Summary: A man walks into a bar... First venture into a longer story that I'm 'publishing'. No Mary Sues, no character death. One-sided slash.
Disclaimer: None you know are belong to us.
Thank You: Especially to wild wolf free17, who graciously betaed this length of lunacy...that means that the mistakes remaining are a cunning lot indeed. And completely mine.

Spoilerish for 2x09. Also highly likely to be AU. Because honestly, if Kripke & co. will pull a stunt like this... :D


by Sade Lyrate

The clouds above promised rain, the blacktop dull in the twilight, the neon lights' reflections dim. He'd followed the trail here, the seductive smell that was all about unfulfilled potential, betrayal, nightmares.

Duane Tanner shrugged, the coolness biting through his jacket, his unerring steps easily leading him up the stairs, past the people out for a smoke, into the bar. Hardly early hours anymore, so there was crowd enough. And alone, hermit's aura around him, the man whose scent had attracted the other man. Hunched, shoulders pulled in, head bowed, he was a far cry from the tall man he'd been hardly over a week ago.

Memories caressed through his mind, bitter-sweet and so suggestive it was just too bad nothing but ache had come from it.

Time to pick up where we left off...

As casually as he could manage, he ordered a beer, watched out of the corner of his eye the dull-gazed man down rest of the bottle in his hands, request another. The cast on his right arm was away, but he seemed to still favour his left. There was a backpack at his feet, a duffel next to it.

"Sam?" He called, curious.

The man looked up sharply, blinking away bleariness. There was redness to the eyes, brightness so close to what had been in them the night in River Grove.
Confident enough not to get a fist flashing out at him now, Duane stepped closer. Not close enough really, but...he welcomed female wiles, up until they'd tried a bit of bonding. Male? Who knew?

Despite the slight slant to Sam's appearance, the hazel eyes were wary upon him, the face closed, the cogwheels trying to turn in tar.

"It's me, Duane Tanner. Remember? River Grove, Night of the Living Dead?"

Mute nod, quick, hollow smile, eyes turning back to the bottle in his hands, some of the tightness in his shoulders slipping loose.

Well, this'll be easy...

"You okay?"

Sideways glance at him, slight smirk with a bit more sincerity to it than before.

"Yeah. Just needed a drink." The voice was quiet, rough around the edges. "And you? You and Sarge still together?"

"Nah," he answered, shrugging, sipping his own beer. "Mark dropped me off several miles out of River Grove. He wanted to go north, I wanted to go south, so..."

Sam straightened a bit, glanced around himself, returned his eyes back to the younger man beside him.

"So how'd you end up here?"

"Hey, I'm not half-bad hiker. And there was this nice old lady who gave me a ride on her way here."

Sam chuckled at that, tipped his bottle.

"What about you?" Duane looked around the bar, his brow furrowing after a breath. "Where's...Dean, was it?"

The hazel eyes darkened, the lines of Sam's face settled briefly into a scowl, not facing him.

"Doesn't matter."

Silence stalked the air around them, weighted with wariness.
Duane cleared his throat, took a swig of his own beer.

"So, uh..." Sam stared at the label, shoulders hunched, drawn in on himself again. Duane bit his lip. "What happened?"

"What the fuck does it matter?" Quiet, bitter, another draught drowning further words.

"Hey..." Tentative, fingers brushed against the long digits wrapped around the bottle. Sam cast him a glance, faltering in his caution. "It doesn't. I just thought...I don't know." He withdrew his hand slightly, let it rest on the bar, easily within reach, his eyes holding Sam's. "You two seemed to be pretty tied up with each other. So I guess I just thought he'd be, you know, somewhere close by...?"

Mirthless chuckle, the hard eyes turning back to the bottle, fingers rising to scratch at the label's corner.

"You wanna talk about it?"

The muscles stilled, grabbed a new hold, tipped more of the beverage into Sam.

"Not really."

Duane shrugged, fingers lightly touching Sam's shoulder as he changed his pose, leaned his elbows against the bar, eyes on the tall man.

"So then we don't. We can just sit here, complain how lousy our favourite team's been lately, brag about our finest catches, plan how much better off the world'd be if only we could run the country for a minute."

There was genuine joy in the spark that twinked in Sam's eyes, in the smile that flashed over his lips, revealing teeth, deepening dimples.

"Or then I can just leave you to your beer and go see where I could crash for the night." He pushed himself off the bar, watched with keen curiosity as Sam's shy fingers reached out, halted to hover inches in front of his chest. There was weariness to the man's voice as he spoke quietly.

"''s good. Alone I'd just..." He rolled his eyes, shook his head slightly. "Let's just say there's been a lot of weird shit hitting the fan lately."

"'Weird shit'?"

"Not really anything I'd like to dwell on."

"Maybe I could help with that?"

Another joyless chuckle, hazel eyes steadfast on the bottle again.

"Our level 'weird shit'. Which essentially means the nice men in white coats are coming to take me to the funny farm within the first five minutes if I open my mouth."

There was resentment in the voice now, spite spanning years, strenghtened by scolding or two, no doubt. Gently, Duane laid his hand on Sam's thigh, almost touching as he locked onto Sam's eyes again.

"Hey, remember? I was there. I saw what happened. I think I have a pretty good picture of the 'weird shit' you're talking about."

The hazel eyes faced his, uncertainty swimming in the depths.

"It's okay, Sam," he almost whispered, feeling the muscle twitch under his hold.

Sam blinked, released his grasp on the bottle, slid off the chair leaving it between them. He leaned on the bar, right hand rising to run over his face.

"I-I better go," he stammered, grabbing his bags, starting to stumble through the twilight and the throng inside the establishment.

"Sam, wait!" It would have been easy to catch up with the man, his gait's normal grace diminished by the alcohol he'd downed. Duane let him reach the door before going after him, though, so that when he did catch a hold of Sam's arm, they were outside, on the border of the bar's lights.
Despite his state, Sam snatched his arm violently away.

"Just go, Duane. You really don't want to stick around me." Dark eyes, blazing with contempt barely hiding the guilt.

"So I should just let you walk away? In your state?"

Sam looked away, biting his lip, glanced back with bright eyes, pain etched deep in every pore of his being.

Gently, Duane laid his hands on the taller man's shoulders, gripped enough for the touch to register.

"Sam, it's okay," he said, looking straight into the hazel eyes. " to me...let me help..."

A moment more, those soulful eyes on his, that strong body holding itself up. His fingers nudged, and Sam folded in on himself like a house of cards, long fingers covering his face. Duane wrapped his arms around the broad shoulders, revelling in the feel of that body so close to his, Sam's ragged breaths a delight.

"It's all gonna be alright, Sammy-boy..." he whispered, planting a kiss to the side of Sam's neck.

Author's Note:
A rabid little bunny sunk its mad little teeth into my jugular and refused to let go until I wrote this down.
I have a fatal fear of spoilers at this moment, so all of this is just perfectly innocent insanity.
It would be highly appreciated if any comments people may feel inclined to leave were bereft of anything having to do with 2x10 and later episodes. Thank You.

At the moment the bunny's desperately trying to tell me that there's more where this came from, but...
What do you think?