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Running On Empty

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Summary: Dean is a broken man who is plagued not only by memories of the horrific things he's done, but also by lingering dark needs that he can't control. For him, there is no hope, until he meets the vampire Spike under circumstances that could finish them both.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Spike-Centered(Past Donor)CasFR1819157,38473013,66127 Jan 1127 Oct 12Yes

Chapter 16

Sam's reaction to seeing them like this snapped Spike out of his euphoria like nothing else could have. He retracted his fangs and blindly searched the nightstand for the bandages they kept nearby. Licking Dean's wrist clean, he slapped a large-sized bandaid over the wound, turned and kissed him quickly, then got off the bed. "I'll talk to him."

Dean wanted to follow after but the look in Spike's eyes clearly told him he wanted Dean to stay put. His gaze cut to the door, then back to Spike. Reluctantly he nodded. "Okay, but if you two aren't back in five minutes, I'm coming out."

Giving a nod, Spike walked out the door and found Sam leaning against the wall a few doors away from their room. Approaching him, he could hear Sam's heart pumping much faster than normal. He searched his face and noticed the thin sheen of perspiration dampening his skin. He couldn't read Sam's eyes because they were closed, but he saw Sam was breathing through his mouth, like he couldn't get enough air.

"Talk to me," Spike said. "This isn't because you hate what I'm doing to Dean."

"I-I don't like seeing you bite him, that's all," Sam said, turning and pressing his forehead against the cool stone of the building. He felt the slight tremors in his body and ground his teeth, trying to stop them. "Just...just pack up and we can get on the road," Sam said, wishing Spike would just go away until he got himself under control.

"Your hand is shaking, Sam. Your entire body is shaking." After a pause Spike said quietly, "I know pain, mate, and you're in it." He cocked his head then touched Sam's forehead. His sweat was cold, there was no fever. "What's going on?" he asked, a few suspicions forming in his mind. "Whatever it is, there's no reason for you to try to handle it alone, yeah?"

"I don't need your help!" Sam snapped at him as he pulled away from the vampire's touch. "I'm fine. Just leave me alone. Go back to drinking from Dean or whatever." Sam squeezed his eyes shut again, trying to rid himself of the image of Spike's mouth on Dean's wrist, sucking tangy fresh blood into his mouth. He trembled violently as the pain of need shot through him.

"I'm not going anywhere, not leaving you like this," Spike countered, his gaze narrowing. "You either need to give blood or need to take it, now which is it?" he demanded. The short silence wore out Spike's limited patience. Without a by-your-leave, he ripped Sam's over-shirt off and inspected his arms, then dragged the collar of his tee shirt away from his body to see if there were the bruises or bite marks he'd expect a blood doll to have.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Sam said, trying to push Spike away but Spike's grip was iron. Seeing Spike look at his neck, his eyes narrowed. "I'm not jealous or looking for a way to find the same rush Dean gets when you drink from him. Are we done now?" he demanded, trying to stop himself from shaking. It was finally beginning to ease some and he felt more in control.

"Done, maybe." Spike let him go. "I'm part demon, you know. If you want anything, you let me know." He wasn't sure, not a hundred percent, but he knew what it would feel like if he were in bloodlust and Dean were next to him. Sam couldn't hide it for long. "Get yourself a cold drink. I'll pack," he said and walked away, knowing just like his older brother, the younger Winchester was not one to get pushed into anything until he was ready.

Sam watched the vampire as he left. ...Part demon He shuddered. Not in need this time, but in disgust. Disgust with himself for having let himself get so far out of control. He had agreed not to use his abilities. Without using his abilities, he didn't think he'd have any need for Ruby's blood. ...He was wrong. He had almost called her a half dozen times, but he had made a deal with Dean. It didn't matter that he'd later let Dean change the agreement and hang out with Spike. It had always been clear to him that Dean would give Spike up all over again if he had to, to keep Sam from Ruby.

