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Icky Thump

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Sam Wesson felt completely out of place as a gaggle of girls paraded out of the studio, clad in yoga shorts and sports bras, looking flushed and sweaty.
He shouldn’t be here, this was an idiotic idea.
But he had missed the stage, and he needed money like nothing else. Stanford cost money, something he was startlingly short on. Last semester, he’d resorted to a few things he’d rather not admit to. He wouldn’t call it prostitution, more like…making dreams come true for a price. He knew there were quite a few girls who’d wanted a piece of him, and they seemed to like the idea of paying him; like it added to the “roleplay”. Whatever greased their palms, really. But they’d realized that he’d only be there for that money, and most of them had lost interest. He was flat broke. This was the next best thing, what got him through his first year of college and what would hopefully carry him through the rest of the time. He shuddered a little, remembering the last club he worked at. Heaven and Hell didn’t seem to be anything like that other place; it was classy and clean and none of the dancers looked like they were strung out. He hadn’t really looked at the brochure that he had picked up at the door that advertised all their services (which was quite extensive), noting that they gave classes. Hopefully, he could intrigue the teacher enough to give him a try out.

He poked his head in the door they all exited from, glancing around the room. There were at least 15 poles in the studio, two women bent over a table in the corner involved in a conversation. He cleared his throat nervously, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
The one with straight hair looked up, giving him a sly smile.
“Hello there,” she said, straightening out, “If you’re looking for a girlfriend, she’s probably out in the waiting room.” He blushed darker, making a little squeaking sound as he struggled to make his voice work. The other girl with thicker hair and a rounder face looked over, moving over next to the other girl.
“Ruby, looks like we’ve got a bashful one here,” she crooned, “Cat got your tongue, sweetheart?”  Sam shook his head, but still couldn’t find his voice.  He noticed how Ruby hip checked her away from him, smiling.
“So, you want lessons?” she asked. Sam shook his head, his voice finally returning.
“I ah, I took classes,” he said, “You two are the recruiters for Heaven and Hell, right?”
“Yeah, well…more for ladies, but we’d love to see what you’ve got. I’m Ruby, and my fatass partner would be Meg.”
“Oh honey, you just wish you had curves like this,” Meg replied, tossing her hair, “Okay, gigantor, why don’t you show us what you got. You have a song you prefer?” Sam shook his head, peeling away the hoodie and shirt, shucking his jeans.  Ruby raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow as he walked over to the iPod player in the corner, clicking his into place.
“Would you mind starting it for me?” he asked, Meg nodding, pointing the remote at the machine, “Tell me when, sweetheart.”
He took a deep breath, his hand running over the pole.
“Ready.”

The room was filled with the thumping sound of a bass line, Sam’s hands sure on the pole as he did the typical walk around. Ruby was watching him with hungry interest, licking her lips.
Before they knew what was happening, he had already swung around the pole, climbing it. Ruby was taken aback.

Classes, well hell.

His muscles rippled as he dismounted, pressing his spine against the cool metal of the pole, his hips gyrating as he squatted down and back up. He stepped forward, turning and doing a handstand, wrapping his calves around the pole and grabbing the bottom of the pole. A few classes? He was underselling. Meg clicked the music off before Sam was done, smirking and clapping slowly.  Meg wasn’t easily impressed, and here she was, applauding.

“Way to undersell there, babyface,” she said, looking over at Ruby. Ruby smiled, holding his jeans out to him. She liked this kid- he had balls, and he wasn’t afraid of getting out there, something that was necessary in their business.
“So, you want a job?” she asked, “I don’t get the final say, but I could get you in with a few of our male performers, let them show you the ropes. Put in a good word.”  Sam nodded, feeling shocked and exhilarated. He hadn’t expected such a warm greeting, but it was fantastic to get some real praise that wasn’t in the form of his ass getting slapped.
“Was it any good?” he asked, looking nervous and eager. She laughed, nodding.  He was too cute.
“It’s raw, and unpolished, but the talent is there,” she replied, “You got time now? The guys are on the lower floor, in the gym.”  Sam looked contemplative, rubbing his lip. He had time, but would it seem too eager? He didn’t have time to think before the words came blurting out of his mouth.
“I’ve got all the time in the world.”  

He followed the two women down the back, the thumping beats of a song that Sam knew finding its way into the stairwell.
“Oh, fantastic, I fucking love it when they do this routine!” Meg said with a grin, tossing her hair.  Ruby laughed, rolling her eyes.
“That’s because you never actually get to see it,” she replied, hip checking the shorter woman, “Always stuck backstage with me or sweet little Anna.”
“Don’t remind me,” Meg said, rolling her eyes, “Catty and rude is what she is- but she’s Balthazar’s little pet, what can you do?” Sam watched the exchange, a little shocked by how the girls were chatting and still moving at a decent speed down the stairs, their heels ridiculously high and looking generally uncomfortable. That was one thing he was thankful for- he was never asked to wear heels, unlike some of the other guys, because he was so damn tall already. It would be a waist, and he’d be as tall as the pole in most cases.  They finally came to a set of double doors, the music loud and rumbling so much that Sam could feel it in his chest.

