It took five days all said and done, but those five days of hell were finally over and Dean didn't think he'd felt any greater sense of relief than when he’d released the restraints holding his brother. They had drugged Sam a few times, to clean him up, change out his sheets, exercise his muscles some so he would be able to move without being too stiff and sore when it was all over. They had kept him hydrated and given him small quantities of food when he was lucid enough to eat.
Spike had insisted Dean sleep in the panic room with Sam. Dean hadn't wanted to but he’d reluctantly agreed. Three more times he had woken from a sleep walking event probably in part brought on by Sam's cries and the sounds of the restraints being tugged and jerked. Each time he had woken with the dagger in his hand, but each time, he had managed to wake himself up. The last time he did it just as he picked up the knife.
Spike had been so proud of him, especially that time and it made him feel so good to hear Spike say it. How many times had anyone told him they were proud of him? 'You did good,' that he had heard but not that someone was proud of his accomplishments. Spike’s kiss had him practically turning into a messy little puddle of goo on the floor of the panic room, not that he would ever admit that to anyone.
"How you feeling, Sammy?" Dean asked as he helped Sam slowly sit up. "Easy now, not too fast."
Sam was quiet for a moment. It was weird to have his mind clear. The sounds, the taunting voices, all those people or versions of people were gone. It was just him and Dean.
"Like I was hit by a truck," he said, rubbing his wrist and seeing how raw it was from the restraints. He hung his head. "So Bobby knows..."
Seeing Sam’s shame, Dean tried to distract Sam from his blood-addiction issues. "That Spike's a vampire and that we're in a relationship? Yeah. That was a fun conversation. He gets all weird when Spike and I kiss or anything. He had a talk with Spike. It was just Bobby and Spike. Feel like I'm bringing a fiance home for Dad’s approval or something,” Dean grimaced.
Meeting Sam's eyes, he gave a nod. "Knows about my...sleep-slashing...issues, too.” He gave his brother’s shoulder a light squeeze. ”Sam, I think I’ve got you beat on the 'seriously fucking with Bobby's head' on this.”
Sam gave a tired smile and nodded though he wasn’t really convinced. Still he’d put on a good effort for his brother. "Maybe he'll concentrate on that then." Letting out a sigh, Sam got off the cot and stretched, making a face as every part of him seemed sore. Running his hand over his face, he asked, "Is it morning?" But when he tipped his head back, he noticed how pale and drawn Dean looked. "Dude, you look terrible. I thought I was the one who was messed up."
"I haven't had sex in six days. What do you expect?" Dean said with a tired smirk. "It's morning and Spike is making his 'famous' pancakes. Let's get the hell out of this place."
He stood close to Sam as they climbed the stairs, making sure his brother kept his balance. When they stepped out into the house proper, the smells of bacon and sausage and pancakes had Dean's stomach growling loudly.
Sam stopped in the middle of the room, his mouth dropping open slightly as he watched Spike working around Bobby in the kitchen, with the hunter loaded up with plates and cursing when he almost bumped into the vampire, then shutting up as the vampire shoved a slice of bacon in his mouth.
"I think I'm still hallucinating," he said, almost sheepishly when Bobby looked in his direction.
"Don't think Dean will like that, but feel free to hallucinate about Bobby instead, yeah?" Spike grinned at the face both Sam and Bobby made. "Morning luv, get your brother a cup of coffee."
Seeing how Spike's gaze slid to Bobby, Sam shook his head. Bobby had two Deans to deal with now, though he didn't appear to be put out.
Dean got Sam a cup of coffee and made him sit down at the table. "You're already looking a little shaky there, Sam. Spike made the coffee, not Bobby, so it won't burn a hole in your stomach," Dean said moving the sugar and milk close to Sam and giving Bobby a grin.
"You don't like my coffee, Boy, you ain't gotta drink it," Bobby grumbled.
