Disclaimer: Yeah, not mine. Kripke and I don't see the same things when we look at his characters.
Summary: A story of Samuel Winchester’s Gay Sexual History, and how Dean, a minor but important character, became a hero in the final chapter.
Pairing: Wincest, Sam/MCFW (by which I mean Male Characters From other Works)
Acknowledgements: Thank you to nomelon for dutifully setting me straight when I was going off course, and also to balefully for making sure that this story was worth reading. Thanks also goes to everybody who participated on the poll to see who Sam should sleep with. I guess you'll just have to read it to see what I did with the results.
I feel like an Island, but you bought the tickets to the goddamn movie
Sam had been asked to tutor him in bio. He recalled the moment—standing in the buzzing fluorescent lighting of the science block, bag slung over one shoulder, as Ms. Merchant approached him for extra-credit—and wondered what the hell he’d been thinking. He should have said there were conflicts with debate or soccer practice. Anything to avoid this. He’d had no reason to say yes, Sam Monroe and his attitude were famous.
But Sam had said yes, in a moment of tremendous narcissism that maybe he could get Monroe to care, and found himself in Monroe’s messy room on a Tuesday evening, trying not to disturb any piles of clutter, while the boy himself lay on his bed and very visibly contemplated getting high.
And thus ensued two hours every week of ardent frustration and wasted time. Every time, he sat awkwardly in the black office chair at Monroe’s dusty desk, bored enough to amuse himself by twirling around on the casters. Monroe said he didn’t have time for preppy college-bound boys, and called him Samuel rather than Sam just to get under his skin. Monroe also had no desire to pass bio. And Sam knew he could. Sam had seen Monroe’s scores on the 12th grade AMCs that he’d been allowed to take as a sophomore. Sam couldn’t hope for those scores in his wildest dreams now, half a semester through senior BC-calc. His malaise itched at Sam, all that talent, and Monroe just lay prone on his bed, shoes still on, and popped gum, while Sam desperately tried to engage him.
“It’s not gonna work, Samuel,” Monroe told him, lips spread around an obscenely wide grin. Sam looked down at the cheap binder in his lap, felt his cheeks heat. Monroe was pretty in a way that almost made mockery of his height and the breadth of his shoulders. Although his murky dyed hair, piercings, and chipped black nail-polish left something to be desired.
Sam tapped his paper with his pencil and sighed. This was their fourth session. Monroe didn’t attempt to make Sam do his homework or anything, but he'd made it clear that there would be no studying and no learning. Ever. Sam could have been working on college apps or SAT prep, which he got precious enough time for already, instead he was here, contemplating what Monroe’s cigarettes would look like shoved up his nose. He said as much. Monroe spread his palms and resettled on the bed. Sam considered flinging the heavy seventh edition Reese and Campbell bio textbook at his head.
“I’m only doing this because my mother would string me up by my thumbs if I didn’t,” Monroe said finally, as if Sam's agitation deserved some response. “But I don’t give a fuck about that class.”
Sam stared at him blankly, and tried to ask why he was so determined to crash and burn, but couldn't find the words. They spent fifteen minutes locked in a desperate staring contest.
“What’s your natural hair color?” Sam asked, setting his binder aside.
Monroe’s face tightened in a frown. “What?”
Sam blew out a breath. “You deaf?”
Monroe made a noise in the back of his throat and carded his fingers through the inky strands. They stood up in awkward spikes, purple and blue streaks visible. “Blond.”
Sam laughed. “You look like a blond.”
“Fuck you.” It was said dully, but Monroe chucked his pillow at Sam’s head.
“Yeah?” Sam replied, watching the pillow sail harmlessly by several feet off course. “Maybe after we go over the Krebs cycle.”
Monroe gaped at him, lashes dark around his wide eyes. Sam couldn’t quite believe he’d said it either. He coughed and set the binder back in his lap. It was easier to pretend the whole conversation hadn’t happened, going over the electron transport chain and dark reactions and drawing little diagrams while Monroe watched listlessly, chin propped up on his fist.
“Your math’s wrong,” Monroe said at their fifth session, pointing out the errors in Sam’s calculations.
“Are you telling me you know this shit and deliberately fuck up the tests?”
“Nah,” Monroe laughed, blowing a bubble with his gum. “I only actually took one test, Samuel. I cut all the rest.”
Sam put his head in his hands. “You must be joking!”
“Nope,” Monroe replied, almost proudly.
Sam’s lifted his head and met Monroe’s gaze. “Why?”
Monroe looked taken aback, like no one had bothered to ask him that before. He struggled to say something and then shrugged.
Monroe started canceling sessions after that, said he had other shit to do. Sam figured he was probably off getting high somewhere. Well, fine. It was a huge waste of time anyway, since Monroe knew the material already and simply didn’t give a damn. Sam saw him around a sometimes, talking to that slick rich retarded fuck, Josh, the one who dealt drugs. Monroe stood next to him, lighter sliding over and under his fingers like quicksilver, as he exhaled a curling ribbon of smoke. Not even Dean could pull off a trick like that.
Sam tried to put Monroe out of his head after that. He had work to do, too much these days now that Dad had insisted on an even sterner work out regimen in exchange for letting him play soccer. His life seemed to be endlessly bricked up between school and the obligations he had at home.
They went hunting down on the beach—sirens. It was an easy enough kill, and Dad and Dean left, dragging a Siren corpse by her ankles, while Sam remained on the beach, watching the water crash into the sand.
“Don’t get into trouble, Sammy!” Dean called back over his shoulder and Sam knew the implication was hurry up.
Sam waited a few minutes out of spite before going back up into the copse of cypress trees. He ran into a breathless Monroe just as he was climbing to the steps up the cliff leading back to the parking lot.
“Whoa,” Sam said, reaching out to steady him with his hand. “You shouldn’t be out here!”
“Could say the same for you,” Monroe gasped, lighter flicking through his fingers, hand trembling enough to almost drop it. Sam could see the glassiness of his eyes, the bruised look of his mouth, and the haphazard set of his clothes.
“What happened to you?”
Monroe inhaled and pulled out a squashed pack of cigarettes, tapping on the box until one fell into his palm. He didn’t talk until he’d taken several drags. “Almost made a bad decision.”
Sam wrinkled his nose at the combination of salty ocean air and smoke. He could tell from the hard set of Monroe’s jaw that he wasn’t going to say anything else, so Sam offered him a ride back to his house. Monroe’s lips twitched like he wanted to say no, but eventually he nodded.
