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Aubade

smalltrolven

The Wanting Comes In Waves

All Sam/Dean, All The Time


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Aubade
smalltrolven

Fic: Aubade (Sam/Dean, NC-17) Part 1 of 10

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******

“Lovers heard the stern aubade -- the watchman on the tower: ‘Up! Thou rascal, rise, I see the dawning light; the night doth fly.’”

Peter James Merrington; Zebra Crossings; Jacana; 2008.

******

The morning hadn’t quite dawned yet. It was still misty, the ground cover fog swirled around his feet as he ran, away from the homey lights of the bunker’s garage entrance. He ran out into the pre-dawn darkness, the fields cut winter-low, small patches of snow still remained under some of the scrubby trees at the side of the gravel road. He concentrated on his running rhythm, left-right-left-right—breathe-breathe—choo-choo-chugga-choo and so on until he had fallen into an almost hypnotic state. This was part of the ‘zen’ of running for him, that and the flood of endorphins, the controlled movement of breath through his body. All of it left up to him and nobody else.

He loved the emptiness of the world at this hour. No cars or trucks moving on this small road, no dog-walkers or kids hiking to the school bus stop. Just him, moving his body through the empty world, unfettered, free, and alone.

Now he noticed the change in the light, the dawn was just breaking over the horizon. This was his signal to stop and at least pause to decide whether to keep running or turn back for home. He bent over at his waist, bracing himself on his quivering thighs, catching his breath in measured stages. He wished he’d brought a water bottle like he sometimes did. He glanced up just as the sun broke through, liquid light pouring over the line of darkness at the curve of the earth. Out here, under the big open sky you could see it all, from horizon to horizon, a sky full of stars, winking out one by one as they were replaced by the oncoming rush of sunlight.

He turned on his heel and straightened up, ready for the run back towards home, with the sun on his back, pushing him forward. Running to catch up with his bobbing shadow was always a good morning’s worth of entertainment. But before he could take his first step, he paused at a flash of bright metal reflecting the light of the rising sun. He dug with his toe in the dirt, in virtually the same spot he turned almost every morning. Why was there something glittering under his feet?

Sam scuffed at it with one toe of his sneaker, and gasped when he made contact. It was like touching a live house wire (which he unfortunately had experienced during his handyman days back in Kermit), his hair felt like it was all standing out and away from his body. His body felt like it was ten sizes too big, vibrating out in the shape of him several steps away from where his body stood.

The last thing he thought was “Dean!”

The last thing he saw was the world going white, then whiter than white, way past white, and then he saw nothing more.

The last thing he heard was a single voice singing, a song without recognizable words, but he felt it more than heard it. The words became clearer, tuning in as a radio station does as you drive past. ‘A crown above and a crown below’ was the song that was greeting the dawn and then he heard no more.

The last thing he felt was the brass key to the front door of the bunker heating up in his pocket almost to the point where he felt he was being burned, and then he felt nothing else.

***

Dean turned over in his bed, looking for the warmth he always expected to find, but never did. Not anymore—anyway. Not since…no sense in starting the day off rehashing all of that for the zillionth time. He glanced at his alarm clock and was surprised to see 9:00 A.M. on the display. Sam never let him get away with sleeping in this late. He always made so much noise coming in from his morning run, taking a shower, and mooning around in the kitchen waiting for Dean to make what he called the good kind of coffee (as well as something for breakfast). He was up and out of his room in a worried rush, forgetting his slippers and wincing at the cold tile floor.

“Sam?” Dean called down the hall when he found the kitchen empty. Maybe his brother had gotten right back into research mode and skipped the kitchen? He stepped up into the library, and found it Sam-less. The bathroom maybe?

“Sammy?” Dean called at the entrance to the showers, not wanting to sneak up on Sam as he’d been accused of recently. But no, no sign of him, all the showers were still dry, so he hadn’t come back yet from his morning run and showered. Sam was a creature of habit as far as that went, taking an immediate shower before he did anything else. Probably because Dean would always snark at him about getting his oh-so-manly sweat all over everything.

When was the last time Sam had gone for this long of a morning run? Maybe he’d just gotten off to a really late start, they had been up pretty late last night finishing up the seventh season of Game of Thrones. The rewatch of the whole series before the final season debuted had been Dean’s idea, but it hadn’t been too tough to talk Sam into the hours that it had entailed. They had drunk a lot of beer last night while the final wall battle was happening. Dean smiled at the memory of Sam’s whooping as the white walkers had advanced and the dragons had flown.

