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Barry Holt wasn’t popular. He wasn’t smooth with the ladies, he couldn’t carry a tune or throw a ball, he wasn’t very smart, and he never got picked for anything. What Barry was good at though was slipping in and out of things. It was a habit he picked up as a kid trying to avoid his dad’s drunken rages, and it carried into young adulthood when he bought a lock-picking kit off Ebay and mastered all the locks he could. So when Barry saw the big moving truck and the two equally large men arguing as they left it in the parking lot of his dad’s favorite bar the temptation was a little too much to resist.

 

He only slid the hatch up enough so that he could slip in, and then Barry turned the flashlight on his cellphone on and shined it around the interior. Numbered boxes in varying sizes lined the walls, and Barry ran his fingers over several of them before settling on a smallish one towards the top of the middle left stack. It had a latched hood with a smaller lock instead of being nailed shut, and Barry easily popped the lock before opening the lid.

 

Packed inside a heavy pile of straw was a camera unlike any Barry had ever seen. Certainly not digital, bigger than the old film one his dad had in the attic, and covered in ornate symbols. His fingers roamed the metal casing, and the tingle that shot up them screamed taketaketake like the camera itself was talking to him.

 

Not too good at sports, not too wise, and not very capable of resisting temptation. That was Barry Holt.

 

---

 

“Making a list Sam? What are we, Santa now?” His own words fed back to him in the mocking tone only capable of coming from a younger sibling.

 

“Shut up Sam.”

 

“I mean really, what could possibly go wrong? We salted the truck and put up devil’s traps so obviously nothing is going to get in. Except, maybe, a human being with basic lock-picking skills because the lock on that door was a damn joke.”

 

When Dean glanced over he saw Sam shove his long hair behind his ears and roll his eyes dramatically. The cab of the moving truck was the first vehicle they’d been in since they were kids that had enough leg room for Sam, but somehow his brother still seemed to be scrunched into the space.

 

“But hey, no big, we’ll be able to watch out for that. Unless we’re in some nowhere bar hustling some local badass because our pride just can’t stand being challenged.” Sam looked over at him, the insult explicit as he shoved at his hair again. “At least we made, what was it, twenty or thirty bucks?”

 

“Which bought you that awesome chef salad you moaned about.” It was weak, and he knew it, but it was all Dean had. Sam’s incredulous look made his mouth kick back into gear. “And two hours of Magic Fingers. Thirty minutes of which you really enjoyed.”

 

Sam’s mouth began to flap, and Dean did a tiny internal fist pump. If he couldn’t win on facts it was always best to flabbergast Sam and just change the subject.

 

“Anyway the bar had security cameras. We just walk in, flash a badge, and watch the tapes. As soon as we see which yokel took it we get it back. I mean it’s only a-“ He flipped through his memory banks and came up blank.

 

“Camera Obscura Dean. A very unique Camera Obscura. Have you been listening to me at all?” The bitchface was back in full force, and Dean tried his best to ignore it as took the exit into Galax.

 

“Yeah. Whole time.” No. Not even a little. Between handling the unfamiliar vehicle, worrying about the missing inventory, and being distracted by Sam’s overly long hair Dean hadn’t paid attention to a single thing his brother had said.

 

And it was the hair. Just the hair and not the way that it drew attention to Sam’s huge and oddly delicate hands when he shifted it, or the way Dean would get a flash of those eyes when it was pushed back. Because that was a bad series of thoughts, an unbrotherly series of thoughts, and Sam was his brother. His pain in the ass little brother, and maybe his partner, but that was it.

 

He needed to cut that goddamn hair.

 

“What the hell does that have to do with the missing camera Dean?” Shit. He’d said that part out loud.

 

“If you weren’t so busy playing with it you’d be more attentive to our surroundings. Plus your peripheral vision would improve. Also you look fucking ridiculous.” Good comeback. Strong logic. Dad’s voice. Dean counted it as a win when Sam simply huffed and slumped a little more. For a guy so uptight he listed his arguments Sam sure had shitty posture.

 

And then, like a gift from the gods of Ending Awkward Conversations, the bar loomed ahead of them.

 

 

---

 

It wasn’t that Dean needed to prove his manhood to rednecks, or that he felt intimidated by some beefy douchebag claiming pool supremacy, it was the principle of the thing. Sam didn’t understand the phrase, claimed it was a catch-all excuse for fuckery, but there was a principle and Dean had felt the need to uphold it.

 

He had been minding his own business, teaching some pretty little brunette how to properly hold a stick, when Jim the Douchebag had knocked into him. Maybe Dean had gone a whiskey or two past his sociable limit, but these days Dean’s sociable limit was fairly small even when sober. So maybe he pushed back, and maybe he took the bait when Jim challenged him, but he definitely saw the way the brunette’s eyes lit up when he did. Which meant Jim was a hustler, and the brunette was his opening ploy.

 

Dean was supposed to fight to preserve his dignity in front of the girl, and he was supposed to lose because obviously Jim was the local top dog. Unfortunately for Jim and his generically pretty accomplice Dean Winchester had never particularly cared about what he was supposed to do.

 

Jim took the first game, and Dean played up a slur and a swagger before challenging the big man to a second game for higher stakes. Sam was off on the prize money by about two hundred bucks, but Dean had been saving that little trump card for a later fight they were sure to have if they didn’t catch the thief on the tape.

