Fingers on the Hot Coal

On the road trip to Armageddon, ghosts and vampires were supposed to be the easy gigs.

Pairing: Dean/OFC, Dean/OFC/Sam

Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine, but I'd make Dean wear boots all the time if they were.

Rating: M (Language, Sex, Angst)

Spoilers/Warnings: No spoilers for the show but the sex is graphic, including rimming and double penetration. In my opinion, the threesome is not slashy but your mileage may vary.

A/N: This was written for the lovely zelost_mind and the equally fabulous quellefromage; I promised them a threesome featuring the boys and one of my existing OFCs in the Strange Angels 'verse. This was written quite some time ago but I was reticent to post it here due to the nature of the adult content. I've done my best to downplay it but, if more work is required, please do not hesitate to let me know. On the plus side, it is self-contained. No 'verse knowledge is necessary.

Beta(s): hhhellcat, anniebell_ca, misskatieleigh and embroiderama

The scar was a slash across her belly, one white stripe as thick as a thumb scabbed over with stitch marks as it stretched along the swell of her abdomen.

When Sam dreamed, she was untouched by the fire – pulled down before the flicker of flames spread through her hair and laid waste to a thin silken nightgown that burned with the same smell as cornflower hair spread across the ceiling – and all that marked one night of loss was a slice on her stomach.

Even in the dreams where she lived, the scar was his penance for being too late.

She wore it proud like a badge, with her midriff bare and the same hip-hugging denim shorts she topped off with pale pink toenails and blonde hair hanging loose in the breeze; she wouldn't let a scar like that keep her from dragging him out to the beach in the rain, laughing around him while she danced – but her laugh scratched into Sam's bones all the same. The scar was his punishment for leaving her unguarded.

And when she lived, she lounged long-limbed and loose across his lap in the backseat of the Impala with the last name of Winchester and a silver ring on her finger that marked her as Sam's in spite of the storm that chased them. They rode into the thunder as fast as the winds would allow, Sam guarding her from the lightning cracking along the horizon.

Even in the dreams where she lived, her death was always as real as her life had once been.

Sam's dreams overflowed with her other life, glass fragments scattered across a table that cut them all as easily as the demon slashed open her belly before Jess burned. When she spilled into the room as thick as molasses, the sheets would rustle and Dean would move in tight to the hip; one hand stroking the length of Charlotte's abdomen like he was protecting her from Sam's eyes in the dark. Sam would shuffle off to the bathroom and she'd listen to the water splash until he came back out.

Charlotte's scars were a crazy woman's quilt, a jumble woven across her abdomen and stretching pale down her thighs when they weren't spilling up underneath her breasts or her arm, and every single one of them was touched by a girl who died in fire.

They carried their ghosts with them, close to the chest like secrets, but only two of them were blonde.

They fooled themselves into thinking they had laid those ghosts to rest, salt and burned and kept dead through rituals they perfected to silence memory. There was a reason why Sam never ate chocolate chip cookies and a reason why Dean never told anyone the last three words his mother ever said to him – and it was the same reason why she read books in dead languages, the recognition of 'I can't see you if you don't see me' tattooed on their hearts.

But ignoring ghosts was not the same thing as learning to live with them and ghosts did not take kindly to being ignored.

The wisp of a woman in a white nightgown came roaring back whenever clean sheets in a backyard reminded Dean of green and sunshine and afternoons watching the sun shine on bright hair while his mother hummed and his father held him close on his lap. The moment Charlotte heard Creedence, she'd be warm under the covers and hearing her daddy sing about meeting him by a big red tree and there was nowhere she wasn't safe so long as she was on the swing with him. Sam's ghost was full of moans and laughter and she drank Yoohoo under a cloud of fireworks while her eyes sparkled and the smell of her shampoo made him hold her tight against his hip.

Ghosts, like fury, could never be silenced.

Dean and Sam had spent most of their lives hunting things and saving people but, no matter how far they drove, those ghosts always sat with her in the backseat of the car – looking over her shoulder while she watched them try to save the world.

Sam kissed her in Louisiana.

They had stopped for the afternoon, a respite on their way north following one of his visions about the twins and three scattered lines of Enochian she had managed to patch together when the ghosts settled back against black leather seats and left her alone long enough to work.

It wasn't unexpected, living in close quarters and learning to stitch them up as neatly as she used to embroider her initials on handkerchiefs in her spare time. In a different life, Charlotte might have kissed him back – the one in a world without demons, where she was still a little shy and she still wore her glasses and she still loved her books but there was never a fire in a big white farmhouse in Georgia and she met Sam at a college bar playing darts with his buddies over beer. No burnt little girl growing up into a scarred woman, with heavy white marks and pale shiny skin that made everyone but Dean avert their eyes.

That other life was blown through with cinders, dead ashes in her mouth when Sam breathed a name that wasn't her own and Jessica Lee Moore sprang fully-formed into Charlotte's head like Athena pouring out of Zeus' skull. She could feel the slick sweat on his palm as Sam tried not to bear down on her left arm, tried not to swallow thick and rough because it felt wrong in his hand.

Jess felt wrong.

It was too late. Jess burst into flame, mouth open in a silent scream and one hand reaching out to the bed, and scars erupted on arms and legs even though she burned. One more victim marked by a demon's kiss and Sam was burning with her every time his eyes saw Charlotte's scars, a reminder of what spit and crackle and heat could do to something as fragile as skin and sinew – another piece of Sam chipped away because he had kissed her.

And the only comfort she could give, after coming face to face with the ghost borne from the demon in Sam Winchester's belly, was nothing more than a platitude as hollow beneath the empty spaces it tried to fill.

It's okay, Sam. It's all going to be okay.

Charlotte used to while away afternoons by curling up in an overstuffed chair with one of Jacob's old books full of legends about the Beata.

The library was safe, a place where she breathed without the metallic tang of a stranger's fear blooming underneath her tongue or the hummingbird whir of a stranger's joy making her body swirl on its own – all that noise crowding in her chest when she walked down the hallway at school and wished that her heart was deaf. In the library, there was a silence that was never marred by Jacob working at his desk, cataloguing books with the incessant click of a keyboard, and Jinks would crawl up onto Charlotte's lap and knead his feet against the rise of her belly like the scars were gone.

