Title: Dockside Again
Pairing: Sam/Dean, established
Author’s Notes: Not my characters, only my words, except for the small amount of dialogue from the closing scene in episode 11.14 “The Vessel.”
Summary: Why were the Winchesters sitting on a crumbly old dock looking out at the water right after banishing Casifer from the Bunker? This is the story of what happened to get them there, and why they are then back in the Bunker at the beginning of 11.15 “Beyond the Mat.”
Also over at AO3 right here.
After Lucifer is banished or disappeared or whatever it is that the spell actually does to angels, Sam and Dean just lay there on the floor breathing heavily for a while. Neither of them speaks. Both of their minds race with all the possibilities and dangers.
Dean’s trying to make a battle plan, how to defend themselves and their home. He’s also trying very hard not to think about what he just saw in the past on the submarine. How brave Delphine had been, glowing white hot at the end like an angel barely contained.
Sam’s just trying to shore up his own mind. He’d just stood toe to toe with his worst nightmare. Lucifer on the loose again. Parading around in his friend. And worst of all, in his own home. Which he’d just started to feel safe in again. It had taken a while after Dean had patched up the wall plaster and re-hung a new door. It had been a real effort for Sam to bring his shoulders down and consciously relax. Even sleeping had been hard for a while at first. Locking his door, putting a chair under the handle, leaving a light on, all those things had worked until they stopped working and he’d had to beg Dean to let him sleep in his room.
It didn’t make much sense to either of them really that Sam would be more comfortable in the arms of the person who’d just tried to kill him. Whose words had obliterated him. But it worked because it was Dean who was holding him. Not the demon that he’d been. A Dean who was grateful even though Sam wouldn’t let him say thank you. A Dean who would give anything to take those words back that had come out of his own mouth. A Dean who had been sure that Sam would ‘want a divorce’ after all that, but instead got his brother back in his arms where he’d always belonged.
Sam remembers how hard it was to get Dean to even let Cas back into their lives after the whole Leviathan fiasco. How much Dean had fought him about it, insisting that they couldn’t ever trust him again. Being reminded over and over about how it had been Cas that had broken the Wall in his own mind. But Sam had insisted that they needed him, and that Cas needed them too. But now Cas had undone everything Sam had sacrificed his own life for by letting Lucifer waltz right on out of Hell. Sam couldn’t let himself dwell on that, it wasn’t going to help the current situation. They both needed to get out and disappear in case Lucifer came back. At least until they could increase the angel warding. Or would it be the demon warding? Or both? Sam’s head spun with trying to calculate the interplay between the various wards and whether any of them would cancel each other out.
Dean calls Sam’s name a few times, but doesn’t get an answer. The silence is unnerving, so he crawls over to Sam and checks him over, worried that Sam isn’t responding verbally at all. He seems to be lost in his thoughts somewhere. It spooks him because it reminds him of how Sam had been after his Wall had come down. Cas again. Of course. It had gone against his every instinct to even let the angel back into their lives after that. But Sam had insisted. And he’d given in, trying to let Sam have some control over what happened when he’d been so ill. And Cas had been useful, it had been okay having him around, and he’d liked seeing Cas and Sam become friends. But now, they have to somehow lock their friend back out again. And he isn’t sure what it will take to do that. If it was even possible. And Sam, well Sam isn’t being much help right now was he?
“Sammy, come on, snap out of it. We gotta figure out where to go, c’mon,” Dean pleads, slapping lightly at Sam’s cheek. He notices the blood seeping out of Sam’s clenched fist and wraps a bandana around it, pulling it tight to stop the bleeding where Sam had cut himself for the angel banishing sigil.
Sam finally rouses himself, shaking Dean’s hand off and staring up at him with big liquid eyes, so full of panic and just about to overflow with tears. “Dean, it was him, he was here. And I couldn’t….and you were gone in the past again…and I didn’t know if he’d ever bring you back.” Sam covers his eyes with his hands so Dean can’t see him break down like a frightened child.
