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on the road

December 2007

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girlguidejones in spn_50states

Almost Heaven (Sam/Dean, NC-17)

Title:  Almost Heaven   (2 of 2; complete)

Author:  [info]girlguidejones

Pairing | Rating :  Sam/Dean | NC 17 | 13,400 words; 6800 this part

Warnings:  slight D/s | piss | Contains several pictures which, while completely work-safe, are not dial-up friendly.

Disclaimer:  No profit being made, no copyright infringement intended.  All characters property of Kripke, et al. 

Summary:  Dean has a year.  Every other month, Sam helps him live it. 

Notes:  Written for [info]spn_50states  challenge, West Virginia.  Beta'd by the incomparable [info]ellipsisblack .  She signed on for 7000 words.  I sent her 15,000, and we are still speaking.  Any remaining errors or excesses are only because she couldn’t talk me down.  Additional author’s notes follow at the end of the story.

 


 

Everyone stripped off their gear and piled it into the raft.  A guide wearing a shirt with a competitor’s logo on it had met them onshore with Ben’s paddle, for which he had to give up one of his two allotted beers, much to her joy, his dismay, and his sister’s amusement.  Rick chatted with her a moment, and then the two of them turned, walking over to where Sam and Dean were sprawled on the sand, beers in hand.  Rick introduced her as Leslie, and she smiled a hello as the two of them sat down Indian-style across from them.

"So.  Rick tells me you two are ringers.”  Sam and Dean froze, not looking at each other.  Sam couldn’t figure out how Rick could have overheard their conversation.  He smiled blandly, while his mind frantically sorted lists in his head, looking for a creature capable of appearing human and having the equivalent of bionic hearing.  Nothing came readily to mind.  Dean took his usual, dependable tack, and smiled brightly at the girl.  Whatever.  It usually worked, so Sam couldn’t blame him.

“Well, miss, if you’re talking about the little hustle at the pool table over in Morgantown, that was all in fun.”  She laughed, and dipped her head, shaking it.

“No.  He says there’s no way you’re rookie rafters.  And I was watching from downstream when you came through the Needle.”  She was looking at Dean now.  Sam fought off the expression Dean called his cockblock-bitchface combo.  “That was some ass-kicking shit.  A lotta experienced guides we know couldn’t have pulled it off.”

“Yeah.  That was Jonah-quality paddle-mastery.”  Rick added.  Leslie nodded and agreed solemnly, rising and patting Dean’s shoulder as she retreated back to her group.  Sam felt a little niggle at the corner of his mind.

“Who’s Jonah?”

“Ahh.  Kind of a long story.  I got another group this afternoon, gotta get y’all on the bus back to your put-in.” 

Dean looked at Sam, who was trying to signal him without really signaling him.  Dean must have gotten the message, because instead of walking away, he turned back to Rick.

“Well, we’ve got beer and corn-on-the-cob for dinner.”

Rick’s face lit up. “Awesome.”

 
* * * * * *

The bus ride back to their car from where they’d originally loaded up the rafts –which is what Rick called the put-in- was long and bumpy.  They'd disembarked almost directly under the bridge itself, and the rough, single-lane road up the side of the canyon to the main road traded hair-raisingly close edges for spectacular views.  Various rafting companies shared all of the pavilions, and must have all had the same person procuring washed-up school busses, which Sam assumed were no longer safe for kids, but good enough for adults who voluntarily risked their lives on the river.  They were all shellacked with the same white house paint and had various amateur logos stenciled on their sides. 

Their bus was crowded, and Sam and Dean had lingered by the shore, giving Rick directions to their campsite.  They were the last ones to board, and ended up squashed together in a seat that would have been too small for them both ten years ago.  The air inside the ancient bus was humid from all the damp bodies, but the mood was jovial, and there was more beer, so no one complained.  Well, except Dean.

“Dude.  Get off me.”  Dean heaved his shoulder, and Sam, with half his ass already hanging into the aisle way, smashed him back into the window.

“Where do you want me to go?”  Sam rolled his eyes.  Fifth grade.  He was back in fifth grade.  “Besides,” he whispered, really up in Dean’s space as he leaned in, “you weren’t bitching about how close I was today when I had my hand between your legs.”

"Yeah, well, you didn’t stink then.  And that was before you did your stupid eyebrow thing so I'd invite some stranger over to eat one of my burgers,” Dean groused.

”Dean, I’ve got a feeling about this.”

“A feeling feeling, or one of those ohgodfuck my head is exploding feelings?”

“A feeling feeling.”

“Oh, well.  If it’s just a feeling feeling...”  Dean drained his beer noisily.

“Shut up, man.  It’s something.”

“It’s nothing, Sam.  If this dude isn’t our guy, we’ve got zip.  And it’s not like we’ve got broadband or the local library to fall back on.” 

Sam just grinned, and shook his head. “Sure we do.  You just invited the equivalent of the local library over for dinner.” 

Dean snorted.  “Great.  You two can bond over the Dewey decimal system.” 

Sam smiled, closed his eyes, and let his head fall back on the seat.  And maybe a little toward Dean’s shoulder.  This time he didn’t get shrugged off.