"I always like strong coffee. It's just better on a full stomach." Dean walked up behind Spike and wrapped his arms around him. "Mmm, food is definitely one way to my heart," Dean murmured, basking in the warmth he felt coming off his lover. The stove must have heated Spike's temperature up. He nuzzled Spike's neck, then suddenly froze.
"Heart..." he whispered. "Heart. Spike--"
"I thought Sam was the one with the Internet-speak," Spike answered, moving the frying pan over to slide the pancakes onto a waiting plate. When Dean didn't let him go, he smirked and whispered, "Soon."
Dean grabbed the spatula and moved the pancakes onto the plate then made Spike set down the frying pan. Turning Spike to face him, he took Spike's hand and placed it on Spike's chest, over his heart. He stared into Spike's eyes, willing him to realize what he was feeling.
Ignoring the loud groan from Bobby, who went to sit down next to Sam, Spike gave Dean a questioning look, then looked down at his own hand over his chest. His brow furrowed as he felt an unfamiliar thudding under his palm and jerked his hand away.
"What... it's impossible." Licking his lips, Spike put his hand back, this time next to Dean's, which was still over his heart. "I'm... changing again?" There was touch of panic in his voice even as an unrealistic hope swamped him. "Your sort of vamp...?" But no, they hadn't had heart beats, he knew that.
Dean shook his head. "I dunno what's happening, Spike, but you have a heartbeat. Do you...feel any different? Still have fangs?"
Spike bared his teeth and his fangs elongated. He ran his tongue over them, nodding slowly. "I didn't even hear it, my heart. I don't feel different, except," he gave a choked laugh and shook his head. "I’m probably asleep. Haven't dreamt of being human in a long while," he said, trying to be flip.
"Vampire with a heart beat, there has got to be something on that," Sam offered, tasting the pancakes, his expression one of approval as he took a second bite.
"Guess that makes you truly perfect now," Dean said with a knowing smile, but he couldn't bring himself to take his hand off Spike's chest. He was too amazed at feeling the beating heart. "You're warm too. Maybe not quite as warm as a human, but you're definitely a lot warmer than when we first met. Actually, you have been getting a little warmer as the days have passed," Dean said thoughtfully. "I just really didn't think anything of it. I wonder when your heart started beating again." Looking at Spike, he noticed the vampire wasn't nearly as pale either.
"Don't know." Spike was trying to get used to the idea but it was as difficult and foreign to him as the thought of walking in sunlight had been. "Let's eat," he said finally, taking the last stack of pancakes, putting his hand on Dean's back and walking him to the table. "It’s probably your magical healing--"
"Ah--" Sam put a hand out to stop Spike from his graphic cock-talk.
Raising a brow, the vampire finished, "--blood. First it has me craving food, and now this." Spike had no other explanations.
"Speaking of blood, you don't know anything about a serial blood bank thief, do ya? I'd been following up on stories of open blood bags at hospitals and red cross blood banks," Bobby said, giving both Spike and Dean a look.
Spike had the grace to look sheepish, avoiding Bobby's gaze as he got a cup of coffee. "I was looking for the 'right sort,'" he admitted. "It was when... we were apart a while."
"The right sort?" Dean asked as he sat down and started filling his plate with all the food laid out on the table. "What? My blood type? That had to baffle the authorities. A picky blood thief." Dean laughed when he thought of the head-scratching that had to have given the cops.
"Not type. Smell... feel, it's hard to explain," Spike muttered. "Probably should change the subject, haven't had any for a while." Almost pointedly, he looked at Dean's jugular, before drawing his gaze away.
"We'll fix that tonight," Dean promised Spike and chuckled at the noises Bobby made, but wondered at Spike's description. What made his blood different in taste from others? Must be the cheeseburgers he decided. "Damn, you do make good pancakes," he said around a mouthful.
"Right, told you I did. Vampires never lie." He didn't feel much like a vampire even as the words fell from his lips. No one noticed though, and very quickly they all started trading stories and barbs.
