glovered: (highway)
[personal profile] glovered


Knowing his brother is asleep in the next room quells the nightmares, and Sam sleeps undisturbed for three solid hours, waking from a dream that Dean's come to live with him forever.

He creeps into the living room just to confirm that it's true, at least for the time being. He can just make out the familiar shape of Dean on the sofa. There's Dean's arm under a pillow and the other hanging off onto the floor. He can hear a quiet snoring.

Sam closes his door softly and sits at the edge of his bed.

There's no creak of floorboards. Sam is alone here, with no one but himself. His roommate is gone. Dean is dead asleep on the sofa, seeing Sam only in dreams, and Sam doesn't need to know the contents of the video. Any national scandal is miles away from their reality, but it doesn't change the fact that he's been thinking about it all night.

That's an argument to leave this secret stone unturned. But also Sam needs to know the full details in order to help Dean out.

It's a pitiful excuse that he knows doesn't hold any water, but it's the headline that pushes him over the edge. Dean Smith, gay rodeo star and other links on a similar vein.

He reads: An angel in the streets, cowboy in the sheets, Smith's early work circa 2016 surfaced early yesterday morning, after an anonymous source claimed to have 'the romance blockbuster America has been waiting for'. News sources expected it to be the leaked footage of Smith's recently shot film, now in post-production, so were understandably scandalized to find a western romance more befitting x-rated porn browser

Sam's hand is in a fist on his leg, whether in anger or anticipation he couldn't say. His cursor hovers over the link to the video.

"No." He shakes his head even though he's alone in the room, saying aloud, "No, don't do it. You're going to hate yourself in about a minute."

A better man would resist. But Sam has always been quick fire, all-emotion when it comes to his brother, and he is no better man.

He bites his lip and clicks the link to the video.

It's set in a barn, and Sam can already see what's coming when the camera pans to the bed of hay strewn across the dirt floor. Milk pails are stacked in one corner and a shiny tractor sits, obviously never used, in the other. A raven-haired farmhand grunts theatrically as he tosses bales of the same hay with a pitchfork.

"It's mighty hot in here," he says, and strips off his shirt to wipe his dewy forehead. He runs a hand sensually down his chest.

"I'll show you hot," drawls a familiar voice, causing Sam's mouth to go dry.

Porn music starts up. Sam should have expected the cowboy hat. The assless chaps make sense but are nonetheless surprising, and the open white suede vest is ridiculous.

Dean advances on the farmhand, making a few more choice puns about the heat and getting a workout.

The guy may respond with something along the lines of "take me now, farmer Joe" before falling back into the piles of hay.

It's mortifying, which is a relief to realize. Ignoring the fact that Sam has thought about this his whole life, he's glad he's somewhat normal. It should be hard to watch Dean get hot and heavy with someone.

He can't decide whether to look away as Dean shrugs out of his vest and kneels over the guy. Sam almost closes his computer right then and there, but he finds he can't move his hands from where they're spread on his thighs.

There is tongue action and a lot of grinding going on that blurs before Sam's wide eyes, and he nearly bites through his lip at the buttplug stuff. Sam's not at all squeamish, but it happens a bit too quickly for his comfort.

At least Dean is still clothed from the waist down, while the other guy is completely bare-ass naked. He thinks the farmhand might be moaning for real now. It sounds less faked as the plug continues to be applied to multiple orifices.

Sam squeaks when Dean reaches in his own leathers to grab his junk.

The other man moans in a wanton manner and spreads his legs, and Dean licks his lips like he's hungry for it.

"I bring out the whip next."

Sam jerks upright from how he's been slouching in toward the computer to watch. "Shit! Shit, uh, Dean—"

Dean, the real Dean, has let himself into Sam's room and is leaning, arms crossed, against the door frame. How long he's been watching Sam watch him, Sam doesn't know.

Dean nods to the laptop. "In about five minutes—" He steps further into the room, clicking the door gingerly closed behind him. "—after he shoots his load from just that plug, that's when I pull out the whip."

"Uh. I'm so— So sorry. I mean, obviously I am." Sam's face is burning. He's miserable.

Dean only shrugs, and sits at the edge of Sam's bed, his knee pressing Sam's. "I argued it wasn't very cowboy-accurate, but when I got into it it was kind of fun."


Dean shakes his head. "I've always liked cowboys, or at least I think I have."

They watch in silence video keeps planing. The whip makes an appearance, as promised, but Sam exits out of the window when Dean starts using it.

The silence that falls is very fraught. On his part, not Dean's. Sam is a horrible person, they both now know it.

Sam shuts the laptop, casting them in darkness and he thinks he can imagine what comes next. But the anticipation is killing him.

Dean's hand drops heavy on Sam's knee and Sam shivers, his entire body thrilling at the touch.

"You know," says Dean, near and close in the dark. "Normally invasion of privacy is something I frown upon. But for some reason I'm finding this instance impressively hot."

"You're going to hate me later," Sam tells them both.

Dean's mouth finds his easily, like it was meant to. He feels like Sam has always imagined, hot and sturdy. His hands are soft on Sam's arms, hair rough then soft as Sam ruins the styling. His knee is jammed against Dean's until he lies back onto the small matress and drags Dean down with him.

Things go quickly, Dean Smith is not fond of foreplay. Rough making out turns into Sam moaning against him, as Dean slides a hand between them, taking control.

All the terrible things they've done in the dark together, and now this. It feels like goodbye.

Sam is surprised to find Dean still in his bed in the morning, unreal in the golden light. His bare skin is lined unevenly by a hundred barely-there silvery scars.

There's a pain in Sam's chest where he thinks his heart used to be. He knows what it's like to wake up like Dean must have, memory washed clean and body telling a story he can't read. And it will have to stay that way. When it's safe for Dean to leave today, or maybe tomorrow, Sam will let him go. This time for good. Sam will never make peace with losing his brother, but he's learning to accept it every day.

Dean's eyes flutter open, guileless and untroubled. "Morning, sunshine."

It's somewhat sarcastic and perfect and Dean's such an unsettling shade of himself that Sam has to look away. This was never his, and it's not his now, either.

Dean seems to sense the mood. He presses Sam away with a hand on his chest as he sits up. "This calls for caffeine," he says. "You have coffee, right?"

"That's the one thing I do have, yes," Sam tells him, and watches without hiding as Dean pulls on a pair of Sam's boxers, upsetting their perfectly folded pile.

Sam follows soon after. The domestic sight that greets him makes him smile. Leaning into the fridge, Dean is humming something Sam can't recognize. When he emerges, with the milk, he pours a splash into his own and passes Sam his coffee without.

Sam takes it. "Thanks. How'd you know I don't drink milk in my coffee?"

"Just had a feeling."

They sip in silence, but it's not an uncomfortable one. Sam admires the way Dean's eyes flutter closed as he enjoys his drink, and asks finally, "So what's your plan?"