 
* * * * *

It was full dark before they heard the buzz of a four-wheeler heralding Rick’s arrival.  He unstrapped a small cooler and carried it over, sticking out a hand to each of them for inviting him, like they hadn’t shared sweat and near-death earlier that day.

“Cool of you to ask me over.  Nights get boring sometimes, if all you ever talk to is other guides.”  Dean twisted the cap off of a longneck and passed it to Rick, while Sam turned the ears of corn in their dampened husks where they rested in the banked coals.  The same rack that held their coffee pot in the morning now sizzled as Sam threw six burgers onto it.

“Well, we believe in being hospitable ringers, you know.”  Sam grinned at Rick from his spot by the fire.  He and Dean still didn’t know if they could trust him, but the throw-away comment about the mysterious Jonah had pinged something for Sam.

“Man, I’m sorry about that ringer bit.”  Rick actually looked abashed.  He ran and hand through his hair, damp but clean, and not pulled back now that he was off the river.  Sam wondered if Dean would let him get away with growing his that long.  Maybe he’d just stop cutting it and see. “It’s just that time of year.”

“What time is that?”  Sam asked, watching Dean carefully.  The holy water in Rick’s beer earlier today hadn’t caused him to shake, wail, or otherwise dissolve.  Dean shook his head imperceptibly.  The nearby EMF reader was apparently uninterested in Rick.  Hiding in plain sight, it was innocuously strapped to a normal metal detector and looking for all the world like factory design.

“We get evals.  Guides do.  It’s a tough business, and a migrant one.  Most of us –well the ones who aren’t college kids- have ski resort gigs in the winter, or trail guide jobs.  There’s a lot of cross-country travel, and you wanna make sure you actually have a job waiting for you before you drive from Utah to West Virginia in April, you know?  That’s a lotta miles to put on, not have have a real job when you get there.”  Sam refused to look at Dean, knew he’d bust up laughing if he did, but he could hear the grin in Dean’s voice.

“I can just imagine.”

“Anyway,” Rick went on, crossing his legs at the ankles and stretching toward the fire, “the Man sends down ringers, usually in May and late in the season, September or October, to see who they want to invite back for next season.”

“I thought you told us you’d been doing this for over a decade?  Surely you’re a shoe-in every year?  Experience and all that?”  Dean sounded genuinely surprised to Sam’s ears, but then, he would be.  Dean’s entire practice of career-building was hunting, and the older a hunter got, the smarter he got and the more valuable he was to everyone else, too.  It was tough for Dean to fathom it not working the same way in the rest of the world.

“Yeah, well, you never know.  Once you start getting older, slower, or a paddle catches you in the teeth, they start looking for flash that might draw the repeats.”  Rick rolled his eyes, and Dean laughed and winked.

“Good thing you’re still pretty,” he said.

Rick snorted and raised his bottle in salute. 

Oh.  Just, oh.  Sam suddenly felt like an idiot.  Rick thought Dean was hot.

And Dean had noticed. Maybe he’d even noticed before he invited Rick to the camp. 

Sam felt his face blaze up and turned back toward the fire, messing unnecessarily with the corn to provide a reason for his flush.  When he looked back up at Dean, Dean was gazing at him, slanted and cat-eyed, but not giving anything away.  Did he want Rick?  Sam and Rick?  Fuck.  They’d never done that, hadn’t even joked about it.  The thought of being able to watch Dean fuck –or get fucked- was hot, in the abstract.  No doubt about it.  But actually seeing him with...sharing him...Sam couldn’t fathom it.  Didn’t want to work toward it either, but if Dean wanted to...

“That what happened to the Jonah guy?  He get old and sent to the glue factory?”  Dean, always pragmatic, was still on the case.  Rick blanched at the question though, so maybe Dean was really onto something.

“N-no.  Not exactly.”  Rick emptied his beer, and looked around for another one.  Dean recognized the signs of a man prepping himself to talk and tossed one lightly to him.  Sam set about gathering paper plates, bunning up the burgers and placing a huge hunk of butter –Sam had said it was dairy and might spoil but Dean refused to buy the corn Sam wanted without it-  between the three of them.  A roll of paper towels rounded out their supplies and they were ready.  They spent another couple of minutes on small talk,  “Pass the ketchup...where you puttin’ the husks....Sammy you got that corn just right,” and then settled down to eat.

"Jonah was the best river guide who ever lived.”  Rick started his story without any more prompting from Dean.  Sam swallowed a bite of char-broiled burger and chased it with beer.  Dean was gnawing on a cob, eyes impossibly green and deceptively innocent.

“When did he die?”  Sam asked.  Dean nodded, approval received.  They knew the questions to ask, and the answers to let come to them.  They’d been taught by the best, after all.  The when was a polite, cultured question no one could be faulted for asking, and it wasn’t entirely pointless if they were trying to confirm a timeline of some sort.  After a little empathy, the bereaved would almost always come forth with the how on their own, without Sam or Dean having to ask and provoke suspicion.

