Pairing: Sam/Dean, Sam/Jess, other future pairings
Rating: PG-13 this part, future parts NC-17
Word Count: 9k approx for this chapter
Summary: Season 1 AU. Ross Christopher Winchester knows three things to be true: that his father, John, is a hero, that he's going to be the best hunter in the goddamn world, and that his two older brothers are in love with each other. A re-telling of Season 1 where The Winchester Boys mean Dean and Sam and Ross, where John is still missing, where Mary and Jess are still crispy-fried, and where Dean and Sam are still obsessed with one another...
Previous Chapter: Chapter 1
World's Forgotten Boys
When they were younger, Dean used to call Ross, littlest brother. It was something that used to drive Ross mad and make Sam cackle as if it was, like, the most hilarious thing in the fucking universe. After Sam left, he stopped doing it and Ross kinda missed it.
Ross never analyzed shit much. But one time, about a couple of months after Sam left, he got drunk, like, way drunk, so drunk that he couldn’t help himself.
“Do you wish it was me?” he asked when Dean rolled him into bed.
“Instead of Sam. Do you wish I was the one that had gone away?” He reached out for Dean; flailed about with his arms until Dean pushed him away.
“That’s bullshit, kiddo, just go to sleep,” Dean said, but Ross knew, Dean always sucked at lying to him.
He hears Dean come back in. Hears him kick off his boots and tug down his jeans, shuck off his jacket and climb onto the couch. He couldn’t hear what he and Sam were fighting about, but he heard their raised voices, and he knows that Sam’s still out there, doing whatever it is that Sam does when he fights with Dean… angsting or emo-ing or the usual Sam woe-is-me shit.
He never got Sam. Sam was always unhappy, always bitching and whining about everything: the food they ate, the places they lived in, the schools they attended, the lying and hiding from the police, the training sessions, the curfews, the secrecy and lies, you fucking name it, Sammy whined about it.
Maybe he was different before, before Ross became one of them. But Ross’s first memory of his brothers is of the two of them staring at him with matching suspicious eyes, a silver knife glinting in Dean’s hand and Sam’s small fingers fisted in Dean’s pajama top. Thinking on it now, he kinda couldn’t blame them: waking up to find a strange kid in bed with you was no way to discover you had a long lost brother, and Dad hadn’t been any use: passed out, dead to the world on the couch, worn out by their long exhausting flight from Texas.
Anyway, whatever, it wasn’t a good beginning, and things with Sam never really improved much.
He's woken up by a wet towel landing on his head and Dean singing out: "Rise and shine, kiddo!" too fucking loud.
It's so much like normal that, for a moment, he forgets the last twenty four hours, forgets the hunt, forgets that Dad is missing, and forgets that Sam is with them. That is, until he opens his eyes properly to see Sam leaning over him, wet from the shower and shaking his head like some sort of freaking shaggy dog. Dean is cackling like it's the funniest thing he's ever seen in the history of ever and Sam is actually fucking smiling for once, looking really pleased with himself. Of course, one of the only things that never failed to put a smile on Sammy’s face was pissing him off.
Ross sits up, pushes Sam away roughly, wiping the water off his face with his other hand. "Get the fuck offa me!"
Sam laughs at him, pads away to his bed, starts rummaging through his duffle. Ross watches him with narrowed eyes. "Fuckin' asshole.”
"Hey, cheer up, littlest bro; I have a good feeling about today," Dean says cheerfully.
Ross looks at him. He's looking happier than he has done in a while. Hell, he's even sort of whistling as he sorts through his duffle trying to find something half clean.
"You do realize you've just gone and jinxed it for us, right?" says Sam, pulling an enormously lame t-shirt on over his head. "By saying that, it's all gonna go wrong from here on out."
"Sammy! Where's your faith, dude? Dad already did the leg work on this one – we know what we’re after: woman in white, blah blah blah. We just go talk to the husband, get it confirmed - cheating sonofabitch, then we find her bones and salt and burn ‘em. Easy."
Sam snorts, "Whatever. If anything goes wrong, I'm blaming you."
"Why change the habit of a lifetime?" retorts Dean, but he's still looking happy, still smiling. Ross watches him disappear back into the bathroom with his toothbrush and feels a weight lift from his stomach, like some horrible knot of tension starting to unwind.
Sam goes off to find out where Constance Welch is buried while he and Dean go to interview the husband. It’s boring, it’s predictable, Sam was right, Dad was right, he did cheat and she did kill her kids. At least now they can get to the violence and waste the bitch.
Sam's sitting on his bed when they get back, Dean's laptop open on his knees. He's been acting like he owns the fucking thing ever since he decided to tag along with them, looking up stuff constantly, probably sending soppy emails to his girlfriend and other lame crap like that. It's not like he hasn't got his own laptop, Ross saw it when they were in his apartment the other night, one of those super-skinny Mac things no less, pretentious asshole.
"I brought bagels!" calls Dean, dangling the bag from one finger. "And coffee. Tell me I'm an awesome brother."
Sam looks up from the computer, frowns, "You eat bagels? You two?"
"What? We're too fucking hick to eat bagels?" snaps Ross. "We're only supposed to eat donuts, are we?"
Sam looks confused for a moment, then shrugs, "Well, yeah."
Ross glances at Dean, he looks kinda amused. He dumps the take-out bag on the shitty table and starts taking each item out.
"Coffee - white, lots of sugar for me. Coffee - white with some sort of caramel crap in it for Samantha, and this macho stuff must be yours?" He holds it out to Ross with a smirk, "You big tough guy, you!"
"Fuck off," he takes it from Dean. "Or I won't let you share."
"These." He throws the packet of cigarettes he picked up while Dean was doing the coffee and bagels run onto the table, watching his brother's face light up.
"Oh dude, lifesaver," Dean moans, shaking one out.
"You're pathetic," Sam says as he comes forward to claim his own coffee, "Addicts."
Dean just smirks at him and heads outside. Sam looks after him, a smile playing on his face, making him look happy too. Something weird is definitely going on here. Last night the two of them were out in the parking lot arguing, and now...
He pushes the thought of just what might've made them both so goddamn cheery out of his head and finishes his bagel.
