"The thing is," Eros said. "They don't want you, Dean."
I scowled, which it found hilarious.
"Surely you know that," it said, chuckling, its white teeth glittering in the dim light. "Surely, that was evident the last time you saw them. How did you describe it? Ah, 'rutting like dogs,' yes? So charming."
"Are you going to help me or not?" I said through my teeth.
We'd been going at it for a while, inside my little room off the interstate: Eros hinting, starting to promise, then backing off, making me ask again. Parry and thrust and retreat.
But this time, finally, it rolled its wings, kicked them up and over my face. Let them hang there.
I closed my eyes.
Waited. Ignored my heart jumping around in my chest. The doubts that were already creeping in.
A few hours ago, this had seemed like the only solution. The only way out of the hell that I'd made for myself, chasing after two people who didn't need me, didn't want me in their lives anymore.
When summoning the servant of a goddess seems like a good idea--the only idea--you know you're fucked.
The feathers flickered away and I opened my eyes. Saw Eros staring cold and silver into my face, this beautiful weird thing that was either gonna solve my problems or make things a hell of a lot worse.
I wasn't sure which option scared me more.
Eros sat back. Opened its hands, long fingers folding out to reveal a ring, blackened and dull. A shell of something that was once alive.
"As long as you understand," it said. Almost gentle. "It's only temporary. None of it will be real. Not to them."
I swallowed. Stretched my fingers out to touch its own. Plucked the ring from its palm.
"Yeah," I said. "I know."
It sighed, this curling whisper that fell over me like a blanket, woolen and heavy and thick.
"No," it said simply. "No, you don't."
They were outside of Denver, squirreled up someplace warm and secret.
I didn't need Eros' help to find them. Hell, I'd been tracking them for almost a month, slinking behind like an unwanted dog, a mutt they'd been only too happy to abandon.
I was tired of wanting their scraps. Of waiting for them to come to their senses, to get over fucking each other and turn back to me, the one who'd brought them together in the first place.
To the one who loved them both.
Because whatever it was, between them? It wasn't love. I was certain of that.
It was exhausting, hating and loving two people that much.
I wanted just to hate, to live the rest of my short, terrible life feeding off the rage I knew was there, that I felt in my gut whenever I saw them together, whenever I hovered below a window or outside a locked door and heard them together: Sam growling, Cas moaning, both of them coming in long streams of curses, their voices their fucking furious and loud.
They'd forgotten about me, about the Alphas, about everything except each other.
But I still loved them, god help me.
Well, servant of Aphrodite, anyway.
The ring burned black and cold on my finger. Made that hand, my right hand, ache like I'd been making snowballs without gloves.
When my hand went numb--when I couldn't feel anything, no matter what I touched--the gig was up, Eros' magic spent.
And then, I'd be free.
The room was in the back, at the top of the stairs. The shades were drawn but the light was on. It was quiet, but Sam's godawful car was still out front.
They were in there. I was sure of it.
I flexed my fingers. Took a big breath. Knocked.
There was no answer, at first.
My heart clenched. I should have waited, I thought. Waited until I was sure they were here before forcing the ring over my finger, jamming it over the knuckle and down.
I didn't have a lot of time.
I knocked again. Pounded.
This time, the door swung open under my fist, and Cas was there, blinking out at me, light shooting over his bare shoulders.
"Dean," he said. Flat. Not even surprised.
Neither of us moved.
"Can I come in?" I said, finally.
He stepped aside, made room for me to pass. Shut the door and leaned back against it, considering me like I was made out of pinecones or something. Like I'd suddenly sprouted quills.
I stood in the middle of the room, feeling awkward and limbless. It was surprisingly orderly: bed rumpled but made, books in neat piles on the desk. Empty bottles of beer lined up in the trash.
I don't know what I'd expected, but it wasn't that. It was almost--domestic, that set up.
I kind of did a 180, turned all the way around and ended up back at the door, facing Cas. He had his hands jammed in his pockets, his eyes on mine. Waiting for me to talk, I guess. To tell him why I was there, why I was so intent on busting up their little party.
None of which I was interested in doing, right then.
So I took a step forward and reached for him with my right hand, caught his upper arm in my fingers, and squeezed. And the ring shifted, shuddered, stumbled back towards something like life, as I pressed it into his flesh.
Cas gasped, pulling a rush of air deep into his chest, his eyes flickering like a light bulb on the fritz.
My hand, cold and dull on his arm. His skin hot. Soft. Under mine.
