Title: American Myth
Author: Candle Beck
Pairing: Sam/Dean, slash.
Rating: R
Spoilers: Through 'In My Time Of Dying,' but nothing real specific.
Summary: Because the Impala really deserves equal billing.

American Myth

By Candle Beck

Sam is leaning against the car watching the numbers on the gas pump fly upwards, sunstroked and a little hungover with his hair in front of his eyes and his mouth cracked in a constant half-yawn, and Dean, coming back from the store with an armful of Red Bull and beef jerky, says sharply across the bleached cement, "Sam, will you get your ass off my car when you've got a goddamn knife in your back pocket," and Sam bitches back at him on autopilot, and suddenly they're knee fucking deep into another fight.

This one lasts into Oklahoma, where Sam gets exhausted by the stare of the land, the vast brown reach of nothing in all directions, and lapses into a sullen silence, forfeiting the last word. This is how most of their fights end, with Dean believing that he's won.

Sam's getting pretty good and goddamn sick of it, actually, like there's a crank in the small of his back that tightens every inch of his skin, and Dean keeps turning it with every smirk and every idle insult and every time he calls him Sammy. Dean knows what he's doing, always watching Sam for his reactions, sucking on the inside of his cheek so that a small hollow forms. Sam won't give him the satisfaction, staring out the window so that all Dean can see is the line of Sam's neck, finger-twisted hair half-obscuring his ear, a piece of his cheek.

Small victory, Sam thinks, feeling sick. He lets his forehead rest on the window, curling his shoulder up and closing his eyes. The heat outside bleeds through, a flat red circle taking shape on Sam's forehead, a bead of sweat racing down the back of his neck. These stupid bickering fights seem to mean more out here in the middle of nowhere; they acquire portentous resonance and depth, because it kinda feels like the world has ended, like Sam and Dean are the only history left, and they're wasting it on this.

"Sam?" Dean says.

Sam opens his eyes, brown brown brown and the narrow chewed-up strip of gray asphalt at the shoulder, an unbroken white line. He doesn't move.

"Sam, are you awake, man?"

No, Sam says to the imaginary Dean who lives in his head and occasionally shuts his mouth long enough for Sam to get a word in. I'm not awake, I don't want to talk to you. Go away.

Dean exhales shortly, and sniffs hard. Sam can hear the faint sound of his fingers rattling on the wheel, the more substantial thwack of his ring. A green highway sign leaps past, twelve miles to gas food lodging, and Sam imagines that they will stop to eat and Dean will take the pickle off Sam's plate without asking, that shit-eater grin of his, and Sam will want to stab the fork through his hand. Sam doesn't even like pickles; it's the principle of the thing.

"Just don't fuck with my car, is all I was trying to say," Dean mutters, almost inaudibly and mostly to himself, and Sam tenses, wants to scream, I wasn't, and his eyes are burning and he knows that Dean can tell he's awake now—he's shaking a little—but Sam is biting his tongue hard, copper in his mouth and his hands wrenched into fists, hidden against the door.

Dean says his name once more, and then he's quiet again. Sam counts the mile markers and the telephone poles and his own slowing heartbeat, anything until he doesn't want to kill his brother anymore.


This was a bad idea, Sam tells his imaginary Dean, watching the real Dean prowl around the motel room gauging which of the beds he wants. We're nothing alike and we've never in our lives gotten along. There's no reason to think that just because we're not kids anymore, we somehow learned how to stand each other.

They're still not speaking, and Dean finally settles on the bed by the window, tossing his bag into the corner and flopping down on his back, arms spread out like a crucifixion. Sam studies him from the doorway, his own bag still on his shoulder, his gun jammed awkwardly in his belt.

Dean could be alone in the room, his breaths measured and his face smoothed out. His boots stick out over the edge of the bed because he hates getting mud or crumbs or blood on sheets he intends to sleep in, and his shirts are crumpled at the corner, revealing a taut wedge of his stomach, skinny ribbon of gray shorts showing over the top of his jeans. A spur of arousal in Sam at the sight of it, but that only irritates him more, one more hold Dean has on him.

Sam drops his bag and adjusts his gun so it sits more comfortably. Dean's holding still, his face intent and his eyes shut, but Sam knows he's listening. Sam doesn't care; he's already put in a day, a fucking lifetime of this shit, and now he's getting the hell out before he does something they'll both regret. He checks for the room key and his wallet and his knife in his pockets, and walks out. Just before the door shuts with a layered click, he hears Dean's voice rising, half-petulant, almost a whine, "Where the fuck-"

But Sam's already gone.


It's been fifteen years since Dean sat on Sam's chest and locked Sam's head between his knees, drawing crude tears in black ink on Sam's cheeks, face contorted and enraged, helpless as Dean singsonged under his breath, "Crybaby, cry. Crybaby baby cry." Fifteen years since Sam used his knife (the very same) to cut the tongues out of Dean's favorite shoes in retaliation, sniffling and swiping angrily at his eyes, smearing ink all over. That was the first night that Sam thought he might want to run away someday.

He's thinking about that, playing his fingertips unconsciously high on his cheek, sitting in the lemon-colored glow of the all-night diner he'd found. He can't remember crying much as a child, and he assumes that it was the first thing their father trained out of them. It makes sense, because as it turns out, there are monsters under the bed and being scared, crying, means getting eaten.

But Dean's the shining exception to the rule, as usual, and Sam can immediately call to mind a dozen times that Dean reduced him to tears when they were kids, simple vicious older brother kind of stuff in between stretches of him being Sam's very favorite person in the world.

Sam's not sure how tenable it is that he both hero-worshipped and hated Dean for the first twelve years of his life, dim memory of cognitive dissonance from Intro to Psychology, and even now, when he can't bear sharing breath with Dean, he's aware that he'd still die for his brother without thought or hesitation or effort.

Sam stopped crying pretty much for good by the time he was thirteen, but Dean still riles him up better than anyone else, better even than their dad does—did. Dean knows him far too well, having installed half of Sam's buttons himself: his sensitivity to having his ears fucked with, his dislike of daddy long legs, the fact that smelling spoiled milk or tequila first thing in the morning will make him throw up. Dean always says just the right thing, gets under Sam's skin just that much more, decades of practice and an innate genius for it, anyway.

Headlights splash across the diner's windows, and it's a testament to something that Sam can recognize the Impala from that alone, two high white-gold blasts like small suns in the dark of the parking lot.

He sighs and pours another sugar into his coffee. He really doesn't know what he was expecting. Dean isn't the type to let things be, nor the type to fall asleep without knowing where Sam is, and the town's only so big, after all. Sam considers escaping through the kitchen and out the back, but it seems simultaneously sordid and melodramatic, so instead he orders a donut.

Dean comes in like a storm, banging the door open and making the waitress braiding her hair listlessly at the counter jump, looking guilty and startled. Dean cases the room quickly, a little metallic ting in the back of Sam's mind when Dean's eyes light on him for a second. Dean orders a cup of coffee and doesn't sit down.

