Title: Secret’s In the Telling, Part I (of five)
Pairings: Nathan/Peter (Heroes), Dean/Sam (Supernatural), and some cross-pollination.
Warnings: Graphic slash, fictional relatives in lust (consensual incest), violence, harsh language
Universe: SPN – vaguely Season 3 (sometime between 3x5 Bedtime Stories and 3x10 Dream a Little Dream of Me). Heroes – vaguely post Season 2 (general spoilers)
Disclaimer: Don’t own. Don’t sue. It’s like don’t ask, don’t tell, but better.
Author’s note: Thanks to redandglenda for the beta, and jeunechat for cheerleading. You needn’t know both fandoms in order to enjoy the story, although I imagine that it helps to know one or the other.
There was screaming coming from further into the cemetery. “Sounds like we found her,” Dean announced. He tossed Sam the book with the exorcism ritual and took off. Was it strange, Sam wondered, that they always ran toward the screaming?
“Dean could you just stop and think for once? I mean, before you rush into certain death?” Sam asked wistfully.
“Screaming’s where the fun is,” Dean said, slapping a clip into his gun with a cocky grin.
Sam scowled at him. “Yeah, I prefer things quiet, actually.”
Dean shrugged. “Coulda fooled me. I was worried that desk clerk was gonna call the cops, noise you were making last night.” Sam couldn’t help but crack a grin at that.
Side by side the Winchester brothers sprinted toward the noise, dodging mausoleums and hurdling low tombstones.
Blue lightning flashed somewhere ahead of them, lighting the way with an eerie glow. The screaming stopped. Sam put on an extra burst of speed, his long legs flying over the uneven ground. He was yards ahead of Dean when he finally burst onto the scene.
The demon, a dark-haired beauty with eyes that flashed yellow, was on top of a young man, pinning him to the ground with one hand on his chest. Sam saw the glint of a silver knife in the demon’s other hand before his eyes darted to an unmoving form slumped on the ground a few feet away. Blue lightning flashed again, and Sam could swear it had come from the man the demon had trapped. The demon shrieked in pain, and when she reared her head back, she caught sight of Sam. With a snarl, she abandoned her prey and took off into the darkness.
The man she’d had pinned was up and after her in an instant. Sam took one step after them before he remembered the man on the ground. He had to at least check.
Dean skidded to a stop beside Sam and took in the situation in one quick glance. “Which way?”
“You stay with him, in case she comes back. We can’t let her finish another sacrifice.”
Sam nodded once, and Dean was off. “You sure you don’t want the—,” he began, but Dean was out of sight. “Colt?”
Peter could hear the woman panting as she ran, some ways ahead of him. The girl was fast, and even a full blast of electricity had barely fazed her. So far she’d displayed a wider array of abilities than anyone Peter had met. Well, almost anyone. She seemed to have more than one thing in common with Sylar. For instance, being completely evil. If Peter hadn’t heard Nathan scream, if he’d arrived a moment later… Peter put on an extra burst of speed. He couldn’t let this one get away.
The woman dodged behind a mausoleum, and Peter followed. He never got a chance to attack. The woman had a hand around his throat, supernaturally strong, pressing him against hard stone. “You’ll do,” she whispered. “Now stop your fireworks or I’ll take your brother instead.”
Cautiously, Peter let the electricity slip away. “What do you want?”
“Just need your help with a little something, sweetest.” Then there was a knife in her hand, a fancy silver thing, pressed against Peter’s throat.
“There’s always blood. It’s got to have something to do with blood,” Nathan said wearily, and leaned back in the creaky chair. He’d been poring over police reports long before Peter woke up that morning. “Same sort of thing with all the victims.”
“I’m not worried about bleeding,” Peter said.
“You should be,” Nathan said with a scowl. “I spend too much time watching you bleed.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be careful. As long as you are, too.” He wrapped his arms around Nathan and planted a kiss on the back of his neck. “I want to keep your skin in one piece.”
Peter and the woman both turned to look. A few feet away stood a wiry, scruffy, smirking man holding a shotgun in one hand and a clear glass bottle in the other. “Back off, bitch.” He slashed the contents of the bottle at them. Peter flinched, but the water dripped harmlessly onto his clothes; the rest landed with a sizzle on the dark-haired woman, sending her reeling. The man raised his shotgun and fired, sending a scatter of something flying at the woman. She screamed. He stepped between her and Peter and fired again. This time she ran, and the man pursued her. Peter spent only a short moment wondering what the hell was going on before he followed.
Nathan was lying on the cold, hard ground, and it was dark. His head hurt. Everything hurt, actually. A tall stranger, a young man with shaggy hair, was kneeling beside him.
“You okay? Hey, sir? You awake?”
The guy reached out a hand to the stinging lines on Nathan’s chest where that bitch had cut him. His hand came away red. “You’re bleeding. Did you hit your head, too?”
“Where’s Peter?” Nathan’s voice was hoarse, but he managed not to slur his words.
“The guy with the bangs? He’s gone. It’s okay. Dean went after them.”
Nathan shook his head and immediately regretted it as his brain seemed to slosh around in his skull. Nathan had no idea who the hell Dean was, but if this woman—whatever her abilities were—had surprised Nathan and escaped Peter, he seriously doubted this “Dean” would fare much better. Unless… Nathan took another look at the stranger, still hovering solicitously, hands wrapped around a leather-bound book, and noticed the outline of a gun in his pocket and a knife sheath bulging at his hip. He wasn’t sure what the book was all about, but this guy was no civilian.
Peter clung hard to Nathan, shaking. “He didn’t look like—I mean, he was young. It’s not like he was wearing a suit and sunglasses and an earpiece.”
“It’s okay. You couldn’t have known.”