 

The problem was they were only supposed to be in the bar long enough to get some food and one drink before leaving. The local diner had closed two hours earlier, and it was bar food or gas station food. Dean added that to the list of reasons this wasn’t specifically his fault, because Sam had chosen the bar option.  The trip from the old lock-up in New York to the Bat Cave in Lebanon, Kansas had been stressful enough without adding Sam’s anal retentive, OCD, listing bullshit. As if it wasn’t enough that they only knew what half the things there were and how best to handle them Sam had added the necessity of numbering and naming every item. It was possible he was taking his new role a little too seriously.

 

It extended the predicted trip time by two days, and Dean hadn’t thought an extra hour or two in a bar was going to make that much of a difference. Dean also hadn’t honestly thought anyone was going to mess with the damn truck. Little towns were supposed to be safe, and this one had screamed that very feeling with its peaceful Main Street and properly landscaped sidewalks.

 

So two days after originally passing through the little town when Sam insisted on taking the checklist into the back of the truck and looking in every box to make sure nothing had shifted, disappeared, or transformed Dean had rolled his eyes and dragged himself into the truck in an attempt to shut his little brother up. That had backfired when box 23, one Camera Obscura circa 1912, had been missing.

 

And since every other stop had allowed them full sight of the truck the only possibility for its disappearance was this town, this bar, and Dean’s maybe unadvisable pool game.

 

Joy.

 

In the daylight the bar was a little more run-down looking, and the bartender was a slightly heavy man instead of the older redhead Dean had flirted with the last time they’d been here. Dean held out one hand even as he flashed the FBI badge quickly with the other. “Special Agent Roger Waters. This is Special Agent Greg Allman. We were in here the other night drinking when someone stole a piece of evidence out of our truck. Kinda hoping your security cameras were running so we can retrieve it quickly.”

 

The bartender narrowed his eyes at Sam. “That a regulation haircut?”

 

Sam ignored Dean’s pointed look and gave his best dimpled smile. “I get by on my skills.”

 

“Same skills that got your shit stolen?” The man wheezed a laugh and leaned over to slap Sam’s shoulder. “Sorry son, I know, bad joke. Name’s Lee. What night was this?”

 

“Thursday. I’m guessing that means you have footage?” Dean watched Sam surreptitiously shift his shoulder as Lee came out from behind the bar and led them down a small hallway.

 

“Yup. ‘Bout the only thing in this place that works with any regularity. Me included.” He wheezed that laugh again and shouldered his way through an ancient looking door. “Boss keeps ‘em regular after we got robbed a few years back. Got the DVD option and everything, so’s it would be all official.”

 

“Well a watchful eye…” Dean trailed off as his own eye landed on the tiny broom closet of a manager’s office, walls plastered in naked women, and the ancient looking television hooked up to a very modern recording system.

 

“Yup.” Lee grinned as if he didn’t know exactly what Sam and Dean were thinking. “Let me load that up for ya’ll.”

 

Twenty minutes later Lee had identified the kid sneaking into the back of their truck as Barry Holt, supplied them with an address, and burned a copy of the footage. They waved goodbye to his friendly, “Ya’ll come back now. We ain’t all thieves.”

 

Dean dared a look over at Sam’s tight bitchface as they got back into the truck. “Well hey, that was easy.”

 

“A kid Dean. A kid took it.” Sam pushed his hair back and Dean fought the urge to lick his lips. “A kid. I hope he hasn’t used it.”

 

“Sam maybe you need to tell me what’s so bad about that, because far as I see it the kid at worst pawned it and at best just showed it off to his friends. If it ain’t digital and capable of playing games kids typically don’t care about it anymore.”

 

Sam’s shoulders slumped, and Dean felt his hands tighten on the wheel. That was Sam showing how disappointed he was in Dean’s short-sightedness. An argument they had more than once or twice.

 

“A normal functioning one, of which there are supposed to be none, would take spirit photography.”

 

“So he gets a picture of a ghost, so what? Be good for him. Teach him there’s more out there and he needs to be a little responsible.” Dean shrugged and then glanced over to see Sam tiredly rub at his eyes.

 

“This one had Enochian on it. I don’t know what it does.”

 

Well. Well. “Then let’s go get it.”

 

---

 

For the most part Dean has an excellent memory. He can count on one hand the number of times he felt safe  (or reckless) enough to get blackout drunk, he can tell you every case he’s ever worked and the principle players, and he knows every classic rock song and all their lyrics by heart.

 

That’s why it’s so disconcerting that Dean’s memory jumps from the little boy on the tape opening the door with wide and frightened eyes while a man roars behind him to this run-down little motel room he’s never seen before.

 

Plus, to add to the what-the-fuck factor, he’s tied to a chair. Really well.

 

Fifteen minutes passes on the old clock radio as he struggles in his bonds, and then the door opens and a very pale Sam slips through it and eyes him carefully.

 

“Sam. Who got the drop on us? Was it the kid? Say it wasn’t the kid.” Sam doesn’t look around the room, doesn’t move slowly and carefully, instead he rushes over the carpet and starts to rip apart the knots on Dean’s bindings.

 

When he’s free he reaches for his brother and watches Sam skitter sideways from his touch. Dean looks from Sam, to his hand, and back again. Without the immediate danger of being tied up things begin to leap out at him. Their stuff is in this room, the one bed to his right is messed up like someone’s been using it for more than sleep, and there are bruises he can see on Sam’s throat and jaw.

 

“Sammy? What the hell happened?” It comes out sharp and authoritative, making Sam jump a little before gathering himself visibly.