Sam picks a few sprinkles off his donut, scowling. He'd anticipated a glazed, for one thing, and it doesn't seem like too much to ask, a decent donut, an hour or two outside arm's reach of his brother, time to catch his breath.

Across the nauseating washed-out green linoleum, Dean is saying to the waitress, "Passing through, yes ma'am. Me an' my brother, we gonna rodeo down in Texas, that's the plan."

Rolling his eyes, Sam lifts his coffee to cover his smirk. Dean's performing, and Sam's his sole audience, the only one who knows it's an act, which is nothing new, of course. Sam has always kinda liked the lies that Dean makes up about them, different lives that they might have led.

"Learned to ride 'fore we learned to walk," Dean's saying, and Sam realizes that he's imitating a friend of their dad's, Kentucky Pete who sold them weaponry and ammunition with his drawl broad and flat as his brushcut, but the grin on Dean's face, hooked up in one corner, is Dean's own.

Sam takes a moment trying to remember the last time Dean smiled, and it was at the motel's check-in girl, and before that another waitress, before that the guy with blue hair at the gas station. He can't remember the last time Dean smiled at him, though, and he slumps back in the booth, depressed and still pretty angry.

You shouldn't have followed me, he thinks, squeezing his fist in his hand under the table. The imaginary Dean in his head only shrugs, chewing on a toothpick, his shoulders loose and his thumbs hasped in his belt loops. Can't get enough of you, Sammy, he says, and Sam thinks sourly that it's just like Dean to be a dick even when he's a construct of Sam's imagination.

Sneaking looks through curls of steam, Sam's waiting for Dean to come over and pick up right where he left off, but Dean only leaves two dollars on the counter and takes a booth that allows him to face Sam. They're mirror images across the landscape of red vinyl, under the fluorescents, drinking their coffee and pretending not to watch each other.

Sam finds himself discomforted after awhile, edgy and out of place with sugar under his nails and caffeine starting to burr under his skin. He doesn't like Dean treating him like some stranger, sad late-night loser killing time on two dollars, but he doesn't want Dean to come over, either. It's another contradiction and Sam hates that.

Eventually the coffee is gone and the donut is reduced to a few slight grease stains on the napkin, and Sam's crawling out of his skin, so he gets up, knees popping, and walks over to Dean's table. Dean's eyes flash but he covers his expression too quickly to be read.

"What are you doing here?" Sam asks in a low voice. No reaction, no anger. He couldn't care less about Dean Winchester.

Dean raises his mug in a little mock toast. "Wrestling alligators, Sam."

Sam huffs through his nose. "Dean-"

"I'm not doing anything. I'm just sitting here." Dean looks up at him and his face is all hard and his eyes are shielded and even the cynical crimp of his mouth is a put-on. "See how I'm just sitting here?"

Sam clenches his teeth together hard, sees Dean recognize the flicker of the muscle in his jaw. "You can't expect me to hang around with you every second of the goddamn day, man. I only get away from you when I sleep."

Dean looks briefly stricken, hurt, but he whisks that away, sneering, curving his hands around his mug. "You can do whatever the hell you want. I'm just having a cup of coffee."

"Dean, Jesus," his temper skyrocketing, but he cuts himself off as a wash of light sweeps across Dean, his shadow sharp-edged defined and whipping in a short arc across the floor. Familiar light, Sam thinks, and then he shouts, "Dean, car!"

Dean's up and out the door in probably less than three seconds, but the Impala's already out of the parking lot and gunning up the street, a huge roar filling the air. Dean sprints after the hanging red taillights, screaming so loudly Sam can hear his voice splintering, "STOP YOU MOTHERFUCKER THAT'S MY CAR."

Sam stands half a block up on the sidewalk, his hand stuck over his mouth, watching the taillights shrink and vanish, Dean's howls echoing and somewhere off to the left, a dog joins in mournfully. He starts giggling, kinda hysterical, but puts a stop to that right quick, because though he's never doubted Dean's loyalty to him, he's pretty sure laughing when Dean gets back is the kind of the thing that gets a person killed.

Dean's gone, disappeared into the black that took the car, for so long that Sam starts to get nervous, telling himself that he'll go after his brother if another five minutes passes. He notes the time on his watch and peers down the road, wondering at how quickly he can go from wanting to throttle Dean to pacing anxious squares of sidewalk waiting for his return. At four and thirty-seven seconds, a small pale figure emerges from the dark and solidifies into Dean, breathing raggedly with his hair sticking up in sweat-spikes, looking like he wants to weep. He must have chased it for half a mile, all the way to the highway.

Sam calls his name and Dean flinches, won't meet Sam's eyes as he meets him on the sidewalk and they walk back to the diner. His shoulders are hunched as if in humiliation, and he's opening and closing his hands compulsively at his sides, feeling for the smooth spinal ridges of the Impala's steering wheel, the gleam of chrome like diamonds.

There's a bent pair of tar-black skid marks on the asphalt, and near there, a scatter of glass. Dean makes a small injured sound and goes to crouch by it, finger the thick plasticky fragments.

"They broke her," he whispers, and Sam realizes that Dean's more furious than heartbroken—he's so mad he's shivering with it, his eyes dark and hot. He doesn't point out that they also most likely ripped out her dash in service of the hotwire. Dean knows that as well as he does, and Sam's not interested in pushing him right now, his suffocating black mood drained out of him in the long moments waiting for Dean to rematerialize.

"We'll find them," Sam says. "We'll get it back."

Dean doesn't say anything for awhile, pushing the bits of glass around like puzzle pieces, like if he can figure out how they fit together it'll get him his car back. He takes one perfect see-through cube and slips it into his pocket, and looks up at Sam with that old violent glee rioting on his face, Dean's let's-go-kill-something face, knocking Sam's wind out of him as Dean says with a snarl:

"They better pray you get to them before I do."


They've lost twelve guns, six knives including two machetes, and Sam's crossbow. Well over a thousand rounds of ammunition, the coil of rope and pair of shovels and can of gasoline. Their camp rolls and extra blankets and tent. A quart of vodka and one of whiskey, stashed in the wheel well. The Triple-A road map book Dean's had since he was eleven years old, blue and black ink rivered and woven along their routes. All their cassette tapes, the long filled-in crossword puzzle magazine under the shotgun seat, the playing cards in the side panel. Sam's hoodie in the backseat, wrapped up around a pack of Swedish fish he was saving for later. The rosary Dean stole from a crooked priest and looped around the rearview mirror. Twenty-seven different fake IDs in the glove compartment, dozens of packets of ketchup and salt and pepper, moist towelettes and toothpicks, Sam's best pair of sunglasses.

The car.

Sam misses it more than he would have thought, walking back to the motel with Dean shell-shocked and muttering curses beside him. There are only two constants in his life: his brother and his brother's car. Though he's still got his gun and knife on him as always, he feels unarmed, defenseless—it's the inability to tear the hell out of town at a hundred and twenty miles an hour and a moment's notice if he needs to. Too many people try to kill them for them not to have a ready escape.