“Nine years ago.  Man was a machine.  Worked the Colorado and then the New, but in his last five years he stayed on Upper Gauley.” 

Sam and Dean had done the background for this case –like everything else in the manila folder- before actually taking it.  They knew that the Gauley River was tougher to navigate than the New, and that without any experience rafting, they wouldn’t be accepted onto any Gauley trips.  The drownings had been spread on both rivers, which was the confusing part.  They’d worried what they would do if they couldn’t solve it here, on the New.  The rafting was partly investigation, and partly to gain a little experience, maybe bluff their way onto the Gauley if they had to.  And, Sam thought, at least partly because it was scribbled on some elusive list of Dean’s.

“He loved West Virginia though, said the people were nicer here than on the Colorado.  Taught me everything I knew; taught a lot of guides.  He was never selfish with what he knew.  If he could make you a better guide, he’d do it.  Jonah was great with kids, tough with blowhards.”  Rick paused, and ate an entire half a burger before he said anything else.  Sam and Dean let him be.  It was close.

“It was that last part that got him in trouble.”

“Howzzat?”  Dean sucked his teeth, picking at the corn stuck in them.  He made it sound casual, like he and Sam weren’t hanging on every word, praying for an answer.

“Dumped a raft once...like I did with you all today...”  Rick was smiling, almost shy, and Sam squirmed, watching him look up at Dean through his lashes –which were long but not as pretty as Dean’s, not really.  Dean laughed, snorting beer, and Sam had to grin, too.

“I knew it, you fucker.  No way that was an accident.” 

“Yeah, I figured you were onto me.”  Rick grinned openly now, reassured that they weren’t mad.  “It’s just something we do, sometimes, to make it fun.  Sometimes we do it to tighten the leash on people, too, if they’re getting out of control and might get someone else hurt.  Knocks ‘em down a peg, see?  So they’ll listen to you.  It’s a high-pressure, dangerous situation, and you’re the boss.  Everybody’s gotta act like you’re the boss, you know?”  Sam did.

“Yeah.  We get that.”

“Anyway, they were on the Upper G, and this dude is acting like he knows more than Jonah, and tries to talk him out of some calls on the approaches, yeah?  Right in front of the whole raft.  You just don’t do that.  Jonah told me all about it, afterward at the clubhouse.  Guy’s mainly showing off for this chick.  Jonah said she was a way better rafter than Stud-wanna-be.”  All three of them shared a laugh, and Sam started his second burger, handing one to Dean without asking, knowing he’d want it.  Rick waved his off, but took another ear of corn, proclaiming that “This corn kicks ass,” and smiling at Sam.

The thing was, Rick really meant it.  Sam could tell.  It made his belly feel strange to have another guy appreciating something he did for him.  Sam felt Dean’s eyes on him, but wouldn’t look.

“So Jonah sorta dumps the raft, but does it on Asshole’s side, so he’s the only one who gets sucked out, and takes his good old time picking him up.”

“You can do that?  Pick the person you want to dump?  Seriously?”  Dean was clearly enthusiastic about the idea, and Rick nodded.

“Oh yeah.  I mean, if you know your rapids, and have watched the people in the raft...how they sit, are they left-handed, where their feet are dug in, are their abs contracting?  Yeah.  You can do it.”  Dean gave a low whistle, appreciative of the cunning involved.  “Guy was severely pissed, and Jonah actually had to put in downstream and kick him off.”  Rick swallowed the end of his second beer, bracing himself.  “He followed Jonah to his trailer later that night and slit his throat.”

“Over a dunking?”  Sam was amazed.  He shouldn’t have been, with everything they’d seen, but still.  “What happened to Jonah?  I mean, you said he lived all over, but loved it here?  Did he have family?  Did they come for him?”

“No, no family but the other guides.”  Sam could see Dean poised for an alternate tack, if the next words out of Rick’s mouth didn’t give them what they needed.  “We scattered his ashes on the Gauley.”  Shit.  Cremated.  Now what?

“Anyway.”  Rick shook himself, rising and tossing his plate and cob into the fire.  “I brought something for you.  I was hoping you’d like it.”  Sam looked at Dean, who shrugged back, grinning like it was completely normal and appropriate for hot guys they’ve just met to bring them presents.  Rick was walking over to his four-wheeler, calling back over his shoulder.  “You guys are wasted down here on the New.  Too much talent.  You need to get up to the Gauley where the big waves are.  I can hook you up with my buddy Tommy, he’ll take good care of you.”  It was dark beyond the circle of the fire, and they couldn’t see what Rick was doing.

“Wow, man.  That’s...that’s really cool of you...”  Sam answered.  Rick was moving back toward the fire, and Sam snuck a glance at Dean...who was looking at Rick.  And thinking about fucking him.  Sam recognized the expression.

“You two...I mean...you didn’t say what you do, and I’m not askin’, but you seem like you maybe kick around a lot.  River guide’s a great job, if you like the road.  A season up on the Gauley with Tommy, and you’d be ready to come back here next year and guide the New.  If you studied a little.”  He stopped, trying to gauge their reaction.  “I mean, not giving you a promise ring here, or anything.”  Dean and Sam both laughed at that; rings were an old joke between them.  “But I think you’d like it.”

