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Part One

Face down on the bed, surrounded by the inevitable smell of Dean, he can feel this place threading through him again, sinking into his skin. Invisible tiny tendrils that breaking will hurt and not breaking will destroy, like every second here, every second of Dean’s mouth on his, and the smell of him all around, and their father in the kitchen holding a silent conversation with a wall, and the small townness of it all, the dreadful unending continuation of it all. If he thinks, he can feel Dean beside him, hot feverish teenage strength as he’d held Sam close in the worst of the black nights. He'd let Sam sleep next to him instead of in his own room when Sam knocked at the door, the only solid thing left in the world, and Jesus they never had a chance. He tries thinking of Stanford, of the coolness inside and the startling, maintained green outside, but it’s faded, like he’s remembering long ago instead of two days before. It shouldn’t be this hard, he thinks. He shouldn’t have come back.

The bed dips down but Sam isn’t startled. He’d know Dean anywhere from that stupid thing he does where he gets on the bed knees first before he turns over and settles down. Sam doesn’t move, bites down on his lip to invoke the pain of the most recent time he’s fucked things up. Brady used to tell him that he was like a machine when it came to crunching facts. All the logical analysis he’d brought into surviving highschool finally reaping its reward in college, but none of that flies here. He didn’t weigh the risks of kissing Dean, he just acted, like one night back home had driven him right back to the person he was before he left, inappropriate crush and all. He opens his eyes, body pressed into the bed, dark vision tinged with light, breathes in the scent of cotton, damp from his breath and waits.

Dean doesn’t disappoint, walks his hand down Sam’s spine, hesitates at the dip where his back curves into his ass and stops, rests there, warm and heavy on Sam’s skin through his shirt, and Sam thinks of all those textbooks in neat medical rows in the library, all the sneaking into lectures he wasn’t signed up for, all of the knowledge he’s accumulated about what this is, how fucked up it means they are, how he’s damaged beyond repair because he couldn’t stick the course and break it off. But none of it, none of it means anything in comparison to this, to the way that Dean’s rucked up just a little of his shirt, exposes a sliver of skin and just runs his thumb along it, slow and sure, like this isn’t Dean freaking out all over the place.

Sam can feel every minute portion of his skin respond, draws in a deeper breath. He feels Dean lean in closer, too warm now and too close, as smothering as he’s comforting, as Dean gets his whole hand under Sam’s shirt, splayed on the skin of his back like he’s working up to second base with a girl, nails blunt against Sam's spine, an idle rhythm and Sam wants. Wants more than he can handle wanting. Doesn’t care where he is, that they haven’t talked about this at all. He can hear Dean’s breathing, fast and shallow now, and when he hauls his face out of the mattress, Dean looks at him like he’s the only thing that matters, and it makes something in Sam’s gut twist in pain, in recognition. Sam’s sloughing off Stanford and Russian doll dreams of perfect families, they’re splintering under this, the force of reality, the onslaught of every year of his life adding up and this being the sum. Dean’s matching it, he thinks, in the only way he knows how, reaching out and pulling Sam back in, and Christ, Sam is willing. He thinks about how Dean thinks Sam is leaving at the end of this, but he’ll still do it, is overcome by the same urge Sam is.

Outside the door John says impatiently that he needs a ride, and with a groan Dean stands up, pupils huge in his face like he’s on something, the thinnest rim of colour around them, and Sam can see him shake, feels himself mirror it, all down his legs, finest fear tremor from just one touch. Then he'd gone with John, and Sam’s alone with his thoughts and a half-hard dick from the merest brush, and the same sickly shapeless fear in his belly at what this means. When he closes his eyes, he dreams a dream that’s mostly a memory.

In the dream it's golden and perfect and he's seventeen, sitting alone in a wheat-field, staring at his schoolbooks. If he looks up he can see the sky, blue and serene, empty of everything. It's never been as quiet as this before that he can remember - there's not an engine running in the background, not so much as a bird crying out. There's not even a breath of wind to stir the wheat, and although if he listens closely he can hear the tiny whirr of insects on the stalks, unfocused like this he can't even hear that. A heavy hand falls on his shoulder, a shadow blots out the sun for a second, welcome shade falling over his flushed face as Dean tuts and squats in front of him brandishing a tube of sunblock, like Sam's an idiot. Sam pretends to scowl because he's sitting in the middle of a field, crushing crops around him for a reason and that reason is getting left alone. He can't muster up any real anger though and Dean knows that, opens the tube and squirts him in the face with it, a squirt hitting his nose and like that they're fighting, because that's what Dean does when he's bored. He antagonizes Sam.

