Tangible Schizophrenia


Friend of the Devil

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Rough sex.
Pairing: Sam/Jake
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: These characters are the creation of other people.
Notes: Post-“Devil’s Trap” AU, crossover with Devour. Title from the Grateful Dead song. Dedicated to alethialia.
Summary: Sam meets up with a guy who has even more problems than him. And well, they don’t do the Hallmark thing, but they do at least get rid of some tension.


Sam got out of the car, swung his rifle over the roof so he could brace it for the long shot he was about to take, and saw Dean running towards him, waving his arms and screaming.

The rifle almost clattered out of Sam’s slack hands.

This was almost to the Mexico-California border, Dean was supposed to be in Missouri, and for a moment, Sam thought he was having those damn nightmares again. Then Dean tripped--which never happened; his brother had as much tact as a moose, but he knew how to stay on his feet--and cleared the way for Sam to get a good look at the chupacabra he’d been tracking. Ugly, full of tusks, but the beady, glowing red eyes were great for lining up the right shot between them. Sam pulled the trigger, watched till the downed monster’s sides stopped heaving, and then ducked back in the car for the holy water and the clip of silver bullets.

By the time he walked around the car, fake-Dean had pulled himself into a sitting position and was alternating between dusting himself off and staring at the dead chucapabra the way a mesmerized rabbit would at a snake. He didn’t notice Sam till the last moment, when apparently reality hit and caught him in a spastic whirl. Sam squirted the holy water at that point.

Fake-Dean threw up his hands and twisted backwards in stages, sputtering and spitting. “What the hell--”

He wasn’t steaming, so that ruled out the possibility that it was a Dean who’d gotten possessed. On the other hand, shapeshifting didn’t have to involve demons, so Sam didn’t relax just yet. He hooked the bottle onto his belt and tucked the rifle beneath one arm so it was pointed at the ground, but could be easily swung up if need be. “Well, it’s pretty dusty out here. In the middle of the desert.”

“Yeah? I never would’ve guessed.” The guy wiped at his face till he could see again, then flipped his hands around to get them dry. He happened to glance towards the chupacabra as he did and he did a double-take, then froze. A lot of people would’ve been horrified and disbelieving, but his expression took it to a different level. “Oh, my God. Oh, God. Not again.”

He wasn’t talking to Sam, who was taking the opportunity to get a closer look. Actually, it wasn’t an identical likeness, though it was creepily close. This maybe would’ve been what Dean would have looked like if he’d been born within a year of Sam, and if he hadn’t spent most of his life getting whapped around like a wiffle ball in a ‘friendly’ neighborhood game. And if Dean didn’t have that weird, annoyingly infallible gift for shutting stuff off when it came time to sleep at night. The dark circles beneath this guy’s eyes looked like they’d been tattooed there.

The guy seemed to have forgotten Sam was there, because he suddenly burst into a mad backwards scramble, and equally as suddenly stopped when he ran into Sam’s feet. He let out a panicked gasp and whipped around, then jerked back and finally levered himself into a standing position. His wild eyes said he was about a hair away from running deeper into the scrublands. “Who are you? Who are you really? Beelzebub? My real father, whatever the hell you are--I know you’re not—”

Sam yanked the bottle off his belt-chip and gave the man another good shot of water. If it’d been cold, it might’ve worked better, but the force of it at least distracted the guy long enough for him to stumble again. He flailed and Sam had a time of grabbing one of his arms before the guy went completely over again; he yanked the man back upright, and then gave him a good shake. It seemed to work, since when he finally met Sam’s eyes again, he looked calmer. Slightly. His eyes were still wide with fear.

“What is that?” he asked. He said each word as if they were eggshells holding poisonous snakes.

“Chupacabra,” Sam replied. He got a blank look, which he thought meant the guy didn’t know what that meant. “It’s a legendary Mexican flesh-eating monster that mutilates animals. It--”

The man’s eyebrows drew together, and after a moment Sam realized it wasn’t so much that the guy couldn’t understand him—he’d been expecting Sam to say something...worse? He had the same look Dean sometimes got when he thought Sam was about to start off on Dad again, only to find out it was a complaint about something else. “Wait. You mean...that’s just some local boogeyman?”

“That almost ate you.” Sam let go of the guy and backed off, getting ready to call it in for the night. The man clearly had issues, but it didn’t seem like they were the kind that required silver bullets. “What’d you think it was?”

“Oh, some kind of demonic messenger from my mom.” The last word rode out on a crest of hysterical sarcasm. Once Sam had backed off, the man had wrapped his arms around himself and started furiously rubbing at his biceps, though it was close to ninety degrees out tonight. He stared helplessly around. “Man, where are we?”

Putting the holy water and weaponry away gave Sam a little time to compose himself. “How’d you get out here? It’s at least a mile to the nearest town.”

“I sleepwalk sometimes.” Long, shivering breath. “Well, I think I do. I’m Jake.”

“Sam. So...what does your mom do?” Okay, it was a lame way to pry for information, but Sam was finishing up a six-hour hunt. He was beat in, down, and out.

Jake shot him a sideways glance that was hunted and curiously assessing at the same time. “Possibly rules Hell. And please don’t think I’m being metaphorical, okay? I am so sick of trying to get that across to people.”

Sam just let that information sink in for a couple seconds, briefly wondering whether he’d stood down too quickly. Then he gritted his teeth and did what he probably should’ve done in the first place, only he hated calling on that part of him. He never was sure how far he could safely let it go, and he’d already had plenty of lessons in how bad it could get if he wasn’t careful.

The clouds overhead shifted, grazing over the full moon, and the shadows swept over Jake. Then he stepped out of them and slowly looked Sam over, going from shell-shocked to wary. His eyes flicked to the rifle Sam still was holding. “Nice. Is that the ‘97 model?”

“With some customizing, yeah,” Sam slowly replied.

“So you...uh...hunt monsters?” Jake began to rock on his feet. Towards Sam, towards desert, towards Sam...still in the grips of shock, apparently. It was starting to turn into the gallows perspective of war survivors, but not fast enough to stop Jake’s shivering.

It’d been a long night, and this was trouble Sam really didn’t end at the end of it, but he found himself shrugging anyway. “Yeah. Want a lift?”

* * *

“...uncle taught me. Started with rabbits and worked up to deer, sometimes bigger game.” A fond half-smile, the lightest thing Sam had seen on Jake’s face to date, quirked Jake’s lips in an eerily familiar way. Jake noticed Sam’s expression and went serious again, but not for the reasons he thought were running through Sam’s mind. “Ever hunt in Iowa?”