Dean scoops Sam up into his arms, holding him as he cries tears of pain and loss and fear. “It’s okay, he’s gone now. We’ve probably got a little time. But we need to figure out our first step. Do we leave or stay and try to ward up?”
“Leave, we gotta leave. I…I can’t be here, Dean,” Sam says in a panicky voice, hands fluttering up between Dean’s shoulder blades and neck.
“Okay, then we’re outta here. Five minutes, grab a go-bag, and I’ll meet you in the garage,” Dean says as he helps Sam back up to standing. He brushes at the small of Sam’s back, as an excuse just to have his hands on him. Sam turns to him and pulls him into a crushing hug. One of those hugs that they tend to have after either of their lives have been in jeopardy. Sam doesn’t say anything, but by holding Dean so close, it tells Dean what he needs to hear.
On his way out from the kitchen, Dean grabs the exhausted Hand of God and wraps it up in the handkerchief he’d brought back from the submarine. He’s not sure why he brings it with them, maybe just in case it decides to work again. He can always throw it at Lucifer’s head in a pinch.
Sam is already in the Impala’s front passenger seat with his seatbelt on by the time Dean makes it out to the garage. Dean is carrying his duffel, and the re-stocked green cooler and the quilt from off of their bed. Sam likes that thing so much it isn’t even worth teasing him about it, he spends hours tracing the stitched-together shapes as it lays draped over Dean’s body. It was soothing to both of them. He just has an idea that Sam might be needing it tonight. Dean gets everything stowed away and slides in next to his brother.
“Got everything you need?” Dean asks.
Sam tries to smile at him and speak, but he can’t. It breaks Dean’s heart all over again to see the pain in his brother’s eyes. “It’s gonna be okay, Sammy.” He reaches across the seat and takes Sam’s hand in his, lacing their fingers together loosely. “I’m thinking Lovewell Reservoir, you know, one of those little cabins. I packed enough food for a few days at least.”
Sam doesn’t say anything, just nods and swallows loudly, grasping a little tighter at Dean’s hand. Dean drives them the forty miles to the reservoir with one hand on the wheel, the other connected to Sam in some way. They listen to the national news on the radio, both of them worried about what Lucifer’s immediate plans for wreaking havoc would be. Nothing is of interest though and he’s been out of Hell for quite a while now anyway, which neither of them want to dwell on. The radio drones on, giving them the local weather which predicts possible rain for a couple days and then an early spring heatwave.
After the weather report ends, Sam can’t help going over it all again in his mind. The Bunker had felt safe to both of them for a while, warded and protected, only a few people knew where it was, only Cas knew the way in. And that was who it all came back to—Cas. He was their friend, right? But he’d made a bad choice here, in their first hesitant conversation, both of them could agree on that. Dean insisted that they’d get him back. But Sam was more cautious, knowing how stubborn the angel could be once he’d chosen a path or made up his mind about something. And Cas is an angel, they both forget that sometimes, that he’s not a somewhat predictable human, not a monster, not a demon, something else altogether, much more different from any of those things.
The cabins are small, rustic and it’s pretty deserted this time of the year. Dean chooses one that’s off by itself and very near the water’s edge. Sam still isn’t speaking, just methodically unpacking and moving into the new space, marking up the few angel wards that they know with his own blood. That’s the thing with them, words aren’t always necessary, and sometimes they get in the way. Dean can tell that Sam is on the edge of over-thinking the reasons for them having to be here, and he needs to nip that in the bud. Getting Sam off the guilt-train is hard once he’s on there.
“Sam, come sit out here with me,” Dean calls from the small porch. He’s got a couple of long-necks from the cooler and has dusted off the swing. The view over the water is calming, restful, just what they both need.
Sam joins him on the swing and takes a beer with a small nod. He rewraps the bandage around his hand where he’d re-opened himself up for the second time today to make the few angel wards he knows.
“You doin’ okay, Sammy?” Dean asks as Sam settles in next to him.
