3 Could Not Travel Both
It had been a long day, leaving both mortals strained and exhausted. Thankfully, there was a motel down the road from the salvage yard and the Winchesters and Co. were welcome faces. It took some doing to convince John and Bobby that the trio would be better off at the motel, but a shared look between the resident hunter and the vamp quickly settled the debate- some things even a seasoned hunter like Bobby Singer did NOT want to know about!
As soon as they entered their motel room, Spike drug Xander into the small bathroom to clean him, treat his wounds, and, most importantly, snog his brains out. By the time they returned to the main room, Xander was all but asleep in the vampire’s arms.
“How is he?” Dean asked, slightly concerned that the vamp was carrying Xander.
“’s fine. Bumps and bruises. More tired than anything at this point.”
“Yeah, ‘m sure, D,” Spike reassured the agitated hunter. “Just go get yourself cleaned up- ya look like hell, mate.”
Dean rolled his green eyes, “Yeah, yeah, very funny,” flipping the blonde off good-naturedly before closing the bathroom door.
When Dean emerged, his two companions were asleep, wrapped around each other. Laying in his own bed, Dean stared at the cracked ceiling tiles, trying not to reach for his flask to dull his memories enough for him to sleep.
If he stared long enough and hard enough his vision would begin to blur and unsaid words whispered on the air would float around him in a voice like rolling sand- harsh and smooth, able to destroy even as it brought out beauty. As his vision continued to lose perspective, cracks became the outline of black wings and eventually the comforting warmth of deep blue eyes. The wings of his angel, so often the last thing Dean saw before he fell asleep.
Castiel appeared, as he did with increasing regularity, the moment Dean was asleep. Like some living gargoyle, the angel sat on the hunter’s bed simply watching over him.
Occasionally, Castiel would stroke his charge’s face or hair, the angel’s fingers lingering against the warmth of Dean’s skin or the softness of his hair.
“You should tell him,” Spike’s smooth accent unmistakable even in a whisper.
Castiel’s eyes flew open as he turned to face the voice. The angel was surprised to see understanding and concern in the vampire’s crystal gaze. “I can’t. It would not be appropriate.”
The blonde carefully disentangled himself from his Mate. “Come on Clarence, outside.” Spike pulled on his jeans and a tee, then jerked his head toward the door.
Hesitantly, Castiel nodded and accompanied the vampire outside.
Closing the door quietly, Spike led them to the Impala. Leaning against the car that was the closest thing any of them had to a home, “Don’t give me that inappropriate bollocks.”
“It’s not ‘bollocks’,” Castiel replied, rolling the unfamiliar word an his tongue.
Snarling, the blonde lit a smoke, “Why? All that love for all God’s creatures rot?”
“Yes,” the angel’s gravelly voice acknowledged as if it was the most obvious and natural thing in the world, “exactly that.”
Castiel’s brow furrowed as he tried to fathom what had the vampire so adamant. “William, I-”
The angel’s use of his given name, irksome at the best of times, incited a fierce glower from the blonde.
Raising his hands in a placating gesture, Castiel tried again, “Spike, I understand. You-”
“No,” Spike spoke quietly, “you don’t understand. We see how you are with him. I see you watching over him every night. I feel when you ease him to sleep.”
Steel blue eyes widened in surprise, “That shouldn’t be possible.” A demon might notice his presence, possibly even sense his influence, but not be aware of his purpose.
Spike chuckled at being able to shock the angel, “Relax, Clarence, I haven’t fit the mold for over a century; I’d be surprised if I started now.
“Doesn’t change the fact that you care about ‘im. I’m guessing more than you think you should.” The blonde’s eye rose in a subtle question.
Castiel’s eyes went blank as he stared forward like a soldier at roll call, “An angel of the Lord is a warrior, they do not feel as humans do, their love is constant and equilateral.”
“Yeah and vampires are only demons inhabiting a human shell, we have no ‘spirit’, and can’t love or feel any true emotion.” Spike crushed the remainder of his cigarette under his boot, “You’ll have to forgive me if I find that a load of crap.”
Castiel stood quietly, processing the vampire’s words and being more than a little disturbed that he saw the correlation.
“Cas, you need to tell him at some point; the sooner the better ‘cause, trust me,” the blonde turned sad, thankful eyes on their room, “you don’t often get a second chance.”
4 No Step Had Trodden Black
Bright and early, there was a resounding knock on the motel door.
The lump on the far bed growled and curled tighter around his human.
“Spike, I need to get that. It could be important,” Xander chastised, trying to extract himself from his vamp cocoon.
“D can get it; ‘s for him anyway.”
“He’s in the shower, Bloodbreath.”
Spike quirked an eye, “Again?”
“Please, like you really blame him. For an evil vampire you are awful fond of your creature comforts,” his lover teased.
There was another knock on the door, followed by, “Dean? Xander? Coffee‘s gettin‘ cold.”
Dragging himself out of bed, Xander opened the door. “Hey, John.” He stepped back from the doorway to let the older man enter.
“Thanks,” John ducked his head in salute. Darting his eyes around the room, he took in the Spike-lump, and the closed bathroom door and the sound of running water. “He in there?”
“Yeah, he should be out soon. If not we’ll send in a search party.”
The darker Winchester chuckled. “You take good care of him.”