They were both kinda raised in cars, too, thousand-mile trips on the weekends, the months that they spent on the run when their family's name got known by federal officers and flesh-eating demons. Sam remembers math homework in the backseat when he was probably eight or nine, using Dean's body as a desk for the paper, the flat of his back, lines of his ribs laid out like he was designed for this, because Dean liked what it felt like when Sam wrote on him.

So cars say 'home' to Sam a little bit, and this car in particular, this car that Dean wears like a favorite shirt, broken in around his form with the lovely night-black sleek and warming quickly in the sun. Sam recognized the Impala the second he first saw it, dented all to hell with mismatched side panels and a spiderwebbed back windshield: Dean's. Dean fixed it up and baptized it in Metallica and rigged it for their outlaw side, treated it better than he'd ever treated a girl, and sometimes when Sam was in high school and being in the same house as their dad made him want to set himself on fire, he would go out and sleep in Dean's car, comforted by the prayer card strung on a dogtag chain around the rearview mirror, which preceded the rosary by several years.

It takes them thirty minutes to walk back, a five-minute drive. Sam feels his world constricting down to as far as he can get walking, penned in by public transportation. Dean's not speaking anymore, hissing between his teeth with his hand dug into his pocket.

When they get inside, he sets the piece of glass carefully down on top of the television and goes directly to his bag, rummaging until he unearths a socket wrench that Sam doesn't think he's ever seen before, folding up his shirt cuffs to reveal an ancient mustard stain.

"What are you doing?" Sam asks, feeling like it should be obvious, like maybe he's missing something. Dean doesn't spare him a glance.

"Going to get my car back, why, what the fuck are you doing?"

Sam glares at him and fights a fresh strain of irritation back down, more important things to worry about right now. "Why do you need a wrench?"

"Helps when I break the window of the car I'm gonna steal."

"Dude. You're not gonna repeat the same exact crime."

"It is not the same crime, they took my car." Dean slams his bag down into the corner, his mouth wrenched like he knows he's not making any sense. "I, I'll bring it back, anyway, I'll pay for the window."

"Or, you'll get arrested. And then they'll figure out who you are and you'll get even more arrested. And then you'll never see the Impala again."

"Don't say that," Dean says sharply, a little too loud, and Sam laughs once, harsh-sounding and odd. This was an awful day before the car got stolen, and Sam's honestly kinda worried about what the rest of the night might do to them.

"Look, I think we need to come up with a better plan than you smashing shit, okay? Because, really, that hardly ever works."

Dean sits down abruptly on the bed, clutching the socket wrench against his leg so that a line of black grease is pressed into his jeans. He looks at Sam with his mouth cocked open a little, unsure and caught between anger and despair. "You have a better plan?"

"No, Dean, but I'm sure we can figure something out. We track way tougher things than joyriders, man."

Dean's expression twists slightly. "What if. What if they're not just joyriders?" His eyes widen as he considers it, his grip tightening on the wrench. "What if they strip her for parts?"

Sam can see the reflection of it in Dean's face, the Impala up on blocks with its guts ripped out and swatches of oil and grease spattered like viscera on the pavement, the desolate hanging wires of a stolen radio, jagged grin of the broken window. Sam's stomach turns at the image, a lesser version of every time Dean's been held hostage and Sam has been obliged to imagine his brother with his fingernails peeled back, gory mess where his ear's been cut off, nails driven through the backs of his hands.

"Don't borrow trouble," he tells Dean somewhat shakily. "If it's stripped, we'll, we'll deal with that when we get to it."

Dean swears, just tainting the air a bit, and pulls his hand through his hair, scrubs hard at his face with the heel of his hand. Sam's already thinking about how he's gonna talk Dean out of actually killing any of the car thieves once they catch up to them, old arguments and worn courses of logic—Dean has a tendency to let his emotions get the best of him, but then, so does Sam.

"Come on," Sam says, trying to sound like a man in control of the situation. "Let's go make some friends."

Lifting his head, the expression on Dean's face strikes a chord deep in Sam, the lines on his forehead exactly like their dad had and his eyes turned down at the corners, a dim vein of hope amid the distress, and sometimes Dean looks like a picture in a magazine, flawless like that, and it never fails to knock Sam's breath out of him.

He rebounds. He offers Dean his hand.


The nearest bar, maybe a little more than a mile, is a shoebox laid on its side, the kind of building that looks like it could be snatched up completely off the ground without leaving any trace. It's done up chaotically in red and blue neon with thick metal mesh over the windows and scrawls of hasty and artless graffiti on the wall beyond the streetlight. Sam checks for his weapons automatically, catches the casual flick of Dean's hands doing the same thing.

Inside it's dust and smoke dense enough that the dulled yellow lights over the bar bleed and diffuse until Sam's unable to shake the feeling that they're underwater. Dry clack of pool balls and country music on the jukebox only coming through half the speakers, lopsided and scratchy. They get beers and find a booth from which the whole room is visible.

Dean's having trouble sitting still, drumming his hands on the underside of the table and intently scanning the room. Sam noticed them being noticed when they walked in, strangers in a town where three-quarters of the population is probably blood-related, and he notices the ones who are still noticing them, noticing Dean in particular.

This is nothing new; Dean attracts all manner of attention, has since he was about fourteen. Sam thinks it's because Dean is almost too pretty to be a guy, while at the same time carrying with him the undeniable aura of smartmouthed assholery. People want to fuck him and kick his ass at the same time, which is generally disorienting and puts them on the defense. Which is exactly where Dean wants them, of course.

Sam has seen Dean use his looks as shamelessly as anyone who does it for money, so he knows Dean's aware of the effect he has on people, and he's long since stopped wondering if Dean is aware of the frighteningly similar effect that he has on his little brother—it's evident that Dean is not. In this as with most other things, Sam is Dean's one blind spot.

Half his beer is gone, a faded heat in his face as he sneaks looks at his brother, and Dean is saying without looking at Sam, "Those guys playing pool are likely sorts."

Sam let his eyes drift over to the thick-armed guys and pair of scrawny black-haired teenagers huddled around the pool table. Dean goes by instinct, the fact that they stand out as seedy in a crowd that has seedy pretty much locked down, but Sam's got an eye for details and he spots the grease under their nails and the filthy bandanas shoved in their back pockets, the shape of a leatherman pressing out the denim.

He nods, takes a drink of his beer. Dean cracks his knuckles and swipes his arm across his mouth, gets to his feet.

"Sammy," he says, shrugging the stiffness out of his shoulders. "I'm gonna go support this fucking family. You watch my beer."

Sam manages to punch him hard in the middle of the back before he gets too far away, and Dean stumbles a little, smirks back at Sam over his shoulder. Sam's mostly off-balance, flexing his hand under the table, something about the solidity of Dean's back under his fist, the vibration in his arm.

