Rating: NC-17 (violence, incest, dubious consent, evil!Sam)
Notes: I’ve been writing this intermittently for about a year now (it was actually the inspiration behind this vid) and, as you can imagine, my betas had to have the patience of saints. So a heartfelt thank you to both kres and way2busymom for sticking with me and keeping me firmly on the straight and narrow. I really couldn’t have done it without you both, and the story is what it is because of you. All the remaining mistakes are mine.
Summary: The world is ending, Sam has turned, and Dean stops running.
When Dean finally gets tired of running, he stops.
It’s a Thursday and outside the sky is blue, the air chill, and he’s sitting on the flimsy lid of a toilet seat in some grungy bathroom in some grungy diner in Wisconsin, staring at spidery red graffiti on the door of the stall that says “I did ur mom.” Four and a half minutes later, when he leaves the diner, doughnuts and chips tucked up under his arm and the last of his change jangling in his back pocket, the sky is still blue, the air still chill, and everything else has changed. He gets into the car he hotwired two states away and drives and drives and drives.
He heads for dense forest and a place he knows.
The house has been deserted for a long time.
A thick track of salt behind the front door, along the crooked floorboards. White lines on each windowsill, pressed up close against the mucky panes. Dean keeps on pouring the stuff until it’s inch-deep over the threshold of the room he finally chooses to hole up in, then carries five armloads of supplies in from outside, carefully stepping over the white lines every time and piling the cans and dry food in one corner, his bedding in another.
The last book Bobby gave him is the final thing he takes from the car - stowed under the passenger seat next to where he keeps his remaining shotgun, covered in a musty scrap of material - and he sits cross-legged in the middle of the room, a piece of chalk in his fingers, and mutters every spell he thinks might help. His voice is rough with disuse and the Latin is awkward on his tongue, even after months of repetition. The words never helped Bobby in the end and Dean’s no fool, but he doesn’t mind admitting to himself that the familiarity of trying is something of a comfort, at least.
After that, there’s not much more he can do but sit on his heels and wait. He checks and polishes and re-checks and re-polishes the three guns and two knives that comprise his arsenal. Eats two cans of cold sausages and beans a day, and saves the boxes of sugar-coated cereal and bags of chips for special occasions, like midnight and the end of the first week and the one time he heard a car outside and his heart stutter-thumped as the engine growled on past without stopping. It’s surviving and it’s not getting other people killed but Dean’s never wanted a Laundromat, or daytime TV, or the casual buzz of talk at a bar more in his life.
It takes nine and a half days for Sam to find him. Nine and a half days and Dean tells himself he’s glad for the change of pace when the low thrum of a motor chokes off outside and the front door shatters inwards. He tells himself he’s ready for this and he’s good for this as he cocks the first gun and levels it at the closed door of the room, grip firm, hand steady.
It’s only when Sam pushes the door open and doesn’t even look down at the salt line as he steps over it, eyes trained on Dean and a small smile playing over his features, that Dean realises he’s been lying to himself for a long time.
Later, when Sam rolls him onto his stomach, drags off his leather jacket and starts tying Dean’s wrists to the insides of his elbows, he says, “What if I’d brought Andy with me, Dean? I could have made you gut yourself, blow your own brains out, shove your fingers into your eye sockets to get to your brain. Did you think about that, huh?”
He tugs the knots angrily tighter.
Dean’s head is thick with pain and he doesn’t reply. When he tries to get some sort of grip on his uselessly loose limbs, Sam cuffs him around the head and says, “Don’t,” short and abrupt, and stars burst painfully behind Dean’s eyelids as he goes limp again. Sam finishes the knots and then hauls him up by the scruff of his neck, fingers twisted into the fabric of his shirt.
“Dude,” he says, wrinkling his nose as he holds Dean against him, a strong arm hooked around his chest keeping him up, “you smell like a dog. What, no showers in this joint?”
Sam smells faintly of sulphur and cheap laundry detergent and Sammy. Dean tries hard not to breathe it all in.
“Get your feet under you or I’m dragging you.”
Then Sam’s arm is gone and replaced by a hard hand on his shoulder, pushing him forward. Dean stumbles and almost goes to his knees on the warped wooden floor. He concentrates on his boots, feeling dizzy as he directs one foot in front of the other and tries not to lose his balance. Out the door, down the porch steps with Sam close behind him, his fingers biting into his shoulder. Dean has to pick his feet up to avoid tripping in the thick devil’s weed choking the path and it’s almost the end of him.