They fight until they're breathless, doing more damage to a farmer's field in three minutes of low-down wrestling than mites probably do in a month. Sam doesn't feel guilty though. He's too busy gulping in hot thick air and trying to stop Dean from cheating like the fucker Dean is, by tickling him, getting his fingers deep into his ribs. In the memory, that’s where it stops, Dean convulsed in helpless laughter until he can choke out that they need to get back, the constant refrain of their lives - make sure Dad’s okay, and it’s one of the few rare fully happy moments that Sam can remember.

In the dream it doesn’t stop. Sam’s hard and breathless, and when Dean rolls him over to get rid of the prying fingers, Sam rocks against him, sharp edges of the wheat prickling him all over underneath, unbearable heat of Dean and the sun above, and he’s breaking apart, sun in his eyes and he squints until all he can see is the dark outline of Dean against the sky and all he can feel is Dean’s hand on him over his shorts, hesitant. Pulls him down until they’re hip to hip, messy and reckless and ridiculous, wants to kiss him but slips right off like the dream will only extend so far, and when Sam opens his eyes, he doesn’t even know if it was a dream at all, the memory so sharp, so realistic that he could almost smell the earthy green smell of the crushed wheat, feel the dirt under his nails from clawing at the ground. He’s all the way hard now, gets his hand into his boxers and clutches at his dick like that’ll help, teenage mistake right there. He keeps an ear open for the car - whatever is between him and Dean, he doesn’t want to be caught masturbating to a dream, goes off like a rocket at the phantom pressure of Dean’s lips on his cheekbone, the press of his body against him, shudders into his hand.

Uncaught in the act as he was, there’s no hiding what he’s done when Dean gets back, sharp smell still in the air and Dean stands still for a moment in the doorway, until, deceptively casual he strolls over and slaps Sam on his shoulder. “If you want to take a shower after that, you’d better give me a hand,” and there’s a familiar flare of heat that twitches across his face that Sam recognises, that he’s seen before once or twice. He trails after Dean and they're back to where they were that morning, Sam handing tools over, Dean doing arcane things with them that may or may not work.

Sam imagines the rest of his life like this, a small town, small people, a father who might get a little better but would never be better. So tangled together with Dean that they’d never have anything else, none of the things Sam wants, none of the things he left to get - not the money to even try and fix John if it can even be done, not the freedom to move and change and even the thought of it all presses phantom pressure against his throat like a gentle compression of his windpipe. Then there’s the rest of it, Dean against the wall oblivious to everything as he fiddles with a pipe, and he doesn’t even know, can’t even imagine what to do. Thinks that with the slightest tap, pressure applied just right, he’ll shake apart into a million unfixable pieces.

Dean doesn’t touch him again. Not when the shower is fixed and Sam spends most of his time in it vacillating between anger and fear at the desperate need that runs through his bones, or that night in bed where they echo again the straight unyielding lines of a properly drawn family tree. Sam doesn’t reach out, bruised lip reminding him of the risk, just watches Dean and waits, forces himself to be patient not to lunge and grab. Dean barely even looks at him, like he’s angry all over again, some deep wellspring of it bubbling out of him, repressed and denied and hidden but spilling out of the cracks, and Sam thinks again of living here. Of nights in the same shitty bed, the taste of sweat on Dean’s skin, the prying gaze of quasi-strangers who know everything there is to know about him according to their lights and the crushing eternal weight of this house, no future in it. Turns it over in his mind fruitlessly, no solution to it ever.

On the third night they sleep together, hands to themselves, acceptable decent inch between their skins, Sam dreams. It’s not the first time he’s dreamed this dream - there’s a yellow eyed man watching him in cracked mirrors and when he touches Sam, it’s with feathersoft hands like he wants to draw him in. Then there’s fire and someone on the ceiling screaming, torn open and set on fire, a living pyrotechnic display and he almost chokes on his tongue. He realises as he wakes, that he’s making grunting noises like strangled screams, and Dean’s there, hand on his chest, bringing him up and out of it. Sam focuses on that touch until Dean pulls away, settles back down. Sam stares at the ceiling, feels the sweat dry cold and clammy on his skin until with a muffled grunt, Dean turns over, fits his knees into the back of Sam’s legs, throws an arm over him, suffocating and unavoidable and it’s too fucking hot for it, but it feels too damn good to turn down. He lies there, breathes in evenly, sweat pooling at the base of his spine, feels the press of Dean’s soft dick against his ass and tries not to think of the yellow eyed man.

