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Victor got on the Metro, heading home after another long, tedious day. Half a dozen meetings, each more boring than the last. Clearing his desk of old folders only to have the file clerk drop off a new load. Lights making his head ache, concrete making his foot ache. Bland food at the cafeteria that sat like a lead weight in his stomach, inane chit-chat about sports teams that he no longer cared about. Rinse and repeat.

He felt so drained that he didn't even feel the urge to jerk off anymore. He snorted to himself, sitting on his hard plastic Metro seat. That pretty much had to be the nadir of a man's existence, right? What healthy male didn't feel the need to clear the pipes, have himself a little happy moment? He couldn't remember the last time he'd even had an erection, except for his morning pee woody.

Unlocking his door, he dropped his jacket and briefcase on the couch before kicking off his shoes. After a few weeks back home, he decided he couldn't eat take-out all of the time, so he'd started having groceries delivered weekly, trying to keep some fresh food in the house. The only problem was actually having an appetite to eat it. Judging by his belt, he'd lost a few pounds. Well, thank goodness for prepared meals and bag salad. He popped pre-seasoned fish into the microwave, dumped some salad in a bowl.

Ah, beer. And once dinner was ready, there'd be a little drink alongside too. Then the knots in his shoulders and neck would finally untie themselves, the constant churning of his brain subsiding. A couple of relaxed hours before bedtime and the struggle of sleep began.

He picked at his fish, ate half the salad. Stared at the television uncomprehendingly. One more beer, two whiskeys, a little buzz to take the edge off. He didn't dare go harder than that. There was a drop-off ledge right out there, hiding under the dark water in his head, and he didn't want to get lost. It wouldn't take much, he felt so unmoored these days.

Well, most of the time he didn't want to get lost. Sometimes...he just wasn't sure anymore.

What was the difference, anyway?

“Dean, you're ridiculous. We are not going to walk into the heart of the Feds pretending to be a Fed!” Sam didn't even attempt to keep the exasperated note from his voice.

“Aw, come on! Think of it as the ultimate acid test! We make it here, we can make it anywhere!”

“I think that's New York,” Sam huffed. “Come on, I thought we were here to check on Henriksen, not prove how great our fake I.D.s are, or how much chutzpah we have.”

“Jesus, fine.” Now it was Dean's turn to huff. “Text him to meet us at that bar, the one with the bandana-boob tops.”

It was already half-past four, so Sam texted to just meet whenever Henriksen was done. His answering text said another half hour, so Dean got his PBR and Sam ordered a Belgian Fat Tire. “Stupid craft shit,” grumbled Dean. “It's ruining the beer industry.”

“Actually, it's revitalized it,” Sam replied. “There's an unprecedented rise in craft breweries and independent labels, as well as a marked swell in the creativity of said breweries.” The server delivered their beers, and Sam smiled at her as he sampled his ale.

“Well, I wanna get some food, but let's wait for the big H.” Dean amused himself by winking at all of the servers in their little bandana print tops. Sam sighed and picked at his beer label. Suddenly Dean's hand covered his, warm and strong. “You okay, Sammy?”

“Sure, just wondering how things are.”

Dean looked at Sam seriously. “You know I'm just flirting here a bit, right? Not going home with anyone, or even off to the storeroom.” His thumb ever-so-briefly caressed Sam's knuckle before withdrawing.

Dean's moments of openness always made Sam's heart beat a little harder. He knew it didn't come naturally to him; that Dean had to really pry open the vault every time, and that the list he'd do it for was incredibly short.

But it always had Sam on it.

Leaving Stanford wasn't as hard as Sam would have anticipated. Everything that mattered to him had been incinerated, two lives reduced to ashes. All the stellar test scores in the world would not bring back Jessica or the future they'd planned together, so he might as well just leave.

Dean kept uncharacteristically quiet. He drove with his eyes intent on the road, flicking them to Sam's face every few minutes. He could feel his brother's unspoken concern; it could almost have been irritating, but he knew the concern was real and under-laid by love, and that made it feel like balm on his tattered nerves.

It seemed to take no time at all to fall back into life on the road. The dingy motel rooms, the crappy food, the pursuit of all things creepy and dangerous, all with his brother at his side. Sam perused arcane texts in even more arcane languages, dug up graves, sympathized with grieving families, researched in dusty county libraries. He and Dean drank in dive bars, shooting tequila and whiskey, washing the liquor down with beer, falling into their respective beds to pass out. It was just like the earlier phase of his life, only now the drinking was legal.

