moragmacpherson: (delirium)
moragmacpherson ([personal profile] moragmacpherson) wrote2012-02-26 12:45 am

Fic: Penrose Stairs (Inception-SPN), Sam/Arthur, Arthur/Eames, NC-17) 2/3

Title: Penrose Stairs (2/3)
Authors: [personal profile] moragmacpherson & [personal profile] dragonspell
Beta: [personal profile] callowyn
Fandoms: Inception-Supernatural crossover fusion-AU; lets just call it Superception
Rating: NC-17
Final Word Count: 19,541
Pairings: Sam/Arthur, Eames/Arthur
Timeline: Set during "Mystery Spot" (3.11) for Supernatural, pre-movie for Inception.
Disclaimer: None of the characters contained herein belong to me and this work is not intended for any profit or other commercial purposes.
Not Such As I Was
Contents include: Language, graphic sexual situations,canonical character death
Summary: The stairs make four 90-degree turns as they ascend or descend yet form a continuous loop, so that a person could climb them forever and never get any higher. This is clearly impossible in three dimensions.

Master Post

Tuesday's Child is Full of Grace

March 3, 2008
Wednesday's Child is Full of Woe

If Sam had really wanted to surprise Arthur with his visit, he should have gotten rid of that fucking car. He didn’t even have the sense to park it more than two blocks away from Arthur's house. Clearly they needed to have another talk about conspicuousness—one which wouldn't involve Arthur's Glock only because he knew for certain that Eames was on a Monte Carlo-bound jet at this very moment, which meant that Sam's (or more likely, Dean's) idiocy wasn't going to get Sam caught this time. Arthur did have to give Sam some credit, though; it looked like his lock-picking and alarm-disabling skills had gotten even sharper over the last couple of years.

Arthur set his groceries calmly on the counter. "You showed up just in time for dinner. The least you two assholes can do is help me put this stuff away," he called out.

"Just the one asshole," said Sam, leaning on the threshold.

It had only been a month and a half since that whole mess with the Silene capensis that Arthur'd had to un-happen, but it must have been a hell of a month. Sam looked like shit. His cheeks had hollowed out and he was shivering despite the seventy-five degree heat. If Arthur had to guess, he'd say that Sam hadn't eaten in almost a week.

"Where's the other one?" Arthur asked, opening the cupboards and unloading groceries, leaving out the ingredients he'd planned to use for dinner with the Cobbs on Wednesday. Dean was an idiotic, reckless prick with an attitude problem, but Sam loved his brother. If anything had happened to Dean...

"We had to split up for a little. Get the FBI off of our tails." It came out a little too practiced, but Sam's expression deterred Arthur from calling him on it. "I've got a job I could use your help with."

Arthur folded the empty paper sacks flat and leaned against the counter. "You're asking me for help with the family business."

"You're the one who's been asking all of these years," said Sam, his tone flat. "I just need someone who can do a quick, thorough, global search for a particular pattern."

"Pattern of what?"

"Deaths, usually," Sam said, and he stopped, looking Arthur in the eye before letting out a single, bitter laugh. "Ironic deaths."

"'Ironic deaths'? What the hell does that mean?"

"I've got some files, I can show you examples.” Sam held up a manila folder. “The M.O. varies, but you're gonna have to trust me that they're all the same guy. I need to find him."

Arthur folded his arms. "So that's the family business? You're vigilantes."

"Sometimes," Sam said.

Years of thinking up worst case scenarios to explain the Secret Too Dangerous To Know and the Winchesters were just a tiny, migrant Mafia? Did Sam think Arthur was that untrustworthy? That inept? "Sam, I'm on the wrong side of the law more often than not these days, you could’ve—I wouldn’t judge you for something like that."

Sam’s jaw jumped, and Arthur narrowed his eyes. "There's more?" Somehow, he found he was relieved.

Sam's gaze shifted towards the door. "You know what, this was a mistake."

"Of course I'll do it," Arthur said before Sam could bolt. "You know someone better? Hand over the files—and move that fucking car into the garage.” Arthur threw his own keys to Sam a little harder than the distance warranted. “Didn't we just have this conversation?"

