Soul Searching, a Supernatural AU, part 3
by Meg,

Twenty-four hours later the two block radius that once contained MD Anderson Medical Center still smoldered, the occasional timber popping from the heat or metal clanging together while hundreds of people milled about.

It wasn’t mayhem so much as an organized chaos of search crews, medical personnel, and those few patients who had survived the explosion. The buildings making up the complex were unsalvageable.

Terry sat in his office down the street, the lights off, but still seeing clearly by the few fires from below reflected in the glass wall. His wife had just left and he was hardly astonished to find out they were still finding bodies, whole and in pieces, a quarter mile from the hospital.

And although he knew they would never locate and identify every single casualty of the fire, he consoled himself slightly with the fact that none so far had been his sister or the baby. On the other hand, the staff and patients on the upper floors were least likely to surface until the entire site had been excavated.

Terry downed the rest of his whiskey and let his eyes water, telling himself it was the burn of the liquor rather than an insubstantial hope that tasted like dry ash in his mouth.


Sam woke to the incessant squawk of buzzards overhead. Was there no place in this state the scavenging fiends didn’t lurk? It didn’t really do a lot for Texas tourism, he thought as he slipped out of his bag to restoke the fire.

Dean was still sleeping and he actually had some color in his face – what was visible above the puffy down sleeping bag he’d crawled into at some point during the night. With the fire catching again, Sam got out breakfast, coffee first and foremost.

A night with the door open had done wonders for the cabin and Sam’s nose only wrinkled slightly when he went to the storage locker in the corner. The lid creaked when he lifted it, but had otherwise held together fairly well. Inside he found a skillet, a pan, and coffee pot packed at one end. He grabbed the pot, making a note to come back and go through the rest when they’d gone over the area after breakfast.

Dean was still huddled in the bag, but his eyes were open. “You should see your hair, dude,” he said with a weak chuckle, and Sam felt his face take on a wide grin, grateful for a moment of normalcy, no matter how fleeting.

“Yeah, well you look like someone just scared the shit out of you.”

When Sam opened the canvas bag of ground coffee, Dean’s head lifted and his nose twitched. “Hmm, coffee – elixir of the gods.”

“Since you’re so perky this morning, why don’t you get out some of that leftover bread and cheese while I get this going?” To his amazement, Dean unzipped and peeled the bag back and stood up for a big, long stretch. His arms reached up over his head, pulling sore and abused muscles taut over his chest and back. He yawned and started digging through their food sack.

Sam poured water on top of the grounds and hung the pot from the iron tripod sitting over the fire. He could almost believe life was normal, for them anyway, and that their father would join up with them anytime now. But Sam was pretty certain that wasn’t going to happen. Not today.

For three days Sam had been operating primarily on adrenaline. It’d been pumping so hard in his body his joints ached. Just sitting on a log with a tin mug of coffee felt like heaven. It got better as he munched on the leftovers, breaking his fast.

“Since you seem to be in charge for now,” Dean couldn’t help the amused smirk which carried no malice, “what’s next?”

Sam tossed the last dregs of his coffee into the fire and stood up. “Well, I think we need to catch our breath, heal up, and then discuss what we’re going to do about things.”

Dean stood also and by silent agreement both headed to the creek to wash the dishes and themselves. Late morning sun had burned off the creeping chill from last night and it felt good on Sam’s face.

After a while, Dean said, “I hate to break this to you, but you do realize – I’m not going to heal up.”

Dean’s tone was light but Sam could tell he was using the banter they usually traded to cover up just how dismal his chances were for anything resembling a long life. And Sam couldn’t offer any reassurance since they both knew it’d be bullshit. He had a clue, maybe, but that was about it. And Sam didn’t feel comfortable exposing them to the world until they had things figured out better.

“We’ll see about that.” The Winchester attitude of invulnerability was just as strong in Sam as it had been in Dean – and would be again. He wasn’t going to give up this early in the game. Instead, he finished his breakfast dishes and stripped off the hospital scrubs he still wore in quick economical movements. “I’m starting to really fucking hate hospitals.” He balled up the grimy clothes and tossed them on the bank.

Dean found that extraordinarily funny for some reason and huffed out a short laugh. But he stripped down to his underwear and looked at the water warily. “You think they got snakes in there?”

“Probably,” Sam said, already knee deep in the middle of the creek. “Doubt they’re out right now though. Too damn cold, even for them.” He cupped his hands and scooped up the clear water to toss it at Dean.

“Do it and die. I’m serious as hell, Sam,” Dean warned, walking down a ways, out of Sam’s throwing reach, and sticking a foot in. “Fuck!”

But Sam could tell the desire to be clean, to wash away as much of the physical evidence as possible from the last seventy-two hours was too strong to keep him out. Still, Dean toed the water and rubbed at the goosebumps on his arms before finally just plunging in. Once he stopped spluttering, the sound of Sam’s laughter was clear behind him and he turned in time for Sam to follow through with the face splash. “Bastard,” was all he said before scrubbing vigorously with the half-used bar of soap.

Bruises and bite marks stood out like dark paint smudges all over Dean’s lightly tanned body, clear reminders to Sam of what his brother would and did do for him. He clenched his fists, evidence of his determination to make things right for both of them.

Neither could stand it for more than five or so minutes, and when Sam climbed out he realized they hadn’t brought clean clothes or anything. But once he’d gotten out, the dry air took care of any need for towels. Dean was right behind him, rotating his shoulders and twisting this way and that, letting the warmth from the sun ease his aches as he stretched his muscles.

Sam scooped up the scrubs and carried them back to the cabin, tossing them on top of the grubby mattresses on the side. He glared at the pile that was fast starting to look like a trash heap.

Dean poked through their packs looking for clean underwear but finally gave up, slipping the soft denim jeans over bare skin. Sam came out, bare-chested and barefoot, his own jeans riding low across his hips. “Not much clean. We were going to do laundry in San Angelo, remember?”

“Well, I guess you better get your washboard out, Alice.”

Sam answered with a flying pair of dirty underwear aimed at Dean’s head.

They spent the morning cleaning out the cabin the best they could, emptying stuff out of the Beast and generally making the place as comfortable as possible for their stay. By lunch, both men sat replete at the cold fire pit, full on the last of the fresh bread and mutton they’d brought with them. From here on out, cooking was going to be more work, but Sam figured it wasn’t like they were coming home after a hard day’s work to slave over a hot stove.

The next chore was to wash a few clothes and lay them on the rocks to dry. If they did a little each day, they’d soon catch up. They returned to the firepit, both ready for some much needed down time.

Dean pulled out the cactus juice and winked at Sam. “I think we’ve earned this.” Sam didn’t argue.

They didn’t even bother getting the mugs out, just tipped the jug up every so often, passing it back and forth. Sam was finally starting to relax, but couldn’t help thinking that there was tons of shit they still had to face.

“You think we need to take the cells off the Beast and hook ‘em up to the little generator?”

That wasn’t the talking Sam had in mind.

“Hm, I dunno. Depends. What do you think we’ll need it for?”

Dean looked thoughtful, took another sip from the jug and nodded.

“You’re right.”

The sun was blazing down, but a breeze through the canyon kept the temperature a perfect seventy-five. Sam tried to ignore the buzzards he saw circling to the south and the fact that he was so fucking tired he couldn’t see straight. He felt like his brain had been battered into grey mush.

“Tell me what happened,” Sam said without preamble.

Dean passed him the jug and sat cross-legged, his back to the log. “Seems you’ve figured most of it out. I mean – how the hell did you even know where I was, or do I want to know?”

Sam squinted across the bare landscape and dug his toes into the cool loose dirt before looking back at Dean. “My dreams – the nightmares, they started being real, like déjà vu, then I found out you’d gone to that decrepit tavern in San Ang, so I checked it out and ran into one of your buddies, I think.”

“Yeah, we were tight,” Dean scoffed.

“Anyway, I had my hand around his throat and I swear it I was blinded by – by this – this vision. I could see you and I knew you were in Houston, but not the exact location. Once I got the maps out that Dew gave us, I knew it had to be the med center they use there.”

Dean nodded and nudged Sam, looking at the jug. “You better either slow down or drink a helluva lot more, dude. This has got to be freaking you out.”

Sam drew a lungful of clean desert air and tucked his shaking hands beneath his legs. He wanted to come back with something to show Dean he wasn’t freaked out, but the truth was his imprisonment at the Center, the things they did to him, this thing with Dean’s soul, his own newly acquired skills of premonition and whatever the hell that thing was he could do now – were chasing him like a wolf in the dark.

It was a good thing being mentally and emotionally battered didn’t hurt like a physical beating. He’d be totally incapacitated.

“So I hope you killed the son of a bitch,” Dean said, and Sam realized that Dean was trying to divert him – he had to be pretty sure of the answer.

“Shot him. Three times.” Sam felt Dean’s arm across the top of his shoulders and leaned into him.

“Tell me about the woman and baby.” Sam’s voice was hesitant and low. The information was important but he didn’t think he was going to like it. It was like picking at a healing wound, though. He knew it wasn’t good for him, but couldn’t stop himself.

Dean coughed and set the jug down. They could both dance around this shit all day and not get anywhere; the next thing he knew Sam’d be slitting his wrist for him again.

Or they could get it out there and start looking for another solution.

“They wanted you.” That seemed to be a good place to start, although he knew Sam was gonna be pissed ten ways from Sunday for Dean letting him sleep through the attack. His hunch was verified when he saw Sam’s jaw working angrily. He held up his hands to stave off the oncoming storm.

“Sam, we had no way of knowing there were Hoovers in that town. I figured you could use the sleep and I’d go get us some intel.” Dean poked a stick in the ashes, thinking they’d need to build another fire in an hour or so.

Sam looked as if he wanted to be pissed, but apparently knew the time for recriminations and blame was long past. “Just tell me what happened.”