“A couple times. But not the kind of thing you brag about around a campfire,” Sam said, picking up his cup. The coffee around here was bad, and bad-spicy so it got all up in the nose about it, but it did the job. “So...”

The stark, harsh lighting of the diner did more to hide whatever Jake was thinking than the shadows had. He glanced to the side, propping one elbow up on the table so he could rub at the side of his face. His skin was tanned but waxy-textured, and grainy where the stubble broke through. “You keep looking at me weird. Are you trying to figure out if I’m something you need to kill?”

Sam put his coffee back down and pressed his hands around it for the warmth. The A/C in here was set on blizzard, so somehow he was in Mexico and in serious danger of catching a cold. Just a little highlight of the surrealism of it all. “I know you’re not.”

One eyebrow went up, and stayed up while Jake nervously slurped at his coffee. “So you’re the professional type? ‘I would’ve killed you in the desert, where I could’ve buried you easier’? That’s a relief.”

“You look a lot like my older brother,” Sam said, just a hair shy of snapping.

“Oh.” Jake closed down again, which probably didn’t mean he’d relaxed enough to lose the hysteria that bubbled under everything he did. His eyes went to the table, and he started making the wet rings from their untouched glasses of water into squares.

The weirdest part, Sam decided, wasn’t actually how alike the two were, or even really how different they were. It was how different the meanings of a similar-looking tic in the cheek, or curl of a lip, were between the two.

“Family problems?” Jake finally offered.

“Not...really. We work together most of the time, and I’m actually meeting up with him in another two weeks. It’s just—” sometimes I can’t stand to look at him “--sometimes I need to go off, have some private time.”

Another long pause settled in. Sam checked on the lone waitress in the place, but she was still solidly planted in front of her milk-carton-size TV. She had Spanish soaps on.

“I started having these nightmares about six years ago. When I was awake, I think, so technically they were daydreams, but they were too...yeah. Then I started getting them when I was sleeping, so now I don't really sleep anymore.” Jake pulled over the coffeepot the waitress had thunked down for them and topped up his mug. He absently dosed it with enough sugar and cream to kill the Easter Bunny, then drank it, which lent a lot of support to that statement. “But you have to eventually, and when I do, I sleepwalk. I walk all over the damn place...I’ve walked into more than one swimming pool.”

“Why’d you start having them at night?” Sam asked. He pulled an expressionless face to Jake’s sharp look.

It took three more swallows before Jake answered. On the third swallow, he got with things long enough to actually taste the coffee and choked a little. Grimacing, he dumped it into the trashcan behind their booth and started making up a new cup. “Well, my mom thought it was time for me to phone home, or something.”

He paused, then gathered himself and told the story in a low, too-steady monotone. Some demon had settled in his hometown and driven his friends to commit gruesome murder-suicides, killed his uncle and his parents...except according to it, they weren’t his family. He was actually the son of the Devil, and he’d been stolen away while she’d still been recovering from the labor of delivery. She’d finally come back for him and offered to make him a demon, but he’d refused and as a result, she’d framed him for all the murders.

“Or I’m just plain nuts,” Jake finished, draining his cup. He set it down and tucked his chin in towards his chest, then abruptly slumped backwards. “I don’t know. They came back to me in jail a week later and said we can’t prove it. Apparently there’s some videotape showing me staggering around in a parking lot at the time when the coroner says my parents and Maris--that girl were killed. Party line’s that I stumbled over the bodies, and just lost it. Drank blood, did the wildman thing, passed out...”

“So they didn’t blame you?”

“So they couldn’t prove they could blame me. They still did. I got out of jail and got the hell out of town, because otherwise there would’ve been one more body to add to the list.” Jake shrugged and toyed with his stirrer, flicking coffee all over the countertop. “I probably should’ve stayed. It’s just--you know, maybe I didn’t do it for real, but it still all happened because of me. Except you can’t really know, can you? It’s not like problems usually come with that high a body count.”

Sam chewed on his lip, then ducked and coughed once. Laughter wouldn’t be that appropriate, but God, it was hard not to. “You’d be surprised.”

Snorting, Jake shifted around again so his foot accidentally whacked Sam’s shin. He mumbled an apology and prodded at the bottom of his mug with his stirrer. The plastic twig bent and he made a face. “Too much sugar again. You know what I’m surprised about? I’m surprised I’m sitting here, and I’m telling you about my dead family, and you’re telling me there’s actually so many monsters in the world that there are guys who drive around killing them. Do you get paid?”

“Not for that job.” The coffeepot only had about a cup’s worth left in it, and the waitress looked like she’d need a backhoe to get her out from her niche at the end of the lunch counter. With a sigh, Sam shoved the pot over to Jake. “Has anything odd happened to you since then?”

“Well, did I mention my nightmares?” Jake dryly replied. “No, no, I get what you mean. No, actually. Nothing to back up my little spaz attack in the desert, and I think that’s worse. If something did show up, at least I’d know I’m not crazy.” He grinned humorlessly. “I’d be fucked up shit creek, but I wouldn’t be crazy.”

There was an inch of coffee left in Sam’s cup. He’d had about two before...that wasn’t going to be enough to get him on the road. It looked like he’d be staying over in this town anyway. “You’re not crazy. You’re no demon either, but you’ve run into one. What town did you say this happened in again?”

Jake glanced at him, then pulled himself up and put his arms on the table so he could properly stare Sam down. Except he was tired, and whenever his concentration let up the tiniest bit, his eyelids started fluttering shut. “How do you know? Is there some kind of demon-radar?”

What time was it in Missouri? Sam wondered. Right here it was somewhere between gray fatigue and the washed-out shades of hallucination. “There was this demon that went after my family. Not for the same reason as with you--”

“So I’m marked by life? I just scream ‘demon victim’ or something?” Jake snapped. He was getting over-excited again. It was a wonder he had the energy for it, if he was as sleep-deprived as he said he was.

“So the upshot’s that it wanted me because apparently I have these David Copperfield powers, and that includes being able to know things I really shouldn’t know about.” Sam dropped his head in his hands and ground at his eyes with the heels of them, trying to wake himself up for a little longer. He still had to drive back to his room. “Are you looking outside?”

Jake made a funny little croaking noise. “...your car’s floating.”

“Great, now I can put it down.” A little too hard so they could hear the thump from where they were. It made Sam wince, but mostly because he needed his car to keep going, not because he shared that weird obsession of Dean’s. Sam had kind of been hoping it’d just been the Impala, but no, once Dean had gotten another car it’d been just the same. “You’re not a demon. You’re not crazy. Though I can understand if now you wish I hadn’t told you that.”

