i can feel the weather in my bones (causeways) wrote,
i can feel the weather in my bones
causeways

FIC: The Last Fifty Miles (2/2)

Title: The Last Fifty Miles (2/2)
Author: causeways
Rating: R
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Word Count: 19,700
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, etc. belong to Eric Kripke and others.
Summary: Sam doesn't get visions anymore. That's how it starts.
Author's Notes: Written for sevenfists' Evil Sam ficathon for the following prompts: Evil!Sam has a serious urge to pass on his genes, so seduces any number of women in an attempt to get them pregnant with his evil spawn and Dean has to keep Evil!Sam locked in a cage. Set after 2x20 'What Is and What Should Never Be' but contains a small spoiler for 2x21 'All Hell Breaks Loose' Part One. I owe albydarned big time for stepping in and whipping this fic into shape. And when I say whipping, I'm not kidding. All remaining errors are my own.

The Last Fifty Miles

Part Two


"So let me get this straight," Sam says fifteen minutes later. "We're driving to Detroit to meet a guy who makes--"

"Cages, yup." Dean taps his fingers on the steering wheel in time with the music.

"So I'm going to stay in a cage until we figure this out." Sam runs his hand through his hair. "Awesome."

"Hey, you got any better ideas?" Dean says.

"I'm not complaining. I'm just glad we've got something that'll work until we figure this out."

"Yeah, me too," Dean says, ignoring the squirming of his guts.

They stop at a twenty-four hour clinic just north of Atlanta and get Sam's hand put in a cast. They're lucky: Sam says he fell on it skateboarding, and the doctor doesn't even question it. It's a nasty break, six weeks in a cast at least, but it doesn't really matter. They aren't going to be doing any hunting until they figure out how to stop what's happening to Sam.

It's a little after five in the morning. They've been awake at this time of day a little too often recently; Dean can see the strained lines on Sam's face. He hates the reason they're awake but at least it's a good time for driving: low mist hanging along the road as the sun angles through the trees and no traffic to slow them down.

Just over the Tennessee border Sam wakes up sharply and says, "A cage. This guy in Detroit will make a cage of out anything, you said?"

He's wary of Sam's tone. "That's what Bobby said."

"God damn it, Dean. Why the fuck didn't he say anything about this when we were in San Francisco? We could've -- Madison--"

There's really nothing Dean can say to that, and after a while Sam's anger relaxes back into sleep.

Sam can sleep while they're on the road, Dean thinks. He can't exactly jump out of the car and go looking for a chick to impregnate while they're doing eighty on the interstate -- and sweet Jesus, he didn't just have that thought. They can't keep driving forever, though; the nights of not sleeping enough or at all have been wearing him thin, too, just like they're wearing on Sam. He'd keep driving forever if he knew it would make things better, but he knows that it won't and he can't.

-----

"Let me drive," Sam says outside of Knoxville, Tennessee.

"Naw, it's fine, I can just keep going," Dean begins, but Sam cuts him off.

"You almost drove us off the road a few miles back. Let me drive for a while. You can take a nap or something."

Dean doesn't want to say it but he bites the bullet. "What if you turn while you're driving? We can't take that risk, Sam. And yeah, I'm tired, but I should be good now that the sun's up."

"It hasn't ever happened in the daytime," Sam says. "I know you're worried, Dean, but look at you. You really need the sleep. Just take a nap for a couple of hours and then we'll switch back, okay? It'll be fine."

They trade spots in a McDonald's parking lot. It's a little after ten in the morning and the sun's already hot enough to need the A.C. on; Dean cranks it up then balls up one of Sam's hoodies for a pillow. He's asleep instantly, some of the best, hardest sleep he's gotten in ages. When he wakes up it's a little after one. They're in another McDonald's parking lot and Sam's tapping his shoulder.

"Lunchtime," Sam says, and his eyes are hazel, wide and clear. Everything's fine.

-----

They don't do it often, and it's probably not the best idea considering how tired they both are, but they drive through the night, trading off every couple hours or so. When it's his turn Dean keeps ESPN Sports Radio on, catches the box scores from the West Coast night games. He can fall asleep to any music in the world, but listening to baseball highlights keeps him awake, keeps him sharp. There were a couple of springs in high school where he played baseball before they moved on. It's a good sport, baseball, a clean sport, the connection of bat and ball. It was like the feeling at the end of a hunt, but always an uncomplicated one, without casualties, because no matter how much the game meant or how long it lasted, it had a beginning and an end; it could be moved past, even if you didn't want to.

It's the middle of the night and they're driving north. It's a short night, if you're sleeping. But it's three a.m. and the last of the recaps are done; Dean turns off the radio. It's that odd hour of the night, too late to be early, and Dean thinks that they could freeze time and stay here forever, at this non-hour on an empty highway. They could stay here, in the darkness and the silence, asphalt slipping past. There's nothing that could find them here.

-----

Dean stops for breakfast around six. Sam shudders awake and takes in the golden arches. "Dude, this is the third McDonald's we've been at in the past twenty-four hours. Don't you think it's maybe time for a new restaurant?"

"We didn't eat at the first one, and this is the only place open right now in Bumfuck, Ohio," Dean says cheerfully. "Plus I want a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. Suck it up."

Sam yawns and stretches, his shoulders cracking. "Fine."

They eat inside so Dean can take a piss. He's the bad kind of tired, though: even the large coffee isn't doing him any good.

"My turn to drive," says Sam, sounding more or less chipper.

"Yeah, okay, sure." Dean curls up against the window and passes out.

God damn it if Sam isn't playing whiny girl music when he wakes up, though. He's got his iPod broadcasting over the radio and the combination of the upbeat whining and the beeping in the background is just about enough to drive him to throw the iPod out the window.

"C'mon, Sam, you're killing my car. She can't stand this shit, you know that. What have I told you about music made after 1980?"

Sam raises his eyebrows. "You know all the words to REO Speedwagon," he says.

