Characters & Pairing: Tim Riggins/Dean Winchester, also Billy Riggins, Sam Winchester
Rating: Mature readers only for all parts. (Here be frank talk of smut.)
Author's Note: devilc and I sorta accidentally collaborated on a story. In pieces. Which I've now renumbered and sewn together. With handy dandy pictures for those Supernatural fans who have yet to succumb to the indescribable joys of Friday Night Lights. Embedded pics may make it less than dial-up friendly.
Legalese: FNL and SPN are copyright their respective owners. This is a labor of love, not lucre.
killabeez made this:
I call it 'Like Meets Like', and honestly, it's a toss-up who I love more, her or them.
Damn. The bathroom light made him look about forty, made the distance between him and the kid he'd just fucked in the next room look worse than it even was. Dean arched his neck, shaking his head at the truly spectacular hickey the kid, Tim, had sucked on his jugular. At the bar, he'd been sure the guy was at least twenty-one; he'd been buying beer all night, swaggering and visible, certain of his welcome. Yeah, it had been dark, but something about the way he'd carried himself seemed to say 'adult', not 'high school boy with posters on his wall.'
Dean splashed water in the sink, took it cold as penance for not backing up, walking out as soon as he saw the Keyshawn Johnson poster, the dirty laundry thrown in the corner, the rope of white Christmas lights strung above an unmade bed. But Tim had ahold of his belt loops, walking backward, pulling him down on the sheets, and between the beer and the way Tim smelled, and his wicked, grown-up mouth.... Tim's young body yielded easily, strong arms on wide shoulders holding Dean up like he didn't weigh anything, like Tim could have bench-pressed him fifty times and still come down grinning. Dean didn't think they'd spent twenty words between them, but he knew what he needed to know: Tim wanted it. Tim had come to him, not the other way around, and he was eighteen. Beyond that, not much mattered. At least not in Dean's book.
Son of a bitch. Billy had seen the guy at the bar – about his age, good-looking, kind of rough around the edges. Seen Tim take to him like a duck to water, too. Playing pool, throwing back beers, like they'd known each other for years. The guy was bad news, no question. Billy'd walked over, tried to have a quiet word, but Tim blew him off, said Billy could go, that Dean would drive him home. Not much to do about it then except wait for the call to come, because that guy Dean had 'You get one phone call' written all over him. Billy left them at the pool table, girls fluttering around them like moths; they could've been knee-deep in pussy if either one of them had been paying attention. They weren't, though. Tim was looking at Dean like he had the answer to all of life's questions, and Dean was looking at Tim…well, Billy didn't really figure it out until he pulled in about 6 AM and saw the sweet Impala curled up in the driveway.
While he walked up the drive and into the house, he told himself they'd found a girl, brought her home and double-teamed her. Bad, but not as bad as the thought he could barely form without his stomach turning over. The house reeked of sex, sweat, and warm beer.
He looked in Tim's room. Tim lay sprawled face down, covers at his waist, his back bare, just like every other day. Billy heard splashing and walked further down the hall. Dean stood in front of the bathroom sink, splashing water on his face, wearing a hitched-up pair of jeans and nothing else.
"What'd you do to him?" Billy snarled.
Dean started and water went flying. He grabbed the sink and said over his shoulder, "That's a good way to get a fist in your face."
"It's my house," Billy said. "What did you do to him?"
Dean turned around and leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. "You really want to know?"
No. No, he really didn't.
"Tim's not a faggot," Billy said, the word scraping up out of his chest.
Dean lifted his chin and scratched at his throat idly, drawing Billy's eyes to a big purple mark on the side of his neck. Smug bastard. Shithead. Who did he --
Billy launched himself at Dean and three seconds later found himself eating linoleum with two hundred solid pounds sitting on his back, his arm twisted up painfully. He swore some more, but Dean didn't relent.
"You know what Tim is?" Dean hissed in his ear. "He's your brother."
Billy heard a noise in the doorway and looked up. Tim stood there, a pair of sweatpants tugged up around his hips, his chest and neck mottled with bruises like the one on Dean's neck. Jesus. Billy opened his mouth, not sure what was going to come out, but Tim wasn't looking at him. He was looking at Dean with a little smile playing across his mouth, his face open and relaxed. Billy thought it might be the first time he'd seen Tim look like that since the first game of the season, since Jason…
"Thanks, man," Tim said, not thanking Billy for defending his fucking honor, the fucker, but thanking Dean. "It's cool."
"Yeah?" Dean asked, warmth heating his tone in a way that made Billy really fucking uncomfortable. "Cuz, you know, you could smack him around a little while I've got him here."
The fucker made Tim laugh. Tim, whose laugh was so rusty Billy almost didn't recognize it. "I'm good," was all Tim said.
"Yeah, you are," Dean muttered as he lifted off Billy's back. When Billy got up, he stood eye to eye with Dean. Dean didn't back down a bit, but he didn't get up in his face, either, just stood there, watching, waiting for Billy's next move.
Billy looked at Tim, but Tim was still watching Dean. Shit. Billy couldn't begin to wrap his head around it, but okay. Okay. Anything that made Tim look like that couldn't be all bad. Besides, he was pretty sure Dean could take him out without breaking a sweat, and the damage, goddamn it, the damage was already done. Not much point in crying about it now. He cleared his throat. "We got any waffles left?"
Tim finally looked at him, lifted his chin a little. "I finished the blueberry, but there's regular."
"Okay," Billy said, then he stepped around Dean, brushed past Tim, and walked to the kitchen on shaky legs, banging pans together to make sure he couldn't hear anything that might still be going on down the hall.
Fuck frozen waffles, Billy thought, rummaging around in the cabinets. He knew there was some sort of extra fancy cast-iron waffle maker back there somewheres, a legacy from back in the day.
And, finding the damn thing was noisy so ....
Finding and mixing up all the ingredients for batter? That could be made noisy, too. The batter kind of hissed and sizzled when poured on the iron, so yeah ....
Billy had just settled on the couch, plate full of dripping-with-butter-and-syrup waffles, and was reaching for the remote so he could crank ESPN when there was a knock at the door.
There was a very tall, very ruggedly built guy on the other side of it. He stuck his hands in his pockets, shuffled his feet a bit and said, "Um, hi, that's um, my car ... well, mine and my brother's car in the driveway. Is he here?"
Billy closed his eyes and counted to three before opening them and saying, "Yes."
The big guy shrugged and said, "Is he up? Can I talk to him?"
Billy sighed. Part of him wanted to step aside and say "Yeah, down the hall, first door on the left." Instead, he stepped back and said, "Come on in." Pause. "You like waffles?"
"Yeah," the guy sniffed a bit as he stepped in. Jesus, Dean was Tim's height, so this guy had to be like 6'5" or something. "Thanks, I thought something smelled good. Oh, I'm Sam." He held out his hand.
"Billy." He shook it and wandered over to the kitchen and poured the last of the batter on the griddle.
Just then a very faint thumping sound started.
Sam blushed. "So ... um ... I see Dean's met your sister."
Billy gave Sam a tight smile. "I don't have a sister," he said.
Sam's face flamed red. "Oh, um ..."
"You like butter and syrup on your waffles?"
Billy fixed him a plate and walked over.
"So, now what?" Sam said.
Billy looked at him and said, "ESPN."
"Sounds like a plan." Sam tucked into his waffle. "You know, I'm like fully expecting to wake up any minute now."
"Me too." Billy said, "But until then, I guess I'll just keep making waffles." Pause. A thought occurred to him. "You don't think they'll -- I've only got enough eggs for two more batches --"
"We'd better chew slowly."
"This is so weird."
"Tell me about it."
"No, I mean, normally, at this point, I've got Tim hanging off the front of the cart bitching at me, saying things like 'You got peas, Billy. Why can't I get what I want?'"
Sam laughed. "God, I remember those days. 'Course I stopped doing that 'round about the time I got too big for that."
"'Bout the time I hit your height."
Billy snorted and said, "Tim's a 6'1" 210 pound fullback."
After an hour of peace, solitude, and the freedom to yell, "Oh, Christ, do that again!" as loud as he wanted, Dean heard the outside door slam. He surfaced from the post-fuck doze he'd allowed himself and grimaced. Low voices filtered down the hall, too low to distinguish words, then the TV went on at the same almighty volume as before, loud enough that he could hear the ball thunk hardwood in the SportsCenter highlights. He turned his head: Tim lay stretched out beside him, one arm tucked behind his head, looking at him. Two good hard rounds later, Dean's dick still twitched at that look.
Reluctantly, Dean pulled himself out of bed, then stood beside it and cracked his neck three times on each side, the surest sign of a damn good night. "I think your brother's back," he said.
Tim shrugged, setting off ripples of muscle that Dean wished he knew the name of so he could thank them personally. "Fuck him."
Dean lifted his eyebrows and turned toward the door. "Yeah? He's not really my type—" was as far as he got before Tim tackled him. No, that wasn’t a metaphor, Tim literally tackled him, wrapped his arms around Dean's hips and tossed him on the floor, cushioning the drop expertly.
"Defensive end?" Dean wheezed.
Tim curled around him, shoving his nose in Dean's neck. "Fullback."
"Huh," Dean got out before Tim manhandled him to a clean stretch of floor and spread-eagled him, holding him down with enough force and obvious intent that Dean forgot to assert his older, wiser status and just lay there, waiting to see what Tim would do. He could probably take him, he thought. Probably. Somehow the finger of doubt didn't dampen his enthusiasm. Then Tim rotated his hips in the cradle of Dean's thighs, nudging up against parts Dean could have sworn were down for the count and urging them to life again. Dean closed his eyes, surprised at the strength of the surge rocketing through his body. He wanted it again, wanted Tim, again. Come on, he was twenty-eight, not eighteen like Mr. Aim-Shoot-Reload already starting to shake above him; he couldn't remember the last time he'd come three times in as many hours…oh, crap.
"Christo," Dean muttered, feeling stupid, but needing to know.
Tim's rhythm stuttered, then redoubled, and Dean saw stars. Not an incubus, then. Just startlingly good. Well, two could play at that game, stud. Dean pushed his hips up, got his hands on Tim's nipples and remembered his teenage years fondly when Tim's eyes rolled back in his head and he shot all over Dean's chest.
Dean took advantage of Tim's three-second stupor, putting years of training to good use – he got the leverage in his favor and flipped them, putting Tim beneath him and teaching him a thing or two about respecting his elders. Tim lay back and took it like a man, looking up at him all the while. This time Dean savored it, took his time and let himself get pulled under; let himself forget about the brother and whoever else was in the next room, forget about ESPN, forget about being quiet. He didn't always get a chance to really enjoy this -- the sweet glide of naked skin on skin, daylight showing him every response playing across Tim's face, and damn it, he wasn't going to waste it. So he lined up his dick just so in the stark groove of Tim's hip, thrust slow and deep and hard, backing off whenever he felt the tight electric rush race down his spine, dragging it out until he was wet with sweat, until his arms finally gave out and he dropped like a stone. Tim pulled him down, big hands wide and sure on his ass, grinding up just right, making loud enough noises in Dean's ear that he was pretty sure the kid was going to come again any minute. Dean dropped his head, rubbed his face against Tim's neck and stopped trying to hold back, driving against the hard, welcoming plane of Tim's body until the cool gray morning exploded around him and Tim shook beneath him.
Good times. Good times.
He rolled off Tim and sprawled out on his back on the floor, not at all sure he wasn't getting too old for this. His breath hurt coming into his lungs, his heart racing at breakneck pace. His body felt like he'd been in a fight where only the win made it bearable. Tim vaulted to his feet with a grace that Dean envied as much as he did the energy Tim apparently had to do more than just lie there and gasp. If his dick had one more twitch left in it, looking up the long, smooth expanse of Tim's big body would have done it for him, but no way, no how. Dean was done.
"I'm starving," Tim said, his voice like a callused fingertip on Dean's skin. "You want something to eat?"
Food and sex: the teenage boy's twofer. Dean remembered those days. Come think of it, he wasn't sure he'd ever outgrown those two driving forces. God willing, he never would.
"Yeah," he said, watching Tim scrounge in the pile of laundry in the corner for a pair of sweats. "Gimme a minute."
Tim snapped the elastic on the sweats and grinned down at him. "Billy makes a mean waffle."
Billy. It all came abruptly back – the brother, ESPN, breakfast, Sam, life, getting on the road, finding something to kill.
"Gimme two minutes," Dean said, and took Tim's slow blink as understanding.
Sam looked up from the couch. He'd been watching SportsCenter with Billy for going on an hour now, and they'd killed at least that long getting to the store and back, and still, that bedroom door had stayed closed…until now. Sam shifted on the couch. The guy coming down the hall had to be the brother. The brother…not the sister, but the dude Dean had been vigorously, audibly fucking for the last, what, twenty minutes or so. That guy coming down the hall scratching his bare chest, sweatpants riding low on lean hips had to be Tim. He looked sleepy and satisfied, and somewhere back there, Dean was still come dumb, or showering, or climbing out a window. And Tim was… Tim was…well, Sam didn't swing that way, but say this: if he did, he'd have put Tim at the front of the line. Tim looked about Dean's height, muscled and lean, with a face that had stories to tell, but you'd have to pry them out of him with careful questions and maybe a lot of beer. Sad as it was to say, Sam thought he'd have been more comfortable with a vengeful spirit opening up that door and walking toward him down the hall than coming face to face with his brother's latest, youngest, and apparently greatest lay.