There was a clock somewhere in the diner. It had an annoying tick, which Sam hadn’t noticed before but which was thunderingly loud in the long silence that followed.

“Why did you tell me?” Jake finally asked.

Sam didn’t quite muffle his chuckle in his fist. He raised his head and leaned back--slowly, since he was getting a headache. He hoped he wasn’t out of aspirin again, since no stores would be open at this hour. “Because that’s what we do. We help people,” he muttered.

“You sound real enthusiastic about it,” Jake observed.

After a moment, Sam just got up and threw a couple bills on the counter. He had the feeling he was leaving too much, but he didn’t care enough to glance back and check. “You’re welcome.”

“Aw, shit...hey. Hey, wait a--Sam! Wait!”

Jake caught up with him in the parking lot. He grabbed Sam’s arm and spun him around with more force than Sam had been expecting, given how Jake’s reflexes had looked like earlier.

“Sam...” Jake needed to catch his breath, though it’d been less than ten yards “...look, I was an asshole back there. Sorry. That’s the longest conversation I’ve had in nine months.”

“Should’ve met you nine months ago, then?” Sam shook himself free and flipped out his keys.

The jingle of them almost covered up Jake’s long exhale, which was interesting since Sam would’ve figured a bitter laugh would be more likely. “No, probably not. I was an asshole back then, too. If I hadn’t been, maybe she wouldn’t have been able to get to me and all the others.”

As hard as things were, as much as had happened to Sam, he still was surprised when something like that made him wince. He stopped with the key halfway in the lock, then turned around. “Where are you staying?”

Jake blinked, then gazed around as if he were only just now noticing the landscape. He shuffled his right foot around, raising dust clouds that puffed up to knee-height. Then he abruptly looked hard and clear at Sam again. “What happened with the demon after you?”

“It’s dead and it’s never coming back. Never,” Sam said. And with real, hard-earned relish. Maybe it tasted gritty beneath, but it mostly was something he savored.

“What happened to your family? I mean, I know your brother made it...or just tell me I’m an asshole again.” Jake tried to shrug nonchalantly, but he came off more like he was in the beginning stages of an epileptic fit.

Sam didn’t feel like having that much of an Oprah moment, but he didn’t feel like slinging around names, either. He sighed and jangled his keys around. “Where are you from?”

The question made Jake recoil slightly. Then his jaw clenched and anger briefly gave his face some color. “Well, yeah, thank you. Thank you for making me your fucking charity case.”

“They’re all fucking charity cases,” Sam snapped, grabbing the door-handle. He yanked before he remembered he hadn’t yet unlocked it. Spitting out a couple more swear-words, he jammed the key in and jerked it around, then pulled open the door.

Shit. Sam--”

Sam slid into the front seat and slammed the door before Jake could get at it. He shoved the key into the ignition, hesitated, and then pulled it back out. Then he opened the door and looked at Jake. “Where’s your motel?” he sighed.

Jake stared for a while. Eventually he walked around the car and got in the other side. “It wouldn’t do any good to go back there.” He didn’t mean the motel. “The demon’s following me, right? I’ve been running around hiding for a year now, trying to make sure nobody else gets killed because of me.”

“Yeah...yeah.” Of course. Jesus, Sam needed to go to sleep. He didn’t know how to think anymore.

“Hey. You’ve killed one before, so you’d know what—you’re the most human contact I’ve had in months. I don’t want...” Head ducked, Jake peered out the window. His feet were scuffing up the floor. “Never mind. I can walk it.”

“Do you even know what direction to go?” Sam asked.

Jake mustered up enough energy to look vaguely annoyed. “Look, I’m really fucking tired right now, okay? Could you lay off for a sec—”

Sam had grabbed his chin, but by the time they broke apart, Jake had him by the shoulder and arm. Jake started to talk, ran out of breath and licked his lips. Then he just sort of lunged at Sam, knee banging the stick-shift as he pressed over Sam’s lap. His tongue smacked up against Sam’s teeth, then twisted to shove in. Way too fast. Sam got his other arm around Jake, hooked fingers into Jake’s collar and tried to pull him back, force it slower by putting distance between them, but his own hips kept sliding forward, undermining his efforts. Jake’s tongue slid up the inside of Sam’s left cheek, then flicked out as the other man sucked on Sam’s lower lip, moaning. Sam froze.

A couple moments later, Jake got it and slipped back. “What?”

“You--you look way too much like Dean. My brother,” Sam clarified.

“That’s the problem?” Jake said, breathless and disappointed at the same time. He had his fingers digging into Sam like they were trying to burrow out chunks.

Sam made himself think about it. “No, not really. And that’s pretty damn disturbing.”

“Nobody’s dead yet,” Jake spat out. Dark and angry, but the way he moved up and sucked at the side of Sam's mouth was just pleading.

It was hot, too. Hot like Sam hadn’t managed to inoculate himself against, even with three days of working around this place. Hot like it curled down in his chest and made his muscles tighten; his knees rose almost by themselves and that edged Jake further against him, shoved Jake’s mouth right into Sam's and for one second Sam said fuck it.

Then he jerked back, and pushed up his arm between them when Jake tried to follow. “What happened to worrying about whether you’d get me killed by proximity?”

“Bullshit. If you can ‘know’ I’m not a demon, then you can know when to worry about that. What? You don’t like guys? You sure as hell like this,” Jake snarled. His nails scrabbled, trying to pull Sam back. “Goddamn it, what? What? What the hell did you manage to do that I couldn’t do? How’d you do it? How—”

Sam blocked Jake’s punch, then let Jake’s arm slide through his grip till he hit Jake’s wrist. And that he twisted up and behind the other man till Jake shut his idiotic mouth. “Did what? Yeah, Dean’s alive. Alive and missing an eye and with a back so fucked-up it should belong to an eighty-year-old. And everyone else I loved is dead, so what’d I do? Stop asking.

He shoved Jake across the seat, then dragged himself back and turned himself around to properly face forward. After a deep breath, Sam reached for the keys. They weren’t in the ignition any more, so he dug around on the floor for them, put them back in, and started up the car.

Jake exhaled once and slumped down, staring out the window. He didn’t make any sounds after that, and after Sam had reeled in his temper, he couldn’t blame him. So much for a civil discussion—now there were so many issues flying around that Sam was afraid he was going to start absorbing Jake’s by osmosis, and vice versa.

When they pulled into the lot of Sam’s motel, he finally gave up on Jake saying anything. “What?”

Jake had slumped against the door, resting his head against the window. His eyes had been closed, but now they opened to look wearily at Sam. “I don’t want to go to sleep. I see too much that way.”