Dean got double queen rooms wherever they stopped, and Sam noticed but didn't comment. What they had done together before he left for California—well, that was a lifetime ago. Of course he'd outgrown the infatuation he'd had about Dean, and Dean was busy fucking any woman that caught his eye these days, he sure didn't need to pity-fuck his brother.

They were only a couple of weeks out from Stanford when the first nightmare hit. Sam woke screaming, thrashing, and then Dean was there. “Shhh, Sammy, you're okay. It's okay,” he said over and over, holding Sam tight, letting his own warmth bleed into Sam's chilled flesh. “It's okay...”

It wasn't okay for a long time, but having Dean close helped immeasurably. And it didn't take long before Dean's reassuring whispers and strong hugs, Sam's grateful embraces and pleas for comfort, all melded and morphed together. Bodies twisted together, hands sought skin, lips begged for kisses, and more.

By the middle of the second month, Dean skipped the double queen and got a single king instead. Sam still didn't comment, but he gave a little smile as he gazed out the window.

Henriksen walked into the bar, feeling like the start to a bad joke. He found himself often narrating things to himself in his head nowadays, as if observing his own life, so he had to smile at “Henriksen walked into a bar.” He was momentarily blinded by the dim lights after the late afternoon sun, but a hand waved off to the side, and he saw Sam and Dean.

The jolt of pleasure he felt was completely unexpected.

He stuffed his surprising reaction down while shaking hands and ordering a beer. Dean was already perusing the menu, ordering a bacon cheeseburger and a blooming onion, while Sam got a Caesar chicken salad and a side of fries. Henriksen didn't care what he got, food all tasted like sawdust anyway, but he went for the black & Bleu Cajun burger. Shots materialized—Cuervo this time—and they toasted each other's health and safety.

The evening passed in a pleasant blur of tequila, good food, and laughter. The Cajun burger rocked, Victor enjoying every spicy bite of meat and tangy crumb of blue cheese. Through the agave-induced haze, he felt some curiosity as he watched the brothers interact—certainly they enjoyed hazing each other, knew what buttons to push. Still, there was some as-yet-unrecognized dynamic at play, and as an analytical, observant man, Victor was both puzzled and intrigued.

It felt so good to relax; to enjoy a meal, to have companionship where he didn't have to pretend anything. Pressure fell from him like unwanted pounds, and he felt light, filled with air instead of dread. He still knew what was out there, but it was like they were cavemen drawn to the bonfire, warm and safe for a moment, backs turned to the cold and hostile environment outside.

God, why couldn't the rest of his life feel like this?

Sam watched Henriksen laughing, and wondered to himself when the last time the man had laughed. He'd been shocked when Henriksen entered the bar. Henriksen's rich dark skin had appeared almost ashy, purple shadows gathered under his eyes. He moved like he was weighed down with Marley's chains, sitting down heavily at the table. Sam glanced at Dean, catching his subtle nod that he saw it too.

They ordered food and drinks, and it didn't take long for Henriksen's demeanor to lighten. He attacked his burger like he hadn't eaten in a week, and tossed the tequila down as if it were the elixir of life. Maybe it was, because he certainly revived as the evening went on. Sam nudged Dean's knee under the table, excusing himself to the men's room. Dean followed a few minutes later.

“What the fuck, man?” Dean leaned against the counter in the men's room. “He looks like shit.”

“Yeah, he does. He already looks better now, but he can't be eating or sleeping for crap.” Sam washed his hands. “And it sounds like being on desk duty is pretty soul-crushing boredom-wise. That can't be helping.”

“Nope. He's used to be out on the road, like a hunter. Imagine me on desk duty, Sam?” Dean shuddered. “Bad enough when we have to hole up in a fucking library for research.”

“Yeah. Not a good sitch.” Sam sighed. “We better get back out there, he's going to wonder what's going on.”

“Hey, wait a minute there...” Dean grabbed Sam's neck, pulled him in for a sound kiss, tongues pushing together, taking only moments to make them both breathe harder.

“You prick, now I'm going out there with a hard-on,” Sam grumbled.

“I'll take care of that later,” Dean leered.