He’s swaying by the time Sam pulls him to a stop, and when he looks up his heart catches in his chest because that’s the Impala Sam’s opening the passenger side door to, and he hasn’t seen her sleek, familiar lines since he emptied the trunk and left her in a parking lot over six months ago, the burn of betrayal at the back of his throat. He had begun thinking of the car fondly as MIA - not the first casualty in a war their side was going to lose. Even if the FBI hadn’t been able to trace her, Sam certainly could.
Sam rolls his eyes. “You’re pathetic,” he says. “Get in.”
Dean does. He flexes his slowly numbing fingers behind him, smoothing over the seat upholstery with all his limited movement. Hey, girl, he thinks, still as beautiful as ever, and ignores the derisive snort from Sam as his brother leans across him and thumbs down the lock on the door.
Dean slouches down in an effort to get his weight off his arms, and shuts his eyes to the sound of the engine rumbling into life. Sam starts humming something in rhythm to the thick pounding in Dean’s head, and he can already feel a hot, angry lump forming where Sam rebounded his skull off the floor.
It feels almost like the aftermath of a bad hunt: nothing and everything to talk about, the rush of adrenaline leaving him weak and exhausted. If Dean tries hard enough, he thinks he might be able to forget everything that’s changed since the last time they were sitting side by side like this.
Four hours later, he snaps awake, fuzzy and disoriented. Near him, a car door slams shut. They’re stopped at a gas station and he watches through hooded eyes as Sam leans against the fender, refuelling, a bored expression on his face. There’s a man in a red pickup to Dean’s left. A teenaged girl and her mother coming out of the shop. Two bikers in leathers with their helmets off, talking over their Suzukis. Past the boundary, bright light spilling over the concrete, there’s the darkness of evening and enough brush to cover him.
Sam hangs up the gas handle with a clunk and leans in to get his wallet. Cold air blows into the car, the width of his shoulders not blocking out enough of the outside.
“Don’t even think about it,” he says, in the same tone of voice he’d have once used to warn Dean away from stuffing slime-soaked socks into Sam’s duffel instead of his own. “Or they’ll be dead and you’ll be hogtied in the back.”
Dean doesn’t doubt that he means it. “Go to hell,” he says, viciously, thinking about Bobby and Ellen and hot blood dripping through his closed fingers.
He doesn’t try anything, though. Just sits and watches Sam walk across the concrete, up into the shop, easy as you like. The minutes drag by. Dean’s knee jitters restlessly up and down as he stares across at the dark windows, waiting for the screaming to start. It doesn’t. When Sam finally comes out again, he’s carrying a bag in one hand, and he smiles politely and holds the door open for red pickup guy.
Dean wonders whether his brother’s got a gun on him. Doesn’t think it would make him any less deadly if he didn’t.
Sam dumps the bag at Dean’s feet without comment and starts up the engine. He pulls out onto the dark road and drums his fingers against the wheel. Dean tries not to think about the cramping in his shoulders and the ache in his belly. His last can of sausages and beans seems like a long time ago.
Twenty minutes of dark, wooded landscape later, and Sam flicks on the blinker, pulling the car off the main road and bumping down a rough path between the trees. They come to a gentle stop in a clearing, the humped shapes of picnic tables cast into sharp relief by the glare of the headlights.
Sam pushes the driver’s door open and gets out, stretching long and hard. Dean imagines he can hear his brother’s back popping and his own spine aches with jealousy. Then Sam’s moving around the back of the car, opening the trunk, rummaging for something.
Rope, as it turns out.
Dean stares at the rough coil in his brother’s hand when Sam opens his door. He scowls.
“You even try to fucking hogtie me and I am kicking your ass.”
Sam ignores him. “Legs out.”
“C’mon, Sam,” Dean says, frustrated and tired. “Where the hell am I gonna go, huh?”
“Legs,” Sam repeats, patiently, and it’s like banging his head against a brick wall. Dean sets his jaw mutinously but Sam just smiles, tight and weird, and says, “You want to try me on this one, Dean?”
Dean wants to hit something. Awkwardly, without hands for leverage, he shuffles around in his seat and puts his boots on the ground. He doesn’t watch Sam tying the knots with an expert’s ease, just stares off somewhere above his brother’s shoulder, out into the dark.
