Open Circuit

(c)2007 gekizetsu

‘Open Doors’ fic by request - an unofficial ‘what if’ that occurs immediately after chapter 2 of ‘Woven’, where the Unlocker Of Doors tries to feed on Dean. Read that first or this’ll make no sense. Birthday tale for Hope. <3

R for Open Doors-style Wincest, meaning sexin’ of a more spiritual variety.

I’m knocking at your door
Nervous like a knife fight
Be careful what you ask for.
–Angels and Airwaves, Sirens


Nothing seemed changed when they returned to the motel room. Not with the room itself, anyway. Sam allowed himself a little confusion over why he didn't have a headache for the first time in weeks. The absence of it seemed more of a shock than the nonstop pain. It occurred to him that accidentally siphoning off some sort of extra charge that had been building along the parts of Dean he'd missed was granting him a reprieve even though it hadn't felt like one at the time.

The EMF meter was making low, electronic wailing noises as Dean walked the room with it. There was nothing there with them now, but there'd been something.

"I didn't salt the door," Sam said. "After everything we've been through lately, I didn''s the most basic thing. Fuck."

"Yeah, this is your fault," Dean said. "Get all drunk and forget to salt the door, that's my Sam. Would you knock it off?"

“Do you think...” Sam paused, and Dean turned his head to look at him even though it suddenly felt difficult. Sam swallowed hard, pinning some kind of emotion back in place. “I couldn’t shut it off, or keep it from...I don’t know, siphoning you off. Are you, maybe, coming apart a little? Can you tell?”

Dean looked down and didn’t move for a long moment, not even to blink.

Sam couldn’t look away even though he felt like he should.

Dean quirked an eyebrow in a shrug of sorts. “Question is,” he said, voice almost too low, “…can you tell. That was your thing, last I knew.”

This was dangerous territory, like most things they didn’t want to talk about but had to anyway. Sam felt the urge to talk fast and get it done, to assault Dean with words that his brother wouldn’t be able to move quickly enough to escape or ignore. Force him to know things he couldn’t unlearn. This wasn’t something he could chase his brother for or cajole him over; they didn’t have time. But worse, Dean likely didn’t have the patience.

Sam was afraid to ask Dean what the hell the thing at the door had really tried to do, mostly because he was afraid that he, in the end, wasn’t all that different in wanting to wrap Dean around his fingers. The only difference was why.

“Not from here,” Sam said, losing his voice on the second syllable. He cleared his throat when both of Dean’s eyebrows shot up. Dean still didn’t look at him. “I can’t let things keep taking a crack at you like that.”

Dean did look up then, expression severe and harboring any number of sharp rejoinders behind it.

“I know,” Sam said quickly, hands up toward him but not touching. “Captain Obvious, whatever. Just...I patched you together, I think, last time. I just sort of folded you up, and I probably didn’t do it far enough. Okay? I don’t really know how it works except that I get you well enough to be able to figure it out. So...let me.”

“Sam,” Dean said, voice as severe as the hooded glare on his face, “let you what, exactly?”

“Check your...” Sam ran his hands through his hair in a moment of panic that was visible in the furrow between his brows and the tightening of his mouth. “Just let me look at you. Like I said, I don’t really know how it works, but I can tell if you’re getting out or coming apart. I tried to cut it off, this morning, to keep it from dragging you out of yourself, but I don’t know if it got hold of you because it could or because you were leaving a trail. If it just went around yanking people’s souls out, it would’ve tried for mine, too, and it didn’t. The faces you saw in the dark, the stuff you’re attracting, I don’t know if you’ve just got a residual halo around you from getting loose before or if you’re losing...I don’t know, Dean. Soulstuff. Like a blood trail.”

Dean was still staring, but his expression had softened by slow degrees. “So I might not be.”

“I hope you’re not,” Sam said, backing toward the nearest bed and slumping onto the edge in weariness.

It was silent for a long, heavy moment. When Sam glanced up, Dean was leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his chest, looking contemplative.

“So what’s the big deal, Sam?”Dean said without looking at him.

“If I get in like I did before, and screw up, I could...I don’t know. Rewire you. Accidentally make you into somebody you’re – “

“We’ve already had this conversation,” Dean said, the edge back on his tone. “You know where everything goes.”

