Tangible Schizophrenia


Hell in a Bucket

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Some d/s stuff.
Pairing: Sam/Jake, slight Dean/OFC
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: These characters are the creation of other people.
Notes: Post-“Devil’s Trap” AU, crossover with Devour. Sequel to Friend of the Devil; title from a Grateful Dead song.
Summary: Jake and Sam hook up again. Typically, Sam makes this kind of complicated.


“It’s like sunspots.”


“Sunspots. This thing happens when the sun…uh, gets dark spots on them, and it’s been proven that the sunspot cycle comes with an increase in extreme bad weather. Demons do the same thing: every so often, there’s a break somewhere and more of them—and more powerful ones—can get through than usual. Then they look around for a body, because it’s harder to send them back to hell when they’re in a person.”

“But how does it happen?”

“That’s the thing: nobody knows. They just know that this one thing always comes with the other, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

“So shut up and deal.”

“…that wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for.”

“Yeah? Well, that’s what it sounds like, whether you mean it or not.”

* * *

As jobs went, this was as close to a cakewalk as it ever got. They’d guessed it was a poltergeist from the online report, and when they got there, it actually was a poltergeist and nothing but a poltergeist. Straightforward home invasion by a malicious ghost, without any extra complications like teenage witches or secondary spirits or half-finished hoodoo curses from decades ago. The house was even empty: its family had had enough and had high-tailed it for a stay at a relative’s place.

Dean had looked up the right ritual while Sam had drawn the protective circle and Jake had stood bemusedly around, getting on Dean’s nerves. He’d wanted the guy to stay in the car, but Jake had gotten out before he could deliver the standard spiel on dangers of the supernatural. He’d still tried afterward, but Sam had given him this weird look and Jake had made this incredibly annoying little dismissive snort.

“So that was it?” Jake said. He rocked back on his heels, then slowly turned in place. “It just…went poof?”

“What, you’d rather it picked up a handful of kitchen knives and pitched them at us for a finale?” Dean licked his forefinger and thumb. Then he pinched out the last candle and got up, scuffing at the chalk circle till he’d made a gap big enough for a person to walk through.

Jake shrugged and wandered after, but turned around after one step. He looked curiously at Sam, who was still standing in the circle, paging through Dad’s notebook. “I wasn’t saying a let-down is a bad thing. Hey, I’m all for let-downs when it comes to evil monsters. But doesn’t it make you worry a little, like maybe you missed something?”

More like Dean thought Jake was being kind of stuck-up, like maybe he didn’t realize they’d been doing this since before his parents let him go trick-or-treating by himself. Like maybe--

--maybe he’d just flicked his eyes down Sam’s front. With Dean still here. Oh, hell no.

“Hey, Dean—Dean. Wait a second.” With his typically inconvenient timing, Sam had looked up just as Dean had been starting to sneak away. His eyebrow went up, so all that effort Dean had just put into casually straightening up had gone to waste, but he didn’t comment. He just tapped the book. “Gotta do a salt line at all the outside doors. There’s a margin note.”

“Isn’t that going to wash away in the first rain?” Jake asked, tone completely different from a second ago. Now he sounded all unsure and wary, and he’d even changed his posture. He was slouching more, head slightly down as if Sam wasn’t already three or four inches taller.

Rolling his eyes, Dean glanced towards Sam. He expected to see his brother just as disgusted by the blatant play for sympathy…but no, Sam appeared to be taking the question seriously. “It’s not supposed to be permanent. It’s…ghosts can be like injuries on a place. You put salt down like a bandage—it keeps any other ghosts from moving in till the place has healed up some.”

“Huh.” Jake pivoted sideways as Sam finally walked out of the circle, keeping it so he met Sam more side-on than face-on. He straightened up a little, lifting his chin, but it didn’t come off quite like he’d just gotten a self-confidence boost. “So that’s why you told me to do that.”

“Yeah. You did, right? Because otherwise--” He’d been bending down to grab the candles, but Sam tipped his head up again to glance at Jake.

Well, wasn’t Jake on the defensive now. He’d even taken a half-step back before he’d squared up his shoulders, and Jesus, was Dean right to be iffy on the guy. Sam could be scary…he could even be called terrifying on occasion…but this wasn’t one of those times. And here Jake was, acting a little like a cornered rat testing a cat’s range but not quite daring to just try to escape.

“Yeah, I did. It’s completely taken care of. I told you, I’m not some casefile,” Jake muttered. At least he could be snappy. Dean had been starting to think Sam had picked up a girly wuss, after all.

“Just checking.” The curtness of Sam’s voice made even Dean look twice at him; Jake twitched a bit. Then Sam sighed and gave himself a quick shake, head down. He blinked hard as he looked back up, a semi-rueful expression on his face. A little tail of hollow laughter was tacked onto the breath he blew out. “And how’s sleeping for you?”

Jake blinked, then grinned a little. His smile had more black humor to it than Dean would’ve thought the guy could manage. “Better, but I’m still looking for ways to stay awake.”

Dean made a fist of his hand, brought it up to his mouth, and coughed hard. He easily suppressed his amusement at the way they both jumped. Keeping down his dawning, incredulous comprehension of the whole scene was a hell of a lot harder. “And I believe I said I was going to be gone after we were done. Which I’m not yet.”

The oddest expression crossed Sam’s face right then, like he didn’t know whether to be sorry or annoyed or just plain weirded out. Then it was gone, and he was doing a half-decent job at pretending to be professionally brisk. “Well, you could help me clean up,” he snorted, grabbing the rest of the candles. “Are you staying around for dinner?”

“You’re buying tonight, so I’d have to, wouldn’t I?” Part of Dean was telling him he was a total moron for turning down the easy out, but another part wasn’t so sanguine now about leaving Sam and Jake alone. The whole bizarreness of seeing Jake had made him forget about all the usual background check stuff, but he was remembering now.

Jake shot Dean the kind of sidelong look that, if he were the job, would’ve meant he was the key to putting down the monster. Then he exhaled in a way that was borderline exasperated and shuffled around to scuff up the chalk circle. He glanced at Sam, who was looking damn close to shifty-eyed and uncomfortable about it.