He doesn’t know exactly how long it had been going on before he figured it out. He was fifteen when he did, and it was Dean’s 21st birthday. Dean had just gotten his first genuine fake ID, the name on it was fake (Dean McWord, Ross had picked it out for him) but the birth date was genuine. It made Dean stupidly happy, which Ross totally didn’t get, Dean had been sneaking into bars since he was Ross’s age, why did the fact he was legal make any difference?
Whatever, Dean was happy and had gone out and bought three bottles of tequila, about a ton of limes and stolen some of the rock salt they used to make salt rounds. Dad was away on some hunt somewhere, but he’d called Dean earlier to wish him happy birthday (which was better than any of them usually got) so that was all good.
The three of them had gotten drunk pretty fucking quickly which was all Dean’s fault, forcing shots on the two of them by insulting them and calling them girls, which, okay, was totally fucking on the ball when it came to Sammy. They were sitting out on the back porch of their rental, it was January but it was still warm so that must’ve been the winter they spent in that piece of shit town somewhere outside of Tampa. He and Sam attended a high school there so fucked up there were bars on every window and two computers among the entire eighth grade, while Dean worked on a construction crew, building another out of town shopping center which was supposed to be the answer to all the town’s woes. Like anything coulda helped that shithole.
Anyway, he was drunk, and after matching Dean and Sam shot for shot (which in hindsight was pretty fucking stupid of him, given that he was only fifteen, Sammy was a freaking giant and Dean had years of alcohol abuse to count on), he eventually passed out.
He came to later, blinked open his eyes and saw them...
Sam had Dean pressed up against the back door, one hand disappearing under the waistband of Dean’s jeans, the other gripping his shoulder. Their mouths were jammed together, Dean’s hands cupping Sam’s face, disappearing into his stupid shaggy hair, as he drove his tongue into Sam’s mouth, feverish and dirty.
For a moment he couldn’t breathe. He was watching Dean and Sam, his brothers, making out? With each other?
That was… that couldn’t be… he was hallucinating.
Dean groaned, letting his head fall back against the wall, exposing his throat. Sam’s mouth followed, not letting him get away for a second, pressing sloppy kisses along Dean’s chin, his jaw, his throat… then back to his mouth, and he was kissing Dean like his life depended on it, sucking on his tongue and slobbering all over his face with loud desperate kisses as if it was the only thing keeping him alive.
It was… all so much like Sam, like the Sammy Ross knew, that it made him feel sick. The annoying, desperate, dorky way he drove his body against Dean’s, like he couldn’t get enough of him, never enough. And Dean… Dean wasn’t just letting Sam; he was encouraging him, making soft, needy noises, like the ones Ross sometimes heard him make when he jerked off.
He realized with stark, stomach-lurching clarity that Dean was getting off on it. That both of them – his brothers – were getting each other off. Dean’s voice all breathy and moany, gasping out: Sammy, Oh God, Sam, fuck, Sammy into Sam’s face, as Sam gripped him harder and harder and moaned out Dean’s name.
He felt sick to his stomach, his insides ripped apart, like those ghouls he’d once seen feasting on rotting corpses when Dad had let him tag along on a hunt, blood and guts and entrails and intestines spilling from the yellow, shriveled corpse. He’d been sick, caught a whiff of the smell, and turned to throw up all over his sneakers. Dad had been furious, had refused to take him on another hunt for almost a year. But that feeling… that disgust, that feeling in his gut… that was nothing, not compared to now – what he was seeing.
He bit his lip hard enough to hurt and barely noticed it when the tears started sliding down his face.
He didn’t say anything to the two of them. What was he supposed to say? He watched them; though God, no, not in that way. He wasn’t like them. Disgusting and fucked-up and perverted, with something broken inside them, some part of their brains that was just… wrong.
He couldn’t look at them the same afterwards. Not for a long while. Some part of him had been hardened, his heart perhaps, turned to stone, forever. He knew he’d never be able to forgive them.
What was wrong with them? What was wrong with Dean? He was the oldest, he was… Dean. Why couldn’t he see that this – this was wrong and it would end up fucking up everything – ruining them and breaking their family apart.
Dean wasn’t entirely blind. He saw that Ross had changed, he actually fucking noticed, and things must’ve gotten bad, because one time, he cornered him, followed him down to the creek by a place they were living in Alabama, and that was bad cause Dean never questioned anything, Dean never spoke about his feelings, Dean hated family confrontations.
But Dean followed him, saying, “What is it, Ross? What’s wrong with you? Tell me what’s wrong, kiddo.”
He’d sworn to himself that he would tell him. That he would turn around and sneer out: “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you – you disgusting pervert!!” And Dean would freeze up, be guilty and devastated, and God, he wanted Dean to be devastated, because what he and Sammy were doing was wrong and sick and just, God, just disgusting; betraying the family, betraying Dad, betraying him.
And why was it Sam? Fucking Sam. What was so great about Sam?
But he was unable to say anything, he stared at Dean’s face; at his obliviousness, at his confusion, and Ross felt… lost. He turned and ran, not listening to Dean calling out after him, so desperate to get some space between him and his eldest brother. No longer the big brother Ross had always counted on, had always loved best.
Dean knew better than to confront him again.
He wanted to be sly and insinuating, to say shit in front of Dad that would embarrass the two of them, that would signal to them that he knew, that he wasn’t the dumb little kid they thought he was. But he was never able to, always too chicken. And they were both so - so… normal in front of Dad. Acting as they always did; and Dad didn’t suspect a thing. And Ross never got that, because to him, it was so fucking clear, so fucking obvious.
But if Dad did suspect, he never said anything, he never did anything. So they carried on. All that time, all those years. Until Sam left.
He could remember one time, months after he’d found out. He’d been excused from chores to do his homework. He was sitting at the kitchen table, watching Dean and Sam wash and dry the dishes. Dean had his hands in the sink, soap suds up to his elbows, Sam leaned into him, whispered something in his ear. Dean flushed, his cheeks and neck going pink, he turned his head and gave Sam a look filled with so much love and longing and fucking desire that something cracked inside Ross, something broke. He gripped the edge of the table with white knuckles and felt his eyes blur over with tears.
It’s all over so quickly.
He’s in the car, gasping for air, starving for oxygen, the malingering spirit choking the life from his body, then she’s gone… blown away by Dean and his favorite shotgun.
Then she’s really gone… embracing her kids in one last watery hug, dragged down to Hell or Heaven or wherever restless spirits go when they’re no longer restless.