 

“The kid took your picture. It-there was a-I lost you for a little while.” There’s something deep and hurt in that statement, and Dean’s pretty sure it’s not the usual way they feel when one of them is gone.

 

Not that it doesn’t always hurt, but this is something else. Something twisted and off.

 

“What do you mean lost me? Who tied me up? What’s ‘a little while’?” Dean reaches up to rub his jaw and finds the beginnings of a beard. Oh shit.

 

Sam’s eyes dart around the room before settling somewhere indeterminate on the floor. “You were gone. Doesn’t matter Dean. Let’s get out of here ok?”

 

Except no, it’s not ok, but Dean nods and helps Sam gather their things before they get in the moving truck. Sam is walking funny, slow and stiff, and Dean catalogs every misstep and wince even as he keeps his mouth shut.

 

---

 

They make it another state, and then Dean can’t take it anymore. He stops the truck outside of a motel and books a room with two queens before getting back in the cabin and driving to the room door. They sit silently, the radio playing at a low volume, and Sam shifting uncomfortably in the co-captain’s chair beside him.

 

“Wanna spill here or inside? Either way you’re talking to me Sam.”

 

In the dim light spilling from the front of the motel Sam’s face is all shadows and darkness, and Dean can barely make out the twist of his brother’s mouth and the tightness of his shoulders. Sam must pick up on that, because he starts talking in a slow and halted voice.

 

“What’s-I uh-what’s the last thing you remember?”

 

Dean thinks back before the image comes to him. “We hit the kid’s house, and there was somebody yelling behind him. Sounded familiar.”

 

Sam nods in the darkness and then shifts. There’s a little hiss of indrawn breath that Dean likes very little, but Sam settles back into place without more sound effects. “You-uh-the kid took your picture. With the camera. Then it turned out his dad was Jim. The guy you played pool against. The two of you fought, and we had to leave without getting the camera.”

 

He stays silent despite the wavering in Sam’s voice and the way his brother stutters and stammers for the first time in years.

 

“We didn’t know-so I wasn’t ready but-the camera wasn’t a-it didn’t take ghost pictures it-“ Sam’s hands come up, shaking heavily enough Dean can see even in the dim light, and rub at Sam’s face. “It took soul pictures. Consequently it appears it was capable of trapping those same souls.”

 

Dean feels his fingers move reflexively to the beard he doesn’t remember growing. “Like in the old legends when people won’t let a camera take their picture? Are you saying the damn thing stole my soul?” It’s a violation on a level Dean wasn’t ready for.

 

“Yeah. The camera stole your soul. It took a little while to figure out that was what happened, and by then we were far away. We-I had to-the camera’s been destroyed and everything’s fine now.”

 

It isn’t hard to put two and two together. Dean remembers the lengths Sam had been willing to go to when he was soulless and wanted to stay that way. He wonders what unforgivable sin he tried to commit to stay that way. “Who’d I try to kill? You? I’m the guy that choked you.”

 

Sam jerks in his seat, draws in another harsh breath and then two more, and then finally looks up in Dean’s direction. There’s pleading in that face that Dean can see in the slants of light from the parking lot. In the set of Sam’s highlighted mouth and glittering eyes. “Yeah. It’s ok though I-it’s ok.”

 

There’s more. Something Sam isn’t telling him, and suddenly Dean doesn’t want to know.

 

“Ok. Ok let’s go in.”

 

---

 

They eat delivered pizza and watch mindless television as Dean sorts through his feelings about being soulless and trying to kill Sam. He remembers how eager Sam was to make amends when he got his soul back, and how hard it was to keep Sam from stumbling into the secrets of his year of bad behavior.

 

He also remembers how badly it affected Sam, and how dark the shit his brother had gotten into had ended up being. That was a year of Sam being soulless, and Dean was only gone for a week and a half maximum. The beard growth tells him that. How much trouble could he really have gotten into? How much damage could he have done? Sam’s stuttering suggests something a little more dire than choking, but Dean saw how hard it was for his brother to get even that much out.

 

Eventually Dean turns the TV off when he sees that Sam is asleep, and then he lies back and lets himself drift. He’s tired, really tired, and he wonders if he slept or if he was up the whole time like Sam had been. That’s his last thought before he drifts into a dream.

 

A memory.

 

---

 

Dean is jimmying the lock on the kid’s bedroom window while Sam looks around the backyard nervously.

 

“Middle of the day Dean? This seems like a bad idea.” Sam’s hand is tapping restlessly on his thigh, and Dean wonders why he didn’t talk Sam into staying at the motel. He could have done this without a lookout.

 

“They’re at church Sam, same as everybody else in this one-horse town. It’s gonna be just fine.” The lock pops open and Dean slides the window up before grabbing the sill and lifting himself into the bedroom.

 

The kid is messy, but there’s a system Dean can easily pick out. Things laid out in a parody of carelessness to hide the more expensive items he wouldn’t want his father looking closely at. Jim’s house is in a bad area, and Dean doesn’t have to wonder how much of his father’s behavior Barry is familiar with.

 

He already knows that Jim is not at church, but Sam will find that out in a few minutes. Dean’s not terribly interested in letting Jim walk away from the bullshit he pulled yesterday, or leaving him to place more of those finger shaped bruises on his son’s arms. Two birds with one stone. Sam has slipped into the room with him and is looking around carefully. His fingers skim the piles of dirty clothes and empty food containers with the distaste obvious on his full mouth.

