Furious at Dean for the ham-handed way he approached the last room, furious that Utre is locked in this place like a criminal, but mostly furious that Dean thinks memories of him are a bad thing.
Sam would kill to have this many happy memories with Dean. To have a lifetime of history and experience with his brother, and if that makes him sad then so be it. Asshole.
He knows he should slow down, or explain it to Dean, or something other than stomping off like a little kid, but he's so angry at that moment he's pretty sure he'll hit Dean in the face. Hit him and not stop, because that's what this place is doing to them. It's stripping them of their control, their humanity, bit by bit and Sam knows it, but he can't seem to do anything about it. So instead he keeps a fast pace and listens to Dean catching up and hanging behind him like a shadow. Every memory has been targeted, specific, and Sam is suspicious that he Labyrinth is doing that on purpose. Maybe there are other happy memories, ones that don't include Dean, and it won't let them see it because these are the ones that hurt his brother the most. They've been pissing the thing off pretty regularly.
When they cross the threshold into the next room Sam stares for a long moment at the scene in front of him. Utre is at the bar, and the lights in the windows suggest that it's daytime, but other than the rumpled looking man sitting in front of her there are no other patrons. Which is very odd.
Dean makes a noise behind him and looks around for a minute before his eyes zero in on the man in front of Utre.
"Do you recognize him?" Sam's proud of how even he sounds, as if he's totally in control right now even when he knows he's still on edge.
Dean shakes his head once and then steps forward to hear the conversation better. The man, or god or whatever he might be, is wearing an old tan trenchcoat over Mormon clothing. His eyes are a sharp and hard blue, and his fingers rest perfectly calm on the bar as he studies Utre and she studies him. Which is when Coyote walks in with Loki, and everything goes to Hell so quick it might have been scripted that way.
"Hey darling I was just-" Coyote's eyes narrow, and then he launches across the bar floor and grabs at the man on the stool. The man dodges back at the last second, and then slides a strange silver knife out of his coat sleeve even as he speaks in a flat and calm voice.
"You are attacking an angel of the lord and-"
"I know exactly what I'm going at Halo." Coyote lunged again even as Utre reached for him, and then when he missed he turned on his heel and slid forward menacingly. "Utre get the boy and-"
When the angel lunged forward Coyote snapped his fingers and a table suddenly found itself between him and the angel. There was a crash, a clatter, and then Coyote and the angel were at each other's throats.
"Coyote. I am having a civil conversation. If you two flame-heads are done I would like to finish it."
He shot her the same look of affection tinged with amusement he always did, and Sam knew exactly what he was about to say even as the angel interrupted him. "My head is a perfectly normal temperature."
Coyote's jaw worked silently, and then he released the angel and took a step back. "Damn. Two of you. What could possibly be civil about a halo?"
Utre righted the glass that had fallen over in the initial attack and then caught the angel's electric blue eyes. "He was just agreeing to leave things in my hands. He believes it's the safest way."
The god looked once towards the angel, saw the nod, and then looked back to Utre. "And you trust him?"
"Implicitly." She smiles once, gently, and then turns to the angel. "It was a pleasure meeting you Castiel. I will endeavor to keep you informed."
The angel nodded to her, studied Loki for a moment, and then disappeared in a rush of wings. Beside Sam Dean stood perfectly still, every line in his body tight and tense. Sam almost reached for him, thought better of it, and let his hands hang. In front of them Utre was leaning over the bar watching as Coyote righted the fallen table.
"Why did you do that?"
The god looked up from his work almost confused. "I knocked it down. Seemed only fair to-"
"No. You know what I am saying. Why did you attack?"
"I-" He looked lost for words, and then he shook his head and forced a grin even as he spared a look Loki's way. "I love rousting halos."
She tilted her head for a moment and then leapt the bar easily and landed near him before grabbing his shoulders. "You did it for Dean. You were protecting Dean." She leaned in and placed a kiss on Coyote's lips, neither gentle nor chaste, and then stepped back and smiled so brightly it was painful to see.
Coyote's face was almost a blush, head ducking down as if he was unsure. "I noticed you didn't mention there were three angels that found the kid before him."
Utre shrugs, kisses Coyote again and then starts righting chairs. "What good would come of telling him I slaughtered his brothers? He would only be angry. He is more useful happy."
Sam looked Dean's way again, and saw his brother staring at Utre like she'd grown another head or begun speaking in tongues. This time he did reach for Dean, and his brother let him take his hand and hold it as if they weren't just coming out of some kind of fight. As if they weren't both at some animalistic edge.
"Do me a favor darling, don't tell the kid ok? Or anybody else. Don't want people thinking I've gone soft." Coyote was studying the line of her body as she bent for the last chair, and he let out a low whistle as the dress pulled just right.
She rolled her eyes at him affectionately and then stepped back and away. The smile dropped from her face. "I want you to promise me something. If it goes the way it is supposed to promise you will take care of Dean. Help him to be what he must. Promise you will tell him it is the only way."
Coyote's face wasn't tender anymore. It went hard in an instant, and he pulled back from her before turning to Loki. "Tell this crazy woman there's a way out Loke. Tell her how you climbed outta there."