They walked in silence to the parking lot where Dean was waiting, the Impala idling near the exit. Dad was already long gone in the truck. Dean raised his eyebrows at Monroe, but didn’t say anything. Sam was glad, the last thing he needed was Dean unleashing 20-offensive-questions. The faded blank expression on Monroe’s face scared him a little and Dean's tactlessness was trying at the best of times.
Monroe climbed stiffly out of the car when they pulled up in front of his glitzy house. Dean jerked his head after him. “Walk him to the door, Sam.”
“What? Dean?” Sam was caught off guard, but he clambered out after the other boy, jogging to catch up. Monroe paused by the front step and scuffed the toe of his boot against the ground. “Um, Good night.”
Sam cleared his throat. “Take care of yourself, all right?”
He turned, heading down the walk, but a strong grip on his wrist pulled him back. Monroe stretched up to press his mouth to Sam’s. He tasted of menthol cigarettes and heartache, and he ran the barest hint of tongue over the seam of Sam’s lips. Sam’s mouth tingled, and he wrapped his arms around Monroe’s waist without thinking about it. Dean honked and they sprang apart, breathing hard. The porch light wasn’t on, and the streets of the nice neighborhood weren’t lit. There was no way Dean could see them, but he couldn’t prevent the flush from lighting up the apples of his cheeks and the tips of his ears.
Monroe fumbled his key in the lock and slammed the door behind him, leaving Sam wondering what the hell had just happened. When he got back to the car, he could see his own confusion echoed on Dean’s face. Sam took a shaky breath, and Dean snorted a laugh and shook his head. Sam sank down in the passenger seat.
It was awkward between Sam and Monroe after that, but they started meeting up in Monroe’s room again, once a week. Sam did his homework and Monroe read. Laurence Sterne, Henry Fielding, Trollope, Balzac, George Elliot, Jerome K. Jerome. He read aloud occasionally and Sam paused to listen. He liked the way Monroe read, smooth cadence that never tripped or faltered. Sam asked about his choices in literature and Monroe shrugged. “They’re on the Observer’s Top 100 Greatest Novels of all time. I just wondered if I agreed with them.”
Sam laughed weakly. Monroe always surprised him. “Do you?”
“Well,” Monroe hedged, “there’s a lot of English writers on this list, so I guess it’s a little biased.”
Sam carefully put his homework away, and sat down on the bed. Monroe looked up at him, eyes wide, and Sam slowly leaned in to brush their lips together. Monroe’s copy of Daniel Deronda got crushed between their chests. He laughed into Sam’s mouth, and sunk his teeth into Sam’s lower lip. Monroe’s family was out of the house otherwise Sam never would’ve attempted it.
He pressed Monroe down into the sheets, rucked up his ratty black t-shirt, and traced designs over Monroe’s pale, perfect skin with his tongue. Sam guessed he burned as easily as Dean did. He ran light fingertips over Monroe’s nipples and ground his thigh against the hint of an erection in the other boy’s pants.
Monroe moaned, lips shiny with Sam’s spit. They rutted against each other on the bed, making out, and exploring with light touches, every one loaded with hesitance. Monroe pulled off Sam's shirt and drinking in Sam’s chest and abdomen in wonder. Sam blushed horribly red, and looked away. “Jesus, you soccer jocks!” Monroe was clearly fascinated
Sam didn’t correct him about how he’d really built the muscle. They weren’t about to have that conversation. Instead, he stripped himself naked while Monroe did the same, and then, taking initiative, wrapped his fist around Monroe's cock. Monroe bucked and cursed, greedy for it, hips lifting against Sam’s grip. Sam smiled, and pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the spot behind Monroe’s ear, where his hair was already starting to curl with sweat.
The way Monroe flushed and looked at him, Sam figured it out. “You’re a virgin.”
Monroe threw an arm up over his eyes. “Yes, Samuel.”
He didn’t look quite right then, his face pinched and tight. Sam pulled back and asked him what was wrong.
Monroe sighed. “I almost slept with some guy.”
“Yeah?” Sam didn’t understand why that was such a big deal.
Monroe pulled his arm away from his face. “For money, okay.”
He told Sam it was the only way Josh would guarantee his supply of drugs. The cops showed up and he’d had to make a run for it. That was the night Sam had run into him. His grip was tight around Sam’s wrist. Sam imagined crushing Josh’s throat, the way his eyes would go dark as he struggled for air. But he couldn’t believe how stupid Monroe was—that he was willing to do that.
“Can you just—just touch me?” Monroe asked when he’d finished, eyes squeezed tight.
Sam hesitated. “Are you—do you—is that what you want?”
Monroe’s long-fingered hands found their way into Sam’s pants. He pulled Sam down on top of him and nodded. Sam took his time. Monroe was only his third sexual encounter, and the first time with a guy. He knew the basic dos and don’ts, but he was nervous. He couldn’t believe the cocky caustic little fucker hadn’t laid half the school already.
It was easy to jerk Monroe off, to tongue his nipples and watch him twist beneath his touch. To whisper "don’t ever do that again" imperceptibly into his skin as Monroe sank black-tipped fingers into Sam’s unruly hair. Monroe’s hips rose off the bed; his eyes dark and swallowed by pupil. He cursed and growled when Sam pressed on the sensitive vein on the underside of his dick. His fingers left scratches on Sam’s skin, and he muffled his moans into Sam’s mouth. When he came, it was with a sob, and before Sam could ask if he was okay, he’d flipped them over, straddling Sam’s hips and grinding down. Sam's cock was heavy and insistent inside his boxers.
Monroe looked down at him, like he was figuring something out, and reached down to shove off Sam’s pants. “I want you to fuck me.”
Sam tried arguing, but Monroe applied that iron will that had lead to weeks of silence to him.
“But I’ve never—you might—”
“I don’t care.”
Prep was slow—a lot stumbling and hissing, and finger-shaped bruises raising up on Sam’s biceps. Monroe slid down on Sam’s dick after what felt like hours, thighs gripping his hips tight. Sam was amazed at how good it was, how tight, how warm. Not so wet or soft like he was used to, more of a steady unyielding press of flesh—one that wrenched sensation out of him. Monroe took time to adjust, filth poured of his mouth. Sam leaned up on his elbows and tugged lightly at the stud in Monroe’s ear with his teeth. Monroe let out a breath and started bucking against Sam hard.
Sam Monroe didn’t let anybody touch him, get past his walls, even here. They bit at each other, it turned rough.