There was something to be said for silence but the empty spaces between Winchesters ached.

On the nights where the silence in the motel room became too thick to bear – with Sam hunched over his laptop and saying he was fine even though the lie was slapped into the set of his shoulders and Dean was as brittle and smoky as untempered glass because there was nothing he could do but watch his little brother sink into himself – Charlotte missed that old cat. Jinks could fill up the empty spaces with his purr, rumbling against her chest and tickling her nose with his; all unconventional acceptance and impartial affection.

The legends said that they had been given gifts by God to beat the unbeatable foe, the blessed children whose blood sang with the hymns of angels, but the truth was that they were just people – a scared girl who needed a reason to not run like a jackrabbit and an older brother who loved strong enough to break curses and a man who fought every single day, with every breath he could muster, against the demon inside his belly that was sick to death of waiting.

The eons had turned into time that could be measured in days – whether it was fifty or a thousand – and the only thing standing between Shemhezai and its Ascension was Sam Winchester, cutting himself off by degrees because he knew that it was necessary; in the end, Sam would be all that stood between the world and its ending and not even Dean could protect him from that choice.

In the end, Sam would be stripped of everything – a fact written in the stars before the world was made, scratched down onto paper and in the hearts of seers through countless generations.

But that didn't make it any easier to watch.

And it wasn't Sam's fault that he knew it. Any fool could read all three different translations that she brought with her from Connecticut. Dean knew it, too, but that didn't keep him from pushing until Sam locked himself up tight behind the shields that Charlotte had taught him how to use. One look from Sam's pinched face and Dean stomped out the door, Charlotte close on his heels.

There were nights she wished that there was enough of her left to stay instead of meeting Sam's eyes with an apologetic smile and closing the door behind her. That loneliness he carried was their only regret, stuck deep down between them when Dean rocked against her and his breath mingled with hers; two bodies filling their empty spaces with a rhythm of don't leave me don't leave me I'll always stay if you don't ever leave me, the pulse of children whose lives were scarred by fire as much as by the guilt of being lost in each other; of edges blurring into one.

Old books never taught her that the Beata bled just like everyone else or that they made promises that were never part of anyone's prophecy.

The trail went cold in Tulsa a week after they dropped off the twins at the Roadhouse but that hadn't kept Sam from having visions, waking up in the middle of the night with screaming nosebleeds and a sharp arch to his back. She had cradled Sam's head in her lap, rubbing his temples and talking to him softly while Dean gently blotted at Sam's face with a cold washcloth – both of them swallowing hard as the water in the ice bucket kept turning a darker pink with each dip and squeeze.

Dean made the decision to stay for all of them, spreading laptops and books across the rickety table near the door and circling articles in a week's worth of newspapers he borrowed from the main desk. He was looking for something, going back to the basics, but all that work couldn't hide the freefall in his chest. She caught him watching Sam, bent over his laptop like it was the only important thing in the world, and sometimes the sting was so razor-sharp that Charlotte fought to stay upright in her chair.

Sam worked like a man possessed.

Questions poured out of him, demands to know why she selected a specific image in her translation or why she didn't use a different subtext. She must have looked like a slack-jawed idiot, staring at Sam open-mouthed when she realized that he had taught himself enough Greek to begin building his own contextual interpretation using the Greek and Latin versions of the text, because Dean dropped his pen and grinned at her.

They argued about it for an hour, over paper cartons of Chinese takeout, before Charlotte resorted to poking Sam in the chest with the end of her chopsticks. "That word doesn't even exist in Aramaic, Sam. You have to extrapolate the meaning from all three languages for it to make sense contextually."

"Hey," Sam hissed, parrying the chopsticks out of the way with his own. "You should watch where you're pointing those things." But he was grinning at her, the same smile he had used the day she challenged him with practical jokes, and suddenly they were both laughing while he shook his shaggy head. "You're pretty damn scary with a pair of chopsticks."

"Never underestimate the power of scholastic authority," she said.

"Especially when all it takes is two beers to get her drunk," Dean interjected, looking up from the newspaper pieces scattered in front of him. There were points plotted on the map he bought before dinner. "You should be thankful Charlie's not trying to attack you with her scrawny claws," Dean added lightly, standing up and stretching with the map still in one hand. "Gives me bruises for days."

Sam snorted and Dean grinned, sitting down on the bed behind her. He peered over her shoulder, brushing his fingertips against the monitor on her laptop. "But the next time you two decide to start wrestling over a bunch of squiggly lines and dots, let me know. We could probably use the cash. I know I'd pay money to watch you two bitch slap each other."

"Don't we have emergency cash?" Sam asked, looking right at Charlotte. His bad eye went even wider than the good one, bloodshot and surrounded by bruises that still looked days old. She managed to hide her swallow with a nod – the credit card she used only for emergencies was shoved into the very bottom of her yellow duffel.

"We shouldn't dip into the emergency cash if we don't have to," Dean countered, not even reacting to the jolt in her stomach. "I was going to suggest a night out on the crappy town tomorrow so I could hook up with some pool players but I scrounged up a gig." He reached around Charlotte and handed Sam the map. "My gut says it's a vampire that's been feeding on chicks near bars off the Interstate. Been happening for two weeks."

"A vampire?" Sam's eyes widened. "Are you sure, Dean?" She bit her cheek hard enough to draw blood when Sam closed his eyes and Charlotte caught the flash of a vampire's head flying out of a crimson spray. The tightness in Sam's chest eased with the promise of doing something besides watching her translate dead languages and waiting for the thing inside to roar through his rib cage with another dream that burned Jessica Lee Moore into ash.

"Not a lot of things rip out throats for kicks," Dean retorted. "It won't keep Charlie supplied with Ding Dongs but there's nothing like going back to the fundamentals for a little fun." He returned his brother's smile. "Maybe that fancy sword of yours can teach you some Highlander moves instead of me just hacking at the damn thing's neck with the machete."

