It only takes a week for Dean to call her back. He's getting better, although the fact that he waits until he's sure she can't answer the phone kind of negates any points he gets for his quick turn-around.
He's hopping around in the handicapped stall at a Wal-Mart in Georgia when he calls her. It might be completely chicken-shit of him to wait until he knows she can't answer the phone, but at least he's calling her back like he said he would.
His pants are pooled on the floor and his old jockeys are halfway down his ass and off when he hears Jess answer her phone with a cheery, "Hello?"
He falters for a moment, unsure whether he should pull the old underwear back up or finish pulling on the new ones. His brain stalls like a car in a flooded underpass, and when he finally gets it going again, the first thing that pops out of his mouth is, "You're supposed to be working right now."
He sneers at himself in disgust, and the only reason he doesn't plant his head against the stall door is that he's pretty sure she'd be able to hear the echo. Yeah, because he didn't sound enough like a stalker the last time he called her.
"I switched with someone else who needed the hours more than I did." She sounds weary, and he can picture her looking around trying to spot him. Dean knows he should probably reassure her that he doesn't hide in her bushes with a pair of binoculars or anything like that. It's too close to an apology for his tastes, though, and he's sure as fuck not going to apologize for keeping an eye on Sam.
"Hang on," he tells her as he sets the phone on the toilet paper dispenser. He might not be Miss Manners or anything, but even he knows there's something not cool about talking to a girl you aren't fucking while you've got your dick hanging out. He's used to quick changes, at least, and his new jockeys, new socks, same pants, and his boots are all on, laced, zipped, and buttoned within a minute.
He's doing up his belt and stuffing the other two pairs of underwear into the inside pocket of his jacket as he grabs the phone back up. She's singing something to herself, some shitty bubblegum song he recognizes from those big chain grocery stores. Dean valiantly resists the urge to gag as he makes his way out of the bathroom. "Figures that Sam'd pick someone with the same shit taste in music as him."
She makes this sound that's half scoff and half porntastic whine, and Dean has to remind himself that she's Sam's girl. "There's no such thing as bad taste in music."
"Yes, there is. Sam has it, and so do you, apparently."
"I have eclectic taste. Just because I like things you don't like doesn't mean that what I like is bad."
Oh, for the love of fuck. "Does Sam realize he's dating himself? With better equipment?"
"Well, that shows how much you know; nobody has better equipment than Sam."
Dean's almost inclined to agree—his is better, though Sammy comes in a close second—but he's smart enough to know that telling her that might not be the best idea. He clears his throat twice and tries to think of a completely different topic. Awkward doesn't begin to cover it. "So being a waitress probably sucks, huh? Having to put up with bitching, hungry people every day—bet you think about taking a torch to the place sometimes, don't you?"
"Wow, that was smooth as silk." She laughs at him. "It didn't scream, 'Oh god, change the subject, change it now,' at all."
"Yeah, well, what can I say; talking about—" Dean stops himself short at the last second before he can add "Sam's dick" to the sentence. He's in the parking lot now, so it's not like he has to worry about being thrown out, but there are tons of kids and mean, grandmother-looking ladies milling about. Censoring yourself is just common sense when you're surrounded by kids who repeat things at top volume and people carrying heavy purses to whack you in the head with. "Talking about that isn't my favorite topic."
"Want a new one?" Oh, this can't be good.
"Sure, my pick." Damn, stupid, fucking Wal-Marts; fucking parking lots are too damn big. He's itching for his girl, and she's still rows over and back.
"Nice try, but I don't think so."
"I can hang up."
"You won't, though. Because if you do, then I won't tell you anything about him, and there's only so much you can learn from your creep-o stalking."
Dean would praise her on her brilliant deductive skills, but something tells him now's not the time for sarcasm. Fuck, he's just censoring himself left, right, and center today. The next thing he knows, he's gonna be saying shit like "golly" and "gosh darn it."
"Let's go old school," Jess starts. "Tit for tat; I ask you something, you ask me something, I ask you something, so on and so on."
"'Let's go old school'?"
"Don't make fun of me, or I'll count that as your question."
"I wasn't making fun of you," he lies. "Who goes first?"
"You do, but you're being a smart-ass so that counts as your question. What's your name?"
Holy shit, he walked right into that one with a map and a flashlight. "You're the baby of your family, aren't you?"
"Not your turn. Gimme a name."
"A name? How about Lemmy?"
"Your name isn't Lemmy."
"You don't know that."
"You didn't even put a return address on anything until the letter, and you're still blocking your number, so obviously, you aren't gonna tell me your name right away."
He doesn't hold back the smile that nearly breaks his face when his baby finally comes into his line of sight. He's only been gone about an hour, but it feels like a hell of a lot longer than that. "Why do you need my name, anyway? And don't try to pull that 'it's not your turn' shit on me."
"Have you ever talked to someone with no name? No, because people have names for a reason. Without names, we're all just running around yelling, 'Hey, you,' and turning in circles constantly."
Dean drags a hand over his girl as he makes his way to the driver's side, just a light caress. The tension slides off him once he's behind the wheel, and he instantly feels more relaxed, like after a massage or good food or really amazing sex. He turns the volume down on the radio before he even puts his keys in, rubbing the dash a little in appreciation. Dean doesn't care what Sam ever said, he knows his girl, and she likes it when he pets her. "Your logic is pretty damn astounding. But seeing as how we're never going to meet, it's also useless."
"You wanna know about Sam, don't you? I'm just asking for a name, something to call you."
"Call me Ishmael." He can't help it; it's like poking a scrape or rubbing at new stitches. It's like rubbernecking a crash on the side of the road, it's that damned ingrained in his skin to piss people off. And, really, since... since he and Sam started their unspoken agreement of mutual avoidance, he hasn't had much opportunity to really get someone mad.
"No!" She's yelling into the phone, and, fuck, Dean should feel bad for it, but all he feels is this overwhelming sense of giddy satisfaction. "Quit dicking me around, or, swear to God, I'm gonna hang up on you right now and show Sam all those postcards."
