Link Part One
“Christ,” Dean says, looming behind Sam. “You’re gonna haveta go to the nurse, Sam. This whole I’m-not-sick schtick isn’t cuttin’ it anymore.”
Sam groans and fights back another dry heave. He’s spent the past hour with his head in a bucket, and Dean’s nagging is driving him bonkers. “She’s gonna fuckin’ put me in quarantine, man. I hate that shit.”
“Better than you dying from the flu like some olden-days bastard,” Dean comments. “I’m tellin’ the general that you’re too sick to go out with me today, so you’d better go see her. Or else he’ll make you, and that would suck.”
“Fuck you,” Sam moans, spitting some bile into the make-shift toilet. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”
“Just go get some medicine. All this vomit is disgusting,” Dean says.
Sam eventually makes his way to the little room where Nurse Julia is stationed, dragging his feet as he goes. She’s pretty much the general’s lap dog, and a fucking bitch, so when she gives him this look when he knocks on the open door, he very nearly punches her in the face, chivalry be damned.
“What can I do for you, Winchester?” she drawls, turning back to what looks like a journal.
“Been feelin’ like crap for a couple weeks,” Sam sighs. “Figured it’s about time I saw you so you can tell me what’s wrong.” Not that you’re a real doctor, he thinks.
She stares at him for a second, raising an eyebrow. “You’ve felt ill for a couple of weeks and you’re only now coming to tell me? You could’ve infected the entire community in that time!”
“Yeah, well, I’m here now,” Sam says, plopping into one of the metal chairs she has. “So, I don’t know, figure out what I have and put me in quarantine so I can get better.”
“You are so irresponsible,” she snaps, pulling on a medical mask. “What are your symptoms?”
“Nausea,” Sam says.
She waits a beat, and then makes an exasperated sound. “That’s it? That’s all you have to go on?”
“Uh, yeah,” Sam says. “Vomiting. That’s pretty much all I got.”
“How very useful,” she says bitchily. “Night sweats? Aches? Anything?”
“Maybe I’ve been a little more tired than usual, but I think that’s probably because of the zombies,” Sam says sarcastically.
“Okay then,” she drones, and leads Sam through the normal procedural shit: blood pressure, stethoscope, temperature.
“Everything checks out,” she says. “I mean, it’s possible you have ulcers or something, but I don’t have that kind of equipment here. The only other thing I can do is an ultrasound of your stomach to see if I can detect anything, but they’re not really used for this kind of thing.”
“Whatever,” Sam says.
“Then quarantine,” she snaps. “I can’t have you getting everyone else sick. You’ll go back to your room and lay low.” She starts prepping the ultrasound machine, directing Sam to the dirty cot she has set up in the corner. Sam pulls his shirt over his head, and his skin immediately pebbles--it feels like all of the air conditioning in the compound has been relegated to this room. Gingerly, he sits on the cot, thinking that it’s more likely he get sick from the poor conditions of this infirmary than it is that he’ll spread whatever he has around.
Julia proves she has no bedside manner as she smoothes the gel over Sam’s abdomen without a word, roughly pressing into his skin. Her brow wrinkles in confusion and Sam catches her dart a glance to his forearm before she shrugs slightly and powers on the machine. It sputters a little, screen flashing, and then she presses him back into the cot and begins swiping with the little wand. Sam wonders how she’s even able to read the results, what with the machine’s constant flickering and all.
He watches her face, eager for a sign, an oh-is-that-all that never comes. Instead, she purses her lips, looking stern and...angry, maybe? Sam doesn’t quite understand, and he’s about to ask when she looks at the ultrasound feed, makes a little sound, and drops the wand on the floor.
“What--” Sam starts, but she interrupts him before he gets any further.
“How did you get rid of the tattoo? Who did it?”
Sam looks down at his chest where the anti-possession sigil still gleams against his skin, unbroken and as black as it’s always been. “I haven’t?” he says perplexedly, gesturing.
“Not that tattoo,” she snaps, grabbing his right hand. “This one.”
She points to the underside of his wrist, jabbing him with her fingernail, and he forcibly pulls his hand from her grasp. “I’ve never had a tattoo there,” he grinds out. “What’s going on?”
“Well that’s kind of funny,” she says, but she’s anything but amused, “seeing as it’s been the law for decades that any fertile is required to have a tattoo on their right wrist indicating them as such.”
The idea is so ludicrous that Sam can’t help but bark out a laugh. “I am not a fertile, Julia,” he says stiffly.
“Considering that you’re pregnant, I think that’s a little hard to believe,” she scoffs. “What, you thought only the other fertiles should be taxed with procreation? Not you, because you’re special.”
Her proclamation is like a blow to Sam’s gut, and he staggers a little, glad he isn’t standing. “I can’t be pregnant,” he says.
“There is a fetus in your body,” she says, jabbing a finger at the ultrasound. “One with a beating heart.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sam says, struggling to his feet. She immediately stands up, barring the door with her body as if that will stop Sam from leaving.
“Jerry,” she calls. “Jerry, I need help!”
“What are you doing?” Sam snarls, striding forward to push past her. Jerry has already come down the hall, along with three of the others who stayed behind, and Sam’s not too keen on these odds.
“Sam here’s been lying,” Julia says. “He’s a fertile. Didn’t want to share. I think we should lock him up and wait for the general.”
“Lock me up?” Sam says, outraged. “Are you crazy? I didn’t even know!”
