Altars of Stone and Wind
by Maygra

(continuation of events from False ComfortsWelcome to Memphis, and Caution: Falling Rocks
Ratings: Mature Adult
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Warnings: Incest. Graphic sex.  The following is a work of fiction. It is meant for mature adults and deals with mature and disturbing themes. Forced to a category, it would be dark fiction and containing both violence and sexual violence. It is a horror story.  It's also a love story.

I strongly recommended that you read False ComfortsWelcome to Memphis, and Caution: Falling Rocks first.

Notes: Many, many thanks to auk and Meghan for the beta work and for playing barometer.

The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.

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Altars of Stone and Wind
by Maygra

"You sure you want to try this again?" Dean asked and handed Sam a wet washcloth to get the blood off his face.

"I think if we don't get them tonight, they'll be gone," Sam said, leaning back against Dean's bare chest. The anxiety he felt dissipated when Dean's still bandaged arm came around his shoulders and chest and his lips pressed against Sam's temple.

"Okay. We've got riverfront and the old Gadsden building and two separate nests," Dean said and adjusted the Atlanta map on the bed so he could mark it. He checked the SIG for the third time to make sure it was loaded and that the extra shells for the shotgun were in easy reach. Sam let his eyes drift to the locked door and the chair edged beneath it. It wouldn’t necessarily stop what might try and get in, but it would give them warning. "Maybe we can keep driving them south until they drown in the Gulf,” Dean said.

"Maybe if we could convince the Pope to bless the Gulf they'd dissolve in salt water," Sam said and took a couple of deep breaths.

"Sam," Dean's lips were right by his ear. "Last time tonight, okay? I don't care if they know."

Dean's light tone was at odds with the concern in the hazel eyes but Sam nodded. "Last time," he promised and Dean studied him for a long moment before bending his head.

Sam didn't hesitate to lift his own face and Dean's lips closed over his, warm and firm and leaving Sam's mouth wet and his heart beating a little faster. Dean had that glint in his eyes of pure unadulterated pride in his own skill. Sam elbowed him in the stomach.

"Oompf," Dean grunted and grinned, and then started humming Simon & Garfunkel's, "I am a Rock." Mostly on key.

Sam took a deep breath and closed his eyes, settling against his brother and his not so great singing and took a dive into the darkness.

It was almost like self-hypnosis, only with far less direction or control although Sam was getting better. It still made his stomach sour and his heart rate speed up more than Dean's kisses. But one physical sensation could cancel out another and Sam concentrated on the feel of his brother's arm around his chest, the vibration there when Dean hummed. His brother would watch the door and watch Sam. All Sam had to do was dream.

He hated this. Hated it in ways he wasn't even sure Dean understood, but there was also a certain satisfaction in knowing the shape shifters were on the defensive. Finally. That as much as Dean's presence at his back gave Sam all the courage and all the reason he needed to willingly put himself in the middle of nightly horror show.

Only now he was more director than red-shirted extra.

It hadn't been easy. They'd spent nearly a month in Memphis, returning to the same crappy part of town to a motel that apparently even the roaches wouldn't stay in. The day they got in Dean had been running a fever and Sam had had two more nosebleeds during the drive. They hadn't lasted as long but they were worrisome since Sam was so obviously awake. They were both in shitty shape and the shape shifters hadn't hesitated for a second to take advantage of it.

It was unlike other nightmares, other attacks. There was no leering, violent version of the Dean who slipped into Sam's dreams. It was almost like they knew that Dean's presence was a weapon, a manipulation, that wouldn't work any longer. And the landscape of Sam's nightmare wasn't a familiar or too real representation of a hotel or a room somewhere, something indistinguishable from the real thing.

The campground in Murphy was bathed in filtered silver light from a full moon and Sam found himself in the middle of a circle of them. But the campground wasn't exactly the same. Familiar but not, elements of other places, other times weaving in and out. The pines had been the same; surrounding the clearing, swaying back and forth under breezes Sam couldn't feel. Gone was the cinderblock structure housing bathrooms and showers; instead there was a heavy up thrust of stone, like an altar. Unyielding granite, naturally carved like something sacred. It looked familiar but Sam couldn't place it. Didn't know where he'd seen it before. He put his back to it as they got closer.

The shape shifters appeared as themselves with no faces to hide behind, sometimes four, sometimes a dozen and Sam couldn't tell how many were actually part of the dream and which were even more illusory than others. They moved around him, blocking escape, in a tightening circle.

Do you think it matters who we look like?

He had no gun, no knife, no weapon, not even a broken branch or decent sized rock to throw. He was as naked as they were, stripped to feel as helpless as possible and he couldn't understand why that was necessary when there were so many of them…

There was no attempt at rape, no twisting of desire. This was more like facing a pack of mutant wolves: leering, toothless things that moved closer and danced back when Sam lashed out at them. They ducked and rolled, leaving slimy, shiny trails on the ground and the shine of it kept distracting Sam, like there was a pattern being formed, maybe a spell or sigil they were making that would trap him further in this dream than they'd been able to with threats and violence and deceptions.

He couldn't fight them all and he knew it, and reached for the one thing, the one person that he was sure could help, but even before he even felt any glimmer of Dean's presence, before he could acknowledge that his brother was seeking a fevered sleep of his own in a hotel room in Memphis, they'd gone.

He was left in the clearing alone, with only the stone at his back and the patterns of tarnished silver around him.

He couldn't make out the pattern, but the way the lines crossed and twisted made him slightly nauseous, and he'd torn his gaze away, trying to find some way to pull himself from the dream and seen only the rock. He'd put his hands on it, thinking he could climb free.

The earth moved under his feet and he slid, ended up sprawled in the dirt. But it wasn't an earth quake or a sudden sinkhole. The ground itself was alive.

Under him, wriggling through the black earth, rose grubs and maggots. They swelled out of the dirt, moving in concert, covering his arms and legs, clambered over him, clung to his skin, sucking at him like leeches, and leaving slimy trails of tarnished silver on his skin that were like ice and trying to find their way inside him.

We're already inside you.

Sam screamed until his throat was raw, trying to claw them off him, dig for them, tearing at his skin, feeling ice take over his blood and his muscles. They got in his mouth, in his nose, crawled inside him any way they could. The taste of blood and decay was so strong he wanted to vomit only to choke instead. He'd scrambled backward toward the stone

They could still make him bleed.

They could still make him afraid.

He felt the tightening of the skin on his arms and stared at it. Saw the skin dry and start to flake, split…exposing more skin underneath, blood and muscle. The flesh on his arms peeled back…

You are just like us…your skin will rot and peel away. They say if you die in your dreams…

The stone at his back gave him no escape, the heat of it scorching his skin, like a furnace, but it was solid and the grubs didn't cover it, couldn't touch it. Were seared and scuttled away when they got too close. Under his hands he could feel the rock tremble and shake.

Some things were sacred…and familiar.

He couldn't say later if he had managed to climb on the rock or if it had reached out and grabbed him, but the grubs fell away, coalesced like globs of oil and pus on the earth and the shape shifters rose up, circling him again but unable to come any closer.

From the rock he could see the patterns in the earth and he stared only to find bile rising in his throat and he choked, swallowed and couldn't find air, tasted blood, and started to slip off the rock into the middle of them.

Pain seared across his face, followed by a blast of shockingly cold water and he drew in a ragged wet breath and coughed out the water and blood that mixed with the other ancient stains in the decrepit shower until Dean hauled him out of it and wrapped him up in a blanket.

Dean held him until he was sure Sam was awake, scared as he hadn't been since the first time he'd done it, months ago.

"You were choking," he said when Sam finally came to himself again. Dean had all but collapsed, feverish and shaking. The cold water hadn't helped him and neither had hauling Sam across the room to the tiny bath. Dean was covered in sweat, skin hot, but shaking with chills.

And then Dean had been thoroughly and messily sick. Still groggy and shaken Sam had realized they were doing the shape shifters work for them. Dean hadn't wanted to go to the ER but he'd been pretty much too sick to do anything about it. On the drive Sam found a pretty hefty bruise forming on his chin. Even sick, Dean still had a mean right cross.

The Regional Medical Center of Memphis saw a lot of indigent patients and Sam didn't miss the parallels from their stay in Milwaukee. Maybe they should avoid cities with rivers that ran through them.

IV antibiotics were the first salvo against the infection starting to spread from the wound in Dean's hand. That and two dozen stitches, along with a week's course of oral antibiotics was weirdly reassuring to Sam. He still harbored a fear that if Dean became too exhausted, too caught up in trying to keep Sam from sliding into dreams he couldn't wake from, Dean would leave himself open to his own attacks.