“I think we would too.  But we don’t really have the experience to get anyone to take us on that river, do we?”  Sam was still watching Dean’s expression when Rick stepped back into the fire’s halo.  Yeah.  Definitely interested.  Dean was weird.  He never made a secret of checking out a girl’s ass, but when it came to a guy, he was all sly and cagey about it.  It took Sam a while to figure out his tells, but once he did, he realized that Dean mostly seemed to perv on guys who looked at lot like Sam.  Sam was okay with that.  

“Normally, yeah, you’re right.  But once I call Tommy, and you walk up to his put-in carrying this, you’ll have all the cred you’ll need.”  Rick swung a leg over the log-sofa, holding an old, beat-up black raft paddle. 

 

That’s when the EMF started to squeal.

 

“Dude.  Your detector’s fucked.  Jonah’s paddle doesn’t have any metal in it.  None of them do.  All fiberglass.”

 

“Shit.  Forgot the damn thing was even on.”  Dean jumped up, thumbing the switch off.  “Sam told me earlier it was screwy.  We had it at the beach a couple months ago, and I think the salt air killed it.”

 

“So that’s Jonah’s paddle, huh?”  Sam kept his voice neutral, and didn’t put his hand out, but Rick offered it up on his own, with an open smile, happy to share it.  He didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary when it was in his hands, but that didn’t mean anything.  He’d take the EMF over his fickle visions any day.  He passed it over to Dean, who also turned it over and back in his hands, thoroughly inspecting it.  Rick watched the way they looked over the paddle, and touched the blade and shaft, clearly pleased at the reverence they gave it.  Sam felt like an ass. 

“Yeah.  Kind of a tradition we started, after he was gone.  Nobody knew what to do with his stuff.  One of the old-timers was holding onto it, said there was a rookie guide, reminded him a lot of Jonah when he started out.”  Rick waved off the next beer Dean reached for.  “No, no man.  Here.  I’m drinking all your stuff.  Forgot about mine even sitting there.”  He reached into the cooler he brought, and pulled out a couple of slippery-cool bottles, the tell-tale green glass marking them as Rolling Rock before Sam could even see the label.  It was popular in this part of the country, and was actually decent beer these days, not like when he and Dean were sneaking them as kids.  “Anyway, they gave the rookie Jonah’s paddle, with the promise that he’d send it on to somebody new when he saw some raw talent.”

“For good luck, right?”  Sam thumbed the cap off, tossing it into the fire and tilting the bottleneck toward Rick in thanks.

“Oh, I don’t know.  At least once it wasn’t.  Freak storm came up on a new guide’s first solo, and somebody got himself drowned.  Wasn’t anyone’s fault though.  Things happen.”

“Yeah, yeah they sure do.”

“Ever since then, we’ve all just been passing it around, back and forth, both rivers, to anybody we thought had a spark of Jonah in them.  After watching you two today, how hard –and smart- you worked, I knew I had to get it to you.  You’re naturals, both of you.  That’s why I was talking to Leslie.  She had it on her.  Last kid that was carrying it just left for ski season in Denver, so he had to turn it over.  Jonah stayed in West Virginia, so his paddle does, too.”

"Wow.  That’s...”  Dean seemed genuinely speechless.  Sam stared.  “That’s a real compliment.  Don’t know that we deserve it, but, still.”

“Yeah.”  Sam felt clumsy, like his tongue was six beers thick, and not just two-and-a-half.  He guessed that’s what happens when you’re in love with your brother who’s got a hard on for a ripped river guide who’s genuinely likable.  “We...we really appreciate it.  Seriously, man.”  And Sam did.  He felt weirdly honored to be recognized for skill and strength by someone who wasn’t Dean. 

“Well.  Getting’ late.”  Rick kicked a half-burned cob back into the fire-ring.

“Yeah,” Dean answered, looking over at Sam, then back to Rick.  “Time to turn in, I guess.”  Sam stood, looking between the two.  He dipped his chin at Dean, once.  It was all he could manage, and even that made his belly turn over.   He didn’t really want to have anyone else’s spit in his mouth, or their come on his fingers.  He thought maybe he could watch, if Dean wanted him to.  Or even let them be alone, if he had to.  But Dean was his Jonah, and when he was gone, Sam didn’t want to be sharing any leftover part of him with someone else.  If that made him a selfish bastard, so be it.

“I- I’m just gonna..”  Sam gestured at the tent flap, not sure himself what he wanted to say.  Rick was staring at him now, not Dean, as if sensing Sam was the key to where this evening was going to go next.  “You can...”  he motioned again, even more vaguely, not looking at Dean.  He looked at Rick’s eyes, instead.  They looked bright.  Hopeful.  Nice guy eyes.  “If...”

“Hey.”  Dean was moving now, too, the last of the three of them to rise, hooking his fingers in the back of Sam’s waistband, crooked smile for Rick.  “Dude, I’m sorry...”  Sam saw a fusion of thoughts flash across Rick’s face in those few seconds.  Excited when Sam motioned, hopeful when Dean spoke, aroused when Dean touched Sam and looked at him, crushed when the first half of ‘sorry’ got out of Dean’s mouth.  His eyes widened and he took a step backward, probably not even realizing it.

