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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)CasFR1819157,38473014,06427 Jan 1127 Oct 12Yes

Chapter 4

"Nah, I'm fine. Got plenty of sleep," he said. Glancing at the clock he saw he hadn't gotten more than an hour or two. "I'm hungry. Really. And I want some pie. I won't be gone more than an hour. Sure you don't wanna join me?"

"I'll join you," Spike got out of bed and went to get some jeans out of the duffle. "It just means you're going to sleep the bleeding day away tomorrow, it's a human thing, the need for sleep." What he meant was that he wasn't going to hang about inside a room when the sun came out. There was too much for him to see, too much he'd missed over the decades.

'Yeah, well my type of vamps usually sleep during the day, too," Dean announced. "You need to get some sunglasses and suntan lotion if you're going to go wandering around in the sun all day. I know the sun bothers them some, I just don't know how much and I don't wanna hear your ass moaning about a sunburn." He gave Spike a smirk. "So do you eat? I know my type of vamps drink alcohol, not sure about eating though. Be a crime if you can't enjoy a good burger or some pie." Dean picked up his keys and his wallet, then pulled out a credit card. "Here, you can have this one. Probably got a couple months before it gets denied. Haven't started using it yet. Twenty-five hundred dollar credit limit."

Spike looked at it like it was about to explode in his face. "When did stealing cash go out of style?" he asked, zipping his jeans and then stuffing the card into his back pocket. He needed a wallet. "I can eat and drink. Have a bit of a sweet tooth but there isn't that much that I like." He quickly got his boots on and followed Dean out, pulling the door shut.

* * *

It was about ten in the morning. Spike had quietly sneaked out of the room a few hours after the sun came up and it was clear that Dean needed his sleep. When they'd returned from the diner, Dean had reluctantly gotten into the bed with him after he'd promised up and down he would stay up and watch the telly. The thought of sleep walking again had the hunter panicked and Spike couldn't blame him. Waking up to surprise sex was one thing but the knife in his back was another altogether. The more he thought about it, the more he believed that had been about a self fulfilling prophesy. Dean believed he'd hurt him, or any other bed mate, and then he did. Once he let go of that fear, that fear would let go of him. Convincing the hunter of that would be tough.

As he walked through the park and watched as they set up for some sort of fair, he soon forgot about the hunter, and about everything that had happened over the past weeks. The sights and sounds mesmerized him, everything was different under the sun, things even smelled different. His eyes hurt a little from looking up too much, but there were balloon rides and he couldn't help wanting to watch as families and friends took off to the skies.

Years ago, he'd wanted this. Wanted to be able to walk around under the sun. He'd tried to steal a magical ring that would have given him that power but it had slipped through his fingers. Back then, he'd wanted the power so he could wreak havoc during the day just as he did at night. But now, now he was simply happy to be able to walk under the sun because it made him more normal. He'd made quite a few human friends over the last decade but there were always limitations on what he could do with them. Now, the sky was the limit. He just hoped this little 'gift' he'd received wouldn't blow up in his face or disappear.

A soccer ball came toward him. Grinning, he ran and kicked it back, careful not to use all of his strength. His grin widened when the high school aged kids gave him a thumbs up. "I'm English, yeah?" he said by way of explanation for his expertise, which none of them seemed to get by the blank looks on their face.

*

Dean woke up slowly, even though the after-images of his nightmares hung strongly in his mind. He sighed and rolled onto his back, looking up at the ceiling. Spike wasn't beside him and he didn't blame the guy. Who'd want to sleep with someone who raped you and carved up your back? The emptiness inside him seemed to grow. After he made sure Spike was okay with the whole new vampire thing and was clearly able to handle animal blood without needing human supplements, he would leave Spike to his own affairs. That thought made him even more depressed. He didn't have many friends and as bizarre as it was, he felt a friendship had developed between himself and the vampire. Well, why the hell not? Sam was 'friends' with a demon. Dean had an angel watching over him though he wouldn't call Castiel a friend. Yeah, he'd saved him from Hell. He owed the guy something for that. And God wanted something from him. Why God couldn't just spell it out in a text message or an email or whatever the hell God used in the modern world was annoying. Why did God have to be all mumbo jumbo mysterious anyhow? It implied to Dean that whatever God had in mind for him, Dean wasn't going to like.

He pushed himself upright and grabbed a quick shower. Then, leaving a note for Spike, he went to get breakfast. En route to get breakfast Dean texted Sam, not really feeling like talking with him. "In S.C., all good here, call you tomorrow."

Dean got some coffee and pancakes and bacon, but found his appetite had waned. He pushed the breakfast away only half eaten. Life was so empty for him. The trees were alight with yellows and golds but it was all bland shadows of the beauty he used to see in them. Yeah, he didn't say out loud he liked looking at the changing leaves, that was too girly, but it didn't change the fact he appreciated them. At least he used to. He used to appreciate things a lot more. One would think going to Hell would make you savor everything that much more, but it didn't. Too much had happened to him on the inside. The only thing he really got pleasure from was killing things and even that was empty more often than not. Just something that needed doing.

He got a large coffee to go and was driving back to the motel when he saw the amusement park being set up and glimpsed the lanky form with bleach blond hair. Finding a place to park, he headed for the guy. "Looks like the balloon ride is ready. Why don't you go up in it?" Dean said as he came up behind Spike.