Dean grins. "That's for getting girls, dude. And it's worked multiple times, might I add."

"Whatever. I think your car can survive The Postal Service."

Dean stares at him.

Sam sighs. "That's the name of the band, dumbass."

"Soon as the song's over, you're putting on Back in Black, is all I'm saying," Dean informs him, curling back up against the window.

Half an hour later they're in Michigan. There's nothing much to distinguish it from Ohio other than the massive blue Welcome to Michigan, Great Lakes -- Great Times sign.

"That is possibly the worst pun I have ever seen," Sam says.

"Whatever," Dean says. "I mean, it's right, isn't it? Personally, I've had some awesome times in Michigan, and the lakes are pretty great, too, I understand."

Sam punches him on the arm, never taking his eyes off the road.

Dean grins and turns up the music.

A few minutes later Sam turns to him and says, "Fifteen miles to La Salle? Wait, when did we get to Michigan?"

"You're kidding me, right? We spent a good five minutes making fun of the sign--"

But Sam's staring at him blankly.

They get it at the same time, Sam's eyes flaring wide. "Stop the car," Dean says. "Blinkers on, stop the car, pull over."

Sam doesn't have to be told twice. He puts the blinkers on, signals, checks his blind spot, does it all by the book. He slows down once he's in the far right lane and eases the car onto the shoulder. The road's wide here and the shoulder is grassy and flat. Sam puts the emergency brake on, turns the car off and keeps both hands on the wheel. He's shaking, or maybe it's Dean.

"What's the last thing you remember?" Dean asks.

Sam swallows. Dean watches his Adam's apple move in his throat. "Driving past Bowling Green."

"That was more than an hour ago," Dean says.

"That's it," Sam says. "That's the last thing."

Dean exhales slowly through his mouth. "What did we talk about at the Michigan border?"

"What do you mean, what did we talk about? I just told you, I don't remember anything after Bowling Green."

"There was a sign," Dean says, trying to stay calm and failing. "We talked about it for a good five minutes, Sam!"

"I don't know, okay? I don't know! It doesn't feel like I was sleeping or anything or like I was out of it. All I know is I was in Ohio one minute and then the next I was seeing the sign for La Salle!"

He's angry, scared-angry, pretty much the only kind of scared they ever saw from Dad, and Dean knows not to push against this, but God, the urge to is there.

"Don't say it," Sam cuts in. "Whatever you're going to say, don't say it, because Jesus, I know, all right?"

Dean closes his mouth, opens it again. "I'm driving."

Sam gets out of the car, walks around to the passenger side. Dean opens the door, gets out and lets Sam in. Sam doesn't say anything the rest of the way to Detroit.

-----

They've lived through silence in the car before but this isn't just silence. This is the knowledge that anything they say will come out wrong, that their voices are working against them. This is the last fifty miles, fear thinning in the car like oil, the certainty that no matter how far they drive, it won't be far enough, and Detroit's skyline looms ahead.

-----

The neighborhood is quiet at two in the afternoon. Kids still at school, Dean thinks, and everyone else at work. The only car on the street is parked outside of the auto repair shop, which matches the address Bobby gave them. It doesn't really look like the kind of place a guy who custom-builds cages would own, but then again Dean doesn't really know what that would look like. Hannibal Lecter's basement or something.

"You think he's there?"

Dean starts a little at the sound of Sam's voice. "Let's go find out, I guess."

As soon as Dean opens the door the heat is a solid wall in his face. "I frigging hate summer."

"Summer hates you, too," Sam says oh-so-maturely, and Dean feels a little better. A Sam who's cracking jokes is a Sam who's still at least kind of okay.

The big bay doors of the garage are shut, but there's another door around the side. Dean tests the knob and it opens to reveal a small office. The walls are lined with shelves and filing cabinets. An ancient A.C. unit cranks to life in the window beside the door, and ther's a guy sitting at a desk directly in front of them, scribbling on a notepad. He's probably in his fifties, dark-haired and wearing a pair of overalls that proclaim him to be MIKE.

"Sorry, I'm closed for the day. You'll have to come back another time," says the guy behind the desk.

"We don't mean to bother you," Sam says, "but we're looking for Mitchell Allen. Is he around?"

The guy's expression doesn't change. "Never heard of him."

Sam stares him down. "Are you sure? This was the address we had for him."

"We're friends of Bobby Singer's," Dean adds.

The guy's face relaxes into a smile. "You should've said so from the start! I'm Mitch. You must be the Winchesters, then. Bobby said to keep an eye out for you."

Dean fidgets. "Did he now?"

"Yup," Mitch says. "D'you mind shutting the door behind you . . ."

"Sam."

Mitch nods. "Sam. Right. So you're Dean, then."

"Yup," Dean says.

"Well, come on in. I've closed the garage for the day, like I said, but the side business doesn't really have set hours. I've got to tell you, I'm kind of out of the business these days, but I'm always ready to help friends of Bobby's."

"Good to hear," Dean says lamely.

"Hey, that your car out there?" Mitch gestures at the Impala. "Nice car."

Dean grins. He feels a whole lot better about the guy already. "Thanks."

"C'mon. It's too damned hot to work on cars, but it's not so bad where the other stuff is. Follow me." He puts the cap on the pen he'd been writing with before and sticks it in his shirt pocket, then leads them out through the door.

Behind the garage is a dirt lot filled with old cars. Towards the back, half-obscured by the body of a Ford pickup, is a shed. It looks like a tool shed, but when Mitch removes the padlock there's a set of stairs leading down, and the whole thing is looking a lot more like the Hannibal Lecter scenario than it was a few minutes ago.

Even after Mitch trips the lights it's dim in the basement, but the welding equipment is easy enough to make out, and the neat piles of silver and steel.

Mitch gestures at the room. "This is it. The side business. So what material are you looking for?"

"Iron," Dean says.

"Iron," Mitch repeats.

