PG for language. Spoiler for the season one ep Faith . This part is inspired a bit by some meta by kitsune_red - she knows which. Thanks to everyone who read and/or commented and didn't run screaming, and big thanks to Maygra for everything.
For a little more background on the first time Dean ran into something like this, see Marked.
Before you embark on a journey of revenge...
dig two graves.
He was headed back to the last place the thing had confronted him, walking like he had nowhere important to go.
His heart was hammering so hard that he was afraid it would hear.
Just above his heart was a pattern drawn in blood, Dean's blood, one Sam hadn't seen anywhere but the book he'd shown to Dean in silence. It was incredibly simplistic, but the worst and oldest things always were. It was a baseline that many darker rituals had been created from, and as for who had originally authored it, Sam could only guess. It required sacrifice, and to Sam's mind he and Dean had done nothing but immediately before using each other's blood as an additional sacrifice to draw patterns on each other's skin.
The room had fucking reeked of sacrifice.
Having your brother use his still-warm blood to draw on you wasn't supposed to make you think about leaning in and kissing him, or the fact that you still had something else of his drying across your stomach.
Dean had ghosted fingers across his shoulderblades and asked him in a whisper too close to his skin if it burned. It had. What's on your back doesn't mix with what's across your chest, he'd said. It's not that different, either, but they don't mix.
Sam tried to listen to the gravel underfoot and just stop thinking. Just underneath every thought was an idea of the world as seen through the lens of his brother, magnified into too much more than his brother.
It wasn't there. At first he thought maybe it knew, had caught on to the silent exchanges in the motel room, but there was no way. Sam and Dean spoke each other's own personal language better than any other, better than twins, maybe, until they'd grown older and stopped listening. Their father had never cracked half their codes, so some damn thing looking in wouldn't be able to either.
One big dance, all their lives, Sam and Dean.
Sam felt this latest stumble harder than any other.
Sam turned a slow circle in place, looking at the road, the nearby trees, glancing at the sky.
Sam turned to look at it. It hadn't changed. "You happy, now?" he said.
"It had nothing to do with me," it said.
"It does now," Sam said. "You can't jerk us around like this, for any reason, and walk away. You know that, right?"
"It wasn't that bad," it said. "You can admit it."
Sam circled a little as he came closer, forcing it to turn to face him, making sure the circle was clockwise, deosil , and that he was facing north by the time he stopped. He marked his place in the dirt with the heel of one sneaker, acting like he couldn't meet the thing's gaze.
He was pretty sure, after thinking about it and piecing a few things together, what it might be. Dean wouldn't confirm or deny and Sam could accept that for awhile and trust his judgment.
"Guess you got me," Sam said. "So, why not tell me what this was really all for?"
"He's not here," it said. It just stood there with hands folded, staring at him with something that looked a little like disappointment, assuming it really felt anything at all.
"He's had enough of me for awhile," Sam said.
"You left him alone," it said. "Not knowing if I might go ahead and injure him anyway."
"No reason for you to do anything to him," Sam said with a shrug that felt so stiff he was afraid his tendons might crack. Had it quit watching? Had they not needed to be so damn stealthy with the blood and the sigils? "We're more fun alive and aware, right? I just came up here to make sure we're done. Or really to just tell you: we're done. Just keep away from us."
"That won't happen," it said. "It's too important."
It didn't hear Dean come up behind it, and Sam had been careful not to let Dean's presence show in his eyes.
"This isn't mine," Dean said as if to himself, watching it spin to face him. "The hair stays the same on these guys, and they change their forms. This one isn't mine."
Sam was staring at him with open shock and Dean ignored it.
"Which one are you?" Dean said to it. "I don't need to know, and I don't really care, but when I start carving notches in the fuckin' universal bedpost, it would be great to keep track."
It remained silent but tried to step sideways, away from the obvious hemming-in the boys were trying to do. It froze when it realized it couldn't leave the radius of the suggested circle their proximity made. They had locked it and themselves in place.
"Sam cover your eyes! " Dean shouted, and Sam turned his face away and hid it in both hands. He could feel the light and heat anyway, nothing like fire and too much like a sunburn, like radiation. The same swath of skin across his shoulderblades burned along with whatever had ignited in front of him, and he flinched.
