That Which Abides: After All of This
for the fourth vine (who also betaed)
Supernatural, AU, Dean/Sam. Mature Adult
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings, disclaimers, and attributions. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
§For if that annulled was introduced with glory, much rather that which abides subsists in glory.§ ~2 Corinthians 3:11
Dean only knows he'd been asleep because he wakes up with a shiver down his spine and his nose twitching like he’s got dust in it. It takes him a second to make the call between threat/not threat, though when he does the latter wins out.
He can feel Sam pressed to his back, the soft puffs of air against his shoulder coming as steadily as his own heartbeat. Sam’s arm is wrapped loosely around his waist, so that’s not what’s tickling his arm.
He’s more awake now, more aware of the barely-there brush of air against his arm and his cheek and he’d feel it along his legs too if it weren’t for the blanket.
brush, updraft, brush, updraft
He rolls his shoulder back and the constant rhythm of air and tickle is broken. Sam grumbles in his sleep and shifts, arm tightening around Dean’s waist for a second before relaxing.
Asshole, Dean thinks without heat. He rolls his shoulder again. “Sam…hey, Sam,” he says and waits for Sam to lift his head.
“Keep the manifestation back to your own side of the bed there, jerk,” he says, nudging him again.
“Huh?” Which really is about as intelligent as he can expect Sam to be at the moment, but Sam sighs and shifts, moves his arm and then snorts softly. He presses back into Dean's spine, tucks his chin over Dean's shoulder, and reaches across him, holding out the thing that had been tickling Dean, the thing that woke him up.
"Not one of mine," Sam chuckles against his ear.
It’s dark in the room but the damn thing glows anyway, lit from within. It shimmers with traces of gold and silver across off-white and creamy gold, and it's softer than silk when Dean's hand brushes against it.
Looks like a feather, feels like a feather…but it’s not, even though Dean isn’t a hundred percent sure what it is. Feather or not, though, it’s definitely not one of Sam’s.
“Oh. Uh…” Dean says, glaring at the offending thing like he could make it crumble to dust. He can’t, but he can make it disappear – or rather, just make it so he can’t see or feel it any longer. He doesn't have to really worry about anyone else, thank God. “Shit.”
"Maybe you need to practice a little more, huh?" Sam teases and Dean elbows him.
"Shut up," Dean grumbles. The not-feather doesn't exist in isolation and he's never going to get used to them, especially since he can't fully control when they show up and when they fold themselves back into not-space. He could, actually, but that would require that he…practice, which would require thinking about them, and he really hates having to do that, at all. He shrugs again to Sam’s protest and hears a rustle in response. Sam is manifesting too, then, though he hadn’t noticed before. He twitches and feels the things settle back into…wherever they go when they aren’t here.
Sometimes he thinks the damn things have brains of their own.
Sam reaches across and plucks the not-feather from his fingers.
“What are you doing?”
“Saving it,” Sam mumbles, and tucks himself and the feather against Dean’s back again.
“Freak,” Dean mutters, but smiles to himself.
He feels the updraft and light tickle once again, but this time it settles over them both. Out of the corner of his eye he can see a darker edge, almost a shadow but more solid than that, covering him like a blanket. Soft as silk, warm without trapping heat. Sam knows how to keep still.
He twists a little and Sam lifts his head, eyes gleaming silvery-blue in the dim light. It's eerie and unsettling still, but not unfamiliar. Dean holds his breath under that regard that's both Sam and not, because there's more knowledge in those light-pierced eyes than was ever in Sam's more mundane hazel ones. To himself only, Dean can admit to a marked preference for the latter.
Sam doesn't even have to move. He slides in and around Dean in ways that a mere body never could, or would, reaching for places that have nothing to do with sex or procreation or even pleasure. Dean inhales sharply and Sam stops, stills the unreal parts of himself, and waits for invitation, permission, and Dean knows there won't be a hint of disappointment if either or both are denied him.
Dean's more physical than that, more grounded, and he needs contact: feet to earth, the shock and impact of bones and flesh displacing air, occupying space. He moves against Sam unambiguously, invitation and permission both.
Dean rolls back and Sam goes with him, a fluttering of air and the rich scent of deep oceans and high mountain peaks, sharp and thin but with weight that settles deep in his lungs, into bones and blood.
Or maybe it's just that the only thing tying Sam to this life at all is Dean, just as the only thing that lets Dean see beyond the darkness that they're still fighting with every day and every breath is Sam.
Sam's cheek is still gratifyingly human, real and warm against his palm no matter what he's become, what they've become. It's grace and damnation all in one, maybe.