Admittedly, Sam found he liked Spike. The vampire sort of grew on you. There was no doubt in his mind at this point that Spike and Dean were in love and, there was also no doubt, that Dean deserved a little happiness after everything he had gone through and everything that was yet to come.

Maybe he could ask Dean if it was all right to call Ruby, to see her. He could just tell Dean he missed her a little and since Spike and Dean got time, what was wrong with him getting a little time with her? Of course, he had told Dean he was just using her so Dean would say it wasn't the same. Dammit... He hadn't gotten laid since before their agreement and he missed the sex, but more, he missed what he got when they had sex: her blood. He didn't need to tell Dean that, though. Sighing, Sam ran his hand through his hair as he headed down to the soda machine to get a Dr. Pepper which would prove as no substitute for his real cravings.

*

Spike walked into the motel room and met Dean's eyes. "It's not about you and me. I think he'll tell us what it is about when he's ready." He started to pack the last of their belongings and couldn't bring himself to share his suspicions. They just might break Dean all over again, though he couldn't ignore them if they were true.

Dean frowned but even in just this short time with Spike, he had grown to trust Spike's instincts. Spike was able to talk with both of them, the brothers telling Spike things they couldn't express to each other, at least not since Dean had come back from hell. There were still secrets, no doubt, but the secrets weren't eating them up anymore. Someone knew. Someone who didn't judge, someone they could trust to keep their secrets and when the time was right, could help them get those secrets out in the open. Or if the secrets were too much and were causing hurt in some way, Spike had a way of telling the secrets without it seeming like a betrayal and made the secrets seem a little less horrible.

Taking the bags of food Sam had brought, Dean put some of the items into the ice chest. He chuckled a little when he noticed that all the foods that could be 'fortified with iron' were the ones that Sam bought. And he'd bought more iron pills. Dean was relieved to know that whatever Sam's issue was, it wasn't about him and Spike.

"Subtle, isn't he?" Spike asked, seeing what Dean was laughing about.

Dean grinned. "He does stuff like this. Just doesn't say anything. He knows I notice though. A brother thing I guess. Always kinda been that way. He knows I don't do chick-flick crap." He gave Spike a glare. "You're an exception and I don't want to hear any damned cracks about it."

"I like my women feisty," Spike responded, grabbing the bags. Seeing the dark look in Dean's eyes, he stepped forward and grabbed his jacket, dragging him close. "And my men strong, confident, and horny," he said between kisses. "And I'm still hungry. Can we go to a drive-through and get a burger?"

"Strong, confident and horny. Yeah, yeah, and oh yeah." He gave Spike a strange look at Spike's request and shook his head. "I didn't think vampires ate as much human food as you seem to be. And I didn't think human food satisfied your hunger."

"I get these..." Spike paused, then looked into Dean's eyes. "It must be your fault, these cravings. You like meat and onions and bacon. It's your blood, it's corrupting me, that's what."

Dean laughed. "You're making that up."

Spike shrugged. "What other explanation is there?" Turning, he walked out, pondering the point but deciding it didn't matter. Seeing Sam had the trunk open, he loaded the bags he'd brought out. "Looks like we're going to have to feed your brother's big appetite. There'll probably be lots of onions involved," he said, slapping Sam's back and grinning at the younger Winchester's groan. "Right, don't worry, we'll get you some lettuce-wrapped alfalfa sprouts, yeah?"

"You're hilarious. Jerk."

"Wanker," Spike answered without missing a beat as he got into the car.

* * *

Please. I need it. PLEASE.

He knew better. He had to resist. To fight it. He had to beat this or he'd lose everything. He'd lose Dean. He'd lose Bobby. He'd lose Spike. He might lose himself.

Water, he needed water. His throat was parched and his skin felt clammy, both icy and fiery-hot all at once. There was a cure, Ruby, but fuck... he couldn't go to her. He'd promised. He'd promised Dean. When he heard his phone ring he knew it was her. It rang and rang and rang until he couldn't stand it any more and, closing his hand around the phone, he threw it out the window. As it slipped from his fingers he shouted "No!" and tried to grab it back, but it was too late. The phone was gone. The number was gone. Ruby was gone.