Sam abruptly straightened up, settling the strap of their duffel bag on his shoulder. He dropped Dad’s journal into it, then shoved his hands in his pockets and lifted his head. His expression smoothed to way too nonchalant. “So did you want to hit that pizza place we passed afterward? Or the Italian one?”

His eyes started to move towards Jake, then slid back to Dean. Dean shrugged, but his stomach suddenly let out a loud growl that made him wince. Somebody snickered; Sam had been facing Dean the whole thing and his mouth hadn’t moved, but Jake had turned to stare out the window.

“Yeah, sure. And then you can fill me in about what was up with those chupacabras,” Dean said.

The muscle in Sam’s cheek twitched hard, like it wanted to jump off the bone. Whoever had snickered before suffered a short, hacking burst of coughing.

“Sounds good,” Sam replied, looking kind of twitchy.

* * *

Just when she’d been about to call it a night, somebody tromped in and thumped himself down at the bar. Son of a bitch…but this late at night, a customer wasn’t likely to be the kind who’d go easy. So she clamped down on her temper and turned around with one hand reaching for the metal baseball bat beneath the bar.

The man was late-twenties, blond, one hell of a looker from one side. Then he lifted his head so she could get the panoramic, and she couldn’t help making a little noise of shock. It looked like somebody had smashed out one of his eyes, then shoved a shaved-down cue-ball in its place.

The eye he had left was a pretty green, but tired and irritated at something. “Car accident,” he said.

“Oh.” Well, now she was embarrassed as all get-out. It wasn’t like it was the worst she’d ever seen—not by a long shot, when this bar was a favorite of the local veterans, but it was just kind of surprising to see it on somebody so young. Not that that was any excuse. “Hey…listen, this place closes early tonight. I’m sorry. But if you want a drink, you can try the bar in the Radisson down the road. They serve till 4 AM.”

He stared at her for a moment like he didn’t know what she was saying. Then he groaned beneath his breath and rubbed at his eye. “Oh, sorry. Missed the sign.” He smiled, and that still was pretty charming. He must’ve been a hellraiser before his accident. “Listen, I don’t really want a drink. It’s just that my back’s kind of fucked-up—same accident—and it’s killing me. I know you’re closing up, but could you maybe let me sit here for a couple minutes, let me catch my breath? Then I’ll be out of your hair. Cross my heart.”

“Do I look like jailbait to you?” she tartly retorted. Nope, he hadn’t been expecting that, the sweet-talker. At least he wasn’t some crazy wino. She grabbed a towel instead of the bat, but stayed near the rack on the off-chance that he was one of those nice psychopaths. Then she looked at him again, and couldn’t keep up the bad temper so much; he looked really, genuinely exhausted. “Okay. You can sit there. Watch me clean up, if that’s your kind of show.”

A sleepy kind of warmth slipped into his eyes. With his kind, it had to be more than half-reflex, but it did sort of stroke her ego a little. “It could be.”

Rolling her eyes, she wiped down half the bar, starting at the end farthest from him. When she got back to him, he’d dropped his head in his hands and was rubbing at his temples, muttering to himself. She nudged his elbow and he stiffened, then raised his arms with a hurried, distant smile of apology.

Well, there was a reason she was a bartender instead of a waitress. “What’s up? Girlfriend?”

“Family,” he said. His eyebrow was quirked. “Oh, what the hell. Wanna hear about it?”

“Somebody took the radio a while ago, so that’ll do,” she slowly replied.

“It’ll do.” He chuckled to himself. “Okay. That’ll do.”

* * *

“So he really is half-demon?” It was a toss-up what was testing Dean’s patience more: Jake’s story or the brownish tinge in what was supposed to be marinara sauce for the breadsticks.

“No, I could have been. I chose to be human.” Jake stuffed a breadstick in his mouth like he wished it was something else he was ripping up. After a moment’s hesitation, he’d sat on Sam’s side of the booth. Thankfully, all four hands on that side were visible. “Marisol did leave a body—there was an autopsy and a grave and everything. So I guess she was a possessed person. That means I’m not really biologically related. Or something like that.”

He started to reach for the napkin holder, but had to duck when Sam almost smacked his head in an attempt to get the waitress. Sam twisted back to face forward and sat down, nodding an apology to Jake. “I don’t know what’s keeping them—we’ve been waiting for the pizza for forty minutes now.”

Sometimes Dean just despaired for his brother. It hadn’t been just their waitress that had vanished—all of them had, and only the lone waiter was left in the room. Occasionally he shot an annoyed look back at the kitchen doors, from which extremely loud bursts of giggling could be heard.

“They’re probably drawing straws to see who asks us,” Jake snorted. His eyebrows rose at Sam’s surprised expression; his hand continued over the table to absently take the last breadstick. He tore it in two and dropped one half back in the basket, then took the other back to his plate to dabble in sauce. “So what is the story, if they ever work up the balls to ask?”

“He and I are brothers, and you’re a third cousin from the backwoods side of the family.” Dean caught some movement at the edge of his vision and turned to see their waitress finally bringing out the pizza.

Sam’s jaw dropped open. Jake stared at Dean for a couple seconds, like he was waiting for Dean’s real response. Once he figured out that that had been it, he worked his jaw a little. Then he lifted and dropped one shoulder, as if to say oh, well, and got up from the table. “Guess you take after my side of the family in more than looks. I gotta take a leak—I’ll be back in a sec.”

The waitress passed Jake and set the pizza down on the table. She opened her mouth a few times, but finally just smiled at them. Not that Sam was paying attention, seeing as he was so busy gaping at Dean. If he didn’t shut his mouth soon, Dean was going to flick a spitball into it.

“What is your problem?” Sam finally asked.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that? The whole thing about him looking like me…okay, that is so weird, but I can live with that. I think. But him being connected to a demon? After all we’ve gone through—are you crazy?” Dean picked up his soda and sucked up a big swallow, letting the bubbles pop stingingly against the roof of his mouth. His hip was going numb so he shifted around and his back screamed: the painkillers were wearing off. Great. Yet another reason for him to be in a bad mood. “What happened to wanting somebody normal? Hell, what happened to wanting a chick? Even if he kind of reminds me of one…”

For a moment, Dean honestly wasn’t sure what Sam was going to do. Then Sam gathered himself in and calmly grabbed a slice of pizza. He lifted it high above the table and used his fingers to snap the cheese strings, twirling them up so he could pull those into his mouth first. Then he took a big bite out of the slice. Chewed. Wiped his hand on a napkin before reaching for his drink.