Dean puts his mug down. "I think it's safe to head out today. Two days, and no one's found me. We only have one more week of filming in the city, and I have something else to take care of tonight. But yeah. That's pretty much it. After that I'll head back to LA."

One week. Sam will have to steer clear for that long and then his problem will work itself out. "So where are you filming. Maybe I could drive you?"

Dean's smile is real and Sam's glad he's offered. "Mariner's Park," says Dean. "Down by the river. That would be great."

Sam freezes with his mug halfway to his mouth, stuck on a vague thought he can't pinpoint. Dean takes another sip of coffee then goes to check out the contents of Sam's fridge again.

Mariner's Park. Down by the river.

Sam flashes to the most recent headline, the murder by the lighthouse. Mariner's park.

I have something else to take care of tonight.

"I have to uh," he says, stepping away from the counter. "Get the paper."

"Let me brush my teeth before we go," says Dean, and Sam watches him enter the bathroom before rubbing his hands over his face.

He's distracted by these thoughts, trying to make sense of them, as he puts his hand on the doorknob. He is barefoot and completely unprepared for what is about to happen next. He opens the door and is greeted by a wall of noise and a million flashing lights.

The front stoop and the sidewalk beyond is a throng of reporters. A microphone is shoved into his face, "Are you harboring porn star Dean Smith—"

Sam's reflexes are quick, and he jumps back inside and slams the door in seconds. It's too late however — he knows the photographers have snapped at least a dozen pictures.

But Dean's presence hasn't been confirmed. He'll have to sneak Dean out the back window and climb him up to the roof to hide out until the chaos ends.

He has a hand on the wall, staring blankly about how long reporters are allowed to camp out on the street, when he feels Dean's arms snake around him to wrap around his middle.

"Dude, chill out," Dean says. His voice is warm, nothing short of fond. "It's just me."

"Dean, it's not safe here." Sam says. He's aware he's going into full flight-mode in his need to save Dean from near and present danger.

"What are you talking about?"

"I just wanted to get the paper," says Sam. "But—"

"Ok, chill out, go make us toast." Dean steps around Sam. "I'll grab the paper for you."

Sam reaches out in what feels like slow motion. "Don't—"

Then he's blinded again by a million flashbulbs, stood just inside the door barely anything, his hand around Dean's bicep while what looks like all of Detroit's news media is writhing on his doorstep, shoving in to take Dean away.

"Close the door!"

Dean shoves him back and slams the door. Instantly he begins pacing, hands rubbing over his face. "Great. Just— great."

"Dean. I'm sorry."

"Sorry about what exactly?" He turns on Sam, a horrible expression twisting his features. "So what happened? Call around when I was asleep? Let them know you had mutually beneficial handjobs with Dean Smith? How much did they offer you?"

Sam stares at him, gaping. "I swear it's not like that."

"Well, joke's on me for thinking you were different. Trusting my instinct."

Sam tries to put a hand on his shoulder, to stop Dean's frantic movements, but Dean steps out of reach. "Your instinct was right," Sam tries to assure him. "I had no idea—"

The static of reporters grows into a roar, and he turns in time to see that Greg has pulled the door open and is posing for the photographers, yellowed tighty-whities just barely covering his ass. Dean leaves the room.

"Greg, close that!"

Sam can hear Dean talking quickly to someone on his phone, his tone conveying barely controlled anger. He emerges from Sam's bedroom just moments later, fully dressed.

"Driver is coming here to pick me up," he says. "What are you looking for? Fame? You know, you could have just made a sex tape if you wanted to really dig in the knife."

Sam follows him to the door. "What about driving you to set—"

"I don't need your help."

Dean yanks the door open for the fourth time now, and again the scene is one of unearthly light, too bright for human eyes. Dean doesn't look back, only says to himself, "Jesus, this is a PR nightmare," and steps out into the blinding sea.

The throng swallows him from sight. Sam stares for a moment, but when an intrepid reporter shoves a camera inside, he slams the door shut. The camera lies broken at Sam's feet, and he doesn't open the door to return it despite the hard knocking that goes on forever. Sam ignores it all and numbly stares at the grain of the door.

Greg is eating a banana now, scratching his happy trail, a somewhat bored expression at odds with the current events. "You ok, bro?"

"No," Sam snaps. "I'm not ok."

Greg considers this for a moment, then lays the banana peel on the counter. "Want me to chase after him for you? I did track in high school."

Sam rakes his fingers through his hair. "I don't understand. How did they find him? Did they follow him?"

"It seems likely."

"Wait, was it you?"

"How could you ask me that?" Greg looks deeply offended. "I support your relationship one-hundred percent. In fact, I was so happy you were finally dating, I told all my friends down at the bar all about it— oh."

"Seriously? Great."

"I mean, I didn't tell them specifically who you were effing, so there's no way— although I may have mentioned he was a porn star. But I didn't name any names! And they would never tell anyone."

"Well apparently they would." Sam stalks to the coffee table and drinks half Dean's beer from last night, his throat dry. He puts it down again where it fizzes out.

"Sorry, man. I really am."

"Don't worry about it, Greg. I have bigger problems right now."

"What could be bigger than your true love walking out of your life forever?" He gives Sam a sympathetic frown that's somewhat ruined when he says. "Is it syphilis?"

"No," Sam says, feeling an eerie calm settle over his mind. "I'll have to track him down without alerting him to my presence. Which will be easy enough. I have ways of finding out where he is."

Greg shakes his head. "Love makes man crazy," he says in profound tones, as if it excuses all manner of creepiness.

Unfortunately in this case, he happens to be right.

Sam turns on his computer and pulls up a tracking page where he can see a blinking light moving steadily away from his apartment. It's a good thing he thought to turn on Dean's GPS.

Things are going to go badly, he can feel it. But he has no choice now.

"There are things I have to do," he says, and gets to work.

The blinking light stays firmly in Mariner's Park where Dean is filming for the entire afternoon. Sam hopes this means that this is all a big coincidence, that Dean has not become a ruthless killer. But the more pragmatic side of his brain reminds him that the murders have always happened at night, and that serial killers rarely deviate from their plan. Dean himself said he would wait until nighttime.

Dean may be an experience serial killer, but Sam is a sometimes-unhinged hunter of monsters. Sam thinks he won't have any problem stopping one, weak human from making a bad decision.

These dark plans set in motion, Sam readies himself for the task ahead. He removes herbs from the box in his closet, along with the spray paint, a knife, and a lighter, then goes to settle on the couch to stare at the tracking page.

Good things come to those who wait, of course. As he'd suspected, just past midnight, the dot comes to life.

"Gotcha," he says as Dean's red dot blinks like a target.