It probably should have bothered her that they were happy about hunting, lighter than they had felt in months and cracking jokes about beheading things, but it was something they knew how to do deep in their bones, moving in the dark and rescuing the people who stumbled into their worst nightmares. It was the life they had lived for twenty years before some girl showed up with a book bag full of research notes, a glowing sword and vast pronouncements about their heritage.

The life she stole without even realizing it.

Charlotte closed her eyes – even the ghosts were silent, no voices in her head telling her to help them, and duty could wait for one day. Dean was laughing hard and Sam sounded exactly like he had the first night they met. "How do you know it's not a werewolf?" Sam demanded, making it sound like Dean had come up with some crazy theory about magic mushrooms and kittens.

"Most of the killings occurred after the full moon," Dean answered. "You don't screw a girl genius without a little bit of that rubbing off." He poked her in the arm.

"He's right," Charlotte said, grinning at Sam. "The scourge of Tulsa's vampire community shrieks like Eric Idle in drag if you tickle his left hip." She laughed when Dean grunted. "That machete is only for show."

"I was drunk." Dean scratched under his ear before a deep chuckle rumbled through her. "And you caught me off guard." Two hands reached underneath her arms as she was pulled into his chest, her chopsticks flying out of her hand and into the wall. Sam saved her Moo Goo Gai Pan from a one-way collision with the bedspread. "Kind of like that," Dean added.

Charlotte kicked as she tried to squirm out of the way of his hands, one bare slap of her foot against Sam's thigh as her laptop slipped to the mattress. That made Dean chuckle. "Are you going to give me a hand here or not?" he asked. "She just insulted my manhood, Sammy."

"Along with half of the women on the eastern seaboard." But Sam grabbed her foot and started tickling right on the soft spot underneath the pad.

A high-pitched squeal burst out of her when Sam's fingers started working in earnest, her entire body jerking with stop stop stop while she giggled, but she twisted just enough to slip her hand to Dean's side. He hooted and shifted out of the way, bringing her with him. "Jesus Christ, Dean!" Sam's eyes widened and he snorted. "Say 'ratbag' for me!"

"Bite me, Sam."

They were still laughing when someone pounded on the other side of the wall.

That night, Sam didn't dream about a ghost who danced barefoot in summer storms.

Charlotte lay on her stomach, listening to the building settle, but the only noise beyond breathing was the mattress creaking while Sam changed positions; curling around his extra pillow. The moonlight filtering through a crack in the curtains made his face soft, a little boy with unkempt hair sleeping so peacefully that she couldn't even see the bruises around his eye.

She understood why people wanted to save him.

John Winchester had set his sons to two decades of running after the fire, the promise he made to his wife on the morning they both watched Sam twirl his mobile all on his own and giggle to himself under his blanket. Dean risked everything for that innocence, as bruised and battered as Sam's eye. Sam would never be whole anymore, not until the thing inside of him was dead, but he was still Sam deep down where it mattered – the innocence was as much a part of him as sarcasm and dimples and it was stronger than her empathy or Ellie's healing or the demon howling its impotence inside of Sam's rib cage.

The only thing stronger than Sam Winchester was stretched out beside her, one arm flung over her back while he snored. Dean smelled earthy like leather, the sheet skimming his hips, and he arched up into her hand when she turned enough to brush his bare chest lightly with her palm – the steady beat of don't leave me don't leave me I'll always stay if you don't ever leave me underneath her fingertips. There was a flicker of blue across her hand, tatters being torn apart inside as Dean fell.

Charlotte wasn't about to close her eyes and watch him fall one more time, not while she could still breathe. She leaned up and kissed Dean on the mouth – just enough to make him smile – but the rabbit inside was getting ready to run; extricating herself from underneath his arm without even a twitch to make him stir in his sleep. So many promises and all she wanted to do was hide in a hole, something on the wind making her nose quiver.

Old habits were never easily broken and Charlotte shut the door softly behind her as she left.

She sliced through quicksilver as fast as her legs could kick, arms working in tandem with a flip turn push against cold tiles – breath coming out even with each twist of her head.

Anyone looking out their room window and down into the back courtyard past its canopy of trees would have seen a white streak pushing through dark water, going as fast as it could and not stopping no matter how hard her jackrabbit heart stumbled in her chest. The wind brushed her back as she swam, bringing with it a chill and goose bumps over the small of it, but Charlotte never worried about someone stumbling into the pool's enclosure unannounced.

She surprised herself, shucking out of her pajamas and leaving them on a chair, before she dove into the water.

Maybe it was the spice in the wind that was making her reckless, the itch to run coupled with the feel of nothing but water against her skin. It was the first time she had given in to temptation since Sam pushed her into the back of the Impala and she had forgotten what it felt like to bob and dive and not fall down – to touch something besides fire. There were nights where Charlotte floated for hours on her back, staring up at the sky while her hands made lazy circles in the water, and listened to silence.

And then there were nights where she pushed her muscles to the point of exhaustion, needing to feel the weight of the water as she moved against it. Needing to feel –

Charlotte stopped in mid-stroke, choking on a small mouthful of water as she saw herself shimmy out from underneath a pink flowered sundress and slip into a pond surrounded by bushes and bullfrogs; night sounds so much softer than the low drone of cars on the nearby highway.

She blinked when she heard the splash, watching the ripples in the water as he swam towards her, and she pushed off the floor of the pool to meet Dean halfway. His boxers were sitting on top of her pajamas.

"You're a fucking mermaid," he said softly, a bemused grin when their eyes met.

Her skin flushed and she watched another ripple move from the twitch in his shoulders, another glimpse of herself pushed up onto a bank – leaves in her hair and her body overflowing with Dean as they writhed together underneath the moon.

"I…started swimming as part of physical therapy," Charlotte managed, closing her eyes as Dean circled behind her. "After my skin grafts healed. It's not good for anything, really. It won't help me with my translations and…it's not like I joined the swim team at school."

"That breast stroke was good for something," he returned, snaking his hand below her arm before brushing up the scar underneath her left breast, skin crinkling as she leaned back into his hips. "You're my girl if we ever go up against a rusalka." His right hand followed a thick white line, stroking until she opened her legs, and curled between her thighs. Charlotte was slick, a reflex borne as much by memory as by need. "Jesus, you're wet," Dean breathed.