Falling into bed, Victor relished feeling boneless, his limbs melting into the mattress. The sheets felt cool, and he almost purred at the sensual pleasure of them against his skin. Rolling over, he nuzzled his pillow, sighing as he pressed his body down. His hips started a slow grind against the bed, and he moaned softly as his dick began to fatten. “Starting to wonder if you still worked,” he said to it and laughed at himself.

Rolling onto his back again, he shoved his boxers down and palmed himself, just enjoying the warmth of his hand against his cock, then rolling his balls and gently squeezing them. “Aw, fuck,” he moaned again. His other hand drifted to his chest, thumb teasing his nipples into hardness, pinching them as he began to jerk his dick more seriously. Clenching his ass, he pushed his cock through his fist, breathing hard now with each thrust.

It felt so good to be turned on, to feel the force of his arousal in his hand. Every flick of his nipples was a little hot spark, every flex of his ass fueled the next; beads of moisture seeped from his slit, and he smeared them down his shaft, relishing the slickness.

Random images ran through his mind—he was pretty buzzed, which made focusing on any particular spank bank scenario a little difficult. Breasts floated by, round and jiggling, little hard nipples atop them. Victor loved breasts, loved holding them, squeezing them, sucking on them. He gave a little gasp, balls tightening up. Yeah, boobs, all the boobs, bouncing as he fucked a faceless form, someone riding him and those beautiful fun-bags rising and falling as his cock slid in and out of a hot, tight pussy...

Wonder what a cock feels like, ran through his mind. He started, but the train was running and that wasn't enough to derail it. How's it get in there, doesn't it hurt? Something must feel good or no one would ass-fuck...

Wonder what Sam's dick looks like? He's fucking huge...Dean's pretty big too, bet they both are hung. What would it feel like in my hand all hot and hard, big and dripping in my mouth--

He shouted as he came, dick jerking in his hand, balls tight, come spurting like crazy over his hand and belly.

He fell back on the pillow, gasping and panting, his hand still loosely cradling his spent cock, tremors running through him.

What the everloving hell...

Sam sighed and stretched. His muscles felt loose and relaxed, and his ass ached with the pleasurable aftermath of a good fuck.

“Dean?” he mumbled, patting his hand across the bed. Finding the muscular shoulders of his brother, Sam sighed again contentedly. He rolled onto his side so he could nose into Dean's collarbone, planting soft kisses along the way.

“Shhh, sleep,” Dean whispered, hand drifting down Sam's back and squeezing one cheek. “Sleep more, then breakfast. Bacon and coffee.”

“Okay,” agreed Sam. He pillowed his head on Dean's shoulder and fell back asleep.

Victor woke up with a start, thinking he'd missed his alarm. Realizing it was Saturday, he flopped back onto the bed, only to remember that his belly was covered with dried spunk. Grimacing at the tight, flaky mess, he got up and stumbled into the bathroom, swiping a t-shirt from the laundry and wiping ineffectually at himself. He admitted defeat and turned on the shower, letting the plentiful hot water soak the whitish crust on his skin and sluice it away down the drain.

Good to actually feel like rubbing one off though, he thought, soaping himself thoroughly. Been a while. A half-smile flitted across his face as he recalled last night's self-pleasuring.

He firmly pushed away the fact that he'd gotten off to a fantasy about cocks. In particular, about cocks belonging to Sam and Dean. That bit of information didn't bear further analysis at the moment.

Throwing on a comfy t-shirt and some track pants, Victor headed out to a little diner nearby, Big City. He ordered coffee, hash browns with onions, and a mushroom and cheese omelet. Something good and nutritious, protein and veggies. Yeah, that was the ticket. Time to start taking a little better care of himself.

He did feel better; it was hard to argue with the fact that a solid orgasm did a body good. Endorphins? Increased blood flow? Whatever, it worked. Just...what did Sam and Dean's appearance in his fantasy mean? Was it just that Victor felt so isolated right now? That they were the people he felt most connected to at the moment? Did that really transcend the fact that they were guys, since he'd never thought about guys like that? Victor Henriksen was strictly a tits & pussy man; he hadn't even done ass play with women, and he'd never thought about having a woman do that to him.

Man, life was really fucked up right now.