Okay, that was kind of hot. And maybe a little creepy—the finding it hot part, at least. She's got a good rumble to her voice when she gets loud, like Bonnie Tyler after a cough drop or two. "You go right ahead and do that. I can honestly say that I don't think Sam will care that you didn't tell him about them. And, you know what? Sam's got good grades, he's got a roof over his head, and he's happy. What else do I need to know?"
There's no answer on the other end of the line, and it's silent enough that he pulls the phone away to see if she really did hang up on him. The time's still ticking away on the phone, though, which means she's just trying to out-stubborn him. Shows how much she knows. Dean got his thick skull from the best; even Sam doesn't have shit on him.
Dean starts to get a little antsy after about a minute, but he's nowhere near giving in. He starts his car, then fishes around his box for something appropriate—because mix tapes really are a way of life—and pops it in the tape deck. His finger is on the play button, just about to push it, when she breaks.
"Fine, then, don't give me your name. Be a baby. Are you gonna hang up if I ask you about Sam's brother again?" Oh, low blow. She's sneaky. If he hangs up now, not only is he proving her right, but he's almost guaranteeing that if he calls again, she won't answer. On the other hand, the list of things he'd like to talk about less than himself is short and includes things like "Mom," "Globe, Arizona," and that time he watched Sam fall fifteen feet onto his stupid fucking head.
That wasn't what he meant when he told Sam to get the fucking hell off that damn ledge right now, by the way. Dean sighs and makes faces at the rearview mirror. She had better have some damn good dirt on Sam for this. "What do you want to know about him?"
"Really?" Her voice climbs an octave or three and squeaks enough that Dean has to laugh. "Okay, hang on, gimme a minute. I wasn't expecting you to actually agree. Or even say anything to that, really."
"You've got thirty seconds," Dean tells her. And if his voice got gruffer or deeper just then, it was purely an accident, probably caused by hearing it from his dad so much. It definitely wasn't on purpose.
"Tell me... just tell me what he was like. Or is like. God, I don't even—" She stops suddenly, and it doesn't take a pussy psych major to figure out what she was going to say. "I just, I want to know something about him. Hell, I'd settle for what kind of cereal he ate in the morning at this point."
"Cereal is overrated. Oatmeal with tons of cinnamon and sugar and bananas, that's the way to go."
"Don't try to distract me. Sam always does that, and I can't stand it. I just want one fucking straight answer. It's not that much to ask, is it?"
Dean takes a deep breath while he tries to figure out what to say. A honk distracts him, and he waves off some rabid soccer mom who is apparently desperate for his parking space. "He was kind of a fuck up. He tried real hard, though, just... couldn't tell his asshole from his elbow sometimes. But, hell, Sam turned out to be a pretty good guy so he had to have done something right."
Ugh. Dean feels slimy and in desperate need for a shower, preferably with boiling water. Anything to get rid of this feeling.
"So he was good to Sam, right?" She sounds almost hopeful.
"What the fuck kind of question is that?"
"It's a valid one! I've seen—Sam has—" Jess's voice cracks, and oh, god, he hopes she's not crying. He didn't mean to make her cry. But how the hell could she think he would—Sam. Holy shit. "He's got scars all over him, and he, he—I've taken the classes, and I know he never accidentally cut his arm open on a knife while washing dishes, dammit."
Fuck the slimy feeling, Dean just wants to throw up now. Maybe crawl into a corner and bang his head against the wall until he knocks this whole conversation out of his memory. "And he told you that his brother—you think he did that to Sam." It's a statement, not a question, and Dean wishes he had never sent out that damned postcard.
"No! No, he didn't say that," she protests. Dean doesn't even want to think about how bad he must sound for her to get like that. Talk about a sucker punch, though, man. "I know all the odds and statistics. I know it was probably his dad, but I had to ask. I didn't really think it was him because Sam gets that good kind of sad when he talks about Dean. You know what I mean? That 'those were the days' look to his face. Nostalgic. But I know how people who get abused will make excuses sometimes and do that eternal forgiveness thing, and I just had to ask someone else."
Dean wants... fuck, he wants to say so much. He wants to tell her that he feels sick that she thinks he could ever do that to Sammy. That Dad has only ever hit him three times: when Sam was four and ran in front of a car; when Sam was twelve and decided to run away for three and a half days; and once when he beat the shit out of both of them after they went and decided they were going to be bait for what they thought was some kid-killing monster, which turned out to actually be just a violent pedophile who, thankfully, preferred his victims pre-pubescent. Dean was never happier for Sam's cracking voice and Big Bird limbs. That was definitely one of the top five worst attempts at a hunt that he's ever been on.
He wants to tell her that most of Sam's scars aren't serious—kid's always scarred easy, ever since he was a baby and teething on his own hands—and that he and Dad have ones a lot worse from saving the punk's whiny little ass. There's a list in his head of things he wants to say right now, so of course, when he opens his mouth, what comes out is, "Do you really think Sam's brother could've done that to him? And don't pussyfoot around; be honest."
"I honestly don't," she tells him. And it's the way she says it, quick but not rushed, that makes Dean believe her. "But it's not like you ever get a full story with Sam. I mean, for all I know that cute story about Dean teaching him how to dunk cookies in a bowl of milk is because the day before, Sam spilled a glass of it, and Dean beat him unconscious!"
"Don't you think you're overreacting just a little bit?"
"My mom used to work for CPS; you have no idea what kind of scary shit is out there."
CPS can't do anything to them anymore, hasn't been able to in a while, but a cold shiver still rolls over him, a bone-deep fear of the acronym that he'll probably never outgrow.
"CPS as in Child Protective Services?" He deserves an Academy fucking Award for the completely fake, curious, interested tone of voice he just pulled out of his ass right there.
"Yeah, she went there after she quit the FBI."
What the hell, Sam? Where did you find this chick? "She was in the FBI, too?"
"Yes! She's so amazing, and she's pretty much the embodiment of everything that terrifies Sam. She's one big red nose and a bottle of seltzer away from making him piss his pants every time he sees her."
"Is that so?"