In the morning, they’ve separated, though Dean’s hand is still on Sam’s arm, and Sam holds his breath for a long moment before he gets up, already in the routine like he’d never ever left it, and he knows he should be worried. Should want to run before he can’t but the touch of Dean against his skin wears away at his sanity it seems, and he makes and eats his second breakfast in twelve hours if you include last night's dinner, at the table with John. He follows Dean into town to where Dean works before he splits to see if he can find some part time work himself, easily slipping back into the old pace of their life.

Sam comes back home with a fistful of leaflets and a couple of forms, and Dean pushes him down onto the couch and blows him, with a single-minded ferocity that scares the shit out of Sam as much as it arouses him, because he’d bet his student debt that Dean’s never blown anyone before, town too small for that, Dean’s reputation with the girls already bad enough. He sinks his fingers into his thighs (later examines the dark bruises he leaves on his own skin) so he can resist forcing Dean down further, opens his legs and lets Dean work, mouth wet and tight and so good it hurts. He’s so on edge he could’ve come in seconds, but Dean takes big breaths and takes it slow, draws it out like he doesn’t mind at all, hand coaxing more of Sam in, until his eyes water and Sam's strung up and out at the mere touch of Dean against him. He can’t protest, can only feebly jerk up against the sweet pressure of Dean’s tongue, thrust his hand in his own mouth and bite down hard, a second set of self inflicted marks from one blowjob. He doesn’t like to think what would happen if they had sex. Dean doesn’t say what brought that on afterwards, gives Sam an inscrutable look and jerks himself off, elbows Sam away when Sam tries to reciprocate, like a mouth for a mouth would make the whole world mute, and there’s whisky on his breath, sour and strong like a cover for what he feels.

Sam gets a part time job in a shop, mostly, he suspects, from the owner’s sheer need to get every single detail of his family life out of him, a curiosity as oddly impersonal as it is devouring. Every night he comes back, helps out with his dad depending what the day has been like, and sleeps toe to toe with Dean, choking on nightmares and half-remembered dreams, Stanford retreating further from him like a dog-eared porn mag, guiltily pored over once and ruined. From habit, he has a beer or two, no more, frugality a watchword he can’t seem to break. He slides away from all the ways that had showed, how his life at Stanford had been constructed and maintained on the same pleasant lies as he told Mr Sorenson, his boss, straight to his face. Father a war veteran, Dean the good son who stayed home, Sam the bright one who left for college, the neatness of the roles comforting and alien. No space in there for Dean’s breath on the back of Sam’s neck or how close his hand comes to resting on Sam’s dick as he chivvies Sam out of a nightmare. No room for how every time he takes a breath he feels like he might choke on it. The time away from Dean doesn’t help, they don’t need to be in the same room to screw each other up.

They don’t take the local newspaper - John’s reputation is better than a mad dog for keeping the junk away but Sam picks up a copy on a whim at work when he’s left his book at home, flicks through it half-heartedly as he takes his coffee-break. The paper is more an excuse to avoid talking than holding any endless fascination in its own right. He scans the jobs first, through force of habit, then the community section for the socially morbid interest of possibly spotting people he used to go to school with. The story that grabs him though is frontpage stuff. Three heart attacks in the same old abandoned house. Sam knows it. It’s where Dean went to do stupid shit in school on the rare rare times that it’d been possible, because a supposedly haunted house was a highschool kid’s playground.

Sam had been himself once or twice, rebellion twisting in his stomach like it'd been a fuck you to John even if their dad never knew about it, a way of walking that line and pretending like he was normal for all of thirty seconds. He'd never seen anything there, never felt anything, though he'd kept these stupid little sachets of salt in his pockets that Dean made him carry, like it would do any good at all, so maybe that was why. He can't forget it though, vaguely remembers John telling them three's the magic number. One death is unlucky, two is maybe coincidence (but don't take the chance), three is a pattern smacking you in the face. It goes round and round in his head for the rest of the day, he can't stop thinking about it. Three. He tries not to think of their father's face, broken up and twisted in grief and confusion the last time they'd hunted, the hunt that made John accept that they were done for good. Tries not to think of the heavy sarcasm Dean would breathe. Anything's better than home, huh Sam?