“Harder,” Monroe begged, pulling at Sam’s shoulders. Sam flipped them over, asked a million times if it was good, if he liked it. Monroe swore at him, cheek pressed into the pillow, head rocking with every thrust. Sam strained against him, tried to get in deeper.
“Oh, Jesus,” Monroe breathed, gripped tightly at him, and came, painting their stomachs with thick salty fluid. There were tears in his eyes, but a smile on his face. Sam froze, fingers brushing through the water gathering at Monroe's eyes. He looked at in wonder, and felt his orgasm crash over him.
Afterwards they lay side by side on the bed. Monroe smoked and Sam made a judgmental face at him. Monroe blew smoke in his face and laughed when Sam coughed. He talked about the crazy girl down the street, how she always got into the shower with him, and he didn’t know how to feel about her. Sam listened, chin propped on his fist. Monroe still called him Samuel, and Sam tickled him breathless until he agreed to stop.
“Is there anybody you want?” Monroe asked, his hand tight on Sam’s dick. Sam couldn’t breathe. Monroe stroked him and Sam’s eyes rolled back in his head. He thought of Dean, his green eyes, his laugh, the way they’d wrestled over a poker game, thighs tangled together and chests pressed tight. Monroe mouthed at his collarbone, teeth sharp against his skin. Sam could see Dean’s mouth, red, curved, sharp canines sinking into the full flesh when he tried to restrain a grin. He came with a curse. Monroe’s lips curled up into a smile.
“Ah, I think that answers my question.”
Sam skin flamed and he rolled away. “I was going to suck your dick next time, but I’ve reconsidered.”
Monroe just laughed and leered at him as Sam pulled his clothes on and called Dean to pick him up.
“You know, you never answered me, way back when,” Sam pointed out a few weeks later. He’d been bargaining sex for exams. Monroe got a better score on the last biology test than he did. “Why do you just say ‘Fuck it’ to school work?”
Monroe looked down at his hands. “I guess, to get back at my dad.”
Sam laughed. “Funny, that’s exactly why I study so hard.”
“You’re a freak,” Monroe told him, as he sucked down cigarette smoke.
Sam coughed exaggeratedly and threw his pants at him. “You’re going to die young.”
Monroe set the pants aside, his expression penetrating, simultaneously knowing and mysterious. “And so, I fear, are you.”
I’ll be the Spiderman to your James Dean
He’d just gotten big, when Sam saw him—Spiderman out that April, and the theater had been booked for months. Sam didn’t get to go with his buddies until May. They’d been good superhero films, blown Joel Schumacher’s last Batman movies out of the water. Willem Dafoe was a genius choice for the Green Goblin, and Sam imagined Dean sitting in a theater somewhere and agreeing with him. It had been eight months since they’d talked. Sam had no idea where he was; he’d been swallowed by the flyover zone.
But he wasn’t thinking about Dean. He was staring at James Franco.
Sam's study group, Advanced Latin 250: Roman Historians, had biked over to Café Borrone in Menlo Park, a hike from their dorms out on Lagunita, but the best coffee and sandwiches around. And there was James Franco standing at the counter, ordering a roast beef sandwich and an iced tea, as normal as you please. Nobody besides their group seemed to care or even notice. He was sweaty and mussed from the gym, dark blond curls sticking to his forehead and the nape of his neck. His white t-shirt and green exercise shorts shifted with the play of his muscles when he moved. He was shorter than Sam expected.
“How does somebody like that wind up in the Bay Area?” Eric asked, tapping his lip with a ball-point pen.
Lita, in clear Franco awe, said, “He’s from Palo Alto, went to the high school just off of Embarcadero near the football field.”
Sam didn’t say anything, just continued ticking off names on his paper. “Are we expected to know Livy’s account of the rape of Lucretia by heart or can we paraphrase?”
He pretended to study hard, to memorize passages from Livy book one. He noticed when the actor sat down facing Sam at a table a few feet away. Their gazes met, Sam’s finger paused on the page. Little laugh lines wrinkled at the corner of James’s eyes and Sam dropped his own back down to the lined paper of his notebook.
He pointedly turned his attention elsewhere for the rest of the session. When they’d all finished, dishes scraped clean and drinks sucked down to the last watery dregs, they gathered their stuff back into their bags and headed out to their bikes. Sam waved to them and went inside Kepler's, the bookshop next door. They had a good selection even if the clerks were overwhelmingly snooty. He stood in the literature section, running his fingers over the glossy cover of Absolom Absolom. He didn’t have a lot of money left over for books, but maybe today…
He felt the presence at his back when it was within five feet of him—some habits died hard. It was an innocuous gaze lit upon him, but he couldn’t help being nervous. Sam wasn’t good at this part. He’d fumbled his way through relationships with girls, to the degree that Dean said it was a mercy he ever got laid. But then again, Dean’d never really known about Sam Monroe.
“I had to read that in tenth grade; didn’t get past chapter one,” a voice said, soft in his ear. “I wasn’t much of a student, dropped out of college.”
Sam turned, gathered up some courage from somewhere and said, “You look like you did all right.”
James laughed. His tongue slid out over his lips as he proffered his hand. “I’m James.”
James smirked, didn’t ask if Sam wanted to get out of there or what his name was. He tugged Sam by his wrist past the romance novels and into the cleaning closet. Sam found himself backed up against the wall, James’s teeth sunk into his lower lip and his palm firm over Sam’s heart. Sam sighed. Ten minutes ago he was thinking of books and how much he wanted that new Umberto Eco novel, and in this moment his dick was hard in his pants, and he had an actor who pulled down at least six-figures pressed against him, tugging his shirt up around his arm pits.
There was a whirlwind of movement, lube out and condom on, jeans tugged down—all performed with the smooth practice of somebody who’d done this too many times before. And then James was reaching behind Sam’s waist and down, fingers sticky and cool and pressing in against the resistance of Sam's body, because Sam had never done that before. He hiked Sam’s thigh over his hip and worried his ear lobe with his teeth, Sam’s back arched away from the wall.
James fingers scissored in and out, the knuckles grazing sensitive nerve-endings as he talked him through it, like he might with a skittish horse.
“Look so pretty and wrecked pressed against the wall,” he told Sam, forcing moans out of him.
Sam had a meeting with a TA in forty-five minutes. He didn’t care if he was late. James's fingers slid out of him too fast and Sam held his breath and gripped hard at the James’s shoulder as they were replaced with his dick.
“Relax,” James told him.
“Can’t,” Sam whispered. “Don’t know how.”
James grabbed both his wrists and slammed them against the plaster of the wall, punctuating it with a firm roll of his hips. “Relax.”