 

After a few minutes Dean finds the camera half-hidden under an empty pizza box and he picks it up before turning to smile at Sam. “Got it. Now to-“ his elbow moves out to slam into a tottering pile of trash and send it crashing to the ground. Sam jerks and looks around as footsteps thunder down the hallway.

 

“Dean, we’ve gotta go.” Except they don’t, and Dean smiles and holds the camera out.

 

“Take it. I’ll take care of Big Jim.”

 

Sam hesitates and there’s a question Dean can’t answer yet in his eyes. But Sam takes the camera, and he slips out of the window just as Jim comes storming into the room. Dean cracks his neck once and loosens up his shoulders.

 

“Hey Jim. I’m Slim.”

 

---

 

Dean wakes up breathless and with a phantom ache in his knuckles. Sam is sitting on the other bed watching him, and Dean doesn’t miss the way his brother jerks at his awakening. “Did I kill him?”

 

It comes out a croak, and Sam swallows once reflexively and raises an eyebrow. “Who?”

 

“Shut up Sam. Jim. Did I fucking kill Jim?” His brother won’t meet his eyes. Looks around the room before settling on a thread his fingers are restlessly plucking on the comforter.

 

“No. Jim’s alive. Eating through a straw but alive.” For a moment Dean’s so relieved he covers his face and misses what Sam didn’t say. Then he looks up and Sam can’t look away in time.

 

“Were you avoiding that or was there more? Someone other than Jim?” Sam’s locked in place, held by Dean’s gaze like a deer in headlights, and Dean knows he shouldn’t play on Sam’s fear of him but he leans into his brother’s space. Sam flinches and Dean barely makes himself hold steady. “Ok then. Who and what?”

 

Sam finally breaks eye contact and pushes at his long hair. Dean feels his fingers twitch in response but he doesn’t move. “A guy. In a bar. Some stranger.” His brother stands and heads into the bathroom. Shuts the door and effectively ends the conversation.

 

---

 

Dean’s dreaming again and now it’s something else entirely. They’re in a bar and Sam’s at the counter laughing with some guy while Dean plays pool. He doesn’t like the way Sam laughs with the asshole. Too easy, too relaxed, and too much like the kind of laugh he used to give Dean. Back before everything between them went to Hell. Literally and figuratively.

 

He sinks the eight ball and scoops up his cash before heading for Sam and the guy. The guy who is touching his brother’s hand as he leans into Sam’s space. Dean catches the tail end of the pickup line. “-get a little bit of sugar.”

 

It doesn’t matter what the first part was, because Dean is not having it. Sam is his, and Dean may have taken too long to claim him but he’s not letting this asshole step in and do it first. He knows that Sam isn’t too picky about gender, and he knows that Sam is interested in him. They’ve dodged that truth for years, but it’s time to get past the bullshit.

 

“Hey baby, guess what I won?”

 

The guy shoots Sam an incredulous look before slinking off, and Sam sips his beer and then turns back to Dean. “Did you just cockblock me dude?”

 

Dean can’t help the grin, but a part of that might be the way he likes Sam saying cock. “Damn straight. Let me buy you a real drink.”

 

Sam rolls his eyes once and then waits for Dean to order the whiskey. “Least you could do. Jerk.”

 

It’s been too long. “Bitch.”

 

They end up having enough whiskeys that Sam is loose and easy. Dean gets him out to the car with no trouble, and then leads him into the motel room. Sam is all sighs and falling down, and Dean half-carries him towards the bed furthest from the door. When he drops his brother onto the bed Sam’s shirt rides up enough to show a strip of golden flesh that Dean studies for a long time. Long enough that even drunken Sam picks up on it and raises an eyebrow.

 

“Dean?”

 

Dean waits a moment before trailing his fingers along the exposed skin and watching Sam shudder. “Hey Sammy, remember when we were kids and you used to only be able to sleep if I kissed you goodnight?”

 

Sam’s eyes go hooded, dark, and Dean knows why. There’s the innuendo now that they’re older, but more importantly they don’t talk about their childhood anymore. Their relationship has gone through so many evolutions that memories of a simpler time aren’t really welcome. Sam licks his lips and nods though, glazed eyes on Dean’s mouth.

 

Why did he wait so long to take what Sam was subconsciously offering? Dean bends down and presses his lips to the corner of Sam’s mouth. “And what did you always say?” His breath slides along Sam’s lips, and his brother’s tongue peeks out and chases the puff of air.

 

“Thank you De.” It’s rough, thick, and Dean likes it. Likes it more than he ever thought he could. He leans in and presses his mouth against Sam’s properly, lips sliding easily along the spit Sam just deposited there and then tilting as his tongue searches for entrance.

 

Sam gives it to him.

 

His brother tastes like whiskey and sex, and Dean plunders deeper and deeper chasing the source of that taste. Sam’s hands have landed on his shoulders, and Dean’s pretty sure one of them is pushing him away even as one pulls closer. Dean goes with the pulling and ignores whatever part of Sam’s brain is denying them this.

 

It’s easy, too easy really, and Dean slides his hands under Sam’s soft cotton shirt and up the defined lines of his brother’s abs onto his pectorals. Sam’s lost muscle mass in the last year and a half, but Dean kind of likes it. Likes the way he can box Sam in now, and likes being more bulky even if he’s still shorter.

 

Sam gives a little gasp against his mouth when Dean flicks a nipple with his thumb, and then he slides one hand free to pop the button on Sam’s jeans while his other hand works Sam’s chest. His brother is panting, moaning into his mouth and Dean figures Sam must really like having his nipples played with.