“They ambushed me – about five of ‘em. I probably could’ve taken them all on if that hopped up Hoover hadn’t blindsided me and snacked on my shoulder,” he spat the last few words out. That still really got his goat. He rubbed at the bite mark, mostly healed now on his collarbone. “Then they shot me with that fucking tranq gun and I don’t remember anything until I woke up in one of the rooms in the hospital.”

“Where I found you?”

Dean paused, wanting to make sure he had all the facts straight. “I’m pretty sure not. It was down the hall a bit. I guess the girl was having her baby, so they didn’t bring me in until it was born. I was still pretty dopey from the tranq, but I do remember the boss, I think he was the girl’s brother, being so pissed when he found out his goons had snatched the wrong guy.” Dean wore that shit-eating grin he got when he’d pulled the wool over some mark’s eyes, but could tell Sam still wasn’t getting it.

“Why did they want me, Dean? Why me?”

Dean shrugged, taking another drink. “They acted pretty surprised when they found out the baby had a soul. They probably figured having the father there would be the best bet, but believe me, they were perfectly willing to use me for a surrogate.” Dean nodded his head, agreeing with himself. “That birth was really important to them. Sam? Sam what is it?”

Sam shook his head slowly – disbelieving. This was not happening.

For over a year, he’d felt like his life had become one big train wreck. Crashing over and over, yet he couldn’t stop himself or the events that just kept spiraling out of his control. It seemed his mind and body had finally had enough. Dean was kneeling in front of Sam in a flash, supporting him as he swayed and looked like he was going to puke up lunch. They hadn’t drunk that much.

“Sam. Are you sick? Are you having a vision? What? Talk to me, man!”

Sam jerked out of Dean’s grasp and rolled off the log, making it to the edge of the circle just in time to lose everything in his stomach.

“Ah, man.” Dean raced to the creek and soaked the bandana he usually kept stuffed in his back pocket, then hurried back up to where Sam was still kneeling on all fours, his face red and sweaty. A thin rope of spit hung from his lower lip, making its way to the ground.

Dean put his arm around Sam and pulled him up into a kneeling position. “Are you done?” Sam nodded and breathed through his mouth several times. “Here.” Dean pulled him back farther until he was practically lying in his arms while he sponged his face and neck.

When Sam opened his eyes, they were overbright and slightly wild, pupils blown wide. Dean could have sworn he read pain in every line of Sam’s face just before it tightened into something resembling revulsion and pure bile.

“The baby…” Sam expelled a sob from deep within, then began breathing in quick, shallow pants.

Dean’s face burned with self-recrimination. Oh shit! Sam hadn’t known – or guessed – or anything. You stupid fuck!

“Sammy, I’m so sorry – I thought you knew. I don’t know why, but I did.” He pulled Sam around, cradling him across his lap in the dirt clenching the damp cloth in his fist pressed into Sam’s back. As the right color began seeping back into Sam’s face, Dean sat him up, staying close enough to touch.

Sam was numb. When was it going to end and would he survive to see it? When would he stop feeling like he existed only as a vehicle for the sum total of his useful parts, each being spun out and manipulated by whoever was strong enough to steal what they wanted? He blamed them -- those who’d stolen everything he was or was capable of – for the murder of his son. The alternative was pretty much unthinkable.

Dean couldn’t imagine what Sam was feeling right now. And he couldn’t stop the pang of guilt that his own circumstances were adding to the problems that just kept piling one on top of the other for his little brother. To Dean, the best thing he could do was to leave as soon as he could manage it.

As if reading his mind, Sam’s hand clamped around Dean’s wrist and squeezed hard. “No! You’re not going to leave me, either by dying or skipping out on me, so get used to the idea.”

Okay, this was fucking freaky.

“Sam…” Dean sighed and took a deep breath. What was he thinking (and why did Sam have to pick that second to pull his psychic wonder bullshit)? He couldn’t and wouldn’t leave Sam. They’d both been through hell for each other and he’d be insane to throw that all away just because he was scared shitless. Dean hated weakness in general and in himself most of all.

“Sam, I’m not going anywhere.”

Sam’s fingers relaxed immediately and he seemed to be pulling himself back together. He sat up and took the rag Dean had been using on his face and scrubbed at it furiously. A long shuddered breath later Sam thought he might get through this. He had to.

“Tell me everything. Why did they keep you?”

Any hesitation Dean felt over discussing this disappeared like smoke in the wind. He owed it to Sam and neither of them needed anymore surprises.

“They seemed as shocked as anyone that the boy had a soul.” Dean stopped when Sam winced, but his brother made a motion for him to continue. “They thought they were going to need you, or me as it turned out, to feed him after birth. You know how they keep their breeding stock till post-partum. When it was obvious they didn’t need me for that, they decided to give me to the mother for the boost she’d need when she woke up. I guess she’d had a rough time of it during the birth.”

Dean took a moment to let that sink in and wracked his brain for anything else he might have forgotten.

“So, you were going to die for me, but you weren’t going to let me save you? Selfish bastard.” Sam’s mouth twisted in irony and betrayal.

“Well, when you put it that way…” Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. He hated when Sam was right. Especially when it meant putting himself in danger and Dean couldn’t argue about it.

“We’re not going to have to have this discussion again, are we?” Dean could tell how serious Sam was by the growl in his voice that he only acquired when trying really hard not to hit him.

What could he say? Dean was never too picky about the fairness of things if he or his family came out on the winning side, but when it came to Sam his conscience demanded he look at the situation as if their positions were reversed. He knew Sam’d do the same as he did – okay, maybe not the going off chasing strange messengers without backup – but he’d also be doing the same thing Sam was doing for him. He’d drain his veins if it meant keeping his brother alive.

“No, that discussion’s tabled for now, bro. But I still think between us we can find an alternative to permanent anemia.”

Sam jerked his head, acknowledging that Dean wasn’t going to give up trying to find another way. Then he dragged himself up and walked back to the cabin just to have a few minutes alone, thinking about the next time he’d have to give Dean his “fix.” He fully expected to have to fight him again, regardless of what Dean said now.

The rest of the afternoon was spent washing clothes and setting up a sort of household. Most of the cooking would be done outside, so they unzipped and spread out their sleeping bags, taking up most of the floor space inside the cabin. The extra blankets they carried would do for top covers. The more or less solid walls would afford some protection from the wild, although any animals had kept their distance so far.

Soon after dark, they settled in, since using fuel for the lantern was stupid and they were still amazingly beat – a fact their non-stop yawns verified as they headed to bed. Sam was about to drop into a doze when Dean sat straight up and Sam banged his knee against the wall jerking upright.

“I have an idea.”

“It better involve world fucking peace and a banquet to celebrate. You scared the shit out of me.” Sam rubbed his eyes and shook his head to clear the sleep from his brain.

“No, idiot. I’ve been thinking.” Dean could see Sam’s eyes narrow at him in the dark. “Wait – hear me out. Let’s address this logically.” Now the look Sam gave him was pure mock astonishment. “What? I can be logical.”

“Uh huh.”

“We need options. I mean, we don’t really know this is the only way. It’s just the only way we’ve found so far that works.” Dean was animated and giddy, perfectly certain there was something else they just hadn’t thought of yet.

“Right.” Sam felt like throwing his arms up. Dean wasn’t going to let this go until they’d dissected and examined it to death. He tried to put himself in his brother’s position, but it was all getting too frustrating to think about.

But, since he didn’t have any alternatives, he humored Dean.

“Let’s see --.” Sam said thoughtfully. “Since we don’t know what Kumar was doing with all the fluid specimens he was hoarding, we also have the option of piss or semen. Wanna try one of those next time?”

He didn’t really mean to sound so sarcastic, did he?

“That’s gross, dude.” Dean made a face. “I mean, I’ve done some kinky shit in my life, but golden showers are not my thing at all.”

Clearly, he didn’t even think the third option required comment.

Dean lay back down, and Sam thought maybe that was the end of it until the morning. He flung an arm over his eyes and squirmed back down under the covers when his brother’s voice cut once more through the darkness.

“Ok, we know your blood somehow keeps my soul intact, right? What about a transfusion?” Dean sounded quite proud, making Sam almost sorry to have to piss on his parade.

“Well, it’s not exactly just the blood,” he mumbled.


“The first time, back in Houston. Yeah, I knew I had to give you the blood, but then it didn’t work.” Sam voice was weary.

He knew Dean didn’t think he was making any sense at all. Of course it had worked. Dean was living proof of it. He narrowed his eyes at Sam, but didn’t say anything, as if he was absolutely positive he wasn’t going to like whatever it was Sam said next.

Sam’s mouth twisted as he tried to figure out how to phrase the next part.

“I waited – more than ten minutes. And you were dying and we were running out of time,” he stopped for a breath and mentally kicked it down a notch, realizing he was starting to ramble. “I just remember holding you, trying to feel for something I was missing, touching you. Then when I got to your stomach, I could feel it. Well, not exactly your stomach – above it.” Sam pointed to the spot just below his own chest, touching his solar plexus. “You were empty there.”

“Empty.” Just like Dean’s voice. Hollow and defeated.

“Yeah. And all I wanted to do was fill you up. Return you to the way you should be and replace the emptiness with whatever I had.” It all sounded so nebulous to Sam. He rushed on to clarify. “The only way I can explain it is – it was like pushing. Down through my arms and hands and into your body. I was concentrating as hard as I could on making you feel right and the next thing I knew, you were.”

The silence grew between them, becoming terrible to Sam the longer it went on.

“Just like that?” Dean’s first words in forever were full of doubt and something not unlike anger.

“Well, not exactly. Like a puzzle snaps together when all the pieces fit or how the tumblers in a lock fall into place and you just know – it’s right.” Sam was clearly becoming frustrated at trying to explain this vague push to his brother but it didn’t really seem to matter because Dean had obviously latched on to a technicality.

“That’s it!” Sam could see Dean’s eyes light up as he grabbed Sam by the arm. “We’ll try your pushing thing next time – without the blood.”

“I don’t think so…” Sam trailed off, knowing this was a bad idea, but having no proof to dampen Dean’s enthusiasm. “I mean, I had that vision – that dream. I knew giving you my blood was the only way.”