Her voice is so bouncy and full of energy all of a sudden, and Dean almost feels like he can see her, nodding her head and smiling big and wide. "First off, my mom's side of the family comes from money, from, like, way back. My great-grandpa sold real estate after Word War II, and then grandpa had IBM stock and all that good stuff. Second, she was a shrink until she got tired of treating bored soccer moms. Then she was an FBI agent until she got bored with that. Next was CPS, and now she teaches some classes at UC Davis and buys stuff."
"Wow. She sounds... exactly like Sam's worst nightmare. Is she a short redhead with bad hand-eye coordination?"
"Nothing, it's a, it's a thing."
"So, your mom's a shrink, huh? She and Sammy-boy must have a ton to talk about over the dinner table."
"Oh, he hates coming home with me. He's only done it twice, and both times he looked so uncomfortable the whole time. He's downright miserable there, no matter how many times I tell him they like him. Mom tortures him, too. She keeps telling him that she's thinking about trying to get hired on to Stanford so that she can request to be his therapist. I think she might just be trying to see if she can make him actually get up and leave the room."
"Wait, wait. Sam's seeing a shrink?"
She starts laughing. Cackling, even. "Yeah, his advisor makes him."
"They can do that?"
"When you—yeah, they totally can. See, Sam's got this professor who hates his guts and everything holding them in. And the two of them had this battle going on for pretty much the whole quarter that came to a head on Sam's mid-term paper. Sam kept turning it in over and over and over, and every time he did, the guy would find another reason not to accept it. So Sam's in his meeting with his advisor, and he's venting and yelling, and he makes some vague, sarcastic remark about killing himself or something, which immediately buys him five sessions a week with a therapist and fucks up his work schedule like you wouldn't believe. But he's down to three a week now!"
"Did that actually happen?"
"How could I possibly make up something that stupid and ridiculous? And on the spur of the moment like that, too."
"Hey, for all I know you're one of those acting majors who's really good at improv."
"I find it hard to believe that you know my shifts at work but don't know what my major is."
"I only know important things. Where and when you work is important. The kind of people you hang out with is important. What your major is isn't important."
"Spoken like someone who never had to change their major three dozen times."
That raises Dean's hackles. He's pretty sure that wasn't any kind of insult directed at him—it's not like she knows he didn't go to college—but it still puts him on edge. He blames Sam for that; he still doesn't have any idea how someone who got looked down on so much growing up could turn out to be such a huge fucking snob. "College isn't for everyone."
"Tell that to my mother. We fought for months about me going to college. I mean, yeah, I like it now, but I really, really, hated it for most of my first quarter here. And I changed majors once a week just to piss her off. That was actually kinda fun."
"It really doesn't bother you that you're dating yourself?"
"I don't know why you keep saying that. Sam and I aren't that alike. And he's, like, the most passive person in the world. When we met, I practically had to sew a backbone into him just to keep him walking upright."
And that just boggles Dean's mind. Try as he might, he just can't comprehend that. Sam has always had a backbone at least twice the size of his oversized, orangutan body. He never yelled at Dad—he's not an idiot—but for as long as Dean can remember, Sam's always had balls the size of watermelons, never quite crossing that line Dad set up for them but constantly walking right on it. To hear him described as spineless just hurts in the pit of Dean's stomach. "Sam Winchester, right? Twelve feet tall, feet like boats, bears a strong resemblance to Paul Bunyan? Maybe wearing a little more flannel?"
"Yes, Sam Winchester. I'm telling you, I've never even heard him raise his voice. That's why the whole 'I'm gonna bleed my wrists in front of the teacher and write my paper in blood' thing is so damned funny, because Sam doesn't get angry. Or whatever the hell that was."
"I'm pretty sure that's not actually Sam you have there. He's a Stepford."
"Nope, I've seen him get cut; no wires or any sparking parts. And he is way, way too interested in his own smells to be a robot. Plus, he has some really questionable hygiene."
"Yeah, Sam's never been a real big shower guy. He gets distracted a lot, runs himself ragged, and just crashes where he lands—doesn't even take his clothes off, usually."
"So that's not a new thing?"
"Nah, he's been doing that since he was little. He's great at dressing himself, but undressing himself is a whole different story altogether."
"I've noticed. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and Sam's just lying there asleep in bed, boots and jeans and shirts still on. Sometimes a hoodie, too. Once I woke up, and not only was he still fully clothed, but he was under two blankets, too."
"I told you, the kid's an ice-pop. He's never warm. It could be a hundred and fifteen outside, and this dumb shit will still be running around with three shirts on and a thick jacket over them like he's some teenager trying to hide a pregnancy from her parents."
"Well, that's a colorful way of putting it."
"If the baggy maternity bra fits, he should wear it."
"That's an image I could've done without. The maternity part, that is. Sam in just a normal bra is kinda hot."
Dean's not sure how to respond to that—whether to leap on the obvious and call her a kinky bitch, ask if Sam's ever actually worn a bra (the wording in that was a little hard to figure out), or risk looking like some prudish little pussy and change the subject.
And then the sirens flip on, and Dean's rearview mirror is blinding him with flashing red and blue lights. "Shit. You don't happen to know what Georgia's laws about talking on a cell phone while driving are, do you?"
"Uh, no? I assume they don't like it, though."
"I gotta go," Dean tells her as he pulls onto the shoulder. A quick check of the car shows nothing outright illegal in plain sight, so all he has to do now is hope the cop isn't a tight-ass for speeding or having a bad day. If this guy asks to search his car, Dean's only real option is to knock his ass out and run like hell, and he needs a high-speed chase right now like he needs a hole in his head.
"Wait, what? No!"
"I'm either about to get a huge ticket or arrested. As soon as this donut muncher's done checking my plates, he's coming over here."
"For talking on the phone?"
"For doing 125 in a 55."
"Wow. You went to the same driver's ed class Sam did, didn't you?"
"He's opening his door. I have to go." Damn. Definitely not a guy, with a set of headlights like that. Dean always did love a chick in a uniform.
Before he can hang up he hears her scream into the phone, "Wait! You have to at least give me your name or something!"
So Dean says the first name he can think of—"Nathan Jessup"—and shuts his phone as the cop knocks on his window. Ooh, a brunette, his favorite. "Well, howdy there, officer, was I speeding?"
