Writer's Note: So I said that this fic was only going to be around 5k in my bio, but it's turned out that this is just a very long one-shot, haha. 3rd chapter will likely conclude the story though :)
The dark blue-grey hue of dusk clouded visibility. Below, the town's street lanterns, porch lights and restaurant interiors glowed bright in the encroaching darkness. Beyond, the ocean looked deep and black. The wind had picked up - blowing easily and gently rustling the trees and brush behind Sam and Dean. They stared out over the serene, quiet landscape, breath-taking in the nascent evening.
Sam had begun to recite the Latin passage. He was careful with his words - to the point of being slow in Dean's opinion - but they weren't sure if they had more than one shot at this so Sam had to do it correctly on the off chance they didn't. Plus, this was a longer passage than the first one so it'd suck if Sam blew it in the beginning.
Dean looked down at the bowl as Sam continued to speak softly. Dean's eyes wandered over to his hand clasping Sams', waiting in vague anticipation. Nothing had happened yet; not even goose bumps. Still, Dean held Sam's hand with a steady, firm grip... Mainly because Sam was unconsciously tightening and loosening his hold on Dean's hand while he recited the Latin. Dean could tell it corresponded with the portions of Latin Sam was having more or less difficulty with. They rarely had to speak Latin beyond the exorcisms they'd already memorized so it'd been awhile since Sam had had to pronounce an unknown Latin text. Sam was nervous but Dean was listening in: while Sammy's speech wasn't as fluid as it normally was, he was still nailing every word. Dean had every confidence in him and honestly even if Sam screwed it up, they'd just deal with it. They'd handled a lot worse than a messed up bonding speech... he hoped. In any event, he kept his hold engaged, strong enough to reassure; loose enough to feel comfortable.
Dean looked to Sam with concern as he felt Sam's hand moving up, inching its way to grasp his forearm and holding on tighter. Dean mimicked Sam's movements, taking a couple steps closer. Dean idly noticed he felt better with this than when they'd been holding hands. They were closer to one another and touching each other more but... there was just something about holding hands.
Sam didn't notice Dean monitoring him; he just continued with the passage. Nothing seemed wrong with him exactly - he was still speaking calmly and holding it together. Dean was pretty sure he was unaware that they'd altered the handhold; equally unaware that he was grasping Dean with greater strength now.
Dean squinted in the dark. Sam's face was beginning to bear edges as he spoke, his words coming out faster and sharper than before, his jaw setting and clenching with determination while he spoke.
"Sammy..." Dean whispered, "still with me?" he checked, scrutinizing his brother's bearing.
Sam didn't respond. The spell was taking hold - taking energy out of him - but Sam was rolling with the punches, still performing quite well.
What was happening here - this whole 'spell-takes-Sam-over' thing - was supposed to happen and, according to Sam, generally always happened while casting spells of this nature. It still made Dean anxious. He hated witchcraft and while this thing didn't require any disgusting ingredients like ancient dead baby bones he didn't appreciate seeing his little brother under the throes of any spell.
Beads of sweat were rolling down his brother's face now. When Dean glanced over, he saw the book shaking in his hand.
Dean's brows furrowed when Sam's hand grabbed Dean tighter again, his fingers kneading at Dean's arm as if he wasn't getting enough contact.
"Sammy-" Dean whispered, unnerved, then stopped as he looked down at their arms. His expression turned to blunt alarm at the sight. "Shit," he murmured, unconsciously tugging Sam closer. Sam jerked, stumbling closer to Dean but he didn't stop staring at the book, reading Latin with wide, dilated eyes.
Sam's eyes were the least of Dean's worries now though. Not when semi-translucent reddish metallic bindings were slowly appearing around their arms. The binds were a rosy pearl color, webbing and reflecting off what light was left in the dark. Dean watched, mouth agape, as the binds became more opaque as the spell went on. They were twisted around their fingers and extended all the way up to their elbows.
Dean could feel Sam's entire body start to tremble through his arm, his little brother's voice increasing in volume as he approached the apex of the spell's power.
"Sammy," Dean called, his fear and worry growing. The bonds started to appear all over their bodies, criss-crossing around their chests, their necks, their legs and arms. The binds were thicker around their torsos than their extremities but the ones wrapped around their connected arms were so thick and so many that they'd begun to almost glow.
Dean felt nothing: no pain, no discomfort. Sam was just chanting louder, grasping onto Dean and holding the book, knuckles white.
"Sam, Sammy, let's stop-" Dean almost pleaded. This was not how Sam said this would go down. They needed to go back and figure this out: make sure they weren't putting themselves in danger by doing this because damn it... this looked freaky.