Loki's formerly amber eyes are taking her in. The labyrinth can reproduce his smug grin, but not his eyes. He's short, Dean said he used to tease the god about it when he was a kid, and he stares at her for a long time before smiling casually at Coyote. "Yeah. Sure I could do that, but it's gotta be private. Can't be giving all the secrets away can I?"
Coyote hesitates for half a second, and then he leaves the bar without another word. As soon as the door closes Loki pulls a stool up to the bar and Utre takes the other side of it. "You killed three halos huh? Pretty decent for someone with your fanbase."
She took up a glass and filled it with one of the sickly sweet concoctions he always requested. "How do I tell him there is no way? You cannot spin a lie convincing enough."
The eyes go wide, wounded, and Sam's confused even as Dean's leaning forward and tightening up.
"Lie? I just wanted to relate my war stories for you, and how you apply them is-"
"Be quiet." She's gone raspy, thick, and Dean watches her eyes fly up and blaze harshly. "We both know you are not the real Loki. If you wanted revenge for your fallen brethren you would have done something by now. Keep up your mask all you want, but do not think I am fooled archangel. Your little brother almost smelled you tonight."
Loki, not Loki, looks up from his drink and the smile is gone. It's an expression Sam's never seen on the usually smug face. "If you go under he'll tell the kiddo to follow you. That fool is in love with you. He'll do anything to get you back whether he likes the WInchester boy or not. Even if the kid could, and that's a big damn if, get you reassembled how's he gonna get out? The Labyrinth will stop him at the door, or drag him back in as soon as his back is turned."
"Not if it cannot leave. Not if he binds it. He will be able to get out once he turns back. I have made sure." She poured herself a glass of vodka and sat carefully on the bar. Sam watched the way her hand moved slowly over the rim of the glass. "I have given him the first ring. Now will you play messenger or justice in this instance?"
Sam's head is spinning rapidly, and then it starts pulling the clues out of their broken conversation. An archangel in hiding, messenger and justice, and there it is. All the lore crashing together and he's gripping Dean too tight in his shock. All that's left is to decipher what the first ring reference is.
For his part the archangel looks faintly shocked 'til he gets control of himself. "You gave him the first ring? Just gave it to him? You coulda clawed your way out with that Sunny. What were you thinking?"
Sam tightened his grip on Dean, nodded toward the bag silently and his brother got the message. He pulled the little box out and moved forward, which was when the archangel's gaze shifted.
It happened so quickly that Sam could barely follow the genesis of it. Somehow the light fixture came loose, hurtled towards Dean, and then at the last second it jerked just a bit to the left and missed him. Bad luck. Sam realized he was holding his breath when his lungs started to burn, and then he launched himself at the Labyrinth's representative, and the two of them slammed into the floor. Vaguely he heard Dean talking to Utre, but all he cared about was taking out the thing that almost killed his brother. It felt strange, the way all of them had felt, as if the flesh was only plastic covering some loose mass of soft stuffing. There wasn't the sense of organs or muscle underneath the skin, and he strikes again and again at the mass as behind him Dean tries to talk Utre into grabbing the box.
Then Dean is grabbing his arm, pulling him back, and suddenly it's Sam that has a rage problem. He shakes in the circle of Dean's arms, shakes so hard he thinks he might fall apart. Dean's arms are warm though, warm against his cold skin and reassuring. He can feel his brother's pulse, the rush of blood through Dean's veins as he hold Sam and murmurs softly, soothingly, and damn that is nice. It's nice to be held, nice to be here, and Sam wants nothing more than to burrow into Dean's warmth and take it into himself. He wants more than he should, and he starts to kiss skin, tastes sweat and Dean as his tongue travels up the familiar jawline and towards Dean's mouth.
He's pushing his hands under Dean's shirt, touching smooth and tight muscles and skin even as he hears Dean's encouragements. Fuck the Labyrinth, this is happening and Sam isn't going to try to stop it. He reaches his destination, licks his way into Dean's mouth and slides a hand down into his brother's pants. They could just stay here. Just explore each other for an eternity and keep together, and no one would stop them. Here Dean wouldn't leave him. Wouldn't take off on some half-assed mission of mercy or justice or protection. Here they would always be one half of a whole and Sam wants that. Wants it so badly that even when Dean tells him to stop he's still pushing his hands further, seeking out the heat of Dean's cock and the taste of the back of Dean's mouth.
It isn't a kiss anymore, Sam can dimly register that, it's a method of devouring. He's not licking his way into Dean's mouth he's trying to consume his brother wholly and fully. To trap Dean into him until the end of time, because if he has to see Dean's back walking away from him again he'll go mad. Completely mad. So fuck the Labyrinth, and whatever they came for, because this is what's important. He's actually got Dean's jeans open, his hands sliding down to the prize when Dean pulls fully back and holds him at arm's length. There's desperation on Dean's face, desperation and lust and so many other things that Sam's own hunger cools a bit as he reads them.
"Sammy fucking stop it. We have-" he rubbed helplessly at his face, hands covering the mouth Sam had plundered until it was rosy and swollen. Which was when Sam realized Dean wasn't just being coy or trying to slow him down. He didn't want to because they were-
"Oh shit man. I'm sorry. I don't know what hit me there. It was just-shit." He was out of words, out of excuses, and the worst part was Dean didn't look like he blamed him. He'd been so fucking mad at Dean for losing control, and then he went and did it just a few minutes later. It was shameful, and yet there it was. Sam wanted to walk then, to just get out of Dean's sight until he didn't feel like such a bastard. Instead he stood very still as Dean tried to righten his shirt and re-zip his pants over the erection Sam had left him with.
