Sisters of Mercy
(A False Comforts Solstice interlude)
by Maygra

Dean/Sam, NC17, False Comforts AU (Schmoop + Angst = Schmangst?)

Note: I apologize in advance -- this is likely to be  a bit confusing because there's a story (or two) between Altars of Stone and Wind and this one, which are largely stalled but cover the deal Sam and Dean make with the succubi (the mother of the shapeshifters) that leaves them no longer being hunted by the shifters trying to kill them but present them with a whole new set of problems.  However, the succubi have their own sense of family loyalties much different from their half-human offspring.

Because I'm writing this out of order and for fun rather than as part of the longer plot, I'm reserving the right not to be bound by my own fanon. *g*

I further apologize for any errors. I didn't have this beta read because I'm going to be largely out of pocket until tomorrow but I wanted to make sure this stocking stuffer got posted before then. So, feel free to point out any errors or if anyone has time to beta it for the final version, please drop me an email with your email address.

(8, 034 words)

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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It is now the time of grace
That we have desired;
Let us devoutly return
Songs of rejoicing.

~Gaudete - 16th century Advent hymn.

Seeing the huge tree on the roof and another picked out in lights on the side of the building was what clued Dean in that it was Christmas or close to it. The parking lot of the emergency room was blessedly clear though, and he hoped that meant the ER wouldn't be busy.

The car shuddered to a stop, spitting and continuing to run after the ignition was turned off. He had to find the time and money to give it an overhaul or they were gonna be without wheels and that was not an option.

"Need a tune up," Sam said quietly and Dean nodded before reaching over to check the bandage on Sam's chest, seeing the slick glide of blood over his gloves. It was damp but not soaked and Sam felt warm rather than chilled with blood loss but Dean was afraid that was because he was running a fever on top of everything else.

"Let's get you inside," Dean said and pulled Sam's jacket tighter around him.

"Maybe we could--"

"Sam, I'm not having this fight again," Dean said flatly. "You need antibiotics and probably a transfusion. You may not be dying, but I don't think either of us want to wait around while you heal up. This is the fastest way."

"Okay," Sam said and reached for the door handle.

He was barely able to get it unlatched in the time it took Dean to get out on the driver's side and come around the car to yank the door open. Sam almost fell out, but Dean got his shoulder under Sam's and they stagger-walked up the sidewalk to the glass doors. Dean was trying to make sure Sam wasn't bleeding again when the door hissed open and Dean took a step forward only feel a shock run through him, ripple through nerves and muscles, and he was staggering back like someone shoved him.

Sam almost went down with him but there was an upright overhang support that he gripped. "Oh, shit," Sam said unsteadily. Dean was still trying to shake off the effects of what felt like a full-body goose from a taser when he heard the doors slide closed again.

The hospital name and logo gleamed in frosted glass workmanship, emblazoned with "St. Joseph's ~ A Sisters of Mercy Hospital" with a heavily stylized cross beneath it.

It was still a cross.

Dean swallowed heavily and forced himself up. "I didn't even look. Sam…"

"We can find someplace else," Sam said, but in the light spilling from the glass fronted doorway, Dean could see how horribly pale he was, skin translucent to the point where Dean was sure he could see the pulse of blood under the skin.

"No. Sam...we can't. It's just a few feet, there's a bell." Dean spotted the small buzzer affixed to the door frame. "Just push it. They'll come help. I'll find a… I'll get a room," he said and he was checking Sam's cell, making sure it was charged. "Just go…"

Sam didn't look sure and he sure didn't like it, them splitting up, but he nodded, reaches out to grip Dean's jacket. "Don't go far."

"I won't," Dean said, and pulled open his wallet, pulling a card free. "Okay, your name is Earl Ransom. Just tell them you got in a bar fight."

"Why do they always buy that one?" Sam asked with a ghost of a smile but he slid the card into the back pocket of his jeans with his wallet.

"'cause you look like you just lost one," Dean said and gave him a little nudge before Sam went stubborn on him. "Go on, before you pass out."


Sam pulled himself up on the pole and took a breath. It wasn't deep and it sounded wet and if Sam hadn't already iced the fucking demi-wraith Dean would go back and do it again more slowly. He took a step back as Sam stepped forward, then again, until the doors slid open.  Sam remembered to hit the buzzer on the way in and Dean backed up more quickly when he saw a nurse come into the hall, and then another, and suddenly they had Sam, and were calling for help. It was enough. It had to be.

He turned around to hurry to the car. Sam might be here a day or two and that would give Dean time to put some serious work into the car, hustle them up some cash.

The motel he found was even less savory than most, with water stained ceilings and a tub that looked like it might need its own exorcism. There were two double beds that sagged so much in the middle of one of them,  Dean almost wondered if an elephant had died in it. But it was within walking distance of the hospital, it was cheap enough that they could stay a week or more, if necessary, and there were plenty of bars and pool halls close enough to make it worth Dean's while. It took him a half hour to find it and check in and then he called Sam.