Dean keeps his poker face on. "Yes, sir." He can't say anything more than that without giving himself away, but Mitch is no fool: Dean can see him cataloguing the list of things you'd want to keep in an iron cage and coming up with nothing good.

But Mitch doesn't say anything other than, "How big do you want it?"

"Big enough for something about Sam's size," Dean says. "Maybe a little bigger." And if that doesn't give them away, Dean doesn't know what would, but they're just going to have to trust that Mitch won't give them up.

Mitch nod slowly. "You're lucky you came on a Friday. I've got the garage all closed up for the weekend, so I can go ahead and get started."

"How long's it going to take?" Sam asks.

"Not longer than the weekend."

Dean nods. "And it'll be strong enough to--"

"It'll hold whatever you put in it," Mitch says grimly. "Don't worry about that."

-----

Bobby calls a couple of hours later, after they've agreed to stop by the garage tomorrow and have checked into a Holiday Inn.

"Haven't heard from you in a couple of days," Bobby says. "How's he doing?"

"Fine," Dean says. "We're fine. We met up with Mitch earlier."

"And he's making the cage for you?" Bobby asks.

"Yeah. What's his deal, anyway?"

"What do you mean?'

Dean shifts the phone to the other ear. "He doesn't really seem like a hunter."

"That's because he isn't, really," Bobby says.

"Yeah, okay. But how do you get into making cages? You don't really see shit like that on eBay."

Bobby's silent for a moment. "His daughter got bit by a werewolf when she was five," he says finally. "He didn't know about werewolves or any of it before she got bit, but it's kind of hard to miss when your daughter turns into a monster around the full moon, and he did his research. When she was little he and his wife kept her locked in the basement, but she kept getting stronger. He didn't want to have to kill her, so he did his research and figured out that keeping her in a silver cage might work. So he taught himself how to build cages."

Dean grips the phone tighter. "And you couldn't have told us this when we were in San Francisco four months ago?" he hisses. "Damn it, Bobby."

"You're right, I didn't tell you, and you can judge me all you want, if you like," Bobby says. "But wait until I've told you the rest of the story first."

"Fine," Dean says tightly.

"Her mother let her out," Bobby says. "The daughter was crying about how she didn't want to be locked in anymore, didn't want to be kept in a cage like a monster, and the mother couldn't take it. She let the girl out, and right then the girl started to turn. The mother tried to get her back in the cage but she couldn't do it in time, and the girl turned and killed her."

Dean swallows hard. "Jesus, Bobby."

"Maybe I was wrong to make that decision for you four months ago," Bobby says. "But cages do funny things to people. No matter how much they don't want to hurt anybody else or how willing they are to be locked up, eventually they start to need out, and eventually they find a way to do it. A cage is only a temporary solution, Dean, and don't you ever forget it."

"Bobby," Dean starts to say, but he's already hung up the phone.

"What'd Bobby have to say?" Sam asks from across the room, staring at the laptop.

"Nothing," Dean says. "Nothing important. You want to order some pizza?"

They eat pizza on their beds and watch T.V. Dean can't stop thinking about the conversation with Bobby. He wonders why Bobby told them about Mitch at all, if a cage is only a temporary solution and Bobby's so sure there's no way to stop what's happening to Sam. Dean clenches his teeth at the thought. He can't kill Sam, he'd never be able to do it, but Bobby's got a point: he can't keep Sam locked in a cage forever, either. Bobby has to be wrong about the other part of it, then. There has to be a way to stop this, and Dean's going to find it.

-----

Sam doesn't go out that night. Dean knows because he sticks a slip of paper between the door and the frame while Sam is in the bathroom, and when he checks in the morning it's still there. Dean badly wants to believe it means that it's over, that everything's okay, but he knows better. It's just one night that Sam didn't turn. It's not over.

-----

Mitch has already got a good bit of the cage done when they stop by around noon. He's going at it systematically: the main framework first, thick bars for the four corners and the main connections between them, then a latticework of smaller bars in between. He's stringing them all together and welding the joints; that's what takes the most time, he says. That and bending the major parallel bars around the outside of the cage.

Mitch lets them stay for a while and watch. He works like they aren't even there, the way Sam used to be with his geometry homework in high school: total concentration. After a while, though, Mitch says, "I'm going to take a lunch break, then get back on this. I should be done sometime tomorrow morning, if you want to come back then. Have you got a number I can call?"

Dean gives him his cell phone number and checks the notepad Mitch scratches it down on to make sure it's right. "Talk to you tomorrow, then."

Mitch nods and waves them out. Dean remembers that his daughter was a werewolf who killed his wife. He realizes, then, that Bobby never told him how that story ended, what happened to the daughter after that; but looking at Mitch, the firmness of his movements and the hard lines of his face, Dean has a pretty good idea.

-----

Dean's positive that there are things to do in Detroit while they wait for the cage to be finished, but he's too distracted to figure out what. They grab lunch and head back to the room. Dean lies down to nap but he's restless. It's like it's too hot in the room; he can't ever fall all the way asleep, even though the A.C.'s cranked as high as it goes.

"There's a Tigers game tonight," Sam reads off the laptop. "Against the Kansas City Royals at 7:05. You want to go?"

"Sure. Yeah, definitely," Dean says, jumping up and pulling on his boots.

Dean's too itchy to stay in the hotel room, so they end up getting to the stadium a full two hours early. They wait in the parking lot and buy a couple beers off some tailgaters. They go inside as soon as the gates open. Dean makes Sam come with him to the front of the stands to watch batting practice, fight little kids for fly balls. Sam tries to act all sarcastic about it but he's always loved this stuff, and he can't hide his smile when he catches a pop-fly off Gary Sheffield's bat.

"That was just because you're eight feet taller than everyone else, Sasquatch," Dean tells him. "Give the rest of us a fighting chance, why don't you?"

"Just because I've got catlike reflexes and you don't," Sam begins, but hands the ball to a little kid standing near them anyway. The kid looks to be maybe two years old, but he's already got his ball cap and glove on, and the way his face lights up when Sam puts the ball in his miniature glove makes Dean think that being a dad would have to be about the most awesome thing ever.

