When the trees start to thin out he slows to a walk, tasting the scents on the air. By the time he gets to the clearing, he knows there's nothing here but himself and the dead. Even the startled chatter of the birds has faded.
From the smell of old blood and kerosene and damp, charred wood, as clear to his nose as the scent of the pine trees, Sam knows he'll find a cremated body. What he doesn't expect is the size of the fire circle, or the ash and fur drifting petal white in the breeze and catching on his hide, or what lies half-burned under the cinders. There's too much debris for the pyre of one lone werewolf.
Sam shifts. He's easy in his skin, both of them, but the transition from wolf to man is three minutes of pain as his bones re-form under his skin, every nerve, every joint, every follicle a separate pin-brick of rebirth. He pants his way through the shift on his hands and knees, once he has them, staring at the sparse acid-leached grass and fresh pine needles that litter the ground. There's a shining screw under his nose he uses to focus through the pain, with a shred of rough-cut pine clinging to the threads and a tuft of sheared fur caught against the tip. That too is unexpected.
When he can stand and the pain of the shift is no more than a lingering ache, Sam rakes through the ash. The fire had burned hot, but there are more wood screws tumbling through the cinders, and some blackened steel braces. Half burned bones, a wolf's' femur rolled aside, white with heat, and half a dozen adult rib bones with the ends sheared. He doesn't need a microscope to know the rib cage is knife-cut. Sifting ash through his fingers, Sam finds heat-cracked teeth, irregular and mismatched. The first he finds are adult, too many for a single wolf, but gleaming small and white through the ash he later finds milk teeth.
Two adult wolves died in this clearing, and at least one cub. By the metalwork and the footing for an A-frame Sam finds next to the fire, someone had killed and skinned his kin and had burned the bodies.
The soil smells of two men. Sam knows both of them, but from the interweaving of scent he knows that they were not present together. One scent is faint, one more recent. Sam's snarl is involuntary. He has known these men since he saw his first dead werewolf, by their smell and by the taste of blood and metal in his mouth.
By the time Sam has looked his fill it's evening. He's cold and uneasy. There's no bird song in the clearing or outside it, and no rustling in the undergrowth.. Something is wrong with this site, this kill, and even in his two-legged form Sam knows it in the shiver of his bones and the prickling of his neck. He's not human, to make the hunted flee at his scent, nor has the forest emptied at the fall of his paws. The silence is unatural.
Sam's not human. He shifts again, sorrow loading the pain of the change, and raises his nose to the translucent half-ripe moon. October. Hunter's moon. Blood moon.
howls once. He holds the note, his voice throbbing with grief and rage,
but there is no voice to answer him.
By the time Sam hits paydirt, it's the eighteenth call he's made looking for the Winchesters. Impala is the magic word: the motel clerk's a classic car fan and too ill-paid or too young to know better. Sam couldn't care less. The younger Winchester's booked for two nights, and Sam's five hours away by the interstate.
"Don't say I'm coming, okay?" he tells the clerk, all rueful puppy charm and smile. The smile sounds in his voice. It doesn't matter if it's more of a grin and all Sam's teeth show, the clerk can't see. "I kinda wanna surprise the guy," Sam says, and the clerk doesn't even ask why.
Sam does not ask about John Winchester's pick-up. The Winchester sire's clever as well as vicious and there's no point: if he's there, the clerk won't know what he's driving. But his pup's an arrogant son of a bitch and flashy with it, and the chrome gleam of his car is as good as a scent trail over turf laid out for Sam to follow.
In Wyoming, there is no human law against culling a wolf. There is no human law against killing a werewolf. There's a law - several laws - against killing humans, but unless Sam's research was wrong, no human had died because of his friend. There were no torn human corpses, no unexplained dog attacks, no missing teenagers and no overdue hikers to bloody Kyle's name and explain the werewolf's death. Sam had seen enough game in the woods for a full pack of wolves before he'd reached the clearing, not just one were and one born wolf and their pups. And Kyle was not feral. He hadn't needed to hunt, nor had he been forced to by the psychotic madness to which werewolves fell prey to as much as humans. The Winchester family's last two kills had been justified by that madness, if resented - Caleb and Sam had been hunting on the same grounds for the same reasons - but Kyle's was not. For Sam, it was murder, but no human law gainsayed Kyle's blood on the grass.
But Sam lives by pack law, not human law. This is the third Winchester kill he's had to see, and this time it's personal. Kyle and he had known each other years ago, and if Kyle had gone feral and died at Sam's hands it would have been a swift and sanctioned execution. Sam has a rifle in the trunk with silver bullets he has to load with tweezers and gloves, and he carries it under pack law. Sam's feral kills were necessary. Kyle's death was not. It was murder, and it sickened Sam down to the bone, and someone was going to pay.
Sam knows who owns that debt.
Five years ago, in Colorado, he and his uncle had stood over a long-dead pyre and Sam had tasted for the first time the scent of the man he hunted now. Leather and cigarettes and skin, blood and gun oil. Caleb had stood stiff-legged and grieving, but Sam had rolled over and over in the spot where the Winchesters had stood, father and son, soaking up the smell of them. He'd know that smell fifty years later if he needed. Then, Sam had been nineteen, his paws still too big for his body, clumsy and over-eager and self-righteous.
Two years ago, on his own, with a freshly-minted law degree and a brand new human girlfriend who knew what he was but said she loved him anyway, it had been a canyon in Arizona. Another pyre, but the same scent, singular and utterly familiar. The Winchester boy was careless, not like his sire, and from that site Sam carried the smell of his piss and the taste of his blood. There were no pictures of Dean Winchester that Sam could find, but he knew the man's scent in his bones. It was enough. The first two kills had been necessary. The third, Kyle's, was murder.
Sam drives hard, and there is a loaded Beretta in his glove box.
The town is Revelation. It has a population of just over ten thousand humans, and a main street shuttered at six o'clock in the evening. There are no children's toys on the sidewalks and no groups of teenagers on the street corners. Every porch is lit, despite the barely darkened sky. Sam cruises through the silent streets, feet easy on the pedals, hands gripping so tight on the steering wheel he can feel the leather imprinting his palms. The car windows are wound down to catch both scent and sound, but Sam has nothing but the muted sound of half a hundred televisions tuned to anodyne cartoons and the smell of overcooked food. The town is as closed in as if it were under siege, and the feel of it makes the hairs on the back of Sam's neck bristle and tightens the muscles of his jaw. Like everything to do with the Winchesters, there is something wrong here.
Even the motel sign is darkened. Were it not for the gleam of the Impala's bodywork under the lights of Sam's car, he would have missed the turn. He parks across the lot, and when he goes to check in he does not carry his duffel with him. Sam has no intention of staying, and his Beretta is heavy and cold tucked into the back of his jeans.
The glass doors are locked, but the clerk is at the desk. His face, when Sam knocks, is pale and there are dark shadows under his eyes. It takes three minutes of gesticulating and Sam's biggest, most consciously charming smile before he's buzzed in, and the clerk watches every step he takes.
It's the sweat of fear he can smell. Sam stops three feet from the desk and spreads his hands, harmless.
"I called earlier," he says, and lets his voice soften and lengthen the vowels, slow. "I'm looking for my brother. His car's in the lot." Sam had looked for the sire's pick up, but had seen nothing.
The clerk blinks. "Room fourteen," he says. "But you don't want to go back there."
Sam glances over his shoulder. It's not evening but almost night, now, and the moon is up. He shrugs. "I'm not scared of the dark."
"You should be," the clerk says. Behind him, through the office door, Sam can see an unrolled sleeping bag and the window is shuttered.
"Wanna tell me about it?" Sam asks.
"Ask your brother," the clerk says. His breath smells of bourbon, and his hands are not steady when he passes the room key across to Sam. "Sixteen," he says.
He doesn't say what time checkout is, and he doesn't ask for cash.
"Sure," Sam says, and tosses the key from one hand to another, frowning.
"Check the lobby door locks when you go," the clerk says.
Sam nods, and does.
It's pointless even opening the door to number fourteen. Although there's no evidence of his sire, Winchester's scent is all over the doorstep, but it's dry and faint and hours old. He smells of burgers and beer and gun oil, Winchester, and underneath the smell of the road rich and smoky of his own skin. The door's marked with his scent and the handle smeared with his sweat, and if Sam had been wolf, he'd have pissed on the marks.
He's not, but even two-legged his sense of smell is still keener than any human's. The freshest trail leads to the trunk of the car, where it blends with the smell of firearms, clean and deadly. Winchester's footprints do not smell of fear, but he's carrying, and he's gone into the dark.
Sam follows. The man won't be far.
To Sam's ears the night is alive. Even as a human, Sam's hearing is sharp and his sense of taste and smell enhanced. He can hear the small sounds of nocturnal wildlife moving through the undergrowth and the rustling of wind in the leaves. Crushed into the leaf matter beneath his feet and carried in the breeze, he can smell his quarry's passage through the woods. Sam would be both quieter and quicker travelling as a wolf, but he needs the gun. Teeth are too keen: he wants to hear as Winchester begs for his life, and he wants the man to know why he's been called to account. Sam wants to watch the man's face as he dies. He will die. There's no room for doubt in Sam's mind, just the absolute certainty of justice dealt.
This wood too smells of fear. It's not like the wood where Kyle died, where the absence of life is something Sam is still puzzling over. This wood is tame, scattered with plastic bags and cigarette butts, crushed grass and the trails of teenage boys. The animals here are small and tense, scattering from Sam's footsteps. There's a sense of anticipation, as if the woods are haunted by a greater predator than Sam himself.
But the moon is out, and Sam has never met the match to his teeth and claws. He follows Winchester's footsteps, and he treads lightly, but he is not afraid.
It's half an hour before he hears the first gunshot. The roar of it tears through the silence of the night, and then sounds again, the noise of a shotgun, fired deliberately and from not far ahead. The trees come alive with rudely awoken birds, and Sam starts to run.
Over the sound of his own footsteps he hears the vicious growl of a creature with teeth and claws and the sound of a man breathing hard, and he can smell sweat and fear and gun smoke on the breeze. The smell of an animal Sam does not recognize, rank and dirty with old blood.
He's half expecting what he does see when the tree line breaks. Winchester is still standing, blood soaking through his T-shirt and a knife in his hands. He has his back against a tree, a shotgun at his feet, and he is not alone. In front of him is something for which Sam has no name. It's a hunched long-legged creature of teeth and claws, and when it turns its head, its eyes glint red in the moonlight. The flared nostrils indicate that, like Sam, the thing navigates as much by scent as sight. It cannot see Sam, but by the questing tilt of the beast's head as it paces in front of the cornered Winchester, it can smell him. It has claws twice the length of Sam's, and teeth that belong on the set of a horror movie. There is no intelligence in its eyes, just fury.
Sam is already, instinctively, changing when he sees the second creature. Well back in the clearing, the second animal is crouched over something - someone - still moving. It's human, that bundle of rags. It's small. And suddenly, the shuttered windows and the cloistered children make sense.
But it's the nearest threat Sam counters first, and if he spares a thought for the fact that he's fighting for Winchester before the child, it's a thought edged in blood. His claws are still forming when he launches himself across the grass, and he goes straight for the beast's throat. It hasn't expected attack. Sam leaps, his hind legs vicious on the creature's belly as it stands half upright and his spine already twisted to avoid the sweep of its claws, and his jaws close hard and fast in the flesh of the beast's throat. He rips through flesh, still moving, paws scrabbling, and he's up and over its shoulder and back on the grass before it can touch him. The creature screams, hurt, the noise bubbling through the blood at its throat, and its paws come up to clutch at the wound as if it were human, once. It's not a deathblow, but it's close enough, and Sam's already circling towards the second creature when he hears the first to fall to the ground.
It knows, the other one. It's wiser. It watches him, tense and crouched, confident, claws poised and mouth open. Sam can smell its breath from ten feet away, fresh blood and rotting meat. It's not clean, this beast. Testing, Sam feints, sliding in the grass, pulls himself back even as one clawed paw snatches at him - close. The beast is faster than he thought and his back stings: it's drawn blood. Pulling back, Sam slides again, and catches a glimpse of Winchester standing over the first creature with his knife in his hand. There's something familiar about the way he stands, something painfully recognizable in the way he smells that's unexpected and intriguing, but behind Sam something whimpers and it's not the beast.
It is a child the second beast stands over. Small and ill clad and bleeding. Sam goes in close, trying to tempt the creature to move away, twisting and turning. He's close enough to snap at the thing's hamstrings, misses, and dances away. Winchester is closer, circling to the beast's back, his eyes on both beast and child. Sam goes in close again, offering himself as distraction. Closer, slower, as if he is weakening.
It works. The beast glares down once, and then lunges for him. It's fast: Sam yelps, pulls himself back, feels his front paws catch and slip on mud and all his muscles bunch to force a desperate retreat. He can feel the heat of the beast's breath on his back and hear its heartbeat.
Then the shotgun sounds again. The beast screams, and blood spatters on Sam's coat, a warm and sticky patter of droplets. It's not enough. Twisting on his four legs, Sam tumbles head over heels just fast enough to avoid the beast's infuriated lunge. Winchester hasn't managed a killing shot, and there are only two barrels to a shotgun. Sam runs. Ten paces, fast as he can, and then he whips around, braced, all of his teeth bared.
But the beast is not behind him. Limping, growling, it's stalking back to the spot where the Winchester boy stands over the child with his knife raised.
Winchester's out of cartridges, but he's still not running, and he's still alive. Still Sam's to kill.
Fast as he knows how, Sam goes back. He hits the beast's back square on with all four paws and all the weight of his body, feels it stumble even as he closes his jaws around the back of its neck and bites down as hard as he can. He can feel the bones crack. It's falling, the beast, and Sam with it, shaking, yowling. Sam doesn't let go, his paws scrabbling for grip on the thing's matted coat, his jaws aching.
It's only after he knows for sure that it's dead that he looks up.
He was wrong about the shotgun. It's not harmless. The stock of it's heading straight for his nose.
Night falls in on Sam in a blaze of stars.
Sam wakes on carpet, uncomfortably cramped and human. He's wearing his own clothes, which means someone dressed him. He can smell motel carpet, old beer and dust and the scent of strangers and one man he knows, the smell of him fresh and unmistakable.
He's in the same room as Winchester. Sam nearly smiles. The boy is a fool.
His mouth is dry and tastes of blood that's not his own. Weighted, his wrists and ankles feel oddly present, as if the chains on them tie him to this human body. There's something soft around his neck, as if he's wearing a scarf. The moon's high in the sky, he knows it without looking. Midnight, near as. So. Winchester's caught himself a werewolf by the tail.
He can hear the man breathe.
After a while, he can hear the sound of the man's heart and the beat of the blood in his veins. It's an unsteady rush, familiar and strange. Winchester's heart is strong, but his body is more battered than it should be for a man of... Sam is twenty-four. Winchester, Sam realizes with slight surprise, must be twenty-eight. He's not a boy any more, although Sam's always thought of him as one, a bumbling amateur with no idea what he's playing with and no knowledge of pack. Frat boy innocent.
But they are alive, and Sam has no idea what those creatures in the woods were. He opens his eyes.
Winchester is watching him.
There's a bottle of beer in his hand, and his eyes are half closed, and there's a gun on the bedside table. Sam guesses-
-Winchester thinks he's fast enough. He'll be wrong.
The windows are dark, but the curtains are open. He's reckless, this man, as well as wrong, but Sam's hurting and there are clouds over the moon. He'll need to wait for her help to change.
"You're human when you're unconscious," Winchester says, and tips the bottle in Sam's direction. He takes a swig with his eyes steady on Sam's, and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. The beer is cheap, smelling of chemicals rather than hops, but Sam is ambushed by his own thirst. On his own, he'd whine. He swallows instead.
"You've never met a sane were before," he says. It doesn't matter how many pack laws he breaks. Winchester is a dead man.
"Make you any less of a monster?" Winchester says. He could be making conversation over a pool table.
Kyle's death played out in his mind, Sam feels himself snarl. It's more wolf than he's ever laid bare before a human before.
"As if you're not," he says. If the moon wasn't still hidden, he'd have changed then. He can feel his fur roil under his skin: he's going to have to change fast, and it's going to hurt.
"Yeah?" Winchester says, and puts the beer bottle down without looking on the bedside table, balanced and perfectly judged. He doesn't even glance sideways. He's good.
"You killed your first werewolf," Sam says, "in Colorado. Your father was there. It was a clean kill, and you burned the body."
He waits, but Winchester just watches him. Purses his lips and folds his arms.
"Lavinia," Sam says. "She'd turned. She'd been feral for three weeks and we were two days behind you. Your second was Montana. Philippe. He was older. You bled for him, but you killed him all the same. I was a day behind you."
He waits. It's still skeined with clouds, but he can see the moon glint silver, now.
"You gonna tell me you're the werewolf police?" Winchester asks him, and the contempt in his voice is laid out plain as his scent.
"We look after ourselves," Sam spits out.
"Yeah. Right." Winchester says.
"You killed again, two nights ago," Sam says, and Winchester's gun hand twitches, a sharp tell that hits Sam to the bone. The moon's out. Sam reaches for his own self - and slams up against a wall that shouldn't be there. He can feel the wolf under his skin, but he can't change, can't, and he's fighting the chains but they're not giving and the growl in his throat is human.
After the first frantic seconds, it's brute strength alone that Sam sets against the iron padlocks and the sturdy iron pipes on the motel wall, but he's still human and it's not enough. He knows it's not enough, but he still tries, futile lunges against the strength of the bonds, boots scrabbling on the floor, chains tight around his forearms.