Sam blinked, but after a minute he handed Arthur the mess of print-outs and news clippings. Arthur flipped it open; Sam's handwriting hadn't gotten any better since college. If anything, it was worse now: lines less even, letters more cramped, all of it blotchier. And that didn't even begin to address the seemingly random contents of the file. Arthur glanced up and regarded Sam for a long moment. It could just be exhaustion; Sam had looked stretched in Pittsburgh. But given long enough, stretching led to snapping.

"Go deal with the damn cars," Arthur barked. Sam scowled as he trudged out the door, but anger was better than that blank mask Sam was using to conceal God knew what. Once Sam had slammed the door, Arthur pulled out his phone and sent Mal a quick text. Sam's here, very possibly having psychotic break. Trying not to spook him. More details when I have them.

By the time Sam finished shuffling the cars, Arthur had shrimp simmering in lemon butter and a pot of water on its way to boiling. He also had his laptop open, all of Sam's articles spread out on the table in the closest approximation of a sane pattern that Arthur could come up with, and an open beer in his hand. He waved his bottle at Sam. "There's one for you by the stove; stir the sauce while you're up."

Arthur could sort of see what Sam meant by ironic deaths, but the pattern, if there was one, looked like it had been created by one of those morons who tried to tell the future by putting letters from the Bible into an arbitrary grid. Batshit. Arthur's lips quirked to the side and he looked up: Sam was dumping vermicelli into the now-boiling water, beer untouched.

"I'm taking your word for it that these are all the same guy," said Arthur. "You said you want a global search?"

Sam nodded, unwashed hair falling in his face and getting caught in the scruff on his cheeks. "Guy gets around faster than you do. Putting a timeline together would be nice, but ongoing clusters would be even more helpful. Wherever he is, that's where I've got to go."

"Does he have a name, or a known set of aliases? Or a picture, even if he uses disguises?"

Sam shook his head. "There's a couple of photos in there but... he's too good to be caught like that. The deaths are the thing to focus on, trust me."

Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose. "This isn't going to be a smash and grab, you understand? It's not like any of these articles are saying 'just deserts' or anything like that."

Sam stirred the shrimp. "Can you do it or not?"

Arthur sighed. "There are a couple of different sorting algorithms I can work with. It's just going to take some time, and then one hell of a distraction to keep anyone from noticing what I'm doing." Of course, there was one trick he'd been waiting for an excuse to use ever since they extracted from that DNS expert...

"How long?"

"If I start right after dinner and don't want to be assassinated for publicly destroying the internet as we know it?" Arthur took a sip. "Call it four days." Which would also be long enough for Arthur to either talk sense into Sam or get him into an appropriate institution.

Sam nodded. "If you're going to keep my car locked up, is there a cheap hotel in walking distance?"

"You're kidding me, right?" Arthur stood up and walked over to Sam, grabbing the spoon out of his hand. "Sit down, dumbfuck." After a second of glaring, Sam grunted and retreated to the table. Arthur finished assembling dinner and set the plates down on the table, as well as Sam's untouched beer. "There's a guest bedroom, if you want it." Arthur didn't have to mention the alternative option. "Maintaining low visibility would be a good idea, don't you think? Also, I'm going to need you on hand. When it comes to creating search parameters for 'ironic deaths', I suspect you're going to be a little more imaginative than me— Oh, for Christ's sake." Arthur reached across the table and took a sip of Sam's beer then stole a few noodles off of Sam's plate and ate those too. "Satisfied?" Arthur asked, rolling his eyes.

Sam's eyes remained narrow and his face otherwise expressionless, but he did start eating and drinking. "In the meantime, you're going to get some fucking sleep. Regular sleep. I can hook you up to the PASIV if you want to control your dreams, but sleep one way or another. You get fucking weird when you're sleep deprived."

"If I wanted someone to mother me, I would have gone to Mal," Sam muttered.

Arthur gave Sam a tight grin. "You want my help? I'm not giving it to a zombie." Sam didn't reply. Arthur nursed his beer and waited for Sam to finish eating. "Guest bedroom's at the end of the hall, past the bathroom. Linens are in the chest at the foot of the bed. You need me to make up the bed or can I start coding already?"