Sam knew for a fact that at eighteen, he'd had nowhere near this kid's confidence. Tim walked in the room like he owned it and everybody else paid rent, like he could give a sweet fuck what you thought of him, oh, and by the way, yes, he was that good, and don’t you wish you'd had some? Sam had some experience with that kind of…experience. He'd watched Dean swagger his way out of more than one bedroom, after all.
Dean and Tim? Like meeting like.
"You leave any for the rest of us, bro?" Tim asked Billy, his voice deep and a little husky. When he saw Sam, he stopped, his hand mid-scratch halfway down his torso. "Sorry," he said. "Didn't know you had somebody over."
"No, you had somebody over. I just fed the guy a waffle," Billy said, pointing to Sam. "Dean's brother."
Something in Tim's expression lit up a little, and he walked forward, hand out-stretched. "Good to meet you," he said.
Sam stood and returned the shake. Tim still looked half-boy, but his handshake was all man. "Yeah, you, too," he said. "I'm Sam." Far as he knew, Dean had never strayed beyond the readily available pleasures that tits and pussy provided, but here stood Tim, covered in teethmarks, with Dean-shaped bruises on his biceps, practically purring. Goddamn.
"I could eat a horse," Tim said, looking toward the kitchen.
"Yeah, well, you missed breakfast
hours," Billy groused. Tim looked down, his hair covering his face. After
a minute, Billy went to the fridge and started pulling out the sandwich stuff
he'd bought at the store with Sam. "Can you put on a shirt at least?"
Tim lifted his head and smiled lazily. "No problem," he said, in a tone it took Sam a minute to recognize. Wait a second, that was patented 'fuck you, big brother.' Sam thought he'd invented that. He looked from Tim to Billy. Huh. Tim found a plaid shirt on the couch -- a Dean-bad plaid -- and pulled it on, leaving the buttons open down the front, the sides waving like a red flag in his brother's face. Billy set his jaw and didn't say anything.
"Um, is Dean…?" Sam asked, stumbling a little on the words. What could he add? Dressed? Done? Puking?
"Yeah, he's, um," Tim pushed his hair off his face and gestured down the hall. "He'll be out in a minute. He's, uh--"
Sam nodded and cut him off – he really didn't need to hear any more. "Okay."
"Here," Billy said, pushing a plate across the counter.
Tim went and hunched over a stool, tugging the plate toward him. He looked up at Billy and said quietly, "Thanks."
Billy twisted his mouth in response, some wordless communication between brothers that Sam also recognized deep in his bones.
He wondered what their story was, how they ended up just the two of them, giving off the same weird dynamic that he felt pulling between him and Dean sometimes. Two stubborn cusses, it looked like, bound together with twine strung tight, wet and knotted. It felt familiar, watching them. It felt…normal.
Well, okay, you'd have to take away Dean's sudden diversion into jailbait queer, but aside from that? Brotherly wrangling and food you didn't have to cook and people pretty much taking you where you were? Yeah, that much he recognized.
Almost made him wish they could stay another day.
"Christo," Sam muttered under his breath, standing next to Tim, fixing himself a sandwich for the road.
He'd bumped into Dean in the hallway on his way to the bathroom, and Dean shot him a bleary grin and murmured exactly how many times he and Tim had gone at it. So Sam had to know.
"Crisco?" Tim said back, shooting Sam a 'eww, gross' look. "You want some crisco for your sandwich?" Then a wicked glint entered his eye and he smirked as he continued in a low voice, "I mean, Dean wanted crisco, too, but for a completely different reason."
Sam groaned under his breath and dropped the knife he had been using to spread mustard. They couldn't get out of Dillon a moment too soon as far as he was concerned.
Dean persuaded Sam they could stay for a couple days. Well, persuaded was a stretch. Put his foot down and wouldn't hand over the car keys was more what happened. Sam set his mouth in a familiar disapproving line, but Dean figured he had that coming anyway; he might as well get some mileage out of it.
So when Billy put out a tentative invite to a party out in a field that night, Dean plastered on his best polite face and accepted for both of them. Sam glowered, but didn't say anything, pushing away his sandwich like it tasted bad. Tough shit. It was worth however much crap emo music Dean would have to listen to on the next stretch of road to see Tim relax in his chair, his eyes warm. Right now, Tim's approval wiped Sam's disapproval right off the map. Getting his dick sucked would do that to a guy.
"You party a lot in fields?" Dean asked over seconds on grilled cheese and Doritos. Billy seemed to be making an effort, and Dean appreciated that, but seriously, a field? Across from him, Tim bit his lip while Sam kicked him under the table.
"We played the semi-final in a field," Billy said, as if that explained everything, and maybe in Dillon it did.
It wasn't even full dark when they got to the open stretch of farmland standing in as party central. Guess Dillon didn't offer much in the way of nightlife beyond the Alamo Freeze, because the place was packed already.
Dean saw her first, stretched across the hood of a red pickup, hills and valleys in all the right places, attitude pouring off her.
Hell on wheels, he could tell just by looking. Any other day, she'd be just his type, but he was still recovering from round three, and it'd take more than long legs and a sweep of blond hair to distract him from Tim. Took him a minute or two to get to her face -- he couldn't pretend he wasn't enjoying the view -- but when she turned and faced him, eyes on him like he was made of candy, he stopped dead in his tracks, froze with one hand reaching for Sam and the other already at the knife at his hip. Shit. Shit.
He should've known this town was too good to be true, with its ice cream parlor and willing fullbacks. Should've known nothing came that good, that pure, without a price to be paid. He should have been the one to pay it, though, not Sam. Sam wasn't the one who went all queer with #33, Sam wasn't the one who took $400 in wrinkled bills off Dillon's cockiest pool players. It was Dean who always crashed through towns like they existed purely for his pleasure, but this time, Sam was the one paying.
Jessica. In the flesh. The beautiful, living flesh.
What the fuck?
When they got done here, when she was gone -- for good this time, burnt, salted, doused, gutshot with silver, whatever he had to do get rid of her -- when that was done and Tim had become a late-night jerk-off memory and Dean could smell waffles without remembering purple bruises sucked on a taut belly, when Dillon was just a dusty smudge in the rearview, he'd make Sam remind him again him that this was why they never stayed.
This was why they didn't even try.
This was not the life for them.
But first, he had a gorgeous bitch of a ghost to send back to hell.
"You can't tell me there's nothing going on here," Dean said, crouching down and holding Sam's head while he puked in a drainage ditch. Dean had made fast excuses to Tim and Billy -- "Bad sandwich, sorry" -- and tugged Sam away, away from her, away from it, Sam all shaky and quiet, pressure building until he finally leaned over and retched up everything he'd eaten for probably three days.
"It's not her," Sam said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "It's not."
"Sure looks like her," Dean muttered.
"We didn't even get close enough to tell," Sam said, spitting into the ditch.
"You all right?" Dean heard Tim's voice, low at his shoulder, and looked up. Tim looked blank, bordering on sullen, and Dean wondered if that was how the people of Dillon usually saw him. Dean nodded. "Yeah, he's just--"
"Do you know that girl, the one leaning on the red truck?" Sam asked, lifting his chin in her direction.
Tim lifted his head to look, then turned back. He jammed his hands in his jacket pockets and nodded. "Tyra." Okay, wow, there was a whole world in that one word, at least the way Tim said it.
"So that's a yes," Dean said dryly.
Tim looked at him from under his lashes and the blankness shifted, smoothed into something more familiar, something warmer. "We go back," was all he said.
"What, to middle school?" Dean asked.
Tim lifted a corner of his mouth. "Eighth grade."
"She's lived here that whole time?" Sam asked. "No extended absences, nothing strange about her? Any sudden changes?"
Tim turned and looked at Tyra again. "She's learning math."
"What?" Sam asked, shaking his head like maybe his stomach turning inside out made his ears go bad.
Tim shrugged. "She never cared about that stuff before, but now she's all about getting into college or something," he said. "That's kind of strange."
Dean dropped his chin so Tim couldn't see the struggle it took to keep from laughing in his obviously sincere face.
"Yeah, okay," he managed to say without losing it. "Thanks."
Tim stood there patiently, unperturbed by either Sam's vomit or weird questions, a solid presence at Dean's left hand, and it felt…good. Great, really, to tell the truth. He knew if he reached out, Tim would steady him, and it had been so long since he'd had someone on his other side, he almost did it, almost leaned, but then Sam cleared his throat and stood, and then Dean did, too, and the moment passed.
"Can you introduce me?" Sam asked, putting his shoulders back, standing up straight. Bracing himself, Dean knew, though Tim might see it differently.
"Sure." Tim held out a beer bottle. "Here."
Sam took the bottle, took a mouthful and swished it around, then spit it back into the ditch. Poor man's Listerine.
Tim cocked his head, saying, "You coming?" to Dean. When Dean shook his head, Tim and Sam set off, weaving through the crowd toward the truck. Dean took point at a ninety-degree angle, watching them, close enough to intervene if necessary.
Tyra turned out to be a lot like Jessica: smart and sexy, sassy enough to attract any man worth the name, with shadows deep in the back of her eyes that spoke Sam's language fluently. A lot like Jessica, but not Jessica, after all, not beyond her shape and form.
False alarm. Sometimes a girl was just a girl.
"They say everybody has a double," Dean heard her say with a smile, when Sam explained. He didn't tell her Jessica was dead, or how, or when, or why. He just said she reminded him of a girl he knew, and showed her Jessica's picture. Worked his Sammy wiles on her until she listed toward him, her hand on his arm, laughing, displaying herself unselfconsciously. Tim stood back and watched, not looking particularly bothered. He met Dean's eyes over Tyra's head and smiled a secret smile at him that went straight to Dean's cock. Dean willed the lingering sick adrenaline rush away, let it shift into banked arousal, a thrumming drumbeat under his skin instead of the chill he still got when facing down something awful.
Tim's old flame wasn't a ghost, or a zombie, or an astral projection or a succubus. She was just a girl whose dream come true would have been living Jessica Moore's life…right up to the part where she got pinned to a ceiling and fried crispy.
Dean swallowed hard. They had to go. Leave the party, leave town. Get while the getting was good. Time to cover their ears and hit the road, leave the sirens singing behind them. Jessica wasn't coming back. Sam would never be a college kid again. Dean couldn't be somebody's – anybody's – boyfriend. They'd leave the kids to their football, the town to its obsession.
No harm, no foul, right?
Maybe if he said it often enough, even he would start to believe it.
Not to be a party pooper (and didn't that phrase take on a whole new meaning when you partied in a cow pasture), but Dean needed a little time to come down from the Demon Defcon 1 they'd just experienced. Preferably in Oklahoma, or maybe Arkansas; anywhere but seductively bucolic Dillon, Texas, with its beautiful teenagers and not-quite-ghost girls. He almost made it to the Impala, actually had his hand on the door, when Sam caught up with him.
"Wait, Dean," Sam said, taking hold of his arm.
"What. Wait for what," Dean said sharply, pulling away, cursing the fine tremble that made the key hard to turn in the lock.
"I want to talk to Tyra some more," Sam said. "I think I need to."
"I can't," Dean said. I can't do this, he wanted to say, but couldn't get it out.
"If I can, you can," Sam said, putting on his persuasive face. Dean was immune to that, pretty much, some of the time, every once in a while, but when he turned his head, his gaze collided with Tim's across the way. Tim didn't say anything, just stood and looked at him. He didn't seem surprised that Dean would leave without saying goodbye.
"We don't do this," he said to Sam, breaking eye contact with Tim and wondering why it made his chest hurt.
"Do what?" Sam asked.
"Get..." Dean said.
"Attached? Involved? Dean, I'm not the one who took home Mike Alstott," Sam said.
"It wasn't supposed to be--"
"What? It wasn't supposed to be what?" Sam asked, following him. "You gonna tell me you didn't notice he didn't have tits?"
"Good. All right?" Dean said shortly. "It wasn't supposed to be that good."
"It wasn't supposed to be anything more than it always is, which is...nothing," Dean said.
"But..." Sam said.
Dean blew out a breath. "Well, look at him."
Sam turned and lifted his beer bottle at Tim, who raised his in return. Great. That was just great. Sam liked him, too. Little brothers bonding; just what he needed.
Dean looked down and muttered, "I still think he might be hinky."
Sam turned away, his shoulders shaking, and Dean finally figured out he was laughing. Dean popped him under the ribs hard enough to provoke a yelp, and Sam turned back, not even trying to hide his grin.
"Something weirder than the fact that he's a guy?" Sam asked.
"Shut up," Dean said, feeling his face heat. "Don't knock it 'til you've tried it."
Sam's face turned red. Dean stared at him for a minute then said, "No way."
"Hello, I went college. In California," Sam said. "What's your excuse?"
Dean opened his mouth, then snapped it shut again. Busted. Wait... Sam? In California? What? Huh?
Sam waved his hands in front of Dean's face. "I know what you're doing. Stop picturing it. Turns out it didn't do much for me."
Dean thought about Tim's messy hair trailing along his hipbone, soft contrast to sharp teeth set along the ridge of bone, and said, "Maybe you weren't doing it right." Over Sam's incredulous sputters, he said, "Or you got the wrong guy. Some skinny emo goth dude from your English lit class, right? Right?"