Dean takes up a spot near the jukebox and affects to let his attention be slowly drawn to the pool game. He whistles at a particularly tricky bank shot and makes a comment to one of the skinny kids, who nods and looks at Dean a couple times as if trying to place him or memorize him.

Dean's always been a good judge of character, and he's picked out the runt of the gang for sure, bird-wristed boy drinking rum and coke by the look of it, uneven black circles painted around his eyes in a way that's probably intended to be mysterious, but only makes him look ill. Casually, never letting on, Dean draws the kid into conversation and makes him laugh a couple of times, Dean's own smile slow and calculated in the aftermath.

After the bigger guys finish their game and retreat to the bar, Dean and the kid start a fresh rack. Sam finishes his beer and starts in on Dean's, watches his brother read his opposition and play just shy, losing the first two games.

And Dean's picked up something else about the kid, Sam realizes, a slink developing in Dean's walk, half-lidded eyes, leaning against the wall with his hands behind his back and his shirt pulled tight across his chest. The kid is staring at Dean with a poleaxed look on his face, his mouth hanging slightly, and Sam tells his imaginary Dean to tone it down a bit, but for some reason Sam's imaginary Dean isn't even wearing a shirt right now, which rattles Sam something fierce.

Dean cleans the kid out, a quarter-inch strip of green-gray running along the top of his pockets, and the kid barely even seems to notice. Sam keeps drinking and eventually he loses track, not drunk but it's a near thing, focused on not thinking about how annoying Dean is or how much Sam might want to lick his neck.

It's not Sam's fault. He went through his formative years while Dean was going through his sexual peak—Sam couldn't help but be corrupted.

The car!, imaginary Dean shouts insistently inside Sam's head, and Sam shakes himself, pressing his teeth into his lip. More important things right now, he remembers, and looks over to see that Dean and the kid have given up the table and are talking near the back door. Dean is standing too close, angled towards the kid, who's fiddling with the tattered hem of his hoodie sleeve, smiling dazedly at Dean.

Sam swallows hard, staring into his beer for a second, sadly marveling at how miserable he managed to get just sitting over here by himself. He looks up again when he hears the crack of the back door shutting, finds Dean and the kid disappeared, two empty glasses on the table in their stead.

What are you doing, Sam asks his imaginary Dean, but Dean doesn't answer, only gives Sam the same heated look he was giving the kid, and Sam rubs at his eyes, so stupid to let himself get even this little bit buzzed, so stupid to let Dean go off on his own.

Sam bangs out after them, into an alley crowded with fuzzy pink insulation soaked in oil, broke-up wooden crates with Chinese characters stamped on the side, a sickly summer's moon with a bite taken out of it and Dean's shuffling the kid along, tripping him back against the wall.

"Hey," Sam says and tries to impart what the fuck, and Dean shoots him a lethal grin, nods at the kid.

"Johnny and his buddies drag race, you know that?"

The kid pushes at Dean's arm, flushed and working on looking tough, something like unafraid. "I told you that's not my name, man." He looks at Sam, his confusion plain. "Who the fuck are you?"

"One of Johnny's friends," Dean says, easily like they're all inside sharing a round. "Well, he can get parts. All kinds of parts, real cheap, so cheap you gotta doubt the integrity of the whole operation."

Losing most of his nerve in the face of Dean's cheerful menace, the kid swallows and presses his shoulders against the gray stone wall, trying to slide away but Dean says something low and fast that Sam doesn't quite catch, which freezes the kid in place as well as headlights.

"So I was asking where I could find this particular fella and Johnny seemed to be having trouble hearing me, so I thought we'd come out here. Where it's quieter."

Dean's voice drops almost to nothing and Sam's starting to get pretty scared himself, wishing that Dean would look over at him so that Sam can see his eyes, figure out how much of this is theatrics and how much true insanity.

"I don't know who the fuck you think you are," the kid says, a bit strangled and too quick, an ill-thought burst of teenage courage pushing his shoulders up. "Fucking hustle me at pool, badger me with questions and shove me all over the place, that's not fucking decent, man."

The corner of Dean's mouth curls up and Sam gets a sinking feeling in his stomach, thinking, fuck, Dean, what now.

Dean moves quick and seamlessly forward, up with one arm to pin the kid, his other arm rising like the start of a debilitating blow. Sam's already moving to push between them when he's distracted by a silver glint, the brace of Dean's arm and he realizes in astonishment that Dean's got his gun out and pressed to the lank hair at the kid's temple.

The kid's mouth drops open and a high-pitched noise comes out of his throat, his eyes huge and white, but before he can scream, Dean says gently, "I want you to think a minute before you answer this next one, Johnny. A car was stolen a few hours ago, about two miles from here, and all I want to know, man, all I want: where did they take it?"

"Dean!" Sam jams his hands against Dean's back, fisting his coat to pull him off but Dean's glued to the spot, his teeth bared like this squirming gasping little punk is the latest incarnation of the thing that killed his mother. Sam knows Dean well enough to know that he's not gonna be able to live with him anymore if Dean snaps here and annihilates some civilian, a relative innocent.

He thinks frantically, it's just a car, but that's not right, and anyway, the kid is babbling, gibbering, saying something about a barn on the outskirts, backcountry chopshop, if it's anywhere it's there, and then he breaks down, his voice sheering up and his body jangling under Dean's arm, "That's all I know I swear to god I swear."

Dean smiles and cocks his gun back, taps it on the kid's temple and says, "Pow." The kid bangs his head back on the wall and passes out, and Dean drops him without ceremony into the dark of the alley, his pale face and hands standing out like ratty white rags.

"Let's go," he says casually, tucking his gun back in his belt like this is all in a day's work (which it kinda is), and Sam snaps a little bit himself, grabs Dean and spins him into the wall with a muffled thud.

"What the hell was that?" Sam asks, gripping Dean's arm hard, Dean's clean face tipped up towards him.

"Get off me." Dean yanks his arm away and then shoves Sam for good measure, two spots of color high on his cheeks, his eyes glittering. "It worked, didn't it? He'll be fine, won't he?"

"Are you out of your mind? You put a fucking gun to his head!"

Dean's eyes go wide. "It wasn't loaded!" He stares at Sam, aghast. "Jesus, Sam, you thought I'd waste a bullet on that little shit?"

Incredibly, Dean sounds affronted, how dare you, and Sam is honestly speechless for a moment. Dean makes a huffing sound and turns away, walking back behind the bar to the parking lot, and Sam lifts his hands to confirm that they're shaking as badly as he suspected, then he follows his brother.

"You can't do stuff like that," he says low, trying to get a hold of the situation. "That was crazy, Dean, okay? I appreciate that you weren't actually gonna hurt the kid, but it's still assault, and you, that's an unregistered weapon you have, okay, and this isn't like work, you can't just—what are you doing?"

Dean has stopped at a dirt-colored roadster that looks about thirty years old but with spanking new tires and grillwork, and he's picking through a set of keys that Sam's never seen before.