“Yeah..I mean, my body is okay, a little bruised up from getting thrown around. But the rest of it…it’s kinda too much, overload or something,” Sam trails off and then takes a long sip of beer.
“You mean, that Cas did that?” Dean prompts, wanting to get Sam to unspool all his thoughts so they can dig through them together, make some sense of all this.
“That and how it means that everything we did a few years ago locking him up, was all for nothing,” Sam says, eyes filling with frustrated tears once again.
Dean lays a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “No, it wasn’t all for nothin’. You fucking saved the whole world, Sam. It would have ended for all of us then and there if you hadn’t. And we’ll fix this, we figured it out last time. You know we’ll do it again.”
“I don’t want to go there again, Dean,” Sam says, not even able to say the words out loud: Hell, The Cage, back into Lucifer himself. Any or all of the above are unthinkable.
“I don’t want you to either. So you’re not going anywhere. If it comes to it, I will, okay?” Dean says, knowing what Sam isn’t able to express, because he can’t manage to do it either.
“No! I don’t want that either. I can’t…” Sam abruptly cuts off his words, unable to finish the thought.
“Can’t what?” Dean asks, even though he can imagine Sam’s worst case scenario.
“I can’t do this alone, Dean. You can’t, I can’t. We both know this, right?” Sam asks, needing to hear his brother acknowledge this basic truth about their lives.
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Dean says, voice softening when he hears the urgency in Sam’s question.
“Sometimes, I wish we could just opt out of all this,” Sam says. “I know it’s stupid, but I do.”
“Me too, Sammy. But we know it doesn’t work that way,” Dean says, finishing off his beer and starting in on peeling off the label.
Sam takes a deep breath, shivers a little and leans into Dean’s side a little more. “Dean, it was one of the worst damn things I’ve gone through, realizing that it wasn’t Cas standing there across from me. And he even managed to come out of it at one point. I’m pretty sure he stopped Lucifer from killing me right there. But he wasn’t strong enough to kick him out.”
“Not as strong as you,” Dean says, that note of admiration and awe even more important than the words.
“Not as strong as us, you mean,” Sam corrects. “If you hadn’t come to Stull that day, I wouldn’t have beaten him.”
“Like we’ve said before, we’re stronger together, that hasn’t changed,” Dean says.
“Yeah, I just need something else to think about, to do right now. I just keep seeing his face changing in a split second from being our friend, to being the worst monster I’ve ever come up against,” Sam says, feeling better the second the words leave his mouth. Just getting to express his fears to his brother means everything to him. Knowing that Dean understands just how awful this is and still has his back gives him the strength to try and confront his fears.
“We’ll lock him down again,” Dean says.
“What if we can’t though?” Sam asks, stopping himself from saying anything else by drinking the rest of his beer down in one long gulp.
“Let’s not start the what-if game right now. We’ve got better things to do,” Dean says, leaning over to fish another two beers out of the green cooler.
“Like what? We’re in the middle of nowhere in February at a deserted lake,” Sam says as he accepts the new beer from his brother.
“Exactly, just you, me, and the steaks I grabbed out of the freezer. We’ll throw those bad boys on the grill with some veggies. Finish our beer, we can watch a movie on your laptop. Just hang out.” Dean clinks their beer bottles together and smiles.
“Just hang out, pretend we’re on a vacation weekend or something? You think that’s even possible? I mean, my mind is just racing with all the possibilities here,” Sam says, hoping that Dean is right and that they can just shut down for a little bit.
“Okay, we’ll worst-case scenario this bitch, get it off our minds. What’s the worst thing he can do?” Dean asks turning a little in the swing to be able to see Sam’s face.
“Re-start the countdown to the apocalypse? That would be the worst thing I guess,” Sam says. They both drink from their beer bottles considering if there could be anything worse than the end of the world.
“Pretty sure that was taken care of with the whole Raphael deal though,” Dean counters.