“Right,” Sam says. “Up.”
Dean can hardly move. In the end, it’s Sam’s hands in the material of his shirt that bring him wobbling to his feet, Sam’s hands that turn him and push him up against the side of the Impala. And when Sam’s fingers start tugging at the rope around his wrists, Dean doesn’t say anything, just holds as still as he can, his baby smooth and cool beneath his chest.
When his hands finally fall free, he grunts in pain as his shoulders loosen and tries to twist the ache out of his wrists. Sam’s fingers are suddenly hot and tight around the back of his neck, pressing him hard against the roof. Dean freezes.
“You are going to turn around now,” Sam says, slowly. “You are going to put your back against the car while I retie your hands and you are not going to come off it. If you do, I’m gonna find it easier just to knock you out. Clear?”
“Clear,” Dean mutters. He pivots slowly with tied ankles, trying not to overbalance, and Sam’s watching him, his weight on the balls of his feet, like he thinks Dean’s going to make a run for it. “Just -- Gimme a moment, yeah?” Dean says, and puts his shoulders back, wincing as they crack loudly. “Yeah,” he says, “okay,” and puts his hands out without a fight.
Afterwards, Sam manhandles him back into the car, and uses another piece of rope to loosely tie his wrists and ankles together. Dean can’t bring his hands up much higher than his waist, but it’s a hell of a lot comfier and he’s thankful for small mercies. He’s even more thankful when Sam brings out the contents of the carrier bag: cheese and ham bagels, two bottles of water, a bag of peanut M&Ms.
“I figured you’d be hungry,” Sam says, with a shrug, and Dean has no clue what’s going on because peanut M&Ms for fuck’s sake. He stays silent.
They sit side by side, the only sounds the rustle of paper and chewing. Dean has to bend right over his lap to eat, and it’s messy and uncomfortable and he’s probably going to get indigestion, but hey, food and he’s fucking starving. He can’t tip the water bottle back enough, though, and Sam puts up with him struggling with it for a couple of seconds before snatching it from him. He holds it to Dean’s lips, and Dean glares at him before grudgingly opening his mouth, swallowing down. Sam does nothing but watch him. It makes Dean’s skin feel a couple sizes too small.
Sam drives through the night without stopping while Dean dozes fitfully by his side. When he’s coherent enough to think in straight lines, he wonders whether his brother even needs to sleep anymore.
They don’t talk.
The motel they finally stop at looks half-eaten by forest; small cabins set back among the trees, moss in the guttering and fallen leaves blown up in drifts against the sides. Private, quiet, no one around. Sam goes into the office to get a key, then drives them around the far side to number 12.
“Legs,” he says, as he opens Dean’s door, and Dean knows the drill by now. Four piss-stops later, he also knows Sam doesn’t have a gun on him, doesn’t need a gun on him, just careful eyes, clear directions and scarily strong hands, standing too close and yet just out of reach.
When Dean can walk, Sam pushes a duffel into his tied hands and gestures to the cabin. Dean looks around as he crunches through dead leaves to the steps, scoping the place out, and Sam knows what he’s doing, of course he does, the bastard’s giving him the time to do it, allowing Dean to see for himself that trying anything out here would be a really fucking stupid idea because there’s forest and more forest and nothing much else. Nowhere to run to.
Awkwardly, he dumps the duffel on one of the beds. There are trees inside, as well: leafy branches stretching across the wallpaper, acorn knobs topping the bedsteads, pine-green covers and bare, creaky floorboards beneath his feet. The whole place smells musty and unused. Sam closes the door behind him, and there was a time when Dean would have cracked a joke - something lame about how he had his own little jungle now that Sasquatch had arrived - but his mouth is dry and he’s not sure his voice would work anyway.
“Sit,” Sam says, and gestures. “Near the head.” He’s already got the rope in his hand, and the bed protests as Dean does as he’s told, the mattress whining beneath him as he shifts so Sam can loop his tied hands to the frame without breaking his arms.
“Try and get some sleep,” Sam says, double checking on the knots and straightening. He shrugs out of his sweatshirt, kicks off his shoes, goes into the bathroom. The pipes clank in the walls as the shower starts up. Dean stares at the closed door for a long moment, then mentally shakes himself and struggles to get out of his boots.
