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Dean was tired of fighting himself. This life didn't call to him anymore, not like it had. Things weren't as simple as they used to be.

And as for his brother, well he knew now that he wanted Sam to be someone he wasn't, wanted him to be perfect. And that wasn't fair, on either of them.

"Sam, we need to talk."

Sam looked up at him, and even when he did it wasn't the same. Sam had well and truly become his own man, one that didn't need Dean anymore.

Dean took a deep breath. This was a huge admission, but it was time to set them both free.

"Things have changed, and I know you feel it too."

"Dean..."

"It's okay," he said, choking back the lump of emotion in his throat. He knew he had to do this, that it was the right thing, but that didn't mean he'd wanted them to end up here. There was a time, most of his life in fact, when he never could have imagined anything coming before Sam, let alone anyone. "I think it's time for us to live our own lives.

"Okay..." Sam said in a careful voice. "What did you have in mind...?" It wasn't hard to tell that he'd been waiting for this, that he was worried about saying the wrong thing and having Dean change his mind. It was no secret that Sam had been ready to leave for a while now, and Dean was only sorry it had taken him this long to realise it would be for the best.

He knew though, that it might never have happened if he hadn't met a certain vampire. In the end, it had taken a monster to show him that he might have something more in life.

And there was no point hiding it from Sam anymore.

"I think I'm gonna go find Benny."

Judging by the look on his face, that didn't come as much of a surprise to Sam either, maybe only that Dean was admitting to it. Still, he had to say this, get it out there so Sam would understand how much Benny meant to him, how serious he was about making a life with the vampire work.

"I love you, Sam. I always will. But it's like everything revolved around you, and now that feeling is pulling me towards him."

"Dean," Sam frowned. "What are you...?"

"I don't know," he sighed. Maybe he had been a little bit in love with Sam at one point, but if he had been it was gone now. Sam had let him down too many times. "Just that whatever that thing is that grounds me and gives me purpose, it was you and now it's him. I don't blame you for anything, I'm just trying to be honest."

He could see a whole bunch of thoughts ticking over in Sam's mind, but in the end, Sam chose not to rock the boat. He wanted out too damn much to take offence or be upset by Dean's words.

"Thanks, Dean. I appreciate it."

"Good," Dean nodded. He wanted them to part on good terms. That was the best thing they could do for each other now. "I'll always come if you call, Sam."

"Me too," Sam promised.

And somehow, it was like a weight had lifted from both of them. Like they could just be brothers now, happy when the other was happy, but not responsible for each other. Even after all they'd been through, Dean wasn't sure he'd really grasped how heavy that burden of responsibility was until he'd been able to let it go. Maybe that's what Sam had found after Dean had gone to Purgatory. If it felt this good, maybe Dean had been too hard on his little brother.

An easy smile lit up Sam's face, and Dean knew beyond a doubt he was doing the right thing.

"So, what are you gonna do?" Sam asked. "Go shack up with a vampire now?"

"I don't know," Dean said, a little terrified by the idea that Benny wouldn't want him in the same way, but mostly excited to find out what his life might become by being brave enough to live it. "Hell, maybe. If he'll have me."

Sam's smile softened.

"I only saw the guy once, Dean. But the way he looked at you? There's no doubt."

That was Sam's blessing and while he didn't need it, it was nice to have. Not to mention it would make his life easier with one less hunter after Benny.

"Thanks, Sammy," Dean said, pulling his brother into a hug. This was goodbye. For a while at least. "Take care of yourself."

"You too, Dean."

Chapter Text

Benny was now the drifter Lizzy had thought him to be. He had no nest. No family that he wouldn't endanger just by being near them. No friends that didn't at least think about lopping his head off every time they met.

Getting out of Purgatory had seemed like a good idea at the time. Back then, he'd been so focused on getting back to the Old Man to get his revenge, but even that was gone now too.

Any fantasies he'd had about living a quiet life had been crushed by hunters, rogue vamps, and any other individual that was out to get him for no other reason than his species, which was a fact that he couldn't change. He was a vampire, there was no escaping that.

The one bright spot in it all was Dean.

His humanity had drawn Benny in at first, same as all the monsters in Purgatory. Any human would have done the same, but once he'd gotten to know the man himself it had become much more than that.

Dean was tough, brave and good in a fight, but underneath that he was unyieldingly loyal and surprisingly sensitive. For a little while, when it had just been them before they'd found the angel, Benny had felt like there was a real and profound connection between them.

But when they'd finally found Castiel, Dean had spent his whole time worrying about how to get the angel out too, and their friendship had taken a sideline.

He couldn't deny that Dean had been true to his word and helped him escape, but topside they'd lost a little of whatever it was that bound them together. They didn't need each other to survive anymore, and so they'd gone their separate ways. That had been okay, back when he'd had his revenge to occupy him, but now...

There was some foolish, romantic part of him that had hoped the depth of their friendship would overcome everything, even the fact that they were supposed to be enemies, the hunter and the monster, and that they could just be Dean and Benny, two men who valued and maybe even loved each other. But the realist part of him knew it was a fantasy. Dean had always said he would go back to his brother, and Benny understood that some monster he'd been forced to team up with for survival couldn't compete with the bonds of brotherhood, nurtured over thirty years spent with Sam.

Still, Benny supposed he couldn't really complain. He was out of Purgatory, and Dean had backed him so far. Maybe the whole mess with Martin would change that, but all he could do in regard to that was wait and see.