"We're in a…" Charlotte gasped, head lolling forward as Dean's fingers worked in and out – slowly at first but then he was pushing harder inside and her hips started bucking, the slow heat in her belly rippling along with the water around them. She might as well have been floating when he began working the heel of his palm against her, mouth sucking on her neck with a flick of his tongue tracing her stuttering pulse, and suddenly she was throbbing with the rhythm of you found me you found me.

"A pool?" She could feel Dean's grin near her ear. "You're so freaking smart it makes me swoon."

"The day you actually swoon is the day I'm running for the hills," Charlotte answered. She took a deep breath and slid down, turning underwater and popping back up so that she faced him, and it was Dean's turn to stutter when her fingers encircled him. She licked a stripe up his neck, sucking on his ear lobe while her hand moved fast and slow and around Dean's curve in time to his ragged breath. "Dogs and cats living together. Dean Winchester fainting," she added, the hairs on his neck standing on edge. "That's real wrath of God-type stuff right there." He groaned as her thumb swept across skin in counterpoint to her hand working the length of him.

Dean grabbed her wrist, pulling her hand back. "You just try running from me," he growled, kicking out towards the nearest edge and dragging her behind him.

Charlotte was faster, breaking free and reaching the side of the pool with clean strokes and economical kicks, but not by much – Dean was already opening her legs and pushing her into the cold tiles, the light pressing up against her back, when Charlotte turned to face him. She braced her splayed hands on the edge of the pool, breasts pushed up into his lips as she arched into him. It wasn't enough to hold onto when he started to move and she hooked her feet at the back of his knees.

She was spread wide, swelling around him and feeling the ache. His teeth nipped into her breasts, thumbs digging into her hips, and they were lucky no one had called the night clerk at the front desk because of the way she moaned. Someone was watching them from above, awakened by the noise and looking down into the pool with an ache in her throat – watching them stripped bare, remembering a dark-haired boy who loved to swim before the war – but that was nothing compared to the way Dean's eyes looked right through her; so translucent that she was shot through with sparks.

You just try running from me.

"I won't leave," Charlotte murmured, pulse throbbing as she brought her legs up around his waist; she needed more, as rough and deep as Dean could go, but it would never be enough. The wind was trying to tell her something, tatters pulling her apart when Charlotte made the mistake of closing her eyes and Dean fell faster than she could ever hope to hold, and the storm was close enough to smell the lightning in a clear sky. "You know that, right?"

Dean's fingers tightened as he surged inside her, the wave breaking against her shore, but it was an answer all the same.

Dean made Charlotte recite the checklist every night they left her alone in the motel room.

No one gets in or out without the signal. Both guns stay out, bullets and rock salt, and there's a jar of holy water within arm's reach. The door and windows are locked at all times. I keep my cell phone with me even when I'm in the restroom. I only answer the cell phone if it's a Winchesters' ring tone. And I finish laying the last salt line as soon as you leave.

She laughed when Sam added his own item to the list. I remind Dean that I'm not six years old.

Dean clenched his fist, jaw going hard, as soon as Sam said it. There was a stumble in her chest – a red-haired girl being blown backwards with a crimson chrysanthemum blooming across her breast – and Charlotte stared down into her own face. He might believe that she was never leaving but that didn't keep him from killing her the same way Sam dreamed about Jess and rain storms, the same way Dean dreamed about Sam's broken body in front of a white altar and the smiling thing in its place.

The same way she dreamed about a sword piercing through Dean's chest, blood spilling as much from his mouth as the gaping wound, and that one look at Sam's face burning with the brand of Shemhezai's smile before Dean's eyes glazed over; death stained by the memory of a little boy, a fire and the baby in his arms.

Running after him, bare feet padding down the cement sidewalk to the car, would have broken the rules – so Charlotte locked up the door behind them and etched out the rough line of salt that was supposed to keep the demons out. But it didn't do anything for the hitchhiking ghosts that were always inside of them.

Especially the ones that still breathed.

Translating Enochian was more like breaking a secret code.

That probably explained why Dean was so good at it. He always beat her at that stupid poker chip game at Dave and Busters, cackling more at her running commentary than the fact that she sucked, and he was always the one coming up with search patterns based on what looked like a bunch of random dots on a map. He had picked out the three bars the boys were planning on scouting and Charlotte knew the vampire would be at one of them.

The fact that they were out hunting wasn't helping her concentration but they were going to be stuck in Tulsa if she couldn't outsmart the mastermind who had written a prophecy using a pictorial language where the meaning of the words changed depending on how the edges of the symbols matched each other. Her translation program helped after she had complete symbols but it was still slow-going when the expert on the whole damn language couldn't even beat the fifth level in Tetris.

The crick in her neck from twisting her head and turning pieces of paper against each other to align edges didn't help. Neither did three cups of coffee and the Ding Dong she'd scrounged out of their junk food stash; her frustration had become a sharp stab at the back of her neck, shooting down through her shoulder blades, and the Enochian shimmered like a dare – broken puzzle pieces scattered across the table.

She rubbed her eyes, fingers underneath the lenses, before standing up so quickly that her chair tipped backwards right when something pinged on her laptop. The jackrabbit in her chest was thumping hard, in time to the pulse pounding through her temples, but her feet got tangled up with the chair legs and suddenly Charlotte was pitching forward, snorting dust off the ugly blue shag.

"This is not my best day ever," Charlotte muttered to the empty room.

Her left shin hurt, still twisted around the leg of the chair, and Charlotte's forehead burned where it had come crashing down onto the carpet. She must have knocked her head harder than she thought, tears popping into her eyes as the tip-tip-tapping at the back of her skull got louder and there was white light bursting onto the back of her eyelids as the metal screeched.

Oh, god. Sam. No, Sam!

And then there was an explosion, flesh and blood splashing across her face; the rusty tang on her tongue. Tears streaking down the blood on her cheeks, dripping down into her eyes from her drenched hair, and all she could do was shake and stare at her bloodstained hands before falling to her knees when her stomach detonated and bile roared back up her throat.


