Working Vacation

Working Vacation
A Miracles/Supernatural Cross-over
by Kaija West


Rating: Adult 17+
Pairing: Dean Winchester/Paul Callan
Warnings: Contains graphic sexual situations between a male/male pairing.
Summary: Dean gets some unexpected help on a hunt.
Notes: Cross-over between "Supernatural" and "Miracles." A gift for my trusted beta, Laurel (webmistress of this site). Takes place a couple years after the last episode of "Miracles" and at some point in the future of "Supernatural." For those "Supernatural" fans who are not familiar with "Miracles" and hemography, hemography is words spelling themselves out in blood - spilled flowing blood or blood on a surface/fabric.



        Dean was fending off vicious winds, bodyless screams, and any number of assorted everyday objects being hurled around the room. He was armed with holy water, salt, and a huge knife that was coming in less than handy at the moment. All he needed was to make it across the room and burn the painting, and all this would be over. He was making progress, but it was like walking through a hurricane whose sole intention was to block you at every step. He seriously wished the home owners had not amassed such a large collection of crystal statues because getting hit with them was getting really old, really fast. His leather jacket kept most of the glass shards out of his skin, but with each one that impacted against him, he felt at least one sharp piece of the stuff embed itself in his body. And he was sure something had torn a hole in his jacket and made a new home for itself by imbedding itself in his back. Also, the wailing and screaming that all but blocked out the howling sound of the unnatural indoor whirlwind was starting to get on his last nerve.
        Taking another difficult step and bracing himself against the arm of a sofa, Dean opened his slitted eyes fractionally wider to look again at his destination. It was still there in all its fugly glory: a painted portrait of the old bitch, looking deceptively sweet, if a bit smug. 'Yeah, look as smug as you want. I'm gonna fry your ass in about one minute. We'll see how much you're smiling when you're ripped out of this house and given a one way ticket to hell,' Dean thought, as he blocked a marble coaster with his forearm. Ouch, that one was gonna leave a bruise.
        And for not the first time that day, Dean realized that while he could do this job alone, it really was a lot easier and a lot more fun with Sam by his side. If Sam had been there, he could have read the binding spell and kept the flying projectiles to a minimum by controlling the malevolent spirit. When another heavy coaster made it past his defenses and hit him hard on the collarbone, Dean decided that this was the last time he worked a case like this without Sam. It could have waited another day or two, he SHOULD have just waited. What he really needed right now was Sam in the corner shouting Latin and thus clearing his way to the fireplace.
        Suddenly, the wind died down to just a stiff, albeit very chilling, breeze, and most of the objects fell from their animated paths in the air to the ground. Dean, who'd been leaning into the harsh wind, fell forward onto the carpet, catching himself at the last moment so as not to do a full face plant.
        "What the hell?" he said aloud, for the first time taking his concentration away from the painting. He looked around the room. It wasn't quiet by any means, but the howling and screaming was down to a low wailing and whispering level. It was quiet enough to make out another voice. It sounded like a human voice, a man. Dean looked expectantly at each of the doorways to the long room, his heart still pounding in his chest. There was no way Sammy could have made it here tonight, so who the hell was chanting in Latin?
        The answer to Dean's question rounded a corner to come partially into the room. Long black coat, black pants, white shirt, all dressy but sort of rumpled, messy hair that was just a bit overgrown and being ruffled by the still swirling, eerie winds. The man looked up from his book, scanning the room, his dark eyes resting on the same large, painted portrait over the fireplace that Dean had been trying to get to. He gave it a quick inspection as though memorizing it before looking away, his brows frowning as he took in the amount of damage the room had sustained. Finally, his gaze fell onto Dean, who was still getting up off the floor. The man looked at him with a bit of confusion before a look of vague recognition set it. Dean just stared back warily as he pulled a lighter from his jacket pocket.
        The man broke their staring contest of sorts and resumed his reading, voice loud and strong, clearly familiar and confident with the words. Dean recognized the man, having seem him three times during the day as he investigated and questioned witnesses. Each time, the guy in the long coat had caught his attention, but he'd pretty much forgotten him by the time he headed to the house armed with the knowledge he needed to destroy the painting. While he still had no idea what this guy was doing here, Dean was smart enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially not one reading Latin fluently and making his job easier.
        Dean had to fend off only a slow-moving ottoman; a flying, framed picture; and a magazine that fluttered towards him in a not especially menacing way when he quickly headed for the mantle again. Flicking the lighter and pressing the wildly blowing small flame against the corner of the picture, Dean watched as it immediately caught fire, burning very quickly and brightly. It crackled and snapped like birch bark, and in the bright light of the fire, Dean could swear he saw the expression on the woman's face change from smug to distressed as the flames licked up the image.
        "Never much liked art anyway," Dean said, popping the lighter back into his pocket.
        Dean turned back to look for the other man just in time to see a lamp from an end table wack him upside the head. It would have been comical had he not dropped to the ground with an audible thud, his book falling from limp fingers.
        Sparing the painting one last look, Dean flipped her off. He saw her smug look of satisfaction had returned even as the flames ate their way up the picture, destroying her face. Dean thought she looked pleased with herself for getting one last shot in before being sent away.
        Dean didn't turn his back to the painting, but he did move to where the man had fallen. He reached down to check for a pulse, awkwardly since he was doing it by feeling alone. Not even glancing away from the ever smaller fire, he found that there was indeed a pulse, and could feel the man he was crouched beside was starting to stir already.
        As the last of the canvas was eaten away by the fire, the smoke that had spread and covered most of the ceiling of the room suddenly pulled back and quickly headed into the fireplace. The dark cloud of grey black, swirling smoke headed up the chimney as though it knew right where it was headed, leaving only a large, unsinged but empty picture frame above the mantle.