He takes the paper with him anyways when he clocks off. Thinks that maybe he'll phone Bobby and let him know - if he can find Bobby's number in the messiness of the kitchen drawers where Dean shoves everything he can't be bothered to deal with. If he digs beneath the bills and the ten year old greaseproof paper that had been there when they moved in, Sam wonders if he'll find all the fucks Dean doesn't seem to give anymore about anything. Only it doesn't work out that way because nothing ever does. He leaves the paper on the table and that's his first mistake because John finds it. There's a reason they don't talk hunting anymore around him, it triggers his most violent impulses - the only topic of conversation that fucks him up worse is the barest mention of his wife.

Sam has this kind of hope for a second when he sees his dad studying the paper. That everything's going to be all right. No matter how much Dean accuses him of being a downer, it's Sam who's always been the optimist while Dean seems to think that if you expect the worst, there's nothing else the world can throw at you. Which is fucking stupid because Sam knows from bitter experience that there's always something worse than you can imagine. But as it stands, he's always had these weird little hiccups, nothing more than fleeting moments where he feels that it's all going to be fine, breathless moments of hope encapsulated in the eye of the storm - never anything more than a temporary floating relief before the shit hits the fan. He has one right that second, a moment of time enough for him to construct this fantasy that in some opposite universe, hearing about this job will make John better.

It doesn’t, and he knew that it wouldn’t but it’s still a kick when John looks up and he’s not there anymore. Not the dad Sam remembers from before this nor the one who hangs on day by day, grimly doing the best he can. And it’s why he came back when all’s said and done. Because he got out, but you don’t get away from this, you don’t leave a man behind. It’s a fight he can’t be sure of winning, because only one of them wants to hurt the other, and Sam hasn’t fought properly in two years. Pushing a drunk off his girlfriend in a bar isn’t fighting, and he’s taller now than he used to be, more awkward. There’s no point talking John down when he’s like this, in the first edge of the anger because he can’t even hear what’s being said, so Sam saves his breath and tries not to get pinned as John makes him for him, deadly and intent. Winchester family trait, Sam thinks, solve it with your fists, so bonedeep you don't even need to be yourself for it to kick in.

John smashes a chair against the wall, brutally efficient, picks up the chair leg and Sam's resorted to hoping he can dodge, maybe get in close and risk going hand to hand. When Dean comes running in, Sam feels relief flood him. Dean’s an extra pair of experienced hands, and John’s not stupid, even like this. He knows he’s outnumbered, presses his back against a wall and watches them with empty eyes like he thinks they’ll attack. Sam wonders what exactly it is that he’s seeing when he looks at them. Sam starts talking then, low and mindless, feels Dean’s gaze burn hot on the side of his face, and John’s relaxing, just a little. Sam doesn’t even know what he’s saying - stupid things, pointless things. But it’s words and he guesses most of the things John hunted in his time didn’t talk like this. When John’s fingers loosen on the chair leg he’s holding and a dreadful semi-awareness returns to his eyes, Dean’s there like Sam can’t be, one hand on his father’s shoulder, the other taking a bottle of tablets from his pocket, shaking them out into the palm of his hand. They’re a sedative but they generally only work after an attack, like there’s no pill in the world that’ll tackle the full force of John Winchester’s misery.

Afterwards, John's silent, if not happy, and in bed with a book he won’t read before he slides into oblivious sleep, room locked up tight, shutters down. Dean paces up and down and Sam watches him, waits for the inevitable, spine steeled for the words Dean had thrown at him, the first day he’d got back. How he’d left. But nothing comes out, Dean choking back the words as though they didn’t already trot through Sam’s mind at night. Instead Dean's screwing his fingers into the neck of Sam’s shirt and yanking him close, like if they’re pressed up against each other, Sam won’t see the desolate look on Dean's face, mirror image of the empty pit inside Sam that nothing can ever fill.

When they make it to the bedroom, the curtains are closed and the room is dark, and Dean’s fingers are already crawling to Sam’s jean buttons, yanking them free like they’ve done him a personal wrong, before he pulls off his own shirt and then pulls Sam close. It’s easier like this in the dark - Sam can’t see the scar on Dean's chest where he learnt how dangerous it was to play with knives. He can’t see anything but a dim outlined shape, can’t see the shape of Dean’s eyes or the cleverness of his mouth, can only feel his gaze and appreciate the way that mouth gets to work on him. There’s no words spelt out with the movement of Dean’s lips against his skin but Sam hears the question that’ll never be asked - are you staying?

