You have come.
As your anima genimae has before you.
My what now?
Is he here?
No, he is in the world while you are here.
Who are you?
I am Mater Matuta, the Roman goddess of the dawn.
Was that a statue of you that I just dug up?
Why was it buried near our home?
You are a Man of Letters, as is Sam, and you do not know this?
He’s looked into the details more than I have.
Why are you here, Dean?
How do you know my name?
I have been watching you.
Creepy much, what do you want from me?
Just what I am due.
Could you be a bit more specific?
It is time for you to return.
Dean could feel how cold he was, his whole body ached from it, but the familiar sound of his brother’s voice made everything right again. He opened his eyes to see Sam’s worried face hovering above him. He reached up to touch Sam’s cheek, just to make sure he was real. The weight of Sam pressing into his touch woke him up the rest of the way, that and the fond and relieved look on his brother’s face.
“I didn’t know where you were,” Sam said. “I looked everywhere between here and the bunker. It didn’t make sense, because the car was out here on the road.”
Dean sat up and looked around, instant relief flooding through his body to see his baby still parked by the roadside. The statue…was gone.
“Where’s the statue?” Dean asked, head swiveling to check his surroundings.
“What statue?” Sam asked, his face scrunching up in confusion.
“The one I spent hours digging up. It’s what the shiny thing was that we both touched. It was a carved marble statue of the roman goddess, Mater Matuta,” Dean said in a rush, trying to get the words out before he forgot what he was trying to say. It was something about who he had been talking to, wherever that had been. He felt an overwhelming need to figure this out right now. It was burning up into smoke in his mind, all the details disappearing as he struggled to hold onto the words.
Sam’s face scrunched up even further into almost worried territory. “Whoa, what, who? How do you know all this?”
“I talked to her, I was just talking to her. That’s where I was. After I dug up the statue I touched it, and this electric shock thing happened. There was this weird singing, I could feel the key to the bunker was burning me, and then boom. I was somewhere else, and she was there. She said she was watching us, she knew our names, that we’re soulmates, and about the Men of Letters too. I asked her what she wanted and she said: what she was due.”
“Wow, okay, that’s a lot to chew on,” Sam said. His voice said he believed Dean which was a huge relief, but he still looked very confused.
“How about you, where were you?” Dean asked, relieved to have gotten his point across, but now worried about where Sam was if he wasn’t with Her.
“I…I’m not sure, I heard the singing too, and the key was definitely burning me. I think I might have met her as well, but she didn’t speak to me. It was someone—no something else that I talked to. Whatever he was, he was the one who took my hair,” Sam said, touching the back of his head with a wince.
“Yeah, I’d like to meet that one too. Who was it?” Dean growled, wanting to off the fucker for messing with Sam’s hair.
“I’m not really sure, didn’t get a name, but I think he was some kind of Fae. He said he was in conflict with Her, that he took my hair to start a battle and that he had to win. It was about right of passage through our land.”
“What is this, are we in the middle of a celestial land war or something?” Dean asked.
“Maybe, something like that,” Sam said.
The first hint of dawn began to strike the horizon.
“I think it has something to do with the time of day, dawn and dusk,” Dean said, clicking off his flashlight as the light around them steadily increased.
Sam began to shimmer, going in and out of transparency like a tv station being tuned in. “I touched the statue around dawn,” Sam said, his words more solid than he was now.
“Don’t go, Sammy, c’mon stay,” Dean said, knowing it sounded like begging, but it was exactly that, and it was just them, so he really didn’t care.
“I can’t stay, it doesn’t feel possible. See you at dusk—I hope,” Sam said, his form disappearing before his words were gone from the air between them.
“Yeah, guess I’ll see you then,” Dean said, his heart dropping as his eyes accepted Sam’s disappearance.
If they were only seeing each other at dawn and dusk, and only out at the twelve mile marker, that was going to make for some long-ass lonely days and nights. Dean yawned, he felt sleepy because he guessed that he hadn’t really slept at all last night. He’d just been gone from the world and talking to Mater Matuta in that other place, wherever the hell that was. He climbed into the Impala and flipped a u-turn to head back to the bunker.
His initial plan was to get the bare minimum of sleep, he had learned over the years that for him, that was four hours, and then to eat something and get to researching. If he could get that started, then he could pass the baton to Sam at dusk.
