Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: under 30K total; this chapter, 987 words
Spoilers: through the end of Season Four
Summary: What if Sam and Dean knew one crucial piece of information about the future before Dean's deal came due? Would it have changed everything, or would the end result have been the same? AU version of Season Four, written for spn_30snapshots .
Master table is here. Prompt for this chapter: dusk.
Sam was surprised that Bedford, Iowa, had a full-fledged coffee shop, let alone one with lattes this good. Taking another sip from his cup, he watched Nick approach with his own drink in hand. "Nice place," the FBI agent said, sliding into the booth across from Sam.
"Yeah," Sam agreed. He looked out the plate-glass window at bucolic Main Street. The streetlights were beginning to come on as the day drew to a close, the western sky shading upwards from liquid gold at the horizon to a deep, dark violet-blue overhead.
He idly wondered if any of the passers-by were planning on heading for the strip club tonight. Three days in town, and he wasn't any closer to catching the siren. Dean had perked up briefly at the prospect of a case involving actual strippers, but it hadn't lasted long, leaving Sam on his own except for Nick.
Dean had gone even more distant since Sam's first successful no-hands exorcism, and Sam had finally accepted that when Dean said he was okay with it, he'd been lying through his teeth. Not knowing what else to do, Sam kept trying to find them cases that didn't have demonic overtones to keep the subject from coming up. But he needed the practice if he was going to go up against Lilith, and he was beginning to wonder if he was going to have to drop Dean off at Bobby's and get onto business himself.
"So you think it's really just one woman, making herself look like all of these different people?" Nick asked, taking a swig of his coffee.
"It makes sense," Sam said with a shrug. In my crazy, fucked-up world, that is. "I'm thinking we should stake out the club tonight and see if anyone leaving fits the victims' profile."
"Wait outside a strip club for a woman to go home with a guy?" Nick shook his head. "It'll take more than two people to track them all. What about your brother?"
"He's not feeling well," Sam said with a look that said, Subject closed.
"That's too bad," Nick replied. "We could use the extra set of eyes."
"Yeah, well, it's not going to happen." Sam pushed his cup aside and slid out of the booth. "I'll be right back."
He ducked into the restroom and tried not to think of how much he wished it was Dean here with him, even if he'd have been giving him crap about the whipped cream and the flavoring in his drink. Sam had the feeling he could walk around the motel room in a dress and high heels and Dean wouldn't say a word. He'd started to wonder if it was even possible to pull Dean out of the depression he'd sunk into.
Back in the main room, Sam took his seat across from Nick. "Good coffee?" he asked.
"Yeah, it's great." Nick watched him take a sip of what was now a lukewarm toffee nut latte. "So, let's say she is drugging her vics. How's she pulling that off?"
"She could be injecting them," Sam replied, laying out the scenarios he'd already considered but hadn't been able to share with anyone. "Or passing the toxin through physical contact."
Nick nodded, his eyes on the cup Sam had set on the formica table. "Or, it could be in her saliva."
Sam pondered that for a moment. Sure, a stripper could easily have gotten the victims a drink and put something in it while they weren't looking—
Oh. A flutter of fear shimmered across his gut, and he stared at his coffee cup. Oh, shit.
"You really shouldn't have left your drink alone, Sam."
He looked up sharply, and something cold slid down his spine. Nick was regarding him coolly from across the table. The knowing look in his eyes told Sam just how screwed he was. Whatever the siren had done to its victims had just been done to him, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Panic started to build within him, and he wondered if he had time to call Dean to warn him.
"I should be your big brother, Sam," Nick said gently.
Sam stared at him. He already had a big brother…sort of. Did he really? Dean had almost looked afraid when Sam had exorcised that demon, and the way he kept deferring to Sam was driving him up the wall. Not that he liked being told what to do, but Dean being the one in charge had been the bedrock of Sam's life for as long back as he could remember. Having to carry the weight for both of them over the past few months was slowly but surely crushing Sam's soul.
"Dean, he…" Nick shook his head. "You can't count on him. Not like you can count on me."
That was for damn sure. Nick had been with him this whole case, had listened to his suggestions and treated him as an equal. Not like Dean, who'd been holed up in the motel room with his new best friend José Cuervo.
"In fact," Nick said more firmly, "I really feel like you should get him out of the way. So that we can be brothers. Forever."
He looked up at Nick, and the sincerity and hopefulness in the other man's eyes matched the tone of his voice. It made sense, Sam thought, nodding slowly. What Nick was saying made sense.
"Yeah," he said quietly. "Yeah, you're right." He hadn't thought of it that way before, but now he knew what he had to do.
He looked out the window. Dusk had fallen, the last glimmer of gold about to fade from the horizon. Dean would probably have already passed out, worthless piece of crap that he was. It wouldn't take any effort at all. Maybe Sam could even do it hands-free.
And then he'd have a real big brother. Forever.