He shuddered and moaned, leaned forward to draw James’s lower lip between his teeth. He choked, words and pleas stuck in his throat, all reduced to a groan as James set the pace, struck up against his prostate with every stroke, sucked at the tendon in his neck. Sam’s wrists were still pinned to the wall. He came before James even touched his dick. James chuckled, kissed his cheek. And maybe this was being taught how to surrender—a lesson his brother never could teach him.
James followed soon after, face smooth, serene, brown eyes closed. Sam wished desperately that he would open them, but knew he had no right to ask.
They straightened up awkwardly, there was some confusion about what to do with the condom, and for the first time they laughed together.
Just as James was about to open the door, Sam stopped him. “Is this you, or are you acting?”
James looked at him, expression neutral. “What about you?” he answered with another question and while Sam paused to think about it, James disappeared out the little closet door, leaving Sam behind. Sam shrugged his shoulders, and set his feelings aside, like he was locking them away in that tiny little closet.
He spoke to Jessica Moore for the first time later that week in Tressater, over a salad and an iced tea. She was in his comparative religions course and he’d been eyeing her for a month now. She asked him if the seat across from him was taken. He and the rest of the club soccer boys he sat with froze. Jamie, the left midfielder, punched his shoulder.
He left with her number, scrawled on the only scrap of paper he could find in short notice. He stared down at it, butterflies in his stomach. She was pretty, and smart, and he hadn’t felt this way about anybody since…well, it didn’t bear thinking about. He held it in his hand like it was something precious. As the sun shone through it, he noticed faded marks underneath the bold writing of Jess’s name. When he turned it over he found JAMES, 650-347-9534 hastily scrawled in pencil. It was the only piece of paper he’d had on him. It had been in the pocket of the same jeans he’d been wearing that day in Kepler’s.
Some men have greatness thrust upon them. What did you see when you looked up at me?
Six months on the road. Six bare months after Jess’s funeral. Six months of gas stations and diners and motels and shitty libraries. It wasn’t as bad as he remembered—not as stressful as worrying about bombing his anthro final, or wondering how he was going to get through his French orals. Was it horrible that he didn’t care enough about hunting to get stressed out? Dean would think so. Dean thought it was a cop-out for Sam to have gone to school. Sam felt it was a cop-out to leave it, but he still couldn't find it in himself to go back.
His father had accused Sam of apathy his entire life—apathy and self-absorption and laziness. Dean wouldn’t dare tell him, but Sam still caught the look in his brother’s eye a time or two. And he knew Dean well enough to see it for what it was. Sam couldn’t contradict him. He couldn’t tell his brother, when Dean so vociferously thought he was fighting the good fight, and anything Sam had to say would only challenge it.
So it was hard, and he found himself constantly waging an internal war, not to push back, not to give in to bile and frustration. He wanted a demon dead not because he thought it was his purpose, but because he needed answers, justice, peace. The rest was not his fight, and nobody could ever make it so.
“You okay with coming back to California?” Dean asked as they crossed over the state line.
“It’s the San Fernando Valley, Dean,” Sam sighed. “An entirely different world than the Bay Area.”
Dean coughed and changed the subject, “So, what are you thinking? Haunted boarding school?”
“Sure looks that way.” His reply was subdued.
Dean rolled his eyes. “What’s with you? You’ve been weird ever since you saw that article on the front page this morning. The one about drug patents.”
Dean attempted to push it. “Sammy—”
“So far we’ve got one girl in a coma, a locker room with frequent electrical surges, a boy swearing he saw “mutant” spiders, and a teacher who fell down the stairs,” Sam interrupted. “And then something weird about sex changes and twins and soccer.” Dean looked over at him and Sam raised his palms. “I dunno, man.”
They decided to go the plainclothes detective route when they arrived at Illyria Academy. Although Dean bitched at Sam the whole way when he couldn't find that fuck ugly tie of his with the gold dots.
Sam had heard of Illyria back in the day. In the world of high school soccer, Illyria and their rival, Cornwall, were kind of famous. He hadn’t realized just how damn professional they were until he watched them run drills up and down the field like a well-oiled machine. Dean yawned and tugged on the lapels of his suit.
A boy darted up the center of the field, skin bare and browned by the sun, taller than the rest. He danced past the defenders, skipped over the ball in a move that would’ve made Maradona salivate, and then hammered it home into the net. The skins whooped and jumped on him, while the shirts grumbled good-naturedly. The keeper punted it back up the field but it listed to the left and rolled to Sam’s feet.
He hooked it up with one dress-shoe shod foot, and juggled it up off his thigh, one, twice, three times before booting it back to the shirt’s offense. When he looked up the tall boy was staring at him, expression impenetrable. Sam supposed he did look a little strange, a man in a suit kicking the ball around like he was just another player. Sam quirked his mouth into a grin and shook his head. The other boy smiled back and the elegant line of his lips and high cheekbones were suddenly thrown into sharp contrast. Sam knew he was staring.
Dean elbowed Sam’s side. “I’m going to flag down the coach.”
There wasn’t quite enough air in his lungs, and he knew it wasn’t just from the strength of Dean’s elbow.
They talked with the coach for twenty minutes, before he nodded and turned back to the field. “Hastings!” he called with a voice like bullhorn and both brothers took a step back in surprise. A shirt peeled off from the team and jogged up, ponytail bobbing.
It was a girl. On an all boys team.
“What’s up, Coach?” she asked.
Dean interrupted before the Coach could answer. “I’m Detective Taylor and this is Detective Fitzgerald. We’re investigating some of the special circumstances surrounding Evie O’Brien’s coma. We’ve been directed to you, to ask some questions.”
She nodded her head. “Yeah, okay.”
Thirty minutes later Dean looked ready to punch her. She’d babbled about her boyfriend, soccer, her asshole ex, how “Detective Fitzgerald” avoided split ends, and her twin brother. Apparently she’d masqueraded as her twin, Sebastian, to secure a space on the team. At least that cleared the whole cross-dressing gender bending business up.
“So about those unusual noises you heard, Ms. Hastings—” Sam tried to insert himself into the conversation.
“What? Oh right!” She nodded again, enthusiastically. She told them they should talk to her boyfriend, Duke (Dean snickered behind his hand when he heard the name), and then started going off about Junior league and deb balls. Sam had no clue what she was talking about.
She turned and waved back to the field, practice was just breaking up. “Hey, Duke, c’mere!”
It was the tall boy with the smooth skin and the pretty sculpted face. He ran over in long loping strides. “Yeah, what’s going on?”