He'd tossed his phone, apparently those things were traceable, and Dean had told him to go deep underground. He still had Dean's number, written on a slip of paper, to call if he ever needed to, and being lonely didn't qualify as needing to. As for Dean, he had no way to contact Benny, but he wasn't arrogant enough to think that Dean Winchester, one of the greatest hunters who ever lived, would ever need a homeless fang from Louisiana.

Benny's brooding was interrupted by the rumble of an engine, it sounded like the Impala, but he squashed his hopes down. He needed to be careful, it could be anyone, including another hunter, even Sam in Dean's car, and getting killed over silly, romantic notions of reunion would be just plain embarrassing.

Outside the old, abandoned cabin, he kept to the shadows and skirted around the driveway, peering through the trees to see what he was dealing with. It was the Impala. He could hear only one heartbeat above the pounding of his own, then the slam of a car door, and then there he was. Dean had come looking for him.

Benny shoved down his joy and played it cool, stepping out into the clearing.

"Hey there, brother."

Dean turned towards him, his relief obvious.

"Benny..." he sighed, as though seeing him was the only thing he'd had on his mind. Then suddenly Dean was in his arms, holding on as tight as he could.

"Hey, now," Benny said, folding his arms around the hunter despite being taken a little off guard. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Dean breathed. "Nothing now."

Was Dean saying he was here just because he'd missed him? Benny couldn't deny that the thought lifted his spirits immensely, but he didn't want to read too much into it.

The hug ended and they both took a step back.

Dean looked a little bit lost, Benny had never seen him quite like this. He was always so certain, if not about what to do, at least about the fact that he should be doing something.

"How'd you find me?" Benny asked to fill the silence.

"I know your M.O. Just followed the trail of blood bank thefts."

"And here I was thinking I was being subtle."

"If it makes you feel any better, it wasn't easy. But my motivation was compelling."

"Aw, you missed me," Benny joked, but Dean didn't laugh, in fact he remained completely serious.

"Like I never imagined possible."

Benny didn't wanna get ahead of himself, but this was sounding more promising by the second. Plus, he couldn't make the first move, Dean was the human, he had to want this, it had to be his choice.

"Where's Sam?" he checked.

"We decided to take a break for a while..."

"And you came looking for me?"

"You are the only person in my entire life that hasn't let me down. I'm hoping that trend holds."

"You know I've got your back, brother. Whatever you need."

Dean fixed an intense look on him, as though that was a challenge he had to meet.

"And what if I just need you? I think we make a pretty good team, don't you?"

"I know we do. Neither of us would be here now if we didn't."

Dean finally allowed himself a smile.

"Then what do you think about sticking together?"

Benny returned the smile.

"I'm certainly not opposed to it."

He thought he'd made his meaning pretty clear, but Dean was still hesitating, looking like he wasn't sure he'd be wanted. He was worrying about nothing.

"Go ahead and say it," Benny encouraged.

"Really?"

"I'm worried even I might die of old age at this rate."

Dean took a quick step forward.

"I don't wanna just be your friend, Benny. No one's ever just got me the way you do. I wanna be all in."

Dean was right, he did get it. Dean had been let down too many times before, and it cut him all the deeper because he always put others before himself, rarely having that consideration returned.

"You want someone you can trust. Someone who'll look out for you. Someone who can fight beside you. I promise I'm all those things, Dean. Always."

"I know, Benny. I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe all that."

"Seems like we are in agreeance then."

This time Dean's smile was a brighter, more relaxed one.

"I'll admit that makes for a nice change."

"So," Benny said, glad that Dean was feeling better already. "How's this gonna work?"

"Well, you take your lips, and you put them here," Dean sassed, pointing to his pretty mouth.

"Reckon I can handle that," Benny smiled, leaning in, only to be stopped by Dean's hand on his chest.

"And you keep your fangs to yourself."

Benny could've taken offence at that, taken it to mean that Dean didn't really trust him, but he didn't. He understood what a huge leap this was for Dean, opening himself up to a relationship with one of the monsters he'd spent his whole life fighting against. More than anything he was grateful that Dean was giving him this chance.

"I promise I'll never do anything that hurts you," Benny offered.

"That doesn't sound like-" Dean began to protest. Yeah, it was a loophole but one that Benny wanted to keep open, so he pulled Dean in and silenced him with a kiss.

Dean only took a second to react, melting into the kiss. His lips were as soft as they looked, and Benny was careful, calculating each touch and movement to make it as enjoyable, and safe, as possible. His hand was on Dean's neck and he thumbed the big pulse there, telling himself it was not food, but Dean's life force, something to be treasured and protected. That notion had to be his first thought every time.

"That was, umm..." Dean said, leaning back and licking his lips.

"Yes?" Benny smirked.

Dean gave him an almost shy smile.

"I didn't expect you to be quite so sweet about it."

"Compelling motivation," Benny replied, gently rubbing his thumb along Dean's jaw. He never wanted to give Dean a reason to leave. "I'm gonna keep my promises..."

The look he got in return was one that told him how much it meant to Dean to have found someone who wanted to take care of him.

"Come inside, chief," Benny offered. "And let's see if we can better define the new nature of our acquaintance."

Dean relaxed into an easy smile again.

"I like the sound of that."

"Me too."

And when Dean followed him inside, Benny had a feeling that's what it was gonna be like from now on, wherever one went, the other would follow, and that was alright by him.