He raises his eyes; Dean’s panting heavily, clutching his chest, flushed, blood from a gash in his forehead dripping splat-splat-splat onto the bare wood floor. Ross is on the floor by the wall, sprawled out on his back, chest spasming up and down with winded breaths, he groans loudly and Dean staggers over, bending over to pull him to his feet. The two of them stumble around to stare at Sam, Ross clutching Dean’s arm with both hands, looking dazed. Sam stares back at them, blinking dizzily, feels his mouth start to crook upwards into a painful smile. He feels weirdly elated, high on blood loss and euphoria, barely noticing the throbbing ache at his temples and chest where the spirit whammied him into the dresser. Dean and Ross heave out a sigh, almost in unison, and grin back at him, dazzling white teeth and blood red gashes across their cheeks, flushed and feverish in the eerie moonlight.
They make it back to the room in one piece, Dean bitching about the damage to the car the entire journey back, about Sam’s desperate ram-raid to save his life. Once they get back to the room, Sam passes out on the bed, he hasn’t felt this exhausted in years and his body’s protesting, forcing him down into sleep. He wakes up a couple of hours later, groggy and thick-headed, aching all over. Dean and Ross are cleaned-up, bandaged and smelling of iodine and cheap shampoo, sitting on the other bed cleaning the weapons.
“Hey, welcome back to the land of the living,” says Dean, looking amused as he staggers past them into the bathroom, slamming the door shut on Ross’s derisive laugh.
He stares at himself in the mirror above the sink, wincing. He looks bad: bruises, cuts, lacerations and contusions on his face and body, like he’s gone four rounds with a pissed-off spirit, which, of course, he has. These are the parts of hunting he doesn’t miss; these are the parts that are going to be hard to explain to Jess.
“Sammy!” The bathroom door rattles. “Sam!”
He puts down the facecloth, glances at the bathroom door.
“What the fuck, dude? I need to piss!”
“You know I’ll just pick it and come on in anyway –“
“Jesus Christ, alright.”
He unlocks the door, lets Dean in. Dean doesn’t spare him a glance, goes straight for the toilet and unzips.
“Uh… Do you mind?”
“No. Told you, gotta go.”
“Right.” Sam presses his lips together, looks back at his reflection. He reaches for the washcloth, rinses it under the cold waters.
“You got some nasty-ass bruises there,” observes Dean.
Sam looks up, catches Dean’s eyes in the mirror.
Despite his shower and the butterfly band-aid across his temple, Dean doesn’t look much better, dark shadows around his eyes, bruises swelling up his lips and jaw, he’s not in as bad a condition as Sam, but still…
Dean shrugs, moves to take the washcloth from his hand. “Here, let me.”
Sam hesitates as he feels Dean move closer, the air getting warmer, closer around them, a weird tingling ache in his skin. Slowly, he looks away, bares his neck, his skin feels damaged, as if he can see the bruises spidering out across his flesh, sending goosebumps prickling up his nape, he feels damaged, cut into.
Dean’s hands are gentle; dabbing delicately at the cuts, his breath a steady warm puff against Sam’s face, and Sam can’t help the pleasurable rush spin throughout his body. He’s careful not to look Dean in the face, careful to fix his gaze on his brother’s hands, on the movements of his long capable fingers, on the way they grasp the cloth and press against his skin.
And… ohhh, maybe fixating on how amazing Dean’s hands feel is a bad idea because his cock is starting to take interest, slowly getting harder, pressing against the seam of his jeans.
He tears his gaze away, concentrates on the water circling the drain, but Dean’s fingers are deliciously soft against his throat and he feels suddenly, overwhelmingly aroused. He swallows thickly, Dean stills; the air in the bathroom is stifling, heavy and tangible between them, around them, their private two-person bubble. Dean drops the cloth, it slips, a wet solid slap against the porcelain.
Dean’s voice is low and gruff, making something shift in Sam’s chest.
God, not this conversation, he doesn’t want this conversation; this is about the last conversation he ever wants. He wants to get in the car, go back to Stanford, feel Jess’s arms around him, know he’s got an interview the next day, know he’s got a future that’s nothing about hunting, nothing about his family. He doesn’t want to be this: Samuel John Winchester, fucked-up and wrong in the head, the freak who gets aroused by his brother, who gets so turned on by his big brother that the only thing he can think about is slamming him up against the sink and kissing him and kissing him until they both come in their pants.
Dean doesn’t say anything, stands there, breathing low and steady.
Hitch of breath, Dean turns, puts his back to Sam, his voice unsteady, uncomfortable: “Ross, uh, found some co-ordinates in Dad’s journal. A note, he must’ve left for us. Of where he is.”
“Oh. Where? Did you trace them?”
“Blackwater Ridge, Colorado. Middle of nowhere. We’re gonna. We’re settin’ out soon as you’re okay and ready to move.”
“I - I’m not incapacitated. I can move now. You should’ve said.”
Dean shrugs, finally looks up, their eyes meet. “Well then. We’re waitin’ for you.”
He turns to leave, Sam’s hand snaps out, snags his sleeve, a sudden flash of desire deep and urgent in his gut.
“What?” Dean turns around, careful blank expression in place, all emotion schooled away.
“I’m not comin’ with you. I told you. I have an interview.”
“Riiiight, law school.”
“Yeah. This is my entire future. This is. It’s important.”
Dean nods, lips pressed together, eyes cast downwards, unreadable. Eventually, he raises his head again, gaze flicking quickly to Sam’s face then back again.
“We’ll drop you off,” he says.
He leaves, door rattling closed behind him. Sam snaps the lock and slumps onto the closed toilet lid. He presses the heel of his palm to his rock-hard cock; he’ll have to take care of this before they go anywhere.
He has to admit he enjoyed the hunt. Despite the reassurance, the mantra in his head (I swore to myself I was done with this life), there is something about hunting: the adrenalin rush, the feeling of job well done that’s wired into him. Seeing a spirit vaporize, knowing that they’ve saved the lives of future idiotic cheating frat boys, knowing that someone is finally put to rest – all of that – it’s satisfying. There is a part of him that is always going to miss this, miss his brothers (God, miss Dean) – the only two other people in the entire world who truly know who he is, who know what it’s like to grow up as he did, who know the sort of scars that their kind of upbringing leaves.