"Whose keys are those? Whose car—oh for god's sake, Dean!"

He tries to take the keys and Dean elbows him in the chest, so Sam wedges his way in front of the door. Dean's right on top of him, their knees banging, and Sam sucks in a breath as Dean growls.

"You stole his keys," Sam says, still half in disbelief. "You put a gun to his head, you're stealing his car. Are you, like. Do you really not see how bad this is?"

Dean hisses, and steps back, keys sticking out of his clenched fist like talons. Harsh set to his mouth and sudden brittle flashes of his eyes when Sam isn't expecting it, the cancerous parking lot light sallow on his face.

"All I see is the big fucking hole where my car should be but isn't, it's kinda fucking distracting," Dean says. "And see, I figured out where it is, and we could be going there right now, but for some reason you're standing in front of the fucking door."

Sam stands his ground. "Calm your ass down."

"Don't fucking talk to me like-"

"Don't fucking act like it, then!"

"Sam, would you please," and something gives in Dean's face, a break of high color in his eyes, and he slams his hands into Sam's chest and slams him into the car, lets go immediately and jerks away, stunned at himself.

Sam's whole body is ringing, a warmth that's not yet pain in his back, and he's trying to make Dean fuse back into one person because right now there are two of him, like the imaginary Dean has staged a breakout.

Both Deans look furious and ashamed by turns, badly torn up and saying with obvious restraint, "You need to get off my back, and let me do what I need to do. Okay? This is really not a good time and I just. I can't deal with you too."

He takes a deep breath and Sam wants to hit him, mess him up a little bit so he won't drive Sam so crazy anymore.

"You're pissed off and you're not thinking any of this through," Sam says, keeping his voice as steady as possible, which isn't very, but at least they're not shouting at each other.

Dean doesn't care about civility, biting his teeth together and saying tightly, "Quit telling me I'm wrong, because I, I don't care, I'm not gonna kill anybody and I won't. I'm not gonna lose my car. Do you get that? That car means more to me than you do, right now."

And that, well, that's crippling. Sam sorta falls back under the shock of it, because the one thing that Dean has never been cruel enough to do is deny that Sam comes first for him and always has. Even when they're fighting and hating each other, Dean still follows him around to make sure he doesn't get into trouble.

But now Dean's using Sam's shock and dulled reflexes to get the car unlocked and push himself inside, and when Dean starts the engine Sam knows that it's all for real, and Dean's gonna take off in a second and leave Sam behind just like he swore he never would.

Sam runs around the back of the car and gets his hand on the handle, hoping wishing praying that Dean will hit the unlock, and the car's moving, Sam scrambling along beside it, tap-dancing on the asphalt, when he hears the familiar chock of the locks popping up, hikes himself into the car.

"You're insane," he mumbles, defeated. Dean scoffs on a laugh, like, what else is new?


Backcountry Oklahoma, and they've been driving around for two hours, protected inside their cone of headlights, looking for one barn among the apparent thousands. Sam doesn't really think they're gonna find it—how would they even recognize it if they did?—but Dean's not talking to him anymore, his hands locked on the wheel.

Sam doesn't appreciate Dean ignoring him. He's willing to overlook the several felonies Dean's committed tonight in light of the fact that Dean has been through what constitutes as a trauma in his book (unlike the hundreds of times he's sidestepped a gruesome death—that's just work stuff), but only if Dean stops being a jerk.

The only thing less interesting than Oklahoma countryside by day is Oklahoma countryside by night, Sam thinks, tapping his fingers on his knee and watching Dean's reflection in the side window, ghostly transparent Dean chewing on the corner of his lip.

Knowing Dean, they'll be driving around until dawn just so he won't have to admit that he couldn't find the place. Sam's exhausted by this whole long day, the way it feels like he's been stuck in a loop of tape for eighteen hours, fighting with Dean and sharing infected silences, and on top of that he didn't intend to be walking all over the Dust Bowl in these shoes and now he's got a blister on his toe.

Bemoaning his luck, Sam dozes off. He has a weird, mildly terrifying dream about Dean turning a combination lock set into his chest, opening up a little swinging door made of ribs and digging out his own heart, grinning at Sam the whole time, telling him a dirty joke. Blood soaks his shirt and pants but Dean doesn't seem to notice. At the punchline he holds up his gore-streaked hand and says, "Pow," and his heart explodes.

Sam wakes up and the world is completely black. For several long seconds, he thinks that he's gone blind, but then a razor-line seam of light glances off the rearview mirror and the well-known boundaries of the shotgun seat fall into place around him.

Getting out of the car, Sam stamps his foot, which has fallen asleep, and tells his imaginary Dean, if you've stranded me out here, I'll remove your balls with a spoon. He appears to be on a dirt road in the middle of an uninterrupted wasteland, but as his eyesight improves, he sees a barn hunched a hundred feet away or so, cracks of light like chalk lines on a blackboard.

Sam checks for his gun and his knife and gets off the path, hooking around the back of the barn. He spots his brother with his shoulder against the wall, peering through a crack with a blade of light bisecting his face.

Sam whispers his name and Dean jumps, looks back to glare at Sam and cut his hand briefly through the air: shut up. Sam mimes at the wall, and Dean steps back, allowing Sam a look.

The barn has been haphazardly converted into a garage, bales of hay dingy from oil fumes stacked up, sawdust and warped pieces of metal on the floor, a standard pin-up calendar near the phone on the wall, a twenty foot cord spooling down. Four men are playing poker at a card table with a Reader's Digest propping up a short leg; Sam recognizes one of them from the bar, spider-web tattoos on the backs of his hands and crawling up his forearms.

The Impala is there, a little jerk in Sam's heart at the sight of it. All but one corner is covered in a grayish-tan dropcloth, one clean gazing headlight observing the scene.

"It's there," Sam whispers without thinking, and Dean cuffs him upside the head, jarring his forehead into the wall. Sam pulls back and drags Dean away from the wall, out into the shadows.

"First of all, stop hitting me," Sam says, rubbing his forehead. "Second of all, that guy with the spider tattoos was in the bar and he might recognize us, so, okay, take that into account. What's the plan?"

"How about, first of all, good job finding the car, Dean," Dean says with a mean little curl of his lip, eyes narrowed and locked on the barn. "How about, sorry I doubted you?"

Blank tide of anger, returning better than clockwork, and Sam can feel his nails digging into his palms, his heartrate climbing and a thick block jammed into his throat. Control shimmers and he knows he's maybe still a bit drunk, maybe half-asleep, but he's terrified that he's gonna hit his brother and so he walks away.

Dean makes him stupid, freezes Sam's brain and withers every comeback. He gets so frustrated, voiceless and irrational, and he always loses to Dean, every time. Sam ends up walking away a lot.

He gets to the car and flattens his hands on the cooling hood, works on breathing. He can hear Dean approaching, popcorn crunch of his steps through the weeds and dirt, and Sam squeezes his eyes shut, thinking, I hate fighting with you, man.