His food arrived, and he downed a cup of coffee as he inhaled his omelet and hash browns. Sitting back to digest, he slowly sipped his next cup while trying to pick apart just what the hell was going on in his head and with his libido.

Fact: he'd been through hell. Pretty much literally. That was bound to scramble a guy's brain.

Fact: he hadn't been in a relationship in a really, really long time, and he wasn't generally a one-night-stand kinda guy. While there'd certainly been one here and there, they had been few and far between; afterward leaving him feeling more alone than anything else. It had been a while since he'd experienced physical release with another body. He probably just hadn't noticed how pent up he'd been getting.

Fact: Sam and Dean were about the most handsome men he'd ever seen. He was willing to bet that would be anyone's opinion. Their code name, when they'd been the target of FBI hunts before, was Zoolander.

So maybe it wasn't so outrageous that his imagination had taken liberties. Maybe it was just a matter of being far too lonely and way too horny. Sure, that was it. Had to be.

Pleased with his analysis of the situation, Victor got a cup of coffee to go and headed back home.

“Okay, I have three possible leads. We've got a poltergeist if we head North, there's unsubstantiated rumors of some kind of big, hairy man-thing down in the Everglades, or the ever-popular chupacabra in Arizona.” Sam put the newspaper down, adding it to the ones already stacked on the table. “What's your choice?”

Dean finished chewing his bacon and drank some coffee while Sam waited. He knew better than to rush Dean over breakfast.

“Well, the Everglades is pretty much close to Hell on earth as far as I'm concerned. Who goes there anyway? I vote we leave the southern Sasquatch the fuck alone. I like the chupacabra—we haven't had a chance to nail one of those toothy suckers yet—but I guess the poltergeist is closest and quickest. Let's go put down that sucker and then re-evaluate the chupacabra thing.”

“Sounds good to me.” Sam put the newspapers away. “Listen, I had a thought.” He cleared his throat, unsure about how Dean would react to his suggestion. “What if we took Henriksen with us? On the poltergeist hunt?”

Dean stared at him, fork frozen in mid-air. “Say what?”

Sam toyed with his silverware, poking them around with his fingertip. “What if we took Henriksen with us? Showed him--”

“No.” Dean's voice was hard. He reached for his wallet, put some cash on the table with a thump. “That's a fucking stupid idea.” He got up and walked away, making the diner's door-bell tinkle angrily as he left.

“Well, ooookay then,” muttered Sam, rising and following his brother.

Victor rubbed his eyes. God, they ached. His dislike for the yellowed fluorescent lights had blossomed into hate; every day he went home with burning eyes and a pounding head. His neck was stiff from hunching over a desk and the constant tension he felt all day long. More and more he felt like he was trapped in some bad television show; void of true interactions or meaning, but filled with banal exchanges and emptiness. He'd sent Nelson an email asking about when he could re-qualify at the gun range so he could return to field work, but had only received a frustratingly non-committal reply in response.

Ride up and down in the elevators, little moving boxes of despair. Go in and out of smeary glass doors, through the buzzing metal detectors. He bought tasteless food, threw half of it away uneaten. Lying awake in bed half the night, or actually go to sleep and then wake up before dawn, sweaty amid his rumpled sheets. Even when he did sleep, his dreams were dark and ugly, sapping any true restfulness away.

Victor put his hands down, spread them out on his desk. They were strong hands, capable hands. He knew this, knew what they could do, yet he felt helpless and handcuffed. Drained.

Captive.

I can't, he thought bleakly. I cannot do this anymore. It's going to kill me if I don't do something and get the fuck out of here.

He thought he would feel anxious at these renegade thoughts, fearful at the prospect of throwing in the towel on a job he'd once loved, a career he'd worked hard to achieve. He should feel those things, right? After all, what the hell was he doing? What was he going to do?

But instead he suddenly felt calmness descend over him, like he'd stopped trying to swim against the current and instead let himself start floating. This was right. This is what he needed to do.

Victor stood up and got his suit jacket. Opening his briefcase, he took out a stack of folders and put them on his desk before picking up the few things that meant something to him. His teak pen set, a gift from an old partner. A couple of plaques and awards, credits to his years there. There wasn't much else. Snapping the briefcase shut, Victor left his office without a final glance.

He rapped on Nelson's open door, entered at his wave while he was on the phone, waiting quietly just inside the doorway for the conversation to conclude.