“No, you do.” John smiled a sad self-depreciating smile. “I see the difference in him.”
Xander squeezed the man’s arm in silent reassurance.
“Has he said anything about what happened?”
The one-eyed Californian shook his head, “Not yet.”
John merely nodded his understanding.
The sound of the water being shut off cut through the thick silence as the three men waited for the younger Winchester to emerge.
Dean had woken up feeling dirty, like he did most mornings. ‘That’s the thing about Hell,’ he thought, ‘it gets into you. Not just under your skin, but inside. Maybe it was always there, maybe people are just naturally evil; maybe I’m naturally evil.’
For weeks, when Dean awoke and felt like this, he’d try to drown or at least dull the feelings with booze, but he knew how much it affected Xander. And Xander was as much a brother to him as Sammy, in some ways more so- Xander gave him hope- which was why this morning, instead of reaching for his flask of fire water, he opted for the motel’s lukewarm shower water. It was a choice Dean had been making more and more often in recent weeks. It might not be so good at dulling the pain of the past, but at least it kept him from causing more pain in the present.
Rubbing his face in his hands, Dean sighed, he knew his father was in the outer room. Even if John hadn’t been at the motel, Dean knew he would’ve had to face him eventually. Leaning over the sink, towel wrapped snugly around his waist, Dean stared at his reflection. Jaded eyes searched their emerald counterparts, looking for any trace of the man Dean once was. His eyes caught sight of the handprint covering his left shoulder. In a sad, hushed whisper he asked the air, “Why, Cas? I belonged there.”
“Good men do not belong in Hell,” the gruff, resonating voice of the angel answered him.
“Good men don’t break.”
“All men break, Dean. Their true nature comes through in what they do after.”
Dean closed his eyes willing the world to make sense and for Castiel’s words to be true.
A soft knock jerked Dean from his stupor.
“Hey D, you fall in?”
“Keep your patch on DM; be out in a sec.”
Xander laughed and went back to join the others. He knew Dean was far from healed, but he could tell his friend would be.
Throwing cold water on his face, Dean took a deep breath and went to face his family. He entered the room to see Xander dragging a grumpy vampire out of their bed.
“Come on Blondie, let’s get you some proper food and give them a chance to talk.”
Spike wriggled free of the blankets and his lover, “Hold your horses! Don’t want me turning all toasty, do you? Suddenly, have the urge to have a pile of ash for a lover?”
The dark mortal looked a bit bashful, “You know I don’t. But you wear the damn thing all the time, so forgive me if I just assume.”
The previous year when the pair had been Mated, Willow and Fred had come up with the perfect wedding gift- a way to allow Spike to go out in daylight. It had taken a bit of cajoling and a lot of research, but the intellectual duo had managed to do it. Now, the enchanted, gemmed necklace never left the vampire’s neck; the ability to protect his Mate, even during the day, as valuable to him as Xander himself.
“Can’t be too careful. ’s not like Peaches has a stash of chips from the Gem of Amara layin‘ around waiting for someone to set them and hand them out to the good vamps of the world.”
Xander nodded, having heard the blonde’s rant on numerous occasions- usually, when he didn’t like being tossed out of bed. “Well, do you have it?”
Lazily, Spike slipped on his jeans and a tee then fingered the chain around his neck, “Yep. Guess we can go, pet.”
“Thank the gods!” Xander teased pushing the blonde out the door.
John swirled the coffee in the cardboard cup while his eldest son got dressed. “I never told you how proud I was of you.”
“No son, I need to say this.” He caught Dean with his commanding gaze. “I was a lousy father, barely around, virtually left you to raise Sammy on your own. When I was around, it was more like training exercises and boot camp, and I’m sorry. I am so proud of you.” The elder Winchester offered a self-depreciating smile, “Did my damnedest to screw you boys up, but you managed to make sure you and Sam turned out alright. Better than, in fact.”
Breaking eye contact, John rolled his eyes to the ceiling, “I wasn’t worth it. That’s why I was so angry. You never should have made that deal for my life.”
Dean sat heavily on the side of the motel bed, “Dad, don’t.”
“It’s the truth, Dean.” He chuckled wryly, “You and Sammy are my legacy,” John’s voice began shaking and he placed his hand on Dean’s shoulder, “you’re both better men, and I owe that to you. You’re the strong one, always have been.”
“I’m not strong.”
“You’re stronger than you think,” John smiled again this time meaning it fully. “I don’t pretend to know what happened and everything you went through, but I know you.”
Dean smirked sadly, “Don’t think so, Dad. I don’t even know me.”
“Dean, I know all I need to know about you. You’re my son. You come back from Hell and jump head first into the game, fighting, hunting, and if Castiel is to be believed saving the world from Armageddon. Can you not see how strong that makes you? How resilient?”
Dean’s green eyes glistened, questioning his father. “Dad? The things I did down there…” the younger Winchester shook with the strain of trying to contain his emotions.
John hung his head, knowing how hard it was for his eldest son to admit even that small piece of his time in the Pit. He squeezed Dean’s shoulder tightly, “I love you. You did what you had to and you survived. You’re still my boy and I’m proud of you.”
Looking into his father’s eyes, Dean choked out, “Dad.” That one word speaking volumes, seeking confirmation, forgiveness, acceptance.
Unhesitantly, John pulled his son to him, “Always, son. Always.”
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