        And suddenly, all was quiet in the room.
        "Well ... that was ... fun," Dean said aloud, his repertoire of smart quips apparently exhausted for the moment.
        "Did you release her?" the man asked, blinking heavily as he sat up.
        "Sent that bitch to hell," Dean said, sounding satisfied.
        The man sort of scrunched his face in disagreement or offense, but whatever he was going to say was lost when his hand found the still freely bleeding gash on the side of his forehead.
        "What..."
        "Lamp," Dean said, pointing out the shards of ceramic on the floor around them and all over Paul's coat.
        "Oh," he said, looking less concerned than almost ... amused.
        "Something funny about that?" Dean asked. He'd thought the guy seemed okay at first, and he really didn't want to drive him over to the emergency room. Knew he would do it, but really didn't want to. Too many questions.
        "No, just ... typical," he said with a sigh. "Paul Callan," he said, adding a half sigh, offering his right hand, his left still trying to hold at least some of the blood inside his head.
        Suddenly, Dean remembered that he really had no idea who this guy, this Paul Callan, was. It hadn't really worried him too much until now; he'd been too caught up in the moment. That and something else had set his normally stranger wary nature into calm mode. The guy seemed ... well, familiar wasn't exactly it, though he did recognize him from seeing him in town several times. No, it was something else.
        Paul noticed the way the young guy had suddenly looked a lot less friendly, and had pulled out a very big, very sharp looking knife. At least the knife was still at the guy's side and not against his throat. Paul wondered if the man recognized his name. He pulled his offered hand away and moved back slowly. Just because this guy had also found the way to free poor Mildred's trapped and frustrated spirit didn't mean he was necessarily on Paul's side.
        Dean didn't say anything as Paul inched away from him. He figured he had about 10 seconds to decide if he was a threat or not. Hell, just because the guy had helped him control an evil spirit so he could banish it didn't mean he was one of the good guys now did it? Paul didn't exactly look like the minion of Satan type, especially bleeding and still on the floor, but then Dean wasn't about to get caught with his pants down just because someone looked trustworthy. Well, not this time anyway.
        How to tell? Dean needed a quick answer about this guy, and he thought asking, say, "Hey Paul, nice to meet ya. Gonna have to ask you to take off your shoes, just so I can be sure - nothing personal," even in his most charming voice might not be the best way to find out. He, unfortunately, knew that one from experience. Taking another assessing look at Paul, Dean noticed the small cross necklace and the fact that he was still inching away, looking less threatening (not that he ever really had) and more nervous than before. Yeah, Dean suddenly very much doubted Paul was hiding a pair of cloven feet or a vendetta against the Winchesters. He was, however, clearly more freaked out by Dean than he'd been by the whole ghostly incident preceding this. 'Huh, guy must have some idea what's really going on,' Dean thought. He was distracted by the feeling of a trickle of blood making its way down his hand from a small cut on his wrist. Looking down, he was not entirely surprised to see he'd pulled the hunting blade out without even realizing it. It was a necessary, but less than friendly, habit that was all reaction, and had saved his life many a time when his mind was confused and his survival instinct worked on autopilot. Dean put the knife away and stood up, offering his hand to Paul to help him up.
        "Dean Winchester," he said with a somewhat forced smile. Paul seemed to think it over quickly before taking the offered hand and finding himself on his feet a little more quickly than he anticipated. Damn, but Dean was a strong one. Paul swayed a bit in spite of himself, the sudden, somewhat unexpected change in altitude making his already dizzy head swim. He closed his eyes and swallowed thickly. A strong hand clamped down on his shoulder. Paul locked his knees and waited for the dizziness to pass. While being kept vertical by a guy who'd looked ready to gut him with a hunting knife not 30 seconds ago was not high on his list of to-dos, Paul was sort of lacking in options at the moment.
        Things were always less complicated when he wasn't off, working alone. Often no less confusing, but at least there was a lot of comfort to be found in the familiar, even if he couldn't trust it completely. And that was pretty much what it boiled down to - how good was it really to be working day in and day out with someone who he could never really trust. After all the times it had come to a head, he still couldn't trust Alva to just give it to him straight, give him all the answers. If he wanted a censored version of the truth, he might as well still be working for the church and burying and distorting it. God! No wonder he'd had to step away yet again to clear his head. He could swear it seemed like he spent as much time away from the "office" (such as it was) and his co-workers, as he did WITH them lately. Maybe if they weren't so bent on hiding the truth from him, weren't so sure it was best that he only know certain things for his own good.
        Feeling the dizziness finally pass, and pushing the same internal arguments he'd been having for as long as he could remember back into their own dark corner of his mind, Paul moved out of Dean's grip, not surprised when the other man didn't move away at first, knowing he still probably looked like he was about to fall over.
        "I'm okay," he said, putting up a hand. "Believe me, I get hit in the head enough to know when its really bad and when its not."
        "Magnet for trouble?" Dean said, looking somewhat amused. "Yeah, I got a brother like that. Some days I swear he's got an invisible bull's eye painted on his body somewhere," Dean said as he started heading towards the back door to his car.
        Paul sniffed and grinned, having long since decided that there was most certainly a cosmic bull's eye on his own body. Giving the trashed room one more look, he grabbed his Bible off the floor and decided to follow Dean.

*******

        Dean was already head first into the trunk when Paul appeared at his side. He didn't have time to snap back the inner trap door, but decided it was okay when he heard Paul's low whistle of surprise. He thought Paul was obviously impressed by the arsenal, and Dean took a strange sort of pride in the collection, though he rarely took the chance to show it off. Unlike his car, the trunk contents would usually scare most people off before it would impress them.