“But it wasn’t! You had to do that other thing,” he made a shoving gesture toward Sam with his hands, “…that pushing thing.”

Sam was silent.

“We have to try it that way, Sam.” Sam felt Dean’s hand on his arm. “Please.”

Sam knew it was wrong. He might not truly understand the metaphysical mechanics of what happened between him and Dean, but the pushing alone wasn’t going to work – of that he was sure.

He was about to say that exact thing to Dean when he saw the look in his eyes, shining even in the near darkness, and halted the objections on his lips.

“Ok, we’ll try it that way.” He could feel Dean’s relief. “But, I’ll have the knife ready and you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it work. That’s the deal.”

“Yeah, okay,” Dean agreed, almost too readily, but as they settled back down to sleep, he saw Sam pull his knife out of its sheath and place it within easy reach on his side of the makeshift bed. Dean stared at it like it was a snake before closing his eyes.

It had been more than twenty-four hours since Sam had last bled for Dean.


Sam thought the night had passed surprisingly well once Dean let them stay asleep. He didn’t even wake until a shaft of sharp sunlight coming through the wide chink between door and frame fell right across his eyes.

He stretched under the covers, noting a stone beneath the sleeping pad that’d found his right hip and rolled over to lift the pallet. Dean was still sleeping beside him and Sam hoped the rest of his night had been as peaceful as he looked right now.

Maybe too peaceful.

Sam reached out, almost afraid to touch Dean, but his skin was warm to the touch and Sam let go of the breath he held. Dean’s eyes were still bruised looking beneath long lashes and Sam had to really pay attention to see the slow rise and fall of his chest.

Unable to stop himself he poked Dean’s arm, then shook his shoulder, with no response. “Dean.” It was a hoarse whisper, full of frantic need that filled the cabin. Sam cleared his throat. “Dean!” This time not a whisper but a challenge, strong and loud. He slammed his hand beside Dean’s head, stirring up a cloud of dry dust around them.


“Goddamnit!” Sam threw the covers back and immediately grabbed for the knife beside his pillow. Then he remembered his promise. But, that was before he found his brother slipping deeper and deeper into a coma right next to him. That was when he thought he’d have time to prepare.

The knife hovered over his arm while Sam decided where to make the next cut. He had to think, not just act. Rather than splitting his skin with the sharp blade, Sam heard Dean’s voice in his head, hollow and empty as it had been last night, and knew he couldn’t betray his word.

With a choked curse, he tossed the knife back onto the pallet and straddled his brother, putting his hand on the spot he’d become all too familiar with. Dean’s skin felt cooler but Sam didn’t know if it was because he’d tossed the covers off them both or if it was something else he didn’t want to face.

His face screwed up with deliberation and will as his hands pressed into the yielding flesh of Dean’s solar plexus, but he didn’t feel any of the telltale signs of the buzz which had signaled his previous successes. He even started making small CPR-like movements with his hands – anything to make this work.

His eyes were shut tight while he focused on Dean’s heartbeat, which he could now discern pulsing faintly through the palm of his hand, but nothing changed. The emptiness remained, threatening to swallow them both if Sam didn’t do something fast.

How much time should he give it?

How long is a promise good for?

Sam couldn’t wait any longer – dared not. He felt for the knife, which had landed near Dean’s shoulder and once more raised it over his left arm. The barely healed and healing cuts already there caused him to pause only long enough to make a silent plea that Dean would forgive him again.

He picked a spot in line with the other two already there, slicing with even pressure and precision. Blood welled up immediately and Sam imagined his arm now looked like it had been clawed by some ferocious demon from hell. He scrambled off Dean to a position which made it easier for him to lay his arm across Dean’s mouth and pulled his brother’s mouth open with a firm grip to his chin.

The seconds felt like hours while he watched Dean’s lips gloss over with his blood and he almost cried out in triumph when Dean’s tongue automatically flicked out to lick his lips. Sam’s blood coated his teeth and gathered at the corner of his mouth. Dean looked like a vampire after a midmorning snack. A very sloppy vampire.

He still hadn’t swallowed any of the blood as far as Sam could tell, though, and it was getting really close to panic time. Dean had never gone this far without Sam’s intervention and Sam had no idea at what point he was beyond saving. Not that it mattered, as Sam would never accept anything less than Dean’s cold dead body as too late.

He’d hoped that instinct of some kind would kick in and Dean would swallow before drowning in the coppery liquid that Sam could see filling his mouth, but there’d been no such action yet, so Sam did the only other thing he hadn’t tried yet.

Sam placed his hand over Dean’s nose, gently pinching his nostrils together with thumb and forefinger. He watched anxiously, concentrating on willing Dean to swallow. He knew he couldn’t do the other half of the fix until satisfied that Dean had taken the blood required to make it all come together. Impatiently, Sam pushed the hair out of his eyes while still holding Dean’s nose, and when his brother finally swallowed twice he only had the energy to whisper a soft, “Thank you.”

Sam hopped back around and resumed his position over Dean, carelessly wiping his arm off with the tail of his T-shirt. His hands found the spot, directly below Dean’s breastbone and fitted themselves together naturally across his cool skin. Sam wondered if there would be an imprint of his hand there soon.

He closed his eyes, drew a deep breath and tried to relax into a state conducive for the ritual, for that is what this had become to him. Whatever he was doing, whatever he was giving to Dean, he offered up freely.

As before, the silent clink of placement was almost an internal jarring of Sam’s body. He felt Dean return to a rightful state and finally allowed the tears of relief to squeeze through his closed eyes.

When he finally opened them and gazed down at his brother, he saw a matching trail of wetness streaking the temples of Dean’s face as they looked at each other and he knew that Dean knew he’d failed.

There’s silence – and then there’s the quiet that roars so loudly that everything else ceases to exist except for unspoken fears and mute regrets.

Dean’s fear was that Sam would release him from his promise to stay – or agree Dean was right all along. His brother’d made him swear he wouldn’t leave him, but there had been no reciprocal pledge on Sam’s part.

It wouldn’t be like the last time – use-his-powers-for-good, save-the-world bullshit. It would be because Sam’d finally reached the end of his tether. He would get tired of fighting Dean each time, tired of literally having to bleed for his brother practically every single day of his life. Tired of saving Dean’s sorry ass over and over.

Dean’s regrets could be counted on Sam’s arms and hands.


Despite Dean’s assurances, Sam expected him to disappear any minute.

The nightmares had returned with a vengeance. Once they had things set up in camp, the brothers pulled out what weapons they had and spent day two cleaning and calibrating. It was a familiar task to them and Sam figured it’d helped settle things a bit.

Then yesterday, he’d started target practice with his bow. Now that the crisis was over, Sam couldn’t believe he had been about to leave it at the hospital. Next to Dean and their dad, that bow probably meant more to him than anything else. He’d rigged a target with the discarded mattresses, so while Dean sharpened their knives, Sam practiced shooting.

That night, Sam dreamed that he’d shot Dean – with his bow. Then he dreamed his father was alive and still trapped in the tunnels of the NAARC. And to top off the evening’s entertainment, he’d had another wet dream. And not just any wet dream. Details, thankfully, were bleary, but it definitely involved his brother.

He didn’t tell Dean about any of them.

Sam flexed his arm, making a note not to cut so close to the bend of his elbow the next time. Of course, that wouldn’t help with the constant throbbing in his left arm and he’d probably have to start on his legs soon, since he doubted he could continue bleeding his upper body without affecting his aim and hand to hand abilities.

And just how fucking weird was it to be thinking these thoughts?

He flung his back pack into the Beast with his good arm and scanned the landscape to the south for Dean. He was just supposed to be filling their water jugs, but he’d been gone a good half hour and he knew Sam wanted to leave soon so they’d be back by dark.

His heart tripped a beat, wondering if this was the time Dean wouldn’t return. When he saw him come around the back of the cabin hauling the two large plastic containers, he smiled and gave a mental kick to his psyche. Dean had given his word.

“Lemme help so we can get going.” Together they set up the filtration system for the water Dean’d brought and were heading out of the canyon before the sun was fully up.

“This time I get to pick out the stuff,” Dean groused, pointing to the list Sam was putting together. Supplies to replenish the first aid kit were on top, then the non-perishables they knew’d keep. They’d wait to see what was available along the lines of fresh meat and produce when they got there.

“Hey, if you can find something better than dried meat and sheep cheese this time go for it.” Sam grinned and laid his hand atop Dean’s shoulder and squeezed, happy to be leaving the small cabin behind for a day and looking forward to the distraction a trip to the village offered.

Dean was driving, his left arm hanging out the window while his right beat a rhythm on the steering wheel only he could hear, and Sam could tell just that little bit of back to normal was as good for his brother as the almost daily fixes he required from Sam. An unspoken, restless truce had formed between them since they’d gotten to John’s cabin and had it out that first night. Dean had begun to read the signs of his condition more clearly, actually giving Sam notice of the impending need for his blood.

The last time it’d happened had been last night, right after supper. It was Sam’s turn to clean up and he was just finishing at the creek when Dean came down to meet him.

“It’s gonna be time pretty soon, Sammy.” Dean’s voice had been quiet as he squatted down beside Sam while he leaned over the water, rinsing the dishes.

Sam didn’t speak until he was done, then stood with the woven bag of dripping utensils and tin plates in his left hand and slung his right arm around Dean’s shoulder. Dean had immediately gripped Sam tightly around the waist and they’d walked back to the cabin to get the knife.

There hadn’t been any further discussion about the “why” of it all, and Sam suspected neither one of them was up for that yet. Once they were rested, healthy (relatively speaking) and back among a semblance of civilization, they would search for the answers. It seemed enough right now that they had admitted and agreed to their mutual need for each other. And when it came right down to it, as much as Dean hated watching Sam use the knife on himself, Sam was pretty sure the whole death alternative wasn’t something Dean was ready to embrace yet.