That Sam answered made him ridiculously grateful.

"I've got an IV in now and the doctors coming back to stitch me up. Where are you?"

"About a block away," Dean said and pulled off his gloves, careful not to touch Sam's blood. "I can see the hospital from here. Are they going to admit you?"

"No. I told them…I told them I didn't have any money and no insurance."

"Sam…," Dean said, caught between anger and exasperation.

"They've already called the county hospital. They'll move me by ambulance…but just wait until the doctor stitches me up and I'll check myself out."

"Sam. Don't do this."

"I'm not staying here."

"Then let them move you."

Sam's laughter was bitter. "The public hospital is St. Luke's…"

"You have got to be kidding me. Where the hell are we? Rome?"

"Just give it a couple of hours and come get me. Please?" Sam said.

"I ought to make you walk."

"I will if I have to."

And the truth was, Sam would. "All right. Two hours. You know this is stupid, right?"

"Won't be the first stupid thing I've done. Just…I don't want--"

Dean closed his eyes. "They can't get to you any easier than I can, Sam. Two hours. I'll be there." It killed him to say it, because Sam would actually be safer where he was.


If he didn't need his phone so badly, he'd have smashed it into the wall. It was probably lucky the motel didn't offer much else he could toss. Even the lights in the room were bolted to the walls and the narrow table that was supposed to be a desk.

Sam was going to need clean clothes. He doubted the shirt he had on now was even worth trying to save. But he was also going to need supplies -- bandages and analgesics. There had to be an all night pharmacy around here somewhere.

He hauled Sam's duffel into the room and then stared at it for a long moment before opening it carefully. By necessity, any longer, Sam had to keep most of the tools of their trade in his kit and Dean gave a brief silent thanks that Sam was as compulsively neat as he was because he had all of it -- the holy water, the rosaries, the christening salt, and the oil set to one side, wrapped in clear plastic bags. Even so, Dean could feel the tingle start in his fingers as he reached in to snatch out a clean shirt and a fresh pair of jeans.

Regular salt he could handle, wolfsbane, lavender, other herbs. Other tools. Unblessed silver bullets -- he could look at a church but he couldn't enter, couldn't invoke any of the names of God. Couldn't touch any blessed object. It didn't stop him from salting and burning bones, didn't keep him from putting down the occasional werewolf, but heaven help them if they ran into anything else demonic because Dean was pretty much fucked -- and by extension Sam.

And of course the demi-wraiths were after Sam. One of these days he was going to find a way to destroy the succubi and their half-damned offspring. About the only upside was that the wraiths didn't actually want Sam dead.

That wasn't necessarily a good thing.

He closed up Sam's bag and set it on the far side of the bed and went to get his own.

He had his gun out and aimed before he even fully recognized the creature sitting on the hood of his car.

"Of all the hospitals in all the towns in the states across this great country and you brought your brother to one you can't go into," she said with a toss of her hair and a flash of white teeth. She was still gorgeous on the outside, full bodied, thick dark hair tumbling to her shoulders. With what little she was wearing she should have been freezing in the cold air. He couldn't see beyond the illusion but he knew what was there. It made him feel slightly nauseated still. "How perfectly ironic is that?"

"I'm glad you're entertained," Dean said. "Get the fuck off my car."

"Oh, Dean…you still sound so angry, so bitter. I thought we would be friends." She made a little moue with her lips and slid gracefully off the metal, stretching her legs to end up right in front of him.

He shoved past her, her laughter grating in his ears, all bells and low hums. Once, it would have sent shivers of desire and lust through him but if this hellish bargain had any upsides it was that he was apparently immune to her charms among other things, even as he was now pretty spectacularly allergic to a lot of things that kept her kind at bay.

"If anyone's got a right to be angry, it's me."

"Well, life's just unfair, isn't it?" he snarled at her. "Your sister's brood did that to him."

"Better hers than yours," she said. "And they're not in his head, that should be worth something."

It was actually worth a hell of a lot more than Dean would ever admit to the smiling bitch in front of him. "Did you want something or are you just here to gloat?" he asked and then sniffed. "You know what? I don't even care. Because whatever it is, it's never good. Whatever you're selling this time -- the price is too high."

"Oh, Dean…it's a shame your dick isn't as big as your ego. I'd have made you a better deal," she said. "I just want a little favor. And I'll give you one in return."

"You're kidding, right?"

"It's solstice. I want a boon. In exchange, I'll get you inside. You'd rather be in there than out here, right?"

"A boon?"

"My sister suffers as much as your brother."

Dean laughed out loud. "Oh, please. Your sister wants to suck him dry and spit out his bones."

"He's an addiction."

"Sam's not the cure. Tell her to check out Betty Ford, I hear they are doing great things."

She moved in closer, cautiously. "She's as tied to him as you are to me."

