing along with Aretha; and Sam falls asleep like that, a deep and unexpected slumber, basking in the warm sun.
It doesn't disappear. Dean has the attention span of a six-year-old, and Sam assumes that he'll lose interest and go back to telling fart jokes to the gremlins, but it doesn't happen. Dean starts kicking Sam under restaurant tables, his boots knocking against Sam's sneakers. It takes Sam three states to catch on, but he finally clues in while they're in an Applebee's in Lafayette and says, "Dean, are you trying to play footsie with me?"
"No," Dean says, scowling. "Eat your onion rings."
Sam's completely unable to stop the smile that spreads across his face. "You're totally playing footsie with me. Dean!"
"Shut up," Dean says.
In the car, Sally wriggles out of the backpack and clings to the parking brake. "What's footsie?" she asks.
"It's how I'm gonna kill Sam for being such a pain in my ass," Dean says.
"I guess I better accept my demise," Sam says. He slides down on the seat, spreading his legs and resting one hand on his upper thigh, letting his thumb brush along the denim seam below the zipper.
Dean swallows audibly and reaches over to turn on the radio.
"Jimi Hendrix!" the gremlins say.
"Demanding bastards," Dean says.
In Jackson, the gremlins wake Sam by jumping on his legs. "I'm going to throttle all of you," he says.
The red-capped one leaps off the bed and scuttles into the bathroom. "Dean, he says he's going to kill us!"
"I don't blame him," Sam hears Dean say. "I told you not to jump on him."
Sam rolls out of bed, groggy with too much sleep. He was dreaming that Jess made him a turkey sandwich with mustard and tomatoes, and when he peeled back the top slice of bread, the swirls of mustard looked like Dean's face. And before that, something about a dog and a map of Argentina. He hates his subconscious.
"Sammy? You up now?" Dean calls.
Sam goes into the bathroom. Dean's standing in front of the sink in his boxers, razor in hand. "Your stupid gremlins woke me up," Sam says.
"Yeah, sorry about that, they're a little hyperactive," Dean says. "Probably shouldn't have given 'em that coffee." He lifts his chin and scrapes the razor along his throat.
"Probably not," Sam says. He scratches his elbow. Dean's nipples look weird and puffy. Sam wonders what they'd look like if he licked them, if they'd tighten up beneath his tongue.
Dean glances at him, his face speckled with the remnants of his shaving cream. "What's that?"
"Huh?" Sam asks, still staring.
"You made a noise."
Sam doesn't know how to respond to that. I was thinking about your nipples? "Um. It was the gremlins."
"Right," Dean says, smirking.
"Dean! We want hash browns!" one of the gremlins yells from the other room.
"Duty calls," Dean says. He bends over the sink and splashes water on his face. Sam hands him a towel, and Dean snags it, dries himself off. He runs a hand over his chin. "There. Smooth as a baby's bottom. You wanna feel?"
"I. Um. Yeah," Sam says. He steps in, traces his fingers along Dean's jaw—smooth, yeah, and warm skin. Dean hisses air in through his teeth, and Sam thinks he might—that he could—
"Are you gonna kiss?" a gremlin asks, and Sam turns his head to see all of them piled in the doorway, staring up with their big eyes.
"Jesus Christ," Dean mutters.
"You're the one who taught them how to talk," Sam says.
"Yeah, well, it's not a secret that I'm a dumbass," Dean says. "Fuck, okay, what do you guys want, you want hash browns?"
"Hash browns and kissing!" says Ed.
"Hash browns," Dean says firmly.
During breakfast, Sam eats his pancakes and watches—half-amused and half-despairing—as Dean furtively drops forkfuls of hash browns into the open mouth of his backpack.
That afternoon, Sam falls asleep on his bed while he's doing research, and when he wakes up, Dean's stretched out beside him, flipping through channels on the TV.
"Mmmph," Sam says, and stretches, hearing his spine crack. "I thought you were teaching the gremlins how to change the oil in the car."
"I was," Dean says. "Now we're done. It's almost 5:00."
"Shouldn't they know how to do that already? They used to live in there," Sam says.
"Nah," Dean says, "they only know how to fuck it up."
"Dean let me use the wrench!" Sally says.
Sam snorts, amused, and turns onto his side. Dean's got a smear of grease on his left arm, right below the hem of his shirt sleeve. Sam rubs at it, smearing the oil across Dean's skin.
"Hey," Dean says. He squirms around on the mattress until he's eye-level with Sam, nose to nose, close enough to touch. "Are you, uh. Should we—I mean."