The ringing in her head started to echo sharply between both ears before Charlotte heard the roar of the Impala, brakes squealing as Dean peeled into the parking lot. There was a spider web pricking at the back of her head, catching whispers of oh God Sammy that smelled like Dean while a whirlpool of freak and I couldn't save her and blood-blood-blood dragged her down deep into Sam.

It was deeper than she'd ever gone before, too scared of the thing inside of him to try; too scared of how that thing wanted to break her open and play with her the way it toyed with Sam, the way it whittled into all of their dreams – murmuring secrets from the other side, about what they were supposed to become.

Charlotte unlocked the door as their boots stomped down the walkway, opening it up swiftly into Dean's startled face – sprayed with blood like he'd tipped his head up to Jessica Lee Moore's rainstorms. He had one fist raised getting ready to knock. Charlotte pressed a plastic bag into his hand while he crossed the threshold, his shirt covered in enough blood to warrant the burning. Hazel eyes flickered to the table where she'd replaced her translation project with a bottle of whiskey, clean towels and the first aid kit.

Dean might have smiled at her if Sam wasn't following him into the room.

Sam glared at her from underneath a shock of crimson-highlighted straw, eyes ringed with so much blood that the bad one finally fit the rest of his face. His cheeks were tear-stained, eyes flickering with the long-legged blonde girl laying lifeless on the floor of a small shack – her hands bound with plastic twine and a second smile winking at the world across her neck. And he smelled like a slaughterhouse, drenched in a metallic glaze and his own vomit.

Charlotte swallowed, gagging as he slammed the door shut behind him, and reached out her hand to touch his blood-stained arm. "Sam…"

"Don't touch me," Sam snapped, swatting her hand out of the way.

"But – "

"None of the blood is mine," he said with a low laugh. Sam's eyes flashed, just enough orange to catch Dean's attention, but his shoulders sank when Dean stepped between them. His heart beat like a hummingbird in a cage as Sam trudged to the bathroom leaving bloody footprints in his wake.

Dean gave her an apologetic glance when Charlotte sat down on the closest bed, cradling her hand to her chest like it was as wounded a bird as Sam's heart, and followed Sam into the bathroom.

She was alone but it wasn't silent – the running water from the bathroom was a quiet undercurrent to Dean watching Sam dive into his whirlpool of grief and loathing. Charlotte's heart was beating right along with them, stumbling through guilty guilty guilty and freak freak freak with a lurch that throbbed – an arrow shooting right into her chest and blooming into its own bloody flower.

Sam was trying so hard to keep the girl who could look inside him with a touch from knowing the truth that he'd blown himself wide open.

There wasn't a secret left – every single one of them rattling through her, rattling through Dean, and leaving cuts in their wake. So torn up that everything was coming out as thoughts. Another girl dead because of Sam Winchester. Another girl he couldn't save in time. Another girl with blonde hair and blue eyes and no ring on her finger. Another girl he would cry for and this time he didn't even know her goddamn name.

Charlotte didn't realize that she was rocking back and forth with the litany until the mattress dipped down behind her and two arms came around her chest, holding on tight and rocking with her. "He hurts," she whispered.

"I know," Dean said, and she could feel the ache in her own throat as Dean swallowed. His legs settled on either side of hers.


"We found the vamp outside some shack." He sucked in a breath, ragged in his throat, and Charlotte heard a wail when he lowered his head and smelled her hair. "We were killing the damn thing when the girl screamed. Heard enough people killed to know what it sounds like when they go. The bloodsucker was working with someone who liked to catch the girls, play with them until she needed to feed. And he kept right on playing after they died."

She brushed his bare legs, fingers catching on his boxer shorts; he wasn't wearing a shirt, her shoulders touching down on bare skin – arms tightening when Charlotte leaned her head back against his chest and hitched up just enough to kiss across his jaw line until Dean's breathing slowed down.

Heard enough people killed to know what it sounds like when they go.

"Sam…" Dean swallowed again, choking on some bile. "Sam kicked open the door and saw the girl. Saw the guy standing over the girl, licking blood off the knife, and he lost it. Screamed Jess' name and let loose with holy water and rock salt." He shook his head sharply. "She looked enough like Jess to make me think twice and the bastard had sliced up her throat. It's no wonder…"

Oh, god. Sam. No, Sam!

"Sam killed him?" Charlotte closed her eyes, hot blood drenching her hair; all that blood and skin and sinew choking her when she screamed about the girl.

"Sam…obliterated him." There was something Dean wasn't telling her, locked down tight but not grounded enough to keep her from shuddering like a live wire wherever their skin touched; Charlotte's fingers traced light circles on his thighs, listening to the intake of breath every time Dean tried to say something. "It…was worse than the succubitch, Charlie," Dean managed.

Charlotte watched it on the back of her eyelids; Sam's roar and Dean's horror as a misshapen little man's eyes widened and just exploded – watching the baby he carried out of a burning building and promised his dead mother he'd protect turn into something he should be trying to stop right before his eyes. That horror was wrapped around her, rocking slowly along with her like she could fix it; like she could pluck the bad eye out of his face, the killing eye, and keep it from staring back at him.

Keep him from killing –


But he was already letting her go, not even stopping to catch her as Charlotte lurched forward in her haste to get off the bed – feet pounding across the carpet as he ran towards the bathroom. Dean slammed into the door, breaking through the lock right as glass shattered and Sam gave a low moan that made itself at home in Charlotte's belly as her feet tripped up in the fallen bedspread.

Sam was staring at his knuckles when Charlotte slipped underneath Dean's arm, shaking because the blood seeping out of his cuts was staining the cracks across his fingers red.

First aid had become part of her job, her contribution on the road trip to Armageddon.

Sometimes she wondered if they let her do it just so she didn't feel left out of the fight, left alone with her books while they worked, because they were both better at it than she was – and there were few things in the world that she hated more than bandages.

The smell of hospital was one of them, stale and full of so many chemicals that she could barely breathe without thinking of lumpy pillows. Charlotte sat across from Sam, dabbing at his knuckles with an antiseptic wipe and trying not to inhale; her own knuckles shimmered blue with each sting, as much a reflex as Dean's frown when he saw her skin shine. He was leaning up against the wall, staring hard at Sam with his arms folded across his chest.