“No.  No, I’m sorry.  My bad.  I thought...”  Rick trailed off.  Sam honestly hurt for the guy.  He thought he would hate him, but he couldn’t.  He tried to fix it.

“You thought, because we thought.  We didn’t mean to...we- we just...”  Sam stuttered, consciousness wheeling between the embarrassed dejection on Rick’s face and feel of Dean’s hand on the small of his back, his knuckles pressing against the knotted scar. 

Dean tried, too.  “It’s us, man.  We...I...it...it’s complicated.  Wrong time, maybe.  I guess.  Definitely not you.”

“No, no, it’s good.  We’re good, here.”  Rick smiled, genuinely, at both of them, lopsided, but not bitter.  “Seriously?  Watching the two of you on the river, as close as you were?   The way you worked and moved together?  I couldn’t really convince myself that a piece of paper could get between you, let alone another guy.”  They all three laughed at that.  Dean ducked his head, scratching the back of his neck before putting his hand out, then aborting that and hugging Rick instead, thumping his back lightly.  Sam did the same, whispered a “thank you” into Rick’s ear before backing away.

“I’m still calling Tommy,” Rick said over his shoulder as he moved back out of the firelight.  Get your asses up there by Friday, you hear?  And don’t forget to take Jonah!”  He gunned the ATV and waved, then was gone.  When Sam turned around, he walked right into Dean’s fist, landing hard on his ass.

“Dude?  The fuck?  Why are you pissed at me?”  Staring up at Dean from the ground, Sam swiped at the trickle of blood coming from his nose.

“You gotta ask that?  Fuck, Sam.  What the hell were you doing?"

“What do you mean, what was I doing?  I let you make the call!  If you wanted to, I was okay with it.   What more do you want from me?  I did everything but pass you a note saying I was okay with it.”

“Exactly,” Dean said, tone clipped.  “You were okay with it.  You didn’t want him, Sam.  You damn sure didn’t want me with him.  You’ve been cockblocking me for a decade and now you’re all lah-dee-dah about me fucking around?”  Dean threw up his hands.  “What’s that about?”

“What am I supposed to do?”  Sam shouted back.  He could feel the tendons in his neck tightening in frustration as he glared up at Dean.  “Tell you you can’t live the time you’ve got left the way you want?  Hell, Dean.  I let you do whatever you want, take the cases you want, eat what you want, and drive where you want, and somehow that’s wrong?”

“It is wrong.”

“Then I guess I flunked your fucked up test!”

“Christ.  It- it’s not a goddamn test, okay?”  Dean ran his hand through his hair, apparently as exasperated as Sam.  His amulet swung on its leather circle, as agitated as he was.

“Then I don’t know what this is, Dean.”  Sam was tired, suddenly, and didn’t want to fight anymore.  He wondered if this is what Dad felt like when he’d picked a fight with him at Dean’s bedside.  “And you know what?  Maybe you’ve only got eight months left.  And maybe, just maybe, you could stop making me break out the Dean Winchester Decoder Ring every time you’ve got some sort of issue.”  Sam swallowed around the lump in his throat, looking up at Dean.  “Because I gotta tell you, man, these days I never know what’s in your head, and I’m tired of wasting time guessing.”  Sam dropped his head for a moment, swiping at his eyes and staring into the fire until Dean’s voice spoke out again.

“Why the hell do you think I’m dying in the first place, Sammy?”  Dean’s tone had gone raw, and soft, like it was having to scrape its way up the inside of Dean's throat to get out.  “I did it so you can live.  Really live, man.  Might be nice to see you doing a little of it before I’m gone, you know?  That’s all I’m saying.” 

Dean bent, reached, and hauled Sam to his feet.  He dabbed a thumb under Sam’s nose himself, checking to see if it came away wet or was clotting.  Something he’d done probably a dozen times when they were kids...something Sam knew he’d still be doing months from now.  Sam knew, sure, that Dean needed him to be safe and okay and happy.  He hadn’t thought much about Dean needing to watch him being safe and okay and happy. 

“I don’t want you just existing to please me.  You think that does anything for me, Sam?  That I get off on that?  You think I’m gonna meet those dogs and feel good about this year, knowing you spent it hiding everything you wanted or hated from me everytime our mood rings didn’t match up?”  Dean squeezed Sam’s shoulder, leaving his hand there.  Settling him.  “You’re smarter than that.”

“I...I thought I was doing the right thing.  Giving you what you wanted.”

“If I want a blowjob at the rest stop, sure."  Sam huffed a little snort in reply, but didn't interrupt him.  "But the big stuff like this?  Sam.  C’mon.  I need you to be Sam.  Bitchface Sam.  Google-fu Sam.  Knife-slut Sam.  Sammy who won’t share me, whoever.  Just be you. I don’t want to waste what’s left of my year with a stranger.”  Dean stopped, his voice trailing off to a whisper.  He looked up at Sam, eyes shimmering jade, pleading. “Just...just be Sammy for me.  Okay?  Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah,” Sam was dizzy, glad of the wide palm Dean hadn’t lifted off his shoulder.  It felt like he was five years old again, and Dean was asking him to be a big boy and get on the school bus without him.  “Yeah, I can do that.”  

