Gary finished the chant and dropped the contents of the spell into the flames. Sam closed his eyes for a moment, feeling an odd tugging sensation and then nothing...
When Sam opened his eyes again he was definitely in a man's body – certainly not an asthmatic teenager's – but he was also aware that – that something was still wrong, something was off.
He looked down then and saw himself sitting on the chair. Hazel eyes – panicked and confused – stared back at him and he swallowed – hard.
"Sam?" It was his own voice but it sounded wrong and he looked down at himself to see a battered leather jacket, bow legs and biker boots, a callused hand coming up to rub at his face, feeling unfamiliar stubble against the pad of his fingers.
"Dean?" he heard his brother's voice – his voice reply and beside him he heard the teenage nerd Gary take a sharp intake of breath.
"Oh shit," he said, backing away, "oh shit…"
Bobby seemed to be having problems containing his amusement and Sam felt irritation rising in his gut – Dean's gut – as he listened. He was pretty sure 'I've looked it up and it won't last more than a few days was meant to be reassuring but he didn't feel reassured and he was certain that his brother didn't either.
Dean looked pissed; in fact Sam knew that Dean was pissed because Dean was wearing Sam's patented bitch face and was making no effort to hide it. Sam sat beside his brother on the worn motel bed and lifted a broad hand, rubbing at his brother's shoulder – feeling the tension there.
"Bobby says it will wear off Dean," he said, in a voice that he hoped sounded reassuring but – even to his own ears – just sounded gruff.
"Great," he had never heard his own voice so low pitched and angry and he rubbed his brother's shoulder harder, feeling the friction under his hand, "just frigging peachy Sam – I'm in your freaky ass body dude – doesn't that bother you in any way?"
Sam looked across at his own body, longing and hopeful. Yeah – it did bother him – but there was nothing he could do right now – he had been out of his frigging body for nearly two days now – three more wouldn't make much difference and – hell – at least he was a man now rather than a boy.
"You do anything to me and I will end you," Dean said, suddenly, and Sam sighed.
"I'll take good care of it Dean," he said and that – really – was all he could offer right now.
Dean rubbed his head where he had bumped it – again. Fuck – how the hell did Sam manage being this fudging tall? Doorways, shelves, booths – they all seemed to be a certain height – and all of them were too frigging low for Sam to get underneath them.
He stared into the mirror – freaked out at seeing his own expressions on Sam's strong jawed face. He rubbed at his chin, miraculously smooth and he shook his head, feeling odd. Did Sam's thigh always ache like this? Was there always that low grade pain in his back? Sam's face was pale, shadows under his eyes and Dean felt tired – exhausted even – worse than he had felt in a long, long time.
"You wanna eat?" His own voice and yet so unfamiliar "I'm hungry."
Dean turned away from the mirror; no – oddly – he wasn't hungry at all – in fact there was an empty pit where his stomach should be and he couldn't understand it at all.
"Ok," the last thing he needed now was for Sam to worry, "get me – erm – get me a…cheeseburger and some fries," he felt sick just thinking about it and he hoped he would be able to force it down, "we'll eat here in the room – if that's ok?"
"Sure," he heard Sam jangling the keys and he opened his mouth to say something flippant about the car. He bit his tongue instead – listening as Sam closed the door, whistling some vague rock tune, and he wondered if – when they had traded bodies – they had left traces of themselves behind…
Sam was starving; he ignored the looks that the girl behind the counter was giving him and made his order. The scent of the burgers was making his mouth water and he could hear his stomach – Dean's stomach – growling.
The girl was – what Dean would have considered – hot and Sam felt his – Dean's body – responding. He bit his lip and pulled down his shirt – embarrassment colouring his cheeks.
The girl grinned.
"Wouldn't have pinned you for shy," she drawled and Sam rubbed at his face, his own feelings warring with those of his body – his brother's body – his brother's horny body, "I get off in ten minutes – I could do a little something for you."
Sam shook his head, grabbed the burgers and ran for the door as if the hounds of hell were after him. He leant against the door of the Impala and bit his full lip so hard it drew blood.
