If the book weren’t so old, so fragile, and the only known copy in existence, Sam Winchester would’ve thrown it across the room long ago. He can’t remember the last time he had this much trouble with a spell; not even working it, just figuring it out. He has cracked the encryption and translated the text, but the spell ingredients still make no sense at all.
He rubs one hand over his face. He mostly gets by on a combination of book smarts, hunter knowledge, and, if Rowena is to be believed, some innate talent. But she is nowhere to be found and he still needs help, since he is far from a natural witch.
A natural witch. The phrase sparks a memory, recalls a name: Max Banes. Sam is pretty sure they exchanged contact information after that funeral slash demon killing a couple of years back. When he finds the phone number, he fires off a text.
Hey, it’s Sam Winchester. Don’t suppose you’re interested in giving me a hand with a spell?
Sam winces as soon as he’s hit send, realizing it’s very late at night, but his phone lights up with a response almost immediately.
Sam Winchester? THE Sam Winchester?! Asking for my help? I’d give you a hand any time you gorgeous man.
I mean, sure, I’m cool. Lay it on me.
Sam smiles, then almost laughs out loud. He might be in for more than he bargained for here. He texts a picture of the page that has him stumped.
It turns out, Max knows not only the spell and the book but also the solution. It’s one of the things his mother taught him, and Sam tries to pretend he doesn’t feel a tiny twinge of envy over having that kind of magic heritage.
Once Sam has the answer, he thanks Max.
Now that I know what these ingredients are, I just need to round them up.
Ohho no. You’re gonna try to do this on your own and in a couple more days I’ll get another SOS text.
Why don’t you let me come out there and help you? We can prepare the spell together.
Sam thinks about it for a minute. Dean is on the road, and it might be nice to have some company. Plus, Max has unique skills as both a hunter and a witch. He could be a great asset.
As tired as Sam is, he finds it hard to sleep that night, thinking about what tomorrow will bring. Learning new things is always exciting for him, and Max has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.
The next morning when he’s texting Dean, he explains the plan.
Help you with your spell work? Dean answers. Is that what you kids are calling it these days?
What do you mean?
Oh Sammy, I haven’t forgotten Max Banes making heart eyes at you all night. Have you?
Frankly, Sam kinda had forgotten. He didn’t even consider that Max’s offer could’ve been anything other than purely professional. He teases right back.
Hey, dude is smokin’ hot.
Max arrives later that afternoon, wheeling a suitcase and carrying a book bag as well as a satchel.
“I don’t travel light,” is the first thing he says. “Care to show me to my room? Or will we be sharing?”
Sam finds himself speechless.
“Aww, look at the big guy blush. I’m just kidding. I made the trip all the way from Canada to work, not to play, sadly.” Then he winks.
Sam shifts from foot to foot, runs his hand through his hair, taking a moment to pull himself together before he leads Max to a bedroom in the bunker which he had prepared for a guest. He gives him a moment to get settled, and then gives him a basic tour of the bunker: shower room, kitchen, war room, and finally, the library.
Max stops short and spins around slowly, taking in the floor-to ceiling bookcases lining the walls. His mouth drops open and his hands rise up, as if he could touch and hold every beautiful, rare, forgotten volume at once. When he finally turns back to Sam, his green eyes are shining.
“How do you ever leave?”
Sam feels his heart leap up, because he knows that exact feeling, that overwhelmed wonder.
Also, it’s the first thing Max has said without that relentless flirty tone.
“Let me show you a few of my favorites.”
The two men spend the rest of the afternoon there. At first, Sam is the one to pick a few books off the shelf and show them to Max, pointing out spellwork and illuminations and pages written in lost languages. Soon enough, Max’s curiosity takes over. At a nod from Sam, he starts pulling down volumes too, asking questions and admiring them.
Hours pass. They’ve still not even scratched the surface of the room’s treasures, but they have a task to complete.
“So about the spell,” Sam starts.
“Actually, I was thinking it’s dinner time,” Max answers, the teasing smile back on his face. “You showed me that kitchen, why don’t you show me what you can do there? I’m a vegetarian, too, hope that’s no problem. Do no harm and all.”
Sam is so used to having to explain and his friend says it so freely. “Me, too,” he says, feeling something in his shoulders unclench.
He points Max in the direction of the wine cellar while he makes cheesy pasta and a salad. Max comes back and pours them each a glass, then settles on the table to watch and chat until dinner is ready.
They sit and talk long after their plates and glasses are empty. Mostly, they get to know each other. Sam knows the two of them have certain things in common, but he has more questions than answers. They share enough that before long, they are talking openly.
Finally, they get down to the reason for Max’s visit: the ancient book and its complicated spell. He’s already given Sam the ingredient list over the phone, but in person he explains so much more.