 
* * * * *

They kicked out the fire after a short debate about the protocol for securing a haunted paddle overnight.  Sam wanted to burn it now; Dean wanted to make sure it really was to blame.  He didn’t like the thought of destroying what little was left of Jonah if they weren’t certain.  In the end they left a message for Bobby, giving him the details they had on Jonah’s murder, the “freak storm” victim, and asking him to do some more digging on the people who’d drowned to see if they could tie anything to it.  Then they ringed the old oar with salt and looped a crucifix around the shaft and called it a night.  All the deaths had been drownings; they figured they were in the clear on dry land.

Sam rolled over sometime in the single-digit hours of the night, still awake.  Dean was snuffle-snoring next to him, and Sam suddenly just wanted to look at him.  He rummaged softly in Dean’s always-nearby pack until he found what he was looking for, cracking the glow-stick,   shaking it, and holding it up to Dean’s face.  Yep.  Definitely more freckles.  Dean stirred, burrowing closer to Sam, trying to evade either the light or the chill; Sam wasn’t sure which.  The air mattress had a leak and went flat the first night, and the autumn nights sucked the damp up through the floor of the tent after dark.  So they’d heaped up all the blankets from the Impala’s trunk, and zipped the two sleeping bags together to make a sack big enough for both of them.

Sam wormed his arm between them, exploring ‘til he found Dean’s cock, as sleepy as the rest of him, and nudged it a few times with the neon-purple glow-stick.  Dean made an inquisitive noise in his sleep, unfolding just a little, in case Sam needed more room.  Sam smiled, smug.  Gotcha.  A few more minutes of teasing had Dean cogent enough to mumble a complaint.

“Ssssammy?  Th’fuck’s on my cock?”

“Look and see.”

“’s dark, jackass.”

“Open your eyes.”  Dean’s snort implied just how dumb this idea was, since it was dark outside and opening his eyes would be a pointless expenditure of energy.  “Trust me.  C’mon, Dean.”  A few more strokes aroused enough of something –curiosity or libido- to get Dean’s eyes to slit open.  There was a very definite glow coming from inside the sleeping bag.  Dean looked like he was afraid to investigate.

“Uh, Sammy?”

“Mmmmm?”  Sam wasn’t looking inside either.  He was absorbed in Dean’s face, dotting it with soft, open-mouthed kisses, welcoming all the new freckles.

“Have the aliens come to suck my cock?”  Sam laughed softly, rubbed the stick a little lower, getting underneath Dean’s balls.

“Maybe we should look and find out.”  He lifted the edge and he and Dean both ducked inside.   Sam pulled the border up and over their heads, thankful he’d bitched until Dean splurged for the “Big ‘n Tall” bags.  The purple glow illuminated the inside of the bag, lighting up the white cross-hatches of the plaid flannel lining.  Sam saw where Dean’s lips were shadowed with violet, and how each of his lashes made its own inky silhouette on his cheekbones.  It made his chest ache.

“Dude.”  Dean sounded awed.  “You think your come will light up, like in CSI?”  Their laughter muffled itself inside their cocoon.

“Let’s find out.”

They ended up jacking each other, because fucking or rubbing off all pressed together would have hidden their cocks. 

“Your cock is pretty, Sammy.  So fucking pretty.  Not right...”  They took turns holding the stick and touching –sometimes themselves- directing the radiance at each other and giving dirty orders...”pull your sac up, Dean...wanna see under there...” whenever they needed to witness someplace else.  Dean made Sam stop and turn over so he could look at his asshole.

“Deeeen...god...not fair...”  Sam was on his belly, and couldn’t see anything.  He felt Dean’s wet finger in the next instant though, and started humping the flannel beneath him.

“Wait, Sammy.  Not yet.  Not yet.”  Dean was knuckle deep now, and slid another finger inside him soon after.  Dean was half-sideways in the double-sized bag, his shoulders and back hunched to hold up the glowing cloth ceiling.  “God.  Fuck Sam, you should see this.”  Sam whined and started grinding again.  He didn’t care what Dean said, he really needed friction.

“Hang on, hang on, almost ready...”  Dean’s fingers withdrew.  “Watch, Sammy.  Look.”  It was obscene, how much Dean’s voice sounded just like when they were kids, full of wonder, Dean wanting to show something to his baby brother.  It made Sam’s cock impossibly harder.  Sam turned his head to see the stick disappearing into Dean’s mouth, its luminescence leaking out from between his lips.  When Dean pulled it out, a string of saliva trailed after, suspended and gleaming like a spider’s web in the dew.  Before Sam could work up the coherency to tell Dean how beautiful it was,  he felt something cool and hard sliding into him.

“Dean?  Did you...oh godd...”