He misses the Glock he had long ago swapped his knife for, upgrading and trading in as soon as he had accepted that Sam would never be stopped by a simple blade. It feels strange without his hand tucked up under the pillow, fingers wrapped around the solid grip of the gun, but when he finally puts his head down, Dean sleeps better than he has for a long time.
When he wakes up, it’s dark outside. There’s a sandwich on the bedside table and Sam is sitting at the desk, hunched over a book, fingers and lips tracing the words on the page. The other bed is rumpled, and whether it’s been slept in or not, Dean’s guess is as good as anyone’s. His eyes are gritty, his fingers cold from being twisted somewhere up above him, but he feels vaguely human again.
“I need to take a leak,” he says, after a moment.
Sam ignores him long enough to finish the page, then slowly unfolds himself. He unties Dean from the bed, gives him space enough to get up but follows him right into the bathroom, standing at his shoulder. It’s enough to give a guy performance anxiety, Dean thinks bitterly, as he unzips.
“You gonna hold my hand when I take a shit, too?” he snaps.
Sam doesn’t reply. Just steps back once Dean’s shaken off and tucked himself back in. He doesn’t comment when Dean fumbles awkwardly with tied hands at the tap, letting cold water run over his knuckles before cupping his fingers and wetting his face, taking his time, trying to get a rise. He gets nothing. Sam just shepherds him out, tells him to eat his sandwich and goes back to his book.
Sam doesn’t tie him down again. Instead, he sits at an angle at the desk, and whenever Dean moves, his eyes flicker up, watching, assessing, before lowering back down to the page he’s on. Dean finds it kind of funny to begin with: scratches his head, shifts against the pillows every few minutes, crosses and uncrosses his feet, just to piss Sam off. It gets old fast, though, and after the first few times he shifts without meaning to, just getting comfy, and looks up to find Sam watching him, he begins to get antsy.
He turns on the TV to fill the silence, expecting Sam to tell him to switch it off. He doesn’t, though, and Dean watches the news. There’s a segment about a few crazy murders sandwiched between the President making a speech about the Middle East and Britney Spears’ second comeback tour. The weather guy talks about freak storms and early snow, looking bored. The local news offhandedly mentions dead cattle - one farmer swearing he saw someone with black eyes.
Dean doesn’t look at his brother. He flicks to cartoons.
By noon the next day, they’ve left the trees behind. The landscape is washed out and flat, brown and dead from a too hot summer and a too cold fall. The road stretches out in front of them and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere at all.
“Where we headed?” Dean asks, casually. “Tea party with all the other freaks?”
“Yeah,” Sam says, not taking his eyes off the road. “There’s gonna be cake and everything.”
“You just call them up and they come to heel, right? I can just guess how riveting the conversation’s gonna be.”
Sam doesn’t reply.
Dean doesn’t say anything else for ten miles. When he asks whether they can have some music on, Sam shrugs and turns on the radio. It flickers and jumps for a moment, then settles.
They cross the state border. There are flowers by the side of the road, piled deep where the ground is freshly churned up, bouquets leaning against a gaping, splintered fence. Dean can see the two ruts where the wheels came off the road. He thinks about the crunch of metal as the hood crumpled inwards, the flash of fear, the sudden hot pain.
He thinks about death.
“Do you enjoy it?” Dean asks, as Sam ties him to a new bed frame. This one’s old and metal and slightly rusted, and Dean’s never paid so much attention to the damned things before. “Killing people, I mean.”
Sam ignores him. His face is close enough that Dean can feel his breath on his skin, and some time soon Dean is going to smash his forehead up into the bridge of Sam’s nose, knock his brother out, put a knife to his throat.
It’s been a long fucking day; strangely humid, the air close around them and exhausting. Dean feels pretty rank in his three-day old t-shirt. He’s itching to get out of his skin, to do something, anything, to fight the claustrophobia bearing down on him. They’d been on the road for twenty hours straight, and he still can’t work out where Sam’s taking him, winding slowly across the country like they’ve got all the time in the world.
“Must have been a bit of a rush, yeah?” he says. “’Cause you have to be feeling something to batter a woman to death like that. And Ellen was a fucking mess, man. But then you know that, course you do, you were there.” He smiles, bright and hard, and it feels like his face has been slashed in two.
Sam shrugs. “If it makes you feel any better, she was probably dead after the first blow.”
