By the rules of the game, I must always lie. (lustmordred) wrote,
By the rules of the game, I must always lie.
lustmordred

This Bewildering House (1)

Title: This Bewildering House
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Rated: NC-17
Warnings: incest, attempted suicide, demonic possession
Disclaimer: Obviously, I do not own the characters. Except the Devil. That one's mine.
Notes: I had a lot of fun writing this. It amused me so much that I was laughing as I was writing sometimes. I hope that you enjoy it too when you read it. If not, well I must have a more twisted sense of humor than I thought, but eh. So it goes.// Beta edited for me by cerberus_sky.




This Bewildering House



“In the roar of soul your scar told me—
Like its secret name, or its password—
How you had tried to kill yourself. And I heard
Without ceasing for a moment to kiss you
As if a sober star had whispered it
Above the revolving, rumbling city: Stay clear.”

— Ted Hughes
“18 Rugby Street”



I.


A soft thumping sound woke him and Dean opened his eyes and stared at the striped pattern on his pillowcase right up against his eyelashes. He knew the bed beside him would be empty before he even lifted his head, but that was okay.

After three days of Jacks, the bouncer at the bar down the street where Dean liked to go for a beer or two (or three) every evening, molesting his ass with his eyes, Dean had finally given it up and taken the guy home for the night. Jacks was an attractive guy, but if Dean hadn’t caught the guy making eyes at him on more than one occasion, he never would have pegged him (no pun intended) for gay. Not that Dean wasn’t perfectly fucking fine with that, thank you very much, praise the man Jesus, can I get a hallelujah. Or something along those lines. Jacks was pretty damn hot and, now that Dean could say so from experience, a fine lay to boot, but the guy had that thing, that something that some men have. That something that will shock the ever-loving hell out of a person when you find out they’re into dick.

Dean liked to think of it as “Dude-ism”. Bikers had it, farmers, ranchers, pit-fighters, and truck drivers (even the female ones, in Dean’s experience). Hockey players, cops, coal miners, and yeah, bouncers. But hey, if one of those bouncers was really nice to look at with a sexy voice and hands with fingers so long he could palm your face, well Dean wasn’t going to tell the guy to go hang. He was in a town of maybe 8,000 people, about thirty miles northwest of New Orleans called Solagrove and he hadn’t seen Sam in over a month. He hadn’t heard from Sam in about two weeks.

He was a Sammy-less Dean Winchester and a sad figure of broken-down humanity and he’d wanted to forget about it. With a really fine bouncer dude eyeing him like he was a sugar-glazed blow-up doll, what was he gonna do, say no? Hell no, he was gonna get laid, which is exactly what he’d done the night before.

And he still felt pretty good about it. All lethargic and muscle-sore with that fucked and tired energy humming under his skin. It felt good, so why the hell was he feeling all defensive now that he was alone? Defensive and a wee bit guilty…

Because there was Sammy—or rather; there wasn’t Sammy. Sammy was gone and Dean didn’t know where he was or why he’d left but here Dean was fucking off in Solagrove, living out of a loft apartment on borrowed time and whatever money he made cheating at poker, swindling pool and rolling drunken tourists. Why wasn’t he looking for Sam?

“Because the trail went cold,” Dean whispered. His throat was dry and his voice sounded cracked in his own ears. He thought about getting up to get a beer out of the refrigerator, then just rolled onto his back and stared up at the light slanting over his ceiling, licking his dry lips.

The last thing he’d heard from Sam had been some kind of voice mail on his phone two weeks before. Some existential crap that at first he’d attributed to Dante or Plath or some other academic fuckwad he couldn’t remember from high school English.

“There are so many stories about angels losing their way and falling from grace. There are none about demons finding redemption and being taken back into Heaven. Things fall, they don’t rise.” There had been a long pause, during which Dean could hear Sam breathing hard, maybe fighting tears. He told himself at first that was bullshit, but he’d listened to that message a hundred times and had every syllable committed to memory. He was pretty sure now that it had been tears. The only other explanation for that kind of faltering breath was laughter and that was somehow worse to think about. When Sam spoke again, he asked a question and Dean still didn’t know if he’d been asking Dean or himself: “Do you still think you might be going to Heaven?”

And that was it. For two weeks now, and not a peep or a word or a single sighting. Nothing.

So what was Dean supposed to do?

He still didn’t know. The way he figured it, after exhausting every option he had, all he could do was wait for something to happen.

That same pinging sound that had woke him, like a feather beating against a drainpipe, drew Dean’s attention to the windowsill. He turned his head on the pillow and looked under the curve of his arm. There, by the open window, was an overturned Kerr mason jar that Dean used as a drinking glass and trapped inside it was a single firefly banging itself against the glass.