But neither of them had been that drunk, not hangover drunk at least, and it really hadn’t been all that late. Sam was so damn anal and regular about keeping to his running schedule, it was practically a religion for the kid, so he wouldn’t have skipped it, even if he had been tired or hungover. Dean decided he needed some coffee to get his brain fully on board and maybe some eggs too. Sam’s oft-repeated refrain of ‘you have to get some protein to wake up’ played on a loop as he made his solo breakfast. It was hard to only crack three eggs instead of the usual six, but he did it. Left-over scrambled eggs were just not appetizing no matter how you reheated them. At least Sam had finally gotten off of that egg-white omelette kick, that was even worse than reheated scrambled eggs.

He dawdled over his coffee, reading his headline news on the tablet that Sam always left on the kitchen table. It had taken Dean a while to get used to reading everything on a screen instead of unfolding the newspapers over the table, but it really was easier. Less chance of knocking over your coffee cup too.

Finally, he felt he’d spent enough time procrastinating over breakfast, he cleaned up the kitchen and dressed for a winter’s walk outside, scarf, gloves, and hat. As he headed out, he realized that if Sam had hurt himself on his run, he’d need transportation, so he hopped in the Impala instead. After pulling out of their driveway, the gravel road that led in two directions from the bunker lay before him. He knew Sam usually ran to the right, towards the rising sun. He knew that Sam liked to see the dawn happening every morning. He’d mentioned it one time when they’d been wrapped up in bed, both finding excuses not to get up, to put off having to unwind from one another. Dean mentally chided himself to stop thinking about that stuff, it had been a long time ago, and according to what they’d both agreed when Mom came back, it was not ever happening again.

****

He’d driven back and forth on the gravel road several times now, first at a normal rate of speed, and then much more slowly, eyes barely leaving the roadside ditch. There was no sign of Sam though. He parked at a wide spot in the road, next to a mile marker that read: Mile Twelve. That meant he was about six miles from the bunker, and then there were six miles more from there back to the main paved road that led to town. He was pretty sure Sam wouldn’t have run much further than here, but he hadn’t kept up with the details of his brother’s training regimen lately. Not like he’d had to back when they were kids and he’d have to make regular reports to dad.

Dean checked his watch and saw he’d have just enough time to slowly walk from here to the bunker and back again to the Impala before it was full dark. It was late January, so it would be dusk well before six.

Dean was glad he’d dressed for a walk outside, the wind picked up as he scoured the roadside’s edge for clues, it cut right through his jeans and chilled his legs right down to the bone. Luckily his new jacket was lined and kept the rest of him warm. He imagined Sam out here in his sweats, running, drenched in sweat, and shivered at just the idea of how cold he would have been in the pre-dawn chill. “You better not be lying in a ditch somewhere, Sammy,” Dean grumbled to himself, picking up the pace a little.

In one of the wider spots of the road, the shoulder went from gravel to dirt and he could see the tracks Sam had left, but they were only going in one direction, away from home. Sam always ran facing the oncoming direction of vehicles, even though it’d be impossible to miss the noise of a vehicle approaching on the gravel road. One of those safety habits that Dad had drilled into the both of them that still made some sense to keep adhering to, even though the man was gone. Dean crossed the road and wasn’t able to spot any Sam-prints headed back towards the bunker in the soft dirt.

So he’d gone out, and not turned back? Had he just kept going? Maybe Sam had lost track of time, got in the groove, and kept running further than usual. He could picture Sam limping back home, tired from accidentally running the distance of a marathon. Maybe he should have driven out further. Maybe Sam had really run past that twelve mile marker. He left it as an open possibility and kept on walking, keeping his eyes open for anything that could mark Sam’s returning passage to the bunker. There just wasn’t anything to see, no animal tracks, no broken shoelaces, no nothing.

He wished that he’d gone through with that surgically implanted tracker that he’d always jokingly threatened Sam with, maybe both of them needed one at this point. It made him remember their conversation when he’d last brought the subject up.

“If it works for Mrs. Jones to be able to find her lost beloved Corgi, Snookums, then why wouldn’t it work for you?”

“Oh ho, ho, so that’s what I am to you, huh? Your beloved Snookums, Dean, really?” Sam had snarked, cracking himself up and laughing until there were a few tears in the corners of his eyes.

Dean had just sat across from him at the kitchen table, soaking it all in, the easy teasing, Sam’s beautiful laugh, how good it had felt to have all of that again. It had seemed almost possible in that moment that they could put themselves back together the rest of the way.

He shook his head at himself. There was absolutely no use dwelling on what-ifs and maybes, he needed to find Sam before any of that ever had a chance of coming close to happening.

Dean arrived back at the bunker, unlocked the door, and clanged down the metal staircase hoping to hear Sam greeting him. But there was nothing, no response, no sound, no one was home. Sam wasn’t in the main room, the kitchen, or in the shower. On the off-chance that Sam was sleeping or had his headphones on, he opened the door to Sam’s room. It was dark, and there didn’t seem to be anyone in the bed. He flipped the light switch on and saw Sam’s pajamas folded neatly on the foot of his bed, like he did every damn morning. His phone was plugged-in and charging on his nightstand, the light blinking green, his laptop closed and on top of his desk in the usual place. The current pair of boots he had been wearing were lined up together neatly in the closet, along with all the clothes Dean knew Sam currently had.