“I never dated a possible mass-murderer,” Dean snapped.

Sam glanced up, mouth full of pepperoni and mozzarella, like he didn’t know where Dean was coming from. Oh, sure. He waved his hand, then just drank from the rim instead of through the straw.

“And that one in Tennessee wasn’t the one actually doing all that—it was her freaky dead control-freak of a grandmother.” Dean got his own piece of pizza. If they were going to play that way, then fine. He could keep his cool while getting whipped in the face with tomato sauce, too. “Look, Sam, I’m just a little concerned about his background. I don’t want his shit to come down on our heads.”

“Like we don’t have that happen all the time,” Sam mumbled. The food was in the way, but he still managed to sound drier than a Blue-law town on a Sunday. “Anyway, this is only the second time I’ve ever met him, he’s already killed his demon, and I’m not even touching the part about chicks.”

Half the slice was gone before Dean even really tasted any of it, and then it was just to note that they’d way overdone the herbs. It was bitter as all get-out. “Just because his demon’s dead doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any problems anymore.”

Sam paused, then dropped the small fragment of pizza he had left and put both hands on the table. They were in fists, but then they suddenly uncurled as Sam laughed. He picked up his napkin and started wiping off his fingers, still shaking his head. “Jesus, Dean. Why don’t you just—”

“What the hell can he do, anyway? We can’t just—you know we have to travel light,” Dean said. He sounded uncomfortably close to pleading, which annoyed the hell out of him. But he had to get Sam to…well, to get it. They had so much to deal with, they had to keep stripped down so far, that any excess would just get in the way.

“I can talk to him. Thanks to his background,” Sam muttered.

A sharp pain jagged up Dean’s spine. He winced, feeling his teeth rock in their sockets. “What, have I gone deaf or something? I’m pretty sure I still hear fine.”

Sam twitched hard, seeming like he was about to launch into a rant. But at the last minute, he completely clamped down. He tossed the napkin back on the table, then followed that up with a couple crumpled bills. “There’s my share. See you at the motel.” When Dean reached for him, he swung his arm out of the way. “It’s not just talking, Dean. And it’s not healthy to keep everything in the family. That’s what went wrong with him—and that’s part of what went wrong with us, too.”

Several seconds passed before Dean realized the reason he wasn’t talking back was because his mouth was hanging open. By then Sam had gotten halfway across the restaurant, and Jake was sizing up the whole situation from the restroom entrance.

Dean dragged his jaw muscles back into gear. “What the hell was that supposed to mean?”

The door banged after Sam. Jake looked at it, worried and confused, then looked at Dean. His expression rapidly went from ‘what the hell?’ to ‘what the hell is with you?’ and he took one slow step towards the door, then hurried out.

Practically the whole pizza was left. After a long moment, Dean called over the waitress and asked for a box. His back gave him another warning stab and he told it to shut up. He wasn’t going running after Sam, so it could relax. If Sam got any more wound up, he’d be taking off for another couple of weeks, and that wouldn’t help any. So Dean’s temper could shut up, too. Goddamn it.

* * *

“That’s probably one of the smarter things you did,” she said. She wrung out the towel over the sink, then swished it around beneath the running water for one last go at the bar.

Dean looked irritated. Well, if he’d expected her to completely side with him, then he really didn’t understand how the whole sympathetic-bartender gig worked. “Yeah? What if he sneaks off in the middle of the night?”

“What, with this guy with the shady background? That he’s met twice now?” Rolling her eyes, she slapped the dishrag into the sink and turned off the water. Then she checked the floor…it looked okay, so she wouldn’t have to break out the mop. “Maybe if he were a girl, and way, way dumber than he’d have to be in order to get into any college, I’d believe that. Honestly, it just sounds like your brother’s got an itch, so why not let him scratch it and get it out of his system?”

He looked surprised. If he said something about not expecting such mercenary thoughts from a pretty young thing like her, she was going to hit him with a bottle.

“Um.” Dean fiddled with the cuff of his jacket. It was a pretty sweet leather coat. “I don’t think I really explained things right.”

“Yeah, I could tell. Let me guess: you guys aren’t traveling zoologists,” she drawled.

She’d seen a lot of uncomfortable winces since she’d started slinging drinks around—she even thought of herself as a kind of connoisseur of them—but this one definitely was a standout. So much so that she ended up just leaning against the liquor rack and watching in fascination. There was head-bobbing. There were hand gestures and shoulder movements. It was amazing.

“Can I ask you something? Are you Catholic?” Dean asked. Then he snorted and flipped that away with his hand. “Never mind, that’s going to take too long. If I tell you demons are literally real, are you going to laugh at me?”

“I’m…I…” She shut her mouth before the stammering got any more embarrassing and continued thinking in silence. She wasn’t exactly sure what reaction she should be having.

Dean watched her with the kind of wary expression that kicked but not broken dogs got. He was sober and drug-free, as far as she could tell, and he probably wasn’t really insane. Insane people didn’t care that much about other people, she figured. This was probably going to be a mistake, but she figured since he did care, she’d chance it.

“Well, I’m not laughing,” she finally said. “Though I also don’t know where you’re going with this.”

“I was getting to that.” He straightened up on the stool and leaned forward, relief quickly passing to earnestness. “So it works like this…”

* * *

About a third of the way back to the motel, Sam calmed down enough to realize that it had to be Jake following him, not Dean. Dean would’ve called out or grabbed him by now. Jake just trailed after at a distance that was short enough for his footsteps to get on Sam’s already raw nerves. But they kept passing people—joggers, late grocery-shoppers—so Sam clamped down on himself till they were actually in the motel room. Then he turned around. “What?”

Some blinking. “What the hell did I miss while I was in the bathroom?” Jake said. He glanced over his shoulder, then carefully leaned himself against the door, hands in his pockets.

Sam…didn’t want to answer that. So he walked over to the table-and-chair set and flopped down in the chair. Then he let his arm drop on the table so it overlapped his laptop. After a moment, he pulled up the screen and hit the ‘power’ button.

“Way to avoid the conversation.” Jake kept standing there.

Once the wallpaper had loaded, Sam turned off the computer and pushed down the top. “Dean thinks you’re a bad idea.”