“So what? He gets frustrated and takes it out on entire cities? Releases the Croatoan virus?”
“I don’t think so though. He’s not up here to wreak havoc. Far as we know, he hasn’t done anything like that, right? Seems like he’s on a mission first, taking out the Darkness, because she’s a threat to him. I think it’s probably left-over angel programming. But that might be a good thing for us.”
“You think he can do really do it?”
“Take out Amara? Hell if I know,” Dean says.
“Say he does manage it though, would he just stick to re-taking control of Hell?” Sam asks.
“Again, Hell if I know. Nobody does, I bet. We’ll just have to worry about it when we get there. Doesn’t seem like a lot of planning or preparing that can be done.”
“Think it’s worth contacting Crowley?”
“Why would we want to talk to that asshole?” Dean asks.
“Dean, he’d know what Lucifer said or did on his way out of Hell, right? He’s got to have some idea of what his plans are,” Sam says.
“He’s probably in hiding, knowing him. Self-preservation is his number one thing. That and bothering us,” Dean says.
“That’s enough, I’m done for now,” Sam says. He finishes off the second beer and takes Dean’s empty from him, standing them up with the other empties. Green soldiers in a row, ready to be knocked down. He pushes himself up from the swing and stretches his arms out wide. “Want to walk down to the water with me?”
“Sure, might as well while it’s still light out,” Dean says, standing up and wrapping an arm around Sam’s slim waist.
They walk down the gravel path towards the small reservoir, there’s a little fog remaining on the surface and the light is beautiful filtered through the fog and reflected off the water. The path leads around the curve of the lake to a small dock that’s definitely seen better days. They sit down, very close together, on a wooden bench that’s splintery and damp, swinging their legs in the silence. The only sound is the water occasionally lapping at the pier supports.
“So... So... “ Dean starts with a hesitant throat-clearing, “Cas.” He fumbles in his pocket and pulls out the apparently exhausted Hand of God.
“Yeah,” Sam sighs deeply, “yeah, what do we do?” Sam asks, knowing Dean doesn’t have any real answers to this question than he does at this point. But they need to talk it out regardless.
“What else? We hunt Lucifer, trap the bastard, and save Cas,” Dean says, as if it’s the only obvious solution.
“Like I said, Lucifer may be in control now, but Cas may not come back willingly. I mean, he chose it,” Sam says, knowing that Dean acknowledging someone else’s choices as valid when he vehemently disagrees with them is still a sore point between them. Shades of Gadreel and all that mess still unresolved.
“No. No, not possible,” Dean says, exhaling sharply like the thought of their friend making that choice isn’t allowed. He reflexively turns the Hand of God over and over again in his hands, like the world’s oldest fetish worry stone.
“So how'd you get through today? I mean, what did you do?” Sam asks after a long moment where he debates with himself, finally deciding to change the subject since he doesn’t want to argue with Dean about Cas’ motivations or whether he’d even want to be saved at this point. For all they know, this is exactly what Cas wanted. Sam’s the last person to want to take away someone’s power to make decisions about how they live their life.
“Nothing. Sam, they... I was just a witness,” Dean says, sounding more sad than frustrated.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Sam asks.
“No. No. Story for another day,” Dean says, kicking hard at the warped dock boards. “Hey, the, uh... The German ship that sank the Bluefin, what happened to it?” Dean asks, eyes fixated on the Hand of God in his hands.
“It went down. Unlike the sub, its wreckage was found. Um, there was a giant hole that'd been ripped through the entire thing. Something must have hit the fuel tanks and exploded. But it burned. Sank.”
Dean doesn’t say anything, just puts the useless hunk of rock into his jacket pocket along with his hands and draws into himself, shutting off. Sam can tell that there’s a lot more there that Dean’s not sharing yet. And he’s not going to push him to, there’s no point to that. Dean will open up about what he saw, who he met over the next few days if Sam gives him the space to do it in. Sam’s at least learned that much about how to help Dean. He just hopes that he’s not blaming himself for something that he couldn’t have done anything about.