They opened the door and he almost had to catch his breath as he watched two muscular men, twisting and swinging on long lengths of cloth, their bodies in sync in a tantalizing sight. Sam wasn’t gay, he insisted to himself, he could just appreciate the amount of skill and beauty was in this dance. And god, was there a lot of damn skill in this. He felt like he was watching a circus act, the way they moved, how high off the ground they were. He could never do that, he decided, He was too clumsy. He could feel Ruby’s hip against his, closer than before and making him feel nervous.
“That’s Dean Smith and Castiel Milton,” she explained, “They’re two of our best male leads. You put them together, or with Meg, and you know we’ve got a show. Right now they’re pulling the silks. Castiel’s specialty is the Hoop, Dean’s is the Pole.”
“And you should see them together on a pole,” Meg said, winking, “It turns even the straightest, God-fearing man at least a little gay.”  
Sam could see that.  Dean was well muscled, his skin tanned and everything about him exuding a sense of brute strength; while Castiel was built agile, his muscles sinewy and cat-like, his form almost feral.  They looked like polar opposites in their moves and appearances, but meshed well. He could tell that these people weren’t just a bunch of college students trying to eek by. These people were the real deal.

Both men were very pretty he noted as the song ended, both of them breathing heavily and grinning at one another. The look wasn’t sexual, only…intense, as if they were trying to absorb each other just by staring, and if he had seen it between two other people or directed at him, he would’ve been unnerved. But for them, it seemed like it was just…natural. Sam didn’t want to admit, but he kinda wished for something like that.  He had almost forgotten that he had come down with two other people, snapped from his revelry when Meg hip checked him.
“I’ll leave you in Ruby’s capable hands, sugar,” she said with a grin, “Don’t eat him while I’m gone.”
“Why don’t you eat me?” Ruby asked sweetly, flipping Meg off. Meg blew a kiss at her before turning around, almost skipping over to Dean and Castiel. She hooked  her arms around each of theirs, saying something he couldn’t quite understand before jerking her head towards him. Both men spared him a quick glance, nodding, until they found something better to do.  They each leaned down and kissed her in turn, Dean getting groping her while Castiel’s hands stayed in her hair. Sam was taken aback, not sure how to react. He’d always been very open about relationships and sexualities, he’d had his own fair share of questioning and experimentation, but this threw him for a loop.
“What the-“
“I know, right?”
He looked down at Ruby, who was rolling her eyes, “She has them both in her pocket and while I find it amusing, it still gets annoying at times. Like now. When we have you here and actually have to get something done before prep.”   
He laughed, half amused with her attitude and half in shock. Threesome, huh. That was the first time he’d ever ran into that. Most of the threesomes at Stanford involved caffeine, a textbook, and a crying student, he thought to himself. What the hell was he getting himself into?

The three finally made their way over, Sam and Dean and Castiel all exchanging handshakes.  Dean’s hands were large and warm, the handshake firm and rather warning. Castiel’s hands, in contrast, were long and rather spindly, cool and the handshake firm and yet delicate. It was a strange combination, and it left Sam unnerved yet again.

“So, Sam,” Castiel said, his voice deeper and more gravelly than he had expected, “You want to join Heaven and Hell?” Sam nodded eagerly, causing a smirk to bloom on Dean’s lips.  He was a little surprised to notice how full Dean’s lips were, almost like a woman’s. He blushed a little, looking down and trying not to look.
“Meg says you have some talent,” he said, lifting Meg’s hand, her fingers tangled in his, “Says you’ve taken classes.”  Sam suddenly started to sweat under Dean and Castiel’s scrutinizing looks. He could pull one over on Meg and Ruby, but he wasn’t so sure about these two.
“A few, yeah,” he said, shrugging and trying to look as casual as possible.
“So, what was your stage name?” Dean asked, a smile blooming on his face.
Sam was taken aback by how straight forward Dean was- he must’ve seen through Sam’s weak cover of “classes” from what Meg had told him. He flushed deep read, his ears burning. Why was he embarrassed in front of these guys? Oh yeah- because of where he had worked before.
“Don’t laugh at me, I didn’t pick it,” he mumbled, “It was Eros. My boss picked it for me and the women ate it up and I just…” He hated telling people his old stage name, it was embarrassing and it made him feel like he was bragging.
Dean chuckled, slapping his shoulder. Sam jerked forward from the force of it, wincing slightly. He wasn’t ready for that.
“Don’t worry about it man. My first name was given to me by my boss at my first club, and trust me, it’s so terrible we don’t talk about it,” Dean replied, giving him a pained and sympathetic look. Meg giggled, bringing the attention to her.  
“Jack Hammer,” Meg said, a devilish grin curling on her lips, “It was Jack Hammer, and it was really cute because Dean didn’t use to be this built. In fact, he had more of a twink look to him then, didn’t he, Clarence?” Sam looked over at Castiel, who was trying not to laugh.
“He certainly did,” he finally replied.  Sam liked the vibe he picked up from this small group, how close they were- even if the two guys were sleeping with the same girl. He wanted to ask how that even worked, but he decided that it wasn’t a good idea.  They were all being really nice to him, and no one had tried to tear his clothes off yet, or rip him off.
“I swear, I’ll slap that smirk off your face so hard it’ll make your head spin,” Dean growled at Meg, grabbing her face roughly. She merely raised an eyebrow, smirking.
“Gonna hurt me, Dean? Best save that for the show. You know how they love it when you make me cry.”
“What?” Sam asked, looking panicked. What the hell was that? Sam felt the good feeling he had drain away, but as he snuck glances at Castiel and Ruby, they didn’t seem bothered- in fact, Castiel seemed mildly amused.  Meg looked at him, pulling her face from Dean’s grip.
“Oh honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” she said with a grin, “Heaven and Hell serves several different tastes and preferences.  This isn't a job for whores. We're high class entertainers- except Ruby, but we're not supposed to mention that she gives the suck and fuck deal on occasion to wedding parties.” Ruby glared at Meg, a malicious smirk curling on her lips as she stuck her hand in Sam’s back pocket. Sam flinched a little, but didn’t grab her. It was kinda…hot, that she just slipped her hand in his pocket, squeezing his ass.
 “Can you smell that? Oh I'm sorry, Meg's mouth is open, I thought I smelled cock,” she replied, noting with satisfaction the way Sam squirmed with her hand against his ass as she squeezed again and how Dean looked like Christmas came early. Meg seemed unruffled, shrugging.
“We all know you wanna gobble up Jolly Green like he’s a platter of fries,” she said, “No need to be bitter that I got the prettiest ones. Even though Sammy will give them a run for their money.”
“Just Sam,” Sam said harshly, arching away from Ruby’s hand, “Just…Sam.”  
He hated being called Sammy.
“Okay big boy,” Meg said, raising an eyebrow, “Sam. I’ve got it.” 

