Betas: callowyn and kalliel
Fandoms: Inception-Supernatural fusion AU
Timeline: Set during "Dream a Little Dream" (3.10) for Supernatural, pre-movie for Inception.
Series: Not Such As I Was
Contents include: Language, graphic sexual situations
Summary: Sam never expected both of his lives to catch up with him at once.
Dean picked out one of the papers from Bobby's mural of research. "'Silene capensis,' which of course means absolutely nothing to me."
Things clicked into place in ways that were totally fucking impossible. Silene capensis might not have meant anything to Dean, but it meant a whole other world to Sam, one he thought he’d left behind. Fortunately, Dean was looking away while Sam schooled his expression into something more neutral.
"Here, obit," Sam said, a little too eager, and started reading it aloud. There had to be something in here to occupy Dean for a few hours. Dean always had preferred leg work, and Sam wasn't surprised when Dean decided on his own to go find out what killed the neurologist (whose name Sam didn't recognize), dumping all of Bobby's research on Sam's lap.
Sam was still fucked, but he wasn't surprised.
While they stopped at the Gas 'n' Go, Sam bought a burn phone with cash and tried not to feel like a fugitive. He was a fugitive, of course, but that was hardly new. It was just that between Lilith and Ruby and Dean's deal, Sam hadn't given much thought to the other things chasing him. Someone else was all too fond of doing that for him.
As soon as Dean finished getting dressed to interview the people at the sleep clinic, Sam took every scrap of paper from Bobby's room and laid them out on the bed. He swallowed hard when he found an article mentioning an aborted government operation named Project Lavoisier, before he found Bobby's handwritten note in the margins: "Men Who Stare At Goats bullshit" with bullshit underlined three times, along with a phone number.
Sam didn't know the phone number, but he had a bad feeling about it. He went to the vending machines to pick up a soda, 'bumped' into a fellow guest and temporarily liberated his phone to send a message containing the number from Bobby's papers along with the words 'aircraft carrier?'
Roughly a minute later the phone chimed. 'Submarine, idiot. L7.'
Sam smirked, deleted both messages, wiped off the 'borrowed' phone, and casually dropped it in the hall. Then he returned to his room, took a deep breath, and punched in the number for Arthur's Chicago safehouse on the new phone.
"What part of 'land line' do you not understand, asshole?"
"Calm down, this is a burn phone."
"Nice to know you still know how to take some kind of precautions," Arthur snorted. "Congratulations, by the way: you have an FBI file."
"Well, if it comes to it, I've got people over their pay grade," said Sam. Arthur replied with a non-committal grunt. "You didn't peek, did you?"
"Didn't want to ping it," Arthur lied. Sam knew full well that Arthur considered anything in the public record to be fair game and only left a ping if he wanted to. "Why am I not surprised to be talking to you?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Same reason I called battleships. Somebody calls you asking questions about the mysterious death of a neurologist running a sleep study and says Lavoisier? No way you weren't coming to investigate it on your own."
"You're lucky you caught me at this number. The airline lost my luggage somewhere over the Pacific and I had to stop home for clothes during my layover."
Sam hoped Arthur wasn't expecting to find a PASIV when he got here. Being Arthur, he’d also probably want fresh clothes. Sam took a minute to imagine Arthur swanning around wearing one of Sam’s old t-shirts. The one with the purple greyhound, perhaps. "So I take it this study isn't sponsored."
"Entirely under the radar. No studio chatter either—well, not yet. According to my voice messages, you're talking to the official cleaner."
Shit. Arthur would be even nastier if he had government backing. "How is the general?" he asked, trying to keep things light and at least somewhat natural-sounding to anyone else who might be listening.
"Diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, so we'll be down to beryllium pretty soon. He's still lucid for now, and cranky as ever." Sam blinked. The casualty rate for people who knew Lavoisier was almost as bad as his mother's family. They'd started with ten. Beryllium—four— would leave only Arthur, Mal, Sophie, and Hosni. Arthur's voice took on the slightest hint of admiration. "Speaking of which, do you know the cranky sonovabitch who managed to get to my number?"