Dean never pegged himself as claustrophobic but reconsidered the phobia: seeing every inch of his body bound by rosy-red glowing ropes and strings, even if he couldn't feel even the slightest bit of pressure from them, was at best unsettling and at worst absolutely terrifying.
"Okay c'mon Sam, we should stop," Dean ruled. He stepped around to face Sam and reached his free hand out to his brother's shoulder to snap him out of it. He froze when Sam suddenly stopped speaking, the Latin passage finished. Sam's whole body relaxed, his posture slumping as he took deep gulps of air, breathing like he'd just run a marathon. He let the book drop from his limp hand to the ground with a heavy thump.
"Sammy-?" Dean asked solicitously, resuming the move to touch Sam's shoulder.
"NO!" Sam startled, jerking away, not allowing Dean to touch him.
"Whoa whoa what is it?" Dean backed off, raising his palm up in front of Sam. Sam blinked a few times and looked at his brother, then down at his binds.
"Uhh," he hummed dully, studying them, seeing them for the first time, "whoa."
"Yeah 'whoa' dumb ass," Dean shot back testily while Sam lifted both their arms, examining the binds that wrapped around them. Dean's attitude shifted as he took in Sam's appearance. The spell had released him - Little Brother was in control again - but now he looked even more pale, exhausted... sick.
"Sam, are you okay?" Dean asked quietly, approaching his brother again. Sam looked up and backed away again.
"Yeah-yeah fine, just - don't touch me," he murmured, "you need that hand."
Sam gave a small smile and shook his head, trying to clear it.
"Um... So if you touch me, you'll... ah... get caught in the binds," Sam breathed, washing a hand down his face, wiping sweat off.
"Wait, what? No-" Dean said just as he tried to wrench his hand off Sam's arm.
Sam screamed in pain, clutching his chest, as he stumbled in the direction Dean had just pulled.
"SAM!" Dean yelled, immediately stopping at the sound. The echo of Sam's cry came back to them from the forest behind them as Sam collapsed to the ground, panting and wheezing. Their arms remained clasped and connected by the pearly binds.
"Sam, Sammy?!" Dean begged, bending down and reaching out to his brother. Their binds were a vibrant, glistening metallic cherry red. Sam was gaunt, the glowing string-like binds circling his face and lighting up the dark smudges beneath his eyes. "What is it?! Is it the spell?!" Dean yelled, grabbing Sam's shoulder. Sam jerked back too late and Dean made contact. Shots of red ropes plastered themselves all over the connection between Dean's hand and Sam's shoulders. Dean watched it in horror; Sam in disappointment.
"Fuck," Sam groaned, trailing off, careful to keep his own right hand free from Dean now.
"Sammy, what?" Dean asked, casually pulling his hand off Sam's shoulder.
Again, Sam cried out in pain.
"Come back! Come back!" Sam screamed, unable to articulate more. He was tearing up, his hand frantically thumping against his chest; his heart.
The light went on in Dean's head and Dean stopped pulling away. The binds' tension now gone, Sam was released and relaxed with a quiet, miserable moan, and lurched forward on his hand and knees. He inhaled breath after breath, recovering.
Dean went to kneel on the ground in front of Sam. Sensing his brother, Sam gave a cough and glanced up.
"God damn you! S'you, you idiot!" Sam grunted angrily.
"Yeah just got that," Dean whispered, "sorry," he added roughly, giving Sam's arm a conciliatory squeeze for emphasis. Sam shook his head a little bit.
"Sammy-?" Dean asked weakly.
"Nah it's okay. Here," Sam muttered bitterly.
Dean felt a sharp tug. His eyesight burst to flashing lights as his heart rate sped up so fast that it felt like it was going to burst. Like a billion volts of electricity or a hundred adrenaline shots.
Dean vaguely heard a scream, realized it was his, and then bam he was on his side on the ground gasping for breath, one hand on Sam's shoulder, the other clutched to his forearm. Sam had been pulled to the ground with him; they were lying on their sides facing each other, still connected by the brilliantly glowing binds.
"OW!" Dean yelled, pissed off. "What the hell-" Dean stopped, having blinked up at Sam to see the kid was actually chuckling dryly on the ground in front of him.
"You're an asshole," Dean stated.
"Yeah well," Sam sighed, smiling weakly, "you just did it to me twice just now."
"Okay no more pulling away from each other."
The two of them took a few seconds to recoup, focusing on their breathing and trying to relax despite the bindings circling around them. Sam closed his eyes and sighed.
"That was really painful," Dean murmured offhandedly. Sam snorted.
"Yeah," he agreed.
"So what... is this?" Dean asked. Sam swallowed with a cringe before answering.
"It's us," he replied simply. He kept his eyes closed.
