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Ending one minute at a time.
Crossover (Supernatural, Fight Club). Sam/Dean. R. Warnings for incest, language, violence, and lack of chronology. Approx. 2,900 words. I blame Kate, because she got me addicted to Fight Club to begin with, but I love her madly because she is made of awesome and also because she betaed. Written with sincerest apologies to Chuck Palahniuk.

on a long enough timeline, the life expectancy for everyone drops to zero.

[ 1 ]       The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

Two weeks after Sam leaves, Dean's in Chicago and Dad's in Memphis. He goes out drinking and looking to fuck, looking to bleed.

He hits on the wrong girl with the wrong boyfriend, and he ends up bruised and battered all to hell, clinging to an upturned barstool for support when the fight finally breaks up. A pair of hard hands grab him from behind and jerk him halfway to his feet, then drag-shuffle him to the door.

Outside, with the gravel digging into his palms and his chest heaving against the ground, he thinks he hears the bartender's voice, thinks he hears some sort of instruction. As he blacks out, he might just maybe hear something that sounds like, Slip him the address.

He wakes up a few hours later still sprawled against the outside wall of the bar, but the music inside is quiet and all of the lights are off. If he hears anything—and he thinks he does, distant scraps of grunts and yells—it's all in his head.

When he reaches to his pocket for his keys, he feels the crumple of paper under his fingertips.

[ 2 ]       The second rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

Sam's back at the motel by the time Dean gets in, sometime after three. Sam's patched himself up badly, and he pulls back when Dean tries to touch the bruises on his face.

Sam says, "Take a shower," and he settles back into his pillow, staring at the ceiling and not at his brother. Dean still smells like blood, like sweat, but also like some small town slut's candy perfume and cunt.

When he steps out of the bathroom, Sam's curled into himself and lying on his side, pretending to sleep.

[ 3 ]       Someone says stop, goes limp, taps out—the fight is over.

They never go far from the Roadhouse, at least not the first few weeks after dad. They stay within a state or two, and once, just two hours out, Dean pulls into a motel parking lot and says, "This is good. S'getting late." And then, "I'm gonna go out for a drink. You get your beauty rest, princess."

It's more than he's said in days.

In the room, Sam straightens and moves to half-block the door. He says, "C'mon, man. You don't wanna stay in?" And he smiles, a look meant to do more than just hint. He steps in and hooks one finger in Dean's belt loop. Tugs softly once and bends to kiss his brother's neck. But Dean jerks back and shakes his head.

"No," he says. "Later." And he pushes past Sam and out the door.

He knows this bar, this club. His fifth time was here, almost four years ago, and he still remembers.

He used to remember Sammy's milestones. The spring Sam turned ten, they were in Denver. The day Sam shot his first gun, in Minnesota. The first time Sam kissed him, when it was January and they were huddled in a blanket fort in the Appalachians.

Once, he counted by hunts. Florida was the selkie. Tennessee was the skin walker. He and Dad killed four zombies in Nevada.

He's forgotten those landmarks, but he remembers his fights. The first time he let himself win was up north, near Boston. He almost killed a guy with four gold teeth in Charleston. In Seattle, he broke an arm, and when the hospital let him go, he drove straight to Stanford and he and Sam fucked for three days before his brother threw him out of the dorm.

It's a basement like any basement. And all packed into one, small underground space, all breathing the same blood-iron in the air, all of them yelling to the same strained heartbeat, there's a group of men, like every group. Except that somewhere between fights three and four, there's a new face in the crowd and Dean can't even say the curses, he's that pissed.

"The fuck are you doing here?" he hisses in Sam's ear, and Sam looks at him with a vaguely disgusted, mostly stunned look on his face.

He says, "This is where you've been going? What you've been doing? Jesus fucking Christ, Dean."

And Dean starts to tell him to get out. Starts to tell him they'll talk about this later. Starts to tell him he shouldn't be here, not unless he wants to get involved. He doesn't want to get involved in this.

"Hey, you! New guy. Out on the floor. Lose the shoes."

Six pairs of hands shove Sam into the middle of the room, and the only thing that comes to mind is for Dean to follow. The leader, standing in the spot they vacated nods. He shouts Go. Shouts Start. And Sam tightens his jaw and looks at Dean like, Yeah. Yeah, go ahead.

And the only thing that comes to mind is to do it. So he does. The first hit is weak, and Sam dodges it, but he hits back harder, and his fist collides with Dean's jaw with a crack that tells him it's not broken, but he's gonna be sore as hell tomorrow.