Sam had to laugh. "Nice job pulling one over on him. He can be persistent." No use dancing around it. "He's a family friend."
On the other end of the line, Arthur stopped zipping up his spare wardrobe. After several moments of silence, Arthur repeated, slower, "I'm the official cleaner."
Sam closed his eyes, rubbing them with his index finger and thumb. "I'll be waiting."
"That is the last fucking place in the world you should be and you know it," came the instant shrill response, and Sam had to pull his ear away from the receiver. "Unless this is your way of saying you want back in the business."
Sam cringed. "No." The words hung between them, as loaded now as they had been four years ago. "It's not—I don't want you roughing it in the back country with my folks either, but the sonovabitch is drifting unbaptized."
"Fuck." A coffee cup or something shattered against the wall and Sam felt a pang of sympathy for any and all people Arthur would encounter on his way to Pittsburgh. "You sure?"
"I haven't had a chance to go down and look for myself. I'm defrocked and this isn't exactly papal doctrine. There aren't any fresh tracks." Sam was willing to bet one crazy professor’s concoction didn’t make a lot of distinctions between the usual dreamscape and Limbo.
"Bullshit. You must have missed them."
If Sam hadn't examined Bobby's arms for needle marks he wouldn't have believed it either. But for all of the scars and spots on Bobby's arms, there had been no tell-tale twin dots. Whatever Bobby had been dosed with, it didn’t come from a PASIV. He sighed. "Remember who you're talking to."
"Wanna throw a little virgin birth in there while you're at it? Fucking hell. You're worse than the Cobbs." Arthur sighed. "They say hi, for what it's worth. When you have an actual land line, you might consider giving Mal a call. She worries about you."
No use trying for subterfuge when it came to the Cobbs, much as Sam wished some things from his past could be erased. They knew everyone in the dreamshare community; not knowing them would stand out worse than acknowledging the friendship. "I write."
"Hard to hold a baby with a postcard."
"I've got a plane to catch. Get the hell off that phone and burn it already. And you'd better have meant it when you said 'waiting'."
"Phone's burned, can't promise anything else. See you when I see you."
Sam hung up, cracked the phone in half, and dropped it into the sink with Dean's socks. He had at least three hours before Arthur landed and probably another half-hour or so before Arthur tracked him down and hit him over the head for being so easy to find.
Sam looked back at Bobby's notes and groaned. He kept these parts of his life strictly segregated for a reason. Now he had to figure out something to tell Dean, preferably something that didn't involve divulging details of Project Lavoisier or Sam’s precise sexual orientation. Sam was certain Dean had no idea about any of it, and he planned to keep it that way. If Dad had ever noticed Sam's boyfriend—or Sam's two years as a 'military contractor'—during one of his covert visits to Stanford, then he'd taken that secret with him to Hell and beyond.
But time was ticking down before a collision was inevitable, and Sam still wasn't even sure which half of his life was more insane. Your family, said a voice in his head that sounded distinctly like Mal. Arthur would probably agree.
Maybe, if Sam was really clever, he'd figure out exactly how the hell someone was sharing dreams without a PASIV. Then he could worry about pulling Bobby out of Limbo-or-whatever and keep Arthur from snooping his way into the apocalyptic quagmire they called the family business.
Reaching into his pocket, Sam toyed with the bracelet of metal anti-possession charms he'd kept there since the Meg incident. He had the tattoo now, but these charms were more than a fail-safe. His fingers found the single ceramic bead on the strand easily. Still reality; still his life.
A part of him wanted to hook Dean up to a PASIV, take him two layers down, maybe try for three. Sam had the power to give his brother another few years, even if only in the dream. But Dean would still be signed up for an eternity in Hell when he woke up.
Dean would flip his shit if he learned about Somnacin. Then he'd do it again about Sam's special abilities in the dream. The only reason Dean wouldn't freak out about Arthur was because they'd hated each other on sight when they'd met at Jess' funeral. And Dean wouldn’t want to live in a dream with him anyway; he’d already made that choice with the djinn.