He’s in the backseat for the trip back to Stanford. He didn’t bother to fight for shotgun this time around, it’s Ross’s now, Ross has earned it, he’s the one whose stuck around these past couple of years, the one whose been with Dean every single day. And he’s… he’s pretty much okay with that, Dean needs someone, and Ross – he’s that person now, not him, not Sam. After all, what does it matter now? He’s got his own life, and the kind of crap that used to obsess him when he was younger – his and Ross’s fight-to-the-death, world-ending sibling rivalry – it’s not important anymore. He’s gotten past all that, he’s in a different place to Ross and Dean, he has a different life. He’s grown up, up and away, away from them. He’s moved on.
He drums his fingers against his knee, stares out the window, outside, everything’s dark, the one working headlight casting uneven shadows. He feels strange, jittery, nervous. He’s relieved to be going back, back to Stanford, back to Jess, definitely relieved, but…
“Y’alright, Sam? Not asleep?”
Dean’s voice breaks the silence. He digs his fingers into his thighs, a weight settling over him as he stares at the back of Dean’s head, hears his voice, low and intimate, familiar in all the wrong ways.
“Yeah, I, yeah. Not asleep, but I’m fine. Quit worrying, Dean.”
“She tore a chunk outta you, man, course I was worried.”
“Well, I feel fine. Nothing I can’t handle,” he snaps.
“Sure, if you say so,” Dean replies evenly.
They sit in silence, minutes pass, then Dean chuckles under his breath, says, “Never woulda thought it.”
“You. Doin’ the dirty on your girl.”
“No. What? Course I haven’t done the dirty on my… On Jess.”
“No? My bad. S’just that that was what that bitch did, right? Got revenge on unfaithful boyfriends. She seemed pretty fucking keen to get revenge on you. Can’t blame a guy for -”
“- That’s bullshit, Dean!” he interrupts, irritated by the knowing tone in his brother’s voice. “I don’t know why she did that but I wouldn’t cheat. No fuckin’ way! Can’t believe you think I would.”
A long pause, Dean sniggers, “Oh, Sammy, dude, you’re so easy!”
“What?” He looks up, meets Dean’s eyes in the driver’s mirror. “Oh, ha fucking ha. You’re so hilarious.”
“I know. Totally, right?” Sam rolls his eyes, sees Dean’s reflection smile, eyes gleaming in the dark. “Shit, I know you wouldn’t cheat on anyone. Particularly a fine piece of ass like –“
“Trust me, you do not want to finish that sentence.”
Dean laughs out loud, drums his palms against the steering wheel, rat-a-tat-tat of beats that’s probably some lame drum solo from some lame song, and it’s all so Dean, that despite his annoyance at Dean’s teasing doucheyness, he finds himself grinning, rolling his eyes and grinning.
“So, seriously, tell me, how did you hook up with a chick that hot?”
“Sure wasn’t anything you taught me.”
Dean scoffs, “Yeah, right. You learned it all from me, bitch.”
“Whatever makes you feel happier, Dean.”
Dean smiles, crinkles at the corners of his eyes, a full wattage Dean Winchester special. A wave of pure affection hits him, it feels… easy, familiar, the car, Dean, Ross, the road. For the first time in a long time, he’s not pretending anything, not editing his words, no lies, no omissions.
They pull up at the apartment three hours later. Ross stirs, makes a weird, rubbery noise with his mouth, looking strangely like a guppy fish peering out through a fish tank, but he doesn’t wake up. Sam leans over the front bench, looks at him.
“God, what a freak.”
Dean snorts, a fond curl to his mouth. “Hey, you remember that time we put the fish food in his mouth?”
“Oh, yeah. And the spoon thing you used to do when one of us fell asleep?”
“Hey, that trick will never get old.” He looks up, grins at Sam. “Did somethin’ like it last month and the little shit put itching powder in my boxers.”
“Wow, the fun never stops with you two.”
“Yeah. Fucking hilarious it was.”
Sam smiles again, staring into Dean’s face: familiar shapes, planes, skin and bone he can still remember, can almost still feel against his lips. Dean’s so close, right here, like he’s thought about, like he’s dreamed about. Ross is asleep and Dean is here, all he has to do is lean forward and…
He turns away, gathers his duffle from the seat beside him, clears his throat.
“Look, will you tell him – you know, say goodbye from me?”
A flicker in Dean’s eyes, he lowers his head, nods uncomfortably. “Yeah. Okay.”
“And, Dean, if… you, uh, hear from Dad, let me know, okay?”
“You mean you’ll actually pick up the phone?”
He presses his lips together, sighs, hand resting on the door handle. “Yeah. I’ll pick up the phone. I do care about what happens to him.”
“I know you do,” says Dean quietly.
A long pause. There’s something he should be saying now, he knows that, but he’s not sure what it is. He has an interview tomorrow, a very important, life-deciding interview and he almost forgot about it. He glances behind him, sees the apartment building through the Impala’s back window. Jess is up there, waiting for him, probably in bed, warm, soft, beautiful Jess, he has to go now, has to get away – from Dean - because if he doesn’t…
He opens the door.
“Well, uh, I’ll see you, I guess.”
Dean nods, says nothing. Sam can feel his eyes on him all the way up the stairs into his building.
He closes the front door behind him, leans against the wall, exhales. He’s trembling, fists clenched in the handle of his duffle. He waits, hears the rumble roar of the Impala’s engine fade away.
He doesn’t know whether to feel devastated or relieved; it’s almost too much to process.
The apartment’s dark. He didn’t expect anything else, it’s late, Jess will be sleeping. He dumps his duffle on the couch, heads for the kitchen. There’s a plate of cookies in the middle of the kitchen table, dead centre, a coaster underneath it, a note in Jess’s handwriting: MISSED YOU, LOVE YOU! He stares, the words swimming against his tired eyes, there’s a disconnect somewhere, because he doesn’t recognize this – this note – for him? She baked him cookies. He and Ross baked cookies once, for Dean’s sixteenth birthday, they got the recipe off the local TV affiliate’s morning cookery show. Dean was so pleased, ate the lot in practically one sitting, grinned and laughed like it was the best fucking birthday present ever. They weren’t even that good.
He shrugs tiredly, grabs a couple of the cookies. He’s hungry and he needs to stop thinking, needs to sleep now, stop thinking about Dean, about Dad being missing. He should be thinking about interview questions: why do you want to be a lawyer, where do you see yourself in five years time… He’d been okay, doing good, everything on track… until Dean and Ross showed up.