Thirty seconds in, when he can think, he realizes he's not dead yet. Then he starts to think how stupid he must look, and that's it, game over. He would be an idiot not to conserve his strength, because Winchester is either more clever than he looks or he's got a friendly witch on his side, and Sam hates magic.
Sam does not want to look up. He does, panting, from under his bangs.
"Kid, you're wearing silver," Winchester says, and toasts him, ironic, with the last of the beer. He hasn't moved.
'Oh fuck,' Sam thinks, and gropes at his neck. His fingers burn, the pain not instant, but felt as a slow simmer of heat through the fabric. Wool.
Winchester's wrapped the silver around Sam's neck in a scarf, and it still smells of the man's skin.
"Bastard," Sam says, with feeling, and snatches his bound hands back down, because scarf or not, that stuff has started to burn.
"You're probably right there," Winchester says. "But you're off on your score. Colorado was the fourth." He looks down then, and in the moonlight his eyelashes shadow his face, making him something darker and more dangerous than the boy Sam had thought he was. When he looks up, it's right back at Sam.
"I didn't make that last kill," he says. "But I wish I had."
Chain or no chain, Sam lunges for him then, snarls and heaves and slavers like the monster Winchester thinks he is, so angry he can't think. Rage hammers through him, the red tide of it riding his bones, but the chains hold.
Winchester takes his time, reaching for the gun, and his hands and his eyes are both infuriatingly steady.
All Sam succeeds in doing is half choking himself to death. Winchester is not stupid at all, and the chain that holds closest is the one that links to the silver around his neck. Sam's as helpless as a lapdog.
"There's a reason why I'm not shooting you right now," Winchester says. "But don't take any chances." He looks down at the gun and drops out a single bullet. Holds it up between his thumb and forefinger for Sam to see.
It doesn't take the glint of moonlight for Sam to know the thing's silver. He can feel the shudder of it in his bones.
"Just so you know," Winchester says.
"Fuck you," Sam says, still sore and aching. He sits back on the carpet, eyes on the gun. He's not looking at Winchester's face. He won't. The man's a murderer.
"Why not shoot now?" He says, bitter and angry.
Winchester puts the gun down, the click of it heavy against laminate. For a moment, he takes his eyes off Sam, and then he looks back, direct as a loaded rifle. "Never met a werewolf who talked to me before," he says.
Sam rolls over. He can see the untouchable moon from here, and out of the corner of his eye the man on the bed and his gun.
He doesn't intend to sleep, but he does.
Nothing has changed when Sam wakes up. He's still in the motel room. He's still chained. His neck's started to itch. He's still thirsty.
He is alone. It's daylight, late morning, and the moon is on the other side of the world.
Stretching, Sam catalogues his skin - bruised, cut, but not badly. His jaw still ache, and the itch around his neck from the wrapped silver is fierce. He's not comfortable in himself, as if the wolf in him presses restlessly against the chain around his neck. But Sam's fingertips have blistered overnight and he feels queasy even thinking about investigating Winchester's bindings. Nothing had led him to expect a man who knew silver would bind him to his human form. Sam had thought that something only pack knew.
Nor had he expected whatever it was Sam had fought, last night. Belatedly, Sam remembers the child in the clearing, and reminds himself to check later when he is free if the child is alive.
Winchester, though. Winchester, then, does not only hunt werewolves. It's an interesting thought, and Sam turns it over in his mind as, bone by bone and tendon by tendon, he stretches out the bounds of his skin.
Fact. Winchester is both better prepared and better armed than Sam expected.
Fact. Winchester appears to kill monsters for a living. It wasn't chance that found him in that clearing, shotgun to hand, facing down the beasts that have terrorized this town.
Fact. Winchester has not killed Sam. And he could have done. Still could.
Fact. That, Sam is willing to bet, is the sound of an overcharged muscle car's exhaust pulling into the motel lot.
By the time Winchester walks in the door, Sam's as tidy and composed as he's able to be, sitting cross-legged with his back to the wall. The smell of coffee presages the opening door, and for all Sam's resentment, he watches Winchester walk in the room with hungry eyes.
The man's got donuts and a tray with two cups he puts down on the bedside table. It's cruelty. Sam chalks one up on the scoreboard and runs his eyes over Winchester's jeans and, once the coat's off, his layered shirts. By the dip of his waistband, the gun's tucked into the small of his back.
"You wanna clean up first?" Winchester says. In daylight, his eyes are unexpectedly green.
"You gonna let me free?" Sam says.
"Nah. Chains reach the sink." Winchester blows across the top of one cup of coffee. He's got a mouth like a five hundred dollar whore: Sam's been trying not to notice.
"Fine," he says. "Do I get a toothbrush?"
"Brought your stuff in," Winchester says, and nods to the spare bed. Out of reach, laid out and tallied are Sam's clothes, his laptop, and disassembled on a towel, his rifle. Which means that Winchester also has his Beretta, his cell, his car keys and his wallet. "Your kit's on the sink."
There is no reply Sam can make that isn't ungracious and won't come out spitted with frustrated anger. He hits his head off the wall instead, once, and shuffles to the bathroom with the chains dragging out behind him. On the washbasin he finds only his soap and his toothbrush, the head cut down to half an inch of shaft. It's a prison trick Winchester's wise to, and Sam wonders if it was he or his sire who'd spent time inside.
The water is hot, though. Were it not for the coffee, Sam would have taken his time, but he shuffles back out ten minutes later to find both a cup of coffee and a sugar dusted bag by the wall. Within reach. He looks down and swallows.
"Thanks," he says, the words hard to say and shaping awkwardly on his tongue.
"Yeah," Winchester says, like it was nothing.
There's milk in the coffee, not cream, but it's the best thing Sam's drunk since he left his own kitchen. There's no telling where the next will come from and he savours it, eyes closing, sliding his back slowly down the wall to sit again on the carpet. He hasn't realized how hungry he is until he opens the donut bag, but he eats those slowly as well, licking the sugar off his fingers.
"Anything else I should know about feeding you?"
Sam had forgotten Winchester was in the room. Jerking his head up, he catches the man looking up from his laptop. There's a table and chair under the window, and Winchester is camped out with a pile of newspapers and what looks like a journal.
"Other than people?" He adds.
"I don't eat kin," Sam says.
Deliberately, Winchester flicks a photograph across the room. It lands at Sam's feet, a bloody and battered image. A teenager's body. What's left of it. The girl has been ripped apart. It's an ugly death, but Sam doesn't flinch, it's nothing he hasn't seen before.
"One in a thousand of us goes feral," Sam says, and knows then by the widening of Winchester's eyes he's let something slip the man doesn't know. "One in ten of those kills humans. We don't like it any more than you do." He waits, holding the man's eyes, but Winchester shrugs.
"Only good monster's a dead monster," he says.
Sam rolls his eyes. "How's the boy? That kid from last night?"
"Alive," Winchester says shortly, and glares at the screen.
That kills the conversation. Sam drinks the last of the coffee, and amuses himself estimating how much longer the chains would reach. Then, he catalogues the water stains on the ceiling. He's bored.
The laptop keys click, uneven. He might be able to shoot, but Winchester can't type. Sam taps his fingers against the carpet in sympathy with the keyboard, clinking his chains.
"Bored," Sam says.
Winchester pushes a few more keys, peers down at the screen, and bites his lower lip. His teeth are white and even, strong.
"Take a look at this," Winchester says. "Tell me what you think." When he looks up, he's not sympathetic, and Sam's half expecting the case file Winchester lifts from the desk. The man slides the paper folder across the carpet, and it reaches Sam spilling newspaper clippings and photocopied reports. Carefully, Sam tucks everything back into place before he opens the file.
On top of the clippings is a photograph of the same teenager. Alive. Her name is Rebecca and her high school yearbook page is photocopied under the photograph, and under that Sam finds notes from interviews with her family and friends and the few witnesses who last saw her alive. Before she was ripped apart. Her mother. Her boyfriend. Under that are the coroner's reports, and a sheaf of photographs Sam doesn't want to look at but does. At first glance, and to Winchester without a doubt, it's a werewolf killing. But Sam's not sure. He tilts the photographs, stares at them, and frowns. There's something about the shape of the bite marks doesn't fit with any signature Sam recognizes.
"Did they do a cast of the teeth?" He asks abruptly, and looks up to catch Winchester's eyes startled open. Eyelashes like a girl's.
"Didn't see one," the man says slowly. He doesn't ask.
"Hm," Sam says, and frowns again at the photograph.
There's more paperwork under Amy's. Three more deaths: two hikers. Someone whose tire blew out at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Three local newspaper pieces on feral dog sightings and one on stolen underwear. Sam reads steadily, and shuffles the photographs until he has a montage in front of him. At the end of the file, there's a map. Each sighting and each death is circled. On the map, they form a rough ring of dots, circled around a red cross that lies straight over the clearing where Kyle died.
The only thing is, the territory is far too wide for a wolf. Kyle had a mate and pups and, despite that eerily silent clearing, a forest full of game. Even for a feral wolf, the sites on the map were far too far apart to make comfortable hunting. Sam had looked, searching for evidence that Kyle had turned, but he'd missed these kills. They were all too far from Kyle's territory.
"Pass over the laptop," Sam says, eventually.
He'd expected it. "Then google wolf bite for me, on images. Turn the screen around."
Winchester looks at him. Something in Sam's face must ring true, because he does.
"Save that one?" Sam asks. "On the third row - no, save the full-size - double-click," he says. "Now save."
"And?" Winchester says.
"Now dog bite. Something big. Doberman. Pull both of them up, yeah? Can you see the difference, the gap after the incisors?"
"And?" Winchester says, staring at the screen with his head on one side.
Sam slides the pictures across the carpet and sits back. "That wasn't a wolf," he says.
"Huh," Winchester says, and flicks through the pictures. He lays them out, and turns the screen back to peer at it, thinking.
"Can I have a shower?" Sam asks.
Looking up, Winchester measures the length of chain with his eyes. "No," he says.
"Would you send an e-mail for me?"
"You got people looking for you? Furry friends?"
"Yeah," Sam says viciously, and glances at the window. Four hours until the moon will rise, pale in the blue sky.
"Let me think about it," Winchester says, and peers at one of the photographs, checks back at the screen. Looks at Sam.
"I'm not setting you free," he says. But as Sam says, "I guessed," he adds, "Padlock your ankles and you can shower. You're stinking up the room."
Sam sighs. "Deal," he says.
Winchester goes out to the car to get another lock and comes back with another hand gun as well, short and stubby. "Move as far away as you can," he says. "I'm gonna take the chains off at the wall. Use the fifth link." He doesn't throw the keys with their padlock. "Lie down. Roll over." He doesn't say, boy: his voice is composed and exact, and for all its weight the pistol is steady in his left hand.
Sam does. He hears the jingle of the keys, and he can feel Winchester's eyes on his back. He has to fight his own body to stay relaxed. "I'm gonna need to..." he says, and gestures at his clothes. He's been wearing the same sweatpants and hoodie for two days.
He can hear Winchester swallow. "Okay," the man says. When Sam rolls over again he's got his back to the door and he's ten feet away.
It's not like Sam's putting on a show. He strips his sweatpants efficiently and tucks his shirt over his hips, not looking at the man with the gun, and when he's done he bolts his own ankles together before he looks up. Winchester is flushed, but his gun hand is still steady.
"I've got a point to prove," Sam says, and nods at the laptop. "I'm coming back."
Still the gun trails him, hobbling, into the bathroom and the window is bolted. Sam takes his time.
When he's finished, he knocks on the door. "Can I come out?" He asks, and then is suddenly struck by the situation, and nearly laughs. The smile must sound in his voice: Winchester says, suspicious, "What?"
"Little silly," Sam says. "Should I come out with my hands up?"
"Yeah," Winchester says. "C'mon."
His eyes are comically wide, when Sam walks out of the bathroom with both hands high and nothing but a towel around his waist, and the up-and-down glance Dean gives him looks horrified. Sam's grinning. He shuffles along the wall and lets the chain fall obligingly close to the staple before he lies down again, but it's nearly a full minute before Winchester moves to the padlocks.
"You'll want clothes," he says eventually.
Sam rolls over nodding, and catches the man's eyes as they snap upwards. So Sam's got a nice ass and Winchester noticed. It means nothing. They're not friends, and Winchester's got blood on his hands, but Sam's inexplicably warmed by the appreciation.
"You done?" He says. "Pass me a clean T-shirt? Some sweats?"
Winchester does. And the keys. Sam, dressed, throws them back on the bed. Clean and comfortable, he curls back up on the carpet and wonders if Winchester's generosity will extend to dinner. Then blinks at himself. Last night, he was planning in ten second increments. Now he's thinking about dinner for two.
Winchester is not. "You reckon... If it's not one of you," he says, the words slow, reluctant and honest. Sam can respect that. "What is it? 'Cause there's been nothing since the wolf died, and it looks..."
"Pretty damn convincing?" Sam says. "Yeah. Me too. But there's other stuff."
Winchester leans back and cocks an eyebrow at him.
"The range is too big," Sam says. "Kyle had a pup to look after, but there was enough game in that forest for a pack, not just a wolf and his mate. I was there. He's just not going to hunt that far. It looks as if someone's set up..." Sam holds that thought. "Google... Territory," he says. "Size of. I don't expect you to take my word for it, man."
Winchester flicks him a glance, hands on the keyboard. "Dean," he says.
Sam watches him type. "Are we meant to be friends now? 'Cause, no."
"Figure you're less likely to eat me if you call me by my name," Winchester says, dry. "Sam."
"That wolf," Sam says. "That one you wished you'd killed. That was Kyle. We grew up together, him and me. I was there when he first changed. I was the person he wrote when he found his home, the last person he wrote. He said, it's beautiful here. He went wild: he didn't turn, he had family. Those were his first cubs who died with him, and I - " he stops. "I was too late," Sam says.
Dean's stopped typing. There's a frown line between his eyes, and he's staring at Sam. "What did you see," he says. "Up there?"
"What?" Sam says.
"Where he died."
"You were there," Sam says, bitter bitten off words.
"After," Dean says. "I was there after. The fire was still warm. No point hanging around." There's no judgement in his eyes, no malice. He wants to know, and Sam begins to wonder if he is telling the truth.
"I..." Sam says, and swallows. "We heard someone might have died," he says. "I knew it was Kyle. I drove up." It had taken sixteen hours, pedal to the floor. "I knew I was too late when I hit the tree line. I could smell the ash." Sam's gripping the chain now, his knuckles white. His wolf is as close as it can be, not close enough, the barest trace of a warm comfort Sam wants to sink inside. "Those woods... Did you notice? No bird song, once you got near? No game?"
"Nah," Dean says. "Not my thing." But his eyes are bright, interested, and he's listening.
"It was weird," Sam says. "When I got there I could smell you. I knew you'd been there. And cut wood. Building timber, I mean, not dead wood fire. I raked out the ash," Sam says. "There were bones. Teeth. All of them died. But there were screws and brackets. Someone built an A frame and skinned them all," he says. "Split open their bones, like it wasn't enough to kill them. And I don't know - " he looks away, looks back, swallows. "Whatever killed Kyle, it wasn't silver," Sam says. "And I'm betting it hurt."
"I saw the bones," Dean says abruptly. "Figured it was one of us. Told Bobby, legged it back down to the road. I didn't want..." He stops. "I didn't like the way it felt," he says, and he's not looking at Sam. There's something he isn't saying.
"Yeah," Sam says. Neutral.
"Have you..." Dean pauses. Looks down, shakes his head. When he looks up, it's with a very wry smile. "Have you ever seen anything like this before?"
"Get me a cell," Sam says.
"Get me a phone, or lend me the lap top, and I can find out." There's no way he can make Dean understand the rest, not without giving away half the pack's secrets.
"Not happening. You call out, you e-mail, you got people, and people means trouble I can't afford. How about you just tell me."
Sam sighs. "I don't know everything, Dean."
"I thought you dealt with this stuff," Dean says.
"It's not just me." But Dean's still frowning at him. "There's other people involved, okay?" Sam says, and rolls his head back against the wall because, seriously, isn't this obvious? Then he remembers the steady certainty of Dean's hands on a gun and which one of them is wearing chains. Sam might have grown up pack, but Dean did not.
"Dude. I saw your face. You had no idea how many of us there are," Sam says. "Did you?"
"You usually head blind into something you don't understand?" In Sam's head, when the sentence started, it was threaded with mockery, but halfway through the image of Dean's body where Kyle's had burned makes the thing is real. Sam doesn't like that thought.
"I knew it was a werewolf," Dean says. "That case was closed."
"Just like you knew there were two of those... Whatever they were, last night?" Sam asks. He's got an image in his head, now, of Dean are facing down monsters over armed and under equipped: and that he does not like. It's not as if Dean's pack, not at all, but there's something between them that makes him want to rake his claws down the carpet and show his teeth. Dean's got no right to be careless.
"Chupacabra," Dean says. "Never met a pair before. Dad... "
"What the hell?" Sam says.
"Thought you'd know," Dean says. "Being one yourself. Monsters. Things that go bump in the night." He looks away from moment, and Sam follows his eyes to the window, but unfocused, Dean's not looking at anything.
Then, "I'm going out," Dean says, abruptly, and snaps the laptop closed. He kicks the chair back, and walks to the door with his hands in his pockets. Hand on the latch, he stops.
"Thanks," he mutters. "For the..." His hand describes something crouched and vicious, with claws.
Sam's startled "Welcome," follows him out the door.
Left alone, Sam naps, waiting for the moon. He pulls desultorily at the chains, too, but he's not going to break the links unless he can change, and while Dean's silver is still hot around his throat that's not going to happen even when the moon does show in the window.