And then over, as his fingers came up, wound their way around my jaw. Traced my chin. Played over my lips.
"Dean," he said again, and this time his voice was low and beautiful, ragged and sweet. "Where have you been?"
And I knew it wasn't real. Repeated it in my head as Cas wrapped himself around me, followed his fingers with his mouth and covered my face in kisses, so quick they almost didn't register, like butterflies skating by.
He didn't mean any of it.
He tugged on my neck, pulled my head down to his, and worked his mouth into mine. I slid my arms around him, planted my palms in his back, around his shoulders, made him sigh into my teeth with my touch.
In my head, I saw Eros rolling its eyes, twirling its scepter. Laughing at me.
"What makes you think that I would help you?" it asked, its words like bells spilling out of its mouth. "You and your angel friend, you made my brother Anteros very angry, you know."
I leaned back against the doorframe. Crossed my arms.
"Because I'm asking," I said, trying not to sound desperate. Stripping the anxious from my voice. "Because you're bored. Because you like pissing off your brother. Hell, I don't know. Why are you still here, if you're not interested?"
It raises an imperious eyebrow, at that.
"Well," it said. "If I agree to this, to aid you, then you will be the one who loses. All that love, the grief inside you--you will excise it. It will be lost." It fluttered a little, kicked itself into a hover over the floor. "There will be an absence in your life where this pain, this love is now." It tilted its head, long hair falling over its eyes. "Are you certain that is what you want? To feel nothing, where now you feel too much?"
I bared my teeth at the thing, which was probably dangerous, but I didn't care. At that point, I didn't have any fear left. I'd poured it out all over the road, chasing Sam and Cas across the country. Watching them drive away from me again and again and again.
"What do you care?" I growled. "As long as you get your share."
Eros chuckled. Floated over to me, its wings filling the air around us. Touched my face.
"I'm not the one who has trouble sharing, am I?" it cooed.
I kicked the bastard out of my head and bit Cas' lip. Grabbed his hips and yanked him in to me, pushed my cock into his.
And he revved right up, groaned into my mouth and ground against me.
Didn't mean a damn thing, no matter how good it felt to touch him. No matter how much I wanted him.
But Sam wasn't there, damn it, and Cas was, and time was racing, sucking the sensation out of my hand, even as I shoved it between us and stroked him, pressing my fingers into the fabric, tracing the outline of his cock.
It was too late for second thoughts.
Cas arched into my hand, panting, his face shining, breaking, smiling up into mine.
"Oh," he managed. "Oh, Dean. Oh. That feels--you feel so good, you--"
I squeezed, pushed my thumb into the head, and he shook, jerked like a fish on a line. Started thrusting into my hand, his mouth falling open, his fingers digging into my neck.
I did it again and he screamed, his cock humming under my hand, his hips up and helpless.
I leaned my head down and lapped at his mouth while I teased him, petted him, worked him into a frenzy through his fly.
The noises that he made--
God. They broke my heart.
Made me so hard I couldn't see straight, that my senses started to blur.
His fingers in my hair. My name over his lips. Perfect and pliant and loving. Open to me. For me.
I tried to remember that wasn't real. That it was magic and smoke and deception, that Cas didn't want me, didn't love me, no matter what he was saying, now. What he was doing.
It was temporary, this reprieve. A different kind of exorcism.
I opened his belt, got my hand inside his fly, and fell on my knees. Opened my mouth and let him drive inside.
He grabbed my shoulders, flailing, and fucked me, shoving himself over my lips, slamming into the back of my throat.
I looked up and saw his head thrown back, a flush climbing over his chest and spilling over his throat. His mouth full, his eyes closed. His face lost, smothered in pleasure.
I grabbed the backs of his thighs, gave him no place to go but over and in. Turned my tongue over his head, flicked the slit, and sucked him back down.
He was roaring for me, my name wound in curses. He was close. So close.
And I was so lost in that, in Cas, that I felt Sam before I heard him, felt his hands dig into my shoulders and whip me away from Cas. He hurled me into the couch, hard, and my head bounced off the arm with a thud.
Cas was still moaning, my name still caught in his throat.
"What the fuck?" Sam shouted somewhere above me. "Goddamn it, Dean! What the hell is going on here?"
I started to sit up, but he grabbed my head and slammed it back down.
"Give me one reason I shouldn't break your damn neck," he hissed.
I reached up and snaked my fingers around his wrist. Felt how clumsy my hand was, how strange his skin felt under the ring.