“Okay. Very informative.” Sarcasm wavered in and out of Jake’s voice. He picked at his jacket zipper for a couple seconds before he sighed and hauled himself out of it. After tossing it onto the nearest bed, he resumed leaning. “You thought I was a bad idea, so you can’t be arguing over that.”

He looked a lot better than he had in Mexico. He’d filled out a little, till he was reasonably healthy, and the dark rings beneath his eyes were much lighter. And the clothes were better, even if a dark blue shirt in some kind of silky-looking fabric caused a temporary disconnect in Sam’s head, because Dean would never wear that kind of thing.

This wasn’t about Dean in that way, Sam reminded himself. His head was starting to hurt, and certain parts of his brain were sounding like they needed to be readjusted, or sporked, or something. Actually, it would’ve helped if it were totally about Dean, and totally in that way. Then Sam could just invoke the principle of inbreeding depression, plus a good dose of whatever social-code moral revulsion he’d managed to get into himself over the years, and it’d be easy. Easier. He could deal with that type of logic-bending.

“Are you pissed off I called you after all?” Jake asked. He sounded a lot closer than he’d been before.

And Sam had ended up staring at his feet without noticing. He lifted his gaze and saw Jake’s knees, then the rest of Jake, standing right in front of him and swaying like either he was going to hit Sam or drop to his knees in another second.

“You know, if you want me to hit the road, you could just say so instead of pulling this—this passive crap. Jesus. What the hell is it with you…” Jake lifted his hand in a sharp, cutting gesture, then slashed it down as he half-turned. It snapped into his hip, then slowly curved to rest there as he stared disbelievingly at the wall. “What? I’m not so interesting now that I’m all wrapped up? Do I have to be a fucking case to get your attention? Is that really why you guys do the stuff you do?”

“You’re not a case,” Sam snapped. Yeah, that option would’ve been easier, too. House rule—in his house, anyway—never sleep with somebody who might end up having a black magic altar tucked away somewhere. “Why’d you call, anyway? Did you just want somebody to fuck you out of your trauma again?”

Jake’s exhale was like a bullet report. He actually went back a step, shaking his head a little. Then his chin came back up and he made a heated try at stabbing Sam to death with his eyes. “You’re more of a prick than your brother.”

“I thought you would’ve noticed that the last time.” Sam slouched and glared right back. He had a right to that. If Jake hadn’t called, Sam could’ve just written up the whole episode as some near-dreamtime reality check and been vaguely grateful to the man. He wouldn’t have to think about why Jake and not any of the others had worked as a reality check. He wouldn’t have to think about why he wanted it so much to be a goddamned reality check. He sure as hell wouldn’t have to worry about how to really explain it to Dean without fucking up the fragile rapport they’d managed to rebuild.

“I did,” Jake said. His lips were drawing back from his teeth so Sam could see the flicking roll of his tongue behind them, spinning acid into words. “Pretty damn hard not to, considering my position.”

They stared at each other. The hair on the back of Sam’s neck was stiff and straight-up, ninety degrees to the skin, like so many little needles sticking out. He could see the rigidity of Jake’s shoulders beneath the loose shirt; Jake’s jaw muscles were a study in liquidity in comparison, flexing and tightening.

Jake moved. Whether it was forward or back didn’t really matter: Sam’s foot hooked his knee from behind and the end result was forward. Sam yanked himself up in a rush as Jake slapped one hand down on the table, almost making it tip, as Jake’s knee or shin hit the chair just where Sam’s crotch had been a moment ago.

He grabbed the back of Jake’s head. The hair was too short, slipping off his fingers, but he dragged his hand down and caught Jake’s neck, pulled him down while the other man was still trying to catch his balance. Got his arms and thighs thumped roundly for it, but then Jake was moaning, already trying to shove his tongue into Sam’s mouth. He sucked on Sam’s bottom lip, then slid down to attack Sam’s jaw, tilting Sam’s head towards the table. His hand was still on it, grinding its heel hard into the grain till the wood was damn near bending.

Sam pushed his other hand out from between them, ran it over Jake’s back and down his hip to squeeze Jake’s thigh. Fingers jittered over his belt buckle, then skated sideways to dig at the crease the edge of his front pocket was making. “Did you come back because you wanted to know more about what we do?” he muttered.

Jake stilled, then bucked and twisted, like he wanted to jump away while breaking Sam’s neck. He smacked at Sam’s chest, leaving bruises but not doing too much in the way of escape. “You goddamn single-minded son of a bitch--”

Maybe Sam was in the spine-mutilating position, but the way Jake was bent over him, one knee on the seat and shoved in against Sam’s increasingly interested prick, meant he was the one with lousy leverage. He should’ve thrown himself sideways, at least, but instead he opted for straight back; he got four or five inches away before the ill-balance got to him, probably making him feel like he was going to fall on his head, and couldn’t help moving forward again. Which Sam helped along with his hand around Jake’s leg, clamping down till the shifting muscles were still. He tossed his other arm around Jake’s neck, let it slide with Jake’s struggling and got hold of Jake’s wrist just as it was going for its third thumping at Sam’s chest.

“It’s a goddamn reasonable question.” Sam yanked at Jake’s arm, twisting it some, and Jake sucked in breath over his teeth. Fell forward so his erection grazed Sam, and there was something in that. When Sam dug his fingers into Jake’s thigh, the something definitely swelled, leaving Sam’s mind momentarily in serious over-processing mode as he jumped to conclusions.

“Only if you’re as fucked up as—oh, wait. I forgot. You are that fucked—” Jake hissed and twisted again, but with less violence in his urgency, more slip/slide body-contact. He jerked himself up so he briefly was staring down at Sam, eyes gone dark and snarling.

Sam rewrapped his fingers around Jake’s wrist, then pushed it back behind the other man. He had to force it over Jake’s resistance, but as far as resistance went, it wasn’t totally against Sam. He watched Jake’s pupils dilate and lips part in a slow, shock-jagged exhale with a weird, almost scientific detachment. Well. This kind of had come up last time, too. And maybe Sam had been studiously not-thinking thinking about it since, half-worried that it was a sign of him losing his grounding. That he liked it maybe like how a demon might like pushing people around from tragedy to tragedy.