"What the hell was that, Sam?" Dean demanded, jerking his head back towards the bathroom. "You going to do something stupid?" The question made Charlotte's throat ache.

"I…couldn't look myself in the eyes." But that didn't keep Sam from returning Dean's glare. Sam might have looked more fierce if he wasn't wearing anything but a towel.

"So you weren't planning on doing something drastic with that big old hunk of glass you were staring at?" Dean's voice was scratchy, swollen with what he wouldn't say, and his fingers flexed.

"No!" Sam roared back, ignoring the clench of Dean's jaw. The tip tip tapping at the back of Charlotte's skull sped up, caught in the cross-current of guilty guilty guilty and freak freak freak pouring out of Sam; all that blood leaving nothing for anyone to hold on to and not even Jess would recognize him with that eye. "But…" Sam's halting breath stumbled out of him. "I would deserve it, Dean. You saw what I did."

"Killed a murderer?" Dean laughed, a short sharp sound. He shrugged his shoulders. "Seems to me like you did the world a favor." His stomach clenched, the skin between his fingers going white. "The man was a monster, Sam. Just like those Benders." Dean's hands were suddenly running through his hair, squeezing a little too tight and popping another shudder through Charlotte's head. "Hell, worse than those Benders. He was helping a bloodsucker kill girls. Helping one of them against his own."

"That's the point, Dean," Sam returned evenly. His eyes shimmered, throat swallowing hard – meeting hers with a dare when Charlotte couldn't stop the 'oh' that came out of her mouth, sinking backwards into her chair. "You should take that sword of yours and go, Charlotte. You should give it to Dean. He's your hero." Sam stood up abruptly, the whiskey bottle rolling onto its side as his knee bumped into the table, but she didn't break eye contact no matter how much her heart screamed freak and her fingers twitched guilty. "I'm – "

She barreled at him with so much force, wrapping her arms around his neck, that Charlotte was surprised Sam didn't go toppling backwards. "You're Sam," she said, arms tightening as Dean moved in behind her, one arm across each of their shoulders and head bending down between theirs.

"Only in my dreams." Sam's entire face flushed while a blonde-haired girl danced – arms raised to the sky as she turned her face up to the rain. "Dreams are lies," he added with a whisper, sounding like he was six years old.

"Only the parts that demon in your belly can touch." Dean was flushing, too – the pressure from his hand hard against her neck as his fingers tangled up in her hair. "It…twists what's true until it hurts you, Sam." His hand tightened for emphasis and Charlotte glanced away from Sam just long enough to look at Dean, just long enough to see herself soaring backwards onto the ground – Dean's hands on her chest, trying to hold in her heart while it spilled out of her mouth. "I know that for fact," he added.

Sam's shoulders buckled. "I…" There was a ripple around him and Charlotte touched Sam's chest with one hand, feeling the twist of I left you I left you and you died because I left you underneath the pads of her fingers – Jessica Lee Moore turning into ash right before his eyes, the truth that pulsed against her palm. That girl who danced in the rain was just as real Dean's warmth against their backs, glistening underneath the edges of Sam's skin with a silent scream, or the way Sam shivered when Charlotte flattened her palm against him; grabbing her hand by the wrist and looking right at her.

"Please," Sam whispered.

Charlotte swallowed, swarming with don't leave me don't leave me please don't leave me. She made a promise, so many promises, but she didn't know how to keep the one that could save Sam from drowning without breaking the others – and every single one of them she'd made to Dean. Dean's hand let go of her hair, rubbing up and down her back until Charlotte looked at him, and he gave a sharp nod when she raised her eyebrows.

But Dean looked away after Charlotte nodded back, bringing both of her hands to either side of Sam's face and stepping up on her toes to brush her lips against his.

His hands were big – bigger than they looked after weeks of watching Sam type on his laptop, marveling at the spread of his fingers across his keyboard while he surfed the Internet – but she'd never once thought about how they would feel cupped around her cheeks until it happened.

The skin was softer than Dean's but she recognized the feel of calluses on his palms, the same build-up of skin that marked Sam as his father's son; training with guns and swords and improvised weapons for years until he went to Stanford. Charlotte could smell the antiseptic on his right hand as Sam tilted her head up, nearly pulling her off the ground as he slipped his tongue between her lips – their teeth clicking before Sam sucked in a breath, whispering 'Jess' so quietly it was nothing more than a wisp in Charlotte's mouth.

They were both drowning in her, Sam pushing Charlotte backwards to the bed, and all she could do was hold on around his neck while she tried to catch her breath. Her anchor was gone, removing himself the moment Sam brought his hands up to Charlotte's cheeks – a quick cough in the throat and Dean disappeared, pulling everything back inside just like she had taught him. Charlotte swallowed, knees crumpling when they bumped against the edge of the bed, and she fell backwards onto the mattress with an 'oof.'

Her entire face burned, waiting for Sam to start laughing his ass off, but he was kneeling in front of her with a strange expression on his face. Charlotte touched the bruise around his left eye with her fingertips, as lightly as she could. Sam winced. "I'm kind of ugly, aren't I?" he asked softly.

She felt the weight of the stares whenever he walked down the street, the way kids would whisper and grab their mother's shirts. The way girls would smile at him when they went out to bars until that eye came into view, turning their backs or staring down at the label on their beer bottles like the secret of life was written in Sanskrit on the edge of the paper.

Love's funny, Charlie. Just when you think you've given away all that you can, something comes along that makes you want to give more.

Maybe her daddy had never meant it the way that things were turning out and there would always be Dean – filling her up to overflowing – but freak freak freak was rattling through Sam's ribcage, undercut by the sibilant hiss of a demon's laugh, and she remembered how that throbbing in the throat cut off oxygen.

I know I was drunk, and you were fucking fantastic in the dark but, Jesus, you're a freak. A scabby, ugly freak.

"I'm kind of ugly, too," she answered, hands curling around the hem of her ratty old tank top. "See?" Charlotte added, pulling the shirt up over her head. He flinched, bringing up one hand to touch the criss-cross of scars on her stomach that her mother had left behind the night her father had died – the price of betrayal to the Circle of Enoch, paid for the first time when she was six years old. She leaned down and kissed his left eyelid. "You just look like Sam to me," Charlotte murmured against his temple.

