"How's the leg?"
Still broken, Sam says, and there's a hint of bitterness in his voice.
Dean snorts into the phone. "Serves you right for trying to make that jump." Dean thought he was supposed to be the one who couldn't admit he was getting older.
Where are you?
"Norfolk," Dean says. He's been in Sioux Falls for a of couple of days, helping Jody and the girls with a pack of marauding werewolves that were eating their way through a country club. He's not sure he's ever been looked down the nose at so many times by so many people whose lives he just saved. "It'll be good to be home."
There's a job in Lincoln, Sam says.
Dean sighs, lifts his foot off the gas. Just a little. "What is it?"
The name rings a bell, but Dean can't place it. "Should I?"
One of the refugees, Sam says. He thinks it's a succubus.
Dean hasn't seen a succubus in years. They're rare, and hard to pick up on. They keep a low profile. "I'm in," he says. "Which one's Ryan?"
The apocalypse world hunters, most of them, anyway, sort of blend together in Dean's mind. Sam was the one that spent the most time with them, he was the one that knew them.
He's got scars, Sam says. On his face. Acheri demon back before their apocalypse. The guy's been hunting since he was a kid.
"Like us," Dean says. A face appears in his thoughts, summoned from the jumbled memories after Michael left. Ryan's young, maybe late 20's at the most. Tough, quiet, and pretty, except for the jagged scars that cut from his right ear to the corner of his mouth.
The acheri must have been a lefty.
"Yeah, I remember," Dean says. "Text me the address."
It's dark when Dean pulls up outside a bar in Lincoln, Nebraska. The lot is almost full, and there's a row of motorcycles in front of the door.
As soon as he shuts off the engine he can hear the music. He can't place the song from this distance, but it's got a classic rock feel and he nods to himself in approval.
It's not hard to find Ryan inside. Dean scans the dark corners and finds a man alone, a battered composition book open on the table in front of him.
"If I made you," Dean says, standing over him, "she made you."
Ryan looks up, and the light falls on his face. "Been a long time since I could blend," he says.
Dean's memory didn't do the scars justice, or maybe he just never saw Ryan up close enough. Three deep parallel grooves cut into his cheek, the one in the center cutting him from the corner of his mouth, all the way to his ear.
"I can believe it," Dean says, and sits down opposite. He pulls the book towards him, spins it so he can read.
Ryan's handwriting is small, tidy. Rows of tiny block letters fill a page, with headings clearly underlined. There are bullet points. Dean rolls his eyes and shifts his attention to the newspaper clippings and photocopied articles taped to the opposite page. "You've done your research," he says.
"It's not my first rodeo."
"It's your first 'succubus'." Dean makes air quotes. "Most hunters will never even catch wind of one, you know, even the ones who clock a lot of years in the life, and not many do."
"Congratulations," Ryan says, a dry sneer in his voice. "You reached middle age without d—"
"Died plenty." Dean shoves the book back at him. "So this guy—" He looks around at the bar. It's full, noisy. Raised voices and clinking glasses and music, and over it all, the smell of spilled beer. "He was enough of a regular here that they missed him. Took some broad home, never came back, turns up a week later dead in his bed from a heart attack." Dean nods at Ryan's book. "But by the look of him, I wouldn't have said a heart attack was exactly off the cards, you know?"
"The scene was—" Ryan smirks, and the expression folds his scars in interesting ways. "She fucked him to death. From what I heard, it was nasty."
"So maybe he had a week long jerkoff session. Porn can be addictive, you know."
"You speaking from experience?"
They could sit here trading snark all night—Dean's almost tempted. Of course, the next thing out of his own mouth is liable to cut—but he's not going to tell a guy with horrific scars on his face that he couldn't get laid if he tried.
That would just be mean.
So he smiles, changes the subject. "If there's a job here, I'm in. If there's not—" He shrugs. "I'll get outta your hair. What's our next step?"