Sam scowled. "I can make my own fucking bed."

Arthur stood and collected their plates. "You could also consider showering. Just saying."

Sam didn't dignify this with a response, but by the time Arthur finished loading the dishwasher, he could hear the shower running down the hall. He sent Mal another text. Holding back for now. Still skittish and he's hiding something. Dean is MIA.

It took Arthur about two hours to code an exploit that would compromise seven of the thirteen root DNS servers, thereby giving him enough time to search through any online record he wanted—once he convinced Sam to actually explain who he was looking for.

Mal returned his text just as he was finishing. James has ear infection but i've called mother. she can be here in 2 days. keep him close if things change call tout de suite. dom will help you handle him. Arthur scrubbed his face, looked from the message to the articles on the table to the cyber-equivalent of a hydrogen bomb on his computer. After a moment he erased the texts. He owed Sam the benefit of the doubt.

Arthur locked up and reset his security system, then went to the guestroom to check on Sam. To his mild surprise, he didn't find Sam there, only his duffel. Instead Sam was asleep, hair still wet and fully dressed except for his boots, on top of the quilt in Arthur's bed. His thumb was stuck inside the copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas he'd given to Arthur his sophomore year; at least he'd left Arthur's bookmark in place. All of the photos on Arthur's bookshelf had been moved as well; the most recent pictures of James and Phillipa were now on his bed stand. Arthur sighed and picked up the book. He thought about waking Sam, but who knew how long it had been since he’d last slept? Instead Arthur changed into a set of pajama bottoms, turned off his alarm clock, and slid under the covers. After a moment or two, he lifted his arm out above the covers to lie across Sam's waist.

The soft flannel of Sam’s shirt brushed against his nose. Arthur shifted subtly closer and just inhaled that smell, the smell a part of him still thought would mean 'home' one day. Arthur had always and would always give Sam anything he asked for. If only the kid could bring himself to actually ask for it.

About an hour later, Sam shifted out from under Arthur, waking him. "Something wrong?" Arthur asked, sitting up.

In the dim light, Arthur saw Sam wiggle his hips and kick his legs. "Feels like my nuts got caught in a vise," Sam said, his voice still sleep-slurred.

"So take your jeans off and come back to bed." Something in Arthur's chest tightened. They'd had this conversation many times before, years ago, and so much had changed since then but Arthur's response hadn't at all. Would Sam's?

"'kay." Sam fumbled with the fly and the buttons on his shirt, but managed to strip down to his undershirt and boxers without falling over. He still left the clothes on the ground where they fell and sort of lurched back into bed. Arthur didn't move a muscle as Sam slid under the sheets, wrapped one long, hairy leg around Arthur's, and fell back to sleep within seconds.

Gingerly, Arthur slid down the headboard and laid his head back down on Sam's shoulder. Out of habit he pushed Sam's hair behind his ear, and let his hand come to rest on Sam's hip.

"I miss you so much sometimes," Sam mumbled, not really awake. His arm curled around Arthur's waist, his palm open and hot against Arthur's bare skin, spanning nearly the breadth of Arthur's lower back. Sam could crush Arthur like this: just wrap tighter and tighter around him until he swallowed Arthur whole.

The words love you too stalled on Arthur's lips. Not yet: there were too many I love you but...s left to clear up before saying it aloud sounded like anything other than a jinx. He dropped a kiss on Sam’s temple instead, and Sam curled closer like he’d forgotten it wasn’t 2003. Arthur fell asleep letting himself pretend that it was.


Arthur woke up entirely tangled with Sam. He could feel Sam's pulse against his lips; strands of too-long hair tangled in Arthur's eyelashes when he opened them. Arthur's left elbow cradled the side of Sam's head while his right arm draped over Sam's chest, trapped under Sam's left arm, which had migrated just a bit south in the night so that his fingertips edged under Arthur's waistband, the little perv. Meanwhile Sam's right arm wrapped up and around Arthur's back, fingers slotted along Arthur's ribs. Their legs remained twined together with the slight bulge under Arthur's pajama pants nestled comfortably in the crease of Sam's hip. Arthur gave himself a pat on the back for remembering to shut off the alarm clock—if Sam startled awake in this position, there would be bruising on both sides.