A few days be damned – he wanted out of his – now….
It was stupid – but he was fucking confused and not thinking straight – so when he let the maid in – he should have been shocked – horrified even when her eyes went black and she leant against the door frame – laughter in her black eyes.
"Dean Winchester – not a very good hiding place is it?"
He stumbled back – still unused to his brother's body – to long limbs and colt like legs. The demon laughed harder then – her mouth a red slash on her pale face.
"I am so getting out of hell for this," she declared and moved towards him, predatory and smooth.
"Dean!" His own voice but so full of fear he hardly recognised it. He saw his own face, his eyes bright and terror filled, he saw his broad fingers fumbling in his waistband for the colt, heard his own harsh pants of breath.
Suddenly he felt something surge through his body and he raised his head to stare into the demon's black eyes. His heart – Sam's heart – was beating double time and he could feel the power – taste it. Without thought he lifted his hand and aimed it at the demon, his blood thundering in his ears. This was awesome, overwhelming, unstoppable and he ignored his brother's frantic "NO!" and just went with it.
This was more effective than the Latin he always seemed to stumble over, the adrenaline rush to his head almost overwhelming. He could hear the demon choking, see the smoke pull out of her, feel his body thrumming, his head beginning to spin, blood in his mouth and trickling down his nose, wet and accusing – not his blood – Sam's…
His vision went black as the demon fell to the ground, black smoke disappearing through a hole in the floor, sulphur sour in his nostrils. He staggered, swayed and then fell, strong arms catching him as he went down. The last thing he saw was green eyes full of tears and the guilt hit him like a punch in the gut.
"I'm sorry," he croaked in a voice he barely knew and then he blacked out.
Sam knew the expression. He had seen it on his own face countless times – guilt – shame – regret. He lowered his own body to the ground and knelt down to listen – he could feel Dean's breath against his cheek – feel his pulse thundering beneath his thumb and he brushed back chestnut bangs from his own face, his voice low when he bent over and whispered,
"Dean – Dean – are you with me?"
Hazel eyes flickered open and held his gaze. Sam had seen his own fear, his own confusion often enough to know what his brother was feeling and he stroked his brother's cheek, callused fingers catching on wet blood and salt tears.
"It's ok," he soothed, "I understand," and he did – he honestly did.
Dean sat in the bar; he nursed the same solitary beer that he had been nursing for the last hour. He stared down at his own hands, at his square fingers and blunt nails, at the silver ring on his finger, the bruise on his knuckle.
"That was there before," Sam's voice was light, teasing, "I never did that."
Dean looked up to see his brother's familiar hazel eyes staring back at him. Sam looked as pale as ever and Dean knew he had to have a headache.
However many times he said it – however much he repeated it – he wondered if the guilt would ever go away. He had been in his brother's body – realised just what it was that Sam lived with every single fucking day and he never wanted to have that sensation again – ever.
"I told you," Sam's voice was soothing, "its ok."
"But it isn't," Dean wanted to hit something, anything but he kept his head down, his mouth shut, his fists clenched tight, "how can it be?"
Sam was silent for a long, long time and Dean raised his head to look at his brother. He was unable to stop himself as he lifted his hand and laid it over his brother's. Laid his hand over those long, elegant fingers, fingers that he had used himself, fingers that he had used to pull out a demon. God – would he ever forget the sensation, the power, the need for more. He wondered how Sam kept it clamped down, wondered how Sam coped with it. He swallowed hard and squeezed his brother's fingers, trying to convey, with that one gesture, how much he understood, how sorry he was and how much he loved his brother and how much he needed – needed so badly to protect him right now.
He wouldn't be in his brother's body in Detroit – but that son of a bitch Lucifer wouldn't be either – Dean would see to that – no fucking way either of them were going to be sharing their bodies again anytime soon.
"Sam," he said, finally and his brother grinned at him, warm understanding in his eyes.
"Me too," he whispered and whilst everything wasn't alright – probably never would be – it was as close to perfection as Dean needed right then.