Breaths. He had to take deep breaths. He could handle this. He would handle this. All he had to do was find a demon.

Suddenly, the day dream was over and Sam was in the back seat of the Impala. Dean was driving, his hand drumming a beat on the steering wheel. Spike was in the passenger seat, staring out the window. I'm part demon, you know.... Spike's voice taunted him, over and over again.

Sam squeezed his eyes closed. He'd seen blood on the sheets. Knew Dean had cut Spike. He'd brought the sheets to his nose and taken deep breaths, felt the power, felt salvation, then rage. The blood had long since dried. It was useless.

Fire raged inside him, burning every cell, burning his soul. He started to shake. He felt his heart stutter, like he was going to die. He didn't want to die. He needed to live, he couldn't leave Dean! That's why it was right. That's why he should get some, drink a little, only a little. For Dean.

*

They were outside, sitting at a burger joint. Dean went to get their food. Spike was resting his arm on the table, looking toward the food counters. Sam's hand tightened around the silver dagger dipped in dead man's blood. He had to do this. For Dean, for Dean, for Dean. His heart rammed harder against his chest, his temperature rose, his body hurting from the inside out. For Dean, he told himself again.

Slicing the dagger through the air, he brought it down, stabbing it through Spike's forearm, pinning it to the wooden table. The vampire's shout of pain didn't move him, but the rivulets of blood flowing from the wound did. Dipping his head down, he licked and swallowed and drank, ignoring Spike's pleas, his warnings about Dean seeing him like this. Nothing mattered, nothing but the blood and the hole it filled inside him, nothing...

"Sam, what the fuck!"

The instant Dean pulled him off, Sam reached out and grabbed the hilt of the dagger, pulled it out of Spike and drove it into Dean's chest. "For you, I'm doing it for..."

Dean dropped to his knees, blood staining his clothes. His eyes freezing as he looked back at his brother.

*

Sam shouted and slapped his hand on the window frame as he sat up. "Dean... Spike..." He took a couple of breaths as he oriented himself. Dean was pulling into Bobby's yard, he was fine, just fine. Spike was in the back seat, also fine. Exhausted, in pain, and relieved, Sam slumped against the window.

Dean looked over at his brother. Sam had fallen asleep a few hours ago after they had dinner. He'd slept quietly in the beginning but he'd begun to get restless, muttering a few things under his breath in the last half hour. He'd quiet down, then get restless and agitated again. Spike told Dean to let Sam sleep. It took a lot of willpower on his part to do just that. Still, back when Sam had just lost Jessica, Sam had nightmares all the time and Dean had let him sleep through them, hoping that with enough nightmares Sam would open up and talk about it, get it all off his chest. He finally had. Hopefully this would be the case as well, but he didn't like the way Sam was coated in sweat, or the paleness of his skin that now rivaled Spike's.

"Dude, you okay?" Dean asked, concern clear in his voice. Whatever was eating Sam was getting worse and he knew it. He wished Sam would just tell them, but pushing Sam just made him clam up. It was a Winchester trait.

"Yeah. Fine," he said, sounding a little breathless. He looked out the window and met Spike's gaze in the mirror. "No. I'm really not," he said, jaw tight. He opened the door and got out, then leaned against the car and took deep breaths. Fuck, fuckity fuck. He'd thought he could make it, just kick the habit.

Spike got out of the car at the same time Dean got out, and they flanked Sam, waiting.

Dean wanted to tell Sam it didn't matter, whatever it was, it didn't matter. But he had kept his secrets from Sam because it mattered to him that Sam didn't know. He didn't want Sam to know, didn't want to see his brother's brow creased, and his sad eyes ridden with guilt and sympathy. It was likely the same for Sam. He wanted to try to bear the burden of his troubles alone because he was afraid of Dean's reaction to his secret. Silently, Dean vowed he would only give Sam support, not sympathy and not anger. And if that wasn't enough, fuck it, he'd give Sam whatever he could and just do his best. He'd be the big brother Sam had once upon a time trusted and looked to for help.