"Eh?" Spike turned, then smiled. "Not very often that someone sneaks up on me. Either you're a sneaky hunter or my mind's on too many things." Searching Dean's face, he was happy to see that the dark shadows under his eyes were disappearing. "I'll go up there when I sprout wings, but I'll watch you from down here if you want to give it a go."

Dean laughed and shook his head. "I don't do things that go airborne. And I am a sneaky hunter but I'm betting it's because you're too busy watching everyone and everything."

Spike seemed relaxed and happy. Contentment was etched in his face. This was probably still like a dream for him. Dean couldn't imagine not seeing the sun for a hundred and thirty years. Since Hell, one thing he still did was people watching. Happy people. Kids on playgrounds, families laughing and smiling, it all made him feel a little less like he was an abomination. But he still felt like an outsider. He had never felt that way before. He used to watch people and just enjoy it, read the paper and look for potential jobs, laugh and joke with his brother, hit on women and get laid, and continue his hunt for the perfect cheeseburger. Now? He was just going through the motions. He feared that was all he would ever do again. Go through the motions of living. He knew when he died, he'd probably end back up in Hell. So Castiel pulled him out, that made him little more than an escaped convict, didn't it? Lilith held his contract. Until she was no more, technically his soul belonged to her.

"What happens to your soul when you become a vampire?" Dean asked as he settled down beside Spike on the bench. "Do you know where your soul is, what's happening to it? Or does the vampire blood just change you but you keep your soul? Makes your soul go all demony?"

"Are you asking because you're interested and it's something to talk about, or is this business?" Spike asked. He wasn't absolutely sure he was completely off Dean's 'to be watched and killed if dangerous' list.

Dean was silent for a couple heartbeats. "Personal curiousity. I was wondering if your soul ended up in Hell when you became a vampire or if it stayed inside you and changed, or whatever. And if it stays with you, what happens when a vampire is killed?"

"Are vampires damned? I don't know," Spike shrugged. "And I know nothing of this other type of vampire I've possibly become. Hellmouth vampires--your 'Dracula' type--" He made a face thinking of that little shit that ruined it by getting famous, "are created after they die. If I'd given you my blood to drink, in a small quantity and without draining you first, nothing would have happened. If I did turn you, you'd wake from the dead. Your soul wouldn't be inside you. I suppose it would go wherever souls are supposed to go, up or down. There'd be a demon inside you, hungry for blood, for destruction, for fun... lust. Crosses, holy water... they'd work on you, so maybe you'd..." he thought better of the example. "Maybe we are damned to Christian hell, but if not there, you know there are many hell dimensions. Maybe there are heaven dimensions too, but I'm quite sure I wouldn't qualify."

Spike didn't care. He planned on living a long time. "Some of us have rejected the demon's desires, fought it, or changed our ways as a matter of self interest. I... well I went through a ritual that was more likely to end up destroying me than anything else, but I came out of it with a soul. A soul, not necessarily 'my' old soul. There's a curse that can re-ensoul a vampire too. As for what happens when a vampire is killed, I plan not to find that out for a bloody long time, yeah?"

Dean nodded. It was a sick and twisted hope anyhow but it didn't sound like he'd be any better off. Maybe once he had done what work it was he was supposed to, maybe God would let him into Heaven. The thought of going back to Hell...he was pretty much resigned to that fate but really hoped he was wrong. Maybe he had met his contract...? No, he sold his soul. Not just Lilith's right to collect it and take it to Hell. He clenched his jaw against that thought.

"I sold my soul to bring my brother back from the dead," Dean finally said quietly.

There was a long silence.

"That's how you ended up in Hell," Spike eventually said with a nod. "And being the stubborn sod you are, you found a way to climb out." Patting Dean's stiff back, he added, "Your brother is lucky to have you watch over him like that."

Giving a soft snort, Dean answered, "It was selfishness. I didn't know how to go on without him. All my life I've had one job. Take care of Sammy. I couldn't let him go and I couldn't let my dad down, not when I knew I could bring him back." He licked his lips. "I expected to live another ten years before they came for my soul. That's the normal deal but the bitch cross-roads demon only offered me one year. I...took the offer. A year later, the hellhounds came at midnight and ripped me to pieces. Next thing I knew, I was in Hell. I was there forty years." He shook his head. "But I didn't climb out. By then I was off the rack and returning thirty years of pain to whoever was on my rack that day." Ashamed, he lowered his voice and admitted, "Thoughts of getting out never really crossed my mind by then."

Opening his shirt, Dean showed Spike the scar he knew Spike had already seen. "An angel pulled me out. Castiel. Cas. My invisible 'friend.' Told me God has work for me. Me. Working for a god I never believed in, or if I did, I figured He was a cold-hearted bastard who didn't give a shit about us." His laugh was bitter. "Of course, the dicks won't tell me what the hell I'm supposed to do. Just that I'm supposed to do something."

"Angel. Pull my other leg, why don't you?" Spike thought Dean was making that bit up, but the look on the hunter's face told Spike that he was bloody serious, and then there was the matter of the handprint-like scar. "So you're chosen. God works in mysterious ways and all that..." Spike hadn't thought about God or angels in... forever, since he'd been turned from that pious, sniveling half-man of a poet into a vampire who overcompensated. "I don't think you'll be going back to hell, Dean. You were brought out and you're a good man, anyone can see it. I wouldn't worry about your soul going back, if I were you." Deciding to lighten up the conversation, he added, "I would wonder what sort of work ethic my guardian angel has, letting me rot in that dungeon hell with me, I mean if I were you."