“It was too close.” Peter burrowed his face into Nathan’s neck. “He could’ve knocked me out with whatever he had in that needle. I don’t want to go back there.”
“Shhh.” Nathan stroked a soothing hand through his brother’s hair. “They won’t get you. I won’t let them.”
Nathan didn’t think this guy was Company material, but he couldn’t be sure. He struggled to his feet, and the stranger helped him up with a strong arm around his shoulders. His head swam. His chest hurt, too—hurt in straight, fiery lines where that bitch had cut him. He managed to steady himself enough to step away from the other guy, though it meant leaning with his hands on his knees. “You should get out of here. It’s not safe.”
The stranger looked him up and down, and Nathan could see the moment he noticed Nathan’s gun bulging in the shoulder holster under his shredded hunting jacket. The guy took a slow step backward, and he certainly looked a little more wary than he had a moment before. “Yeah, not safe,” the man said. “Maybe we should get you to a hospital. Let me just make a quick call…”
The guy’s cell phone was in his hand before Nathan could make a move. And that was a bad sign: fast hands, killers' hands. If it had been a gun, Nathan would be dead now. At least that meant this guy didn’t want to kill him. Still, he didn’t want this guy calling for backup.
“You listening?” Nathan snapped. It was harder to sound pushy when the stranger towered over him. “What’s out there is very dangerous.”
“I know,” he said. “Just take it easy. Dean will take care of it.”
Nathan took a step backward, straightening up despite the pain of his injuries. “Right. Okay. Let’s just both take it easy.” He took another casual step back.
The stranger tensed, and Nathan saw his hand twitch. He was about to go for his gun, more than likely. That wouldn’t end well. Still, Superman was faster than a speeding bullet, right?
“I’m not Superman,” Nathan grumbled, pulling a pillow tighter over his head. “Leave me alone.”
“No, you are Superman,” Peter said, poking Nathan in the ribs.
“I’m not! And I’m not a teenager anymore, either. Jesus, Peter. You’re insatiable.”
“Listen, maybe we should just—.” The stranger moved a hand toward his jacket, and Nathan knew what he had to do. He gathered his strength and jumped toward the guy, taking him down with a literal flying tackle. The stranger’s head thunked dully against a tombstone. As soon as he untangled himself from the mass of long limbs, Nathan snatched out his own gun, pointing it at the man, but there was no need. The guy was out for the count.
Nathan drug himself to his feet, keeping his gun out, and started to walk away. He made it only a few steps before his better judgment caught up with him. He couldn’t leave the poor kid here, even if he was a Company man. That bitch might come back. With a sigh, and one more pained grumble at the fiery cuts along his chest, he grabbed hold of the unconscious man’s dead weight. Nathan was never going to hear the end of this cargo jet thing.
If only it wasn’t so damn dark. No moon, no stars, just the orange glow of the city somewhere beyond the trees. Dean kept stumbling over grave markers buried in the weeds, and once he slammed his knee against a stone cross. Still, he could hear—or he thought he could hear—the demon ahead of him. He kept a tight hold on the shotgun and loaded another casing packed with rock salt.
“You hold on to that shotgun like a damn teddy bear, Dean.”
“So?” Dean shrugged. He wasn’t planning on parting with this particular teddy bear any time soon.
“So you’re not bringing it to bed,” Sam said.
Dean loved it when his brother got all demanding. “Oh I’m not?” He laid the gun in the crook of his arm, and began to run a loose fist up and down the barrel, slowly and languidly.
“Stop it,” Sam said, but his eyes never left Dean’s hand.
Suddenly, a twig snapped behind him. He swung the gun around, but lowered it when he saw it was the pretty boy the demon had been about to bleed. “She went that way,” the guy said, pointing.
“I know,” Dean snapped, although he wasn’t so sure. Who did this guy think he was, anyway? “Stay behind me, and don’t get too close to her.”
The guy nodded, intensely earnest, and Dean rolled his eyes.
They struck out into the darkness. Once in a while the guy would point; his hearing seemed to be much better than Dean’s. They jogged along until they almost ran face-first into the cemetery wall. Dean stood still a moment, listening, but he heard nothing.
“She went over the wall,” pretty boy said. Dean spared him a skeptical glare.
Tires screeched on the street outside, and a horn sounded. Dean jumped immediately to the wall, scrabbling for foot-holds as he pulled himself over with his free hand.
“Wait!” the guy shouted, but Dean was already over. The street was a little commercial strip with a few bars whose patrons had spilled out onto the street. Two cars had stopped in the middle of the road. The demon was speaking to the driver of one of the cars, who had his cell phone in his hand. When the demon caught sight of Dean, she winked. Then she started screaming.
“There he is! Oh my God, he’s got a gun!”
For a moment, everyone on the street stood frozen, looking at Dean. Then chaos broke out. People ran in every direction. Dean lost sight of the demon. In the distance, a siren sprang to life.
Two big guys, wanna-be citizen hero types, approached Dean, hands out all peaceable-like. “Hey buddy. Let’s not do anything crazy here,” one of them said
Dean felt a hand at his elbow, and turned to push away his assailant. It was the pretty boy. “He’s okay. There’s no problem. I got him,” the guy said to the by-standers. His voice was strangely compelling. To Dean, he said, “Come on,” and pulled him toward the street. “We gotta get out of here.”
Dean nodded his agreement, but he shook the guy’s hand off his arm. “Let’s go.” He eyed the cemetery wall, but the guy grabbed his arm again.
“If they search in there, they’ll find my brother,” he said, lowering his voice.
The man Sam had stayed to take care of was this guy’s brother. Dean understood the fear in his eyes, then—understood it all too well. He let the guy pull him away from street, where the gathered crowd was looking slightly dazed. They darted across the street, leaving more honking horns behind them, and dodged into an alley. “You have a car?” the guy asked him, once they were out of sight.