And now that Arthur had this back, he could admit to himself how much he still wanted it. He hadn't had sex since Sam gave him that bonus blowjob back in January. As tempting as Eames was— and after nearly four years and a half dozen drunken or near-death makeout sessions, Arthur couldn't deny the attraction — taking him up on his advances never felt right. Somehow Arthur knew that once he gave in to Eames, it would mean he'd given up on ever keeping this.

Sam's stomach growled loudly; he answered his own body with an annoyed sniff and grumble, his hands pulling Arthur even closer. He felt Sam wake up, breath hitching and muscles tensing as he registered their positions much as Arthur had a minute or so before. Arthur tilted his neck up and to the side so that he could see Sam's face when his eyes opened, before Sam was awake enough to hide anything.

Sam's first expression of mild surprise and disorientation was to be expected; what sucked the air out of Arthur's lungs was the flash of utter despair that followed. The tell-tale anguished furrow between Sam's eye brows appeared at the same time as his lips and that one muscle in his left cheek twitched. Arthur felt his own face fall even as Sam swallowed and sucked on his lower lip. Arthur dropped his gaze, trying to extract himself. "Sorry, Sam, I'm—"

Sam's limbs went rigid, trapping Arthur properly now. "Arthur, no, it's not—" But however he'd intended to finish the sentence, it wasn't something he could make himself speak aloud.

Arthur watched the neutral mask return. Poor Sam could never quite rein in his eyes, though; they flickered to the side, still too wide and a little glassy. Arthur pulled Sam's face in closer, pressing a chaste peck on Sam's lips. "It's okay," he said, but Sam bit his own lip and and shook his head. Their lips brushed together, then they were kissing before Arthur caught himself and pulled back. "It's not okay?" he whispered, and Sam nodded, but pressed his mouth to Arthur’s again rather than elaborate.

The kisses grew deeper and Arthur felt Sam harden against his thigh. "Can I— is this better?" Arthur asked, shifting his leg so that it rubbed against Sam's dick.

"I need—please," Sam whimpered, squeezing his eyes shut even as his hips rolled up into Arthur's. "Please," he repeated, and fuck, whoever it was that had hurt or killed Dean, Arthur was going to hunt them down and make them suffer, then he was going to figure out a way to save Dean. If necessary, Arthur would drag him back from wherever his soul had gone just to beat the shit out of him for reducing Sam to this.

But first, Arthur would make things better for Sam, for both of them, just for a little while. "Let me," he said, and Sam relaxed enough for Arthur to get them both undressed with relative ease.

Sam's kisses kept turning into something starving and desperate; Arthur had to push him back down by the sternum to keep Sam from chasing after Arthur's lips. Christ, he remembered Sam was big, but feeling him in his hand again was something else. Arthur crouched back on his knees between Sam's legs, murmuring wordless reassurances the whole time — Sam and sex and words had never really mixed together well for Arthur— so that he could lick a stripe along Sam's cock from root to tip. Sam’s whole body spasmed, tried to curl in on itself, but Arthur held him down, sucking harder, and after a few seconds Sam flopped back and moaned. Arthur looked up at him: Sam's head was thrown back against the pillow, his eyes still locked shut. Something in Arthur's gut twisted.

He pulled his lips off of Sam's cock. This wasn't about Arthur giving Sam a way out, it was about what Arthur could do if Sam let him back in. Arthur kept working Sam's dick with his hand, but nosed down Sam's groin, pausing to give his balls a quick, teasing lick, before swirling the tip of his tongue over Sam's puckered hole.

"Arthur, fucking hell!" Sam shouted, his eyes snapping open. For all of the jokes about Arthur being a tight-ass—Eames had started most of them—Sam was the one who’d always been really sensitive down there. The muscles clenched even tighter after the first stroke, but Sam didn't actively pull away, so Arthur dove back in. He rubbed his dick against Sam's leg a little, needing the relief as he patiently licked and sucked until he could push his tongue inside Sam, making sure to press down on the base of Sam's dick so this didn’t end too soon.