Dean left his phone behind. It rings twice, frustratingly out of reach. The first time it's a man's voice, "Dean," he says. "Dean, Bobby. Answer your phone." After a minute Sam can hear the call disconnect.
When it rings again, it's a different man. "Dean," this one says. "There's a hunt in LA. I need you. Call me." It's peremptory and assured, that voice. As if Dean was going to drop everything and run, and Sam doesn't like the man who can make that assumption.
He's getting a little possessive about Winchester. He knows it.
Dean comes back well after dark, smelling of beer and sex and pizza. The pizza he brings with him, along with a six-pack he drops on the bed. The smell of sex is dirty and hot, as if Dean's been screwing someone nasty and none too clean. When Sam sits upright, his chains jingle and Dean's head snaps around, almost as if he had forgotten Sam was in the room. Then his eyes clear. "Still here?"
Sam shrugs. He doesn't like the smell of Dean's skin, but it's none of Sam's business. "That for me?" He asks, nodding at the pizza box, and Dean tosses it across. "Your phone rang," he says.
"Fuck," says Dean, and presses keys. Sam, eating - half the pizza left and he's hungry - listens again to the first message, and then as Dean reaches out a hand to the phone, the second. Two words alone of that one as Dean, violently, snaps the cell closed. His face has paled.
Sam, stupidly, says, "Who was that?" And Dean sends him a look that would strip the flesh from his bones if it could.
"No one," he says. But his fingers twitch and cramp.
Sam eats pizza. Dean strips his boots off, stands up, pulls the duvet from the spare bed and throws it across the room in Sam's direction. Then he rolls himself into bed in the same T-shirt and jeans he slept in last night, with a gun under his pillow. In minutes, his breathing is slow and even. Too even.
Sam watches the moon.
"We're moving," Dean announces the next morning. He's brought coffee again, but no donuts, and the shadows under his eyes are darker.
Sam, gritty eyed, unshowered and stiff from his second night sleeping on a motel floor, is not sympathetic.
"Yeah," he says, and rattles his chains. There's a second cup of coffee, but Dean hasn't handed it over.
Frowning, Dean looks down at him. Sam blinks up, uncooperative.
"Fine." And Dean packs, in five minutes: newspapers, laptop, wash kit, Sam's duffel. Dean keeps a knife under his pillow as well as a gun, and his T-shirts are not retro but vintage. When he comes back from the car, it's with a gun in his hands.
"This is how we're gonna play this," he says "I'm gonna give you the keys. You walk to the car. You do your wrists. You put the chain through the door handle," Dean says. "And padlock it up. Got me?"
"What if I say no?" Sam says.
Dean slides the safety. "You want to take a bet on what I've got loaded?" He says.
"Do I get coffee?" Sam asks.
"In the car," says Dean.
So Sam does. Dean's ten feet away. If Sam could change... but Sam doesn't want his teeth in Dean's throat. They're way past that. Sam's intrigued. Wary, more than suspicious, but Dean's life is utterly something other than he had thought it, and so very different from Sam's own.
Plus, he's not dead yet. Also, coffee.
It's still early. This sky is brightening, and the parking lot gravel is still wet with dew. Sam's glad of the warm cup of coffee between his hands as Dean tosses the ankle chains in the trunk, although drinking has to be done one-handed.
Dean's car smells of Dean. Or Dean of the car: road dust and wax polish and gun oil and leather, the seats smooth with age. There's a tape deck on the console and no iPod jack, but the seats are made for someone Sam's size. Unwillingly, he feels almost comfortable; far more so than he had been while trapped in the hotel room, within four walls. So comfortable he sleeps, after the coffee. He wakes up only as Dean pulls in for gas, the sound of the bass guitar and the Seventies cock rock riff that threaded through his dreams proving real.
Dean says, abruptly, "You want anything?"
Sam grimaces. Says, "More coffee?" Says, "Where are we?" And then, "Where's my car?"
Dean rolls his head against the seat back and looks over. He doesn't say anything.
"Fuck," Sam says.
Dean says, "You're on a hunt, wolf boy. Hang tight." As he gets out of the car, Dean's whistling.
Sam pins down the music as early Metallica. Figures. He finds a box of tapes at his feet that he can't reach to investigate. Wonders when the pack will trace his Lexus, how much longer he's got until someone comes for him. How much longer Dean's got. He needs a cell. Any kind of phone.
"Define hunt," Sam says, when they hit the road. He would turn the music down, but he can't reach and anyway, he's got a coffee cup in one hand.
"Bobby says witches," Dean says. "Two kids missing."
"And you..." Sam says, as Dean looks at him sideways, one eyebrow raised. Yeah, of course Dean was on his way, wolf in tow.
"Okay," Sam says. Bobby was the first guy on the phone, last night. He must have called back. With information. "Two kids?" Caleb had messed with a witch, once. It hadn't been pretty. Pack remembered. "What kind of witch? What have you got?"
"Couple of..." Dean drops him a look over the seat, wary assessment. "There's a file on the back seat," he says, "If you wanna."
Sam pulls emphatically at the chain, eyebrows raised, staring at Dean's profile.
Pulling over, Dean doesn't even look at Sam as he reaches back and then slaps the paperwork down between them. "That's all I got," he says, and then curses as the Winnebago he'd passed two miles back rolls on by.
It's a slim file. Four newspaper clippings and a brown envelope Fedexed to a drop box in Revelation, with three printed out rituals inside that Sam does not like the look of at all.
"They're using the kids for divination?" He tries, and Dean shrugs.
"That's what Bobby thinks," he says.
"So..." Sam says. "What do we do?"
Dean does look at him then. "You sit tight so I know where you are," he says. "I ask some questions. Then," He makes a gun with his fingers, shoots, and blows imaginary smoke from his fingernails.
"Right," Sam says. "Like you did with the Chupacabra."
"I've been doing this for fifteen years, dude." Dean says. "Family business."
Four werewolves. Two missing kids. "You always go for a gun first?" Sam says.
Dean turns the music up.
Fifty miles later he turns it down. "I grew up hunting things," Dean says, although he's still not looking at Sam. "I fired my first gun when I was eight."
Sam turns his head. Dean's profile against the window is all cheekbones and hair and mouth: the curve of his lower lip, for all his mouth is set, is as elegantly rich as a Beardsley drawing. His father is on record with three feral kills, one more than Sam and one less than Dean's confessed. Sam thinks the records are wrong.
He's been staring. "What?"
"Nothing," Sam says. He can see the shape of the boy Dean must have been in the curve of flesh on his face. Suddenly, badly, Sam wants to see Dean smile. There are creases in the corners of his eyes, but Sam can see the pattern of them now and he thinks they're sun squint lines, not laughter.
Dean fucked someone, last night, and came back to an empty bed in a hotel room that held no more than the contents of his duffel bag. And Sam.
Impatiently, Dean says, "What?"
The moon's out. Sam can see it through the left side window, low on the horizon, so pale it's almost invisible against the pale blue of the sky.
"Take me along," Sam says.
"So you can go all wolf on their asses," Dean says. "No way."
Sam keeps looking. Dean taps his fingers on the wheel, shifts his legs, glances out of his window. Taps his fingers again. "Look, kid -"
"I get it," Sam says. "I get it, I really do, because that night in the woods? I was aiming to rip your throat out, dude. But - "
Dean's breath hisses through his teeth. "Kinda sounds different when you say it like that," he says evenly.
"I'm trying to say it's not like that," Sam says.
"I'm not seeing a difference," Dean says. "You're still furry, and I'm still the one with the gun."
They haven't spoken for fifty miles by the time Dean pulls into Revival, but the motel is horrific enough to shock Sam into speech.
"Dean," he says helplessly, stuck on the threshold staring at a two foot crucifix hung over the bed. The wallpaper's magenta, with wreaths. The carpet is purple shag.
"Walk," Dean says.
"There'll be fleas," Sam says, walking reluctantly over sticky clumped pile to the wall. "And I need a shower."
"Oh, for - " Dean says.
"Please," says Sam. "Seriously. And a clean T-shirt. There's one in my bag. And boxers. I won't use all the hot water. Just - "
"Fine!" Dean says, and stomps out to the car and back for the duffel while Sam leans, smilingly obedient, against the wall. He's pretty sure Dean hasn't realized what he's done, because Sam's not chained to anything right now.
Dean is an idiot.
Dean needs a fucking keeper.
When Sam comes out of the shower the man's practically bouncing on the soles of his feet by the door, impatient. Sam holds his hand out for the keys, and locks the padlocks back up. Dean's found an air conditioning pipe to wrap the chains around, and Sam inspects it doubtfully, because one good pull looks as if it would rip the thing out of the wall. Keys still in his hand, he looks up. "This all you've got? Just go and ask around? C'mon man. I'm bored. Take me with you."
Dean flicks his eyes to the cuffs.
"I swear," Sam says. "Cross my heart. Pinkie swear. Kiss me deal. Whatever."
"You fed me," Sam says. He's grinning. "It'd be like... biting the hand."
He's absurdly happy at slow tilt of Dean's head, the way his eyelashes drop in acquiescence and the suppressed smile that curves the corner of his mouth. "Can I?" Sam says.
"We're back here before dark," Dean warns.
"Awesome," says Sam, and strips off the cuffs. Tosses Dean the keys. He can't resist: he makes mock claws of his hands, and growls, high pitched, and watches Dean's grin spread. He doesn't realize he's grinning back until his dimples hurt, but it takes a while to fade, Sam's smile. Dean's is sooner gone.
Then he glances back under his eyelashes and says, " C'mon then. Puppy."
But standing on Lizzie Standing's doorstep, he says, "I'm John Bonham. This is David Kessler." And Sam wonders why he liked Dean, in that moment in the motel room when they were both smiling.
Then Dean says, "I'm sorry if this is a bad time for you, but I wondered if you'd mind talking about your daughter?"
He says it straight faced, plasters his face with appropriate sympathy so false Sam wonders how anyone could fall for the act, while Sam rearranges his own expression to carefully blank. And yet, Dean's not lying. He's awkward and sincere at the same time, and it's almost charming.
Lizzie is charmed. Lizzie is divorced. Lizzie's home is painfully clean and pink, with ruffles, and smells of cloying air freshener. Sam sits uneasily on an oversized couch and tries not to sneeze while Dean talks their witness through her daughter's disappearance. Sam's got no idea if they're supposed to be detectives or reporters or what, and Dean's not exactly throwing him a line, but Lizzie is too far deep in exculpation to query a word. Eventually, she lets them upstairs to Amy's room. Among Amy Standing's plush toys and Barbie peripherals Sam stands awkwardly, too big, while Dean feels under the girl's mattress and in her drawers. Amy does have a diary; it's pink, and it has a lock a child could pick in four seconds and Dean in two. He leafs through it sitting on the bed, frowning. It's ten minutes before he snaps it shut and looks up. "Let's go," he says. "Nothing to see."
Outside, "David Kessler," Sam says darkly, because he isn't going to let that one go unacknowledged. And then "This what you do?" He bumps Dean companionably with his shoulder, and for a moment Dean pushes back, like he's pack, like they're... playing.
"Yeah," Dean says. "You want a beer?"
Turns out, Dean's research seems to be largely beer fueled. After the second time Sam watches Dean turn on the charm for people who get paid to listen, he's seen enough. So far they have learned that:
A. The only unexplained fires in Revival are on prom night, for which Amy is three years too young and,
B. No one here owns goats, and,
C. It ain't Halloween, son.
"Look," Sam says, as Dean hunches his shoulders, ducks his head and heads for the third bar. "Could we... Dean, wait up, there's a library. They're bound to have something."
"I got what I need," Dean says.
"What? Where?" Sam says, stopping slap bang in the middle of the sidewalk.
Dean spins around. "What does it matter to you?" He says. "Different species, right?"
Only then does Sam realize how much of the barroom charm was a mask. Dean is furiously angry, almost spitting the words out, his eyes narrowed.
"Whoa!" Sam says, his hands open and spread. And then, "Dean. She's a kid."
"And now she's a dead kid," Dean says.
"And I - " Sam reaches out. He can't help it: he was raised pack and he's as used to communicating through touch as he is through speech.
Dean flinches, violently, but as Sam snatches his hand back and says, "I'm sorry, hey, I'm sor - "
- Dean ducks his head again and Sam is starting to read him better. It's defense, that anger, and Dean says, "It's not you - "
And Sam says - "She was twelve, man - "
And Dean says, "I hate it when it's kids - "
And for a moment, on the sidewalk in Revival, they look at each other as if they're on the same side.
"You want another beer before we go back?" Dean offers.
"Nah," Sam says. "I'm good." It's only ten minutes later when he's padlocking himself to the wall that he realizes, that was Dean apologizing, and wishes he'd said yes.
It's too late. Dean's on the phone. "Bobby," he says, glances at Sam and turns his back. "Yeah. Yeah, I spoke to her. No, it's cool. They can - yeah yeah. I know. We - no." Dean says. "Bobby. Bobby. Now I'm not - look, just - it's cool. Just get me the - " he throws a glance at Sam over his shoulder- "this dude I met. Yeah, Bobby, I'm always careful."
There's a lascivious edge to Dean's voice then that brings Sam's head up, but it sounds almost false, automatic, and when Dean laughs the sound of it is short and harsh.
"I said fine," he says. "Yeah. I'll call you." When he closes the cell, Dean stares down at it, frowning.
"Some guy I know," Dean says. "You want a burger?"
"What would you say if I asked for salad?" Sam says.
Dean stares at him, waiting.
"Burger's good," Sam says, and Dean leaves him with nothing to watch but the window. The moon's well over the horizon, but it'll be three hours before it crosses the upper window panes. Sam can wait.
Dean comes back with a bag full of McDonald's and enough ketchup packets to make lasagna, but only two napkins. He offloads everything onto the carpet, and steals Sam's fries when he's done eating his own burgers. Sam doesn't mind. But he's also brought back another printout of rituals Sam has rather began to hope are the product of someone else's imagination. After they've eaten, he lays the sheets out on the carpet and gets a map.
"So," he says. "You're a witch. You need somewhere isolated, but not so isolated people would notice if you were seen. Somewhere distinctive, something that's got..." He trails off.
"Emotional resonance?" Sam says. He taps on one of the sheets. "Near water."
"Not running water," Dean says.
"Witches don't like it. Harshes their mellows. Messes up the spells." Dean shrugs.
The only witch Sam's ever seen was in LA and he doesn't think that counts. She'd been a sea witch, tied to an Alaskan pack. The fallout had been messy.
"Somewhere you can light a fire without anyone noticing."
There's a lake, and woodland, about half a mile out of town.
"Google it," Sam says.
There is a civil war cemetery near the lakeside.
"So where did they...?"
"Find her? Here," Dean says, taps a finger on the cross mark. It's five miles away from the lake. On the same road.
"Let me at the laptop," Sam says. "You can watch everything I do."
"You could tell me what to do," Dean says, but he's handing over the laptop and Sam, as he's done so many times before, for Caleb, for himself, hacks into the county police files. One of the farmers across the lake has sharp eyes. The police have been called out twice for teenagers in the woods and found nothing.
"Gotcha," Sam says, reads the report out and looks up.
Dean is putting his coat on. "Shut it down," he says. "Pass it over."
There's a moment when Sam hesitates. They both know it. Dean's stare hardens, suspicious, and Sam's blown away any chance he has of driving out tonight. He's not Dean's friend. They are not partners. "There's a book in my bag," is all Sam says and it's less than Dean does when he throws the thing over.
When Dean walked out the door, the curve of the moon was just kissing the window's edge. Three hours later, when the world has turned and she's near full in the top quarter of the pane, Sam is starting to pace. He's a full blood werewolf and he doesn't have to change to the moon's cycle, but he can feel the want of it under his skin, pressing against the silver chain. The hairs on the back of his neck bristle and his hands clench, fingernails pressing hard into the human palms of his hands. Something is wrong. It's still early, but something is wrong: he can feel it in his bones, and in the still, empty air of the motel room. He needs to be somewhere else, not here, his feet shuffling as impatiently on the carpet as if the pack is calling.
Sam looks at the air conditioning pipe and the drag lines his chains have made on the carpet and swallows back impatience.
Four hours, and he sets to work on the pipe with fingers already blistered from toying with the chain around his neck. He'd made no promises. Tacit agreement is not a contract. And Dean is out somewhere in the dark alone as he should not be, without Sam. Hunting alone. Hunted.
Sam breaks his fingernails on the mountings and does not notice the quick pain, but the chains hold. Even if he can get free - and he is beginning to think if, not when - he will still be bound by the cuffs at his wrists and ankles and the silver at his neck. But he can try. The pipe is loose in its mountings, but solidly braced at the ceiling and floor and will not break free, and Sam is sweating now as he puts all his strength against it, his muscles bulging, his feet braced and sliding against the carpet. He can hear his own frustrated growl.
The moon creeps to the edge of the window, time passed, time lost. Dean could be dead. Dean could be bleeding out somewhere Sam is not, dying alone.
For the first time since he was a child, wishing on the moon for things he could not have, Sam kneels. There are no formal words. They're well beyond moon worship, pack, it's been archaic for centuries.
But Sam's desperate. He kneels, as far in front of the window as he can get, his wrists and ankles raw and his fingers cracked and blistered. He hasn't got words. He doesn't understand his own possessiveness - Dean's not pack. But Sam wants, badly, both of them together. He's got instead only the image of Dean stumbling home, vulnerable in his human skin, injured, bleeding, but coming back to Sam. "Please," Sam says, and he can hear the whine in the words. "Please."