Sam parked the car and stared out at the door to his room. It was cheap wood and the grain could be seen in patches where the lurid orange paint had peeled off. Didn’t look all that restful. He still couldn't help thinking of Dean’s scars when he looked at it. He couldn’t help thinking that if Jake had gotten anything from his ranting earlier, then that was that much less weighing down his shoulders. Selfish, of course. But hey, he was the selfish brother, wasn’t he? “Yeah, I know.”

He got out of the car. Got what gear he needed to, locked up, went into the room and arranged his stuff. Then he pushed past Jake, who’d followed him in, and shut the door. Locked that, dropped the keys on the table, grabbed Jake and shoved him up against the door.

“You act like you’ve got some checklist inside your head,” Jake panted. His right foot repeatedly scraped up and down the side of Sam’s calf, and his fingers gouged Sam’s shoulders. Occasionally they slipped over a nerve so streaks of numbness shot down Sam's arms.

Then they moved on, and the feeling came back savagely: burning, jagged bursts of pain that told Sam how dead-tired he was, and how pissed off he was, and how much he just couldn’t care beneath that. He laid into Jake’s neck, pressing his teeth up to feel the other man swallow raggedly, and banged Jake’s hips back into the door.

Jake hissed, swore. Twisted so his erection snugged up against Sam’s inseam and ground against Sam with a strangely skilled fluidity. One year since he'd gone running from his home. Sam idly wondered what kind of hustling Jake had had to do to keep moving.

He tasted of dust and layers of sweat--so many layers that they were almost flaking up under the pressure of his teeth. Beneath them, Jake’s pulse was jumping unevenly, like a lamed but terrified rabbit. Sam dragged his palm over Jake’s front, starting at the left shoulder with fingers pointed right and going in a long, long dive that ended with Jake’s knees ramming up against Sam’s in the hurry to spread wider. He let Sam slip fingertips beneath his waistband, follow the wrinkled, dirt-stiff cotton of his shirt till Sam just touched where it turned into bare skin, and then he shook like he’d been shocked. Grabbed Sam’s hand out of his jeans and ripped open Sam’s fly almost in the same motion.

He muttered something about sharp teeth--nicked himself on the zipper, maybe, or maybe he was talking about Sam chewing up his neck--but wasted no time in working out Sam’s dick and working it firmly between his fingers. They were rougher and harder than Sam had been expected, the calluses broken up by uneven scars, and Sam’s body from hips downward jerked forward before he could catch himself. Jake dealt with the extra pressure by edging up the wall till it was easier for Sam to suck on the underside of his jaw than on the shell of his ear. Harder to carry on a conversation that way, but that was probably for the better.

“You’ve got a laptop?” Jake suddenly asked, voice trembling. He’d gotten high enough to see over Sam’s shoulder into the rest of the room. His fingers didn’t stop, but they lost their rhythm, went maddeningly random. He started to nervously squeeze Sam's shoulder with his free hand. “Ever play any RPGs?”

“No.” Sam got his hand back between them, just touching the button of Jake’s fly with his two longest fingers. He got it trapped between them, but then flipped it the wrong way when Jake abruptly slid his hand down to cradle Sam’s balls.

“Nobody called you saying to do this?” Jake persisted.

That made Sam pause, and precariously balanced as they were, that almost made it all fall apart. But when Jake slipped down that inch, the side of his fly turned outwards instead of in, fabric scraping behind Sam's knuckles. Sam shouldered forward and rubbed his hand down Jake's prick, pressing it over the denim bunching up around the crease of Jake’s thigh. It slowed whatever Jake had been about to say so that Sam could catch the ragged words on Jake’s teeth, bite them off and taste stale panic.

“There’s a little voice in my head saying not to do this,” Sam muttered. Issues, hell. They could be the ones sitting on the porch and waiting for the monsters, for once in his life.

“Just checking.” Jake sounded like he’d gotten his laugh and his gasp all crossed up. He suddenly gave, sinking backwards and letting Sam shove where he wanted, grind where he wanted, suck where he wanted.

His breathing grew harsher, and he moaned maybe once, but that was it. No screaming, no wild torrent of words--just a convulsive grasp and a choked-off noise rubbed into the crook of Sam’s neck by chapped lips. Sam shoved at him, and Jake tightened his hand back up on Sam’s cock.

He knocked his head back, stared fuzzily up at Sam when they were done, and he didn’t look like Dean at all. Not as Dean looked now, when every other second Sam was reminded of what he hadn’t managed to save. Not even really like Dean before, when Sam hadn’t quite known just how much he’d brought down on his family, but he’d known enough to try and break away. Of course, he’d been thinking that was the right thing to do for all the wrong reasons.

“It’s okay,” Jake said. He offered up a sick sort of ghost-smile. “I made out with the De--my mom before I knew who she really was. And then afterward, I still kind of wanted to. It just—wasn’t really because I wanted to fuck her.”

“I don’t want to screw my brother,” Sam replied. He was mildly annoyed at the disbelieving expression on Jake’s face. “It’s not like that. It just—might look like that way…”

Jake rolled his eyes. “That’s what I just said.”

Sam reviewed the last exchange they’d had, then shook his head, laughing to himself. “Oh, yeah. Well, I’m too sleepy now.”

Jake hesitated, then stared expressionlessly over Sam’s shoulder. He didn’t clutch, but he left his fingers curled how they’d been so Sam had to do the pulling away.

“You should lie down, too,” Sam slowly added. “At least for a while. It’s not gonna show. I’ve got salt everywhere, and some other barriers up.”

The other man still wasn't looking at him. He was staring at the coffee-maker, the one perk this lousy motel had, sitting in the corner. “I’m gonna borrow your coffee.”

“Suit yourself.” Sam hitched up his pants with one hand and swiped off as much come as he could reach with the other. He figured it was about time to trash this pair anyway; it still smelled like the Skunk Apes down in the Everglades.

* * *

Once upon a time, Sam had been able to sleep for eight straight hours. Now he was too used to getting smaller chunks that even when he had the time, when he was beaten to shit and back, he couldn’t go longer than two hours.

His head still hurt, and his mouth tasted like cotton soaked in sewage. With some vague thoughts about a glass of water in his mind, Sam threw out one arm and hooked it over the headboard. He used it to pull himself up, dislodging something lying over his side as he did.

It looked like sleep had sneaked up on Jake with a lead pipe: he was sprawled over the other side of the bed with his clothes still on and all straightened up, and when Sam checked, there was a coffee mug on the floor. Jake’s hand dangled off the bed right over it; luckily, he’d finished before he’d collapsed, so at least the room didn’t reek of shitty java. Just smelled like desperate, awkward sex.