It was a long night that stretched into the next day. Sam's nose hadn't stopped bleeding and a nurse had dragged him into a treatment room and let him stretch out on a gurney so he could put his head back.

Sometime after seven a.m., during the shift change, the intern who'd had seen Dean came back. "His IV's almost done. We've got a z-pack of antibiotics. I understand you don't have a permanent residence."

"We just got into town yesterday," Sam said and sat up. "Haven't even had time to look for jobs. We've got a hotel room."

"I should report that gunshot wound," the doctor said.

"It happened two days ago in North Carolina. We got mugged," Sam said. "You can check." The doctor looked unconvinced, but equally as unwilling to put himself through paperwork he didn't need to.

"He needs rest and that wound needs to be kept clean. You can come back here in a week and we'll check the stitches," the doctor said and then handed Sam a towel to press against his nose.

"Mr. Wade? Your blood pressure is dangerously high," he said, looking over the notes from the chart on Sam's bed.

"Yeah, well stress does that," Sam said, less interested in his sympathy than his advice. He didn't even want to think about why his blood pressure was high.

"And your blood work came back negative, so you aren't on drugs. You might want to think about seeing a specialist, have some tests run…"

It didn't even register with Sam. "What do you think it is?"

The doctor tried to look kindly and wise but he couldn't be more than six or seven years older than Sam. "You're pretty young for this level of hypertension. Otherwise in good shape. It could be a lot of things. A blockage, a tumor…"

Not a word about the telepathic, faceless, shape shifters that invaded Sam's dreams. Funny that. Sam slid off the gurney. "Guess I'd better get a job and insurance, then, huh? We done?"

The doctor nodded and got out of his way.

Dean was doped up on top of the antibiotics but he looked as ready to get out of the place as Sam was. "Maybe we should keep going," Dean said, voice slurred and Sam resisted the temptation.

"You need rest. I'm good," Sam said but he wasn't sure if Dean heard him. By the time he got Dean into the room Sam was ready to drop and Dean was out the minute he hit the bed. At least there was no shortage of cold water.

Sam didn't fall asleep. Instead he pulled out a pad of paper and tried to draw the patterns he remembered. Drawing them didn't make him ill and he wondered if he had them right. He half dozed thinking about them and then came awake when Dean moved restlessly.

Sam's turn to soothe Dean back into sleep and it calmed him down as well, having something besides himself to think about. Settled next to Dean, he shifted his approach, writing down impressions, what he could remember. The shape shifters were using his own mind against him, images and symbols as well as more literal pressure. There had to be a way to turn it around, of seeing through his own disjointed thoughts to figure out what they were after.

Clinging like leeches and Sam didn't need to pull the books to wonder if there wasn't more to the notion of sucking his soul out bit by bit. But leeches didn't leave trails. Slugs did.

And rocks didn't rescue people unless they weren't rocks.

It was near dusk before Dean finally woke enough to actually move, either that or a full bladder was stronger than 400 milligrams of codeine and Sam's stomach was actually growling. There was a lot of things Sam hated about the south but the presence of a ubiquitous Waffle House on nearly every corner was not one of them.

"How do you feel?" Sam asked when their orders were placed, although Dean obviously felt well enough to face some of the greasiest choices on the menu.

"Like my head's full of cotton. God, I hate that shit," Dean said but he was alert enough and the feverish flush had faded from his face. He gave Sam a critical look of his own. "Did you sleep?" And he almost looked embarrassed to have to ask.

"Dozed. I'm good."


Sam shook his head and sipped at his coffee. "Not since this morning. I think I figured something out," he said.

There was something unnatural about the way Dean could focus, even when he was feeling as shitty as he obviously was. He made a couple of faces at Sam's descriptions but asked few questions, like some of it he had figured out but hadn't quite put together, yet.

"I'm thinking I don't like being compared to a hunk of granite," he said when Sam was finished. "You couldn't pick something else? Marble maybe? Also, that implies a certain amount of inflexibility in my character."

Sam gave him a raised eyebrow.

Dean snorted and rubbed at his hand. "There's a difference between being inflexible and shooting down your ideas when they are stupid."

Their waffles came. "Sam," Dean said around a mouthful of sausage. "While normally I wouldn't worry too much about nosebleeds, I think the doctor might be right. We're pushing into stroke territory here, bro'."

"Give me a better idea. You said it. There has to be a way to track them back. In Milwaukee I was just fishing."

"And you were sick afterwards," Dean said flatly. "I just don't want the cure to be worse than the disease, you know?" He shoved his plate away, half finished. "Sam, I had to hit you to keep you from clawing my eyes out and I've got to tell you, even if I was up to par, hauling your ass into the bathroom? Not easy."

Sam traced patterns in the syrup on his plate. Dean was more afraid he wouldn't be able to bring Sam out of it than anything. "They're going to come back anyway. At least…"

Suddenly he wasn't hungry either.

Dean rested his chin in his hand, staring out the diner window, finger covering his upper lip. "I don't have a better idea," he admitted after a few minutes and threw down money to cover the check.

Sam got their leftovers and extra coffee to go.

Back in their room, Sam filled the trash can with water while Dean checked and loaded weapons and then put them out of reach but close at hand.

Dean's skin was still warm but he wasn't burning with fever. He got comfortable at the end of the bed and Sam stretched out.

Sam was tired but sleep eluded him, either from the meal or because he was anxious about trying to get back to the same place as the night before. After a half hour, he sighed and rolled over. "You may as well sleep. I'm…"

"Twitchy," Dean said dryly and moved up beside him, rearranging the pillows. "Come on, spaz boy," he said offering his lap and arm. Sam moved his pillow and relaxed against Dean's thighs.

"I feel like…" he didn't say it. Like he was nine or younger. Dean's hand rubbing warm and firm between his shoulders was familiar the way some smells stayed with you for years.

"Shhh…" Dean said softly. "Think like a rock, Sam. The bones of the earth. Stuck in the same place for millions of years, just watching the world change." His hand moved to Sam's hair. "You remember when we went to the Grand Canyon? We must have sat on the edge of that for hours…just looking."

They had. They hadn't meant to stop, really, but a trail had gone cold and they weren't far. It had been as close to a vacation as Sam could remember. Camping out, the three of them. Their father had told them some of its history from a park brochure, then reminded them that there were things that walked the earth that were just as old.

Dean didn't bring that up. But he talked of other places he'd seen that Sam hadn't yet. One day Sam was going to get him to talk more about what he'd done and seen in the four years while Sam had been in college. But right now Dean's voice steadied him, reassured him and the rhythmic rub along his skin worked better than drugs could.

It didn't happen at once. His dreams were elusive, fragments of things, barely seen silvery trails supplanted by long stretches of asphalt-covered road. Every now and then he would catch a glimpse of an up thrust of rock or a lone tree. Those he could stare at for a long time, remain near, but the minute he looked away, something else would catch his attention: a murmur of conversation, a shiver of fear, or the ghost brush of claws across his skin.

He stopped looking away.

He knew the cornfield he was staring at. The fence and the gentle roll of hills was familiar, something from far back in his memory. But there was no corn in the field, only a tree, even though Sam still knew it was a cornfield. The fence was no barrier and he climbed it, the tree spreading out overhead but casting no shade. The wind rustled through the leaves but Sam couldn't feel it.

A glimmer of light from the corner of his eye and he almost turned only stopping himself at the last second.

When he reached the tree and touched it, it was stone.

He could hear them behind him, the clatter of bones like tree tops in a high wind. There was light in the sky but darkness all around him.

He turned and put his back to the stone.

They were wolves, with glowing eyes and hairless bodies and fangs that dripped yellow ichor. They charged him in ones and twos, nipping and snarling, circling but only able to get so close.

Behind them their paws left tarnished silver trails, like reverse snow on the ground. But there were so many that if there was a pattern, Sam couldn't make it out with the way they crossed and re-crossed. He'd have to follow just one.

He didn't make it a dozen steps before they were on him, tearing at him, and even knowing nothing about them was real, Sam could feel the slash of teeth, the ripping feel of claws. He could feel the crunch of bone between jaws.

They had him down and he clawed at the earth, trying to escape -- and found stone beneath his fingertips.

The snarling and yelping stopped, to be replaced by different sounds, by the feel of clammy, oily hands trying to pull him up. They had no faces, nothing to distinguish one from the other. He didn't try to separate them because the individuals didn't matter.

Everything they were or had came from outside them except their own madness. His fingers curved over the stone, his nails scraped against it.