This was going to suck, but until they figured it out they were stuck. He settled down in bed and had a hard time getting to sleep at first. His mind was whirling with the possible dangers of being stuck between an ancient goddess and some Fae creature as they battled for the land rights. The thing was, Dean knew that he and Sam didn’t care about the place or the land, not like the supernatural creatures battling over it probably did. Sure, it was nice to have the bunker, to have finally gotten to have the chance to have a home. But it still didn’t truly feel like theirs, or like they were responsible for it, or meant to fight for it. Now that he and Sam had proven to themselves that they could stay in one place, it made it better somehow to Dean, that they knew it was possible. They’d find another home if they had to, if it meant they stayed safe, and together, Dean whispered to himself as he finally drifted off to sleep.
He dreamt of Sam (of course, who else) walking through a dawn-lit paradise, side by side with Mater Matuta, gesturing with his hands as he talked with her. She smiled up at him, entranced with whatever he was saying, or maybe just with him. He couldn’t blame her, Sam was really something when he was completely engaged with a subject. Dean dreamt of all the times in the Impala, driving through the back roads of their country, not minding the miles passing by as Sam expounded on his newest obsession. Listening to his brother, passionate and interested in something, not necessarily hunting related, it could be anything really, just hearing Sam talk when he was excited about something, was one of his favorite things in the whole world. And now, separated as they were, he wasn’t going to get his regular doses of that, he had to dream it up for now.
That made him feel extra determined and motivated when he awoke four hours later to his phone beeping with the alarm he’d set. He took a quick shower and then started up a batch of chili, there had to be something easy for Sam to eat when it was his turn in the bunker, otherwise he wouldn’t bother. Sam wouldn’t feed himself when there was research to be done, and Dean wasn’t going to be there to bug him about it. He wrote out a note and left it folded on the table next to the coffeemaker. He knew that Sam would at least make coffee for himself.
Sam - Made you the chili you’re always bugging me for, it’s in the fridge. Don’t forget to eat before you start researching or whatever. I’ll see you in the morning, ~ D
Once the chili was underway, Dean hit the bunker library hard for all the information about the building of the place. There were detailed records of the research the Men of Letters had done back then, searching out the exact spot to build, excruciating detailed documentation covering how they purchased the land, and then consecrated and dedicated it to the function and purpose of this hub of operations. It turned out that there had been a lot of thought put into the choice of Mater Matuta to be called upon to guard the easternmost border of the bunker’s land.
At least he’d have something to show Sam later.
He drove out to the twelve mile marker a little before dusk, and pulled off the road, shutting the Impala off. He sat in the car, hoping that Sam was actually going to show. They were just guessing after all, that they were taking turns in this thing and that they’d keep showing up in the same spot. Now that it was almost full dusk, he got out of the car to scan the area, he wasn’t sure exactly where Sam would appear. He stared at the horizon, watching the very last bits of sunshine disappear and felt the air change all around him, like it was charged with all he knew and had ever felt about Sam. He closed his eyes and said Sam’s name out loud, like the prayer that it was.
As the feeling in the air around him changed, his eyes flew open. “Sam, is that you?” He asked the air that was filled with his brother, even though he couldn’t see him, he could feel that he was there. He shivered when something touched him on the back of the neck. He felt the touch solidify, until it was the exact weight of Sam’s hand, he spun around and grabbed Sam into a rush of a hug.
“What’s this for?” Sam spluttered in surprise.
“I’m…just glad that it’s you, that you’re back,” Dean said, feeling himself flush in embarrassment. It wasn’t like he’d ever really voice out loud the fact that he’d ever doubted Sam would return.
Sam hugged him back then, and tucked his face down into the spot where it always ended up, always just so, his face turned into the crook of Dean’s neck. Dean shivered again as his brother’s lips moved against his skin. “I’ll always come back, you know that.”
“I do—I do know that,” Dean said in a rush, patting Sam twice on the back to let him know the hug was over.
Sam didn’t let him go though, his hands were still lingering, holding Dean around the waist, his thumbs skimming over the waistband of his jeans. “She told me that my anima genimae was even more beautiful in her realm, that your beauty made her want to keep you there. I told her she was right, but she couldn’t have you.”
Dean blinked in surprise and was glad that the dusk would cover up how fiercely he was blushing. “What’d she say to that?” he finally managed to ask.
“She said that she knew better than to come between soulmates,” Sam said.