They didn't touch as they went deeper.
The next room wasn't what Sam was expecting. It wasn't a memory or an exotic locale. It was simply a chamber, made of the same cold and weeping stone as the rest of the Labyrinth. The only difference was that Utre was in it, sitting quietly in the corner with her head down like a scolded child. Dean looked at him once, and then approached slowly as if he was afraid of startling her. He tilted her head upwards and Sam got a good look at her. It was more than he wanted to see.
Her eyes were that dull copper again, and her face was pale and drawn. She didn't look sick the way she had the last time he really saw her, she looked devastated. She stared blankly though Dean as if he wasn't even there, and for a moment Sam thought his brother had been struck silent by the sight of her like this. He wouldn't blame Dean, Sam couldn't find his own voice here.
There was a long pause and then Dean spoke softly. "Utre. Utre can you hear me?"
Her eyes focused, landed on him, and showed no sign of recognition or love. It was the worst thing that could have happened honestly, and the injury on Dean's face was perfectly plain. She licked dry lips and then nodded once as if that was all that he needed. Her eyes drifted past him, past Sam, and landed on some spot on the far corner of the room. Sam could hear the wind in this room, a gentle susurration that almost sounded like voices.
"Utre. Hey I need you to stand up ok? I came to get you."
She shook her head once and then lowered her eyes and closed them. Her hair covered her face when she turned it. "I cannot leave this place. It is where I am meant to be."
The noise Dean made was terrible. It was the sound of man who had been stabbed, gutted, and Sam crossed the room and took his brother's shoulder to show that he was still there. That Dean wasn't alone in this.
"Meant to be? Goddamn it Utre that's not true. Get up. You didn't earn any of this."
She pointed to the corner without looking up, her fingers shaking softly. "That is my sin. There. I had a son once. Do you know what it is to have a son? To be the sun? It is everything. I had a son and I failed him. I let him die."
Her hand lowered, but Dean grabbed it at the last second and pressed it to his lips softly. "I ain't dead sweetheart. I'm right here. Right here and I'm gonna get you out of here now. We're going away."
She didn't look up when he spoke, but Sam heard the wind pick up even if he couldn't feel it. "It was pride. Even a goddess can be filled with hubris. I thought I could stop it. Thought that if I killed every angel, manipulated all the gods, waited for when he could accept his love. I thought. But he is gone now and I am to blame. My most precious-"
Dean can't take anymore. Sam sees him reach his limit and vault past it in seconds. His hand covers Utre's mouth and he's pressing his face into her hair. "I'm here mom. I'm here can't you see me? I'm alive and I'm here and you gotta-please fucking just listen and come."
But Utre doesn't come, doesn't light up in recognition or reach for Dean. Instead she sits perfectly still with that look on her face and her mouth no doubt moving against Dean's hand. Which is when Sam realizes that it's not wind. It's the Labyrinth whispering to her, supplying her with all of this guilt and belief. Spurring her on to madness, to despair, and that's gotta stop. He steps into the little circle they've created and covers Utre's ears with his hands. Holds them there until he's sure that she won't get any of the exterior noise, but instead only hear the pulse no doubt pounding underneath his skin. Dean shoots him a strange look but Utre's eyes light just a little. There's recognition now, but it's filled with pain.
"Sweetling. Sweetling I am sorry. So sorry I-"
Dean gets it, rage fighting for a place on his handsome features, and then he smoothes them out and grips her harder. He meets Sam's eyes for half a second, and then replaces one of Sam's hands with his mouth. "Getting you out of here mom. Keep your ears covered and hold on ok?"
She slides her own tiny hands under Sam's big ones, and then Dean is lifting her like a doll and moving towards the entrance to the room. Sam realizes they still have gifts, and wonders why it never occurred to him that they would need the same sort of intervention to escape that they needed to get in.
The hallways twist and turn, and Sam pushes his way in front of Dean as best he can. If his brother is going to carry her then Sam had better be on point for the first bit of trouble. When they reach it though there's a half-second where Sam doesn't even realize he's in danger until he hears Dean's shout behind him.
He misses losing an eye to the thorns by mere inches, substitutes that pain with the ripping agony of the hand he uses to save it. There's blood, a lot of it, and then the pain is gone almost instantly and replaced by a numbness that reminds him of roots in a dark hallway. Utre's making a noise, and then Dean is there tilting his hand one way and another before wrapping a large section of hist shirt around Sam's hand as tenderly as he can.
"Look where you're going idiot." He sounds destroyed and Sam sees that the wild quality Dean has had for some time has dimmed considerably. Lips brush the undamaged back of his knuckles, and then his brother releases his hand and looks at the thorns. "Now what?"
Sam considers the bag and its contents before reaching in and digging around. He finds the jar he wants by the ambient heat it's giving off, and pulls it out before catching Dean's gaze. "I think this one will do it."