“Said the fucking kettle,” Sam snapped back.

Jake made a rasping, furious sound and wrenched himself to the right. Sam pulled him back. His breath stuttered and he snarled again, but hollowly and a little panicky. He twisted his free arm out from between them, and Sam intercepted that wrist and shoved it back with the other one. And Jake moaned and went down in a writhing, angry, needy mess, dragging the hard line of his erection over Sam’s stomach, sucking at Sam’s tongue till Sam could feel the strain deep-rooted into his jaw.

The chair creaked dangerously. Something suddenly gave way about an inch, jolting them so Jake was pressed so deeply against Sam that he had to be coming away with belt-buckle imprints in his stomach, denim grain over his cock. Sam yanked Jake downwards, got a knee sliding painfully over his thighbone. The floorboards jiggled a bit as Jake’s feet hit the floor in a quick one-two.

At that point, Sam tried levering himself up and out of the chair, but he only managed an abbreviated forward scoot, and that was hard-won against Jake’s squirming. He braced himself in place just in time to push up and back a rough grinding slide from Jake, then tried at least to get forward another couple of inches. But he accidentally twisted around Jake’s wrists as he did; Jake stiffened, then turned hot and liquid, trying to get himself seated further down on Sam’s legs. He ran up against the chair arms and pushed against them till they were practically prying their nails out of the chair back.

The edge of the seat was digging mercilessly into Sam’s ass, a hair from giving him a permanent horizontal crease. He tried to push up, but Jake was shoving himself in just close enough for there to be a tantalizing, miserably brief pressure every few gasps, and every time he did, Sam’s leg-muscles refused to do anything but collapse.

The angle of the seat changed on Sam, and he found himself scuffing his feet to keep balance as the chair boosted itself up behind him, like the poltergeist had followed them home. He said something—was in the process of saying something, anyway, when Jake arched up so his erection rasped past Sam’s and Sam jerked and the chair just skidded out from under them.


They were partially, forcibly separated upon impact, and it would’ve been temporary if Jake had done everything and Sam had just sat there, but Sam couldn’t do that. Fuck. Right. He stiff-armed Jake back, then pushed himself away for good measure.

Jake threw up his hands with surprising violence. “What? What? Can’t you just take it as sex, at least?”

“Yeah, like you could,” Sam snorted. He lifted his hand to do something or the other and saw it shaking, so he put it down. It didn’t help too much with the shocky feeling.

“I could,” Jake sharply retorted. Then he settled back, trying to catch his breath. He looked up at the ceiling, and when he brought his head down again, it was like that effort had drained all the frustration out of him. But there was still that desperate begging, and that was better at cutting, anyway. “If that’s all I’m going to get.”

Sam…just couldn’t answer that. He tried to at least think about it for a few seconds, but it wasn’t any good.

In the end, he let himself fall backwards. The first thing he saw was the bottom side of the chair, which pointed out how close he’d come to concussing himself right then. Maybe he’d concussed himself already and didn’t remember? It might explain things.

Jake exhaled loudly twice, first brusque and then resigned. “Fucking great.”

“There is something you should know about demons,” Sam finally said. Mostly because it was still on his mind, and since he was mainly on auto-pilot right now, it got shoved out there.

* * *

“Yeah? Well, that’s what it sounds like, whether you mean it or not.” It’d been such a long explanation that she’d eventually just given up on trying to look like she had stuff to clean and had just seated herself down on an adjacent barstool with a glass of water.

Dean shot her an annoyed look and stole said glass of water in the same movement. He was welcome to it—she hadn’t touched it, and he was being so pissy about everything that he could use some refreshment.

“Look, babe, it’s not just cheesy horror movies. It’s my family—what’s left of my family, which makes it even more important—and what we do for a living. I promised Sammy I was going to take care of him. And you know…” he worked his shoulders in awkward regret “…maybe I haven’t done as great a job of it as I should have…”

“If he used to take off every few months to go try to either catch an STD or get his neck broken, then I’d call that a shitty job, actually,” she mused.

That was for the ‘babe.’ It looked like Dean might’ve caught on and understood after the first outraged second, but he didn’t look any less irritated. “Anyway. That doesn’t mean I should stop trying.”

“Doesn’t necessarily mean you should try harder, either. Don’t suppose you guys have ever considered taking up a new line of work?” She put her arms up behind her, resting them on the bar-rail, then kicked out with her legs. From the corner of her eye, she could tell Dean had reflexively checked those out. Eye-rolling, but she was grudgingly impressed that he was that dedicated to being a perve. “I’m just asking, you know. If you’ve got some reason, then okay, I can…maybe understand it once I’ve heard it. No guarantees, but I’ll try.”

Dean snickered a little, mostly sarcastically. “Put it this way—might’ve been an option before, but with all the shit we had to pull to get that first demon, the one tailing our family, we’re not exactly fit for normal employment. It’s not that we couldn’t do it.” He was obviously remembering he had an ego to keep up. “But you know, that thing where you’re supposed to picture whether you can do it for ten years and not go nuts and come in to work one day with an AK-47? Not happening for us.”

“Okay,” she said.

He obviously was expecting a lot more. Well, he was just going to have to be disappointed. Like she hadn’t seen her share of people stuck in unhappy lives and ready to snap…and like they didn’t usually snap once they’d gotten drunk enough, trying to take it out on people like her. Better have them redirecting it towards something constructive, she figured. It was why she’d always thought the kids in high school civics class who wanted to disband the army were total idiots.

“I just—don’t want him to go off. For good.” Dean unhappily poked at the condensation rings spreading out from the base of the water-glass. “And okay, this guy apparently was responsible for getting Sam to come back early the last time, and coming back less messed up, but he looks like me. Plus he can do…Sam can get things from him that he can’t from me. So I started thinking…”

Ew, was her first thought. And it was her second thought once she’d put together enough to get the full picture. That was pretty fucked up, even for a bar about twenty miles from inbred scary-ass rural Appalachia.

“Not that I’m ever gonna tell him this, ‘cause it’d undermine my status as the older brother, but I’m not sure I can do okay all by myself. Especially since my back—” Dean winced and put his hand behind himself, and it didn’t seem to be just for emphasis “—and the thing is, I know he could, if he wanted to. He has. He just hasn’t gone back to it yet because he’s Sam and Sam kind of needs people to make it a your-way-or-the-highway thing before he’ll go off. His guilt works in this really weird way.”