“Yeah,” Dean said, looking around to get his bearings. “It’s in a garage… somewhere around here.”
“Is it close?”
“I dunno. I’m all turned around.”
“We can’t exactly go strolling around looking for it. You’re carrying a shotgun.”
“And you better be glad I am,” Dean snapped. And Dean was set to take just exactly zero more crap from this dude regarding his methods. “I’m not ditching the shotgun. We’ll just keep out of sight.”
The guy looked thoughtful for a moment. “Your car. Is it in the garage on Fourth and Broad? With a big orange sign?”
That sounded familiar. “Yeah… You from around here?”
“Something like that. I’m Peter.”
“Dean. Let’s go.”
Sam woke up with a headache. At first he couldn’t remember what had happened. Waking up with a headache in a crappy motel room wasn’t an unusual occurrence for him. This particular room had some kind of nautical theme, if the anchors decorating the headboard were any indication. Probably a name like Captain Ahab’s Roadside Flophouse—something Dean would pick out.
“Dude, why would you go for a boring crappy motel when you could go for a themed crappy motel?”
“I just think we should trade off who gets to pick, is all. Maybe I don’t find it soothing to be sleeping in a room that looks like a White Castle.”
“Guinevere’s Tower Palace Motel is a very classy place.”
“Do you even know who Guinevere is?”
“Sure. Guinevere Turner played Tanya Cheex in that one movie...” Dean snapped his fingers, trying to remember. “Preaching to the Perverted!”
Sam shook his head sadly. “You’re not even a little classy, you know that?”
But the man sitting at the room’s rickety table cleaning guns wasn’t Dean. The man he’d rescued yesterday—or was it earlier today?—glanced over at Sam. “You’re awake.” He didn’t put down the slide he was polishing. “Good. I was worried you might have had a concussion.”
Sam sat up cautiously. He wasn’t tied down, and the guy didn’t have a weapon pointed at him, so things weren’t as bad as they could be. Still, he winced when he ran a hand through his hair and felt a lump at the back of his head. “You knocked me out.”
The man shrugged. “I used to be in the Navy.”
Sam stood, swaying with momentary dizziness, and the man fixed him with a warning glare. Now that he was up, he could see the Colt lying on the table beside the gun the guy was cleaning. His knife was on the table, too, along with the exorcism book, but his cell phone was nowhere to be seen.
The man wiped his hands on an oily rag before turning his full attention to Sam. “What’s your name?”
“Sam. Winchester. Who the hell are you?”
“Okay Sam. I have to ask you something, so bear with me here. Do you work for the Company?”
Sam blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
“The Company. Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Company?” He spoke slowly and clearly, as if Sam just might be an idiot.
Sam tried to calculate the distance between him and the knife, then remembered the lump on the back of his head and thought better of it. “Sir, I really have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Ever hear of a guy named Robert Bishop?”
The guy sighed. “Okay, fine. Who’s Dean?”
Sam wondered if he could make it for the door before this guy could stop him. Maybe, but he’d be pretty useless without a weapon or a way to get in touch with Dean. And there was no way he was leaving the Colt. Besides, he didn’t even know where he was—he could be in another state, even. Probably not another country, though. No other country—not even Canada— had crappy motels quite like America. “Dean’s my brother,” he said at last.
The man nodded slowly. “Okay. So last night you said Dean went after them. What did you mean by that?”
Sam shrugged. He thought it was pretty self-explanatory. “The other guy—Peter, right? When he went after that woman, Dean went after them both, to see if he could help. Listen, if you just let me call my brother, we can clear this whole thing up.”
“I had to ditch your phone. We can’t risk any wireless signals.”
This guy was crazy. Seriously, Grade-A bonkers. “Hey, listen. That woman is really dangerous. My brother and I, we just want to stop her from hurting anyone else.”
“You’re not a cop.” The guy picked up a badge from the table and waved it. That had been in Sam’s jacket as well. “I’m pretty sure you’re not even a real bikini inspector. So why are you after her?”
“Because we can stop her,” Sam snapped.
“You know what she is?”
The question caught Sam off guard. “Do you?”
“Yeah. Peter and I have dealt with lots of people like her before.”
“You’re hunters?!” That possibility hadn’t occurred to Sam, but it made a certain kind of sense. Still, the hunting community was small, and this guy didn’t look even vaguely familiar to Sam. And maybe it was vain, but Sam thought every hunter in the world knew about the Winchester boys. “What did you say your name was?”
“Didn’t say.” The man stopped studying Sam, picked up the cloth and went back to cleaning the guns. “That what you and your brother are? Hunters?”
“Yeah.” Sam didn’t like the way the man said the word: with derision, as if he doubted it applied to Sam.
“You kill people like that woman?”
“Yeah,” he said fiercely, but immediately thought better of it when he reconsidered the question. “I mean, no! We don’t kill people.”
“Uh huh.” He didn’t sound impressed. “So tell me what you know about her.”
Sam crossed his arms over his chest and sat back down on the bed. If there was one thing he was good at, it was research. Whoever this hunter was, Sam would bet the Impala that he didn’t have half the background info Sam did. “She’s killed six families in the past six months. First one, the Doanhues, in Birmingham in April. First the mom goes missing. State troopers find her body on the side of the road three days later, bled to death, all these cuts in a pattern all over her. By the end of the week, whole family’s dead: three kids, two aunts—Mrs. Donahue’s sisters—and one set of grandparents.”
“So you have done your homework.” The man gave Sam a small smile, and Sam got the feeling he was being jerked around. “What’s that woman in the cemetery got to do with all that, according to you and your brother?”