Spike felt at home now, with these people who'd become so important to him, his new family. Even Bobby, who had shared a beer with him and had given him the earful he'd promised. It had turned out the hunter's bark was worse than his bite when it came to the Winchesters and anything that the boys wanted or needed. The man made it clear that if he hadn't seen how Dean seemed to need Spike, Bobby would not have given him time for any explanations and would have decapitated him. Before Spike could brag about that being a difficult task seeing as he'd killed two slayers in his evil days, Bobby had cut him off noting he wasn't some slip of a girl who'd go 'goo goo eyed' at some bleach blond bad boy of doom. Now he regretted having given Dean the blow by blows of that conversation as Dean had already called him the ‘bad boy of doom’ several times.
After they’d eaten and talked for a while, right as some of them started to get up from the breakfast table, Sam cleared his throat. "Guys, just..." He took a deep breath. "I have something to say. I'm sorry. For... everything I put you through." His gaze shifted to Dean. "For disappointing you, and hurting you. I... I have a lot to make up for, I know that."
Dean looked down at his long empty plate then back up to meet those hazel eyes that were so filled with regret and guilt. "Just no more lies, okay? No hiding shit. Fight with me, argue with me, tell me I'm being an ass. If Ruby shows up, calls, whatever, you tell me. We'll figure some way to take out Lilith and beat the Apocalypse, but demon blood and demon powers, that's not the way to go. We gotta start being straight with each other. We gotta start trusting each other and believing in each other again. We're getting better," he glanced at Spike, knowing Spike was the reason for that, "but we both know we've got a long way to go."
After a longer pause, Dean added, "I'm proud of you for telling us and getting through this. Let's start with a clean slate, huh? I've fucked up plenty since I've been back. So have you. And we'll probably both fuck up again. Let's just...take it as it comes."
"Thanks... Dean," Sam said in a low voice, though his lips curved into a smile and he was nodding. His gaze met Spike's and Bobby's and he felt no censure there, which was a relief, and also unexpected. Especially from Bobby. "Start over, I like that. I think we can do that," he said, feeling just a little of the weight lifting from his shoulders. He looked over at Spike. "About asking Dean to kill you, I..."
Spike waved his arm. "I know, my blood's as delicious as your brother's." He chuckled at the flashes of jealousy he'd felt from Dean when he gave Sam blood, but was too smart to bring it up. At least right now. He would later, much much later.
* * *
"Can you believe it?" Dean complained good-naturedly as he walked toward their hotel room. They'd gone for a double so they could basically make a mess in one bed and sleep in the other. That was the theory anyhow. They'd also told management it might be wise if they could get a room away from other guests so as not to disturb them. "Sam and Bobby are such prudes. We were only kissing," he explained.
There were two buildings to the complex, separated by grass and trees. Spike's gaze flicked to the far side of the back building, then to the mouth he'd been kissing when they'd been caught at it. His lips burned, aching for another taste.
Without warning, he spun in front of Dean, grabbing the front of his jacket as he walked him determinedly backwards until Dean's back pressed against a tree and Spike was kicking his legs apart and stepping closer. "Bloody daft prudes," he agreed. "Let's pick it up where we broke off kissing," he said, biting his lip as he yanked Dean close and cupped his cock right over his jeans.
The moment their mouths collided, Spike pushed his tongue inside, moaning when Dean's tongue instantly curled around his and deepened the kiss. God he needed this, needed Dean so bleedin' much. Too many days had gone by and now a simple kiss, a thought, that was all it took to get him so hard it hurt.
Dean chuckled at Spike's enthusiasm, he was all for it, but then Spike had him trapped against a tree, groping him like he had been at Bobby's, and his tongue was so far inside his mouth he was sure Spike could tickle his damned tonsils. He wanted to complain that they were only a short distance from the room, but Spike's searing kiss burned away any thoughts of trying to get Spike to wait. His hands slid down to Spike's ass and pulled him closer. Although he had gone days and even weeks without sex (before he went to Hell), now, with Spike, even a couple days felt like an eternity. He hoped this feeling between them wasn't one of those 'honeymoon, fall in love at first sight' sort of things that faded after a few months or a year or two.