Nelson hung up the phone, smiling and gesturing to the chair in front of his desk. “What's up, Victor? Do you have that report on-”

“I quit.” Victor didn't bother to sit down. It wasn't going to take that long. “I'll email you my resignation letter within the next twenty-four hours. You can have my unused vacation time in lieu of notice.” He laid his I.D. and service gun on Nelson's desk.

“What? Victor, what on earth--” Nelson stammered, standing up and coming around his desk. “What are you doing? Think about this! Let's talk about it!”

“I'm done. Thanks for everything.” Victor turned and exited, leaving a stunned Nelson behind him.

Departing the building for the last time, Victor took a great breath in, savoring the fresh air and sunlight outside. He felt freer than he had in years, the constraints of the FBI falling from him like chains. He laughed and raised his arms, thinking that it was a wonder he didn't just float away on the breeze.

The poltergeist had been annoying in the usual slamming-doors, flying-china, choke-Sam-with-extension-cords way. The Winchesters installed hex bags in the four directional corners of the house, and that took care of it. Books and dishes flying around in the air fell to the floor in a clatter, followed by Sam's harsh breathing as the extension cord flopped loose. The grateful homeowner pressed several bills into Dean's hand when they left, relieved that his family was happily settled back in their now-peaceful house. Sam might refuse money, but Dean felt that it was an expression of gratitude and would be rude to turn down. Plus they usually needed it.

Dean drove a couple of hundred miles before pulling into a motel that was a couple of levels above their usual shit-shack. Sam looked at him questioningly.

“Come on, Sammy, we're taking a little break.” Dean grinned and got out of the car. He knew Sam wouldn't have an issue with a night off.

They got a room and settled in, Dean ordering beer, a bottle of Knob Creek, and Chinese food, all to be delivered.

Sam blew Dean while they waited for the food and alcohol to be delivered. After the food was consumed and the Knob Creek was a third gone, Dean reciprocated. They took a break for a couple of beers and shots, lying on the bed shoulder-to-shoulder watching TV, after which Sam pounded Dean's ass while his brother growled and whined, hands gripping the headboard until his knuckles were white. He loved it when Sam went all Neanderthal on him, holding his hips in a bruising grip and working his massive cock like a porn star.

Later, after a final round of fucking—Dean's turn to top--followed by a leisurely shower together, they relaxed in the big bed, so much more comfortable than their usual. Dean's arm snaked under Sam's neck and Sam's hand splayed on Dean's stomach. “So what do you think, good night off?” murmured Dean, pillowing his head on Sam's shoulder.

“Best,” agreed Sam.

Once the initial thrill of quitting his job cooled down, Victor found himself at loose ends. Resigning had been all about cutting himself free from the drudgery and soul-sucking emptiness rather than moving toward something new, so now he had to decide what to do with himself. He would be okay for money for a while; having had few vices and less free time, most of his salary had been bankrolled and invested. But it was not in his nature to just sit around, and he had no hobbies to explore.

He was good at being a Fed. Using that as a starting point, Victor began listing his assets.

1. Tenacious
2. Intelligent
3. Good intuition
4. Pattern recognition, and the ability to extrapolate
5. Excellent at firearms and hand-to-hand
6. Calm under pressure
7. Unfazed by extreme situations

He read it over. What kind of resume did that make?

Perhaps thinking over a beer would help. It was only mid-afternoon, but hey! He didn't have to worry about going back to work!

Chuckling to himself, Victor went back to The Rustic Pig. It felt like his personal neighborhood bar now, sticky floor and busty chicks and all. The fact that he'd never have frequented a dive like this in the past had long been forgotten. He chose a back booth so he could people-watch. Damn, he should put that on his list—top-notch people-watching skills. Surveillance! He chuckled wryly at himself.

Today's bandana-clad barmaid was in turquoise, her round boobs threatening to overpower the tiny buttons of her top as she breathily asked for his order. His eyes lingered on her cleavage a moment before he ordered a beer, getting a couple of their pulled pork sliders along with it. He might not be working, but he wasn't going to get sloshed midday.

She brought his beer right away, the bottle icy cold. He drank half of it in one go and caught her eye to order another. Closing his eyes, he leaned back against the booth wall and sighed in what passed for contentment these days.

“How'd we know we'd find you here?”

Victor looked up to see Sam and Dean sliding into the booth.