So all of those little details meant that Sam hadn’t left. Dean felt himself recoil a little deep inside that he’d even considered it as an explanation. But there was always that chance, so he’d had to check. Because it had happened before—the Sam leaving unexpectedly and without notice—a few times. And even though Sam had been pretty damn clear lately that he was in this thing with Dean until the end, well…things and people changed. As evidenced by how they had changed. Splitting apart into their separate spaces by the whirlwind entrance of their mother’s return.

Dean still regretted it, that huge decision they’d made. He thought he probably always would, no matter how great it had been to have this chance to get to know his mother as a grown-up, it still couldn’t ever be worth what they’d given up. There hadn’t been a way to go back on their decision though. He thought it had probably hurt Sam just as much as it hurt him, but there hadn’t been a way to bring it up that he could figure out, much less deal with the impact of the decision on both of them. They’d just muddled through it all and made the best of it.

It had reminded him of those first years right after Sam came back, when they spent all their energy trying to deny what they felt for each other, frustrated and sniping day in day out, both of them knowing why, but not able to do anything about it. It had sucked then, and it sucked even more now knowing exactly what they were missing out on.

He missed Sam. Not just that he had gone missing today, which was bad enough, but on top of how much he missed Sam day to day, it was too much. It was all the little things, the small touches throughout the day and night, the way Sam would hold him when they watched tv together, or how he’d smile at him every morning from the other side of the bed, sleep-mussed and still so damn beautiful.

He was tired from that six mile walk of worry, so he let himself stretch out on top of Sam’s neatly made bed. He let himself luxuriate in the scent of Sam’s pillow, the dent of his body in the hard mattress (he really needed to get Sam a memory foam of his own), and allowed his mind to drift. As he dozed, he dreamt that he called out to Sam over and over again, looking through every room in the bunker, calling all their contacts, driving to Lebanon and questioning the locals.