The two of them pore over the book, side by side, touching the pages carefully. Max shows Sam the letters hidden in illustrations, read counterclockwise like a witch’s Wheel of The Year. This close, Max smells like cedar and shea butter, distractingly so.
Sam quickly grasps the concept and Max lets him work his way through solving a couple of pictures. There’s no reason, then, for the two of them to be so close together, for Max’s fingers to brush Sam’s.
His hands, wow, wonder what they would feel like on my body. When Sam catches himself, he pulls back. He’s not interested in me. He flirts with everyone.
He expects Max to turn away, but instead he leans in, reaching for a pen in a way that draws his forearm across Sam’s waist and whoa. There is a spark in his eye, a set to his jaw that almost dares Sam to say something.
“I think, uhm, I’ve got the hang of it.” Sam feels flustered. “I just need to get the ingredients before Dean gets back.”
Max just nods. “So open that internet, let’s track them down. That’s your thing, isn’t it? ‘According to the lore’?”
“What?” If Sam was distracted before, now he’s completely caught off guard.
“Everyone knows that about you, Sam Winchester.”
Sam opens his laptop and logs in by rote, still trying to digest that thought when Max spouts off a website or two. He knows them, of course, but this is the first time he’s ever been in a room with someone else who did.
He’s slipped into the familiar pattern of the online search when Max leans over his shoulder and points to something on the screen. It’s something Sam needs to see, but what he notices instead are Max’s hands and the way his body is pressed, firm and warm, against his back. Sam takes a deep breath and turns his head and Max is right there. This close, he can see the freckles against the golden brown color of his skin.
Max’s gaze flicks down to his mouth and back up to meet his eyes. His lips part in a way that makes Sam think for a moment there is a kiss coming. Instead, he takes a deep breath and steps back.
“So it’s true what they say. You really do know your way around the lost dark corners of the internet.” Max crosses his arms as he settles into a chair. Sam tries and fails not to notice the lines of his forearms, the subtle shape of his biceps.
“Everyone knows that, it’s true what they say,” Sam repeats his words. He knows he has that expression that Dean calls bitchface but he can’t help it. “Who have you been talking to?”
Max laughs, his whole body shaking with the sound that seems to come from deep in his chest. When their eyes meet again, Max nods. When he speaks, his tone is honest.
“Oh, you know. You’re the Winchesters. You’re basically legends in the hunting community.”
Sam leans back in his chair. “Tell me more.”
He hears the command in his voice, sees how Max’s eyes widen ever so slightly in response.
It turns out he’s heard a lot of stories, some of them true, some of them not so much.
At first Sam is concerned with setting the record straight. But Max, he learns, is an accomplished mimic. His impression of Dean is dead on, along with Jody, Bobby, and other people Sam knows. Sam gets caught up in the stories, in watching and listening as Max speaks.
At some point Max brings back another bottle of wine. Sam settles in a chair across from him, without the protection of the table between them. Talking to Max feels safe, in a way he doesn’t recall feeling with anyone besides Dean. And the way Max talks about Alicia, Sam is pretty sure he understands: that bond, that need to be close, the ability to communicate without words, the love that’s platonic but intense to the point where you would do anything, give up everything, just to be together.
It’s late, and Sam is a little bit tipsy, but he’s enjoying himself too much to suggest a stop to this. He can’t ever recall spending a whole day in the library with a visitor like this, someone who gets just as excited about the books as he does. It’s fun to be with someone who shares his interests and doesn’t think he’s a total nerd, but instead gets excited about the things Sam is talking about and showing him.
Max is the one who stands up, and god his ass in those jeans and why is Sam noticing things like that? He blames the wine.
“I’ll be here tomorrow too, waiting on the ingredients for the spell.” Max yawns. “For now, I need my beauty sleep.”
He wasn’t kidding about beauty sleep, Sam thinks the next morning. He’s gone for a run, then had a shower and made a pot of coffee. He’s frying up eggs and vegan sausage when Max wanders into the kitchen, wearing just a pair of dark green sleep pants.
“Do I smell coffee?” he says, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he’s shirtless, the way his body is sculpted and Sam is totally entranced. Max is so carelessly beautiful that he doesn’t know what to do with it.
“While you’re here, I thought maybe you’d like a peek at some of the archives. There are arcane items that you’re probably interested in?” Sam keeps his words casual, trying not to sound too eager.
But Max’s face lights up with eager curiosity. “There’s more?”
“Oh, I haven’t shown you the half of what’s here.”
“You can show me anything you want, handsome.” Max’s flirty tone is back. He must be really awake now.
“I’ll do the dishes if you wanna go get dressed.”