“Hey! What are you guys doing here?” He waved the waitress over, and Dean's eyes latched onto her boobs while Sam ordered for them.

“Damn, those are some fine tits! Whoa!” Dean shook himself. Sam rolled his eyes while Victor snickered. “Come on, Sam, you cannot deny those are fantastic breasts!”

“Whatever, Dean. We didn't come here to ogle breasts, fantastic or otherwise.”

“Breast ogling can happen anytime, anyplace!” Dean huffed. “I am a master multi-tasker.”

“You're a master bait--”

Victor quickly interrupted Sam. “So what are y'all doing here? No hunts? Or is there one around here?”

“Just coming back from putting down a poltergeist,” said Sam. “Took a little...r&r break.”

It was Dean's turn to snicker, and Victor watched in surprise as Sam's face flushed, two red circles burning on his cheeks. Sometimes he could not figure out what was going on with these two.

“So, did that go okay?” he asked.

“The poltergeist or the break?” asked Dean, and Sam choked in the middle of drinking his beer. Dean thumped him hard on the back until Sam punched his shoulder.

“Um, the poltergeist?” Victor stared at them both. They were acting so odd, and that was saying something with the weird life of the Winchesters.

“Oh yeah, that went fine. A few well-placed hex bags and done.” Dean smiled as the server brought his and Sam's beers as well as Victor's sliders. “Hey sweetheart, give us two orders of those as well, and some cheese fries, thanks.”

“So, Victor, you're starting happy hour early.” Sam toasted both men with his beer. “Early release today?”

Victor laughed. “Early release every day, Sam.” He paused briefly to build up their anticipation before continuing. “I quit. I am no longer employed by Uncle Sam.”

Dean and Sam both slammed their beers down, then cursed in unison as they foamed over. Sam got up and grabbed a bunch of napkins from the server station, and they busily mopped up for a moment. Once resettled, they resumed staring at Victor.

“Dude! You quit? Like, quit quit?” asked Dean.

“Yep. I am a Federal agent no more. I've become a man of leisure.” Victor half-laughed, half-snorted. “A rapidly-getting-bored man of leisure.”

“What are you planning to do?” asked Sam, looking very serious.

“I don't know yet. I was trying to list my skills and such for a new resume, but it all sounds pretty half-assed.” He reached into his back pocket where he'd folded and stuffed the paper with his list. “See? I mean, with my background I guess I could go into private security pretty easily. Good money, but I'm not really interested in bodyguarding some rich asshole. I'm too used to working on my own; even under the auspices of the FBI, I had a lot of autonomy, so I don't see going into management or anything like that.” Victor bit into a slider, savoring the tangy barbecued pork. Dean looked enviously at his plate, but then the server arrived with the sliders and cheese fries for him and Sam.

Dean dug in immediately, while Sam sipped more of his beer first. He looked rather pensive, and Victor wondered if he was upset about something. Sam elbowed Dean to get his attention from the slider he was devouring, and Victor watched as the two brothers exchanged a long look. Sam nodded, and Dean raised an eyebrow. Sam nodded again, more emphatically, and Dean sighed, turning back to Victor and putting his half a slider back on the plate. Sam finally picked his food up and began to bite into it, as if he'd discharged his concern onto Dean and was now free to eat.

It's like they have a hidden language, thought Victor. What an asset that must be while they're hunting.

“Victor, first off let me say that this barbecue rocks. Good call, man.” Dean popped the last of his first slider into his mouth, licking a smear of sauce off his bottom lip. Sam fidgeted in his seat, his eyes fixed on his brother's face.

“Second, there's something Sam and I would like to discuss with you, but it calls for greater privacy that even the back booth here can provide. How about we finish our beers and food, then get us a good bottle of something and head back to our room?”

Victor was intrigued—probably the first thrill of curiosity he'd felt since his convalescence. “Yeah, that sounds great.” He spread his hands wide. “I got nothin' else going on.”

They all laughed and waved for another round of beers.

While the diner had been alien to Victor on his first visit there, the motel room at the Sandcastle Inn was much more familiar. The FBI expense accounts usually allowed for decent places to stay, but out in the boonies Victor had often had to settle for the availability of seedier rooms like this. This one was clean enough, barring the laundry flung into a corner and the unmade bed. Crumpled snack bags filled the trash can, and an array of empty beer bottles and soda cans lined the window.