Dean lifted an eyebrow and sat up, letting the cool white sheet slide off him. There was something else. “What the fuck?”

He crawled across the bed and sat on the edge of the mattress to get a better look at it, but from the one glance, he was already pretty sure he knew what it was: money. Jacks had left him a hundred dollar bill on the windowsill, weighed down by the wide mouth of the mason jar.

Jacks was a fairly weird dude, Dean decided. He liked the guy a lot and he’d really just wanted the piece of mind that good sex with an amiable stranger could give him—no charge—but hell, money was money.

Dean snatched the bill from under the jar without lifting it to release the firefly. He started to put it in his pocket then remembered he didn’t have pockets and got up to retrieve his pants from the floor by the bedroom door. He stuffed the money in his right pocket then decided he needed to use the bathroom before he put them back on.

Dean was on the toilet, right in the middle of one of the best shits of the decade, the kind where muscles strain just right and your back pops, but you know when its over it’s going to feel awesome—when the phone in his left pocket rang. He glared down at his jeans in a pile on the floor by his foot where the sound was coming from then snatched them up to get his phone on the off chance it might be Sam.

If it was Sam, well that would be embarrassing, but they were brothers and all, he was sure Sammy would forgive him.

Except it wasn’t Sam, it was Bobby, and Dean didn’t know that until he answered the phone and the man yelled, “Good morning, sunshine!” in his ear.

“Jesus, Bobby, keep it down,” Dean said, holding the phone away from his face.

“Why, you got company?” Bobby asked, sounding suspicious.

“No, but I’ve still got eardrums, man and I’d like to keep them,” Dean said.

“Boy, I’ve heard that trash you call music, don’t even get me started,” Bobby said, scoffing.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Dean said.

“Might not sound so much like a couple a mating cats dying under a lawnmower if you’d turn the shit down, but then there’s my point,” Bobby said.

“Okay, Bobby,” Dean said. “Mind if I put you down for a minute? You caught me in the middle of something.”

“Middle of what?” Bobby asked.

“You know what they say about curiosity, don’t you?” Dean said.

“Yeah, but I’m surprised you do,” Bobby said. “Alright, do your business, but be quick about it, I ain’t got all day.”

Dean grinned and put the phone back down, trying to bury it in his jeans to muffle any sounds. Then he finished his shit and put on his pants before picking up the phone again.

“Now, then, what’s up, Bobby?”

Bobby didn’t say anything for a minute, then he must have decided to let whatever it was he’d thought he heard go and said, “Someone saw Sam.”

Dean froze in the doorway between the bathroom and his bedroom and stared blankly at the firefly beating itself stupid in the mason jar on his windowsill. “What? Where? Who saw him? When?”

“Who ain’t important—or any of your business—but as for where and when… Yesterday about seven o’clock in the evening, outside a liquor store in Camden.”

“New Jersey?” Dean said, incredulous. “What the fuck is Sammy doing in New Jersey? He hates New Jersey.”

“Might be why he’s there,” Bobby said.

“I’m sure that’s supposed to sound very ominous, old man,” Dean said.

“Hey now, no name calling,” Bobby said, but Dean could hear the grin in his voice.

Jesus, he missed Bobby. He missed Bobby and Jo and Ellen and Ash and his dad and Sam. He missed the way things were when things had been so much simpler. When things were just find the mysterious, unnatural creature, kill it, call it a day and a job well done. The end. None of this flaming swords and eternal damnation shit. No demon blood—drinking it or having it—no angels and their glory or grace or what the fuck ever that shiny exploding shit was. No. He would have felt really stupid saying it, he guessed, but he missed ghosts and curses. He missed ghouls and zombies. He missed the days when a stake through the heart was the way to go with damn near everything if you could get close enough to do it because it didn’t just kill vampires, it killed most anything else.

“You best get over to Camden and have yourself a look-see,” Bobby said. “Hope to God the boy didn’t hate the place as much as you think, or it might not still be there when you get there.”

“Yeah,” Dean said.

He wiped the back of his arm over his forehead and sighed. Bobby was being overdramatic—probably on purpose—but whether he knew it or not, he still had a point. Dean thought of Lilith on the floor with blood running out of every orifice in her face—and probably others, though he hadn’t looked—like it was trying to get away when Sam had killed her. He remembered that pit blooming in the floor of the old church and Sam telling him to wait, telling him that he was coming.

“Yeah, okay,” Dean said. “It’s only…” He turned his phone over to look at the clock on the wall. “Three forty-six in the morning here. I’m gonna try to catch a few more hours, then a shower and then I’ll go. Keep your fingers crossed he’s still there.”

“He’s still there,” Bobby said, like he knew for certain.