“Last month, we almost had her,” Sam said testily. He was sure, at least, that this guy hadn’t come as close as he and Dean had. “She snatched Brandon Basden, a high school student from Pickerington, Ohio. Third of five children. We tracked her, found where she’d taken him, but we didn’t get there in time to save Basden. He had the same pattern of cuts as Amy Donahue, bled to death. We tried to stop her, but she got away. We think she had help—at least one other demon who runs with her. He nearly broke Dean’s jaw before they took off.”
The man kept cleaning for a moment in silence before asking, “And the rest of the Basdens?”
“They’re dead,” Sam said tightly.
“How’d she manage that if she skipped town?”
“Maybe she had help. Or maybe it’s something else. You tell me, if you know so much,” Sam snapped.
The man picked up the book from the table and regarded it thoughtfully. “Do you even speak Latin?”
“Some,” Sam snapped. More than he wanted to, in fact.
“You know this is an exorcism ritual, right?”
“Uh, yeah.” Sam looked from the man to the book and back again. Now he knew this guy was fucking with him. “Why, what were you planning to do if you caught up with this woman?”
The man set the book back on the table and shook his head. “Okay.” He stood abruptly, pushing his chair back from the table with a grating screech against the wooden floor. “Maybe you don’t work for the Company. But I’m not convinced that you know what you’re talking about, either. So go on.” He grabbed the Colt from the table and held it out to Sam.
“You want me to leave?” Sam frowned in confusion.
“Yeah. You’re obviously not going to be any help, and I don’t need you in my way. So take your antique gun and get out.”
Sam knew it was stupid, but he couldn’t help but feel offended by this man’s dismissal. Sam was a damn good hunter, and if this guy knew what was good for him, he’d want to help Sam, not jerk him around like this. Still, it was probably best to quit while he was ahead. Sam snatched the Colt—empty of ammo, he noticed—and stalked to the door.
He realized once daylight hit his face that he’d been half expecting Dean to be waiting outside in the Impala. Instead, a Bentley—a shiny black two-door—was parked in the spot right outside the room in an otherwise empty parking lot. A two-lane highway stretched into the distance to the left and right, cutting through empty fields. There was no other building in sight.
“See that?” Dean waved a hand at the expanses of cornfields that surrounded them. “Miles and miles of nothing. This is stupid.”
“No, you’re stupid, Dean.”
“It’s not my fault the Impala got towed!”
“Yes it is!”
“And did they really need to tow it all the way to the next town? Come on, dude.”
“That’s what happens when you park it in the middle of some poor farmer’s soybeans. Farmers are vicious!”
“It’s downright un-American,” Dean mumbled. “Guy should be able to park his car like a free man… How far to Marshalltown?”
“Fine. Let’s go.”
Sam shut the motel room door.
He counted to ten, swallowed his frustration, and turned back to the man. “Okay. Very funny. Where are we?”
“Pennsylvania,” the man said without looking up.
“And why are we in Pennsylvania?”
“Because that’s where I left the car.” The guy sighed and stood up from the table. He was a bit shorter than Sam, but he held himself like he was the president or something, even in jeans and a rumpled flannel shirt. “Here’s the situation, Sam Winchester. Peter went after that woman, and he’ll take care of it. If he needs my help, he won’t be shy about asking.”
“Fine. Whatever. Dean—.”
“Your brother is probably with my brother,” the man said, as if that settled it.
That gave Sam pause. “Peter’s your brother?”
“You’re the youngest, aren’t you?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“It makes me feel better, actually. My little brother needs sense smacked into him once in a while, and I imagine your brother has a certain amount of practice doing that.”
Sam’s mouth worked soundlessly as he tried to come up with an appropriate response.
“My name’s Nathan.” The man put his hand out, and Sam shook it automatically. “Stay a while,” Nathan said, resuming his seat at the table. “If our brothers need us, they’ll come get us. Otherwise, we stay out of the way and wait.”
“Wonderful.” Sam sat down on the bed and sighed. “So now that you’ve trashed my cell phone, how are they supposed to find us?”
“Peter always knows where I am.”
“You seem pretty sure about that.”
“I have faith in Peter.” He shot Sam an unreadable look. “Besides, don’t tell me a little thing like a missing cell phone would stop your brother from finding you if he wanted to.”
Sam couldn’t help but smile at that. “No, I guess it wouldn’t.” He settled in to wait.
“So, demons are real,” Peter said slowly. “Huh.” He took another swig of his beer.
Dean swallowed the rest of his beer, and looked around for their waitress. He couldn’t catch her eye through the crush of people. No problem. They weren’t in a hurry. He’d decided they needed to wait for the ruckus from earlier to die down before they went back to the graveyard to look for Sam. If they had to wait, they might as well have some fun. And if the pretty boy—Peter—didn’t look to be having fun, at least he didn’t look scared out of his mind, the way you might expect of a guy if a demon had recently tried to slit his throat. “You okay? You seem like all of this doesn’t really bother you,” Dean said.
“Yeah. I’ve seen some crazy things in the past year or so. Makes demons seem not so far-fetched.” His smile slipped away. “And I’m used to people trying to kill me.”
“Well good. You’ve survived this long, means you’re probably tougher than you look.” Which wasn’t very tough at all, to Dean’s mind. But sturdy. Like he could take a beating. Dean thought. Or for that matter… And that was not a productive train of thought, so Dean went back to trying to flag down the waitress.
When she finally came, she flashed a smile at Peter. “Want some more?” she asked him, leaning down so that her cleavage swelled precariously out of her top.
“Sure, I think someone drank my beer,” Peter said with a guileless smile. For a moment, Dean was incredulous that the waitress wasn’t flirting with him, but then, he had to admit Peter was a pretty, pretty man.
“Just a beer, then?” The waitress asked with a swivel of her hips. Peter had to see the flirtation there—Dean couldn’t believe he was that blind—but he didn’t seem too interested.