But if I'm a freak and you're a freak, Sammy, that makes Charlie just like us.

Sam pulled back just enough to look at her, mouth opening up underneath hers with a sigh, and Charlotte knotted her hands in his hair. Her breath hitched when Dean's hands settled on her shoulders, warmth spreading back to chest as he kissed her neck. And it was her turn to sigh when hands trailed down both arms, back arching all on its own when rough palms brushed lightly against her breasts; mouth pulling away from Sam's as his hands tugged on the waistband of her boxer shorts, Dean's thumbs following the stretch of crinkled skin.

There was a question written on Dean's face when Charlotte tipped her head backwards, bringing both hands behind Dean's neck and bracing herself when she lifted her hips. She jumped a little when Sam's tongue began tracing the same white scar Dean always touched, the one that pointed right between her thighs, and she dragged Dean's mouth to hers in answer when Sam opened her legs. A sigh more like a hiccup popped out of her when hot air brushed against exposed skin, Sam's tongue zooming in like an arrow to its bulls eye while Dean fucked her mouth with his.

She was nothing but want between the circuit of their lips.

But she had to breathe, one hand gripping Sam's head as her hips rocked – pushing with a moan that only made him lick faster, holding her open as she trembled. Her head fell forward and Dean's heartbeat stuttered near her ear when Charlotte took his length in her other hand. Her hair slipped out of its loose braid, falling around her shoulders, as Richard Masters' voice echoed through each tremor.

Judas Iscariot had red hair, Charlotte. Jezebel had red hair, too — and she's the world's most famous whore. Do you know what that means?

She was everything he thought she was – Aaron Webb's jezebel of a daughter, too soft to kill and too scared to run and too broken to do anything but hide in a library – but Charlotte had chosen her side; hazel eyes and soft sighs, a man who loved strong enough to break curses and the brother he'd die to protect.

The ghosts spilled into the room, musky with memory, and they all fought back. Jess thrummed in Sam's fingertips as he bobbed his head between her thighs and Charlotte twisted, hearing a song and the sizzle of sausage on a stove; getting up on her knees and pushing Dean backwards towards the head of the bed. Lilacs swirled around them, clean sheets on the wind overtaken by the fire that burned in Dean's dreams – twin to the fire that burned in hers, twin to the fire that burned in Sam's – and she moaned around Dean as Sam pushed up into her with his tongue.

Dean gasped, whole body quivering at attention when she flicked her tongue against the pulse; their eyes met and he watched her squirm, Sam's tongue dancing inside her. Charlotte came hard, never looking away from Dean while his little brother's lips sucked and her pulse sped up, and Dean slid easily out of the 'o' her mouth made while she bucked – wrapping his hands in her hair. His hips swayed against the bed, hazel eyes going wide and he couldn't stop growling, her mouth playing against him, and he was going to, God, he was going to, come, he was going to come, before he even got to fuck her.

"Char – "

Charlotte's breath came out in a huff, warm enough to make Dean jerk as it blew across wet skin – and she was seconds from putting her mouth right back where it had been when her stomach went into freefall and Sam swallowed hard, head leaning against her back.

"Oh, Jesus." Sam's voice was low but it was loud enough to undercut the whir of the air conditioner. His hands were shaking, still wrapped around her thighs; trembling so hard that Charlotte almost tumbled backwards when she moved into a kneeling position. "I never meant…for this to happen." The words stuck in his throat, thick and bubbling through with lost lost lost and the silent scream of the betrayed. "Jesus, Jess…"

Sam was barely treading water while the thing inside of him sang about letting the world end; dragged down into a whirlpool of blonde hair that turned into ashes in his mouth. It was hard not to feel guilty, raising her head and catching the shock of Dean's tousled hair – the eyes underneath that knew Sam was still alone, marked by a different loss even though their ghosts all burned in Azazeal's fire.

Charlotte shuddered – won't be long won't be long won't be long thrumming through her pelvis as the demon coiled inside Sam's belly, singing loud enough for them all to hear; the join her join her join her cracking against alone alone alone. Charlotte flipped one arm behind her back, her hand open just waiting for Sam to meet them halfway, but Shemhezai was louder than two hearts combined; chirping they don't need you anymore they don't need you in Sam's ear like it was a lullaby.

"Sam." Her voice wasn't strong, barely a squeak against Shemhezai's song, but she had to try because the clench of Dean's jaw hurt as much as Sam's ragged breath against her back. "We're not going anywhere, Sam."

"I know…" Sam started, going stiff as his palm touched hers. He took a deep breath. The calluses pressed into her skin, scratching just enough to make her back shiver as he tightened his fingers around her hand. "And Jess? She'd be the first one kicking my ass for listening to…that thing," he added, pulling himself up onto the bed behind her as the words fought to get out. One hand encircled Charlotte's waist. "Dad would kick my ass for forgetting that demons lie."

The last part came out as a whisper against her ear and the rock pressing down on her chest shattered when Sam bent into her back; he was the one supporting her, thighs trembling. His hands twisted the tips of her breasts while he tongued the pulse at the base of her throat. "We're not just ants sitting around waiting to be stepped on," he murmured, the ghost of her father coming out in the way the words tumbled out of Sam, but that didn't keep her from moaning when Sam finally slid a hand down between her legs. "Your dad told me that."

"My daddy always gave the best advice," she said gently, reaching a hand up to touch Sam's cheek.

Dean's eyes smoldered while he watched her, the way her hips bucked with each pass of Sam's hand, and she blushed all over again when another moan ripped out of her. Charlotte expected Dean to do something besides draw his tongue across her belly but, when their eyes met, he just smiled softly.

Goose bumps erupted down her thighs when Dean's hand joined Sam's, two fingers working her in a counter-rhythm to the palm of Sam's hand. Charlotte pulled Dean's head back and leaned down, gasping into his mouth as Sam pressed into her back.

"I need you to turn around, baby," Dean whispered against her lips. "And get down on all fours."