Dean supposed that maybe he did know. “Good. Anyway, thanks, Bobby.”

“Not a problem, kid,” Bobby said. “Go getcha some rest.”

And he rang off.

Dean hung up his phone, then turned it off and crossed the room to fall back on the bed. He reached out for his cigarettes on the nightstand and lit one with a festively decorated little Bic lighter. He lay there for a while with his chin propped up on his forearm, smoking and listening to the firefly thump lightly against the side of the Kerr jar.

He sat up and leaned over to the window to lift the very edge of the mouth of the mason jar from the windowsill and exhaled a lungful of Camel tobacco smoke, complete with all the nicotine, rat-poison and other deadly chemicals it held, into the jar with the fly. He sprawled back on his bed to watch it.

As his eyes were drooping closed and his cigarette was burning down to the filter, Dean watched the bug through the grey haze and smiled a little. He put the cigarette out in the ashtray on his nightstand and lay there watching it until he fell asleep again.

Jacks was a weird motherfucker, Dean thought.

His last thought before sleeping was that Sam, his Sammy, with all of his demon blood and damnation… Sammy would have rescued the firefly.

II.


Something fluffy, smelling of rainwater and mothballs brushed over Sam’s face and woke him. He moaned in despair and swatted the cat off his chest where it had been happily grooming itself, tail swishing in his face so that its long kitty hairs went right up his nose.

The scrawny, ugly, mangy looking creature had stood outside his motel room door the second night he was there, yowling pitifully. Stupid, bleeding heart that he was, Sam let it inside and fed it. He’d petted its black fur, feeling the bones stabbing at its hide like a sack of sixteen penny nails, and called it Envy because of its green eyes.

Now the irritating beast wouldn’t leave him to die in peace.

Not that he expected death for him to lead to anything particularly peaceful, but for fuck’s sake. The black cat was clear evidence that no good deed, great or small, went unpunished. “Envy” had to have the world’s most irritating voice and wow did she like to use it. Sam figured this was probably why the animal was a stray in the first place.

“Shut up,” Sam snapped at the cat, kicking at it half-heartedly on his way to the bathroom.

The cat hissed at him and sauntered off with its tail held proudly aloft to bed down on the chair by the window.

“Yeah, yeah,” Sam grumbled. He wasn’t keeping it; he told himself yet again, he just hadn’t gotten around to throwing it out yet.

He went to the bathroom sink, wincing at the whirring of the overhead fan as he leaned over to swish water in his mouth. His mouth tasted like the bottom of a dirty toilet bowl and he couldn’t remember where the hell he’d left his toothbrush.

He’d been hoping to not have any need for it again after last night, but no dice. He turned his left wrist over to examine the place where he’d slashed it open, right there between the two tendons, where the artery was. There was another scar over several other bright red little lines, all of them bunched together like pick-up-sticks. Saved again, it was a miracle, can I get an amen? Sam supposed he could. And had.

He sighed and let his arm drop back to his side. He peered through his hair at his reflection in the yellowed mirror on the wall and frowned.

In the sink, under the running water, there was a pile of single-edged razor blades turning pink as the tacky blood washed away, growing rust like a sepia colored mould. He never threw them away, just left them there at the bottom of the sink as they counted up and he became more desperate. He put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob if he left, and it seemed that the motel’s cleaning service took it seriously, because everything was always untouched when he returned.

That, and he was fairly sure that if the plump little cleaning women employed by the Dew Duck Inn saw the carpet in room 115-A, he’d be lucky to leave the place not wearing handcuffs or a straightjacket.

His feet squishing lightly in the once-taupe-now-reddish-black carpet, Sam went to the bed and dug through the sheets in search of his toothbrush. He found it in the nightstand right next to the bible and went back into the bathroom to brush his teeth.

As he squeezed Colgate out of a little sample tube onto his toothbrush, a ghostly hand caressed his mind and Sam paused.

“Go away,” Sam whispered and started brushing his teeth vigorously.

“What are you doing?”

“Fuck off,” Sam said, spattering the mirror with toothpaste froth.

“I thought you had your heart set on suicide, Samuel. Why then are you brushing your teeth?”

Sam shook his head then rinsed his mouth with water, spat and said, “Because.” He was not talking to the Devil. Of course, the only alternative was he was talking to himself. He didn’t know which was worse.

“Childish”, the Devil chided, doing something inside his head that felt like fingers stroking his brainstem.

Okay, well maybe he did. He thought maybe this was worse. If he were crazy, he could be medicated, but if he weren’t crazy… well, he’d tried suicide (repeatedly) and that didn’t work. He thought he might be a little fucked up in the head at the moment and probably not in any condition for problem solving of this magnitude, but he was out of ideas.