“Sure you wouldn’t rather have me get undressed?” Max winks outrageously. He’s so open with his body and his sexuality, comfortable in his own skin. Sam imagines feeling that good about himself, that free. He loves it and he’s a little bit envious all at once.
Once Max is ready, Sam leads the way to the basement. “This one,” he gestures broadly as he steps back to let Max in. “This one is dedicated to nothing but things that once belonged to witches. Spellbooks, herbs, charms.” His voice trails away as he realizes Max isn’t listening at all, just taking it all in.
As Max turns to survey the whole room, his hands rise, palms up.
“The energy in here is incredible,” he whispers. “Hard to think they’re all – gone.”
Sam nods. Not only are they gone, but many of them were killed by the very men who built this bunker and amassed this collection. He hadn’t given it much thought before. Max turns to him, tears glazing his eyes and Sam can feel how deeply deeply he is affected by this room and its contents.
“But they left a record behind.” It’s the first thing that comes to mind. “And now it’s ours.”
Max nods and takes a deep breath. “Show me.”
Sam has never been so open about his knowledge and experience with witchcraft. He’s nervous, at first, afraid to make a mistake, waiting for Max to judge him. But Max is just as into it as he is. It feels like they’re working on this together. It’s unfamiliar and tentative but Sam thinks he likes it.
The storeroom is small, and they keep brushing into one another – hands, knees, bodies. When Max slides behind Sam, hands on his shoulders and hips pressed against his ass, he’s pretty sure it’s not an accident but he doesn’t say anything.
It’s long past lunchtime when they finally resurface, each of them carrying a couple of boxes that they want to inspect at greater length. The table in the library is soon covered, pages and objects of magic laid out carefully. For a long while they work in companionable quiet.
When he finally speaks, Max’s voice is soft. “I wish my mother was here. I wish I could show this to her.”
Sam takes a deep breath before he answers.
“I miss my mom too.” It’s not something Sam says often. He wishes he had what Max did: a mother to teach him, guide him through growing up as both a witch and a hunter. But he would never admit it.
“At least you have this, a place to belong,” Max says.
After dinner, they return to the library, and Sam has every intention of returning to the research they were doing, but instead they settle in the leather armchairs and pick back up with the stories. He gets out the whiskey and pours them both a glass.
“The life of a Winchester.” Max says at last, gesturing around the room with a wide sweep of his glass. “Must be nice.”
“Oh?” Sam’s brows rise. “Living in a bunker, no family but my brother, the hunter’s life? You think this is nice?”
“And what did I have?” Max speaks quickly. “I grew up a witch and a hunter, bisexual and biracial, caught between worlds and belonging nowhere.”
Sam understands, then. Each of them has imagined what the other might have had. There are so many things he could say – about demon blood, psychic powers, his father. He chooses his answer carefully, “The things everyone knows? That’s not all there is to me.”
Max nods before taking a slow drink. “Okay,” he says at last, not asking for an explanation now, but accepting.
There’s worlds more for both of them to tell. But tonight, this is enough. The honest words make Sam feel a little more at home with Max.
The conversation turns to happy memories. Sam recalls summers with his brother at Bobby’s. Max talks about his mother teaching both he and his sister to seduce men. He’s still flirting in a practiced fashion but it’s less defensive, more genuine.
“You know, Sam Winchester,” he says at last, “this might be one of the best first dates I’ve ever been on.”
“A date?” Sam splutters. He’s almost afraid to ask. “Is this a date?”
“Isn’t it?” Max winks. “I mean, dinner, talking, drinks. I like you, you like me.” He’s flirting again, but there’s a weight to his words, and Sam answers carefully.
“It could be if you wanted it to be.” He watches as Max’s eyes light up, and a hopeful smile crosses his face. “C’mere,” he beckons.
Max closes the distance between them with a few steps as Sam stands up and holds out his hand. Max takes it carefully, allowing him to lead them to the couch. They settle in, sitting close. Sam wraps an arm around Max’s shoulders and lets it rest there. He can feel the other man’s heartbeat, hear his breath.
Sam cups Max’s face in his hand and Max weaves his fingers though Sam’s hair. For one long moment, time seems to stretch and swell, and then they’re kissing. Max tastes like the whiskey they’ve been drinking, warm and plush. He parts his lips for Sam to slip his tongue in, seeking, exploring.
When they finally pull apart, Max grins. “I wasn’t sure you would ever make a move.”
“I didn’t think you were actually interested,” Sam confesses. “I figured you flirted with everyone.”
“I mean, I do. But not like I do with you.” Max curls his hands into Sam’s flannel to tug him closer, and Sam slips an arm around his waist as their lips meet and meet again.