Yes, he thinks, yes. He’ll stay no matter the cost, or at least his body tells him so. His answer is as silent as the question. Sam twists them around so Dean’s underneath, reaches out and turns the lamp on, soft yellow light spilling out of the shade, bulb dim but enough to see by because the dark is easier and that’s not what he wants. Dean’s still and silent for one long second before he lets out a sigh and pulls Sam down, steady and close against each other and what had been slow, unhurried frottage changes.

Sex has never felt like this before, Sam thinks dimly, doesn't want to consider too closely the reasons for that. Sex with Jess was awesome and fun, she'd made him feel good, and he thinks he did the same for her if the way she sounded had been any indication at all. Sex with Dean, isn't good. Sex with Dean is three parts fight and one part reluctant co-operation, fingers fumbling at pants at the same moment, fingers bent back painfully when Dean rips them down any old way, and Sam can't understand what this does to him, the liquid hunger every touch evokes, until he feels like he needs out of his skin, needs to wriggle free from it because the heat is driving him mad. They're already slick and wet from the heat of the air around them, slippery and clumsy. He gets his t-shirt off with a minimum of aggro and Dean draws him down again just like that, thighs uncomfortable around Sam's legs, thick heavy dick poking out of his jeans, a moment of absurdity that almost draws a hysterical giggle from Sam, before Dean bites down hard and every urge to laugh vanishes, and he needs more than he can say, to do this, put the seal on the thing that's been brewing between them. He wants to smear messy handprints over the clean expanse of the last two years.

Dean gets a hand between them, strokes his own dick, digs those blunt teeth deeper into Sam's skin and pulls, and Sam can't help the sound he makes, half way between pain and being turned the fuck on. It doesn't feel good, it feels relentless, as though in that second, it's something he has to endure, but the throb of his skin syncs up with the relentlessness of his heartbeat, loud enough that he thinks it might thump out of his chest and there’s words for what it does to him. His lip gives one fierce twitch as though in reminder of the first time Dean set his teeth to him. He's not about to let it slide though. He licks his way along Dean's neck, wet and sloppy and not doing much at all, prickling Dean with a return threat of teeth, as Dean's hands slide down Sam’s back, dip into his boxers, and send a hot-chill adrenaline rush up his spine. He gets all the way to Dean's ear, and speaks the truth - or at least the truth as he knows it, mumbled shattered words that might not even make any sense, words that would make his blood run cold if he said them in the light of day, anywhere but here with whisky fire in his veins, and the adrenaline still pumping through his blood.

Dean's breath hitches, and Sam swallows the silence with a kiss so Dean can't say anything back. Any tiny bit of finesse he's learnt has been lost somewhere along the way, and Dean's no better off - he sucks on Sam's tongue until it almost hurts, dull aching throb in his mouth to match his dick and his skin, like there's no bit of him that isn't going to bear the marks of this tomorrow. He's barely aware that he has his fingers too tight around Dean's dick, and too slow if the aggrieved sound Dean makes into his mouth is any indication, and he speeds it up. Sam’s hips ache from the effort of not grinding close, sudden desperate pulls of his hand as he wants things he can't even name. Not just this, and he thinks of Dean's mouth on him, of the way he'd sucked him off - brutally, like an atonement for things done and said, and his dick twitches, wet and sticky in its cloth prison. The angle is all wrong, and Dean's pulling him closer, but Sam wants to feel Dean come like this, all over his hands, to reach the point at which they've gone so far that turning back is out of his hands, like they haven't reached that point a thousand times over already.

It doesn't feel right or perfect, there's no ease to the way they touch, but it feels necessary, like everything else that draws Sam back, to here, to this place, to the moment he's spent too long running from. Getting his jeans down is a nightmare, toes clawing at the ends, too damp and sticky on him clinging like a second skin. He thinks dimly of skinwalkers, feels just like them, like there's something monstrous inside him that's squirming out of a disguise, naked and wet, and as Dean gets a hand back round his neck and pulls him down, it's like calling to like. He can feel this sound welling up in his throat that he’s never heard before from himself or anyone else, can't let it escape. Lets it out into Dean's skin, feels him jerk up as though the touch of Sam’s mouth burns.

He’s lost for a long second, doesn’t even know what he wants, a vast horizon spreading out before him, all the shameful half-formed things he’s ever thought about pushing their way up to the forefront of his mind. Wants Dean’s mouth back on his dick like it’s an ache inside him, remembers again the wet gleam of his eyes as he pinned Sam down with only his mouth, wonders what it’d feel like to reciprocate. He’s sucked one dude off in his life, before he met Jess, remembers being so drunk and lonely, thoughts of home in his head, that it’d seemed like a good idea to find the nearest dude with broad shoulders and green eyes who’d let Sam go down on him so he could stifle himself, drive the thoughts out of his mind.