“Jeezus Christ.  Jeezus Christ, Sammy.  It’s in you, fucking glow going in and out—“ Sam couldn’t even see, but the broken sounds of Dean’s voice alone almost sent him over.  When Dean scraped the sweet spot a few strokes later, Sam was gone, crying out for Dean to keep touching him, keep fucking him, never stop.

“Yeah.  Sweet fuck.  You’re a sweet fuck Sammy, so good, c’mon...”  Dean wasn’t even stroking in or out now, it was all Sam; pelvis flat-pressed to the floor, snapping his hips back and forth onto the makeshift dildo and soaking the cotton underneath him. His head was swimming, sky-high, stoked and stoned.  “Sammy...need...” 

Sam felt Dean fumbling, and the stick slide free.  Sam rolled to his side, batting up at the confining cloth to get it out of the way.  He could see Dean on his back, hand flying, stripping his cock, little more than a blur in the blue-black glow.  Sam reached, gently pried the stick from Dean’s other hand.  He seemed more than glad to relinquish it, using his newly freed hand to cup Sam’s cock, fat now and satiated. 

“I did this.”

“You did.”

“Made you...”  Dean groaned, the bead of liquid on his slit glittering like an amethyst under the stick’s spell.  “Made you break apart.”

“Yes.  Yeah Dean.  For you.”

“Wanna come for you, Sammy.  Wanna be...all spent...m-messy...”

“Please, yeah...”  Sam felt himself twitch in Dean’s palm, balls aching but still at the mercy of Dean’s wicked, dirty mouth.  “Anything you want.”

“...come on you.  Want...to...make you...mark you...mine...f-fuck...”  Dean let go of Sam, scrambling to his knees and straddling him.  His palm slapped down on Sam’s chest and for just a moment they saw each other –really saw- then Dean’s gaze dropped back to where Sam’s cock lay curled and half-hard again on his belly.  Sam held up the bag with one arm, cool air wafting into the musky humidity, and kept the light down between them.  Dean jerked himself twice more, and his first spurt hit the stick.

“God....fucksammy...yeah...fuck yeah...mine...Mine...”  Words turned to deep little grunts as Dean’s warm come pooled on Sam’s groin. 

“Okay.  I got you, Dean.  Okay.  Easy....”  Dean slowed; Sam tapped his cock-hand with the stick until he stopped wringing himself.  They both stared, panting, as a single drop of not-glowing come dropped from the glow-stick to Sam’s belly.

“Huh,” Sam said.

Dean had never met a science experiment he couldn’t corrupt, but even he sounded disappointed.  “So much for that idea.” 

The bag made their laughter sound like secrets; precious, cloistered.  Sam tossed the stick toward the corner of the tent and pulled Dean down into the dark, his lips to Dean’s ear. 

“Yours.”

 * * * * *

The next morning brought the news they expected from Bobby.  He couldn't link much for certain; even Rick couldn’t have known who had Jonah’s nomadic paddle and where on what dates.  But all the victims had been loud-mouthed jocks.  Several had domestic violence or assault complaints against them.  One had been kicked off the raft by his guide.  At least Jonah had only gone after the assholes.

“Do you think they remember?” 

Dean held his cup with both hands, blowing across the surface and not looking at Sam.  They were drinking the last pot of campfire coffee out of cheap gas-station logo mugs, watching the salted fire smolder and stink of chemicals.  Rick didn’t know it yet, but Jonah’s paddle wasn’t going to the Upper Gauley, or anywhere else for that matter.  Tommy would call him a week from now and ask him about the greenhorns who never showed, and Rick’s next campfire tale would be about the bastards who stole Jonah’s paddle.

"What do you mean?”  Sam took his cue from Dean, and only glanced at him, stayed facing the fire.  One of the pine knots heated and popped, sending sparks and a fresh burst of resin-scent into the air.

“The spirits.  I mean, they must not, really.  Or they don’t remember it right.”  Sam knew this was going somewhere, but whatever was behind the next bend in the trail was just out of his line of sight.  “The paddle, you know?  It got passed around out of respect for Jonah.  To honor him.  People loved him, and took good care of it, but he was still darkside.  It’s almost like he couldn’t even remember that he used to have people who loved him.”

“Dean.”

“I’m serious, Sam.  He was a good guy.  And people loved and missed him, honored his memory around campfires and shit, but none of it mattered.  An evil deed is what took him, and he couldn’t get out from under that.”

“Dean, you’re gonna remember.”

“What if I don’t?  What if that bitch gets her hands on me and all I can do is hate?  Kill people?”  Sam moved closer, snagged his free hand in Dean’s belt loop.

“You could never do that.”

“You don’t know that.”  Dean’s voice was rising, anxiety distending it from baritone to tenor.

“I do.”  Sam tried to keep his own tone calm, to ground Dean.  “I know it.”

“Sam...”

“Dad.”  If there was one word –besides Sam- that could tether Dean, secure him when he was in danger of flying apart, it was that one.

“What did you say?”  Dean tossed his empty mug to the side; his chest was heaving.  Sam put a hand on it in silent benediction and let his cup fall beside Dean’s.