"Sold my soul. Lilith still owns it," Dean said with a shrug. "Thems just the facts. I don't see how I won't." He gave a nod and bit of a laugh. "Yeah, Cas is doing a piss poor job of being a guardian angel. Course I don't think that's his job. He's an angel who more or less just comes and gives me word of the end of the world's progress. Lilith is breaking the sixty-six seals and the angels apparently aren't doing so hot at keeping the seals intact. So smoke 'em if you got 'em."

"End of the world? Another day, another apocalypse." Spike pulled a smoke out of the pack in his pocket and lit up and held it out to Dean, though he hadn't smelled any hint of tobacco on the man. He worked out what he knew about the seals and the book of Revelations, but there were so many apocalypses based on so many entities or belief systems, he didn't put any more stock in one over the other. They were all simply events that had to be averted.

Dean looked at the cigarette a minute then accepted it. He saw the hint of surprise on the vampire's face. "I smoke every once in a while. Today kinda seems like a good day to have one." After taking a draw on the cigarette he said, "Sounds like you've been through this whole possible apocalypse thing before. That's sort of comforting in a twisted way, this being my first. Nice to know others have been stopped."

Dean couldn't help it, he felt restless. Probably from being chained up those couple days. He stood up and stretched slowly and noticing Spike watching him maybe had him put a little more 'stretch' into it than he otherwise would have. "I need to move around. Sat on my ass too long in the house of horrors. Wanna walk or drive around or something? Or should I just meet you back at the motel when the sun goes down?" Dean wondered if he should risk leaving Spike alone. You're a good man, anyone can see it... Spike's words echoed in his mind. If he were a good man, would he be waiting for someone he called friend to go all bloodlusty and be ready to hack his head off? It was his job though. Screw the job, Dean decided. If Spike went south, he'd deal with it then. He didn't think it was going to happen though. Spike was the one who seemed like a good man. He took another puff from the cigarette and waited for Spike to answer.

Spike licked his lips and told himself to get his mind out of the gutter, at least where Dean was concerned. He finished lighting up and then smoothly rose to his feet. "Thought it might be fun seeing you play some of those games," he said, pointing with his chin. "But we could come back later, when there's more action. You have something special in mind?" He blew out a few rings of smoke, then looked at Dean.

"If I play them, you play them," Dean said with a smirk. When Spike's question had thought of kissing Spike popping into his head, Dean was slightly embarrassed and shook that image away. "No. Just can't stand sitting here. You're the sun deprived one. Something you always wanted to see but couldn't? And I don't know if you were religious before you got vamped, but you can go into churches now, probably, if that means anything to you. Me, I don't do the church thing, but I'll take you if you want."

"Shall we test the wrath of God?" Spike gave Dean a mischievous look. "I'd like to know if I'm immune to holy water and crosses, but we don't have to go to church for that. Know what I was poisoned with? What sapped my strength? A shot of micro-crosses. I tried to bleed them out but each time the vampires at the mansion got the scent, it made them go sodding mad. You saw..."

"I've got crosses and holy water in the trunk," Dean said laughing at the look in Spike's eyes. "Your strength was sapped? And here I thought drac-vamps were just weaklings," he teased. "Nah, wasn't your blood, we were just hot together," Dean said before he realized it. He felt his cheeks redden a bit. Twice? Spike had managed to get him to fucking blush twice? "Uh, trunk. Car's this way," he said and quickly began walking for the Impala.

Spike almost forgot to follow and then had to catch up. He kept trying to catch Dean's eyes, but the hunter wasn't having it. Did he mean that they'd looked hot to others, or did he mean he thought they were hot? Spike knew Dean would never have chosen to be fucked by a man, knew it beyond a doubt. The hunter associated that with hell, that was clear, even his sleep walking involved rape. But would he have made light of it, would his color have risen like it had, if ...

Standing next to Dean as the hunter opened the trunk and rummaged through it, Spike thought he would go mad trying to figure out what Dean meant. Eventually, he reached out and closed his hand around Dean's wrist, stopping his search. Dropping his smoke, he ground his boot over it, then met Dean's questioning gaze. "Just to be clear, it was only luke-warm, what we did with an audience. If you ever want to do hot, you just say the word, yeah?"

Releasing Dean, Spike grabbed the duffel bag the man had been reaching for and brought it close.

Dean stared at Spike, unsure what to say. Did he want to have sex with Spike? He'd never gone that way, well, not until Hell. And that was just all kinds of fucked up. Spike was a good kisser, had certainly gotten Dean aroused with his skillful attentions, and he simply couldn't forget the feeling of Spike's cock rubbing over his prostate. It was the first time he had ever gotten any pleasure out of being fucked instead of doing the fucking. He debated and finally decided to tell Spike the truth. "I'll think about it," he said sincerely. Seeing the flash of hope in Spike's eyes, he added, "No promises one way or the other but I'll keep your offer in mind, okay?"

He opened the duffel Spike had pulled over to him and unzipped it. Pulling out a silver cross that was about eight by five inches, he thought about tossing it to Spike but figured Spike was so used to dodging a cross, it would just end up on the ground. Instead, he held it out.