“They want to know about that whole Evie thing…”
Duke wasn’t helpful either, but he knew it. He kept glancing at Sam and then at the cheery girl next to him as he related what he knew. It didn’t seem like much. Sam and Dean threw up their hands and thought maybe it wasn’t their kind of thing.
At lunch, Dean read over the notepad he’d taken notes. “Blah blah and then during soccer initiation blah blah we made the rookies strip naked, and then the sprinklers went off.” He sighed. “You think it’s anything?”
“I don’t even know, from what I could actually understand of what Viola said, it doesn’t look like our kind of thing.”
“Viola? Her name was Vi-o-la?” Dean questioned, lifting his iced tea to his lips.
“His name was Duke!” Dean snorted his tea through his nose and Sam shook his head. “I guess we just wait to see if anything happens.”
They were called back to the campus when four different witnesses swore they saw a girl pulled through a wall and land on the ground, two stories below on the other side. No, she didn’t jump out the window. No, she didn’t fall out either. She was definitely pulled. They got there in time to survey the body, but before the cops arrived to spill their cover. If she’d been thrown out a window, whoever had done it had managed to chuck her sideways at the same time, and from the spread eagle splay of her limbs, Sam didn’t think she’d jumped either.
When they saw the red and blue flashing lights they left quickly. So maybe it was their kind of thing. They’d be back the next day.
It was the weekend, so the students were milling around in groups, hanging out with their friends. They interviewed the four witnesses who couldn’t tell them much other than that Charlotte Lee had been sucked through the wall. They didn’t know of any similarities between her and Evie either, other than their sex. Sam had spent some time late the night before researching Illyria High School, but nothing of any note had happened at the school since it’s founding in 1963, except for maybe the senior prank that had blown up the fountain on the quad, but there hadn’t been any deaths from that.
They split up after the interviews because Sam had to use the restroom and Dean wanted to check out the girls’ dorm common room where the incident had happened. Sam hoped that his warning look had been enough to keep Dean from doing anything stupid. He wasn’t holding his breath.
He ran into Duke on the way back. He sat on a bench, running shoes on and covered in a fine sheen of sweat. His remarkable gray eyes troubled, forehead furrowed, and hands clasped tight. He barely noticed when Sam sat down beside him.
Duke shrugged. “Not much, CCS is coming up, so I’m training hard.”
Sam nodded and looked out over the manicured lawns of the Illyria campus. “You heard about Charlotte?” Duke looked down at his hands, even white teeth sunk into his lips and nodded mutely. Sam furrowed his brows. The kid almost looked guilty. Sam filed that in the back of his mind. “Pretty weird stuff, huh?”
Duke shrugged again. “Uh, yeah. If you believe that stuff.”
Sam looked down at his watch. Dean was probably waiting for him. “Well,” he got to his feet, “if you hear anything, here’s my number.” Sam hastily scrawled his name and number on a diner receipt and handed it over.
Duke looked up at the paper in front of his face and reached up to take it, color slowly rushing up into his face. Sam’s lips quirked, and he waved and walked off to meet Dean. Dean said the EMF had been going crazy, so he was guessing poltergeist. Sam agreed with that. They weren’t sure of their next move.
“Stakeout?” Dean asked, when he met up with Sam.
“Ugh, we’d be babysitting this place constantly!” Sam glared at him. “And don’t think I don’t know the only reason you’re considering it is so that you can mack on the high school girls!”
Dean laughed and suggested looking up the school’s blueprints at the town hall. Sam thought it was a good idea. They busied themselves at town hall for a while, but decided to leave when Dean’s stomach started rumbling.
It was a short detour to the hotel to change out of the sticky uncomfortable suits, Dean hopping up and down as he attempted to divest himself of the dress pants. Sam snorted with laughter and picked the puddle of fabric off the floor to fold it neatly. When he looked up, Dean’s gaze was inscrutable.
He set the pants aside. “What?”
Dean shook it away. “Nothing.”
Dean wanted pizza, so they went to Cesario’s, a place near campus. Dean grumbled to Sam when he saw how full it was of high school students. The waitress was kind enough to give them a table away from the girls’ volleyball team who were currently redefining the word shrieking. A shifting crowd of teenagers shoved its way through the door. They had spoken with some of them, and Sam recognized almost all of them as boys on the Armadillo’s soccer team. Viola spotted them as they walked past to get to a large table in the back.
“Hey, detectives, you look different!” she said. Duke stood behind her, eyes focused somewhere else across the room.
Dean shrugged, his amulet swaying on his chest. “We can’t wear the suits all the time.”
“Hey, Duke,” Sam said. Duke nodded and smiled. Viola said their goodbyes and the couple left to go sit with their friends.
Dean shot him a look. “Macking on the high school girls, you say? You hypocrite!”
Sam looked up from his pizza, startled. “What?”
“Like you aren’t teasing that poor kid, Duke.” Dean threw his napkin at him. “You always did have a thing for the pretty ones.”
“Shut up, man.”
“How’s Sam Monroe doing these days?” Dean continued, cheerily tongue in cheek.
Sam bit savagely into his pizza before answering, “Like I fucking know.”
“Hah, you can try and pull that one on me, little bro, but I don’t buy it! You never forget your first love, especially not a giant girl like you.”
Sam set his slice down, and looked at Dean’s left hand resting on the table, relaxed and big and capable. No, he would never forget.
“Sam’s gotten engaged,” Sam finally said, rolling and unrolling his napkin.
Dean leaned back in his seat. “Whoa, to that crazy girl who was always getting in the shower with him?”
Sam laughed, surprised that Dean remembered her. “Yeah.”
“Hey, at least he knew it was a sure thing.”
Sam rolled his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure that's why he asked her to marry her."
Dean picked up his straw wrapper, and tied a knot in the center. If you pull it apart and the knot comes out, someone’s thinking of you, Sam had instructed when they were living in Tacoma, two weeks before Dean’s fifteenth birthday. Dean tugged on both ends of the straw wrapper and the knot slid out.
Dean chuckled. “Hell yeah, I bet you it’s that girl in South Bend. You know the one with those killer green eyes, and those tits like perfect handfuls?” Sam looked at the ripped pieces of straw wrapper and shook his head.
They finished their pizza and moved to the unoccupied pool tables. It was hot under the light and Dean shucked his leather jacket after only a few moments. He lined up his shot and whistled as he split two stripes and sunk a solid. Sam felt suffocated in his hoodie, so he tugged it up over his head.