The grin he gets in response is almost gleeful. Firebug. Dean steps back and picks Utre up again before Sam unleashes the fire on the sharp thorns. It sweeps through them almost instantly, lighting the tunnels up and causing the temperature in them to soar to almost uncomfortable heights. Sam watches the way the fire races and twists, and those thorns must go all the way back to the beginning. He's given the idea almost instantly. "Keep up with the fire."
They run then, Utre bouncing in Dean's hold as the stone flashes past them. The fire sweeps ahead, and they use it to determine turns and twists instead of wandering aimlessly. Dean is glowing again, which means outside of the Labyrinth the second day has started. Vecher's time limit is approaching faster than Sam thought it would.
They reach a wide chamber where the fire has settled, and on the other side of the blaze Sam can see a great oaken door that looks a little like the one that marks the entrance of the Polaris. Sam hears the low noise and turns to see Dean clutching a much less put together Utre. Her fingers are missing, she's steadily dripping blood all over his brother, and the palms of her hands stutter along her ears as she flops in his grip. He's horrified to realize that this transformation is a good thing. It means they're close. So close. He turns back to see the fire burning steadily, and it takes only seconds to dig through the bag and find the jar of water. Which is when the screaming starts up.
At first Sam really thinks it won't be a big deal. Yeah, it's loud, and unpleasant, but he can handle that. Except then it takes on a personal aspect, and Sam realizes that the screaming is coming from voices he recognizes. He keeps having to look at Dean to reassure himself that his brother is standing, dripping both his and Utre's blood, but standing and not curled up with his face distorted in screams. He fights the fear as he uncorks the little bottle and pours it over the flames. The resulting wash of water is like a tidal wave, and Sam staggers back through it to find Dean leaning forward into the current and holding her steady.
"Fuck that's a lot of-" and then Dean was flying across the opening and slamming into the wall bonelessly as Utre dropped into the water. Sam had enough time to grab her up and then look to the thing in front of them. It was huge. He'd expected something impressive, and honestly it wasn't like he'd thought this would be easy, but goddamn. It took a second for his eyes to scan all the way up it, and the thing waited for Sam to be thoroughly impressed. A giant, ragged side dripping black ichor as it breathed thickly. The loincloth hanging around its hips was ragged and ugly, and its fists clenched before it struck at Sam. Which was when Utre pushed in his arms and they both slammed down into the water with the fist just brushing past them. Sam felt the bag slip off his shoulder and float one way, Utre the other, and his eyes flew to Dean. His brother was stirring in the water, and then the thing was striking again and Sam slid down under the water and along the floor. He felt stones cut through his thighs as he slid along just beneath the monster's flesh.
Dean. He had to get to Dean. He needed the bag, and Utre was unguarded, and this was a fucking catastrophe. He knew that logically, but keeping up with all of it as he barely managed to keep out of the giant's reach was a little bit harder than he'd expected. He managed to get underneath another blow, and suddenly a hot hand brushed his bicep and Dean charged forward and slammed into the beast's ankle. If they weren't in so much trouble Sam might have laughed at the way his brother bounced back and ass-first into the water. Instead he started splashing around desperately looking for the bag. There was another gift. The one from Wednesday, and Sam needed it. Needed it bad, even if he knew he'd never been trained with a spear. He could figure it out. Pointy end in- he heard his name and then the world exploded into white shards as he flew and slammed into the wall.
He could hear that rough voice screaming for him, but he also felt flesh against his. The thing shook the walls as it stomped across the room, and Sam looked up from his position on the floor to see the giant towering over him. Then there was a flash of yellow and white, and Utre was staggering fully upwards in front of him. Her mutilated hand lifted slowly, and then held in a gesture Sam recognized all too well. Kung-fu. Had to be Dean's influence, and was that warmth on the back of his neck water or blood, and then Utre was dropping something into his lap. A bag. The bag. Sam grabbed it up and fumbled through even as Dean shouted again and Utre staggered out of one blow's reach and took the next one. She flew like a rag doll, and Sam had the spear.
Honestly it was amazing how light it was. Considering the sheer size and power he knew it held he expected it to be heavier. Instead it fit his hand like he'd always held it, and Sam pushed his way up. Dean was across the room, one leg twisted awkwardly underneath him as he held Utre up and stared wide-eyed at Sam. So, broken leg, half-dead goddess, and it was up to Sam to end this. He dodged a blow, slid along the water, and then righted himself at the last second and thrust out with the spear. The first seven thrusts were misses, but the creature wasn't doing much better. Sam slid again, almost lost his footing, and then got back up and thrust the spear through the thing's achilles tendon. The resulting scream shook rocks loose from the ceiling and left Sam was an odd pressure on his ears and a deep tonal ringing. He cataloged it distantly as the spear ripped through the remaining flesh and the giant slammed to his knee, hobbled. Had to be his eardrums, probably busted, and Sam could feel the onset of a major headache that suggested head trauma beyond a simple scratch.