It's probably not that great of a game, but it's the best Dean's ever been to, better than any of the ones he used to go to when he was on the road alone. Sam's beside him in the stands, back sweat-sliding against the plastic seat. They've got five dollar beers in their hands, spicy sausages with mustard and onions and Cracker Jacks. Sam actually likes that shit even though no matter how many boxes you buy, the prize will never be less lame -- it doesn't matter.

At the bottom of the fourth inning Dean goes to take a piss and brings back a Tigers cap for Sam and jams it over his head. It's the biggest one he could find and it's still just barely big enough, but Sam wears it the rest of the game anyway. At the seventh inning stretch they sing "Take Me Out" as loudly and obnoxiously as they can, grin at people's frowns.

Sam falls asleep in the passenger seat on the way back to the motel, face mushed against the window, and Dean smiles into the rearview mirror: it's a good night, the best of nights.

-----

Mitch calls at eight the next morning. "It's ready," he says.

Even after having seen the cage partway done yesterday, Dean's surprised by the sight of it. It's huge, large enough to stand up and stretch your arms out in, solid-looking enough that he'd be willing to put it up against a nuclear blast without hesitation. It's beautiful, even, in the way that the Impala is beautiful: hard metal and strong lines.

"So where are you taking it?" Mitch asks, and Dean starts.

"I'm not sure yet," Dean says finally, and it's the truth: he hasn't thought through this part of things, although it's stupid not to have; there's no good reason why he hasn't. (Except that there is: he didn't want to think about it.) Of course it can't stay in Mitch's basement; they'll need a place to put it, a basement or a warehouse room, a place where it can be used.

Sam flashes Dean a tight smile. It doesn't reach his eyes. "Where's the nearest U-Haul rental place?" he says.

-----

When they get back Mitch has already managed to get the cage out of the basement. "There's a freight elevator in the back," he explains.

But still, even with the help of a ramp and some rollers, getting the cage loaded into the U-Haul is a bitch. It's still early enough in the day that the full force of the sun isn't on them, but it's got to be eighty degrees out already, the kind of summer heat that doesn't ever fade, not even around dawn. They manage it between the three of them, although it's kind of tricky with Sam's wrist. Dean's shirt is plastered to his back by the time they're done and he would give his left nut to be able to jump in an ocean right now.

Sam pushes his hair off his forehead and says, "Thanks, Mitch. How much do we owe you?"

"Just for the materials." When they begin to protest, he cuts in, "The labor's free. You're friends of Bobby's."

Dean counts out the cash, hands it to him. "Thanks," he says again, and Sam echoes him.

"You're welcome. Oh, before you go, let me show you how it works." He jumps back into the U-Haul and says, "The catch is here. Get up here so you can see it right."

It's a tight fit for all three of them inside the back of the U-Haul with the cage, though. "You know what, why don't you just show Dean," Sam says, jumping back down. "He can explain it to me later."

"You sure?" Mitch says.

Sam pushes the hair off his face. "Yeah. D'you mind if I use your bathroom, actually?"

"Sure. Just through the door to the left," Mitch says, pointing.

"Great. Be right back." Sam turns and heads towards the office.

He doesn't want to know how the lock works, Dean realizes. That's why he's leaving, and if Mitch sees right through that, too, he still doesn't say anything. "Here," Mitch says. "Let me show you, and then I'll let you try it it, okay?"

It's easy enough, the locking mechanism, but there's no way to undo it from the inside without some kind of metal object. "So make sure you keep lock-picking supplies away from the cage," Mitch says. "It's pretty obvious, but y'know, no forks or anything."

"Got it," Dean says.

Sam comes back out of the building then.

"And if you've got any questions or need anything, you've got my number."

"Yup, we're good," Dean says.

"Hey, what happened to your car?" Mitch says suddenly.

"Oh, we left it at the U-Haul place," Dean says. Sam hasn't turned in a couple of days -- at least, not that Dean's noticed, and isn't that a pleasant thought -- but they hadn't wanted him to drive, nonetheless. "We're going to go back and pick it up on the way out of town."

"The lot's right by I-75," Sam adds. "It seemed kind of stupid to drive two cars all the way out here and then just go right back by there anyway, y'know?"

"Fair enough," Mitch says neutrally. "Well, it was good to meet you boys, and tell Bobby hello for me next time you see him, will you?"

"Sure." Dean opens the driver's side of the U-Haul. "See you around, Mitch. And thanks again."

Mitch waves until they turn the corner.

"I think he knows," Sam says as soon as the garage is out of sight.

"Probably at least something," Dean admits. "I don't think he's going to tell anybody, though."

"Hope not," Sam says. He's looking out the window and Dean can't see his face.

They head back to the U-Haul lot and hook the Impala up to the trailer hitch. Dean hates to do this to his car but there's nothing for it: Sam can't drive.

They're coming up on the on-ramp for I-75 South when Sam says, "Take the next one. Head north."

"How come?"

"I called in a favor. A friend of mine's got a place we can use."

"This friend of yours got a name?"

"Jimmy McIntyre. He was at Stanford with me. I called him when I said I was going to the bathroom. His family's got a cabin outside of Vassar. Usually they'd be there right now, but they just moved to California, so he said it'd be empty all summer."

"You don't think this is going to take the rest of the summer," Dean begins.

"All I mean is, the cabin's usually occupied right now, and this year it isn't," Sam says.

"You still didn't answer the question."

"I don't know, all right? Can we just drive to Vassar and get everything set up and worry about that part later?"

"Fine," Dean says tightly, and jams Metallica into the tape deck.

They get to Vassar a little after noon. Dean is starving. They grabbed a couple of bagels from the continental breakfast on the way to Mitch's this morning, but there's been a lot of lifting and hitching and driving since then. Vassar has a gas station and sandwich shop combo, though, and that'll work.