“Dude, are you crazy? She practically wrote you an invitation just then!”
Sam scowled. “No she didn’t. She was just being nice.”
“No Sammy, you were just being nice. She was flirting her little ass off. Oh, and what an ass…”
“You’re disgusting. You’re like a living, breathing male chauvinist stereotype.”
“Does this mean I’m not getting any?”
“Well you’re certainly not getting any from her,” Sam said with a smirk.
“And neither are you, Captain Smooth,” Dean snapped. Sam just rolled his eyes and polished off the last of his beer. “’S allright. I have to go home with you, anyway, and I can only handle one bitch at a time.” Sam snorted beer out of his nose.
Once the waitress was gone, a pouty look making her lips look damn attractive, Peter turned thoughtful again. “So, you know what kind of demon this is? There’s different types, right?”
“Oh hell yeah. But Sam’s the researcher. He’ll tell you everything you never wanted to know about anything we’ve ever hunted,” Dean said with a smirk. “He’s got a whole backpack full of files on this one.”
“Wow.” Peter sounded genuinely impressed. “I bet you two make a good team.”
“Yeah.” Dean grinned proudly, but his smile faded. He knew Sammy was fine, was good enough to take care of himself when they got separated, but he’d still feel better when he could watch his brother’s back again.
“So what do you know about this one?” Peter prompted.
Dean took another sip of his beer before answering. “Sam knows all this stuff,” he muttered.
“I don’t need a genealogy,” Peter said with an apologetic half-smile smile. “Just anything you know. What she wants, why she’s killing people, how we stop her. You know, the important stuff.”
Still talking. Crooked lips. Hot, Dean thought. No wonder girls dig him. “The way I understand it, she’s some sort of love demon. She’s attracted to really strong love, then she does some kind of ritual that gives her power over the rest of a person’s family, somehow, and then she offs them. Sam is working on some sort of theory on how she chooses her victims, but he doesn’t have anything really solid yet.”
“Huh,” Peter said again. The waitress brought them new beers, and Dean was unsurprised to see that the cocktail napkin she placed under Peter’s bottle had a number and a name written on it.
“Wait,” Peter said after they’d downed some of the fresh beer. “You said this thing, this whatever-it-is, is attracted to love. What kind of love?”
“All kinds. Family, sex, whatever. The stronger the better.” Or at least that’s the only theory we’ve got right now. “We’ll just meet back up with Sammy and figure this thing out. I got this neat thing I’ve been meaning to try out, got it as a gift from this warlock for clearing out a werewolf. It’s called a lodestone.” Dean dug an oblong stone on a string out of his pocket and brandished it at Peter. “Just need some of his blood, and this baby will show us the way. I’m sure there’s something in Sammy’s stuff with fresh blood on it, and—.”
“Oh. Uh… Dean?” Peter swallowed hard. “The demon… The, uh, love demon? We can’t go back to our brothers.”
“Why can’t—. Oh.” Dean’s eyes widened in understanding. “We’d make ourselves a nice juicy target.” And you don’t know the half of it, dude, Dean thought.
“She’s tried for me and Nathan once. And now she’s seen you and your brother. If we give her half a chance, I think she’ll try to finish what she started.”
“Yeah, demons are bitches like that.”
“But the two of us should be safe while we track her down,” Peter said thoughtfully.
“Yeah. But listen—you’re not a part of this, and I don’t want you to—.”
“Not a part of this?” Peter bristled. Dean recognized the same sort of indignation Sam used to get when he wasn’t old enough to go on hunts. It must be a younger brother thing. “Nathan and I found this thing. We figured out that it was killing people, and we figured out how to track it.”
“Yeah. How is that, by the way?”
“It’s complicated. Point is, I can help. I know what we’re up against.”
“Dude, five minutes ago you didn’t even know she was a demon.”
“Fine. But maybe there I things I know that you don’t.”
“Listen Peter.” Dean took Peter’s shoulders in his hands and put on his best big brother tone. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I can take care of myself.”
Peter narrowed his eyes. “But how long have you been with your brother?”
Dean froze. “Excuse me?”
“He’s your partner, right?” Peter asked. Dean’s face must have gotten across something other than holy fuck how does he know that, because Peter elaborated, “Partner in crime?”
“Yeah, of course,” Dean said quickly, as the tension drained out of him. “We’ve worked together since we were kids.” A wistful look flashed across Peter’s face so fast that Dean wasn’t sure he’d seen it.
“He watches your back, right?” Peter asked, and waited for Dean’s nod. “Well you get used to that. Having someone to look out for you, to keep you on track, to see things you might miss. It’s hard flying solo after that.”
“You and your brother… You, uh, work together too?”
“Yeah. Kinda like what you guys do, but not ghosts and demons, just… something else,” he trailed off and sipped at his beer.
“Okay then,” Dean said. He wasn’t sure exactly what Peter was talking about, but the bottom line was that it didn’t matter. Peter seemed to know how to hunt, sort of, and he was good in a tight spot. That counted for a lot. And if going back to Sam would put them both in danger, he couldn’t do it right now. He hoped he didn’t regret this. “Here’s the deal: you can come with, but you gotta listen to me. I say run, you run, and you don’t ask questions. Okay?”
“Okay.” There was something in Peter’s earnest seriousness that reminded him of Sam. Dean got a sudden feeling that this just might work.
“I wish I had my research with me,” Sam said. He’d been flipping through the motel room’s three grainy channels all morning, and Nathan, who’d been trying to read the paper, thought the kid just might vibrate out of his skin soon. “I think I was on the verge of finding out how the demon was choosing her victims.”
“Right,” Nathan said. “Because demons are real.” That had been part of yesterday’s conversation he really didn’t want to revisit. If he hadn’t been sure of Sam Winchester’s sanity before, now he was pretty convinced the kid was nuts. He just prayed that Sam’s brother was saner.