“If you leave because you’re pissed off and the other guy’s not willing to work with you, then it’s not so much your fault as your noble decision?” she guessed.

The side of Dean’s mouth twitched, first down and then up. He was obviously debating whether to defend the family or just give in to the truth in this case.

“And this Jake guy might be the highway.” She winced. “Um. Excuse the shitty metaphor. But anyway, if that’s all it takes…well, damn, either Jake’s the best sex this side of the Mississippi, or your brother’s a total asshole at heart.”

“Sam’s not an asshole,” Dean snapped. Apparently that was his limit for badmouthing of the blood.

She grinned at him. “Jake’s probably not that great, either. If he was, you’d be all worked up because you were jealous of your brother, not because you’re jealous of your brother’s possible boyfriend.”

Dean made a face at her, then downed some water. He was in the middle of wiping his mouth with the back of his hand when he flinched. Then he put his hand on the bar and slowly, gingerly twisted sideways till something in his spine popped. It hurt, that was clear enough, but he didn’t even cut loose with any swear words. “Uh, sweetheart? I like girls. If Sam wants to play both sides, then…that’s fine as long as he stops picking ones with Satan mentioned anywhere in their résumé. Hell, it’ll help—chances are fifty percent higher he’ll get laid and get that stick out of his ass.”

“I thought that was what he was doing right now,” she said in a mild tone. The look he gave her for that was even more hilarious than the first one; he deserved the slam, and if he didn’t stop with the condescending pet names, he was going to get a physical one for the next time. “But seriously, Dean. So this guy looks like you. And he puts out. But how does that equal replacing you? Unless you’re about to pull a long lecture on magical cloning out of your ass…”

Maybe she should’ve left out the parts referring to sex, since at first it looked like that was going to screw with Dean too much for him to even hear the rest. But then he frowned, drawing his brows down so she could see how facial scars might distort forehead furrowing. Weird observation, but hey, she was the one who could afford to focus on that sort of stuff.

He half-turned to stare into the water-glass for a while. She just left him to it. It’d gotten to that point in the night where she was just tired enough to feel a little detached, a little blurry at the edges, and just sitting around went nicely with that.

“Okay. You have a point,” Dean finally said. He put his hands on the edge of the bar, then straightened his arms to push himself off and onto his feet. He was uneasy and hunched up at first, but as he kept on thinking, he relaxed. His right hand dipped into his coat pocket, then came out with a candle and a bag of what was probably salt.

She stiffened, then shrugged and stayed where she was. It wasn’t like she hadn’t guessed, after all. “You’re not the first guy that’s ever come in here with that idea.”

“The bar closes early one day of the week because years ago, you stayed too long talking to a patron and got knifed just afterward by a burglar, when you were taking out the trash for the last time,” Dean said. He settled back on his heels and jiggled the salt and candle in his hand. “You crawled back into the bar and died here. And it’s said that ever since, you come back on that day of the week to finish closing up like you didn’t get to then.”

“I guess,” she slowly replied. “I thought about it for a while when I first figured out what’d happened to me, but I never was much for that kind of philosophy. I like this bar, you know. I really liked my job—when I was dying, I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, God, what if I hadn’t stuck around and talked Tommy through his girlfriend jitters.’”

Curiosity flickered over Dean’s face. “What were you thinking?”

“‘Fuck, that fucking hurts.’ Something like that.” And for a moment, it really did. She quickly shoved that away; it’d taken forever to learn how to get past that, and she wasn’t in the mood to start over again. “Look, if you want to send me away, I probably can’t do more than chase you out of here with a couple thrown bottles. But I wanna point out that I haven’t hurt anyone, and that I’m not really feeling that I’m ‘stuck’ or ‘trapped’ or desperately need to move on.”

He solemnly regarded her for nearly a minute, doing a lot of internal recalculating. Then he shrugged and put the stuff back in his pocket. “You’re not exactly what I’m used to running into.”

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” she snorted. She flipped her hand around. “Well, I used to. It’s gotten kind of lonely, lately…guys like you are the only ones that ever hang around for long, and the last one that used to come in here regularly…stopped. I do hate that—that I can’t go out and see what’s happened to you.”

“I can imagine.” Dean stood there for a little longer, then turned around and walked towards the door. He stopped halfway there and turned back. “Hey. Thanks.”

She smiled. It hurt at the corners. “No problem. Hope your back gets better.”

He’d resumed walking again, but his pace momentarily slowed at that. Then he sped up again, one hand going up so he could swing himself casually out of the door. “See you later.”

After a moment, she decided she could grin at that. Dean seemed like the kind of guy that would mean it. Cool.

But man, it was a little bit of a relief to have him out. It was getting way too close to dawn, and she was tired. Really tired. Time to close up, definitely.

* * *

“Yeah? Well, that’s what it sounds like, whether you mean it or not.” Jake slid into Sam’s line of vision, expression a cross between exasperated and anxious. He had an uneven, curving line of little red marks trailing from one corner of his mouth off across his jawline, and Sam had a damned hard time not looking at it. “Look, obviously I already know hanging around you can be dangerous in weird ways. I’ve already had to bury people I loved because of the same reason.”

“Having both of us in the same place has to double the chances of death by supernatural causes. At least,” Sam had to observe.

Jake sensibly didn’t try to immediately reply to that. It wasn’t the kind of argument that lent itself to persuasive snap rejoinders. But he did move closer, so his knuckles bumped Sam’s side. “For God’s sake. You going into a house with some ghost that can toss around bowling balls raises the odds way more. And for all you know, I could leave town, get possessed and call up Mom to kick-start Revelations. Give me something that’s not bullshit.”

“I think I’m using you to deal with some issues I’ve got about Dean.” Sam shifted himself away from Jake. His erection was down by half, but that remaining half was being stubborn about fading and making things pretty uncomfortable. Of all the times for his body to be taking Dean’s advice…the thing with Sarah hadn’t been this to dismiss.

For a moment, Sam was sure Jake was going to hit him. But instead, Jake grabbed his shoulders and shook him so his head banged on the floor before he could get his elbows propped under himself. “Do you think I’m some kind of a moron? Jesus! I know that! And frankly, I don’t give a shit right now.”