From the set of Sam's jaw, he'd scored a direct hit. Did he know his little brother or what? Poor Sammy. Didn't know what he was missing.
"Moving on," Sam said. Damn, sometimes he was no fun at all. "You don't really think Tim's an incubus."
"Could be," Dean said.
"Well, he's not. I tested him," Sam said.
Dean sighed. "Yeah, me, too."
Dean shrugged. He didn't want to talk about it. Sam's college experiments, though? Sign him up. Another good reason to get on the road -- he could harass Sammy for hours on end.
"It's okay to care about somebody," Sam said softly, reaching for Dean's keys.
"Oh, God, make it stop," Dean said, batting Sam's hand away. "Look. Go, enjoy the party. I'm just gonna sit here for a few."
"Yes, Dr. Phil. I'm fine. Scram."
Sam, of course, managed to shift gears almost right away, heading back toward the lights of the party, dropping into a lawn chair that looked like it might collapse under his weight and talking to Tyra like he'd known her all his life. He had a gift, no question about it.
Dean settled onto the trunk of the Impala, the space worn comfortable from years of nights spent on watch, and practiced throwing his keys up and catching them behind his back. Practice for the eyes in the back of his head; all hunters had them to some extent, or didn't live long enough to explain why not. Trickier to do with a beer bottle in his hand, but that's what made it fun. Slowly, he felt the icy fingers of impending doom slip away, felt the beer start to warm his belly. Okay. Okay. The urge to slam the pedal to the metal eased off, leaving him feeling a little empty and kind of...old.
That's where Tim, with two beers clutched in each hand, found him. Big hands, long fingers, callused palms. Dean remembered what those hands could do and shivered. Tim held out the two bottles in his right hand, so Dean tossed his empty on a pile nearby with a satisfying crash and reached for the new ones. He tipped his bottle against Tim's, wishing it was dark enough for him to slide to his knees and teach Tim a new religion.
Tim hitched himself up on the trunk beside Dean, in Sam's usual spot, and sipped his beer. After a minute, he said, "You guys taking off?"
Dean took a deep breath. "Yeah." No point trying to pretend there was anything here but a good time between bad times. "We never stay long any one place."
Tim looked down, picked at the label on his bottle. "I've hardly been anywhere. Corpus Christi, once or twice. Dallas, for State." He shrugged. "I bet you could tell some stories."
Dean laughed under his breath. By the time he was Tim's age, he'd lived in twelve different crappy towns and stayed in countless crappier motel rooms. He'd never learned the names of the elementary schools he went to; remembering how to get home from them had been hard enough. And yeah, he had stories. But there were some things better left unsaid, and stories better left untold.
Time for a change of subject. Dean pointed out toward the crowd. "I feel old."
Tim looked at him with a little smile. "The last person I, uh...you know...she was thirty-three."
Dean raised his bottle in Tim's direction and leered a little. "Nice."
Tim shrugged. "She's kind of with Billy now."
"Really?" What, did they pass people around?
"Small town," Tim said.
"She's got a kid," Tim continued. "He's kind of a pain, but he's funny, you know? He's always talking."
"Sam was like that," Dean said. "Still is, really. Yap, yap, yap."
They sat in companionable silence long enough to finish their beers, then Tim said, "There's somebody I want you to meet." He pushed off the Impala and waited. He seemed pretty sure Dean would go along, and Dean guessed he'd given him good reason to think that. When Dean hopped down and joined him, Tim slid his hand along Dean's hip, shaping his hand over the bone. "Then maybe we can get out of here."
Dean had to wait long enough for his abrupt killer hard-on to subside so he wouldn't embarrass himself. At least he didn't feel old anymore; he felt young and horny and if they hadn't been in public, in Texas, in front of a bunch of cows and Tim's teammates, he'd have shoved his tongue in Tim's mouth and his hand down his jeans. He settled for sliding the back of his fingers up under Tim's shirt as he passed -- smooth skin, muscles tightening underneath -- and felt another rush of heat at the very satisfying sound of Tim sucking in his breath. "Sounds like a plan."
Tim left him standing behind Sam at a circled wagon of lawn chairs, saying he'd be back in a minute. He touched the small of Dean's back as he passed, and Dean swore he could still feel the imprint of his hand long after he left.
Tyra, Billy, and a girl with glossy brown hair and bright eyes named Lyla kept a running commentary about the town and the people in it. They seemed to be trying to one up each other to get reactions out of Sam, while Dean looked on, amused. Once he got over the dizzying similarity to Jessica, Dean found he liked Tyra. She didn't have an ounce of bullshit in her, which made a nice change from pretty much everyone else he'd ever run across. He decided Tim had damn good taste. He stood and drank the beer Sam handed him, doing his best to shed the creepyass feeling he'd gotten when he first saw her. He listened as she asked Sam questions, as Sam answered her with half-truths and good intentions, and between the accent, the straight hair, and her filthy, flamboyant mouth, it didn't take long to start seeing her and not a body burning on the ceiling.
They really had stumbled on some kind of crazy world in Dillon. The kids ran the show, far as he could tell; parents scarcer than tits on a bull. Laws seemed made to be broken – half the kids there didn't look old enough to drive, let alone drink -- every pickup displayed firepower of some variety, and the party came complete with strippers. "Mindy," Billy had said with an affectionate grimace, pointing out Tyra's sister. Dean gave her a once-over -- he had to admit, for a small town, Dillon boasted more than its fair share of fine, fine women -- but couldn’t work up much interest, not when he could still feel the tug of Tim's mouth on his neck. His cock twitched in his jeans and he stepped closer to Sam's chair for cover. Ten minutes ought to do it, to be polite, and then no matter how much Sam bitched about being ditched, he was gonna take Tim somewhere dark and quiet, strip him down and work him over. Leave a few more marks to remember him by. One for the road, or, knowing Tim, possibly more.
"Dean...DEAN," Sam said.
"What?" Guess he hadn't been paying close enough attention.
"Tyra asked you a question."
"You met Jason yet?" Tyra asked.
"Who?" Dean asked, looking out over the crowd for where Tim went.
"Six," said a voice in his ear. Tim had somehow snuck up behind him, leaning in closer than he should if he didn't want his dick accidentally sucked in front of his friends. Dean assessed him again with a hunter's eye. Big, quiet, and fast were good attributes. So was a healthy desire to beat the living crap out of things. Tim seemed to have that one down, too, based on stories he'd heard.
"Six what?" Dean asked.
"Number six," a new voice said at hip level. Dean looked down. A clean-cut guy in a wheelchair looked up at him. "I'm Jason." He had on a blue letter jacket like Tim; part of the tribe, then.
Jason put out his hand, the fingers misshapen and hard with contracted tendons, which Dean shook gently. "My brother, Sam," Dean said, thunking Sam on the head with his knuckle. Jason waved in Sam's direction, and Sam nodded at him.
"Six is our QB," Tim said.
"Was," Jason pointed out.
Tim shrugged. "Close enough."
Tim seemed like a different person with Jason, Dean realized. More like the Tim he'd had stretched beside him on a rumpled bed. He still said more with his body than his words, but if you were watching...he told you a lot. Dean decided then and there that if he wanted to be a girl about it, he had plenty of reason to be jealous of Jason, Six, whoever the fuck. If Tim and Tyra went back, then Tim and Jason obviously went way back.
"You got room for one more?" Jason asked.
Tim moved behind Jason's chair, pushing it over a rough spot while the others slid back their chairs and expanded the circle. Tim put his hand on Jason's shoulder, then looked over at Dean, smiled his secret smile and said, "Always."
Dean rubbed at the sore spot on his chest and hoped his face didn't show as much as he could clearly see on Tim's, because otherwise, linebackers were going to feed them cow patties for a midnight snack. Tim pulled a couple more lawn chairs into the circle and lifted his chin at Dean, indicating the one next to him.
Okay, so maybe they could stay one more day.
The party started winding down around midnight. Curfews, probably. That thought made Dean feel older than banging an 18-year-old.
Somebody started a fire with some old two-by-fours. Dean had to admit he liked being out under the big sky, campfire fighting off the chill. Tim sat comfortably beside him, sprawled with one leg nudged against his. Billy dumped a case of beer in the cooler and said, "Last call, y'all."
Amid groans, Tim roused and said, "Fuck that. I'll make a beer run."
He turned and looked at Dean, smiled with his eyes.
Oh, hell, yeah. "I'll go with you."
"Sergeant Riggins, what can I do you for?" asked the liquor store clerk. The sign said 'CLOSED', but the clerk had pushed open the door when Tim knocked.
Tim grinned and slapped two cases of MGD on the counter. "That ought to do it," he said.
Dean reached for Lewis Wiseman's card in his wallet, but Tim waved him off.
"I got it," Tim said.
"You sure?" Dean asked. It wouldn't cost old Lewis a thing, but he didn’t feel like telling Tim that.
Tim slid him a look. "I'm sure."
Wow, who'd have thought? Tim had a romantic streak.
Tim gave Dean directions to another field, this one empty except for a huge sky dusty with stars.
Dean took almost a whole minute to enjoy the quiet, then let Tim wrestle him into the backseat and chew on him, rough hands pulling up shivers in their wake, hot mouth following behind, going down and making everything right. Once Dean could think again, he pulled Tim up, twisting them around on the backseat with practiced ease. He plundered Tim's mouth until Tim's breath came in hot, sharp pants; he got Tim's jeans open just in time.
Then he started over.
There was an almost audible groan when Herc rolled into the circle of firelight. Jason winced. He hated the new tension in the air, but Herc had become one of his closest friends in the past few months and Jason was nothing if not loyal.
"What's up, kids?" Herc cockily popped a wheelie before squeezing into the space between Lyla and Jason.
Lyla scooted her chair farther from Herc's and said, "Dandy till you rolled into town."
Herc just shrugged and threw his head back, laughing. "Just doin' a bit of slummin'. Wanted to see what my boy Jason's up to."
Herc's gloved hand on Jason's arm caused Lyla to glance away quickly, and Tyra just twisted her mouth into a parody of keeping quiet. Jason caught Sam's look of confusion and latched onto it as an excuse to divert the discussion.
"Herc, here, he sort of got me through PT after the accident. Then got me into the tryouts for the National Rugby Team."
When Sam looked even more confused, Herc jumped in. "Quad rugby, dude. Not for the faint of heart, but Jason blows 'em away."
Jason felt himself blushing, but didn't really want to talk about his failure to make the team, either. He was about to ask Sam if he'd played any sports in school when he heard the growl of American muscle drift through the trees, across the pasture.
"And who might you be?" Herc asked, holding his hand out to Sam.
"Herc, this is Sam," Jason said. "Sam, Herc."
Sam reached over him and shook Herc's hand.
"You new in town, Sam?" Herc asked. "I know how the girls love fresh meat."
Sam's mouth tightened, but he said, politely enough, "I'm on a road trip with my brother. Just passing through."
"Beer's here," Tyra announced and walked over to the cooler to dump out the melted ice.
A couple minutes later, two shadows outside the circle of light took the form of Tim and his new friend Dean. Jason had wanted to ask Tim how he'd come to know the guy and his brother, but they'd taken off shortly after Tim introduced them.
"Where've you been?" Tyra called out. "I thought we'd have to send out a search party. Y'all buy beer in Galveston?"
Jason busied himself reaching into the cooler to hand out the last of the remaining beers and make room for the new, then, while leaning over Herc's chair to hand Lyla a can, Jason noticed Herc's expression and followed it back to where Sam and Tyra were greeting the boys.
Swiveling his head back to Herc, he asked, "What? What is it?"
Herc made no effort to keep his voice down. "Looks like your best friend's been havin' some fun."
A sudden silence filled the night. Jason kept looking back and forth between Herc and Tim, still not sure exactly what Herc was busting Tim's chops for this time. He knew there was no love lost between them, but so far Jason had managed to remain friends with both men without having to step in more than a couple of times.
Finally, Tim turned toward the two men in wheelchairs and narrowed his eyes at Herc. Jason could see the danger reflected by the firelight, but he also noticed something else. Tim's face was flushed and his hair was pushed back in damp ropes. His mouth looked bruised. Dean stood back in the shadows, just out of reach of the light, but Jason finally caught on to what Herc had been implying.
Alarm danced along nerves he wasn't sure he could even feel anymore. No. No way. Tim had done some stupid things in his time, but this? Whole new levels of dumb, even for Tim. They didn't know anything about this guy Dean, or his brother, except that they'd blown in from out of town and were pretty darn cagey about what they did for a living. Tim tended to make most of his decisions with his crotch, and this time, it might come back to bite him in the ass. Jason groaned and wished that particular image hadn't come to mind.
Herc grinned in triumph when Lyla, apparently oblivious to the undercurrents, threw him a beer. As he wrapped his hand around the can, he said "I guess you guys bought the beer first huh? This shit's warmer than piss."
Tim leaned back against the side of Tyra's truck and crossed his legs at the ankles. "You got something to say?"
Jason could tell from the look on Herc's face that this was going nowhere good.
Herc made a show of looking Tim slowly up and down, and said "You take the long way, son?"