“Speaking of which,” Julia says, “who’s the father? Last I remember, you and your brother didn’t like to mingle. And you aren’t very far along.”
“I’m not pregnant,” roars Sam.
“So he’s either not your brother, or you’re more fucked-up than I realized,” she says, eyes wide. “Jerry, put him in the cell. Don’t you think that’s the best thing to do?”
“Yes’m,” Jerry says in his low drawl, eyeing Sam up and down. Two months ago, one of the fertiles had been placed in Jerry’s care, gotten pregnant, and lost the baby. Sam can tell that’s what he’s thinking about. Sam slinks his hand back to go for the gun he has tucked in the seat of his pants, but Tom holds up a semi-automatic.
“No trouble now, Sam,” he warns. “Let’s go.”
There’s really no alternative, so Sam pushes by Julia, hard enough to send her bumping into the wall, and lets himself be led to their makeshift holding cell.
Sam sits against the far wall of the room, watching the sentinel warily. There’s only one, and judging by the way he’s shifting in his seat, he’s going to take a piss break sooner rather than later. Sam needs to be alone in order to enact the first bit of his escape plan.
Sure enough, Tom squares him with a sharp gaze, standing up. “Don’t try nothin’,” he warns, and he’s barely out the door before Sam’s pulling the walkie talkie from his back pocket. Idiots didn’t think to check him for anything after they took his gun.
He flips it to the right channel, praying that no one is listening in aside from Dean, and says, “Joliet, this is Elwood. Time to hit the road.” As far as codes go, it’s painfully see-through, but it’s enough to signal Dean that things have gone sour. The connection crackles for a second, and then Dean responds.
“Location?” He sounds tense, and Sam can hear the rat-a-tat of gun fire.
“Roger.” Sam immediately turns the walkie talkie off and chucks it into the bucket that’s serving as a makeshift toilet. Thirty seconds later, Tom strolls back into the room, eyes Sam suspiciously, and then sits down again. Sam takes a shaky breath and starts to consider his options.
There aren’t many of them, to be honest.
He gives Julia’s pet theory a perfunctory run-over and then immediately chucks the idea out as insane. He would know if there was a parasite in his body; there’s no way he wouldn’t. It’s a lot easier to think that Julia, who’s only a trained RN and therefore nowhere near being a doctor, is fully mistaken. He probably just has a tumor or something freaky caused by angel mojo and messing with too much supernatural shit.
Unfortunately, the rationalization does nothing to help the situation or the nervous energy thrumming through his body.
The outside door slams open, and Sam looks up eagerly only to see the general standing stiffly outside of his cell. Tom is relieved, and Sam doesn’t miss the gleeful look of pity shot in his direction. Everyone in the compound knows that the general wants to continue his bloodline more than anything, and by the way he’s holding himself, Sam knows that he’s heard what Julia had to say and isn’t pleased.
“So, Mr. Winchester,” the general says, lowly, dangerously. “Rumor has it you’ve not been very truthful with us.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Sam says eloquently.
The general takes a moment to respond, unlocking the padlock that bars the door to Sam’s room and steps inside, his gun held tautly at his side. “You’re lucky I don’t kill you now,” he says, but Sam can’t find that thought threatening.
“You wouldn’t,” Sam says, smiling darkly. “You think I’m a fertile. You need me around.”
“From what I’m told, there’s no doubt about it,” the general says smoothly. “And you are still expendable. Perhaps we’ll just perform an abortion and keep you drugged. Sam Winchester: the compound slut.”
“Fine. Attempt an abortion with the shitty med supplies you have and Julia knowing jack-shit about anything. I’m sure that’ll work. I’ll die, you’ll be down a fertile, and my brother will fucking tear you apart.”
“You have high confidence in Dean.”
“You have no idea,” Sam comments.
“I am going to wipe that smirk right off your face,” the general warns, rubbing his finger along the butt of his gun. “Take what’s rightfully mine.”
Sam holds his arms apart, pulling all the stops to piss the general off as much as possible. Angry people make mistakes. “Sure, go ahead. Prove that you’re a rapist as well as a shit leader.”
“I don’t see you in charge here,” the general says.
“Yeah, well, people are stupid.”
“Well, that is a challenge, isn’t it, Winchester? I think I can beat the smart mouth out of you though. You’re not entirely thinking this through.”
“I’m taller than you, stronger than you, and not afraid to die,” Sam says. “So I think it’s you who’s working at a disadvantage here.”
“Enough talk,” the general says, and for a moment, Sam thinks he’s about to be clocked across the head with the general’s pistol. But, in a stroke of luck that Sam rarely has the pleasure of experiencing, the general’s radio squawks to life.
“General, this is lookout tower one, over.”
The general scowls, but he pulls out his walkie-talkie and depresses the button. “Go ahead.”
“We’ve lost contact with the red group. Need you up here, over.”
“I’m coming,” the general responds, and then he points a finger at Sam. “But I’ll be back, son. Give you a little time to think about what kind of trouble you’ve gotten yourself into.” He leaves the cell and unfortunately locks it behind him, pulling Tom in as guard again. Sam sincerely hopes that Dean’s behind the current trouble, but he has no way of knowing for sure.
But Dean’s always been the constant Sam can count on most, and sure enough, an hour later he storms through the door, catching Tom by surprise. The fight is quick and brutal, but Dean’s been trained in hand-to-hand combat since he was six, and Tom has definitely not been, so it’s over in less than a minute.
“What the fuck have you done now?” Dean asks, pulling out a battered set of lock picks from the side of the duffel he’s slung on the floor, but he sounds amused and not angry.