The world turns: Sam's view of the moon shifts with it. He loses an edge of it to the window frame. A quarter. Half, and he lunges again, frantic, against the stubborn chains.
Then there is only a sliver of the moon left to see in the window, mocking silver. Watching, Sam holds his breath, as if the only tie between himself and Dean is governed by that inexorable, diminishing light.
But the moon slips away and is gone. Sam bows his head. Breathes in.
The air smells of sex.
Faintly, unmistakably, the air smells of sex. Good sex, messy sex, the smell and the taste of come thick and bitter on Sam's tongue and at the back of his throat. The smell of his own fingers knuckle-deep in someone else's body, and of the fresh salt sweat that gathers on someone else's back. The taste of it when he buries his nose in someone's armpit, and the deeper musk scent of an aroused wolf or a man. Familiar, captivating. Sam is on his feet, open-mouthed, chasing the smell. He's starting to harden: he can feel the heavy slow pulse of his own blood in his wrists, his neck, his thighs and in his cock. He's half erect without knowing when or how it happened.
It smells of Dean. Smells, unmistakably, of Dean, this scent, and although the trace of it is getting stronger Sam flares his nostrils and opens his mouth wider to catch the taste. Sam's pulling at the chains, as close to the door as he can get. Someone - Dean, Dean smelling like every wet dream Sam's ever had, like his darkest fantasies - is stumbling towards the door.
Sam is so hard he can barely think. He's three seconds from howling in frustration, the heel of his own hand pressed hard against his cock because he's not yet so far gone that he doesn't know - Dean - that this is unnatural, this smell, a lust Dean is trailing home that is not right and not something Sam should be wanting.
Something taps at the door. Fumbled, a key slides into the lock and turns. Against every instinct he has Sam backs to the wall and sits down, his hands clasped around his knees. Cramped in his jeans, his cock throbs in protest. Sam's wet already, swollen, leaking: he must smell of sex as assuredly as Dean does. But Sam has enough of himself left, under the beat of blood in his veins and the howl of want in his skin, to know that prey will not come to a predator. He makes of himself something small and harmless, and knows he lies.
It's pointless. As soon as Dean opens the door, as soon as Sam can see the way the man feels his way over the threshold and fumbles for a light switch six inches away from his fingertips, head up and eyes so wide the white shows, Sam knows. Dean is blind.
And despite the horror of it, the scent of him eddies through the room when the door opens, heat and musk, and Sam moans involuntarily, so low he can hope Dean won't hear.
From the doorway Dean says, "Sam?" And his voice is so young and lost that Sam's mind layers over the instant flare of lust - Dean screaming Sam's name and arching under his hands, every inch of Sam's cock stuffed into him, owning him - an unexpected tenderness. Dean's as lost as Sam.
"Yeah," Sam manages. His voice is little more than a growl.
"She said..." Dean says. He's still hesitating on the doorstep. Sam knows to an inch how far Dean is from the grasp of his hands, but he can't, even now, when he is resisting every impulse to take what is his - he can't use Dean's fear against the man.
"It's okay, Dean," Sam says, and then winces because it's not. Something has been done to Dean, and because he is whatever Dean is to Sam, because Sam is there, it's got its claws in Sam.
Then Dean finds the light switch and Sam is on his feet. By the blood on Dean's knees and elbows, by the rips in his jeans, by the graze on his cheekbone and the way he holds his hands, stiff and protective, Dean has been crawling back to Sam. And Sam wants - needs, with a visceral imperative so utterly familiar he can't even wonder at the strength of it - to touch Dean's skin, hold him down, lick him clean, fasten his teeth at the nape of Dean's neck and fuck into him, make them both real. He's pulling at the end of the chains, shaking, snarling.
It's a mistake. Dean must hear the rattle of steel links against the pipe and possibly Sam panting: his hand drops from the wall and he retreats back against the doorframe, three feet away from the furthest reach of Sam's hands even if he was on his belly. "Easy," he says, and his voice cracks on the word and his blind eyes look at where he's estimating Sam must be. He's not far off. "I'm gonna... Sam, it'll pass, just gotta ride it out... " And Dean's control must be better than Sam's because it's got him too, whatever it was the witches did. Dean's flushed, a high wash of color over his cheekbones and at the base of his neck, and he's hard in his jeans, the ridge of his cock so emphatic Sam's mouth waters. "Just gonna get... I didn't... " Dean says, and he's starting to feel his way along the wall, away from Sam and Sam howls, a noise he's never heard himself make before as a human.
"Fuck," Dean says, and freezes. "What - "
Sam's got words. "Dean," he says. "Dean, I gotta - you're hurt, I need, fuck, you - " He can't tell the difference any more between the need to touch Dean and the need to be inside him. Sam wants to feel Dean straining around his cock as badly as he wants to lick the blood off his skin. It's all tangled up inside him, rage and want and possession and tenderness, and Sam knows the part of him that's wolf is as eager as his human skin. And that's fucked up, that's totally fucked up because Dean's human. Dean's no willing bitch to tumble under the moonlight, but Sam wants Dean's throat bare under his teeth and isn't getting that he's not pack.
"It's a spell," Dean says, with his head back against the wall and his hands clenched. "It's a fucking spell," and he's laughing then, a horrible broken laugh. "I don't..." but there's a spreading wet spot on his jeans and the tilt of his hips is nothing but begging. Dean does. Dean wants Sam, badly.
Sam says. "I'll make it good for you. I'll fuck you so good, you don't know. Fill you up, give you everything you need. Come on. Come here, c'mon... "
"Shut up, Sam."
Okay. Sam can be quiet for Dean. Sam can try and stifle his panting, quieten the shuffle of his feet on the carpet, hold still the hand cupping his balls and the chains on his wrists. If Dean would just come two steps closer, within reach, safe.
"Okay. Look," Dean says, his head bent over the sound of his heart beating as hard as Sam's. "I didn't. It wasn't. This - This is how- "
But Sam will never know how Dean wants to play this, because at that moment, sharp as a gunshot, Dean's cell rings. He'd left it on the bedside table, and in equal confusion, Sam sees Dean's head lift to the sound of it even as he startles and looks himself.
"Fuck," Dean groans. "Fuck," and then the message clicks on and it's not Bobby, it's the other man. "Dean. Where are you- "
And Dean lets go of the wall and dives for the noise of the cell, and that's either a mistake or the best idea he's ever had because Sam slams them both down to the floor.
"Boy, I - "
Dean's all heat and muscle, fighting back as vicious as a cornered tomcat, but Sam's bigger, Sam's got his claws in Dean's hips and his thigh between Dean's and he rolls them both.
" - need you here. I - "
Tumbling both of them over and over on the floor, and Dean drags the bedspread with them, clutching desperately at the carpet, the bedframe, trying to drag himself free, while Sam gets his knees between Dean's and pulls the man back by his shirt. And even while Dean's shaking his head and trying to turn over and saying, "No. Sam, no," his ass rubs up against Sam's cock, as blatant an offer as a bitch in heat presenting herself. And the smell of him - Dean smells heady with sex, like he could take everything Sam's got to offer and still ask for more, rife with want, stinking of sweat and pre-come.
" - think I've got him. Dean, get your ass-"
Bare under Sam's cock. Sam gets Dean's arm twisted up behind his back, drags at his jeans, has to rip open the belt as they snag on Dean's hips and spares a hand to tear his own jeans open. Under Sam, Dean's not helping himself, he's writhing, his ass lifting, and his thighs spread for Sam even as he's saying, "Get off, get off-" and Sam growls back at him, delighted. Vicious little bitch, Sam's bitch, wanting Sam, hot and hard and wet for him, so willing Sam -
" - over here. Now."
- lets go, and Dean heaves convulsively and rolls and pushes off the carpet and tears himself free. Out of Sam's hands. He's lying on the carpet, out of reach, panting, staring blind up at the ceiling, and Sam's still chained. He's absolutely frantic, hurting himself, his wrists raw and his ankles stinging against the hated pull of the chains. He's never heard himself make the sounds he can hear coming out of his own throat, a strangulated howl so frustrated he can see Dean wince. "Shut it, shut up, shut up, stop," Dean mutters, his head rolling on the carpet, and Sam can see his hands shake.
"L.A., Dean. Now."
And Sam has never hated anything so much as that voice that thinks it owns Dean when Dean should be Sam's. Is Sam's. Would be Sam's, if he could get his hands far enough towards the fold of Dean's shirt lying two inches from his fingertips, pull him back where Sam wants him, roll him over, pin him down, fuck him hard, make him come until he's dry and spent. Sam would be humping the carpet if he could but he can't, he's so stretched out.
The phone clicks off. Dean rolls, further away from Sam, drops a hand over his face. "Fuck," he groans, and Sam agrees in an eager whine that's all wolf.
"This ain't happening. This isn't what I - " Dean says, and then: "No." But he's still hard and still flushed, and Sam knows that, if he could get his hands on the man for ten seconds, Dean would be begging for Sam's cock. He can see it in the unconscious arch of Dean's back as the man pushes himself to his hands and knees, in the way his head drops and the nape of his neck is so vulnerable, bent to Sam's voice.
But Dean doesn't seem to know. Dean sits back on his heels and feels about himself, measuring out carpet, reaching for orientation, his blind eyes open and straining. "Bed," he mutters to himself. "Chenille. Seven feet. Fuck, the door - "
His hands tremble when they touch the crumpled bedspread. He starts to feel his way along the edge, slowly, carefully, as if it hurts to move, and Sam holds his breath. Because Dean's not moving towards the bed, away from Sam. Slowly but surely, he's following the fall of the bedspread to the wall, where Sam's chains are snapped taut against the pipe.
Silently, Sam begins to wriggle backwards. He has to slide the chains out of Dean's way link by link, stopping himself from reaching out with an effort so intense it hurts, but Dean's still not close enough. Still not quite trapped. Sam herds him, so quiet he can see Dean raise his head, for all as if he's trying to smell where Sam lies. Sam can be quiet. Sam's shaking with tension, stalking, hands digging into the carpet, muscles braced, waiting. Waiting.
He's so quiet Dean must know something's wrong. He stops. "Sam?"
Sam says nothing.
"Fucking mutt," Dean says, and shivers, reaches out again to track the bedspread with his fingers. He must think it's lying off the bed, he's got one hand held out in front of him as if he's expecting the mattress. It's not there. It's behind him. So's Sam, creeping after Dean's uneven shuffle, poised.
Dean's hand is a foot from the wall when Sam springs the trap. There's nowhere for Dean to go when Sam hammers into him from behind, his full weight driving Dean down to the floor, his hands flung apart and his thighs forced apart by Sam's knees. Sam's not fucking around: he's got Dean's T-shirt ripped open in the first rush and his jeans hobbling his legs even as Dean falls, grunting. Dean's strong, but Sam's stronger: he's got his hands on Dean's wrists and his cock pressed hard up the crack of Dean's ass and Dean's skin under his teeth and he knows it's all over but for the screaming. Panting, squirming, Dean fights, but Sam's in charge now. He's grinning as he thrusts his cock down, ruts it against Dean's hole until the man's wet with pre-come, a little harder each time, a little more emphatic. And for all Dean's saying words at Sam low and urgent, Sam's blocked them, he doesn't care - Dean's ass is pushing back against Sam's cock, pleading, the tight ring of his asshole surrendering.
"Shh," Sam croons. "I've got you. Dean. Let me in. Let me in, Gonna fuck you, don't wanna hurt you." Some part of him knows it's ridiculous, the soft tone of the words and the hard imperative thrust of his cock against Dean's skin, but it feels right. He cradles his hands around Dean's wrists and then his hands, and Dean's fingers curl around his and hold both of them together. Dean's panting. Sam licks his shoulder, buries his forehead in the nape of Dean's neck. Sam's bitch. Sam's Dean. He wants to lick Dean open, learn every shade of scent on Dean's skin, taste him, know every intimate secret Dean's body can give up, but he needs to stake his claim first.
Next time, Sam doesn't stop when his cock presses against Dean's ass. He shoves down, and under him Dean tries to push back and can't, but Sam can. Sam pushes himself into Dean, working him open, perfect clenched heat so tight around his cock it's almost painful. It's not quite a dry fuck, because Sam's wolf enough to leak more than a human - he'll come more than one too, the weight of it heavy in his balls - but Dean still grunts with each thrust, flinching. It's not enough. Sam shoves his thigh between Dean's and rolls them over, and then he's got his hand on Dean's cock and Dean's free hand on his ass, fingernails sharp as claws, dragging Sam in, wanting him. Dean's so hard his cock jerks at the first touch of Sam's fingers, and Dean gasps, his head coming back, laying the long line of his throat open to Sam's teeth. Perfect submission, and for that Sam lets Dean rut himself back, take what he needs from Sam's cock as Sam's hand strips his. Dean's going to come for Sam, soon, helpless, and Sam tells him so, tells him how beautiful he is, tells him how much Sam wants him. So that Dean comes to the sound of Sam's voice, eyes squeezed shut, moaning.
Sam nearly comes with him, his own head thrown back, yelping, but when Dean goes limp in Sam's hands Sam's still hard. It's easy, then, to urge Dean up onto his knees and let his head fall forward onto his folded arms and touch him, the long, muscled curve of his back, his broad shoulders, the sticky weight of his soft cock. Easy to tell him with hands, not voice, how much Sam needs this, how the long slow strokes of his cock in Dean's body feel better than anything Sam's ever done before, how brave Dean is, how good. How close Sam is to coming, how he can't think of anything else, until he does come, long and slow, giving Dean everything he's got. He's got his teeth on Dean's neck, just holding him down, not biting, although his wolf - Sam's wolf wants.
It doesn't stop, the want. Even spread out over Dean's back, knowing he must be heavy and not wanting to move, Sam can feel himself harden again: he's barely softened after the first time. Under him, Dean shifts uneasily, pushing up. He's got to be sore. Sam can smell dried blood, his own sweat and come, Dean's, and although his cock feels smoothly cradled now in the warm wet slide of his own come there'd been no lubricant to ease the first time.
"Dean?" Sam asks uneasily, knowing it's not over. He has to clear his throat to say the word.
Shaking his head, Dean spreads his legs further. "Get on with it," he says, and his shoulders hunch.
Sam pulls out, then. Strips off his T-shirt, kicks off his own jeans and pulls Dean's free from his ankles. Shuffles himself backwards, spreads Dean's ass and licks his own come from Dean's thighs and his ass, chasing the taste of himself over Dean's skin. Under it, he can taste Dean, learn him, know him. Can make Dean sigh and relax and then make him want all over again. Make Dean want badly, his hands clenched into the carpet, his head bowed, his breath hissing through his teeth even if he won't beg out loud. The first time was all about Sam. The second time, Sam's enough himself to make it about Dean, watching the way he moves, finding the right angle, learning what touch makes him sigh and what makes him stiffen and what makes him lean into Sam as if they're lovers. The second time, Sam makes both of them wait to come, clasping their hands together and breathing down the back of Dean's neck, feeling Dean shudder. He knows, this time, it's more than the spell. He's sane enough to know that neither of them would be naked but for whatever lust charm it is Dean dragged home. But it's not just the spell that makes Sam want to know what Dean looks like unclothed and laughing, and it's not the spell that makes Sam want to mark Dean up so emphatically no one will ever assume he's anything other than Sam's.
He doesn't think it's just the spell that makes Dean want Sam, either. Dean's hands tell a different story, wrapped around Sam's wrists, spread out on Sam's shoulders or his thighs, digging into Sam's back when he comes. Dean's hands don't touch Sam as if he's a stranger, and even blind Dean doesn't hide his eyes when he comes, the second time, when he's twisted under Sam's weight and Sam's hand cushions his cheek on the carpet.
He thinks it's all over, that time, Dean. Collapsed on the carpet, one hand thrown over his eyes, he doesn't even try to move. Sam cleans Dean up with his tongue and both of them with Dean's own shredded T shirt. Dean's got a tattoo: Sam runs his fingers over it, jealous. He hadn't known. One more piece of Dean that Sam wants.
He should get clean water and possibly antiseptic, but he doesn't think he can stop touching right now. He's ridiculously proud of himself for not biting, but Dean is bruised and battered enough, and Sam's sure some of the marks are his. His wolf's grinning, twisting, fur rolling up against the edges of Sam's mind: Sam's wolf loves knowing Dean by the taste of his skin. Sam's wolf wants to set his teeth in Dean and seal them as pack. But Dean's human, Dean will never be pack, and Sam can't understand why he wants something he'll never have as badly as he does, despite the way Dean smells. Dean smells of pack. As if Dean is pack, as if Sam's sweat and saliva and come are enough to make them brothers under the skin. It's not the spell that keeps Sam's hands on Dean's skin or Dean's on Sam's, reading him blind. It feels like kinship, and Sam lets his hands speak for him, stroking gentle and smooth over Dean's skin until the man shivers.
"Are you... " Sam starts to ask, and then Dean drags him up by the armpits and kisses him, clumsy and open mouthed and messy and hard. It's Dean who goes down on Sam's cock, sucks it down and rolls it in his mouth as if he could come from the taste of it, eyes closed, holding Sam down. It's Dean who rolls them both over and pulls Sam down, making Sam fuck his mouth, wanting it harder and faster than Sam's prepared to give. "Ah, fuck," Sam says helplessly, looking down, watching his own saliva-sheened cock move in and out of Dean's mouth. "Fuck," he says, and Dean's doing his best to swallow Sam down, adding a swipe of his tongue that nearly makes Sam come right there. There's a curl at the corners of his closed eyes and in the shape of his upper lip that's almost a grin.