"If you didn't want to help, all you had to do was say so."
"I do wanna help, Jess! I'm telling you, I didn't know what it was."
"Stop lying. Dammit, Sam, I don't need the perfect fucking boyfriend. If you don't want to help make dinner, just tell me. Don't act like you want to and then make some stupid excuse."
"No. I don't even want you in the kitchen right now, okay? Just—" She sighs, pushing the stray strands of hair off her face. "Just go play with Zach or something, okay? Take your phone, and I'll call you when the food's done."
"Jess, please, listen to me, okay?"
"No, you listen to me. If you aren't out of this kitchen in one minute, I'm going to brain you with this meat tenderizer. Got it?"
There's really no way that Sam can answer that without possibly risking himself a serious head injury, so he grabs his bike and heads out, aiming for Zach and Becky's place, even though he doesn't particularly feel like being there now. If he had it his way, he'd still be making dinner with his girlfriend in their apartment.
The next time Jess asks him to help with something, he's just going to tell her no flat-out. He really did want to help her, though. Dean used to let him help make dinner sometimes, and, okay, there's a difference between a bowl of ramen and a whole meal with meatloaf and green beans and all kinds of other things that didn't come frozen in a tray, but still. He likes helping.
Zach stares at him for a moment when he opens the door, squinting and making faces at him. Okay, so maybe it's been a little while since he's had some free time.
"Becky," he screams into the apartment. "There's some weird dude at the door! I think he might be a missionary; bring the sacrificial goats!"
"They use cows more than goats, actually, due to the sacredness of them in a lot of cultures," Sam tells him. "Cats, too, if you're doing necromantic work."
"Necromantic as in 'relating to necromancy,' not as in 'relating to necrophilia.'"
"You're a sick dude, man. And you played way too much D&D in high school."
"D&D isn't that far off. Move, let me in."
"Oh, I'm sorry, did you want to come in? I'm afraid I don't let strangers into my house, Mr. Creepy. Bye bye now."
Sam's hand shoots out to catch the door before Zach can slam it. He knows Zach isn't really gonna lock him out for long, but the last time he did it, Sam had to fake an orgasm—twice, because he wasn't realistic enough the first time—before Zach would let him in.
"Mr. Creepy? That was the best you could come up with?"
"Oh, I'm sorry I don't have enough free time to think up creative insults."
"Or to look up 'subtle' in the dictionary, obviously." Becky shoves Zach out of the way and pulls the door open. "You guys are just in time. We're trying to decide between Chinese and pizza."
"It's just me. Jess kicked me out."
"What? What happened?"
"He doesn't mean forever, retard. You're Jess's best friend. Do you really think he'd come over here if she just dumped him?
"Hey, boys are stupid. Who knows what you guys would do without us?"
"Drive around with a trunk full of guns and kill stuff," Sam deadpans.
As expected, Becky pauses at that and makes a face before staring at him for a long moment. "You're kind of scary sometimes. You know that, right?"
"Your brother just talked about sacrificing goats, and I'm the scary one?"
"You live with Jess," Zach states, like that explains everything.
Becky makes a protesting noise. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I think," Sam starts, "that it means that your brother is scared by women who try to convince him that he's secretly gay or bi and should fuck a lot of guys."
"And also that she's scary, and Sam has balls the size of planets to live with someone who can kill you with her pinky."
"No, she can't. No one can, actually. That's a myth."
"Her dad works for the government."
"My dad is a Marine with anger management issues. If you could kill someone with just your pinky, half this country would've been dead years ago." The silence that descends on the room is anything but comfortable. Becky can't seem to stand still, hands flexing and fluttering in front of her, eyes darting around the room as she waits for someone to speak.
Zach keeps staring at Sam, not moving at all to show just how unfazed he is. "So, pizza and Grand Theft Auto?"
Sam deserves a fucking award for the straight face he keeps. It's so damned hard not to laugh because, for once, he wasn't actually trying to imply that John used to beat him, and it's kind of fun being the only person in the room who isn't uncomfortable. "No food. Jess is still making dinner. She said she'd call when it was done."
"And then she kicked you out."
"She kicked me out first."
"Bacon, sausage, and anchovies, right?" Becky asks, already on the phone.
"The food was already in the oven when I left."
"Jess will eat that entire meal just to spite you."
"She will. It's true."
Becky orders the three of them a large pizza each and some hot wings before bringing her laptop out into the living room and settling down on the couch. He and Zach are on the floor in front of it with their drinks and a large punch bowl full of jelly beans set on the coffee table next to them.
Sam's not a big fan of video games. They're kind of boring to play, and they're extra boring when he's sitting waiting for his turn. He doesn't understand the appeal of driving around in a fake car and stealing things while beating hookers up with baseball bats, but at least it's better than the sports games, which just make no sense to Sam. Isn't the whole point of sports to do physical things like tackle people and run a lot?
Also, trying to play something with a two-handed controller while one of your hands is trapped in a cast is hard. Sam doesn't have enough experience with video games to ignore the cast with them like he does when writing, bathing, shooting, or fighting.
He figures the games are probably more fun if you haven't actually done the stuff in them in your real life. Not that he's ever beaten a hooker to death with a baseball bat, although he did hit one in the face with a tire iron once. She was possessed and choking him at the time, though, so that totally doesn't count, especially since all it did was piss her off more.
"Video games are really boring."
"You know, if you keep—motherfucker—keep talking like that, they're gonna take your dick away."
"You keep saying that, but I still have my dick."
"Only because they're scared of Jess."
"Because she can kill them with her pinky."
"Because she bleeds for seven days and still lives—ow! What the fuck? Why'd you hit me?"
"My hand slipped."
"See, Sam, this is why you should be glad you don't have a little sister."
That's another reason Sam doesn't come over much. He likes Zach, and he likes Becky, but he hates being around them when they're together because Zach is Becky's big brother. When they're in the same room, Zach reminds Sam so much of Dean that it makes him ache.
"They are boring. I don't get the point of sitting there for three hours making a little guy on the TV screen run around and do things because you're too lazy to do it on your own."