He moves smoothly out of the way when Dean jerks to his feet, trying to take the bed with him, the ropes dragging at his wrists and almost dislocating his shoulders. He’s so angry, almost blind with it, hissing and wanting to put his hands around Sam’s throat, and it’s ridiculous, hopeless, because he can’t even stand up properly, hunched over the bed, tugging at the rope, the metal frame scraping over the wall.
“You bastard,” he says, “you fucking -”
Sam looks him calmly in the eye and says, “Maybe you should stop trying to bait me, Dean.”
Dean looks at him and doesn’t say anything. After a moment, he turns away and sits stiffly back down. His wrists hurt. He can remember Ellen’s hair against his fingers, thick and sticky with drying blood. One side of her face had crumpled inwards from impact and her body didn’t lie right when he propped her up against his knees, like it was broken in more ways than one. He could feel the jagged grind of what had once been her spine as he had felt for a pulse he knew wouldn’t be there.
You don’t know, he wants to say. You weren’t there when she was cold and rigid. You didn’t have to burn her.
His wrists hurt.
Sam goes away and Dean shifts, putting his back flat to the mattress, his head on the pillow. The ceiling blurs above his head, his eyes hot and stinging, and he turns his face away when Sam comes back, more rope in his hands.
“Why don’t you just kill me?” he asks, his voice rough. Sam straightens Dean’s legs against the covers, tying knots around his ankles and Dean doesn’t fight it. He feels more tired than he has in a long time, dry and worn out. “It’s not like you have a problem with it.”
Sam doesn’t answer. When he’s done stretching Dean out enough to loop the rope around the legs of the bed, he sits and tucks a thumb up under the hem of Dean’s jeans, stroking a line of warmth against the skin of his ankle, just above the rope holding Dean down.
“Don’t worry,” he says, softly. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
Dean turns his face into his shoulder because it’s the only thing he can do, the only way he can get out from under Sam’s eyes. It’s hard to breathe around the jagged lump in his throat and Sam shushes him gently like a baby, his thumb still dragging soothingly against his skin.
They stay like that for a long time. Dean falls asleep and doesn’t feel Sam get up.
They’re a couple of hundred miles into South Dakota when Dean makes his move. Rears up when Sam’s bent over him, about to tie him to the bed, and his forehead connects so hard with Sam’s head that it makes him dizzy, but it’s enough to take Sam to his knees. Then Dean’s on him, barrelling him backwards and bouncing his head off the floor. When his brother goes limp, he starts picking at the knots around his wrists with his teeth.
Finally free, he swipes the keys and goes out to the Impala. Opens the trunk and stops short because where there used to be guns and axes and rock salt, there’s just books. Small and large, old and new, and how fucking typical, Dean thinks. Sam goes dark side, becomes the goddamn champion of hell, and he uses his power to rip off libraries.
He starts rummaging past them, ignoring bent-back covers and ripped pages, all the things Sam used to scowl at him for. Underneath, shoved to the side as if unimportant, he finds dry herbs and old teeth, willow sticks, a jar of blood. He’s careful not to touch any of it. Behind that, there’s a knife, its blade shining in the daylight when Dean takes it out, studies it. It looks faintly sacrificial. He sets his jaw and heads back indoors.
The blade is heavier than he’s used to, the balance off in his hand. He stares down at his brother for a long time and none of it feels real. He gets on his knees, puts a rough hand in Sam’s hair to tilt his head back, places the knife against his brother’s throat.
Out cold, Sam is his brother again. Mess of hair, face smooth and young, eyes shut and for once not looking at Dean as if he can see into his head. Dean grits his teeth.
“Come on,” he orders himself. “Come on.” He presses a little harder with the knife, just nicks the skin, and beads of blood break the surface. Dean stares numbly at the slice of colour.
Swearing violently, he pushes Sam’s limp body away from him. His hands are shaking and he forces himself to think of the funeral pyres he’s watched burn across the country, the acrid taste of smoke in his throat, fucking helpless to stop any of it. He knows he might never get a better chance at this, and if saving his own skin isn’t reason enough, then saving the whole world from being consumed by hell should damn well be.
He’s still got the knife, Sam’s still out cold, but Dean knows it’s already too late. Sam is still his brother, Sam is still Sammy, and Dean would still prefer to blow his own brains out.
Cold realisation is like a punch to the gut.