And that, that makes it a challenge. Sam's grinning himself, tight and feral, when he pulls out and tumbles himself against the wall, when he sits up, spreads his thighs and, Dean's hand wrapped in his, strokes the wet, gleaming line of his cock in invitation. Showing Dean by feel what he cannot by sight. Dean takes him up on it, crawling up on his hands and knees, groaning as he slides himself into place on Sam's lap. It's Sam's hands that pull Dean down onto Sam's cock, but it's Dean who sighs, his thighs spreading over Sam's and his head back. If he could see, he'd be looking Sam in the eyes. That third time, Sam fucks Dean slowly and carefully, watching his face, watching the moment when challenge shades into lust and becomes desperation. Dean's lying to himself if he doesn't need this, raw and real, his fingernails in Sam's back and his cock arching between them stiff and untouched. "Dean," Sam breathes, and when Dean grins back at him, he fastens one hand around Dean's cock and one on the back of his neck and kisses him while they both come.
Dean falls asleep, after. Cradled on Sam's lap, sweaty and marked, his ass raw and his face softened, Dean sleeps. There's a frown line between his eyes Sam tries to smooth away with his thumb. Now it's all over, too late, Sam can be tender.
Very, very gently, Sam slides his hand protectively over the pulse point on Dean's neck and bends down. Sets his teeth exactly where he would if Dean was pack and Sam could claim him, and bites down hard enough to bloody his own fingers. It's a ghost of a bite that never touches Dean's skin. It's nowhere near enough. Irrational, impossible, Sam wants to do it for real.
Instead he wraps Dean in the bedspread and curls both of them up on the carpet, holding Dean steady with a protective arm.
goes to sleep watching the window lighten with the false dawn.
Sam wakes alone. Of course he does. The room's empty, he's unchained, and the silver necklace lies in a discarded heap by the door where Dean must have dropped it. Sam's stuff is on the bed. Dean's stuff is gone.
Dean must have left the car behind, last night. Blind or sighted, he's gone after it, his duffel with him. And Dean's hurt, Dean came back hurt, and then Sam hurt him all over again. He shouldn't be walking. He should be warm and comfortable and with -
Sam throws one look at his cell, at his bag with his clean clothes and his money and laptop, and shifts. He's tired and sore himself and his neck burns where the necklace had chained him to his human skin, and it's longer than he would have liked before he's wolf. But, changed, the world comes alive for him. The intermingled scents of himself and Dean that Sam shied from as a human, Sam, wolf, sniffs fascinated, nosing at the carpet before he follows Dean's scent out of the door and down the road. Sam knows Dean's smell. Today, it's different. Dean smells of Sam as well as himself - he hasn't stopped to shower - and under the acrid scent of human sex he smells of magic, slimy and sour. There's no compulsion left in the spell, it burned itself out last night, but it's left its fingerprints on Dean's skin just the same as Sam.
Loping slowly up the road, Sam knows it's touch and go whether Dean will shoot him on sight or let him talk. But Sam has no regrets: Sam's ridiculously content this morning, trotting along tasting the scents on the breeze, grinning. When a squirrel that hasn't smelled a lupine predator for half a hundred generations explodes out of hiding, Sam can't even be bothered to turn his head. He's got bigger prey in mind.
He finds it two miles out of town. Dean's walking dogged and bowlegged in the dust with his duffel hoisted over his back. He can see where he's going. Somewhere between falling asleep in Sam's arms and here, Dean regained his sight. He's not undamaged, though. There's a hitch to his step that makes Sam both cringe and stifle his grin, but Sam doesn't like the way Dean's head is bent or the white knuckled grip of his hand on the duffle. He whines softly at that, because Dean's not only Sam's, he still smells like pack and he's hurting.
He's also not exactly unarmed and Sam's not stupid. Neither of them had much choice about what happened last night, but it wasn't Sam who got fucked, and Sam's betting that of the two of them, Dean didn't wake up this morning and want to do it all over again. With teeth. Waking up alone might have been the first clue, the absence of Dean's belongings the second, and if Sam wants to fix things he thinks he's going to have to learn to crawl.
He does, when Dean drops the duffel and turns around to the sound of his low whine. On his belly in the dust, making a valiant attempt to drag his tail and resemble the dog he is not. But it's no surprise when Dean wearily reaches for his gun. Sam doesn't stop, although with the safety off Dean tracks every scrape of his paws. Sam's whining, low in his throat, and he's looking up. Sam can do cute. Sam can make puppy eyes.
Sam's not letting Dean go. Ever.
At Dean's feet, he stops.
Dean's tired. There's a droop to his eyelids that he didn't have last night, and the dark circles under his eyes suggest that even though Sam knows he slept, it wasn't for long. But his face is resolute and his gun hand steady, even when Sam rolls over for him, slowly, and shows Dean his belly. It's as submissive as a wolf can get, and Sam knows Dean knows. He's pretty sure Dean knows he's lying, too. They watch each other, unblinking.
"It wasn't your fault," Dean says eventually. He clicks the safety back on, slides the gun back into his jeans and picks up the duffel, grunting as he swings it onto his back. Then he turns around and starts walking again.
Unsure, uneasy, Sam follows him.
The Impala's three miles outside of town. It takes another hour to find it, and by the time they do Dean is pale and sweating and Sam has considered changing, clothes or no clothes. He hasn't, but if he thought Dean would let him, he'd be pressed up against the man's side. Dean's starting to list under the weight of his duffel.
He still hasn't looked at Sam. He doesn't look at Sam as he opens the trunk and offloads the bag, pulls out a bottle of water and drinks it down. He doesn't look at Sam when he pulls out a length of tarp and spreads it out on the back seat, or when he stands for a moment with his arms braced on the roof of the car, his shoulders stiff. Then he does turn around and look at Sam full-on.
"You get hairs in my car, you clean them out," he says.
Sam yelps, once. He can't bark. He would have done, then, if he could.
"Get in," Dean says.
He even stops to pick up Sam's stuff, although he charms a woman checking in to her own room into retrieving it, and he doesn't offer to stop for Sam to change. He drives west, while Sam buries his nose in his paws and watches the road, thinks about magic and the price Dean paid and for what he was paying, last night. Because Dean had known what he was doing, when he brought himself back to Sam. In Wichita, they stop for coffee and water. Sam wonders if the price was the sex or Dean's sight. Outside Amarillo, for coffee and gas, and Sam wonders, did he get what he wanted? Was it worth it? Sixteen hours after Sam curled up on the back seat, Dean's still driving, red eyed, hands clenched on the wheel. In Sam's eyes the street lights blur and star, and the lines of the road run under the wheels hypnotic as a railroad. If he's exhausted, Dean must be falling asleep at the wheel.
What Sam should do is make Dean stop. He doesn't. He sleeps in fits and starts, waking to the ceaseless rumble of wheels and the sound of guitars screaming. Every time he wakes, Dean looks worse. But it's not until the sun is rising, burning up the horizon in a blaze of gold that makes Sam squint, his eyes watering, that Dean pulls over. In a truck stop. In seconds he's asleep, his jacket pulled over his face and his hands curled loosely on his thighs.
It's possible that he's forgotten Sam's there, but Sam doesn't think so. Uncomfortable and cramped, he changes in the back of the car, biting his lips bloody to stay silent. Human again, dressed, he cleans up in the washroom, buys himself two cups of coffee and drinks them sitting in the back seat of the car. He should be, but he's not hungry. Then he calls Caleb.
It's not the most comfortable of conversations. They've never been friends, Sam and his uncle, although the uneasy, strained truce that's seen Sam through his teenage years and sent him off to Stanford on his own resources still holds. Caleb's old pack, traditional: Sam would say hidebound, but after Sam's mother died the man had taken in a shocked, angry seven year old and raised him as best he knew how. That Sam would have preferred a family that loved him to Caleb's sense of stricture made no difference. Caleb was pack, so was Sam. In Caleb's mind, there was no other choice for either of them.
Sam's never agreed in the idea of only one choice. But he was born and bred pack, and now, with a trail of dead wolves and dead monsters and a missing Lexus behind him, he knows he's going to have to keep Caleb off his back somehow.
He does not mention the way Dean smells to Sam when he's wolf. Dean's never going to change: he's never going to hunt under the moonlight on four paws, not feet, but Dean is more than human. Smelling as he does now of Sam's come and Sam's sweat, any were would know him pack and owned, but to Sam as a wolf he smells of pack underneath, rich and strange and familiar. Somewhere in his bloodline, there's a wolf. Enough of one to make Sam want him in a way he's never wanted a human - and Sam's hardening now, remembering the arch of Dean's back under his hands. He could roll Dean over, prop him up against the car and fuck him open on the tacky remains of Sam's own come and spit, leave him marked all over again, Sam's -
"Sam?" Caleb says, sharp and suspicious.
It's a long conversation, and it's neither civil nor complete, but the hunt Caleb threatens to send on Sam's trail is called off and the price on Dean's head withdrawn. Sam promises he's on his way back: he promises a full explanation, he promises he's fine, really, and when he clicks the phone off Dean's awake.
Watching him. "You gonna tell me who that was?" He says.
"You - " Sam starts and then stops, because Dean does not want to be talking about how he is, now. He's just driven through three states non-stop running away from himself. "That's Caleb," Sam says. "My uncle. He's the guy that sent me after Kyle. He knew about the car. I had to call."
"Right," Dean says.
"Coffee on the seat," Sam offers, although Dean stares down at the styrofoam cup as if he's never seen one before. "You want me to drive?"
"Over my dead body," Dean says, and means it. He drinks the coffee fast, but he's asleep again ten minutes later, restless and strained in his seat.
If Sam thought he had permission, he'd have bundled Dean into the back seat wrapped in a blanket, at least. If there'd been a motel within sight he'd have broken out the Amex. He's got nothing. He doesn't know where they're headed. He doesn't even know where they are. But... when he's wolf, sober and unspelled, Sam knows Dean's pack. And Sam's pretty sure he knows what that means, and it changes everything. Dean's pack, even if he's not Sam's yet. Sam's as bound to Dean as he is to his own skin.
By the time Dean wakes up again, he's changed back. It's easier, and it means that when Dean goes to clean up, Sam can trail him to the washroom and stand in front of the door, growling at the trucker who tries to follow. The privacy is worth the way Dean has to stumble through apologies after, glaring at Sam. But he opens the car door as if there's no question Sam's coming along, and the Impala smells like of both of them and home, even if Dean clean makes Sam wrinkle his nose and want to mark the man with his scent all over again. He'd be happier if Dean smelled of Sam, if pack knew Dean belonged, but Sam's not pushing personal space. Not yet. He curls up on the back seat instead, and watches Dean drive.
going to L.A.
Six o'clock in the morning. Off the interstate and five miles down a mountain road the Impala takes too fast and too easily not to know well, Dean pulls over on a gravelled corner. From where they sit, the engine ticking as it cools, the sun already warm through the windows and on the hood of the car, Sam can not only smell the ocean but see it glimmer beyond the flat plains of farmland. Seen this high up, the coastal plain is verdant and green, and the cars on the thread-thin roads are tiny specks of sun-flashed movement. California.
Then Dean says, "We need to talk."
Sam had thought he was the only one of them who knew where the moon hung in the sky, but as Dean turns he glances compass straight at her translucent daytime beauty. In sunlight, looking at Sam, his face is profiled against the blue of the sky but his eyes are shadowed.
Cramped, aching in every joint, tired, Sam does. Dean watches him through the thing, eyes steady, cataloguing every shifting bone, every reset muscle and tendon and every separate moment of pain. It's as if he's learning Sam from the inside out, and it hurts, because Dean looks at Sam as if he's pinned and tied down on a laboratory workbench, and he can't hide the way he winces when Sam, biting his tongue, cannot but moan. It's a physical relief when Dean moves, slams the door shut getting out, and disappears out of eye line towards the trunk of the car.
The moon will be full this evening. Sam won't have to change, but he can still feel the tide of her through his human skin, ebb and flow, white light and comfort. He rolls onto his back, stretching, and Dean opens the rear door and throws him a pair of sweats and a T-shirt. They're Sam's, but as always when he's been wolf, there's a moment of dislocation when he pulls skin over his skin and his hands fumble on the fabric.
"Yeah. Just give me a minute," Sam says and takes one, lying still and letting the ache in his bones ease free before he drags himself out of the car. The sun's a pleasant warmth on his back and the view is breathtaking. He's not dead and neither is Dean.
"Is it like that every time?" Dean asks. Propped against the Impala with a can of soda in his hands, he's not looking at Sam, but at the view.
Sam starts to shrug and then stops himself. He's never good with words at first. "Depends. I'm tired. It's not... a safe place to be." He'd leave it there, but Dean glances back at him.
"Does it always hurt?"
"Pretty much." Sam says, and then, because Dean's had four days to ask, so why now? "Why?"
Dean says, "Moon's full tonight."
"Yeah?" Sam says.
"C'mon," Dean says.
Right. That's what it's all been about? You waiting for me to turn wolf
before you shoot?" Sam's so suddenly frustrated he surprises himself,
days of suppressed tension and lack of sleep gritty as sand in his skin.
The look in Dean's eyes, blank-faced and controlled, as if Sam's as
monstrous as every other creature he hunts. "Gonna call it self
defense, when you kill me, Dean, or a mercy kill?"
"Huh?" Sam says.
"Full moon? Blood? Saliva? Dude," Dean says. "You had your tongue in my ass." He says it harsh and quick, but Sam's tongue had been all over Dean and it wasn't the only thing he'd shoved up Dean's ass.
"You loved it," Sam snaps back automatically, veteran of puppy squabbles and pack power games. Then he realizes what Dean's actually saying. "No. Fuck. It doesn't work that way."
"Pretty sure I was - "
"You idiot," Sam says. "I was born were. It's not something I chose, okay? I can't give it to someone else, can't, not - fuck, it's not an STD, right? You're never gonna change. You're not gonna have to go running to Daddy with this one, let him know what you've done with that pretty little dick- "
Sam shuts up, after Dean hits him. He wipes the blood from his nose with unsteady fingers, and tries not to laugh. Dean's got his face in his hands, rolled over against his car. There's blood on his knuckles.
Eventually Sam says, "Was it the sex, or me calling your dick small?"
Dean doesn't answer. But he does heave himself off the car and drag out a couple of ragged towels and a very old wet wipe from a burger bar in New Jersey. Sam blots the blood from his face thoughtfully.
"You wanna start with this again?" he says.
"Fuck no," Dean says, but he's still standing next to Sam.
"Then what the fuck was the question? Did you want to be were - " Then he sees Dean's face. Guilty as charged. "Fuck. You did. You wanted. You thought you'd turn if we - " Sam's out of words. Then he says, "You wanted to talk. Talk. Because I sure as hell don't appreciate the story so far."
Dean snorts. It's a sick, ragged amusement. "You're not the only one," he says, and he's not taking his eyes from Sam's. Whisky bright, and there's a flush in Dean's cheeks that isn't healthy. "Do you believe in demons?" he asks.
"What the - " Sam says, but Dean's still looking at him, head on one side, chin up like he's expecting Sam to hit him back and he's going to face it head-on stupid. Sam opens his mouth, and then he says, "Should I?"
He sees Dean hear the words. It wasn't, clearly, what he was expecting Sam to say.
Dean says, "Yeah." He doesn't say anything else.
"Are we talking The Exorcist or Night of the Living Dead?" Sam asks.
"Hard core biblical," Dean says. "Possession." He's toying with the whisky flask again.
"Right," Sam says.
"Bobby says exorcism works," Dean says. "If we - but I dunno, man, I've - "
The cap's off the flask. Without thinking, Sam reaches out a hand and closes it around Dean's fingers.
"Shoot one, it just keeps walking," Dean says. "And it's human, you know? There's a person in there. Just something else in the driver's seat."
"Go on," Sam says.
Dean says. "That werewolf death. Your friend. The way he was killed, I've never seen anything like that before. But I know the way he was hunted. I know one man who hunts like that. He taught me. Sam, that's not my dad you're hearing on the phone. That's a demon."
"Jesus," Sam says, soft and low.
"Prayer's good," Dean says. "Won't stop one, though. Tried that." Then he says, "I didn't tell you. There's been other kills. Same pattern. Werewolf kills, and then a dead werewolf. We'd assumed it was another hunter with a hard on for teeth, but we think... I think the demon's been hiding the kills, but it wants a were. Like you."
"Right," Sam says. "So. You want me to be bait? That why I spent three days chained to the wall?"
"What would you do," Dean says, "If you were me, and... I wasn't expecting you."
"You could have just asked me," Sam says. "And, just for the record, I don't appreciate being led around by my dick, either. There's a word for that, Dean, and it's not pleasant, whatever the fuck you wanted to get out of screwing a were."
"That wasn't... fuck. Sam."
"Oh, wait, were there supposed to be flowers?" Sam waits, but Dean says nothing. "You have no fucking idea what you're messing with," Sam says.
"Kinda think I do now, dude," Dean mutters.
"I don't think you do," Sam says, and thinks with angry exasperation of the taste of Dean's neck under his teeth.
"Fine," Dean says. "I don't. I've still got a demon to kill, dude, and I'm one guessed-at exorcism away from offing my dad at the same time. I'm real sorry if your feelings got hurt, but I'm snatching every weapon I can here and you're just one."
"Kind of a misfire, there," Sam says.
"Yeah well," Dean says, and up-ends the flask. "You win some, you lose some."
Sam stares out at the sea. Dean... Dean must have cut a deal, back in Revival, and paid for it, Sam guesses, in ways he didn't expect. "Were the witches for real?" he asks.