“I’m going to walk back up to the cabin,” Sam says, standing up and brushing off the seat of his jeans. Splinters and small pebbles plink off the dock into the water below.
Dean doesn’t answer, just nods and looks back out at the horizon where the sun seems trapped in the fog now. Stuck like they are between two places. Safety and peril, home and here. Sam walks away slowly, hoping that Dean will join him soon. But he doesn’t. The cabin is cold so Sam gets a fire going and boils some water for coffee, or maybe tea. He peeks out the window and sees Dean is finally walking up the hill. His brother is backlit by the setting sun, the orange diffused in the fog and the reflection on the water. It’s a beautiful scene, if only his brother didn’t look so distressed.
Sam opens the door when Dean’s boots hit the front porch and blocks the doorway, he opens up his arms wide and Dean falls into him. They meld together into one body in the familiar way that never fails to temporarily soothe all hurts and troubles. The cabin is still cold, but they remove all their clothes and slip into the small bed, Dean’s thrown the quilt over it, so at least there’s that touchstone from home.
Home…the word keeps reverberating in Sam’s mind. How tenuous a thing it is as a physical space, but his brother is his home. As long as Dean’s here, Sam knows he’s home. He wishes he could say that out loud to Dean at some point, but he still hopes that Dean knows.
Dean’s got him wrapped up tight between arms and legs with their lips sealed together. They’re even closer than usual, because of the chill or the desperate situation, or more likely that they both just almost died again today.
Sam can feel Dean beginning to tremble so he breaks the silence whispering between their lips. “It’s going to be okay, Dean. I know it is. Because you’re here with me.”
Dean nods and holds Sam’s face between his chilled hands, gently thumbing at the wet corners of Sam’s eyes. “I could feel you, even when I was on that sub. You were there with me, Sammy. And all I could think about was getting back to you here.”
“You did come back, Dean. You always do.”
Dean doesn’t answer, just leans in to take Sam’s mouth more forcefully, kissing Sam until there’s no need for breathing, he’s lost himself in his brother again. The passion taking them over and erasing all the existential worries and angst, at least for this time. This space that they hold together, for now, just for them, for always.
Sam breaks out of Dean’s hold momentarily to reach for the lube in the duffel next to the bed. He warms it up in one hand while looking at Dean for an indication of which way this should go.
“Need you in me, Sammy. Need to know that I’m really back,” Dean says, gripping Sam’s wrist and guiding Sam’s hand towards his own widespread legs, Dean tilts his hips up so that there’s room for Sam to open him up. Sam’s fingers press in and move, insistent yet gentle, just like the rest of Sam.
Sam slicks himself with the remaining lube on his hand and positions himself above Dean, pressing just the tip of himself inside Dean.
“Feel me here, Dean,” Sam says, rocking inside a little more and then pulling out slowly. The edge of Dean’s hole gripping onto him, not letting him go, he can feel Dean tensing and releasing and presses in when Dean’s relaxed. He glides all the way in and rests there, bottomed out and filling Dean completely. He bends down to kiss Dean, hot and needy until he hears the moan that means Dean wants him to move. Sam breaks away from their kiss, looking down at his beautiful brother, writhing in pleasure, tears leaking down the sides of his face. He leans back down to lick them up, teasing at the eye crinkles he loves so much.
“We’re okay, Dean. We’re good, so good, that’s it,” Sam encourages as Dean’s hips begin to move in sync with his. They rock together, deep and strong, merged into one.
Dean seems to lose the rhythm, his face going slack with bliss, mouth open in a silent scream that finally comes out as an elongated version of his brother’s name. Sam smiles at hearing that and joins him in momentary oblivion. Their lips meld again, pleasure still sparking between them, Sam’s mouth moving down to Dean’s neck to suck and bite at the spot where he likes to always leave his mark. Maybe it’s a little childish of him, kind of Sam-was-here, but Dean never complains. Sam’s seen him pressing at the bruised skin while driving or looking in the bathroom mirror. It always makes Dean moan so perfectly and he isn’t disappointed today.