He gasped, like Cas had, the air pouring into his lungs. Stunned.
It was quiet for a moment. Even Cas' voice faded. Hushed.
Then Sam lifted me up, held me out in front of him. His eyes--those weird not-Sam eyes--were almost black. His face was shimmering, like asphalt on a hot day, his teeth were bared, and I loved him so much that it hurt, that it kicked all the breath out of me. I choked.
He dug his fingers into my neck. Leaned forward and kissed me. A command. A brand.
He pulled away, his eyes narrow, and tossed me back onto the floor. Kicked me back to Cas, who was jello, his knees knocking, his cock leaking.
"Suck him off," Sam said.
I reached out and Cas folded himself over me, shoved himself into my mouth and shook as I cupped his hips and worked him back into a rhythm, drawing that beautiful voice back out between us.
Sam slid behind, curled his arms around Cas' chest, and started pushing his cock against Cas' ass. My hands got trapped between them and, for a moment, it felt like both of them were fucking me, were digging their way into my mouth, and I moaned, my mouth my heart falling open, making Cas' cock rattle against my tongue.
And that was enough to push him over, to make him burst hot and bitter inside me, to make him scream and shiver and go still, except for the tremble in his hips.
I staggered up and leaned into them both, Cas' arms around my waist, Sam's body holding all of us upright.
"Kiss him," Sam said, his voice slow and silky.
Cas turned his head and opened his mouth. Kissed me carefully, thoroughly, stroking my tongue with his own.
Sam pitched forward, working Cas into me with his hands. His hips. Whispering to us, his voice turning over Cas's neck, moving into mine.
"Can you taste yourself, baby? C'mon. Lick it all out of his mouth."
Cas growled and my cock leapt between us, trying to escape. Cas reached down and grabbed it, purring in my ear. Teased me through my jeans, like I'd done to him.
Not real. Not real. Not real.
I pushed myself into Cas' hand, helpless under his touch, under Sam's voice. Shaking. Tried to grab Sam's shoulder, to plant myself somewhere, but I couldn't get a grip, my hand a heavy dead thing at the end of my arm, unable to connect.
A cold rush shot through me, knocked over the pleasure and made me desperate. Couldn't lose this chance again, couldn't let it go without--
No time. Not real. No time.
"Sam," I cried. "Sammy." Only grief. Fear. That fucking sense of loss that was creeping back up my spine, coming back for me, coming to drag me back into the night and leave them here alone, together, lost in each other and oblivious to me.
Our eyes met, Sammy's and mine, and everything stopped.
He blinked, and for a moment he was Sam, the one I'd know my whole life, the one whose soul practically leaked out of his ears, caring and sweet and terrifying and mine, damn it. That Sam, I was sure, had been mine.
But he wasn't here. Not anymore.
Sam, this Sam, he nudged Cas out of the way and reached for me, cupping my face in his hands, his thumbs sliding over my tears.
Pushed his mouth into mine and wrapped his giant arms around me. Pulled me close, covered me with his body.
Safe. Made me feel safe, somehow.
Cas' fingers curving across my back, around my chest, my shirt, unseeing. Unbuttoning, counting down my spine with his tongue.
Sam murmuring, his lips moving over mine.
"Wanna fuck you," he whispered, his fingernails over my ribs. "Gonna fuck you, Dean."
I leaned my head back, pressed it against Cas' shoulder, as Sam's mouth slid over my throat. Down my chest. Curled over my nipples.
Together, they worked me out of my clothes, fell out of theirs, their hands their tongues digging into my skin, never leaving. Never letting me breathe.
Sam pushed me onto the bed and climbed over me, panting. He slammed his mouth into mine and we struggled, my fingers in his hair, my dead hand banging into his body, his hips digging into mine, his cock heavy and hot between my legs.
I groaned and opened my knees, rocked up, reaching. He pinned my shoulder to the pillows with one mitt and raised himself up, looked down at his cock pushing, trying to get into me. At me, offering myself to him, like that.
He looked into my face. Grinned at me through all that hair.
Reached down and got my cock in his hand. Just moved his fingers over the shaft, gentle, but it made me--
"Sam," I choked, my voice like syrup in my throat. My body arching into his fist. "Don't. I'll come. Please. Don't. Fuck me. Wanna come with you inside me."
He groaned, something snapping in his face, and let me go. Sat up and grabbed me, flipped me over, pulled my hips up towards him.