But when would Dean start to resent his dependence on their enforced lifestyle? To be tied to someone like this, for life as far as they knew – Sam couldn’t picture Dean accepting such an existence forever. When would he decide that the alternative was, indeed, better than the cure?

It never even occurred to Sam to let Dean know that need went both ways.


The town was way more quiet than they expected and both men were immediately alert. Never again would they assume a once human village would stay that way. The store they’d stopped at on their way in was open, though, so they parked the Beast in front on the mostly empty street and took their list in

Spyder and Lucia had just bought the store, having moved from Corpus Christi recently. It was the only the grocery/hardware/drug store in San Bernadette. It was furnished with old wooden fixtures and the occasional metal racks stuffed with canned goods and axle grease, a combination of new and used clothing and shoes, and a tiny refrigerated section in the back. As one of the more isolated villages in Texas, the townspeople had managed to live as simply as their pioneer ancestors.

After an awkward moment of suspicious glances, Sam pulled out their Isolation Certificates, putting the couple at ease immediately. They quickly warmed to the brothers and even admitted to remembering them from their brief stop through town the week before. Once Dean got his foot in the door, he poured on the charm and had Lucia laughing in no time.

“Spyder, see if the boys can use that old chest we were going to throw out,” she called to her husband.

Sam, naturally, had begun to object, saying he didn’t think they’d be around long, but Dean punched Sam in the arm good-naturedly, maybe a little harder than necessary, and accepted the offer on their behalf.

Spyder and Dean went to get the ancient ice chest and load it in the Beast. The storekeeper was telling them that the compressor was going to go out any day, but it should help keep some perishables cool for awhile.

Dean motioned with his head for Sam to join him when they walked back in the store.

“It’s Thanksgiving,” he said in a low voice, then winked broadly at Lucia when he caught her watching them with a soft motherly smile on her face.

Sam rolled his eyes. The holiday, still being observed fervently in the small villages, had gone completely unnoticed by either of them.

“I guess that explains the empty streets.” Dean said, nodding.

Spyder brought out a box of peaches and began sorting through them, finding the firmest ones for the sack Sam had carried in for supplies.

“We don’t want to impose…,” Dean began but the older couple waved him off, tsking that the holiday hadn’t been as prosperous for their grocery business as usual and they were stuck with a lot of things that wouldn’t keep if they didn’t take them.

It was an embarrassment of riches as far as Sam was concerned and he was more than a little uncomfortable taking so much and having so little to offer in payment. However, Dean, as always, was content to accept what fate sent their way, sure in the knowledge they had earned it and would return the favor eventually, in the grand scheme of things.

Sam thought it more than a little ironic that practical Dean believed in Karma.

By the time the essentials on the list were stacked up by the door, Lucia had also added some sticks of sugar cane her son had brought up from Mexico, lard for cooking, and various herbs for seasoning. A few moments later, a jar of pickles showed up in the stack. Dean smiled at Sam around the stick of peppermint candy he was sucking on. Both of them felt extremely thankful at the moment.

When they were packing the last of the medical supplies in the Beast, Spyder came out of the back room wearing a frown of concentration, flipping through envelopes and papers.

“You boys wouldn’t be the Winchesters would you?” he asked, giving a satisfied nod when he found what he’d been looking for.

It was just old habit that had prevented either of them from mentioning their last names. And with the future so uncertain and Sam not even sure if there were factions still hunting them, he’d been a bit nervous about even using his real first name.

“That’s us,” Dean said without preamble, but giving a reassuring nod to Sam and taking the envelope Spyder was holding out.

“I almost forgot we got this a couple of days ago. Came in about the same time we were busiest for the holiday, so it just got stashed in the back. Was gonna hold on to it in case someone by that name came looking.”

With the post and other deliveries being sparse and unpredictable, it was fairly common for someone to get a letter to friends or family with just the name of a town for the address, assuming the recipient would check each mail office as they passed through. It was rudimentary and not at all reliable, but no one seemed too anxious to change things.

It was the rare person who was willing to travel alone to deliver mail between villages, especially if they were as far apart as the ones in Texas. The government was satisfied to let the people work out their postal problems without interference, figuring there were other more important issues their limited resources should address.

Dean ripped the end of the envelope and pulled out a half sheet of paper, recognizing his father’s scrawl immediately. “It’s from Dad!” He backed out of Sam’s reach and scanned the page.

“They’re looking for you. Stay put.”

“What did he say?” Sam snatched the paper out of Dean’s hand just before it fell from his fingers. Sam read the single line and Dean watched his mouth draw into a pinched purse of irritation.

“He was here. He knew we were going to come here and he didn’t wait.”

Dean led Sam out of the store with a hand to his neck and steered him toward the Beast. It was mid-afternoon and there were a few more people on the streets now, walking and visiting after spending most of the day inside with friends and family.

“Not here,” Dean hissed. “Let’s make our goodbyes and get back to camp.”

After hugs all around and promises to save the boys some supplies for the next week, Dean resumed his driver’s seat and Sam climbed in the passenger side, letting his head flop back against the seat before sitting up and scrubbing his face with his hands and sweeping his hair back.

“This is so fucked up.”

“Look, if Dad didn’t wait for us, he had a good reason. He obviously knows we’re looking for him. And he knows more than we do, it sounds like. Maybe they’re after him too.”

Sam just shook his head, although he wasn’t really surprised at the show of loyalty. Dean and their father were two sides of the same coin. It would do no good to be angry and Sam realized that sometime between going to the NAARC and the present, he’d learned how to choose his battles. Most of them just didn’t involve his family anymore.

“Do you think we should pull up camp?” Sam hadn’t really given much thought to where they’d go next, but the cabin would need some work and they’d need more stores and fuel to make it through the winter.

“Are you brain-damaged? What did Dad say? Stay put.” He was all big brother again and Sam reacted accordingly.

“I can’t believe you know there are things, people, whatever after us and you want to bunker down and wait it out for Dad. He didn’t even say who was after us.” Sam’s eyes were big and his mouth was open. Dean was sorely tempted to rag at Sam about how ridiculous he looked.

But Dean had been picking up some clues about picking battles, as well. Without missing a beat, he asked Sam, “So, what are your ideas? Let’s talk about this.”

Sam’s mouth worked silently, doing the dying fish thing and he looked even more comical.

“Um… well, I….” And Sam realized he didn’t really have a clue what they should do next.


The sun was low and the temperature dropping by the time they pulled up to the cabin. During the ride home, they began talking about how they’d upgrade the campsite to a more livable compound as if there’d never been a question of whether they would stay. Sam had been all too ready to concede and let Dean and by proxy, their father, have his way.

It was decided Sam would go back into town the next day and get things of a more permanent nature, like an actual mattress that hadn’t been the summer house for a family of skunks and something to use for insulation on the clapboard walls. They’d lived in worse and neither had a doubt this was doable.

They both agreed that if they had to camp it out during winter, it could have been worse. They could be in Wyoming.

Now they did have a reason to dismantle the solar cells from the Beast and hook up the small generator, thanks to the icebox provided by Spyder and Lucia. The thing weighed a ton and they were both sweating and out of breath by the time they’d carried it into the cabin and maneuvered it around to the proper position away from the fireplace.

It took them the rest of the available daylight to rig up the generator, but realized they’d have to wait till the next day when Sam got back from town to actually complete the hook up to the panels. By the time they’d gotten all the goods they’d bought brought inside it was full dark and both were more than ready for a quick cold supper of bread, cheese and pickles, then bed.

“We’ve turned into a couple of pathetic old men,” Dean grumbled as he slid under the blanket on the floor. “It can’t be more than nine o’clock.”


Sam looked so peaceful, lying on his side, hand tucked under his cheek. Like the little boy Dean’d felt responsible for for so long. Dean’s hand laid lightly on Sam’s shoulder, reluctant to wake him when the only peace he ever got these days was in sleep. Well, usually, anyway.

Dean thought Sam’s skin felt cooler than it should be, and his face was so pale he realized again just how much the blood-letting was affecting him. At the rate he was going, whether Sam would admit it or not, he’d soon be useless as the other half of the fighting Winchesters. The seed of thought Dean’d had since their heart-to-heart the other night solidified into resolution.

And he really couldn’t wait any longer.

Dean hadn’t slept himself, staying awake so he’d catch the first hint of the all too-familiar feeling of his soul fleeing his body. The best he’d been able to describe it to Sam had been a creeping numbness from the inside out. A hunger that had nothing to do with food and everything to do with feeling so damned empty, but not know what was missing. It was now a tickling need he knew would just keep growing until… Until Sam fixed him. He decided it was time to get the craving and yearning under his control. Maybe he couldn’t stop the hunger, but he sure as hell could write the menu.

Dean had figured out by day two that if he was asleep when it occurred the chances of him waking up were pretty slim. But, he hadn’t told Sam that. He knew it wasn’t fair to withhold information of that gravity, but he’d be damned if he was adding one more brick to Sam’s load.

So somewhere around the darkest hour before dawn Dean lay listening to distant coyotes barking at the moon and realized he wasn’t going to make it till morning. The best he’d figured out was that, once he noticed it beginning, he had about two hours until the deep coma-like sleep in which Sam’d found him that first night. And right now, two hours didn’t seem like nearly enough time.

He turned his light touch into a quick shake of Sam’s shoulder until his brother opened bleary eyes.

“Dean? Is it…?” Sam squinted, searching Dean’s face in the shadows.

“Yeah,” Dean whispered and looked down at Sam’s sleep mottled face, creases from where he’d laid on his arm deeply imprinted in the soft skin of his cheek.

Sam sat up and dug into his eyes with the heels of his palms, blinked several times and shook his head. He’d been soundly asleep and Dean felt like shit for having to wake him up.

“Lemme get the knife…left it here somewhere…”

But Dean’s hand on his arm stopped Sam’s search and he looked back at Dean questioningly. “What?”

“Not this time,” was all Dean said.

Sam sighed and slumped against the cabin wall, deflated and tired. He so wasn’t up to this argument again. He’d thought Dean had finally accepted the inevitable, since they’d managed to make it through two whole days without a fight.