Tim tilted his head. "I ain't your son," he said mildly, but something in his tone made Jason sit up straighter. Ooooh, shit. Dean stepped forward, into the light, and from beside Herc, Jason heard Lyla gasp.
Dean's mouth looked swollen, too, his color high, even in firelight. Unless they'd picked up then ditched a couple of girls in the past hour, Jason couldn't come up with any other explanation for why they looked like they did. Fuck. Herc wasn't the most diplomatic guy in the world, but he also wasn't wrong very often.
Herc looked deliberately from Tim to Dean, and said, "Oh, come on, all you boys have daddy issues."
Like a bitter and unexpected breeze, the mood changed. Tim powered forward like he was on the field: agile, mobile and hostile. But before he could reach Herc -- and Jason didn't really want to know what would happen then; Herc might win a war of words, but Tim could kick Herc's ever-lovin' ass in about ten seconds, and God alone knew what Dean was capable of -- Sam came out of his chair like a shot, startling a curse from Tyra. Dean moved, too, grabbing both of Tim's arms from behind, stopping him short in mid-lunge. Damn, Dean had to be some kind of strong to do that. Jason had seen Tim drag linebackers for yards, but when Dean clamped down on Tim's arms, that was it; Tim wasn't going anywhere. To Jason's surprise, Sam didn't step between Tim and Herc, but went straight to Dean. He put his hand on Dean's chest and pressed, hard. Despite Dean's hold, Tim still loomed over Herc, breathing hard, his face set in lines Jason remembered from being down ten points with two minutes to go.
Sam looked at Dean. Something passed between them, some fast and silent communication, and Dean nodded once. Sam stepped away from him and turned to face Herc.
"You might want to back off a little," Sam said evenly to Herc. He towered over Herc. His stance wasn't as threatening as Tim's, but Jason still didn't like the odds. "Looks like you hit a sore spot."
"That's Herc's specialty," Jason said, rolling over and setting himself smack dab in the middle, between Dean and Sam, Tim and Herc. "Get 'em where it hurts, cuz chicks dig scars, right, Herc?"
Herc loved nothing more than stirring up shit, and Jason had had about enough of it. It was one thing to listen to Herc's particularly pungent blend of tough love and crap day in day out, but this wasn't that. This was Herc chapping Tim's hide just because he could, plain and simple. And that wasn't cool. "You're just messing with them, right?"
Herc curled up his lip and didn't say anything.
"Right?" Jason said, a little louder, and shoved against Herc's chair with his own.
Herc finally looked at him. Jason lifted his hands, like, 'what the fuck, man?'
"He does whatever he wants, and you let him," Herc bit out.
"He's my friend," Jason said. Herc narrowed his eyes. "And so are you," Jason continued. "So cut that shit out. It's a party, remember?"
"A party you weren't exactly invited to," Tyra tossed in from the side.
Herc made a show of cracking his neck, then said to Tim, "Just messin' with you, like QB said." He didn't mean a word of it, that was plain as the nose on his face, but Jason slapped him on the back and said, "There you go," like everything was okay, like they could go back to drinking and shooting the shit. Like Jason didn't have to live with wondering just how long and hard you'd have to kiss somebody to make them look like that.
Dean let go of Tim's arms, and Tim stood there for a minute, glaring at Herc. Dean stayed behind him, steady as a rock, probably the only person still left at the party who could take Tim down if it got that far. Tim took a breath and lifted his hands. Only then could Jason see that Dean still had his hand on Tim, low on his back, just above his jeans. That wasn't a friendly touch, or a fight-stopping touch. That was, well, that was an intimate touch, and that, more than Tim's hair or Dean's mouth, told Jason that Herc had nailed it. Tim and Dean had…were…had just been…God.
Tyra tossed Tim one of the last cold beers from the old cooler. "Chill," she said, her eyes flickering from Tim to Dean and back. Tim hunched his shoulders and stepped forward, moving to the opposite side of the circle and dropping into a chair. He tucked his chin to his chest, body language Jason had seen hundreds of times.
Dean, who'd only met Tim when, yesterday? Who didn't know him like Jason did, who hadn't been there when Tim had his first growth spurt and his toes pushed holes in his sneakers because Billy didn't have enough money to buy new ones every couple months, who'd never seen Tim play, hellbent for leather. Dean, who couldn't possibly know or care about him the way Jason did, looked at Tim sitting in his lawn chair, and walked over to Herc.
Herc looked up, and for the first time, seemed uncertain. Jason had always known he was smart. Herc opened his mouth, but Dean cut him off.
"You think you can say whatever you want, because you're in that chair?" Dean said, looking down at Herc.
Smart as he was, Herc still wasn't smart enough to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he pulled on some bravado from somewhere and said, "Pretty much."
Dean leaned over, put his hand on the back of Herc's chair and spoke in his ear. "Think again."
Jason felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end, felt his scar pulse, and a hush fell across their little circle again. Jason looked over at Sam, the closest thing he had to a barometer on Dean, but Sam didn't seem concerned. He had his eye on Dean, but he was relaxed, sipping his beer.
Herc swallowed hard. "Yes, sir"," he said, sketching a salute, but the sass rang hollow.
Dean turned his back on Herc and went over to his brother, taking the beer Sam held out. Jason looked at Herc -- beads of sweat stood out on Herc's forehead, despite the chill, and Jason stifled a grin.
Herc might have finally met his match.
When Tim was in the shower, the doorbell rang, then rang again. And again.
Dean mashed the 'mute' button on Teen Titans, put down his sandwich, hauled himself up off the couch and went to see who in the fuck wanted to see any Riggins that bad.
He opened the door to find a tow-headed kid with freckles standing on the stoop. Hard to tell his age; somewhere between smart-aleck and genuine pain-in-the-ass, it looked like.
"Yeah?" Dean asked.
The kid scowled at him. "Who are you? I'm Bo. I live next door."
"Are you Tim Riggins' dad?"
One more coat ought to do it. Tyra blew gently on the drying nail polish, then waved her hand across Lorraine's toes.
"Tyra, I wish you'd let me pay you," Lorraine said, lifting her foot and admiring it. "I sure do like wearing sandals to the grocery store and having my toes all pretty."
Tyra smiled up from her spot on the floor in front of the recliner. "You bought the wine coolers, so we'll call it even."
"Oh, well, all right then," Lorraine said with a smile, settling back in her chair. "Maybe we'll do coral on the other one. Mix it up a little."
"Sure," said Tyra. "Julie, can you throw me my bag?"
Julie tossed Tyra her handbag, and Tyra dug around until she found the bottle of bright coral polish. She wasn't sure how it would look next to the red on Lorraine's other foot, but she'd learned pretty quickly it was easier to just go with Grandma's flow.
"So I hear there's new boys in town," Lorraine said. "Good-looking ones, and tall, too."
Tyra grinned. Comparing gossip had become kind of a tradition on Girls Night. Julie always came, and after State, they'd added Lyla, too. Tyra and Lyla still weren't exactly friends, but it had seemed like the thing to do, and Lyla hadn't missed one yet, so…
"Bobbie at the Curl-Up-N-Dye said one of them's really tall and needs a haircut," Lorraine said.
"That'd be Sam," Tyra said.
"And the other one's kind of tough and looks like he'd be a handful," Lorraine said.
"That would be Dean," said Lyla.
"And that's the one Tim's taken a shine to?"
Tyra and Lyla looked at each other. Tyra used the excuse of shaking the nail polish bottle to buy herself a little time to think. "Where'd you hear that?" Tyra asked.
"Bobbie's granddaughter, you probably know her from school, Marlee, or is it Maddie? Bobbie says she's always had a thing for Tim, like so many seem to," Lorraine said.
Tyra bit her lip.
"Anyway," Lorraine continued, "she told Bobbie that Tim's thick as thieves with one of them new boys," Lorraine said. "Two peas in a pod, sounds like."
"That's one way to put it," Lyla said from her perch on the sofa.
"What do you mean, hon?"
Lyla and Tyra exchanged another look, then Tyra said baldly, "They're fucking."
"Tyra Collette, watch your language," Lorraine said.
"Sorry. They're fornicating," Tyra said.
"Still an 'F' word."
Tyra looked at Lyla and rolled her eyes, stifling a giggle. "How about 'making love'?" Though she seriously doubted anything Tim and Dean were getting up to together would fall under a category as mundane as 'making love.'
Lorraine nodded. "That's better. Now, who's making love?"
"Tim and Dean."
"The new guy. The older one," Lyla said.
"The one that needs a haircut or the handful?"
Lorraine rocked her chair a couple of times, looking bewildered, then her eyes widened. "Tim and…are…ooooooooh." She rocked a little faster. "Are you sure? How do you know? No, wait, don't tell me. I'm not old enough to hear about that."
"We're pretty sure," Tyra said, holding out the nail polish brush and gesturing to Lorraine.
Lyla leaned forward and said, "Mrs. Saracen, you can't tell anybody. You can't tell Bobbie, or Ed at the store, or anybody."
Lorraine put her foot in Tyra's outstretched hand. "I know I get a little confused sometimes, missy, but I can keep a secret. Nobody'll hear about it from me, I swear."
"It won't be a secret long if they can't keep their hands off each other," Tyra muttered.
"What'd she say?" Lorraine said, tilting her head closer to Tyra.
Lyla touched her arm and said, "If it got out, Tim could get in a lot of trouble. You know how people are."
"Those Riggins boys seem to live in trouble," said Lorraine.
"This is different," Lyla said.
Lorraine looked out the window, her expression troubled. "Yes, I can see how it would be," she said finally. "I watch the news."
"I don't really understand it, what they're doing, but I don't think they should get punished for it," Lyla said.
Was she fucking kidding? "You can't tell me you're okay with this," Tyra said to Lyla.
Lyla shrugged. "It's better than some rally girl we have to face in the halls tomorrow."
Tyra thought about that for a minute.
"He's, like, ten years older than Tim," Tyra reminded her.
"That's still younger than Jackie," Lyla pointed out.
Damn, Tim sure did get around. She'd totally forgotten about Jackie.
"You're awful quiet over there, Julie. What do you think?" Lorraine asked.
Julie stirred and leaned forward. "I think…I think you don't always choose who you fall in love with. I think sometimes it just happens."
Tyra looked at her. "This is Tim we're talking about, remember? So that's sex, not love."
Julie lifted one shoulder. "You don't know that."
Tyra and Lyla both hooted with laughter, and Julie looked down, her hair sliding forward and covering her profile.
"I'm sorry," Lyla said, going over to Julie and pushing her hair back over her shoulder. "It's just…we know Tim."
Julie nodded. "I know. It's just. I don’t know. I'd like to think people can change, that people you meet can change you."
Lorraine reached over and petted Julie's hair. "I like to think that, too, sweetie."
Tyra thought about her latest math test, a solid C+, and wondered if they might be onto something. Still. She knew Tim, had known him forever, and if she knew anything it was that he headed most places dick first. She'd just never imagined him colliding with someone else's dick in the process. It kind of changed everything. Huh. She guessed she couldn't have it both ways. Either it changed things or it didn't. They were either friends, or they weren't, and if she had to choose, she guessed she'd always choose being friends. They'd gone through some rough patches, the two of them, but if she could weather Tim and Lyla Freakin' Garrity, she could probably weather this.
"And this Dean fella, he treats Tim nice? He's not just using him for sex?" Lorraine asked.
"Lorraine!" Tyra collapsed on the floor in giggles. When she'd caught her breath, she said, "I think Dean genuinely likes him. He practically jumped down Herc's throat when he tried to get up in Tim's face about it." She got the right kind of shiver just thinking about it.
"Hmm," Lorraine said. "Well, that's good, I guess. Though Tim seems like he can pretty much take care of himself."
Lyla looked at Tyra and said, "It never hurts to have somebody else on your side."
Tyra looked away. Not ready to be friends, Garrity. Not yet. But when Lyla put out her hand for the nail polish, Tyra passed it over.
"So what do these new boys do?" Lorraine asked. "They find a place to live yet?"
"I don't think they're staying," Tyra said. "Sam said they pretty much live on the road, so they probably won't be here much longer."
Lorraine rocked a few times, worrying at her lower lip, then seemed to come to some conclusion. She nodded emphatically and said, "Well, I think that's a shame."
Now that Tyra thought about it, it really kind of was.
Dean caught the phone before the ringtone got to the drumbeat.
"Hey," he said, sitting up and tucking the phone against his ear.
"Sorry," Sam said in his ear. "Am I interrupting…anything?"
Dean looked over his shoulder and said softly, "I think I finally wore him out. Hang on." He reached over and poked Tim on the shoulder, not gently, and grinned. "Yup, he's out cold," he said into the phone. "Damn, I'm good."
He took Sam's silence as agreement, and said, "What's up?"
Dean felt his stomach tighten. Damn it. Had to happen; they'd been in Dillon over a week, probably his longest stretch anywhere outside a hospital in years. He waited for Sam to continue, then finally prompted, "Well, what did she say?"
"Four women in Biloxi have disappeared over the last four months, like clockwork, the last a couple days ago," Sam said.
"Clockwork like…lunar cycle?" Dean asked.
"Maybe. Or menstrual," Sam said.
"Okay, that's gross," Dean said.
"Says the man fucking another man up the ass."