When he opened his eyes again, the air seemed to shimmer like heat off asphalt in August even though there was no trace of heat left. Sam blinked, watching Dean uncover his face, watching the figure between them shimmer. It was no longer holding its shape as well, and there was that same suggestion of something much larger that they couldn't see. It had tried to power its way out, and had failed.
"What do you want?" it said.
"An oath," Dean said. "You have to vow to warn us before you or anything like you decides to test us, alter us, harm us, or separate us," Dean said. "Otherwise we'll bind you to us." He shrugged and smirked. "And then basically treat you like a pet. You guys love to think you're 'helping' and this is the last time you help. So...what do you think, Sam? A time limit?"
Sam nodded. "Thirty seconds sounds good."
"Thirty seconds," Dean said to it. "How's that feel? Kind of hard to think straight and not panic with a time limit over your head."
Its eyes darted between them. Its basic facial expression hadn't changed, but its overall air seemed to shrink slightly.
"You guys are still set up with all kinds of archaic shit," Dean said. "You like folks to think you're fallen angels or whatever, but nobody ever fell. You just didn't make the final cut, right?"
"You don't know," it said.
"I know enough," Dean said. "And you're not about to tell us, so, ten seconds."
"You need my name to bind me," it said.
"I'll stand here all night and guess," Dean said. "We can play Rumpelstiltskin until I nail it. You think I haven't spent some time researching you guys after the shit you've already pulled? Time's up. Swear."
"I'm not clear on the - "
"Anane," Dean said. "Danel, Ramuel, Batraal, Ezeqeel, Arm-"
"I vow," it said quickly. "I vow to warn you should myself or the others intend to test, alter, harm or separate you."
"So mote it be," Dean prompted.
" So mote it be ," it snapped back.
"As long as me and Sam are together, you're trapped," Dean said. "And by together, I mean as long as we don't disown each other. So, basically forever, bitch. Just go find someone else to bug while we're still pulling air. Because otherwise I'm gonna start treating you guys like any demon."
"Didn't you want to know?" it said.
Both Sam and Dean stared at it. Sam was still trying to catch on the rest of the way.
"He'll do anything for you," it said. "None of us have that."
Sam and Dean glanced at each other.
"You needed to know that," it said. "You doubted it."
"It doesn't matter," Dean said. "Everybody doubts a guy who shoots them, right? Human nature. What you don't get is that Sam can do anything to me he wants, and it won't change how I feel about him. You have no idea what 'anything' means. I'm not gonna let you guys start testing how far that goes."
"You needed to know that, Dean Winchester," it said again, and its tone indicated it was trying to imbue the statement with far more.
Dean looked at the ground and spent a moment trying to phrase a response. Then he shrugged and twisted his mouth into a smirk that was equally angry and ironic. "I don't give a rat's ass what you guys think you have planned for me. The only time I see or hear you again is when you're warning us."
He waved a dismissive hand at it, turned, and walked away. "The circle is open but never broken," he said. "So mote it be."
Sam kept staring at it. "Make sure you don't have anything planned for him," he said. He added a small, malevolent smile.
"You're only good for watching him," it said.
"Don't talk to it, Sam, it's full of shit," Dean called. "C'mon."
"I'm good for watching you," Sam said to it softly. "I still owe you for this."
"You owe more than you realize," it said. "You're not that upset about the way it went; you can admit it."
"You threatened my brother," Sam said. "The rest of it's not as important as that is. Maybe you never would have done anything to him, but you still threatened him. That's expensive."
Sam turned his head to watch Dean walk away. There was nothing resigned in his brother's back, nothing other than his customary strut.
When he turned back, the Grigori was gone.
Dean finally told Sam the story about the first time he'd run into a Grigori years earlier as they walked back. He and Sam and a dozen practiced exorcisms; a flash of light and a burning across their backs. Nothing he said triggered Sam's memory. Dean left out the last warning it had given him: every time you walk away from him, make sure you go back. He hadn't needed anyone telling him that anyway.
"I don't think the two had anything to do with each other," Dean said. "Except maybe attention from the first one bought us attention from the second."