Dean is in a car, moving again along the city streets, toward the waterfront. Sam drives down silent streets, and eventually crosses just behind Dean's taxi. They're not heading toward Mariner's Park. But they wouldn't, would they? If Dean has played a part in these murders, then he wouldn't return to the scene of a previous crime.

Sure enough, Dean is dropped off instead near a shipping yard. Sam kills the headlights and cruises silently to park down a ways, out of the halo of street lamps. When he jogs back to where Dean had been dropped off, he's worried he's lost him at this critical moment but then catches sight of him rounding a pile of crates a ways ahead.

The reality of this is grim. Sam doesn't want to be here, following his brother. Dean cuts a familiar silhouette as he goes silently, slim and unassuming, the asphalt gleaming wet with recent rain.

He follows nonetheless, at a safe distance, finding it easy to slip into the shadows of the crates.
Tailinga suspected killer is like slipping on a pair of old boots — the movements second-nature, worn with familiarity. Chagrin colors his smile as he imagines what Dean might have to say about this, something about the hunter becoming the hunted.

Sam ducks around a crate when Dean stops by a low bungalow up ahead. He seems to be watching the door of the bungalow, probably a one-roomed office, where a light still shines even at this hour. As they wait, a rat scurries by and the smell of mildewed wood tells him water is not far off.

A shiver runs through Sam, seeing Dean like this. He wonders if Dean has been playing him all along. He doubts he's that good an actor. If what Sam suspects is true, well...he refuses to believe Dean is beyond saving, but it won't be good.

They wait there a long time, him and Dean. It's two a.m. when the light in the window switches off, and he has to subtly stretch the kinks from his back,which has grown stiff with cold.

Moments later, the door to the office bangs open. It becomes clear this is the man Dean has been waiting for when Dean leans forward where he's hiding. It's subtle and chilling to see.

Dean then recedes and heads back the way he came, passing Sam's position without noticing him. Sam looks to the man leaving the office, alone tonight, and checking his watch and his pockets for his keys. Sam looks the way Dean left and decides that it's more pertinent to keep his eyes on his wayward brother than on the prey itself.

He takes off at a jog, through the shadows, checking around the corner where he catches sight of Dean slipping off.

He speeds up his pace, and turns another corner, the only way Dean could have gone, and it's a dead end of crates stacked impossibly high, too high to be climbed. There are no fences to scale or windows to go through, just the tall walls.


Sam sprints back the way he came, but it's too late.

Dean has the man by the hair in the moonlight. It's too careless. Dean must know Sam is here, or that someone is here at least.

Sam isn't going to make it in time, he is too far away still. Dean takes out a knife and runs it through the man, cutting off his pleas.


It's one thing to suspect that Dean is responsible for the murders, it's another thing to watch it happen.

The man crumples to the ground and lays still. Like a scene from a play Sam makes it just in time to see the life flutter in his chest, to see Dean wipe the knife on his sleeve, repocket it, and take off almost casually into the shadows.

Sam leaves the man sputtering on the wet ground and goes after Dean. He cries out when he's grabbed from behind and manhandled up against the wall, face shoved against the metal.

"I didn't want to have to do this." Sam shivers as Dean's voice blows hot in his ear. "I like you, Sam. I really do." He struggles but Dean has the knife tip pressed against his side, up under his shirt, still slick with another man's blood.

"Struggle all you want," Dean says. "But there's no way I can let you go now." And it might be wishful thinking on Sam's part, but he thinks he hears some remorse in the tone.

"How many?" Sam asks. "How many innocent people have you killed?"

He doesn't think Dean is going to answer.

"Tonight was the tenth," says Dean.

Sam goes limp. "Dean," he says. "Why?"

"You wouldn't understand."

"Please try to explain."

"I can't help it. I just need to. There's something wrong with them. Something about their eyes."

Sam starts to laugh. He can feel the moment Dean's grip on him slackens in confusion, and he easily turns the tables. He has Dean up against the wall in no time, a rope from a wooden box cut with the knife he was just being threatened with, and wound firmly around Dean's hands. He presses Dean's face into the wall when Dean starts to yell.

"Shh, do you really want cops here?" Dean shivers as Sam's mouth touches his ear. "Don't you worry, brother, I'm going to fix this. It'll all be ok."

Dean struggles. "Who the hell even are you?"

Your worst nightmare, might actually apply here, but Sam is not in the mood for jokes. He pulls Dean to the ground, and binds Dean's legs as well. The ropes are tight. A little bit tighter still and they'd do some real damage.

Sam rips a rag off his shirt and uses it to gag Dean, ignoring the way Dean struggles.

He removes the paint from his pocket. It's only a quarter full now. He shakes it and sprays the square trap design and symbols on the asphalt, and drops a flame into the pile of herbs.

He can tell Dean is watching this carefully. "I'm going to fix this," Sam repeats, and stands back. "Messorum evoco qui me tetigit."

Nothing happens.

"Messorum evoco qui me tetigit," he tries again, more clearly this time. "O theris tes, caleo se cai deo."

He coughs, inhaling some of the herb smoke.

But Billie doesn't appear. He tries a third time to no avail.

Sam doesn't have a backup plan. He looks to Dean who has the gall to look back at Sam like he thinks he's the crazy one.

Don't summon me again unless you have a very good reason.

His heart sinks. He knows what he has to do. But he can't, not just yet. He needs a few more moments.

He sits next to Dean on the cold ground and reaches out to touch his hair. Dean makes a noise of outrage and Sam tries to ignore the despair that wells up in him.

"Doing this, tying you up and trying to call a reaper," he tells Dean. "This was my last resort. I would have let you live your life. I was going to leave you alone."

Dean struggles, whining through the gag.

"Jesus, Dean, how did it come to this? I was going to let you have happiness." He can feel goosebumps prickling up Dean's neck where his fingers stroke. "I'm not going to kill you. It's something arguably worse."

He laughs, aware that he sounds like a bad guy at the end of a cheesy movie. The laughter startles Dean, and makes him struggle harder.

"You're going to hate yourself for this, but it's for your own good," Sam tells him. "After everything, after all the stupid, terrible things we've gone through, this is by far the worst thing I've ever had to do. You were happy," his voice is raising in pitch, unable to help it. "You deserved it Dean. You, above all people, deserve it. But now I have to take it away." He grabs Dean by the hair, like he'd seen Dean do to that innocent man outside moments before he'd slaughtered him. "What would ever possess you to— why would you do this to me? But it doesn't matter anymore."

He stands, abruptly dropping Dean's body to the floor.

"I'll miss you so much," he tells him. "You'll understand later why I had to do this."

He stands within the bounds of the reaper trap and looks Dean over, where Dean is watching him like he's insane. Which to any normal person, Sam probably is.

Sam takes his phone from his jacket, and presses play on the summoning recording he's prepared. He then removes the knife from his jacket then, and, trying not to think about it, stabs himself in the stomach.