What did he want Sam to do? Change the laws of whateverthefuck governed this thing when he couldn’t even put a name to it?

“We’re going to try something different tonight.” Sam was having a hard time connecting the voice he heard in the darkness with his brother. It was soft and sure and sympathetic to Sam’s desire to avoid conflict.

“And yes, I know you’ll use the knife if you have to. Not really okay with that, but I accept it.”

Sam sat up cross-legged and reached his hand out to Dean. He connected with a firm thigh and could feel the muscles twitching when his grip firmed. “What are you doing Dean? What now?” Tired didn’t begin to cover how he felt.

Faced with Sam, awake and ready to fix him, the words Dean had practiced sounded so – gullible? Unrealistic, perhaps. Definitely beyond the comprehension of anything either thought they would ever be facing.

“Well, um…” Dean looked down at his hands, folded still in his lap, which was odd enough at any given time. Dean was all movement and action. He resisted touching Sam’s hand on his leg and then realized how ludicrous he was being.

“We’re going to go with…” Dean hesitated, at the last minute not able to actually say it. “…something else this time.” What the fuck? If you can’t say it, you can’t do it. As if Dean realized he sounded like a scared girl, he reached over and squeezed Sam’s hand on his thigh and rushed to explain.

“Hey. Neither of us likes the fact that I’ve become your own personal vampire. This can’t go on indefinitely, Sam. You know it and I know it. You might be willing to keep being my fount of life, but it’s beyond freaky to me.” Dean kept inching closer as he talked until Sam could feel his breath on his cheek.

“You made me promise – make a vow to you that I wouldn’t leave, but how long do you think you can keep doing this before it goes the other way and I lose you?

Sam sat shocked and silent. What the hell was Dean talking about? His first thought had actually been to wonder if Dean was displaying some heretofore unknown symptom of the soul devourment, if it was starting to affect him mentally as well as physically.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Dean could hear Sam rolling his eyes. “I haven’t lost it and I so know that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Okay,” Sam said cautiously. “What do you have in mind?”

Dean was all over Sam’s personal space, yet his brother had not even leaned backward.

Neither seemed to notice the pre-dawn chill in the cabin, but rather Dean could feel a fine sheen of perspiration beginning to break around his neck and trickle downward. He swallowed and reached out, laying his hands on Sam’s.

“We’re going to try…” just a slight stuttering of hesitation, then, “the semen this time.”

“We are?” Sam’s voice was guarded but at least didn’t take the tone that always told Dean he thought his brother had just flipped the switch on intelligent thought. He asked it like Dean had just told him they were having fish for dinner.

The warm puff of Dean’s nervous cough blew across Sam’s ear. “Yeah. I’ve been thinking since we talked the other night. And so, okay, we know it can’t just be blood or just be the pushing thing, but – maybe it could be the pushing thing and one of the other – fluids.” Dean amazed himself at how much sense he was making.

The cabin was deadly silent while the nocturnal animals sought their sleeping places and the daytime critters had yet to wake. Silent except for the two men’s breathing which had settled into a syncopated rhythm which seemed to fall naturally between them.

“Are you sure? I mean – how?”

Just enough dark had faded to grey that Sam could see Dean roll his eyes and grin. He had to grin back and shook his head. “Okay, I know how…but like… how?”

Sam had never been at such a loss for words, which strangely caused Dean to make even more sense – and that just felt wrong.

“Well, I’ve given it some thought and came up with a plan.”

Sam laughed right out loud this time. “Of course you did!” The tension eased noticeably and Sam focused and actually looked interested in hearing what Dean had to say.

“The way I see it, we’ve got two choices. One, we can keep going the way we are now and you’ll either get sick of being my savior or you’ll die of blood loss one day, or two, we can find an alternative fix. Notice there wasn’t a three that involved going our separate ways and me dying without a soul?” Dean looked pretty proud.

Sam said nothing. Just let Dean take him in whatever the fuck direction this was going, while trying hard not to think of his semen and Dean at the same time.

“Yeah. Okay,” Dean said nervously when Sam didn’t respond, but accepted that it was his turn to take the reins and make things right.

“Anyway, I think we both suspect any bodily fluid from you will take care of – things with me, as long as you’ve got the other thing going too.” Dean’s fingers tightened on Sam’s leg, then relaxed and began rubbing circles over his knee. He really hated all the “things” they had going without any real idea of what they were doing.

“Yeah.” Sam nodded and placed his free hand over Dean’s effectively stopping the massage. “So, you’re going to tell me that in the last three days you’ve decided you’d rather go with come instead of blood.” Sam’s head moved slowly, like it was all falling into place for him. But it totally was not.

“It’s not like I gotta lot of choice, bro. It’s watch you slice yourself up like bacon every day or suck it up, so to speak, and get over myself.”

Sam was in awe. He really was. And he loved his brother more than anything. And he was speechless.

“So…” Now that he’d gotten his say out, Dean didn’t know what to do. He’d only rehearsed it in his head up to this point, somehow figuring Sam would take it from here. “You uh… want some privacy?”

How lame was that?

He couldn’t help himself. Sam smiled a big toothy white grin and reached out to wrap his arm around Dean’s neck, hooking his elbow below Dean’s ear as he pulled him into a hug. “Go make some coffee or something. I’ll call you when uh – I’m ready.”

Dean jerked his head in a quick nod and ducked out of the cabin, suddenly feeling the cold north wind that came down through the canyon each morning.

Sam hadn’t asked about logistics or just how Dean planned to assimilate his fluids (and that thought right there was enough to almost freak him out), but he’d do his part and if it worked – well, they’d figure out a more concrete plan.

He could hear the wind blowing against the cabin walls and felt a tad guilty for sending Dean out, but he needed some time alone to process the wild ride that had become his life. That and he was damned if he was going to whip it out and stroke up while Dean sat waiting for him to shoot off. That was just – weird. Well, weirder.

Sam lay back down on their pallet and immediately realized that the last time he’d touched himself this way had been at the Center. He hadn’t given it much thought, but now that he did, Sam recognized just how odd that was. He was young and relatively healthy. Sure he woke up most mornings sporting wood, but he’d had neither the time nor the inclination to take care of it since getting out of the hospital and going to Kansas with Dean.

He took a moment to be in awe of himself.

His life had turned into one crisis or tight spot after another from which they had to extricate themselves. He honestly didn’t remember it being quite that bad before he went off to NAARC. John managed to teach them how to fight for their lives, kill the unholy Hoovers and still lead fairly normal lives, albeit mobile ones. He knew their education had suffered, but neither he nor Dean seemed to be the worse for it. He had accepted, along with the rest of the world, that it was pretty much all about survival these days. Higher education had no place when your main worry was having to harvest your field while looking over your shoulder.

Sam’s brows gathered in a frown of concentration. This line of thought wasn’t going to get him in the mood to pull this off and he realized he had no idea how long Dean had before they reached emergency status.

Not usually how he had approached this, but it was with resolve that Sam now reached beneath the elastic waist of his flannel sleeping pants and brushed callused fingers across himself. His body had little interest in his touch. Sam closed his eyes and tried to bring up images he remembered using in the past, but all he could see in his mind’s eye was a sterile room of stainless steel and white plastic. Half completed thoughts that finish in pictures Sam wished he could scrub from his brain.

His eyes flew open and he jerked himself up into a sitting position, mentally batting away the memories of the Center. No! They’d ruined so much for him. Was this another price he would be forced to pay? For two years the results of Sam’s orgasms had gone toward scientific experimentation (which took him down a whole different path of birth and life and death), resulting in him now not even being able to find pleasure in his own touch.

Sam stripped and made a nest out of their covers, laying himself down again and concentrating on his days as a teenager when the wind could give him a hard on and no girl was safe between him and Dean. The memory brought a smile to his lips, but his body remained indifferent.

Rather than arousal, he began to feel impending panic rising in his throat. Why couldn’t he do this for Dean?

A tentative knock at the door and he had warning enough to jerk his hand away, sit up and flip the blanket over his lap before Dean rushed in, curled in over himself, cursing.

“I’m outta here in a minute, but I gotta have another layer of clothes if you’re going to kick me…” Dean stopped and stared at his brother.

Sam dropped his head and watched his fingers pluck idly at the nap of soft wool. When he looked up, he knew his eyes shown bright and wet.

“I can’t.”

Dean walked over and sat beside him, not touching but close enough to. He pulled his gaze up quickly to Sam’s face – away from his crossed legs and covered lap.

“Oh. Well…” Dean felt completely stupid. This had never occurred to him. He’d wanted to make it better – do something to help instead of just taking and taking. And he’d made it worse judging by the look on Sam’s face.

Sam swayed toward Dean and fell into his embrace. Sam’s skin was warm and dry under Dean’s hands and he slid them down, resting at Sam’s waist before pulling back.

Whatever it took. That’s what he’d do for Sam . For them both.

“I can help…maybe?” He said it as a question, but Sam pulled back and looked at him like he’d expected it all along and gave Dean a crooked smile, the dimple on his left cheek taking over his face.

“Family circle jerk?”

Dean huffed laughter and pulled back, starting to unbutton his shirt. “Hey, you were the one who wanted to know how to do it right.” His cotton pullover followed the button up and Dean stood to step out of his pants and kick them off to the side. The playing field was even now.

Sam’s face was level with Dean’s groin and everything suddenly got very, very real. Dean could crack jokes and Sam could fret, but it came down to the fact that if they didn’t figure something out, their lives were going to suck forever. There was just no way he was going to let Dean die when he had the power to prevent it. And the last week had given him a glimpse of what they could expect for the future.

Dean had hinted at it, but Sam was well aware – it was just a matter of time… He closed his eyes, not even wanting to go there.

“Sit down, make yourself comfortable,” he said and swished the blanket back again spreading the covers out to make room for Dean, who plopped down in front of him and grinned, like he was sitting at the supper table.