The girl behind the counter is petite, blonde and big-breasted, which goes a long way towards improving Dean's mood. If it weren't for that fact that she looks like she's maybe sixteen, he would totally tap that. Instead Dean reminds himself that it's probably her first summer job, and that there's not a single state in the US of A where a twenty-eight-year-old man having sex with a sixteen-year-old girl isn't illegal, and orders a couple of Italian subs instead.

"You two new around here or something?" the girl asks as she makes their sandwiches.

Sam shakes his head like he's waking up. "Uh, yeah. We're Jimmy McIntyre's cousins."

"No way! For real?"

"Yeah," Sam says. "They said we could use the cabin since they're not here this summer."

"Yeah, how're they liking L.A.?"

"Jimmy said it's a real change from Michigan."

The girl snorts. "I bet. Oh, sorry! I'm Annie. What are your names?"

"I'm Sam."

"Dean."

"Nice to meet you both. And here's your food." She hands them over the counter, and Dean grins at the way her fingers brush against his hand when he takes his sandwich.

They grab a couple cans of soda from the case by the door and sit down at a table near the window. Dean inhales his sandwich in about thirty seconds flat. It's a pretty damned good sandwich.

Sam takes his time with his. "Hey Annie," he says about halfway through. "You don't think you could give us directions to the cabin, do you? I got them from Jimmy but I lost the piece of paper somewhere along the way."

"No problem," she says, and starts rattling off streets and turns. Sam's nodding along, but Dean lost her after the first three lefts. "You know what, let me write that down for you."

Sam smiles winningly. "That'd be great."

"How long are you planning on staying for, d'you know?"

"We're not really sure yet," Sam says. "See how it goes, I guess. Is there a grocery store around here, too, by any chance?"

She writes down the directions for that, too, and in the meantime Sam's finished eating.

"How much do we owe you?" Dean asks.

"Oh, don't worry about it. You're new here; it's my treat. Plus my boss doesn't come in until four anyway." She's definitely looking at Sam as she says it, and Dean can't help but grin. Attaboy, Sammy.

As soon as they're in the car, Dean says, "Dude, she totally wanted in your pants."

Sam huffs. "She couldn't have been older than sixteen, Dean."

"Do you really think sixteen-year-olds don't think about sex? Hate to break it to you, but they definitely do."

Sam curls his lip. "Not everyone is you as a teenager. Thank God. She was just being friendly."

"Uh-huh. Sure."

"Whatever. Let's go to the grocery store."

"How come?"

Sam just stares at him. "You planning on going and getting us food every day once we're out at the cabin? 'Cause you might have missed this, but the cabin's kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and also, I'm going to be locked in a--"

"Fine," Dean cuts him off before he can finish the sentence. "Let's go."

Dean hasn't really done much in the way of grocery shopping in years, not since Sam was in high school and used to insist they stay in the same town at least through the end of the semester. Other than the spring of Sam's senior year, Dean can't remember if they ever actually did; somehow he doubts it. The only reason he knows they stayed put that one spring is that Dad got his left leg half chewed off by a bunch of pixies around the same time. He spent the whole spring being pissed off that he couldn't hunt and taking it out on Sam.

But the motions of grocery shopping are familiar, fruits and vegetables going into the cart first -- on the shelf where a kid would sit, if there was one -- then bread, all the fragile things first. Dean stocks up on potatoes and rice -- he doesn't know what kind of stove the cabin has, but those are things you can always cook, even if you have to build a fire first -- selects meat and beans, some cans of soup. On the cereal aisle Sam insists on putting a box of Fruity Pebbles in the cart, which he hasn't eaten since he was a kid, but if Sam wants it, Dean's not about to deny it to him. Dean grabs a thirty-brick of Coors and sticks it under the cart and checks out.

They put the groceries in the back of the Impala and drive to the cabin. Sam was right: it's pretty damned far out there. They pass a bunch of gravel driveways at first but after a while even those thin out and disappear. The road is narrow and not particularly well-paved, curling through thick woods. The turn-off for the cabin is just around a curve and they almost miss it. Off the main road it's still another couple of minutes crunching down gravel before they get to the cabin, which is in the middle of a clearing.

It's a wooden cabin; plank construction, with a pair of windows framing the door, which looks to be wide enough that they can get the cage through it. The key is hidden under a planter around the side. Sam unlocks the door and they go in. Nobody's been here since last summer for sure, from the amount of dust all over the place; there are sheets covering the furniture at least, but dust is thick on the floor. Dean hates cleaning.

It's not all that big inside, but at least it's open, which makes it less cramped than it would be otherwise. There's one closed-off section in the back left, which Dean's guessing is the bathroom, but everything else is out in the open. The kitchen is in the back right corner, along with a table with four chairs in front of it. A couch is in the middle of the room and a pair of twin beds are along the left wall, under the shadow of a loft. There's a ladder leading up to it; Sam's already climbing it.

"There's a queen bed," he calls down. "And some boxes."

Dean's halfway to calling it for himself when he remembers that Sam's not getting any of the beds, and he isn't that big of an asshole. "We'll check them out later. Let's get the stuff inside."

They bring the duffel bags, the rock salt and the guns inside. The groceries are the only other thing to bring in, besides the cage, and Dean has no idea how they're going to get that inside, heavy as it is, even with the rollers Mitch loaned them.

They'll just deal with it later, Dean decides. He heads back out to the car to get the groceries. There's a refrigerator in the kitchen. It looks like it run off the gas generator around the side, so he turns that on when he goes back outside. Its tank is nearly full, which is good; that's one less thing to have to deal with. It takes a couple of trips, but he and Sam get the groceries in.

Sam starts unpacking cans of beans and soup, putting them in cabinets. He gets to the cereal bag and makes a face. "Dude, Fruity Pebbles? I stopped eating that when I was twelve!"

"Don't give me that shit. You're the one who picked it out, buddy."

Sam's quiet, and something seizes in Dean's gut. "Sam?" he says, turning, but Sam keeps his eyes on the ground.