"Whatever, you study for fun."
"I read, I don't study. And reading is fun. I like learning things." Sam ignores the churning of his stomach and tries to pretend he hasn't had some variation of this argument fifteen million times before.
"You can learn things from video games. See, I just learned that if I drag a hooker down the street by her hair, she'll give me money."
"Remind me to never go near Castro with you," Sam tells him.
"If I ever went anywhere near Castro without being coerced, Jess would... I don't even know what she would do."
"Probably videotape you and then try and get Sam to get you drunk."
"If this conversation goes any further, at least two of us are going to end up traumatized."
"And, no matter what, one of the ones traumatized is going to be me because your girlfriend hates me," Zach states.
"I'm pretty sure your problem is that she doesn't hate you."
"No, she loves me. That's why she spends all of her free time trying to figure out how to get me to fuck you."
A short grunt is all the response Sam gets as Zach goes back to stealing cop cars and tanks to run people down with. They pass the controller back and forth every time someone dies or gets arrested, which is more often than Sam would have thought, considering how much Zach plays the game. Sam's pretty sure Zach keeps getting arrested on purpose so Sam can play, which is nice in theory but not as much in execution because, as Sam previously stated, he's not a big fan of the game.
"D'you guys know what a potato masher is?"
"What?" Zach asks, stealing a police cruiser.
"A potato masher."
"Like as in that metal thing that you mash potatoes with?" Becky asks.
On a golf course now, Zach ditches the police cruiser and proceeds to run people down in his new golf cart. "Why?"
"No reason. It was just a question."
"Oh my God! Tell me that Jess didn't know? Is that what the fight was about?" Before Sam can even fully turn around, Becky smacks him. Smacks him right across the back of the head like she thinks she's Dean or something.
"What the hell?"
"You made fun of her, didn't you, you asshole?" She starts smacking him again, and he only avoids getting a fingernail shoved in his eyeball because he manages to get his arms up over his head before Becky starts beating on him.
Zach's cracking up, laughing his ass off like the good friend he is. Becky's ignoring his noises of protest and yelling about how only she can make fun of Jess. "What the fuck, stop hitting me, you psycho!"
"You aren't allowed to call her spoiled!"
"I didn't! You're a fucking nut job; I didn't call her anything. That's not even what the fight was about!" Sam finally jumps up, backing away and pointing a finger at Becky, as if that has some power to keep her from going after him again. "If you hit me one more time, I swear, I'm gonna hit you back. I didn't call her any names, I didn't yell at her, nothing, okay? So just leave me alone and go get a tampon or something."
The look on Becky's face is reminiscent enough of John Winchester at his deadliest that Sam actually takes a step back before he gets his bearings.
"Hey, Beck, why don't you go call Jess and commiserate over what a douchebag Sam is and how right she was to dump him, huh? That sounds like a much better idea than ruining the security deposit with his brain matter, right? Doesn't it?"
Sam has no idea if Becky glares at him or flips him off because his eyes are glued to a blank spot of wall a good three inches above Becky's head. He only knows that she's left the room when Zach shoves him.
"I'm not apologizing," Sam tells him. "Your sister has lost her mind."
"That douchebag she was dating dumped her today. Said he didn't wanna deal with such a spoiled, ungrateful brat."
"You didn't kill him, did you?"
"Nah, I was at work when she called me. You're coming with me tomorrow, though, right?"
"You gonna end up in jail if I don't?"
"Guess I have to, then. You're the one with all the bail money."
"You liar," Becky yells from the kitchen. "Jess does too know what a potato masher is!"
"I didn't say she didn't know," Sam yells back, pinching the bridge of his nose. There's virtually no way staying in this apartment much longer is going to be good for him. Either Becky will come and try to rip his head from his shoulders for being a great big liar—which is ironic because he's hardly lied at all today—or she and Jess are gonna keep talking, and then all three of them will realize that Sam doesn't even know what basic kitchen utensils are, which will just suck for him.
Sam waves behind him in the vague vicinity of his bike and tells Zach he's gotta go. "The library or something, man. If I stay here any longer, I'm pretty sure I'm either gonna die or get dumped."
"Yeah, thanks for that very encouraging support, man."
"It's what I'm here for."
Jess is a complete idiot. Huge. Gigantic. Bigger than the whole fucking universe and Sam's shoes. But, in her defense, who the hell hasn't heard of a potato masher? Or, really, more to the point, what kind of guy actually wants to help make dinner?
Well, except for her dad, but he's from Kentucky, and he can only stand them having a cook as it is because he's seen her mom try to cook before. It's not a pretty sight and is pretty nasty to try to eat.
But that's beside the point. The point is that Jessica is a horrible person who yelled at her boyfriend and called him a liar when all he was trying to do was be nice and helpful. She is pond scum. She is the scuzz underneath the pond scum underneath the rock that someone scraped dog shit on.
It's a really fucking good thing that Becky called because she was about fifteen minutes away from the food being done and her eating everything just because she could. But now, instead of a stomach full of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, she's got this knot of worry right in the pit of it. All she can do is hope that Sam forgives her and that the table full of food isn't ice cold by the time they get home.
She knows where he is now; he's predictable enough that she doesn't even have to think twice when she leaves and just heads straight to the library. It's his own personal tree house, chock full of big books, computers, and a fucking maze of shelves that let him hide from anyone he wants to.
Jess has no idea exactly what she's going to say to him. She doesn't really have a plan aside from groveling and hoping that it will work.
She's halfway through calling him before she remembers his phone is currently MIA somewhere around campus. "Fucking fucker, dammit, stupid damn phone." Sam keeps saying he's going to get a new one, and it's only been about a week since he lost or broke this last one, but it's fucking annoying when she's actually trying to get ahold of him.
The library looks much bigger now than it did this afternoon when she was studying in it. Sam's got these four or five spots that he has a thing for, although he's not averse to burrowing into the stacks at random.
If he's hiding from Zach—even though she's told him time and time again that he doesn't need to do that because Zach will fuck off if you just tell him you want to be alone—he stays on the first floor, far back corner with the big windows. When he just wants to read, it's either by the newspapers behind the information desk or sitting down somewhere at random near wherever he's pulled out his book.