Victor sat on one of the two chairs flanking a small table. Sam put down the bag with their bottle of Jack, some disposable plastic shot glasses, and Dean put down the six-pack they gotten to accompany it. Victor looked around at the faux-beachy rustic décor of seashell print curtains and bedspreads, and some little beach paintings apparently of the paint-by-number school of art hanging on the bleached panel walls. Something out of place was niggling at his mind, and he scolded himself for being rusty at observation. Before the explosion, nothing would have escaped his keen eye.

“Okay, so you already know the hard part.” Dean pulled out beers, handed them around. Sam cracked the bottle and poured three shots. “You know about what we do, and what's out there. You've seen it for yourself.”

Victor couldn't repress a small shudder at the memory of black eyes and concentrated evil, and Sam patted his shoulder awkwardly. “Don't worry about it. Anyone with half a brain would feel the same way,” Sam said. He handed Victor a shot glass, and the three men silently toasted and sent the liquid down their throats.

Shaking his head after the whiskey, Victor took a sip of cool beer. “Okay, so what's next here? What did you want to say?”

Sam and Dean exchanged yet another of those enigmatic looks. This time, Dean nodded to Sam, who turned back to face Victor.

“How would you feel about coming to hunt with us?”

Victor lay in bed later that night, physically relaxed but with his mind churning busily. The offer had surprised him. Sam and Dean were such a unit, so clearly in sync that he hadn't anticipated the invitation. Then there was the job itself to consider: dirty, difficult, dangerous.

But bound to be damn exciting too. And if anything, it would return him to his core mission—to help people. To weigh in on the side of good and justice. He smiled at how corny it sounded, but it was true. He'd joined the FBI in the first place to be a good guy, help tip the scales in the world the right way. He'd been doing that, but on a vastly smaller scale , and surrounded by a sea of rules and paperwork.

Well, this would sure do that. As long as I survive anyway. Victor had no illusions about just how hard and dangerous this would be. He knew hunters didn't count on longevity.

“Dude, you're halfway there already,” Dean had said. “Look at that list you made—it's like a hunter's shopping list. Sure, you need to learn a lot about how to hunt this or that kind of creature, but that's the easy part. You already know how to research, shoot, fight, track.”

“No pressure,” Sam had added. “Take your time to decide. Once you go this route, it's hard to ever come back from. It just seems like you don't have much else going on, and like Dean said, you're well-suited already. It's entirely up to you.”

They'd had some more Jack, talked about other things. Victor had bid them goodnight and had gotten himself home before he got too liquored up. He'd showered and fallen into bed, and now just replayed the conversation over and over in his head, pondering his choices.

He closed his eyes now and saw Sam and Dean sitting in their room, Sam on the other chair and Dean on the unmade bed, both looking at him earnestly.

The bed.

His eyes snapped open. That was it. That was what had been bothering him. Two queen beds, but only one unmade. The other, not just with blanket and sheet pulled up, but still maid-crisp, a couple of duffles sitting on it. Clearly not slept in.

So...had they slept together in the one bed? Why? They were both big guys, surely having their own bed would have been--

Or not. Or they're sleeping together. Like...together-together.

Victor blew out a long breath. Were the Winchester brothers...lovers? Really? Was he going overboard with the suppositions? It seemed so Flowers in the Attic, but...apparently it was a real possibility.

Well, if that were the case, he'd better decide if he was okay with it, if he could deal with them. If he was going to be their hunting partner, he had to take them as they were. Their lives would all depend on that acceptance.

He lay back and closed his eyes again. Images of Sam and Dean floated behind his lids, clothed and naked alike. He gritted his teeth, trying hard not to imagine the Winchesters cuddled together like puppies.

Like lovers.

It was even harder not to touch himself at the same time.

“I know you must be used to travel,” said Sam the next morning over breakfast. “But this—it's not expense-voucher living. It's crap motels and convenience store food. It's hustling pool for money in between jobs, and we're talking the kind of jobs that rarely pay. Half the time, people think we're the bad guys, and the other half--they're scared out of their mind. I don't know what you have for family, but don't plan on being in touch very much.”

Victor shook his head. “I got some cousins, but I haven't seen them in years. My parents have already passed away, no siblings.” He felt more rueful than he expected as he said, “Nobody really to miss me.”