The thoughts worked better than a double-shot of espresso. Sam stifled a yawn and opened his laptop. There were places and things in this world that neither Bobby nor Arthur would ever think to put together. Sam would find them.
Three hours later, when he reached Bobby's floor at the hospital, Sam did indeed have a good idea of the 'what', the 'how' and a vague idea of 'how to fix it'. Arthur was right: sharing a dream without a PASIV was impossible with processed Somnacin. It required shamanistic magic, actual bits of Silene capensis and a tissue sample. At least it didn't involve drinking reindeer piss; the tea supposedly tasted worse, but Dean would put up less of a fight over it.
Bobby's instincts were good: this was their kind of problem. The trick was stopping its rapid transformation into Arthur's kind of problem. The situation would have to be contained, and there was no better man for that job than Arthur, but Sam wasn't giving up on Bobby yet.
Sam took Bobby's research, edited out any hints of overlapping worlds, turned it into bullet points, and then illustrated it for Dean's consumption. The folder still wasn't quite as neat as one of Arthur's dossiers. There was still a slim chance he and Sam could get this whole thing cleaned up before Arthur even landed. Sam let Dean go to the hospital ahead of him as he double-checked that his tracks were covered.
Sam had barely entered the hospital’s grey halls, however, when Arthur darted out from an open doorway and dragged him into a dim room. Sam tried to break the hold and Arthur whipped him into the wall instead. The elderly coma patient currently occupying the room didn't seem to mind their ruckus. "Jesus Christ, the FBI must be fucking blind to miss that car, what were you thinking—" Arthur got out, before Sam gave up and kissed him.
Contrary to popular opinion, Sam had never left Arthur. He just didn't always follow him.
Speech stifled, Arthur continued to let Sam know exactly how he felt. Fingers strong enough to double tap with a fucking Glock dug into Sam's arms and wrapped in Sam's hair, pulling Sam closer. Sam may have started the kiss, but Arthur finished it, holding on until Sam was hard and starting to feel a little dizzy, then tugging at Sam's lower lip with his teeth when he finally did break it off. "I was here to check on the crank when your fucking brother showed up to sit vigil."
Sam hadn't caught his breath yet.
He let his forehead fall against Arthur's and twined their fingers together—not just because it felt right, but because neither of them would relax without keeping track of the other's hands. "It's good to see you," he breathed out, completely honest.
"Is it some kind of hiding in plain sight thing?" Arthur said. "The car, I mean. It's not working."
"Wasn't lying when I told you the car was home," Sam replied. "We've been kind of winging it since the hospital called us. Unplanned detour."
The words broke through Arthur's paranoia-fueled fury. "I'm sorry, shit, I'm sorry," he muttered, and Sam let him pull his hands away long enough to push the hair out of their eyes. "This was a huge snafu before you called, and sleep on planes isn't real sleep." Arthur tucked his head under Sam's chin, probably the longest he'd closed his eyes since he got Bobby's call. Sam didn't mind giving him the break.
When Arthur spoke again, he spoke softly. "I had time to check your friend's chart before Dean showed. He's been out at least ten hours. He called me twenty hours ago, but that's still a less than eight percent survival rate." Sam had forgotten Arthur's attitude about Limbo: once someone was down there, Arthur turned into an actuary. "We can give it a shot, but you've got to go in with realistic expectations."
A point man's job was to plan for every eventuality, Sam reminded himself. Arthur was not in possession of all the facts. "Arthur, I think you're being a little—"
"I don't think your friend would want this scenario to end with Dean locked away in a Supermax while you're boxed up and bounced from lab to lab for the rest of your life," Arthur snapped. Sam shuddered at the thought. "I can cover your tracks, but you've got to bail now."
"We're not just going to abandon Bobby—"
"That's not what I said and it's not what you'd be doing." Arthur's hands moved up to Sam's neck and his voice dropped to a whisper. "I will do whatever I can to save your friend, but the fact is that I'm here and the person who gave Bobby my number won't be far behind me."