Jess isn’t in bed. Which is… kinda strange. Probably decided to spend the night with Claire or Becky, maybe she wasn’t expecting him to get back until the morning, he should’ve called her, but he was… preoccupied.
He sinks onto the bed, relishing the soft covers, sheets and pillows that smell like him and Jess, definitely no trace of horrible, moldy motel rooms.
He sees her in a flash of a second, a scream that has him diving off the bed. Gash of red against the white, mouth caught in a silent scream…
Cascading outwards, waves and waves, yellow, orange, and hot, so hot -
Arms on him, pulling, grabbing, claiming him.
Her body. The black outline, white dress, fire. So fucking hot. He reaches out… If he stretches further he might -
“No! Sammy! C’mon!”
Ross’s face: flash of white teeth, scared, round eyes, panicked cheeks.
“SAM! ROSS! MOVE! NOW!”
His brothers claim him, with wide eyes and desperate hands.
The room’s gone now anyway, eaten up. No more.
She’s gone too.
It’s been six days since the fire, and so far, all their research has been for shit. The fire department are insisting it was faulty wiring that caused the fire, apparently the building Sam was living in was a death trap, more dangerous than some of the flea-ridden shitholes Dad had them living in when they were growing up. There’s probably some sort of irony there but Ross is too bored and too distracted to appreciate it.
He knows they’re not going to find anything, that they’re just wasting their time. It’s so fucking obvious that Sammy’s cute girlfriend was taken out by the same thing that got Sam and Dean’s mom, and if Dad, whose been chasing the thing responsible for over twenty years, has had fuck all luck finding it and killing it, then there’s no freaking way the three of them are going to succeed. They need to get the hell out of this fake shitty town and find Dad.
He’s smoking around the back of their motel room; the sound of Dean and Sam’s voices coming through the thin walls, though he can’t make out what they’re saying, not that he even wants to. He finishes up his cigarette and takes out another, anything to avoid going back to the room yet. It’s exhausting and depressing being around Sam right now, he doesn’t know what to say to him; sorry your hot girlfriend’s dead, bro, just doesn’t cut it, and Sam’s too busy doing his best impression of Dad: all stoic and game-faced, and pretending like everything’s totally not fucked up.
He hears the door open and close; he glances up to see Dean eying him with a strange look on his face.
Dean opens his mouth, looks like he’s about to say something, then shuts it again.
“Jeez, chill out,” Dean hisses. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Maybe it’s being stuck in this fuckin’ hole!” He drops his cigarette, grinds it out violently. Dean’s watching him closely, it’s annoying. “What? Stop fuckin’ staring at me like that!”
“Look, I just – I wanna get the fuck out of here. Go find Dad. We’ve been stuck here for days now, and he’s been missing nearly a month!”
“I know that.” Dean’s pressing his lips together, looking pissed off. Good, he should be. “But we’re not going until after the funeral. We’re not letting Sammy deal with that shit on his own.”
“I don’t need to go.”
Dean gives him a look, full-on big brother disapproval.
“I’ll pretend you didn’t say that.”
“Oh Jesus, Dean! You know what I mean! You can go look after him. You don’t need me there too! And it’s not like he’ll even give a shit.”
“She was his girlfriend, Ross. She meant something to him; she could’ve ended up being part of the family one day. We – owe this.” He breaks off, looking awkward, doing this fake shrugging thing. “Look, we’re, uh, heading into town. Gotta get smart suits for the funeral. All Sammy’s shit burned up and the stuff we got won’t cut it. You gonna come with, or d’you trust me to pick somethin’ out for you?” Ross gives him a look and Dean snorts. “Right. Well, shake ass.” He turns, heading back inside.
“I. Uh, did you say anythin’ to him about why we went back?”
“What?” Dean’s expression shifts, that worried frown of his, he strides back towards him. “What d’you mean?”
“You know. When we went back. After we dropped him. Did you tell him why?”
“I haven’t said anything to him about it.”
“Said anything to me about what?” Sam’s voice cuts in. Ross jumps in surprise, spins around. Sam’s standing a few yards away, staring at them through narrowed eyes. “What’re you talking about?”
“Nothing. Sam –“
“Tell me, Dean.”
Sam’s glaring at Dean; Dean looks torn, that big brother, guilty look of his. Christ, there’s no goddamn reason for him to look guilty, but Sam always had that effect on him, always with the emotional blackmail, and Dean always gave into Sammy.
Dean glances at Ross expectantly, and Ross rolls his eyes, says, “I had a dream.”
Jesus, what’s he saying? And what’s with the weirdo channeling of Martin Luther King? Sam’s eyes narrow further on him, obviously assuming Ross is mocking him.
“Yeah, uh, what I mean is, that I dreamed about you, Sam. That’s why I told Dean to go back.”
Ross hesitates, glances at Dean but Dean’s not looking his way, just staring at Sammy, all crinkled eyes and concern. “He’s right, dude. That’s what happened.”
Sam’s face falls, pinching and crumbling before them like a freaking cookie. Shit.
“Sorry,” adds Ross, because for a moment, just then, he really and truly does feel sorry for his brother, it’s hard not to, he looks so stupidly desperate.
“But… You - did you dream… What about Jess?”
“I don’t know,” he says truthfully. “I didn’t dream about her. It was just you. I saw you, and it was, like, all fucked up and wrong, so I made Dean turn the car around to go back.”
He can’t remember the details anymore; it’s faded away, as dreams always do. But he can remember the feeling of panic, the one thought beating around his brain: SAVE SAM, GO BACK, SAVE SAMMY. Like one of Dad’s exorcisms, with words that he doesn’t really understand or process, but that he knows, that he understands deep down: Sam’s in trouble, they have to go back. Like the end of The Empire Strikes Back, and he’s Princess Leia, (only butcher, though not by much, cause, dude, she was fierce) and he has to make Chewie (Dean) turn the Millennium Falcon (the Impala) around to go back and save his brother.
Sam’s still staring at him, lips trembling pathetically, and just great, he’s so gonna cry. Ross knows it, and it won’t be pretty, Sam's totally a messy girly crier. He glances at Dean again, but Dean’s looking at Sam with a worried, scrunched up face, eyes sort of damp, that just-about-to-cry look of his. Oh for fuck’s sake, has every bit of fucking testosterone left the building? Is he supposed to be the strong one here?