“Why do you want to kill yourself, anyway?” the Devil asked. He asked Sam that a lot. Probably because he didn’t like any of Sam’s answers. “You know where you’re going, don’t you?”

“Maybe I think Hell is better than having Satan setting up housekeeping in my fucking head,” Sam said. He tapped his toothbrush against the side of the sink and went back into the bedroom.

“You’d be wrong. Ask your brother.”

That stung a little, more for the thoughts of Dean that the statement evoked than for anything that had to do with Hell, but he tensed a little. He chose to ignore it and got dressed, then sat down on the side of the bed to put on his boots and tie them.

“Where are you going now?”

“I’m out of razorblades,” Sam said, jerking the knot tight on his right boot.

When the Devil first started talking to him, Sam had thought it was strange that he had to ask Sam questions and didn’t just pluck the answers from his mind. But after a while he’d figured out that for some reason, it didn’t seem to work like that. Satan could set up housekeeping all he wanted, but it looked like the doors to all of the closets where Sam kept his precious secrets had locks on them.

Thank God—or whoever—for small mercies.

“Why don’t you try a gun this time? You’ve got several. Put a hollow-point in it and blow the back of your damn head off. Give me a bit of a challenge this time, won’t you?”

“No,” Sam said. He’d thought of that, but the problem with guns were that they were loud. People would bang on the door or call the police and even if he survived it, he’d be arrested or evicted—both things that he would really like to avoid. Even if he made a silencer for the gun, the bullet could go through the wall or something.

“Fine”, Satan said, tapping his little mental fingers along Sam’s medulla oblongata, giving him the beginnings of a wretched headache.

“Now whose being childish?” Sam muttered. He felt in his pockets for his room key and his wallet as he went out the door and rubbed his temple, making a mental note to add aspirin and cat food to the list with the razorblades.

“You’ll get tired of it before I do, you know,” the Devil whispered, and Sam imagined he felt a tongue in there, stroking his sore mind.

“Of what?” Sam asked as he closed the door and slipped his key back into his pocket.

He felt a piece of paper against his fingertips and took it out of his pocket. It was a folded scrap of yellow paper—the receipt from his lunch at a café the day before. The pretty waitress had written her number on it with For a good time call jokingly scrawled above it. She’d grinned at him and dropped him a wink as she handed it to him and he remembered that he had almost taken her up on it then decided to stay in and kill himself instead.

“You’ll get tired of trying to kill yourself before I get tired of healing you”, the Devil said. “After all, I’ve got nothing but time.”

Sam smirked and started across the parking lot to find a cab. “Yeah, well, thanks to you, neither do I.”

At CVS, Sam got his razorblades, cat food, and aspirin, as well as two candy bars and a bottle of neon blue PowerAde, and was soon on his way back to his motel room. There had been a moment in the store where he thought, from the way the pimply little guy behind the counter was eyeballing him, he might walk out the door and into the waiting arms of local police, but nothing came of it.

It occurred to Sam that he might be developing an overactive case of paranoia. But then he remembered the Devil in his head and had to think for a few minutes about whether or not he’d been talking to him aloud as he shopped. He didn’t think so, but he couldn’t be 100% sure.

It took six aspirin, both candy bars and a beer from the mini fridge by the door to get rid of Sam’s headache. He sat in the bed with his back propped up against the wall with a pillow for support, watching Jay Leno while Envy purred herself to sleep on his belly.

“Ready to try again?” Satan asked, breaking his silence with an unsettling whisper.

Sam involuntarily smacked the back of his neck, like he was swatting at a bee. “Shit,” he hissed under his breath. In his lap, Envy woke up and stared at him with her large, baleful green eyes. “What are you looking at?” Sam muttered, pushing her off the bed. “Go eat your Friskies.”

The cat twitched her tail at him and went into the bathroom. Probably on her way to drink out of the toilet, Sam thought.

“So?”

“So stop pressuring me about it,” Sam snapped. He hit the mute button, cutting Leno off in the middle of a joke. “It’s my suicide. Leave me alone.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?” Sam asked, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

“Because I’m bored and if I hear one more joke about Sarah Palin, I might have to leave you alone for a minute to go kill Jay Leno.”

“You can’t do that,” Sam said.

“Sure I can,” the Devil said. “Don’t worry. No one would blame you. It would look just like a heart attack. He has a preexisting condition, after all.”

“No, I mean you can’t do that. I’m watching that,” Sam said.

“No you’re not. You’re sitting there pretending to watch that so you can pet your cat and not kill yourself. See? You’re getting tired of it already.”

Sam sighed and let his head fall back against the headboard of the bed. “She’s not my cat.”