Reaching for it, Spike steeled himself for the pain and fro the sizzling of flesh and the smell of his burnt flesh. Instead, he was able to close his hand around the religious symbol with no painful ramifications. "Just imagine Golod's surprise when I shove one of these down his cheating throat." His gaze lifted, "He poisoned me because I won at cards. And he's fair game, not human," Spike added, before the hunter could warn him off.

Dean grinned. "Tell him it apparently gave you immunity to crosses, like a vaccination. That'll probably really piss him off." He pulled out the holy water and with a nod from Spike tipped a few drops from the flask into Spike's palm. Nothing.

That had Spike grinning. "Right, I'm ready for a bit of tumbling. Let me know when your bruises heal and let's see if you can give me a run for the money, yeah?" Spike had seen the bruises on Dean's body, but he expected the hunter hurt in less visible areas as well. Course he wasn't about to mention that. "A little extra training won't hurt either of us and there's always something new to learn." He did want to see a few more of the hunter's moves, they'd intrigued him and been very effective.

"Dude, if I waited for my bruises to heal, I'd never get any work done. You just want to test out your new reflexes and see if you're as fast or faster than you were. We can train, but in a less public area. As much as I hate to suggest it, you ought to get a little taste of deadman's blood jabbed into you. You should know how it affects you and how long it'll keep you down. How much you get will impact how long you're weak, I know that. From my experience, a vamp shot with an arrow dipped in deadman's blood goes down in less than a minute. It keeps them weak for about an hour or so. When you come back, you come back to full strength immediately. At least that was the impression I got."

Spike wanted to test something out alright, but he noticed Dean let his 'tumble' comment slide. "Sounds a bit kinky, allowing myself to be paralyzed and at the mercy of a hunter. I'll have to get to know you a lot better before we try anything like that out. But training... tomorrow, we'll find a nice flat roof and go at it." Smirking slightly, he waited for Dean's reaction.

"And I thought my mind was always in the gutter," Dean said, rolling his eyes. "You fall off a roof, you get up. I fall off a roof, I potentially break something. Now who's trying to get who at their mercy? I'm sure we can find a nice private area in a park to," and here, Dean smirked, "go at it. But I'm not sure you can handle me. I think I beat you on size."

"I'll have you know my mind's as pure as snow and you're the one trying to corrupt me. As for size..." he looked down at his hand, then at Dean's. "I wouldn't be too sure, but I'll tell you once I take you for a test drive." Pure innocence shined out of his eyes in direct contravention of his suggestive tone.

"You already have," Dean pointed out, his eyebrows lifting. Dean had to admit all the sexual innuendo was beginning to affect him. He suddenly brightened. "I know exactly what we're going to do that you've probably never had a chance to do before. Get in the car."

It was on the tip of Spike's tongue to ask if Dean meant the back seat, but he said nothing, and walked around to the passenger side. "Surprise me." Pulling the door open, he slid inside and looked at Dean's profile the instant the bloke got into the car. "It's the first time I've seen you excited about something," he mused. "Let's see what puts a spring in Dean Winchester's step, shall we."

Dean grinned. "My brother would probably roll his eyes and tell me he'd pass and stay back at the motel on his damned computer. You, however, I think will like this. Kick back and relax. It's about an hour from here." Dean started the car and pulled out onto the road. "You said the scent of your blood made them all lusty and you've never run into these types of vamps before. If 'my' vamps knew Drac-vamp blood sent them into erotic-land, I'm surprised they haven't hunted Drac-vamps down." He was silent a moment. "I wonder if it was because of those silver micro-crosses in your blood. Maybe it created some sort of chemical reaction."

Making a face, Spike looked over at Dean. "You ask your research geeks and I'll ask mine. Let them look into it while we enjoy the day."
Chuckling, Dean gave a nod.

Dean drove at a fairly relaxed pace, enjoying the music and the drive. Still, the hour passed quickly and he was trying hard to keep his grin contained as he pulled into the parking lot of an indoor water park. Windows were everywhere so the sun shone in, but with the temperature in the sixties and it being November, it would have been far too cold for an outside water park. He looked at Spike, not sure how Spike was going to react to the idea. The guy might hate water. "Whaddaya think? They sell bathing suits inside. Guys in trunks, girls in bikinis, water slides and tubes and if you're lazy you can just plop your butt in an inner tube and drift around the park." After a moment he asked. "You game?"

Astounded wasn't too strong a word. "I'm always game," Spike answered, looking at the entrance, then chuckling. "To be honest, I didn't think you'd be able to show me something I haven't done. Right, let's go swimming," he got out of the car, and when Dean stood up, added, "I know I can't drown, but I also don't know how to swim, yeah? If you see me splashing about, it's not a trick." He supposed once he allowed water to fill his stomach and lungs, he'd sink all the way down and could walk out. Still, it didn't sound very pleasant.

Laughing at him, Dean shook his head. "Dude, this is a place for families on vacation and shit. The water's only three or four feet deep most places unless you go over to the diving area. I'm not sure about the wave pools. Never been in one. I'll teach you how to swim or we can get you some water wings like the little kiddies wear," he teased and laughed even harder at the glare he got.