Ruby finally withdrew her hand, still grinning. He didn’t want to admit, but he kinda wished she’d put her hand back. It gave him some semblance of comfort knowing that she at least thought he was hot- that was something. The other three seemed to like him well enough, but he couldn’t really gage how they felt.
“Well, you can come in tonight and watch the routines we have going on, make sure Heaven and Hell is right for you,” Ruby said, “Of course, no real names while we’re on the clock and all that, keeps the creeps away. But If you’re interested…”
“Yes,” Sam said quickly, blushing. Too eager. Too damn eager. He watched as Dean observed the watch on his wrist, jerking his chin.
“We need to get going. We’ve got to get dressed, hair, makeup, the whole nine; plus you and Ruby need to get stretched out,” Dean said to Meg, pushing her forward, “You don’t need to pull another muscle.”
“Makes me all dewy when you push me around Ken-Doll,” Meg purred, turning to Castiel, “Save me a dance at the end of the night, Clarence. It’s been forever since we had you and me time.”  Cas smiled at her as she turned on her heel, slapping her ass as she walked out with Ruby.  It was the last thing he expected from a guy who seemed so mild-mannered, but then again, if he saw Castiel walking down the street, he wouldn’t expect that he was a stripper.
“See ya later, Pizzaman,” she called, blowing him a kiss. Castiel looked hungry still, his bright blue eyes darkening as he watched her leave. Dean elbowed him hard, bringing him back to the present and his eyes finally focusing on Sam. Sam shuffled uncomfortably, stuffing his hands in his pockets.  Cas cleared his throat, focusing again. He was alone with these two guys he’d just met, and it was obvious that he was depending on them for any more information. He wished the girls had taken him with them.

“You’ll need to meet Balthazar,” Cas said, rubbing hands against his bare thighs, “Do you have a car?”  Sam blushed sheepishly. He never had the money for a car, and when most of his time he was on campus, there was no real need for a car. Obviously that was gonna have to change.
“Ahh, no. I took the bus,” he replied. Dean grinned, slapping Sam’s shoulder.
“That’s okay kiddo, you can just ride with us, if that’s fine with you,” he said as he slid into a pair of jeans.  He liked Dean, how cool he was with him. He couldn’t help but feel really comfortable around the guy.
“Yeah, sure,” Sam replied, shuffling awkwardly as he watched the two men dress. Dean favored a rough, casual style; low slung jeans with tears in the ass and knees, and a surprising amount of layers. Sam smirked to himself- it was kinda fitting that a stripper wear a thousand layers. It built anticipation. Cas, on the other hand, had gone from sex bomb to nerdy librarian in less than five seconds; a loose white t-shirt beneath a ratty sweater, a pair of loose corduroys and loafers completing the look. Sam bit back the laugh that had risen in his throat, the unlikely pair standing next to each other. Dean smirked, leaning over and kissing Cas on the cheek.  Now that was something Sam was used to; he almost sighed with relief to find that there was something about this crew that he knew how to react to.
“Come on, let’s get going. You know how pissed Balthazar gets when we’re late.” Cas nodded, waving for Sam to follow them. He followed them out the door and into the parking lot, approaching a gorgeous black Chevy Impala, Sam’s eyes going wide. It was gorgeous, in perfect condition…god, to have a car like that, even if it wasn’t his style. These guys must make great money to afford a car like that; and Dean laughed at the look on his face.