He got in one last good shake before Sam threw him off. Then Sam smacked his hand down on the floor, pushing himself up, and grabbed Jake’s hand just before…had Jake actually been about to slap him? Sam wasn’t sure whether the idea amused him or pissed him off more, but at any rate, his body voted for ‘pissed off.’ He had Jake flipped over on his stomach with his hands pinned down in another second.

“Some reflexes,” Jake finally mumbled. He suddenly twisted so his face wasn’t smashed into the floor, but his hips snapped up at the same time and Sam took it for trying to throw him off.

Jake’s initial response to being slammed into the floor again was just a pained grunt. He slumped against the floor, mouth wide as he gasped for air, sometimes so loudly that Sam couldn’t hear his own rasping breaths. His eyes fluttered shut, then slitted open a crack that was just wide enough for Sam to watch the green strip of the iris roll back towards him. A scraping sound from behind them got Sam’s attention and he started to glance over his shoulder, only to jerk in surprise when Jake’s ass nuzzled up to his--still--half-hard erection. So much for the half.

Sam bit his tongue and bowed up, trying to cut down on the friction. But the moment he eased up on Jake’s hands, the other man used the extra slack to shove himself right into Sam. Nearly hard enough to knock them over, just hard enough so that he was warm and firm and fuck, Sam was going to bite his tongue off at this rate. And then Jake actually started to rock back or forth. Or try to, anyway. Something on his clothes snagged on Sam’s belt and made it too uneven.

“Jesus. You’re that desperate? You’re so bad off you’ve got to jerk me around till I’m pissed off enough?” Sam hissed. He pulled at Jake’s hands violently enough for him to hear the plastic-fuzz carpet giving Jake a bad friction rash. Jake made an angry hurting sound and shoved back, getting their clothes untangled but mostly just getting himself deeper into Sam’s grip. “You get off on this shit?”

“So do you,” Jake gasped. His hips pivoted so only one of them was pressed up against Sam, sliding over and over Sam’s cock.

“Yeah, but I’m not the one on the floor.” Sam lifted one knee and quickly rammed it into Jake’s leg, knocking him down flat. Then he got that knee on the ground before he fell, too, and yanked up Jake’s hands so he only needed one hand to pin them. The groan he got was like a red-hot dagger twisting in his guts and he dove, sank his teeth into Jake’s neck to give the pain back. “I’m not the one who couldn’t go after a fucking demon that killed my whole fucking family—”

Dragged his free hand down Jake’s back. The cloth rumpled up in damp rolls beneath his palm during the following upstroke, so the second time he clawed down, he hit a wide strip of bare skin just beneath the ribcage. It heaved and flexed up into his hand, shivering whenever he let it.

“—till some random guy in the desert told me to.” Good thing Sam had his mouth off Jake at that point, or else he would’ve had some broken teeth. He twisted Jake’s wrists and stayed up, watched the furious thrashing go to slow shudders. “I’m not the one who came back because he couldn’t make do with his hand and his sanity.”

He reached around Jake and yanked open Jake’s fly in a couple rough pulling motions. Every one jerked Jake backwards, and he’d linger there, rubbing up against Sam’s prick and whining. The noise got to Sam, gritted his teeth. He grabbed the back of Jake’s waistband and hooked his fingers beneath it, beneath the elastic band beneath that, and ripped the whole thing down. Jake sucked in a breath, choked on it and then let out what air he’d gotten in a long, low moan. Sam dug the heel of his hand into Jake’s buttock and forced it down.

“I’m not the one who thinks getting himself pounded early—” They’d knocked into the table a couple times with their feet. They still were knocking into it, making all kinds of crap rain down. No weapons—thank God, else something would have had bullet-holes in it by now—but napkins and keys and bottles…bottles.

It was the stupid floral-scented lotion Dean had tossed out of the bathroom earlier, cracking that there weren’t any girls on this side, thank you. Sam maybe made the thin crappy plastic split when he popped off the top; anyway, something jagged sliced open his thumb. The blood warmed up the lotion a little. Not that Jake twisted and cursed any less once Sam had stabbed two fingers into him.

“—is gonna keep me from getting pounded by anything—anything else.” Jake’s ass was straining around Sam’s fingers, clamped so tight Sam couldn’t get past his second set of knuckles. But where Sam’s fingertips had gotten to, where they were, it was so hot and silky and so easy to twist a little and make Jake go slack, graze against the sides and watch Jake twitch like a puppet.

“Fuck you,” Jake managed to say. Thin and high and breathy, more like a plea than anything else.

Sam snorted, corkscrewed out his fingers and licked at the back of Jake’s neck when that made him collapse. He jerked open his own fly, pulled his cock out past the little biting teeth of his zipper. “No, I’m not the one getting fucked.”

Jake did his keening cursing crying out then, and not a second later when Sam was holding his ass up with one hand and sliding in so fast and easy, like that last one had been some kind of stick jacking him so damned open it made Sam’s eyes roll back into his head. Almost too open, but then Sam’s balls hit Jake’s ass, got cushioned so deep in them that Jake was going to have zipper marks later, and it tightened up. It tightened up and Jake dropped his head, not even moaning now, just raggedly breathing. And then Jake suddenly hitched and Sam was incredulous. Incredulous, then annoyed and finally amused.

“That’s not getting you off,” he snarled, and yeah, it was a stupid play on words but not when the sweat was so thick he could peel it off Jake’s skin with his teeth, not when he was sliding his hand over Jake’s shivering belly to the hip and then back. Not when he didn’t care, not about anything that didn’t involve him wrapping his fingers around Jake’s thigh and yanking him backwards so he gasped and then just didn’t breathe. “You wanna get fucked, you’re getting fucked. You’re getting fucked through it till your dick’s back up and asking me and begging me and I don’t know, maybe I’ll feel—”

Fuck. Maybe Jake went off early but he recovered quick, knees wide and hips rolling back to Sam with every goddamned thrust till he had to be tasting Sam’s cock in his mouth. He was cursing, but it was all ‘please, fucking please, you fucking bastard now please’ so Sam let it ride. Sam let himself ride, not having to really do much now except bury himself in Jake’s stupid, sweet, stubborn sickness.