Through the unimaginable pain, he thinks he hears Dean cry out. As he collapses to the floor next to him, Sam manages to stay in the trap.

He closes his eyes and hopes for the best.

He has a sense of floating away from all earthly pain, which is technically a bad sign, and what might be only a moment later he finds himself able to sit up straight from where he's slumped over and dying. There are two of him now, his body on the ground and his spirit form standing now, watching the scene. He turns to look at Dean, whose jaw is tight, eyes on Sam's prone form.

So this is what it's like to be on the edge of death, he thinks. The other times this has happened he must have blocked out.

Abruptly, they're no longer alone. Dean lets out a grunt of surprise when Billie blinks into existence right before his eyes.

She looks at Sam. "Interesting. Hello, Sam."

Dean makes a noise around the gag but Billie pays him no attention.

Sam steps toward her. "You need to take it down," he says. "The wall in Dean's head. You have to do it. He's killing people."

She smiles. "Reapers don't bow to the will of humans," she says, but he thinks it sounds more like a reminder than a threat. "Although this scene is rather touching."

Sam holds his ground. "You've said before that you want us dead," he says, and spreads his arms. "Well now you have me."

"A bargain? His life for yours?"

"Yes." Sam stands his ground. "I've made a deal with the devil. I'm ready for whatever comes next."

"I didn't come for you." Billie turns to look to the dead man.

"Oh god," Sam says, remembering.

Billie takes a step toward the body, but then stops and looks to the ground where she's toeing the line of wet paint. "Let me out of this."

"And you'll save him?"

"We'll see."

Sam can tell it's as much as he is going to get.

"How?" he asks, and Billie sighs.

"Dean," she says, and looks to where Dean is silent in shock and confusion. His eyes are on her, tracking her movements. "Come to me and I'll let you free."

Surprisingly it works, and Dean begins rolling toward her. Of course he believes her. To him she's just a beautiful woman and can't remember the million reasons why he should be cautious. As she directs him to wipe the paint away to clear a path, Sam looks back to the body lying crumpled where Dean had stabbed him.

There's no other spirit, Sam realizes. Which means the man is still alive. Billie must be waiting.

Sam falls to his knees where the blood has pooled out. The man is completely still. Sam's hands pass through his neck when he tries to find a pulse, but the eyes crack open a sliver. "It's gone now," he rasps. "Oh thank God, it's gone."

Sam sees now that the wound was left of center, Dean had thrust the knife into the guy's side. Sam wishes he could call for an ambulance, or at the very least press a hand over the wound. There's still hope to save him. "Please, please don't die. Stay with me, man."

"It's gone."

Sam can feel Billie behind him, out of the trap now, a cool presence. "What does that mean?"

"Not everything is as it appears," she tells him. Every word touches him like comfort, inviting him to follow.

Samm ignores the urge, trying again to get the man's attention. "What do you mean, gone?"

Of course the guy can't see him, let alone hear anything save the drip of Sam's blood on the pavement nearby.

"I never thought it would leave." The guy breaks into a fit of coughing, but manages to turn his head to look at Dean, who is on his side still, silent. "It was there forever. Inside me, a devil force. Thank you, sir. Thank you."

Sam looks back to Billie. "A demon? Was this man possessed?"

Billie inclines her head. "It appears Dean was doing God's work even without realizing it. It's funny the way these things work out."

The relief that shudders through Sam's incorporeal self is overwhelming. "You'll take care of him?" he asks.

"I don't make deals with humans," she says again.


Sam goes to Dean, who he sees is trying to secretly get the knots of his ropes untied. Sam gives it two hours, tops.

"I gotta go," he tells him. "You're gonna be alright."

Dean continues pulling at the ropes while Billie's back is turned, and can't see Sam leaning over him.

"I love you." Even though Dean won't be able to hear him, he feels better having said it.

"It's time," Billie says, the spirit of the man waiting at her side.


Sam goes to her. He takes deep breaths that don't reach his lungs, and thinks that he's had a good life, in ways. He holds onto the image of his friends, and Dean, who just last night were laughing around the table as Sam blew out the candles on his birthday pie. Make a fucking wish, Sammy.

Dean is the last thing he sees before he closes his eyes.

There is good news and there is bad news.

The first noise Sam hears when he wakes up is the rev of an engine just outside the window. When he inhales deep against the pillow, the rich cedar of men's aftershave fills his nose. He thinks, hell sounds and smells curiously like a motel room inhabited by his brother.

Or maybe it's heaven. When Sam blinks awake he finds he is lying spread eagle and drooling on a violently orange motel bedspread, like he's been dropped there.

He swings his bare feet to the grimy carpet and takes a look at the pamphlets on the bedside table. Well, he's still in Detroit. The flyer welcoming visitors to Motown, automobile capital of the world, makes that clear.

A perfunctory sweep of the room reveals that he's alone. How he got here, he doesn't know, but he doubts it was Billie.

Which means it was Dean. He probably left him here to die after witnessing how crazy Sam is and what kind of powerful friends he keeps. Or maybe it was out of some sense of guilt he couldn't remember the root of.

Sam stops at the mirror and examines his reflection.

"I don't feel dead," he says, and his stubbled, bruised double agrees. He lifts his shirt to ascertain that he did actually stab himself, that it wasn't all a dream. There's no pain when he moves except for a vague feeling, but there's a mark. It's small and pinked, and he wonders why Billie cured him. Or rather, what possessed her to do it.

Sam allows himself a small smile at that. A part of him is disappointed, because if he's survived this, it means the wall in Dean's head is still in place. But if he's honest, he's mostly relieved. He'll have to tell Dean himself, now that Dean has proven himself to be a public hazard. He'll lock him up if he has to, and he'll cure him. Somehow.

A shower makes Sam feel less like the walking dead, and when he puts his jacket back on he finds a scrap of paper in the pocket, torn from hotel stationery. It reads simply, I'm on set., followed by the address.

Sam can see Dean from far off, standing on the cobbled walk near a fountain. The university is being used to film some sort of 16th century movie, judging by the large, Shakespearean ruff Dean has wound around his neck. He manages to look dashing in spite of it.

When Sam spots him, he has his hands on his hips, staring into the middle distance while lighting and camera guys make adjustments to the scene. A woman in a pink gown and garish wig yawns next to him behind her prop fan.

Unfortunately, Sam is intercepted on his way over by a man with a headset and a decent amount of muscles. "I'm sorry, only staff past this point," he says, subtly flexing in Sam's path.

Sam tries to look nonthreatening. "I'm actually just here to see—"

"Are you on the list?"

"Well no," Sam admits. "I'm actually here to see Dean. Dean Smith?"

The man's eyes are unreadable.

Sam tries again. "The actor?"

"Yeah, I know who Dean Smith is."