“Everyone digs the car,” he said, sliding into the driver’s seat, “She’s my baby. My old man gave it to me.”  Sam nodded, sliding in the back seat. Fuck, everything about the car was gorgeous.
“The only decent thing that derelict ever gave you,” Cas muttered, sliding in the passenger’s seat and clicking the belt around his waist. Sam watched as Dean sighed, rubbing his face.  Sam could feel the friendly atmosphere start to dissipate, bracing himself to witness a lover’s quarrel.
“Now Cas, really?” he said, glaring hard at the man next to him. Cas folded his arms across his chest, looking extremely irritable.
“Why not, Dean?”
“How about because we have a kid we don’t fucking know in the car,” Dean snapped, starting the car. Cas’s expression had not changed, though Sam noted that his shoulders tensed more.
“You know she’s gonna find out,” he replied.  Sam leaned forward, being a little nosy but more than anything, concerned.  Who was gonna find out?
“Who?” he asked. Cas turned to face him.
“Meg,” he explained, “She’s not fond of Dean’s father, and unlike me, she’s not used to keeping her temper in check.”
“I’d take that over this,” Dean muttered, swinging out of the parking lot, “Look, I know he’s always on my ass about borrowing money and working with him in the garage, but it’s not your problem or hers-“
“It is our problem, seeing as we’re with you,” Cas snapped, “Never mind. You’re right; we’ll have to talk about this in private.”
“Thank fucking God,” Dean muttered, turning on the streets as if on autopilot, “So, Sam. You new to town or what?”
“No,” Sam replied, “I go to college here.”  He wasn’t ready for a third degree, but he figured he should get as friendly as possible, if only superficially.
“Let me guess,” he said, glancing in the rearview mirror, “Stanford. Am I right?” Sam nodded, blushing and shrugging.  Was he that easy to read? His buddies all told him he looked like the stereotypical college nerd, but he liked to think that he wasn’t that…obvious. Apparently, they were right.
“So, you need money for tuition?” Dean asked. Castiel glared at him, shaking his head. Sam could see that Cas was a bit of a stickler for politeness, something he could appreciate.
“Ah, no. I’m here on a scholarship; it’s mostly little things like food and rent. Books and supplies at the beginning of the semester.”
“Damn kid,” Dean said, raising an eyebrow, “That’s fucking awesome. Seriously, don’t you have to be like, a genius to get a full ride to Stanford?”
“Not really,” Sam replied sheepishly, “I mean, I just got lucky.”
“Luck has nothing to do with it, Sam,” Cas said, turning to face him again, “You’re very intelligent. You parents must be very proud.”  Parents. He tried to think of a way to brush off the comment so they wouldn’t bring it up again without being rude.
“Ah, yeah…sure,” he replied, rubbing his neck. He could see Dean’s eyes flick up to look at him in the rearview mirror, and he knew he failed.
“What, they ain’t proud? I barely know you, Sammy, and hell, I’m proud of you!” Dean exclaimed.  Sam squirmed uncomfortably, wanting to get away from the conversation.
“I don’t really have parents,” Sam said, shrugging, “Ward of the state. Got emancipated when I was 17.”
“Shit man,” Dean said with a smirk, “Well, you’ll fit right in at Heaven and Hell. All of us are orphans, in one way or another, But hell, that’s why we have each other.”
Sam smiled in relief, glad to know that at least in their world, he wasn’t going to be a freak with no family. If what Dean said was anything to go on, most of them probably had really fucked up lives.
“And Balthazar,” Cas added with a smirk. Dean nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, he’s like a cranky, gay, British mother hen,” Dean joked. Sam laughed; the image amusing, something rather close to Ian McKellan with a lisp coming to mind.  He felt quite at home with Dean and Castiel, and he surprisingly didn’t mind when Dean had called him Sammy. He usually despised it when people called him Sammy, but Dean saying it wasn’t nails to a chalkboard to him.

“So, you think I’ve got a chance?” Sam asked, “I’m not gonna lie, I really need this job.” He cursed himself for letting that slip, how eager and fucking stupid he sounded.
“You’re Balthazar’s wet dream, “ Dean replied, “Tall, pretty, built and you’re not a complete idiot. He’ll be salivating over you.” Sam basked in the praise from him, smiling and blushing. It wasn’t often that Sam was paid a genuine compliment in his life, and he learned early never to expect them or believe them. But Dean seemed genuine, and he couldn’t help but feel like Dean was being honest.  Dean parked behind the club, looking back at Sam with a wide smile. They were there already, and Sam suddenly felt his knees go weak.
“This is it, Sammy,” he said, “You ready?”  He wanted to yell no, to jump out of the car, to beg them to drop him off at the nearest bus stop an call all this off. He’d find another way. Hell, he could get a real job- the only reason why he was avoiding that was because, well…real jobs tended to interfere with studying. When he wasn’t on stage, he could study here.
“I’m nervous,” Sam admitted. Dean reached back, tousling his hair as Cas patted his arm. Sam was shocked by the sudden physical affection, another thing he usually despised, but yet again his skin didn’t crawl when the two men touched him.
“Don’t be. Balthazar is all bark and no bite. You’ll be fine.”

Chapter Text

Tap.
Tap.
Tap.
Tap.

“One, two, three, four, one, two, three- Jesus Christ on the cross, lift your damn chin, men like seeing your eyes!”

