Title: Shadows
By: elfin
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Rating: PG-13

I had no idea how, just that they'd found me.  I'd heard of them - most like me have.  The Winchester brothers, sons of John, inseparable, undefeated, joined together not only in grief and loss but by a bond no one ever spoke of, maybe no one but them knew.  Theirs was a story missing an ending.  Never expected them to turn up on my doorstep, or rather in my motel room.

Lots of questions vie for priority at a moment like that; 'who are you' was obviously pointless - I recognised them immediately - 'what do you want' was a forerunner but it was beaten out by, "what the hell are you doing in my motel room?"

The youngest is the eldest people said, and I immediately knew what they meant.

"Sam Winchester," he introduced himself needlessly while his brother checked out the array of supernatural weaponry laid out on the second single bed, the one I wasn't sitting cross-legged on cleaning my favourite of all my blades.

"Knives don't do much good against evil spirits," Dean told me, not looking up, ghosting his fingers along the business edge of the machete I'd just sharpened.  I'd have warning him but it was already kinda too late and I didn't see there was any point.  He put the pad of his index finger to his lips and sucked gently, raising large eyes to his brother.

Sam's answering expression was one of muted frustration, infinite patience and eternal devotion and my heart melted.  They were right - those people who spoke about these two - and just in those scant few minutes I found myself wanting to know everything; what foods did they like?  Did they wear underwear under those blue jeans?  Pepsi or coke?  Chocolate or vanilla?  More than anything I wanted to know what bonded them.  Instead, I asked,

"If knives are so useless, why do you keep one under your pillow?"

Dean laughed, threw his head back and let lose a sound of pure surprise and real joy.  And Sam smiled at him; that indulgent expression of adoration.  "You're a legend, Dude."

And Dean nodded.  "That is so cool!"  He turned, their eyes locked and for a moment I might have gone up in a puff of smoke I doubt either one would have noticed.  Then Sam broke off, ambled over to the bed I was on, perched next to me on the edge of the mattress and slowed my hand over the blade in my care.

"Seriously, he's right.  What you're chasing won't be stopped with this whole arsenal of knives."

I tried to look nonchalant, the faintest pressure of his hand on mine staying with me even as he lifted away.  "How do you know what I'm chasing?"  Was that a stupid question?  "How do you know I'm chasing anything at all?"  If it was, that was even worse.

His smirk, I think, belonged on Dean's face rather than on Sam's.  It didn't fit somehow.  But I got the point nonetheless when he pointed over at the spread on the second mattress.  "Just take our word for it.  It's not what you think it is.  It's not a werewolf, a lycanthrope, whatever you want to call it, it's not a shape-shifter either.  It doesn't have substance."

I couldn't help staring at him; at least seventy-percent of my attention was on what he was actually saying.  "So what is it?"

"It's a shadow, the spirit of a demon, it doesn't need form."

I'd suspected that, and I'm not just saying it, suspected it from the witness statements - people who'd sworn they'd seen nothing because they really hadn't.  When do we ever see shadows unless we're looking for them?  "I really wish that wasn't right."  Sam smiled, a little sadly, and nodded.  "How do you kill a shadow?"

Dean took a couple of steps over to us, hands thrust into his jacket pockets.  "Darkness."  Sam rose as I repeated like a parrot,

"Darkness?"  I was incredulous.

"Shadows can't exist where there's no light.  Take away the light and shadows die."

I couldn't make up my mind if they were taking the piss or not. 

"If there's no light," I pointed out, "how can I see to kill it?"

I was missing the point apparently, as Dean demonstrated with a flick of the light switch, plunging us into momentary blackness until our eyes adjusted and the cheap sodium and neon outside the pointless curtains seemed bright enough to read by.

"In that moment of absolute darkness, the shadow dies."  There was a sadness in Dean's voice I didn't understand, and he wasn't smiling when the light came back on.  Sam crossed to him and amazed, I stared as he wrapped his arms around the shorter man and hugged him.  Dean's face turned side on and despite his expression of sufferance, he hugged his brother back.  Was this it?  Was this what bound them?  Dean stepped back a fraction of a step, turned his face up, and I felt the blood rush south when Sam kissed him.

It wasn't a peck on the cheek, wasn't the touch of friends, even of brothers.  It was something more, something incredibly sexual.  And somehow it wasn't shocking.  It was perfect.

Dean stepped back and the moment vanished.  "There's one more question you haven't asked," he told me.  I wasn't capable of remembering my own name and he smiled slyly.  "Tell you what, leave this one to us."

It took a moment for that to penetrate the haze in my head.  "Really?  Sure?"  I wasn't too proud to pass up help when it was offered.  They both nodded.  "Thanks."

"There's a Lystrie in Janesville, Wisconsin.  You can use the knives on that."

"Right."  What else was there to say?

Sam gave me this little wave as he turned for the door, and Dean raised a finger in acknowledgment, his focus on his brother where I realised it had been the whole time.

The story of the Winchester brothers is a very old one, and finally I knew how it ended as they left through the unopened door.