“Why didn’t you see her? Why didn’t you say anything?” Sam croaks, practically pleading with him. Shit. What the fuck is he supposed to say to that? It’s not like he wanted to have the dream and he’s got no fucking clue why he did have it.
He looks towards Dean again for support, but Dean’s already striding towards Sam, covering the few feet between them quickly, pulling him into his arms. Sam lets him, giving in and going limp, burying his face in Dean’s neck, his body beginning to shake. Oh God. Great. Sam’s having an emotional breakdown and it’s all Ross’s fault. He should’ve kept his goddamned mouth closed because now he’s broken his brother. For a second, he wishes desperately that Dad were with them. Dad would know what to say. Okay, so it would probably be something like, “Pull yourself together, son, we got work to do,” or something equally manly and unhelpful, but he would be there and he would be just well… Dad.
Dean seems to have things under control, and if Dad isn’t here then Dean is definitely the next best thing, perhaps even better, at least as far as Sammy’s concerned. Dean’s pulled Sam to the ground, making it easier for him to get his arms around him; after all, Sam is a freakish giant. Dean buries his face in Sam’s hair, and runs his hands up and down Sam’s back in a soothing sort of motion. Dean always used to comfort them like that when they were young; he’d sort of fold himself around them in a big-ass hug and run his hands up and down their backs, whispering stupid words in his low steady voice. It kinda manages to be disturbing and comforting at the same time to see him doing it now.
“Sammy?” Ross says carefully.
Dean lifts his head and looks at him. His face is pale and strained, but his eyes are saying, don’t worry, kiddo, I’ve got it. Ross stares at him, gulps over the lump in his throat, nodding and backing away from them.
The best thing is to leave the two of them to it, cause fuck, it’s not like he has anything to add to the freaking conversation. It’s probably good for Sam to cry and let it out and all that shit. Endorphins or something – they get released when you have a good cry, he saw that on some talk show one time, it’s all chemistry after all, everything in your body – like, feelings and emotions, just chemistry. Sam would know about that, he loves that science crap; he’s totally the Scully.
He heads into the motel room. It’s a mess, clothes and towels and piles of paper all over the place. Sam’s research is strewn across every surface, some of it tacked to the wall even. Seeing it reminds him of Dad, Dad whose now been missing for a month, while they… mess around here, having breakdowns and not getting on with the job like they should be, not getting their priorities right. Dad would totally have their balls for this.
He sinks down onto his bed; throwing aside a pair of jeans in disgust: they’ve got to be Dean’s, all ripped and torn about the knees and caked in mud, Dean can never be bothered to take care of his clothes. He wants to hit something, shoot something, fight, all of his body itching like he needs it, like he’s some sort of freaking adrenalin junkie, and who the fuck knows – he probably is. It’s not like their life don’t provide plenty of opportunity for it. At least, he can manage the drink bit; he hesitates for a second, then shrugs, grabs his jacket and the car keys. Dean won’t notice his absence for a while yet. He’s gonna be far too busy comforting Sam, (and he so doesn’t want to think about that too deeply), they won’t even notice he’s gone AWOL. And hell, he needs a drink. He deserves it.
He curls his fingers around the car keys and heads outside.
Dad’s not in Blackwater Ridge. It’s just some dumbass kids gone camping. And, man, if he had a dollar for every idiot they’ve saved who’s been on a freaking camping trip, he’d be a very rich man.
Dean seems to perk up again, though, making nice with the cute chick. Sam, on the other hand, does not perk up; watching Dean and the girl with a total jealous bitch look when he’s not too busy brooding.
“I’ve gotta find Dad,” he tells them after they’ve said goodbye to cute chick and her dumbass brothers. “I’ve gotta find Jess’s killer. It’s the only thing I can think about.” His voice cracks as he speaks and he looks broken again, and God, Ross is not sure how much more of Broken Sam he can take, even Bitchy Sam is an improvement on this.
Dean takes it all in calmly, says, “Okay, well, we’re gonna find him.”
“Yeah, we’ll find him,” Ross adds, sounding confident, though honestly, he’s started feeling unsure about that. Most of the time he pushes the thoughts to the back of his mind, but occasionally, they seep through: where is Dad? Why has no one heard from him in over a month? Why is he not answering his phone? Endless questions going round and round his head when he’s not, like, thinking of something else.
And Sammy… God, he’s the same moody bitch Ross remembers, only worse, now that he has a real and proper reason for the never-fucking-ending angst, and not just the epic lameness that Ross remembers. And he wants to be understanding and sympathetic, really, he does, but Sam’s so tiring, like an emo succubus, taking up all Dean’s attention all the fucking time that Ross can’t stop feeling nostalgic for the days when Sam was miles away at college, when it was just him and Dean. And, of course, that just makes him feel guilty, because despite everything, Sam is his brother, and he’s just lost the love of his life who was seriously hot and totally didn’t deserve to die, not like that, burned up on the ceiling.
He watches Sam stride away, back towards the Impala, back and shoulders all hunched over as usual. Dean’s given him the keys, letting him drive again, one of his many cheer-up-Sammy attempts, and that – that’s just not fair.
“How come you let him drive?”
“You never let anyone else drive. You never let me drive. Why have you –“
“Dude!” Dean cuts him off with a glare before he’s stomping off after Sam.
There’s a dead spirit haunting a lake in Wisconsin, a demon who likes possessing pilots and causing plane crashes in Pennsylvania, and Bloody Mary, like, the real Bloody Mary haunting the mirrors of various stupid teenagers in Ohio. Sam plays the martyr and attempts to draw her out with his deep, dark, secret pain while Dean gets into a brawl with a security guard, and Ross smashes up some antique mirrors. He’s usually pretty down with the random meaningless violence, and destroying loads of antique mirrors definitely counts as random meaningless violence, but this time, it falls flat: maybe it’s cause the broken glass is sharp and gets fucking everywhere, or it could just be because bleeding eye sockets are totally gross and way fucked-up, even for them.
The whole thing makes him feel weird and disappointed, and when the three of them climb back into the car, they have matching bloody tears crusting their cheeks. Dean looks between them all, grunts: “God, could we be any more dysfunctional?”