 

He bends his head down and pushes the shirt all the way up to lick the nipple he’s not pinching, and listens to Sam literally keen even as he pulls the zipper tab down tooth by agonizing tooth. The trick with Sam is to keep his brain distracted while you slowly do whatever it is he’s going to argue with. It was that way when Dean wanted to sneak food off his plate, when he wanted to pull a prank, and when he tried to lead sexual partners past his unsuspecting little brother.

 

Except Sam catches him before Dean gets to the prize, and his brother’s slurry voice cuts through the incredible volume of the beat of Dean’s heart in his ears. “Wha-De? Wha?”

 

“Shhh Sammy. Shhh I got you.” His hand slips sideways through the slit in Sam’s boxers and fingers brush against the super-hot skin of Sam’s cock. His brother gasps again, eyes flying wide open, and Dean lunges forward to press his lips against Sam’s and swallow his protests.

 

Time is running out on getting Sam too far past the PNR, and Dean lifts his hand just long enough to coat it in spit before sliding it back into Sam’s boxers and wrapping it around the shaft. Sam makes a noise against Dean’s lips that causes his tongue to slide along Dean’s mouth, and Dean sucks it in while twisting his wrist to grip the nerve bundle at the head and squeeze just right. Sam likes it the way Dean likes it, and somehow that just makes the whole thing hotter.

 

There’s something primal about all of it, rough and wild, and Dean really wonders why he never did this before. Morality is such a simple thing, and it’s so easily put aside. Why does he need to worry about what society thinks is ok when society thinks he’s a murderer and a freak? No one has ever paid Dean for being good, so if this is bad then let his payment be this.

 

Sam’s leg is jerking under them, his tongue sliding along the roof of Dean’s mouth, and his cock leaking precome steadily against Dean’s fisted fingers. He pulls back just a little bit and licks the mole on Sam’s chin before he manages words around the need to get back to the taste of his brother. “Tell me you don’t want it. Tell me you ain’t thought about it before now, and that this isn’t the best thing you’ve ever felt. Tell me and I’ll just let it go like it never happened.”

 

His brother’s eyes focus hazily on him, alcohol still a large part of the composition of his blood stream, and then Sam nods shakily. “Want it. Want you.”

 

And that’s just enough. Dean isn’t honestly sure if he would have stopped had Sam said so, but with the go ahead there’s no reason to analyze that particular hypothetical. Instead Sam starts actively helping Dean strip him, and when Sam is stretched out naked across the bed with his chest rising and falling Dean points a finger as he toes off his boots. “Touch yourself the way you want me to Sammy.”

 

It’s a minor miracle that Sam does, and the flush that creeps up his face is more adorable than anything Dean has ever seen. One hand trails up Sam’s ribs and lands on the right nipple before he begins to pinch and flick it. The other hand slips down over a sharply defined hipbone and along the crease of his groin before disappearing behind Sam’s balls. It’s not hard to guess where those fingers have gone, and Dean feels the cocky grin appearing on his face even as he unbuttons his shirt.

 

“Good boy. Such a good boy.” Sam moans and Dean undoes his pants even as he’s crawling along the bed and up Sam’s length. His tongue dips out at random intervals, giving Sam no warning or way to guess where it will rasp next. Each time Dean makes contact Sam jerks and groans, so by the time Dean’s tongue laves up Sam’s sack his brother is a panting mess. Dean trails his right hand up Sam’s side and along the path Sam indicated while his left hand spreads his brother’s thighs. He leans in, takes a deep breath of the musky scent of Sam, and then licks right along the crease of his ass cheeks before using his left hand again to part them and start licking at his goal.

 

Sam goes wild, pushing up to give Dean better access and moaning loudly, begging and pleading really, while Dean takes advantage of the better angle to really get his tongue in. There’s not going to be a whole lot of prep this time, so Dean uses the rimming to relax Sam as he slides a finger in beside his tongue.

 

The work goes quickly, Sam thrashing and gasping above him, and then Dean’s got two fingers working easily and a third just introduced when his patience runs out and he leaves Sam grasping for him as he digs through his duffel. When the lube bottle finally appears Dean spreads it on thick and then lifts Sam’s legs.

 

“When I thrust in you need to thank me Sammy. Thank me and keep on thanking me for everything I give you. You got me?”

 

Sam’s eyes are huge, pupils blown totally wide and mouth hanging half open, and he nods dumbly. Sure enough, when Dean thrusts in the first time Sam lets out a cry and grabs Dean’s wrists where they’re placed holding his legs up and open. “Thank you Dean.”

 

His brother babbles thanks and pleas as Dean picks up the pace, and when he finally finds Sam’s prostate his brother jerks hard and bounces his head off the headboard even as he thanks Dean at an ear-splitting level. He’s reverted back to “De” and somehow Dean thinks that’s probably the hottest thing ever.

 

It doesn’t take long, but when the orgasm hits Sam jerks on his cock like it’s a live wire as he spurts over his own stomach screaming Dean’s name. Dean follows shortly after.

 

---

 

“What the fuck Sam!” Sam jerks awake with wide eyes and scrambles backwards off the side of the motel bed. Dean can’t help the sympathetic wince when the jolt aggravates Sam’s injuries.

 

“What-what did I-what Dean?” His brother sounds terrified, shocked, and Dean almost softens. Almost.

 

“You fucked me? You actually fucked me?” Sam’s eyes go huge and the color drains from his face. “What the hell were you thinking Sam? I was off, but you were in full possession of your damn soul, so what’s the excuse huh?”