Dean didn't even get it out before Sam bitched in his ear, "Oh, my God, please don't tell me--"
"Nobody fucked anybody up the ass, okay?" Dean hissed into the phone. "Jesus, I can't believe we're talking about this." He checked again to be sure Tim really was down for the count. He thought he heard Sam mutter, "Christo" in his ear and said, "What?"
"Crisco," Sam said, a little louder. "Tim said you needed Crisco. I just assumed."
What the hell? "He was kidding, Sam. It's called a sense of humor. We'll try to get you one at the next stop."
"Ha ha," Sam said. "So, yeah, speaking of which."
Right. Four women on the rag, disappearing in Biloxi.
"How do we know it's not just your basic domestic crap?" Dean asked, grasping at straws. Because he knew Sam, and Sam wouldn't call him at o'dark thirty if it was just some random guy.
"We don't, not for sure," Sam said, but Dean could hear that he was pretty darn sure.
"But all four were..."
"Menstruating," Sam said.
"How can you even say that word?" Dean asked.
Sam huffed a breath. "Fine. All four women had their period when they disappeared."
"Okay, that's weird," Dean admitted. "What do you think?"
"Well, I found several references to the supposed power of menstrual blood,"
"You just had to say it again, didn't you?"
"Menstrual," Sam drawled.
"I hate you," Dean said, shaking off a sudden heebie-jeebie.
He heard Sam exhale, then his voice again, more sober than before. "I think we should check it out. Could be a fertility god, or some ritual sacrifice thing. I won't know until we get there."
Dean sat holding the phone to his ear, listening to the silence of Sam giving him time to get his game face on. Shit.
"Yeah, okay," Dean said. He didn't sound right, even to himself, so no way he fooled Sammy.
"Dean, I'm sorry--"
"Yeah, look, give me an hour to…just…give me an hour," Dean said.
"Okay," Sam said. Dean could tell he wanted to say more, but that's what the however many torturous hours in the car were for. Great. The whole thing was just…great.
Dean hit the end button on his phone harder than necessary and chucked it onto the bed beside him. He wiped his hand across his face and started to think about what they'd need to take down a fuckin' fertility god. Heh. Fucking fertility god. Good one; he'd have to remember to use it on Sam once they were on the road.
Fuck. An hour to get on the road. He was going to miss Dillon, damn it. The big sky, the endless fields, the liquor stores that opened early, the parties that ended late…okay, fine, he wouldn't miss any of that. He could find that lots of places, but only Dillon had Tim.
Tim's sleepy voice startled him. "You okay?"
Dean looked over his shoulder, enjoying the view as Tim stretched. "Yeah."
Tim propped himself up on one elbow. "But you've got to go."
It wasn't a question.
Dean dropped onto his back and looked up at Tim. "Yeah."
Tim blinked at him. "It's okay."
"There's a job, in Mississippi," Dean said, his voice not as steady as he'd like, and Tim nodded. Dean cleared his throat and said, "What we do, I can't really explain it, but it's important."
Tim sat up and reached for his jeans, pulling them on but not zipping them. Dean thought about leaning over, setting his face right there, inhaling that concentrated Tim smell. He could almost feel the sting of the zipper cool on his cheeks and the soft rough hair warm underneath. He could drag Tim back to bed, feast on him some more, tell Sam it sounded like they had twenty-eight more days to get to Biloxi and hunt that bitch down.
Instead, he sat up on the bed and turned his back -- the only way to get through it, really, was to put some distance -- pulling on his own jeans, and a t-shirt that turned out to be Tim's. He decided he could live with that.
Tim followed him to the kitchen and started digging around. He set a box of poptarts and a half-gallon of milk on the counter. They traded the milk carton back and forth and killed off the box of frosted strawberry in silence.
When they were done, Dean went back into Tim's room and started collecting all the stuff that had accumulated over the week. Tim handed him a plastic grocery bag and Dean rolled a couple of t-shirts, some briefs, and couple pairs of rank-smelling socks and stuffed them in the bag. He went out in the living room and picked up a few more things -- a magazine, one of his good hunting knives -- and stuck them in the bag, too. He'd kind of made himself at home without noticing it, he realized.
Once he'd finished, he dropped the bag beside the front door and looked up to find Tim standing with his arms braced in the doorway, watching him. Dean took a breath and wiped his hands across the legs of his jeans. "I think that's everything," he said.
Tim looked down. He started to say something, stopped, then pushed off the doorframe and walked toward Dean.
"There've basically been two kinds of people in my life," Tim said, his voice low, even deeper than usual. "The kind who stayed, no matter what, and the kind who left and never came back."
"I want you to come back," Tim said, his eyes bright, intense enough that Dean couldn't look away. "I don't care when. You don't have to call, or send a postcard or…or anything. Just show up someday."
"You'll be playing for the Cowboys," Dean said, his throat tight.
Tim looked down and shook his head, but Dean could see his little smile. "Nah. Everything I've got is here."
Dean heard the Impala purring down the street. When Sam pulled up at the curb, Dean gestured out the window toward the car and said, "Everything I've got is right there."
Tim looked up at him from under his lashes and said, "Not everything."
Dean remembered eighteen. Eighteen came with crushes the size of Texas, declarations, perpetual horniness, and living every minute like it might be your last. Of course, in his case, that hadn't really been an exaggeration, and he'd milked it. He could remember telling girls he was enlisting, shipping out, joining the Navy, the Corps, the freakin' Coast Guard, anything to get their pants down or their skirts up. But he was damn sure he'd never looked at anybody the way Tim was looking at him, like Dean didn't have to make anything up, like him just standing there was enough.
He couldn't say, 'you'll get over it,' because fuck it all, he felt it, too, and he wasn't even close to eighteen anymore. What could he say? 'Sorry you like me, I'm trying not to be a jerk, but I might get dead tomorrow, so cut your losses' didn't sound good even in his head. So he reached over and took Tim's face in his hands and used language he never stumbled over, kissed him long and hard and good, put everything he had into it; it had to last him awhile. Tim felt familiar, tasted familiar in the best possible way, milk and strawberry and sweet, sweet sex, and Dean let himself lean in, let Tim take his weight, hands strong on his hips. He dragged his mouth across Tim's again and again, closed his eyes and let the wet heat of Tim's mouth push away what was coming just a little longer.
Stopping took a lot out of him. He finally moved his hands from Tim's face to his chest and pushed, put a little space between them. He looked at Tim and didn't say anything, just watched as Tim pulled on what Dean had come to call his Dillon face.
Tim followed him out to the stoop. When Dean turned to him, trying to figure out exactly what to say that wasn't stupid or promised anything or made him sound like a girl, Tim leaned his shoulder on the doorframe and shrugged.
The car door slammed behind him, and Dean turned to see Sam walking across the yard, a determined look on his face. Before Dean could say anything, Sam took the steps two at a time, stuck out his hand toward Tim and said, "Winchester."
Dean stared at Sam. What the--
"Huh?" Tim asked, putting out his hand for Sam to shake.
"Our last name's Winchester. We've got a P.O. drop in Lawrence, Kansas. Box B-5." Dropping Tim's hand, Sam hooked his thumb at Dean. "We've been on the road for two years and this is the first time we've spent more than a week in one place when it wasn’t about a job."
Tim looked at Dean, a smile playing on his mouth. "Oh, yeah?"
Dean coughed into his hand and said, "We've been working. Um. Hard."
Tim nodded and stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans.
When it came down to it, Dean couldn't get the words out. He knew damn well what the odds were of ever finding reason to come to dumb old Dillon, Texas again, but two simple words – 'good' and 'bye' – just wouldn't come out. "I'll see you," he finally said.
Tim nodded. "I'll be here."
Sam didn't look surprised when Dean tossed him the keys. He started the car as Dean settled himself in the passenger seat. When they pulled away, Dean didn't look back.
"You want me to wake you when it's your turn to drive?" Sam asked.
Dean shook his head. "Wake me when we get there. I've got a week's worth of sleep to catch up on."
"And whose fault is that?" Sam asked.
Dean just smiled and dropped his chin to his chest, where his shirt still smelled like Tim.
A solid push on Tim's shoulder roused him from a deep, contented, post-fuck sleep. Dang. What the hell was that? Dean? It took him a minute to surface, and before he could even get his eyes open, he felt Dean move, taking his warmth with him, then he heard Dean say, "What's up?"
Dean's phone must have rung, Tim figured. He listened as Dean talked to whoever it was, Sam probably, but nothing he said made much sense, something about lunar cycles and domestic crap, and the fact that nobody'd fucked anybody up the ass. Okay, definitely Sam; at least he hoped so. After a couple of minutes, Dean's tone changed, hollowed out when he said, "Yeah, okay." Another pause, then Dean said, "Yeah, look, give me an hour to…just…give me an hour," and Tim felt the phone drop onto the bed.
Tim shifted and put his hand on Dean's back. Dean jumped a little, then turned to face him. He looked tired. Not sex-hangover tired; bone-deep tired. "Sorry," Dean said, his voice flat. "I thought you were asleep."
"Something wrong?" Tim asked.
Dean started to shake his head, then nodded. "A job in Mississippi. Sam's coming to get me."
Shit. Shit. Dean wasn't happy about it, Tim could tell that, but it didn't look like there was any question of him staying.
"What kind of job?" Tim asked. Lunar cycles and domestic shit sounded…weird.
Dean looked away, which…also weird. Dean had spent the past week getting as close as he could, as often as he could, and now Tim could see Dean moving away, see him thinking about something besides, well, besides him. He decided he had skills he hadn't put to use yet, so he reached out, took Dean by the arms and hauled him back into the bed, flipped him onto his back and sat on him.
Dean looked both startled and turned on; it was a good look on him. "What're you--?"
"What do you do?"
"What do you mean?" Dean said, his eyes shifting away again.
Oh no now, Tim had invented that move. He planted his hands on either side of Dean's shoulders and leaned over him, nose to nose. "I mean, what's your job? Why do you get calls at six o'clock in the morning?"
Dean closed his eyes, and Tim rubbed his nose against Dean's cheek. "What's so damn important?" Tim murmured.
"It's better if you don't know," Dean said, turning to catch Tim's mouth with his. Tim let him, let his tongue drift into Dean's mouth.
After a couple lazy minutes swapping spit, Tim lifted his head and said, "Tell me anyway."
Dean dropped his head back on the pillow and looked up at him. Really looked, made Tim feel like he was the one pinned down, the one with the weight on him.
"Four women have disappeared in Biloxi," Dean said slowly. "Four women in four months. The last one was a couple days ago."
Whatever Tim expected to hear, that wasn't it. "What does that have to do with you?"
Dean licked his lips. "We -- me and Sam -- we're gonna see if we can figure out what happened, try to find them."
Tim sat upright, settling himself comfortably across Dean's hips. Dean didn't seem to mind -- he put his hands on Tim's thighs and left them there. "Are you a cop?" Tim asked.
Dean barked a laugh. "Hell, no."
"You this tenacious on the field?" Dean asked, rubbing his hands up and down Tim's legs.
Tim smiled slowly and watched as a red flush crept up Dean's chest and across his neck. "More," Tim said. Beneath him, he could feel Dean get hard, and he rocked a little bit, then Dean stopped him.
"Do you really want to know? You need to be sure, because you can't unknow it," Dean said. He looked as serious as he had at the party, when he was whispering in Herc's ear.
Tim thought it over for about two seconds, then said, "Tell me."
"You told him?!?" Sam sounded scandalized. "Dean, he's--"
"Right here," Tim said from the doorway. Sam's head jerked up. He must've come while Tim was taking a shower. Sam looked pissed, but a little scared, too. Tim said, "I'm not…" He looked at Dean. "You can trust me."
Dean crooked up a corner of his mouth, the closest he'd gotten to a smile since he'd told Tim that the boogeyman was real, ghosts lurked beside dark roads, and somewhere near Biloxi, somebody was stealing women when they had their periods. Weird as owl shit, all of it, but Tim believed every word. When he heard about that other world, so close sometimes it crossed over into this one, he had to wonder if maybe something had got hold of Jason that night, made the pass go awry, tipped him wrong and pushed his head down. Maybe the same thing had kept Tim from getting there in time. That made more sense to him than the idea of some God who'd taken everything Jason had away from him. Hell on earth, that's what it had felt like; not some test of faith, not some divine plan, but sheer ungodly hell on earth. He shivered, and it wasn't because somebody told him demons were real.
Dean pushed a bag of Sweet Sixteens across the counter toward Sam and said bluntly, "Yeah, I told him," like he was ready if Sam wanted to make something of it.
"That's twice," Sam said, working his jaw. "Can I talk to you a minute?" He looked over at Tim then back at Dean. "In private?"
Tim shrugged and went into the living room, dropped down on the couch and turned on the TV. He could still hear everything they said; it wasn't like they were trying to be quiet.
"What're you doing?" Sam asked. He sounded confused. And aggravated.
"You said yourself these women are only being taken once a month, so we've got some time," Dean said. "We're gathering information, right? I don't see why we can't do some of that here. Exhaust the local resources."
"I thought that's what you've been doing all week."
Tim hid a smile, even though nobody was looking. He heard the solid thump of somebody, probably Sam, getting smacked.
"I think you finally fucked yourself stupid," Sam said, but the edge was gone from his voice.
