"Devil in a Yellow Dress"
Sometimes he almost forgets Dean is a pretty decent human being. There are plenty of arguments against it, after all: the unrepentant libidinousness, the credit card fraud, the lies that come as easily as breathing. But then Sam will sit bolt upright in bed, shaking and sweating from a nightmare or just some memory gone dark, and Dean will press one warm hand flat against Sam's back, not rubbing or soothing, just providing a tie to the real world, and he'll slump against his big brother and he'll know that Dean is doing his best, and his best is something no one else can compete with.
No darkness can be permanent with Dean's presence lighting the edges.
So, yeah, when it comes down to good vs. evil, despair vs. hope, all the stuff the poets spout on about, he knows he's gotten lucky, having Dean at his side and unwilling to budge. The rest of the time, Dean is a goddamn pest.
She smells comforting when she crawls over and climbs on top of him in the dark. He keeps thinking that if he could just taste her, he'd be able to identify that sharp fragrance and figure out her true identity. It's a scent he's grown up with, and its familiarity is driving him crazy as she runs her hands over his chest, rocks her hips, and takes him inside her.
Dean gives him plenty of room the next morning, eyeing him from angles he can only sense but never quite catch. Their eyes meet briefly over the rims of their coffee mugs, and Sam plunks his down, hard and flat on the table. "What?"
Dean apparently takes the question as an invitation and looks him over inch by inch. "Nothin', man. I just thought -"
"What, Dean? What did you think?" he snaps, like Dean having thought processes is the most ridiculous thing ever. He doesn't know why he's acting like this.
"Who, whoa, crankypants," Dean says with only the barest hint of anger at the edge of his voice. "You don't wanna talk about it, we won't." He spears the last bite of sausage link.
"Really." He hates how his voice has gone all suspicious.
Dean just shrugs and chews and leaves a few bucks for the waitress on the table under the salt and pepper shakers.
They're sitting in the Impala outside a haunted house when Dean clears his throat. Sam can't believe how dumb most people must be if Dean, who is the most transparent person on the planet, can manage to hustle them at pool and poker on pretty much a weekly basis. "Sammy . . ." he starts.
"It's Sam," he interrupts, just to throw off Dean's rhythm, maybe keep him from slipping back into that voice that's like a worn blanket, promising to keep Sam safe and warm.
"Sam," Dean continues readily, "I don't want to tell you how to grieve. But I thought that meeting Sarah might've helped you see things."
"What things?" He sticks his chin out aggressively, his eyes on the EMF meter sitting on the dashboard.
"That you weren't the one who hurt Jessica. That wallowing in memories of her can't be good for you."
This is a new low for Dean, and he turns furious eyes on his big brother. "Who the fuck said anything about Jess?"
Dean appears totally taken aback. "You were having dream-sex last night," he mumbles, finally looking away.
Dean's embarrassment should be a golden opportunity, but Sam suddenly remembers he has no idea who the girl was.
He's juggling about twelve different things, so it's only when they're in the thick of it, with pissed-off spirits coming at them from every side, that he realizes that the can of salt he's just picked up is far too light. There can't be enough in there to lay down a circle around himself and Dean, and he mutters, "Shitfuckshit" over and over as he crouches down to shake out the salt anyway. He uses Dean's heavy boots as the center of his compass, pivoting surely around them, and when he stands back up, the circle is complete, the ring of salt thick and shining white. Dean finishes the Latin prayer, grabs his shotgun, and fires.
The house is cleansed and they scoop up their gear and head back to the car. "Dean," he says, holding out the canister, "feel this."
"You're kidding; you want the crash course on pick up lines now?" Dean smarts off, not even glancing his way, his hands moving quickly to put everything in its place inside the Impala's capacious trunk.
There are times when an eyeroll or a scowl just won't cut it. He shoves the canister into Dean's side. "Feel it," he grits out.
Dean takes it from him, hefts it with his eyebrows up inquiringly. "Yeah. We're running low."