"Sammy," Dean says softly, not like he's trying to rile Sam but everything he does riles Sam and it's impossible to live like that. "You're not gonna help me get the car?"

Sam lets out a breath in stages, his shoulders falling. "Why do you even want me to help you, Dean?"

He glances over and Dean's forehead is knotted, confused. "Why the fuck wouldn't I want you to help me?"

"All you do," and Sam hears himself, too loud, almost a shout, yanks his voice back down in a rough whisper. "All you do is pick fights and act like I'm such a hassle."

"What?" Enormous eyes lit with disbelief and anger. "I pick fights? Every other thing out of your mouth is: Dean, quit doing that. Dean, that's wrong. Dean, you're insane."

"You've been running around holding people at gunpoint-"

"One person! Unloaded gun!"

"-and stealing cars and generally being batshit crazy and I'm trying to keep you from getting killed, okay."

"And I appreciate that, but if you could just be half as annoying."

Sam watches his hands close up into fists on the car hood, soft dust smearing on his skin, and something akin to adrenaline is ripping through him, a magnetic hum localized around Dean.

"Dean, I'm trying really really hard," Sam tells him without looking over. His mouth is dry. "I'm trying so hard, man, you wouldn't believe it, because this is all stupid kid stuff and I know that, I really do. I shouldn't let you get to me anymore, but you do, okay? I can't do anything about it."

Sam exhales, shivering in a way that he hopes doesn't show, because he's wondering what it might be like to shove Dean up against the car and pin him there with a knee between both of his, an arm across his chest, Sam's hand on the back of his head. His brother always runs a temperature a degree or two above normal, hot as metal in the sun and pressed against every cold place in Sam.

"Well, what the hell am I supposed to do about it?" Dean asks, a lace of impatience through his voice. "Apparently I bug you just by existing, so really, Sam, what do you want?"

That blows through Sam like a hurricane, blasting out the corpses and debris, the black curse shadowing his life, the twenty-odd years of vigilante violence and brotherhood, stripping him down to the elemental, and he looks at Dean feeling crystallized, thinking in astonishment, you.

Something to balance it out, reparations for the damage Dean did to him when they were kids, the steady routine of petty needling that has survived into their adulthood, or maybe Sam just wants Dean to put his mouth to better use. This crazy feeling like a depth charge in Sam's chest, jaggedly hypersensitive and scared as all hell, Sam remembers what this reminds him of, the last time: the blonde girl in his econ seminar with pink skulls and crossbones inked on her sneakers. Jess.

It's different because it's Dean and Sam's love for Dean is rooted in him deep enough to serve as the foundation of the world, and in some weird way it doesn't seem right adding sex to that. It's asking for too much.

He's staring at Dean's mouth. Dean's staring back at him, dumbstruck, and Sam darts his eyes away and swallows a couple times. Dean reads him so well, he can look at Sam and recite the fortune cookie slips in Sam's pocket, but god willing the stress of the night has impaired him in some way and he can't see anything.

"We need a diversion," Sam says, just to say something, and Dean doesn't answer for a long moment, before he says guardedly:


"Get those guys outta there." Sam waves his hand at the barn, tasting his heartbeat in his mouth. "We can, like, come up with something."

He trails off, looks at Dean and he looks so good it almost hurts, and Sam looks away. He can't think right; he knows he's smarter than this.

"It'll have to be you," Dean says, picking up the thread. "Because they saw me talking to Johnny, maybe they won't remember you." He pauses. "There was a. A car crash."

Sam nods. "We'll put the kid's car back on the road."

"And you'll bring them out there and I'll, I'll get my car."


They occupy themselves getting the car into place. Dean wants to actually drive it into a tree for the sake of realism, but Sam won't let him, and instead they just nudge it close, bumper to bark, and throw some branches and leaves and crap on the hood. Up close, it's evidently a charade, but from afar, in the dark, after however many beers those guys have drunk tonight, it'll pass.

Dean surveys the scene, nods to himself, and says, "Gimme your knife, Sam."

Sam obliges, and Dean flicks it open, lays the blade down on the meat of his thumb and draws it swiftly across, a red seam opening. Sam sucks a breath in between his teeth in sympathy pain even though Dean's expression doesn't change.

"Now hold still," Dean tells him, and he puts his uninjured hand on the side of Sam's face, brings his bloodied thumb up and starts smearing red high on his temple, on his cheek. "You've got to look pretty bad. I'm gonna make it like you busted your head, right here," and he presses his sticky fingers into Sam's hair for a second, "and so you have to remember, hold your hand there like it's bleeding."

Sam nods, holding his breath, holding perfectly still. Dean's warm rough hand on the side of his face like a grounding point, Dean sweeping his thumb down the narrow lane of skin at the edge of Sam's eye, Dean's face smooth and intent, staring at Sam but never meeting his eyes. Sam's bones feel made out of glass, his blood thick and slow, trying not to stare at the tip of Dean's tongue caught in the corner of his lip.

Then he feels Dean's good hand, his uncut fingers, sliding back, and at first Sam thinks he's only getting a better grip, but then Dean's hand slips into Sam's hair and Sam shivers hard once, sees something in Dean's eyes flare.

He keeps painting the blood on the other side of Sam's face, but it's distracted now, haphazard, and his fingers are carding through Sam's hair, his hand curving around the back of Sam's head. It feels huge and solid and like the most important thing in the world, Dean cradling Sam's head in one hand, and Sam is trying to breathe, trying to stay on his feet.

If this is another trick I'll kill you, he tells his imaginary Dean desperately, but his imaginary Dean isn't saying anything, staring in Sam's mind like the sight of the two of them together like this is the hottest thing he's ever seen.

Sam swallows as well as he can, and pushes his head back into Dean's hand subtly. Dean's bloody fingers stop, lined up like soldiers on Sam's cheekbone, and Dean's eyes are hooded and thin, unreadable.

"Sam," Dean says almost too low to be heard. He tucks his thumb up under the base of Sam's skull and Sam is shaking, his fists opening and closing and wanting nothing more than to lock onto Dean's belt, pull them flush.

"Yeah," Sam says, and then again, "yeah," wanting to say, anything, dean, whatever you want.

Dean licks his lips absently and leans forward for a moment like he's gonna, like he wants to, and then slides his hand out of Sam's hair, quick heated stroke down his neck and then gone, and Dean steps away. Foggy moonlight catches his face and Sam can see him chewing on the corner of his lip, color climbing his throat.

"You're good," Dean says, sounding a little choked. "You look. Good. I mean, you look bad. Bloody and gross. So, yeah."

"Dean-" Sam starts to say, his nerves frayed and unreliable, but Dean shoots him a pleading look, don't, and he shuts up. He suddenly feels awful, like having Dean's hands on him was instantly addictive, better than heroin and harder to give up.

"Okay," he says shakily. "Okay, let's go."