"Great. I'm actually an old—friend, so it's fine. I'm sure he'll be happy to see me." Maybe a little white lie, but. "I'll just wait over—"

"Friend? Ha. You and everyone else here. If you're not on the list, I can't let you in."

Sam cranes his neck to see past. Dean, who is looking around set bored, spots him, and Sam can see the moment of recognition. Sam raises his hand but he's blocked again by the muscle.

"Sir, I don't want to ask you again—"

"Oh come on."

A woman with a clipboard near them turns. "Stu, let him stay. Mr. Smith let me know over the comm that this guy is cool."

Sam can read Stu's hesitation in his frown.

She steps forward. "Said he was an old stalker that he's grown fond of. That we should let him hang out."

Stu lets Sam go, face going disinterested now that his job is over. "His funeral," he mutters and moves on to the next security breach.

The woman pulls up a folding chair for Sam. She offers him a headset. "Want to listen in? Set's pretty boring unless you know what's going on."

"Sure, thanks." Sam takes a seat.

He adjusts the headset to fit his head and relaxes back, eyes trained on Dean who is getting on his mark with the woman in the wig. The parasol she's holding shields them a bit from view, but as Sam adjusts the volume on his headset, their voices crackle into focus.

"—can't wait to get out of this codpiece," says Dean's voice. "Chafes my junk."

Sam rolls his eyes. Despite losing nearly his entire identity, he's still the same Dean.

The woman titters a laugh. "Charming. And speaking of charming, who was that tall drink of water you were checking out."

"Oh. That was just...Sam."

"Do tell."

"He's my brother."

Sam stares.

The woman sounds interested. "Why Smith, I didn't know you had a brother."

"You know me, man of mystery." Dean's tone is heavily sarcastic.

Sam's mind is reeling. If Dean knows him, really knows him, then that can mean only one thing.

"That's sweet he comes to watch you film," he hears over the headset.

"Yeah, that's Sam for you. He's always been my number one fan."

Sam has only just gotten there, and he knows it's stupid to let Dean out of his sight in light of this new information, but he's not feeling too logical right now. He stands and removes the headset.

The woman looks up distractedly from her phone. "Not staying?"

"Thanks, I've heard enough," he tells her and leaves set behind.

There's no where Sam can go, he has to return to the motel. His curiosity won't let him return to his apartment, and his fear for Dean, his need to be with him, his understanding of how Dean must be feeling, means he has to be there for him, even if Dean has every grounds to hate him forever. Dean can't be alone, like he has been for years.

The waiting ends at seven, when Sam's been debating whether or not to go get food for them or just fall over onto the bed and sleep forever. Sam's stomach plummets at the scuff of a key in the lock, and then the door swings open.

Dean stands in the doorway, and what's distracting Sam is the giant, bushy beard he has suddenly grown.

Sam blinks at him. "Wow."

Dean closes the door, then seems to remember himself and peels the fake beard off his face. Sam winces in sympathy.

"I'd rather the paparazzi don't get wind of this," he says of the crappy motel.

"Nice disguise." Sam stares at him. "You came back."

"Looks like it." Dean doesn't sit. He goes to put his wallet and keys on the table.

Sam twists his hands in his lap. "So the wall's gone? You have your memory back?"

Dean grunts.

Sam hesitates. "Do you remember...everything?"

"Yeah. I suppose so."

"Look," Sam starts. "I'm really sorry know. The things. That happened."

Dean's face goes pale. He clenches his jaw. "Yeah, you're sorry? Care to clarify what it is you regret?"

He stares Sam down like he's daring him to say it, to name what he did.

Sam may have his moments, but he's brave enough for this one. He stays silent, hanging his head so he doesn't have to look Dean in the face.

"Right," Dean says. Like that's all settled. "Filming wraps at the end of this week. I guess I'll be leaving town after that."


He walks past. Sam falls back on the bed, where he rubs a hand over his eyes and listens to Dean's footfalls recede into the bathroom. He can feel an ache in his side where he'd plunged the knife.

"Fuck me," he whispers. He prays maybe the bed will swallow him up already so he can die a quick and quiet death. Dean can keep the royalties from the resulting lawsuit as an apology.

Things get worse.

Or that's what it feels like. Sam wakes the next day as the sun is painting the horizon. Dean's gone already, so he goes for breakfast at a nearby diner, and sends vague glances at his phone until he turns it off and puts it in his pocket. A waitress gives him a look like, you and me both, and gives him extra butter with his toast and calls him sugar.

When Dean walks in without so much as an explanation, Sam doesn't know whether to feel relieved or what. At least it's something.

"Not filming?"

"At eight. Late day."

Sam nods, and opts to just sit quietly and sip his coffee. Dean doesn't look at him but he doesn't get up, either.

After twelve hours like this, Sam is sunk into a deep and unrelenting state of anxiety waiting for Dean to say anything, do anything. He finds himself tensing up every time Dean moves. Every sound could mean Sam's about to be eaten alive. Like when Dean reaches past him for the mustard, and Sam can feel the heat off him as he leans in close. The hairs on his neck stand on end. His senses are on high alert, ready for Dean's heavy hand to fall on his shoulder or punch him.

Instead, Dean flips the bottle over and squeezes the life out of it. Nothing comes out.

A charming smile calls the waitress back over. "Out of mustard," he tells her. "Mind getting me another one?"

She giggles as she leaves them. It doesn't do anything to clear the air. At the end of the meal Sam tips her four soft dollar bills flattened under his empty mug and watches Dean drive away.

On Wednesday morning, two days after Sam nearly died and Dean was reborn, Sam looks up when he's brushing his teeth to find that reflected back at him is Dean.

Dean is well-dressed and on his way to work, golden in the warped mirror as he comes into the bathroom. He hasn't gotten rid of his designer t-shirts, despite how Sam imagines he must feel about his current, fake life.

Their eyes lock briefly in the mirror. Sam pauses brushing.

But Dean's eyes slide away as he shoulders in next to Sam to squirt toothpaste onto his electric toothbrush, and Sam is overcome with the dying need for Dean to either jerk him off against the mirror immediately or, more likely, hit him in the face for all he's worth. Anything to break the tension.

Dean up this close to him, Sam has sudden a sense memory of the night in his small room, the sex felt like some fantasy dream. It's not Sam's to dream about, but he can't hold back the memeory of Dean leaning in closer than he's ever been and the intimate thundering of his own heartbeat in his head. He remembers Dean's arms, how strong they'd been.

While he is reliving this, Sam gives those same arms a furtive glance. Brushing thoroughly, Dean's biceps are bulging so pornographically that Sam chokes on his toothbrush.

"Um," Dean says, turning at the coughing.

There was a time he might have made a deep-throat joke, but now he just stands and watches Sam gag.