"That's how light it felt when we went into the house. But I got enough out to make a full circle."
He can see Dean's look of shame, and he's so not in the mood for Dean to beat himself up for failing to move heaven and earth in his bid to protect Baby Sammy. Who could pick Dean up with one hand. But Dean recovers quicker than he'd bargained for, and grins like a fool, saying, "Heartwarming, Sam. The Winchester version of Hanukkah."
He tosses the can into the trunk, slams it shut, and brushes roughly past Sam to get into the car.
She pants against his ear, breath hot and wet, and closes her teeth gently around his earlobe as she grinds down on top of him. "Mine," she says. "Mine."
He opens his eyes, tries to see who's claiming him, but it's dark as pitch in the motel room. Her hands are pressing his against the mattress. Where the hell is Dean? Before he can shout for his brother, she captures his mouth with hers. And again, he knows this taste, this flavor, but he just can't identify it.
"Not hurting you, Sam," she whispers, voice threaded with sincerity; "saving you. Always. Saving you."
She kisses his chest and blinks out of existence; he sits up abruptly and Dean's steady hand is warm on his back.
Dean's apparently had enough of treading lightly. "So, Sammy, is she hot?"
He glares at his leering brother, wishing he had a mute button for Dean. "Sorry. I meant, is she pretty?" Dean mocks, widening his ridiculous Bambi eyes, fluttering his eyelashes and simpering.
Sam's ready to knock him flat. Before he can do more than picture his brother landing smack on his ass and think yeah, that'd be nice, Dean's got a firm grip on his wrist. "Sam," he says, his voice serious, "do you smell sulfur in these dreams?"
"No. I'm not an idiot, Dean, and she's not a succubus."
"Okay." Dean nods, clearly very pleased with himself for having gotten Sam to talk. "So who is she?"
He zips his lips defiantly but then he remembers how desperately he'd wanted to cry out for Dean while she was on top of him. "I don't know. I can't see her."
Dean looks startled by his admission, and he wonders how much Dean thinks he keeps hidden. It's not a pleasant thought. And then Dean just proves why privacy and silence are good ideas when he's around when he muses, "Some sort of weird Psyche thing? But if you're the god of love, we're all in for a world of trouble."
He takes one look at Sam's irritated frown and amends, "No, we'll figure it out. She's not hurting you?" Sam shakes his head. "And it's definitely not a memory?"
He shakes his head again. He only wishes he could remember the things he and Jess did in this kind of detail.
Dean reaches up to ruffle his hair. "It's okay, Sammy; we'll make it okay."
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. And sometimes Dean's just a great big idiot.
"Leave the lights on? That's your stroke of genius?"
Dean looks at him silently, and Sam can see faint smudges of purple at the corners of his eyes. Dean's voice is hoarse, even though the last time he shouted was at the drive-in two nights ago, cheering when the chainsaw locked into place on what was left of Ash's hand. Dean better not be getting sick; when he does succumb to illness, it's always something nasty, something that'll take days to get past.
He waits for Dean to defend his brilliance, and frowns when his brother remains uncharacteristically silent. "Fine." He strips down to his underwear and digs in his bag for his softest clean t-shirt. He's exhausted and in no mood to debate the finer points of nocturnal visitations with Dean anyway.
He wakes up completely refreshed; when he looks at the clock on the bedside table, he's shocked to find that he's slept for nearly twelve hours. All that's in the room is his smaller duffel, the one that holds his clothes and toiletries.
Dean bursts through the door, holding two of the biggest cups of coffee he's ever seen. "Checkout's in fifteen, Sammy," he says, his voice totally shot. "I'll wait in the car."
When he gets out to the dusty and run-down Impala, he can see Dean behind the wheel, the line of his shoulders betraying anxiety and uncertainty. "Dean," he says, tapping lightly against the window so that Dean will pop the trunk; he's startled when Dean looks up at him with eyes that look like weeping sores, red and watery and nearly lifeless.