It seems like a good idea at that second and he gets his hand round Dean’s dick and then his lips, hears Dean cry out and then shut himself up, shifting restlessly under Sam’s mouth, rich bitter taste of him curling round Sam’s tongue and it’s no easier sober, he feels choked and breathless, jams himself down a little further because he’s not chickening out, not when he finally gets this, whatever it is. His belly heaves and it’s like there’s a heavy hand on his back pressing him further down, one step walked on this path, before Dean’s pulling him off with a slurred you idiot, which Sam would take offense to, if Dean wasn’t leaning forward, smearing away the wetness from Sam’s mouth and replacing his dick with his tongue, fingers stroking down the side of his jaw like he can’t believe Sam would do this for him, like he’s never been able to believe that something halfway good might be intended for him.

Between them still, Dean’s dick is almost obscene, wet from Sam’s mouth and Sam still wants something, he can’t say what because he doesn’t even know, only knows that even this is not enough. Wonders if Dean would let Sam fuck him like this, spread out on the bed and begging for it, the resistance of his body no match for the welcome in his arms. He knows Dean would do it, would turn over for him gladly when he’s never done it before, and it’s why he can’t ask no matter how much he wants it, not today. Can’t let Dean, who probably thinks Sam’s leaving all over again, do that for him, and he can’t offer it himself, too afraid of Dean pulling away as though that’s the barrier he can’t cross, the one thing he won’t do. Maybe later, when this isn’t so new that it can’t be shattered with a word, they’ll test those boundaries together.

So instead he jerks Dean off, hip close, rhythm finally found between them, long sweet slide of Dean through his fingers, and he can barely take it all in, the smell of Dean’s skin, the flutter of his eyelashes as he closes his eyes for a moment as though he can’t take it any longer, ducks his head once and licks the head of Dean’s cock on a downstroke more for the show of it than anything else and Dean jerks with the force of his orgasm, head snapping back as he comes all over Sam’s hand, twitching with the aftermath and Sam can’t stop touching him, gentler now, slower but wanting every last moment, everything that Dean has to give.

Dean pushes him down and sucks him off after that, like one blowjob makes him an expert, lets Sam get his hands in his hair this time as he spreads Sam’s thighs and gets between them, bulk of his shoulders most of what Sam can see as he keeps his head down. Sam thrusts up into Dean’s mouth, chases the edge, traces the curve of Dean’s cheek before he grips his hair again and Dean moans around him, unexpected and raw, pulls off for a second and sucks two fingers gets them wet before he turns his attention back to the task at hand - getting as much of Sam down his throat as he can manage before he wriggles a finger up into Sam, like he knows Sam needs the final edge, the press of being taken too far, too fast, like he owns Sam enough to know what to do with him, and that gets Sam the last of the way there, hot rush of pleasure liquid in him as he pulses into Dean’s mouth, clenches down hard.

There’s silence afterwards that Sam doesn’t want to break, closes his eyes and feels Dean crawl back up beside him, febrilely hot along the left side of his body, fingers brushing Sam’s hip for a moment and those he thinks they’ve gone too far. Sam turns towards him and shares air for a second, can see Dean’s face, the hope in it, ready to retreat at a moment’s notice, closes his eyes and moves in closer. In the morning he’s telling Dean outright that he’s staying. For now, he wants to sleep, wants the heavy presence of Dean beside him to ward away any dreams.


The living room is dark when Sam walks out, feeling his way through the murky gloom towards the kitchen, mouth parched, skin sore. He swills out a glass and then downs as much water as he can, refills it for Dean who'll bitch about his thirst when he finally wakes up. When he stumbles over a shoe, he lets out a silent fuck, a long exhale and in the darkness there's a tsk.

Ice-water cascaded down Sam's spine, his mouth instantly dry again. "Who's there?" he says quietly, tries to shout for Dean but chokes on the words like there's cottonwool in his mouth.

"I'm hurt you don't know me Sammy," says a voice that sounds too familiar. "We share a connection, I assure you." The light flicks on and Sam sees him, the glint of recognisable yellow eyes, a grin with too many teeth, and part of him relaxes. A dream. "Not a dream," the man said a little dryly, but then he's said that before as well and Sam isn't convinced. "I'm here to give you a present Sam. Something you've been lacking. A purpose. Can't have you staying here forever when we both know that's not what you're destined for."