He fumbles blindly through Sam’s duffel, feeling for a clean t-shirt, sweatshirt, a change of socks, because if he’s running again, he needs people not to call the cops on sight. He binds Sam tighter than he ever would a normal person and leaves him on the floor, not trusting him not to break any furniture he ties him to. Sam’s face is still slack with unconsciousness.
Outside, he slides into the Impala, rubbing an unsteady hand up the steering wheel, over the stick.
“Oh, baby, have I missed you,” he says, and rummages under the passenger seat, coming up with Led Zeppelin. It feels like false courage but he cranks the volume anyway.
Three hours later, on a stretch of empty road, the car dies. No warning, nothing, and Dean barely manages to pull off the road. When he checks under the hood, everything seems fine.
He tucks the knife into his waistband, tugs his shirt down over the handle, and stands at the edge of the road, thumb out. It takes him too long to flag down a ride. When he finally slides into the truck’s cab, the big guy behind the wheel asks where he’s headed. The man’s wearing a hat so grimy that the logo is indistinguishable and he’s got dirty salt and pepper scruff around his face, but his smile is bright and friendly, his eyes clear and blue, and Dean shrugs and says anywhere.
The cab smells of pine air freshener and long hours on the road, the seats comfy with age, the upholstery cracked and worn. The driver’s name is Kevin and they talk about films Dean hasn’t seen, the road, the crazy weather reports on the radio, Kevin’s daughter at college - studying psychology and he’s never been so proud of her. He even shows Dean a picture, dog-eared and tucked between the visor and the roof of the truck, like he shows it to every hitcher he picks up. Maybe he does.
When Dean rolls up the sleeves of Sam’s sweatshirt, Kevin raises an eyebrow at his rubbed raw wrists. Dean smiles and shakes his head like he’s just a little bit embarrassed. He doesn’t look at the abraded skin himself.
“Yeah,” he says, and gives Kevin a meaningful look. “A girl. Wildcat in bed, if you know what I mean. And before you ask,” he spreads his hands at the open space before them, “I’ve gotta be running from something, right?” He gives him a conspiratorial wink, and Kevin laughs from his belly.
“Got in a bit over your head, hey, son?” he asks.
Dean grimaces. “You could say that.”
At a truck stop two hours later, Kevin buys Dean a cup of coffee and a cheeseburger without being asked to, and Dean nods gratefully at him before inhaling it all in less than a minute. It’s a pleasure not having to be hunched over his knees to eat something for once. They talk some more; Dean asks Kevin whether he’s heard of this crazy black-eyed virus shit that’s going around, and tells him that he’s got a doctor friend who swears that laying salt at your windows and doors is the best way to stop it.
“Something about the purity or molecular structure or, Christ, I dunno.”
It’s getting dark when they hit the road again, and Dean’s dozing with his head against the cool glass of the window when Kevin says, “What the hell?” and wrestles the wheel over to the right as the truck shudders to a halt on the shoulder. The dashboard’s lights flicker once, twice, then out.
Kevin’s frowning in the sudden silence. “Well, that’s never happened before,” he says. He twists the keys again and gets nothing.
Dean sits up, slowly taking off his seatbelt, his eyes scanning the darkness outside. There’s no one else on the road.
Kevin tries the radio and gets a burst of static, loud and harsh, and he flicks it off with a grimace, frowning in the gloom.
“Kid,” he says, “you got a cell on you? I gotta get a hold of base.”
“No,” Dean says, low and urgent, leaning forward in his seat. The shape of the knife is a hard imprint against his side, so close to his skin. “Listen to me, Kev. You’ve got to get out right here and run, okay? I don’t care where and I know it sounds crazy, but you’ve got to run - away from this truck and away from me, you got that?”
Kevin isn’t listening to him. “Now there’s no reason to panic,” he says, peering into his side mirror. “There’s a car pulling over right now behind us. Probably saw us in trouble and figured we could use a hand. I’ll go see whether they’ve got a cell I can use.” He’s already got his seatbelt off, the door half open.
“No,” Dean says, forcefully, grabbing his arm, and Kevin stares at him like he’s gone mad. “No, you don’t know what’s out there.”
“I’m hoping a cell phone,” Kevin says, a faint smile on his face, like he’s covering the fact that he thinks he’s made a massive misjudgement and Dean’s actually a grade-A psycho. “You gonna let me go now, son?”