"Last thing I remember, we were on the highway," Sam says quietly. "I-75, just outside of Birch Run. I guess -- I was hoping I fell asleep or something."

"No," Dean says. "No, you were awake, you were with me the whole time, when we got lunch at the sandwich place, don't you remember? Annie, the chick who wanted to get with you, except you didn't believe it and anyway she was sixteen and--"

Sam's shaking his head. "Next thing I remember we were on the little road, a couple minutes before we got to the cabin."

"But we went to the grocery store, too," Dean says. "We went to the grocery store and you picked out your nasty-ass cereal and you don't remember any of it?" And maybe he's babbling but he can't stop himself: that's a solid couple of hours Sam can't account for, and Dean had no idea. He couldn't tell it wasn't Sam.

He thinks he's maybe shaking a little, and Sam is moving closer to him, saying, "Dean? Dean, it'll be okay, you know it will."

Dean's nodding and saying, "Okay, okay." But something's not right about this; something isn't sitting right in his stomach. It's probably just the whole situation. Nothing about this could possibly be all right; this is the dictionary definition of not all right, but Sam's trying to convince him that it'll be okay. That's not Sam's job, that's Dean's, and Dean's got to believe it, doesn't he? If he doesn't believe it then they don't have a chance of making it true, and he has to, he has to make it true. And so he tells himself they'll figure it out, they will.

-----

Getting the cage inside involves a lot of sweating and cursing and nearly breaking Dean's left foot, and he's really just happier having it done and not thinking about it. But that's just the thing: he doesn't want to have the cage inside at all.

But Sam's calm about it, and if he can be calm about it then Dean sure as hell isn't going to freak. It's damned hot inside the cabin, even with the windows and doors propped open, and Dean's mopping sweat off his forehead with a t-shirt.

"I think I'm going to take a shower before we do this," Sam says, rummaging through his duffel bag for a towel.

"Yeah, okay," Dean says. Sam strips down to his boxers and Dean's not trying to stare but he's failing; he can't seem to look away, and God damn it, he thought this was over, just a fluke or something. It's got to be that they're alone in the cabin, he thinks, that they're so far away and removed from everything familiar; he's just confused, that's all that's going on. They're in a crazy situation and it's messing with him. But he's still staring at the line of Sam's back as he unbends and turns to look at Dean quizzically.

"You all right?" Sam asks, holding the towel in the crook of his arm.

"Yeah." Dean swallows. "I'm cool. Take your shower."

And there are so many things he should be doing right now that aren't what he does: he sits down on the edge of one of the twin beds and unzips his jeans, pulls his cock into his hand. He tries to think about big-breasted blondes or that little redheaded waitress in Hot Springs or even Annie the sixteen-year-old but none of the images stick. He comes with Sam's name on his tongue, the curve of Sam's back in his mind, and he is so beyond fucked; both of them are.

By the time Sam gets out of the shower he's got himself all cleaned up; his t-shirt was too sweat-soaked to wear anymore, anyway, and it's really too hot for a shirt. Sam's just wearing boxers when he comes out of the shower, and Dean is really damned glad he just jerked off because otherwise he wouldn't stand a chance of not getting hard again -- and even though he did, his cock still twitches in interest.

"So how do you want to do this?" Sam says.

It turns out Dean's still not entirely back with it yet, because he says, "Do what?"

Sam gestures at the cage. "Just lock me in, you figure?"

"I guess so," Dean says slowly, but he doesn't want to say it at all. Suddenly there are all sorts of things to think about, like what if Sam has to go to the bathroom, and is Sam really supposed to sleep on the floor of the cage? Is Dean supposed to let him out at night and just hope the urge to go out and fuck random girls doesn't resurface? Maybe if he drugged Sam, Dean thinks, with elephant tranquilizers or something, just enough so he'd sleep through the night -- and then he realizes what he's been thinking and feels ill.

They'll figure this out, they've always been able to figure things out; it's just that he's not ready for this to be real. The fact that he's locking Sam in a cage will never be all right, should never be real.

"Let's just go ahead and do it, yeah?" Sam says. "There's no reason to wait, is there?"

There are a million reasons, Dean thinks, a billion, and yet he swallows and undoes the latch. Sam smiles at him tightly and pats his shoulder -- and that's not right, Dean shouldn't be the one getting reassured here, he's not the one who's about to get locked in a cage. Then Sam steps inside, turns around to face Dean, and Dean closes the door and locks it and it's done.

-----

Dean breathes a little easier after that; he can't figure out why. Maybe it's just that it feels like they're finally doing something, after all that build-up. The cage isn't a solution, he knows that, but at least now they don't have to worry about anything happening while they figure out the rest.

They just sit there for a while, grinning at each other like fools, until Sam says, "Now what?"

"What do you mean, now what?" Dean looks at him in confusion. "We figure this out, and in the meantime you should be good. We're good for now."

"That's kind of what I'm talking about." Sam pushes a hand through his hair, which is still wet from the shower. "The figuring it out thing. How exactly are we going to manage that? We're kind of out in the middle of the woods, Dean. We aren't going to be able to get wireless out here, and where's the nearest library? Was there even one in town?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"I just mean I don't think we're going to be able to figure this out from here, is all. Not to mention that we couldn't find anything about this when we were in Hot Springs, and it had a pretty good library. It took Bobby days before he had any idea of what was going on with me, and he had every possible resource at his disposal."

Dean stands up. "I'm not really following what you're getting at."

Sam stands up, too, and grips at the bars. "What I mean is, I don't know how we're going to manage to solve this."

And now Dean's just confused. "What do you mean, you don't know how we're going to manage to solve this? We'll improvise. We'll figure something out with the Internet thing. You can get radio signals from Mars on that crazy cell phone of yours, can't you? We can probably rig it to pick up a little Internet."