Sam was cold, colder than he'd even been before, but he could feel the door now. Feel the pull and the song of a world full of options. If he touched it he could decide where to go. He hadn't had much time after Vecher's kiss to consider what it felt like to have this sort of power, but this close to the exit he knew what had been given to him. Was this how Dean felt? No wonder he'd thought they would be untouchable, that there'd be no consequences if they stayed over, because Sam felt invincible. Felt like he could lift his head and howl down the world if he really wanted to. Instead he thrust the spear again, and used it to vault himself onto the giant's back. He ran, feet slipping along flesh that felt more like rock than skin, and then plunged the spear into the beast's spine as he screamed wordlessly. The Labyrinth made no sound, its body shaking and rupturing under him, and then he was scrambling his way down, falling half of it, until the water cushioned his blow and found himself near Dean.
There was one more step though. It couldn't be left to chance, and Sam knew it. They'd been given everything they needed in the careful order of Utre's memories, and Sam reached for his brother's hand and removed the ring without asking or thinking. The first ring they'd said, and Sam had always been a collection of lore. Had always had a knack for remembering bits of legendary trivia. The thing was charged with punishing god's that had stepped out of line or failed in their duties. It was unchained, but he'd seen the gash in its side. Knew what that meant. The size of it, its hatred, and all the pieces tumbled together as Sam spied the little bit of rock hanging from the ring. He slid his way across the floor, grabbed its hand even as he heard the bones and nerves in the giant's spine regenerating, and then he slid the ring on.
Dean said he wore it on a chain until his fingers were the right size, and Utre had apparently never told him that was unnecessary. The metal expanded easily and slid onto the creature's finger, and then Sam was moving as the walls around them began to shake and crumble. He grabbed Dean under one arm, Utre with the other, and spear hanging underneath her he ran through the water as best he could while the sound level ratcheted up and up until Sam felt the wet heat of his own blood sliding from his ears.
He hit the door at full speed, and it gave under his push. They stumbled into the cellar they'd entered at the beginning, and Coyote was already there to take Utre from him before Wednesday grabbed Dean. Which just left Sam reeling as the door slammed behind him and the world fell oddly silent. He felt cold fingers, dry and cracked, and looked up to see Vecher holding his face. She spoke but Sam couldn't hear her over the buzz and the adrenaline, and then her lips pressed once against his, and he felt a flare of heat before his legs crumbled and the darkness consumed him.
Sam wakes up to Dean hovering over him. It's strange, because even if he knew at the time it was happening that they were both going feral in the Labyrinth it's only seeing Dean now that informs Sam just how bad it was getting. His brother's eyes are tired, heavily shadowed and sad, but they have a crinkle to them that suggests hope on a level Sam had almost forgotten. He tries to sit up but Dean presses one hand to his shoulder and shakes his head. "Uh-uh Sammy. You got serious head trauma. Stay put."
Which is when the nausea hits, and Dean's hand leads him onto his side and puts the pan forward, and once it's over the pan is gone and Sam's back on his back. June is there out of nowhere, and she helps Sam into a half sitting position so he can wash his mouth out and drink some water. Dean sits behind her, his left leg in a splint and his face pinched as he watches June tilt Sam's head back and forth before she nods thoughtfully. "Helios will take care of this. I promise. Then will you please let him work with your poor leg dear?"
"Oh shit really? Dean you refused-Jesus man come on!" Sam's annoyed faster than he can think of why, and his head aches viciously in response. They all sound muffled and underwater, and he just wants to go back to sleep, but that's probably not on the menu. Concussions can be serious business. Instead a young man comes through the door and glances Dean's way once before sitting beside Sam. They've nodded at each other in the bar before, but Sam's never seen him look so serious and tired.
"Alright Samuel. Sit perfectly still and close your eyes." It takes less than a few seconds before the vicious clamp on his head is gone, and the rolling in his stomach finally ceases. What Sam is left with is a strange emptiness and the knowledge that he's fine, really fine, and no longer annoyed. Instead he feels warm, and pleasantly sleepy, and then when his eyes open Helios is holding Dean's leg and glowing vibrantly before he releases it and pulls the splint off. It happens all at once, and it's touching to see. Dean goes limp and June is leading him up the bed and settling him beside Sam. His brother's arm snatches him around the waist, and then Sam's surrounded by Dean's smell, and he falls asleep.
When he wakes up again Vecher is sitting in a chair beside the bed, and Sam looks around the room and realizes it doesn't have the same log cabin feel as the lodge did before. Which is almost troubling.
"Where are we?" There's the soft shift of cloth as Vecher repositions herself in the chair, and then her dark eyes settle on him.
"The original Polaris. My sister's creation instead of mine. How are you feeling?" There's an odd undertone, and for a moment Sam wonders if the worst has happened. If Utre didn't get better. Vecher sees it in his eyes and shakes her head. "She is damaged, but alive. They believe she vill pull herself together. In time."
He rubs at his forehead and looks over to see Dean snoring lightly into the pillow beside him. "I feel better. Can I see her?"
Vecher glances towards Dean and then nods. "Second door on the right. I vill stay here."
It takes longer than Sam thought it would to stumble to Utre's room, and he finds that all his muscles feel loose and wobbly. It's like someone dosed him with an incredible amount of muscle relaxers, but that's not probable because Sam would remember that. Also they're gods, and it seems odd that they would resort to pharmaceuticals. He pushes through the door and finds a broad room with a large picture window. It shows a night-time sky tinged at the edges with light, and that means Vecher won't be awake for much longer. He wonders vaguely if she'll wake Dean before she goes under, and then focuses on making it to the big bed. Utre is propped up on a large number of pillows, her face tinged with bluish light and still. Coyote is sitting beside her with his head on the bedspread, and Sam is reminded of his dream as Jimmy and Coyote's many aspects.