“It sucks, but that's an asset to a hunter.” Dean smiled happily at the plate of eggs and various breakfast meats placed before him. “Mmm, scrapple!”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Gross, Dean. Pig parts all smushed together?” He shuddered and shook his head before munching on his cantaloupe wedge. “I know he lacks social skills, but he means well.” he said to Victor.

“It's okay. He's right, I can see it.” Victor poked at his omelet, bacon and cheese this time. “So, what do I do first? It's not like I have to get a license or anything, right? Like fishing or deer hunting.”

“Nope, no license. Go through your stuff, decide what you really want to keep, what you want to bring with you, and get rid of the rest. Cancel the lease on your apartment. Decide what you want to do about your car. You might want to ride with us for a while as you're learning, you're welcome to, so figure out if you want to store yours or sell it. Tie up any loose ends hanging around here.” Dean talked as he plowed through his food. “You don't want stuff left undone that's going to make someone come looking for you.”

“Okay. That shouldn't take too long, but I can't just leave tomorrow. It'll take a couple of weeks at least.” Victor's food was delicious, but his appetite was flagging with the laundry list of tasks to consider. He drank some coffee instead.

“No rush. Do what you need to do. We'll stick to some local hunts so we're around for when you're ready to go, okay?” Sam patted Victor's shoulder. “It's a big decision, and a big move. Take your time.”

Victor nodded. The excitement of last night's decision paled in the morning light, with the caffeinated reality of coffee overtaking the haze of booze. “Thanks. I...think I need a little time to get it squared away in my head, you know?”

The Winchesters both nodded. “We get it,” replied Sam. “We grew up this way, but making a conscious choice like this? It's got to be hard.”

“You chose,” said Dean. His words surprised Victor. Dean caught his look and clarified, “When Sam went to Stanford. Well, actually when he left Stanford. He decided to keep hunting, instead of going back to school.” Dean covered Sam's hand and squeezed it for a second before moving it away. “It was hard for him too.”

The intimacy of the gesture made Victor momentarily speechless. Sam shot a nervous look at him, but Victor promptly stuck a large bite of his omelet in his mouth so he had an excuse for silence.

“Okay, so me and Sammy here are heading out after this. You do your shit and text us, if we aren't back by the time you're ready.” Dean sighed with pleasure, patting his full stomach. “I will never mind coming back here for breakfast, that's for sure!”

Victor looked around his apartment. Previously, it was at least a semblance of a home, albeit a Spartan one. Now, furniture and boxes were piled in the center of the floor. He'd arranged for all the furniture to be donated to a couple of shelters, and about two-thirds of the boxes were filled with clothing and household goods that he was also donating. Half a dozen boxes set to the side were going into storage, items he didn't want to part with but couldn't bring with him. A large canvas duffel and a backpack sat next to the front door. That was all he was taking with him. Clothes, toiletries, his tablet and laptop. His whole life condensed into two bags.

Am I really doing this? he thought, looking around his apartment and noting how alien it looked now, how empty and devoid of any sign of him. I'm going to go hunt monsters; going to drive all over the country with a possibly incestuous pair of brothers and live a life that's totally under the radar.

Fuck, I must be crazy.

The truck from the shelter pulled up, and Victor showed the driver and his helper everything to be loaded. They started moving the furniture into the truck efficiently, waving away Victor's offer of help. Victor felt his chest tighten—it had been a pretty barren home, but it had been home nonetheless. His sanctuary, such as it was. And now it was disappearing.

He was disappearing. Vanishing into thin air, as far as the rest of the world knew.

“Dude. Stop.”

Dean stood in the door, big and solid and reassuring. Sam joined him, adding, “It's done. Save yourself the brooding and wondering if you did the right thing.”

“Yeah, you always have the middle of the night on a monster stake-out for that,” Dean guffawed. “Nothing like the wee hours in a cold graveyard to wonder about life.” Sam cuffed the back of his head.

“We'll be in the car,” Sam said, laying a warm hand on Victor's shoulder and giving it a light squeeze.

The driver and his helper finished with the furniture and started on the pile of boxes. Victor took a deep breath. Why am I watching this anyway? It's like watching an autopsy. I don't need to see the scalpel at work. He shook himself, picked up his bags, and walked out the door to the Impala.