Sam laughs, though for the life of him Dean can't figure out what he's laughing at; the Mars thing wasn't that funny, and the timing of the laugh is off. "Dean, Dean, Dean. We're not going to figure it out."

Dean stares. For a moment he's too stunned to answer, but then he says, "You don't mean that, Sam. I know you don't mean that. It's going to be okay, right? You said so yourself just a minute ago." He's confused and it's making him babble; he can't seem to stop talking now that he's started.

But Sam's smiling now, and it's the same smile from the bar the other night, the smile that isn't really Sam's, and Dean's stomach turns over. "Of course it's going to be okay, Dean," he says. "I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be more than okay, better than ever before."

His irises aren't solid black but it doesn't matter; Dean doesn't need to see that to know that it isn't Sam. It can't be, not when he's smiling like that. Dean fights down his shiver. "You're not my brother. You're a demon or something, you're possessing him, but you aren't Sam."

The thing in Sam's body smiles again. "Oh, Dean. Don't you recognize your own brother?"

"Where's Sam?" Dean hisses. "What have you done with him?"

"I am Sam," the thing croons, sing-song. "Sam I am. I'm your little brother, Dean, the thing you love most in all the world, far more than you should--"

"Shut up!" Dean shouts. "Shut up and bring my brother back, God damn you."

The thing cackles and grins at him, a flash of teeth. It throws back its head and its posture shifts, muscles tensing, and then Sam's staring at him fearfully through the bars.

"Dean?" he asks hesitantly. "Why are you looking at me like that?"

"It wasn't you," Dean says. He doesn't mean to be backing away but he can't seem to help it. "It wasn't you. Sam, how long were you gone? You have to tell me how long you were gone?"

Sam stares. "What wasn't me? And what do you mean, gone? I wasn't gone. I was just talking about how we were going to have trouble getting Internet out here and all of a sudden you're staring at me like I've grown an extra head or something."

And Dean can't help it: he's sure he's staring at Sam even worse now than he was before. "No. No, you were gone. For a couple of minutes at least, you were gone, and you were saying -- you really don't know you weren't here? You couldn't even tell? Usually you can tell, can't you, that you're missing some time, even if it just feels like you were asleep or something?"

Sam shakes his head. "Yeah. Something like that. But this time, I don't know, maybe it's just because it was only for a couple of minutes, right?"

It sounds like he's trying to convince himself as much as Dean, so Dean says, "Sure, maybe."

"No," Sam says immediately, crouching down. "No, we know better. We can't start telling ourselves stuff like that. I've always had some idea before at least, but this time I couldn't tell at all; I had no idea." He looks small on the floor of the cage, small in a way Dean hasn't seen him in a long time, because Sam's always been his little brother but he hasn't actually been smaller than Dean for years, a decade at least. Dean wants to draw Sam to him, make him believe that everything's going to be okay, really okay, not okay in the way that the thing that was not Sam meant, and he looks to Sam in the cage, means to open the door--

"Don't do it," Sam says, and Dean starts.

"Don't do what?" he says slowly.

"You were going to open the door of the cage, weren't you? Don't do it."

Dean gapes. "How did you--"

"I could see it in your eyes," Sam says. "Don't do it. You can't, do you understand? We don't know what's going on with me, so just don't do it, okay?" He's hunched up small on the floor of the cage, miserable.

Dean swallows and takes a step towards him. "Sam--"

"Don't get too close," Sam snaps. "You don't know what's happening to me, and you don't know what might happen if you -- I don't want to hurt you, Dean."

Something breaks in Dean's chest. "You're not going to hurt me, Sammy." He tries to say it clearly but it comes out jumbled, all wrong.

Sam understands it anyway, and there's a grim set to his mouth. "Not as long as you don't come too close, I won't."

-----

Dean goes and takes a shower after that. He doesn't even really want to leave Sam alone in the cage while he showers, but Sam tells him he's being ridiculous. "You can't stop going to the bathroom or whatever just because I'm in here," he says. "I'm not exactly going anywhere."

But that's just the problem: Sam's standing in the cage in nothing but his boxers. They've never been big on shorts, and it's way too hot for jeans, and they're in a cabin in the middle of the woods, and it's not like it should matter when it's just the two of them. But Sam's standing in the middle of a cage wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, sweating again already even after his shower, and that shouldn't be having anything like the effect it does on Dean.

He runs the water cold and wills his erection down, thinks about Jay Leno taking a shit, and yup, that one's never failed him yet. He leaves the shower on for a while after, though, washing the sweat out of his hair and off his back and concentrates on the sting of the salt coming off his skin. He puts on a clean pair of boxers and nothing else -- he's just going to have to hope that Jay Leno keeps up his undefeated record as a mood-killer, because it's really too hot for pants -- and opens the bathroom door.

Except . . . Dean's staring at the middle of the room where the cage should be. It's there and Sam's in it, like he should be, except -- his brain can't seem to get through this -- except he's not wearing his boxers, they're balled up in a corner of the cage, and he's sitting on the floor, staring right at Dean and fisting his cock. He doesn't even stop at Dean's presence, doesn't even hesitate. He's got a slow, lazy rhythm going, the purple head of his cock slip-sliding through his fingers.

"I could hear you before," Sam says. "You were jerking off when I was in the shower. I could hear you."

"Over the sound of the shower?" Dean says. He tries to keep his voice calm, tries to pretend like there is absolutely nothing odd about this, that Sam isn't jerking off right in front of him, talking about having listened to him jerking off, that this whole thing isn't happening at all. "How?"

"I don't hear you denying it," Sam says. He takes his hand off his cock, reaches low to play with his balls, and Jay Leno doesn't stand a chance against Sam's low moan. "Look at you, hard again already. What were you thinking about, Dean? Were you thinking about me on my knees, sucking your cock? Were you thinking about your cock up my ass -- no, my cock up your ass?"

Dean does his best to push his groan down and his best isn't nearly good enough. "Sam, what are you doing?"