"How is she?"
Coyote doesn't look up. "Fingers may not grow back. Figure she'll find a way 'round that one but who knows? Helios says if the sun rises and she wakes up then she'll live. If she doesn't." There's nothing else in the sentence, and he doesn't look up. Sam rubs tiredly at his eyes before sitting on the edge of the bed.
"What'll happen to Dean if she doesn't?"
There's a tightness to his face, and he suddenly looks older and cagier than Sam's ever seen him. "Kid'll get ripped apart unless someone takes up for him."
"I-" Coyote's blunt fingers rub at Utre's cheek, and then he sighs harshly before finally meeting Sam's gaze, "Yes. I promised her. So yes."
Sam felt Dean before he saw or heard him. Knew it was his brother's awareness and then when the hand settled on his shoulder he leaned his face against it and heard Dean's sharp inhale. Dean didn't ask though. He simply stood and waited with them.
It occurred to Sam that if his brother became the new sun god then a lot of things would have to change. They'd never be together at night again for one, and Dean would have worshippers. He'd outlive Sam, and if history had taught them anything Dean wasn't very good at outliving Sam. Still, they'd be together. Because Sam had learned that as bad as watching Dean walk away was, letting him walk away was worse. He had forced his way into the Labyrinth trip, and he could make Dean take him anywhere else. It wasn't out of his control anymore, and he'd be damned if he let his brother walk away again. They'd stick together, and if Dean had to endure the hatred of gods and goddesses then Sam would do it with him. Could do it with him.
He wasn't little Sammy afraid to lift the gun anymore, and he wasn't Jimmy paralyzed by indecision and rules. He was Sam Winchester. He'd spent time as a god, and he'd battled a titan, and he'd resurrected a dead deity. If they could do that then sticking together through whatever the other pantheons could throw at them should be a cakewalk. He loved Dean. He'd known it for a long time. Had resigned himself to it when he'd come to the bar. Had struggled with it when he realized it wasn't purely fraternal, but he knew it now. He'd seen the worst of Dean down there. The ugly and sharp bits that we hidden behind that charming smile and easy manner. He knew the animalistic side that could so easily come out, knew what Dean looked like when he was being a coward, had seen Dean at his lowest points humanly possible, and he still loved him. Dean had seen those same parts of Sam and didn't throw him away or judge him. They'd come out of the Labyrinth stronger, closer, and even now Sam could sense that no matter what happened here in this bed he'd still be the one Dean went for first. Still be the one Dean touched like this, and he'd be the only one. Forever.
It was heavy, startling, and Sam pressed his lips chastely against Dean's knuckles and watched Utre lying so still she could have already been dead and the three of them were simply attending her corpse. Which was when the sun broke over the horizon, and the rosy light landed on Utre's cheeks, and her eyes opened glowing and bright.
It took three hours for Dean to stop cursing at her. When he finally stopped to take a full breath and kiss her forehead Utre simply smiled at him.
"It is all over. Destiny averted." Utre took a deep breath and flexed her remaining fingers over the sheets before reaching out and gently rapping her knuckles against Dean's forehead. "I am fairly certain this is when you have victory sex with your lover. I have heard of such things at least."
"Mom we gotta talk 'bout boundaries and-ah hell-" Then Dean was up and pulling him down so that their lips locked together and his brother was licking into his mouth hot and wet. He moaned once and then Dean's blunt fingers were rubbing into the back of his neck and he felt all the tension in his shoulders release at once as those fingertips pushed into the muscles and sent tingles straight down into his cock. Time slipped away, and then a male throat clearing and a feminine giggle broke into the haze and Sam turned at the same time as Dean to look at Utre and Coyote.
"But in private sweetling. Dip your candle in private." Her smile is so broad Sam can't break it by correcting her, but he feels the way Dean's cheeks heat even as his brother begins to laugh.
"Wick mom. It's your-this has gotta be the most fucked up conversation in the history of forever. Even for us." And before anything else can be said Dean is leading him from the room, and then pushing his way into the first door he can find. The windows here are facing the sunrise directly, and Dean pushes him down into the soft bedspread before reaching for the buttons of his shirt. "Sammy this is-fuck I've wanted-"
"Yeah." He huffs out a laugh and then works on the buttons of his own shirt. "Yeah I know. I was thinking Dean-" He cuts off long enough to push his pants off and then struggle with his boxers, "-now what do we do?" Dean's doing the funny dance Sam's almost memorized as he tries to get his pants off at the same time as his shoes, and he pauses long enough to really look at Sam.
"Uh. Well we're gonna go at it. So there's that." He almost looks lost as he finally gets his shoes off, and then his brother is sitting mostly naked on the edge of the bed and rubbing at his hair. "But after that? I dunno man. What do you want to do?"