A tall man stood in the center of the room, a long walking stick in one hand, a steaming cup in the other. He had very fair features, a face thinly lined with an age that seemed caught between the early to late 50’s. He was long and lean; he looked like a ballet instructor more than a striptease instructor. Sam bit his lip as he watched the man’s face, the way his lips were always twisted in a scowl or a smirk, his smile never reaching his eyes. His voice was tilted by an accent that sounded British, but still…not. He wasn’t sure how to explain it, having met a few fellow students from England in his classes- despite all the accents sounds slightly different in their own ways- didn’t sound anything like his. It was as if it was very carefully practiced, trying to disguise another accent beneath it.  Nevertheless, he was intimidating, and the accent did not help matters. Sam watched quietly, almost hiding behind Dean and Cas (which frankly took quite a bit of effort) as he looked on. He watched as Balthazar lifted the walking stick and pressed it painfully against the chin of one of the girls on a pole, hanging in a Jade Variation.

“Chin, Maria. If your chin is curled into your chest…?” he prompted. Sam could barely hear the girl’s voice, shaking slightly from the tress of holding her body in position with a cane pressed against her chin.
“They can’t see my face,” she barely managed. Balthazar sighed, moving the walking stick away with a nod of approval. The girl sighed in relief as he moved past, dismounting gracefully before rubbing her neck and chin viciously, as if trying to rub away the sting of the chastisement. Balthazar had moved on, poking and prodding at several other dancers, offering criticism on their form. He lifted the steaming cup in his hand to his lips, swallowing the liquid inside with a pained expression.  He looked as if he was about to pitch the cup across the room, his nostrils flaring as he tried to calm his temper. His face smoothed over into a mask of placid irritation, his following reaction seeming completely out of place.

“Anna, damn it, what the bloody hell is this cat piss?” he yelled, making everyone in the room visibly jump.  A willowy red head pranced over, a clipboard in her hands.  She was all arms and legs, her red hair pulled into a tight bun on the top of her head. Unlike Meg and Ruby, her face was very fresh, her make-up light and innocent looking. Wait, Anna- that was the girl Meg had called catty and rude?- Balthazar’s pet. Sam made a mental note to make sure he could stay on her good side, though looking at her she didn’t appear to have a bad side. She just seemed sweet and bubbly.

“You wanted tea, so I made you tea,” she replied, looking hopeful. He looked immensely irritated as he rolled his eyes, still looking mutinous of the offending liquid.
“This is not tea. This is filth, this is disgusting, this is an insult to the word tea,” he snapped, “Did you get the bag out of my drawer? Did you brew it per my instructions?” Anna bit her lip, a faint blush running over her pale cheeks.
“Well…no,” she admitted, looking quite shamefaced. He held out the cup to her, pinching the bridge of his nose as soon as she took it from his hands.
“That is what I imagine Cassie’s thong tastes like after a private session,” he mused,  grimacing, “Dump that slop out in the street- the drain did nothing to deserve such torture.” He turned away from the young woman, focusing on the other dancers.  It was clear that he was about to take his ire out on the dancers, and Sam felt another twinge of doubt. Was this what he was going to be dealing with?

“Bloody hell, Samandriel, tighten the core! You wonder why you’ve had three falls in the past month, you aren’t tightening your damn core!” he yelled as he walked by one thin boy who looked entirely too young to be there, performing a Superman with admittedly poor form. Sam gulped- this was not the image he’d gotten from Cas and Dean. He had imagined a little less tough and a little more love, but then again, he was quite well acquainted to people being generally tough rather than loving. He jumped as the man yelled again, this time at a young woman with short hair in her face, doing a Stag.

“For Christ’s sake, Hester,” he bellowed, “How do you manage to get a damn bob to cover your face constantly? Let them see your face or I’ll give you a pixie cut.”

The young woman didn’t reply, only flipping her hair out of her face. He would have control over his hair? What else would he do? Sam was a little protective of his hair, never having been allowed to grow it much when he was younger. He thought it made him look a bit older, a little less baby-faced. He watched as Anna bounced back in, her mood bouncing back from his harsh criticism as she hovered close to Balthazar.  He didn’t look at her, still watching all the dancers as they practiced and stretched a glimmer of approval in his eyes. Sam was shocked, because with the approval he could see some tenderness for his dancers in the older man’s eyes, so unlike the man who had just threatened to hack a girl’s hair.

“Anna, Clipboard,” he said, holding his hand out to his side. She slid the clip board in his hand, looking nervous as he turned to her. He tapped her head gently with the clipboard, giving her an affectionate smile.
“It’s not your fault, you were born in America and therefore without any taste,” he said, “Go ahead and get stretched out love, we have a lot of dancers that won’t be able to perform and I need you at the top of your game.” She nodded, going over to the bar against the far wall and stretching, tossing a look at Sam with curiosity in her eyes. Even though he was in the middle of a dancehall filled with half-naked people, he still felt like everyone’s eyes were on him. Like he was a freak and he didn’t belong there. He began to back up, his palms sweating, until a hand caught his. It was Dean’s, and Sam looked at him with shock.                    