Dean was looking pointedly at him when he tossed the sweater aside. “I know you only do that so you can show off your abs.”
“What?” Sam replied, hunching in on himself. “I do not!”
Dean stuck out his tongue. “Whatever, Princess, it’s your go.”
Sam rolled his eyes and put in three stripes. He was just lining up his next shot, bending over the pool table, when they were swarmed by Viola’s group. He shanked the shot, and the cue ball glanced weakly off the ball he’d been trying to put in the corner pocket.
“You guys are good—you must have a lot of time on your hands,” Viola said, picking the purple solid right up off the table. Dean made a noise in the back of his throat and Sam started laughing.
“What?” she looked up, wide-eyed.
“You’ve ruined the game now,” Dean told her, voice choked.
“Whatever, Dean, it’s fine.” Sam nudged his side and reached under the table to gather the balls up. Duke was staring at him. Sam cocked his head. “Do you wanna play?”
“What?” Duke said, too abruptly. “I mean—uh—I—don’t know how.”
Viola turned to Duke in surprise. “What? Yes, you do! You play in the rec room all the time!”
Duke shook his head and backed up, stumbling all over himself. Dean looked at Sam, with raised 'I-told-you-so' brows. Two of the kids they recognized from the soccer field offered to play against them and Dean accepted. Sam elbowed him hard before he could suggest putting any money down. Not with high school kids. Not even with moneyed high school kids.
Dean was taking his turn, lining up a bank shot when a blonde girl came to stand next to Sam. “Hi, I’m Olivia.”
Sam smiled down at her awkwardly. “Um, nice to meet you.”
“I’ve only seen him act like a complete idiot a couple of times.” She nodded her head at Duke.
“He must really like you.”
Sam gripped his pool cue tightly in both hands. “He doesn’t know me.”
She slapped his shoulder and he looked down at her. “You know what I mean.”
Sam bit his lip. It was his turn after that. They won the game, and the three they played after. Before Dean could do something stupid, like order the kids pitchers of beer for being such good sports, Sam dragged him back to the car. Dean was in a good mood, he liked playing pool just for the sake of it. Sam was still thinking about what Olivia had said. God, he felt like such a pervert, but he thought of how Duke’s lips quirked up in a smile, and the freckles over his shoulders. He banged his head against the car window.
“What are you trying to do?” Dean shouted at him. “Break it?”
Sam sighed and settled back in his seat. He went to bed that night troubled and slept poorly. At two in the morning, when he'd finally dropped off to sleep, his phone started ringing. It was on vibrate, and the persistent buzzing against the night stand was intolerable. He rolled over and picked it up with a grunt.
“Hello?” he said, mouth full of cotton.
“Detective Fitzgerald?” the voice cracked on the other end of the line.
Sam sat straight up in bed. “Duke?”
“I think—something’s wrong.”
Sam knew that tone of voice. It was the same one he had after a vision—freaked out, worried, desperate. He rolled out of bed with a thud and quickly began tugging his clothes on, phone held to his ear with his shoulder. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“I don’t—I just feel like—whatever is happened to Charlotte and Evie, it’s going to happen again.”
“Okay, can you tell me anything else?” He looked back over his shoulder and Dean was already up out of bed, pulling jeans up over his hips and tying his shoes.
“I just—you said I should call if I needed to and—I don’t know how to deal with this.”
“It’s fine, Duke, Detective Taylor and I are coming fast as possible.”
The motel was only about five miles away from campus, but Dean shot down the little two lane road leading up to the gates at 50 miles per hour. He swerved into a parking space and they were off running towards the boys’ dorms. Duke had said he’d meet them near the bike cages and they sprinted there. Dean had one shotgun at the ready and a flash light in the other hand.
“Duke?” Dean called.
He stepped out of the shadows. “I think it’s going for the girls’ dorm again.”
Dean nodded and tossed him a Berretta with the safety still on. “Do you know how to use one of these?” Duke breathed in once and shook his head. Dean groaned. “Just...don’t point it at anything you don’t want to shoot at, okay? It’s only salt, so you won’t do a lot of damage to anybody either way, but it’ll hurt like a bitch.”
Duke nodded and they took off at a run for the girls’ dorms. Everything was quiet inside and locked up tight for the night. Sam had to get on his knees to prize apart the keycard system to scan them inside. It took five minutes.
“Where are we going, Duke?” Sam asked once they were in. The first floor bathroom. He turned and looked back at the soccer player, fighting to keep his expression blank. What?
Duke made eye contact. “The first floor bathroom.”
Sam blinked, Dean was already off, pushing past them, with Duke only a few steps behind. Sam set his shoulders and followed. The loud bang of gunshots echoed off the tiled walls of the bathroom. Sam slammed through the doors to see a ghostly outline disappear through the ceiling.
Dean grabbed Duke’s arm. “What’s above the bathroom?”
Duke shook his head. “Olivia and Manon’s room, I think.”
They shoved out through the door and up the stairs to the second floor. They heard the sounds of furniture scraping across the floor, but it was coming from at least three directions.
“It’s playing with us,” Sam said, glancing at each of the doorways the poltergeist might be behind. Alicia Niven and Sarah McGee’s room. This time, Sam didn’t question the presence of Duke’s voice in his mind, he just kicked the door in. Alicia was fast asleep on her bed, while Sarah floated off the ground, toes just inches from scraping the floor, struggling for air against the translucent hands that were crushing her windpipe.
Dean shot again at the ghostly outline and it dissipated, dropping Sarah gasping to the floor. Her head connected with sickening thud on the scuffed pine floor. Sam bent to check on her. Her vitals were all good, and when he drew the flashlight across her eyes, her pupils followed. The sound of shrieking down the corridor burst against their eardrums.
“Go,” she said, weakly, fingers still gripping her throat. They bolted back out down the corridor.
Duke paled as they ran closer. “It’s Viola’s room!”
The door swung inward this time, inviting them in. The room was empty, but they could see movement through the fluttering curtains. Viola struggled and fought for air, two stories above ground.
“Holy shit,” Dean’s mouth dropped.
Sam spotted the trophy on her desk, a large one, for soccer. “Duke, quick, what did Charlotte and Evie do in their spare time? Were they famous around campus for anything?”
Duke’s eyes were cemented on Viola’s weakening struggles, one arm was hanging limply at her side. Broken, Sam assumed. “Duke!” He snapped his fingers in front of his eyes. Dean couldn’t shoot at the poltergeist without hitting Viola.
“Um,” the soccer player started, “Evie got into Harvard early decision and Charlotte just won some scholarship for flute players.”