“No time,” Sam says. “Hurry up.”
“Keep your panties on, princess,” Dean mutters, and the padlock clicks open with minimal effort.
“How are we getting out?” Sam questions, holding his hand out for a gun, which Dean immediately provides.
“Started a small fire in the entrance way,” Dean says. “Nothing major, but we should be able to go up the stairs into the main building.”
“Provided there are no zombies,” Sam comments, but it’s a good a plan as ever.
“Escapin’ isn’t the problem here,” Dean points out. “It’s where we’re going next that we should worry about.”
“Anything’s better than this shithole. Let’s go.” Sam lets Dean take the front, flanking him from the back, but they encounter no resistance. It’s early enough in the day that most everyone will have been busy in other areas of the compound when the fire alarm was sounded, so they don’t have to gun anyone down to make it to the access stairway.
They dart through the lobby, eerie with fallen zombie corpses from before, and leave through a side door. The streets aren’t thick with the undead--too close to the compound for them to have repopulated the area--but there are enough that Sam and Dean have to spend some ammo wasting them. The gunshots are loud in the stale air, and Sam hopes that they aren’t able to be heard underground. He and Dean immediately take a winding route eastward, away from the thick of the city and into the suburbs. They keep having to duck into alleyways to reload, but it’s easy enough to cover the ground now that they don’t have to worry about protecting someone other than themselves.
They’re not as far from the compound as they would like when the fall of dusk necessitates that they find somewhere to bunk for the evening. The electricity is out in this section of town, which hopefully points to not being ambushed by a Leviathan during the night, but there are still plenty of zombies wandering around. It takes thirty minutes for Sam and Dean to feel secure enough about jumping the fence surrounding the yard of a derelict house, and by that time, the sun’s nearly sank underneath the horizon.
Dean keeps careful watch as Sam picks the lock to get them inside. It’s a good sign--zombies don’t deal with locks--but he and Dean scour the house before they feel safe enough to bunk down in the basement. It’s dank and smells of mold, but it’s the best they’re going to find under the circumstances. Sam unearths a flashlight from the duffel and stands it up so they have a little ambient light. Hopefully the zombies aren’t smart enough to notice it through the small windows.
Dean lets the subject of their escape go until they’ve scrounged up some canned food from upstairs and eaten, but he keeps looking at Sam expectantly. When he doesn’t answer--doesn’t know how to put it into words, if he’s being entirely honest--Dean clears his throat and asks, “So you wanna tell me what happened back there?”
“Not really,” Sam admits.
“But you’re gonna, right? Don’t be an asshole.”
“Julia got it into her mind,” Sam starts, then stalls. “I don’t know. She’s crazy. And people think that she’s a medical expert, but she’s really just a nurse. She knows jack shit.”
“She knows more’n you,” Dean points out. “So what, do you have the plague? Are you gonna die in a week with blood pouring out of your eye sockets?”
“Pfft,” Sam scoffs, scuffing his shoe on the ground.
“Should I be worried here?” Dean asks when Sam doesn’t elaborate.
“I’m not sick,” Sam says. “Or at least, she didn’t think I was.”
“So what’s with the projectile vomiting, Reagan?” Dean asks.
“It’s so stupid,” Sam says. “She thinks I’m a fertile.”
That surprises a laugh from Dean. “Seriously, man? Seriously? That’s what this is about?”
“It’s not funny,” Sam snaps. “She had them lock me up for, I don’t know, lying about it. And you know how the general is with the fertiles. If we had stayed there, I’d’ve been passed around like a whore.”
“Yeah, I can see the general getting a butt-buddy for a baby,” Dean says. “But Sam, you never had a tattoo. I’d remember.”
“I told her that,” Sam says hotly. “She didn’t listen.”
“Well what made her think that you’re a baby-makin’ machine?” Dean asks curiously.
“She used that stupid ultrasound she has,” Sam says. He almost doesn’t want to mention it, but he desperately wants Dean’s input. Wants Dean to tell him that he’s being a moron. “She thought I was pregnant.”
Dean is silent for several moments, and Sam’s stomach twists unpleasantly. He swallows several times against the bile and just waits.
“Pregnant,” Dean says, and it’s not a question.
“I told you,” Sam bites out. “Stupid. I’m not pregnant. It’s impossible. I’d know.”
“What? You have some sort of freaky sixth sense about pregnancy now?” Dean scoffs, and he sounds less than calm.
“I think I’d know if something was growing in my body!” Sam defends. “Jesus, Dean.”
“Well--wha--” Dean says, flabbergasted. “What did she see then, Sam? A tumor?”
For a second, Sam’s relieved--didn’t Zachariah try to give Dean stomach cancer once? They could have done the same thing to him without him realizing. But then he remembers the rest of her revelation, and the hope dies as quickly as it was born. “She said it had a heartbeat. I don’t know. I didn’t see.”
“A heartbeat,” Dean says, still in the same flat voice.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sam says. “I’m not pregnant. I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation.”
“What if you are?” Dean asks. “I mean, Mom and Dad had connections. It’s possible.”
“You are being idiotic,” Sam says. “I would know. I’m done talking about this, Dean. I swear to God. We’re not discussing the possibility of me having an incest baby growing inside me.”
“Jesus,” Dean says, a punched sound. “Fine.”
They don’t say anything else for the rest of the night.