Dean thinks he could probably have gone his entire life without knowing there were actually no places angels feared to tread. Fear is nothing but anticipation of loss, so angels don't fear. Dean doesn't fear much, either, not these days; he's already faced his greatest fear, dived into the middle of it and refused to let his brother be taken from him. If fear is anticipation, then sorrow is acceptance. Dean's got no room for grief any longer.
Sam comes to him the way morning comes to night, quiet and slow, letting Dean ease into him, stretching and pushing back shadows and colorlessness, warming them slowly. Giving way with an ease Dean isn't sure he could ever manage, consciously or no. Sam tastes of fresh snow and winter fires, kisses quick and hot, that warm Dean without burning him.
Physical connection brings physical changes and Sam's eyes gentle back to green and brown, still warm, with pupils wide and dark. It's almost more than Dean wants to see, but it's too compelling to close his eyes or look away and he'd be embarrassed if he had thought for it at all with the way Sam looks at him.
There's a fluttering and rustling of those iridescent shadows, carnival glass shimmers on silk, counterbalance to the stillness in Sam's body when Dean moves up and into Sam with an ease that still surprises him, still sends a shudder down his spine, makes his fingers tingle and his muscles stretch like something of Sam has invaded his blood and given it more life than he could ever achieve on his own, which isn't far from truth..
He has to take in air, if only because he's sharing half of what he breathes with Sam, and even without looking he knows when the physical overcomes the not in the way Sam eases down, fingers tangled in Dean's short hair and breath shuddering against Dean's throat when he pushes in and fills the spaces where Sam lets him in.
If Dean could pull Sam into himself he would, the wings and weird eyes and still-deep-ocean-depthless-cold of him.
His eyes sting as he pushes-pulls Sam to him, hands splayed across the small of Sam's back and the curve and rise of his hip, that contact of real skin against real skin almost better than the throb and pressure and heat-coil-tightness building in his belly and groin. A bent knee and heel-press leverage takes him deeper and Sam's head snaps up and back, Dean's name on lips already blood-red from the pressure of white teeth. Sam's dick presses and rubs against Dean's stomach and in the moment before he comes Dean does close his eyes.
Sex shouldn't mean this much, shouldn't be the last and maybe only actual physical connection either of them have to anything. At the same time it makes perfect sense and he can taste Sam's come in the air he breathes when his brother spills across his stomach, locks his body down hard and Dean gives in the only way he knows how to any longer.
It's still messy and awkward to move when neither of them have energy to do more than breathe and keep breathing. A corner of the sheet and they'll worry about clean up later, when Sam eases off and beside and it's Dean's turn to spoon and hold. He's half asleep and Sam completely there when he feels a tickle on his arm again, and through one cracked eye he watches it settle, black as a raven's wing, bright as a moon silvered cloud-edge.
It smells like Sam and feels like the skin pressed to Dean's chest, and he uses the quill end to trace a pattern on Sam's skin that's less than his name but more than all the words he knows altogether. He can't help but regret and wonder how they ended up here - as they are, what they are, when all they'd been hunting was a ship's bell and a good pool game.
Leave it to them to find Gabriel's trumpet and a shell game instead.
Leave it to them to figure out by accident that life or death, heaven or hell, were less than absolute, more than a coin toss, and once you stepped off the train that actually had a destination you could end up on one that never stopped moving.
Dean fingers the not-quite-there edge of a raven black wing, separating one feather from the rest, stroking it lightly to feel Sam shiver. He presses a kiss to the nape of Sam's neck and pulls on the feather.
Sam kicks him. The heavy wings rustle and vanish, leaving not even a darker smudge against the shadows of the room.
Dean grins and closes his eyes, sleep tugging at him.
Damn things drove him crazy, anyway.
Notes: So, this isn't exactly a WIP. It's more a series of concept pieces, set in a broader AU, with probably non-linear story telling which I have absolutely no clue at this point how long or how many pieces there will be. Some of it, including this piece are really and sincerely crack!fic! (utilizing pretty much every definition of that term you can think of except for the one where this is cookie-tossing bad, I hope.)
I'm borrowing broadly from a lot of sources, including anime/manga tropes, hints and glimpses of Constantine (the movie, not Hellblazer the comic and with none of those characters. I think.) Also, bits and parts of my own M7 AU series Shadow Riders because, you know, I can. Heaven knows what else may pop up from my arsenal of half remembered religion and philosophy course I took a quarter century ago.
This section is not the end nor the beginning, it's probably somewhere in the middle.
And last but not least, as long as the fourth vine is happy, I am. It's all for her, but she's amazingly good at sharing.