        Paul gaped at the mass of weapons, charms, guns, and supplies. For a moment his eyes fell on a hand gun that looked a lot like a police revolver, and for the briefest of seconds he could swear he felt the warm blood splatter on his cheek as he screamed and watched in terror as young Chad blew his brains out. Lovely, he'd almost forgotten that for a good week now. Damn.
        Before he had a chance to think too much on why Dean was so heavily armed, Paul's thoughts were cut off.
        "Hey, I'm uh, sorry about this," he said as he motioned to the knife he was putting away, the same one that had come out of its sheath in a vaguely threatening way earlier. "But you can't be too careful these days, you know?"
        "Um, yeah," Paul said, sort of relieved when Dean shut the trunk, its contents now out of sight. Paul was sure he could get caught up in bad memories for an entire night just staring at the weapons.
        "So ... can I give you a lift somewhere, Paul?" Dean asked, sort of surprising himself. What was it with this guy? He barely knew him, but he just felt ... a connection or something. Like the guy was a kindred spirit. And jeez, could that sound more stupid, even if it was just in his head?
        Having no car, and not wanting to call a cab, Paul decided to take Dean up on the offer. If the guy was really a crazy, Paul was pretty sure he'd have figured it out by now. It was weird, but he felt like he could trust Dean. Paul considered himself good at assessing people's character, but he'd messed up pretty spectacularly in the past more than once. But somehow he just knew, he could just tell. It wasn't that Dean was familiar exactly, not anymore than just having seen him in passing a couple times earlier in the day, but there was something ... some kind of kinship, a sense of shared purpose that he'd felt the moment Dean had stopped sizing him up and finished with the painting.
        "I've got a motel room, at the Sleepy Inn. It's about 15 minutes from here."
        "Yeah, I know the one. All booked up by the time I got there. Stupid conventions, huh? Couldn't find a room anywhere," Dean said. He'd given up after trying four different motels and decided to just suck it up and drive back to Sam that night. It'd make for a shitty long day, but Dean figured he could sleep in the car if he got too tired anyway.
        Dean handed Paul a clean towel he'd pulled from the trunk for his head where the blood was still trickling down his face.
        "You should have come yesterday, was a lot of rooms then," Paul said, remembering his check-in the day previous.
        "Mmm," Dean responded as he got into the car. Paul didn't miss the way Dean winced as he sat down, nor the fact that he'd thrown a towel over the back of the seat beforehand.
        "Are you alright?" he asked. He hadn't really thought there was anything wrong with the young man except for a couple scrapes and cuts on his face and neck until now.
        "Yeah, just something got me when all the crap was flying around." As he reached forward to put the keys into the ignition, several other hurts made themselves known again, and Dean amended, "No, make that a couple somethings." Stuffing down the pain, knowing he could whine about it all he wanted in privacy, Dean added, "No big deal, just a bit of glass. I might be full of it thanks to those damned statues, but I'm not exactly made of it."
        Paul suddenly felt very much responsible for the younger man. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, but he knew the type well enough - guys who put machoism above safety - and he'd already seen Dean put himself in over his head once tonight. Remembering the state the room had been in when he'd arrived, Paul wondered just how many of Dean's 'somethings' had made contact before he'd arrived.
        "So, Paul," Dean began, "you take on a lot of angry spirits before? 'Cause I gotta say, you really didn't seem too surprised back there."
        "I work with a group. We investigate strange things, unexplainable things."
        "You're a ghost hunter?" Dean asked, his voice making it totally clear how not impressed he was by that.
        "No, no, not really. More like we try to understand why these things happen, set things back in balance. There's a lot of people out there with the kinds of problems that aren't solved by common methods."
        "So your first priority isn't money?"
        "No. Turn right at the next set of lights."
        "Well what is then?" Dean asked. He didn't really care if he was being forward or rude. Paul wasn't a witness who needed to be treated with kid gloves. If he was out hunting around and messing with all the evils out there, he should have no problem answering a few straightforward questions about what he did. "What would you say your 'group's' first priority is?"
        "Finding the truth, I suppose," Paul said, noting the irony that he was saying this now of all times, when he'd all but abandoned SQ for the time being. "Not that it's always shared freely." Deciding that was enough talk on himself and his work, Paul fired back the question, "What about you? What's your priority? What do you do?"
        "Kinda the same thing I guess, in a way. My brother Sam and I, we travel a lot. We were looking for our father, but..." Dean didn't even want to get into that right now. "There's a lot of people in a lot of danger out there. These people, they have no idea, don't have any clue the kind of dangerous crap they bring down on themselves, on their families. Someone's gotta be there to hunt down their mistakes. And some of them, man, they don't even do a thing to bring this shit to them, just unlucky or something. Sammy and I kill the bastards, banish them, burn them. We do what's gotta be done."
        Dean realized that was probably the most he'd ever talked to anybody about what they did, about what they'd always done. It didn't sound as difficult in words as it really was; maybe it wasn't something that was meant to be explained, at least not aloud.
        "No, I understand," Paul said, almost reading his mind. "I think we're doing something similar, just ... different ends of the same spectrum. You deal with things that can be destroyed by the stuff in your trunk."
        "What, I get all the overtly vicious bastards and you get all the touchy-feely Caspers?"
        "Not exactly what I was thinking," Paul said, though Dean was thinking along the same lines as him. "But I think you tend to get the spirits and creatures that are beyond redemption and maybe I just get more..." Paul thought of The Darkness. No, it wasn't like everything he met was looking to be saved, or purified and released from misery. "Ugh," he let out, shifting the half soaked towel in his hand, still pressed against his head. He had too much of a headache for thinking like this right now. Hadn't he taken this sabbatical partly to get away from these kind of arguments?
        "We're here," Dean said as he guided the car into the lot.
        "Last one, on the end there," Paul pointed out, as Dean drove along the chain of small rooms. When he'd pulled into a parking spot, Paul found himself asking Dean in without thinking twice.