Sam's thighs quaked around Arthur's shoulders while Arthur tongue-fucked him. Sam kept up a constant commentary of expletives interspersed with Arthur's name, his hands tearing into Arthur's Egyptian cotton sheets. Arthur didn't care. This was the kind of mindlessness that Sam needed: not withdrawing to oblivion but overloaded with sensation. Arthur tongued and stroked him up to the brink and backed off twice, until Sam's babble started making a little more sense. He was saying some very impolite things about Arthur's ancestry, but what mattered was he was here, he was in this moment, with Arthur, and it was good.

"What the fucking fuck?" Sam panted when Arthur pulled away, but he shut up once Arthur's lips wrapped around his dick. Arthur took a few deep breaths through his nose, getting Sam's cock as sloppy wet with spit and pre-come as he could without letting him come. Sam let out a frustrated cry when Arthur's mouth abandoned his dick once again, and now Arthur did let himself grin at Sam. He moved quickly, pinning Sam down and straddling his waist, then pried one of Sam's hands loose from the sheets.

Sam didn't catch on until Arthur pulled the hand up and started licking and sucking Sam's fingers. Understanding dawned in his eyes and he said, "Oh," and started slicking his other hand with his own mouth. Arthur released his hand and Sam wasted no time wriggling a finger into Arthur's ass while he wrapped the other hand around Arthur's dick. Arthur's groan became a gasp when Sam quickly pushed in another finger. Fuck, but he'd missed Sam's hands, Sam's long, nimble fingers that knew Arthur's body better than anyone else. Arthur slumped forward, tilting his hips up to give Sam better access and let Sam take over for a bit, make absolutely sure Sam was paying attention to this and not his own thoughts. Arthur started sucking a hickey onto Sam's shoulder just above his tattoo (and why did Arthur recognize that design)—

The savage burn of Sam’s third finger stopped all rational thought. Arthur bit down on Sam's shoulder to muffle his whimper and Sam shuddered—no, he was chuckling. "My turn," he said, pausing to let Arthur adjust. The hand on Arthur's dick stopped and slid up his chest before it pushed Arthur's chin up into a kiss. That was good too, and it distracted Arthur from noticing that Sam's fingers were moving again, fucking him open. Arthur pushed off of Sam and stretched across the bed. He could almost reach the nightstand—

"Here," Sam said, pulling his fingers out all at once. Arthur yelped, overbalanced, and crashed into the mattress. Sam took the opportunity to roll on top of Arthur: a sweaty blanket with freakish gorilla arms that had no trouble opening the drawer and retrieving the lube and a condom, or lifting Arthur onto his hands and knees.

Let the cunning bastard indulge his ridiculous control issues; Arthur stopped caring the second Sam shoved his slicked-up fingers back into him, the cold both shocking and soothing. "Yes," Arthur hissed, pushing back and fucking himself on Sam's fingers. Arthur was ready, now, for Sam's fingers to slide out, prepared for the blunt pressure of Sam's dick stretching him even wider. Arthur's memories hadn't done Sam justice; he'd forgotten about the little noises that Sam made every time one of his shallow thrusts pushed a little deeper than he'd expected.

Sam bottomed out and grunted right into Arthur's ear, a sound that sent a primal shiver up and down Arthur's spine, and he couldn't help but clench down hard around Sam. They both cried out; Sam pulled back a little and somehow the motion transformed ache into need. The burn faded into the background, drowned out by the friction of Sam's shaft against Arthur's prostate. Arthur stopped trying to hold back his moans.

It wasn't more than a dozen shallow thrusts before Sam had Arthur's hips in hand, the head of his cock pulling against Arthur's rim right before he fucked it all the way back in. No one and nothing could compare. Arthur lost any kind of control—all he could do was roll his hips into the thrust when Sam dragged him back onto his cock.

Arthur tried reaching for his own dick, needing the release to keep up with how rough Sam was using him, but Sam batted his hand away. "No," he said, and Arthur could argue, would argue, but then Sam hooked an arm around his chest and hoisted them both upright, saying "Like this," and Arthur's only answer was a scream. Arthur squirmed and writhed against him but Sam's arm held him tight. "You wanted to ride me," Sam teased.