Just for a minute, he forgets. He forgets this isn't just another hunt, just another fight. He forgets they're not teenagers anymore and this isn't just roughhousing on the floor of another drive-by motel room or temporary apartment. He doesn't know how or why, but for just a minute, he forgets that they're here, in the middle of all this, and he forgets to not hit to hurt.

Sam won't fight back. It takes him too long to realize that his brother's just lying pinned to the ground, still moving, squirming, still breathing, but under the flurry of Dean's hits and blows, he's not fighting back. He's not telling Dean to stop. Like he's losing something more than the fight if he tells Dean to quit.

There's blood on his hands, flowing from Sam's nose and Sam's mouth. He turns his head to spit, and then moves back to face the hits again.

Dean's holding his breath, but he only notices with his chest starts to hurt and his body goes slack. He backs down, pushes himself up off of Sam and everyone's quiet, staring. He says aloud, "Stop," but he's not sure to who. Stop.

He doesn't help Sam to his feet. He just turns and runs, barely thinking to grab his shirt off the floor on his way out.

[ 4 ]       Only two guys to a fight.

It's not that John doesn't know, but the whole family's got that Don't Ask, Don't Tell mentality about most things, and it takes him almost a year to say anything. Dean answers him, Nothing. It's nothing, sir. Just a bar fight.

And a year later, almost to the day, he asks again. Dean says, No, sir, this isn't a problem. It won't get in the way.

Year three, John says, "Son, tell me. What are you doing?"

And Dean swallows and says, "Nothing, sir."


Dean chews the inside of his cheek, but it was already bloody from before. "It's just fighting. It's nothing."

"Your brother," John says. There's gun oil on his hands, their arsenal stretched across one bed. You're only as good as your weapons, he said when Dean was a kid. He still says.

"No, sir."

There was a kid who looked like Sam, once, but his eyes were too dark, too mean, and his face was cruel and not like Dean remembers his brother at all, even when Sam meant to cut and hurt. Even at the end.

"I want you to stop."

"Sir." It's a protest, and John hears it. He looks up.

"Stop the fighting." An order. "I raised you as a hunter, not as—"

He gives his father the most basic explanation he has. He says, "I can't." Because it's true. Because he doesn't know why yet, and he needs to know. He needs to figure it out to stop.

John sets the gun down on the nightstand. "You don't need this. You're above it. And I'm telling you to stop before you get yourself killed."

The third rule of Fight Club is.

"This started when your brother left. And it's not gonna make him come back."

There's a cut on the inside of his lip and he tongues it until it bleeds. He swallows. "Don't talk about him." And, "It's all because of you—he left because of you, Dad."

It's the fucking dancing purple elephant in the room. That one thing he can think but never aloud. His hand on the doorknob, Dean says, "Sam left because of you, Dad, and the way you always were. This hasn't got a fucking thing to do with him coming back."

[ 5 ]       One fight at a time.

He pulls in at seven in the morning with two cups of coffee, a peace offering of sorts. His is already almost empty, but either they gave him decaf by mistake, the fuckers, or he's just more tired than coffee can help.

His fight lasted almost an hour. And fucking his opponent after was even longer.

The guy was just barely a kid, maybe Sam's age three years back, probably younger. Dean wonders what it says about him that for the first time since his brother left, the guy looked nothing like Sam. Last night's was thin and blond, a first-time fighter, and Dean could've done a hell of a lot more damage than he did. Maybe he made up for it later.

Small, thin, blond. He lets Dean do whatever, take whatever he wants, and it's unnerving and sickening at the same time. His stomach rolls, threatening, at just the thought.

Clutching a coffee in each hand, he walks to the door, and Dad opens it before he can even knock.

John looks like he usually does: like he hasn't slept in twenty years. He takes one of the cups wordlessly from Dean's hand and steps aside to let his son into the room.

There's a minute or so when they just stand there, John framed in the light through the door and Dean in the middle of the room, feeling stupid and awkward and all the things he hates to feel.

"Dad," he says, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said, you know that, and I didn't—" he stops. "Sir?"

"I found you a job," John says quietly, and he sets his coffee down on the desk. Don't Ask, Don't Tell: he ignores the new bruises. "New Orleans. I want you there tonight. You should get going."

And Dean nods. All he knows to do is nod. "Yes, sir."

[ 6 ]       No shirts, no shoes.

It's like sparring, but it's not. No coordination, no ultimate goal. It lasts until they both know it's over without saying a word, until they both collapse on one of the beds and try to catch their breath. Sam rasps, "Get this off," and tugs at Dean's shirt.

Dean thinks maybe he should be apologizing. He thinks maybe he should kiss each and every one of those marks he left and say he's sorry for every single one. He can't and he knows it. He doesn't try, and Sam gives him the out before Dean has to fill the silence on his own.