Sam sighed and was getting up when his cell phone rang. He took a second to recall where it was, then scooped it off the bedside table and checked the Caller-Id. Shit. After another moment’s hesitation, he answered it. “Dean. It’s four in the morning.”

*Sorry, man. It’s nearly six here. Rise and shine time for me.* Pots and pans were clattering around in the background, along with a whistling kettle. Someone else was cooking, since a series of low clicks said that Dean was cleaning guns. *How’d the crazy pig hunt go?*

“Fine. And chupacabras aren’t pigs,” Sam muttered. Jake stirred when Sam leaned over him, but just long enough to roll onto his side, facing the wall. His hands were curled into white-knuckled fists, Sam idly noted.

After picking the mug up off the floor, Sam went into the bathroom and gave it a half-decent rinse. Only cup in the room.

*All wrapped up?*

About a third of a pot was left. A couple flies had gotten in, probably through the banged-up bathroom window screen, and were buzzing around, but Sam figured they’d probably have improved the taste if they had gotten into the coffee. He poured himself half a cup. “Pretty much.”

Dean exhaled in exasperation. *So are you coming back now?*

“I thought we agreed on Washington in two weeks.” Sam’s feet hurt, in that maddening, dully swollen way that wasn’t quite agony, but that could rub nerves even rawer. He sat down on the end of the bed and watched Jake’s feet restlessly move, twitching up and down in a slow-motion run. “Bobby’s not getting on your nerves already, is he?”

*Only whenever I want to kill something,* Dean snorted, voice rich with sarcasm. *You’d think I’d lost a hand or something. I just have a hell of a backache once in a while.*

More like every moment of every day, to the point where Sam was mildly fearful of a painkiller addiction developing. Dean let Sam do most of the interviewing now, since witnesses invariably thought he was angry or psychotic or both from the way he gritted his teeth.

*Sam,* Dean sighed. He let it go for another ten, twenty seconds. *What the hell are you doing?*

“Taking a vacation. Besides, you needed Bobby to handle the woodwitch and you know we don’t exactly get along.” Just as Sam had raised the mug to his lips, the coffee slopped up to almost overrun the rim. He lowered the cup, then looked over at a waking Jake.

The other man rolled back over and kind of doubled in on himself at the same time. He groaned, then jerked up in a short burst of terror that didn’t end right when he saw Sam, or when he could understand that what he was looking at was Sam. He did try to smile; it wavered like the hinges at the corners had been knocked loose. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt.”

*You’ve got someone there with you,* Dean said. He sucked in his breath, then continued in a suspicious tone. *Is that a guy?*

“He had a run-in with the chupacabra.” Sam waved for Jake to go into the bathroom, since Dean had developed extremely acute hearing...right around the first time Sam had had to take off on a lone hunting trip. But the coffee splashed again, and this time it did get all over Sam’s hand. He cursed and went to put the cup down, only of course there was nothing around on which to put it.

Jake grabbed the cup. He gave Sam an odd, long look before getting off the bed. The bathroom light went on, and a couple seconds later he was back with a wad of toilet paper, which Sam took with a nod of thanks.

Dean, meanwhile, started and cut off several transparent attempts to question Sam’s sanity. He paused once to snap at Bobby’s rusty rasp in the background, and finally just stopped altogether. Breathed in again. The next try, he sounded more collected. Not any less pissed off, but like he was going to be coherent about it, at least. *He’s not a werewolf, is he?*

“That only happened once and I told you, I didn’t know beforehand.” The cheap paper went to pieces as soon as it got wet, leaving Sam to try and scrub the little disgusting flecks of white off his knuckles. He looked up at the scraping sound, but it was just Jake shoving over the trashcan with his foot. “It’s a vacation. I’m loosening up, just like you’re always after me to do.”

Jake went still and his eyebrows rose.

*Sam, goddamn it, we lived--*

“I’ll see you in two weeks,” Sam finished. He didn’t just hang up; he turned off the damn cell phone. And then he sat back and stared across the room, wondering how the hell he’d be ready to face Dean in that short a time.

A couple of thumps in front of him got his attention: Jake kicking the trashcan back over to the wall. Sam thought about coming up with some dumbass excuse for the part of the conversation Jake had heard, but decided that would be worse. He hadn’t exactly made a considerate first impression on Jake anyway, and a severe allergy to fake-outs seemed to be something Jake shared in common with him.

When Sam tossed the wad of coffee-soaked paper into the trashcan, Jake just stepped out of the way to let it go by. He stayed where he was while Sam got the laptop over to the bed and set it up; he could see the screen from that angle, so maybe that was it. He wanted to get something concrete before he threw his next fit and hit Sam or whatever and stormed out.

“But I told you,” Jake suddenly said. “The demon’s not going to be there anymore.”

The screen didn’t focus enough to tell Sam anything the first time Sam blinked, so he did it again. It’d be nice if he could refresh the rest of himself so easily. It’d be nice if it wasn’t so creepy that he could start a background search without even knowing he was doing it. “It still sounds like it left a hell of a trail. No offense, but I kind of doubt it was the devil—demons always exaggerate. Taking a look at what it did would help with figuring out who it really is.”

Jake took a hesitant, sideways step closer to Sam. His shadow fell over the keyboard and briefly morphed into something with giant horns sticking out from either side of his head. “I wouldn’t have thought anywhere in this town had the Internet.”

“I hacked the phone line. It’s incredibly slow, but it works.” Sam tapped a few keys, starting a worm that’d burrow into the Cheever Lake police files and deliver the relevant info to one of his email accounts. He’d done it so many times now that he could do it without looking at his fingers, which left him to stare at Jake’s shadow.

It wavered, then went back to human. When Sam turned around, the skin around Jake’s temples wasn’t tight and pink and shiny, and it wasn’t wrinkled and grayish, like it should’ve been if he really had grown horns. Jake just looked like a worn-out guy Sam’s age, who was desperately trying to suppress a hopeful look with wariness. “Why?” he asked.

“Hate to break it to you, but demons aren’t totally exclusive. It might have an obsession with you, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go off and mess with other people when it’s not bothering you,” Sam said. The connection fritzed in the middle of another set-up and he cursed, trying to shut it down without leaving messy footprints all over.

Jake walked around Sam to check out the customized modem. He squatted down and carefully lifted it with a finger, then whistled. The side of his mouth that Sam could see quirked up. “I used to do this kind of thing. Though I never really had the balls to use it once I knew that it worked.”