Sam wakes up nauseous and has to creep upstairs to puke, which is just the perfect cap on the day prior. He had hoped that he’d been quiet enough to not rouse Dean, but it turns out that the apocalypse has turned Dean into more of a light sleeper than he was before. He’s sitting up when Sam finally gets back downstairs, but doesn’t say anything more than, “You okay?”
“Peachy,” Sam responds, and that pretty much sets the tone for the next couple of weeks.
They keep moving, squatting in different houses every night. Both of them want to stay near the city--it might have more undead milling around, but there are more places to forage for supplies. They come to an agreement that they need to find a safe house, somewhere secure with electricity, no matter the Leviathan threat. Sam keeps getting sick, and they keep not talking about it, but the longer things go on, the more Sam begins to feel like he’s drowning.
It takes them a couple of weeks to find something that’s suitable, considering their paranoia and the fucking zombies milling around. The first indication Dean gets is the license plate of a truck sitting in a driveway.
“It’s an army officer’s,” Dean says, indicating the letters on the plate. “It’s his rank. We should check this place out.”
Sam eyes the house dubiously, but it seems secure. The windows aren’t broken, the door is still closed, and the flag hanging from a post attached to the garage is only slightly tattered. “Well, let’s hurry up before more of them come.” He gestures to the bodies rotting in the street, all dispatched with careful aim moments before.
Dean lets Sam pick the locks because Sam’s always been better at the detail-work than Dean, but once they’re inside, Dean takes the lead, leaving Sam to lock up behind them. The lights are off and the house is quiet, but they take their same quick run through to make sure no zombies are lurking in the dark corners. There’s not--looks like luck is on their side, for once, but there’s no telling how long that will hold up.
Once they determine that the coast is clear for the time being, Sam hands Dean a flashlight from their bag so they can do a more thorough look. The house is mid-sized, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, but they’re more interested with the necessities. Most everything in the fridge has rotted, as well as the pantry, but he and Dean find a gun safe in the living room, along with several hunting knives and a machete.
“I love paranoid ex-military,” Dean says reverently. It’ll take a little bit to figure out the combination to get into the safe, but if the condition of the knives is anything to go by, it’ll be worth the time. Still, besides the weaponry, there isn’t much that makes Sam think that this house is necessarily the best place to stay. Until they hit the basement.
There are rows of metal shelves against the back wall of the laundry room, holding everything from canned goods to handisnacks to mac n’ cheese. It’s like the people who lived here were expecting to be in the middle of an apocalypse at any time. Which, ironic, considering what was going on outside at that very moment and the fact that the house’s inhabitants were nowhere to be seen.
The basement was cushy--a couch and a chair, a small TV, one small window that could easily be boarded up. The air-con was still kicking in, and all the locks on the doors and windows still worked. There was even a stockpile of wood in the backyard, not that Sam could think of a reason why Texans would need it.
“I think we’ve found home base,” Dean declares grimly, wiping his hands on his pants, and Sam could think of no reason to disagree without sounding contrary.
They decide to hole up mainly in the basement, and after Dean neatly hammers a board into place over the window and shuts the door to the upstairs, wedging two blankets underneath just in case, they chance turning on the lights. Everything still works, and Sam shivers just a little bit at the thought that the world has ended, but Leviathans have made it so everything operates the way it should. Dean turns on the television, putting it on mute, but it’s nothing but static.
After a while, they rummage around upstairs and manage to find several blankets and an air mattress. It’s almost like living in the lap of luxury, and they settle down as the sun sets, enjoying a dinner of cold Spaghetti-O’s and too-warm snack pudding, watching a movie in the DVD player. It’s like everything’s normal, even though it isn’t.
“So what’s the game plan?” Sam asks, disinterestedly watching Batman angst about some thing or another. Dean’s raided the liquor cabinet, and is already halfway through a bottle, warm and liquor-pliant. Sam thinks of partaking, but it turns his stomach. One of them should be sober, just in case.
“What it’s always been,” Dean says, too serious for someone well on their way to a splitting hangover. “Find Roman. Kill him. Then gank all of the Leviathan motherfuckers we can.”
“We don’t know how to kill Roman,” Sam points out. “We don’t even know where he is. Not like people are printing newspapers nowadays.”
“We’ll find him,” Dean says decisively. “Or I’ll find him.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sam asks, narrowing his eyes.
“Means that maybe you won’t be in the hunting spirit by the time he shows his ugly face,” Dean says, a little bit of whisky sloshing over the rim of the bottle as he gesticulates.
“I’m not fucking pregnant,” Sam says narrowly, cutting right to the chase.
“Because you know so much more than a girl with a medical background,” Dean points out. Jesus, he must be drunker than Sam thought. All those months going without must’ve wreaked havoc on his tolerance.
“Two months ago, she was a bitch hack,” Sam grits out. “Why the sudden change of heart?”
“‘Cause I can’t remember the last time you were sick,” Dean says, lolling his head back so he can look at Sam without much effort. “An’ because you’re still puking your guts out and it’s been weeks.”
“Fuck you, Dean,” Sam says, clenching his fists.
“‘S’not like I want this either,” Dean says, taking another healthy pull. “I mean, I didn’t think things could get more fucked up. And then they did. ‘Cause that’s just our fucking luck.”
“I’m not talking about this,” Sam says starkly.
“When will we talk about it?” Dean asks. “When you start getting fat? When you’re pushing a baby out of your ass?”
Sam barely resists the urge to clock his brother and instead stands up and stalks over to the door that leads to the laundry room. “You’re a fucking asshole, Dean,” he snarls, and it takes all of his self control to not slam the door.