"No, like, it's really us. It's our bond. I..." Sam coughed, "I didn't know it would physically manifest itself," Sam explained, slurring his words a little, "but it's not that surprising. Makes sense, even."
"Wait, we haven't even started the transfer?" Dean's eyes drilled into Sam's as his little brother shook his head.
"We gotta light up the bowl. You're stuck on me but I still have..." Sam reached out, grimacing and rasping his last words, "-one hand free."
Sam started to get up to look for the lighter and Dean paid attention, shuffling on his knees and facing Sam, trying to make sure neither of them would be pulling away from the other. Dean was right in front of him, one hand glued to his shoulder and the other to his arm. Sam was having difficulty searching for the lighter as a result, shifting around in an effort to see past Dean and at the ground.
"This is like an evil game of mirrors," Dean muttered, cooperating and mimicking Sam's movements so they wouldn't hurt each other.
"I hated that game," Sam said absently. He spotted the lighter and moved to pick it up. Dean went with him.
"Really?" he asked, confused.
"Yeah, you'd-" Sam backed Dean up and angled him to his side in a smooth dance that neither wanted to acknowledge, "-always just end up leading," he finished. He started flicking the lighter over the metal bowl. It wouldn't light.
"Really?" Dean asked, continuing the banter for the sake of avoiding their awkward predicament.
"Yep," Sam replied lightly, "it was more like a mini 'Follow the Leader' game," he added, his tone turning to frustration as the lighter still wasn't catching. Dean chuckled in front of him.
"So that's why you sucked at it," Dean quipped. Sam gave a quiet laugh.
"Or maybe you're a shitty leader," Sam retorted.
"I'm a great leader," Dean mumbled, twisting to watch Sam's attempts to light the bowl.
Dean sighed, remaining silent while Sam flicked the thing a few times in a row to no avail.
"Any time now would be good, Sam," he snarked impatiently.
"I know I know - I think it got wet in the grass or something," Sam murmured.
"Rub it against your shirt."
Sam nodded lightly and wiped the lighter down on his shirt, then examined the fluid compartment inside the cheap Bic lighter. He upended it and set it back so the Butane would pool in the right side.
"'Kay let's see..." Sam muttered, lifting it over the bowl and flicking it. Nothing.
"Shit," Dean sighed. "The wheel's not broken, is it?"
"Wheel's fine; just needs to dry out."
"So we wait?"
Sam's turn to sigh. He shook his head and shrugged.
They both frowned, unable to appreciate the humor of their situation.
"How long?" - do I have to continue touching you out here?
"I don't know Dean just deal with it okay?" Sam snapped, equally miffed.
Without the use of his hands, Dean just toggled his head and sneered at his brother's attitude.
"Don't be a bitch, Sammy."
Sam whipped his head to face Dean's.
"I'm not-" Sam yelled, then capped his anger, "being a bitch," he finished evenly.
"You're a jerk," Sam mumbled. Dean's smirk turned to a grin. He sighed and rearranged his position, sitting on the ground with crossed legs. Sam followed suit. Dean looked around the area idly, noting that they were lucky that so far no one had driven up here to get lucky. He relaxed, having nothing more to do right then but to wait for the lighter to dry. His mind started wandering and when it landed, Dean was psyched that the person that could answer his burning question was literally unable to get away from him right now.
"Hey Sam?" Dean whispered at his brother's face. Sam's eyebrows arched as he blinked at Dean expectantly. "What'd the uh... what'd the piece of paper say?" Dean asked, sporting a wry smile. Whatever it was, Dean didn't think he'd let Sam live it down... ever.
Sam twitched and gave Dean a furtive glance before trying the lighter again.
"I'd rather you not know," he murmured darkly and Dean smiled, relishing his brother's reluctance. This must be good.
"C'mon, that's not fair. You know mine's the amulet so what's yours, man?" Dean feigned hurt and tilted his head into Sam's view of the lighter. For ordinary mortals it would've been impossible to ignore Dean, especially since his face was like only a foot or two away. Sam had had training though and managed to ignore the shit out of his brother... which only served to irritate the shit out of his brother. But before he got pissed, Dean realized he had leverage.
"Sammy," Dean hummed tauntingly, "swear to God I'm gonna pull away if you don't tell me," Dean threatened breezily.
"You're an asshole," Sam dead-panned and Dean laughed.
"Got it!" Sam yelled right before he lowered the lighter into the bowl.
Writer's EndNote 1: Thank you so much for reading! Please leave a comment or review if you can spare a minute!
Writer's EndNote 2: I want to give credit to the fic that kind of paved the way/inspired this fic: Illusions by Kyriebess. Seriously it's fantastic. Go read it.