“Dad.  You saw him.  He made a shitty deal with a demon, and came out of hell kicking ass, just like he went in.  He knew us.  You know he did, and he still loved us.  He was still protecting us.”  Sam forced a smile, lopsided.  “The precedent’s set, man.  Hell might take a Winchester, but it can’t unmake who he is.”

“You think I’ll still be me.”  It was more of a statement than a question, but Sam did believe, and he nodded, pressing a kiss to the corner of Dean’s mouth, feeling Dean’s breathing begin to calm.  He wished he didn’t, because it would be easier for Dean if he didn’t remember, if he could go evil and revel in it, or even cease being aware of existence in any way at all.  Losing Sam and being forced to remember how much he loved him, needed him, how much Sam loved him back?  If the crossroads demon really knew her craft, then that was very likely to be the exact sort of hell Dean had in store for him.  There was no other, better way to torment Dean Winchester than to take away his Sam, and make him remember it every day until eternity ended.

“Yep.  And if you’re as annoying as you usually are, they’ll probably kick your ass out and beg me to take you back.”

“You should be so lucky.”

“Yeah.”

They pressed to each other, foreheads touching, sharing the same patch of loamy, West Virginia soil for a few more moments.  Sam could feel the tension easing out of Dean’s shoulders as their breaths began to sync, long and slow and easy.  They could see the bridge from where they stood,  wreathed in fog and waiting for the morning sun to rise above the lip of the canyon and burn it off.

 

"Almost Heaven.” 

 Sam arched back a little, not really wanting to break contact, but that...was possibly the weirdest thing he’d ever heard Dean whisper.  Dean was smiling at him, his arms circling Sam and his hands tucked into Sam’s back pockets.  He looked clear-eyed and content, with the new, extra freckles making him seem younger. 

 “John Denver.  What he called it here.”  Dean hummed a few bars of Country Roads into Sam's ear, swaying them a little.  Sam prayed silently for Dean's soul.

If they were that close, maybe it would take.

~end~

 

"Country Roads" by John Denver:       http://www.sendspace.com/file/7hi0ev

Author’s notes:  Title from the lyrics of “Country Roads”, written and performed by John Denver.  

[info]notthequiettype came through in a pinch with the music I needed.

 Dean’s ticking clock and remaining days are based on this excellent season two timeline:   http://seacouver.slashcity.net/killa/sp_s2_timeline.html by [info]killabeez

U.S. RT. 50 is indeed a coast-to-coast highway, pre-dating the Federal Interstate Highway system.  I can personally vouch for the stretch between West Virginia and Maryland being one of the most beautiful drives in the nation, especially in autumn.

Dean has of course memorized the “Welcome to....” signs of nearly all fifty states; the West Virginia state motto is indeed “Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia”.  He’s also well-versed in their trivia, and mentions “S.O.L. BASE jumpers” for a reason.  The New River Gorge is known for its annual “Bridge Day” during which the very fuckin’ nuts brave rappel or parachute (BASE jump) from the 876-foot-high bridge.  Bungee jumping was outlawed in 1993 after a man attempting it died, the second bungee death at the bridge.  Two other bridge deaths were due to BASE jumping accidents...hence Dean’s reference to the ghosts of the unfortunate.   

The details about the New and Gauley Rivers are all accurate, down to the difficulty,  names and basic composition of the rapids.   I’ve rafted there several times, and “Rick” is a conglomeration of different guides I’ve known.  Rick’s emphasis on keeping one’s paddle is not in the least exaggerated, and provided the inspiration for where a dead guide's spirit might linger.  We always invited our guide over for dinner afterwards, although we weren’t trying to pick him/her up.  The pie irons are love, and make the best grilled cheese evah, but as Sammy found out, can burn like a mofo.

Thank you for reading.

Comments

This was awesome. I don't swim well, so river rafting isn't something I'm going to do, but you made me feel like I'd gone down the river with the guys. Great details. Love the way you write them, in love, but still *men* and hunters. Messy, smelly men. Liked the case. Was sorry they had to destroy the paddle, cause now Rick's going to think they're assholes. Wish they could have explained it to him. But he wouldn't have believed it and then he'd have thought they were crazy assholes.

Was almost afraid Dean was going to fuck Rick and I was a little pissed at Sam for allowing it. “If I want a blowjob at the rest stop, sure." Sam huffed a little snort in reply, but didn't interrupt him. "But the big stuff like this? Sam. C’mon. I need you to be Sam. Bitchface Sam. Google-fu Sam. Knife-slut Sam. Sammy who won’t share me, whoever. Just be you. I don’t want to waste what’s left of my year with a stranger.” Dean stopped, his voice trailing off to a whisper. He looked up at Sam, eyes shimmering jade, pleading. “Just...just be Sammy for me. Okay? Can you do that for me?” Perfect.

The glow sticks were fun! LOL! “Have the aliens come to suck my cock?” So Dean. Really enjoyed this.
Originally Dean was *supposed* to get it on with Rick, but the story just didn't want to go there once I got to that point. I like the way it turned out, though, so I'm glad you do too.

Thanks for the kind words! :)