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Rest stop. Near Leland, Mississippi.

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In a trailer park halfway between Leland, Mississippi and Greenville, Dean takes a cut to the chest that damn near saws him in half. It comes from an eleven-year-old girl with short black hair and the meanest face he's ever seen on anything not actually possessed by hellspawn. She flies at him, death in pink plastic barrettes and blue flip-flops, and he doesn't see the knife till he's pulled six different muscles shifting the swing that would've killed her. It's Sam who keeps it all from going to hell, grabbing her by the t-shirt (Daddy's Little Stinker!) and dangling her, kicking and screaming, in the air just over Dean's head. A flash of unholy glee lights Sam's face when he realizes what he's done; Dean just lies still, and groans.

It takes five minutes for Sam to chill her out enough to drop the knife, and ten seconds to explain why they had to kill her ancient babysitter. ("Possessed by a fucking demon, you psychotic little freak," Dean says, to which she replies scornfully, "Yeah, no shit, I thought you were, too.") They pack the kid off with her daddy, and Sam drives them down between the trailers to the corner store that sits where the main road (tan gravel and dust) hits the highway. While Dean cusses in the back and concentrates on not getting blood on the seat, Sam goes in and buys three bottles of peroxide, two rolls of gauze, and fifteen Marathon bars. "Remember these?" he says, grinning like he just invented candy, "I thought they stopped making these!" and Dean glares and says "They did, dude, in 1977. That shit's older than you are."

In some parts of southern Mississippi, it's always 1977. Driving south-east on 82, down from Indianola, Dean counted nothing but two rust-colored pick-ups and one battered junk heap of unknown pedigree, faded down to dull gray primer. Dean likes old cars, old houses, old hotels, but enough is e-fucking-nough; he's starting to pine for a nice sea-foam green Honda Civic.

The rest stop Sam pulls them into is empty and creepy-quiet, a pull-out with a single cement building the size of a big closet and a picnic table of wood so old it's petrified. Sam hauls Dean out of the back seat and tips him down onto the grey planks. A bank of pine trees (Mississippi seems to own all the world's share of pine trees) surrounds them and blocks the view from the highway; not exactly what Dean would call secure, but safe enough to let a man bleed in peace. What he can see of the sky is bright but gray, just barely overcast. Dean stares at it while Sam cuts his shredded t-shirt off and hisses in what damn well better be well-deserved sympathy.

"Man," Sam says, all soft and reverent, "that little girl seriously fucked you up, Dean."

Dean clamps his lips together. Only pussies telegraph. He'll let Sam stitch him up first; then he'll kill him.

The cut wraps from his collarbone to just under his right arm, leaving Dean ridiculously happy to look down and see he's still got both nipples. It's not deep, and it's not hard for Sam to patch up. The mosquitoes are worse than the stitches, Dean tells himself, trying not to slap at himself and screw up Sam's pretty needlework.

"Wish we hadn't had to kill her," Sam says quietly.

"Fuck, Sam, that granny was two hundred years old if she was a day. Nothing but demon and PolyGrip holding her together."

Sam nods, because Dean's right, but he still looks wrecked, because he's Sam.

When Sam's done -- clean, sterile, precise, Dad taught them good -- Dean doesn't bother trying to get up. Sam fills up a water bottle from the ancient fountain by the cement outhouse, which Dean declines to drink on account of he's not done living, then swaps it out for a swig of Jack from Dean's silver flask. He pulls his own t-shirt off, shifts Dean over a little, and stretches out on the picnic table beside him, mutant legs swinging into space. "Too hot to drive," Sam says, and Dean agrees. Sam's arm shoves up against Dean's, sticky with blood and sweat and way too warm, and it's too hot for that, too, but Dean doesn't mind. He watches the pine branches overhead, lets the bugs drain him dry from his wrists and ankles, and thinks about where to go next.

"Ellen says there's rumors of a swamp monster south of Shreveport," Sam says after a while.

Dean grunts, and slaps at a mosquito on his stomach.

"Vampires in New Orleans?" he tries. Dean just snorts and tries not to grin.

"Or once you're healed up," Sam says, and there's a grin in his voice so Dean knows there's gonna be trouble, "if you feel up to it, we could go wreak some vengeance on that sixth-grader."

Dean lets his head fall to the side, and Sammy turns and props his head up on his hand. He's smiling down at Dean, the evil bastard, and he starts to laugh, so Dean would be well within his rights to clock him one right upside the head. No jury in the land would convict him. But Sam's smiling down at him, so Dean doesn't smack him, just this once. He's weak from the blood loss, he tells himself, he's got heat-stroke, he's got demon-burn from the exorcism down the road. He reaches up, slides his hand back along the curve of Sam's skull, runs his thumb over Sam's jaw. He got his ass kicked by a pre-teen in bunny barrettes; the world owes him. There's a streak of blood drying on the back of Dean's hand, the back of his wrist, sliding down under his bracelet and up his arm; there's sweat pooling in the hollow of his throat. At the back of his mouth, Dean tastes dust and whiskey. For a long stretch of seconds, Dean thinks okay, far enough.

And then the wind picks up. And Sam follows the push of it through Dean's hair with a strong square hand, tips his head back, and leans down to open Dean's mouth up with his tongue. Dean has time to think, Sam...Jesus, Sam... and then his breath goes out of him. He shoves up onto his elbow, holding Sam to him, ignoring the line of pain across his chest, the scratch of wood across his back, everything in the world that's not his brother. It's good, crazy-good, want sliding down around his spine in a constant shiver. He never would have done it if Sam hadn't smiled like that. He's so, so glad Sam did.

"Jesus, Dean," Sam says against Dean's mouth, "Why -- what are you doing?" which is pretty damn stupid because Sam's doing it, he's still doing it, sweet little licks past Dean's teeth, making Dean shove his hips up and groan. Sam shoves back, and he wins because he's ten feet tall, the freak, he presses all along Dean's body and hooks his knee between Dean's legs, just right. He pulls his mouth away from Dean's and looks at him, and Dean shakes his head and grins.

"Why," Dean says, drawing it out. "Good question, Sammy. Maybe we should talk about it," and Dean slides his leg up along the outside of Sam's, tilts his hips up, and grinds, easy and slow, "we could crack open a tin of International Coffee, you know...share..."

"Fuck it," Sam says, "no. Do that again." Sam doesn't wait, does it himself, always a fast learner, always so fucking good at everything he does. There's a weird little grin on his face, a serious look in his eyes, solid, okay; it lines the world up with them so Dean can be okay, too.

"I don't care why," Sam says, "do you?" He presses his face into the crook of Dean's neck and Dean can feel the pull of Sam's smile against his skin.

"I don't care why," Dean says, and he doesn't, but he knows why and he's never gonna breathe a word of it. Instead, he's gonna touch Sam until he begs, or until Dean starts begging himself; he's gonna do it again, every chance he gets. He's gonna fight evil and kick ass and love Sam till he's dead, because that's what he was made for.

And later tonight -- when they're holed up in some sleazy hotel with silver wallpaper and orange carpet and crappy TV reception -- Dean's gonna crack open Sam's laptop, do a little research, and start that little girl a college fund.