Spike gave Sam an encouraging nod, but didn't prod him.

"My...abilities," Sam finally said, "I get them because of the demon blood."

"Because Yellow Eyes fed you blood when you were a baby," Dean said. "The abilities went away but started up again."

Spike put his hand across Sam's body and flat against Dean's stomach, to make him stop talking and listen.

Sam shook his head and felt like he was going to be sick. "No, they didn't just magically reappear, Dean. I've been," Sam took a deep breath. He didn't want to say it. He really fucking didn't want to say it. "I've been drinking demon blood," he said in a rush. "It gives me my powers."

Dean stared at Sam trying to process Sam's admission. His first reaction was what the fuck were you thinking? His second was his desire to tear that little bitch Ruby into as many pieces as he could and he almost demanded to know the obvious - had Sam been drinking her blood.

Seeing Spike's face, Dean just barely bit back all the accusations and words ready to tumble out. Here he was in love with a vampire and got off on Spike drinking from him. Wasn't like he really had room to talk. Blood dolls got addicted to being bit. Did demon blood... was it addictive?

Sam was shaking again. He didn't know if he was hot or cold, or if he was coming or going. He almost hoped Dean would clock him. That's what he needed, to be knocked out. It's what Dean was going to do anyway, but Sam wasn't going to fight him.

After taking a deep breath Dean gave a nod. "Okay. Guess there's two choices. You continue to stay hooked on the demon blood and have abilities that you're going to want to use that you shouldn't. Or we help you get clean. You know what I want Sam. What do you want? Not what do you need, but what do you want?" He hated asking the question when all he wanted to do was rip Sam a new one for being so God-damned stupid. How could he though when he still had his own addiction to wanting to hurt his lover with knives or any other weapon within reach? Spike had his own bloodlust that he had to keep under control, too. God, they were a fucked up threesome.

"I don't know," Sam said, gripping the roof of the car. "I don't know Dean. Stop... stop... Goddammit, I said I don't know!"

Seeing a flash of anger in Dean's eyes, Spike put his shoulder under Sam's arm. "Help me get him inside, he's hallucinating. Can't make any bloody decisions like this. Dean, help your brother." It would have been easy for Spike to carry Sam alone, but they needed this, both Winchester's needed to be there for each other, whether they realized it or not.

Dean followed Spike's orders almost without thought. This was his little brother in trouble. He remembered the hallucinations right before he went to hell, and when he got that damned ghost fever. Hallucinations sucked out loud. "Bobby's got a panic room. We can keep him down there, keep him under control," Dean said.

"Bobby!" Dean yelled as they got Sam to the door. "Sam's sick. We need to take him to the panic room."

"What's wrong with him," Bobby rumbled as he hurried them inside.

"Demon blood. He's addicted," Dean said somewhere between pissed as hell and scared out of his mind.

Bobby's eyes widened momentarily, but he lead the way, opening the door to the basement and heading down the stairs to the panic room.

Glancing over at Spike, Dean wondered suddenly if Spike was going to be able to go inside. If he couldn't that was going to be awkward to explain to Bobby. He already wasn't looking forward to explaining that he and Spike were together. So far, he'd hedged and told Bobby the new member of the team was named William and that he'd explain everything when they got there.

Spike wondered about the look he was getting from Dean. If the situation hadn't been so serious, he might have asked if his fangs were showing or something. Helping get Sam into the room, he looked around at the symbols and the heavy steel door. "Paranoia or war zone?" he asked as he helped Sam to the cot. "He's burning up. Let's get him some water, yeah?" he said to the older man, trying to take his measure without being too obvious about it.