 

Sam shakes his head, pulls back further into the wall, and then surprises the shit out of Dean by beginning to cry. It’s not that Sam doesn’t cry, but in the last few years it’s become a very infrequent event and is usually only attached to death. Often Dean’s.

 

“I didn’t-I couldn’t-I’m so sorry Dean. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were-and that’s not an excuse but I-I just thought you-“ Sam shakes his head and then covers his head with his arms like he’s afraid Dean is going to start kicking him. “I’m so sorry.”

 

Dean can’t think, can barely breathe, and he reaches for Sam before jerking his hand back. Sure, ok, maybe he’s thought about it before. Once or twice when he was really drunk or someone had planted it into his head. But this? This was not supposed to happen. They were not supposed to do this.

 

And the lingering erection from his dream is nothing more than a simple reaction to sexual suggestion. It was common and natural. Totally natural.

 

“Ok look I-shit Sam. Shit. Get up I’m not gonna hurt you.” Except maybe he was.

 

Sam finally uncurled, eyes jumping from one part of the room to another as he avoided Dean’s direct gaze. “I didn’t know you were soulless. I would never have taken advantage if I knew you-I just thought it was mutual.” His voices shakes worse than his hands, but Sam manages to get upright and across the room to his bag. He starts shoving things in it blindly. “I’ll leave. I’ll leave and you’ll never-I’m so sorry Dean.”

 

It takes too long for Dean to figure out what’s happening here, and when he finally gets it he reaches out and makes contact for the first time. Sam flinches but holds still under his hand. The skin is too hot. Sam’s got a fever.

 

“Shit Sammy you’re sick. Why didn’t you say you were sick?” Sam shakes his head and Dean leads him back to the bed and pushes him down. “You ain’t leaving over this. We’ll figure it out. We always do. In the meantime you need to tell me when you got sick.”

 

Sam’s face flushes, and Dean’s reminded of the memory dream and can’t help the stir of his cock.

 

“It’s just a little-I’m fine Dean. I’m fine. I’m sorry.”

 

He also can’t help the growl, and Sam flinches again. “Stop apologizing. We’ll deal with that later. Lie down Sam and let me get a washcloth ok?”

 

Sam obeys meekly, and that’s enough to cool the last of Dean’s self-righteous rage as he wets a cloth with cold water and lays it carefully over Sam’s forehead. He tucks the overly long hair behind Sam’s ears and then leans over to grab the discarded bedspread and pull it up and over Sam.

 

“Go back to sleep. We’ll fix it in the morning.” Sam was never one for getting sick, so Dean can count on one hand the number of times he had to deal with fever Sam. It’s never good. He strokes Sam’s hair softly and keeps giving his brother assurances even as his brain runs a hundred miles a minute. When he knows Sam is out Dean heads for the bathroom and proceeds to shower until the hot water is gone and he’s shaking harder than Sam was.

 

---

 

They don’t fix it in the morning. In the morning Sam is delirious with fever and Dean is left desperately rooting through their first aid kit for something to break it and applying cold cloths to Sam’s forehead. There are no other symptoms, but the heat of Sam’s skin is enough to make Dean’s blood run cold.

 

His brother mutters in his fever haze, sometimes pleas and sometimes arguments, and Dean doesn’t know their context but he’s pretty sure it’s the soulless him Sam is talking to. When Sam lets out a sharp cry and begs “no” over and over again Dean almost throws up. What did he do? Other than fuck his brother of course.

 

It takes two days for Sam’s fever to break, and when it does Dean sleeps for the first time since he realized Sam was sick. He doesn’t dream of any more memories. The next day he helps Sam out to the truck and they finish the trip to the bunker. Dean takes the drive slow, checks Sam constantly, and keeps the music volume low so that Sam can sleep.

 

When they get there Dean tucks Sam into bed and then moves box after box into the storage area on his own. It’s hard work, but it’s soothing. The only thing missing from the check list is the camera, and Dean’s ok with that.

 

---

 

He falls asleep in his room and comes back to the memories. They’re in a motel room Dean doesn’t recognize, and that means he’s not getting back the memory of how Sam woke up hung-over and fucked by his own brother. Dean’s not sure if he should be grateful or annoyed.

 

What he does get is himself naked, sated, and in bed beside Sam as he navigates webpages on the laptop. Sam half wakes, one arm flinging over his eyes, and mumbles lowly, “Dean why aren’t you sleeping?”

 

“I just wanna check some stuff. Go back to sleep Sammy.”  Something, something in his voice makes Sam go tense. Whatever it is Dean can’t tell, but he prepares for fallout.

 

Sam’s arm lowers slowly, and he peers through sleep-gummy eyes at Dean. “You haven’t slept since we got the camera back. That was five days ago Dean.”

 

“Would you stop at ‘I’m just not tired’?” Sam shakes his head and Dean sighs. He’s figured out what happened, hell he saw it from the other side, but it doesn’t really matter much. Because like soulless Sam he’s realized the benefits of being without a soul. All those tiny little doubts, the pain and lingering heartache of losing his family and friends, and the constant undying fear that Sam will die someday soon have gone. In their place Dean is relaxed, focused, and enjoying himself immensely.

 

It doesn’t matter if he has a soul. It’s such a little thing really, but Sam is peering at him in that way that says he’s putting the puzzle pieces together and nothing is going to stop him. Dean reaches out and tenderly brushes the hair out of Sam’s eyes to distract him. Runs his fingers along Sam’s strong jaw line and over his plush lips.