“Guess she’s a smart chick, at least for a goddess,” Dean said, not saying anything about how good it felt being called beautiful by a goddess and being claimed by his brother.
“What did you end up doing today while I was gone?” Sam asked.
“I went home, got a little sleep, researched the building of the bunker, made some chili, and called Mom and Cas to let them know what was happening.”
“What’d Cas say?” Sam asked.
“He wasn’t surprised, but he didn’t think we were in danger. He and Jack are busy with the shapeshifters in Georgia. Mom’s joining them, so they’re all going to be gone for a little while.”
“I’m glad she’s helping them, Jack will learn hunting skills from her that he hasn’t picked up from us.”
“He’s getting pretty good though,” Dean said.
“Yeah, now that he’s got some of his powers back, I feel a little better about him going out there on hunts,” Sam said.
“You know, you’re doing pretty damn good at this whole raising a nephilim thing,” Dean said.
Sam smiled at the compliment and then his hand landed on Dean’s shoulder, a comforting and warm, familiar weight. “We are, we’re learning how to do it together,” Sam said.
Dean smiled and enjoyed the feeling of his brother reconnecting physically, it took so little these days, they were both starved for it. “Wonder how long this is going to take?” Dean asked, relieved to finally come up with a way to change the subject from their misadventures in parenting. He turned to look up at Sam’s face, realizing exactly how much he’d missed seeing it all day.
“What?” Sam asked with a shrug, removing his hand now that they were onto another topic he wasn’t sure about yet.
Dean realized he hadn’t been very specific, that could have been about a whole lot of things. “Figuring out how to get back to normal,” Dean said.
“So you miss me already, huh?” Sam asked, grinning that teasing little-brother grin that Dean loved.
“Yeah—I mean, it’s weird, not having you around, knowing you’re just gone to some nowhere place for some amount of time. And then knowing I’m going to be gone, it’s just all fucking weird. How the hell are we gonna do this, Sam?”
“We’ll figure it out. Like we always do, Dean.”
Dean looked up into Sam’s earnest face and soaked it all in. All the trust and belief that Sam seemed to have an unending supply for everyone else in the world. “I know we will,” Dean agreed, because what else could he say besides the truth?
The sun might as well have risen again in that moment, bright and shining as Sam’s answering smile was. Dean flashed on how much he missed tasting it, feeling it against his own lips. He licked his lips without thinking and was happy to see Sam’s eyes follow the movement. He watched as Sam’s eyes darkened. Now wasn’t the time for that though, they both needed to concentrate on getting out of this.
“Hey…um, I brought you something,” Dean said, stepping away and opening up the Impala’s back door. He pulled out their old green cooler and opened it up. Sam stepped closer to see what was inside.
“You brought me beer?” Sam asked with one raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, I thought we could have a cold one together, while we wait to see how long I stick around,” Dean said, as he popped the tops off of both bottles.
Sam accepted one of the bottles and clinked it against Dean’s. “To seeing how long the dusk lasts.”
“Wonder if I’ll get to finish this beer or not?” Dean asked, drinking at least a third of the beer down in one go, just in case.
Sam hopped up onto his usual spot on the Impala’s front hood and leaned back against the windshield. He drank his beer and didn’t say anything until Dean had joined him.
“We can count the stars as they come out until then, I guess,” Sam offered.
That’s what they did then, muttering the numbers back and forth to each other as the stars each winked into existence one by one above them.
“You used to love doing that when you were little, before you’d learned all the constellations and stuff. It was good counting practice,” Dean said, once they’d gotten up past one hundred. He kept his eyes trained up on the sky, he couldn’t look at Sam when he said things like this about their childhood.
Sam didn’t say anything at first, he just worked a hand under Dean’s and twined their fingers together. Time stretched and spun on, the carpet of stars above them growing brighter with each moment.
Dean heard Sam sigh like his heart was breaking, so he looked over.
“What’s that sigh for?” Dean asked, squeezing Sam’s hand a bit to get him to meet his eyes.
Sam searched his face for an uncomfortably long time, like he was trying to decide what the right answer might be, or what he could actually say out loud. “Just thinking of what you did for me back then.”
“Sammy—“ Dean started to say, and then the fade began, it took away his ability to speak first, he could still feel Sam’s warm hand in his, could feel his ass cold on the hood of the Impala, the beer bottle in between his legs. And then he felt nothing but the light pulling him away.
To Part 3