Sam tilted his face to the ceiling, irony and panic tugging false humor out of him. “It’s not like fixing a car, Dean.”

“Good, ‘cause you suck at that,” Dean said. “You wanna tell me how you’re gonna ‘check’ me, by the way? You might not have to do anything. It’s not like you have that headache again, right?”

Sam shook his head. “No, it’s not like that. Not like it was before.” He remembered the constant subnote of Dean singing himself to the world by accident, warping Sam’s ability to hear anything else. “So if I can’t tell from a distance, maybe it’s just a slow leak, like a tire.”

Dean snorted.

Sam put his hands on his thighs and used them for leverage to shove himself back to his feet.

They stood and stared at each other from opposite sides of the room. Sam wanted to say something like do you trust me but it would have been an insult, and he knew it. It just seemed like there needed to be some kind of ritual to it, an opener, a preliminary verbal dance, but the details failed him.

It was too damn warm in there.

He wiped his hands on his jeans and swallowed hard on a dry throat. Sinking himself in up to his elbows in everything that made Dean who he was – doing that in an emergency was one thing. Planning it was another. If Dean flinched or backed away from him, it would break his heart, even if he had the right.

Still he smirked and tried for sarcasm. “Can you stand still for a minute? Or do you wanna be drunk first?”

Dean’s answering smirk was genuine. “Aw, listen to that. Foreplay.”

Sam grinned even as he tried to rub the weariness out of his eyes.

“Quit fucking around and just get it done, Sam,” Dean said. He still hadn’t unfolded his arms, but when Sam took a step toward him, he did, squaring his shoulders and leaning up from the wall. Sam had seen him do it a thousand times, come and get me, chin raised. There was no swagger when he did it to Sam, though; there was no challenge directed at him. Sam was glad Dean had come away from the wall, because he really didn’t want to crowd him into corners. Not for this.

They stood inches apart, breathing the same air, Sam tense and Dean’s obvious curiosity tinged with trepidation, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. “You’re not know,” Dean said. “Like this morning. Have a problem with this.”

“Fall down and go comatose again?” Sam said, watching Dean’s eyes carefully. “Don’t think so.”

“Because you’re boring when you do that.”

Sam smiled. Dean-speak for you scared the hell out of me.

“So...better you poke around in there and figure it out than be a dumbass and try and shield me all the time,” Dean said. “Hurry up. It’s not a Vulcan mind-meld. Right? whatever it is you do.”

Dean didn’t flinch when Sam raised a hesitant hand toward his face, didn’t do more than raise an eyebrow when Sam let his fingers rest, spread, along Dean’s jaw and neck, warm and careful. It wasn’t that easy, though; there was no instant connection beyond the physical, no immediate closing of the circuit. They were not in danger. They weren’t wrestling a revenant for ownership of all they needed, or battling phenomena for their sanity. Dean was not wearing himself in the open.

Sam remembered telling him I see what happened and I can kind of get an idea of where your edges are, because we were bridged for a moment, but I don't know if there's a way to put you back.

Dean wasn’t leaning away but he was an instant away from opening his mouth to distance himself in other ways, out of an ingrained urge to defend himself from anything that looked like it might breach his carefully erected facade. Sam raised his other hand just as carefully, cradling, watching Dean purposely keep his eyes down, listening to him breathe. He felt Dean’s shoulders tense and knew he was struggling to keep his hands in his pockets. Sam knew him well enough to know it was impatience and an urge to participate, somehow, not just stand passively. He was obviously uncertain about the whole thing but was still standing there letting Sam wield something perilously close to physical affection on him even though neither was dying.

That was trust.

Sam flattened his palms a little against Dean’s jaw, fingers pressing in gently to find a warm pulse, pulling his elbows in and indulging in a moment of such genuine admiration and adoration for this brother that it made him close his eyes. He heard Dean pull in a short, quick breath but they were already touching foreheads and Sam had Dean’s outline memorized, the thin places showing as if held up to a lamp. He felt Dean’s hands grip his wrists just to hold on, just to anchor. The circuit didn’t close like it had near the overpass in Indiana (stay inside, Sam); it was more like it had been that morning, the energy looping around. It wasn’t devastating the second time. Sam wasn’t putting himself between Dean and the world, wasn’t going for broke and trying to hold back a dam. The excess had already been bled off. He was just skimming the surface, no deeper, remapping familiar landscape.