Whoever that was would have to get in line behind the hell hounds, Lilith, and almost every other demon in Hell. Arthur didn't know that; then again, he didn't have to. Sam knew enough for them both.
Arthur looked Sam in the eye, all clear lines and certainty. "I can give you ten minutes down with Bobby if you can distract your brother, but after that you both need to bail. The FBI may be criminally incompetent, but there are some very smart, very good people out there who have lost a lot of money looking for the person you used to be."
Having said his piece, Arthur stepped back and shrugged, the motion smoothing out every wrinkle on his jacket. Sam had always wanted to learn that move. "Do we have a week?" he asked.
"We're already well into 'cutting our losses' territory," said Arthur, shaking his head.
"I've got a different angle if you can stall for a week."
One eyebrow rose. "What angle is that?"
"We need to finish this before you start mopping up."
Arthur scowled. "I should have drugged you when I had the chance."
Sam let his hands drop to his sides. "Five days topside, access to the PASIV if I ask for it, and I won't stop you the next time you take a shot at Dean."
"If there is the smallest blip on my radar, I will drug you and I'll break Dean's jaw." Arthur pressed his lips together. "I have a job to do. If he's still here in three days, your friend is a loose end."
Sam let out the breath he'd been holding. Life was always easier with Arthur on his side. "Thank you, Arthur," he said. "And if you find any of the dream root while you're cleaning up the good doctor's mess, I might need that too."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "One day, someone is going to say no to you."
He leaned up for another kiss, this one lazy and tender and new. Arthur didn't kiss like this. By the time his hands had skimmed all the way down Sam's body from his shoulders to his ass, Sam didn't care about their comatose audience any more, nor the niggling feeling that Dean was getting worried. He just wanted to claim a little piece of Arthur back from whomever it was that had finally taught Arthur to kiss sweet and slow.
"Suspenders? Really?" Sam asked between kisses, tucking his fingers in Arthur’s waistband. Probably not even Arthur himself could say how old his mind was after a decade spent in and out of the dream, but that was still no excuse to dress like a middle-aged banker.
Arthur grabbed the flaps of Sam's jacket, indicating with a downward glance and twist of his lips that someone wearing brown corduroy didn't have much ground to stand on here. He seemed to forget that Sam could be freelancing with Arthur and the Cobbs; Sam could have been wearing bespoke Dunhill right now. But between the grave dirt and all of the blood spatter, Sam thought wryly, the dry cleaning bills would really add up.
Under his thrift-store jacket, all of that grave digging had built up a lot more muscle than Sam'd had the last time they'd done this. Sam growled, took Arthur's bony hips in his hands, and spun them around so that Arthur was the one pressed against the wall. Their kisses turned more urgent, more demanding, more like the kisses they'd always had to steal from underneath the military's nose.
Sam had made his choice—twice. It wasn't that he didn't love Arthur; it wasn't that he had loved Jess more; it wasn’t even entirely about how much Dean needed him. If Sam was going to lead a dangerous, nomadic life of crime, then it had to be for something more important than money and thrills.
On the other hand, Sam could never resist the opportunity to make perfectly-put-together Arthur cry out and beg for mercy.
"Tell me again about how you're gonna drug me," Sam said, crowding in so that he was all Arthur could see. At the same time, he popped open the buttons of Arthur's fly, both inside and out, then dragged the zipper down.
Arthur was the one panting now, threading his fingers through Sam's hair. "Just need to get in close enough," he said. "Doesn't look like that'll be a problem. When did you stop cutting your hair?" He gasped as Sam tugged his boxers down to free Arthur's dick. Sam dropped down to his knees and took care to pull it out gently, running the tips of his fingers up and down Arthur's shaft before sucking the head into his mouth.