Sam turned to Dean. “Go outside, to catch her when she falls. I know what this thing is.”
He waited a few seconds more and started the ritual incantation of Visconti, hoping that Dean would get down there in time. If they waited much longer, she’d suffocate, but if he banished it too soon she’d surely break a leg. He spoke rapidly in Italian, one of the few exorcisms that they worked with that wasn’t in Latin. The poltergeist shrieked and began to loosen its hold on Viola. It started roaring back at Sam in Italian, but Sam continued on, pulling Duke to the ground with him when the bed rose off the floor and slammed against the wall, cheap wooden frame splintering. Books flew off the bookshelf and dumped themselves on the floor.
“Sono Potente, Sono Libero!” Sam cried the ending of the incantation. The poltergeist’s silvery light blinked twice and went out. Viola dropped to the ground. Sam and Duke struggled to their feet, to look out the window. Dean held Viola clenched tightly in his arms, cellphone at his ear, dialing 911. Duke sighed, and dropped to his knees in relief.
What was that?
Sam heard it in his head again. He waited for a moment before answering. “A poltergeist, one that feeds on the energy of success. The incantation to dispel it was written by the House of Visconti in Italy, and many assume it is the original text for the Malleus Malificarum.”
“The what?” Duke asked, weakly, supporting himself on the empty book case.
Sam sighed. “It’s not important. We should go down and check on Viola.”
Duke nodded and accepted the hand that Sam offered to pull himself off the floor. The ambulance was already down there by the time they made it to the first floor. Dean must have run with everything he had to catch Viola in time. He was talking with an EMT and Viola was getting an oxygen mask. Sarah McGee was lying on a backboard, while two techs gave her an IV. Dean nodded when he caught sight of Sam. Sam stood with Duke, a ways away from where they were strapping Viola down to the gurney and wheeling her into the ambulance. She laughed and joked, but Duke stayed awkwardly at Sam's side.
“I—thanks,” he told Sam, cracking his knuckles.
Sam smiled and started to say there wasn’t any need of thanks, but Duke leaned into him and brushed their lips together.
“I—what are you doing?” Sam stepped away from him. “You’re in high school, we just saved your girlfriend’s life!”
“I’m eighteen,” he said weakly, looking embarrassed. He was shorter than Sam by five inches, but Sam could already tell from the tight grip Duke had on his forearm, that this kid wouldn’t back down without a fight.
“You’re crazy, is what you are,” Sam told him. “And I have no idea why you want—” he was cut off by Duke’s mouth over his. Sam had no clue what he was doing or how his fingertips ended up hooked into Duke's belt loops
They stumbled back, fell against the prickly manicured grass, Duke’s hand fisted in Sam’s t-shirt. The lawn was wet, his clothes were sticking to his skin, but he was kissing Duke and gasping into his mouth when he thrust their hips together. They were in full view of the ambulance. His brother was out there somewhere, not forty feet away, and Sam had his fingers sunk into Duke’s hair and his teeth against the tender thin skin of Duke’s neck. His cell-phone buzzed and vibrated in his pocket and he could feel every breath that Duke took. This was not acceptable behavior on any level, but if he was waiting for the willpower to stop, it never came along. Duke rolled to his feet and Sam thought maybe that was it, maybe they were done and he could leave now without feeling like home-wrecking pedo.
Tell me you don’t want me, echoed in Sam’s head.
"Don't...don't do that. It's creepy," Sam replied.
"Tel me you don't want me," Duke repeated aloud, spacing the words out like he was talking to a child.
“I’m going to regret this,” Sam whispered against Duke’s mouth, holding the other boy close. “Where’s your room?”
Duke tripped over his feet on the way to the boys’ dorm and blushed, stumbling into Sam until he grabbed Duke’s elbow to steady him. The campus was quiet and asleep. Duke should be at the hospital or talking to his parents, instead he was tugging Sam along like he’d lose him if he slowed down.
Duke dropped his keys twice before he got the door open. They stepped inside Duke’s room, his roommate, Viola’s brother, was gone.
“With Viola,” Duke whispered.
“You can still go see her,” Sam replied, knowing it was futile. He could ask himself why he was here, but he knew the answer. Duke's floundering was too familiar to walk away from.
Duke pulled his shirt off, flush running down his olive-gold skin, and Sam was there, tipping him back on the bed, chasing any self-doubt out of Duke’s mind with his teeth and his tongue. Duke was quiet, unsure, but the throaty groans he made when Sam swirled his tongue around Duke’s navel made him smile. Sam traced a path over the ridges in Duke’s abdomen with his fingers, and then followed it with his tongue. He had to hold Duke down, his hands on the cut lines of his hips.
Duke’s nails bit into his shoulder when he scratched across a nipple with the side of his thumb. “Is this what it’s always like?” he breathed.
Sam colored at the praise and pressed his lips to the hollow of Duke’s throat. “It can be.”
Duke tossed his head on his pillows and arched his hips off the bed so that Sam could pull down his jeans. His eyes were luminous and wondering and his blunt fingertips searched out Sam’s face like Duke was trying to make sure he was real. Sam sucked them into his mouth and Duke’s breath caught audibly in his chest.
“There are times where I don’t feel like I fit,” Duke said. Sam knew it. That sentence encompassed an entire life. He fit his lips to Duke’s and slipped his hand inside Duke’s boxers. He didn’t know how to tell him it was going to be okay. Was it?
Forget, he said with the pads of his fingers on Duke’s soft skin. Forget, he said with a tight grip around the Duke’s cock. And Duke moaned, soft and strangled into his mouth. He gripped Sam’s shoulders tight, fingers flexing into the muscle, and Sam kept kissing him. Duke tore away, buried his face in Sam’s neck as he got close and Sam started tugging him slow and torturous. There was only this, he hoped Duke understood, and closed even white teeth tight on Duke’s earlobe as he thumbed the head of his cock. Duke strained to stay still, veins and tendons standing out in his arms in sharp relief.
“I need to—” Duke stuttered and stumbled, his lips bitten red and full, “I need to see you.” He pulled at the frayed hem of Sam’s shirt, eyes blinking shut even as Sam continued to stroke him. Sam nodded, tore his shirt off with one frustrated hand, tossed it amidst the mess of Duke’s clothes on the floor.
Duke looked at him, unflinching, and came when Sam wrapped his fingers around his dick again. He shuddered with it and trailed loose fingers up from the jut of Sam’s hipbones past his sternum to the tender spot just behind his ear. He blinked, eyes fluttering open and shut, and his muscles flexed before he finally stilled.