When he can finally breathe again, Sam rinses his mouth out, head ducked to drink out of the tap. He straightens to find Dean frowning with a cup in his hand, swishing his mouth out as well. Sam's eyes water as he glances at Dean's arms again, and then he leaves the room. This kind of shit can fuck you up, he reminds himself. He wonders if he'll ever stop thinking about it.

At the motel he counts minutes, wondering at the end of each day whether Dean is going to come back at all, just to spend an hour mutely watching TV and then falling asleep in silence. He could book any other room at nicer places than this, all of them without Sam in them, waiting. But Dean keeps coming back. Sam can't understand why.

The words blur on the page in whichever book Sam is working his way through. It's Thursday, which means there's one day before filming ends, before Dean is set to leave. Dean is on the opposite bed, steadfastly ignoring Sam's presence as he memorizes lines from a well-annotated script.

Sam hasn't made any headway. He doesn't deserve Dean's forgiveness, he knows that completely, he doesn't deserve anything from Dean, so he can't push the matter.

If this were his real life, he'd get up and take a drive. He'd come back to the motel with food and flop down onto the second bed and let Dean ramble about cars or guns or the hunt, and lull the awkward out of him, while shitty action movies ran low on TV, real shoot 'em ups that would distract him long enough from the memory of his brother's dick in his hand and Dean's hot breath on his neck.

But in the current reality, Sam can only exist as a silent companion who is there if Dean needs him.

Dean, however, doesn't need him. He doesn't give any indication that he can feel Sam's eyes on him occasionally, let alone Sam's borderline creepy zero'd in awareness of him. He just flips another page, scanning it with a sort of peevish, constipated look on his face.

The words for this situation are impossible to find. Sam taps his fingertips slowly on the page instead. One two three. One two three.

Dean finally sighs and puts down the script. He turns to look at Sam. "Something to say?"

"No," says Sam. "Nothing to say."

Dean makes a face. "No really, Sam. You're being really frigging annoying."

"Well, we could talk," Sam tries. "If you want. How are you feeling? I know things must be hard and—"

"How about when we commited lurid acts in your bed," says Dean. "You say you didn't mean that?"

Sam can't bring himself to say it again. He looks away. And when he hears Dean pick up the script again, he punches his pillow into shape and lies down.

"Good talk," he hears Dean say, flipping a page. "Go to sleep, Sam."

"Shut the hell up," Sam mutters, closing his eyes.

For nearly a week, Sam has waited for the other shoe to drop, most of his time time spent in listless misery.

At work, on Friday, he flips through magazines at the till and suffers endless daydreams, imagining a reality in which Sam had resisted. Where he hadn't taken advantage and where Dean somehow now wants him back. He imagines things back to the way they were supposed to be. Or, you know, Dean storming in to shove him up against the stacks, papers falling to the floor in flurries and avalanches, and cartoon hearts floating around them.

It's horrible of him to think it. Sam's mouth grows tighter as he reads.

When Sam's shift ends, he can't face the thought of the silence of the motel room, before and after Dean returns. He pulls off the road at a divey establishment with a flashing sign missing a few letters.

The sour smell of beer and smokey patrons is oddly comforting as Sam takes a seat at the bar. Ordering a beer, he rolls his shoulders to loosen the crick in his neck then fixes his eyes on the TV that's playing the fuzz of baseball at low volume. Here he can be no one. A man who has a 9-5 job and hasn't just fucked his brother without permission.

He doesn't look away from the game until someone takes a seat next to him an hour later.

"Ah," Sam says, alarmed to see his brother. And not just because Dean is wearing the fake beard again. "How did you find me?"

"Just buy me a goddamn drink," Dean growls. He sounds angry.

Sam flags down the bartender, who places glasses on a coasters in front of them. Dean downs his in five swallows and gestures for another. The jukebox plays something old timey, a love song, and Sam looks into his drink.

"Last day of filming," Dean says after a moment of silence. "Got things all wrapped up."

"That's good," Sam says. "Happy to be done?"

"Yeah. Believe it or not, I'm so not into acting."

Sam nods. "Figured."

"Had to remember all those lines, where to stand — all while wearing tights. Tights."

Sam wonders how long this friendly conversation is going to last. "Dean," he says, but Dean cuts him off.

"Look, Sam." There is a bend to Dean's laugh. It sounds at the edge of breaking. "This is...really hard for me. Part of me wants to leave, just up and go. But part of me, a selfish part, wants you to be you again."

Sam stares at him. "I'm still me."

Dean turns on his stool. "Really? Because I don't see it that way. I come back, you're employed and living somewhere really really cold, with some weird guy. You have a boyfriend and like, a million other things you've always wanted."

"You were dead," Sam says, unable to control the volume of his voice. "I didn't know where else to go."

The men next to them at the bar have gone silent. The one closest to Sam swirls his chair so that he's facing Sam's way, and tries, "Is there a problem, sir—"

"No, we're fine," Sam says curtly. Some stranger is not going to ruin what might be his last interaction with his brother. The man purses his lips, and turns away.

Dean's mouth is hanging open. "Dead? Way I remember it, Chuck and Amara had a heart to heart, I was knocked out, and came to right after. I was only out for like, an hour max."

Sam frowns. "You left me to go sacrifce yourself!"

"Point. But if you thought I was dead, then…" he trails off.

"Look, I know I have no right to be upset with you here, but how could you possibly think I didn't…" Sam trails off, a horrible thought occurring to him.

It had happened before, of course. Dean had been gone, suffering through Purgatory, and Sam hadn't gone after him.

He can see that this is the conclusion Dean has rightly come to as well. Sam has given up on him in the past, and it seemed likely to happen again.

"I see how you got that impression," Sam say. "But I tried. I really tried. And when I couldn't find a way to save you, I tried to move on. Not very well admittedly, but...yeah."

"Ok, I need to think," Dean says. He rubs his eyes.

Sam continues in a lower voice, "And I'm sorry. I know I did some unforgivable things. I know there's no way you'll be able to forgive me, but once I found out you were alive, I just honestly wanted you to be happy. Maybe I made the wrong call letting you live with no memory, but you seemed like you had a better life. It seemed like the right call to make at the time."

They stare at one another, and finally the fight seems to go out of Dean. HIs shoulders slump and he looks away.

"No," says Dean. "You're right. In the same situation, I would have made the same call. I've had a while to think about everything you said to me when I was," he waves a hand at his head. "You know. Memory wiped. And to think about everything you were going to sacrifice for me. I would do the same."

Some of Sam's guilt disippates knowing this.

"So that's why I have to leave," Dean continues.


Dean shakes his head. "You have a life, Sam. Finally. I'm not going to take that away from you."

Sam reaches out, and places a hand on the bartop between them. "Dean. It's not a life without you in it. Please believe me."

The men next to them get up abruptly and leave. Dean finishes his beer in one gulp.