She takes a chance and heads to the second floor of the Bing Wing, takes a left at the stairs, and hopes he's in the Lane room. He doesn't like it—too much open space, nowhere to hide, whatever—but that's where she likes to study, and he's gotta know she'll try to find him.
He's there. He's got one of the big leather chairs commandeered in the corner, one leg thrown up over the arm and the other kicked out flat on the floor. There's a book in his lap and another few on the table behind his head, the top one teetering on the pile, ready to tumble onto him or his backpack. She doesn't really have a plan beyond "apologize and possibly have make up sex," so she decides to just go with her gut and wing it.
Straddling someone in an armchair is hard. When that someone in question is fifteen feet tall, nine feet wide, and spread out on the chair sideways with a book in his lap that's bigger than her father's car, it takes a little more finesse and grace than she's used to using while still clothed.
She manages it, though, with the added—and unneeded—help of Sam's hand sliding along her hip when she leans too far to the right. He looks so cute with his face all red and embarrassed, and she contemplates leaning down to kiss him, but her left leg is currently shoved between Sam's cast and the back of the chair, making it awkward. That's okay, though; Jess is in a skirt, so she's pretty sure she flashed him a good shot of her panties while she was trying to settle into place, which totally makes up for skipping the kiss.
"I'm sorry that I yelled at you."
"And called me a liar."
"And called you a liar."
"And kicked me out."
"And kicked you out and was just this huge bitch to you when all you were trying to do was be nice."
"Yeah. You kinda suck."
"Shut up. Guys don't cook, okay?"
Jess can't help but stare at him for a moment, dumbfounded. "You don't know what a whisk is, but you know Wolfgang Puck?"
"If we were somewhere that got The Food Network, Dean made sure it was on whenever the TV was. I think it might've been even better than porn to him."
Jess files this away with the other incidental information Sam has given her about his family and smiles down at him. "Clearly, your brother has his priorities all mixed up," she tells him, scooting back off his stomach and letting him pull himself up further onto the chair. "What do you say we go home and make some porn of our own? I think I know where I left the camera."
Sam makes a face, mouth twisted to the side in an exaggerated grimace, and makes this squeaky little noise in the back of his throat. "I don't know—I mean, I am kinda hungry. Didn't really get to eat today, you know."
She smacks him, lightly and climbs off, ignoring the stares of more than a few people, probably frosh. "Sex first. Then if you're really nice, I might let you have some dinner."
He hooks his messenger bag over his shoulder, pulls Jess close, and kisses her. He pulls away before it gets really good, nuzzling her neck as his fingers dance along the sliver of skin at her waist. "Well," he says with a sigh, "I guess if I have to…"
"Oh, yeah, I'm sure it's such a hardship."
Dean sends her stuff sometimes. They're not, like, presents because that's kind of girly. He just sees stuff sometimes that he thinks would be funny. It's like what he does with Sam, but more creepy and less spiteful—and never let it be said that Dean never taught Sam anything.
The things he sends Sam don't have any notes attached or anything. No letters or return addresses, because if he left one, and Sam didn't write back... well, Dean's not that much of a sadist. They're still not talking, but he can't not send Sam a shot glass for his birthday or a flea collar for a random Tuesday .
The stuff he sends Jess is more personal, in a way. Fuzzy pink dice from Vegas, a bowling ball with a skull in it from Amarillo, a kung-fu hamster from the Walgreens in Decatur, things like that. Stuff that reminds him of her or conversations they've had.
Sam gets the impersonal gifts now. Dean only sends them because he has to, because no matter what Sam wishes, he'll still always be Dean's baby brother. And by that right, Dean has to send him presents. Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries of times Dean whooped his ass so bad that they need to be commemorated.
He sends her a mix tape once. It's stupid and childish, and it probably sends the wrong message because he's not actually hitting on her that much. She doesn't even have a tape player to play it on, so he's not sure what compels him to do it.
Jess calls him up after she gets it. A friend of her friend's friend has some friend who has a fifteenth-hand car, so she borrowed the damn thing to try and play it, but the stupid fucking car ate the tape—that's what you get with a fucking Ford, man.
He sends her a big care package for Christmas, even though it might tip Sam off. It's a tradition, though. You get presents on Christmas, and Dean's been in charge of making sure Sam got at least one thing ever since back in second grade when Sam came home and asked why all the kids in class were talking about getting things over break. And Jess is practically family, which means it's his responsibility as an almost-kind-of-brother-in-law to make sure Jess gets a big box of useless crap, too.
Given, he doesn't have much of an idea what she likes, so he makes a wild guess or nine after asking more store clerks than he wants to admit.
"Are you looking for something for your girlfriend?" asks the scary looking Amazon in J.C. Penny's.
"No," Dean answers as he pokes through lacy pink dresses and fuzzy-looking shirts. "My brother's."
"Do you know what she likes?"
"My brother, I assume. What do you get a lesbian for Christmas? A softball?"
He leaves with the Amazon's number, a hideous looking purse, and a softball.
The purse gets packed with the softball, rock candy, cactus jelly, a rubber duck, a bear fucking a turkey, eight dollars and seventy-five cents worth of Christmas candy, and an inflatable sheep.
Sam's not entirely sure what's going on.
Well, that's not actually true. There's a broad chest against his back and a hard cock riding the ass of his jeans; that's pretty easy to decipher. There's a mouth on his and a tongue that's doing hot, wicked, amazing things to him. His head is tilted back for the kiss, and that combined with the floaty numbness in the rest of his body makes him wonder whether he's standing or sitting.
Sam knows the how. What he's confused about is how he managed to get here, locked in what looks like the rec room of the Alpha Delta Omicron frat house with three of Stanford's best football players hungrily groping at him.
There's that shrill, high-pitched noise again, the one that jolted him out of his haze. It stops and starts again, then one more time before Sam realizes it's his phone and goes reaching for his pockets, and, whoa—what happened to his shirts?