Then again, they had an apocalypse headed their way, so who the fuck cared? He had Spike right now and that was all that mattered. With that thought, he rubbed his cock against Spike's, frustrated that they still had their clothes on. At least Spike let him take a couple breaths before their tongues were back to tangling and Dean slid his right hand under Spike's shirt and stroked up and down Spike's back.
Electric heat followed the path of Dean's calloused palm moving over Spike, making Spike think of his lover's hands touching him everywhere, imagining Dean's fist closed around his cock. "Fuck," Spike cursed. "Doesn't take much for you to make me go mad." And he was, insane. Insane with need. With desire so strong he could barely think above the sound of his heart or the rush of his blood. "Want you... want you so bad, to be in you," he muttered, rubbing his mouth against Dean's throat as his hand moved up to undo the button of Dean's jeans. "You asked what I look for in blood. Your scent, your taste, it..." Instead of attempting any further explanation, he crushed his mouth over Dean's again, thrusting his tongue into velvet heat, tongue fucking him with the same desperation as he was undoing his pants with.
Dean knew he needed to stop Spike. There were windows, maybe with kids, and parents who would call the cops on the two guys fucking behind the building. He forced himself to grab Spike's wrist. If he had to use 'funnel cake' to get Spike to wait until they at least made it into their room, he would. All of these thoughts were overlain with imagining Spike turning him around and filling him, fucking him against the tree.
And then he felt it. And heard the barest of flutters, which was just shy of amazing being able to hear anything over their groans.
"Dean," Castiel said. "We need to talk."
Dean pulled away from Spike's mouth so sharply he cracked his head against the tree. "Now? You fucking want to talk now?" Dean growled.
"Spike," Dean groaned as Spike's mouth went to his neck. "Stop, Spike. Stop." When he heard Spike tell Castiel to 'bugger off', Dean finally said it. "Spike, 'funnel cake' goddammit."
Groaning, Spike pulled away, but barely. His eyes were hot with lust, his hands still all over Dean. He struggled to get a hold of himself as he turned to the stranger standing too bloody close and looked him over.
"We're paid up. Now bugger off," he repeated, gripping Dean's arm and starting to pull him toward the privacy of their room since he was sure Dean's use of their safe word was because Spike had gone too far in plain sight.
Dean pulled back against Spike but Spike's determination made that an effort in futility and Dean didn't have any choice but to try to keep up with him. "Spike, this is Castiel."
"Do you require assistance?" Castiel asked, tilting his head as he watched the vampire pull his charge toward the building.
"Cas, just...just meet us in room 1209," Dean called back as Spike picked up his pace, practically dragging Dean along.
"Very well," Castiel said and was gone.
"Spike, Jesus," Dean said, changing tactics and keeping up with spike instead of dragging his heels and trying to slow him down. "You're gonna burn your new heart out if you don't chill."
Dean's words finally sank in and though Spike didn't want to stop, didn't want anything but the time they'd promised they'd have to themselves, he slowed right before they reached their room. "Do all your friends have bad timing?" he demanded, trying to get his needs under control. "If Sam told him where you are, I'm going to kick his arse." He shot a resentful look toward the room, then looked at Dean, his heart falling.
"Angel... he. You know it’s not going to like this, you and me." What Spike didn't say was that this was like the Sam thing all over again. Dean was going to have to choose.
"Sam didn't tell him. Doesn't have to. And Cas has piss poor timing all the time. Yes, he's the angel. 'Angel' and 'dick' are synonymous, just so you know. And I don't give a flying fuck whether he likes it or not. We're together and we're staying together. Period." Dean pulled out his key and slid it into the slot, then pushed the door open.