“I really do not understand you.”
“And you probably never will.” The barb had no real heat behind it, but when Nathan turned to look, Sam was giving him wide, liquid puppy eyes that begged him to understand. Nathan had never stood a chance against his own brother’s puppy eyes, and these might even be worse. He pulled a box from under the table. “If you want to take a look, this is what I have on her.”
“Wow,” Sam said. It was actually an impressive collection of research, and all of it meticulously organized, filed by date and labeled in small, neat handwriting. Sam came over from the couch and picked up a folder at random. Nathan knew the one: about Bryce Kidman’s death in Branson, Missouri. He knew all the files, had spent many long hours poring over them, trying to find a pattern.
Sam skimmed the first page of the file, then turned an incredulous gaze on Nathan. “This is the FBI file from Branson. I tried for a week to get my hands on that. Where’d you get all this?”
“We know what we’re doing,” Nathan said, managing not to sound too smug.
“Yeah, well...” Sam sounded grudgingly impressed. “Who keeps these files? Your brother?”
Nathan raised an eyebrow. “No. Peter tends to work by instinct. I keep the research.” In fact, Peter looked on Nathan’s case files as a slightly eccentric indulgence.
“I mean, seriously, what good does it do us to know if some special has an FBI file? What do they know that we don’t?”
“Aliases, MOs, known associates,” Nathan said evenly as he paper-clipped a crime scene write-up to a packet of information about their current lead.
“Yeah, but… So? We don’t have to look for them like this.” Peter waved a disgusted hand at the research. “Chasing credit card receipts and mug shots. I can do it the old fashioned way.”
“Peter, this is the old fashioned way.”
“Whatever. My way. Faster and easier. Why do you always have to make everything so hard?”
Nathan sighed and put down the file he was working on. “Peter, if filing makes you hard, then you can do this, and I’ll go to bed. We’ve got a long day tomorrow.”
Peter’s expression went from exasperation to anticipation in less than a second. “Forget I said anything. And forget the filing. I think bed is calling.”
Sam had started at the front of the box and was methodically examining the files. “It’s really organized.”
“I used to be a lawyer,” Nathan said. That wasn’t giving too much away. “Old habits die hard.”
“A lawyer?” Sam looked up sharply. “I went to law school for a while.”
“I’m a Harvard man myself.” Nathan said, but he couldn’t quite manage a smile, and Sam couldn’t either. It seemed the past was a place neither of them wanted to dwell, because Sam quickly returned his attention to the files.
“Mind if I take a look at some of this?”
“Knock yourself out.”
Sam went at the research like a starving man. Nathan sharpened knives that didn’t need sharpening, and pretended not to watch Sam. He had the kind of single-minded determination that reminded Nathan of himself, the kind of focus that Peter couldn’t display for more than ten minutes at a time. His sure hands skimmed over reports, brown eyes going sharp at each new tidbit of information. He didn’t even look up when Nathan left to pick up some food, and when Nathan returned he was spread out on the bed surrounded by paper.
Sam looked startled when Nathan opened the door. Nathan held up the bag of egg rolls he’d gotten from the town’s single Chinese restaurant, and Sam smiled gratefully.
It was only when they sat down to eat together that Nathan realized they didn’t have much to talk about. “So… That research… Any revelations?”
Sam paused, an egg roll halfway to his mouth. “Uh… Not really,” he said slowly.
“You’ve been at it for hours. Did you figure out anything, or did you know all this already?”
“Well…” he said reluctantly. “There’s some stuff in the police reports I hadn’t seen. About the victims. And stuff…”
“And stuff? That’s what they’re teaching at Stanford these days?”
Sam bristled, just like Nathan had hoped. “I didn’t find anything solid, just a theory I’ve been working on.”
Nathan watched him expectantly, waiting for an explanation. It was a trick that often worked during cross-examination, and it didn’t disappoint him here.
“The families,” Sam said. “They’re not exactly typical families, are they?”
“Not typical in what way?”
Sam shrugged. “Dysfunctional. A few secrets.”
“Sam, that describes every family.”
“Yeah. You’re right. Forget it.” Then Sam shoved an entire roll into his mouth and spent the next minute chewing it.
Very suave. Like Peter, Sam had these innocent eyes that most people would buy into without a second thought. But Nathan had lots of experience reading through an innocent façade, and he knew Sam wasn’t telling him everything. He couldn’t decide if he was more irked that Sam was lying to him, or that Sam had seen something in the research that Nathan had missed.
“Brat.” Nathan grabbed Peter by the collar and shoved him up against the wall of the motel room. “Flirting your ass off with that cop.”
Peter smirked. “Got us answers, didn’t it?”
“When did my little brother get to be such a whore?”
Peter skillfully maneuvered his knee to press between Nathan’s legs, and Nathan’s breath caught in his throat. “I thought you liked it when I was a whore,” he whispered, low and breathy in Nathan’s ear.
Nathan shut him up with a fierce kiss, pinning him to the wall with the length of his body, riding up against Peter’s leg. “Just for me,” Nathan growled into his mouth. “Mine, Peter.”
Peter came awake with a start, disoriented and achingly hard. He held still for a moment waiting for memory to catch up with him. Soft snoring broke the silence beside him, and that was new. Nathan didn’t snore—Nathan didn’t do anything that wasn’t planned—so this must be someone else. And waking up with someone other than Nathan hadn’t happened in a long time either. This person must really be something.
Peter rolled over to look. The man in the other bed—Dean, Peter’s sleepy mind supplied—was really something. Hair bed-tussled, angelic features relaxed, eyelids fluttering in dreams. But they were in separate beds, and it wasn’t like that anyway, Peter’s mind protested as it finally came up to speed. Still, when Dean nuzzled against his pillow, muttering in his sleep, Peter’s dick twitched, reminding him that it hadn’t been “like that” in several days.