Dean cuts a ribbon off a crumpled T-shirt he found in Johnny's car, and wraps his thumb with it so that it glows white against his dirty hand. Sam follows the spot of white back up to the barn, his mind racked with feverish pictures of what might have just happened.

They split up, Dean ducking around the back of the barn, and Sam grinds a few handfuls of dirt into his clothes, rips the collar of his shirt a little bit. He takes a deep breath, and starts yelling, running towards the door.

"Help! Help! There's been an accident!" He pounds on the heavy wooden door, small clouds of dust bursting up and making his eyes sting.

There's commotion inside and then the door inches open, a wary green eye studying him, pupil blown. Sam tries to look maddened with fear and pain, saying quickly, "Please, I just crashed my car, my, my brother, he's hurt, you gotta help, c'mon."

The door opens a little wider and Sam snakes his hand in, grabs a thick wrist and pulls, thinking that if Dean really were out on the road bleeding to death, Sam wouldn't be waiting for an invitation to come in.

"Come on," he says again, dragging the guy out into the yard. He lets the picture of Dean ravaged and mutilated fill his mind, lets himself get frantic and terrorstruck. "He's dying, you gotta help him, he's all I got, please."

The guy, car thief or mechanic or poker buddy or whoever the hell he is, shouts to the others over his shoulder and they all pour out, start running down the long dirt driveway to the road.

Tacky blood in his eyes, wind blowing his hair off his forehead and the thud of their footfalls like living inside a giant tachycardic heart, and Sam's counting off the seconds, a timer that started the instant the men left the barn, trying to gauge how much time Dean will need.

"Hey," one of the guys says as they come into view of the car parked up against the tree. "Isn't that that little queer kid's car?"

Fuck, Sam thinks, certainly should have seen that coming, and he veers sharply off the path, putting on whatever speed he's got left. The men behind him are shouting, clamoring like bears as they realize they've been duped, and now they're chasing Sam and he's sprinting through the slender layer of dust that lies like mist on the ground, shattering dried-out weed stalks and prairie grass.

He leads them away from the barn but keeps his bearings with relation to the road; the last thing he needs right now is to get lost. He wonders idly if the guys will beat him to death if they catch him. He wonders if Dean's gotten to the Impala yet, pictures Dean cooing and petting it and Sam grins in spite of himself.

Running more like flying, and Sam's just getting his second wind, his lungs opening wide and at once he's sure he could keep up this pace for miles, into the next county if he needs to, run run run easier than breathing, and then he trips on a gnarled tree root and he actually is flying.

He lands on his hands, his elbows, his face, skin ripped off his palms and his teeth gritted down on dust, a thud like a silenced gunshot echoing through his body, his cheek torn and his blood mixing up with Dean's. Sam lies sprawled on the ground, winded and stunned.

Pretty pathetic, Sammy, Dean says in his head, and Sam manages to roll onto his back, coughing. The guys are ringed around him, identical expressions of joyful mayhem coloring their downturned faces. Sam tries to smile.

"Sorry about that, guys," he says, spitting brown in the middle of it, trying to crabwalk backwards without them catching on. "Believe me, I don't generally lie to perfect strangers, this is just kinda. Extraordinary circumstances."

As reward for this baldfaced lie (there has not been a day in Sam's life that he hasn't been involved in one lie or another) Sam gets kicked hard in the ribs, great slam of pain stealing his breath and he curls up around his knees, keeping Dean's name running through his mind like a talisman, an incantation that will keep him safe.

A hand jerks in Sam's hair and hauls his head up, "Wanna play games, boy?" and Sam cries out, clawing at the trunk-like arm. He gets kicked again, someone bending his fingers backwards until he can feel fault lines forming in the bones, so close to snapping. They're cursing at him and he gets backhanded, bloodying his lip, and he thinks dizzily, serious trouble right now. He thinks, dean hurry.

Blood all over Sam's face, they're trying to pin his arms and legs, stop him flailing, and Sam's foot buries in a slab of stomach almost entirely by luck, sending the man tumbling backwards gasping. Someone punches the back of Sam's head and he kinda grays out, he blinks awake a second or two later and finds himself looking past his attackers, a red moon in the sky just before the world explodes with light and sound.

Headlights, car horn, the howl of the engine and Sam knows that sound, he jerks his head up and those beautiful high-beams fill the air like a nuclear explosion, something clicking back into place inside Sam, a porchlight left on to show the way back home.

A few gunshots ring out, Dean firing into the air (Sam hopes), and the bad guys scatter immediately, leaving Sam alone in the approaching blast of light, watching with a huge grin broken on his battered face. Dean cuts a hard turn just before he roadkills Sam, coming to a neat stop with the driver's side door two feet from Sam's face.

Dean leans out the window, a grin on his own face even as he says, "Christ, no one told you to divert them by getting the shit kicked out of you."

Sam reaches out and touches the side panel of the car, slick black and so smooth, so known to his hand. He wants to hug it, handcuff himself to the steering wheel so they'll never lose it again. They can move now. They're not trapped anymore.

"I love your car, Dean," Sam says, wiping blood out of his eye. Dean winces, nods.

"Well, you're a very smart person, Sam, it's understandable. Come on, we're getting the fuck out of Dodge."

Sam gets to his feet and staggers against the hood of the car, holding his ribs. Fuck, but he got it bad. Car's warm underneath him, not blistering hot like it'll get after five hours going ninety the way Dean likes to drive, just nice, human temperature, and he rests his bruising face for a minute.

"Hey, you're not dying or anything, right?"

Sam coughs out a laugh and rolls himself up, bracing his hands on the hood. Dean's head is sticking out the window, fiddling with the side mirror like he can't keep his hands off it, but he looks pretty worried too. They both learned a long time ago that things can always get worse.

"I'll be fine," Sam tells him, and makes it around the car, falls into the passenger seat, which is just so great, racked back to accommodate his legs like it always is, the gash in the seat where he can rub his thumb on a patch of white cottony stuffing. Shotgun is where Sam spends more time than anywhere else these days, which is upsetting on one level and comforting on another.

Back in the car, moving, Dean rattling his hands on the wheel and strumming with adrenaline and relief, Sam's injuries fade to a throb in the face of his own overwhelming sense of peace. Nothing broken, nothing that won't heal. His chest and stomach will be all the colors of the rainbow tomorrow, but his lip's already stopped bleeding and they've got two thousand miles of highway if they need it.

He's gonna be fine. He laughs, and Dean's grinning like his face might split, looking at Sam more than he's looking at the road.

"Brilliant plan," Sam says, going into the glove compartment for a few moist towelettes to clean the blood off his face. "Flawless."

"You got in a few hits, Sammy, right? Broke a nose or two?"

"Oh, I was winning up until right before you got there."

"I can see that."

Sam laughs again. "Fuck, Dean! Great plan. Great execution. The car got stolen what." He squints at the purple indiglo screen of his watch, realizes that his left eye is starting to swell. "Five and a half hours ago. We tracked it down-"

"What the fuck, we."