A touch on his body, meant to arouse, to urge him to feel something…something that could be used against him.

Not my body.

Teeth gnashed at him, tore at his skin and claws scraped across his belly.

Not my blood.

Dean's voice called him, like an echo, hollow and distant, distorted, muttering obscenities and vicious half-truths.

And not my brother.

The things pulled back, slid away, leaving trails of glistening wetness, shifting and changing to blend in with the landscape.

But he could see them…follow them. Knew where they led. The nests and holes they lived in. Which ones were closest, and he recognized the street corner, the drugstore there with its barred window and the vacant lot behind it that butted up to the river there, and the open storm drain that dumped street runoff into the Mississippi. They'd driven past it on the way to the hospital.

He moved, following the glimmering trail only to trip and sprawl over the rock that suddenly thrust itself up in his path and suddenly he couldn't breathe any more. Couldn't find air to fill his lungs, to feed his heart, but the stone throbbed and pulsed beneath his fingers. Warm, alive…

And woke to find himself on the floor, Dean's mouth pressed to his, his head tilted back, while Dean forced air into his open mouth. He could taste blood and salt.

He dragged in a breath and heard Dean swear loudly. He pulled Sam up and against his chest until he almost had trouble breathing again.

His fingers clawed at Dean's shirt. "They're not far…" he said.


Sam dragged in another deep breath and used Dean's arm to get more upright. His head was pounding and he thought he might be sick, but he fought it off. "Three blocks, Dean. I don't know if it …"

But Dean was already hauling him to his feet, his face flushed and his jaw set.

They looked less like avenging demon hunters than a couple of drunks, Sam was sure, and the nausea and breathlessness stayed with him all the way to the river. But his hand was steady as he checked the guns.

They fit right in, the area obviously popular with the homeless and it made for a great place to hide. The grate on the drain had either rusted or been battered open on one side, hanging down like a lopsided smiley-face.

A hundred yards in they found a discarded skin and another fifty yards past that, the nest. It reeked of decay and rot and Sam couldn't hold onto his nausea any longer. Not that he added much to the overpowering smell from discarded skins left to rot wherever they fell. Dean looked ready to hurl himself but only covered his nose and mouth and searched once he was sure Sam wasn't going to upchuck anything vital.

The shape shifter was gone but they searched through the accumulated belongings.

"Jesus, they are like magpies," Dean said finding a box of cheap costume jewelry.

There were clothes: men's, women's, a box of wallets and purses and Sam didn't want to think too hard about.

Dean unshouldered his bag and began spreading lighter fluid over pretty much everything. "Take those and dump them near the front," he said and set the nest on fire.

At the grate, Sam tossed the wallets and purses on the ground and watched while Dean dialed 911.

By morning the news services were reporting the waterfront fire and the discovery of the personal effects of a dozen missing persons, and the city was starting a thorough search of the storm drains.

They changed hotels and Sam slept for almost an entire day. Mostly undisturbed.

When he woke, Dean was a brooding shadow on the edge of his bed.

"You stopped breathing," he said when he was sure Sam was awake.

Sam barely remembered it but Dean had had a day to do nothing but think about it. "It wasn't part of the plan."

"Well, that's reassuring. Not," Dean growled at him. "How do you feel?"

Sam sat up and checked. Slight headache, but his nose wasn’t bleeding and he didn't feel like he'd been beaten for all that he was stiff and a little hungry. "I'm okay."

"You're awake?"

It wasn't an idle question and Sam checked without knowing how he knew. "I'm awake."

"Pain? Jitters? Need to piss?"

The last would be necessary at some point but not at the moment. "I'm okay, Dean. I didn't mean to scare you," he added and watched the annoyed mask shift to something closer to real anger. Dean pushed him hard down on the bed and for one fleeting second Sam panicked but before he could actually give into it, Dean just twisted and sat down next to him, hip to hip, his bandaged hand gripping the blankets on the other side of Sam's waist.

"Dean, I'm sorry," Sam started and found Dean's hand on his mouth.

"Don't," Dean said softly and took a deep breath. "So it worked. And we'll probably do it again and I'm just saying, that if that's the result, I do not want that to be the last kiss I ever get from you."

Sam was pretty sure that wasn't exactly what Dean meant to say, but it was as close as he could get to actually putting a name to his fears. It was also ridiculously sentimental for Dean and it made his face flush, but he never broke his gaze from Sam's.

Dean was scared but not terrified. Sam was scared but not mindlessly so. They could fight back. It wouldn't be needed anymore. They could fight this and Sam had no doubt they'd win.

What he wasn't sure was how much he might lose in the process.

It all flashed before him, the life he wanted, the life he had. What he had already lost. The time wasted on anger and resentment and doubt. They could be dead in a week or in ten years. If not the shape shifters, then something else. It might burn itself out when they weren't so totally dependent on each other, or it might be something that would destroy them all on its own.

Or it might save them both as it already had.

Sam pulled Dean's hand from his mouth and tugged him down.

It was no more or no less than it had been before except Sam wasn't desperate and Dean wasn't quite so scared of either frightening Sam or being mistaken for someone or something else.

Whispers of wrong tried to escape the back of Sam's mind and he ignored them, pulling his shirt off when Dean tugged at it and felt a surge of tension and heat in his groin when Dean pulled his own shirt off.

He was used to having a certain amount of Dean's attention on him all the time but this was different, and corny as it sounded, it was like Dean was seeing him for the first time. Or maybe it was just the first time Dean had looked at him and not seen his little brother first and the man he'd become somewhere around the twenty-fifth.

The gauze bandage on Dean's hand scraped across Sam's cheek but he ignored it and the little voice in the back of his mind spluttered and died when Sam coaxed Dean's mouth open and slid his tongue into his brother's mouth. Not that Dean actually required much coaxing and any resistance Sam felt there was probably just Dean being a prick and getting caught off guard by Sam being so damn pushy.

Dean pushed back, teeth catching Sam's lower lip in a gentle bite before soothing it with his tongue. He had the advantage, moving to straddle Sam's hips in a way that might have seemed restrictive except it left Sam's hand free to tug at Dean's belt, at the snap on his jeans and all he had to do was inhale when Dean lifted his mouth long enough for Sam to breathe. The oxygen in his lungs sent tremors through is limbs, skin feeling sensitive where Dean pressed against him, all heat and hard muscle. The flush hadn't left Dean's face and Sam was pretty sure there was some pretty intense color in his own cheeks and on his chest. The heat on his skin actually made the humid air feel less damp and when Dean's teeth scraped along his throat and up under his ear, it sent a current right to his dick and he groaned.

Sam's hand found warm skin under Dean's underwear, pushing the fabric away and it was Dean's turn to groan, dropping his head to Sam's shoulder for a second before lifting it again and meeting Sam's eyes when Sam's hand closed around his dick.

"I don't think that's kissing," he hissed out.

Sam grinned at him and squeezed. "I could stop…" he offered.

Dean seemed caught between trying to take a deep breath and laughing. "Sam…Sam…" he warned.

Sam squeezed again and drew his hand upward, then sucked in air when Dean's mouth crushed against his again. One hand curved under Sam's neck and the other reached between them, brushing over Sam’s erection with an intent that made Sam groan and press into Dean’s hand.

Dean didn't even bother trying to untie Sam's sweats, just slid his hand under the fabric until they had an awkward clash of hands and arms and mouths, wanting to be touching more places than they could actually manage.

Sam let go of Dean's dick and his brother swore but then pushed up when Sam shoved at his jeans, trying to get them past his hips.


Sam twisted and pushed and Dean sprawled sideways. "OW! Fuck!" Dean said catching himself on his bad hand and Sam was right there, checking the bandage, looking for blood. Dean jerked his hand away and glared at Sam. "You started it, you finish it," he said and lifted his hips.

Sam blinked once and then pulled again, peeling the denim off Dean's legs and dropping them on the floor.

Dean's dick was hard and dark, curving toward his belly. Sam had tasted him before, had felt the solid thickness of him push against the back of his throat, but it had been more gratitude and like he owed Dean something. He knew his brother's smell, how the coarse texture of Dean's pubic hair felt against his face. Sam wasn't even sure if he could honestly say he liked it, but he wanted to find out.

And right now, wanting was enough for pretty much anything. Even before his lips touched Dean's dick, Dean was propping himself up, reaching out to touch Sam's head and hair, tracing his jaw as Sam bent his head and just licked, then let his lips follow his tongue.