He led Spike up to the park entrance and paid for their way in. They went to the swim suit shop first off. It had been a while since Dean had gone swimming and he was honestly looking forward to it. He really hadn't taken time off since he got back from Hell, what with the apocalypse and all. They teased each other offering up ridiculous swim trunks for the other to wear, until they both settled for solid dark trunks. Dean rented a big locker to leave their clothes in after they changed and then they walked into the park.

Dean practically dragged Spike over to a medium height twisty turvy of a slide tube. The man up top showed them how to cross their arms and keep their legs together. Dean jumped in with a whoop, screaming with delight as he went through the tube and was thrown well away from the end of the tube and sank to the bottom. Yeah it didn't feel great on his bruises but he didn't give a shit. He got his feet under him and stood up, waiting for Spike. When Spike came out, he was ready and pulled Spike to the surface immediately until he got his feet under him. Dean's grin practically split his face in two. "That was awesome! Let's do it again!"

Wiping the water off his face, Spike frowned. "This is not three feet of water." He tried to maintain his stern look, but in the face of Dean's laughter, he couldn't. "Fun... yeah, it was a bit like jumping off a building, only wetter and slipperier." He'd never done this sort of thing, so he hadn't given a yell of joy or whatever it was that Dean and the other humans at the park were shouting about, and he hadn't been quite sure how to react. Now he realized, he could act the way he did whenever he was engaged in any daredevil act, and that yell they'd given was a yell of triumph. "Let's give it another go, and then I'm ready for the 'big one.'" He wasn't really that concerned, but he saw that his trepidation gave Dean no end of amusement, so he played it up, though he was careful not to overplay it because the hunter wasn't a git and would catch on.
"I told you three or four feet. Don't be a wuss. I was here to catch you so you wouldn't drown."

Looking over his shoulder, Spike made his way through the water, reached the edge and putting his palms flat on the concrete, pushed himself up onto the ground in a smooth motion. Stairs are for slow humans, he mouthed, his expression clearly mocking.

Dean had always appreciated any sleek, muscular body, be it male or female, but males he obviously hadn't had any interest in other than approving of someone who kept in shape. He was forced to admit, watching Spike pull himself out, water droplets sliding down his back, gave him a jolt he usually only got when a sexy beauty walked by him. He made a face at Spike's taunt, swam over to where Spike stood, and pulled himself out. He gave Spike a light shove. "Least most of us can swim."

Heading back, they reached the ladder. Spike was in front of him this time and Dean had to watch Spike's ass as they climbed. I don't do guys, he told himself firmly, but there was something about Spike. Dean chalked it up to them being forced to kiss, to Spike trying to comfort him when he'd had his nightmares, to not blaming him for the horrible thing he had done just the night before. And to that feeling of pleasure he'd gotten when Spike was fucking him. From their banter and Spike's looks, there was no doubt in Dean's mind Spike wanted another go 'round with him, one that wasn't forced. He had promised Spike he would think about it. What was the worst that could happen? That he didn't like it? Or that he did?

Dean forced his far too serious thoughts away. This was meant to be an afternoon of fun. Drooling over women, shouting with delight as they shot down water slides, teaching the poor Brit how to swim...

"Sure you don't want me going down first? No one to catch you to pull you to the surface if you're first," Dean said. Speaking to the attendant at the top, he 'whispered' loud enough for anyone within a few feet to hear. "He doesn't know how to swim."

Waving him away, Spike whispered just as 'quietly,' "You call it 'swimming' when there's only three or four feet of water? Just follow me down, I'll catch you. We've already talked about projecting your fears on others. S'alright, we'll get you over your fear of water, and heights, and ... women," he added, seeing the cute blonde standing behind Dean and watching him closely.
With that, Spike sat down, laid back, and slid down the slide, giving a brave yell of triumph and trying not to think of being dumped into the water and having to find his legs. It hadn't been bad the last time. It was Dean's fault, he was making him worry more than he would have otherwise.

"He's joking," Dean said to the blonde, then turned to the tube and jumped in, muttering, "I'm gonna kill him," before letting out with a whoop. He surfaced after landing with a good splash and wiped the water off his face to see Spike standing there smirking at him.

"You're such a shit," he said and pounced, pushing Spike back, off his feet and underwater. The two wrestled, surfacing occasionally and Dean decided wrestling in the water with a vampire that didn't need to breath was not the most intelligent thing he'd ever done...but it was fun as hell. "Uncle!" Dean finally cried, sputtering and laughing after Spike nearly drowned him for the fourth time. Spike looked just too cool, calm and relaxed, but his eyes were dancing and his smile told Dean that Spike was having just as much fun.

"Come on, Spike, time to tackle Big Bertha," he said waving at the tallest slide in the park. He swam to the side and pulled himself up and out, his eyes following after a busty babe. When he turned back to face the direction they were walking, he notice Spike looked mildly put out and Dean elbowed him. "C'mon, she was hot. I'm hotter, of course, but she was hot."