Sam had always envied Dean for being so comfortable in his skin. From the time Sam’d started that adolescent growth spurt when he was all angles and bones and all he really wanted was to be like his brother, he was self-conscious of his body.

He sucked on his lower lip and tried to shut out the memories of how devastated he had been, drugged and exposed under Dr. Kumar’s care. It had almost destroyed him. Dean wouldn’t have come out with half the emotional scarring, he was sure.

“Hey.” Dean’s hand was light on his forearm and Sam opened his eyes and rearranged his features to what he hoped was a look of open willingness and encouragement. “It’ll be fine. Just pretend you’re fifteen again.” Sam returned Dean’s smile and rolled his eyes.

“God, please, no.” But the tension had eased and Sam waited, knowing Dean would lead the way, just as he had years ago.

Sure enough, Dean slid down the blanket until he was propped on one elbow and let his free hand dangle over his stomach, scratching idly across his firmly muscled body, playing around his navel, then up to his hip before flattening his hand out and sliding it down to his dick, which twitched once – twice, then lay still again before starting to grow and fill.

“Don’t think this’ll work if you don’t participate too.” The glint in Dean’s eyes was teasing and reassuring and they never left Sam’s face as he began to stroke himself in languid, sure movements.

Sam locked gazes with Dean and reached down to take himself loosely in hand. He watched Dean’s face relax and tried to follow suit. His fingers trailed down his flaccid penis, then cupped his balls before returning for a firmer grasp. He felt twinges of interest finally, but could hardly admit to himself they were more from watching Dean than his own touch.

He allowed a quick glance down Dean’s body and saw that he was fully aroused now, swelled firm and filling his hand. Dean pumped lazily, clearly not feeling the urgency Sam did to perform. Which of course, only made him more aware of his own rather limp state.

Sam squeezed himself harder and hissed in frustration, ready to flop back and give up. He almost just told Dean to hand him the knife so they could be done with it.

Then he felt Dean’s hand on his shoulder and realized his brother had stopped his self-ministrations and scooted closer to Sam so their shoulders almost touched where they lounged, facing each other. There was enough space between their lower bodies for Sam not to feel crowded, but when Dean pulled Sam’s head to him and lay it on his shoulder, Sam couldn’t help but gulp down the night time scent Dean still wore of sleep and wool and dreams that would probably never come true.

“Can I?”

Sam almost corrected his grammar, but instead sighed into Dean’s shoulder and nodded his head against Dean’s cheek.

The rough pads of Dean’s fingers brushed across Sam’s back, down his side and rested on his hip, where they stopped, waiting again for affirmation.

Sam finally returned Dean’s caress, wrapping his long arms about him and pulling Dean down with him as he lay back on the pillows and pallet. He looked up at Dean and then squeezed his eyes shut, not able to face what he saw. But, he took Dean’s hand in his and pulled it over to rest in the dip of his hip, at the edge of his stomach where the coarse short hairs began to thicken and curl.

And he stirred.

Dean settled himself, letting his gaze sweep the length of Sam’s body, then back to his face where his brother’s eyes were tightly closed. Paler than he’d ever seen him, but still in good shape, Dean marveled at the resiliency of the human body.

Though they hadn’t discussed it in detail, Dean was all too aware of the affect Sam’s imprisonment had on him emotionally and mentally. He was the one who’d been holding Sam during the nights when he’d wake from the nightmares – his parting gift from Dr. Kumar.

Poor Sam – although he doubted his brother would appreciate such a sentiment. Dean nevertheless felt sadness and regret for what Sam’d gone through since leaving his family. How ironic that despite his disapproval of Sam’s actions, their dad had always thought Sam was safer at the Center than hunting with them.

As for physical damage, the wounds on his body had healed, leaving only the faint scarring that Dean noticed had faded almost completely around his genitals. They were the legacy of another blade held by another hand, but Dean couldn’t help but compare himself to Kumar, making Sam bleed for an unnatural cause that he should never have been asked to face.

Dean found that he wanted to bring Sam what pleasure he could if this was how things were going to be. Dean was not surprised that Sam couldn’t do this for himself. There were too many bad memories attached to the act of self-pleasure. And Dean was neither blind nor dim. Living in such close proximity, he was fairly certain Sam had yet to experience an orgasm post-NAARC. And he knew that just wasn’t natural.

With his hand resting on Sam’s hip and the first reluctant stirring of his penis evident of growing interest, Dean was hit with the realization that he had no qualms at all about touching his brother so intimately. It was like he was carrying Sam out of the fire all over again.

“What do you like?” Dean whispered against his temple and Sam almost laughed again at the incongruity of the situation. Somewhere in the back of his brain he knew it was simply the verge of hysteria and took a deep breath before rubbing his face against Dean’s arm.

“Just do whatever you would do for yourself. Just…” And Dean kissed his hair softly and began to touch and stroke Sam’s growing erection.

Sam sucked in a breath and shifted his legs restlessly. Dean made it seem so easy, and he realized that as long as it was Dean – as long as he kept his mind wrapped around the fact that it was his brother jerking him off, his memories of time at the Center and the clinical, nonhuman way they treated him could be shelved into a dim corner of his mind. He wondered if eventually he could erase them completely and thought maybe he could for the first time in forever.

Dean’s thumb flicked over the head of Sam’s dick and he gasped, biting his lip again.

“’sokay,” Dean murmured against his face. “Just let it happen. Don’t think about it.”

He thought this whole thing would be rather detached and distant, but Dean was making it very hard to remember exactly why they were doing this. Dean’s hand was sure as he took control of Sam’s arousal, pumping to a slow rhythm set by the grind of Sam’s hips. He squeezed firmly at the base, then pulled up, letting the loose skin rub against firm, blood filled muscle.

When drops of clear liquid began to gather at the head, Dean used them to massage his thumb across the crown with the perfect amount of pressure before slipping his hand lower and stroking beneath Sam, fondling his balls, then back up to repeat the mesmerizing caress.

Dean seemed to know exactly how Sam liked it and he wondered if all guys just liked the same thing or was it because they were brothers? But that thought floated right out as Dean picked up the tempo, applying perfect pressure to all the right places.

It seemed no time had passed before the feeling of impending climax began to rumble down Sam’s back and through his spine, making his toes curl and his hands fist tightly. Sam’s breath was loud in his own ears as he held Dean closer until they were chest to chest and Dean’s wrist slapped against his own stomach as he stroked Sam.

Sam reached deep inside for that extra push he always had to provide with the blood. There. He could feel the spot where Dean’s soul should be – where there was only a small flicker of it now, and he concentrated on filling the void from the well of his being, finding it harder to concentrate as his climax rushed over him, filling his balls and sending blasts of electric pleasure through his body.

Sam just barely remembered to warn Dean – had just enough time to groan and gasp, “Dean! I’m gonna…I’m…”

Dean flipped around, his mouth on Sam before he could finish talking, just covering the tip and no sooner did Sam feel the moist heat of Dean’s lips around him than he came so hard it hurt and he heard his own cry of breathless release.

His arms tingled with the rush and the push grew and flowed into his hands where they lay on Dean’s back until Dean’s skin felt hot and moist and tight and *click–click–snap* – right.

Sam heard Dean whimper and felt his lips tighten and bear down, a slight scrape of teeth before he caught himself and backed off.

Dean was swallowing everything Sam gave him, then lightly mouthing him until Sam felt drained and flattened.

When it was done, he felt the shifting of Dean’s body scooting back up beside him and his brother gathered him to his chest. Sam allowed a ragged sob to escape before just breaking down in Dean’s arms.

The storm passed in seconds. Sam pushed away slightly embarrassed, wiped his hands roughly across his eyes and took several deep, cleansing breaths. He flicked a glance up to Dean’s face and then looked away quickly, feeling shy and unsure for no good reason.

His brother continued to hold him close and Sam could feel Dean pressed into the hollow of his hip, wet and hot and spent. He snuggled into the sticky mess and felt an amazing lassitude of being.

Dean’s breath was moist and warm against his cheek and he could tell the fix had taken, just as Dean thought it might. Their arms and legs didn’t seem to be working and Sam was content to just lay there until the chill air of the cabin made him realize they were on top of all the covers, sprawled and sated, but getting cold fast.

He nudged Dean, who grunted and rolled over. That’s when Sam noticed the biggest, goofiest grin he’d ever seen on his brother’s face. It caused him to blush and smile stupidly, as well.

“Get under the blanket,” he said, folding the warm wool around him and holding up a corner for Dean.

Dean rolled his head to the side and stared up at Sam. “Fuck. I can’t even move.”

He didn’t really sound like he was complaining, but he did manage to slide under the covers with Sam. Weary and spent, Dean was snoring softly in moments and Sam lay there a long time, watching the strong steady rise and fall of his chest and smirked while Dean drooled on his pillow.


Sam woke with a start when Dean tried to pry himself out of the leg lock they’d established upon finally settling together on the floor. They both made faces when Dean peeled himself off of Sam’s stomach but it was Dean who snickered, sat up and rested his arms on his bent knees.

Dean yawned without covering his mouth, then tried to lick his lips but his tongue was too dry, so he settled for smacking them together loudly.

Sam gave him a cautious look and Dean winked then raked his fingers through his hair before leaning over to grab the jug they left sitting against the wall the night before. He took a long pull of the cactus spirits, swished it around in his mouth and swallowed. He held the jug out in Sam’s direction, dangling it by one finger through the little loop around the neck.

“How can you do that first thing in the morning?” Sam asked before rolling over onto his stomach and letting out a sleepy sigh.

"It was as easy as --" Dean shook his head when Sam looked up at him, and Sam knew he had that "deer in the headlights" thing on his face.

"I can’t believe how good I slept," Dean went on, stretching his arms out wide and arching his back.

Sam nodded, not really wanting to think about that or about much of anything just now.


Dean smiled and shook his head, then stood up and headed outside to start breakfast. When Sam joined him for smoked bacon and fried potatoes, Dean looked relaxed and ready to let Sam start his usual morning rambling.

“Where do you think Dad went?” Not only was it something Sam wanted to know, but it was a conversation Sam knew he could handle.