Shrugging, Dean says, "Yeah." Then he adds, "One, now. She... we were after the same thing. She didn't appreciate having a hunter on her doorstep, but she knew Amy. She's the one..."
"You agreed to the deal before you asked the price," Sam says. "What did she ask for? Blood? Hair?" And then he knows. "She took your eyes."
"Sight," Dean says. "She had cataracts. She wanted - fuck, doesn't matter. I paid."
"And you wanted... how the hell," Sam says, "Were you going to explain that one to daddy? Hey Dad, nice to see you, and by the way, don't shoot but I'm furry now?"
"If you're were," Dean says. "I'm pretty damn sure you can't host a demon. There's some priest in Albania with a whole book about - "
"Kristof Bey?" Sam says. "The man was certifiable. We file that one in myth, at home."
"Yeah, well," Dean says. "Not got a lot to work on here. And that devil's trap? He was right."
"You caught one?"
"Yeah. That's how we know the trap works. But... we got it out all right. That exorcism works fine and dandy. Then it went for Bobby. Damn good job... twenty years of mixing your drinks with holy water gotta be good for something. It got him. Then it got out in a hurry. Disappeared. The woman it had been riding... she's still drooling."
"It didn't go for you?" But Sam knows already.
"Nah. I had the book."
"Don't think it's that," Sam says, and rolls himself against the car so he can look Dean in the face. "Dude," he says. "There's enough were in you to be pack if you wanted. I can smell it on you. You think I'm hanging around for the laughs?"
Dean stares. He's not moving, his hands clenched on the car roof and his face paling.
"When I'm wolf," Sam says. "I know you're pack."
"Last time I checked," Dean says roughly, "I wasn't the one with the fur."
"You'll never change," Sam agrees. "But there's enough were in you to taste."
"You want me to bite you and prove it?" Sam says. "I could have - " He could have Dean rolling up his belly and baring his throat in fifteen seconds. Maybe twenty, but Dean's off balance and insecure right now and that makes it easy. "Let me guess," Sam says. "You're territorial. You're loyal. You'd rather fight than talk, and when you fight you heal quickly." Dean's turned his shoulder, but by the tilt of his head he's listening. "You like your sex mostly rough, but you like skin on skin, after. Yon know me as much by the way I smell as the way I look. You're pack."
Dean says nothing.
"Whoever my father is, he's not were, although he carried the genes. He was non-expressive: born blind." Sam says. "And his first son took after him. He'll be... about your age, now. He was born blind too, as near to a wolf as he could be and stay human, but he'll never change, and my mother knew. When she was pregnant with me, when she knew for sure I was were... she left both of them. I only found out when she died. I don't think either of them will ever know. It's not impossible, Dean."
"Isn't that what you wanted?" he says, and knows he's not being kind.
"Shut up, Sam," Dean says.
"You're as much a monster as I am," Sam says. "Difference is, I can be honest."
Sam's got four inches on Dean. He uses them now, pushing off the car's roof, watching Dean turn his head as he catches the movement. But he doesn't move as Sam brackets him against Impala, straight-armed, not touching. Not yet.
"I know you're pack," Sam says. "But it took me days. If you want that obvious, Dean - if you want to be sure - I can make that happen. But you're gonna have to ask, Dean, and it's not gonna come for free. Not now. Capish?"
Eventually, Dean dips his head. "I got you," he says.
"All righty," Sam says, and lets go, because when Dean dips his head the neck of his jacket gapes, and the skin of his neck is pale and faintly freckled, and Sam wants to sink his teeth in so badly his jaw aches. And no, not yet. He's got plans for Dean, now.
"Kristof Bey," he says. "Wrote a diary. So far as I know, there's one copy, and it's fifteen miles from here. You want to see?"
"Sam," Dean says, stands up, his hands in his pockets. He looks tired, but that's not surprising.
"It's pack land," Sam says. "But I can get you a bed. And some food."
"Whatever," Dean says, and then, "Look, Sam, I - "
"Ah, come on," Sam says, and reaches out. He drags Dean in by the back of his jacket, wraps both arms around him and holds him tight. Dean's solid in his arms, heavy, warm, and he's not saying no. "C'mon, man. Pack means something. You want help, you got it. I'm not playing games here, okay?"
"Fuck you," Dean says, muffled, but his hands are tight on Sam's back and he's pushing his head into Sam's shoulder, as if he needs this, as if no one's hugged Dean for a while.
"Tell me I get to drive," Sam wheedles, knowing Dean will say no.
"No," Dean says, and then, "Get off, you big lump." But he's hiding a smile as he reaches for his keys.
Pack land's delineated by smell. Sam knows the moment they drive over the boundary, although there's no more than a wire fence to mark the change. It's not as if the grass is greener or the trees taller, but Sam grew up on this soil. He knows these hills and these fields, he's paddled and fished in the creeks, ridden every trail and hunted under the moonlight. For all it's as near home as Sam's ever had, here pack law holds, and they're invited only on Caleb's good grace and Sam's recognizance. He'd called, ten miles out, and he knows there are eyes he can't see watching the Impala wind up the dirt road.
That's okay. Sam's pack. Dean will be. And when Sam turns his head against the seat rest and watches Dean drive, his hands relaxed on the wheel, what Sam feels is content. Whatever happens, it's right that he and Dean are in it together, a pack of two, family.
"They'll smell pack on you, but you're not marked," Sam says. "You're with me, though. Don't reach for a gun, and you'll be fine. Don't..." Dean flicks his eyes sideways, eyebrow arched. "Don't roll over for anyone except me," Sam says, grinning quickly, ducked down under his bangs so that Dean won't see.
Dean snorts. "As if."
"That's not the way I remember it, dude," Sam says. "So don't... you bare your throat, like this - " he demonstrates " - that's submission. Don't do it. You're going to outrank everyone there except Caleb. Him, you treat with respect. He'll be waiting for us," Sam says. "The East coast packs would say he's an Alpha. Here, he's just Caleb." He's Caleb from Portland to San Diego and inland as far as Denver, but that Sam isn't saying. "Be careful about food. Seriously. Don't - "
"Who died and made you boss, Sam?"
"Dunno. Maybe the bit where we're on pack land and you don't get yourself hurt? We're here to pick up a book. Nothing else."
"Feels like it's a bit more than that."
"It's just that... the courtesies are different," Sam says. "It's like walking into someone else's family, yeah? Grandma's deaf, don't mention the war? Except mine's got really big teeth."
"No kidding," Dean says.
Caleb's waiting for them at the door. He's a little grayer, but age sits lightly on pack, and Caleb's built big and carries his muscle well. Every time, Sam's surprised he's taller. But although they've had their moments - "Don't think you'll leave with my blessing, Samuel. You do this, you do it alone." - he's always respected his uncle. The man's held the West coast pack together for twenty years, kept them safe, taken pack law on his shoulders and worn it well. They might disagree, but they'll always be blood, and Sam's smiling when he reaches out to hug the man, short and fierce. When he steps back, Dean's at his shoulder.
"And..." Sam says, but Caleb's face has sharpened.
"Dean Winchester," he says, slowly. "I should have known." When he glances back at Sam, there's a guarded curiosity in his eyes, but when he looks back at Dean he's got his professional mask on, all white smile and handshake.
"Welcome," Caleb says. "I knew your father. A good man."
After the first moment of shock - Caleb? How? - Sam's two inches further in front of Dean and he's not smiling. Caleb's words are a loaded designation Sam doesn't think Dean will pick up, but his smile is as bland as Caleb's. "Thanks," he says. He doesn't ask.
"We'll talk later," Caleb says. "You're here tonight." It's not a question.
"Yeah," Sam says. "Okay to..."
"Your old room's free. Lunch is on the table, but don't hurry. I left the library clear for you," Caleb says. "Take your time."
Then he says, "Good to see you. Dean."
Dean says, politely, "Likewise."
But Sam lets Dean go into the house first, and he sees the way Caleb scents the air as Dean walks past. There'll still be a trace of Sam on Dean's skin: Sam can't smell it, but Caleb probably will. And like Sam, quicker than Sam, Caleb will know Dean's both pack and blind.
He's had strong views on the subject before. Notably, when a distraught and angry Sam discovered an eight year old photograph of his mother with a child that was not Sam himself. That's an argument Sam knows neither of them will ever forget.
This time, though, Caleb's almost smiling as he nods Sam into the house. "Good to have you back," he says, and he sounds as if he means the words. Then, nodding at Dean's back, "I should have known. You'll join us this evening?"
It's more than an invitation to dinner. But Sam's pack, and he's on pack land. "Yes," he says, and Caleb's smile broadens before he steps aside.
"This was your room?"
"Yeah?" Sam says.
It's an ordinary room. Two dormer windows, two beds - Sam's old king and a new double against the wall for Dean - a desk. A rug, ink stained. There's nothing of Sam's left in this room. When he'd fled to Stanford he'd taken everything that mattered. But Dean says, "This was yours?" as if he's looking at a foreign country.
"You should have seen it with the posters on the walls," Sam says. And then, embarrassed, "Bathroom's through there. You want a shower before lunch?"
"Christ, yes," Dean says, and upturns the duffel on his bed. Dean's got motel soap, and a ratted towel with the Texas flag in one corner, and he's whistling before the sound of the shower drowns out his voice.
Sam wanders downstairs, picks Kristof Bey's diary from the library shelf, and gives Dean twenty minutes with the hot water before he heads back. He's expecting to find the man pacing the floor, but the room's quiet.
Dean's asleep. He's got jeans on, nothing else, and his bare feet hang off the edge of the bed while his face is mashed down into the duvet. Very faintly, he's snoring.
There are scratches on his back from Sam's fingernails, slight and healing. Sam... wants to run his tongue up the lines, fit them together hips to ass, cradle Dean in his thighs and his arms. It's not just sex. Sam's pack. He's as hungry for touch as he is for the noise Dean makes when Sam thrusts home. But Dean's offered his vulnerability as if he's offering trust. Instead, Sam sits at his desk and opens Kristof Bey's diary, keeping watch.
Dean sleeps for three hours, and by the time he stirs Sam's got three credible exorcisms and his laptop online. He's got coffee, too. He passes the black one across as Dean pulls himself up on the pillows and glares, bleary-eyed. "Sam."
"Not sleeping ain't gonna help," Sam says. "And those cookies taste as good as they smell."
"We're not on fucking vacation - "
Wordless, Sam holds up the drawing he's made of the third exorcism. It's good. He likes the way the words and gestures flow together, the comfortable roll of the Latin from his tongue. He can remember flicking through Bey as a child, half pleasurably scared - demons as much myth as vampires - and half intrigued by the late Medieval Latin of the incantations. Now what he's reading could save Dean's life.
"Okay. Pass it over."
Sam does. Both book and diary: he's brought up Bey's published work as well, on the off-chance they'd need to cross-reference. Also, because Dean seemed to have only scans, and he'd wanted to give Dean something more than the diary. As Dean flicks through the pages and then settles down to read, Sam's content just to watch. He likes the way light runs over Dean's skin. He... Sam shrugs, and allows himself a smile, softer than he would have predicted two days ago. He likes Dean, the smell of him, the dark sweep of his eyelashes and the curve of his collarbones and the fold of flesh over the top of his jeans, the shape of his forearms and the play of light over the fine bones of his hands.
He likes Dean's wariness, he really does, and it's going to be kind of reassuring to be sleeping with a man without claws who still keeps a knife under his pillow and knows how to use it, but -
"Yeah?" Sam says, and smiles up unguarded and thoughtless. It's only when he sees Dean blink that he remembers the man's not exactly on board. Yet.
"Uh," Dean says, and then looks down at the paper in his hands as if he can't remember where it came from.
"Does it look as if it'll work?"
"I need to call Bobby," Dean says, and it's only as he reaches for the cell in his jacket that he realizes he's not fully dressed, but Dean pulling a shirt over his head in a hurry and emerging ruffled and cross-eyed is almost cute enough to make up for the loss of skin. So Sam's smiling when Dean passes over the phone, and he finds himself, unexpectedly, really liking Dean's Bobby and exchanging notes on medieval manuscripts and yeah, if they could get into the Vatican and did Bobby think the phrasing on line three was...
And Dean's eating cookies, letting the crumbs fall down into the bedclothes, while he holds up cryptic sharpie notes ('OK with the water'/'alternator holding charge') and waves off the proffered cell.
Sam's read through the third exorcism three times before Bobby huffs at him and says, "Good as it's gonna get. Put the boy back on, kid." He leaves Dean to the phone and heads to the shower himself. When he comes back, Dean's got his boots on, and he's staring out of the window at the moon, low and full in the darkening sky.
"You're not wrong," Sam says. "But none of us are feral." It's not exactly lying if he doesn't mention that Caleb's eldest son will never be at the ranch on a full moon. Marlon will have sent his sons to a neighbor and shut the safe room door on his wife. Juanita's the only werewolf anyone knows who survived a feral bite sane, but like any other turned were she'll spend three nights a month howling at the moon.
"So. Raw rabbit with the barbecue, huh?" Dean says.
"Later," Sam says. "Inside's for humans. Outside's for wolves. There'll be a fire. People bring guitars. There's a lot of kids over, at first, but people with families go home before midnight. After... we don't have to turn," Sam says. "But we do know the moon's full. Don't be surprised... we're pretty free, before we mate," Sam says.
"Dude," Dean says. "Furry sex."
"Don't knock it - " and Sam's grinning as Dean rolls his eyes. "You don't have to hang around," he says, and then he's hesitating and wants to say something about maybe not, because he can feel the moon rising in beat of his own blood and the heaviness of his cock. It's a gentle heat now, but it won't be, and Sam can already imagine the strong arch of Dean's back and the glint of his eyes in firelight.
He knows what he wants. He lets Dean see it for a moment, the way Sam wants him, rough and hard and public, no take backs, just Dean under Sam's hands and Sam's cock and Sam's teeth. What Dean reads in his face Sam doesn't know, but he sucks in a breath and opens his mouth -
The cell rings, imperative. It could be Bobby, but it's not.
"Fuck," Dean says explosively, and would have lunged for his jacket if Sam hadn't reached him first.
"Wait - "
As the demon in Dean's father's skin tells them exactly where he can be found.
Unexpectedly, dinner is just Sam and Dean and Caleb. Sam has never eaten at the dining room table on a full moon night without a least a dozen people present, but when he and Dean clatter down the stairs Caleb's waiting alone at the head of the table.
"Uh - " Sam says, one hand just off the small of Dean's back and the other caught mid gesture ("and then...") and Caleb smiles.
"It's family tonight," he says. "Pull up a chair." The food's already on the table, but Dean sits down stiffly and Sam's already wary. He knows that smile, and it means business.
It's small talk, though, until they're on coffee, and Sam wraps his hand around the cup - china, here, the bowl of it absurdly small in his hands but the smell rich and strong - and says, "So."
He's expecting Caleb to ask about the books. But what Caleb says is, "He's said you're pack," and he's not talking to Sam.
Dean leans back in his chair. "Yeah," he says. Sam lets his legs spread, pushes his thigh against Dean's, reassurance. Dean doesn't pull away.
"Born blind. Your father was too," Caleb says. "He was as stubborn as you. I could have made him one of us," Caleb says. "But he said no. I've often wondered if he regretted that one."
"Caleb - " Sam starts, because Caleb has has never said that before, has never suggested making a human pack, never, and it means - but Dean stops him with a raised eyebrow.
"Go on. You wanna tell me why I should let Sam do me over?"
Caleb snorts. "Do me over? Dean." He leans forward. "You smell of him now, you know. Enough of a claim that I wouldn't lay a finger on you. But - "
"Sam," Caleb says, as Dean says, "Shut up." Sam does.
"Let Sam bite you, and you'll be able to hear better than any human. Smell, too. You'll be stronger. You'll be quicker to heal. Pack will know you, and pack's big, Dean. Pack's family. You need help, you'll have it."
"Everything has a price," Dean says. "What's yours?"
Caleb leans back, his eyes steady on Dean's. "You're blind. You'll never change. It makes you prey, in some places. There are things that will know you're pack, and weak."
"Right," Dean says.
"Sam can fix that," Caleb says. He doesn't even bother to look over. Sam's got want written all over him, he must stink of it, heady and focused. If Dean wasn't as human as he is now, he'd know. By the tilt of his shoulders, tipped to Sam's, and the touch of his thigh against Sam's under the table, he probably does anyway.
"Think I can deal," Dean says.
Caleb sighs. "We're talking about sex, Dean," he says. "See, I can smell Sam on you. But I'm old. If I was young, and I knew - or thought I knew - you were unclaimed, I'd try for you."
"Define claimed," Dean says, just as Sam had said, "Define hunt." He's still looking at Caleb. He's not looking at Sam, although Sam's willing Dean to turn around and let him see what Dean's thinking. But Dean hasn't pulled away.
"You'd have to be were," Caleb says. "I can't. But I can tell you that I know Sammy's had his claws in you and that makes you off limits. Now. In a week, when I can't smell him on you, that might change. You let him bite you and mix that with sex, you're covered."
"He didn't mention," Dean says. Caleb doesn't mention how permanent that binding is, either. Sam's price.
"He wouldn't," Caleb says equably. "But I can smell the want on him just like I smell it on you. I watched your father ruin his marriage, Dean, and you're more family than he'll ever be. I'm not lying to you."
He said family. Twice, he's said family.
Sam says, slowly, "What are you saying?" He says it for Dean, because Dean won't.
When Caleb looks at him, it's with honest surprise. "You don't know."
"I thought..." and for the first time, Caleb looks uncertain. "I thought you knew. When you called..."