Dean called out, "Want some coffee?" Tim raised his hand and gave him a thumbs-up, and heard Sam sigh. Sam came over and sat down heavily at the other end of the couch and ran his hands through his hair. He studied the carpet for several heartbeats before looking over his shoulder at Dean and saying, "Fine. Let's get started."
Awesome. Let the demon-hunting begin.
Dean came into the room and passed Tim a handful of donuts. "When's the library open?"
"The library?" Tim asked around a mouthful of powdered sugar.
"It's a big building, with a lot of books," Sam said, but he'd relaxed back on the couch and his voice didn't have any bite to it.
"I wondered what that was," Tim said, matching Sam's tone.
"We need to find out whatever we can about fertility rituals involving menstrual fluid," Sam said, smirking when Dean put his hands over his ears and said, "Na na na I can't hear you."
Dillon's library wasn't exactly first-rate. For one thing, it still had a card catalog, like, a big box with a bunch of little cards in it. There'd been talk about updating, but Tim was pretty sure all the money had gone into the stadium instead. The library smelled funny too, which was how he and Landry had ended up on the bleachers doing homework.
Hey. Wait a second. Tim looked from Sam to Dean and said, "I can do you one better than that. I know a guy."
Tim's room became Landry's office. He holed up for hours. The first time Tim ducked his head in the door, Landry just snapped, "Working here." The second time, he threw a book at the door. Either he mellowed as the day went on, or he got lonely, because the third time Tim stepped into his room, Landry just looked up at him, raised his eyebrows and said over the pencil stuck in his mouth, "What?" He sat slouched against the bed with his Bible in his lap and several books that had to do with myths and the occult spread around him. Tim found it kind of strange that Landry, good, Christian Landry had books with some of those titles, but Landry had said it was a great source of inspiration for lyrics. He'd hardly blinked when Dean and Sam filled him in on the whole demons-among-us thing -- he just seemed to take it in stride.
"How come this doesn't freak you out?" Tim asked, pointing to the pile on the bed.
"Books are our friends, Tim," Landry said, which earned him a smack.
"You know what I mean. Angry spirits and shit."
Landry looked at him over the top of his book. "If you'd ever opened a Bible, you'd know this is how things have always been. Angels coming down, demons coming up, plagues and prophecies and Lazarus rising from the dead. What's weird is that we think it's weird."
"You're weird," Tim said, but maybe Landry was right. Maybe the whole world had its eyes closed except for them. He kind of liked that idea, that the world was asleep and only a few were awake and aware, and now he was one of them. He always did like being part of a team.
Tim cleared his throat and asked, "Is there any of this magic stuff that involves crisco?"
"Both Sam and Dean have looked at me and just said 'crisco' out of the blue." Tim sat on his rumpled bed and sighed.
"Well, it is what you style your hair with, right?"
Tim cuffed him across the back of the head. "You're hilarious, Landry."
Tim had about decided to go make a run for Red Bull and sandwich fixings a few minutes later (at least he could keep everybody -- especially Dean -- fueled) when Landry burst out laughing. "Christo! Tim, they were saying 'Christo' not 'crisco'."
"Who, not what. It's Latin for 'Christ'."
"Oh." Pause. "I thought that was 'Christi'."
Landry scratched at his hair. "As in 'Corpus Christi,' yes. Wow, I'm surprised that little bit of trivia stuck with you when so much else hasn't. Yes, it is, they both are --" Landry looked up at him. "Latin's a strange language, Tim. I could explain to you how they both mean 'Christ', but you find English grammar confusing enough. Just think of Latin grammar as being upside down and backwards from it."
Okay, whatever. But like so many things Landry said, it was very educational but completely missed the point. "So, why were they saying it to me?"
"Well, maybe they wanted to see if you were possessed or a demon or something."
What?! "Why would Dean think I'm evil?" Tim said dully.
Landry gave an exasperated sigh. "Waday retro may satana," he muttered under his breath. Then he looked up at Tim, smiled brightly, and said, "Why don't you ask him?"
Tim thought about that for a minute and said, "Yeah, I think I will." He got up and went to the door, then turned back. "Keep up the good work," he said, and got the door closed just in time to hear another book thud against it. He hoped it wasn't the Bible -- sounded like they needed all the help they could get.
Tim walked into the living room, where Dean and Sam were hunched over their laptops at opposite ends of the coffee table. Between them, the couch was strewn with sketches, notebook paper with chicken-scratch scrawled all over it, and maps.
"What's 'waday retro may satana' mean?"
"It's Latin for 'get away from me, Satan'. It's from an old exorcism ritual." Sam said absently, his eyes never leaving his computer screen.
"Oh." Tim took a deep breath in an effort to keep calm, and finally said, "Why do you guys and Landry think I'm evil?"
Both Sam's and Dean's heads flew up and they looked at each other and then at him and then back at each other.
"Christo?" Tim prompted.
Dean turned bright red all the way to his ears while Sam flopped back on the cushions and howled with laughter.
Dean stood and cleared his throat. "Um, Tim, can I talk to you for a minute in the kitchen?"
Tim shrugged and wandered to the other side of the island.
Dean stepped in close, his nearness and the smell of him generating a hot rush through Tim, and whispered, "Generally speaking, the only way two guys can go at it much as we've been is if one of them's an incubus."
"A what?" Tim whispered back, and if he made his voice a little lower and breathier than normal, it's because it was only fair (and fun) to make Dean suck in that quick breath. Over Dean's shoulder, Tim could see the door to the laundry room, but ... that would be kind of small and Sam would hear. Billy's bedroom? No, too close to Landry, and Billy would be wicked pissed, too. Damn it.
"It's a kind of sex demon."
Okay, there was no way that Dean had hissed the word "sex" like that accidentally. And they thought Tim was the incubus? Because Tim was rock hard, and Sam be damned, the laundry room was looking better and better. They could just run a rinse cycle or something ... and the shaking of the washer would only add to fun. Tim stepped back, and after taking a few breaths, said as casually as he could, "I'm thinking about making a run to the store for some cold cuts and stuff. Wanna come?" He raised an eyebrow on "come."
"Sure." Dean replied immediately, already headed toward the door. "Toss me the keys, Sam. Me and Tim are going to the store."
"Lunch meat?" Dean snickered, seeing the lettering on the side of the case in the store's back room. "You got a dirty mind."
But he didn't have much more to say (except for "Oh, God" and "Jesus, yes!") after that because Tim spun him around, slammed him up against the case, stuck his hand down Dean's pants and his tongue in Dean's mouth, and Dean climbed him like a tree, because Dean was good like that.
By the next day, Tim had learned to knock on the door to his room before entering. "I brought you something to eat," he said to Landry, handing over a huge sandwich on a plate.
"Thanks," Landry said, tearing into it. "'Mmm, that's good. What else've you got?" He took the Mountain Dew can Tim offered with a garbled, "Thanks."
Tim sighed, settling back on the sheets next to Landry. Something poked him in the small of the back. Arching up, he reached underneath and eventually fished out Anarchy for the Masses: The Disinformation Guide to the Invisibles. He held it up and glanced over at Landry.
"There's some good stuff in there on the Aztec Gods and how to hide the occult in plain sight. I had no idea that the entire comic series was actually a spell until I read that book," Landry said around a mouthful of turkey. He chugged some Mountain Dew and continued, "I actually thought about giving them all away after that, except that 'Best Man Fall', 'How I Became Invisible' and 'Apocalipstick' are some of the best stories I've ever read." He chewed for a couple more minutes, then said, "We should totally do you up as Lord Fanny for Halloween, and I can be King Mob and Tyra can get a wig and be Ragged Robin …maybe I can talk Waverly into being Boy."
Tim was sure there was some sort of joke at his expense in there somewhere, but he wasn't about to ask. "Incubus," he said. "They both thought I was an incubus."
Landry muttered something under his breath about, "…not the father."
"A sex demon," Tim said, shaking his head. "You believe that shit? There's demons for sex. And they both thought I was one."
"Given that hickey on your throat, I'm not surprised."
Crap! Tim reached for his neck.
"Made you look! Busted!"
Tim glared at Landry. "So why did you think I was evil?"
"Because I walked the straight and narrow until I met you."
Considering that Landry had come up with the word "stigmatalingus" on his own before he and Tim had ever really crossed paths, Tim seriously doubted that. He stared up at the ceiling. Dean was still leaving -- leaving him. All this was just delaying things a while. In the end, Dean was going to get in the car with Sam and go … somewhere and he would still be in Dillon doing … whatever. Dealing with the fallout of having done Dean, probably. Which would make having done Lyla look like nothing. Shit. Shit. Shit. He could hear the opening lines of Billy's 'This is what you get for thinking with your dick,' lecture, Chapter 593, already. And then Billy would look at Tim's black eye or split lip and hand him some … no, they ate the peas a few weeks back. So, probably a bag of corn or maybe lima beans this time.
"Okay," Landry said, pulling Tim back to the present as he licked a smear of mustard off his finger. "Time to go and tell them what I've come up with." He glanced over at the clock. "Damn. I've got band practice in an hour. We're playing the Broken Spoke again on Friday. You're coming."
"I am?" Tim grumbled.
Landry made a 'duh' face at him. "You owe me."
Yeah, he kind of did, didn't he?
"Bring Tyra." Landry slid off the bed, grabbed several books, including Anarchy for the Masses and headed for the door.
Tim groaned, picked up the plate, and followed.
Tim didn't understand one word in three that Landry said, but Sam got all excited and even Dean looked impressed. Tim watched from the doorway and realized he'd just run out of borrowed time. The good of helping out faded in the face of the obvious bad -- Landry had just given Dean and Sam enough to go on. Enough to leave on.
"That's a good edition of Anarchy," Sam said, pointing to Landry's stupid book. "It's annotated, right?"
Landry passed it over, and again, they submerged themselves in nonsense that Tim tuned out in favor of watching Dean while he still could. He tuned back in when he realized Dean and Sam were wrapping things up.
"Thanks, Landry. You've been a big help," Dean said.
"Any time," Landry said. "Hey, if you're still here on Friday, my band's playing at a, well, I guess you can't call it a club, but at a bar."
"A dive," Tim said. "Pure lowlife."
Landry glared at him. "It's perfectly respectable."
"Then they wouldn't let us in anyway," Dean said, which meant no way in hell were they staying until Friday. Fuck.
Sam started gathering up the papers scattered all over, full of purpose suddenly, and then Tim knew: not only weren't they staying until Friday, they weren't even staying for supper. This was it. They were leaving. Today. He felt his heart kick hard under his ribs and looked at Dean. Dean looked back at him, his face all serious. Yeah, Dean knew it, too.
Once Sam had all his stuff pulled together, he looked over at Dean and said, "I'm going back to the motel, get everything packed." Dean nodded. Then Sam looked at Landry and said, "Can I give you a ride somewhere?"
Landry looked from Sam to Dean to Tim, and said, "Yeah, thanks."
Sam stood up, his hands full of papers, and said, "Landry, we really do appreciate your help. But you've got to keep what you've been doing to yourself, all right?"
"Nobody listens to me anyway," Landry said. "Right, Tim?"
"What?" Tim said.
Landry gestured in his direction. "See?"
Once Sam and Landry had gone, the house seemed really quiet, like they'd taken some of the air with them. Tim didn't even want to think about how quiet it would be without Dean.
Dean started picking up the dirty lunch dishes, stacking plates like a pro. "Don't worry about that," Tim said. "I'll do it later, after you're--" The word 'gone' wouldn't come out. Dean put the dishes on the counter then braced his hands against it.
Dean's voice sounded strangled, like he'd got that far but couldn't get any further, and Tim knew exactly how he felt. Sometimes you had words for stuff, and sometimes you didn't. Tim thought about Jay, about his dad, even Billy, and this time, damn it, he wanted words that worked. Tim moved behind Dean, slid his hands around Dean's waist and leaned over, putting his chin on Dean's shoulder. He felt better right away, like touching loosened something up inside him. He cleared his throat and said, "I want to do what you do."
Dean pushed off the counter, backed up into him. Tim widened his stance and pulled Dean in, taking his weight. Dean said, his voice low, "You really don't."
"I could totally do it," Tim said. "I'm strong, I'm fast, and I can shoot beer cans like nobody's business. You ask anybody."
"Tim, it doesn't work like that," Dean said.
"Why not? I fight dirty, and I'm not scared, not of that," Tim said. "Not of them."
He could feel Dean pulling away. Not his body, but inside, he could feel Dean already on the road, his mind on the next town, the next missing person, the next awful thing that needed putting down. He wouldn't ask Dean to stay. He hadn't ever asked anyone to stay. People either stayed, or they didn't, and nothing you said made any difference. But he could plant the idea in Dean. They'd helped this time. Well, Landry'd helped, and if anybody's demonic ass had needed kicking, Tim would have been first in line.
Dean tugged on Tim's hands, and Tim gave him enough room to turn around. "Finish high school first," Dean said dryly. "Stay in school, don't do drugs."
Tim smiled, but it didn't last.
Dean rubbed his hands along Tim's sides. "It's not an easy life," he said after a minute.
Given the number of scars that Tim had discovered all over Dean's body in the past week -- scars he'd mapped, traced, licked, and sucked on -- Tim figured that was probably an understatement.
"Nobody has an easy life," Tim said.