“Whatever you say, Sammy.”

“Don’t call me that,” Sam nearly shouted, banging his head twice back against the headboard.

“I must be missing something. Why are you hitting yourself?”

“I’m trying to hit you,” Sam said hatefully.

“Is that so?” Satan asked, sounding amused. “Well, you missed.”

Cursing under his breath, Sam moved to sit on the side of the bed. He rubbed his temple and reached for the pack of razorblades on the nightstand next to his toothbrush. “Please, get out of my head,” he whispered, taking one out. The light from the television and the faint light from the bedside lamp hit the blade and flashed. “Please, please leave me alone.”

“I can’t do that,” Satan said.

He almost sounded regretful, but then Sam dismissed that idea and decided the Devil was just fucking with him. “Why the hell not?”

“For starters, because everyone has to be somewhere,” the Devil said. “Besides, I like it here. It’s cozy.”

Sam moved the razorblade between his fingers like he was dancing a coin over his knuckles and shook his head. When he did this, it always felt like he was facing down some unknown enemy with six-guns at high noon instead of contemplating the vein under the scars on his wrist with the pointed edge of the blade in his hand.

“Whenever you’re ready.”

“Will you shut up?” Sam hissed. His hand shook and he almost dropped the razorblade off the back of his index finger.

Envy stood in the bathroom doorway watching him for a minute, then walked around the blood that had spread out and gummed the carpet around the bed to curl up in the chair again.

“I’m going to Hell, aren’t I?” Sam asked, barely a whisper. He had the edge of the razor pressed between two red scars and he was staring at it. “Aren’t I?”

“Everything is rather chaotic at the moment,” Satan said. “How do you know you’re not already there?”

“But if there’s a Hell… Wherever it is, that’s where I’m going,” Sam said.

“Probably.”

Sam took a deep breath, nodded, and quick like you rip off a Band-Aid, he cut. Quick and deep. Quick and bloody. The first squirt of blood shot out and hit him in the mouth. It was slightly salty, vaguely metallic and still warm from his fiercely beating heart. Sam grimaced and ran his tongue over his teeth as he watched blood bubble up like a tiny red waterfall and soak into the already spongy carpet around his feet.

There is a gallon of blood in the average human body and Sam had been at this for over three weeks now. He hadn’t changed motel rooms and a gallon of blood a night soaking into the same carpet and splashing across the same wall for three weeks added up to one hell of a gory, stinking mess.

He spared a second to pity whichever motel cleaning lady should draw the short straw when they opened his door and found his body, then switched hands and slit his other wrist. The blade tried to slip out of his fingers from the blood, but he pinched it tightly between finger and thumb and did it quickly before letting it fall.

The blood started to flow from his body more slowly and Sam blinked, lightheaded with a high, electric ringing in his ears. He slumped back on the bed then his weight took him to the floor, but he didn’t feel himself fall.

Distantly, as he lost consciousness, he thought he heard someone pounding on the door. He heard the Devil’s old, familiar laughter and all he could feel was tired.

“Good night, sweet prince…” Satan whispered.

Sam felt fingers petting his cerebellum gently as he finally slept.

III.


Cursing his way through the alphabet, Dean gave up trying to kick in the door and went in search of a housekeeper with a master key.

He found one, a plump, short, motherly looking woman with iron grey hair twisted back in a severe bun. She didn’t speak very much English and Dean’s Spanish was pretty much limited to swearing and alcohol. Through shouting and bastardized sign language, he managed to get his point across, though and was soon standing behind the lady as she helped him break into Sammy’s room.

The smell, like rotting meat, old pennies and piss, hit them both like a cast iron sucker punch. Dean clapped his hands over his face and took an involuntary step back. He watched the cleaning lady move away from the door, lean her back against the wall and retch.

Once he got past how revolting it all was, Dean’s first panicked thought was, Oh fuck, he’s dead! Because really, nothing that smelled that bad could be alive.

“Sammy,” Dean choked. He coughed and tried again, screaming, “Sammy!” as he threw the door open and started to go in. He halted for a moment just inside the door, eyes wide and shocked at the mess.

He’d never seen anything quite like it. The closest thing to it were pictures taken in old slaughterhouses back in the days before the FDA got their fingers into what people were eating. Back in the days when you were apt to find a human finger in your creamed corn.

There might have been a square inch of carpet not saturated in blood, but he doubted it. Blood was so thick in the carpet fibers that it was stiff and looked kind of slick. There was blood sprayed and spattered over the walls, mostly around the bed and leading to the bathroom. The bed itself was garishly white in the room, which had been made darker with the gore. In the center of it all, at the back of the room under a window, there was a cheap little easy chair with light green upholstery which cast the whole thing into a shocking relief. Sitting in the chair, staring at him curiously, was an ugly black cat with eyes the size of tea saucers two shades darker green than the chair.