Castiel was standing near the window, looking out at the sunny and beautiful day. Dean couldn't see his face, not that it would matter. About the only emotion Castiel ever showed was an occasional frown that creased his brow.
Dean walked in and tossed his duffel on the floor between the bed and the wall. "Where the fuck have you been? You couldn't trouble yourself to save my ass from the vampire nest? Or help Sam get through his demon blood addiction?" He strode over to Castiel and spun the angel to face him. "Spike and I earned these couple days together so you damned well better not tell me I need to be somewhere else."
"I was ordered not to interfere," Castiel said simply. "You were in need of help. We could not help you with your mental condition. He could." Castiel glanced at Spike. "Nor was I permitted to help with Sam. William needed to gain the trust of Bobby and finalize the trust building between Sam and himself."
"Spike. His name is Spike," Dean said, glaring at the angel. "Wait...you wanted us to hook up? What the fuck, Cas? When did angels start deciding who gets together with whom?"
"Are you not familiar with cherubim? Those you call cupids?" Castiel asked, mildly surprised. "Though they did not play a part in this."
"You look more like a watcher than an angel, especially not the sort that looks good on a Valentine card," Spike said, giving Castiel a critical once over and thinking he was a lot like Giles. "Thought angels were warriors not ... bureaucrats." He frowned at the trenchcoat and tie. "And what do you mean ... you're responsible for putting me in that place? Putting Dean there?" he demanded, starting to get more than annoyed but trying to hold back. If this really was an angel, Spike wasn't sure what it was capable of.
Castiel seemed baffled by Spike's comment about being on a Valentine card, but decided to ignore it. "We are warriors, but we are warriors for God and do His will. We...encouraged...the events that put you both in the vicinity of the vampire nest, though we did not force the choices you made. You, William--Spike," Castiel corrected himself, "needed to be able to walk in the sun, needed to be able to touch holy symbols, and create holy water if you were to aid Dean in the battles ahead. There was serious doubt that you would be able to control your bloodlust, but it is good to see that you were indeed the correct choice."
"There was doubt? I could have killed him," Spike pointed to his lover and snarled. "You did this? You played with us like we're pieces on a chessboard?" he demanded, his irritation doubled by the angel's calm facade. He realized walking in the sun was a precious gift for a vampire like himself who hadn't seen the dawn in decades, but it was one thing to have a choice in things and another to be put through the mill and risk Dean’s life.
"But you did not," Castiel replied, unfazed by the vampire’s growing anger. "Nor should you underestimate Dean's abilities to protect himself. You could have killed many through the recent years, and you have not. You have aided in the survival of mankind. You forfeited your life as the Champion of Sunnydale to stop the invasion of the fully demonic vampires and closed that gate to that level of Hell. You have fought alongside others in Los Angeles to stop that potential apocalypse as well." He paused and with a tilt of his head asked curiously. "Did you think what you desired would be easily obtained?"
"No. I fought to get my soul," he shot back. "Nothing about it was easy, yeah? What's that got to do with anything?" He glanced at Dean, then back at the angel. "What do you want? If you think I've done my 'work' and I'm going away now, it's not how it's going to be." There was a much more stubborn tilt to his chin now. This wasn't like making Dean choose between himself and his brother. He'd fight this angel, and any others if he had to.
"You have done what we could not. You have helped Dean find himself again and have given him a reason to fight once again."
"I was doing just fine!" Dean interrupted.
Castiel looked at Dean. "No. You were not." He turned his attention back to Spike. "You went to regain your soul to become a man again. It was only your first step. Regaining your soul has allowed you to continue to walk the path to your ultimate goal. To your destiny."
"What's this damned destiny you're talking about? Destiny is a load of crap. We make our own choices. Stop being so fucking cryptic and just tell us," Dean demanded of the angel. God could Castiel get under his skin.