Sam knows what comes next - he's seen this dream before after all, seen the burning, and finally he screams as the room erupts into flames, that spread wildly from the ceiling, to the curtains and the battered furniture, as John Winchester stares vacantly down at him from where he's wreathed with flames on the ceiling. It's a scene he's seen a thousand times though never with his father in the victim’s place, it’s seared onto his retinas and he still can't believe it's real until the smell hits, the unmistakable horrific scent of burning flesh, a detail that's never been there before, and he chokes on it, on the acrid smoke, feels himself begin to singe, then he knows that this is happening.

It's on autopilot that he runs for the bedroom, where Dean's sleeping the sleep of the just, an unnatural sleep, Sam thinks and he can't wait for Dean to wake up properly, has to get him out before the gas cylinder in the kitchen goes, drags him like once Dean dragged him out of a burning building. Can't think of his father on the ceiling, burning to death for a purpose the sick unholy twin of his mother, can't think of anything except getting out.


The car is pretty much undamaged - it's the only thing they have left, the house a ruin, nothing that can be done. Bobby Singer drawn by the news, drops by, tells them to visit, that he’ll get them started or in Dean’s case back on the road, straight and simple, and neither of them question it. They sit beside each other in the car and their dreams burn over and over inside their skulls, along with the simple vital question of how else it could have gone. Sam can't even wonder what he could have done to stop it - the demon's words pound behind his eyes, a dull constant ache of apprehension, guilt and fear.

Dean folds his fingers over Sam’s knee and Sam lets him, squeezes them back before they pull out onto the road, leave the house behind, kick dust over the town and shake their boots of the place. There’s a demon to hunt and work to do.

Feedback really appreciated


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
So relentless! And how sad to think tragedy follows them no matter what the alternative universe....

You did good, my dear!
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks both for beta-ing and reading again! I can't help thinking that tragedy will always follow them wherever they go, but I can't help thinking they might have a greater chance of happiness in the end in this scenario (I'm a hopeless optimist!)
Nov. 12th, 2014 11:14 pm (UTC)
This is amazing, heartbreaking and hot and wonderful:)
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much - really kind of you to say and appreciated.
Nov. 13th, 2014 02:44 am (UTC)
Wow. This was intense.

The writing had an almost dream like quality to it. Just... wow.

This is great.
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad you liked it and that dream like unreal quality is exactly what I was going for - so cheers!
Nov. 15th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry I couldn't do artwork for you :( This fic deserves beautiful art.

I really, really love it. Whenever John came "onscreen," there was such a helpless, hopeless feeling. I love how Sam wants to wipe out all of Stanford, to just come home and stay, and I so wish that he'd had a chance to tell Dean before the end, so Dean would believe him instead of just thinking that Sam's along for the ride because he has to be.

I loved the memory/dream of Sam and Dean in the cornfield, and I also love how different it was from their actual sex. Mannn, your characterization of Dean is brutal, and perfect for how he'd be if he were stuck in this depressing, never-ending rut of John's madness and Sam's absence, and his deep, painful feelings for Sam even while Sam was gone.

Sex with Dean is three parts fight and one part reluctant co-operation, fingers fumbling at pants at the same moment, fingers bent back painfully when Dean rips them down any old way, and Sam can't understand what this does to him, the liquid hunger every touch evokes, until he feels like he needs out of his skin, needs to wriggle free from it because the heat is driving him mad. That is so amazing.

Really, all of it is amazing! I love your language so much, your metaphors, the inside of Sam and Dean's heads. It's all painful and beautiful and I feel bruised after reading it, like I was there with them, hurting and trying and striving to come closer/stay away. it's a great feeling, and one I very, very rarely get when reading.

You really did an incredible job with this story. I loved reading it.

edited for typos, sorry!

Edited at 2014-11-15 01:03 pm (UTC)
Nov. 18th, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
Don't worry about it at all, you know that - real life really holds the trump card!

Thank you for such an amazing comment, I honestly can't tell you how much I appreciate it. This is one of those fics where I angsted a lot over it and I really didn't expect there to be much of an audience for it (which is true it seems) so your comment really really cheered me.