        "It's a double," Paul said, still wondering at the fact that he'd automatically ordered a double; it had become habit now that he almost always traveled with Alva and not alone. "And there's no other rooms available in the city. You wanna come in? I could look at your back, probably have a hard time taking care of it yourself, " he pointed out. "Unless you have somewhere else to be..."
        Dean considered it for a moment, but knew he was too tired and sore to do the 11 hour drive back to where he'd left Sam. He still felt just a little guilty for slipping Sam a huge dose of nighttime cold medicine, then slipping out with a note that said he'd be back in less than 36 hours. On the other hand, Sam wasn't likely to settle down and sleep through his nasty head cold while Dean worked. Leaving him behind had been for his protection, but Dean knew he'd still get an ear-full from a very pissed off Sam when he got back to their hotel room.
        Right now Dean was just tired enough and sore enough for this to seem like a decent idea. Not that he had any intentions of sleeping in a room with a stranger, no matter how similar their work might be. But a bit of rest and a chance to see just how much damage he'd taken tonight thanks to flying house bits was too good to pass up.
        "Yeah, thanks. You sure you don't mind?"
        "No, not at all," Paul said automatically, good manners as ingrained in him as fighting for survival was in Dean.

*******

        "Ow!! Shit!" Dean said aloud as Paul yanked out another glass shard from his back. He'd realized that at some point his jacket had been torn and he'd been sliced, but Dean hadn't known just how much glass was in there until Paul had insisted he take off his shirt and let him have a look. Since trying to patch himself up in the bathroom mirror had been pretty much useless, Dean had given in. He was currently seated on the side of the bed with Paul kneeling on the bed behind him, tweezers in hand. The bedside light had its lampshade tilted for extra light.
        "Last one," Paul warned as he went back to digging as gently as possible. He was somewhat alarmed how many cuts and readily forming bruises Dean had on his back and chest. But there were far more scars and older, already healing bruises and scrapes, so he knew this was by no means the worst Dean had been hurt. His violent life was marked out on his skin; the message was more clear than tattoos could ever have been.
        Paul had stopped the bleeding on his head and put on a small bandage while Dean was struggling to clean up all his cuts in the bathroom. After making some coffee, changing his clothes into a pair of comfy jeans and a t-shirt, then puttering around for about 10 minutes, Paul had started to worry that Dean was having problems.
        Though reluctant, Dean had been convinced to stop trying to bend in inhuman ways to see his back in the mirror and just let Paul help. He'd felt more than a little uncomfortable sitting there shirtless with his back to Paul, letting the guy dig around in his open wounds. No matter what, it was gonna hurt. He knew that the minute he'd taken off his jacket in the bathroom and seen how much of it was blood soaked. On the plus side, Paul had a more steady hand than Sam ever had when working on him. And he didn't have those cold fingers that his brother seemed to get whenever Dean was in need of patching up. Of course, it was probably a lot easier for Paul to patch up a stranger than it was for poor Sam who, no matter how many times he insisted otherwise, was always on the verge of freaking out when his brother was hurt badly enough to need help.
        With a final twist that made the blood start flowing again down his back in a tiny rivulet, the last piece of glass was removed.
        "Got it," Paul said, cleaning up the blood from where it had flowed low on Dean's back. "I'm just going to put a bandage over that one; should stop bleeding in a minute, okay?" Paul turned, rooting through the spilled-out contents of Dean's impressive first aid kit on the bed.
        Dean looked up, into the long mirror across the room. It reflected the middle half of the two beds and the space between. He couldn't see Paul, just his knees and his arm. Paul's hand was still resting on his back, holding a gauze pad to the last gash. When Paul leaned back over, affixing a bandage over the cut, Dean continued to watch him in the mirror.
        He hadn't really taken that good a look at Paul back at the house. Or at least, he'd been more focused on figuring whether he was a threat or not to really look at him, take in his appearance. Paul was a bit taller than him, not as tall as Sam, but definitely had a good two inches on Dean's height. Not heavily built, but not as slight as he'd first thought. Paul didn't project a big image, and while he didn't hunch over exactly (his posture wasn't bad or anything), he just sort of seemed a bit smaller than he really was. He was pale and haunted. The dark circles under his eyes looked like they were well established and his expression was sincere, if a bit disappointed, like maybe he'd finally gotten long awaited news, but it had been all bad, and now he wished he hadn't found out at all. Dark hair fell forward onto his forehead; Dean was convinced this guy must hate hair cuts as much as Sam did. But while his brother's hair was cut in sort of a style and suited his youthful face, Paul's hair just looked overgrown and messy. Dean wondered what it looked like when brushed and neat. Hell, he wondered what Paul looked like when he hadn't been chasing after ghosts in rooms of small hurricanes. Probably cleaned up well, he figured, but the haunted expression and lines of sadness weren't likely to fade. They were etched by time and experience. Dean wondered if Paul ever smiled.
        "You're staring," Paul said, finally showing enough of a ghost of a smile to magically light up his face.
        "Sorry, just thinking," Dean said, choosing to keep the subject a secret. He stood up and crossed to sit on the edge of the other bed a couple feet away so he could face Paul rather than talking to him in the mirror.
        Paul let it go and started gathering up the blood soaked bits of gauze strewn on the bedspread. He knew Dean was still watching him, but he didn't really mind it. Taking the two handfuls of wrappers and gauze and other bits over to the trash, Paul tossed them away and scooped up the bloody towel he'd used for his head earlier. No point in offering it to back to Dean; it was clearly a write off, the white never going to come clean of all the dried blood. Paul unfolded the partially damp, partially crusty towel and looked at the stains. It was stupid, but he'd long since given into the urge to always check. Though it hadn't happened when he'd tried before, that didn't mean it wouldn't at the strangest of times. And this, sharing a room with a man who wasn't Alva, yet still understood the kinds of truths of reality that he did, was at least a medium level on Paul's 'strange times meter.'