Sam stays there for a while, listening for the TV to go off, for Dean to settle down in a drunken stupor. Dean got the better end of the deal, because there’s nothing to do in this part of the basement but eat, and Sam’s not hungry. His hands keep fluttering absentmindedly to his stomach, and that, if anything, makes him even angrier.
Lucifer is sitting next to him, hissing things in his ear, but he’s oddly transparent tonight. Doesn’t make him less loud, though, and Sam attributes it to the fact that he’s feeling off-center.
“Maybe they’re right, Sammy,” Lucifer coos. “Maybe you are having a bundle of incestuous joy. Maybe he’ll come out with three arms and no eyes. Or maybe he’ll be my son. Tainted. Demonic.”
Sam tries to plug up his ears, but it doesn’t work. Lucifer slip-slides around in his head no matter what he does, and he’s feeling sicker by the second. He just wants to lie down, but there’s nothing in this room to provide comfort, just a concrete floor and boxes of food.
His hand lands on his stomach again without him realizing it, and then he punches himself there, right in the gut. It’s a welcome pain, and he idly thinks that maybe, if there was something in there, that he killed it. For a second, he imagines it, liquefying inside of him, decaying, and then he has to banish the thought as bile rises in his throat.
He is not considering that option.
He and Dean settle into an uneasy routine of looting, prowling, and not talking about It. They fortify the house as best they can with the materials they scavenge and continue to thin the zombie herd in the neighboring areas for further protection. Sam’s as happy as he can be like this, doing the same mindless thing day after day, but Dean is ready for greener pastures.
“We need to look for the Leviathans,” he says starkly one day. “We haven’t seen anything resembling human life besides those soul-sucking zombies out there, and we’re just wasting time.”
Sam wants to argue--something about the whole ordeal unsettles him--but he doesn’t have a ready excuse. “We’ll need more Borax,” replies Sam. “And some sort of hose or something we can take with us.”
“So we find a Home Depot,” Dean says casually.
“That sounds fun,” Sam says. “Like when those guys in Zombieland go into the grocery store for twinkies.”
“Dude, we go into grocery stores every day,” Dean scoffs. “And that was a shitty movie. Who wastes their time going to a goddamn amusement park in the middle of a fucking apocalypse?”
“Well, we’re going to need to find one nearby,” Sam says.
Dean takes that idea and runs with it. The next day they manage to get into a Walmart, but Sam has no idea how they’re going to get out of it.
“This was such a shitty idea,” he mutters to Dean. Zombies have broken through the glass and are milling about aimlessly; Sam’s pretty sure they’re about to be eaten.
“No it isn’t,” Dean hisses. “Shut up.”
It takes them twelve bullets just to find the cleaning aisle, and fifteen more to get to the outdoor supplies where they plan on finding some sort of pesticide sprayer to take care of the issue of actually hitting the Leviathans with the Borax. Sam and Dean split up to look through everything on the shelves; the zombies know that something edible’s in here by now and Sam and Dean need to book it if they want to live.
Sam’s distracted for just a second, either by the sight of something that might work for what they’re looking for or because Lucifer is humming some annoying tune, and the next thing he knows, a zombie has him on the ground and is snapping at his jugular. He manages a quick, mangled cry and begins to try and push the zombie off without being bitten. His hands stick to the tacky, bloodied skin of his walking-dead assailant; the thing’s breath is fetid, and goddammit is it strong. And then its head is exploding with a sickly pop, spraying Sam with gray brain matter and blackened goo.
“I fucking hate you,” he spits, trying to wipe his face off on his shirt, which has ridden up thanks to his wrestling match. When he looks up, Dean is staring at him kind of funny, calculating almost.
“That’s the thanks I get for saving your life?” Dean asks incredulously, but he’s hoisting two bulky objects in the air. “Stop whining and let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Sam doesn’t need to be told twice, and he hightails it out after Dean. It still takes them two hours to get back to the house, and by that time, Sam is about ready to commit fratricide. After they lock the place down to make sure there have been no intruders in their absence, Sam stalks into the bathroom and takes a shower. The water barely trickles down and is cold as ice, so it takes him nearly twenty minutes just to get everything off of him. Dean is so fucking dead for this.
When he emerges from the bathroom, Dean is standing outside, tossing a flashlight back and forth between his hands. “I didn’t need a guard dog,” Sam says tersely. “It’s just a bathroom.”
“Wanted to catch you before you went and got dressed,” Dean says.
“I am not in the fucking mood, Dean,” Sam snaps.
“Not like that, you horndog,” Dean scoffs and then puts a hand on Sam’s stomach, making Sam step backwards and knock into the wall.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Sam demands.
“Just wanted to know why you’re sporting a beer belly nowadays,” Dean says nonchalantly. “Considering, you know, that you’re hardly eating and we spend all day running around.”
“I’m not fucking fat,” defends Sam.
“Something’s different,” Dean says. “I mean, look Sam. Something’s in there. I can feel it.”
Sam swats Dean’s hand away harder than he means to, stepping back in the process. “Fuck off,” he warns lowly.
“No,” Dean says. “You’ve gotta admit it to yourself. This denial shit isn’t working anymore. You’re going to get yourself killed.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Sam says, something twisting deep in his stomach.
“You know what I mean,” Dean says. “Get your head on straight.” He looks at Sam’s belly again, as if he’s scared and then stalks away, stomping down the stairs.