"I know what I was after and I've got it now." Spike could feel the distinct beats of his heart in his chest. "As for destiny, I've already made my plans," he reached for Dean's hand and held it tight. "If you've got other plans, you can bloody well bugger off."
"You knew nothing of the Shanshu Prophecy at the time you obtained a soul," Castiel pointed out. "But it has now come to pass and you have proven yourself to be the one to regain humanity. Although you are still part vampire, your heart beats. The price for humanity is that you will age normally and die."
Spike's hand closed a little tighter around Dean's. "It's not a price. It's a wish," he said, glancing over at Dean. They'd grow old together, or maybe die young. One thing he knew, he didn't want to be on a 'forever' time line if his lover wasn't, and Dean would never, ever agree to be changed. "Which brings us back to, what's so important you had to interrupt a very important meeting."
The look of confusion came back into Castiel's eyes. "Meeting? I thought your intentions were to copulate."
Dean groaned softly. "Cas, for God's sake, just tell us so you can leave and Spike and I can get back to what you interrupted."
"I do not understand your anger, but very well. Lilith will be attempting to open a seal," and glancing at Spike, Cas explained, "this is what you would call a 'Hellmouth.' It must be closed. Spike has an amulet that can aid in this."
"Where is it?" Dean asked with a sigh. "And when is the bitch going after it?"
"Cleveland. The moon must be full for the ritual. That give you nine days," Cas answered.
Spike was stunned. His fingers felt numb as he let go of Dean and cocked his head. "You want me to do that again?" He was mortal, it was what he'd wanted. But he hadn't meant to give up his life so soon. He had someone he wanted, needed to be with. "It's too soon," he said hoarsely. "Will it... will it stop this Apocalypse? Will it," he took a breath and nodded toward Dean. "Will they be off the hook?"
"Every seal that is saved keeps Lilith one step further from her goal," Castiel said, but shook his head. "No, it, by itself, will not stop the Apocalypse, but it will prevent giving her more reinforcements and chaos that aid her in her goal. If you mean will Dean and Sam no longer have to battle, no, this will not save them from that fate." He straightened a little and stared at Spike, Spike’s real question dawning on him. "The holy fire will no longer burn you, you do not need to fear it. Though the demon in you may find it rather uncomfortable."
Dean took Spike's hand back in his own. "Whoa, now, wait just a minute. The last time he closed this hellgate thing, he died, right? No way, Cas. I'm not forfeiting him just to save one god-damned seal. You've taken everything from me all my life. You're not taking him."
"As I said, the holy fire will not destroy him as it did last time," Castiel said. Sometimes, he decided, Dean was a bit slow. He was unaccustomed to having to repeat himself, however, with his charge, it seemed the only way Dean would accept or understand what he said, even if he thought he had been perfectly clear about the matter.
Ignoring the angel, Spike asked Dean. "You trust him?" He knew his lover's outlook on angels, but the nod he received melted some of his tension. "Right. Cleveland, in nine days. You go give the details to Sam and we'll go get him in twenty four... forty eight hours," Spike said. "We've got some catching up to do on... copulating," he used the angel's own word, "course if you insist on watching..." he deliberately drew Dean close. The angel wouldn’t turn him to ash, not when he needed help closing the hellmouth, would he?
"Seventy-two hours. We can make Cleveland in a day. That gives us five days to find this gateway to Hell. We've got some pillars of Heaven to shake," Dean said, looking into Spike's eyes.
"Why would I wish to watch your acts of copulation? And which pillars in Heaven do you mean?" the angel asked. Sometimes humans made no sense to him. Okay, most times humans made no sense to him. Or perhaps it was just uniquely Dean.
Dean gave an exasperated growl. "Cas, please, just go tell Sam about this Hellgate thing."
"Be careful Dean. They may well be expecting you."
"There's a surprise."
With a soft rustle of feathers, Castiel disappeared.
Dean met Spike's gaze and ran his hands up and down Spike's sides. "Now where were we?"
(A/N: One more chapter left to go, for those still reading!)