"We found them and diverted the hell out of them and look at this! We're just really very good at this stuff."

Sam drums his hands on the dash happily, running on the high of a successful night. It might even be better than normal because this is something tangible at the end of it, not like ashed bones or rock-salt scars in wood, all the little towns that they'll never see again. Clean kinda happiness, they went through a lot and they prevailed and they're riding for the horizon now, end of the movie.

Dean's nodding fast, digging around and finding a specific tape that makes him light up and he pops it in, already sorta bopping around.

"That's true, it's very true. I can always count on you to catch shit like that, remarkably perceptive is what you are."

Sam props his knee up on the dash, watching Dean's mouth again, a boyishness in his smile that means it's for real, incredibly rare even though Dean smiles all the time, it's always more of a smirk. Not like this.

"That's twice in like fifteen minutes you've called me smart, you should be careful. I'm gonna get spoiled."

Sam's mostly joking, he'd swear to it, even if his voice went strangely deeper towards the end, when Dean glanced at him with an undercurrent of heat that Sam is inclined to attribute to the adrenaline. He's just so relieved to be enjoying Dean's company again, bullshitting and embellishing tales of their own greatness like they've done since they were kids, and he didn't mean to fuck with that.

But Dean's pulling onto the shoulder and stopping the car, middle of nowhere and maybe only an hour or two shy of dawn. Dean looks over at Sam with his head bowed, his eyes skinny glints of light.

"What-" Sam starts to say, and Dean lifts his chin and the shadow clears off his face and it's nothing new, the expression on Dean's face, protectiveness and impatience and affection, just multiplied a thousand times and now Sam sees it for what it was, what Dean kept banked back as far as he could, and it's like a kick in the chest.

"Oh," Sam breathes out, and that's all he's got time for before Dean's pressing forward and fisting his hands in Sam's filthy shirt. Dean touches their foreheads together, breathes on Sam's mouth.

"You've always been real smart about almost everything," Dean tells him rough as hell, and then he kisses Sam.

Adrenaline, Sam thinks, and kisses him back. Dean tries to be careful of his busted lip but Sam won't have that because what if he never gets to do this again, and he licks into Dean's mouth. Quick dirty kiss that closes a fist in Sam's stomach, opens the cut on his lip, and Dean growls against his mouth, crawls out of his seat into Sam's lap.

"God," Sam says, feeling like his eyes are the size of half-dollars. Fitting his hands to Dean's hips, two fingers skidding under his shirt to find skin, feels like the most natural thing Sam's ever done. "Um. Fuck."

Dean smiles so slow it almost kills Sam, lazy sleepy look and Dean's hands are on his shoulders, under his collar, wide hard palms on his collarbones. Sam licks slight blood off his lip, staring at his brother like he'll disappear any second.

"You should see your face right now, dude. You look like you got hit by a train."

Dean ducks his head and opens his mouth on the underside of Sam's jaw, vampire bite and Sam clutches at Dean's back, pressing up into him even though it makes his ribs ache. They fit like they were built to make out in the front seat of an Impala, and Sam realizes he's still grinning like crazy.

"Quit making it worse then," Sam manages. "Leaving marks."

"I think." Dean abruptly pushes his hands into Sam's hair and pulls his head back and kisses him until they're breathless and grinding against each other, and then he continues, "Think you like it, Sammy."

Sam works open Dean's jeans and folds his hands around Dean's bare hips and Dean jerks, clonking his forehead into Sam's jaw and laughing without breath. Sam kisses his teeth and Dean moves on him like a dirty thought in church, and everything's worse and everything's better because it's Dean.

"Dean, Dean." Maybe not fair to keep guiding Dean's hips with his hands while trying to get his attention, keep up this savage rhythm. Sam can't help it, couldn't stop if the bad guys came back or if the sky fell. He's got to ask, though. "Dean, is this, ah. Jesus. Gonna be the bad kind of fucked up?"

Dean is already shaking his head before Sam even gets it all the way out, he's probably been waiting for it since he made his move.

"No, I got a plan." He shoves Sam's shirt up above his ribs and sucks in a sharp breath as his hands ride down Sam's body, convoluted pain-pleasure as he presses on Sam's injuries and makes him moan. "I figured it out. You were asleep."

He kisses Sam again like he keeps remembering he can, taking his time and taking everything out of Sam. Of course Dean is good at this, of course he can play Sam's body like he designed it.

"Very simple, Sam, Sam." Dean says Sam's name a few more times, but that's probably because Sam's hand is inside his shorts now, tight and moving on him, and Dean's eyes are closed, his head tipped back and his mouth open, kinda moaning in the back of his throat.

Sam licks his neck. "Go on."

"Shit. Evil. Fucking demon child, you," grabs Sam's hair again, fuses their mouths together before pulling back and saying fast like he's angry, almost a hiss, "fucking beautiful," another kiss, "drive me nuts all the goddamn time."

"Dean, your plan," Sam says, though he's having trouble remembering things like words right now, Dean rocking into him, his hand over Sam's own, showing him the best way, his flushed throat under Sam's cheek.

"Yes. Yes. See. I gotta not lose my car." He wraps his free arm around Sam's neck, just like a regular hug except for how they're jerking him off together, and Sam wants to laugh but he's pretty sure he wouldn't stop. "That's the first thing. Made clear. By recent events."

Sam's not sure if either of them is going to last to the end of Dean's explanation, sheen of sweat on their hands, Dean kissing him every few seconds as if Sam's his primary source of oxygen.

"What's the second thing," he says, his breath whistling.

"Gotta not lose you, man," Dean answers, groans. "I. Cannot fucking stomach it. How bad I need you."

Sam laughs a bit hysterically, too high, riot broken out in his chest. "Jesus, Dean."

"Yeah. You know you love me too. Oh motherfucker do that again, fuck." Dean twists and bears down, presses his slick face to Sam's, mouthing at his jaw. "Won't fuck it up. Got the car back, didn't we?"

Sam nods, holding Dean tight around the waist and sucking on his tongue, and he feels Dean start to shudder, feels him rip away and bury his face in Sam's neck, sink his teeth in Sam's shoulder, and Sam cries out, comes in his jeans like a teenager.

It's better than it would have been when they were teenagers, and this, Dean on top of him heavy and warm and smelling like sex and old spice sport, this makes perfect sense to Sam. He's got his brother, the beat of his heart and the salt on his skin and the taste of blood in both their mouths, the only person on the planet that Sam loves, and if he's going to suffer a curse and be orphaned and homeless and fated to die bloody and young, he's going to have this, too.

The wind snakes in through the hole in the back window, raising a soft rash of goosebumps on the skin of Dean's hip, still bare to the air, and Sam folds his hand over, feeling Dean smile against his neck.

The next day, when Dean starts sniping at Sam for not getting enough sugars for the coffee, Sam tells him, "Hush or I won't blow you tonight."

And that, amazingly, works.