He manages to get his phone out of his jeans pocket, no easy feat with a hard on and extra hands sliding around down there, and answers it right before it goes to voicemail. Coherent thought is still hard at this point, though, and all he can do is pant hard into the phone and try to make sense of the noises on the other end of the line.
It takes what feels like hours for his brain to recognize that what he's hearing are words. Sam barely manages to get out a thick, slurred, "Zach?" before his phone is pulled out of his hands and thrown into the wall, shattering into a dozen broken pieces.
The slow, drugged fogginess lifts, cut clean through by a sharp spike of pain as teeth sink into the soft flesh of his bottom lip, filling Sam's mouth with the coppery taste of blood.
"Fuck." He can feel his heart pounding in the gash and welcomes it, pain cutting through his brain and waking him up more and more with each passing second.
He starts with the small things first. He knows he's in the ADO frat house—or at least someone who loves them so damn much they had to go and plaster their Greek letters all over everything they own—and probably in the rec room if the dart board and pool table are anything to go by.
Or the game room. He's not actually sure what the difference is between the two. He should ask Jess; she knows all that kind of stuff.
Oh, shit. Jess.
Sam makes a mad scramble away from the tangle of limbs. How the hell could he forget about Jess? He almost—there has to be something going on here, some kind of "bad juju" as Dean would say.
Sam's backed up into the pool table as he's advanced upon by—wow. Michael Hertzeberg, Brett Hovey, and Paul Clayton. Not just any football players, then—Stanford's star quarterback, star halfback and... well, Sam's not exactly sure what position Clayton would play if he was ever allowed off the bench, but that's not the point.
The fact that they all still have their pants on is all that separates this from ninety percent of Jess's porn collection. He doesn't think he moved, but when his vision swims back into focus—and why was it out of focus anyway?—the first thing he sees is the fan mounted on the ceiling.
The fan is soon blocked by Hovey leaning over—when did Sam's arms get pinned over his head? This missing things shit really isn't funny anymore—and starts biting at his jaw. Sam groans and drops his head back, offering up his throat. The groan turns into a pained gasp as the movement starts a chain reaction as it pulls the muscles in his right shoulder, already resting at an awkward angle because of the cast on his arm.
Another small glimmer of clarity comes with the pain, and Sam realizes he has no idea how he got here. When he bites at his lip, it's only partially because Hertzeberg has just settled himself, heavy and obviously hard in his basketball shorts, right over Sam's cock. Sam's tongue worries at the cut on his lip that he knows is gonna end up needing at least one stitch by the time he gets out of here. The constant swings between lust and pain are dizzying, making it even harder to try and actually hold onto those precious moments of clear thinking and force himself into remembering anything outside of this room.
Hertzeberg isn't straddling him anymore. This would be a good thing for the coherent part of Sam's brain, except that Hertzeberg isn't straddling him anymore because he's moving to kiss his way down Sam's chest and stomach. Sam's almost got this figured out, he thinks. Something's fucking with the reception in his brain, hitting and firing the wrong parts of it, like a hit of X—at least, he thinks it's like X. He only has secondhand knowledge of it, so there's only so much he can trust.
Pain seems to derail whatever it is, but biting his lip, no matter how much blood he tastes, just isn't doing enough. He feels like Charlie in Flowers for Algernon; he knows he's missing something, but he just can't put his finger on exactly what it is. Something to do with X? Ecstasy? Drugs? Whatever it is, it's just beyond his reach, taunting him.
Sam's fighting it hard, pushing against the overwhelming feeling of want and trying to make himself care that his jeans are almost undone, and... and that's bad for some reason. He's not really sure why because from here, a blowjob from a really hot football player doesn't have a downside, but Sam's still aware enough to know to trust his gut.
He's not exactly in a good position to fight back, stretched out and exposed with little control over his extremities, but he tries his damnedest, wriggling and bucking until the pull in his joints is too much to fight against. By sheer dumb luck, he manages to get a leg out from under Hertzeberg and knee him hard, right in the soft spot of flesh over his left kidney.
It was both a perfect move and a phenomenally bad idea. Hertzeberg drops off the pool table like a Slinky kicked down stairs, and Hovey slams Sam's wrists against the lip of the table. He says something, but Sam's too blinded by pain to know what as he feels some part of his arm crack along with his cast.
Sam knows pain, and having John Winchester as a father and Dean Winchester as an older brother means he's no stranger to fighting through it—literally—or to trying to beat the ever-loving snot out of someone with a chunk of plaster on some vital part of his body.
Sam's arms are still being held captive, so he makes do, swinging his legs up and hoping. A sharp pain shoots through his shin as it connects with Hovey's head, and Sam realizes he didn't think that through too well. His hands are free now, though, and he's got a clear line to the door that he takes, snatching up his missing clothes along the way and trying to ignore the throbbing pain in his arm.
He's almost to the door when he gets clotheslined and knocked flat on his ass. He has just enough time to realize he probably should've paid more attention to where Clayton was before everything goes black.
When he comes to, he's in a bedroom. No pool table or football players in sight, still only as half-clothed as he was when he lost consciousness, and arm still throbbing in pain with his head joining in on the chorus. He's on his back on a bed that's way too big and soft to be native to the frat, and is that a fucking canopy? Before that line of thought can get any further, Sam's brain comes to a screeching halt as Dean comes towards the bed. Same stubble; same dirty, over-gelled brown hair; same scars—everything.
It's not Dean, though. The eyes are all wrong; they're the perfect shade of greenish grey, with the perfect smattering of freckles and the overly long, girlish eyelashes that helped get him into so many fights in high school, but they're... off. Not dead, just the opposite. Too alive, too bright, too open. Too much everything.
The thing, whatever it is that stole Dean's body—it's too obvious for possession, and the movements aren't anything close to Dean, so it's not a shapeshifter. Maybe a doppelganger or some stupid witch with a fucking spell—
"Oh, Jesus Christ." It hits him with the force of a bus. It's an incubus. The mindless sex drive, the body, the football players—and that's gonna be one hell of a mess when this is all over with—and the weird-ass ballerina movements in what looks like Dean's body.