Dean shrugged. "Not Sam's fault or his problem, and seeing as whatever put your sister in the hell she's in now seems to think it's got some claim on Sam, I'm not feeling a whole lot of sympathy, here. She made that choice."

"And you made yours. Can you still hear the sounds of our children screaming, Dean?" she hissed. "I can."

Sometimes he could. Sometimes he felt like he could feel them dying: mewling, squirming, screaming things haunted his nightmares more than anything else. Sometimes Sam looked at him like he wanted to apologize -- something Dean didn't ever want him to do. "Don't act like you did either of us any favors, Yeva, or like killing your own gave you even a single moment of regret. Anoush made her choice. You made yours and  I made mine."

"Make another one," she said and held out a tiny vial. It was no bigger than Dean's pinkie finger, narrow as a pencil. "The longest night of the year. She lives only in night now."

"And gives birth to dead things."

"Which you kill at every opportunity. My children no longer hunt you or your brother, they no longer have a path to him or to you."

"I'm already paying for that one. Come on, Yeva. You want this, make it worth my while," he said and eyed the vial, then the hospital. "Blood, piss, seed, breath -- fire, water, earth and air. Nothing that comes back to bite Sam or me in the ass."

"It's such a nice ass," she said held out the vial. "Done. No offspring, no repercussions."

"Sam has to agree," Dean said.

She pulled her hand back. "He won't."

"I can be persuasive."

She eyed him. "What else?"

"The blessed curse stays off until Sam's ready to travel and we're out of here -- out of this town."

"I won't be able to hunt."

"Until Sam's better, neither will I," Dean said. "Tough being the big sister, isn't it? The things you have to give up." He was openly mocking her now. "You came to me, Yeva."

Her visage shifted for just a moment and Dean fought the urge to flinch. "You have to bring it back to me within the hour or I'll trap your sorry ass in there until you are screaming," she said after a moment, and held out the vial in her open palm.

"Done," Dean said snatching it, but she caught his wrist, and the smile she showed him was still gleaming white, but this time it was row after row of tiny sharp white teeth, that her thick lush lips barely covered.

"Kiss for old time's sake?" she asked and then jerked him closer before he could answer.

Closing his mouth against her did nothing; her snake-like tongue wormed into his mouth and left behind the taste of bile and rot. The claws of her hands dug into his shoulders, piercing the leather.

She let him go just as quickly, even as he gagged and jerked away on reflex. "An hour, Dean."

His fist closed over the vial and he shoved past her. He kind of wanted to throw up, but he kept walking, crossing the street to the hospital, barely even hesitating as he got in range of the doors.

Nothing slammed into him, shoved him back, but passing by the glass etched cross made his skin crawl.

He didn't look back. She'd wait.

A nurse let him go back into the exam rooms. Sam was on a gurney, covered in sheets and blankets, his shirt and jeans shoved into a plastic bag, and his shoes and coat laying on top. His chest had been freshly bandaged but already it was bleeding through. He had an IV with fluids running, but under the stark florescent lights, he looked pale and tired and fragile. Under the edge of the bandage Dean could still see the slash marks. They hadn't stitched him up yet and Dean was pretty damn sure Sam was going to need stitches.

Sam cracked his eyes open when he heard Dean, then they got wide. "Dean? What are you--"

"Hey. What did they say?"

"Wha--? How did you get in here?"

Dean came closer and Sam's hand automatically came up. Dean didn't take it but he saw a box of surgical gloves and he snagged two, pulling them on quickly. "Yeva's showed up." There would be no persuasion. Sam would either agree or not.

"She's what--" Sam said and his voice rose in panic, as he pushed himself up.

"Don't, Sam. It's okay. She came for…she wanted a favor. For her sister." He held up the tiny vial.

Sam stared at it. Dean didn't have to say anything else, to explain. He could see Sam put it together, looking from the vial to Dean's face. "She lifted the curse?"

"Temporarily. Until we leave town. In exchange -- no repercussions."

"You believe her?" Sam asked icily.

Dean shrugged. "She's not a demon. She'll twist and bend her agreements but she doesn't -- hasn't lied. Hasn't broken her word. Say no, Sam and I'll go with the original plan. We'll hang out until you're better.  But you'd get better faster here. You should only be here a day or so."

"How long?"

"Until we leave town."

"And you can…"


"You want me to do this, help out a succubus whose dead offspring we've been hunting down for the past six months, who, by the way, put me in here to begin with, so you can hang out in the hospital and watch me either sleep or be bored out of my mind?" Sam asked him quietly and Dean dropped his gaze.

"Uh, yeah…" Dean said. Wow, that sounded a whole lot worse coming from Sam. At the same time, he had an hour, which was more than he had before.

"And until we leave town, crosses won't bother you, holy water -- other religious artifacts won't make you crawl out of your skin?"

"That was the deal."

"What if we never leave town?"