He had professed to not know how it all worked, exactly, but instinct guided him as easily as it had before, even without panic attached. He never moved externally but he might as well have slid his hands down Dean’s chest, past heartbeat and bloodsong, along ribs and around to the small of his back, hips and spine and basic construct, all the structure that seemed to be working the way it was supposed to. The physical, acknowledged and then separated from his attention. There was a frequency humming underneath it all that he recognized, something he couldn’t get directly at but had to listen for from an angle.

There were the edges he remembered, damage too old to be anything but part of the whole, the quirks and lessons learned so deeply that the landscape had changed to accommodate them. They could snag or be caught, but the tapestry would never unravel as a result of those edges. He skimmed intangible fingers along them anyway, reading them like Braille without taking any of it away with him. Dean’s secrets remained his own, this way, and he wanted it that way; he was not there to spy. He was just an invited puzzle piece that had left parts of itself behind at some point. There would be no flood of half-memory and emotion or a gestalt cannonball like there had been when he’d folded Dean’s soul back together without really knowing where the edges were. None of it had been new to him then, and certainly not Dean as an idea. It was just that it would have to be offered to him the next time; he would not trespass.

It never occurred to him that Dean had been holding it out to him since the day he’d been born.

The thin places resonated louder than the rest of the landscape, and he touched without moving, nothing more than a brushing of insubstantial fingertips. Something came with it, a charge that built and translated itself the only way his near alpha-state mind could process it: pleasure.

It wasn’t his own.

He felt Dean tense in more than one way but there was no withdrawal, no attempt to shake him off. In the real world he had only the gentlest of holds, but underneath Dean wouldn’t have had to do more than suggest resistance to send Sam a step away.

Still mirrors to one another.

Sam had never imagined it would feel that way, and he didn’t think Dean did either. He hadn’t been connected to him long enough while patching him up before to give the aftereffects a chance to show themselves.

For all he knew, the thin places were normal, and he didn’t let them worry him. His own soul, if he could have seen it, probably had similar spots – dark places, edges, things he couldn’t really see that all waited for the right circumstances.

The traces of himself were there all the same, like sensing like, some older than others. Whatever patching he’d done was impossible to recognize except that the parts of himself he’d left behind at that time were messy and emotional. He had to wonder whether leaving that much of himself behind would change Dean, change himself.

He wondered if there was a way to fortify any of it, guard and protect but not restrict, but as quickly as the thought surfaced he shoved it aside. None of it was his to tamper with, even if asked, and Dean had already built layer after layer of protection on his own. None of it kept him from getting out by accident, and Sam had dodged each layer as easily as breathing, but, he always had. Even invited, even just keeping to the surface, the tougher and more carefully guarded spots seemed more apparent, locked tight in silent warning.

Even without a true conscious understanding of what he was doing, Sam could tell that nothing seemed to be out of place. Dean wasn’t coming apart or shredding away. If he was escaping his boundaries a little and flaring wider than he should have among the other candle-souls of the immediate world, he wasn’t doing it while holding so still in Sam’s hands. As long as he wasn’t losing anything, it didn’t matter to Sam. He would shield and eclipse Dean if he needed to. Cost be damned.

It was that last once-over that did him in.

He’d wanted to be sure, rather than standing back and waiting for signs, for the glaringly obvious to assert itself and show him genuine cracks in the whole. It never occurred to him that he was close enough to the surface to drag the physical aspect in behind him when he touched. There was nothing more to it than the times he’d simply run his fingers through Dean’s hair to surreptitiously check for fever before he was slapped away, or the careful press of a thumb checking the tension on a newly laid set of stitches. The difference was in the depth of touch and the composition of the hands. Had he loved Dean a little less or feared the possibility of stumbling on uncharted territory a little more, that long and luxurious slide of soul to soul would never have happened.

Easier than bodies, safe as houses.