He was pretty sure he heard Dean say his name again, maybe a couple of other things but he refused to be distracted by either Dean's words or the hand that slid into his hair -- not to push or guide but just to complete a circuit of some kind. Maybe it did --- or maybe it was just a mutual need to clear the tension. They'd fought back and lived to talk about it and now talking seemed way less satisfying than proving it.

If there was any commentary from the back of his mind about how having his brother's dick in his mouth proved anything, Sam missed it in the sheer pleasure of rendering Dean all but incoherent. Apparently it didn't take much and Sam found that funny and reassuring, using what he knew he liked himself to tease Dean, satisfied by the tremor that rolled up Dean's body, by the way his tongue and lips could communicate perfectly how much he wanted this without a single word passing between them. And while it still felt surreal to find himself getting hard at the taste of his brother's flesh filling his mouth, Dean's scent filling his nose, he was hard and aching without a trace of pain or fear to be found. Not even when Dean thrust, pushing further back in his throat and Sam relaxed, took the bulk of Dean's dick across his tongue and drew him deeper.

Dean's fingers were back in his hair, tugging him back even as he pushed further in, Sam's name and something gratifyingly close to begging on his lips in a breathless murmur. Given what Dean was saying, the words Sam could make out between the rush of blood in his ears and the throb building in his own groin, Dean wasn't exactly complaining.

Sam's hand followed his mouth and Dean's fingers dropped away, scrabbling for the bed when his hips thrust up and Sam backed off a little, watching his brother's chest heave, the taut curve of his throat when he dug the back of his head into the pillows, his good hand clutched in a tight fist against his mouth but it was pretty ineffective as a gag.

Dean managed a strangled warning that didn't save Sam from getting the first bitter taste of Dean's release on his tongue. He lifted his head, letting his hand finish Dean off, his grip slicked only to find Dean's hand curving around his shoulder then his neck, urging him upward.

Dean hadn't quite recovered and his tug almost ended up with Sam dropping an elbow into the middle of his chest. His fingers curled around the waistband of Sam's sweat pant and tugged. "Off," he said but then pretty much fucked up Sam's entire sense of coordination by plunging his hand into Sam's pants, closing his fingers around Sam's dick, and stroking and squeezing. Sam groaned into Dean's mouth and thrust into his hand and then bucked when Dean applied some weight and leverage and rolled him to his back.

Sam pushed at the fabric and got it as far as his knees and then tried kicking it free. He didn't quite make it, because Dean curled up and licked his lips and Sam lost it before Dean could do anything more but brush his lips across Sam's belly.

"Oh, man…this is the part we need to plan better," Dean said. "This is just messy." He wiped his hand on Sam's sweats and the used the one free leg to wipe Sam's groin and belly clean and he looked so perplexed and not quite sure to do with the spunk on his hand and Sam's sweats, which were still half on, that Sam just started laughing. Dean grinned at him and moved back up letting Sam kick off the rest of the jersey fabric and grinned down at Sam like he hadn't in a while, then dropped down beside him, an arm stretched under his head and his bandaged hand resting on Sam's chest. "Just so you know," Dean said voice already heavy with sleep. "I'm not kidding about the kissing part."

It had become part of the ritual.

They'd given it a day; a day for Dean to shake off the rest of his fever, another night for Sam to sleep, and then Sam had stretched out across Dean's lap again, on his back and Dean had leaned over and kissed him, letting it linger. "Remember to breathe," he'd said and Sam had nodded.

It wasn't so much what Dean said, or what song he picked to mangle, but his voice was as reassuring as his presence and it was kind of funny to listen to his brother ramble as he didn't often. The shape shifters had been harder to find the second time, the whole timbre of the dream different because Sam was more or less actively hunting them and they, apparently, were more or less actively hiding from him.

But they'd opened the door, cracked it wide, and Sam had learned from the best. They'd tried scaring him again, not with threats of violence against him but by pushing images of Dean, suffering under the same torments Sam had. Inevitably, however, there would be a shift and thrust of stone from the earth, the whisper of wind rattling branches far overhead from trees so immovable they might be mountains of a different kind. Sam didn't know if it was something Dean did consciously or unconsciously, but it was the anchor in his dreams the same way Dean was an anchor for his physical body.

Damp, dark places, and there were plenty of those in Memphis, but rarely street addresses and they didn't know the city well enough.

So they learned it. Found the landmarks that Sam could identify, narrowed their search. Gave themselves rests between attempts because better at it or not Sam still woke up sick to his stomach or with a nosebleed, or both. And in between attempts they had to make money.

Sam found a job as a bar-back in place not far from their hotel and Dean regularly scored forty or fifty bucks off the pool tables. Never enough to earn the rep as a shark because then he'd have to move on, and he wasn't willing to let Sam that far out of his sight. They might be winning on the dream front but in the real world the threat could still be anyone, anywhere.

Three weeks in and they were reminded of that.

Sam missed most of it, deeply asleep, trying to narrow down a single shape shifter among the rest. As near as he could tell there was only one or two in Memphis, one near the convention center, and Sam had been sure it wasn't aware of him.

Only to wake suddenly by finding himself dumped on the floor and Dean up and struggling with the second.

The door opened both ways

It should have been easier, between the two of them, but the shape shifter had pulled on the skin of someone a good deal larger and heavier than either of them, a man who made most bouncers look like kindergarten monitors. Dean could be a dirty fighter, was most of the time, but it wasn't human. Two vicious punches sent Dean to his knees and even when Sam jumped into it, applying all the strength and leverage he could to the thing's neck, it all but shrugged him off like a bug, then drove him back into the wall with a hand around his throat and a fist hammering into his stomach until Sam thought it might punch right through him.

His vision darkened around the edges but Dean was climbing to his feet and Sam managed to find leverage against the wall and shove, loosening its grip enough to drop to his knees and gasp for air.

He caught only a glimpse of Dean's face, teeth bared in a snarl that would have made any fanged creature proud as he shoved and twisted. The thing had gone down with Dean on top of it, the long-bladed hunting knife ripping in under its sternum and driving deep like Dean was gutting a deer. It had struggled and snarled and frothed, the gold eyes eerily bright even with the lights on but the knife itself was blessed and charmed and set with runes in the tang under the hilt. A single line of silver wire was soldered along the length of the blade.

It stopped struggling and after a few moments Dean eased back, leaving the blade where it was, blood staining the thing's chest but a whole lot less than Sam expected for a thrust that had, no doubt, cut into its heart. He pushed himself up and back, tasted blood and wiped at his nose and realized he wasn't even sure they had hearts. Dean eased up as well, flopping to his back, chest heaving from exertion and adrenaline and maybe something else.

For a good five minutes they both sat there, cataloguing hurts and pains privately, until Sam had to get up to find a towel and Dean rolled over to pull his gun from his bag before pulling the blade free and wiping it on the thing's shirt. It didn't move or breathe.

Sam's head started pounding almost immediately, like there were bells going off or screams but he moved over to squat next to Dean. "This is not going to be easy to get rid of," he said and Dean gave him a half smile before eyeing the body for along moment.

"No. But let's see if we can make it easier. Grosser, but easier," he said.

A couple of hours later Sam was pretty sure he was going to be sick and Dean looked a little green too, but either he had a stronger stomach or he just wouldn't give the shifters even a post-mortem sense of satisfaction by giving into it.

The only way to describe it was that the skin melted. And it was possible because even in the dead of night the room was hot and humid. Cold might preserve them longer but Sam could only wonder what the coroner in St. Louis had thought when the body with Dean's face became unrecognizable.

The smell wasn't quite so bad as it had been from the trunk of Dean's car but it was bad enough that both of them used camphor on handkerchiefs.

The melted skin dissolved like wax, soaking into the bedspread they'd wrapped the body in and leaving a near faceless, pale, gray twisted body that was half the size of the skin it had borrowed.

"Can we get rid of it now?" Sam asked, noting a serious whine in his voice and not really caring. Even with it dead and the body gone he wasn't sure he wanted to sleep in this room again.

Dean pressed his handkerchief to his nose and mouth and knelt beside it, testing the slimed flesh with his blade. "Get me the salt…holy water too," he said.

Sam should have been embarrassed by how willing he was to leave the room. Outside he took a couple of deep breaths to clear the stench from his nostrils but he didn't linger. Dean was in the hall, taking a few deep breaths of his own. "Definitely ripe," was all he said and pressed the cloth to his mouth and breathed deep before opening the room. Sam followed, holding his breath.

It was gross. The salt worked about as well on the shifters as it would have on slugs, and the holy water acted like acid on the softening flesh. Dean used the whole flask and then they both made a grab for as much of their stuff as they could get out of the room. Dean gave it an hour and they passed it at the counter of another all night diner, trying to let the taste and smell of coffee and greasy food dissipate the smell of decaying flesh that Sam was afraid might follow them for days. Dean was quiet, jaw set and Sam didn't push.