That gives Sam pause. He really thought Dean would have some kind of plan. That he'd want to hunt with dad, or maybe strike out on their own, or something. Now it's apparently being left in Sam's hands, and that's so unexpected Sam can't really come up with much. He's thinking about it as best he can with the distraction of a fully erect Dean across from him, and then he's not thinking about it at all because Dean's mouthing his way up Sam's thigh. They don't have any lube here, but they end up twined together on the bed with Dean's mouth wrapped around his cock and Sam licking his way up and down Dean's shaft. There's an odd tenderness about it despite, or maybe because of, all the intensity of the earlier energy. Every now and then Dean will release him and place wet, open-mouthed kisses on Sam's trembling thighs. It doesn't take long, and when they're both spent they just lie there, his head on Dean's thigh and Dean's face pressed against his hip. Sam falls asleep that way, and when he dreams it's something new and odd. He's in that dark lake again, the one the demon took him to before, but this time there's a moon in the sky and a bony hand holding his that makes him cold but soothes him at the same time.
He knows without looking that it's Vecher, and he squeezes the fingers once and feels them squeeze back.
"If she'd died what would you have done?"
Vecher's silence is long and serious, and then her bony fingers stroke the back of his hand at a strange angle. "I vould have given you my powers and died vith her. Let the two of you know the pain of being separated." There's a ferocity there that belies the gentle nature of her fingers. "Have you decided vhat you and your brother vill do?"
Sam laughs softly, the moon twinkling above them so large it's like they're floating in space instead of water. "We're going to stay together. I figure the rest will sort itself out. First though, somebody's got to help her reestablish the bar, and I think that'll be us."
Her fingers squeeze his hand again and then release him, and he's floating free in the water as the moon continues to glow above him. "She was right. Your love for your brother is a beautiful thing. This does not make it any less stupid or destructive, but beautiful nonetheless."
Sam turns his head then, but she's already gone and he's floating alone. That would scare him, but he feels Dean even now. Even here. That's enough for him.
Utre's fingers are growing back slowly. It's been four months, and they're short nubs that pain her whenever she tries to use them. Dean works hard to make sure she doesn't. The little gods stop by regularly to donate items or help with some of the heavy lifting, but Sam can tell that Dean knows how to put the bar together, and his brother stays in charge no matter what happens. They work through the days, and fall into bed at night sometimes too tired to even kiss each other. They leave dad voicemails, but neither brother is surprised when he doesn't respond. Whether he's ashamed of himself or simply too busy it doesn't really matter. He'll get in touch with them when he's ready, and in the meantime they can just enjoy things the way they are.
When they finally get the new bar in order Sam peers around the town it's set in and then finally asks Utre what he's been wondering this whole time. "Where exactly are we?"
Utre's cheeks are rosy, and her eyes sparkle as she downs another two shots. Dean's glazed over drunk and pointing a finger at Coyote every time he leans in too close to Utre. Sam's half-sure it will come to blows. They've spent the day re-dedicating the door so that it opens on the different homelands of the pantheons. One of the Incan goddesses staggers over and sits beside Utre as she peers around the table.
"We are in Keystone, Colorado. I am fairly certain it was the smallest town they could find in a squeeze."
"Pinch." Dean and Coyote say it together, and then go back to glaring. Sam considers reaching out to touch Dean and calm him down, but he hesitates too long and then the Incan goddess is holding his hand.
"Have the two of you ever considered children?" She smiles broadly and Dean goes completely silent. Coyote's eyes are twinkling, but Utre begins to shake her head.
"What? Yeah. Yeah Sammy's always wanted kids. House and fence. Dogs. Ain't that right Sammy?" Dean's grin is the textbook definition of lascivious, and Sam's not sure what to do with it. He's fairly certain there's an undercurrent to this conversation he's not getting, because Coyote looks entirely too pleased and Utre is practically seizing a denial.
"Well it's certainly achievable boys, and I've never gotten either of you a gift before so-"
"Absolutely not Ocllo. There is no way. Take your hand back Samuel." He studies Utre for a second before pulling his hand back, and Ocllo looks unperturbed. He'll have to research her later and see what that was all about. She leaves the table and Coyote begins to whine about how Utre has had all the fun sucked out of her.
Sam would pay attention, honestly he would, but something Utre says back makes Dean laugh, and he's so in love with the guy at that moment he forgets himself a bit. Forgets that he's in a room full of the kind of beings that could crush them with a thought, forgets the wealth of knowledge available at his fingertips, the dizzyingly broad and confusing paths laid out before them, the challenge of figuring out what they are with nothing after them, how he'll get back into contact with Bobby and Missouri, dad…all of it just sort of fades away. Dean's eyes are crinkled at the corners, his mouth open and turned up, and Sam watches the way his chest moves and how his fingers play against his thighs as he shakes with mirth. Watches and wonders how he ever lived without this.
Which is when Thor falls through their table with a crash and a very angry looking Hephaestus hefts his hammer and shouts across the bar, "Keep your dirty Viking hands off of my wife!"
Utre's head is shaking and Coyote is doubled over with laughter. Wednesday is half out of his seat shouting encouragements at his son, and Dean is moving to grab Sam and pull him back from the fight that's about to break out. He can hear his brother shouting over the din, "We just fixed the goddamn place! You break it you fix it assholes!"
How did he ever live without this?
"All I'm saying is you'd like it if you gave it a chance."