Dean looked up quickly. "If we--"

Sam grinned at him and took the vial from him. "Make sure no one comes in," he said and peeled back the edge of the bandage.

It was awkward and Dean had to help him but the vial really was small. He was just taping the bandage down when the nurse came back in. "Mr. Ransom, the doctor will be in to put some stitches in those gashes in a few minutes. Your friend's going to have to leave," she said, smiling at Dean apologetically.

"No problem," Dean said, pulling off the gloves behind his back and dropping them in the trash. He looked back at Sam. "You are so smart you scare me sometimes." He leaned over out of habit, eyes fixed on Sam's mouth, only stopping himself at the last moment.

Sam looked stricken but his voice was steady. "Don't make it easy on her," Sam said.

"It's like having in-laws," Dean said, and felt his cheeks burn. Sam's eyes were too bright.

"Just…be careful. She may not lie but she will…she'll try to trap you."

"I know. I'll be back…" Dean said and thumped the bed. He pocketed the box of gloves on his way out.

This time he didn't flinch when he passed the crosses.

She was waiting for him, sitting on the hood of his car. Again. "Get your ass off my car," he said.

She rolled her eyes and slid down. "And…"

He held up the vial of Sam's blood. Her eyes gleamed. "That was fast."

"I told you…"

"Persuasive, yes. Thank him for me," she said and she sounded sincere. "Nice to see you again, Dean."

"Yeah, I'll do that…uhm, by the way. We're thinking about just settling here permanently. Looks like nice town."

She tucked the vial into her cleavage. "Really? Well, that's a problem."

"Yeah," Dean said with a grin. "Pity that."

 "Next full moon, no later," she said.

"What about your promise?"

"Until Sam's ready to travel or you're out of this town. I pick option 'A'. I'm being generous with the extension. You need to pick your words more carefully, my dear," she said, and eyed him up and down, like he was a particularly tasty looking treat. She didn't try for him again though, only smiled. "Give my best to Sam," she said as the headlights of a car pulling out across the street bathed her lush body in an angelic glow. When Dean blinked to clear the glare from his eyes, she was gone.

"Oh my God, crazy bitch," he muttered. "She's a God Damned fruitcake--' he stopped and tested the words on his tongue. Okay, so she actually was one of the God-damned if all the myths and suppositions Sam had been digging up were true. Born before the first sin, born soulless. Neither demons nor angels, she and her sisters -- and yet mothers to some of the most evil sons-of-bitches on the supernatural landscape. Incapable of love or regret.

He grabbed some clothes for Sam, and then reached in carefully on the other side of Sam's duffel. The beads of the rosary slid through his finger with cool smoothness. It made him relax a little, to know that apparently this thing did have limits.

The last of the children he'd father on Yeva. There were only a dozen or so that had survived, shapeshifters all. He couldn't find them, couldn't kill them, but he could feel them in the back of his mind. His fingers tightened on the rosary, trying to shove the images away -- Of Sam covered in blood and gore up to his knees, calmly levering shot after shot of silver into the formless, squirming nest of monsters Yeva had given birth too.

His monsters. He'd felt every one of them die, had thought he'd go mad with sound of them in his head, of Yeva shrieking in a kind of hysterical laughter as she'd held her insides together to escape with the last of her litter. She'd cursed him then.

Sam had literally had to carry him outside before he torched the whole place.

Days before Dean could hear anything but the screaming, smell anything but the stench of burning flesh, of rotten flowers.

He wrapped the rosary around his wrist loosely and got clothes for Sam. He wasn't entirely sure what Yeva was up to, but tricky bitch or not, she was bound to a set of rules that thus far, Dean had not seen broken.

At the moment, he'd take what small blessings he could, even if it meant hanging around in a hospital watching Sam sleep.


Sam still wouldn't agree to remain in the hospital, but the emergency room staff kept him all night, loaded him up with antibiotics and fluids. Dean still thought he needed a transfusion because Sam was so damn pale, he made the plain white sheets look like they had color. Come morning there was some color in his cheeks and Dean could only hope it wasn't a fever trying to surface.

Cleaned and bandaged, with fresh clothes on, Sam was pretty steady on his feet when they discharged him the next morning.  Dean had thought to move them elsewhere, but the room was warm if in serious need of renovation and the hospital was right across the street just in case.

They slept almost the entire first day. Toward mid-afternoon Dean woke up enough to make the trip across the street again -- if nothing else the food in the hospital cafeteria was cheap and hot.

Sam was awake when dusk fell and Dean loaded up their guns. "I'm gonna have to find us a stake, Sam. I've got about forty bucks left."

"I'll be fine," Sam told him and Dean prayed he was right.

He hit three bars, surprised that he managed to score pretty decently in all of them. He also had an itch between his shoulder blades that wouldn't go away, and after clearing a hundred on a two game plain-jane split at the third bar he called it quits. He'd have liked to have more money in his pocket but he had doubled then doubled again what he started with, which was enough to see them through a few more days.