Sam had finally extracted himself from the database when something bumped into the inside side of his right calf. He absently leaned his leg away from it, only to have the laptop suddenly rise about six inches, with Jake’s hands and head briefly visible under it. The laptop took a sharp tilt, then almost slid off Sam’s lap and he made a wild grab for it just as Jake pressed his face into Sam’s crotch. Jesus.

Laptop. A mad scramble saw it onto the bed beside Sam, but the wires had all tangled around Sam’s right hand and Jake had just run his tongue over Sam’s zipper. The denim of Sam’s jeans might as well have been tissue-paper, because Sam felt the wet heat and his knees went to loose jelly and the back of his throat seized up in a burning knot. He reflexively jerked at his right hand and nearly sent the damn laptop off again.

Jake flicked his eyes up and they were a molten, rippling green so deep that for a couple moments Sam completely missed the chaotic quality of the rippling. He had his hands on Sam’s knees now, and his lips were shaped around the button of Sam’s fly, pushing and pulling. Awkwardly, Sam dimly realized, but the awkwardness pretty much got glazed over by the friction Jake’s chin, digging into Sam’s crotch and rubbing, was setting up; this had been a gre—lousy time for Sam to decide he’d just go without and do the laundry once he’d gotten back to civilization.

Eventually Sam remembered he had a left hand, too. He started to grab for Jake’s head, but detoured just as Jake over-reacted away and almost knocked into the dangling cables. Sam got a handful of blanket and pulled himself further up onto the bed, drawing his knees together. He felt like a girl in a 1940s movie. “Like I said, we do this for free.”

Or maybe he was supposed to be the playboy with the nasty attitude. First Jake settled back on his arms, staring disbelievingly at Sam, and then he looked like he wished he’d taken his mom’s offer. “You’re a fucking prick, you know that?”

“I’m not the one who just tried to go all Tijuana backstreets—”

“Look, I might be devilspawn, but I haven’t had to go that low,” Jake snapped. He held the outrage for about ten seconds before it abruptly dissolved into black irony. He turned his head sideways and let out a coughing laugh. “Shit. I just figured if I was going to be your vacation, I m—I haven’t, really. Just your typical drunken college experimenting.”

Sam could feel the beginning of a headache throbbing in the bones of his eye-sockets, low and heavy. He chewed on his lip as he untangled his right hand, then reached over to turn off the laptop. “Frats?”

“Never joined ‘em, but you could say I knew enough of them to get invited to the parties.” Jake slowly pushed himself up and folded his arms over his legs. He sighed, staring up at Sam. “So what is this, exactly? It doesn’t look like I’m any good at guessing.”

The simplest answer would be a bad idea. “I have two weeks left,” Sam said, measuring out each word. “I could offer to see if I can do anything about your demon.”

“You make it sound like going back to your brother’s a big pain.” From the way Jake snorted, he’d seen Sam twitch or something at that. He shrugged and reached out for the end-table, then pulled himself to his feet. Then he gave Sam a look that could’ve doubled as a surgeon’s scalpel. “Why’d you push me up against that door and give me one hell of a handjob?”

Obviously, the clever and curt replies that reflexively sprang to mind weren’t going to work, so Sam thought. And thought, and thought, till it was clear even to him that he was stalling.

Oddly enough, Jake didn’t seemed annoyed. Just resigned and hurting, like an animal that wasn’t necessarily wounded to the point of death, but that just couldn’t muster up the fight to get back up. “Well, I know why I let you push me,” he said. “Funny feeling, actually knowing something for once…anyway.” He shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. “I wanted somebody screwing me who didn’t care about how it was screwing me over.”

Then Jake stood there, and Sam sat, and the red light of dawn bled into the room around them. It was like standing inside a slashed heart.

“Do you want help?” Sam finally asked.

“No,” Jake immediately replied. Then he jerked his head in negation and rubbed at his eyes; he hadn’t gotten that caught up on his sleep. “I mean…like you said, it’s my demon. I hate this running…it might be a nice vacation, but it’s a hell of a lifestyle. All that stuff, it all happened because of me, so I should take care of it. I owe it to my friends and family.” He worked up a ghost of a smile. “But, you know, suggestions on how to do that would be handy.”

Dean never would have asked that question. It probably never even passed through his mind…even when he’d been dying, Sam remembered with a rueful half-smile. He wasn’t dying now, but Sam had been thinking it had to be so much worse, and after all that he himself had caused and done, what could he possibly do now for Dean?

Actually, he wasn’t exactly qualified to answer that question.

“I can point you in the right direction. Can you get out of town?” Sam hoped that didn’t come off as too condescending.

It probably had, but Jake just pushed it off with a slight arch of one eyebrow. “Yeah. I…keep getting good luck at the worst times. Guess she still has hope for me.”

“I should take you back to your place,” Sam said after a moment.

Something flickered out in Jake’s eyes then, though overall he was lighter, face less strained and carrying himself straighter. He lifted and dropped one shoulder. “Thanks.”

* * *

Jake had been renting a room above the local grocery store, which had a private lot in back for truck deliveries. High walls on either side of it meant Sam could park without having to deal with the usual stares and shouting kids that his big, badass American car—last time he was letting Dean pick out one for him; “inconspicuous” wasn’t anywhere in Dean’s vocabulary—drew.

“It’s also Sunday morning. Everyone’s at church,” Jake said, letting Sam know he’d been talking his thoughts.

“Oh, yeah.” Sam leaned against his car and stared up at the sky, testing how bad the glaring sunshine was going to get to him. His eyes burned, but it was a low smolder, enough to counteract the fatigue without becoming too much of a problem. If he was careful. “Listen, I mean it about calling me. This isn’t like Conan the Barbarian—if it looks like it’s too much for you to handle, then it is, and it will rip out your guts.”

“That’s really encouraging.” But Jake looked marginally calmer. He’d been all right when Sam had checked out of his room, but since then he’d been getting more and more jittery. Tapping his fingers and jiggling his foot, and asking his few questions in a tone that had a terrified under-vibration to it.

And he kept dancing towards and away from Sam, which worked on Sam’s nerves too, since he was never sure whether Jake was finally going to haul off and try to punch him, or just run. That was a problem because then he had to think about whether he’d block, let the guy go, or yank him back.

“Maybe we’re related, somewhere way back, and the genes for this generation just rolled up Twilight Zone,” Jake suddenly said. He was digging around in his pockets, just speeding up in panic when he found what he was looking for and pulled it out. The keys were big and old-fashioned, crusted with rust like dried blood. He snorted to himself. “Nah.”