Bobby pulled a gallon container off the shelf and grabbed a plastic cup. "Here. I'll go upstairs and get some ice for the fever." He was giving the stranger a once over and could tell the stranger was doing the same. He hadn't expected the man to have an English accent. He damned near dropped the plastic cup when he saw Dean's ring on the man's finger. He glanced between the two men, but now wasn't the time for questions. Bobby grabbed a small cooler he had in the basement and carried it out of the room.

"I wasn't sure you'd be able to walk in here," Dean said quietly to Spike. "I'm really glad you could for a whole lot of reasons. Have you ever dealt with demon blood addiction before?"

"Personally? No. But I know...." he held Sam up so he could drink, then lowered him onto the cot again, noting that his eyes were glazed over. "Dean, if he attacks me, it's not his fault. He can't hurt me," he reminded his lover. "I put into his head that I have demon blood." He raised his hand to stop the stem of any angry words Dean had for him. "I didn't know for sure he was addicted but thought if he is, then it's better he tries to get it from me than from Ruby. I also thought it might push him to admit his problem," he said, unsure if he'd been right or wrong.

Dean clenched his teeth, debating if he wanted to throttle Spike or not. Instead he licked his lips and forced himself to keep his temper under control, though it was a definite strain on him. "All right. So. Cold Turkey, wean him off, what? You have enough demon in you to even help him? I mean you could walk in here and no demon should be able to do that. I'll be damned if I'm gonna call Ruby. I want that bitch dead for turning my brother into a fucking junkie."

Spike gave a nod. "We get Sam cleaned up and he can lure her. You think he would?" He didn't know all the dynamics there, whether Sam had any feelings for the demon or if he was truly just using her. "We'll take care of that later," he said seeing his question seemed to be getting Dean even more incensed. "From what I've heard, once you have physical signs of withdrawal, it takes about three days of staying off the stuff, resisting the urge, to have a chance at breaking free of it. Cold turkey can result in a shock to the system and death, though."

Death? Dean felt a cold chill go through him. No, dammit, no. "Your blood, what if we gave him a little and just slowly got him off of it? Can that work? I get it'll take longer, but...I can't lose Sam, Spike. I just can't. I didn't go to Hell for forty years to come back and have him die on me again."

"I've never... I don't know, what with the soul and then turning into a daywalking vampire. Look, we'll try. If it doesn't work, then we go hunting for demons." He gave Dean a steely looking. "We're not going to let him die. I'd feed him every last drop of your Ruby's blood before I let that happen, yeah?"

Dean gave a nod, but sheer fury filled him. Ruby did this to Sam. Sam let Ruby do this to him. Sam promised Dean he wouldn't walk that path and he did anyhow. Everything seemed to boil up inside him. He wanted to go out to the junk yard and just start filling shit full of holes with his 9mm. Sam needed him though. His hallucinations seemed to be getting worse. "I guess we better get some restraints on him before he hurts himself, or one of us, or tries to take off."

Spike looked over at Sam who seemed to be sweating even more and was thrashing around, waving his hand as if he was fighting something or someone. Across the room, there was metal shelving with supplies. He went to get the lengths of rope, but when he brought them back and started to reach for Sam's arm, he sighed and didn't follow through. "I'll watch him. Hold him down, tie him only if it becomes necessary," he said.

"Let's at least get the ropes set up so we can do it quickly if he gets out of control," Dean insisted. He didn't want to tie his brother down either, but Spike said at least three days. Spike couldn't stay awake that entire time. Although Spike was strong, Dean had certainly knocked the vampire on his ass. Sam could catch Spike off guard as well and if he used his powers, there was a good chance no one could stop him.

"Don't know why, but I'd rather tie you up," Spike muttered. Probably because he thought Sam wasn't like either of them that way. Still he got the ropes ready on one side of the bed, exchanging a look with Dean as he heard the footsteps coming down the stairs. "I think he likes me."

"You'd rather tie me up because I'm more fun," Dean said. Glancing toward the door, Dean gave a smirk, "I don't think Bobby swings that way."

"Maybe if I take his blood..." Spike smirked, enjoying the heat in Dean's eyes. Without looking away, he put the flat of his hand over Sam's chest, holding him in place as Sam started to try to get up.