Hell, it explains Dean's body, and Sam's a little disturbed in the back of his head that it doesn't look like Jess. Then again, ideal or not, he's not sure if incubi can cast female shadows.
Sam's still sluggish, probably from a concussion, and that's the only reason he doesn't jump off the bed. "Well, you're just a frisky little fella, aren't you?" the thing asks, running its fingers through Sam's hair. Its voice grates on his nerves, rhythm and pitch all right but inflection and tone all wrong.
It's a concussion, definitely. That's why Sam lets it kiss him, not because it looks like Dean or because it's been more than three years since he's seen his big brother. The kiss is off, of course, because perfect isn't right. Its teeth are straight where Dean's aren't, it's missing that slight overlap in Dean's front teeth, and there's no weird ridge of scar tissue on Dean's tongue from when he almost got it cut out of his mouth.
It smells soapy, freshly washed, and clean in a way Dean hasn't been since long before Sam can remember, and that's the final straw. That's what he clings to when he shoves the thing off of him and swings at Dean's face, planting it with a solid left cross. It drops like a sack of potatoes, and Sam's thrown for a moment. He knows that incubi are supposed to be physically weak, but even chupacabras put up a harder fight than that.
The incubus is still breathing but out cold, so Sam takes the chance to rummage through the dressers and see if there's a shirt or twelve he can steal, since none of his are anywhere in sight. He grabs the first two things that look like they have a small chance of fitting him, then lands a hard kick in the thing's ribs. "That was my good hoodie, you asshole. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find things that fit me?"
He kicks it one more time for good measure, and, okay, maybe he's channeling Dean a little too much, but Sam's pretty sure he's got a right to. Not only did he just almost get... whatevered by three guys, but he got the crap beat out of him and assaulted by something wearing his brother's face, and now he's going to lose clothes he can't afford to replace because he has to light this place on fire before it wakes up.
Sam says a silent "fuck you" to his father as he tries to find his way out to the back door. Of course his dad couldn't take the time to see if there was any other way to kill them besides fire, no. Why bother with subtlety?
His bike isn't out back, and he doesn't have time to see if it's anywhere else nearby because the flames are spreading faster than he expected. Of course he would torch the only forty-year-old house in SoCal that isn't chock full of asbestos. And exactly how much alcohol did they have in the damn place, anyway?
His bike's aluminum, so if it is there, it's probably half-melted by now. If it isn't, well, it's not like he's losing anything by getting the fuck out of there before people start to notice the smoke.
It takes what feels like an hour to get back to his and Jess's apartment, taking the long way and walking slowly so as not to either jostle his arm or draw any attention to himself. He's not sure exactly what he did to his arms this time, but both of them throb and ache, and that would just make his whole day if he managed to break both of his arms at once. Because figuring out how to piss with a cast on each hand wasn't fun enough the first time.
The two flights of stairs are borderline agony. Sam's never realized how often he goes to reach for the railing while climbing up, but he sure as hell knows now.
The TV is still on from this morning, channel 37 now blaring that show Jess hates about those witches instead of the one about the vampires that she loves to watch in the mornings. Sam thinks neither one of them bear even a passing resemblance to anything real, but the point is that it's on, and he can't hear cursing, so Jess isn't home yet. Score one for Winchester; he just might be able to avoid her from now until tonight so that he can blame his arm on work.
The light on the answering machine is blinking, but he doesn't care. His arm hurts, and he has blood soaking through his borrowed sweatshirt, so the first order of business is to figure out just how badly his cast is cracked, then wash the blood off. Maybe even wash first; it's not a lot of blood, but most of it isn't his, so he wants it gone as soon as possible.
Four washcloths and a towel later, Sam's clean again and has the sweatshirt soaking in Dad's water, bleach, and dish soap solution in the tub. There's a large crack in the plaster of his cast along the back of his hand, which explains some of the pain. His left hand, the one without the cast, is swollen near the wrist, red and puffy and probably sprained. He doesn't think it's broken; maybe a hairline fracture at the most.
Sam grumbles to himself, muttering things about incubi and how hard hunting shouldn't be. "Stupid Dean. 'No, let's baby Sammy and not let him do anything on his own so he's completely dependent on us forever!'" He knows he's being petty, but he can't bring himself to care right now.
It's not until after a failed struggle trying to get the borrowed shirts off without fucking up his wrists even more that Sam remembers something about Zach calling him earlier.
There's no hello when he calls, just a pissed off, "What the fuck did you do to your phone, Winchester?"
"Did you know frat row is on fire?"
"Yeah. Big flames, lots of smoke. Probably some kinky sex thing, I saw a couple of guys run out of ADO half naked."
"What were you doing there?"
You remember that article your sister did about the new date-rape drug that leaves no trace? And the other article about the how the Alpha Delta Omicron guys get rape charge after rape charge dropped because they all play sports? Wrong. It was totally an incubus mind-fucking them and making them rape pretty much everyone they came in contact with using drugged sweat that's like Viagra shoved in oysters.
Yeah, because there's no way that would end up with Sam in a straightjacket.
"You just randomly decided to go running and turn off your phone in the middle of the day?"
"I didn't turn it off. I dropped it. Phones are fragile; they break."
"Yeah, and speaking of breaks? Get to the hospital. Jess started a riot and broke her arm."
"What? What happened? What do you mean she started a riot? Where is it broken, how bad?" He's already halfway down the stairs by the time the phone starts beeping at him, reminding him that it's a cordless landline and now out of range. When he makes it back up the stairs, he realizes that in his hurry, he didn't even close the door all the way. "Shut up," he tells Zach when he calls him back. "I forgot I was on the cordless; what happened?"
"Someone threw yogurt at her or something, I don't know. Becky was screeching at her like a howler monkey, and Jess wasn't saying much, so this is all secondhand."
"I told you this was secondhand. You need me to pick you up?"
"Yeah, call me when you're here."
"Be ready," Zach warns him. "We're going on California time here, not Winchester time." He hangs up before Sam can give his token protest about his time-telling abilities.
At least he has a few minutes to make himself look presentable. Though, shit, Zach's gonna be fun to deal with for a while after seeing him like this.
| Four |