 

“Sammy I’m fine. This is fine. Don’t you like us like this?” He makes his voice soothing and soft, and that has Sam rearing back and glaring at him.

 

“What the-Dean did that thing take your soul? Is that why you’re acting like I did after the Cage?” His eyes are wide now, horrified as he works it out in that over-active brain of his, and Dean just wants him to go back to sleep and forget this ever happened. He may be losing his easy access.

 

“I don’t know Sam. Maybe. What does it honestly matter?” Now he sounds rough, harsh, and that’s the wrong approach but he can’t make himself stop. Sam never gives it a rest, and that’s one of the many things Dean used to admire about him. Right now it’s just annoying.

 

“It matters because it’s your soul Dean. Wait does that mean when we-oh my god.” Sam blanches, one hand covering his mouth shakily and the other fluttering by his knees. “Oh my god.”

 

“Sam this doesn’t change anything ok? I wanted you before and I want you now, but this way I can have you. Which you have been enjoying greatly I might add. I don’t see what the problem is. I’m not going off the rails like you did, and everything is fine.” He gets up, starts to move slowly towards his brother and freezes when Sam holds up both hands to ward him off.

 

“No. No this isn’t right. You could only fu-you could only do that if you were soulless. That’s not real consent Dean. And you have gone off the rails. Remember Jim Holt? What you did to him?” Sam’s head is shaking as he pushes his way up the wall. “You’re not ok Dean, and I should have-shit I needed to see it and I was blinded by-oh god.” Sam jerks towards the bathroom and Dean grabs him before tossing him on the bed.

 

“Sam you need to calm down ok? This is all fine. This is consenting. We’re fine.” He doesn’t necessarily want to hurt Sam, but he will. He will if Sam won’t calm down.

 

His brother bounces on the bed once before trying to struggle his way upwards. “No. We gotta destroy the camera and the film. It’ll-it must have stolen your soul and we just need to-“

 

But Dean is already moving, sliding one arm gracefully across Sam’s windpipe as he pulls Sam’s boxers down. “Shh. It’s fine Sammy. It’s all fine. See? Without a soul I can ignore all the awful shit you did. The Apocalypse, leaving me in Purgatory, everything is forgiven and I can love you again. Really love you. Don’t you want that? Because this is the only way.”

 

Sam’s eyes widen, a tear trickling from the corner of one, and Dean licks it softly. He doesn’t really love Sam right now. He knows that logically, but he wants him and that’s good enough. Plus, his below the belt hit has taken Sam so hard that his brother doesn’t seem to make that connection. Instead Sam is shaking so hard it seems like he’ll disassemble, and Dean kind of likes that. His finger strokes over Sam’s hole and his brother starts to struggle again.

 

Well. Well. If that’s the way it’s going to be. Sam is still partially lubed from last night and mostly open, so Dean forgoes the foreplay and thanks his lucky stars he sleeps naked. He flips Sam onto his stomach and then spreads his baby brother’s legs. Sam’s head is shaking, mouth moving, and everything coming out of it is the last thing Dean wants to hear.

 

“Please no, no Dean not like this. Please no.” Except Dean knows better. Sam may be saying no, but when Dean uses one hand to press Sam’s face against the mattress and slides the other one underneath his brother’s bulk he finds Sam hard. That’s close enough to consent.

 

He pushes in with one forceful thrust, and then grabs Sam’s hips and pulls him back and fully onto his cock. Sam is thrashing, pleading, and Dean ignores that. Ignores all of it in favor of getting this one last time. He wraps one hand around the column of Sam’s throat, a body part he’s always admired, and squeezes hard. Sam’s thrashing harder, contracting around him, and Dean angles to hit Sam’s prostate.

 

Sam is gasping shallowly against his grip, choking and jerking, and Dean feels the moment his brother comes as keenly as he did the first time. So Sammy likes it a little kinky? Well Dean’s down for that.

 

It takes another half dozen thrusts to finish, and by then Sam isn’t fighting anymore. He’s gone slack in Dean’s hold, and Dean checks his pulse to make sure he’s just unconscious before letting him slump to the bed. He slides out and heads for the shower, because maybe Sam wasn’t as prepped as he thought he was.

 

The shower is hot, soothing, and Dean calculates what he should do now. Much as Sam’s body responded his mind is hung up on the details. Which leaves two options: kill Sam and take off, or take his picture and remove that pesky soul that’s holding them back. They could be the best hunters ever, and the best lovers, and it would be nothing but pleasure and glory. It’s a great idea.

 

Somehow Dean misses the door cracking open, misses Sam’s soft steps, and then there’s a pinch in his thigh and he cracks off one hit before the world goes dark.

 

---

 

When Dean wakes up this time he stumbles into the bathroom down the hall from his room and vomits until his sides ache and all that comes up is bile and spit. Sam. Dean raped Sam. It doesn’t matter if he came, makes it worse honestly, and he did it after Sam tried to make things right. After Sam realized that Dean wasn’t a consenting party. In a way Dean managed to rape them both.

 

Fuck.

 

The shower can’t get hot enough, Dean can’t seem to get clean, and Sam finds him there in the community showers sobbing and scrubbing. It’s ridiculous, not very manly and put together at all, but he can’t stop himself. Can’t stop the roaring self-hatred and the screaming anguish. Sam finally seems to break the paralysis he had, and he stumbles across the slippery tiles and steps into the spray fully dressed before grabbing Dean up.