"I don't think Bobby'd be happy," Dean said giving Spike a definite warning glare.

Bobby walked in with the ice. "This should help. There's some towels and washcloths over there." He gave a nod toward the shelves. Seeing the ropes, he gave a slow shake of his head and strode over to a metal trunk. Pulling out some leather restraints that were padded, he returned. "Use these if you really need to tie him down. Ropes won't be good if he starts struggling."

After Bobby helped Dean get the restraints set up, he gave Dean a slap on the shoulder. "C'mon, I think William here can handle Sam for a few minutes while you help me scare up some sandwiches and get some coffee brewing. I got a feelin' it's gonna be one long night."

Knowing full well Bobby wanted to talk to him about Spike, Dean looked over at the vampire. "You be okay for about ten minutes?" He hated leaving Sam, but he might as well get the conversation over and done with. If Spike started giving Sam blood and Bobby was in the dark about Spike, he had a feeling it wouldn't go over well. Not that Spike being a vampire was going to thrill Bobby in the first place.

Spike gave a nod. "We'll be fine." He looked between Bobby and Dean, then told himself it wasn't like when Dean had to choose between himself and Sam. Even if the man ordered him to stay away, Dean would... Right, he wasn't that sure about anything. "Go on then." It didn't escape him that Bobby had called him William. He supposed it did sound more respectable.

Bobby was already at the door, turning to see what was keeping Dean.

After another moment of hesitation, his eyes lingering on Sam, Dean followed Bobby up to the kitchen and immediately started rummaging around in the fridge, finding leftover meatloaf and pulling it out. "Awesome," Dean murmured. Bobby made killer meatloaf. He set it on the table as Bobby got some plates.

Watching Dean get busy in the kitchen and make himself helpful, Bobby wasn't fooled. He waited patiently, for a whole two minutes, before putting both hands on the table and leaning toward Dean. "You got something to say or should I wait until you empty the entire fridge?" he demanded. He'd known these boys for a long time, and something was definitely off. Them hanging around a Brit and not making fun, even taking him on their road trips and hunting with him? It just wasn't natural, not for a couple of loners, even if it was by necessity.

Dean paused and realized he had pulled out all sorts of things that obviously wouldn't be used to make 'lunch.' "What? Ah, no, just hungry." One look at Bobby told him the grizzled old hunter wasn't buying what he was selling. Or attempting to sell. Dean straightened and closed the refrigerator. Scratching the back of his neck, he tried to figure out what to say.

"Spike's--uh, William," he corrected himself, "he's become a permanent part of the team," Dean said checking over the stuff he had pulled out of the fridge. Slowly he began to put back some of the stuff that he knew he wouldn't be using.

Bobby squinted, staring at Dean for a few seconds before pulling his cap off and slapping Dean's head with it. "What kinda fool do you think I am? Now tell me who he is and just what the hell is going on here. Sam's on demon blood. You've picked up some hunter or, whoever he is. And what is he doing with your ring? If you owe him money..."

Crap, he should have known Bobby would notice Spike with his ring. What was he going to tell Bobby? He'd avoid it, if he could, he decided. "I took off from Sam for a while to get my shit together. Met Sp--William. We hit it off. Sam and I met back up, and it turned out the three of us, we make a good team. So we decided he stays." A dark look came into Dean's eyes. "Sam's on demon blood--demon blood gives him his mojo. That bitch, Ruby, got him addicted and he's trying to dry out." Dean put a few more things back in the fridge.

"Oh I think I have the Sam picture down, and it's crap, but it make sense. It's you I'm asking about. Taking off, bringing a new hunter in, a stranger? That's not you and you and I both know it. Now why don't you try for the truth. The whole truth," Bobby demanded, his patience clearly wearing thin.

Dean met Bobby's gaze. "You won't believe me," he said levelly. "Sam didn't in the beginning either."