“You’re actually not the first Dean lookalike I’ve ever run into,” Sam had to mention. He pulled his own hands out of his pockets, then rehooked his thumbs in them. For some reason, he didn’t want to get going yet.

For some reason. Honestly. He didn’t want to get going because that meant committing himself to fixing up things between Dean and himself. And doing that scared the hell out of him: how many ways could he screw up this latest attempt? Lots.

“Seriously?” Jake looked up from the keys. He straightened and half-turned to face Sam, then took a step forward. “What happened?”

“He actually was this psychotic shapeshifter and almost killed us. Also, he stole Dean’s identity and died with it, so technically my brother’s legally dead.” Sam grinned, not entirely without humor. “You’re a lot easier to handle.”

That stopped Jake, but only for a moment. He tilted his head, his expression running the spectrum from incredulous to grimly amused to bitter anger. And then to something more hot-tempered than that…something that made Sam raise his eyebrows and stiffen against the car at the same time.

“Compared to which one?” Jake acidly asked. Then he shook his head, mumbling to himself louder and louder till he snarled.

Sam jerked, Jake grabbed his shoulder and used it to slam up against him, and then they were locked in a violent wreck of a kiss. Their teeth clacked, snagged on each other before sliding roughly over tongue, lips, whatever other soft tissue got in the way. It wasn’t a second in before Sam tasted blood, and two seconds in, Jake was smearing it over Sam’s chin as he sucked Sam’s tongue into his mouth, knees banging hard into Sam like he wanted something to dislocate.

His fingers dug grooves over the top of Sam’s shoulder and downwards, trying to split the muscles in Sam’s back. Once or twice he came near a major nerve and the feeling numbed out in parts of Sam’s torso, hip, leg, then roared back. When that happened, Sam bit down hard on whichever part of Jake he happened to have in his mouth at the time. Lip and Jake sagged, opened his mouth. Line of the jaw and Jake let Sam twist them around, groaning once as his hips hit the car.

“Harmless college fun?” he gasped. His hand snaked between them, rucking up Sam’s shirt till suddenly his rough palm was pressed to Sam’s side. It skated downwards to claw at Sam’s waist, kneading the flesh there as Sam rocked his thigh up against Jake’s crotch. Jake’s erection pushed forward and Sam would push back, and Jake would give a little more than he really should be comfortably able to.

“In college I liked girls.” Sam moved his mouth to Jake’s neck and sucked at the tendons, rubbed off the gritty dirt on Jake’s skin so it scraped over his teeth. He felt Jake bend, turn his throat into it and dropped his hands to Jake’s hips. Cradled them gently, then pushed hard.

Jake grunted. His hipbones rolled under Sam’s hands and he slid up, pulling Sam’s mouth down to the collar of his shirt. His left foot lightly kicked Sam in the shin. “Well, I’m not harmless, either.”

His legs spread and Sam moved between them without really thinking about it, sliding one hand up to twist in Jake’s hair. It slowed them, but that just seemed to give them more time to bruise each other up.

“Fuck,” Jake muttered, squirming. He hissed when Sam clamped down on his thigh, one thumb riding high to needle in where Jake’s jeans had drawn tight around his hip crease. Had to be cutting off the blood circulation, but that didn’t seem to affect Jake’s cock any. The bulge rubbing over Sam’s belt-buckle, occasionally running higher to rock into Sam’s bellybutton and thus liquefy a little more of his guts, even grew a little. “Fuck.”

“Is that a statement or a question?” Sam’s head felt a little fuzzy, but he wasn’t going to blame this on that. Not with the way his fingers were flexing around Jake’s ass, or with the way Jake was grinding back into him.

Jake shuddered, then licked a long streak from the base of Sam’s neck to behind his ear. His tongue-tip seemed to pluck every one of Sam’s nerves so they hummed high and whining in the background. But he held his position. Even dug in a little, fingers in Sam and heels of his feet into the car, making the metal ring. “Fuck me,” he said. “Me.”

Sam started to snap something about Dean, but then Jake was melting up against him, all that anger running to terrified desperation, and the way Jake was begging in his ear for Sam to stay with him, to not take him away, to see him told Sam they weren’t in his issues anymore. Jarring wake-up call.

Well, the world didn’t revolve around him. It’d just crashed down on him a lot lately.

But not right now, said the salty, grimy taste in Sam’s mouth. He worked his mouth into Jake’s shirt, biting along the collarbone, and moved his hands to Jake’s waistband. Like a mirror, Jake’s hands did the same to Sam, but stopped once they’d hooked into Sam’s belt. They seized up against Sam’s back when Sam pulled open Jake’s buckle, grinding sharp knuckles into Sam’s spine. Jake breathed hot and ragged against Sam’s throat, just moaning now.

He wasn’t doing this for Dean, or because he was so fucked up he could include incest in that now. No, because if he’d wanted Dean for this, he would’ve picked somebody that would’ve pushed back past this point. He would’ve liked somebody that kept pushing, but his fingers popped the button through the hole in the top of Jake’s jeans and Jake whimpered, and it sank low into Sam’s dick, making the heated blood pooling there even heavier, so that wasn’t it. He liked Jake shutting up, Jake clinging to him and letting him loosen the jeans, slip his hands between them and Jake’s smooth skin and slide Jake out of them as effortlessly as he’d drop a spent cartridge out of a shotgun. He liked that.

He liked being able to do, for once. But he never had a chance to get this close to anyone except Dean, and maybe he didn’t want to have Dean that way, but over the years it’d been made clear to him that Dean was practically the only person who’d be around long enough for Sam to have that kind of relationship. So it was like unconscious imprinting, like how girls supposedly liked men similar to their fathers. So maybe it was incest—just a more abstract version. It was because of Dean. Yeah, fuck.

“What are you looking at?” Jake jerked at Sam, making them both shake. His eyes understood something—not everything, but a lot, and they weren’t as pissed off as Sam would’ve thought. Though they were pissed off. “What?”

“Just—” Sam’s shirt was still pulled up, trapped that way, and when he pulled Jake out of the jeans, the flushed head of Jake’s cock burned up Sam’s bared belly “—just do that. Keep doing that.”

He shoved Jake back on the car. The metal had to be pretty hot, even if it was still early in the morning, and Jake did hiss. He bucked forward and his knees came up to close around Sam’s hips, pressing the whole length of his dick against Sam’s stomach. “But what—”

“I’m looking at you,” Sam snapped. They needed something, he belatedly remembered. He wrapped his arm around Jake and yanked them together, eased his mouth hard over Jake so he could feel each of Jake’s teeth behind Jake’s lip.