Instead of following him, Sam wanders into the master bedroom. He’s wet and cold, but he doesn’t bother doing anything more than yanking the comforter off to wrap around his shoulders. He lets himself stare blankly for a long time, not thinking, but Lucifer isn’t that easily ignored.
“You know, you should listen to him,” Lucifer says sagely, leaning against the wall and eating an apple. “It’s what I’ve been telling you for weeks now. You got a bouncing baby in that meatsuit of yours. Gotta start taking care of yourself, Sammy. The kid’s already been dealt a short stick, genetics-wise. I mean, the spawn of two brothers? And tainted by demon blood? Have to say, I’m pretty interested to see how this turns out.”
“Shut up,” Sam snarls. He grabs an empty glass that’s sitting on the bedside table, a vestige from the old occupants of the house, and chucks it at the wall. It makes a satisfying crash, but Lucifer shimmers and appears ten feet to the right, clucking his tongue and shaking his head.
“It’ll take more than that to get rid of me, Sam,” he says. “It’s like you don’t know me at all anymore.”
Sam closes his eyes and cradles his head in his hands, careful to cover his ears. It’s harder to hear Lucifer like this today, easier to block everything out and just think. He counts breaths, heartbeats, until he feels himself calm down a little. When he’s gotten his equilibrium back, he lets one hand fall gently to his midsection. It feels alien under his fingers, a ball of hardness that’s never been there before. Julia’s words keep echoing through his head, and he grits his teeth.
“So what do you think, Sam-o?” Lucifer asks. “Boy or girl? We gotta figure out how to wallpaper the nursery. That is, until a zombie eats the poor defenseless thing. You never were very good at protecting your own.”
The television’s on when Sam finally makes his way downstairs, but it’s nothing but static. Dean’s eyes are closed, but Sam can tell he’s not sleeping. Still, neither of them says anything as Sam bars the basement door shut. It’s obvious that Dean’s waiting for him to make the first move, and Sam almost wishes he wasn’t.
Sam takes his time putting on some clothes. He’s been upstairs so long that his hair’s completely dried, but he still feels more centered after he’s buttoned his shirt up. Taking one fortifying breath he crosses the room, slipping down onto the couch. Dean cracks his eyes and looks at him, his face eerily gray with the light from the TV.
“We gotta go back to the compound,” Sam says in a rush. “We need to get Julia and bring her back here.”
Dean’s eyebrows crinkle in confusion, and he responds, “I don’t get where you’re going here, Sam.”
“I need to kill it,” Sam explains. “Abort it, whatever. And she’s the only one who knows how.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Dean asks, and he sounds flatly angry.
“We can’t bring a kid into this, Dean,” Sam says. “It’s suicide. Not to mention what it’ll be like once it gets here. It’s probably already screwed up by the demon blood in me."
“Didn’t realize you were such a fucking expert on this kind of thing,” Dean snaps. “What, you want me to get her? Have her shove coat hangers up you until you hemorrhage and bleed out?”
“Better than the alternative,” Sam points out.
“No it’s not, Sam! What the fuck kind of kool-aid have you been drinking?”
“You can’t be serious, Dean,” Sam says desperately. “We’re in the middle of the end-times. There are things out there that want to eat us. We can’t bring a baby into this. If it’s even a viable fetus.”
“It’s a Winchester,” Dean says baldly. “It’s a fighter, and there’s nothing wrong with it. We are not killing it. We don’t kill family. Jesus, Sam!”
“I don’t even know how it’s still alive,” Sam explodes. “It shouldn’t be. I shouldn’t be able to even still have it in me.”
“Well tough shit, Sammy. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. And if you think for one second I’m gonna help you kill it, you got another thing coming.”
“C’mon, Dean,” Sam pleads. “This is ridiculous.”
“You don’t want to kill it, Sam,” Dean says. “Not until you know what it is. I know you.”
“It’s a baby whose father is his uncle too. It’s here because we’re fucked up and fucked around because we were too paranoid to get close to anyone else,” Sam snarls.
“I’ve fucking died for you, Sam,” Dean shoots back. “I’ve killed things for you and bled for you, and you’re the only person I give a shit about anymore. Don’t act like you don’t know that.”
“What, you’re afraid of the truth? Afraid to admit you’ve knocked up your fucktoy?” Sam feels vaguely hysterical, using his words as weapons. Without realizing it, he’s squeezed himself to the edge of the couch, so when Dean makes a noiseless angry sound and twists, he has nowhere to go. Dean’s pinning him to the cushions before he can even figure out what’s happened, and he doesn’t have enough leverage to get himself free, not with Dean a dead weight on top of him, holding Sam’s shoulders down.
“You think if you say enough shit, I’ll just run away?” Dean rumbles, sounding pissed off. “I’m not the one who runs, Sam. I don’t fucking run. Not like you.” The kiss is unexpected, brutal, and it tears a broken noise from somewhere deep in Sam’s chest. Dean’s teeth draw blood, and Sam can taste it on his tongue when Dean pulls back. His face is twisted in a snarl, and he follows up with, “Think what you want about me, Sam. You always fucking have. But I’m not letting you mutilate yourself because you think you know best. Because, you know what? That’s how half of the shit we got into started. With you doing something that you thought was right.”
Dean shifts off of him, and the sudden lightness on Sam’s chest isn’t a relief. Dean doesn’t stalk off, doesn’t slam any doors, and Sam almost thinks that would make things better. Instead, he takes off his jacket, steps around to the air mattress, and sags on top of it. Once he’s situated, he turns so his back is facing Sam, and it’s clear that they’ve reached the end of the conversation.