"Bit off more than we can chew," Sam said.
"We didn't start it," Dean said. "We'll finish it, though. Someone else wants to come out of the woodwork and discuss this, good. I can't wait. Never thought we'd find Sueanne's little book handy for anything."
Sam snorted. He couldn't help it. "So..."
"No," Dean said. Sam was trying to open something and Dean wasn't going to play along.
"If there's Grigori..."
Dean felt a moment of relief. Theology he'd mess with. Grigori, demons, elves, whatever. The divinity sitting next to him was something he couldn't come close to matching, and talking over what had happened would just be unnecessary.
"It doesn't mean anything," Dean said. "It's just a matter of belief, again."
"It wasn't evil," Sam said. "And you kind of knew what it was. Why didn't you ever tell me, about the first one?"
"And tell you what?" Dean said. "That you had a goddamn mark on you? Right. No problem with that. You've already thought so for a long time anyway." He paused. "The only reason that worked back there is because we're both wearing angelic script. Why it's called angelic script and what an angel really is, that isn't my problem. What subset they are and what they're capable of, I don't know. Whatever's going on here, they have their own system of rules." He cleared his throat. "Everybody's got rules they have to go by."
"Laws," Sam said. "You think there's any such thing as one that can't be changed?"
Dean shook his head, but it wasn't in answer.
"Whatever's across our backs didn't stop me from being changed," Sam said.
"Whatever's across our backs only holds power when we're together," Dean said. "Maybe earshot, or something. I'm not sure where the boundary is."
Christ. Wasn't that the truth.
"You willing to actually start hunting Grigori?" Sam said.
Dean looked at him. "What are you willing to do, Sam ? My moral compass only works until it comes to you. You wanna answer that question?"
Sam looked away.
"So you're buying me dinner, right?" Dean said. "I put out already, so you should."
Sam couldn't answer. Dean could shield himself with all the snark he wanted, but Sam couldn't. This little adventure would never be funny, for so many reasons.
"You've always been a girl, so you must have been like a duck to water," Dean said. "Did you pick those panties out with me in mind? Because they were hot."
Sam felt his face burning and kept walking, eyes straight ahead, hands in pockets.
"Do I need to worry about the fact that you're good at picking out lingerie for yourself?"
This was Dean's way of talking it out. Sam had to admit he was okay with it because there wasn't as big a problem as he'd feared if Dean was tossing it around.
"I find a hot, smart, funny girl I'm willing to hang around with for more than just a good fuck, and it turns out to be my brother," Dean said. "Sucks to be me, right now. Sucks. I mean, don't think I'm looking for a girl version of you. That's just creepy. Just because Cassie was a lot like you in ways you didn't see. Just because Jessica had the same basic facial structure and birthday as me, doesn't mean anything either."
"Okay," Sam said. "Normally I'm the one trying to get you to talk. But. Shut up, Dean. Please."
"Hey, people gravitate toward what they already know and love," Dean said. "And growing up, the knowing was limited to you, me and dad. You start looking for a girl like dad, then I'll worry." He nodded. "Man, will I worry."
Sam stopped. "Jess was nothing like you," he said finally, because it was the only thing that would come out.
Dean snorted and kept walking. "Whatever, Sam."
"It'd be a lot easier if it was just sex, wouldn't it," Sam said.
Dean stopped but didn't turn. "Don't make this into more than it is," he said. "You've always been curious. That's all."
Sam could only stare for a moment. Dean wasn't only talking to Sam when he said you've . "We're not past this," he said.
Dean turned to face him, and took a long moment raising his eyes to meet Sam's. "No. Maybe not for a long time. But we will be. We're not like anybody else, and with that comes the fact that we don't react to stuff like anybody else." He shrugged and looked away. "You didn't freak out. You did what you had to do. You thought you were savin' me. So you're the one who has some stuff to figure out on this one. It all looks pretty clear to me."
Sam kept staring, even as Dean shrugged again, turned, and kept walking.
After a moment, Dean waved at him to gesture him along.
Sam caught up and walked shoulder to shoulder with his brother, a designation that was defined least and last by blood.
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