Ryan doesn't get a chance to answer. There's a buzz coming from under the table, and he pulls a phone out of his pocket and answers it.
Dean doesn't get much from Ryan's half of the conversation, but after a few seconds, he locks wide eyes on Dean. "Where," he says. A few more seconds and he says "thanks" and ends the call. "We got another body."
Dean follows suit as Ryan gets to his feet, gathers his things. "Where are we going?"
"There's a club downtown," Ryan says. Standing, his face is fully in the light. Sure, the right side of his face is cut into slivers, but the left is pristine. Perfect. He must have been beautiful before the acheri. Hell, Dean will admit that Ryan still is beautiful, if he can ignore the scars, and why not.
Everyone Dean knows has scars. Dean has scars. His own are just on the inside.
"It's a gay bar," Dean says, when they pull up across the street in the Impala.
"It's a club." Ryan pops open the door and steps out onto the curb.
Dean climbs out, checks that he's locked the car up. "Okay," he says. "But it's gay."
Ryan tips his head to the side, looks at Dean like he's examining him. "Is that gonna be a problem for you?"
"It's not for you?"
Ryan smirks, then he laughs. "No."
"Okay, cool," Dean says, and he rounds the hood of the car and steps onto the street. "Dunno if I feel underdressed—" He eyes a young guy in the queue wearing short shorts and a mesh shirt. "—or overdressed."
He decides he likes it when Ryan laughs. The sound is soft and musical and like happiness, and it shaves a couple of years off of the impression Dean is building of him.
"So queuing sucks," Dean says, after barely a minute. "I've got the suit in the car. Fake badge."
"I don't," Ryan says. "And this is my job." The kid can switch from laughing and softness to don't-fuck-with-me in milliseconds, apparently.
Dean sighs and shifts his weight.
It's been years since Dean was in a place like this, with the disco anthems and the rainbow lights and the sea of men in all directions.
It's the first time he's been in a place like this on a job, definitely.
This kind of job, anyway. Nope, never hunted monsters in a gay club.
It takes almost no time at all for Dean to lose Ryan in the press of bodies. There's no definition between people just trying to get where they wanna go and the dance floor, but Dean knows he's found it when someone grabs him from behind and grinds up against him.
When he turns, he rolls his eyes. "Not a chance, kiddo," he mouths—because there's no chance of anyone hearing anything in here—at the pretty twink easily half his age, before he turns and heads back off the dance floor.
He spots Ryan by the bar, makes a beeline for him.
Someone blocks his line of sight. A goddamn wall of a man, as tall as Sam, broad-shouldered, made of muscle. Hell, but if this place, this club that smells like heat and sex and hedonism doesn't fuck with Dean's mind, because his first thought is that this guy could bench Dean, easy, could pin him down and make him beg—
"Sorry," he says, looking up into the dudes face, can't help mirroring the way the guy pulls his lower lip between his teeth and looks Dean up and down appreciatively. "But I gotta be somewhere."
Dean tries to push past, but the guy grabs him, one long, strong arm wrapping around Dean's waist and pulling him in.
Dean damn near swoons, because fuck this place, but he shoves away, and he runs right into Ryan as he twists out of the guys grip.
"Oh thank god," Dean says, but then fuck this place all over again, because Ryan grabs him by the face and pulls him into a kiss.
Dean's knees go weak, and his dick twitches in his jeans, and he's too old for this whiplash. There's no way in hell he's getting out of this embrace, no way he wants to.
Whatever Ryan's doing, he fucking sells it. Licking into Dean's mouth like he's trying to climb down Dean's throat, like he wants to be inside him. Dean can feel the way Ryan's scars pull at the corner of his mouth, but he likes it. There's something raw and primal about the way Ryan kisses, and maybe it's this place, or maybe it's the situation, or maybe it's just Ryan himself.
Ryan pulls away, and he grins at Dean like he meant every touch, every lick. And he's holding Dean in his arms like he does it every day. "There you are," he says, and then looks up. "Who's your friend?"