“Easy there, Tiger,” Dean said softly, pulling him back over. He released Sam’s hand when he was confident he wouldn’t bolt, giving him a warm smile.
“All bark, no bite,” he said gently, “Besides, you’re with us. You’ll be fine.” Sam nodded, licking his lips and still twitching nervously. It wasn’t until Castiel turned to him, grasping his shoulder firmly.
“Calm down,” he said firmly, “You will be fine.” Sam didn’t answer, still twitching a little.
“Breathe,” Castiel commanded, “In your nose, out your mouth. Deep breaths.” Sam found him obeying without question, his body relaxing. He smiled appreciatively at Castiel, Castiel returning it before taking Dean’s hand again and moving across the floor confidently.  
Dean and Cas finally approached close enough to garner Balthazar’s attention, noting the rather excited look on his face. He held up a slender finger, apparently the universal sign for wait as he turned to the dancers, clapping a hand against the clipboard. The dancers dismounted or moved from the floors and walls, moving to gather around him.

“Well then, despite your piss-poor practice, I still must send you out into the world to entertain the driveling masses,” he announced, a playful smirk on his lips as he pulled a pair of thin glasses from his pocket and slid them on his nose, “Right then. Hester, Samandriel, Inias, and Josephine; you have the Miller Bachelor/bachelorette party. It would be Samandriel’s turn to drive, but since he’s a blithering idiot who almost got us killed last time he dove, Inias will be driving. And no, I will not let it go until I feel you’ve learnt your lesson, and that is not going to be for quite some time,” he said, looking sharply at the young looking boy. Sam had to clap a hand over his mouth- he recognized that kid, he was in his humanities class last semester. He had faced that there was a chance that he would see fellow students in the crowd, but he didn’t exactly expect to see a fellow student dancing.  He ducked his face behind his arm as the young man walked past with the rest of the dancers in his group, not listening as Balthazar continued to rattle off names and assignments. Dean’s eyes followed Sam’s as Samandriel walked out the door, jerking his head.

“You know Andy?” Dean asked. Sam nodded, blushing.
“Yeah, ah, we had a class together last semester,” Sam replied. Castiel nodded.
“He did mention once in passing that he was attending school.”
“I didn’t get a Stanford vibe from him, I wouldn’t have given him that much credit,” Dean commented, looking impressed.
“That’s kinda rude,” Sam responded, looking irritated.  Castiel looked at him with owlish eyes, confused.
“I don’t think Dean had meant it in an offensive way,” he said, his brow furrowing, “Samandriel tends to play a ‘pretty but ditzy’ character on stage. His normal personality is more quiet and private, but it sometimes is hard to separate stage personalities from real ones when it comes to the extras.”
“Well it was still rude.”
“Take it easy you two,” Dean said, leading them to Balthazar, who was beckoning them over. Castiel gave Sam a half-hearted shrug, following Dean over before glancing over his shoulder at Sam expectantly. Sam jumped a little, realizing he was supposed to follow too and crossing the floor quickly.

“Ah, Dean,” Balthazar said, looking at his watch, “Late, as usual. I think I may choke on my own cock if you were ever on time.”
“Don’t you usually do that, Granny? “Dean asked jokingly. Balthazar ignored him, circling Sam.
“And what have we here?” he murmured, looking him over scrutinizing, “Of course you need a little trim- too wispy, makes you look too feminine and with a build like that, you wanna play the masculinity up. How do you feel about eyeliner?”  Sam was still trying to get over the fact that Balthazar looked like he was examining a cut of prime meat, his questions clinical.
“What?” Sam asked, looking confused. What did eyeliner have to do with anything?
“Hmm, eloquent I see. It’s a good thing you don’t have to be a conversationalist in this job,” Balthazar said with a soft chuckle, pointing his cane at Sam’s jeans, “Take off your pants, please, I need to see what I’m working with.”  
Sam’s hands flew to the waistband of his jeans, gripping them protectively as if Balthazar would tear them off himself.
“What?”  He yelped again, backing away. This was not what he was expecting- did he have to take a casting couch audition at this place?
Balthazar rolled his eyes, huffing irritably.
“I’ve never heard of a modest stripper,” Balthazar muttered, “Lose the pants, sweetheart, I haven’t got all day.”
“Is…is this my audition?” Sam asked hesitantly, making Balthazar let out a bark of laughter.
“Please,” he said, folding his arms, the cane tapping against the floor, “We don’t have a casting couch here. I just want to know what kind of outfit I’m going to want you in. Don’t give yourself so much credit.”  

Dean let out a loud laugh and Sam’s cheeks burned with embarrassment. Of course things weren’t like that here. His hands loosened their grip on his waistband, his fingers fumbling clumsily with the button and zipper before he dropped them and stepped out. Balthazar raised an eyebrow, gesturing to his chest.

“Well? I need to see all of you,” he snorted, “Sharp too, bless your heart.” Sam was blushing even harder now, following Balthazar’s command. He shrugged out of his zip-up hoodie, dropping it on the floor and pulling off the t-shirt underneath. He felt a little stupid, standing there in nothing but his jockeys and his work boots. He crossed his arms over his chest, his cheeks still burning as Balthazar rolled his eyes and yanked Sam’s hands down to his sides. Sam shuffled under his scrutinizing gaze, flinching every now and again when Balthazar leaned in close or prodded at him with the end of his cane.