"Fuck you," Arthur snarled, and he did, pulling on Sam's arm for the extra leverage he needed to fuck himself back on Sam's dick, use Sam as roughly as Sam had used him. He was so close, even without Sam touching him. All it took was Sam moaning in his ear and then biting down.

"Told you," Sam panted out, and that didn't make any sense but Arthur didn’t care. Arthur let out everything, moaning the entire time, grinding his ass down on Sam's cock until his body lay limp on Sam's lap: filthy, covered with come and with nothing left to give.

Sam's arm dropped and so did Arthur, crumpling forward and slipping to the side, his hand dragging across Sam’s sweat-covered chest. Breathing deeply, Arthur let himself lie limply against the mattress, blinking as Sam slid down to join him. Arthur noticed that Sam hadn't come, that he was stripping the condom off his still hard cock and tossing it the general direction of the waste basket. Sam’s face was blank again.

Fuck that— Sam was not allowed to turn this into another way of punishing himself. Arthur pushed himself up on his elbow and scooted down along the bed until his face was even with Sam's dick, one hand drifting along Sam's torso down to his cock. Arthur wrapped his fingers around it with lazy but very intentional strokes. Sam’s eyes slipped closed and Arthur pushed against Sam’s hip, rolling him onto his back. He took a long breath, then leaned over and took as much of Sam's cock into his mouth as he could.

Sam gasped, his hips twitching upward, but Arthur pushed them back down with a hand on Sam's stomach. He pulled back and sucked on just the head, swirling his tongue around it while he snaked his other hand down to cradle Sam's balls, rolling them slow and sure. Sam’s fingers tangled in Arthur’s hair. Arthur hummed and licked into the slit of his cock until he had Sam moaning and trembling beneath him. Sam had been so close already, and it didn’t take long before, with a final twist, Sam filled Arthur’s mouth in long, slow pulses. Arthur took it all, took Sam's groans and hitched breaths and every drop of him he could get, and he swallowed it all.

After Sam’s tremors settled down, they gravitated back towards each other. Sam hadn't quite caught his breath yet. When he opened his eyes, Arthur could still read guilt and despair in eyes too wide and a brow too furrowed. But now they were tempered by the contented curl of his lips and the relaxed set of his jaw and neck. It was a start.

Sam broke the silence with a soft laugh. "I think— maybe I needed that," he said.

Arthur smirked. "I didn't notice," he said, pushing Sam's hair back, combing through it with his fingers. Sam's eyes slid shut and he pushed into the touch. Arthur almost said something, but then Sam let out a small sigh. Arthur kept up the stroking for a few more minutes, but Sam had always been a sucker for the afterglow. If he'd been as sleep deprived as Arthur suspected, Sam would be down for a minimum of three hours.

Arthur would have stayed there all day, but if he wanted to pull Sam back from the brink— well, that meant he had to get moving. He pulled away carefully, checked his totem, resisted the urge to do a Snoopy dance when it came up real, then cleaned up with what had been his favorite sheet and covered Sam with the relatively unsoiled quilt. Arthur had some arrangements to make, some shady figures to bribe, and at least one contract to cancel. But if that was the cost of having a naked Sam asleep in his bed? Arthur would bring down the entire internet, give out markers to the Russians and the Chinese, cancel every job he had set up for the next year, and still consider it a bargain.


Sure enough, a little before noon Arthur heard heavy footfalls padding down the hallway before the bathroom door swung shut. He set his computer aside and got up to cook lunch. Since he'd been shopping mostly for himself the night before, pretty much the only thing Arthur could cook that he would have enough to share was grilled cheese. It was also a quick meal, even more so because Sam hated tomato on his and preferred the cheapest American cheese possible, a guilty pleasure that he'd passed on to Arthur even as Mal threatened to throw them both out of the house. But it did melt well.

Arthur timed it so he was cutting Sam's (triangles, never rectangles) when he heard Sam walk into the kitchen. "There's a bag of chips in the pantry right next to you," he said as he picked up the plate and a napkin.