The guy, the wall guy, holds his hands up in surrender and fades back into the crowd.
"My hero," Dean whispers against Ryan's scarred cheek. Then he shakes himself loose and pulls away. "The job. What the hell are we doing here, man?"
Ryan leans in close again, hand on the back of Dean's neck, and he speaks against Dean's lips. "That's our guy," he says, and he kisses Dean again, soft brush of lips against Dean's own.
Dean's head spins. "Not a succubus," he says. "Fucking knew it."
Ryan shrugs. "Not a week-long porn bender, either."
Dean looks back onto the dance floor. He can see the guy, not many guys that tall or that hot out there. "Week long something." He can't help but imagine being on the receiving end, literally, knows he'd go out with a smile if it were him.
He's talking to the pretty twink that rubbed himself up against Dean. "Oh hell no," Dean says, as the guy grabs the kid by the hand and they both start heading for the door. "Come on."
One second Ryan's right beside him, the next, he's lost in the crowd. There's no time to waste, so Dean looks back after their guy and the twink—
Dean can't see the big guy anymore. He finds the twink, standing aimlessly just inside the main door, looking pissed. "Where'd he go?" Dean says, and when the kid looks at him in disbelief: "The big guy? Where!"
"He left," the kid says. "Some other guy was chasing him, too, though." He reaches out, fingertips playing in the front of Dean's shirt as he chews on his lower lip. "I'm still here."
Dean pushes the kid away, doesn't even spare him a backward glance as he gaps it out the door.
People are queued down the street. Their voices, and the music from the club, stop Dean from listening for footfalls or the sounds of a fight. He looks up and down the street, and nothing. "Hey," he says, turning back to the bouncer. "Guy stole my boyfriends watch, he chased him. You see where they went?"
The bouncer points down the street. Dean takes off at a run.
He slows at the end of the block. The alleyway is dark, and he doesn't have a flashlight, so he pulls out his phone, turns on the flashlight app.
Halfway down he hears a scuffle, and an almost-familiar cry.
He breaks into a run.
Ryan leans over the big guy, who is slumped on the ground. As the light from Dean's phone falls on them and Dean slows to a stop, Ryan rises to his feet. The other guy is still on the ground, conscious, but gibbering, and when Dean moves close, he lifts his hands to protect himself like he's afraid.
"What?" Dean looks up at Ryan. "What happened? What did you do?"
Ryan shakes his head. "Leave him. It's gone. Smoked out." Starts walking back in the direction of the street.
"Wait, what?" Dean goes after him. "Wait. It's a demon? It's just a fucking demon?" Grabs Ryan's arm, pulls him around. "What about this guy? We should get him to a hospital."
There's a shuffling, and the big guy lurches past them and breaks into a run, moving like his life depends on it.
"I think he'll be okay," Ryan says. "We're done here."
Back at Ryan's motel room, Dean takes the offered beer. It's early, but there's no way of knowing where the demon got to after it smoked out in the alley, so they may as well regroup.
"So you're sticking around," Ryan says, eyeing the bottle as Dean empties it.
Dean cracks open another. "I guess I am." He can't get the kiss out of his head, the one in the club that made his knees weak and his heart pound and his cock hard. "Look, I know that was the job back there—"
"You think he's gonna stick around?"
"What?" Oh. The demon. "Hell no. Would you?"
"I would not," Ryan says. "Not with Dean Winchester on my ass."
Dean can't help the smile that spreads over his face. "So." He licks his lips. "Demon in the wind. I could still get outta your hair, I suppose. If that's what you want?"
Ryan's eyes are hooded, dark. "And if I don't?"
Dean smirks, and he looks back over his shoulder, at the bed. It's a king, lots of space to roll around in. He turns back and almost falls out of his chair.
Ryan's on his knees. The scar on his face twists as he chews his lip.
"Jeez," Dean says, suddenly breathless. "You're like a goddamn cat."