He dumps his bag in the trunk and steps back around to Dean's window, intending to make Dean slide over and let him drive. But Dean turns the key decisively, nodding as the engine thrups and roars, so Sam gets into his accustomed place. He waits for the first blast of terrible music, but Dean's apparently content with the Impala's proud purrs.
He takes a long sip of his coffee, relishing the sugar Dean dumped in for him. "Where we headed?"
"Away," Dean says tersely. "Now that we know the light scared off your little friend, I'm thinking maybe she's not such a threat after all. Could be all it takes to shake her is a change of address."
He's not sure if he believes that. Moreover, he's not even sure if he thinks Dean believes that; it sounds too much like the tone of voice Dean puts on whenever he promises that they'll join up with Dad again, that they'll all kill the Demon together. A little too much wishful thinking.
"She seemed more powerful than that," he says, and Dean's bloodshot eyes cut sharply to him.
"Powerful how?" he asks intently.
He takes another long swallow of coffee, wishing he'd just kept quiet. He does not want to discuss his sex life with Dean, even if it is imaginary.
"She's always on top, right?" Dean finally asks, breaking the silence. Sam pivots, wondering if Dean's developing mind powers too. "I see you when you're dreaming," Dean says matter-of-factly, like it's just another case, and he breathes a little easier. He nods. "Okay," Dean says, "so she's always on top. Think it's because she can't get flat on her back?"
"Like, does she have wings, Sammy?"
"No!" He doesn't think he would've missed something like that. He stiffens when he realizes the implication of Dean's question. "What, like a harpy? She's got a mouth, Dean, not a beak!"
Dean just looks at him and he tries valiantly not to blush when Dean's eyebrows raise at the word "mouth." Maybe he emphasized it a little too much. "Mouth, huh? Does nasty things with it?" Dean asks, agreeably amending it to, "nice things?" when all he gets is a frown.
They sit for a while in silence, the world zipping by. All of a sudden he can't take it anymore. "She feels human to me," he says softly. Dean turns the radio on.
The place that Dean pulls into soon afterward is several distinct steps up from their usual stops. There's a carpeted lobby that's decorated almost tastefully. A sign on the front desk sternly notes Small children should not be left unattended.
"Dude, I know," Dean sighs. "Neither should large children." He nudges Sam.
Sam dithers between two contradictory comebacks - (a) Dean's the biggest child he's ever met and (b) he only seems large because Dean's a fucking midget - and grits his teeth in frustration that he can't just pick one. Dean watches him with knowing, tired eyes. "Humor, sense of," he says; "look into it sometime, Sammy," he finishes as a smiling clerk accepts the credit card sliding her way.
They get up to their room and Dean seems to lose consciousness the minute he catches sight of the two queen-sized beds. He pitches face first into one of the six pillows adorning his bed and tries half-heartedly to toe off his boots and shimmy out of his jeans and jacket. Sam manages to get Dean under the covers and comfortable with a judicious mixture of nagging and helping, and smoothes down his brother's rumpled hair carefully. Dean looks like shit on toast, and if he's accepting a little babying, then whatever he's got must be pretty bad.
He clicks on the TV, keeping the sound down low, settling on back-to-back showings of Miss Congeniality. He looks over when the credits roll by again, but Dean's still out like a light and Sam's not particularly hungry. He clicks off the lights and climbs into bed.
She's on top of him almost instantly, and he wishes he'd left the light on. She holds his head in her hands and kisses him for endless minutes and he realizes he doesn't need to break away to breathe. Something about this just isn't right. He gets his hands on her back, checking frantically for wings, but his fingers simply skim over smooth skin.
"You want to see me," she says into his mouth, like she's been waiting for this moment.
He blinks and there's a faint light all around them, not nearly as bright as the bedside lamp, but enough to see her figure above his.
She is naked, lush, voluptuous. His eyes dwell for long moments on her heavy breasts, the gentle curve of her belly. Her legs, tucked alongside his hips, are smooth and toned. He sits up a little, resting his weight on his elbows, and gets closer. Her features are unsettlingly familiar, and her skin is pure white and flawless. He's never seen such perfect skin on a mortal, and he's starting to get nervous. It's her hair that reassures him of her humanity, a dyed-looking brassy yellow with black shadows woven throughout; he's seen hair like that on girls in every town in America.