"We don't need to talk about it," Sam says, feeling magnanimous.
"Oh thank God," Dean says. He settles a hand on Sam's hip, curving against the bone, and tilts his head to suck on the corner of Sam's jaw.
"They're kissing!" one of the gremlins squeals.
Sam turns his head away, flushing, feeling Dean's mouth trail wetly across his throat. "Dean. If we're going to—um. I can't do this with the gremlins watching."
Dean groans, and it vibrates against Sam's neck. "Go sit in the bathroom," he says.
"Uh, why?" Sam asks.
"Not you, dipshit, the gremlins," Dean says. He sits up. "All of you! I mean it, guys, go wait in the bathroom until I come get you."
"Aww, but we wanna see!" says the one with the green cap.
"No," Dean says. "I will buy you every goddamn French fry in the world, okay? Just give us half an hour."
"I'll settle for ten minutes," Sam says.
"Fifteen," Dean says, "please," and the gremlins mutter unhappily but troop into the bathroom.
"So," Sam says.
Dean flops back onto the mattress. "There. You happy now?"
"You have no idea," Sam says, and tucks his smile against Dean's shoulder.
Sam meant it: he's so happy—getting laid regularly, and the center of Dean's attention again, Dean's eyes on him all the time, Dean's hands on him whenever they have a moment to spare.
The gremlins, on the other hand, are not nearly as pleased with this turn of events.
"We're bored," they whine, clinging to Dean's pants.
"Go watch some TV," Dean says.
"We wanna watch you," they say.
"Okay, Dean, I'm kind of freaked out by how much they enjoy watching us fuck," Sam says, pulling his hand out from under Dean's shirt.
"They're kinky little bastards. I taught 'em well," Dean says.
"You know we can hear you, right," the blue-capped one says.
"Go to the bathroom," Sam says, pointing.
"We don't like the bathroom," Sally whines.
"Every French fry in the world!" Dean snaps. "Jesus Christ, guys, you watch porn all the time. Sammy's so fuckin' vanilla, I don't see why you—"
"Oh, that's it," Sam says. "I'm busting out the handcuffs."
Dean grins. "Really?"
"We like handcuffs!" Sally says.
"Bathroom," Dean orders.
It almost makes Sam feel guilty, but he really doesn't want the five of them sitting there while he and Dean have sex. They're greedy voyeurs, and there's nothing Sam wants to keep all to himself more than the sweaty expanse of Dean's back, the way he hums to himself when he slides his cock into Sam's ass. Sam doesn't want to share.
The gremlins start whining constantly: they want milkshakes, chocolate-covered raisins, barnyard porn, a vacation at Disneyland. Sam's amused at first, but it gets old really fast, and he can see the way it's wearing on Dean, who has to deal with them more than Sam does. Sam can always leave the motel room for the afternoon if they're driving him crazy, but Dean doesn't have that luxury.
So it doesn't come as much of a surprise when Sam wakes up one morning and the gremlins are gone.
Dean's frantic. He spends the morning searching their motel room, the Impala, the scrubby woods behind the motel, but there's nothing; they've gone, and Sam knows it by the way Dean isn't twisted over in pain from being too far from them.
"Dean," he says finally, trying to be gentle, "I'm pretty sure they aren't here anymore."
"Fuck," Dean says. He sits down on a moldy stump and lets his hands dangle between his knees. "I just—fuck, Sam, I know they aren't. I just. I really liked them."
"I know," Sam says. "Shove over." He sits down and knocks his shoulder against Dean's. "But, dude. They're gremlins. I'm sure they've found somebody else's car to fuck with, and I bet they're a lot happier in there than in your backpack. And I mean, it's not like we could really have them following you around forever. It's good that they lost interest finally."
"I know," Dean says. He scuffs his boot in the dirt. "Whatever."
"Are you gonna start crying? Because I might have to disown you," Sam says.
"I have never cried in my fucking life," Dean says.
"Well, if there's not going to be any crying, I might be talked into giving you a blowjob," Sam says.
Dean smirks. "Okay."
Sam goes on eBay and buys a poster for that Gremlins movie from the 80s. He rolls it up and sticks it in Dean's duffel, mostly as a joke, but Dean tapes it up on the inside of the Impala's trunk, and it stays there for the next two years, until they get caught in a hurricane in Florida and the trunk takes in five inches of water. Then Sam buys another poster, and tries to pretend he doesn't think it's totally endearing that Dean puts it up as soon as the trunk dries out. That one lasts for a long time.