Sam puts his fork down and takes Dean in with a long and serious look. "It's a heart attack on a plate Dean. You're going to be dead in five years eating like that."
Dean bats his eyelashes and smiles seductively, and Sam has to swallow down the lust mixed in with his ire. "Aw baby, you know if I keeled over you'd follow me down. What else could you do?"
"Salt and burn you before finding someone who doesn't think foreplay is softcore porn and a bag of Skittles." He keeps his response dry and Dean has the decency to look vaguely ashamed before he gets indignant.
"One time Sam. Once. I was tired and I thought you were too."
"Well when most people are tired they just don't have sex Dean. I would think that would be obvious. Now about this-"
"Sammy-" It's a whine, and Dean realizes it when Sam narrows his eyes. He clears his throat and modulates his tone. "Look if you're that upset about it I could make it up to you. I got some moves I haven't pulled out yet."
It's been four years since the Labyrinth, and Sam and Dean have settled into a routine. They've found it's easy to split their time between hunting and the bar, as soon as someone taught them the door trick. In between hunts they simply park the Impala somewhere safe and then use a doorway to enter Polaris and spend time with Utre. She has real windows now, and Sam's really glad for that. He likes to see Dean in the first light of morning, face soft and relaxed in sleep, and he likes to see the moonlight over his brother's shoulder. He likes the view, he likes the feel of home, and he likes to see Utre fully functioning once again and perfectly happy to see them.
At the moment though they're clearing up an issue with a Bokor thirty miles outside of New Orleans. Sam is honestly sick of dead animal pieces, but they're no closer to finding the guy than when they started. Chicken blood and skulls aside it's still better than witches. There's something inherently vindictive in all the witches he's encountered that's missing in this. However fucked up it is Sam finds something comforting in it just being ritual instead of personal. Which doesn't change the fact that this guy has a body count of five and if it climbs any higher Sam's pretty sure Dean's going to lose what little trace of humor he has left.
Sam's half-tempted to call Utre, because she probably knows the gods the Bokor is calling on, and she may be able to get them some intervention, but Dean insists that's the easy way out, and apparently they never take the easy way out.
"Look, Dean, this is not the time for-" The woman that sits down with them has an easy smile, and her hair is pulled into a high set of dreadlocks that curve around her face like snakes. Her skin is creamy, face perfectly structured and drop dead gorgeous. Sam doesn't miss the way Dean's eyes travel along her red silk dress, up the valley of her breasts, and over her face to her dark brown eyes. Doesn't mind it either because he's just as taken as his brother is. The cigarillo dangling from her lips smells sweet and Sam gets a hint of sex and vanilla from her.
"You be Utre's boy. The one who survived the Labyrinth right?" Her voice is sweet, light, and makes Sam want to touch her. Touch something.
"Yeah-yes ma'am. I'm Utre's boy. I don't recognize you from Polaris. Should I?" There's a subtle undertone to Dean here. Something a little like challenge mixed in with his obvious lust.
She extends one hand, bones perfectly balanced and fine under her cappuccino colored skin. "I am Erzulie, and no you wouldn't. My people don't spend much time with the likes of your mother. I respect her goals though, and I ain't gonna let her child come to my home without a proper welcome and an offer of help."
Sam knows his brother is going to deny the offer for help, but he also knows the Loa don't often show up without some sort of offering. That this one has come at all is a feat, and Sam may not know much about her, but he knows she radiates power. Knows she shouldn't be rebuffed or denied. "That would be wonderful. Do you know who the Bokor is and who they're working with?"
"Marinette." There's a look here, something that cuts through the sensuality and hints at aggression, at hatred. "Your Bokor be working with Marinette, and I am willing to help you find him. All I need is your permission."
"What do you mean permission? You need our permission to give us information?" Dean looked suspicious, and Sam didn't blame him, because he had a pretty good idea what it was Erzulie was asking for.
"To be riding you I need your permission. You say yes that is all it takes." Her fingers stroked Dean's hand first, Sam's cheek second. He felt himself lean into the touch even as he questioned the urge. "Such pretty boys. I take care of either body. You be needing me, and I'd be so careful."
Sam looked around the room at the devastation, cut his eyes over to his brother who was holding his strangely canted arm together, and then back to the bloody mess of the Bokor.
"Don't say it Sam. We have no idea what 'riding' meant, and I'll be damned if we'd-"
"-just let some crazy lady into our head like it was-"
Sam let Dean ramble as he activated the door and pushed it open. They stumbled, bloody and messy into the bar, and then Utre was grabbing Dean and Shiva caught him. The two deities shared a look over their heads as Dean continued like they were still standing in the destruction.
"-and the easy way always ends in misery. So this was the best choice Sammy and I stick by that." He took a deep breath, looked up, and then frowned in confusion. "Mom?"
"Sweetling. Sam. Rough day?"
Since Dean was unconscious Sam answered for him. "We decided the easy way was too easy."
Shiva nodded thoughtfully and helped Sam over to the bar. "Yes. That looks like it worked out well."
And honestly? Even though Sam spent the next month riding Dean's ass about it as his brother refused to let anyone heal his battle wound, even though it left him with a nasty scar and a bad taste in his mouth, and even though Sam knew it would be years before they could return to that particular city it did work out well.
As long as they were together it always did.