When he awoke from the short nap, he was exhausted from all the dream work he’d done. He awoke knowing that none of that would actually help. He knew that he needed to get back out there on the road while it was still light. He needed to walk the six miles back to the Impala on the other side of the road, tracing Sam’s tracks to where they had last taken him. Hopefully back to his brother.

~~~

Dusk was falling all around him now, a silent curtain being drawn across the last of the day’s light. He stood next to the twelve mile marker and looked out at the barren fields, as the bits of snow left underneath the trees began to glow with the moon’s rising light.

“Sammy, wherever you are, I wish I knew you were okay,” Dean said into the quiet turning of dusk. He felt the heaviness of loss weighing him down and tore his eyes away from the dimming horizon, peering down at his feet, dejected in his failure.

There was something there, right by his foot, a familiar color that stirred a bare hope in his heart. It was something the exact shade of Sam’s hair. He bent down to touch it and gasped at the feeling of familiar softness in the messily braided bundle. Dean picked it up and brought it up to his nose, instantly smelling Sam’s expensive sandalwood shampoo. He worried over the dried blood on the ends of the strands, this had been yanked out of Sam’s head with a lot of force.

As he straightened up, he noticed something that glinted gold and shiny with the last bit of the sun’s light. He stubbed at it with the toe of his boot.

He felt a shockwave pass through the earth all around him, coming up to the surface with a roar that sounded like a herd of buffalo stampeding towards him.

The smell of Sam’s hair instantly faded but was replaced by the familiar scent of his brother, not just his hair, all of him. Sam was right there, well he was almost there, shimmering in place, the twelve mile marker sign disappearing as his body slowly became more and more solid.

A white light seemed to roar up all around the two of them, the volume increasing exponentially, terrifying and everywhere and everything. They reached out to one another and barely brushed fingers, the touch of their skin igniting something that shook the whole earth around them. Like an earthquake happening inside of a car, localized, buffered from the rest of the world by the tires that absorb the shaking force.

The next thing Dean knew he was in the Impala. No—strike that—they were in the Impala, side by side like usual. The Mile Twelve marker glowed outside, next to the car shining with the last light in the quickening darkness.

“Dean?” Sam asked, sounding just as surprised as Dean felt.

“Sammy, where in the hell were you? Where were we? What in the fucking fuck was that?” Dean sputtered.

Sam looked even more surprised at the force of Dean’s questions. “I don’t really know anything, okay? I was running this morning, same as usual. At my turnaround spot there was something shiny in the ground, it caught the morning light and I noticed it. I didn’t touch it, just scuffed at it with my shoe and then blam-mo. I was—I don’t even know where I went. I was gone until just now.”

“You weren’t here though. I looked all over the road, everywhere, I’ve been walking it all day between here and home. And then I found this lock of your hair, all matted-up and braided. I picked it up and underneath it was something shiny. I must have touched it, then everything shook and boom we’re here,” Dean said.

Dean reached into his pocket and pulled out the tangled lock of Sam’s hair he’d found and showed it to him, the ends glistening with dried, red blood. “This was the hair I found, but it’s all bound up together, almost like it was braided.”

“So what the hell was it, the shiny thing? Did you see it?” Sam asked, feeling around on his head for a missing clump of hair, he gasped in pain when he found it. “There’s a patch of my hair missing, from underneath, really stings, like it was ripped out.”

“Dunno what’s going on, but we’re gonna find out. Something’s messing with us, and more importantly messing with your hair—not cool.” Dean threw the hair onto the seat between them and Sam snatched it up, holding the lock of hair up in the dim light.

Dean started up the Impala, and began the short drive back towards the bunker through the dark night.

“Stop! Dean, stop the car!” Sam screamed in a sudden panic, and grabbed at Dean’s leg that was pressing on the accelerator.

Dean slammed on the brakes and turned to see why Sam was panicking. But his brother wasn’t really there, he was shimmering at the edges, going transparent in the center, not like a ghost, but something otherworldly.

“Dean!” Sam shouted, the sound trailing off to nothing as he disappeared.

“Shit!” Dean shouted at the empty space that used to hold his brother. The phantom touch of Sam’s hand on his leg where he’d just been grabbing him seemed to pulse with his own quickening heartbeat. He quickly reversed the Impala and stopped in the general area of where he’d touched the metal thing in the ground and found that lock of Sam’s hair. The metal thing had to have caused this, this was the place where all of this disappearing shit had gone down, three times now. That and Sam’s hair getting torn out by the roots—definitely not cool.


He grabbed a flashlight out of the glovebox and got out of the car, approaching the spot where he’d seen the shiny thing in the ground. It was still there, shining merrily in the beam of his flashlight. He grabbed a stick from the nearby ditch and scratched at the dirt and gravel that covered it. Nothing exciting happened, no disappearing or reappearing, just nothing. He uncovered the edges of the object and from what he could initially see, it seemed to be a rounded surface like a metal basketball. When he looked at it more closely, he could see markings that looked like hair on the top of someone’s head. He was going to have to dig this whole fucking thing up.

Luckily there was a shovel, and a pair of his favorite leather grave-digging gloves in the Impala’s trunk. “Bless the giant capacity of my Baby’s trunk,” he thought as he pulled them out. Sam said that he’d been toeing the gravel around the shiny thing, just like Dean had been, so he had to be careful not to touch the thing. He marked a rough circle around it, and cleared away the top level of loose gravel. The packed earth underneath was wet and heavy. A week ago it would have been frozen solid, so at least there was an upside here. He got into the rhythm of digging and made quick progress at unearthing the first foot or so. It was a statue of a woman, the metal on the top looked like it was meant to be a crown. She had a beautiful, serene face, whoever she was. When he finally reached the bottom of the pedestal, about four feet down, he could see that there was a layer of something metal underneath.

As he looked at her face, the words ‘A crown above and a crown below’ sang through his mind, in a musical form he couldn’t quite name. Was it part of a song he’d once known?

He wasn’t sure where that thought had come from, but it seemed to be something important. Dean wondered if Sam would know where it was from, or if he’d ever get the chance to ask him. That thought made him dig more earnestly.

The tow rope from the Impala’s trunk was tied around the waist of the statue, and he slowly accelerated, watching in the rear view as the thing emerged from the ground. When it was finally all the way out, he shut off the car. This next part was going to be the hardest, because he couldn’t just leave the statue on the side of the road. If some civilian touched it, he’d never forgive himself. And he needed to fill back in the hole before one of their neighbors ended up stuck in it.

Dean used the shovel to lever the statue upright, successfully managing to keep his hands away. But just as he thought it was steady, it began to tip back towards the pit. On blind instinct, he reached out to stop it, instantly regretting his quick reflexes as his palm landed on the golden crown.

Dean gasped when he made that first contact. It felt like touching a live battery jumper cable (which he unfortunately had experienced too many times when first learning about cars), even under his hat, his hair felt like it was all standing straight out, almost like it was trying to get away from his body. And oh God, his body felt like it was expanding, zooming up to an enormous size, there was a pulsing vibration in the shape of him several steps away from where his body stood.

The last thing he thought was “Sam!”

The last thing he saw was the world going white, then whiter than white, way past white, and then he saw nothing more.

The last thing he heard was a single voice singing, a song without recognizable words, but he felt it as a song of greeting the dawn, the words became clearer ‘A crown above and a crown below’ and then he heard no more.

The last thing he felt was the brass key to the front door of the bunker heating up in his pocket almost to the point where he felt he was being burned, and then he felt nothing else.

*****

To Part 2