"We're related, aren't we?" Dean says. "Sam and me."
"You're brothers," Caleb says.
It takes a second before Sam stands up, carried on a tide of white-hot anger. "You fucking knew," he says to Caleb. "All these years and you knew, you kept him from me, you - "
"You had your reasons," Dean says, and he still won't look at Sam, but his hands are clenched white on the table and all the muscles in his back are so sharply tense he could be stone, not flesh.
"I did," Caleb says. "I'm sure your father did too."
"He knew," Dean says, unsurprised - and Sam thinks, how can he be so calm? - as Dean, finally, Dean turns around and looks at Sam. "Sit down," he says, and Sam does. Dean's not calm at all.
Then Dean looks back. "He can be a bastard when he wants to be," Dean says. "And after she left, it got worse."
"I'm not surprised," Caleb says. And then, "I would have taken you in, you know, blind or not. I tried once."
"In Kansas," Dean says.
"It didn't end well."
"I couldn't tell him about Sam."
"You wouldn't have changed his mind," Dean says. "I couldn't." And then he says, "You didn't tell Sam."
Caleb smiles, small and wry and sad. "He would have dragged you out of hell if he'd known," he says. "But I would have lost him. He got as far as San Francisco when he was eight. If he'd known your name, he would have found you, and John would have had you both."
"Uh..." Sam says.
"You don't have a problem with us fucking," Dean says, blunt.
Caleb says, "No."
And they're both way ahead of Sam, so far ahead he can't keep up, his mind fragmenting in fifty directions at once, because, Dean, Caleb, his brother Dean, his family, his father, his mother's eyes, Dean's face, Dean's face with his teeth biting into his lower lip and his eyes half-lidded, the moment before he comes. Dean's face behind the barrel of a pistol pointed at Sam's face, Dean. "I gotta," Sam chokes out, and stands up so fast he knocks the chair over and then he doesn't know where to go without Dean, and he can't take Dean with him, he's his brother. He's got no words.
"You don't need to be here," Dean says, even and careful.
"I - " Sam says, and looks at Caleb's face, sad and resigned, and at Dean his brother who is looking back with such blank-faced control Sam wants to hit him. Crack both of them open, make Dean feel how Sam feels.
Then he remembers when he's seen that look before, when Dean was hiding things that really mattered. Dean doesn't want Sam to leave.
"It's okay," Sam says, lying, and picks up the chair and pulls it up to the table, sits down and folds his hands in his lap and leans back as if he knows what he's doing. He can see Dean take a breath before he looks back at Caleb.
"What do you know about demons?" Dean says to Sam's uncle, and he sounds tight and brittle and tired, so that Sam - fucked up, miserable - Sam puts out a hand and leaves it curled around Dean's arm. It's better. It's not enough, but it's better. He leaves it there and Dean lets it stay, while he talks about demons and voices and black eyes and exorcisms and holy water and his father. Sam's father. Werewolves dying. Everything feels unreal and irrelevant and anyway, Sam's heard it before. The only thing that matters to Sam right now is the heat of Dean's arm under his hand.
After a while Caleb stops being contemptuous and starts asking questions, and then he pulls out some books Sam didn't know he had, and then somehow he's got Bobby on speakerphone and there are papers all over the table. There's beer, and pie, and Dean's smile, and Sam reaches up to touch -
"What time is it?" Dean asks suddenly, but Caleb looks up at Sam, surprised. It's nearly midnight, and the moon's high in the sky. There have been trucks and cars arriving for hours and even the thick walls of the ranch can only mute, not hide, the sound of conversation outside.
"I need to go," Caleb says, and does, so swiftly Dean and Sam are left looking at each other unsurprised and weary.
"You okay?" Dean asks.
Sam says, "No," but just on principle adds, "But come out for a beer." He's sure there was a reason why he wasn't going to do this, invite Dean outside, but he's forgotten what it was. He snags a six-pack going out the door anyway, but Dean seems to have fingered a half-full bottle of JD which is just perfect to chase the beer. Sam's not going to get trashed, not tonight, he's metabolizing the alcohol far too quickly, but he sits down on a handy blanket anyway and tugs Dean down with him as if they really were brothers. Which, actually, they are. And he's still got his hands on Dean, both his hands, and that's probably bad because quite honestly Sam still hasn't managed to equate blood relative with mine and he's still itching for more than he should be. He lets go, quite suddenly, and watches Dean fall back against the blanket and close his eyes. That's okay. Dean's been doing all the work tonight, picking up the slack for Sam, and now it's Sam's watch.
But it turns out Sam should be more careful. Because it's been years since he'd spent full moon at Caleb's, and there are far too many people who want to ask him how he's doing and tell him how tall he's grown and ask him if he's found a nice girl yet. Without realizing it, Sam stands up to talk, edges away from the blanket to get more beer, gets caught in a conversation about civil rights, gets more beer, and generally loses track of both time and his brand new brother.
So it's more of a shock than it should be when he hears Dean say, angry and perfectly enunciated, "You want to say that again?" and the sound comes from the other side of the fire.
Loud and clear through the haze that's full moon in his blood, Sam thinks, 'Dean, shit,' and something that feels very like a snarl curls up his backbone. It's almost as if he can smell - and he's right: there's a were Sam doesn't know standing far too close to Dean.
"Shouldn't have come here unmated if you - " the were's saying, jabbing his fingers at Dean.
"Fuck you," Dean says, and he's got a beer bottle poised in his hand and this could get nasty very soon. "You think - "
And then the were looks up and sees Sam coming, wrathful and focused, and his face twists. "Knew I should have smelled it on you - you're his bitch, yeah? Dude, put a marker on her next - "
Then Dean hits him. Hard: there's a spray of blood that probably means a broken nose, and the were's changing even as Dean smashes the bottle off his boot and braces his shoulders. "C'mon then," Dean says, but Sam's there, Sam's standing behind Dean and the other were's backing away even as his limbs re-form and his jaw lengthens. Sam is snarling, he can feel his lips curl back from his teeth and the rumble of it in his belly, but Dean stands firm in front of him until the were's gone, and firelight glints off the broken glass in his hand as cleanly as it would do from Sam's teeth.
Around them, interrupted conversations resume. It's not usual, but it's not unprecedented. People are always edgy on full moon nights. It's one reason for the food and music and the safe space of the ranch.
Dean turns around. He's still on edge and angry, Sam can read it in the bunched muscles of Dean's arms and the set of his mouth. "Is that what this is about?" he says. "Just because I took it up the ass for you once I'm your bitch? Huh, Sam, is that how this works? Because - "
"Don't take this the wrong way," Sam says, faintly surprised at how clear the words sound. "But yeah."
It takes Dean absolutely by surprise. His eyes widen, darken, and then the color drains quite suddenly from his face and Sam thinks, distinctly, 'He's going to hit me,' just as Dean does. He's not pulling his punches. It's a blow meant to knock Sam sideways and possibly out and it nearly does, but with a moment's warning Sam's got one hand in Dean's jacket and he takes his brother with him when he hits the ground. It wasn't the hand with the bottle, but Sam's grateful too soon. Dean knees him in the balls and head-butts his chin at the same time and it fucking hurts. He can hear himself growl, and if the moon wasn't full, he'd be curled up and panting with the pain. But it is and he's not. He's rolling with the pain instead, with Dean, both of them flailing at each other although now they're too close together to do any real harm. Dean gets a bony elbow right up and under Sam's ribs and Sam pins him down for a moment and shoves his kneecap hard in Dean's thigh, which doesn't do anything except make both of them grunt, disturbingly alike. There'll be bruises tomorrow, but the rock rolling under Sam's back is harder than Dean's attempt at a chin jab with only two inches of leverage. Sam's got Dean by the elbows and he isn't letting go. It's messy and ineffectual and Sam can hear the shuffle of feet and laughter as people move out of the way.
But it's real. The way he can feel the thin cotton of Dean's T-shirt and the shift of his muscles under it, the hard press of his thighs and the ridges of his boots against Sam's shins, the tone of his breathing and the smell of his skin, the way his stubble rasps against Sam's neck, it's as real as the soil underneath his back and as welcome. "Dean," Sam says, wondering, even as Dean tries to pull back and clock Sam on the nose. " C'mon. Stop. We can - "
"Fuck you," Dean growls, and Sam finds that unbearably funny even as Dean twists a hand in his hair and pulls hard. "We can," Sam says, "We can do that," as his eyes are watering and Dean's teeth are biting into his neck. "We can do anything you want to, just - " and then Dean's hips roll into his so good and so hard it hurts. Sam's been here before, when tussling turns into sex, he knows the feel of it and the smell of it, but those are Dean's hands kneading his biceps and that's Dean hard for Sam under his jeans and it's different.
"I don't - " Dean says, breathy and low, but he does, Sam's heard this one before. "Hey," he says, "It's okay, it's fine," and his hands on Dean's back are unfisted, his fingers dug deep and holding on as he rolls both of them over and presses Dean down. He's not doing this without kisses, this time. No teasing, he wants Dean hot and strong and open under him and he gets it the moment he opens his mouth over Dean's, both of them pushing at each other, fighting, as much of a bite as a kiss. Sam's on top but Dean's got experience on his side and it shows. It's Sam who surrenders, Dean's hands dragging him down and tangling in his hair, Dean owning Sam. They're both panting when they slide apart but Sam drops his head, bangs falling sweaty over his eyes, while Dean laughs open mouthed and breathless in his ear. "Sam. You wanna - " he says, all warm beer breath, and then someone says indulgently "Boys," and Dean freezes up so fast Sam nearly sits up.
"What?" he says, as Dean tries to wriggle out from under Sam's weight and that's not happening, not ever.
"We can't... Sam, let go," Dean says, rough and distracted.
Not good enough. Sam's got his hands on Dean's wrists. He pushes his thumbs into the space between the bones, strong circling caress, and licks his way up the arch of Dean's throat and bites at his jaw line. They're so close he can feel, not just the hard line of Dean's cock caught next to his under his stomach, but the hot soft bulge of his balls under denim. It's an edged vulnerability Sam wants, badly. He wants to know everything, every shift of muscle, every scent, every moment Dean opened himself up for someone else and every moment he's going to open himself up for Sam. "C'mon," Sam says, because they both want this, he's known it since Revival, but Dean's not listening and the strain in the tendons of his neck means he's not looking at Sam.
"Dean," Sam says, and shuffles his knees down between Dean's legs, grinds down explicit and demanding through two layers of denim. He gets a full-on shiver in response and then Dean's trying to move, straining against Sam's hands, arching up even as Sam interlocks their fingers and drags their hands through the dust. He can feel the hard metal of Dean's ring against his skin, wants to know what it means, lets his teeth open over Dean's jugular and bites down, not as hard as he will do when Dean's coming around his cock. Shadow of want when the real thing's blazing white hot under his skin. "You want? You want me to... ?"
"Fuck, Sam, let go," Dean pants under him. "Anything you want, just not here, okay?"
But Sam doesn't care past anything. "Gonna let me do you? Right now? Let me fuck you - " and knows from the push and slide of Dean's thighs against his that Dean will, that Dean wants Sam, has always, will always, bone, skin, blood. He doesn't know his brother at all yet but he will do, Sam knows it bone deep. But Dean's still fighting, still not all Sam's, and Sam growls against the beat of Dean's heart same as his and looks up to see why he hasn't got everything yet.
Wide-eyed, Dean's staring up, his face flushed and his teeth set in his lower lip hard enough to whiten the skin. Sam looks up with him, puzzled, and catches Caleb's eyes and grins, tight and almost feral, because Caleb knows exactly how this feels and yeah, this is what is to be pack. Next to Caleb there's a were Sam recognizes from years back, and another, a circle of boots and jeans and ratty T-shirts and heated eyes, because Sam and Dean, they might only be the first to fuck by the fire tonight but they're heading fast to an inevitable binding and that, that's pack business. Sam's good with that. Sam laughs up and feels Dean flinch under him and that's not so good, so he ducks down and kisses his brother again, open mouthed messy teeth on teeth, thrust of Sam's tongue against Dean's so good it's not just a promise but almost enough in itself. It makes Dean forget for a moment, makes him hitch his hips up in an awkward shimmy, dry humping like a teenager while his hands close strong and calloused on Sam's fingers.
Then Dean remembers, tightens up again, pulls his mouth from Sam's and says, "What the fuck, you gonna - "
"Yeah," Sam says, rears back and pulls Dean's T-shirt over his head and while Dean's fighting his way out Sam's dragging his brother's jeans down, ripping his belt open, and that's Dean's belly soft and warm under Sam's hands. Sam takes Dean's boxers down with his jeans, abandons them both somewhere around Dean's knees and gets his mouth on Dean's cock just as the hands in his hair twist and try to pull him away. Dean means it, but Sam's not gonna move, not with his mouth stretched wide over Dean's cock and the heavy, heated length of him rolling over Sam's tongue. He sucks hard, goes down like his throat's wide open - which it's not, but the thrust aches so good Sam would whimper if he could - and Dean surrenders with a string of hissed out swear words and his fingernails pressed hard into the back of Sam's neck.
"You little fucker," Dean says, "Sam, fuck, I, they're - " Someone's clapping now, slow and ironic and approving all at once, and Sam's smiling around Dean's cock. Dean's his. Dean's giving it up for Sam with every bitten off word and every helpless roll of his hips and Sam likes that. He likes it enough to pull off and duck down and run his tongue and then his teeth - lightly, shadow of a threat he doesn't mean - over Dean's balls, and Dean groans for him and looks down through half-closed eyes. They've both got too many clothes on, but Sam can reach back without looking, crook an elbow in the curve of Dean's knee before he sits up and pulls his own T-shirt up with him, and that's Dean caught in the mess of Sam's clothes while Sam strips off his brother's boots. It take a moment before Dean realizes and another before he looks up, slower than he should, he's looking at Sam's face.
"We doing this?" Sam says. He's got his fingers on Dean's skin, where he's going to bite down, presses down hard so Dean will know exactly what he means. "It's for keeps," Sam warns.
It takes a moment, and Sam's holding his breath, but Dean pushes back deliberate and sure. He's not looking away from Sam's eyes, but he's got that little curl at the corners of his eyes that means, bring it on.
All Sam's. Sam brushes off the dirt with careful, loving fingers and rolls Dean over so he doesn't have to see their audience. Dean shivers, doesn't try and move again, groans. His eyes are closed. At a guess, Dean's pretending they're alone and that's fine, whatever works. Sam, Sam grins to himself and then shares it, possessive and happy, and then he spreads Dean's ass open with his hands and goes down on him and Dean likes that, really likes it, all soft and slippery and yielding and wanting under Sam's tongue. It was supposed to be fast, means to an end, but the whine in Dean's throat and the way he pleads with the cant of his ass and the slide of his thighs is not something to which Sam can say no. So, Sam starts to open Dean up for real under his tongue. Licks between his fingers and around them, smoothes out the rim of Dean's ass, takes away the sting he knows has got to be there, and Dean opens up for him so sweet and tight it's Sam who's swearing. He's got one hand on Dean's ass slippery with his own saliva, and one pressing his own cock down between the rough lines of his open zipper, because what he wants is a damn sight more than a two minute fuck.
It takes Dean's hands pulling him up before Sam stops, and he slides everything home - his cock easy stutter into Dean's ass, his hands folded around and into Dean's, his head down in the crook of Dean's neck - to the sound of Dean's voice mumbling want at him so cracked Sam can barely make out yes and his own name. He'd like to take it slow but he can't, Dean wants too much too badly, shoving his ass up, begging, "Sam, Sam, please." Around them both, Sam knows, attention has sharpened. The crowd's waiting now, wanting as badly as Sam.
"Dean," Sam says.
"Do it," Dean growls back at him. Sam's close enough to see Dean open his eyes and glare, just right for the way Dean rolls his shoulder and stretches his neck and makes it clear he knows what he's asking.
"Now?" Sam says, and he's trying, but he can't help the tiny thrusts of his hips that rock his cock in Dean's ass and make both of them breathe in time.
"Yeah," Dean says.
It's hard and fast and vicious, but it's both of them, fighting dirty, Dean slamming his ass up to crash into Sam's thrust, Sam's teeth in Dean's throat, Dean's hand clawing at Sam's back and pulling him down. Sam's hand tight on Dean's cock, twist at the end of the stroke just the way he knows now Dean likes it, steady and simple. The moment before he comes is the moment Sam bites down and makes Dean both pack and his, blood in his mouth copper salt rich Dean, and then he knows Dean's coming. He can feel it in the taste of Dean's blood as well as the pulse of his brother's cock in the palm of his hand, knows Dean can feel him in his own saliva. Sam worries the bite open, wants more, wants everything Dean has to offer, knows what he's doing is witnessed, verified, knows this is the moment Dean's his forever, this one shining moment that seals them together with blood and sweat and come.
Dean doesn't want to stop. Dean will take everything Sam wants to give him. It's Caleb's touch on Sam's shoulder that makes Sam raise his head and snarl and then look down and realize, that's enough. Dean's bleeding enough. Dean's hurt, and too high to realize, floating on endorphins and pack and Sam.
There's a towel in Caleb's hands. Sam takes it, presses it hard against Dean's neck, and then tucks his chin on top to hold it down and just is for a while. Someone ruffles his hair, benediction. Someone else drops a blanket over the pair of them, rough comfort. All of Sam's attention is elsewhere. Sam can feel Dean's weary amazement - Sam hadn't expected this: no one said they'd be close enough to read the way they both feel - and his own bone deep sense of satisfied belonging. Dean's not so sure. Dean's tentative, careful, as if he didn't expect the thing to go both ways, as if he didn't know Sam would belong to Dean just as much as Dean belongs to Sam. Dean never expected not to be lonely.