        "You looking for secret messages or something?" Dean half joked, assuming Paul was trying to figure if the towel was worth saving or soaked to the point it was no longer salvageable.
        Paul tossed the white towel covered in random bloodstains into the trash. "Are you familiar with hemography?" he tiredly asked Dean.
        When no answer came, Paul turned back to look at Dean, just in time to see the lightbulb click on in his eyes.
        "That's it!" Dean said excitedly. "That's why your name sounded familiar. And I've seen your face, drawn in the journal. Hang on a sec," Dean said as he ran out the door to the car, not even bothering to put on a shirt.
        Paul knew this was going to go one of two ways, and so far, it hadn't been good when things went in this direction. Before he could over think it, Dean reappeared with a bound journal in his hands.
        "Where is it?" Dean said aloud, plunking the book on the table, flipping quickly through the contents. After a few more moments of flipping, Dean let out an irritated, "Oh come on!"
        "What?" Paul asked, still frozen in place. It couldn't be, not after searching and wondering and waiting for so long. Heart in his throat, Paul walked over to look at the journal. All he saw was the ripped up binding at the end of the pages - someone had removed a lot of pages from the book at some point.
        "It's not here anymore. It's in the other pages," Dean said, disappointedly.
        "Where are the other pages, Dean?" Paul demanded, suddenly frustrated. Why were answers always dangled in front of him only to be snatched away?
        "I don't know. They were taken..." Dean said, feeling all over again the sense of loss and uselessness he'd felt when his father's journal had first been stolen away. He still felt guilty and sick about not being able to keep it safe. Sure there had been some pretty extenuating circumstances, but nevertheless, it was his job to keep the book safe. A job he'd failed at.
        "Who's journal is this?" Paul asked.
        "It was my father's journal," Dean said, finger sliding against the ragged edges of the torn pages, feeling their loss more acutely than he had at the time.
        "Well does he know where they are? Can we ask him?" Paul was getting more frantic, grasping at anything.
        "No, we can't. We can't contact him," Dean said, snapping the book shut, deciding he could beat himself up again later about the missing pages.
        "What did it say? Was it his blood? Did he have a dream about me?" Paul asked, the questions tumbling over each other, the possibilities bouncing around his head.
        "I don't know!" Dean snapped. "Look, I haven't seen it in awhile and it wasn't all that clear in the first place. This thing," Dean dropped the journal onto the desk again with a thump, "doesn't exactly read like a magazine."
        Paul let out a sigh. He supposed he should be happy with whatever information he could get.
        "Do you remember if he was talking about himself or someone else in it?"
        "Huh?"
        "The part about me, was he talking about himself like it was HIS dream or HIS blood?"
        "I don't know," Dean said, thinking back on the disjointed writings. "Couldn't really tell if it was him or someone he was investigating. I just remember it had this one part that was written and underlined across the bottom of the page, 'Darkness is its own thing.' Does that mean anything to you, or you think its just a general comment?" Dean knew phrases like that were strewn all over the book, for as tight lipped and straightforward as his father had always spoken, he wrote in a terribly disjointed and schizophrenic way. The journal looked, in many parts, to be nothing more than the ramblings of a mad man. At least it did if you didn't know so much of it was true. And even then it was a pain in the ass to make sense of more often than not.
        "Yeah, it means something," Paul said as he sat down on the end of the bed. All the excitement and fear and anger he'd felt was now drained away, leaving a familiar, empty feeling of frustration. Just another peek at the truth only to have it lead to nothing.
        "What?" Dean asked expectantly. He'd watched as all the life seemed to drain out of Paul when the man realized Dean had nothing to give him.
        "I can't ... it's just..." Paul sighed. "Look, it's a lot to explain and I just don't want to get into it right now."
        Seeing that the man was exhausted, and knowing that for once he didn't need Sam to tell him when to let up and not hound somebody, Dean let it go. At least for the moment.
        "Hey, look, I'm sorry, okay? If I could just make a phone call and get a straight answer, I would. It won't work that way though."
        Seeing that Paul was just sitting at the end of the bed, frowning, borderline pouting, Dean thought maybe he'd done enough damage for one day. He wanted some answers too, but right now he wasn't about to start getting them out of Paul any way he could. He didn't have the energy or inclination to do so.
        "Look, maybe I should go," Dean offered, dreading the thought of getting back in the car when all he wanted was to sprawl out on the bed and relax.
        "No, no, it's okay. Never mind," Paul said, raising his gaze from the floor to look at Dean through his shaggy hair.
        He reminded Dean so much of his brother in that moment, the way he buried his pain just beneath the surface, and gave puppy dog eyes that pleaded with him to let it go but not to run away.
        Dean walked over and softly took Paul's jaw in his hand, gently tilting his head to he could look at the bandage. He'd nearly forgotten Paul's head wound and wondered if it had stopped bleeding. It had, or at least no blood had seeped though the bandage, and that was a good sign.
        Dean guided Paul's head back just a bit, slightly pushing, leading the way like he was guiding a dance partner's movements, slowly and softly. He looked directly into the big, sad eyes that hid nothing of what Paul had to be feeling.
        "I'm sorry I brought it up. I didn't mean to..." Dean trailed off. There was a lot more than just sadness and confusion in Paul's look. There was an emptiness that begged to be filled - if not with the truths he was seeking, then with whatever it was Dean might have to give.
        Before he knew what he was doing, Dean had slid his hand away from the bandage on the side of Paul's forehead and into the back of his hair. He leaned down in front of the seated man and kissed him deeply and without hesitation. Paul returned the kiss immediately, almost as though he'd been expecting it.