"Keep comparing yourself to the girls and I'll have you in a wet tee shirt ... contest, tonight," Spike retorted, giving him a look. He was quite sure Dean made note of the bar close to their motel which had an advert of its contest pasted on the door. Course he'd be happy just having Dean in a wet tee, or any way he could have him. Some of it, he put down to having been together so much, and sharing a bed, but he also knew that if he'd seen the hunter walking down the street, anywhere, any place, he'd have been interested and done a bit of stalking. The thing he had to keep reminding himself of was that the reverse wasn't true. Even if Dean was flirting, it was in his nature to flirt and tease, and he enjoyed receiving compliments. That's what this was about. None of it was real to the hunter.
When they reached the slide, Spike climbed up after Dean, his eyes laser focused on the waistband of Dean's trunks which were riding low on his hips, so low Spike caught a glimpse Dean's crack. As soon as he joined him on the platform, he reached out and pulled Dean's trunks up. "Wouldn't want you to lose your shorts on the way down, might be too distracting." So he did it in full view of everyone else and enjoyed the look on Dean's face, so what? "I'm still evil," he reminded the hunter in a whisper, before pushing Dean ahead.

Hearing Dean's shouts on the way down, Spike gave a soundless laugh. The hunter was part child, and bloody hell, he was turning Spike into one as well. He tried to go head first, on his belly, but he was stopped and told it was against the rules. Nodding, he went into the tube on his back, then when he was only part way down, he opened his arms wide and slapping his palms against the sides of the tube, stopped his descent. Turning around, he did what he bloody well wanted, sliding the rest of the way down head first and on his belly, shouting for real as he got closer and closer to the water level and realized Dean might not be there to give him a hand.

Dean waited at the bottom, watching for Spike, and was surprised to see him come out head first. The look on his face as he went into the water was hysterical and Dean was laughing so hard that if he didn't know Spike didn't know how to swim and that this all made him a little nervous, he'd have let the man deal with it as he torpedoed into the water...sans trunks. There was a reason they didn't want you going head first. He grabbed Spike's arm, pulling him to the surface, but let him deal with getting his own feet under him as he quickly grabbed Spike's trunks.

"Brilliant, Mr. Evil," Dean told him as he held the trunks open underwater. "Hand's on my shoulders, jump up a little."

When Spike did as he was told Dean got Spike's trunks back on him. When Spike came back down as Dean pulled his trunks up they were chest to chest, eye to eye.

A variety of emotions washed over Spike as Dean got him decent and then stood close enough to kiss. "Also known as 'big bad,' emphasis on 'big,'" he managed to mutter, his gaze drawn to Dean's mouth. If they did nothing else, one day Spike wanted a real kiss from this man. Given freely, and only because he wanted it just as badly as Spike, and for no other reason. Blinking, he cocked his head to the side, gave a smile and backed away, because if he didn't, he was going to get both of them kicked out. "Did you say something about hot tubs and wave pools?"
Dean felt a spark pass between them as they stood there a moment, looking into each other's eyes, and seeing Spike's gaze drop to his lips. He wondered if Spike was going to kiss him and he wondered what he'd do when their lips touched. He blinked when Spike pulled away from him, somehow a part of him feeling disappointed, while another part was relieved.

"No hot tubs," Dean said with a shake of his head, sounding mildly exasperated. "Wave pools, that outside ring of water we can flake out in inner tubes and just drift, more water rides and slides. And I still have to teach you how to swim. C'mon that slide over there has a loop in it! Let's try that. And try to keep your trunks on this time. I'm the show off."

With a smirk Dean was off, though he thought he heard something about him being a bloody lunatic. His smirk turned into a broader grin. Maybe he was.

* * *

Dean practically collapsed onto the bed. "I didn't know having so much fun could be so exhausting." He pushed himself up onto his elbows, his legs spread slightly apart. "And I think with a few more lessons you'll be swimming like a pro. You did pretty good body surfing, too. And that redhead was definitely into you," Dean said, denying he felt any possessiveness over Spike. "You should have taken her up on her offer. I could’a picked you up in the morning...or do you just do the guy thing?"

Emulating Dean, Spike landed on his own bed. He'd gotten rid of the bloodied sheets and both beds were now made. He'd bet the envelope on Dean's bed was from management asking about the missing bedding. "I'm a vampire. It's daytime. I'm too exhausted to do anyone, red hair or otherwise." On his stomach, he turned his face toward Dean. "No, haven't done all that much of the 'guy' thing." Blood lust driven orgies notwithstanding, but it wasn't something he was about to bring up. "Maybe a few times a decade." His gaze sharpened. "You planning on giving me lessons?" After a pause, he added, "Swimming?"
Dean turned to look at Spike then turned quickly back to look at the TV that wasn't on yet. He'd raped so many who were laying on their stomach, it brought back memories he shoved violently away. Fun. They'd had fun today. He focused on those recent memories. "If we end up someplace else we can go swimming, sure. Damned shame it's November."

Groaning, he pushed himself up. "Speaking of which, better get our trunks hung up to dry."

He walked over to the towels they'd also bought and wrapped the trunks in, carried them into the bathroom and hung them up. His stomach growled noisily. He hadn't eaten much today because he didn't want to get out of the pool and have to sit out any amount of time. Now he was too damned tired to get back in the car and go to the diner. "I'm going to order a pizza," he announced. "And get more ice for the cooler." He looked at Spike. "How often do you need to eat? Do we need to go out cow tipping tonight?"

Spike opened his heavy lidded eyes. "I've been feeding myself for a long, long time. You don't need to worry about that, yeah?"

"And you're the first vampire I've spent more than three minutes with. I've invited you to have dinner with me...I'd kinda like to see you in action. Though I'll pass on you actually sharing any of your dinner with me," Dean said. He was interested in seeing Spike hunt or whatever he did, but he also needed to be one hundred percent certain Spike was not a danger to people.