Dean lifted his eyes up, stared at him for a minute, then reached over and took Tim's face in his hands and kissed him so long and so hard Tim got dizzy and had to reach for the counter to keep from falling over and taking Dean with him. He'd miss this. He'd miss Dean. Good to know Dean was gonna miss him, too. Maybe he wouldn't say it, but Tim knew just the same.
Tim heard the Impala rumble outside, then the car door slammed. Tim slowly let go of Dean's mouth, took one last lick inside, one last bite on Dean's lower lip, then stepped back. Dean leaned forward and scrubbed his jaw inside the neck of Tim's shirt, against his collarbone, rough stubble scraping up along the bone, the sting welcome because it lasted.
Then Dean pushed against Tim's chest, moving back. He adjusted himself casually and shook his head, looking a little dazed. "I still think you might be a sex demon."
Tim grinned at him briefly, then steeled himself. "I'll walk you out."
When they got out to the stoop, Tim saw Sam coming across the yard, looking determined. Sam hopped up the steps, reached over and offered Tim his hand, saying, "Winchester."
"Huh?" Tim said, shaking Sam's hand.
"He'll tell you about demons, but he won't tell you this. Our last name's Winchester. We've got a PO drop in Lawrence, Kansas. Box B-5," he said. "We've been on the road for two years, and this is the first time we've stayed anywhere more than a week when it wasn't about a job."
Tim looked at Dean and smiled. "Oh, yeah?"
Dean flushed a little and said, "We've been working. Um. Hard."
Tim shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans to keep from tackling Dean and having him one last time right there on the stoop in front of Sam and all his neighbors.
"Here's my cell number," Sam said, handing over a torn piece of notebook paper. "And Dean's is 24-LEMONPIE."
"You're kidding," Tim said, but one look at Dean's face said Sam wasn't lying. "It's over, man. I have standards."
Dean grinned at him. "Since when?"
Tim smiled back. "24-LEMONPIE. Got it."
Dean cupped his hand around the back of Tim's neck. "I'll see you," he said.
Tim nodded, leaning his head back into Dean's hand. "I'll be here."
He stood on the stoop and watched until the Impala turned the corner, until Dean's hand, raised out the window, disappeared from view.
Maybe he'd track Billy down and they could go do some target shooting. Then maybe he'd hit the gym and see if anybody wanted to take him on.
Time to start honing his hunting skills.
*'The end' is probably definitely a relative term.
A ringing phone at midnight never brought good news. Dean peeled his hand off the knife under his pillow and patted the nightstand for his phone. "'Lo," he said, rubbing sleep out of his eye.
The voice sounded young, scared, and familiar, but he couldn't place it. "Yeah," he said.
"It's Landry. Landry Clarke, from Dillon? Tim's…um…friend?" the voice said.
Landry. Landry? Oh, shit, Landry.
Dean yanked back the covers and climbed out of bed, automatically reaching under it for his duffel. As he turned on the light, he said, "Landry, yeah, I remember you. What's going on?"
Either the light or the phone or Dean's panicked flight out of bed woke Sam, who sat up in the other bed, blinking against the light, and mouthed, "What?" at him. Dean shook his head. In his ear, the sound of Landry's short sharp breaths made his blood run cold. He sat back down abruptly on the bed. "Okay, Landry, you need to calm down." He motioned Sam over and turned the phone so Sam could hear, too. "Is Tim okay?"
"I don't know," Landry said, his voice thick and a little wobbly. "He went after something. He's been doing that for awhile, you know? Like y'all do?"
Tim was hunting? Fuck. Fuck. Dean's heart skipped a beat, then started again, double-time. Beside him, Sam drew in a sharp breath and reached over, trying to pull the phone from Dean's hand. Dean batted him away and turned, sheltering the phone.
"We didn't know," Dean said.
"What?" Landry said, loudly enough that Sam leaned forward again.
"I haven't talked to him," Dean said, ignoring the look Sam gave him. "Start at the beginning."
"He's been doing it all summer," Landry said, his voice getting steadier the more he talked. "It's amazing, once you know what to look for, how much is out there. I'll read the newspapers and find stuff that sounds off somehow, and then Tim goes after whatever it is. Like, I set 'em up and he knocks 'em down, kind of like …well, I don't really know what it's like, since I've never done it before, but it worked the first time, so we just kept doing it, and--"
"Landry, dude," Dean said. "Cut to the chase."
"Okay, yeah, sorry. He left yesterday afternoon, said he was going to Lake Texoma to look for a giant catfish. He said he'd be back no later than noon, but I haven't seen him or heard from him, and I waited a while because, well, it's Tim, and sometimes he gets distracted, if there's a pool table, or a girl -- sorry, Dean -- or a television." He paused and Dean heard his breath start up with those short sharp pants again. "I think maybe he bit off more than he can chew."
"…of the catfish," Sam said sarcastically.
Dean ground his knuckle into the side of Sam's knee and said, "The catfish thing is a red herring."
"What?" Landry spluttered.
Sam took the phone. "What he means is, they disproved the giant catfish thing a couple years ago. It's a prank. It's not real."
"All I know is, stuff keeps going missing at that lake," Landry said. "Like, it started with a bunch of geese, and then it was dogs, and now this week, a Girl Scout on a camping trip went for a swim and *poof* she's gone, and they all say she drowned, but I don't know. I don't think that's what happened."
"You think it's a giant catfish," Sam said.
"Or something," Landry said. He paused, then said, "Whatever it is, I'm worried maybe it ate Tim."
Dean's heart settled into a rhythm he recognized as pre-hunt jitters. Better than the somebody-died thump, but still not as good as being sound asleep and dreaming about Jessica Biel. He took the phone back from Sam and got up.
"Okay, here's what we're gonna do," he said, pacing the length of the room. "You e-mail Sam everything you've got on the catfish and what's been happening at the lake. The address is email@example.com. We'll check it out and call you back."
"What else can I do?" Landry said. Damn, he sounded young.
"Just sit tight, Landry," Dean said. "You did the right thing calling us."
"Tim gave me your cell number," Landry said. "He told me to call you if something went wrong. He said he knew you'd come and kill whatever it was."
Dean closed his eyes. Damn it, Tim.
"It probably won't come to that," Dean said. "But if it does, we'll take care of it."
Landry sighed. "If it turns out he's drunk at some bar somewhere, he won't have to worry about a Scout-eating fish -- I'll kill him myself."
Dean didn't get visions like Sam, but he trusted his instincts, so when the first thing he seemed to want to do after hanging up the phone was start packing, he rolled with it. Sam stood looking at him for a minute, then silently pulled out his own duffel. Dean let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding and offered to go get coffee while Sam booted up the laptop.
By the time he got back, Sam was scribbling furiously on the motel notepad. He took the coffee cup Dean offered and pointed to the computer screen.
"Believe it or not, I think they were onto something," Sam said. "Not a giant catfish, but something's definitely up to no good at that lake."
"What do you think it is?" Dean asked, pulling up a chair and looking over Sam's shoulder.
Sam leaned forward and pointed to one of the open webpages. "If I didn't know better, I'd say it sounded like a kappa, a Japanese river child."
Sam looked at him over his shoulder. "Texas is a long way from Japan, and they usually inhabit rivers or streams. But otherwise, it fits." He ticked off his fingers, saying, "It starts small; it doesn't seem malicious, necessarily, but then it takes a child."
"Does it eat them?" Dean asked, blowing on his coffee before taking a sip.
"Sometimes," Sam said. "But sometimes, it just plays with them. And it can live out of water. It keeps water in its head, like a bowl." He pointed to an illustration of truly weird-ass looking thing -- part human, part animal -- with a big dip full of water in its head.
"That's one ugly son of a bitch."
"And that's what you think Tim and Landry found? Some Japanese river gremlin? In a lake in Texas?"
Sam shrugged. "Well…yeah. I do."
Dean felt a little warm glow kindle in his belly. "I'll be damned."
Around the two hundred mile mark, Dean looked across the front seat at Sam and said, "What the hell was he thinking?"
Sam had a flashlight in his lap, using it to read up on kappa lore. He switched off the light and shrugged, saying, "Maybe once he knew, he wanted to do something about it."
A hundred miles further, Dean said, "He's just a kid."
Sam just looked at him. "Is that what you thought when he was suck--"
As they crossed the state line, Dean grunted. "I'd have thought Landry had more sense."
"You really think Landry could've stopped Tim from doing something he wanted to do?" Sam asked.
Dean flashbacked to the dusty grocery store back room -- not back far enough, either. Over his own stifled moans and Tim's rough breath, he could hear customers on the other side of the wall going about their day, buying their hamburger and toilet paper and milk while Tim pushed his warm, callused hand down the front of Dean's jeans and brought him off right there against the lunch meats, and Dean just put his head back, closed his eyes, and let him.
He sighed and surreptitiously rearranged his suddenly hard dick. "No, probably not."
It took them twelve hours to get there, with Dean twitching every time they stopped until they could get back on the road. Sam let him drive a whole seven miles over the speed limit, three more than he usually did in their post-Hendricksen world.
Nobody knew anything, of course. The ranger pointed out the search-and-rescue teams in the woods surrounding the lake, saying they'd dragged the lake where the child disappeared already and not found anything, so they'd moved on to the woods. But Sam told Dean he still thought water was their best bet; they went down toward the lake and started checking the dozens of brackish ponds set way back from the roads, some so covered in algae they looked solid. The sun hung hot in the sky, the dense, bright light making Dean feel like his head was baking. He found himself hoping the little girl had died quickly; heat like this would be an ugly way to go.
Every once in a while, he'd shout, "TIM!" and get only the buzz of insects in answer.
They'd been looking for a couple of hours, and Dean had started to wonder just how long it could take to cover the shores of a nine-thousand acre lake, when in response to his hoarse shout, Dean finally heard something: a grunt, then a curse, then another grunt.
Dean grabbed Sam's arm and said, "This way."
They fought through underbrush and waded through knee-deep water, following the sounds. Dean hacked through a wall of something tough and sticky, and burrowed through, holding it open for Sam to crawl through behind him.
In a small clearing, Tim lay stretched in a shallow pool of murky water. He was filthy -- covered from head to toe in sweat, mud, and God knew what else -- soaking wet, bloody in a dozen places, but thoroughly, thankfully alive. Alive and kicking, it looked like; he was sprawled on top of some…thing. It looked part human and part, well, not-human. Like a turtle or a lizard or something reptilian and ugly. The top of its head had a hollow in it, and Dean remembered Sam saying that's where kappa kept water so they could go on land. The muscles in Tim's arms, shoulders, and neck stood out in sharp relief -- he was holding on with every ounce of strength he had. Beneath him the thing struggled, pushing up on Tim, but it didn't seem to be gaining much ground.
Sam started to say something, but Dean put out his hand and said softly, "Don't distract him."
Just then Tim looked up, his eyes wild. He locked on Dean and grinned like a crazy man, his teeth bright white in his dirty face. "Dean!"
Dean strode forward, pulling his gun from the back of his jeans. "Hold still, Tim, I've got to get a clear shot."
Tim's grin disappeared. "No, wait, don't kill it," he said urgently, and beneath him, the kappa redoubled its efforts. Tim twisted and got his legs turned so he could clamp his thighs around the thing's back. It jerked and Tim grunted again; the kappa must have gotten a shot in somewhere.
Dean stopped in his tracks, his gun still raised.
Sam stepped up beside him, his hands out, and said to Tim, "Tell us what to do."
Tim looked up and shook the hair out of his eyes. "I heard the little girl a little while ago; she's out here somewhere, but he won't tell me where she is."
The kid was still alive. Amazing. Dean lowered his gun.
"It talked to you?" Sam asked. He glanced over at Dean like he was wondering if Tim had been out in the sun too long.
"I am not 'it'." The heavily accented croak came from under Tim's left shoulder. "I am 'he'."
"Whatever," Tim said to it. Uh, him. "You're down, and you're staying down."
"Is she hurt?" Sam asked.
Tim looked down. "I don't think so. He wasn't going to eat her. He wanted company."
Sam looked at Dean, then said to Tim, "So…what're you doing?"
"He challenged me, said if I wrestle him and win, he'll let the girl go and he'll get the hell out of Texas," Tim said, panting, settling his weight more firmly on the kappa.
"And if he wins?" Sam said.
"He still lets her go," Tim said, then looked over at Dean. "And takes me instead."
Yeah, okay, no. Not happening. Tim was looking at him like he wanted Dean to tell him he'd done good, and he had, but no way on God's green earth was Dean letting some goddamn turtle take Tim. He'd kill the thing where he lay and they'd find the girl themselves. He didn't say anything, but Sam obviously figured out where his head was, because he reached over and clicked the safety on Dean's gun.
Dean stepped closer. Fine. If he couldn't use his gun, he'd keep tearing the thing to pieces with his bare hands as an option. Tim looked like he was starting to wear out -- his arms were trembling, and he was pulling in breaths in long hard gusts.
"Tim, how long have you been at it?" Dean asked quietly.
"Um, what day is it?" Tim asked, his voice going low and rough when the kappa shifted again.
Wow, that long…Dean moved in close enough to see that the kappa had one of his legs wound tight around Tim's right ankle, and the spines on his back were digging into Tim's side under his ribs. Had to hurt like hell, but Tim had somehow maintained the upper hand. Time enough later to get smug about it, but damnit, he'd been right: Tim had everything he needed to be a hunter -- and a good one -- except experience, and here he was, getting on-the-job training.