"I saw you back from hell, there ain't nothing I won't believe anymore," Bobby shot back, holding the boy's gaze.

Dean blew a breath out. "Fine. I fell in love."

"In love. And?" Bobby waved his arm. "Where is she? And what does that have to do with anything? Boy if you don't stop being cryptic with me--"

"It's Spike. I'm in love with Spike," Dean interrupted, his eyes defiant. "That's why he's got my ring. I gave it to him."

There was silence. Bobby's gaze narrowed as he took Dean's measure. "Try again," he said, evenly.

Dean turned to what remained on the table and grabbed the plates Bobby had gotten out. "Told you you wouldn't believe me," he muttered as he pulled out some bread and began putting them on the plates. "Believe it or don't," Dean finally said. "I don't give a shit. Spike and I are together and Sam's cool with it."

"Now hold on a minute." Bobby walked up behind Dean, grabbed his arm and whirled him around. "Don't you go taking that attitude with me. I've known you since you weren't any taller than my knees and you've never once looked at a man that way. So how is it you think you're in love with a man?"

"I don't think I'm in love, I know I am," Dean growled. "You think I expected to fall for a guy? It just happened Bobby. He swings either way. Maybe I never have, but after forty years of being fucked or fucking whoever was on the rack, gender just doesn't mean as much to me as it used to, I guess. He understands me Bobby. He understands me in a way no one else ever could. It didn't happen overnight, but it happened."

Bobby flinched at the first information Dean gave about his time in hell, trying to wrap his brain around Dean claiming it was forty years even when he wanted to protest it had been four months. Just felt like forty years, right? Any other option was horrifying.

Letting go of Dean's arm, Bobby ran his hand over his face, too many thoughts and questions vying for priority. His voice was tense when he finally spoke. "You telling me some... some foreigner who's about as much like you as a... a... one of them new Mini-Coopers is to the Impala, understands you better than your brother, or me, people who've been in your life? So what, you're playing his bitch so he sticks around or what?"

Dean felt his anger rise. If it were Sam, he'd clock him one for saying that. It was Bobby, but he still came damned close to hitting the man. "Spike's a hunter. He and I, we're not so different. He's been through his own kind of hell." Dean clenched his teeth together, a muscle flexing in his jaw. "When I have sex with someone, I want to hurt them, Bobby, I want to carve them up and hear them scream while I'm fucking their brains out. He's helping me get through this...addiction."

There was silence, but it was clear Dean had Bobby's attention.

"Since I've been with him, I haven't needed to get drunk just to get a few hours of sleep. And he's...he's like a bridge between me and Sam. Sam and I, we're finally, I don't know, getting our shit together, working together again. Spike, he..." Dean met Bobby's gaze, his own pain-filled, "he's everything to me Bobby. He means as much to me as you or Sam. I'm happy, God dammit. For the first time since...hell, since I don't know when. I'm happy. And it's all cause of Spike."

"Alright," Bobby answered finally. "If you think you... you need the man for something, fine. I ain't faulting you on that. But I'm checking him out, just to make sure. I haven't heard of any hunter named Spike, so his real name is William? William what?"

Dean winced. Dammit, he hadn't wanted to go there yet, but he knew Bobby was just looking out for his welfare and wouldn't stop. Hell, if he and Sam came to Bobby's place and Bobby had a male vampire lover, he and Sam would keep digging until they were certain Bobby wasn't under a spell or something. "Uh, you've heard of The Slayer, right?"

"The Slayer? Yeah, never met one. I think the last one came out of California, but by now she must be dead. They don't seem to last long. Why? Are we about to have a vampire problem?" he asked, "Can't be anything we can't handle." He frowned suddenly. "Are you changing the subject on me, Boy?"