 

And for once, Dean lets Sam be the strong one. Lets Sam hold him up as he buries his face into Sam’s shoulder and wails the way he hasn’t let himself since he was a little boy that didn’t know any better. Sam doesn’t talk, doesn’t try to make it better, he just holds Dean and lets him purge all the emotions underneath the hot spray.

 

When Dean finally gets control of himself Sam is still there, and he leads Sam out of the shower and over to the towel bay. They dry off, Sam still in his pajamas and Dean naked and hating himself. Without a word they both head for Dean’s room and collapse on his memory foam mattress. Dean reaches out, and Sam comes into his arms like a guided missile.

 

After that they simply lie there, wrapped around each and totally silent.

 

---

 

It takes Dean a week to form words, and when he finally does the first ones are simply apologies. Begging and wild apologies. Sam looks at him in confusion, and then the light in his eyes dims a little and he reaches out before pulling Dean into a hug.

 

“No I’m sorry. I should have seen it. I should have known better.”

 

And that’s when it hits Dean. By not admitting to Sam that he harbored these emotions before his lost soul, by not admitting that to himself too, Dean has allowed Sam to think that he violated his brother. That Sam did something intrusive and hideous, and that it’s his fault. If Dean doesn’t say anything they can get past this. They can put it in the darker columns and simply move on, and then it will fester under the skin like the rest of the bullshit until the day they die. Dean doesn’t have to deal with the emotional fallout of loving his brother a little too much and in the less socially acceptable way. He doesn’t have to take the blame for what he did when he was soulless, and Sam will carry that burden.

 

They’ll be brothers again with no sexual subtext and no odd tension.

 

Dean doesn’t want that though. He doesn’t want Sam to suffer for something that is mutual, and he doesn’t want Sam to think that Dean blames him for what happened. He’s had time to process, to consider, and if soulless Sam had crossed that line the way Dean did he wouldn’t have figured out what was going on either. Sam is sensitive, good at picking up emotions and subtexts, and there’s no way his brother has gone this long without getting an inkling of Dean’s desire. He had to be working off that assumption, and Dean can’t make him think that was self-delusion. Can’t let Sam twist in that hell alone.

 

So Dean does the only thing he can do. He tilts Sam’s head down and kisses him. It’s gentle, sweet, and full of the love that was missing the first time he did it. Sam gasps, and Dean would like to believe that as girly as it is Sam gets the difference and likes it.

 

They’re all hands, shedding each other’s clothes and moving backwards into Sam’s room. Dean’s desperate to show Sam how it should have been and how it could be. To reclaim the thing he took while soulless and fix the thing he destroyed. He doesn’t even fully get his pants off, but he does manage to get the fly of his jeans open and his cock out. His shirt flies across the room, and then Sam is naked from the waist down and falling onto the bed.

 

Dean roots for lube in the nightstand, but Sam clears his throat and reaches under the mattress to pull out a little bottle. Dean kisses him for being such a damn boy scout before he just kisses him for being Sam.

 

The memory dreams were vivid, realistic, but they were nothing like this. Because this time when Dean slides a finger into his brother and licks a nipple to distract him Dean is getting everything. The heat of Sam, the way his lowered lids try to conceal lust and love, and the all-important understanding that this is Sam. This is his baby brother who should be cherished and loved. Who should be taught how important he is by words and deeds.

 

He laves both nipples in turn, absorbs and enjoys Sam’s gasping pleas, and then when three fingers are moving smoothly and surely Dean spreads Sam’s legs and pushes past the tight ring of muscle stopping when just the head is in.

 

Sam opens his eyes, grabs onto Dean’s denim covered hips, and begs. “Please Dean, please oh god, please.” Dean reaches out with the hand that isn’t covered in lube and tilts Sam’s chin so that they’re making eye contact.

 

“Wanted this since forever Sammy. Since you hit puberty and everything else faded into the background. I’m so sorry we didn’t do this the right way baby boy, but I’m gonna make it up to you. Gonna spend a lifetime showing you how damn precious you are.”

 

It’s cheesy and overly romantic, but the happy sparkle in Sam’s eyes and the way he pulls Dean all the way into him make it worth it. Sam arches and moans, twisting and turning on Dean’s dick, but he takes his time. He keeps the pace moderate for as long as he can while he pegs Sam’s prostate on every third thrust. He uses his lubed hand to stroke Sam’s cock, thumb the slit, and put pressure on the nerves at the base.

 

Sam, for his part, works his hips like a champion and his nails scrabble at Dean’s jeans before he gets them higher up and finds bare flesh. He digs in just this side of painful to speed Dean up, and Dean gets the message. Times his thrusts with each pull and jerk on Sam’s cock and they come almost perfectly in time with each other.

 

Afterwards they lie side by side in Sam’s bed with the backs of their hands pressed together and their sweat cooling in the bunker’s low temperature. Sam, of course, breaks the comfortable silence.

 

“So you’re-this is ok? Really?”

 

Dean grunts once and then reaches out to roughly grab Sam’s head and bury his brother’s face in his neck. “Not if you try to make it into a tea party.”

 

Sam laughs thickly into his throat and then wraps around him like an octopus. Like he used to when they were little and Dean longed for both more contact and some kind of independence. Some space to break away from what was rapidly becoming too much connection.

 

His brother is hot, sweaty, and Dean’s sticking to the inside of his jeans. Despite all that he wraps his arms around his clingy little brother and drifts off into sleep.

 

Dean is grateful that there are no dreams left. All that greets him in sleep is a dock and a pond, Sam beside him, and a rod in the hand not holding a beer.

 

It’s more than alright.