Dean talked around the last piece of bread he’d used to sop up the bacon grease. “He could be anywhere. Probably got camps and hideouts like this all over the place. Why?”

Sam just shrugged and topped off his cup with the last of the coffee. “I dunno. Maybe if we knew where he went, it would give us a clue what that note meant. I mean – who’s after us? It could be the Golem, it could be the government. He could have provided a little more intel.”

Dean grinned and drained his cup. “You don’t remember much about Dad, do you?” He started gathering up dishes to take down to the creek. “No one more cautious than that man, I tell you. He’s not going to put anything down on paper that someone else could get hold of and put us in more danger.”

While Dean took care of the morning chores, Sam sat at the dying fire and tried like hell to talk himself into just accepting the way things were turning out. After all, he had all kinds of experience with a life less normal and this was almost like the days, before the Center, when the three of them hunted on the road and never stayed in the same place long enough to get comfortable. So maybe if he squinted and turned his head sideways, Sam could convince himself this was just an extension of that nomad existence. Just with the addition of a new twist to his and Dean’s relationship.

Try as he might to maintain that outlook, Sam still felt like he was losing all semblance of control. Everything he’d done in recent history had been in response to the actions of others. Always living on the defensive sucked.

By the time Dean returned and suggested he get going to town so they could finish hooking up the icebox and generator when he got back, Sam was pretty proud of the fact that he’d managed not to think about what happened between them the night before – well, except to think that he hadn’t thought about it.

It was noon, though, before Sam set out for San Bernadette. Dean reassured him that he would be fine until he got back and this time Sam believed him. Dean told him he was planning to go for a run later and was almost finished going over their weapons for repairs and maintenance. And he promised to stay out of trouble. That part wasn’t so easy to believe, but they were in the middle of the desert, after all.

Dean had mostly lost the dark circles under his eyes and even the bite marks were no more than shadows on his shoulder. Sam gripped his arm and squeezed, then jumped in the Beast and headed out the canyon exit.

Being outside most of the time was doing them both a world of good. The outdoors always did agree with the Winchesters and it had been one of the things Sam had missed most in his early days at NAARC. Even prior to his enforced and drugged existence, when he was free to wander and explore on his own, he was indoors more than he’d ever been in his life.


As he drove into town, Sam made himself a mental shopping list. They needed more than just supplies for a few days this time, since it looked like they'd be staying for the winter. He set his mind to thinking what would make the cabin warm and more like a home for them. An unexpected flush of warmth enfused Sam when he thought of setting up housekeeping with Dean, but he really couldn’t think of anywhere else he’d rather be than with his brother.

Sam’s first stop was the building supply store where he started with insulation. He knew that would be the bulkiest of his purchases and wanted to get it into the Beast first. A few rolls of that along with some boxes of nails took most of the space, but it was important. There was still enough room for food and a few other things. Heck, he could fill the passenger seat for the trip back, since he was doing this run solo.

Solo. Alone. And weirdly, Sam felt a *place* inside him where Dean should be, a missing piece that wasn't, well, missing, when he was close to Dean. But at the same time, there was a strange tenuous connection to Dean and he knew things were fine with his brother back at their camp. He rubbed his belly, trying to ease the odd feelings, but it wouldn’t go away.

Even weirder, he knew Dean really was better today than he had been after any of the other treatments they'd tried – but he wasn’t sure how he knew. When they'd woken this morning, he sensed a vitality in Dean he hadn't felt since he’d found him in Houston.

Damn it! Hadn’t he told himself he wasn't going to think about that?

Pulling up in front of the market, he turned off the ignition but didn't get out. He stretched out his arms and leaned back, closing his eyes. He knew he'd have to face things sooner or later, and with Dean needing treatments every day, it'd better be sooner.

He knew without a doubt that Dean would think sex was better than bleeding Sam. In his head, he agreed. But his gut screamed that sex with his brother – well, he should be fighting it with everything he had, no matter the consequences.

Yeah, right. Other parts of his anatomy were perfectly willing to get with the program.

And emotionally?

Sam shut his eyes tight and rubbed his temples, trying very hard to convince himself this wasn’t just an excuse to do things with Dean he’d maybe, possibly, in the tiniest way, thought about doing before.

Truthfully, Sam knew he could come to grips with the sex. He smiled ruefully. Grips with the sex. Now there was an image he could have done without. Then with a start, Sam flashed on other images. Images in dreams. Of him and Dean. The dreams he’d had since they arrived in Texas.

It was with bitter amusement that Sam realized he’d been wrong about those. They seemed to be as prohetic as the other dreams had been. He didn’t know if it was useless to fight fate or not, and he was too tired to try. How was that for a rationalization?

It was up to him to do this, he knew that. It was the only way to keep Dean alive. And if that might not be the only reason he was more willing than he should be to enter into an incestuous relationship with his brother – well, that was neither here nor there. Love always won out over duty.

Yeah, it was all about keeping Dean alive, and if that was what he had to tell himself until it got easier, by God, he would.

With renewed determination, Sam got out and went into the market. Supplies for a longer stay meant sacks of rice and beans, spices, sugar and flour and more coffee. Since they'd have the refrigerator working, he splurged on a quart of milk. Some fresh fruits and vegetables rounded out his order, and he filled most of the front seat with the groceries.

Now, one more stop, and he knew Dean would give him shit for it, but damn it, he was getting them anyway.


“Now that’s gonna help a lot.” Dean pounded another nail into the wall, attaching the last piece of insulation Sam’d brought back from town. It didn’t help the décor much, but when had they ever cared about that? The important part was that they would be warmer with the coming winter.

“Say what you want about the great outdoors, but a soft mattress is what I’m talking about.” Sam let the mattress that had been leaning against the wall drop to the floor and eyed it appreciatively. He’d had it with hard surfaces covered by a thin pad and a couple of blankets.

“You’re such a pussy. You always were,” Dean said smugly, fully aware there’d be hell to pay later, and fell backward, bouncing slightly on the overstuffed bed.

“You can sleep in the Beast then, dude. And get off your ass and help me get the rest of this stuff inside.”

Sam’s threatening tone was mostly negated by his approving smile as he headed out to the Beast for the rest of their supplies, having noted that Dean had cleaned the adobe fireplace in the corner, as well as reinforcing some of the weaker spots they’d found in the roof while he was gone.

Thanks to this most recent trip to town, they had a supply of fuel, ingredients for cooking from scratch, as well as a case of various canned goods. A few hand tools had rounded out the shopping trip. They’d spend a good part of each day for a few weeks gathering firewood from the mesquite and scrub oak surrounding the area and that should set them up. Texas winters were notoriously mild, even in the desert.

Besides, the Winchester brothers knew how to survive. It’s what they did best.

While Dean prepared dinner, Sam started working in the notebook he’d picked up in town to use for a journal. He’d do most of his writing during daylight hours, but they didn’t have to ration the lantern fuel quite so much now and he was anxious to get down some of what they’d initially learned. And Dean hadn’t even given him the expected shit about splurging on luxuries.

Dean cast several glances Sam’s way during the course of the evening, wishing he knew how to bring up the subject they’d both effectively avoided all day. Or better yet, let Sam bring it up. He was the one who always wanted to talk shit out.

As far as he was concerned, the method of his treatments was decided. He didn’t see how Sam could object, but as much as he loved his brother, he didn’t pretend to understand him all the time.

Although the evening meal was cooked outside, they’d taken their plates in the cabin and eaten in front of the cheery fire in the adobe hearth. Sam looked around and nodded as he noted the household supplies packed efficiently in the old trunk and their few items of clothing folded on top of the hinged lid.

“This’ll do,” was all he said, but Dean had even more ideas to share.

“I think we can probably find some branches or something to use for pegs on the wall so we can hang our clothes and not have to move ‘em each time we need to open the trunk. And we can take the back seat out of the Beast and set it over there like a couch.” He pointed to the corner closest to the door where the table and chairs sat now.

“We can barely move around in here as it is. Hell, the bed takes up half the floor.”

They’d been sitting on the edge of the bed just a few feet from the fire eating and now Dean looked around and saw that, indeed, it did pretty much take up a full half of the available floor space.

“It’ll help if we shove it up against the far wall instead of letting it lay here in the middle of the room,” he said, then set his plate on the floor by the hearthstones and bounced back on the soft cushiony mattress. “I can’t believe you got us pillows.” He said the last word reverently, as if Sam had brought them religious icons. Then he pulled a pillow over and tucked his hands under his head before laying back on it, grinning like a shit-eating dog.

Sam snorted and turned to face him, ready to tease, but froze, his mouth suddenly as dry as the dirt outside. Dean’s shirt was pulled above the waist of his pants, showing the narrow column of light hair that disappeared down inside his jeans.

He’d had most of the day in town, then driving in the Beast to think about what they’d been doing while the sun was rising over their tiny cabin that morning. Now, looking at Dean’s bare stomach was tantamount to reliving the image of his hands wrapped around Sam’s dick last night, caressing and encouraging until he’d hardened fully, then demanding and promising until Sam couldn’t breathe.

He shifted so his pants would rearrange around the growing tightness.

“Sammy…” Dean’s voice was low and raspy and Sam didn’t think he’d ever heard his brother sound so sexy. He was so tempted to stop analyzing and just go with the flow.

Sam cleared his throat and stood up. “I’m gonna make sure the Beast is closed up. Don’t want any snakes looking for a warm spot to curl up.” He grabbed his jacket off the bed and headed out the door before Dean could even get up.

“Shit.” Dean crawled off the mattress, snatching his own jacket from the back of a wooden chair, and followed his brother.

Sam was squatting at the firepit, flipping sand across the glowing embers with a stick.


Dean knelt beside him while Sam kept messing with their supper fire until it was out to his satisfaction.

“You going to play in the ashes all night or you want to talk about this?” He nudged Sam with his knee.