They'd been caught off guard and Dean hated it when that happened. Sam was none too thrilled either, but it wasn't a lesson they were likely to forget again. Dean finished his coffee and paid and swung off his stool. "Let's go see if the bread's risen," he said.

It still smelled foul, although more like sewage than decaying flesh and they cleared the room, didn't bother to hide what remains were left, which consisted most of a stained bedspread and a puddle of pink and yellow slime that had the consistency of partially congealed Jell-O.

"What made you think of that?" Sam asked when they were in the car, windows down and Dean pulled out to try and find them another motel in the area.

"Other than the fact that carrying Gigantor down the stairs would have given me a hernia?" Dean asked. "Half demons, half human, right?"

"That's what she said." How reliable the information was was still up for debate.

"So, not possessed by demons. Exorcism won't work, because they've got physical bodies. Disgusting ones, but real," Dean said and spotted a Motel 6 sign off the highway. "But dead…" he glanced over at Sam.

"What makes them human, or half human, dies."

Dean nodded. "Leaving something behind, but nothing human."

"Which makes them susceptible to the same things that would chase out a demon or destroy its form."

"And you didn't need a college education to figure that out," Dean said flatly and pulled the car into the motel parking lot.

Sam stiffened and stared at the bland building.

"Sorry," Dean said softly, his own gaze fixed ahead. "That was…"

"It's all right."

"No. No, it isn't…" Dean said and twisted in the seat to look at him. "We got cocky, Sam. We thought we had the edge and we were wrong," he said and his hand reached out, his thumb stroking along Sam's throat. Sam could feel the tenderness there, the bruises still under the skin. "We were lucky it didn't come in with a gun. And I was stupid not to have mine close by."

Sam leaned his head back and turned toward Dean. "I didn't think of it either. I will never again give you a hard time for having that knife under your pillow."

The corner of Dean's mouth twitched up and he let Sam go. "I think the rest of the night is a bust. Let's go," he said.

It took a long hot shower for Sam to get the smell off him, and Dean took equally as long in the bathroom, so long Sam almost started to worry but finally Dean came out, his skin looking like he'd rubbed it raw. And he looked like he'd been on the losing end of the fight instead of the winning one. Sam had bruises too, the heat of the shower bringing them up on his throat and under his ribs. Dean sat next to him and tested the skin of his upper belly, trying to make sure none of Sam's ribs had been cracked.

Dean was shaken. He'd pulled his shit together better than Sam could ever hope to but he was still thrown off guard with what happened even though they'd won and discovered some new information in the process.

And it was because of Sam. He didn't have to reach very far for it -- he'd have felt the same if their positions had been reversed. "We still won."

"Luck. We're better than that, Sam. We have to be," Dean said and stretched out on his back at the end of Sam's bed, still thinking. "So, at least we don't have to worry about getting rid of the bodies."

"It's a plus," Sam agreed.

"The one you were tracking?"

"Near the convention center but I couldn't get a good enough fix on it," Sam said and moved so he could stretch out next to Dean, on his stomach. "And I wasn't looking for the other one. They set us up."

"Yeah, well, that won't happen again," Dean said, a subtle tension showing up in his body. He shrugged it off and got up, rubbing at his jaw. He opened his bag and laid out the two sets of guns they had already loaded with silver.

Sam stayed where he was, trying to let the last sting of adrenaline wash out of him but he couldn't stop himself from glancing back at Dean. He was still tense, using the familiar routine of checking the guns, the clips, to make himself focus on something besides his own thoughts.

"We should try again," Sam said and Dean gave him an incredulous look over his shoulder.

"You are kidding me."

Sam shook his head. "No. We know it's out there, Dean. It knows its…it knows Gigantor is dead." Easier to give them names, labels, rather than remind himself that they were partially human. "We didn't expect it. The other one won't expect us."

"Us…" Dean slammed the clip into the SIG. "You, you mean."

"Either," Sam said sitting up. "I'm not doing this alone. I know you're there."

"That's reassuring," Dean said in a tone that pretty obviously communicated that it wasn't at all.

"So, now we know…"

"Sam…" Dean turned around to face him. "It wasn't after me at all."

Sam blinked. "Uh, as I recall, it was doing its best to arrange you so your head was on backwards."

Dean stared at him. "It came in and it grabbed your ankle and had you off the bed before I could even move."

"Well, obviously you moved fast enough." Sam spread his arms. "'Cause here I am. We can't back off this, Dean." The role reversal was starting to freak him out a little.

Dean dropped his gaze and chewed on his lower lip. "Sam…I can't…shit." He turned away again, picking up the guns.

Sam knew he'd won the argument but it didn't feel like winning. He got up, moved up behind Dean and gripped his shoulders. "I'm still here," he said again. "And that's because of you. You were right the first time. This isn't going to end unless we end it."

Dean shrugged his hands off. "I know that, okay? I don't have to like it, but I know it." He straightened up. "The first time you were choking."

"You stopped it--"

"And then you stopped breathing…" He finally turned around and looked at Sam. "We are still guessing at this…and there's not…"

Not much Dean could do to help, at least he thought so. There was nothing Dean hated more than being helpless. "It's not different, you know," Sam said quietly. "Than it was before -- we just know a little more, and we're not looking for a way to get away from them. We're trying to stop them."

Dean nodded but still didn't look happy.

He'd rather trade places with Sam and trust Sam to watch over him, stop it when it got bad.

Sam wasn't sure he'd have done so well. Dean always seemed to know, from the start, when things got dangerous, when Sam had been pushed too far, body or mind. Actually, even before that Dean always seemed to know when he was in trouble. Ghosts or demons, witches or hell hounds…last minute saves from Wendigos. Showing up to pull him from the inferno his apartment had become when Jessica was killed. He wasn't sure why or how that was, but it was. Maybe the shape shifters weren't the only ones with a live feed into Sam's brain.

He'd ask Dean about it later. But for now, yes, he still needed to be careful, but there was less reassurance in that thought than the fact that Dean was quick to shoot and had no hesitation doing what needed to be done to pull Sam out of whatever mess he was in -- sometimes a sucker punch was as good as a kiss.

"Do you think you can sleep?" Dean asked him, still not happy but willing.

"I think so…how are you doing?"

"We make this work and I'm getting drunk. Really drunk. Puke-my-guts-out drunk. And you get to clean up after me." He wasn't kidding.

Sam grinned at him and then stretched out on bed on his stomach, leaving room beside him for Dean to sit. "I'm ready for my bedtime story."

Dean blew out a breath, and settled with one gun on the bedside table and the other in his lap. "Goldilocks and the three ghouls?"

"Whatever works," Sam said and settled, putting his head down and closing his eyes. He felt Dean move on the bed next to him, a knee brushing along his hip. He opened his eyes to find Dean stretched out on his side next to him. Bad position to draw his gun from, only Dean still looked more worried than in full-fledged protector mode.

His hand curved around Sam's shoulder and squeezed.

It felt really odd to be on the other side of it, to see Dean's need so plainly expressed even when he was trying to put a mask over it. And this need wasn't driven by anything physical, this ran deeper --easier to bury, way, way harder to actually recover from.

Sam pushed up a little and twisted. Under his fingers, the short hair at the nape of Dean's neck was like fur, silky and soft. He could say the same about Dean's lips if he weren't so aware that the silk and softness were more illusion than reality -- a mask. Dean's mouth was hard on his, demanding, and Sam felt a rush of blood from his head all the way to his crotch, enough to make him dizzy. It had been so long since he'd felt desire all on his own, it made him feel all of fourteen again. The heady rush, the sudden awareness that his brother was both as good-looking as he claimed, and that he was being way more careful with Sam than he probably was with other partners, was like a drug. Not to mention the little voice that should have been whispering how wrong this was seemed to have taken off for the night.

He pulled away with more reluctance than was decent. "Keep that up and I'll never get to sleep."

He whapped Dean on the side of the head when his brother actually seemed to think that might be a viable alternative.

"Ow. Okay, for that, I'm not giving up girls," Dean said and Sam rolled his eyes and dropped his head back onto the pillow.

"Dean, if you gave up girls, I would know you weren't my brother," Sam said dryly but completely serious.

Dean gave him a tap on the back of the head that turned into a rub between his shoulder blades.