Sam snorts bitterly, and Ross wipes the blood off his face with his sleeve, wondering what the hell he’s supposed to be hiding? It’s not like their family ever gave any of them space to go off and develop their own big dark secrets, and he and Dean have practically been together 24/7 for the last few years…
…Okay, yeah, there is that one massive, life-changing secret that Dean and Sam share – the one that makes his stomach roll over and his chest feel tight and painful when he thinks about it – but that’s not a secret, he’s known about that for years, though Dean and Sam don’t know that he knows. Maybe that’s what this freaky mirror bitch could be getting at? But that raises more fucking questions that it answers, and Ross is too goddamn tired to think it through, so he doesn’t, he pushes it to the back of his mind along with everything else.
After Bloody Mary, comes Sam’s hot blond friend and her framed-by-a-shapeshifter, loser brother. They drive to St Louis, and Sam greets her with hugs and long boring stories about people Ross and Dean have never heard of. She leads them into her parents' impressive manse, sliding her hands into the back pockets of her pants, and okay, so she could do with eating a couple of sandwiches, but he’d still hit it. He glances at Dean, Dean is eyeing her too, and Ross can tell from the look on his brother’s face that he’s having exactly the same thought. He catches Dean’s eye and raises an eyebrow, Dean smirks back at him, and for a moment, it feels like the old days.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t get a chance to piss off Sammy by hooking up with his hot skinny friend because in a motherfucking crazy turn of events, the shapeshifter impersonates Dean and has him framed for murder, and then Dean shoots him, his own evil double.
Dean’s extra quiet on the drive out of St Louis, listening to Johnny Cash the entire way (never a good sign) and they end up holing up in a motel just across the state line in Illinois.
“Great. So now I’m officially dead, right?”
“Looks like,” says Sam. “Sorry.”
“Yeah, sorry about that, dude,” adds Ross.
“Fuckin’ awesome,” bitches Dean, ignoring the two of them and stomping out the motel room, banging the door behind him and taking the car (their only means of transport) off to the nearest bar.
Sam turns to Ross with a look of concern. Ross shrugs, Dean’ll get over it, Dean always does, Dean’s bad moods don’t usually last very long. He picks up the remote and starts surfing the pay-per-view.
“Oh, no fucking way!” whines Sam, and he’s obviously gotten over his concern for Dean pretty fucking quickly because he’s not looking concerned now, he’s just looking pissed. “You are not watching porn with me in the same room.”
“I wasn’t gonna watch porn, you freak. I was lookin’ for a movie.”
“Oh right.” Sam looks mollified and makes a grab for the remote lying in Ross’s hand. He doesn’t succeed. “What? Just give it here, Ross. Let me have a look.”
Sam scowls but sits back on his bed, watching Ross scroll through the pathetic list of titles. “Oh, man, there’s like nothing here. Oh – awesome. Gladiator.”
“You’ve seen it about seventy goddamn times.”
“What? No I fuckin’ haven’t, Sammy!”
“Yeah. You have. And it’s Sam!”
“Get over yourself!” Sam glares at him – Ross ignores it. “Anyway, what’ve you got against Gladiator? It’s a fuckin’ awesome movie!”
“Apart from the fact you’ve seen it seventy times already? Well, one, Russell Crowe – the guy couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag. Two – the storyline makes zero sense and three – it sucks!”
“What you talkin’ about? The storyline’s about a guy getting revenge for the death of his wife. Something we can fuckin’ understand I would’ve thought.”
Sam snorts, “Yeah. S’another reason I don’t want to watch it.”
“It won best picture Oscar,” Ross points out.
“So did Titanic.”
“Aha! So you wanna watch Titanic, huh?”
“No. No, I don’t. Just – watch what you want, I’m gonna do some work.” Sam slides off the bed, picks Dean’s laptop up off the floor where it’s been resting, and opens it up with a self-righteous click.
Ross pulls a face at his back and orders Gladiator.
Dean comes back about three hours later, stumbling through the door with pink glassy eyes, obviously half-parts drunk and half-parts stoned, babbling something about a hippy college chick doing an interpretive dance to Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
“…And, you know how in the movies and on TV when hot chicks get up and dance in the middle of the bar, it’s all hot and steamy – like, whoa, Salma Hayek in that awesome scene in From Dusk Till Dawn – though minus the big-ass snake, because, dude, creepy, well, in real life it’s not. Hot. Not hot. No, it’s fuckin’ embarrassing. And seriously, I was like, where do I look? Because her tits were kinda small and, dude, Pink Floyd? What the fuck?”
He pulls a hilariously confused face, puts his hand in the pocket of his jacket, and takes out a baggie containing three fat rolled joints which he holds up with an enormous grin. “Still, she wasn’t totally a waste of my best lines.”
“Aw, shit, awesome,” Ross says, “I haven’t been high in, like, fuckin’ ages.”
Dean smirks, throws himself onto the bed beside Sam. “You wanna get high, Sammy?”
Sam’s still got the laptop on his knee and he’s looking annoyed, but it’s a fake kind of annoyance, a sort of indulgent I’m so freaking mature, unlike you losers kind of annoyance which is so totally Sam. Dean leans into him and nuzzles his forehead against Sam’s huge shoulder, and Ross is suddenly worried, Dean is handsy when he’s high, make that handsy and completely uninhibited, and fuck… this has the potential to go somewhere that he just… doesn’t want to know about, like, ever.
Sam sighs like the big ole martyr he thinks he is, nudges Dean away with his elbow, shutting up the laptop. “Aw, what the hell,” he says, and Dean grins, wide and blissful.
“That’s my Sammy.” Dean looks up at Ross, beckons him over, “You too. C’mere, kiddo.”
Ross slips onto the end of the bed, watches Dean spark up with a quick flick of his Zippo, taking a massive inhale which he holds in for ages, his face going scarily beet red before he exhales.
“Aww, dude, awesome shit,” he breathes, handing off the joint to Sam.
Sam looks at him for a moment before shrugging and taking it. Sam knows how to do this. Hell, this is not the first time the three of them have gotten high together like this. Since Sam left, he and Dean have done it a few times, though always after a hunt, saving it up like a special, well-done-us-we-didn’t-die treat, and always when Dad was away, as Dad’s opinion on drugs is seriously zero tolerance. If Dean’s anything like normal, then in about ten minutes, he’ll be singing Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf, another half-hour after that, and he’ll be passed out, fully clothed. Dean has a concrete stomach for alcohol and hell, any kinda food, but pot’s like his freaking kryptonite.