        Maybe he had.
        Breaking away, they both heavily breathed in for a moment. Paul hadn't missed the soft, full lips that twitched and danced on Dean's face when he'd first seen him. But he hadn't thought about feeling them and tasting them either. At least not consciously anyway.
        Paul yanked off his t-shirt. This wasn't exactly the first time he'd done something like this, not like he hadn't been with guys before. He'd grown up in an orphanage, and no matter what the people there preached or how religious it was, at night boys were boys, and his first sexual encounters had not been with girls, though he later found out that in most cases they were his preference. Paul didn't tend to get a lot of "action" in his life; he didn't usually go seeking it out either. But when it came his way he just went with the flow and had no trouble making the occasional exception to his general preferences.
        Dean lowered himself over Paul, who had scooted back to lay on the bed. He braced himself over the prone man, letting just a bit of his weight rest on Paul's chest, feeling their bodies press together but not trapping the man beneath him. Paul's hands ran up and down his sides as they kissed and Dean rocked over him, grinding down just a bit. Paul's hands were still warm and not tentative but sort of gentle and light in their movements. Oh yeah, Paul was definitely more used to being with girls, Dean decided. Roughening his kiss just a little, pressing just a bit harder than was totally comfortable for the man beneath him, Dean ground hard against Paul, feeling the results instantly in the ever growing erection beneath him. But Paul was still being just too soft and careful in his motions. Dean felt the warm hands stroking over his chest and he had no doubt that had he boobs, Paul would be doing a wonderful job of playing with them. It just wasn't quite working for him though. Dean pulled his head away, pleased when Paul tried for a couple inches to follow him and not break the kiss.
        Without warning, Dean flipped them over easily, rolling them on the bed, balancing Paul on top until the man got his bearings. Many years of fighting and training made such a move effortless for Dean, but sort of came out of nowhere for Paul. Now beneath the man, Dean took a moment to see that Paul was definitely in better shape than he'd expected. He didn't have loads of muscles, but he had a fairly defined chest and stronger arms than Dean had realized. It was a very pleasant sight that made him nearly forget just how much it hurt his injured back to be pushed against the rough bedspread.
        "Tell me this is not your first time," Dean said, something in his voice and expression taunting Paul. "'Cause I wouldn't want to send you back to a sweet little wife only to have her come hunt me down for molesting her husband." Dean thought there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell Paul was married, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to check either.
        "No wife," Paul said, leaning back, kneeling, straddling Dean's thighs. He reached for the button on Dean's jeans. "No girlfriend, at least not at the moment," he said as he unzipped the fly and shoved down the boxers. "And this is definitely NOT my first time," Paul finished as he pulled Dean's erect and very engorged cock out and began to stroke it.
        For as caressing and gentle as he'd been earlier, Dean was caught by surprise when Paul grabbed his shaft in an almost too tight hold and pumped it hard several times. Dean grunted in surprise and pleasure and then groaned when the talented hand let him go.
        "Okay, I'm convinced," Dean said, hands held on either side of his head in mock surrender. When Paul just smirked at him, he added, "But I'll say I'm not sure and still need a little more convincing if that's what it takes."
        He was double rewarded when Paul not only resumed the handjob, but also gave him a small smile. The smile, while not wide, mixed with the look of pure lust in his eyes and for the moment, Dean saw nothing of the haunted sadness that had so defined Paul in the short time he'd known him. After a few more moments and several groans of pleasure, Dean halted Paul's hand with his own. If he let him continue any longer, it was going to be a short night.
        "You wanna?"
        "Yes."
        "You rather..."
        "Nope."
        Although what they said seemed cryptic, the two men understood each other through the conversation they had with their eyes.
        "Okay then," Dean said with a smile, crawling out from under Paul. He headed for the bathroom where he'd left his toiletries bag. Yeah, Paul was DEFINITELY not a first timer; he'd known the questions without having to be asked. Dean scooped out a condom and a bottle of massage gel. Sure Sam had laughed at it, but at least he hadn't really known. At least Dean hoped not anyway.
        Dean rounded the corner back into the room and came to a dead stop, nearly tripping over his own feet. Paul had taken advantage of the short time he was away to strip down, push the scratchy bedspread to the floor, and position himself against the pillows and headboard with his legs open - he looked amazingly erotic as he sat there stroking himself. For a guy who seemed quiet to the point of being almost withdrawn, who looked like he'd rather melt into the shadows than stand out in your memory, who seemed nearly consumed by his sadness and pain and memories, Paul sure had another side to him in bed. It wasn't exactly the first time Dean had found a partner to be very different once the clothes came off, but it was definitely the most dramatic example.
        And it made him want Paul all the more.
        Dean ditched the pants that were open and hanging off his hips and dove back into bed as fast as he could. He yanked Paul into another demanding kiss, twisting the ruffled hair through his fingers.
        "This isn't going to be a problem is it?" he asked Paul, holding up the still wrapped condom. He doubted the guy would take offense and he really, REALLY didn't want to call it a night now, but Dean was nothing if not careful about his own survival. It didn't make sense to sleep with a knife under your pillow only to put yourself at risk in more prosaic ways.
        "Of course not," Paul said as though there wasn't any other option. He took the condom from Dean and proceeded to put it on him, lingering and stroking until Dean was again, somewhat grudgingly, forced to put a stop to it.
        Dean grabbed Paul, gently guiding him to lay on his stomach. He kneeled over the length of him for a moment, leaning in to bite down on the side of Paul's neck where it met his shoulder, licking at the area until Paul squirmed on the bed beneath him, gasping.