"All the better to..." Ryan trails off as he reaches for Dean's belt. "I'm gonna eat you alive, Dean Winchester."
"Holy shit." Dean's suddenly fully erect, his cock straining against his fly until Ryan draws down the zipper. "You know I never would have guess—oh fuck" He almost swallows his tongue as Ryan takes Dean's cock to the root in one smooth motion. "But maybe I should have known." He threads his fingers into Ryan's hair, and his thumb brushes over the scar right in front of Ryan's ear. "You sold that kiss so good. You don't even know what that did to me."
Ryan slides off Dean's cock. His lips are red and swollen, his face flushed, the scar that cuts across his cheek pale in contrast. "Get on the bed," he says. "Clothes off. Hands and knees. I'm gonna make you come till you're wrung out. I'm gonna make you scream. I'm gonna fuck you until you forget your own name, Dean Winchester."
Then Ryan rises to his feet, and he stares down at Dean, expectantly. "Move."
"Oh my god," Dean says, as he stands, but not before palming the blade hidden in his boot. "I am so stupid." He doesn't take his eyes off Ryan—whoever—as he fastens his jeans, buckles his belt, takes a few steps back. "I can't believe I just let a demon blow me. Not my style. If I'd known I'd never lower myself. I got standards, you know?"
The demon just rolls his eyes and smirks. "Damn. And I was so looking forward to ruining you." He blinks, and his eyes go black, for just a second.
Dean lunges for the demon, and he gets a good slash at it with his blade before it regroups, throwing him back against the wall over the bed.
He falls to his knees in a rain of dust and plaster, and the rickety bed gives way beneath him. He looks up to regroup, assess the threat, and the demon grins, the scarring on Ryan's face twisted until the hunter is almost unrecognizable.
It's bleeding. Dean got it in the belly, but all he can see through the torn flannel is blood. It won't hurt the demon, but Ryan could be in trouble.
He can't think about that now. This thing has killed at least two people, and if this is its M.O., probably a lot more.
He gets to his knees, glancing sideways to where he dropped his jacket over a chair. "You could've walked away in that club. You made me. You could've gotten the hell out of Dodge, but you didn't." He lets his knife slip down into his hand, lets the light from the bare bulb over their heads glint off the blade. He takes a step forward. "You got a demon death wish or something?"
The demon sneers. "And give up the chance to fuck Dean Winchester?"
"No, I get it," Dean says, as he takes another step closer. "I am totally fuckable."
The demon lets out a snort that is clearly laughter, while Dean darts sideways, slips his hand inside his jacket, and pulls out the angel blade stashed in there.
Then he's got the demon up against the wall, the blade to its throat and he's about to cut—
He's on the side where Ryan's face isn't scarred. Where he's heartbreakingly pretty, but most people wouldn't notice because the first thing you see is the scars.
Dean didn't either. Not until tonight.
"Out," Dean says, holding the blade just a little firmer, enough to draw blood, enough that the demon beneath Ryan's skin crackles and sparks.
"You gonna kill your friend?" the demon says. "Nah. Cos you like him. Wanna know a secret? He likes you, too. Kill me and you'll never know what he really wants. What kind of naughty things he wants you to do to him in the dark."
"Shut up. Get the fuck out before I fry you, asshole, this is your only cha—"
"And it's gotta be dark," the demon continues, glee in it's voice. "Cos look at this face. No one wants to see this face when they're coming, and he knows it—"
Dean pulls the knife from Ryan's throat, and he thrusts it upward, so it'll slide in beneath Ryan's ribs, fry the demon from the inside.
The demon gasps as its skin crackles and hisses. The blade is an inch beneath the skin, no more than that. "You wouldn't."
"Try me," Dean hisses. "Now get the fuck OUT."
The demon, finally, throws back it's head. The room is filled with roaring wind as the demon pours out of Ryan's mouth, thick, black, oily smoke that Dean wishes he could kill.
But not this time. Not at the expense of another life.