Sam finally pulls out of Dean and cleans them both off with one of their t-shirts. They’re warmed up under the quilt enough to doze for a while, neither of them speaking, resting in the silence and peace of their cocoon.
Sam finally has come up with what he needs to say about the Cas issue, so he breaks the silence when he feels Dean has awakened enough to listen. “I have to be honest, Dean. I can’t focus on saving Cas, not now. Not after this choice he made. He must have had a reason to let Lucifer out. He must have been convinced this was the only way to defeat Amara.”
“Cas has been wrong so many times though, why would this be different?” Dean asks.
“It has to be. I can’t deal with the possibility that it’s not. I know that’s stupid and short-sighted or whatever. But after what we went through with Lucifer before, and Cas knows all that, it’s got to be the right path. If it’s not…” Sam trails off, unable to put into words the depth of his despair over even considering this awful possibility.
Dean holds him close for a second, trying to contain the full-body shivers that seem to be trying to pull Sam apart. “I’ve got your back on this, Sammy. If Cas is wrong, I’ll deal with it, okay? Just like with you taking on Amara since I can’t seem to. We know they can’t beat us if we stick together. Story of our life, right?”
Sam shifts up onto his elbows so he can see Dean’s face, hopeful and determined, just like he’s supposed to be when Sam needs him most. “Right, you and me to the end, just like always.”
The next few days they spend together, trying not to think about Cas or Lucifer or Amara, and what they’re probably out there doing to the world. They focus on each other, reminding each other of what matters. As Sam had predicted, Dean finally tells the story of being on the submarine and how brave Delphine had been. Sam is excited to find out that there was a Woman of Letters that long ago. Dean barbecues, they drink all the beer, try to fish even though it’s not the right season and watch almost all of the movies Sam has on his laptop.
“I need to go on a supply run,” Dean says on the third morning, scooping up his keys off the small table.
“We’re already out of beer, huh?” Sam says as he finishes washing the last of the breakfast dishes.
“We’re out of everything,” Dean replies, patting his pockets to make sure his wallet is on board.
“Why don’t we just go back home? Stop for supplies on the way?” Sam asks, leaning up against the small countertop.
“You ready for that, Sammy?” Dean asks, obviously worried that Sam’s forgetting his initial response to vacating the Bunker.
“I’m not ready, not really, but I need to get back to the research. It’s the only thing we can do at this point,” Sam answers with a shrug, “all the books I need are there.”
“We can try to reinforce the wards, maybe that’ll help,” Dean offers.
“It’s worth a try. I just want to be home again, with you. It’s time to fight for what we want, right?”
Dean’s face breaks out into a huge smile at Sam’s words and he nods as if he’s very impressed. “Awesome. You’re damn right, we’ve got work to do,” Dean answers, crossing the small room to encircle Sam in his arms. He tilts his head up for a kiss that Sam doesn’t hesitate to give him.
Sam feels the lump in Dean’s jacket pocket and fishes it out. He holds the Hand of God between them for a long moment.
“This thing, as tempting as it is to throw it in the water and be rid of it. We’re bringing it back with us. It’s going in the Letters files. And maybe it can be recharged somehow.”
“You’re always thinking, aren’t you?” Dean asks with a proud grin taking the lump of rock back and sticking deep down in his pocket.
Sam doesn’t answer him, just smiles back, a little shy at the praise, and kisses Dean again, deep and thorough.
It’s when they’re back on the road again, pointed towards home that Sam finally speaks. “Thanks, Dean. For getting me out there, I feel like I can deal now. It reminded me of why we’re still fighting.”
“We both needed it. I’m glad it helped you too, Sammy. ”
When they fall into bed later that night, feeling safer for the increased wards they’d worked on installing, feeling full of the good dinner they’d cooked together and feeling more prepared for whatever was coming their way next.