His fingers working buttons and zippers, Sam says, "Fuck me."

And Dean groans, "Yeah. All right."

Hard. Messy. Painful. Good. There's a whole list of adjectives they could borrow or steal for this, but in the end, there's never enough. The words don't fit exactly right. When it's over, nothing's solved or fixed or better. But it's okay. It doesn't matter.

Sam hisses and arches his back, one hand on his dick and the other digging fingernails into Dean's back, new damages to add to their tally.

It's not the first time, but Sam remembers the first time. Remembers how it started with sticky-wet hand job come-downs after their hunts alone, remembers the first time Dean went to his knees and for a second there Sam thought it was pain, some injury his brother had that they'd missed, and then he realized: dean wait are you what oh—oh.

He remembers that he whimpered, remembers that Dean pulled off to tease him, and he remembers how Dean's mouth looked, wet and red like maraschino cherries at the top of a sundae. He remembers they were both bloody, sweaty, tired, high as fucking kites off adrenaline and god knows what else your body churns out, times like this.

He remembers, because this isn't the first time, but it feels like the first time they fucked. He had to keep asking Dean for almost a year before Dean found them a job four states away and convinced dad, and he remembers that Dean bought a bottle of lube for Sam's birthday, the year Sammy turned sixteen.

Bloody, sweaty, tired, high. Dean groans and shakes. He does something with his wrist and Sam's left boneless, gasping, pressed into the damp sheets.

[ 7 ]       Fights will go on as long as they have to.

Dean doesn't know why he does it, but four days after he beats his baby brother bloody in the basement underground of some shit bar just because Sam lets him, he presses into Sam's space while his brother's staring out the window, eyes empty. Wordless, he kisses the back of Sam's neck, licks a soft line over his throat, slips his fingers under the hem of Sam's shirt until Sam finally turns and locks his fingers around Dean's wrist.

"What," he says.

"I don't know. I should be sorry."

Sam doesn't let go of Dean's wrist, but he doesn't look at him, either. Here, even half a week later, he still looks worse than after their last run-in with the Demon. Dean doesn't want to think on that too hard.

Staring at the carpet, Sam says, "Why do you do it?"

It's not an attack, and he doesn't ask like it is, but the only words that come to mind are blind defenses. The truth is, he's not sure he knows the answer. So he pleads. "Don't. Sammy, don't."

Sam never knew how to let anything lie. He says, "Tell me. You've gotta have a reason."

Dean jerks his wrist out of Sam's grip and sits up, glaring. "Why? Why do I need a reason for any of it, Sam? You tell me."

Sam looks at him, stares for a moment, and finally he says, "The first rule of Fight Club is, you don't talk about Fight Club."

Dean hisses, "Shut up." He doesn't even know why he should defend it. Why he wants to argue. But it feels important, so he does. "Shut the fuck up, Sammy."

And Sam says, "The second rule of Fight Club is—" He sees the exact moment Dean's hand tightens to a fist, and Dean relaxes it barely a second later, but Sam breaks off. He grins, and it's demented. It's not happy or real. "Hit me," he says, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. Anticipating. "Come on. Come on, hit me."

Dean does.

[ 8 ]       And the eighth, and final rule. If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

The first time he hears the rules read out loud, he's half-drunk in the basement of a bar three states from Illinois. There's some wild-eyed wirey-looking guy with his arm in a sling and four stitches across his brow circling the room and yelling so that it echoes:

The first rule of Fight Club is. The second rule of Fight Club is.

He stands right behind Dean and when he starts, If it's your first night at Fight Club, he says it almost in Dean's ear, almost like he's saying it just to him.

And even alcohol-slow and fuzzy, even still kind of weak and sore from whatever demon it was that tried to slice him up last, he strips off his shirt and throws his boots in a corner without hesitation, drops his watch and ring into one shoe and his knife into the other.

Standing in the middle of the crowd, he flashes back to elementary school. Waiting here feels almost like getting picked for kickball teams.

He goes up for fight number three, and he ends up slammed hard into the concrete, bleeding into the cracks in the floor. He has to swallow two mouthfuls of blood before he manage to say Stop. Stop.

The other guy grabs his wrist and pulls Dean to his feet, slaps him on the back once, twice, and says, All right, man, good job. Good fight. Dean nods, doubles over to cough wet and red-black, and when he stands, he's smiling wider than he has in months.

Three bruised ribs, a sprained wrist, six new cuts and bruises covering his face like carnival paint. Counting up his new war wounds in the bathroom mirror in another room, he doesn't feel like he just lost. If anything, he's winning.

For the first time in his life, he feels like he's winning.
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