Sam lay next to him, shivering just from that whisper of a touch. Can we, Duke asked with his eyes, and the answer was ‘no, we can’t,’ but Sam didn’t say anything. He allowed Duke to pull away his jeans with suddenly sure fingers and roll over him, to straddle his lap. Sam found it difficult to push out every breath with Duke looking at him through that thick fringe of eyelashes, his face lit up orange from the harsh light of the street lamp.
It was a race for the condom and lube he had hidden in his wallet. Duke kissed him, laughing, and leafed through it. He set IDs down carefully on the bed, rolling his eyes at the names. He was distracting himself, preparing for what came next, even as he rolled his hips down against Sam’s crotch and tried not to blush too hard.
“If you made all these,” Duke told him as Sam’s lube-slippery fingertips dipped into the groove of his spine and down past his tailbone, “you have shit taste in music.”
“Dean makes all the IDs,” he said, voice roughened and papery. Over Duke’s shoulder, he could see the Sublime poster tacked carefully to the wall. He pushed a finger inside Duke, all spread out, right over his lap. Duke leaned back on Sam’s thighs, sank further down on Sam’s finger.
“I can take another,” he stated, all his muscles locked tight against the intrusion.
“Relax,” Sam wrapped a fist tight around Duke's softened cock. “You shouldn’t brace yourself through this.” He thought back to his first time, twisted up against the wall of supply closet doing his damnedest not to think of Dean, when he couldn’t do anything but.
He jacked Duke off tight, punishing, trying to get him back into that space, and leaned forward to tongue one flat brown nipple. Duke’s hips stuttered against his hand and he nearly choked on his own tongue when Sam found his prostate. Back bowed in a show of athletic grace, Duke’s shoulders flexed and he grasped Sam’s forearm, stilling it.
“Just now—already,” Duke bit out. He was hard again, his dick swollen and stiff, sliding up and down Sam’s stomach. It left a pearlescent trail of pre-come up Sam’s abdomen. Sam fit himself against him, kissed him fiercely, and slid inside. Duke growled and leaned forward, nearly knocking foreheads with Sam.
“Breathe,” Sam reminded, gathering him close. Duke let out a breath, then two, his muscles flexing around Sam. Sam fought with himself to remain still, reminded himself that he was Duke’s first.
Duke rolled his hips. “Don’t you dare take it easy on me.”
Sam huffed out a laugh, forehead falling to Duke’s shoulder as his hips snapped up. Duke hissed and dug his knees into the mattress, tightening them around Sam’s hips. His skin prickled with sweat and sensation. What would Dean think if he could see him now? What would he say?
They pushed and strained against each other. Sam tongued between the wings of Duke’s collarbones. Duke’s breath came in hitching gasps, the eyes finally drawing open. He caught Sam’s gaze and it made sense: two people pretending to fit in a world that demanded more than they could give.
Duke came over Sam’s fist, mumbling and cursing. Sam couldn’t handle what he say in Duke’s eyes, and he looked away. Duke’s thighs tightened around his hips and Sam inhaled sharply. “Are you gonna—” Duke’s breath drifted over his ear and that was it. Sam gave in, he held Duke to him, and came with a strangled cry. He felt it run down his spine, burning in his belly, before sensation erupted in his dick.
Duke separated from Sam, put distance between them, like he couldn’t take anymore sensation from his overworked nerve endings. He stared up at the ceiling.
“I fell in love with Viola when I thought she was a boy.”
Sam blinked. It took a moment to remember the gender-bending craziness that had first clued them into a case here.
“And then she turned out to be a girl, and I just thought—I thought it made my life so much easier.”
Sam rolled on his side to look at him.
Duke choked. “But I can’t—” he broke off and cast a despairing eye around the room.
Sam propped himself up on his elbow. He thought of Jess, and how she would’ve fixed this, talked him into believing in himself again. He said the only thing he knew how to, “I know.”
“What will my parents say? Or Viola?” he asked, eyes firmly trained on the ceiling. “Oh God, what will the guys on the team say?”
“I don’t know,” Sam said, honestly.
“Everything—you know what’s expected of a guy like me? It’s just pulling at my skin, making me feel shredded and restless.” He heaved a massive sigh. “I wish I could get out of this place.”
Sam chuckled bitterly.
“You have a girl on the boys’ soccer team, you’re their center forward, and they adore you,” Sam replied, leaning over Duke so that he had to look at him. “It’s not as hard as you think it is. We’re not in backwater Alabama, okay?”
“How do you do that? Make it sound like it’s all going to be okay?” he asked. “I just saw my girlfriend hurled out of a window, and I’ve been having crazy psychic visions, and we—” he coughed and waved a hand at Sam suggestively. “You just power right on through it.”
Sam huffed out a sigh and wished he hadn’t gotten so good at it. He shouldn’t feel so bitter.
He changed the subject. “Are you going to tell Viola?”
Duke put his head in his hands. “You think she won’t notice I’m not at the hospital?”
“Not likely,” Sam said as rolled to his feet and started pulling on his clothes. Duke was lying naked on his wrecked twin bed.
Sam shouldn’t have done it. He really shouldn’t have done it, of all the stupid things, more than getting fucked in the janitor’s closet of a bookstore, more than wanting your brother so badly it hurt to breathe, more than walking away from his degree when he was so freakin’ close.
But when he looked down at Duke he didn’t regret it. Duke climbed out of bed, suddenly conscious of his nakedness, he pulled a sheet around his waist. They had no words, but he knew the barest tilt of Duke’s lips meant thank you. He nodded, and slipped out of the boys’ dorms. It took him forever to walk the five miles back to the hotel. Dean was cleaning weapons when Sam stepped back through the door, a cup of coffee at his elbow. Sam felt bad for ignoring his cellphone. He felt bad for everything.
He thought of his senior thesis, nothing but ash in a burned-out apartment. And he couldn’t say “That matters more than this,” because what did matter anymore?
“Where did you fuck off to?” Dean asked. He looked more amused than annoyed.
“Did you ever ask me what I majored in?” Sam replied, voice sharp. Dean rocked back, like he’d been struck.
“You never did, did you.” Sam shook his head and stripped his t-shirt off. His eyes were far away.
He interrupted Dean, “Ethics, Politics, and Economics.”
Dean got to his feet. “Sam, I don’t—”
“I was studying the effect of the death penalty as a deterrent to crime.” He shifted his eyes away from the wall, to lock with Dean. “I buried more than Jess to come with you.”