        Dean trailed his tongue past Paul's shoulders, teasing his back and ending at his waist. He continued to let just the tip dance and glide over the tightening muscles. He was delighted to hear and feel Paul gasping and moaning softly at the motions. Dean pulled his tongue away and moved back, and just when Paul was about to get up on one elbow to see what was going on, he felt slicked up hands on his shoulders. As the slippery fingers dug in all the right spots, tightening and loosening, relaxing and exciting him all over in the most delicious ways, Paul realized that Dean probably had a lot more relationships with ladies than guys. Dean knew how to take his time without losing the mood and excitement, and it was a sad fact that straight guys, or at least those who with a preference or more experience with women, always gave the best massages. Or at least, that had been Paul's experience anyway.
        'Yeah, laugh all you want, Sammy boy,' Dean thought, 'but this stuff is never leaving my bag.' It wasn't the best product for massaging but it was the only one that didn't scream, "I'm really just all-purpose lube not so cleverly disguised in a different package designed to look like I'm for use by heterosexual males when really I'm for closeted buttsex fiends."
        Once Paul was totally relaxed but still very much tense in the right places, Dean squirted more of the gel into his hand and got to work below. Paul was about as tight as he'd expected; obviously this sort of thing wasn't exactly a constant past time, but after plenty of massaging he began to give a bit. Paul moaned softly, giving in to the sensations. Dean stretched and rubbed, thrust his fingers gently and stilled as needed until he was sure Paul was ready.
        Reaching am arm under Paul's middle, he encouraged him up onto his knees. Letting his cock nudge against him, Dean reached around and grabbed Paul's erection. He pumped it hard a few times, much the way Paul had to him, guessing that this was the way Paul preferred it when he played with himself. Paul involuntarily thrust into his hand then arched back against Dean. Grabbing a hip with his free hand, Dean entered Paul while giving his cock a hard squeeze. Both groaned aloud; Paul at the tightness around his cock and the not entirely unwelcome intrusion, and Dean at the clenched muscles surrounding him. It had been WAY too long and neither had been all that aware of how badly they missed this until they had it again.
        Dean stayed still, waiting, biting down on his already kiss-swollen lower lip. He clenched and unclenched his fist around Paul's cock, trying to match the movements with his breathing, or the spasms of the muscles clenching his cock, or the ticking wall clock - trying to sync up the motion with anything just to keep from yanking out and pounding in as hard as his body wanted to. He could taste blood in his mouth by the time Paul gave the unmistakable signal of grinding back against him, squirming around to get the action started.
        Dean pulled mostly out before pounding back in, a little harder than he'd intended. Paul didn't seem to mind if his whining moan of pleasure was any indication. Easily they found a rhythm for their movements, Dean's fist still wrapped tightly around Paul's straining cock as he pumped it in time with his thrusts. Gasping and moaning, they rocked together, lost in the feelings, starkly aware of what they'd both been missing for some time now. It was definitely not the longest session in history before Paul bucked under Dean and came, twitching inside and out for long moments after. The dual sensations had been amazing, and Paul had always had to stroke himself when he'd been in that position before, his partners never being very helpful in that way. Of course he wouldn't exactly consider his experiences in the act particularly numerous, not going all the way at any rate.
        Paul leaned his head forward, against his arms on the pillow, intentionally changing the angle for Dean while giving his post-orgasm lazy arms a rest. Dean lasted less than a minute after that, yanking Paul's nearly limp form against him, both hands grabbing the slim hips. He didn't even bother to keep the long groan quiet when he came, nor the proceeding grunts. It wasn't that fancy a place and they had a neighbour on only one side anyway. And he had other things on his mind at the time that took priority over being quiet and respectful at that time of night.
        Bonelessly flopping down beside Paul, Dean was not surprised when the man rolled over and wrapped around him, movements slow and sloppy with relaxed satisfaction. This was the part that always weirded Dean out. He loved cuddling with chicks. Before, after, during - it didn't matter, he just loved feeling them wrapped around him. But when it came to guys, his first impulse was to get up and get out of bed the moment he could get steady legs under himself. And it wasn't that he was in denial. He damned well knew he liked fucking guys, liked it as much as he enjoyed screwing girls, but there had been a lot of years of training himself not to react to a guy in his bed that got in the way.
        Dean had shared a bed a lot of the time growing up, first because he'd crawled in with Sammy to stop his crying, and later because Sam would sneak into his bed for reassurance. It had been fine when they were young; Dean actually preferred having a warm body next to him. But by the time Dean had hit puberty, and probably even a bit before that, his body automatically reacted to any warm body in a bed with him, not caring that it was his brother. He would never kick his brother out of the bed when he was really upset, so Dean had spent a lot of sleepless nights with only his hormones and his conscience. He'd pretty much trained himself to not react in any kind of sexual way to a guy sharing his bed. And he felt decidedly uncomfortable every time, getting out at the first possible chance. It was a good thing Sam had grown up enough to stop needing to crawl into his bed when he did or Dean thought he would have had permanent damage from sleep deprivation. It may have stopped happening more than 10 years ago, but he still felt the same reaction he'd taught himself so well.
        Untangling himself from the warm limbs wrapped around him, Dean rolled out the other side of the bed.
        "I'm gonna get cleaned up," he said, heading for the bathroom without looking at Paul.
        'Well that didn't last long,' Paul thought. The sex had been great, but he wasn't surprised in the least when Dean had rolled away from him as soon as his breathing had slowed to normal. Too bad. In a lot of ways, he wanted the after sex snuggling as much as the act itself. It wasn't that he needed to be a girl, he knew who he was, knew what he wanted. The thing was, feeling a guy pressed up against him in bed, wrapped against his body, was probably one of the most familiar and comfortable feelings in the world to him. While he could almost count all his male sex partners on one hand, he'd shared a bed with guys more times than he could remember. That was the reality of how he grew up - you took comfort where you could find it, and long before anything sexual had been a part of it, he'd learned that often there were only the other boys in the orphanage to seek out for comfort and affection. Sometimes just squeezing into a small bunk with someone else was enough to push away the loneliness, that the feel of another warm body against your own was the only comfort you could find outside yourself.