And a few days really shouldn’t be a problem, Peter scolded himself. Except that in the few months that he’d been on the road with Nathan, there’d been no reason for them to keep their hands off each other. For the first time in their lives it wasn’t about sneaking around and lying to their mother and to Nathan’s wife and pretending it was enough. After months of that, a few days without touch seemed like much longer.
He turned back over in bed and reached down to touch himself through the thin fabric of borrowed pajama pants. It almost hurt, it felt so good, and a moan escaped Peter’s lips before he realized it was coming. He froze, but Dean just turned over in his sleep and continued snoring.
Peter slipped out of bed and retreated to the bathroom. When he brought himself off in the shower, it was unsatisfying, too fast. He really wasn’t thinking of the hard lines of muscle under Dean’s shirt, of his ass in those ratty jeans as he’d scaled the cemetery wall, of how his lips looked wrapped around a bottle of beer. No, certainly not.
When he got out of the shower, Dean still showed no signs of waking. He had one arm flung over his eyes, and his t-shirt had slid up, revealing a swath of rugged abs marked in a few places by pale pink or white scars. Peter pulled his eyes away, slipped his own clothes back on; Sam’s were too big, and Peter had discovered yesterday that it was dangerous to borrow Dean’s clothes, which smelled too much like him: copper, smoke, and danger.
Peter grabbed his wallet and a room key and slipped out as quietly as he could, resisting the urge to just phase through the door lest Dean wake up to see. He didn’t have far to walk to get to a Starbucks. At this early hour on a weekend, the place was packed with people relaxing over their morning coffee. The cacophony of their thoughts buzzed in the back of Peter’s head, a welcome distraction from his own unhealthy musings.
He grabbed a New York Times, ordered a soy latte, and squeezed in at the counter by the window between two young women concentrating fiercely on their laptops. As he sipped his drink, he toyed with the thought of getting one of the girls to let him use their computer. After all, the internet was much more likely to yield a lead on this demon than the Times. Of course, Nathan would say that using his abilities like this would be an unnecessary risk, an abuse of power, and totally childish. Dean would probably think it was neat. That is, if he didn’t flip out at learning that Peter had weird, kind of demon-like powers.
With a sigh, Peter opened his paper. He skimmed the main stories—the really interesting stuff was never up front anyway. What he read top to bottom were the little AP wire articles that came from all over the country: news bites unusual or provocative enough to titillate the Times readership—a fire in a sugar refinery in Georgia, a tornado that speared a car on a church steeple in Oklahoma, a California break-in foiled by a Pomeranian. He and Nathan spent many mornings searching the papers for articles like these that might be a case of a new power manifesting.
Peter almost spit out his latte when he got to page ten. Blushing at the glares of the laptop girls, he tucked his newspaper under his arm, stopped to pick up two regular coffees (sugar and cream for himself, straight black for Dean), and headed back to the motel.
Dean was still asleep when Peter arrived, and okay, yes they’d walked and driven half of Albany yesterday looking for a lead on that demon, and they’d covered the other half of the city the day before, so probably Dean had a right to be tired, but he had to wake up eventually.
“Dean. Hey, Dean.”
Dean cracked open one sleep-crusted eye halfway. “What time is it?” he asked hoarsely.
“Um, six-thirty?” Peter ventured a hopeful smile. “I brought coffee.”
Sam woke up just after dawn to find the room empty. The guns were nowhere to be seen; Nathan had locked them in the safe last night, but without knowing the combination, Sam had no way to know if they were still there, if the Colt was still there. He flung open the dingy white curtains and breathed a sigh of relief to see the Bentley still parked out front. At least Nathan hadn’t abandoned him entirely. Probably. Sam pulled on his shoes—he was still wearing the clothes he’d had on yesterday, which were the only clothes he had with him, and ran out of the room.
An older lady sat at the front desk, seemingly entranced by The Price is Right playing on a portable television.
“’Scuse me ma’am,” he said, and cursed the seconds it took for her to drag her eyes away from the TV. “Have you seen a guy about this tall?” He put up his hand to illustrate. “Um, brown hair?”
She looked at him like he was a little slow. “He’s in the pool,” she said. “Don’t worry, honey. He said he’d wait for you to wake up before you guys would want breakfast. That your brother?”
“What? No,” Sam said incredulously. Then, at her surprise, he softened his tone. “No ma’am. Thanks.” Sam slipped out the door and walked around to the side of the building, where a chain-link fence surrounded a too-blue pool.
Nathan was swimming laps. He moved through the water as if born to it—smooth, powerful strokes took him first to one wall and then, with a quick underwater flip, back again. Sam found himself admiring the way the water slid off his arms, the ripple of the muscles of his naked back. He looked almost too big for the pool—like a dolphin in a tank.
Nathan caught sight of him when he switched to breast stroke, and finished the lap he was on. “Morning,” Nathan said, standing up in the shallow end and grabbing a towel from the side of the pool.
“Hey. I didn’t know where you went,” Sam said sheepishly.
Nathan pulled himself out of the pool, and water slid in little rivulets down his chest and his arms until he toweled himself off. “I would have left a note, but you looked like you weren’t going to be up for a while. You sleep like the dead.”
“Yeah.” As long as someone else’s breathing could lull him to sleep. He always had trouble sleeping when Dean was gone. But still, maybe it was better Dean wasn’t here. Especially if his theory was right. And God he wanted to be wrong on this, but he got the sick feeling there was no such luck.
“Dean, I’m tired. Will you just come to bed?”
Dean turned back to glare at Sam over the top of the couch. “You are such an old woman. I’m gonna watch the rest of the game, then I’ll come to bed.”