Sam doesn’t talk for two days. It’s not the sullen middle-school I’m-mad-at-you-so-I’m-not-saying-anythin
He makes himself stand in front of the mirror in the master bedroom without his shirt, prodding at his stomach. He can calculate the thing’s conception, can extrapolate when it should be born, but accepting it is another story. His stomach looks alien, doesn’t look like him. It’s lost that definition, and there’s six more months of this. He doesn’t know how people do this.
Very carefully, he doesn’t think about what will happen when the thing gets out of him, when he lets Dean cut him open to pull it free. There’s an end goal of staying alive over the next half-year, staying himself. Dealing with his mentality, with his hell, with Dean and the zombies and Leviathans and the apocalypse, and none of that has anything to do with a baby. He’s not going to nest or get attached. This thing is part him and part Dean, or maybe not even that, maybe part angel part demon, and he’ll carry it into the world because that’s the only option he has available right now.
Once he has that settled, once he has the date set in his head to look forward to, the twisted knot that’s formed in his stomach is easier to deal with. He brings it up over a dinner of cold canned pasta, no preamble, waiting until Dean has shoved a forkful of the stuff into his mouth so Sam can start uninterrupted.
“I’m not a damsel in distress,” Sam declares. “Just because I have this thing in me doesn’t mean you can shut me up in this basement. I’m still a part of this fight. I’m not a fucking liability.”
Dean chews, swallows, doesn’t allow his face to shift from the careful indifference it’s been showing all night. “And when you get too big to run?” he asks shrewdly, but it’s not meant to be contradictory.
“Either I fight or I die trying,” Sam says grimly. “I might not be able to move fast enough, but I can still shoot.”
“You’ll get yourself killed,” Dean points out.
“I’d rather die out there with you than be stuck in here doing nothing but incubating this thing in my stomach,” Sam says, and Dean inclines his head, acknowledging the point.
“I’m not letting you die, Sam,” Dean says, but before Sam can return with a nasty rebuke, he continues, “but I won’t stop you from leaving. Because God knows you’ll just do it anyways.”
“Glad that’s cleared up,” Sam says stiffly.
“And I’m glad you finally got your head out of your ass and saw reason,” Dean retorts. “Also, Sam? You’re like the least maternal fertile I’ve met.”
“Suck my dick,” Sam says, stabbing at his food with his fork.
“Gladly,” Dean leers, and that’s the end of that.
It turns out that when there’s just the two of them with no car and a horde of zombies, Leviathan hunting is slow work. They canvas out a radius of five miles in every direction and begin in a slow sweep, but they cover so little ground when they’re just looking that it’s almost laughable. Plus, every week or so, they have to stop to forage to keep their supplies up. It’s almost a futile endeavor, but it gives Sam something to focus on besides the parasite nestled up in between his vital organs, so he doesn’t complain.
One night finds them holed up in the attic of an abandoned church, the trapdoor covered with the detritus of old nativity scenes and Easter decorations to keep the zombies at bay. Sam is seated at the window, a rifle pointed down, but he hasn’t made a shot, not in a while. They’ve been stuck up here for hours, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to escape any time soon, not with the milling undead gathering below, and Sam doesn’t want to draw any more attention to himself. His stomach rumbles, demanding lunch, and he puts a hand on it to quell the noise, scowling when he realizes how he looks, with the palm of his hand resting on the swell of his belly.
He distracts himself by talking, maudlin in a way that surprises him. “Do you think the world still would’ve ended if you’d left me dead?” he asks Dean. “Or if mom had survived? Or if I’d killed the demon when it was in Dad the first time around?” They’re Lucifer’s questions, asked earlier in the day, but they’ve resounded with him for some reason.
Dean cracks an eye lazily, and Sam thinks back to a time when Dean would have been instantly up in arms over such speculation. “Don’t be a dumbass,” he says lazily. “Of course it would’ve. Differently, maybe. But everything would still have gone to shit.”
Sam supposes that’s true, but it doesn’t ease the burden of guilt from his shoulders. He wants to say something melodramatic about what might have happened had he never been born, but he’s not drunk enough for such shit. Instead, he asks, “Who do you think fucked the other one up more then. Me or you?”
This Dean does consider, cocking his head to one side in a way that reminds Sam of Castiel. For a second, Sam thinks Dean’s going to answer, but he segues with, “Do you remember that summer in Arkansas? When dad was hunting that underground coven and we were stuck in that shitty apartment where the AC didn’t work and the only channel on the TV was the local news?”
Sam thinks on it for a moment, mulling it over in his head. Things from his childhood have all muddled together into one giant mess, but he can recall snatches of their time there. The yellowing wallpaper, the howl of the downstairs neighbor’s dog.
“Yeah,” Sam answers. “Musta been, what, fifteen?”
“Mmm,” Dean agrees. “You spent that entire summer picking fights. With me, with dad, didn’t matter. Anything would set you off. You were too hot, growing too fast, hated me, hated him, hated the life.”
“Sounds like me,” Sam agrees. He’s so far gone from that Sam, the one who thought he could be normal, that he doesn’t feel anything but nostalgia thinking about it.
“And you had a crush on this girl down the street who worked at the library,” Dean continues. “Bookish, smart, geeky like you. Didn’t matter that she wasn’t pretty because she talked to you about things that didn’t have to do with hunting. She cared about Sam the person, not Sam the hunter. You remember sayin’ that to me?”