Dean stares at Sam as he takes the joint from him, reaches out a hand to stroke across Sam’s hair, playing with the stupid curly ends.
“Gently,” he tells him.
Sam’s eyes are wide, Ross can see them darken as he inhales, pupils dilating. He coughs when he exhales and his eyes water, but he's still smiling.
“Fuck, Dean, s’strong shit.”
“You know me; only get the best for my boys.”
Dean smiles, soft and slow and completely wasted, while Sam stares back at him, their eyes locked together, sappy and gross and as if Ross’s not even in the fucking room. Dean takes the joint from Sam without looking away and it’s like the air is fucking crackling between them and he doesn’t even think that that description works in real life, except here, it’s, like… he can see it, cause they’re about two moves away from jumping each other’s bones and now… now he doesn’t want to be here anymore.
He doesn’t want to get high anymore, not like this. Not like the odd one out, the third, or is it fifth, fucking wheel? The extra, unwanted, the half brother. And it’s just not fair because he wants to get high, he wants the buzz, he fucking deserves it, but not like this.
He stands up quickly, too quickly, fucking head-rush, scanning the room for his boots, coat, whatever he needs to get the fuck outta there, like, soon as fucking possible, before they start molesting each other, fucking going for it, right there on the bed, the disgusting, perverted freaks.
“You okay there, kiddo?” Dean says, his voice is choked and raspy and he’s holding the joint out to Ross, like, way to finally notice that he’s actually in the fucking room.
Ross hesitates, glancing between the smoking spliff in Dean’s fingers and Dean’s face, the soft, welcoming smile and glazed, pink eyes as he stares up at Ross from the bed. And, fuck it, he does want to get high, it’s been months, he wants to get off his fucking face and he wants to do it now.
“I’m fine,” he snaps out, grabbing the spliff from Dean’s hand.
Dean raises an eyebrow, “Oookay then.”
Sam sniggers, and Dean smiles again, still looking up at Ross with his eyes wide open, lashes long and stupid looking, like a freaking dog or a puppy or something lame like that, it makes him feel vicious, makes him want to strike out, hurt his brother.
“You gonna sit back down? Making me nervous hovering about up there,” says Dean.
Ross scowls and sits back down on the end of the bed. Minutes pass as he smokes, willing himself to get stoned quickly, luckily this seems to be happening - Sam’s right, this is seriously strong shit.
“Gimme.” Sam makes a grabby gesture with his fingers, and as Ross passes the joint back to him, he notices for the first time that Sam’s other hand is resting on Dean’s leg, just above his knee, fingers stroking gently against the inseam of Dean’s jeans.
Dean’s completely relaxed, practically out of it already, eyes closed, his chest rising and falling as he breathes. Ross stares at Sam’s hand, it’s pretty mesmerizing the way Sam’s long fingers brush up and brush down, and it probably feels amazing, the kinda touch that could drive you insane, that could make you hard enough to cut glass. He wonders suddenly if that’s how it used to be between them: if Sam used to tease Dean with soft touches and filthy words, or if it was the other way around? Dean always seemed to him to be more of a cock-tease, Sam he always imagined as being the sort of sonofabitch who would just throw you down onto a bed or the nearest flat surface and fuck the shit out of you.
Jesus, did he really just think that?
He swallows, his face flushing red with embarrassment; the three of them have obviously been spending far too long in just each other’s company. He forces himself to look away. It doesn’t help; he can still see Sam’s hand, huge and possessive, on Dean’s leg and the relaxed, slack look around Dean’s mouth in his head, like an image imprinted on his brain.
He can’t look away for ever, though, so he turns around again. Dean’s eyes are still closed; his head leant back against the wall, throat exposed and body angled towards Sam, Sam’s hand still resting on Dean’s leg. Sam’s smoking, humming under his breath, looking content and easy in a way that just isn’t normal for Sam, or hasn’t been for the past couple of months.
“Hey,” he says, catching Ross’s eye. “You want anymore?”
Ross takes the joint from him without speaking; Sam’s stupid long fingers brush against his own, he jerks his hand away as if he’s been burned. He’s supposed to feel relaxed, but he isn’t, he’s so far from it, all tense and jittery, like he’s taken some bad E.
“C’mere,” slurs Dean.
Ross jerks his head up; Dean’s blinking at him from under half-closed eyes, a dreamy look on his face, and he wonders just how much Dean smoked before he got back from the bar because, man, Dean is wasted.
Ross gulps for a moment before shifting up the bed, it doesn’t occur to him to say no, he’s so used to just doing whatever Dean tells him. Dean’s moved even closer to Sam, made room for him on his other side, he holds out his arm and lets Ross crawl into the space. It’s really warm and Dean feels both soft and hard against his side.
“You okay?” asks Dean. Ross nods, not looking at him. He suddenly feels like crying, either that, or hitting something. He still feels wrong, unhappy in his skin in a way he doesn’t remember ever feeling when he was younger, the way adolescents are supposed to feel, though he never did, he always felt like himself, Ross Christopher Winchester, exactly like the person he was supposed to be. Now though…
It’s probably Sam that’s doing it. Sam and Dean, the two of them, being all… like this. And he kinda wants to punish them for that, but they’re… Dean’s so warm and big and comforting, and it all feels exactly the same as it used to when he was a kid, when he would curl up on the shitty motel couches with Dean to watch horror movies while Sammy did homework and Dad wrote shit up in his journal (when he was there). And this is – it’s confusing, because he can’t think straight about this, about Dean… because Dean smells exactly the same as he always used to, like he’s always smelled, of tobacco and leather, and that’s Dad’s smell too, and it’s all making his chest hurt (though, that could also be the super-strong weed).
“Dean, are we all… snuggling?” Sam asks after a moment.
“Doesn’t count when you’re high,” slurs Dean.
“Okay, but I’m so raggin’ you about this tomorrow,” says Sam.
“Shut up, Sammy,” says Dean fondly, prizing the joint from Sam’s outstretched fingers, it’s almost burnt out now, just maybe one toke left. He takes it in, lingering over the exhale, starting to hum under his breath, then singing, the words slowly taking shape in Ross’s head.
“When I first met you, didn’t realize, I can't forget you, for your surprise…”