“Wait,” Dean says, because this guy has been fucking kind to him. “Please. Just - let me do it. Let me go, okay? For your daughter,” he adds, when Kevin eyes him doubtfully. “If they’ve got a cell, I’ll bring it right back. But you’ve got to stay in the truck.”
Kevin looks at him. “Are you in some kind of trouble, Dean?” he asks, slowly.
Dean shakes his head as he opens the cab door. “Not the sort you’re thinking, no. Stay here.”
He slips to the ground and treads as lightly as possible through the shadows, slowly pulling the knife out of his waistband as he ducks down, scanning beneath the belly of the truck to the far side, through the wheels. The steady silence is oppressive, his blood hammering through his veins, and he wishes more than anything that he had a gun. The knife handle is already slippery with sweat in his grip, feeling all too insubstantial.
Cautiously, he peers around the back of the truck. The familiar bulk of the Impala sitting in the dirt is like a kick in the balls. He doesn’t want to think about how the hell Sam managed to pick her up. Sam isn’t in the driver’s seat. Sam isn’t anywhere.
It’s then that his spine decides it wants to bend in half.
A cry of agony is ripped from his throat and Dean drops to his knees, drops the knife, gasping into the dirt, his back arched and his hands scrabbling uselessly at the ground. It feels like every nerve is on fire, like someone is twisting his spinal cord into knots, and he can’t see through the tears of pain in his eyes.
A pair of boots stops in front of him, and Sam hunkers down.
“Dean, Dean, Dean,” he says. “That was really fucking stupid.”
Dean can’t help but agree. He should have killed Sam. He should have killed himself.
“No,” Sam says, suddenly fierce, curling a broad hand around the back of Dean’s neck and forcing him further into the ground. The pain stops, leaving behind just a bone-deep ache, and Dean struggles not to choke on road dirt, trying to get his hands under him, but Sam’s stronger than any human has a right to be. “No, you don’t get to make that choice, do you hear?”
“Hey,” Kevin calls from behind, his voice not so friendly anymore, pitch-perfect to accompany the sound of a shotgun being chambered. “Everything okay here?”
Dean tries to twist out from Sam’s hand; says, desperately, “No, Sam. Don’t.”
Sam doesn’t let him up. “Oh,” he calls back, a smile in his voice, “everything’s just fine.”
It doesn’t take much. Just a slight tightening of Sam’s fingers around Dean’s neck, a brief contraction of the air above him making it even harder to breathe. Kevin gargles when he dies, and Dean thinks it’s possibly the worst sound he’s ever heard. Something splatters on the ground about him, and he knows there’s a crimson spray up the back of his jeans.
The burger the man had paid for wants to come back up. Dean swallows and trembles when Sam yanks him unceremoniously to his feet. Kevin is a bloody lump on the ground and that’s Dean’s fault, his fault and no one else’s, he knew perfectly well what Sam was capable of.
“Don’t touch me,” he mutters, like it will make some sort of difference, as Sam drags him to the car.
“Shut up,” Sam says, and touches him enough to tie his ankles to his wrists on the backseat, before going back to pick up the knife.
The trip back is measured in how long it takes Dean’s hands to go numb, how soon his muscles start cramping. With his cheek pressed against the leather of the backseat, he can’t see Sam - doesn’t want to see him - but he can feel his brother’s displeasure in the way he guns the engine, how he twists the wheel a little too sharp on corners, the slam of brakes.
Hours later, when the car finally grinds to a halt, Sam opens one of the back doors and leans over him, his shirt tails tickling over Dean’s ear, picking at the knots, his breathing a little too heavy. Dean grunts in pain when his legs come loose, his eyes watering as blood rushes back into his hands and feet, and Sam doesn’t give him nearly enough time to recover. He half drags, half carries him back into their room, Dean’s legs fiery with sensation as he tries to put weight on them.
Sam leaves him gasping on the bed. He goes into the bathroom and the shower starts up, the sound of water hissing over tiles. When he comes back, face grim, there’s none of his careful directions. He just rolls Dean heavily onto his stomach, pressing his shoulders hard into the mattress, pulling at the rope around his wrists until it comes undone. Without a word, Sam puts his hands under the hem of Dean’s sweatshirt, Dean’s t-shirt, his fingers warm against bare skin, and tugs the material roughly up Dean’s body, over his head and off his arms. Then he reties his wrists.