“No,” Sam admits.
“Anyways, one night you brought her home, thought I wasn’t there. And you sat on the couch, with the fuckin’ news on in the background, just talkin’ even though she was giving you the go-ahead. I was in the bedroom, kept lookin’ up and tryin’ to give you a signal but you wouldn’t stop looking at her. And then she just went for it, and you guys made out on the couch until it got dark and she had to go home. And you had a stiffie even though you and her were pretending you didn’t, and you walked her home like that, your dick hard in your jeans.”
“Where are you going with this?” Sam asks. “Besides, you know, proving that you were a peeping tom. And a pervert.”
“I hated her,” Dean says. “That night. I hated her. You cared more about her than you did about me or dad, and you’d known her for a month. She meant more to you than we did.”
“That’s bullshit,” Sam says.
“Felt like it at the time,” Dean responds. “And god, when you got home, I wanted to fucking knock you down. Wanted to show you that I was still there, that you couldn’t fuckin’ get rid of me. I wanted to mark you and fuck you up until you thought about me as much as I thought about you.”
“Jesus,” Sam says, but it’s not a surprise.
“So it doesn’t really matter who fucked who up,” Dean finishes. “‘Cause it fuckin’ happened, and there’s nothing to do about it now.”
“That first time you kissed me,” Sam says. “When you were dead-drunk. That wasn’t the first time you thought about me like that, was it?” It’s not really a question--Sam knows the answer.
“Nah,” Dean says. “First time I let myself take it without worrying about fucking you up.”
“Thought you said it didn’t matter,” Sam counters.
“Doesn’t now,” Dean explains. “It did then. I didn’t want to cross that line.”
Sam’s quiet for a minute and then asks, “What changed?”
Dean scoffs a little, shrugging one shoulder. “Who the fuck knows? I woke up one morning and thought, hey, what’s the point? And I’m not sorry.”
Sam thinks about it, remembers the first time he let Dean fuck him, the first time he fucked Dean. He looks down at his rounded stomach, and says, “Good.” And he means it too.
It’s stupid, but that conversation sticks with Sam for a while. He and Dean have picked up on some activity that points towards Leviathans on the west end of their perimeter, so it starts to feel like they have actual progress, but Sam is beginning not to care. He’s achy, off-balance, moody, and it fucks with his headspace more than he’d like to admit. Dean starts treading lightly around him, defensive, and it just makes Sam angrier, more likely to fly off the handle. Lucifer doesn’t help in that regard, saying all the wrong things until Sam starts throwing things.
And he’s horny. That fucking sucks too. Dean’s reverted into big brother mode after that kiss that one night, and he deflects every time Sam acts otherwise. It’s driving Sam up the wall.
It was always going to come to a head, and it’s fitting that the night Sam breaks, it’s storming outside. Dean is carefully stitching Sam’s leg up because Sam hadn’t been quick enough getting through their daily hoard, and a zombie had taken him down directly onto a fallen chain-link fence. It fucking hurt, and Dean is pissed, pulling the needle harder than he should.
“You’re going to fucking maim me,” Sam bites out.
“Fucking whatever, Sam,” Dean snarls.
“If you have something to say, say it,” Sam goads.
Dean sets his jaw, pulling the needle through the gash again, and obviously doesn’t have the willpower to hold it in because he says, “You’re going to get yourself fucking killed, Sam. Because you’re too goddamn stubborn. You’re not in fighting shape anymore.”
“I’m not your kept woman,” Sam snaps. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“So I’m supposed to let you do what you want and fuck the consequences? Just stand there and watch you trip because your center of balance is fucked to hell and let you get eaten? We were taught better than this, Sam. You know you’re at a disadvantage.”
“We’ve already had this goddamn conversation, Dean!” Sam yells. “I’m not a fucking invalid. If you go out, I go out too”
“Then I’m not!” Dean shouts back. “I’m not going out if it means you’re going to be a jackass about it. I’ll stay in here and you’ll stay in here and maybe we’ll survive for a little longer.”
“And what about when this thing comes?” Sam asks, gesturing wildly to his distended stomach. “We just going to sit and squat and wait for the Leviathans or the fucking zombies to find us and finish us off? Great goddamn plan, Dean. Or maybe we’ll just abandon it to fend for itself. Leave it here once I’m healed enough to protect myself and let it get eaten? That’s probably a better idea.”
Sam’s too involved with his own fury to notice it when Dean stands up, but he does feel the punch connect with his jaw, sending him sprawling backwards. “What is wrong with you?” Dean barks. “That’s your kid, Sam. You might not want it, but it’s your responsibility. How can you hate it that much?”
“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Sam says viciously. “I let my older brother fuck me to get my rocks off and I ended up with this thing. It’s nothing but a goddamn burden.”
Dean reels back as though Sam had physically struck him. “Glad to know I mean so much to you, Sam.”
“I hate you,” Sam says bitterly, the words ash on his tongue. He’s too mad to care, just wants to say what will hurt the most. “Sometimes I think I’d be better off without you.” It’s a lie, the worst kind, and Sam wants to take it back the second he’s said it.
“Fine,” Dean says. “Fine. If you feel like that. Just. Fucking fine, Sam.” He whirls on his heel and is across the room and up the stairs before Sam can really register what’s happened. The door slams behind him, and Sam just stares at it dumbly for a second before scowling.
“Fuck you, Dean,” he says and then spends the next five hours staring at the blank television screen.
Link Part Three
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