“Give us a turn, wouldn’t you darling?” he asked, his fingers rubbing his lips. Sam shuffled in a circle, feeling more like a cow being offered for slaughter than a guy trying to get a job stripping. Balthazar nodded.
“Give me a smile,” he demanded, and Sam gave him a weak, nervous smile. Balthazar let out another noise of irritation.
“No, smile like I just stuck a ten in your waistband, for God’s sake,” Balthazar exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air, “Seduce me with that smile, make me want to stick a twenty in next time. Make me believe it!”  Sam swallowed shallowly, glancing at Dean and Cas. Castiel was watching him with open interest, his eyebrow raised in expectation. Dean however, gave him a wide grin and a thumbs up, nodding encouragingly. Sam looked at Balthazar, giving him his best thousand watt, lady killing smile; the smile that had worked on just about every professor and girl on campus.  Balthazar nodded, his own lips twitching up in the corners.
“Ah, now that’s a smile worth paying for,” he said, nodding, “Very nice. “ He snapped his fingers, prompting Anna to return to his side, clipboard and pen poised to take whatever notes he had to say.

“Well, he needs a tan to get rid of those ghastly tan lines, and some body glitter would do nicely- Anna, What do you think of putting Sam in a thong?”  he asked, glancing over at Anna.  Anna giggled, pointing at Sam’s waist. Balthazar looked down, a bemused smirk on his face. Sam had never felt the urge to cover himself so strongly before, but hell, if he couldn’t take this, how would they even consider putting him on a stage?
“Scratch that, it seems that we wouldn’t have anything that would fit him,” Balthazar chuckled, “Of course, we could special order something.” He tapped his fingers on the clipboard, motioning for Anna to write that down before turning back to Sam.
“So, Sam. Meg and Ruby told me you have prior experience, and judging from your fantastic physique they weren’t lying, which frankly would be a first for them,” he began, “So here’s what we’re going to do- I’m going to put you with Dean and Cassie for morning training and with Ruby for duo training. I assume your last place of employment didn’t have the array of services that we offer.”

Sam blushed, remembering a fe of the ‘services’ he had noted while skimming for their class schedule. No…it certainly did not.  But then again, they also didn’t have all these demands for the dancers. He’d just walked in one day on amateur night and he had the job.
“No, ah…they didn’t,” Sam muttered, “Tanning? Training? I just wanna dance, I didn’t think…”  Balthazar snorted, tapping his cane against the ground.
“What, that you’d have to work for it? Sweetheart, we’re professionals. There’s a reason we don’t offer amateur night here,” he said, gesturing around, “We serve all of southern California. We do bachelor parties, wedding showers, birthday parties, wedding receptions, private shows, galas, art shows; we have a reputation.  Erotic dance isn’t just titillation and waving your ass around like a baboon. It takes skill, talent, artistry.”  Sam was surprised by the way Balthazar was talking about it, convincing and actually kinda exciting.
“Really?” Sam asked.
“Yes really; do you think I’m talking out of my ass just to entertain you? It takes a lot more than a hot body and a pretty face to make it here. You want to try out, that’s peaches and cream, love. But no one steps foot on my stage without training. That won’t be too much trouble for you, would it, darling?”
“No, not at all,” Sam said, looking worried, “Seriously, I want this job. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
“Don’t say that too loud around here,” Balthazar replied, taking the clipboard from Anna and looking it over, “Dean, you and Meg have another S and M show. Seemed you two really charmed the socks off the last group.”

Sam turned as Meg sashayed into the room, her long, curly hair tied up and clad in 20 pounds of black leather. He blinked a little, her whole demeanor different and her whole look different. He shuffled in place, trying to hide the effect it had on him. She looked hot as hell, and Sam had never really been into leather on anyone- he’d been more of a lace kind of guy. He caught her eye, blushing as she winked at him when she leaned over to pinch Balthazar’s cheek.
“You’re just so sweet, Balthazar,” she crooned, smiling at Dean, “Well sugar? Go get your leather on. We’ve got a show to put on.” She trailed her hand across Sam’s bare back, “See you later, big boy.”

Sam could feel a trail of goose bumps where her fingers had run across his bare skin, watching them exit together. He stood awkwardly after that, watching the last few dancers get prepped for their routines. Balthazar turned to him once more, his arms folded.