"Yeah, about that," he says, gingerly placing the glass back on the coaster. "About, uh, what happened."

Sam feels his face heat up, shame and a flash of desire mixed into one. "Again. I'm sorry. That must have been, uh, surprising to say the least."

"Not exactly," Dean says. He seems to be hesitating over his words. "Remember that, memory washed or not, I came onto you. It's not that I don't, obviously, find you, um…"

Sam has never wanted to be in a position of being turned down nicely by his brother. Thankfully, Dean continues.

"I do have some real hang ups. Which is the understatement of the century, I know."

"Of course," says Sam. He's aware they're in a bartering stage, and he's not above begging. "Please let me go with you. I promise I won't be weird. We'll just forget the whole thing ever happened."

"Yeah, that wouldn't work for me," Dean says.


"It's unfortunate, this thing."

"I know."

"That it happened then."

Sam swallows. His throat has instantly gone dry. "Uh, then? When should it have happened?"

Dean laughs, quietly. "I dunno. It seems like this shouldn't be the thing that's messed me up the most. It's not every day guy loses his memory and then wakes up a serial killing superstar."

"They were possessed by demons," Sam corrects. The unfortunate, we kill innocent possessed people all the time is left unspoken.

"It's just, obviously I'm creeped out. Obviously I'm angry. But mostly, I'm kind of jealous of Dean Smith. Of myself, I guess."

"Oh?" Sam has been reduced to one syllable words.

Dean laughs, mostly to himself. "Yeah, well. I've carried a flame for you like it's the fucking Olympic torch. Then some other guy swoops in and takes advantage? It's a crying shame if you ask me."

Sam's so strung out from months of no sleep and and anxiety he thinks he might give up right then.

"Wanna get out of here?" he says instead.

Dean grins. "Hell yes," he says and they leave.

For all the time Sam's imagined fucking Dean, he'd never actually expected it to happen. Obviously.

But if it ever were going to happen, he thinks, as he drives Dean back to the motel room, it makes sense that it would happen now— Sam feeling this sorry for himself, pathetic and mean, and Dean justifiably pissed at him.

Or they might just be going back to pack up their stuff and leave town in their rearview, never to speak of this lapse again. Sam would honestly be happy with either.

The question is answered in the car. A minute on the road and Sam feels a hand land heavily on his knee. He can feel Dean's eyes on him, watching him as he exhales on a shaky breath and keeps driving. He doesn't look Dean's way. If he did, he doesn't know what would happen.

Sam knows he should walk away the minute they park, before they mess things up even more. In fact, Dean should have left Sam in the motel the first time without so much as a note, shirt stained with blood. But instead— this. Sam can't leave for a hundred reasons, and he so badly wants to see how things will turn out.

Silence falls around them as Dean closes the motel room door and removes his disguise. Sam tries to say something, but stops. He licks his lips and Dean follows the motion with his eyes.

"Sam," Dean says.


Dean presses a hand to the center of Sam's chest and pushes.

Sam steps back, allowing himself to be maneuvered up against the door, heart rate picking up. A quick, violent jerk off against a wall would be fitting. A good hard surface, nothing romantic about it. Nothing weird. You don't just have some pseudo romantic moment with your brother— you do it dirty. The deed should reflect the crime.

So it should be horrific, Dean breathing harshly into his mouth with the memory now of what they've done and what the have yet to do. It should be terrible.

But the mingling of their breath is intimate in the low evening light coming through the thick curtains, and Sam finds the curve of Dean's shoulders, the way his t-shirt pulls and the soft sound of fabric falling to the floor, almost sweet when Dean yanks off his jacket.

They don't kiss. Again, that would be too much. Instead they stand chest to chest, Sam's hands going to Dean's waist to pull him in against him, to feel him close, wondering that he's allowed to take these liberties. Dean runs his hands up Sam's arms, then turns them around, and Sam allows himself to be tripped into bed, where Sam ends up with the cool sheets against his flushed back where his shirt's shoved up.

It's dizzying. When he opens his eyes again, Dean is still there, crouched over him with his knees sunk in around Sam's hips, looking like everything Sam's ever dreamed of. But this is not a dream. Thank goodness for small miracles.

Elbows sinking into the mattress under him, able to feel Dean through his jeans, Sam realizes that in his horror over what he had done to Dean, he'd forgotten how much he wanted it. He's embarrassed by it now, as Dean dips his head and seems to take extra pleasure in leaving teeth marks in Sam's neck. Sam's hands fist the bedsheets because actively pulling Dean down against him would mean something he still can't quite admit

Dean's face is scratchy against Sam's neck, and it sends a shiver down to Sam's toes.

Dean pulls back, one hand sunk in the mattress on either side of Sam's head and a rueful smile on his face. "You just going to lie there, princess, or—"

Sam's restraint ends there. Sam flips their positions and attacks Dean's mouth, to hell with the consequences. He works Dean's mouth open, raking his fingers up under Dean's shirt and feeling the response in every part of Dean he's touching.

Yeah, this whole thing sounds like a joke in Sam's head, it should be hilarious. But Sam is so gone for it. He always thought, when he'd let himself imagine it, that Dean would try to pull some sexy moves and that Sam would laugh at him. A lot. But Sam had somehow forgotten the hot factor, was probably protecting himself. The way Dean tries so hard to keep quiet, and the way Dean doesn't rips his jeans open like a caveman, takes no survivors, but like some sort of goddamned gentleman, popping the button and gently working down the zipper— it's too much. Sam moans against his mouth and tries to urge Dean along, becoming pliant against him.

"Please, come on," he says, shifting his hips closer to Dean's gentle hand. "Dean."

Sam whimpers when Dean touches him, and keeps his eyes squeezed shut while Dean fists his dick in rough pulls. It's not objectively the best handjob he's ever gotten, but what they lack due to awkwardness, Sam deliriously thinks maybe they have a lifetime to make up for.

Sam sits back on his heels for a second and tugs on Dean's jeans until they're around his ankles, then settles back over him. Licking his way into Dean's mouth, he touches him reverently, surprised at the weight of Dean's dick, feeling it slick up in his hand.

Abruptly, Dean's hand leaves him.

Sam lets out a breath, pressing his face into the side of Dean's, squeezing him sadly.

"If we're going to keep doing this," Dean says. "What do you say we step it up a notch."

It shuts Sam up, he goes up on an elbow to look him in the face. Dean's is pink, but he waits calmly as Sam works through what to say.

"I mean, um," Sam says. "Yes. I don't have any…you know...lube."

"I don't either. I have one condom."

Where the others went, Sam doesn't want to think about right now. He falls to his side, and slides his hand over Dean's ass, looking down between them and enjoying the sight of Dean fully turned on.

"Hey, eyes up here," Dean snaps and Sam kisses him again, lingering.