He found himself fingering the rosary around his wrist as he drove back.

Sam was still awake, watching some old black and white movie on the TV. "You hungry?" he asked, pulling on another pair of the gloves before sitting down next to him and laying his hand against Sam's face. He needed to add the thin gloves to their list of necessary supplies. They were better than the leather and cloth ones he'd been using and it made it easier to tell that Sam's skin felt warm but not too warm. No fever. Sam shook his head.

"I had the rest of the soup. Did you eat anything?"

"Yeah, I grabbed a burger at the last bar," Dean said.

"Liar. Did you even have a beer?" Sam was looking at him with a mix of annoyance and affection.

It wasn't even worth lying to him. "Yeah. One at each bar. I'm fine, Sam. I ate lunch." He reached across and pulled up the edge of Sam's shirt. "We need to change those?" he asked although the bandages on Sam's chest looked fine, pretty damn clean. He peeled back a corner, eyeing the neat stitches -- not inflamed, or even swollen much.

"I did them a couple of hours ago. I want a grilled cheese sandwich."

"I thought you weren't hungry."

"I changed my mind."

Dean eyed him. Sam had a totally earnest and innocent look on his face. "There's diner across the street."

"Good, I'm starving."

Dean felt the corner of his lip twitch. "Anything else?"

"Maybe some fries. BLT? Burger, extra onions?" Now Sam was starting to smile too.

"You are so not subtle, or clever."

"But I am smart. Smart enough to know you need to eat. Go on…I think I can manage another half hour without you." He reached out to finger the rosary around Dean's wrist, question in his eyes.

"Early warning system," Dean said, pulling at the loose beads. "I'll be back in a bit."

Sam ate about half his sandwich. There was no use in saving it -- one of the downsides of cheap rooms -- but Dean ate all of his own meal. Sam watched him and relaxed more with every bite.

He forgot sometimes that Sam worried about him too. By the time Dean was done, Sam was half asleep. Dean got up to pour a line of salt across the door. They'd managed to get rid of all the demi-wraiths but he wasn't taking any chances. He set water beside Sam's bed then stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers and fell into his own.

"That looks nice," Sam said sleepily.

Sam was facing the window and Dean lifted his chin a little, and he could just see the tree on top of the hospital building. "Yeah, I guess Christmas is in a few days," Dean said and rolled over so he could see Sam. Not that it meant anything. Peace on earth and good will toward men didn't really seem to extend to the Winchesters very often.

"I want a pony," Sam said.

"You want a--" Dean said and lifted up again, to see the smile curving Sam's lips.  "Yeah, Sam. I'll get right on that." He felt asleep with a smile on his lips.


Sam was up before him, which wasn’t unusual but the fact that Dean had only barely woken when Sam got out of bed was. It was the clatter of something falling into the bathroom sink that woke him. Rubbing at his eyes he got up and leaned on the doorway.

"Sorry. Dropped the scissors," Sam said. He was stripped to the waist and had adhesive tape already clipped and stuck to the side of the sink. There were gauze pads and alcohol and peroxide already lined up. Sam had a bottle of holy water in one hand and a strip of cotton padding in the other.

"I'd have done that when I got up," Dean said

Sam stared at him for a moment. "I forgot you could," Sam said.

It took a moment for that to sink into Dean's sleep-fogged brain. Sam had largely had to patch himself up after the attack, pouring holy water over the gouges while Dean drove like a madman.

"Yeah," Dean said, fully awake now. He reached for the bottle, as tentative about taking it as Sam was about releasing it. The crucifix at the end of the rosary swing and bumped gently on Dean's arm.

He'd left the gloves in the other room and for a moment he thought about going to get them but…

He soaked the cotton and then dabbed carefully at the three neat rows of stitches across Sam's chest. Nothing foamed and Dean's fingers didn't feel like he'd been scalded.

He was shaking when he finished swabbing the wounds with holy water, then peroxide, and then finally spread a thin line of antibiotic cream along the stitches.

Sam reached out and caught his wrist and Dean froze, staring at his brother's hand on his skin. Sam's fingers slipped under the beads to stroke across the skin of his wrist.

There was no pain, no tingle.

Dean tried to pull away. "Sam, no."

Sam held him fast. "She's lifted it. You said she wouldn't lie about it."

"I don't think she did but--"

"Dean…" Sam swallowed and stepped in closer. "You're clean, for now. Not…"

Not unholy. Not tainted.

Sam was so close, eyes wide and dark, he bit at his lower lip and Dean shut his eyes but didn't try to pull away when Sam bent and laid his lips against Dean's.

It was a pretty damned chaste kiss but Dean groaned into it anyway, and opened his mouth. Sam didn't need any more encouragement than that and suddenly Dean found his hands on Sam's shoulders and face, slipping through his hair, pulling Sam tight and hard against him. Sam moaned into his mouth and for a moment Dean thought it was pain, remembered that Sam was hurt.