There was a long silence. Not entirely comfortable because Spike knew exactly what Dean was doing. He resented it, resented it a lot. "This is the problem with making new friends. Have to prove yourself to them over and over again," he said, almost bitterly. "Alright hunter, look in the closet. It's in the cooler on the ground."

Dean almost winced. Subtlety was not among his best skills, and he truly was curious how a vampire hunted. Wasn't something he was generally going to ever get to see unless he was on the receiving end of it. Spike spent three weeks in that hellhole and never told them he was a vampire. Granted Spike didn't know what sort of vampires they were and how they might react, but the potential for kinship had been there and after three weeks, Spike had to have been starved. He never touched Dean in that way. He could have easily used Dean to quench his hunger, taken his car, and anything else he wanted. And he hadn't.

"I said I wanted to see you hunt. Stalking a cooler wasn't exactly what I had in mind. And let's be fair vampire, tell me you don't know exactly where all my weapons are and where my machete is," he challenged. "Neither one of us is completely confident in the other. You don't know me, I don't know you. We've spent a couple very bizarre days together but we're still not sure. You said it yourself, you aren't sure what sort of vampire you've turned into and what it means...I've come back from Hell and I'm not sure what I am anymore either."

"Right, but I don't stalk cows. Or rats, or any other animal you can think of." He deliberately focused on Dean's throat and allowed his gaze to linger there. "Butchers. That's where I mostly get my supplies from. Sometimes volunteers or blood banks." If that wasn't enough information for Dean, he didn't know what would be. "As for what you are, I say you're what you want to be. You can let the things that happened in hell, that were done to you or that you did, haunt you, own you, or you can find a way to say 'that was then,' and 'this is you now', right here, today. Got another friend, the one who's also been to a hell dimension, he spent decades crying, punishing himself for all the wrongs he'd done, people he'd killed. He was quite a brooder, but it didn't bring the people he'd killed back. Angel got his life back by 'saving the helpless'... it's on his bleeding business card, these days," he said in a tone that made it clear he thought that was going a bit far. "But he got there, when he let it go."

Though Dean was no longer looking at him, Spike knew he was listening.
Dean opened the larger cooler sitting by the door, making no move to go to the closet. He reached in and grabbed a beer. "Want one?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'll have one." Rolling over, Spike sat up and pushed a pillow behind his head and against the headboard. When Dean brought him his beer, he took it. "Order your food, I'm tired of your stomach complaining, which, by the way, makes you one hundred percent human."

"Only physically," Dean murmured under his breath as he went to the phone and found a pizza place listed on the local restaurant list. He called in his order, dug his money out and set it on the TV. Dean looked back at Spike, Spike's initial words coming into Dean's mind. "You called me friend." He gave a nod. "I don't have many friends in this line of work. Especially now. What with opening the devil's gate, going to Hell, my idiot brother going all psychic darkside...yeah, not been a good year and a half." He laughed bitterly. "Who the fuck am I kidding. Pretty much been a sucky life from the get go. Good old Winchester curse. Or maybe the Campbell curse."

Dean sank onto the bed, his earlier good mood beginning to wane. "Sorry," he muttered. "I'm getting emo. I blame that all on my brother. He's the emo one and sometimes I think it's contagious."

"It's alright. I'm used to it. The Slayer used to sound just like that. Course she was a fifteen year old girl..." Spike's eyes twinkled with laughter, though every word Dean spoke gave Spike a clearer understanding of this man's life, of the burdens he carried on his shoulders. It was a wonder he hadn't given up, completely.

"Did you just compare me to a fifteen year old girl?" Dean asked. Seeing the mirth in Spike's eyes he lobbed a pillow at the man. "I am not an emo fifteen year old girl." He eyed Spike. "Wait, a fifteen year old girl got you hot and bothered? You pervert you."

Spike caught the pillow and gave Dean a look. "Got me hot and bothered a few years later," he protested, but from the look Dean was giving him, that didn't get him out of hot water. "If I had to worry about age... bloody hell, I'd never get shagged. And that would be a pity, yeah?" He tossed the pillow back.

Dean caught the pillow and laughed. "A shaggedless vampire. Tsk. Yeah, we couldn't have that. Probably make you all cranky. And I'm sure there's nothing worse than a cranky Spike. Okay, so I'll bite. A hundred and some years ago I don't think anyone would name their kid Spike. So 'fess up. How'd you get the name Spike?"

The laughter left Spike's eyes. Pressing his tongue against the inside of his cheek, he looked down for a long moment. "There are some things you probably don't 'really' want to know about me," he said finally, looking up. Of course that only made the damned hunter that much more curious, he could tell by how Dean didn't let him off the hook. "Spike as in railroad spike. I used them to torture and kill. You're sorry you asked," he said, giving an understanding nod.

Dean had to admit he was surprised Spike told him a truth that was so ugly. Seemed like they were both doing a fair amount of unloading tales of guilt to each other, things they wouldn't normally tell anyone. "No, not sorry. I tortured souls in ways that would make that seem...gentle. I'm surprised you kept the name though it is--well kinda a cool name. Somehow it fits you, railroad spikes aside. What was your original name? How'd you end up a vampire? And ignoring you were the sort of vampire I'd toast in a minute in your younger days, now you're not, do you regret being a vampire now? Do you ever wish you were human?"