He catches Ryan as his knees buckle. Dean lowers him to the floor, lies him on his back, pulls up his shirt. The inch-deep wound shouldn't be a problem, Dean was careful.
It's the other one he's concerned about.
Dean got him good. That wild, almost panicked thrust with the blade from his boot opened a deep gash in Ryan's belly. "Hold on for me, okay?" Dean says, doesn't know if Ryan's conscious or not, but he's saying it as much for himself as for Ryan.
He darts into the bathroom, rummages under the sink for a first aid kit, but there's nothing there.
He kneels beside Ryan's prone body. "Just going out to the car," he says. "You're gonna need stitches."
He's about to pull away when Ryan grabs hold of his arm. "You should have killed it," Ryan hisses.
"Yeah, I know," Dean says. "What can I say? I'm an idiot. But, you're alive, so I'm gonna patch you up and make sure you stay that way. Hold still or your goddamn insides are gonna fall out."
"—so next time I tell you it's not a goddamn succubus, you fucking believe me, okay?"
Dean's sick of arguing. He's sick of wiping blood off the floor and he's sick of Ryan's bitching. "What kind of hunter doesn't have a tattoo, or a talisman, or something?"
"Demon possession not really big where I'm from," Ryan says. He's subdued a little now, but he looks pale and tired. Probably the gallon of blood he lost on the floor...and the walls...the demon moved around a lot.
Dean looks at Ryan. Looks at his face. "Wasn't that—?"
"Acheri. Different kind of demon. More rip your guts out, less into possessing people."
Dean nods. "Okay. Once you're healed up, though. Tattoo. In the mean time..." Dean tosses Ryan a pendant, not much more than a leather cord with an anti-demon possession charm knotted on the length. "Put that on. Don't fancy going another round with that bastard."
Ryan pulls the face again. The pissed off face he's been pulling since Dean sat down to stitch him up. "How many more people will it kill? You don't pick one life over five, ten, a hundred—"
"Yeah, well sometimes you do." Dean shakes his head. "Look, I'll put the word out. His M.O., what to look for. Someone will catch up to him. Maybe it's us, maybe it's someone else. But we'll get him."
"Not before someone else dies."
"I couldn't kill you."
"I'm not worth it," Ryan says.
It's weird. Dean's let people die before, for the greater good. People he knew better than he knows Ryan. Still. "I happen to think you are."
Ryan's really pale. His scars are blanched almost white, stark against his skin as he blushes pink around the cheeks. "Did you know it wasn't me," he says. He chews the inside of his cheek. "Did you know, when I was on my knees?"
Dean involuntarily glances at the table, at the chair he was sitting in, when there was a demon on his knees before him. "No," Dean says. "Swear to god. Of course I'm a fucking idiot. I should have known. The kiss was just the job, the rest wasn't even you—"
"It was and it wasn't," Ryan says. His voice has gone real quiet, and raspy, like he's short of breath. "The kiss, I mean. I didn't mean it to, and I honestly thought you'd freak out on me, but you went with it, and you were into it, and I..."
"It's okay," Dean says. "Come on, man. You need some sleep. I'm not going anywhere, okay?"
Ryan's eyes are heavy, straining to stay open. "Don't need a sitter..."
"And I ain't leaving till you wake up looking a darn sight better than you do now. Go the fuck to sleep."
Ryan doesn't say another word, and when his eyes close, they don't open again.
Dean stretches out on the couch, uses his jacket for a pillow. And he watches Ryan sleep.
When Dean wakes to the sun streaming through the curtains, it's suspiciously quiet in the room.
Ryan's not in the bed, and he's not in the room, and there's no running water, and there's no tell-tale duffle bag full of clothes and weapons.
"Son of a bitch." Dean reaches for his phone, hits the speed-dial. "Hey, Sammy... Yeah, the job went pear-shaped... Nah, it's in the wind. Oh and the hunter you set me up with? Kind of a flake. You hear from him, you give him a piece of my mind, okay? And tell him to get that goddamn tattoo."