“I can’t sleep,” Sam grumbled.
Dean rolled his eyes and turned down the volume on the television. “That better?”
“No,” Sam muttered, and turned over on his stomach, covering his head with a pillow.
He heard Dean sigh, heard the television click off, and then the bed squeaked under Dean’s weight. Dean stretched out next to him, flinging one arm over Sam’s waist and pulling him tight against his chest. Sam let himself be handled.
“I’m missing overtime,” Dean whispered in his ear.
“You’re the best big brother ever,” Sam sighed. He was asleep in moments.
Nathan wrapped the towel around his waist and looked expectantly at Sam. “Did you need something?”
“Uh, no. No, I just wanted to make sure nothing happened to you.”
“You think your demon is going to come get us?”
Nathan was god-damn teasing him again, and it put Sam more than a little on edge. “Maybe, yeah. She tried to kill you once before, right?”
“Yes.” His hand went to the cuts on his chest, scabbed over now. “But I was just in the way. I don’t exactly fit the pattern.” He started walking back to the room, and Sam fell into step beside him.
“You mean the fact that she goes after families?”
“I don’t have a family anymore. Not really. Except for Peter.” He said it flatly but Sam had a lifetime of experience dealing with Dean, the King of Repression, so he could read the hurt underneath the words.
“Yeah. But we don’t know what she’s capable of, whoever she is,” he said reasonably. “Just… Don’t get killed on my watch?”
“Your watch?” Nathan stopped in his tracks and leveled an incredulous glare at Sam.
“Well…” Sam paused. He had no good reason why Nathan’s safety should matter to him. It just did. He ventured a glib reply, though. “If your brother is bad-ass enough to take out this demon without our help, I don’t want to be the one to have to explain why I let you get killed.”
Nathan laughed and clapped Sam on the shoulder. “That’s probably wise on your part, Sam Winchester. But don’t worry. I’m hard to kill, traditionally.”
“Well good.” Sam followed him back to the motel room, but when he took a last scan of the parking lot before closing the door, he was still sorry not to see the Impala.
Even Journey couldn’t improve Dean’s mood. He’d put on the music to prevent conversation, but now he had to deal with Peter sitting there in the passenger seat… eating. They’d gassed up at a little station about twenty miles back (the latest in a series of bogus credit card uses), and now Peter was devouring the last of a pack of mini-doughnuts. He ate like he did everything else: with enthusiasm and unconscious sensuality. It was downright distracting. And Dean shouldn’t enjoy it as much as he did.
Peter gave him that good sort of low-down tickle, and that shouldn’t be. He should be worried about Sam. Sam… Sam was comfortable. Sure, he was hot, too. Sure, he did things that were sexy as hell, but he was always just Sammy.
“Stop it,” Sam said, smacking Dean in the side of the head. “You know I’m ticklish there.”
Dean leaned back on his haunches, catching his breath while Sam glared from his spot on the bed underneath him. “What, you don’t like being helpless?”
“Stop being a jerk!” Sam struggled under Dean, but couldn’t get the leverage to unseat him.
“Stop being a bitch.” It was easy to fall into the familiar banter, as easy as falling into a kiss.
Sam was like home. But Peter… Peter was a novelty. This was like taking a road trip with the hottest girl he’d ever picked up at a bar.
Dean snuck another glance over at the passenger seat where Peter was licking powdered sugar off his fingers. Dean quickly snapped his eyes back to the road. No man should have lips like that. Cock-sucking lips. He risked another look. Peter had his thumb in his mouth, eyes closed in ecstasy. Dean let his foot drop on the accelerator. They just had to get to Baltimore. Just two hundred more miles.
Sam pushed his plate away, making a terrible face at the big pile of eggs, meat, and starch that he hadn’t been able to conquer. “That’s all for me.”
Nathan smiled, the same self-righteous smile Sam had grown to recognize and half love, half hate in the past few days. He wondered if there was something in him that brought out self-righteous amusement in older brother types.
“Stop smirking at me!” Sam hissed over the formica table.
“Dude, calm your shit,” Dean said, shoveling another forkful of pancake into his mouth.
“Well then tell me what’s so damn funny,” Sam demanded.
“Nothing. Just nothing.” Dean laughed and re-filled his mouth with syrupy pancakes.
Nathan threw down a twenty on the table—Nathan had been paying for everything so Sam hadn’t had to bust out any of his credit cards—stood, and stretched. “So, you have big plans for today?” he asked.
Sam followed him to the door. “Ha ha. I think we’ve now officially eaten in every restaurant in town and looked at every book in the one library. If you would just let me make some calls--.”
“I said no.”
“Or send some e-mails, even.”
“Listen, I’m serious about this, Sam.” Nathan grabbed him by the shoulder, and Sam was startled by the intensity of his look. “It’s really important that we stay off the grid.”
“Fine. Okay,” Sam said. Nathan let him go, and they kept walking across the parking lot. “You know, even you’re going to get tired of waiting around here. Maybe we should just—.” Sam broke off with a gasp of pain as he lost sight of the parking lot and the car and the diner and his vision was filled with blurred shapes: bodies moving in the darkness.
He put out a hand to forestall Nathan, but he could feel the sharp bite of gravel on his knees—when had he fallen? His head spun again, and saw trees overhead—blue-green in the darkness, dripping with rain. A stone archway rose up before him, flanked by two small towers. It looked familiar. Somewhere he and Dean had been before.
Then he saw the demon, eyes flashing black, saw a flash of grey gunmetal in her hand. Then Dean was falling, falling. “No!”
“Sam! Say something!” Nathan was crouched next to Sam, shaking him by the shoulders, face drawn with concern verging on panic.
Sam sat up, catching his breath. Then he stood, dragging Nathan with him. “We have to go. Dean’s in trouble.”
On to Part II