        When Dean returned to the room a couple minutes later, Paul ducked past him, deciding to get a bit cleaned up himself and avoid the inevitable awkwardness. Hopefully Dean would be asleep by the time he got out.
        Hearing Paul close the door behind himself, Dean swore softly, knowing he'd screwed up. Just a quick look at the man, the way he avoided eye contact and quickly brushed by him, told Dean all he needed to know. Though he couldn't say exactly why, he really didn't want to hurt Paul's feelings. So what was another sleepless night anyway? He had plenty of those because of Sam over the years.
        Pulling his ever present knife out of the overnight bag, Dean stuffed it under his pillow, pulled the blankets down on the second bed and got comfortable.
        Though Paul spent a long time in the washroom, more than enough time for Dean to fall asleep, he was surprised to find Dean still very much awake, if a bit sleepy looking. Assuming the message was loud and clear now that Dean was in the other bed, Paul made his way back to the one they used earlier. Just as he was about to climb in, Dean asked, "What? You gonna make me stay over here all by myself?"
        "I just thought..." Paul began, now facing Dean. Wow, the guy really suited the sleepy, satisfied, pleasantly exhausted look. Not usually one to ogle guys, or even girls for that matter, Paul was taken for a moment, finding the steady rise and fall of Dean's muscled chest hypnotizing.
        "Now who's staring?" Dean asked, smirking at Paul even as he yanked back the edge of the blanket in a gesture for Paul to join him.
        "You sure you're okay with this?" Paul asked as he climbed in. "You didn't seem to like it earlier."
        "It's alright," Dean said as he pulled Paul against him when the man laid as far away as possible at first. "Would you understand if I just said I had some left over issues from childhood that I really don't want to talk about?"
        "Enough said," Paul replied, tentatively curling around Dean, trying to get comfy while not smothering the clearly conflicted man. They stayed like that for awhile, Dean surprisingly less uncomfortable than he'd expected. Despite his earlier intentions to stay awake, Dean fell asleep within minutes.

*******

        Paul broke the silence. "Why do you do it?"
        "Huh?" Dean asked, blinking a bit owlishly in the morning sunlight streaming through the window.
        "Well you asked me yesterday what my priority was, why I'm doing this. And I think you understand how important it is for me to understand these things that happen, what they mean to me. You wondered why I was looking into the same haunting as you. Now I'm asking, why do you do it?"
        "I already told you: because somebody has to," Dean said, stuffing yesterday's clothes into his bag.
        "Really? That's it. That's the whole reason? You dedicate your life to something because somebody has to so it might as well be you?" Paul wasn't buying it for a second.
        Sighing in irritation and surprised just how similar Paul was to Sam when he pushed about something, Dean added, "Somebody has to and because I CAN. 'Cause I know how. 'Cause I'm good at it. 'Cause maybe it's the ONLY thing I'm really good at. 'Cause a lot of people need to be protected. 'Cause I don't want some other kid to grow up without a parent, with a messed up family, with a twisted image of fire and death and blood stuck in the place where he should see smiles and love. 'Cause it's my life and it's what I DO."
        Dean turned away, stuffing the last leg of his jeans into the bag and zipping it up quickly. When he turned back, he'd stuffed the emotions down and locked them away just as effectively.
        "I'm a bitch before my first coffee of the day," he said by way of explanation for his little outburst. He certainly wasn't about to apologize for it - Paul had asked.
        "Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you," Paul said. That look of saddened sincerity had been back on his face the moment he'd woken up. Paul offered his business card to Dean. "If you hear from your father, or you find the missing pages, can you please call me? It's really important."
        "Of course it's important," Dean said, taking the card. He read it, frowning at the name: Sodalitas Quaerito. "Wait, there's enough of you to be a brotherhood?" he asked after taking a moment to wrack his brain for a translation.
        "Well, not exactly," Paul admitted with a grin. "But we do have resources, a lot of information that could be handy to you."
        "Cool," Dean said, putting the card in his pocket. "Next time Sam gets stumped I'll have him give you a shout."
        "Sam - that's your brother, right?"
        "Yeah, and he's going to be one very cranky bastard when I get back. I'm late already." Dean grabbed the little pad of paper off the night table and scribbled down his name and cell number. "Next time you take a little ..." Dean searched for the right term, "working vacation like this, feel free to give us a shout. Or you know, if you need backup or something."
        Paul smiled again, just imagining how well Alva would take to a pair of heavily armed, young strangers showing up. "I'll do that," Paul said, having no doubt that at some point, no matter how different their methods, he probably would contact them. Realistically, even though they seemed to work "different ends of the same spectrum" as he'd tried to explain it yesterday, there was bound to be some overlap in their cases, just as there had been the previous day.
        "Bye Paul," Dean said simply, and slipped out the door. Not one for long goodbyes, and having already used up his personal share of emotional moments for the day (and knowing that there was bound to be a fight when he got back to Sam), Dean made a quick exit.
        Paul heard the engine of the car growling to life and disappearing from the parking lot. He felt better than he had in a long time. It was time to head home, try to smooth things over a bit at the office, go back to pretending like the secrets weren't slowly ripping him a little farther apart everyday.
        Paul gathered up his stuff and left for the lobby a couple minutes later to check out. He didn't regret these times when he left SQ for days and weeks at a time. He understood it was the only way he could continue to work there. There was only so much head butting he and Alva could do before they needed a break. But his patience had returned, even if he had no more answers than when he'd left.
        He never noticed the bloodstains on the bed where Dean's injured back had rested.
        Maybe that was a good thing.

End.

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