The next thing he knows, Max is slipping off the couch, settling between his knees, and tugging at his belt. Sam lifts his chin so their eyes meet. “You don’t have to –”
“No, I want to.” Max’s eyes are wide and bright with desire. Sam lifts his hips to help tug his jeans down out of the way and then sighs at the touch of his hand on him.
“You’re so beautiful, absolutely gorgeous” he murmurs, before he takes Sam into his mouth. He’s warm and wet, and knows exactly what he’s doing.
Sam watches him, the way his cheeks hollow as he sucks, the way his lips stretch around him. He puts a hand on the back of his head to guide his pace, feeling the soft brush of his cropped curls. He lets himself sink into the sensations overwhelming him.
“Max,” Sam grits out. “I’m gonna – I need to know if you –”
He understands and pulls back just enough to answer. “Yes, please, let me have you.” Then he returns to working his hand and mouth over Sam harder until his head tips back against the couch and he comes with a groan.
He’s still breathing hard when Max stands up and leans over him again, meeting him with lips that taste like salt.
“Oh, shit,” is all Sam manages to say, whispered and ragged.
Max straddles his lap, knees on either side of his legs, undoing the buttons of his shirt one by one without ever pulling their mouths apart. Sam lets his hands wander to his waist, around his hips and then over his ass as he grinds down.
“I, do you – bed?” Sam doesn’t seem to be able to think, much less talk, all he wants is more.
Max nods, and the two of them stumble down the hall, kissing and groping and tugging on clothes. Both of them are naked when they fall in a tangle of arms and legs on Sam’s bed.
Sam could get lost in the man before him, in his toned muscle and bronze skin and pale eyes. He lets his hands and mouth roam his body, touching, tasting, pulling Max against him, not wanting to be any farther apart than they have to be.
“Please,” Max pants finally, lifting Sam’s chin up with one hand so their gaze locks together. “I want you. Want you so much right now.”
“You just had me,” Sam answers.
Max laughs, that same deep honest laugh that Sam remembers from the night before. “Yeah, but I want you inside of me. I want you to fuck me.”
It’s what Sam wants too, so he sits up to grab lube and condoms, but Max pulls him back. He snaps his fingers, and then he’s holding what they need. When Sam’s eyes widen, he winks. “What good is magic if you can’t use it occasionally for a little fun?”
Two can play at this game. Sam nods, and blinks, and suddenly the lamps are casting a golden glow about the room and there’s soft jazz playing.
Max grins, delighted, as he rolls over on the bed and Sam settles on top of him. He’s perfect, in every way, and that’s what Sam keeps thinking as he sinks into his tight heat and starts to move. Perfect, perfect – he’s getting close, he knows it, and Max is panting and moaning under him, rolling back against him with every thrust.
He reaches around and takes Max in his hand. He’s thick and rock hard, and Sam strokes him in a rhythm with his hips. He grits his teeth and waits until Max comes with a shout. Then he lets go too, white-hot pleasure blocking out everything but the feel of their bodies together.
Max cleans them up with another snap of his fingers, and they settle back on the bed. They’re still pressed close, skin to skin. Sam traces Max’s face carefully with his fingertips as they whisper to one another, trading words and kisses late into the night.
Sam wakes up late the next morning with his face pressed between Max’s shoulder blades. He tightens an arm around his waist without thinking, and Max grinds back against him. The two of them linger, seeking and exploring, trying things they didn’t get to last night.
Afterward, when they’re both sweaty and sticky, Sam stops Max before he can snap it all away. “This time, let’s do it the old fashioned way.” He can feel himself grinning as he looks at Max, who smiles too.
They shower together, and Sam takes his time, running soapy hands all over Max, over his broad shoulders, down the planes of his back, around his perfect ass and down his muscled calves. In return, Max washes his hair. Sam closes his eyes and sinks into the luxury of his touch.
Back in the library, Max is as flirty as ever, but now, Sam responds freely. He doesn’t pull away, lets his fingers linger when they brush over a page. They both want to be closer, pressing together and stealing kisses as they move around the table.
Both of them know their time together is limited. Max can’t stay. It’s a long drive back, and he’s promised Alicia to be at Sunday brunch tomorrow.
“I’d stay, to make sure you can do this spell –” he starts.
“But who knows when Dean will get back and we’ll be ready.” Sam knows. He has what he needs now.
“I’ve already stayed a day longer than I planned,” he tells Sam.
“I wonder why that is,” Sam answers with a smirk.
When they kiss goodbye, it’s warm and sweet. They embrace, and Sam takes just a moment to rest in Max’s arms. “I want to see you again,” He murmurs.
“Oh don’t you worry, handsome Sammy.” Max’s grin lights up his whole face and his green eyes sparkle. “I’m not anywhere near finished with you yet.”