It was strange for Dean. Sam was always the curious one. Dean just did his job. But ever since Lenore, and everything else that had happened to him, he found he wanted to understand the monsters he hunted better. Not understand them to kill them, but to make sure they were evil, to make sure he shouldn't stay his hand. Spike was, it looked like, a perfect example of something supernatural that didn't deserve to be killed because of what he was, no matter what he had been. Maybe Dean needed that to reinforce to himself that no matter what he had done, he could find redemption...and forgiveness.

Spike shook his head, "By the time I'm done answering, there won't be a thing left about me you'll like." Then it would be like starting all over, yet again. There was a knock and Dean went to get the pizza he'd ordered. Meanwhile Spike weighed his options. Much of his history was available to any hunter worth his salt, so Dean would find out anyway. But that wasn't the reason he decided to tell him. The reason was he'd seen something in Dean's haunted eyes, a need to hear someone else had been like him, done things that were unimaginably evil.
When Dean returned with the pizza, Spike leaned his head back, closed his eyes and told his tale. He started with the ugliest truth of all. "William Pratt was a sorry, gutless, sad, specimen of a man, and a bloody awful poet at that." He told Dean about how his first act after being vamped by Drusilla had been to kill his own mother. He detailed his time as part of the fanged four and the trail of blood they'd left across Europe and Asia, then his time as a loner, in World War II, and when he'd come to America. "Really distinguished myself by killing two slayers. Third one, Buffy..." He smiled. "Stubborn, wouldn't go down. I did try," he clarified, turning his face toward Dean, wondering if the blank expression was Dean's way of hiding disgust. "My life changed. I changed. Being 'the big bad' wasn't good enough and I wasn't good enough. So I changed. And then I started to care. Might have gone a bit overboard," he said looking up at the ceiling at the memory of his sacrifice, which he wasn't about to detail. "And no, I don't regret being a vampire." He turned to Dean. "I regret the pain and suffering I caused, but this is me now. I like me a lot better than I ever liked William."

Dean listened as he ate his pizza, trying to imagine everything Spike was telling him. He couldn't fathom seeing all the wars Spike had seen, all the lives Spike had taken. Spike had seemed to come to terms with his past. He didn't say he was doing what he was doing for any sort of redemption. He was doing what he was doing--hunting vamps and demons--because it was the right thing to do. What was done was done and couldn't be changed. Spike could regret it, but nowhere did he say he was trying to make amends, unlike his broody vampire friend that was saving the helpless.

Dean finished off most of the pizza by the time Spike finished talking. "You're wrong. I don't like what you were, no. But what you've become now? Yeah, I like who you are now. You sound like you've got your shit together." Dean set the pizza box over on the table and fished out another beer from the cooler and brought Spike a fresh one as he opened his own and began drinking it. "I'm not sure I ever liked who I was. Who I am. There was a time I thought I did, but I'm not so sure anymore. I loved my dad. I admired him. He was my hero. He killed evil and saved people. It was my job to look after Sammy. And to train and become a hunter. No matter how good I did, it never seemed to be good enough though. I think the only time my dad said he was proud of me was the night he sold his soul to save my life. When Sam died, it was still my job to protect him. So I followed in my dad's footsteps like I always had, selling my soul and bringing him back. Sometime during that last year I realized what a bastard my father had been. Sammy always came first. Sam and him, they fought like two pit bulls and I was always caught in the middle. It was me that wiped away Sam's tears that got him Christmas presents when Dad forgot. It was me that told him about monsters and Santa Claus. It was always me."

He gave as sniff. "I never even finished high school. Just got a GED so I could go hunting with Dad. I wasn't really cut out for school and in a dream life I got from a D'Jinn, I turned out pretty pathetic. But I think I was happy. Castiel, he took me back in time to see my parents when they first got together, when the yellow-eyed demon came into our lives. Mom was a hunter and she wanted out. She didn't want us raised to be hunters. It was her worst fear. And it happened anyhow."

Dean shook his head as he drank more of his beer. "I don't think Mom or Dad would be real proud of what I am now. What I've become. There's a...hole inside me. Big, gaping, empty. Sometimes I think it was where my humanity used to be that got burned out when I was in Hell. I'm broken, a pathetic shell of a man, though maybe I always was pathetic. Never was my own man, just a shadow of my Dad, and the man my dad made me into. It hurt so bad when Dad died, when I knew he was burning in Hell because of me. That hole was nothing compared to what it is now. How can you hurt so much when there's nothing inside to hurt?" He didn't have an answer and didn't expect Spike to have one either. He wished he could be like Spike, like what Spike said. Forget the past. Be what he was now. But he didn't like what he was now any more than he liked what he'd been.

"Sooo, now that we've both spilled our guts, wanna watch some TV or porn or something?" Dean asked.

"Telly," Spike nodded, shifting so that he was no longer sitting up, but laying on his side, with the pillow folded under his head. "But one thing. You don't sound like the failure you make yourself out to be. I'd be proud to call you son or brother. Before you shrug it off, think about someone else, anyone else with all the odds stacked against them that you had stacked against you. Think of them getting through it the way you did, see if you would call this other person a failure. We're harder on ourselves than others, yeah? Well, those of us who are 'Angel-broody types', anyway."

He'd said his piece, and was done. Even before Dean switched the telly on, Spike fell into a deep sleep and stopped breathing altogether.
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