Sam was not inside, but it didn’t matter. The contact was a whisper along every worried and needy place Dean had, branching and bridging high enough to brush along nerve endings. Sam was unaware of what he’d done until it echoed back along that simple and bare connection, startling him with the sudden bliss of it even if he was only getting a reflected fraction. It was no less of an impact than the one he distantly registered in the real world of Dean arching into him in response, acting on instinct that was far from helpless. Sam might as well have been large, warm hands and open, gentle mouth along planes and angles of oversensitive skin, everywhere at once and inexhaustible. It was just shy of too much at once, too much to feel but too soothing to let go of. Sam felt the ricochet and went on holding, letting Dean hide in plain sight, too enthralled to back away and careful not to press in. The simplest twist of intent would turn Dean from participant to captive.

Sam wanted so badly to be better than the thing that had been at the door.

The longer he stayed, the more the static built, a whisper of a charge looking for somewhere to escape.

He slid away the same way he’d made contact, unwittingly, nothing but the equivalent of breath against new, healing skin.

He opened his hands in a figurative sense and let them be separate again.

They were on their knees. Dean was leaning against him, hands fisted hard into the back of his shirt, breath coming quick but deep against Sam’s shoulder. He was fever-warm, damp with sweat without giving off a sense of fear or pain. Sam left his face tucked into Dean’s throat, swaying a little because it felt like the slight motion might solidify them both. It somehow kept him from reeling. He’d been trying to get as much contact as he could, to keep the connection, and Dean was going to bust him for having his hands shoved under Dean’s shirt and pressed flat against his back, hard enough that he could feel the concave hollows of his palms sealing themselves to skin.

He wondered for an instant what it would be like to have full body contact, nothing but skin to skin and permission to swallow him whole.

It raised the hair on the back of his neck. He had done the right thing in getting out when he had.

But he’d be damned if he’d let go in the physical sense before Dean did. He needed that for as long as he could get it.

When Dean reached for a bigger breath than he had previously and shifted a little, Sam smoothed his brother’s shirt back down and dropped his hands to his waist, waiting.


When there was no response, he moved his hands to Dean’s head, back to the position they’d started in. He leaned away without really breaking contact, watching Dean blink as if just waking. He smoothed Dean’s eyebrows with his thumbs, moving before true alertness could set in, staring carefully in his eyes.

“Hey,” he said. “Dean. Don’t scare me.”

Dean focused slowly but didn’t loosen his grip on the back of Sam’s shirt. “Not hard to do,” he said, voice soft and hoarse.

Sam grinned in relief. “How you feeling?”

Dean glanced to each side, obviously making note of where Sam’s hands were before he looked at Sam again. “A little crowded. What the hell are we doin’ on the floor?”

“You were bitching about the dust ruffles not matching the comforters,” Sam said.

“Okay, the fact that you know what dust ruffles are scares me.” He carefully unclenched his hands from Sam’s shirt and shook them out as Sam let his hands slide away from his face. Dean passed his hands over his own face, then squinted his eyes and glanced around. “All clear?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, waiting for the rest of it, for embarrassment or confusion. “You’re not...coming apart. I was worried over nothing.”

Dean glanced down at his own hands as if uncertain how the hell they’d been grabbing at Sam with such desperation. Then he flattened them against his own chest. “Just kind of louder than usual, though,” he said. “Just enough to get some attention.” He planted his hands on Sam’s shoulders and used them to get to his feet. Sam leaned back and sat on his own feet, suddenly weary. It was a relief that Dean didn’t seem to know what the hell had really gone on, but it was also a disappointment he couldn’t show. There was no way Dean would have been able to hide a reaction of some sort if he had any conscious recall of what had just happened.

“From what, though,” Sam said, releasing his brother the rest of the way by carefully diverting his attention. He closed his eyes as he did so, tucking everything away.

“Yeah...gotta figure that out. You okay, Sammy?” Dean said, already moving away.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “Just...torn up about the dust ruffles, man.”

He heard Dean move away and pause behind him. He could feel Dean staring at him and was careful not to move.

“We’ll lodge a complaint,” Dean said. “And then get you into design school.”

The chance to acknowledge anything had passed.

Dean grabbed the laptop and booted it, turning his back to Sam as he sat on the bed furthest from the door. Sam figured he'd had enough time to think about what they'd run into earlier that morning, and he’d work it out somehow.

Safely wrapped together, still in his own packaging.