When he tried to pull back Sam gripped his neck and his shoulder and held him still.

Dean thought he might die.

He'd gotten a handle on the want. Shoved it down and away, retaught himself not to reach for Sam, to kiss him, to need him like he needed to breathe. They'd just barely managed to get a handle on this thing between them, free of guilt or taint of wrongness, when Yeva had spat out her curse, the curse of the blessed. She'd cursed Dean and made him unclean.

She'd cursed Sam and made him blessed.

He couldn't touch Sam. Not skin to skin. They'd spent nearly a week finding out what Dean could and couldn't bear, what Sam could. None of it was lethal, but even the barest brush of fingertips to Sam's hair was like an electrical shock running though Dean.

The blessing extended only to Dean -- it didn't save Sam from wraiths or demons, from the possessed or other unholy things. And Dean's wariness didn't extend to other people or at least so far. Granted, he hadn't had much of an opportunity to so much as shake hands with a priest or nun.

He wore gloves constantly, and had learned to achieve the layering of clothes not unlike Sam did. They'd adjusted and adapted, learned to reach for each other only where clothing covered flesh, learned not to reach for each other automatically when one of them was hurt. The slept in separate beds, kept a foot of distance between them just in case.

She couldn't kill either of them. Dean wasn't even sure she would have if she could. No, it was worth more to her to make them suffer.

Suffering they could survive and Dean didn't know how many times he'd told himself that over the past months. They were alive. They were together. The shapeshifters no longer had inroads into Sam's mind or he into theirs. Anoush's dead children were nasty and vicious but killable.

But God, he'd missed Sam. Missed touching him and being touched in return. Missed the taste and shape of his mouth, the feel of Sam's breath across his throat. Missed the way Sam demanded Dean touch him the way he wanted to be touched.

Missed it enough that he didn't even resist when Sam pulled him out of the bathroom and toward the beds. Helped him when Sam stripped Dean's shirt off and laid his wide broad palms across his chest.

Dean didn't forget, even if Sam seemed to, that his brother was hurt still, that they'd left the bandages in the bathroom. Dean pressed his lips along each of the long line of stitches, not even minding the faint taste of antibiotic cream and soap. Beneath them were old scars, still red but starting to fade, where Anoush had clawed him, marked him as hers, only to have something with a prior claim jerk her back.

They still didn't know who or what it was that had intervened. Sam thought it might be the demon. Dean was half afraid he was right.

He'd missed the feel of Sam's skin under his hands as he peeled off Sam's sweat pants, pulled them low over the lean hips and kissed and nuzzled every inch of exposed flesh. Got tangled up in Sam's long arms and the taste of him when Sam pushed himself up to tug at Dean's boxers until they were both naked, stretched out and twisted around each other as much as flesh and bone and muscle would allow.

He wanted to fuck Sam so badly his whole body ached and given the way Sam sprawled and pulled, spread his legs, and stroked Dean's dick until it was hard and flushed, Sam wanted the same thing. One part of his brain kept telling him this was a bad idea -- that Sam was hurt, that Yeva never came at anything except sideways.

Months they'd gone without this.

Something about that made him take a deep breath, to pause in the middle of reacquainting himself with Sam's body to stare down at his brother. Sam was flushed and glassy eyed, like he was drunk or drugged. Cock hard and high against his belly. The rosary had come partly unwrapped from Dean's wrist, the beads and crucifix laying against Sam's skin like its own kind of blessing.

No repercussions.

He couldn't trust Yeva's promises against Sam's well-being or his own. He bent low and kissed Sam. "Wait," he said, and tore himself away, feeling the ache in his groin. His bag lay open on the floor and he dug into it finding the condoms and lube that had remained untouched, since the last time he'd made love to Sam.

Some of the lust and desire had faded from Sam's eyes when he saw what Dean held, but none of it was gone from his kiss, even though it was gentler, less desperate. He didn't say anything when Dean slipped a condom on himself. "I don't trust her that far," he said and slipped the rosary off his wrist to put it on over his head, the small cross wrapping and tangling itself around his amulet. Sam halfway sat up and wrapped his hand around both, tugging Dean to him.

Reality settled and took the edge off, but Sam's hand on his dick was just as he remembered it, perfect and firm, wrist working to regain what interest Dean had lost. Sam's teeth scraped across the underside of his chin, bit lightly and Dean caught his head, kneeling on the bed, and taking the taste of Sam's mouth like he'd never have it again.

Maybe he wouldn't. "Lay back," he said, swallowing against the tightness in his throat. The next new moon…a few weeks or days. He'd have to check, half wished he had before they gave into this.

He urged Sam onto his side, still wary of stitches that could too easily be pulled, fingers working Sam open and slick until Sam was panting and moaning and pushing back against him then into his hand in a constant rock and shiver of need.