Sam’s stiff with anger when he yanks Dean to his feet. He puts a strong hand on Dean’s shoulder and pushes him into the bathroom, stops him, presses him against the wall. He undoes Dean’s bloodied jeans, taking his time in unbuckling his belt, fingers on his fly. Dean fixes his eyes on the cloudy mirror above the sink and stands still and awkward as his brother pulls his shorts down along with the denim. To his side, the shower is running hot, steam already rising past the curtain.
Dean hasn’t had hot water on his skin for a long time.
Sam pulls his shirt over his head, starts opening the button of his own jeans, and Dean stares at him, bone-weary and not quite getting what his brother’s doing. Then he does.
“No way,” he says. “No fucking way.”
Naked, Sam pushes back the shower curtain and wraps his hand around the back of Dean’s neck, ignoring him. Forced into the stall, Dean blinks under the hot spray for a moment. Then Sam shoulders in behind him, and Dean moves to press himself as far into a corner as possible, trying not to touch his brother, trying not to touch the man who’s just torn someone inside out without blinking.
Sam lets him be. He washes his hair, face tilted up into the spray, then soaps up. It’s only once he’s done that he reaches for Dean, wraps a hand around the ball of his shoulder, and Dean’s got nowhere to go. He growls, tries to twist out of the slippery grip, angry and resentful.
“No, you asshole,” he grits out. “No. Get your hands off me.”
Sam doesn’t listen to him, just slams Dean back against the shower wall, once, twice, and when he tries to pull him under the spray again, Dean goes, the fight knocked clear out of him. Sam takes his time washing Dean’s hair, his fingers careful on the curve of his skull. Dean winces once, and Sam murmurs, “Sorry, sorry,” his fingers skirting around the tender spot, like he knows exactly where it is.
Later, Sam works the pale complimentary soap into a lather and pulls Dean back against his chest, his forearm slung hot and heavy over Dean’s shoulder. It feels fucking weird, Sam pressed up his back like that, naked and wet, and Dean stiffens.
“You have something you want to share with the rest of the group, Sammy?”
“Shut up,” Sam says, soft in his ear, his arm tightening over Dean’s chest. He starts smearing the soap over Dean’s skin, across his ribs, over his stomach, his fingers creeping right down to pubic hair. Dean holds very still, shuts his eyes. This is fucked up on too many levels to count.
“Do you remember this?” Sam murmurs, against his neck. “Huh, Dean? You remember this?”
Dean doesn’t answer. He can barely hear Sam over the thrumming of water against his skin, on the tiles, and it makes it easier to pretend this isn’t happening. Sam’s hand grips his flank, fingers pressing hard into the muscle, then moves across, circling loosely around Dean’s dick. Dean squares his jaw and tilts his head up into the hot spray, letting the water run down his face, burning into his eyes when he opens them.
Sam’s grip is slick with soap, working up and down, up and down, slow and sure. Dean has never felt less turned on in his life. Kevin’s face is fresh in his mind, choking on his own death, and his dick doesn’t harden. Sam huffs amusement into his hair.
“You know, Dean,” he says, “I’m the one that’s meant to be angry with you.”
“Yeah, well. I didn’t just kill someone.”
Sam shrugs; Dean feels the movement in the slick glide of skin against skin. Behind him, his tied hands are at groin level and he can feel Sam thick and hot against his fingers.
“I’ll kill anyone,” Sam says, soft and intimate. His hand stills and he just holds Dean’s cock, cupping its weight. “Next time you try to escape, you stop for gas and I’ll kill the girl behind the counter, the guy sweeping outside. You stay at a motel and I’ll kill the sweet old woman who gave you your key - all the guests staying there, as well. You smile at someone in the street, a girl, maybe, a kid, and I’ll kill her too, spread her ribs and bare her lungs and heart.”
Sam presses a kiss to his neck, swift and sweet and cruel. “You keep that in mind, okay?”
His fingers leave Dean’s dick, then, creep lower, gently touching his balls, lifting them, like he’s curious. Dean keeps very, very still. Sam hums into his skin and drags his hand back up, splaying his fingers hot against Dean’s stomach, just beneath his bellybutton, stroking over the skin there with the pad of his thumb.
“I’ve missed you,” he says, a little wistfully. Dean shuts his eyes tight and doesn’t say anything, his mouth twisted with grief.
Later, Sam dries him carefully with one of the stiff motel towels. Then he puts him to bed, wrists retied around the headboard, and leaves him alone.