“Do I look like him?” Jake pressed.

Sam’s free hand came up with a bottle of oil. He couldn’t remember whether it was weaponry oil or blessed oil, cheap stuff or rare stuff, and finally he really couldn’t care. He didn’t care where the top went when he popped it off with his thumbnail, either. “Yes. What, what are you looking at?”

Jake flinched. “What do you care?”

“I don’t. I’m just asking ‘cause you—” Sam shifted and the way his jeans stretched over his hard cock made his head swim for a moment “—you did.”

“Oh. Oh.” Said to Sam’s face, then to the hinge of Sam’s jaw as Jake fiercely bit at it, as his hands resumed pulling at Sam’s back. “Then never the fuck mind. I was just being stupid.”

The first touch of Sam’s finger sent him clawing up Sam. His teeth sank into Sam’s ear. “Jesus.” Then he dropped back down an inch, surprising Sam, and he went stiff for the briefest second possible before he was very slowly rocking himself down, his ass nestling against Sam’s knuckles. “Fuck.”

Sam opened his mouth, then closed it. He curled up his second finger, trying to get it beneath the curve of Jake’s buttock, but lost his concentration when Jake abruptly swung a hand around and wedged it over his prick. It felt like Jake had just pushed Sam’s mind into his gut and then crushed it there against Sam’s spine, letting it run lazily out of his fingers.

Jake breathed harshly in Sam’s ear, hiking himself up. His fingers dragged up with him, and Sam’s jeans slipped a little so Sam realized his fly had been undone. “Fuck,” Jake hissed.


Fingers just grazed the top of Sam’s dick. He staggered a bit, then recovered and slammed Jake back against the car. Jake’s legs started to drop and Sam shoved his hands beneath them. For a moment, they were on the verge of going to the ground in a mess, but between the car and Sam, Jake managed to stay up. His hands crawled up as Sam shifted around, letting the head of his cock rub around Jake’s ass, trying to make things fit without having to let go of anything. They got to Sam’s shoulders just as Sam finally felt some give and pressed in; Sam had to fight to get through the first inch, with Jake whistling breath through clenched teeth in his ear, and it didn’t get much easier after that. But it was good, Jake wrapping so tight around him that he almost thought he could feel blood being squeezed back into his groin, and much as Jake was grinding his teeth, the pressure of his fingers hadn’t let up any. He even twisted around, making Sam’s vision dance with white spots, once Sam was in him up to the balls.

“God,” Sam said.

“Fuck him,” Jake responded, hitching up Sam. He groaned, his thighs trembling so hard Sam could feel it even through their bunched-up clothes. “No, fuck me.”

Sam snarled so it came mostly through his nose, a raspy feral sound, and pushed Jake up, then let gravity slam him back in Jake. He got Jake braced better against the car while Jake was hissing from that, then did the pushing himself. His knees banged over and over against the car door, leaving dents and probably bone-bruises, rattling them so Jake’s teeth bounced from Sam’s lip to his jaw, his jaw to his nose. If they didn’t break the window, it’d be a goddamn miracle.

Jake shut up again, reducing himself to the jagged breathing and occasional low twist-the-spine whining. He threw himself against Sam so hard that every other beat, they were almost going over backwards. He threw himself like he wanted Sam to break him.

“Fuck. Fuck—” Sam’s breath temporarily cut out on him “—hell—”

And Jake came with a sucked-in gasp, wetting Sam’s shirt to his stomach. He sagged some, but made an effort to keep on going. A sloppy, tired effort that nevertheless was more than plenty since Sam hadn’t been that far behind him. The edge loomed up, then disappeared as Sam went over.

* * *

“You want to help me?” Jake put sweat-sticky hands around both sides of Sam’s jaw, turned Sam to kiss him with surprising gentleness. “Pick up the phone when I call. And don’t tell me anything. Talk to me.”

Sam nodded. He closed his eyes and let Jake move back, let the parts of Jake’s mouth slip off till he only had Jake’s lower lip. Then he sucked it, pulled Jake back a little. Let go and felt the hitch in the other man.

“I think we’re good on my end.” He rested his forehead against Jake’s for a moment. “Don’t lose my number.”

“Okay,” Jake said. And several minutes later, still disheveled but standing much steadier than he’d been out in the desert, “I’m going.”

“Vaya con Dios,” Sam told him, with a lousy accent and a lousier smile.

Jake just laughed at him, walking haltingly backward. His eyes weren’t smiling at Sam, but they were clear. And they were calm.

Sam let him go.

* * *

“You know,” Dean said with remarkable composure, “He almost looks like my twin.”

“I noticed.” After a brief, nauseating check that revealed no unexpected demonic traces anywhere nearby, Sam straightened up in his seat. He didn’t look at his brother.

Dean didn’t sigh, but the sound still echoed through the car. “Is there something you want to tell me, Sam?”

“He’s the guy I saved from the chupacabras.” Sam thought about waving, but before he could, Jake’s head went up and Jake looked straight at him. Then Jake glanced at the traffic passing between them, and Sam relaxed. Marginally.

Beat of silence from Dean. He did that more often now, at least trying to think about it before he jumped. “The trip where you came back with your head pulled out of your ass?”

Of course, that didn’t make him any less likely to say something that made Sam want to smack him in the head. “Yes.” Sam looked at Dean now, at Dean’s closed-up face, and bit his lip. “Look, it’s not what it looks like. It—”

“Next time you decide to make our lives even weirder, you could give me some kind of explanation first,” Dean muttered, sinking down in his seat. He flicked a glance at Jake, who was now crossing the street, then sulkily arched the eyebrow over his chalky blind eye. “If it keeps your head out of your ass, okay.” Then he winced, his lips in a too-familiar grimace, and shifted. “Pill?”

“Another half-hour.” Sam didn’t quite make it a question or a denial.

After a long glower, Dean huffed and rolled his head to idly check out some girls passing on the sidewalk. Sam got out of the car just as Jake walked up to it. They stared at each other.

“Your advice worked,” Jake finally said. He jerked his chin at the car. “Dean?”

Dean’s head suddenly popped out. “Get in already. We’re late to a job, so you and Sam can catch up on the way there. And then I’ve got a date tonight, so I’m just gonna…not be around.”

He was definitely weirded out and not exactly getting it, and Sam would have to explain things in great, excruciating detail later, but Dean was trying. It made Sam smile a little.

“Want coffee?” Sam asked.

Jake shrugged, still a little wary. But he started moving forward. “Sure. Has to be better than the shit down by the border.”

“Yeah, definitely,” Sam said. He opened the door, and Jake got in.


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