“—maybe I’ll feel—”

The pressure started in Sam’s knees, feet, hand—wherever he was touching the floor—and built fast, pushing up his stiffened muscles till they splintered away. It drummed into the backs of his eyes so his vision whitened, filled with dots and it crammed into the back of his throat so he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even choke.

“—feel like—”

He blew apart.

* * *

It still grated on Dean that Sam would ever need something that he had to get from an outsider, but that, he decided, was how the world fucked with you. Nothing could be done about it, so what mattered was what Sam needed to be okay. ‘cause when Sam was relatively on the level, he could be reasoned with—shut up, Dean could do that when he wanted to—and he could be talked out of doing idiotic things.

So really, Dean should’ve just stuck with his original idea. If it kept Sam’s head out of his ass…this was why Dean usually avoided thinking a lot about something. Second-guessing could screw with a mind like little else.

He checked his watch, then sighed. Maybe he’d try that Radisson first before he went back to the motel. He didn’t want a drink, or anything to eat considering the size of the pizza take-out box, but he could use being around people.

“Hey, how about somebody I can take around?” he muttered to the sky.

* * *

“Oh, my God.” Though Sam had long since rolled off him, Jake was still lying there in pretty much the same position. The only thing he’d changed was to pull his arms down to by his head. “Fuck. There’s no way I’m walking now.”

He could always be dropped off, Sam idly thought with some reluctance. Sam pushed himself from his back to his side and took a good look at what he’d done.

Well…all right, there weren’t any desires to go out and conquer the world, strangely enough. Usually this was when he brushed up so close against that dark streak of survival and potential that had had the demon so interested in him that he had to spend the next few days recoiling from it. But right now, Sam was just really tired. And all right, kind of pleased at how messed-up and sweaty and boneless Jake looked, with jeans yanked down to there and dark red hand-shaped blotches angling up at his ass from his thigh and shirt tossed up over the jumpy muscles in his back.

He was tired, he told his dick. “Why the hell would you settle for that?”

Jake blinked like it required a supreme effort from him. Then he dragged his head around and focused on Sam; dazed as he was, the hopeless resignation was already coming back. “You see anything better? It’s not like I can go back to a normal life.” He shrugged, looking away from Sam. “Look, if you wanna fuck me because I look like your brother and all that, fine. I’m not even going to ask.”

“I’m not your mom,” Sam had to say.

For a second, it looked like Jake might at least have the energy to raise himself. But then he just snorted and heaved himself over on his side to face Sam. “Now who’s got the dirty mind?” he weakly joked. “I don’t want you to be her. I want you to tell me she’s a crock of shit.”

“Thought you didn’t want people telling you things.” Sam glanced down at Jake’s stomach, where the shirt-flaps were stuck half-up with drying come.

“I thought about it some more,” Jake muttered. “And I don’t want people telling me shit. They barely ever know what to tell me. But you…um, you seem to have a pretty good idea.” Was he blushing? Did he have enough blood left in his head to blush? “I figure it’s fine if you’re doing it.”

“You really want to trust me that far?” First time Sam actually had gotten a look at Jake’s cock, come to think of it. He was curiously not embarrassed about making the most of it.

Jake shifted, not exactly uneasily. “What’s your problem that you can’t trust yourself?”

Well, it’d been a really long time since Sam had even tried. He didn’t even really remember how that worked. “I’ve got reasons, okay?”

“And I can argue,” Jake retorted.

Sam threw out his arm and ran one finger from Jake’s shoulder to the dip of his waist. Jake drew in a sharp breath and went very still. The finger kept going, dropping to tickle the underside of Jake’s cock and Jake shivered.

“Uh,” Jake said.

“This isn’t really that much about Dean now. And your mom’s a crock of shit,” Sam conversationally remarked. Oddly enough, he thought he might even be relaxed. He liked this feeling. A lot, actually.

The pupils of Jake’s eyes widened till the iris was a hair-fine green ring around them. “Okay.” He bit his lip. His hips started to rock a little. “Can we…bed…my knees…?”

Sam shrugged. “How much thinking do you want me to do right now?”

“Okay, never mind,” Jake said, crawling over. He didn’t seem to care that much, either.

* * *

A Week Later, Give or Take a Couple

Dean winced, then turned around and carefully walked backwards the last few yards to the car. He leaned himself against its side, feeling a slight pang in his spine as he did—goddamn it, the painkillers were wearing off—and put his hand on the car top. Thank God they were parked behind a big bush, he thought.

Then he slapped the car a couple times. Somebody cursed inside just before there was a loud thump, followed by several other clearly uncoordinated thumps. A few seconds later, the back-door on Dean’s side opened and Sam swung out his legs, looking up with an annoyed expression. His shirt-collar had been yanked sideways and his jaw was gleaming with spit.

“Did you even go into the place?” Dean asked. Like Sam had any right to be annoyed.

Sam started to answer, but got cut off by a manila file being shoved between him and Dean. Dean took the folder and Jake dropped back into the car, muttering something about needing his shoe.

“I just want to point out, I had to put up with this from you for years,” Sam finally said.

“Whatever, Sammy. I never tried it across from a church.” No damp spots that Dean could see, though the folder was kind of creased up and beaten around. He held it with his fingertips as he opened it up.

Snort from the peanut gallery.

“That was a Catholic girls’ school. It’s so not the same thing,” Dean muttered.

“Sure.” Sam clearly was humoring him. “So did the nice blonde tell you anything useful?”

Clare gave me a gravesite, so shove it, bro. And also her number, so I don’t have to listen to you two in the bathroom tonight.” Dean sighed. “Man, the stuff I put up with for you…”

The folder was suddenly yanked from his hand. Then it thwapped him, and before he could retaliate, Sam was back in the car and climbing into shotgun. “Then let’s go. God forbid we keep you from getting laid…especially with how cranky you’ve been lately.”

Dean just…he couldn’t believe…that little prick.

Jake popped out his head. “Yeah, you could really use a night off. Unwind or something.”

He closed the door just before Dean would’ve kicked him in the head. Jackasses. Both of them. Like Dean was ever gonna try helping Sam out in that department again—regular sex was turning him into some freakish monster. He should kill Sam for that.

Not really. Because Sam was kind of happy now, and staying around…but Dean was going to kick them out of bed early this time. He wasn’t that generous.