Not entirely without surprise, the first thing Sam dreamed of was watching his brother make love to some unidentifiable female. Or unidentifiable in the fact that she kept changing: blonde, brunette…

The pitch-black hair framed Kerry's small, angular face, and Sam felt a jolt that made him stumble and he found himself bound and tied again with her on top of him, her flesh hardening into an mottled skin that looked more like alabaster than flesh, and where she touched him was cold and brittle like stone. She leaned down on him, all weight and pressure, pressing against his chest until he thought his ribs might break and he struggled for air.

Then he was drowning under cold water and slashing wind that whipped the air around him and yet left no trace of itself on his skin. His fingers scraped along rock and he pulled himself up, breaking the surface. He found himself clinging to a rock in the middle of a sea of silver water like mercury. It looked and smelled toxic, moved like a living thing. Beneath the opaque waves he could sense movement, shapes that came close to breaking the surface but didn't quite ever show themselves, almost impossible to distinguish from the molten waves. The movement of them made him sick and he looked away, looked up…

And saw silvery trails stretched across the sky. One was brighter than the other and he tracked it, watching, road signs flashing by as he ran along the blacktop. It was too fast for him to chase and he dropped to his knees panting, cramps in his legs and his heart thundering in his chest.

A tree offered him something to lean against, shade for his near blind eyes, a warm breeze across his cheek that he turned in to, that dried the sweat on his skin, a touch lighter than any hand brushing across his belly and groin. He twisted, opened himself to it, half expecting the feel of a mouth or hands, wanting to feel more of it, the sheer relief of it more arousing than the actual touch. He felt the press of a hard chest against his own, arms pulling him up, holding him steady…holding him together….

"Jesus, Sam…you make it really hard to be a gentleman about this." Dean sounded a little strangled and strained and Sam took a deeper breath, felt the warmth ease back into something a little heavier that left his skin damp with sweat and his jeans feeling too tight.

He was also wet. On his back, with Dean leaning over him, practically holding him down. He had a leg between Sam's, and the weight of his lower body was holding Sam down like Sam had been trying to get away from him.

"Running…" Sam said and lunged for the thought before it could escape him. "East and south. Road signs for 240 and 78…It's…gone."

Dean studied him. "You with me?"

"Yeah," Sam said and his head started to throb. He took a deep breath and tasted blood.

"Hang on," Dean said and left him for a couple of moments before coming back with damp washcloth and a road atlas. Sam pressed the washcloth to his nose while Dean flipped through the pages. "If we go with the idea that they like big cities…Tupelo, Birmingham, Atlanta…couple of mid size towns below. No sense of destination?"

Sam checked the washcloth. The nosebleed was easing off. Not so the ache in his groin and he shifted, trying to ease the discomfort.. "No, just the route…why am I wet?"

"I threw a glass of water in your face."

"A glass?" Sam struggled to sit up. Dean offered him a hand and pulled. Sam's shirt was wet, along with his hair, his jeans and the pillow.

"Okay, more like an ice bucket full of water. What?" Dean asked at Sam's look. "Sam, I can throw water on you or I can hit you. Which would you prefer?"

"You could try yelling, shaking, oh…," Sam said at Dean's look and shut up. Those apparently didn't work all that well.

Sam got up and pulled his shirt off, the A/C across his wet skin making him shiver. Damp as his jeans were, he left them for the moment. He wasn't as hard, but the idea of pushing, tight wet denim down across his dick was either going to make him come or be really uncomfortable. Although a shower would probably be good. Might help the pounding in his head too.

He felt Dean behind him before he heard him, his name a whisper across Dean's lips, uncertain and yet still compelling and Sam turned around.

He just stopped thinking entirely. Dream or desire, he didn't actually care at the moment and reaching for Dean was like reaching for air, and Dean was more than willing to help him breathe.

The other bed was closer and drier, and Sam was dizzy enough to actually need it, especially when Dean stopped being careful at all. He had his shirt off and his jeans halfway down his hips while Sam was still trying to remember how to work a zipper.

Dean's kisses were as demanding as his hands and Sam echoed his urgency, feeling heat burn low in his belly, dick hard and eager and operating with its own little brain to find something warm and tight to thrust against, be it Dean's hand or the hollow of his hip. Then Dean squeezed him firmly and Sam bucked, gasping, and caught a glimpse of an intense look on Dean's face that he hadn't seen before. The need to come was an ache across his hips and groin, a feeling in his belly like the drop from a roller coaster, but he reached up and curved his hand around Dean's neck. "What?" he asked, the breathiness in his own voice surprising him.

Dean closed his eyes briefly and licked his lips, giving Sam another squeeze but not enough. "I want..." The flush that covered his face and chest had less to do with passion than embarrassment but Dean didn't give into it. "I want you to fuck me."

Sam would never have thought words alone could launch him into orgasm, but there it was and after his first surprise, Dean milked him through it, swallowed his gasps, and didn't flinch when Sam dug his fingers so hard into his arms he'd probably leave bruises.

"So," Dean said when Sam had gone from tension to noodle in about ten seconds. "Wow, Sam. If I'd known…" There was a sly grin on his face that Sam wanted to either wipe off or laugh at. Instead he gathered wits and strength and just shoved Dean onto his back with Sam on top, Dean's dick pressing up hard and firm under his own.

Dean's hands ended up on Sam's hips, smearing Sam's own come on his skin and he pushed up, seeking the friction of warm flesh for himself.

It wasn't a dream and Dean was wide awake, and it all slammed into Sam so hard he couldn't catch his breath for a second. He curved his fingers around Dean's dick and listened to him groan. Then eased up and moved before he could think about it too much.

"Sam…?" Dean half came up off the bed, concern darkening his hazel eyes.

"Stay there…" Sam said and dived for the bathroom, for his kit. Not perfect, but slick and irritant free and…

Detaching himself from this was kind of not the point…

Dean looked at the tube in his hand and pushed up, mouth setting in a line that just had "no" written all over it.

"Not scared," Sam said because nothing else made sense as he came back and knelt on the bed.

"Which would be why you have that deer in headlights look on your face," Dean said and tugged the tube from his hand and set it aside. "Not a test, Sam...." Dean said and the echo of that rang back and reverberated in Sam's mind. Wasn’t it? Not necessarily one he had to pass but one he wanted to face and he didn’t actually want to delve too deeply into the psychology of that little self inflicted challenge.

His hands caught Dean's face and despite his concern, Dean just groaned again, pushed his tongue into Sam's mouth and used his own hand to jack himself off until Sam stopped him, nudged him back, and straddled his hips. He went after Dean's mouth again, his throat, blindly reaching for the tube and before Dean could protest again, had the cap off and the slick stuff in his palm.


"I'm not letting them rule my life," Sam said fiercely and he wasn’t all that gentle when he slicked Dean's cock from root to tip.

Dean swore and grabbed his hand, chest heaving both in frustration and thwarted desire. "You don't have to prove anything," he said flatly.

Sam squeezed him and stroked and Dean's eyelids fluttered, his body jerking without him being able to stop it. Sam kissed him again, pushing him back, until he was on all fours over Dean's supine body, seeing the rigid tension there. "Neither do you…" he murmured against Dean's mouth and watched his eyes flash open as Sam settled.

Not without nervousness. No, he wasn't afraid. He wasn't an idiot either; there would be pain -- not mind numbing, but still there.


Sam guided Dean's cock to his ass and suddenly Dean gripped his arm and raised a knee, nudging Sam forward. "Sam…just wait, okay? Please…" Dean said quietly. Not arguing, just…pleading.

Sam stopped and felt a thickness in his chest and throat. He was going to lose his nerve, lose his reasoning.

"Just give me a second," Dean said and found the tube again, spreading a thick glob of the lube on his fingers. "Ease up…just a little," he said evenly, steadily, and even with that Sam tensed when Dean's fingers pressed up against his hole.

Dean could be patient, it just usually wasn't his first choice, but right now he slicked the cool stuff gently across Sam's skin, just barely dipping inside, so that when a finger finally did penetrate, Sam hardly felt it.

Sam remembered to breathe, then made himself relax, fighting the urge to push against the intrusion of two fingers. "Come on," Dean coaxed and he wasn't as hard as he had been but he was hard enough, the tip of his dick glistening.

More lube and Sam shuddered when Dean brushed over his prostate, sending a shimmer of fire along his nerves. And again until Sam pressed back, body seeking that sensation again. He dropped his gaze to Dean's face, saw the half smile there, Dean watching him intently, face still flushed.

"You actually know what you are doing…" Sam said, a little startled at the realization.

Dean's smile got cockier. "There once was a young lady in Boise. Who had a fixation with toysies. When in the mood for topping, there was absolutely no stopping, her preference for fucking her boysies."