"Christ, Sam, you don't—we're on the clock," Arthur whispered, but he wasn't pushing Sam away. One hand gripped Sam's shoulder while the other remained buried in Sam's hair. "Fuck, I didn't—Sam," Arthur hissed as Sam took the entire length down his throat, tongue massaging the underside of Arthur's dick while he sucked hard. "Sam, please—"
Sam pulled back a little so that he could fit a finger into his mouth along with Arthur's cock. Both Sam's finger and his tongue stroked the head until his finger was wet with spit and precome. Sam pulled his finger out and pushed it under the elastic, past Arthur's balls, and into Arthur's tight little asshole. At the same time, he sucked the rest of Arthur's cock back into his mouth and moaned around it. Sam could hear Arthur's muffled cries as he came down Sam's throat.
When Sam looked up, he saw that Arthur was biting down on his own wrist. Sam cupped Arthur's twitching sac in his palm, drawing out and swallowing every trace. He licked Arthur's dick clean as it slid out of his lips, cradling the soft flesh in his hand before pulling Arthur's underwear back up and over it. Then he zipped the fly, redid the buttons, and got back to his feet.
Post-orgasm, with his eyes closed and all of the tension out of his face, Arthur looked like well-dressed jailbait. But he remained Arthur; even sagging bonelessly against the wall, he managed to hold a hand out, offering Sam his white pocket square. Sam took the handkerchief, unfolded it, wiped off his lips and chin, then folded it back into a double point before tucking it into Arthur's pocket. Arthur's cheeks were a little rosy; Sam's lips were a bit swollen, but otherwise there was no evidence indicating why Arthur promptly collapsed into Sam's arms like a marionette with cut strings.
Sam loved that he could give this to Arthur, even though the effects never lasted more than a few hours at best. He put his hands on Arthur's shoulder and the small of his back, helped him find his own feet again. Arthur tottered for a moment or two before leaning forward into Sam, his hands returning to their earlier position on Sam's ass. "What was that about my hair?" Sam asked him, smiling.
"Nothin'," Arthur mumbled into the brown corduroy. "Can I," he started, nudging his leg between Sam's, but Sam shook his head, as tempting as it was.
"Don't need you worrying about me any more than you already do."
"'Kay." After a brief pause, Arthur turned his face away from the fabric. "Hey Sam?"
"Where's your totem?"
It took Sam a second to realize that during the earlier frisking and groping, Arthur had been looking for his old moleskine notebook. "Had to get a new one about a year ago."
Arthur's eyebrows quirked, a hint of hurt in his eyes, a little stiffness returning to his spine. Sam pulled the bracelet out of his jacket pocket, just to prove to Arthur that he wasn't stupid enough to walk around without a totem. "Sorry, long story." But then Sam had a single, terrifying thought. He bit the leather thong open and slid one metal bead off the line, into Arthur's palm. "Have one."
Arthur eyed the charm suspiciously, looking for any chance it might be a bug of some kind. "Why?"
Sam concentrated on re-tying the knot. "They're good luck," he said, trying for casual. Arthur made the non-committal grunt. "Little piece of my world, keep you safe from the crazy, okay?"
By the time Sam looked back up, the bead had disappeared into one of Arthur's pockets and had been replaced by a new burn phone in Arthur's hand and a slip of paper with yet another number on it. "For the rest of this job," Arthur explained.
Sam pocketed the phone, and then Arthur wrenched him down into one last, wet, stolen kiss. "In case I get lucky and don't see you for awhile," said Arthur. He took two steps to the side and grabbed the PASIV out from behind the bathroom door, then walked away, a study in elegance and economy.
Arthur did things like that. He and Bela would get along. And if Hell ever got hold of him, the world was doomed. The charm wasn't much, wouldn't mark Arthur out, but Sam already felt a little better knowing Arthur had it.
Sam washed out his mouth in the bathroom, waited two minutes, grabbed Dean's folder, and tried to act like nothing had happened.
They did get lucky, or at least as lucky as Winchesters ever got. Saved Bobby, killed the madman, lost the Colt. If anyone was looking for Lavoisier in that mess, Arthur handled it quietly. Two weeks later, neither the sleep study nor any of the people who'd died in Pittsburgh had ever existed on record. Sometimes it was better not to ask.
Sam didn't get desperate enough to call Arthur again until Florida.
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