For a second, Dean couldn’t even think about his panic, all he could do was stare. A person, especially in the line of work he and Sam had been in all their lives, expected a certain amount of blood and violence as part of the scenery. It came with the job—one of the fringe benefits, Dean sometimes thought. But this… well, to say it exceeded expectations was quite the understatement, to say the least.

“Oh, Jesus,” Dean said.

Behind him, just outside the doorway, the housekeeper shouted something to him in shrill Spanish. Dean didn’t understand her, but right away he figured he had about ten, maybe fifteen minutes to get Sam out of there before cops, state troopers, FBI, CIA, NCIS and whoever else showed up with badges flashing and guns a’ blazing to arrest everyone.

He’d figure out whether or not his brother was dead once he got them both away from there.

He didn’t even see Sam at first, though. Then Dean’s eyes focused, his mind once again sharpened and he looked beyond the black and red mess. Rorschach test, he thought vaguely. Where are you Sammy?

Then he saw Sam, slumped half-on, half-off the bed and didn’t even take time to process the blood caked on his arms, in his hair, and plastering his clothes to his body. He could think about those things later.

He crossed the room, trying to ignore the way the floor squelched under his feet as he walked and lifted Sam off the floor, using the bed to lean him against until he could get him up. He put his shoulder down and rolled it, hefting Sam’s weight like a heavy sack of stones and staggered back out the door carrying him.

Outside, the cleaning woman watched with her mouth hanging open as he took Sam to the Impala and lay him down in the back seat. Dean could sympathize. He knew the feeling.

“Phew, Sammy, if you ain’t dead, you’re gonna need a bath,” Dean muttered, bending Sam’s long legs a little to fit him into the back of the car.

When Dean got Sam settled snugly down in the Impala, he went back into the motel room and swept the place for Sam’s wallet, his I.D., possible library card (it was Sam, after all), grabbed his laptop and his room key and left. He tossed the room key to the confused housekeeper and dumped Sam’s shit in the back of the car with him.

“Checking out,” Dean said to the cleaning lady, enunciating carefully.

He waved to her to show that they were leaving now and then froze with the driver’s side door open. There was that ugly black cat in his passenger seat. It was watching him and purring contentedly.

“I don’t think so,” Dean said, and reached for it. The cat growled low in its throat and batted his hand, scratching his fingers. Dean yelped and put his wounded index and middle fingers in his mouth. “Fucker,” he grumbled around his fingertips. “Fine, whatever. Stay.”

He could always dispose of the creature later, he told himself. And who knew? Maybe the cat would do him a favor and leap out the window while they were going down the highway.

IV.


“…AND JUST WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING NOW?”

Sam groaned and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to get rid of the screaming in his skull. “Oh, God, make it stop,” he muttered.

“God’s dead. Don’t you read Nietzsche?” Satan asked.

“Not with any enthusiasm,” Sam said, rolling onto his back. “Why are you shouting?”

“Because your brother is being a complete nitwit,” the Devil said. He sounded like he was gritting his teeth.

“Well, do you think you could tone it down a notch?” Sam said, opening his eyes to stare blindly up at the ceiling of the Impala. “You’re going to make my head explode if you don’t watch it.”

“Then maybe you need to sit your ass up and talk to him because he’s not listening to anything I say,” the Devil said.

“Maybe he can’t hear you,” Sam said.

“Nonsense,” Satan scoffed. “I wish to be heard—I actually rather fancy the idea of making his head explode—therefore, he should be able to hear me perfectly. He’s just being an ass.”

“Yeah, he does that,” Sam said. He was still half asleep but things were starting to make a little more sense as time passed and the Devil kept up his irritated tirade. He sat up and looked around. “Where are we? I mean I. Where am I?”

“I believe we are parked outside of some sort of rest stop establishment selling candy, soda pop, gasoline and what appears to be your dear brother’s drink of choice, beer.”

“Great, but where?” Sam asked. He could look around the little Chevron parking lot and see all of that for himself.

“Lebanon.”

“Oh, shut up, we are not,” Sam scoffed. It was almost dark, about five or six o’clock, but he could see a kid hanging on the hand of his mother coming out of the store sucking on a Slurpy, walking on his Nikes and wearing his Dallas Cowboys ball cap backward. They were definitely still in the good old U.S. of A.

“Tennessee,” the Devil clarified. “And if we could get back to the object of my annoyance, please. You’re brother is going to kill us.”