Maybe there should have been guilt, the three of them barreling towards Armageddon in an Impala and clawing themselves out the only way they knew how, but she was done listening to all those voices telling her she was wrong and she was broken and all she could do was run like a jackrabbit straight to the rock she would hide under while the world ended – with Jezebel Jezebel Jezebel clattering through her rib cage and one lone howl from deep inside Sam where Shemhezai left a black wake between his hip bones, with Dean's pulse beating out another chorus of don't leave me don't leave me I'll always stay if you don't ever leave me.

The ghosts pressed in close, shimmering across her skin in flickers of blue because they were Called and they were Chosen; one last stand to whisper about the end, where Dean would fall and she would never catch him and Sam wouldn't be strong enough without him to do anything but break what was left of their bodies against the altar and Ascend. Maybe there should have been guilt, because this had nothing to do with duty and it never mattered that their hearts bled every day –

But it was Dean and it was Sam and what mattered was right now. None of them were ants just waiting around to be stepped on and all those ghosts could do was wither into nothing when Dean's lips brushed the tattoo at the small of her back and Sam kissed her, tongue gliding against hers as slippery as an eel.

Charlotte couldn't stop trembling – Sam's sweat slick skin was under her fingers, scratching slowly down his back while Dean's hot breath caressed the crease between her cheeks; hands holding her open. Sam's fingers tightened on her shoulders as Charlotte's mouth moved down his chest, lips going around a nipple – sucking when Sam hissed, until Dean licked a stripe along the entire length of the crease.

She squealed, chin suddenly rushing to the mattress when her hands slipped, and bounced on her elbows. Charlotte managed to steady herself on her hands, something hard brushing against her lips as Sam's hands tangled in her hair.

Sam waited until Dean had her gasping, hands fisted in the comforter from his tongue pressing in and out slowly and going deeper with each push, before Sam thrust up into her mouth – fast and hard, her head flung forward as she began rocking back and forth between them; trying to get more of Sam inside of her, trying to spear herself on Dean's tongue as it worked past the small ring of muscle, and all she could do was moan 'oh oh oh.'

Dean was stretching her open, using a finger tipped with lubricant to get past the tightness, and Sam was whispering 'shh' while he stroked her shoulder. Every muscle tensed when Dean added a second finger, relaxing only when Dean's low murmur joined Sam's and every shield she'd ever kept up between them fell.

There was nothing to hide anymore, not with Dean leaning back and pulling her on top of him – sinking inside of her, pulse rushing against the walls with you're still here you're still here you're still here while they slowly moved their hips – and Sam's fingers replaced Dean's. Another touch of coolness before Sam reached around her for the packet Dean had left on the nightstand.

"Just you, Sam." Charlotte grabbed his wrist.

Sam's breath was a hiss behind her ear, followed by the wet sound of more lube squirting in a hand before he groaned, and he was unfolding her even wider than Dean did; Sam's hand's tightened on her hips and he began pressing inside and moaning his own 'oh oh oh' between her shoulder blades – stretching her slow, unhurried and patient, and Dean started sucking on her neck while she throbbed around both of them; her nails digging into his shoulders until Sam was deep, one hard 'ah' pouring out of her throat.

Dean started pushing in whenever Sam pulled out; both of them pinning her in place, their hands digging into her hips while they swung her between them. Charlotte was exposed, whimpering as they sped up and her hips bucked all on their own – want want want and mine mine mine – and she didn't recognize the voice screaming its descant of 'fuck me, fuck me, fuck me' over ragged groans and sighs as her own until Sam was a throb and a moan, coming hot up inside of her with a flush.

Dean kept thrusting when Sam slipped out, reaching around her to work those big fingers against her until she was overflowing with Dean, overflowing with both of them – spilling onto Dean and spasming against Sam's hand and Dean rammed hard with an 'oh god, fuck,' pulling her with him right into the tide.

She flowed into the room, a demon's dark stain that eddied past the light coming in from behind the curtains, and Sam woke up with a ragged breath.

He was brimming with her, that night on the ceiling where they both burned together no matter how much Sam fought to save her – burning up right along with her because Dean never came back and all Sam could do was scream and try to pull her down while the world hurtled towards Armageddon and exploded in its fiery ball and Jess was one long tear across Sam's stomach. But Dean was curled around Charlotte, back to hip with a slow breath exhaling across the prickled hairs underneath her ear, and Sam's shaking arm underneath her hand was covered in sweat.

"It was just a dream, Sam," Charlotte whispered against his chest. "Nothing but a demon's lie."

Charlotte moved her right hand around Sam's neck, stroking underneath his hairline until he relaxed. Dean's smile was a curve against her shoulder blade when Sam's breathing turned easy, his rough hand soft on her belly; she rested her other hand on top of his, splaying his fingers open, and Dean pulled her in tight to his hips.


The title of this story is a song lyric from "Demon's Kiss" by Blue Oyster Cult.

Despite the subject matter, I did my best to tone down the adult content of this story. If more work is needed in that regard, please let me know. If you really do not feel this story is appropriate and should be removed, please let me know and I shall be happy to do so.

Thanks to entirely too many hours researching fabric and, more importantly, doing burn tests on the fabric I own, I have torched more scraps of silk than I should admit. Nothing like the smell of burning hair in your sewing room.

Yep, I did paraphrase a speech from Much Ado About Nothing in the section where Charlotte is describing Sam's dreams – "and when I lived, I was your other wife."

I made several Monty Python jokes, as well as references to "Highlander" and "Ghostbusters" – and the ever necessary dark humor during sex about Armageddon. And I figured it was time to let loose with some Firefly homages because it's been awhile since I snuck them into the storyline. (Having just finished "Serenity" and an FF-marathon, I've got the crew on the brain.) Go inner pop culture geek.

I listened to the Wicked soundtrack entirely too much when I wrote this, specifically "Defying Gravity."

I did reference "Always Falling" throughout this story. Given that Shemhezai is using dreams to taunt them all, it seemed appropriate for Dean to mention it.

My intention with the idea of a Dean/Charlotte/Sam threesome was that it was just a moment on the road, a one-time thing that occurred when they were all floundering and were trying to get their bearings. They do have an interesting emotional dynamic as written and I wanted to explore that outside the confines of the main 'verse storyline.