"Thursday," Dean said, walking in a circle around Tim and his prey, looking for an opening.
"I got here Tuesday night, found him yesterday," Tim said, indicating the kappa, "and it was way past dark when we started. He had all these rituals and stuff, rules about it," Tim said. "So…that's how long."
Shit. At least twelve hours, maybe more. The whole time they'd been driving, Tim had been here fighting this thing. Alone. Goddamnit. Okay, time to wrap this up before Tim gave out completely or the thing gored him with his spiny back.
"Come on, come on," Tim muttered, arching his back and shoving the kappa deeper into the mud. "Yield, you little fucker. No way you're getting up now. I've got backup."
Beside him, Sam grinned, and despite the heat and the bugs and the mud and the blistering sun and the missing girl and the talking lake monster, Dean found himself grinning too.
"I will yield." the kappa said, his tongue reaching out far enough to stroke along Tim's forearm. It left a green streak in its wake. "If that is what you want."
"Finally," Tim said, and started to let go, but Sam lunged forward and yelled, "No!"
Tim froze, his grip tightening again. His face contorted in a grimace. "Shit. Be quick," he said through clenched teeth.
"These things are tricky," Sam said. "You have to get it to promise. Once they make an oath, they can't break it. What were its exact words?"
Tim groaned. "I don't remember. Feels like a long time ago, you know?"
Okay, enough dicking around.
Dean crouched down in front of the kappa. "I'll make it real simple: You promise to let the girl -- and this one -- go, unharmed, and leave Texas forever. Say whatever you have to say to make it stick, and then there's some chance I won't rip your heart out while Tim here holds you down."
The kappa grumbled for a minute, but finally said, "I promise to release the child and this one, unharmed, and leave Texas."
Dean looked up at Sam. "Good enough?"
Sam seemed to be thinking through loopholes. "I think so."
Tim squinted up at him. "You think so?"
"We've never come up against one of these before," Sam said. "They're not supposed to be on this side of the Pacific."
"Look, let's get into the history later, okay?" Dean pointed at the kappa. "Where'd you put the Girl Scout?"
"You will find the girl in a culvert fifty meters to the west," the kappa croaked.
Sam headed off at a sprint and came back a few minutes later with the girl clutched to his chest. "She's okay. She says she's hungry," he said.
Only then did Tim relax his grip. Dean reached over to brace Tim as he untangled himself from the kappa, and did his best to get a firm grip on Tim's slippery skin. Tim took hold of Dean's arm and lifted himself up, grabbing tighter when his legs buckled beneath him.
"Shit," Tim said.
"I've got you," Dean said. To hell with the muck; he slid his arms around Tim's back and held on tight.
Tim dropped his forehead on Dean's shoulder and groaned.
"You hurt?" Dean asked, rubbing his hands up and down Tim's back.
"I've had worse from practice," Tim said, but it took him three tries to get his arms high enough to go around Dean.
Stoic fucker. Dean put Tim at arms' length and looked him over, lifting his mud-crusted shirt to look at the vivid dark red bruise spreading across the bottom of Tim's ribs. "That's gonna hurt for awhile," Dean said.
"Um, guys? He's leaving," Sam said, calling their attention to the kappa.
He had a weird dignity to him, the kappa did. He'd kept his promise, and he hadn't hurt the little girl he stole. That put him ahead of a lot of the shit they dealt with.
Sam moved in front of the kappa and bowed deeply, still holding the girl tightly to his chest.
The kappa stilled. "You are a smart one," he said before slowly bowing back. From the indention in his head, water spilled and ran down his scaly face, disappearing into the mud.
Sam bowed again. "You are a worthy adversary," he said formally.
The kappa turned toward Dean and Tim. "That one is smart, and the young one is strong," the kappa said, indicating Tim. He looked at Dean. "What are you?"
Dean tightened his grip on Tim and said, "I'm the one who still has the gun. Get moving."
The kappa turned away, shuffling from pond to pond until he disappeared from view.
"What was all that about?" Dean asked Sam when he came over to them.
"I think he's compelled to return a bow," Sam said. "Not sure why."
Tim coughed against Dean's shoulder and said, "Etiquette."
Dean and Sam gave him identical looks of disbelief, and he shrugged. "He never shut up about it. Etiquette this, etiquette that. I thought we'd never get to the fighting part. I finally just jumped him."
Sam turned his head and Dean saw him struggling not to laugh. After a minute, he turned back and said, "If a kappa loses the water on its head, it's weakened. Some even die. I didn't want to take any chances. I figure by the time he gets his head refilled, we'll be long gone."
Tim leaned more of his weight on Dean's hands, looking pale under the grime.
"Let's get out of here," Dean said, moving around so he could notch his shoulder in Tim's armpit to hold him up.
Sam carried the girl and Dean got Tim through the thicket, around the ponds and back to the ranger station. The girl's family wept when she told them she'd seen something scary and hid until somebody found her. They tried to make a fuss over Tim, but Tim had about had all he could take for one day, and begged Dean with his eyes to get him out of there.
"We're gonna go get him looked at," Dean said, and the family backed off, letting Tim through. When they got out to the parking lot, Dean called out to Sam, who was standing at the edge of the lot looking at a big wooden park map, and said, "Let's find a motel." To Tim, he said, "We'll get you cleaned up and I'll take you home tomorrow. I'll drive the truck. Sam can follow us."
Sam pointed to the map and said, "Looks like that promise to leave Texas forever may not mean as much as we thought."
Dean looked where Sam was pointing: Lake Texoma straddled the Texas-Oklahoma border. All the kappa had to do was paddle his way north and he was home free. He shook his head. Impressive, for a turtle; even a talking one. "Smart little sucker."
Sam and Tim both nodded.
"Come on, let's hit the road," Dean said.
"I can drive," Tim said, then promptly passed out, sagging against Dean, who staggered under his weight. Geez, the guy had to weigh two hundred pounds, all of it muscle. Plus however many pounds of pond muck he was carrying.
The motel plan sounded better and better.
Tim roused when they got to the motel and managed to get into the room under his own steam. While Sam went to find something for them to eat, Dean stripped Tim down to his skin and stuck him in the shower. Tim put his head under the spray and moaned, tilting toward the tile. "Whoa, hang on," Dean said, grabbing Tim's arm before his head hit the wall. He turned Tim's back against the tile and propped him up, then took off his own clothes and climbed in with him, putting Tim's back to his chest. He let Tim lean on him while he scrubbed away the slime and washed away the sweat and blood, detouring gently around any place that looked sore or raw.
That kappa sure had worked Tim over. Looking at the damage made Dean want to go dangle the goddamn thing by one leg until all his water spilled out again, or maybe just rip his fucking head off. The kappa had messed with one of his own and, as far as Dean was concerned, had gotten off too lightly.
Once Tim was clean, Dean put his chin on Tim's shoulder and stood there with him, remembering when Tim had done the same to him. It felt like another life, that stolen time in Dillon. He let the hot water pound out some of the tension in his shoulders, leftover from the anxious drive, the long, hot search. He rubbed his mouth on Tim's shoulder.
"Hey," he murmured.
Tim stirred against him, the broad planes of his back slick against Dean's chest, and rasped, "Hey." Then Tim reached down, took one of Dean's hands and dragged it between his legs, where, however exhausted the rest of him must have been, one part was wide awake and raring to go.
Dean thought about protesting, thought about telling Tim wrong time, wrong place, Sam would be back soon, Tim was too beat up…Dean thought about all that while his hand homed in on the familiar weight of Tim's cock and wrapped firmly around it, while his mouth moved to the pulse on Tim's neck and pressed in. He remembered the rhythm, understood what Tim meant by each stuttered groan. He knew Tim's body about as well as his own now. The miles and months between disappeared as Tim moved against him, thrusting up into Dean's hand, his whole body shaking, knees buckling for much better reason now, and through it all, Dean held onto him.
They were way too loud; Dean heard an echo when Tim turned around and blearily reached for him. If he could've held back he would have, but he didn't have it in him, not when Tim looked at him with hot eyes, want coming off him in waves. Not when Tim's mouth latched on to the meat of his shoulder and dug in, sending heat racing to his groin. Dean braced his arms on the walls of the shower, trusted his legs to hold them both up, and surrendered the rest to Tim's knowing hands.
Good thing Sam wasn't there; he'd probably have been scarred for life, possibly longer.
"How'd you know about that bowing thing?" Tim called out to Sam in the other room.
Sam had brought back burgers. Tim had taken one in each hand and scarfed them down as he sat docilely on the lid of the toilet wearing a pair of Dean's boxer shorts while Dean put hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment on about twenty different scrapes, scratches, and gouges.
"I read about it online," Sam said, coming to stand in the bathroom doorway. "But Landry's the one who pointed us in the right direction."
Tim laughed under his breath. "We thought it was a giant catfish." He flinched when Dean poked at the bruise under his ribs.
"Sorry," Dean said, his fingers tracing more lightly.
"You weren't too far off," Sam said. "No reason to think something like that would find its way from Japan to Texas."
Tim leaned his forehead against Dean's stomach. "Thanks for coming, man."
Dean pushed his hands into Tim's hair, the wet strands twisting on his fingers. So many things he wanted to say. He settled for, "You're welcome."
"You had Landry worried," Sam said.
"Landry worries too much," Tim said, but after a minute, he rubbed his head against Dean and murmured, "I guess I should probably call him."
"Already done," Sam said. "He said he'd tell you to get a cell phone, but that you'd probably never use it."
Tim snorted. "It'd be at the bottom of a lake, anyway." He lifted his head and smiled up at Dean. "I do all right?"
Oh, yeah. Dean remembered eighteen. Half the time you felt invincible; the other half you were sure you'd die a virgin. At least Tim didn't have to worry about that. The rest of it, though…
"It could've gone wrong sixteen different ways," Dean said, taking hold of Tim's shoulders and shaking him gently. "Hunting alone's about the dumbest thing you can do. It's a great way to get yourself killed."
Tim muttered something Dean couldn't hear, so he dropped to a crouch between Tim's spread thighs. "What?"
"I didn't really have a choice," Tim said. He sounded matter-of-fact about it, not accusatory, but it still hit Dean like a two-by-four. Shit. While Tim was wrestling a Japanese water god, Dean had been dreaming in a motel bed, oblivious. He stood abruptly. He hadn't known what Tim was doing; had no idea. But maybe he should have.
"You do have a choice," Sam said from the doorway. "You don't have to do this."
"I want to," Tim said, his voice rough. He started to say something else, but stopped and shook his head.
"You got lucky this time," Dean said, feeling bad about ganging up on him, but it didn't seem like the message was getting through. "How much longer you think you could have held that thing down? Eventually, you'd have let go. He'd have made you think you'd won, and he'd have taken you and the girl."
Tim just blinked at him. Dean sighed and reached over, tangling his hand in Tim's hair again. Now that he had Tim back within reach, he couldn’t seem to stop touching him.
"Look at it this way," Sam said, stepping into the bathroom. "Right now, you're a freshman. You've barely made JV, but you're putting yourself in the varsity game, against guys a lot bigger and meaner than you. Only in this game, we're talking life and death, not wins and losses."
"You've obviously never been to Dillon during playoffs," Tim said with a shadow of a smile.
Sam let out an exasperated sigh. "On the supernatural spectrum, that thing we saw today was practically a kitten. There's lots worse out there. Dean's right. You got lucky."
Dean slid the flat of his hand against Tim's neck, one of the few places he didn't have a scratch, scrape, or bruise, and felt Tim's pulse beat strong against his palm. Time for a more direct approach. "You don't know enough," he said. "That little girl could have died because of what you didn't know."
Tim looked up at him, his eyes clear and bright. "So coach me."
"I'm serious," Tim said, standing. He wobbled a little, then steadied himself with a hand on Dean's hip. "I'll have my diploma after summer school, and then I'm done. I don't have the grades for college. I'm not gonna play ball…" His voice trailed off and he looked down. "It's this or…really, there isn't any 'or'. There's just this. I want to do this." He took another breath and looked at Dean. "I think I'm good at it."
The hell of it was, he was right. And after the mess at the Roadhouse, they didn't have the luxury of turning away qualified applicants. At least this way, Dean could be sure Tim was armed to the teeth and knew what the fuck he was doing next time Landry sent him on a wild catfish chase. Dean looked over his shoulder at Sam. Sam looked down for a minute, then met Dean's eyes and nodded. Okay. Fine. Dean didn't know where, or how, but it looked like they were gonna run hunter training camp for Tim. Oh, God, and probably Landry. Having a brainy sidekick was good, but having a brainy sidekick who could cock a salt-filled shotgun one-handed? Even better.
"It's not gonna be blowjobs and Pop-tarts, Tim," Dean said sternly. "It'll make football practice look like a day at the spa."
Tim lifted a corner of his mouth. "I don’t care about Pop-tarts," he said, with a significant look in the direction of Dean's crotch.
Dean's dick twitched, which Tim couldn't possibly have missed, but Dean ignored it manfully. "I'm serious."
Tim shrugged. "If I don't puke, you haven't worked me hard enough."
"Okay, now that's scary," Sam said.
Tim looked from Sam to Dean and smiled. "When do we start?"