"Ok," Sam says against his lips. "I've always used lube but I'm fine with doing it dry if you are."

"Ok," Dean agreess, his breath coming out weird. "You know Sam, if I'd of know you'd be so easy..."

Sam drags Dean on top of him, encouraging Dean to rut against his hip, and Dean follows enthusiastically. He can imagine Dean riding him, finally fullfilling that cowboy fantasy Sam has always secretly shared, and he groans slide back over Dean's ass, fingers move to the cleft and closer to their target.

Dean abruptly stops getting off on his leg. The mood shifts noticeably and Sam freezes, like he's been caught red-handed.

"Where do you think you're going?"

Sam jerks his hand away. "Sorry, I thought you— I'm sorry."

The room is almost completely dark now, night having fallen. Dean sits up, a pillow falling off the bed as he leans over to turn on the bedside light. Dean looks a little affronted. "Who says you're the one putting your dick in someone?"

Sam props himself up on his elbows, frowning back. "You asked if I'd be fine going in dry."

Dean colors. "No, I asked if you were fine getting it dry," he starts.

"Ok, you obviously need to be a little more clear about things." Sam briefly imagines the way it would go for a second before mentally backtracking. "It's just—"

"No, let me guess," says Dean. "You're somehow opposed to—"

"—no," Sam corrects him. It is a point he definitely needs to make at this junction. "I am very, very much ok with that. It's just, without lube— I don't think it would work. Your dick is really, really..." he trails off.

A grin breaks over Dean's face. "Aw, Sammy. Are you telling me you can't handle my giant dong?"

"Ugh," says Sam, and throws a pillow at him, which Dean catches. Sam rolls to get out of bed, but Dean reaches out to grab his shoulder. Sam jerks away, meaning his elbow slams into the nightstand, right in the funny bone. "Shit."

Dean grabs for his elbow, and Sam lets him.

"You know, this is actually really flattering," says Dean, massaging Sam's elbow until Sam stops wincing.

"Let's just drop it," Sam says, but with little heat.

"I'm not sure the topic was adequately covered," Dean says. "I've still got some questions —"

"No comment."

Dean moves his hand to rub up Sam's back. "Ok, let's try that later then."

"Fine," Sam agrees.

"Now," Dean says. "Please get your giant hand on my giant dick."

Sam smiles to himself, and makes Dean wait a long second before tackling him to the matress. "Don't have to tell me, twice," he says, and Dean laughs, sort of wildly, and it turns into a kiss, and quickly into a moan.

Sam reaches between them and takes them both in hand.

"I fucking love you," Sam tells him.

Dean's face screws up like he's been punched. "Prove it, you asshole." He hooks a leg around Sam's and rolls them over. Sam knows that move but it still catches him off guard.

The movement of Sam's hand is steady, out of sync with his forced breathing. He tries to keep his eyes on Dean's face. He watches Dean fall apart and thinks he knows exactly what it will feel like when he has Dean's dick inside him. He can't wait

And after it happens, Dean rolls off of him and throws an arm across his face. "Oh sweet Jesus."

Sam is only able to manage a smile in agreement. He is borderline uncomfortable with the weird, fucked up way their bodies apparently fit perfectly like pieces of the same broken puzzle.

"That everything you've been waiting for?" he asks, when he's gotten his breath back.

"Shut up," Dean says, blushing horribly again. It's sweet. Time was, Sam would have died of embarrassment to ever think of something his brother did as sweet, but there you have it.

Soon after, Dean's chest begins to rise and fall with sleep. Sam looks down at him for a long time, thinking this is the sort of fucked up situation that only true love and courage can save them from. Luckily, Sam thinks they might have both.

But indulgent self-analysis and reflection never does a body good. Sometimes you simply tell your brother you love him, Sam thinks, somewhere along the long and troubled road. He watches Dean sleeping in the bed next to him like he's seen him sleep a thousand times before.

"Well godddamn," Sam says with a sense of real wonder. Sometimes, the fast lane hits a fork.

Dean snores next to him in agreement, so low Sam would have to put his face on the pillow next to him to hear it at all. Allowing himself a small smile, Sam steals one of the pillows and shoves his face into it with all intention to pass out until tomorrow.

But then jerks back immediately when he realizes he's lying in the wet spot.

The next morning, bright and early, Sam considers making the call. But he also considers picking up and leaving without a backward glance.

In the end, he decides to do the decent thing, and calls Ray.

"Hey you, where you been?" Ray's voice is warm and familiar and causes something like nostalgia to stir in Sam's chest. But he might as well be a million miles away. Without making a conscious choice, Sam has already left this chapter of his life behind.

"Ray, I need to tell you something," Sam starts.

Ray laughs. "Don't worry about it, Sam. I get it."

"Get it?"

"Yeah. Famous actor comes and sweeps your sort-of-boyfriend off his feet? It's kind of hard to compete with that."

"It's not like that," Sam says after a beat.

"What is it like then?"

"No," says Sam. "It's really not that. He's my brother."

Ray's silent for a long time. "Of all the ways to be broken up with...this one is the most unique."

"Yeah, it really takes the cake, doesn't it?"

"Well, it's been real," Ray says.

"It really has." Sam pauses. "Ray. Thank you."

"No worries. See you around, Sam."

Sam listens long after he hears the beep of the call disconnecting. It's unfortunate. But he's had his normal life. Now he's ready to get back on the road.

"Shit, Sam, take a look at this!"

He locks the motel door and turns to see that Dean is leaning against the stolen car, bright in the morning light. He holds out a newspaper and Sam goes to him.

"A case already?" he asks, taking the paper and climbing into the passenger seat while Dean slides in behind the wheel.

"Not exactly."

"What the—" Sam unfolds the paper completely and stares as Dean guns it out of the parking lot. Sam's head hits the low roof of the car, but he barely notices the sting in favor of reading.

On the front page are two articles of interest. The first reads, Eye-Gouging Killer Still at Large: Last Victim found at Shipping Yard in Detroit. Sam skims it, but that one is solved.

But the second article, below the fold, features a picture of he and Dean over dinner just a week ago at Alexander's, and reads Reason for Alec Baldwin's Heartbreak? Or Couple of the Century? Stay tuned.

"'Dean Smith finds love at a local bookstore,'" Sam reads out loud. "'Is it a doomed tale of starcrossed lovers, or a real life prince and the pauper-style fairytale? Only time will tell.'" He drops the paper into his lap and looks to Dean. "What the everloving fuck?"

Dean who Sam realizes has been trying to contain his laughter, let's it out loud. He laughs so long he has tears in his eyes, and Sam can't hold back his own smile.

"How the hell are we going to get out of this one?" he says.

"Only time will tell," says Dean ominously.

Sam tosses the paper in the back seat and looks out the window as Dean drives them out of town.

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