Dean pressed deeper, stretching Sam enough to feel it but working his fingers until Sam could only feel the tremors of anticipation. "That's a terrible limerick," Sam gasped.

"Yeah, but every word of it true. Carla had some serious kinks," Dean said and pulled his fingers free. "This would be easier if you were lying down…" he cautioned.

"No…no..." Sam shook his head and felt the muscles in his thighs stretch when he settled again and this time Dean didn't stop him. He helped instead, gripping Sam's upper thigh and lower back, his own tension keeping his hips pressed hard to the bed. Holding himself back so rigidly, Sam could see the muscles in his stomach flutter and the tendons in his neck twitch. But Dean's dick was hard again, firm and solid in Sam's fist and still slick.

The sensation so mirrored his dream in Murphy for a second Sam felt reality slip from his fingers, the stretch of flesh and muscle, the friction burn of penetration even with greased surfaces, the ache and pressure and sense of fullness that was both uncomfortable and so frighteningly familiar that for a second he was nauseated and wanted to pull away. He leaned forward instead, gripping the bedspread and locked eyes with his brother. Dean had moved no more than was absolutely unavoidable, but the hands that rubbed Sam's forearms were shaking.

Sam made himself relax and push down, blowing out a breath that carried a distressing whimper with it. Dean shifted his grip to Sam's hips, pushing him back, twisting to pull himself free.

"Don't," Sam growled at him and took another breath, watched Dean's eye's darken and his mouth relax a little. He nudged deeper, just barely, and Sam felt the small spark of pleasure and pushed down harder. Again, and while the tension and burn didn't entirely vanish, the shivery pleasure helped offset it.

Dean lifted his hips and thrust again and Sam lost his death-grip on the covers, lifting himself to get a better angle, and then he heard Dean groan. The position was awkward but it kept Dean from moving too fast, and let Sam watch his brother go slack-jawed with sensation and focus on something other than the shadows at the corners of his mind.

When he leaned forward again he thought Dean might pass out, he came so hard. It feel weird and strange and slightly gross, but the pain was gone and while Sam's dick was soft, there was still that shimmer of pleasure along his nerves and the knowledge that it was not as bad as he remembered nor as good as he had hoped. The reactionary shudder that ran through Dean when Sam lifted off him made him smile. Obviously their experiences were not entirely the same. He moved to get off the bed and Dean caught his arm, searching his face with concern that was softened by a post-orgasm haze. Sam kissed him. "I'm okay," he promised. "Be right back."

He was too, with a damp towel for Dean and another kiss but then Sam went to the bathroom and ran the shower -- but at a normal warm. He didn't feel the need to scrub himself clean or to wash off Dean's scent. But his muscles were sore and there was a cramping deep inside that was uncomfortable although not particularly painful. He stood under the spray and let the water pound on his head and shoulders and lower back.

The first spatter of reddish-pink made his heart flutter for a second but he realized it was coming from his nose and nowhere else.

And abruptly his legs started shaking and his knees felt like jelly. He'd have fallen except for the fact that the resulting thud would scare the bejeezus out of Dean and Sam didn't feel like it was in reaction to getting fucked, only that he probably could have timed it a little better. He gripped the wall and waited for the dizziness to pass and tilted his head back and hoped the nosebleed would stop quickly

Only it didn't work like that. He supposed he'd been in the shower longer than he'd realized when Dean pounded on the door. "I'm okay," he called out, which apparently sounded a lot like "Come in."

Dean took one look at him and climbed in the shower without hesitation, grabbing up the washcloth and holding it to Sam's nose until Sam took over then grabbing another and soaping it up to wash Sam down like he hadn't since Sam was probably four.

"I'm okay," he said again.

"Right," Dean said flatly. "I don't think that means what you think it means, Sam," he said and pushed him under the water to rinse off before cutting off the water.

"This isn't about fucking," Sam protested when Dean had him wrapped in a towel and was pushing him back into the room and toward the bed without drying off himself.

Dean gave him a look and then shook his head. "Okay, probably not," he said and made Sam lay down with pillows under his legs and a fresh towel at his face. "Do not move," he warned and found a towel for himself then his boxers and then came back to check Sam's nose. It had stopped bleeding.

Dean looked caught between angry and exasperated.

"I'm not freaked out," Sam pointed out. "And I didn't hate it."

"You are so good for my ego, I can't even begin to tell you," Dean said dryly.

Which made Sam laugh and keep laughing; when the tension drained from Dean's face to be replaced by rueful humor and Sam still couldn't stop laughing. "I thought you wanted to get drunk?" Sam said and Dean shook his head.

"I think you are drunk enough for both of us at the moment. Or exhausted," Dean added thoughtfully and pushed Sam's wet hair off his face.

"You too," Sam said when the laughter died to a few snorts.

Dean didn't disagree. He did retrieve his weapons and pillows from the other bed, shoved gun and knife under the latter, pulled the towel out from under Sam and tucked him in bed. Sam was mostly asleep before Dean turned the light off and stretched out next to him.

Dean's hand slid around his waist and lay across his chest and Sam could feel the brush of Dean's hair and then his lips on his shoulder. Soft, tender, like maybe there was a protection he could lay on Sam in the dark that wouldn't work in the light.

Or maybe pretending something else. That they could be someone else in the dark. Sam almost wished it were true. He rolled over, put his head on Dean's chest and let the thud of his heart and the hand that swept through his hair in a rhythmic, soothing massage send him to sleep.

They gave themselves a week before heading east. A week to let the bruises heal, to catch up on sleep, to be a little more aggressive in their attempts to get cash to keep moving.

In Tupelo they only found faint traces and Sam's regular nightmares returned, which was a mixed blessing at best.

Tupelo was hotter than Memphis and the trail lead east again, toward Atlanta, but there were reports of mysterious heart attacks in otherwise healthy people in Birmingham --a string of them in a small community -- and poltergeists in Richmond.

They split the difference and headed to Birmingham. They took another week to try and edge around the deaths, but the place was crawling with reporters, with police, and, finally the CDC out of Atlanta. What checking they could do they did, but it was frustrating and aside from the frequency of the deaths and their close proximity -- within a few blocks of each other -- they couldn't find anything to even start looking for. Dean was more disappointed than Sam about the lack of leads, but then again, he was feeling better and was pretty much chomping at the bit to kick something's ass back to hell.

Sam half suspected that Dean would rather it be another shape shifter because they'd become something like the extra points you got for nailing the flying ducks at the shooting games at county fairs. Sam wasn't quite sure what Dean would do with the extra points but he was okay with Dean racking up his score any way he wanted to.

But the shifters really were keeping a low profile. Sam couldn't honestly say the return of the dreams where Jessica burned were any better, not when that particular dream expanded to take in other places. Sometimes with people, sometimes just buildings, but Sam could still hear the screaming even though Jess never said a word. But those dreams, while they could be as real as any other, didn't follow him all the way into waking.

But the shape shifters couldn't hide from him entirely, just like he couldn't really hide himself completely from them. It gave them a slight advantage to know where they were headed, but the moment they tried, Sam brought every lesson his father had ever taught him about hunting and tracking and reading signs to bear. They could escape him, but they couldn't elude him. It became almost as routine as brushing his teeth every time they moved to a new town, Sam would go looking while Dean stood the silent but awake guardian.

In Atlanta their presence was stronger, three at least, and Sam was pretty sure at least one of them was the one they'd tracked from Memphis. Dean still wanted to kill them but Sam was more or less satisfied to keep them moving. If they couldn't stay in one place, they had less opportunity to establish themselves, the relative body count might fall, the number of victims lessen which was victory enough for Sam. And sometimes he dreamed of Kerry and sometimes she pleaded with him to leave her family alone, begged, cried, and wept.

But her ghost was only a ghost of what could have been, not what was. The first nest they found in Atlanta proved it, as in Memphis.

They were efficient killers but sloppy. They gathered the trinkets and bits of their victims lives like prizes. Clothes and jewelry, mementos of who they had been. The one they'd encountered in St. Louis had only been an aberration in that she had taken to high profile murders. As near as Sam could tell, killing was like breathing to the shifters and he wasn't entirely sure why. They became affluent to survive but they hunted the helpless, the homeless, the lonely.

"They are psychopaths, Sam. Sociopaths. Crazy like rabid dogs," Dean said when they'd cleared a nest that they'd found under the bridges and crumbling architecture of Atlanta's west side in the damp and dank basement of a building marked for demolition.

"Yeah, they are." Sam didn't disagree, but there was more to it than that. "Why not just try to pass as human? To work and live," he started to say like normal people but Dean's incredulous look stopped him.