"No," Dean said. "To just about everything. Buffy Summers, she's the 'new' Slayer. The one from Cali. She's in Italy currently. Spike and she had a thing for a while. In fact, Spike kinda used to play on the other team until he fell for her. He's changed a lot from what you'll find looking in the books. He's a hunter now. Hunts demons and vamps. But," Dean looked up at the ceiling and tried to decide what to say. It wasn't going to take much digging for Bobby to find out. He should have kept his mouth shut and just kept calling Spike 'William.' He sighed, praying Bobby wasn't going to push the matter, but knowing Bobby, he would. "You're not gonna like what you find, okay? But that's not Spike anymore."

"But? But what? You haven't killed me yet, but if you keep this crap up, you're going to." Bobby made a face and pulled his cap off. "Is she coming after him? Is this turning into some sort of twisted Romeo and Juliet or... Helen of Troy scenario, is that what you're telling me? Someone wake me up before I have a heart attack."

"No! Crap, Bobby, what I'm trying to say is...aw fuck. Look, Spike, he's... Shit. He's a vampire, okay? But he's like the ones in that nest Sam and I let live. Vegetarian or whatever you want to call it. He doesn't hurt people. He helps, saves 'em, just like any hunter." Dean practically held his breath, waiting for the explosion he was afraid was coming.

"Just like any hunter," Bobby mocked in a sing song voice before raising his voice and shouting. "Only he's got fangs, drinks blood and is not human. Now you're... you're some sort of fang-banger. What's next? What the hell else you hiding, Boy? Give it to me all at once and let's get this over with."

Dean stared at Bobby, his jaw setting. "Nothing," he said calmly. "I'll take Sam elsewhere to get him clean. Thanks for your hospitality," Dean said, setting the knife he'd been ready to use on the meatloaf aside. He headed for the stairs. He couldn't fault Bobby. It was a lot to take in, a lot to accept, he got that. What was one more hunter who hated him? Even if it was Bobby. Uncle Bobby. Dean felt his eyes sting, but he wasn't going to let those tears fall. He'd get Sam through this somehow. Then the three of them would take on this damned apocalypse and beat it, and live happily ever after or some shit.

"Dean! Goddammit, Dean," Bobby repeated in a lower voice, his gaze drilling holes into the back of Dean's jacket. He waited until the boy turned to him. "Go downstairs and take care of that brother of yours. I'll bring the food and coffee down. Go on, there's no call to look at me like I grew horns, idgit."

Dean raised an eyebrow at his old friend. He was...accepting it? Then maybe Spike would have a chance to win over Bobby just like he'd won Sam over. Dean gave a sharp nod, but didn't trust himself to speak. He headed down the stairs and into the panic room where Spike had put his brother into the restraints and Sam was thrashing like he was on the rack in Hell.

A flashback of a young man who looked a lot like Sam screaming as Dean tortured him with absolute delight slammed into him. Dean stagger-stepped, staring at his brother's writhing form, listening to his panted breaths and soft cries, and savoring the sounds. All he could smell was sulfur, all he could hear was the screams of the tortured, all he could feel was the blood coating his hands and the desire to find a weapon and bring fresh screams from the man who looked too much like his brother.

"Dean." Spike walked to him and closed his arms around Dean's tense body, holding him tight. "You're not in hell now, yeah? You're here, with me, with your Uncle Bobby. And Sam. Your brother needs you, he needs you to comfort him. He's in pain, hurting. What do you do when your brother's hurting?" he asked softly. "What do you do when Sammy needs you?"

Dean felt Alistair's arms encircle him, heard the crooning voice instructing him on what to do, how to hurt the soul in the most artistic of ways. His brow creased as the familiar British accent wormed its way into his brain, as he heard Spike tell him Sammy needed him.

"I-I tell him it'll be okay. That I'll take care of him," Dean whispered. "Spike?"

"Yes. Spike, Sam, you, and Bobby. It's just us here in Bobby's house," Spike said wanting to be sure Dean was still with them. "It doesn't matter how many times I tell Sam you don't think he's a monster, he... I think he's seeing things, seeing visions of you calling him a monster. Help him, help your brother, Dean." He stroked Dean's cheek and gave him a nod.

"He's not a monster," Dean said. "He's my brother."
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