Nudging Sam's leg up, Dean pushed into the tight heat of him steadily, slowly, biting his lip and then tucking his chin against Sam's shoulder when Sam's body finally let him in. The pendant and cross lay across Sam's collar bone, along his throat, sliding up and down every time Dean thrust.

"Dean…God, Dean," Sam breathed out, reaching back, fingers digging into Dean's ass, other hand covering Dean's on his dick.

"I'm here, Sam…Sam…Jesus," he murmured kissing under Sam's ear.

Not near long enough, Dean feeling orgasm sweep through him like a shock but without the pain, caught between laughing in joy and choking on relief when Sam's come spilled across their hands. He brought his hand up to taste and didn't mind the bitterness. Pulling free of Sam's body was a different kind of pain and he pressed his forehead to the sweaty skin between Sam's shoulder blades and tired to relax into the stroke of Sam's hand across his flank.

There was stickiness and minor grossness and he knew he needed to take the condom off, that they needed to finish bandaging Sam's chest but for a long moment he just rested there, arms wrapped tightly around Sam.

Already he was feeling like this was a mistake. It was temporary reprieve. He'd have to relearn not to touch again.

He didn't know what sound or movement he made but Sam rolled to his back, hand coming up to rub along Dean's back to his neck and strong fingers kneaded the muscles there. "Shhh. It'll be okay," Sam said softly, eyes clear and focused only on Dean's face. "We'll find a way to make it okay."

For the moment, Dean believed him.


Two weeks later Sam was healed enough to travel, they could have left sooner, but come morning Sam was running a low fever. They'd spent three days barely venturing out of the room, except when Dean went to get food. They hadn't had sex again but they touched constantly and Sam spent every night wrapped around Dean and slept better than he had months as far as Dean could tell

They had gone out the night before together for the first time and Dean had been in high spirits on his game. He was up three hundred dollars when he was wracking up a new set of balls, only to suddenly swear and shake his hand. Sam had been there in a flash, ripping at the tangle of beads around Dean's wrist, seeing the swollen, inflamed flesh. He'd snapped the rosary, sending beads flying.

They'd forfeited a fifty buck bet leaving the pool hall.

The inflammation died quickly, nothing but a red ring around Dean's wrist by the time they got back to the hotel.  Sam had a couple of small blisters on his fingertips.

They'd slept in separate beds last night, planning to get an early start.  Across the street, the moon was full and high settled against the now unlit but as yet still assembled Christmas tree.

Dean rolled over, staring at the other bed, then sitting up when he realized Sam wasn't in it, nor in the bathroom.

But he could hear him -- outside. Quietly he got up, pulled on a t-shirt and his gloves and found his gun.

He moved quietly, easing the door open and glad it didn't squeak, opening it a crack and caught sight of Sam just at the edge of the parking lot, near the car, all Dean could see was his back, the tension in his shoulders, the gun held loosely in his fingers. Yeva was perched on the back of his car.

"He really hates you sitting on his car," Sam said softly, keeping his voice low.

"All the more reason to do it. How are you, Sam? Feeling better, I see."

The silver shot in his gun wouldn't do anything to her -- blessed silver or not.

"Come to gloat?" Sam asked her

"Not really my style. Did you enjoy my little present, Sam?" she asked, pulling her legs up, to sit knees spread wide with her heels resting n the bumper of the Impala.

"What do you want, Yeva?"

"You know, you really should learn to flirt a little like your brother. You're far too serious, Sam…and it wouldn't hurt to be a little grateful."

"Gee, I seem to have left all my gratitude in my other suit," Sam said. "What do you want?"

She leaned forward. "Nothing like getting to the point, then…" she said and any façade of good will or charm vanished.

Dean closed his eyes. Damn her. He'd lay money this what she wanted from the start -- a bargaining point, a way to get to Sam. She couldn't kill him -- either of them -- but she could torment them and she'd used them against each other to do it.

"Can you hear her, Sam? I can…constantly. You're like a disease in her blood."

"Yeah, I can. It's like a lullaby I use to go to sleep at night," Sam said flatly, the cold edge of bitterness surprising to Dean. He didn't think Sam was lying.

"You've become cruel, Sam."

"You reap what you sow."

"Yes. That's true…so, how about I reap your discontent," she said and held up a small vial. This one on a silver chain, but otherwise identical to the last. "This much of your blood and you can have him back until the new moon."

Dean could only barely see it, the glass glittering in the glow of the moonlight. "How much would it take to lift the whole curse?" Sam asked

Her eyes were dark and pupilless, no whites around the edges. "More than I could survive. It can't be undone. When all your brother's children by me are dead, it will undue itself and not before, but it can be…modified, temporarily. This much and you can have him until the new moon."

"And then what?"

"A little goes a long way. I'll come to you again on the full moon. No more. No less."

Sam reached for the vial.