Cas appeared like a phantom and slithered under me, kissed me as Sam slid his fingers in. The cold the slick made me shiver, the stretch terrible and good, soothed by Cas' hands on my neck, his lips under mine. By Sam's whispers as he worked me open.
"Good," he rumbled. "Good, Dean. Yeah. More. Just a little more."
That voice. Oh god, I'd missed it. Missed him.
I tried to hold my weight on both hands, both palms pressed into the bed, trapping Cas in between, but I had trouble holding my balance. My hand was so numb, almost dead, and it couldn't figure out what it was doing, what I wanted it to do.
Almost out of time.
Sam's fingers disappeared and I cried out, Cas cooing into my face and stroking my shoulders.
"Baby," he murmured, "it's ok. He's coming back. He's coming back to you."
And Sam did come back, shoving his cock into me, driving himself in. Hurting me.
"Fuck," Sam groaned, his nails biting into my thighs. "Come on, Dean. Come on. Let me in. Let me in. Come on."
"Relax," Cas whispered over my chin. "Relax, baby."
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to calm down. Trying.
Then Cas grabbed my cock and started to pull, to jerk me quick, and I keened, got caught between pleasure and pain, the real and not real, and Sam slammed into me, made it all the way in.
I was broken. I was on the verge of breaking, moaning into Cas' face, trying to fuck his fist and keep Sam locked inside me, all at once.
"Yeah," Sam panted. "Like that. Just like that. Come on."
Together, they sketched a rhythm into my body: Sam fucking me slow and deep, Cas jerking me hard and fast, both of them saying my name, chanting it under and over me, filling my ears with sweet curses and cries of encouragement, both of them twisted around me like vines, like ivy clinging to the walls of my heart.
"Come," Cas groaned in my ear. "Wanna feel you come on me, Dean."
"Come," Sam said, his voice stretching over my shoulder. "Gonna come inside you, Dean, gonna come so hard for you, baby. Come on."
My mouth split open.
"Yes," I shouted, my voice like bells spilling out of my mouth. Familiar. "Yeah--Oh, Sam, god, Cas, please, Sammy, let me come, need to come, I can't--"
I swallowed a live wire, it felt like, and fell apart between them, felt my dead hand spark as the ring started sing, as Sam moaned and shot into me, as I fell warm and slick over Cas' belly, his chest.
We tumbled into a pile, and Sam pulled me into his arms, panting into my hair. Cas curled behind me, sighing, tucking his arms over my waist, his cock nudging my ass and fading, relaxing against my skin.
"I love you," I said, finally.
But they were already asleep.
I woke up in the arms of Eros.
Well, the arms and wings, anyway.
We were standing over the bed where Cas and Sam lay, wound together like weeds. Asleep.
"So," Eros said, loosening its grip, a little. "Are you well, little one?"
I blinked, my eyes my throat scratchy. My body aching.
My heart a dull pain in my chest.
"No," I said, hearing the tears. "I'm not."
Eros sighed and lifted my hand to its mouth. Slid the ring off my finger with its teeth and swallowed it. The magic or whatever was in it--
"The love," Eros said, licking its lips like a cat. "That is what you have given to me. Love. What sustains me."
It let me go and stretched, and damn if it didn't look like it had just eaten its Wheaties, glimmering and powerful and strong. Much stronger than before.
It smiled at me.
"So," it said again, lifting itself from the floor. "How does it feel to have it out of your system, so to speak? All of that love and grief?"
I shoved my fingers through my hair and looked down again, saw Sam's hand slide over Cas' neck, Cas' fingers close around Sam's wrist. Together. Complete.
Felt that hole in my gut open up, still there. Still hurting, but now, now it was worse. So much worse.
"It's not gone," I croaked, staring up at Eros. "You said if I did it, did what you told me, that it would be gone. You bastard! You said you'd take it away." By then I was shouting, screaming at the thing, but still they didn't stir. Couldn't hear us.
Eros smirked, and for the first time it looked not beautiful but cruel. Almost monstrous.
"Thank you for your offering," it purred, bowing its head. Mocking. "Now I suggest you get dressed and leave. Before they wake up and discover what you've done to them."
It blinked, long silver lashes brushing its cheeks.
"They will not be quick to forgive you," Eros said, its wings wavering, its body beginning to fade. "I hope it was worth it, Dean. I do."
Outside, it was snowing.
Outside, I wished I'd worn the ring around my heart. That it had crushed the life out of me. Had made me all the way numb.
Outside, I was still alone.