Eventually, Sam says it for Dean. "Yeah," he says, soft and low. "It's okay, we're never gonna mention it again. Now get off me and get me a beer, bitch?" It's Dean's thought.
It makes Dean roll his eyes and shift and Sam pulls back, reluctantly, and only then realizes how sore he is and if he's sore, Dean's got to be really hurting, even if his brother's too high to notice. "Up," he says, tugs his own jeans up and wraps Dean in the blanket despite the glare that gets him - "Not a freakin' girl, Sam," Dean mutters, but he's got one hand holding the towel in place and the other holding the blanket like people care if it slips.
Dean cares. Dean feels... a little vulnerable and off balance and shy, and suddenly Sam wishes that he had waited, had asked, and maybe he could have been a little less forceful about just how public he wanted this to be.
Dean's tiredly amused at that one. And that makes Sam grin, and he snags the last two bottles of beer and the JD and follows Dean inside and up the stairs to his own - their - room. They drink the whisky out of toothbrush mugs while Sam disinfects and cleans and bandages up Dean's neck, and then Sam rolls himself into bed and drags Dean with him. Grousing, but so tired he's asleep almost before he's rearranged both Sam and the duvet to exactly where he wants them to be.
There's a knife under Sam's pillow. Sam kind of likes that.
Then he's asleep.
Bright, new, and so sharp Sam hurts with it, Sam and Dean, happy.
It doesn't last. Of course it doesn't. Sam's guessing he must have been listening after all, that night with Caleb, because he doesn't need to ask to know that Dean and John Winchester clashed often and hard. Or that Dean's been hunting almost alone since that Colorado kill. It's still Dean's father's life on the line, Dean's father who is demon-ridden. Sam's father too, he guesses. But it's Dean who has to pick up the cell and call, sitting on the edge of a motel bed and not looking Sam in the eyes. Dean who has to lie convincingly, pretend that everything's fine, pretend that he can't hear the demon sniggering under his father's voice.
Dean who says yes when the demon tells him about the abandoned mine shaft, the cabin, the ghosts of thirty dead men. Bitch of it is, the demon's not lying about that one. Sam's pulling up the newspaper articles on the collapse as Dean's saying, "Yes. I'm a day away, yeah?" and then, stiff, "Yeah. Quick as I can. Gotcha." Then he says, "Huh? No. Dad. Of course I'm not working with." He does look at Sam then, eyes blank. "Yes, sir," Dean says, and clicks the cell shut.
They argue, then. It's inevitable. Sam wants maps. Sam wants info and statistics and more time, fuck it, what happens if he forgets the exorcism, he still hasn't got the first one straight in his head for all they think it's Bey's third attempt that works. He wants back up. Dean wants to go in all guns blazing, full frontal surprise attack. Sam thinks he should be bait, pulls out the silver chain Dean hadn't realized he'd kept and tries to hand it over. Dean's having nothing to do with tying Sam up and doesn't even crack a smile when Sam says, seriously?
Dean slams out for coffee and Sam paces the room.
When Dean comes back, he brings two cups and a geological map. Sam's got his own Beretta broken down and spread out on the table next to Dean's shotguns. He says, "Hey."
"Huh," Dean says, sits down, and pushes the spare coffee carefully around the towel towards Sam's elbow.
When the Impala pulls up to the cabin, Sam's in the passenger seat with the silver threaded around his wrists. The blindfold's Dean's idea, but so are the sheathed knives Sam's wearing on his wrists. Dean doesn't believe in being under armed. The way Sam looks messed up? That's both of them and some Halloween face paint.
Creak of the car door opening, soft rustle of clothes, crack of a twig under Dean's boots. Sam turns his head, blind. Feels Dean walk around the hood, head down. Dean's got two guns tucked into the back of his jeans. Neither of them want this to end in blood. It probably will.
Like the kill site where Kyle died, there is no smell nor sound of wildlife. The woodland is empty, eerily silent.
Dean's moved as far as the trunk when the cabin door squeaks open.
"Dean," Dean's father says. Then he laughs. "You brought me a present," he says, and the way his voice lingers and gloats on the words makes Sam shiver.
"Heard you were looking," Dean says shortly, and takes out the shotgun, clink of metal against metal.
There's a pause. Then Dean's father says, "Oh, yes. The Roadhouse."
"Nah," Dean says, and then, "Up, you."
Sam fumbles and lists, getting out of the car. Makes himself small, ducks his head under and rounds his shoulders, hands held stiffly in front of him. Around his wrists, over his coat sleeves, he's wearing a padlocked silver chain.
"Can it talk?"
"Didn't shut up 'til I made him," Dean says. The shotgun nudges Sam's back. "Walk." Sam does.
Under his bare feet the soil is cold, thin and grassed over, uneven with shale from the spoil heaps. The air smells of wet stone and underground. Sam doesn't need to see to know the shaft's open. He can feel it in the cool, wet touch of the wind on his face. Rain spatters off the metalwork of the car and the wooden shingles on the cabin roof. He can feel Dean at his back, on edge and poised.
"You took your time," the thing riding John Winchester's skin says as they walk past, and the hairs on the back of Sam's neck stand up, because there's an undercurrent of contempt and anger there that means Dean's as much prey here as Sam.
Dean says, "Sir," like that's the answer. Maybe it is. The demon doesn't say anything else, but the sound of a second pair of boots follow Sam over the threshold.
Inside, the place smells of critters and damp. Either the demon doesn't need to live like a human, or it hasn't been here long. There's no trace of warmth in the air and Sam doesn't smell any kind of food. That's not good. It's not even pretending. He stands blind and braced and tense in the center of the room.
"Well," the demon says eventually. "Isn't this cosy?"
Dean cracks out, "Dad."
"Sorry there's no food," Dean's father says, "I didn't think we'd have guests."
"Yeah well," Dean says. "You wanna tell me why you were looking?"
"Can't I just say..." the demon says, and it's close, so close Sam can almost feel the cold of it, "I like pretty things?" Then it says, voice so changed Sam can hear Dean's breath hiss, "Don't lie to me. I know who you are, Dean Winchester, and you know who I am. Give me one good reason why I should let you live."
"Don't bother," it says, two seconds later. "You think shooting me's gonna get you anywhere? Try it. C'mon, Dean - "
The shot passes so close Sam flinches from the wind of it, and the reverb shakes dust from the roof, but the demon's laughing. Sam can smell blood.
"Oh, Dean, Dean," it says. "So reliant on your toys... you think it's me that's hurting?"
Sam doesn't know what it does, then. But he can hear Dean gasp, and then snap his mouth shut on the sound.
"Oh, he's still in here, the great John Winchester," the demon says. "That's what you came for, isn't it? Daddy? But you tell me, Dean, what can you offer for him that I haven't already got?"
They've stopped pretending. "I want to make a deal," Dean says.
"What with?" the demon says, contemptuous.
"Him," Dean says.
"Oh, really?" the demon says. "Like I can't just take it? You think that's the first werewolf I've seen? Don't underes - "
"I saw the one you killed," Dean says. "You're looking for something. But you can't make them change for you, can you? And you can't possess them."
The demon says nothing.
"I bound this one for you," Dean says. "It's the silver." He sounds almost apologetic.
"Really," the demon says. Then it says, sharp and hungry, "How do I know?
"You think I'm gonna let him change?" Dean says. "I'm not an idiot. You know how fast this fucker is?"
"Make it bleed for me," the demon says.
"Cut it. Bleed it. Let me taste it, Dean Winchester, and I might just... be persuaded." It stops. "You want your daddy back?" it says, low and vicious.
Sam nearly holds his wrists out.
Then Dean says, "Kneel down." The slide on the shotgun clicks into place. "Hold out your hands."
The cut comes out of nowhere, fast and only as deep as it needs to be even through Sam's coat and two shirts. Blood wells slowly, wet against Sam's skin, copper smell of it at the back of his throat. First blood.
"Good," the demon says, and it's closer. Under the blindfold, Sam closes his eyes. Like Dean, Dean's father smells of old clothes and guns and highway food. And sulfur.
Something cold strokes over Sam's wrist, pressing down. John Winchester's fingers, sore against the cut in his skin, blooded before the demon licks them clean.
Then the demon laughs. Cold, staccato, fully aware. "You know you're fucking your baby brother, Dean Winchester?" it says.
"Yes," Dean says. Short.
"Oh," the demon says. "Oh. That's... I didn't know you had it in you. That makes you a little... more of a sinner than I was expecting. Oh, Dean, do you want to know what your daddy thinks of you now?"
Dean says nothing. Sam can hear him breathe, now. He's close.
"Blood for blood," the demon says. "I like it."
"So," Dean says. "Deal?"
"I think so," the demon says. Then he says, "There's something between you."
"Yeah," Dean says. "I fucked him. Wouldn't you?"
"Oh, I think I'll be taking it for a test drive," the demon says, and Sam shivers again. He's not sure if it's better or worse that he can't see John Winchester's eyes, but he can hear Dean's voice and that's almost as bad. "You could say," the demon says, and it's amused. "It was almost... made for me."
"I want my father back," Dean says. "Unharmed. Those are my terms. You get him. If you can keep him."
"Agreed," the demon says. Then it says, "You want to kiss your little brother goodbye, Dean, before you kiss me?"
The moon's in the right hand window, a night past full, just as they'd planned. Sam can't see her, but he knows she's there. He bows his head, and folds his hands under the trailing cuffs of his coat. Even through the fabric, the silver itches.
"Nah," Dean says. And then, "Unharmed. You got me?"
"Apart from the shot you put in our leg," the demon says snidely.
"Fine," Dean says. He's still too close.
"Takes more than that," the demon says.
"Come over and kiss me, then," Dean says. "If it floats your boat."
"It'll do more than that," the demon says, and walks past Sam.
Sam doesn't hear that bit. Dean thinks it'll be two seconds. Sam bargains on ten, counts them down. He knows Dean's mouth. It takes a moment to slip his hands free of the loose cuffs. Another to feel, really feel, the way the moonlight reaches through him and calls to everything he is that isn't human. Then he starts to change.
He still looks human, when the demon touches him for the first time. But, cell structure upwards, he's not. He knows it, briefly, before the pain.
It's like oil. Black, choking, filthy oil, crawling down his throat, licking at his mind, creeping under his skin, like the worst nightmare ever. Worse, because it knows, it's laughing at Sam, utterly aware, crawling through every memory he has and every kindness and every petty evil he's ever considered or done. And it's old. Old and sure of itself, throwing Sam's own awareness aside like it's nothing, knocking him into the darkest corner of his own mind. He can barely recall himself. His fur's a trace of memory, he can't smell, he can't see, he hates -
He's worth more than this. He's - he's were, and in moonlight. Sam raises his head and howls. He's never sure if it's for real, if Dean hears him, or if he's howling only inside the cave of his own mind, but Sam, beset as he has never been before and stripped of claws and teeth calls out to the moon. And is answered.
Slowly, sluggishly, he's changing. The roll of his fur under his skin is muted: every separate pain of his bones and muscles realigning is an eternity of agony. He can feel every shift, every knife-thrust of change, his heart convulsing, his lungs collapsing, his legs and arms shattered and reforming, but he can feel. The demon inside him knows. It clings to every second of humanity in Sam, feeds from his agony, laughs at him. Sam forgets who he is, he's nothing but the pain of the shift, he wants to be nothing, hurtless, lost -
But he's not just himself. He's pack, and suddenly, he can feel Dean's hand on the back of his neck when he can feel no other part of himself. Sam is Dean's. Dean is Sam's. Pack, family, mate, Dean is tied to Sam as surely as Sam is tied to Dean, and he is unassailable. Spar in the tempest, Sam clings to the Dean in his mind, the touch on his skin that reminds him of who he is, and around that space he makes himself again. And that, the demon cannot touch. It yowls and claws and beats at Sam's mind, but Sam's free. Sam's... wolf.
Quite suddenly, Sam's wolf, whole and entire and himself alone. Sighted. Trying to scrabble to his own four paws in the center of a chalked out Devil's Trap, before the hand on the scruff of his neck lifts him almost as easily as a cub and throws him sideways.
Dean draws the last line in with his left hand. His right's holding Sam down.
It takes a while before Dean, panting, lets go.
In the centre of the trap, a spiral of black, oily smoke twists and knots, trapped. It's awfully, preternaturally aware. Sam feels as if all his fur's on end, stroked the wrong way, it's not natural, this... thing. Evil. It smells of old blood and old sin and Sam whines as he backs away.
Dean's not looking. Dean's bending over John Winchester's crumpled body, his hands urgent and tender. Sam's on point.
Sam sits down and watches the demon, every inch of his skin tender and his eyes and nose weeping, while Dean patches his father up with the first aid kit and years of experience. John Winchester's pale and underfed and he's got a bullet hole through his calf that missed bone by a hair's breadth - or good aim - but he's alive. Conscious, and watching Sam, when he's not watching the demon.
Dean's father watches Sam with hatred and fear. He's a hunter. In his eyes, Sam's a monster.
It takes twenty minutes before Sam can change again, and when he does it's slow and painful, the echoed memory of that first change schooled deep into every part of his body. But when he's done, he reaches for the book in his coat pocket and slowly, steadily, Sam reads out the medieval Latin of Kristof Bey's third exorcism.
Half way through, Dean nudges his shoulder, drops a coat over his shoulders, and joins in. He's hesitant where Sam gains confidence with every word, and his voice is scratched, as if Dean's been shouting, but it's both of them together who finish the thing.
Done, both of them see the demon, the smoke, sucked writhing back into itself, collapsing inward. Vanishing. Vanished. It screams as it goes, high pitched and wordless and agonized.
After, Sam swears he smells sulfur. After, Dean's already turning to his father, saying to him and not to Sam, that he needs to get stuff, that he'll be back, is John okay?
Sam snaps the book shut. He pulls on his jeans and his shirts, his hoodie, his bloodstained coat, and the boots Dean brings in from the car. He leaves the book. He leaves the chains. When he walks out the door, he doesn't look back. It's not that he needs all Dean's attention, all the time. But him and Dean, they've known each other a week. John's had his son for a lifetime. Dean faced down a demon to get him back, had been prepared to turn were, slept with Sam. The bond's almost incidental in comparison.
It's a long walk.
After a while, he smells smoke. The wind brings him ash, tiny black petals dancing under the moonlight. It reminds him of another wood and another death. He walks faster, nearly running, easing through the trees almost as well as he would do in his second skin.
When he hits the road, he heads south.
He's seen the look in John Winchester's eyes. He keeps walking.
Dean finds him two weeks later in a bar in Oregon. Sam's made no effort to hide his trail. All Dean has to do is point his nose in the right direction.
Thing is, Sam doesn't expect him to follow. Pack's pack. Human's human. They don't mix, they never have, and John Winchester's face - the disgust, the pain - that told Sam everything he needs to know about how Dean was raised and what choices he has. Incest's an ugly word. And it's not as if Dean needs Sam. He can scratch that itch he's going to get every full moon with any random stranger, even if he's never going to feel easy in his skin fucking someone else.
No surprise, Sam doesn't like that thought. It's what he's thinking about, though, when he's not thinking about what the hell he's going to do next. And, seeing as he hasn't thought about much else for the past two weeks, he's not at all surprised when he thinks he can smell the scent of Dean's skin. It's been haunting him since Revival. Plus, Sam's not sleeping, he can't remember the last time he ate, and that's not his first beer. Or his third.
So when Dean does walk into the bar, Sam doesn't believe it's actually him until Dean hauls off and punches him in the face.
"Anyone ever tell you you're a dick?" Dean says, and Sam blinks at him blearily while he tries to wipe his nose with a beer stained napkin.
Then they take it outside. Turns out, Sam was right about full moon. Dean kicks his ass.
When they've sorted that out, Dean finds a motel and Sam, slightly cleaner, books in. Then Dean showers while Sam sorts out the first aid kit, before he patches Dean up by the side of the bed. After that it's Sam's turn, and then he showers, and Dean wanders in with him and sits with his back to the wall, yawning, saying something about whales and possibly porpoises, although that might be something to do with a catalytic converter. There's water in Sam's ears and they're still ringing.
"C'mon Sam. You clipping your toe nails in there or what?"
But Sam knows. He doesn't want to lose sight of Dean either. And when Sam flops down on the nearest bed and Dean crawls in after him, there's nothing unfamiliar about the way they fold into the same space.
In the morning, Sam wakes alone. But Dean's stuff is still on the other bed, and Dean's boots are by the door. He's not gone far, he's barefoot.
doesn't bother pulling on more than a pair of jeans. He finds Dean at
the edge of the lot by the Impala, feet in sand, watching the ocean.
It's so early there's still an unreal translucence to the sky, and the
moon's gossamer white, sliding out of sight behind the hills.
"Thanks," Sam says, but Dean's already looked away. Dean's looking, not at Sam, but at the perfect circle of the sun rising over the sea. It's going to be a beautiful day.
"So," he says. "There's a hellhound on the run in Wyoming."
Over his own coffee, Dean's eyes are soft when he glances at Sam. It's not an expression Sam recognizes or expects, and it's there for seconds before Dean hides behind the upturned plastic of the cup. Sam wanders forward, leans himself carefully against Dean's car, touches his shoulder against Dean's and feels his brother push gently back. They haven't said a word about their father. It's okay.
When he's done with the coffee, Dean puts the cup down. He ducks his head and reaches up, his hand rubbing at the spot on his neck where Sam's teeth bit down, but he's smiling.
"You comin' along?"
"Yeah," Sam says.