Sam’s eyebrows shot up. “Excuse me, what?” He wasn’t really happy that Dean had found him, especially not that Dean had found him unconscious in that particular motel room, but he wasn’t going to go so far as to accuse his brother of attempted murder. Never mind how redundant that would be even if it were true as Sam had spent the better part of a month trying to kill himself. Dean was probably seriously pissed, might even threaten to kill him, but he would never do any such thing. “You’re exaggerating again. What did he really do?”

And why did Sam feel uncomfortably like a parent playing mediator to a couple of spoiled kids?

“He removed the license plates,” Satan said.

Sam marveled at how exactly like a tattling little boy he sounded.

“That’s actually a good idea since someone probably saw him and they’d remember the car,” Sam said.

“Yeah, well they’re still gone. He never replaced them like an intelligent criminal would,” Satan said. He sounded a little too smug about it. “We were chased by highway patrol all the way through Kentucky.”

“Okay,” Sam said, considering it. He ran his fingers through his matted hair, pushing it out of his face. “But we got away, didn’t we?”

“That’s not the point. You both could have died,” the Devil said and he almost sounded like he cared.

“Yeah, and that would suck for you wouldn’t it?” Sam said. In the front seat, Envy had gotten up on her back legs to look at him over the seat and he lifted his hand to pet her before realizing how sticky with blood it was. “All alone in the middle of nowhere with two dead bodies and no one to ride home with.”

“True,” Satan said. He didn’t sound like he was admitting to defeat though. He still sounded like a smug bastard to Sam. “I suppose that means you don’t care to hear how much he’s been drinking, then.”

Sam could only imagine. “Not really, no.”

“Fine, then,” Satan said. Then, almost as an afterthought, he said, “He’s mean to the cat.”

Sam looked at Envy, who seemed to grin back at him as she hopped up on the back of the passenger seat and stuck her head out to sniff him. She was purring.

“Liar,” Sam said, but he was grinning himself.

“I am not,” the Devil said, offended. “I never lie. Just because certain people and uppity asshole deities don’t like what I have to say does not make me a liar.”

“Whatever,” Sam said, dismissing him as he saw Dean coming out of the store and walking toward the car.

Dean had his arms full with a paper bag, out of the top of which stuck the baby blue plastic top of a bag of potato chips. Jesus Christ, he looked good and Sam was really hungry, so the bag looked even better. The only thing missing was coffee. Sam could really use a cup of the stuff right now.

“Almost enough to make you want to go on living, isn’t it?” Satan whispered inside his mind.

Sam shivered, thinking that must have been the tone he used to seduce Eve into biting into that damn apple. He hated how much he liked the way that voice slithered through his brain and made his skin prickle. The son of a bitch was trying to manipulate him and he should have been angry—furious, really—but he wasn’t. He was… tempted.

“No, it isn’t,” Sam choked out. “I’m just hungry, that’s all.”

“Now who’s the liar?”

Dean saw that Sam was awake and sitting up and put his bag on the roof of the car so he could lean down and look in the window at him. “Hey there, Sleeping Beauty,” he said, his voice rough with anger. “I think you’ve got some explaining to do. Why don’t you come up front?”

“Ah… Look, Dean, you shouldn’t have come after me,” Sam said, not moving to get out of the back of the car. “I think… I think I’ll just get out here and—”

Dean snorted and stood back up, his face leaving the frame of the window as he got his bag off the roof and threw it into the passenger seat as he got behind the wheel. “You’re not doing any such thing,” he said, starting the car. “For one thing, you look like a mass murderer fresh off a rampage; you stink, you look like absolute shit and you need a shower. And I want some fucking answers, so get your ass up here now.”

“Are you honestly going to let that little boogersnot speak to you that way?” Satan demanded of Sam, outraged.

Sam winced and shook his head as he reached over to open the car door and get out, almost falling as he stood and closed the door. Now he was getting it from both sides and yeah, his head was starting to throb again.

As for whether or not he was going to let Dean talk to him like that? The short answer, which he muttered under his breath as he rounded the hood of the Impala and got into the passenger seat, was, “Yes.”

Yes, he was going to let Dean speak to him like that because back when they were kids, when Dad was gone, Dean had been the dad. When something happened to Sam, Dean was there. When Sam was in trouble, Dean either got him out of it or punished him for it by making him feel like shit about it. Dean nuked the Spaghetti-O’s; made sure Sam brushed his teeth and sometimes kept watch over his bed with a handgun at night. So when Dean spoke to him like that, like he was really mad and not just being a dick, Sam listened because anything else was like telling your mother to go fuck herself.

And this time, Sam figured he probably deserved the ass-chewing that was most likely imminent.

Dean watched him as Sam shifted the bag to the floor between his legs and moved the cat into the backseat. “You’re stalling,” he growled.