When he turned around, Sam had frozen at the threshold. "Sam?" Arthur said, and that seemed to snap him out it. Arthur set his plate down on the table and returned to the range. "Not a lot of options when it comes to drinks, unless you feel like having a beer for lunch."

Sam hurriedly picked up his grilled cheese when Arthur sat down across from him, as though Arthur wouldn’t notice the lack of bite marks. Arthur waited long enough for it to be obvious that Sam was avoiding eye contact before he said, "I didn’t forget the way you like them, you know, it hasn’t been that long."

Sam gave something that might have passed for a laugh if Arthur hadn’t been looking at him. Arthur could actually hear Sam’s stomach growl, but Sam put the sandwich back on his plate and reached for Arthur’s laptop, saying, “So have you found anything yet?”

A weak attempt even by Sam’s standards. “No working until you’ve eaten something,” Arthur said, pretending he didn’t have a Mal-voice.

"Do you, um, could I have something else?" Sam said, not looking up.

About to point out that he’d never seen Sam meet a grilled cheese he didn’t like, Arthur managed to notice in time that Sam did look a little green around the gills. "There’s not much else," he said. “Unless you want that can of Spaghetti-o’s that seems to regenerate every time I throw it out.”

Sam covered his eyes for a moment, his lips quirking from side to side and nostrils flaring. Arthur started counting to ten in his head, but then Sam finally looked up with a half-hearted smile. "I think maybe I should go back to bed."

Arthur waited to see if Sam would offer an explanation, but all that happened was the smile slipping from Sam’s face and his eyes going even rounder. The kicked-puppy look might have been intentional, but it made Arthur feel like a prick anyway. “Sure,” he said, and Sam pushed away from the table without giving the sandwich another glance. Arthur set his elbows on the table and held his face in his hands for a minute or two, then pulled out his phone. He could call Mal. He should call Dom.

He didn't. Instead, Arthur went back to his bedroom, realizing only as he opened the door that Sam might have gone back to the guest room. But there Sam was curled up on his bed, quilt pulled up above his shoulders, and Arthur ignored the tinge of possessiveness in the rush of relief. He sat down on the bed. "Do you want to talk about this?"

Sam didn't turn his head or open his eyes. "Am I allowed to say no?"

"For now."

"Then no."

Arthur sighed. "Is there— you really need to eat something, Sam." If Sam wanted to play dirty, Arthur would play dirty. "Do you really think not taking care of yourself is going to do Dean any good?"

Sam flinched, turning his face into the pillow. "Just— can you get me a Gatorade or something? Crackers maybe. Just.. no grilled cheese, okay?" Sam mumbled half into the pillow.

Arthur blinked. He'd expected more resistance. "Yeah, I can go pick something up. Anything else you can think of?"

"No," came the immediate response. Arthur nodded and, just because he could, gave Sam's shoulder a squeeze before he turned to leave. Sam grabbed his hand, pulled it against his cheek, and gave it a quick kiss. "Arthur— it's not your fault, okay? Don't ever think it's your fault. There's just... this case has been messing with my head for awhile now," he said, squeezing Arthur's fingers.

"And you don't want to talk about it," said Arthur.

Sam shook his head, nuzzling Arthur's hand again. "Not— not now."

Sam still hadn't let go of his hand. "All right," said Arthur, and he had a bad feeling and he didn't want to pull away, but Sam really did need to eat something and he wasn't lying or fighting, just not ready to talk. Arthur could accept that. "Get some rest, I shouldn't be more than a few minutes," he told Sam, pulling his hand away but combing his fingers through Sam's hair one last time. Sam nodded and turned his face back into the pillow, and Arthur left. He tossed Sam's sandwich in the garbage and grabbed his own to eat on his way out.

He should have known. Sam said he wanted to sleep? Arthur should have slipped him a little chemical assistance before he left. At the very least, he should have snatched Sam's keys. But he'd wanted to believe that Sam was okay; he'd wanted to believe that Sam finally really did trust him, with everything.

When he returned home Sam, his duffel and files, and that fucking car were all gone. The note on the kitchen table was brief— Sam had been in a hurry— but it got his point across.

I wanted to stay. I'm sorry.

Arthur sat at the table and crumpled it in his hand.

Thursday's Child Has Far To Go