I'm especially glad Dean's characterisation worked for you - it's harsher than the show I think, but that's because the situation is worse than the show and in some ways substantially tougher. Hearing that it worked for you in such a visceral way was also amazing, that the hurt of it came through somewhat. Thanks once again.
Nov. 16th, 2014 06:32 pm (UTC)
I loved your use of language, was delighted when the POV switched to Sam unexpectedly, and again when YED showed up. "Of course!" I said out loud, John has to die on the ceiling! Is it ok that I kind of feel better that it wasn't Jess in this version of the boy's inevitable turn towards full-time hunting? This was wonderfully dark but not depressing, thanks for sharing!
Nov. 18th, 2014 04:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you on all counts (and super glad the POV shift worked! It was a risk but one I wanted to take). Absolutely not wrong to feel glad it wasn't Jess - that was actually one of my first thoughts on beginning this story - I didn't want Jess to die and using John as a mirror of Mary just made significantly more sense to me. Thanks v much for your kind comment!
Nov. 22nd, 2014 01:16 pm (UTC)
This was a fic you feel more than process with words. It read like tumbling through someone's mind. So well done, just beautiful and haunting. You are unbelievable <3
Nov. 23rd, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
Aww man thank you so much. I'm so glad you liked it, and I'm really glad that it worked for you like that.
Dec. 7th, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
Damn, damn, damn. This was a sea of feelings in which I happily drowned. Well, maybe happily is a strange word choice, since I spent most of the story inwardly howling in agony, but, you know. I suffered, but I was happy about it!!

I felt broken open by the life Dean got left behind with, by Sam's leaving to try to make things better and his ultimately coming back because that's the only way he really could. I love that he elected to stay before things went bottoms-up (that was an insensitive joke, Cherie). Their physical relationship was a beautiful reflection of where they were emotionally, Dean so desperate to stay mad at Sam but not being able to keep those fights from turning into caresses any better than he was able to hold in his concerned questions and love. And then the end. Well, it was exactly what it needed to be, wasn't it? The moment Sam realized there was someone in the kitchen with him, I got this horrible whammy of "jesus this is what was always going to happen."

Really great work, bb.
Dec. 9th, 2014 04:44 pm (UTC)
♥ I can't say how happy I am that you liked it! I did wonder if perhaps I'd gone a little bit over the top with the unrelenting misery but then I remembered that they're together in the end, and that cancels most all of it out.

I guess there always has to be a reason for them to be out and back on the road, and it just made so much more sense in this iteration for it to be John that burns rather than Jess.

Thanks so much for the comment.
Jan. 10th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC)
Wow, this was so absorbing! I loved how as the story went on, it revolved to show us that in fact all of them were "the one left behind". So much pain and tragedy, but in the end, Sam and Dean have each other and they're heading out to do battle. There are worse things. :-) Well done.
Jan. 10th, 2015 02:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm so glad that it felt like they were all included in that pain. For me, as long as they're together in the end by their choice it's mostly a happy ending! Cheers again.
Jan. 17th, 2015 12:12 am (UTC)
Oh, there is no rest for our boys, is there?
Btw, I loved how Sam thinks that he wouldn't leave his family if only they kept moving. Dream on Sammy boy!
Thanks for sharing.
Jan. 23rd, 2015 02:45 am (UTC)
No rest at all! I'm so glad you noticed that bit - I think we always want the unknown/what we don't have, so it made sense to have Sam think longingly of moving when he's got the poisoned home life.

Thanks for the comment!
Jun. 15th, 2015 10:27 pm (UTC)
This was great.

Frankly, this story made John's death feel more like a mercy killing, since his life must have been like a kind of torture, and this time at least he's wherever Mary is instead of in Hell.

It makes sense that all it really took, instead of words and tears, was for Sam to look for a local job and share in the work of caring for John (in other words, all Sam had to do was stay) to make Dean forgive him, and that the forgiveness came in the form of wordless, immediate sex. On TV, they have to have the guys talking everything out, but this was more believable.

Also, thanks for switching to Sam's POV, and explaining the ultimate goal of Stanford was to help his family. I like this take on Sam's motivations.

Good story.
Jun. 17th, 2015 10:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the comment - I'm really glad that you enjoyed it. John's life was pretty awful, and it felt thematically appropriate for the story to have him burn instead of Jess, and yeah, now he gets to be with Mary again.

I'm glad also that Sam and Dean's motivations worked for you - that neither of them are perfect or 100% right, but that there can be reconciliation between them. Thanks again, for your kind words!
Oct. 22nd, 2017 01:11 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed this very much! Dark but good. Thanks for letting Jess out of it!

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heart, Dean and Sam

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