"Don't do it, Sam," Dean said sharply and pulled the door open. Sam turned to face him and a dull flush burned in his cheeks, along his throat.


Dean reassured him with the grip of a gloved hand on his arm. He squeezed his arm once, then let go.

"Straight answer, Yeva. What are you doing? And why? And get the hell off my car."

She made a noise of displeasure but put her feet on the ground. "I told you…"

"Yeah, your sister."

She glared at both of them. "She cannot feed. She cannot hunt. She aches for your brother like a part of herself. She screams constantly or cries. It is…unpleasant."

"And not our problem," Dean said.

"You want him."

"Not enough for Sam to be your sister's version of heroin," Dean spat out and Sam went stiff, like Dean had punched him. Dean flattened a hand at his lower back, pressing reassuringly. "Put some truth in this, Yeva. You intended this the first time you came to me."

She looked…unhappy and annoyed. But it was hard to tell. "Making this bargain was not my idea. For what you and your brother have done, I would kill you a thousand times, but I am not alone among my mother's children. This much blood. Once on a full moon and you have until the new moon to be free of both blessing and curse. I can extend the terms no further."

"No repercussions -- not for Sam's blood, not for us…once the new moon rises," Dean said.

She bared her teeth but inclined her head. "Done."

She held out the vial again.

"Not good enough," Sam said and it was Dean's turn to stiffen. "One of your offspring. Where?"

"So you can slaughter the rest?"


Dean was careful not to let his shock show -- or the approval when it finally came. Sammy really was scary smart sometimes.

She stared at him. "If I refuse, you can have none of him."

Sam shrugged. "I'll hunt them down anyway. You want this over as much as we do.  You can have more children."

She shed her seeming and it was all Dean could do not to flinch back. Sam did, taking a step back which pleased Yeva to no end. Seeingher delight, Sam held his ground with Dean's hand at his back.

She had more features than her offspring, dark leathery skin stretched over fine bones, and wings with shreddings like lace stirred the cold air. Her eyes were huge and black, her nose mere slits, her lipless mouth smiled. "Your terms?"

"A vial of blood every full moon. A location -- no warning."

"Betray my children?"

"It didn't bother you before."

"A location. Just one at a time--"

"One of mine, Yeva," Dean said suddenly.  Sam shot him a sharp, narrowed glance, then smiled a little.

Yeva snarled. "One of yours. Very well. And when they are all dead, what will you have to bargain with?"

"The curse will break," Sam said. "The question is, what will you have to bargain with, Yeva?"

"I'm sure I'll think of something. Done,"  she said and held out the vial again.

"I'm going to need a knife," Sam said taking it.

"Oh, no, let me…" Yeva hissed and slashed out, scoring Sam's forearm. She screamed at the touch of his blood and hopped back on the trunk of the car, claws scraping on the metal and hissing and spitting at the blisters that formed on her skin.

Sam had let out a startled gasp, but the blood flowed easily and he filled the vial quickly, teeth gritted against the pain as he stoppered it and flung it at her. Still hissing, she caught it in her other hand.

Dean pulled off his t-shirt, putting some space between them but wrapping the cloth around Sam's arm. This would take days to heal.

She lifted the thin chain over her head and settled it. "Fort Smith, Arkansas," she said. "And you can have the other," she added. "New moon only."

"What?" Dean said, but her wings were already spread to the air.

All of her teeth showed. "I like watching. And I'm always watching, lover," she said with a laugh. "Remember that when you've killed them all. You and your brother are fair game again."

She launched herself off the roof of his car, leaving a deep gouge in the paint job. Her laughter fell like glass shards over them.

"I'm going to kill her," Dean muttered.

Sam leaned against the rear bumper. "We have to figure out how, first."

"Jesus, Sam," Dean said and turned back to him to check the wound. "It's okay. Need to bandage it. This was pretty damn--"

Sam's fingers pressed to his lips and it took a moment for Dean to realize there was no burn. "Sammy…" he said when Sam's hand moved and his thumb stroked over Dean's lower lip.

"Six months…a year, two years I could deal with, but not forever. If she hadn't shown up I'd have tried to summon her," Sam said quietly, steadily.

"We don't have any way to find them."

"We'll find a way. They're all a little nuts.  Not unlike their father. You're gonna feel them when they die.  You know that right?"

He did. He still couldn't kill them -- it would be all on Sam, who didn't like killing at the best of times.

"She's gonna come after us."

"I know. We'll figure that out too."

Dean nodded, then shivered. "It's cold as hell out here."

Sam's arms slipped around him and Dean leaned in -- just a little -- tasted the skin at the base of Sam's neck.

"Feels good to me," Sam said into his hair. "Guess we're headed to Fort Smith."

"Yeah… " Dean said and pulled back, pulling the gloves off. Hands freed, he gripped the front of Sam's t-shirt and pulled him in, capturing his mouth. Sam made a startled sound then hummed happily against his lips. "But not until morning…"



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