"What does it look like, big brother? Today -- this wasn't the first time you did this, was it? No, you've done this before, jerked off thinking about me. More than once, haven't you, Dean? You love to think about me like this--"

"No," Dean says, because it's too late and he knows it but someone has to deny it and it's going to have to be him. "No, Sammy, don't, you can't--"

Sam laughs. "I can't what? Come on, Dean, tell me." He licks the fingers of his left hand, up to the edge of the cast, and circles them slowly around his nipples.

Dean clamps his teeth hard together. "Don't do this, Sam. You don't want to do this. You don't want this."

Sam's eyes flash wide. "I don't want this? How in the world would you know what I do and don't want? Don't you know I've been wanting this for years? I want this, and so do you."

"No."

"You say my name when you come," Sam says quickly. "You come saying my name, you've been doing it for a week now, and you can deny it, Dean, deny it all you want, but that doesn't make it any less true."

And he's right, a scary amount of right: Dean had been trying so hard not to think of that part of things that he had managed not to realize that he'd been doing that, every time, that Sam was the last thing he thought about before he came-- "How do you know that?"

"I hear things," Sam says. "Come on, Dean. Look at me. You want to. You want me to fuck you all over the bed, fuck you up against a wall, you want me to push up into you until you scream. Come for me, Dean. Come for me now."

And he does, in his boxers, right then. He doesn't even touch his cock, and it's the most mind-blowing orgasm he can remember; there's no fighting it down, not even a chance of it, and Sam's stroking himself through his own orgasm, licking the come off his hand, and God, if he thought they were fucked before--

And then Sam looks down at himself and says, "Dude, what the fuck?" and Dean knows. It wasn't Sam that just did that; it was the other. It wasn't Sam, and Dean's running to the bathroom, puking that Italian grinder right back up, and then he's outside to call Bobby.

He's halfway through dialing the number before he realizes he has absolutely no idea how to explain this. What can he possibly say? They need someone's help, no doubt about that, but he can't just give Bobby the facts and leave him to sort through them; he can't tell Bobby about this.

He has figure out enough of what's happening that he can tell Bobby about it, that Bobby can use the information without knowing about this. Dean doesn't want to think about it at all. There's a part of him that's saying that's the best way of dealing with this, just not thinking about it -- but no, he can't do that. He can't lie to himself. That's one of the things that Dad spent the longest drilling into him and Sam: the necessity of seeing things as they are, seeing them the first time, right and without delusions, without just concentrating on what you're looking for or what you want to see and ignoring the rest. Dean can't tell Bobby what happened -- and God, if Dad were here--

He can't tell anyone about this, but he has to think about it, figure out what happened. He has to be able to do that much.

And when he thinks about it, thinks about it carefully and with a hunter's eye, there's one thing that sticks out at him: I've wanted this for years, said the thing that is not Sam, and Dean doesn't know why it should be sticking out at him more than all the rest but he trusts his instincts; his instincts are good. I've wanted this for years. It could be a lie, or it could not be -- demons tell the truth sometimes, too, when it suits them -- and the thought that it might be true makes something stick in Dean's chest. He doesn't know why this is so important but he has to figure this out somehow.

He heads back inside. Sam's got his boxers back on. He's wiped the come off his hand onto his leg, where it's already begun to crust.

"Hey," Dean says quietly.

Sam doesn't look at him. "Hey."

"Do you," Dean begins. He breaks off, breathes and tries again. "Do you remember what happened?"

Sam keeps his eyes down. "I think I've got it pretty well figured out."

"That's not what I asked," Dean says. "Do you remember what happened?"

Sam ignores him and says instead, "I told you, didn't I?"

"Told me what?" Dean says slowly, and this is the hinge, this moment; this is the point at which it turns.

"You weren't supposed to find out," Sam says miserably. "You weren't ever supposed to find out."

Dean swallows hard. "Tell me, Sam."

"I already did, didn't I?" Sam says. "I know I did. I don't remember it but I know I did, I have to have--"

"So it doesn't matter if you say it again." The urge to go to Sam is strong in him, almost too much to push down. "Tell me, Sam," he says, and Sam does.

Sam looks up, meets Dean's eyes and says, "Why do you think I hardly ever talked to you while I was at Stanford? I've wanted you since I was sixteen. I thought if I got away from you and stayed gone, it would stop. There was Jess, and I thought I was okay, thought I was done with it -- and then you came back and Jess died and it hadn't stopped, Dean, it never stopped--"

"Sam," Dean says wonderingly.

"You weren't supposed to know," Sam repeats. "You weren't supposed to find out about it."

"Sam," Dean says, trying to fit everything into his voice: the crushing in his chest so tight he can't remember how to breathe, the hardness of his cock against his stomach, how the sound of Sam's voice is enough to make him come.

"Sam," he says again, and maybe this time it clicks: Sam looks up as he says, "I want this, too. I don't know how I didn't know before, didn't figure it out years ago, but God, Sam, yes." And he can't stop himself: he's at the door of the cage, now, undoing the lock.

"Don't do this, Dean. You don't want to do this." There's a pleading note in Sam's voice, enough to make Dean choke out a laugh.

"Do you really not get it? I want you, Sam. I want you, Sam, need you, come on--" And he's got the door of the cage open.

Sam presses hard against him, mouth opening over Dean's. His tongue is in Dean's mouth and his hands are on Dean's back, his cast scraping rough over Dean's skin; Sam is pulling him all the way into the cage and fitting their hips together. Dean shudders at the first touch of their cocks, slim hardness and heat, and it's like remembering something essential, relearning a thing he can't have ever known but feels like he should have. He pushes his hands into Sam's hair, grabs at his shoulders, and Sam's hand curls around his neck.

"You really didn't want to do this," Sam breathes into his ear, and something crashes into the side of his skull -- the cast, he thinks -- and there's nothing but a spreading darkness.

-----

When Dean comes to he's naked, locked inside the cage, and Sam is gone.


Sequel: The Rule of Three
Tags: evil sam, fic, sam/dean, spn
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