"Is there some part of bat-shit insane that is escaping you, here, Sammy?"

"They want something," Sam said stubbornly.

"Well, duh. They want to kill people. You. Me. The wino down the street. The yuppie in the bar. They like fucking with people. They are fucking with you. Still," Dean said pointedly and spread lighter fluid on the disgusting mass of rotting skins in the corner. "They shit in their own beds, Sam. Nothing sane does that."

He was pissed off, at Sam, somewhat, but mostly because torching the nest wasn't nearly as satisfying as pouring holy water on an unholy corpse.

"Kerry hadn't killed," Sam said, half to himself, staring at the mass of clothing and supplies. They'd even found some cash in one of the recently compiled stashes which neither of them had any aversion to taking. They'd missed this one by minutes.

Dean was suddenly right in front of him. He smelled of butane and sweat. "I wouldn't be too sure about that," he said and caught Sam's hips, pulled him in close and met his eyes. "Do I need to worry about this?" he asked. "Whatever it is they want, you can't give it to them, Sam. Whatever it is they want, they don't get to take it -- not from you and not from anyone else. Not if we can stop it." He sounded angrier than he was and Sam knew he was right.

Dean's mouth sealed his promise and Sam had no choice but to believe him. But even as Dean pulled away, eyes dark with both concern and affection, Sam though he had some of it figured out, that Kerry had been more wrong than right, that what the killer with Dean's face had told Rebecca was probably true. They were born of lust and deception and lies: their human halves might crave all that other humans wanted -- security and safety and love; but their demon halves would never settle for anything so mundane.

The match Sam lit set the destruction in motion immediately.

They'd be heading west again in a couple of days, but they wanted the city cleared and Dean hadn't argued with him. Had laid out maps and weapons while Sam showered.

He'd narrowed it down on the first attempt but the second shifter was already moving. He'd bled and Dean had kissed away his fears.

The second attempt left him aching and fuzzy-headed although he found nothing. The trail obscured like someone scattering sand over the glistening lines that mapped how they moved and when.

Wings beat on the air and Sam found his rock, smoothed by time and use, the bones of it sunk deep into the earth, the press of it against his back oddly firm and soft mirroring the feel of Dean's chest and his arms; his body curved and fitted to Sam's, both of them curled up impossibly in the great cradling branch of a tree where the leaves rustled and whispered but no wind touched Sam's face.

But he could feel the pulse of those wings hovering over him, sweeping the scent of the wind into his nostrils; the scent of rotting flowers, and fresh cut hay, decaying but still sweet.

Even in his dreams, hints of arousal brought more fear than pleasure but the fears were soothed, the anticipated pain never came, only the sweet clench of muscles, the throb in his groin, heat soothed by a willing, wet mouth on his dick, and a whisper in his ear that spoke of choice and retribution. No threat, no glimpse of what the retribution would be, and Sam came out of it to find Dean watching him with a mix of anxiety and simple lust on his face. He was as hard as Sam, holding him with one arm, his hard dick pressed to the small of Sam's back. In his other hand he had the SIG, cocked and ready as his eyes shifted between Sam and the door.

"They're gone," Sam said and palmed his own dick, willing it to ease off even as he sat up and sniffed. No nosebleed.

"You're sure?"

Sam nodded and curled forward. Something lingered but he wasn't sure what.

Dean reset the safety and set the gun on the bedside table and tugged Sam's shoulder to get him to turn. He cleared the bed and had them both stretched out while Sam was still trying to shake off the effects of the dream.

Dean's hand moved over his skin, along his face and neck, like he was looking for something.

Or like Dean was the one who wasn't quite sure he was awake.

"Dean?" Sam asked, concern of his own sliding in and giving him some relief.

"I think I feel asleep," Dean admitted. "I'm not sure…I just…"

"Tell me." It hadn't been that long, according to the clock on the table. An hour at most.

"You were just sleeping. No…struggle, no strain. It was just…there was this…smell."

Even before Dean said it Sam was sure it wouldn't be rot and blood. "Like flowers only…old. I thought something was blooming…"

"Rotting flowers and fresh mown hay--"

"--grass," Dean said and lifted his head.

The scent was still there, in the room. The room itself was warded and charmed.

Dean looked at him again and Sam pulled him down. The smell got stronger, the ache presented itself again but it was no dream and both of them were wide awake. It was neither violent nor entirely reason-robbing, but it was still an influence.

For the moment Sam was willing to give in and Dean didn't object although they both knew they should. Sam's mouth lingered on Dean's throat until Dean caught his face and studied him, spreading his knees and cradling Sam against his pelvis. "Your choice, Sam," was all he'd said.

Like there was.

Dean still had the presence of mind to want it easier rather than urgent and Sam tried not to think too hard about the ever-expanding depths of things his brother knew but never talked about. But he had to admit that easing himself into his brother's body was less fraught with memory than sheer sensation. He was lucky he made it past the first few hesitant thrusts, body tightening and whiteness edging his vision when Dean pushed back to meet him. The muscles of Dean's back rippled and arched and his groan was tinged with laughter. "You have no idea how fucking good this feels," Dean muttered and pushed back before stretching out beneath Sam to give him best possible angle.

"Yes, I do," Sam said and licked across his shoulder, watching while Dean jacked himself off in counterpoint to Sam's thrusting. When Dean came Sam thought he might pass out from the way his brother's body clenched around his dick, the sheer beauty of the tremor that racked Dean from head to toe that Sam was the cause of. Dean's face was flushed and sweat had turned the hair at his temples and the nape of his neck dark. Sam only pressed his forehead between his brother's shoulder blades and let his body finish what his dream had started.

He pulled free when his body was spent, and the now cold washcloth made them both hiss but Sam moved no more than that, stretched out along Dean's back, legs tangled and bodies still overheated. Neither of them had the energy to reach for the light until hours later.

When they did, they made quick work of cleaning up a little better and then dropped back into bed with Sam curled up against Dean's chest and Dean's gun arm free. Sam fell to sleep with the scent of rotting flowers in his nose.

His dreams were quiet at first, perched on his rock, quiet and still. When he lifted his face, he felt the kiss of warm air on his cheek, the taste of silver on his tongue and the scent of blood on the air.

He woke to Dean twisting beneath him, clawing at the bedspread for his gun and Sam found it, instantly alert and hitting the light. There was nothing in the room, only the strong scent of rotting flowers and his brother thrusting blindly against his hip until his chest heaved and he came, waking up almost at the same moment.

"Shiii….jeez," Dean said groggily, slumping back on the bed with heavy breaths and reaching up to slide his fingers through Sam's hair.

Sam caught his hand, eyes fixed on Dean's pelvis and finally Dean followed his gaze, then shifted to see the thin lines of blood trickling along his skin toward his groin from four perfect punctures in his thigh. The scent of flowers faded.

Sam finally shook off the fascinated horror long enough to get the first aid kit. They were small and not dangerous, not even reddening at the edges.

"What do you remember?" Sam asked when the bite was hidden behind band-aids, kneeling on the floor in front of Dean and packing away the supplies.

Dean sat on the bed, head down and hands between his thighs. He shook his head. "Nothing."

"Dean." Neither of them could carry this alone. Unlike the phantom mark on Sam's shoulder months ago, these punctures were real, the blood Dean's, and they'd both slept through it.

"Just you," Dean said quietly. "I was fucking you."

Sam stood up and dropped the kit on the bed. He caught Dean's head in his hands, tilted his head up and ignored the sheen that made the hazel eyes greener. Dean broke the locked gaze first, hooking his arms around Sam's waist and pulled him in tightly, pressing his face against Sam's stomach, then his cheek. Sam held on, stroked through Dean's hair, and wondered if he had soul enough left to buy them a ticket out of hell.

They had the car packed before the light broke, sticking to their plan to head west again, stopping in the lobby only long enough to take advantage of the Continental breakfast and pick up a paper.

The desk clerk held out a message for Dean.

"Who left this?" Sam asked while Dean glanced over it.

The clerk gave it a second's thought. "Woman. Came in about an hour ago."

"You remember what she looked like?"

"Dark hair, business suit. Nice looking. Older than you," was all the clerk remembered. "I called your room just after she left."

They hadn't checked the phone. "Thanks," Dean said and handed the note to Sam to read as they walked out.

"It doesn't change anything," Dean said as he unlocked the car. Sam stared at him over the roof and found Dean's gaze steady and his presence calm.

Sam looked at the note again and nodded, tore it into tiny pieces and let them fall like flower petals on the asphalt lot.

Even monsters have mothers.



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