Sam turned his head and looked at Dean through the dirty hair falling in his face as he opened the bag of chips. “No, I’m not. I really am hungry. How long was I… out?”

“Two days,” Dean said, his jaw clenching with emotion as he looked away from Sam back out the windshield. He swallowed and desperately wished for a beer from the bag at Sam’s feet.

Sam saw the way Dean glanced at the bag and his lips twitched. He reached down and got a bottle of Coors from the bag, handing it to Dean and attempting a smile, hoping to coax an answering one from him.

Dean took the bottle gratefully and twisted the top off, but there was no smile. “Thanks,” he said, and drank deeply.

“Sure,” Sam said. “Dean…”

“No, spill it, Sammy,” Dean said. “I want to know what the fuck happened, why did you leave like that? What the hell’s going on? And here, hold this while I back out,” he added, pushing his beer into Sam’s hands to shift.

Sam held the beer and didn’t say anything until they were on the highway. Then Dean put a hand out for it and Sam gave it to him and said, “I’m sorry.”

“Are you?” Dean said. “I don’t even know what for, but I already don’t believe you.”

“Is he always like this?” the Devil asked.

“Like what?” Sam whispered, ducking his head to pretend like he was eating potato chips, not talking… to himself.

“Like this. Irritating and self-righteous. That guilt-tripping bullshit makes me want to squeeze his throat until his eyes pop like grapes in a microwave.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, biting his bottom lip to keep from laughing. He ate a chip, which was salt and vinegar flavored and made his mouth burn.

“Sammy?” Dean said, watching him cautiously out of the corners of his eyes. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Alright,” Sam said with a sigh. He put the potato chips back in the bag with the six-pack of beer and whatever other munchies Dean had bought (pie probably wasn’t a bad guess) and sat back, staring out the side window. “I’ll tell you; just… it’s a long story. Maybe you should find someplace to pull over for the night. I really do need a shower.”

“Do you think that’s wise?” the Devil asked him.

“Well yeah, I really do stink,” Sam muttered. “I mean, I can’t smell myself, but I bet—”

“Sammy, what the fuck is going on?” Dean demanded, turning his head to look at him.

He looked a little scared and Sam felt bad about that, but he couldn’t help it.

“You keep out of this, you idiot,” Satan hissed, presumably at Dean, who could not hear him. To Sam he said, “I actually think a long bath sounds like a splendid idea. I can smell you and take it from me, you smell horrible. What I meant was, do you really think it’s a good idea to tell him everything?”

“I don’t really have much choice,” Sam said.

“My dear boy, you always have a choice,” Satan told him. “Now, sometimes that other option is an unsavory one, but it leaves you with a choice nonetheless.”

“No,” Sam said, shaking his head. “Look, I’m going to tell him, so just—”

“Damn right you’re going to tell me,” Dean said. “Starting with who the fuck you’re talking to.”

“For example, he keeps a handgun under the passenger seat, doesn’t he?” the Devil said. “Were you in a more cooperative and homicidal state of mind, you could always reach down and get it out and blow his pretty little brains out. Spray them like some great contemporary modern artwork right there across the window. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

“No,” Sam said, his stomach turning as he envisioned it happening just like the Devil had described it far more vividly than he would have liked. “No, I will not. You shut up.”

“Sammy, I love you, but don’t make me break your nose,” Dean said, his eyes flashing.

“Go ahead and try it, you pussified little mud weasel,” Satan said.

At the same time, Sam said, “Not you.”

Dean scowled out the windshield and watched the road signs for a place to stop for the night. “Then who—”

“Just…” Sam pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. “Just stop. Both of you, stop it.”

Dean’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Both of who?”

“Dean, please,” Sam said tiredly.

“Please let me smite him,” Satan whispered, and there were those pleasure fingers on Sam’s brain again. “I’ll even be nice about it. Make it painless.”

“No. Shut up,” Sam snapped.

“But why?” Satan asked, almost whining it.

Sam gritted his teeth and turned his head away from Dean’s prying eyes and ears. “Because I love him,” Sam whispered. Not because it was wrong, not because he shouldn’t or because it would be evil. No, Sam was a much more simple, much more selfish creature; he would not kill Dean because he loved him.

“Oh, I know you love him, though I’ll be damned if I can figure out why.”

“You’re damned anyway,” Sam said, smiling to himself a little. “If you do or if you don’t.”

“There’s a campground two miles from here, we’ll stop there,” Dean said. He sounded a little breathless and shaky and Sam thought maybe Dean had heard what he said anyway. “We can… we’ll just sleep in the car.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “Fine. Then I’ll tell you what’s going on and you can tell me where we’re going.”

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Tags: sam/dean
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