“I guess there’s nothing to talk about. It worked and you seem to have lived through the experience unscathed, so…”

“Oh yeah, I meant to tell you. I know this is going to sound weird…” Sam snorted. “…but I wanted to let you know – I’ve felt stronger today than I have since – since the hospital.”

Sam nodded, having come to that conclusion on his own, but kept jabbing and drawing with the stick into the soft earth at his feet.

“I guess that means we have a new lifestyle to get used to,” Sam said softly.

Dean reached out to touch him. “Sam, I’m sorry. I would…”

“No, Dean. Please. Don’t apologize again.” Sam’s voice was stern but not angry. “I just don’t know what to do with this. And I’m scared of where it’ll take us.” Where it will take me.

“Hey, if it helps any, I can tell you – I didn’t mind – what we did this morning wasn’t that bad. It didn’t feel so wrong to me.” Sam could have sworn Dean’s voice was edged with a shred of hopefulness and it just made him clench tighter.

Sam stopped playing in the dirt and looked up for the first time since he’d come outside. His smile was full of understanding and sadness.

“No. That doesn’t really help.”


The flames in the fireplace were still dancing brightly when they went back inside, so there was no need for lanterns as they prepared for bed, which was mostly just stripping down to underwear and making sure the fire wasn’t going to pop out and burn them up. Sam always put his clothes on top of the chest while Dean’s usually stayed where they lay when he took them off.

Dean ducked out for a last leak before bed and he didn’t think he could be any more surprised as when he walked back in the cabin and found Sam naked on top of the covers, the firelight doing strange and wonderful things to the angles and curves of his body.

He looked more relaxed than Dean expected, and he took a moment to simply appreciate the beauty of his brother’s form. Everything about him was long and lean. He felt his dick start to perk up at the possibilities of a repeat of last night. I think we could get used to this.

“Uh,” was all he said out loud, though he was ready to tell Sam how glad he was that things were working out..

Sam cut him off with an exasperated and slightly amused glare. “Dude, I just want a full night’s sleep. Since you’ve never been able to make it more than 24 hours before, let’s just do this thing and call it a night.”


“Monosyllabic much?” Sam smirked and scooted over a few inches, making room for Dean.

How could Sam say words like that when Dean’s brain was thinking things like smooth, tight and lips?

Once naked and settled beside him, Dean wasn’t sure where to begin, given Sam’s mood. He reached out and touched him experimentally, still learning what Sam responded to. If this was to be his “treatment” for the foreseeable future, it didn’t mean they both couldn’t enjoy it. It certainly beat the hell out of watching Sam slice his arms up and drinking his blood. He would never happily accept, let alone stop hating, that solution.

Sam hissed beside him, abruptly raised himself up and swung over Dean so that he hovered inches above his body. Dean flattened his hands on the mattress and held his breath for two seconds. He felt his body go fluid and lax and said nothing, not sure where Sam was headed.

Sam’s head dipped slowly, purposefully. “Touch me?” His whispered words danced around Dean’s ear and he complied. Sam felt Dean’s strong, callused fingers caress and stroke. He closed his eyes and dropped his head to Dean’s shoulder, still holding his body aloft, as his dick pulsed to life in Dean’s hand. He only had to shift and turn his head slightly to bring their lips together in an almost-kiss, which seemed to affect Dean as strongly as it did Sam.

Moisture beaded across the top of Dean’s lip and Sam heard him catch his breath. Soon the room was filled with the sounds of arousal – urgent breathing, half choked back whimpers and the rustle of the sheets beneath them. Dean’s dick filled rapidly, twitching restlessly up toward Sam, who seemed content to remain loosely cradled in Dean’s hands. When Dean adjusted his grip to encompass them both Sam bucked against him and grunted.

Things spiraled out of Dean’s control, illusory at best, pretty quickly after that. Which was exactly what Sam intended. When he finally let his body align with Dean’s and they were pressed together chest to thigh, Sam smiled. Dean made no attempt to fight the hitch of his hips or the urge to wrap his arms tightly around Sam, fingers digging into the hard muscles of his back and shoulders.

Sam let himself roll into Dean, rolling his body like the tide. He could tell when Dean began to feel claustrophobic, squirming under the unfamiliar press of his brother’s weight. Sam allowed him to wriggle free and twist his body around until they were face-to-stomach.

Dean’s cheek rested in the slope of Sam’s hip, while Sam controlled his breathing, experiencing Dean with touch and smell and sight, but not yet willing, or allowing himself to taste.

Dean sensed an absolute peace pour over him. An impression of physical wellbeing he didn’t remember ever feeling before.

Sam shuddered when Dean began rubbing his face back and forth across the soft hairs at the top of Sam's legs, then Dean nuzzled his way up until Sam could feel Dean’s lips just barely brush the sensitive skin across the head of his cock.

Dean inhaled deeply. He thought Sam smelled like – like nothing he could readily identify. It occurred to him that it was the same distinct Sammy smell he remembered from their youth, only more mature now, like a ripened fruit or well-aged wine.

Before he could set himself to his task, Dean was stunned anew by the feel of Sam’s hand on him, causing a surge of pleasured surprise.

“Sammy – Sam, you don’t have to.” Dean hardly recognized his voice. He started to squirm out of Sam’s reach.

“Shut up, Dean.”

Sam swept his palm down Dean’s thigh before resting it on the cool flesh at the top of his ass. His fingers caressed the firm glute muscles until he could feel Dean’s answering flex.

Neither one of them seemed to have a problem with arousal or willingness. If Sam allowed himself to think now, this would end and they would deal with the consequences later.

The truth was – he reveled in the feel of his brother against him. Brotherly love had made him agree to try this, but it was something else – something stronger that offered its own reward for saving his brother’s life.

He took a few seconds to mull that over. This is my life now. Hysteria didn’t burble up inside as he expected. The thought of being intimate with his brother every day for the rest of their lives was no more repulsive to him than the warmth of Dean’s mouth across his flesh Get used to it, son. The guilt, almost-shame and plain old freakoutedness of it all he’d experienced earlier washed away with the first taste of Dean on his tongue.

Sam shifted gears like Dean shifted the Beast, smoothly and with little more thought than tying his shoe. He knew he didn’t have to reciprocate. He knew Dean didn’t expect anything more than the fact that he was willing to save his life each and every day. And that made it so much more amazing to him, although it shouldn’t have.

He ran his fingers feather-light down Dean’s stomach, playing across his hips and legs, then dipped between them to the sensitive skin of inner thigh. He’d just wrapped his hand loosely around the base of Dean’s dick when he felt himself being sucked fiercely into Dean’s hot mouth. It caused him to squeeze somewhat harder than he’d intended, but his brother didn’t seem to mind – on the contrary – if the warm wash of tongue and light graze of teeth along his length was any indication, Dean approved wholeheartedly.

The loud snuffling sounds they made, breathing only through their noses, filled the cabin. Occasionally, Dean’s mouth slackened slightly when the pad of Sam’s thumb made a perfect swipe across the head of his cock or his mouth would close over a puckered brown nipple. Sam pumped Dean long and slow through his palm and found a rhythm they could both live with while Dean put serious effort into swallowing Sam whole.

Behind his closed lids, Sam saw a replay of the images from his dreams. That morning in San Angelo when he’d awakened sweating and spent from the dream-memory of Dean going down on him. That somehow made what they were doing now almost familiar and Sam’s inner struggle surrendered to the caress of Dean’s mouth and hands and body.

He’d gotten into bed halfway to angry tonight – whether at Dean, himself, or life in general, he wasn’t sure. Sometime between the light brush of Dean’s lips on his and the taste of him now, all salt and fresh air and fiery musk, Sam accepted what was.

He’d been fighting against what he’d presumed to be his duty, but in reality was just an extension of what made them closer than any brothers should ever be. His feelings for Dean were filling the space occupied by guilt and regret. Sam had been afraid he couldn’t find the strength, now realizing he only had to look to his brother. There was only room left for them and now and life and love.

Like so many other things Sam just seemed to knew, he soon began to feel Dean start to tire and wrapped his arms around Dean’s sturdy legs, holding him close. He could tell the wet puffs of air he panted across Dean’s skin was making him slightly ticklish and overly sensitive.

Sam felt himself tipping towards completion and backed it off enough to give Dean what he needed.

For the first time he let the push flow naturally from him in waves. It was powerful and gushing and enveloped them both in its warm embrace. His body let go of something it had been holding close and secure for too long and the two of them grounded each other as the push left them feeling loose and boneless in their orgasms.

Never had the push felt like this, and maybe it wasn’t just the one thing or the other that brought them to climax so violently, but rather everything they felt for each other combined with the sex and the mechanics of the soul renewal. Sam felt he’d experienced something profound and inspired and knew he’d have to ask Dean if it’d been the same for him. He couldn’t help but think of it as a gift and smiled against Dean’s quivering thighs.

No doubt there would be more dreams, times when Sam couldn’t stop questioning these acts of love – and that was totally what they had become. He closed his eyes, not the least bit surprised when he felt Dean shifting back up to fold him in his arms, kissing him timidly, still not certain of the lay of Sam’s land.

He tried to put his brother at ease the only way he knew how and returned the kiss without reservation. Sam smiled through their kiss, sweeping his hands through Dean’s hair, letting them trail down to rest around his neck. He deepened the kiss to communicate all the things he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to say aloud.

Dean wasn't entirely sure what had shifted and settled in Sam, only that the man kissing him now, holding him so close, seemed to have found peace with what they did – what they would continue to do – that he had not earlier that evening. Sam kissing him back was as surprising as it was welcome, or maybe it was just that Sam seemed to be asking now, for what Dean would have willingly given him anyway.

It took him a few dizzying moments to remember the he wasn't the only one that still needed healing, that for all that Sam was far more himself than he had been in months, that there was still damage untended in his brother.

Dean's wasn’t the only soul that had sustained damage through this whole ordeal; and maybe Sam didn't need Dean's blood, or the taste of him on his tongue just to save his life, but he did need Dean just as much as Dean needed Sam.

And in that…maybe nothing much had changed after all.

+++ End +++

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