"Do you like what you see?" she asks.
"Yes," he affirms and she presses herself against him and rides him hard and fast. He shouts when he comes.
He misses it somehow but there's suddenly a yellow dress in her hands. She pulls it over her head and shakes her hair to keep it from lying flat.
She smiles at him and looks over at Dean contemplatively. "He's a looker, isn't he? I like him so much more like this."
"More than what?" he asks. He feels like she's continuing a conversation he's forgotten they ever had.
"When he's not shouting at me, trying to see me so that he can banish me with some stupid ritual. When he's not carrying on like I'm killing you."
"He - what?" No wonder Dean's been so exhausted, if he's been spending his nights trying and failing to get rid of her. Sam looks over at her and he realizes how short her dress really is. He wants to march her over to the wall, pin her there with his hips, hike up that dress, and thrust into her like there's no tomorrow.
"Tell him, okay?" She smiles at him and leans over to kiss him again. "I'm not going to hurt you. I've always had a soft spot for you, Sammy. I'm glad you're back."
Before he can ask back from where, she vanishes.
He follows Dean into the gas station convenience store so that he doesn't end up with Twinkies and Mountain Dew again. That is not the breakfast of champions, no matter what Dean's unfair metabolism might say. Dean stocks up on shit and then follows him as he tries to locate the aisle where the granola bars, nuts, and seeds are stocked. He's reaching for a bag of sunflower seeds when he sees them, the dark cylinders of Morton Salt.
"Dude, what? You need the unshelled kind for your full-on Mulder impression?"
He doesn't even bother turning around. "That's her," he says, pointing at the slim figure drawn in black and yellow and white on the label.
It only takes Dean a moment. His eyes go wide and horrified. "Sam!" he barks. "That's a child!" His voice is dripping with disgust. "She's wearing a babydoll dress!"
"You haven't seen what's underneath it!" he says weakly. The rage on Dean's face doesn't go away.
"Sam," Dean grits out, stepping very close and cupping the back of his head hard, "tell me."
He can't look at his brother when he tries to explain. "That's definitely her face. But that must be an old picture. Drawing, whatever. She's not a kid, Dean, I swear."
Dean lets go of his head and grabs one of the cans. "Salt, huh?" He eyes Sam for a moment before deciding it's safe to proceed. "How bright can she be, if she's spilling it all over the road?"
He opens his mouth to defend her - refusing to acknowledge how sad it is that anything Dean says in that tone of voice must instantly be shot down - when he makes the connection. "She kept saying she was saving me. This must be why I got salt from a nearly empty container at the Nicholson house."
Dean shoots him a sharp look and then relaxes into a grin. "I like this chick," he says, as if he hadn't been driving himself crazy with ways to get rid of her. "Grab some rock salt, Sammy. We do need to stock up and we shouldn't make her do all the work."
"Why me?" he asks when she pulls off the yellow dress and slithers on top of him.
"Like I said," she purrs, threading her fingers through his hair, tugging approvingly, "I've always had a soft spot for you. And you understand salt." She bites the tip of his nose before kissing him fiercely.
"But why me? Why not Dean? Or . . . my dad?" Now he needs to scrub his brain with bleach, picturing her with his father. "They're the ones who taught me about salt."
"Oh, Sammy," she sighs. "I'm not going to come between a man and his wife. And I missed you while you were gone, living in your dream world." She rocks distractingly against him, her hips moving in tight, sure circles. "I felt it when you finally let go, let yourself see girls again. I've been waiting for you to be ready."
"I'm ready now," he promises, pulling her back down. Dean has to go out to find some fun, but his comes right to him. It's like Dean said: this life ain't without its perks.
He flips them both over and pounds into her, smiling when he feels her ankles lock over his back.