“You can put your clothes back on,” he said, waving the clipboard dismissively, “I’ve already seen what I need to see.” Sam sighed with relief, pulling his clothes back on as Balthazar continued.
“Well, I might as well tell you all of our services before you start promising to do anything. Heaven and Hell is not just a strip club, we are an entertainment industry.  We not only offer pole dancing, but aerial hoops, aerial silks, burlesque shows and BDSM shows. Think of us as Cirque Du Soleil, but more sexually arousing.”
“Okay…” Sam murmured, a little intimidated. This was sounding more and more like running away and joining the circus the more Balthazar spoke. BDSM shows He wasn’t up for that…
Balthazar chuckled, patting his shoulder.
“It’s the BDSM that’s made you balk, isn’t it? Usually does. We only have three BDSM dancers, and as you have probably guessed, they are our resident threesome.”
“Dean, Cas and Meg?” Sam asked, raising an eyebrow, “Funny, I didn’t think…”
“That Cas would be into that? Oh, he is. He doesn’t look like it due to his naturally quiet nature, but Castiel was one of the most requested Doms in California at one point. He’s the only reason that Dean and Meg are as well balanced as they are now- and that’s saying something.”  Sam nodded, their relationship starting to make sense. That’s why Cas seemed to be in charge, and that’s why Meg and Dean seemed to have a lot of tension towards each other. They must like it that way. He wouldn’t judge, he’d been into some weird stuff- hell, he still was. But BDSM? Not really his gig. Maybe the B. Not the rest, though.
“So, Sam, do you have any allergies, any hard limits and things you aren’t willing to do?” Balthazar asked casually. Sam shrugged, unsure of how to answer, and choosing honesty above all else.
“I don’t have any allergies, but I don’t want to be involved in the BDSM stuff,” Sam said, “I don’t like pain.” He’d had enough pain in his life. He wasn’t about to ask someone to hurt him, not even for money.
Balthazar chuckled, shaking his head.
“BDSM isn’t all about pain. Are you sure I can’t even entice you into playing a Dom? I don’t think you’d have the personality in the real world, but here I think you could pull it off.”  Sam shrugged, and Balthazar wrote some things on his clipboard. Did he somehow say something wrong? He wanted to take it back, to smooth things over, but Balthazar didn’t seem angry. He didn’t even seem irritated.  He looked back up, giving Sam a smirk.
“Now, how do you feel about homosexuality?” Balthazar asked, scrutinizing him.

Sam shrugged, genuinely unbothered now.  Though he didn’t openly talk about it much, Sam was well acquainted with a few boys in his college, and though he’d never really gotten into the sex, he definitely liked the feel of a guy’s body in his hands, the scratch of a couple days’ worth of scruff on his own skin. He didn’t consider himself gay…more like romantically gay. Half gay? Bisexual? He hated labels.

“I have no problem with it. I experimented a few times in high school, never found anyone who was really for me- predominantly girlfriends,” Sam replied. Balthazar nodded with a smile.
“So, you wouldn’t have any problem dancing with men?”
“No, not really.”
“Kissing them?”
“For the show, I suppose it wouldn’t’ bother me.” 

The thought of kissing Cas suddenly popped into his head, the feel of those full lips against his, his long fingers tangled in his hair…he tried to banish the image, hoping his answer was casual enough not to raise any questions. Balthazar broke out in a wide grin.

“Oh, I like you. You’re going to be one of my favorite show ponies,” he said, “I will train you for your tryout night, give you a little makeover, set up choreography for you, find a stage name and all that. But the night is about to start. I need to get out on the floor for the evening. You can join me if you’d like?”
“Sure, I have nowhere to be,” Sam said, shrugging. He actually wanted to see a few of the routines, maybe even see Ruby’s routine. Besides, he’d come to find Balthazar wasn’t bad company, good for conversation and despite his occasionally scathing remarks, was non-judgmental. He liked his new boss.

Balthazar offered his arm, and though Sam almost laughed and balked, he took it and followed him to the main club.

Chapter Text

Sam sat a table close to the front, where Balthazar had led him originally, nursing his second beer of the night. The atmosphere was relaxed; the décor modern and generally looking like a classy restaurant rather than a strip club. Then again, maybe this was what most “gentlemen’s clubs” looked like. He wouldn’t know; his experiences relegated to the less classy establishments that didn’t check for ID’s and generally didn’t keep very good books. He took another sip of his beer, picking at the label and hoping that Balthazar would come back soon. If there was one thing that he did often but never enjoyed, it was sitting alone.

He’d watched a few of the dancers, not catching their names and not taking much of an interest. He was sure he’d meet them eventually, but he didn’t really have the job yet, not until he trained and had some semblance of a routine and did his audition. He sighed quietly, thinking about that, he really did need money and he didn’t know if he had time to waste with all of the demands that Balthazar had set forth.  He surveyed the crowd, noting that even when they were offering money for lap dances and personal dances, they were polite and calm. After his time at the crappy roadside strip club he was at before; this was a welcome change. 

He watched as one man beckoned a young waitress closer, lifting a slip of paper with a number on it and handing it to her. She nodded, moving quickly through the tables and to the bar, where she picked up a phone and made a call. Sam was a little curious, watching closely as the girl laid down the phone and returned to making drinks. What was that about?
He turned back, only to see a dancer suddenly standing in front of the table, a demure smile on her face as she beckoned the man out of his seat. He watched as she led him off through a set of double doors, them swinging closed before he could get a better look. He turned his attention back to the stage though there were no dancers currently up. It was intermission, according to the small placard in the center of the table, before the big names were set to dance, but there was still music playing to keep the mood.

 They played a plethora of music from country to hip-hop, and he found himself moving in his seat to the music. He missed this. He found himself becoming more and more comfortable in this place, the longer he sat there and started memorizing faces. He’d already had a polite conversation with one of the young waitresses, who had come back with another beer in her hand.

“Oh, I didn’t order this,” he said, lifting his hand to stop her. She just laughed, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder.
“It’s on the house,” she said, “Balthazar told me to get you socially lubricated, and there’s nothing I’m better at.” They both laughed, Sam holding his hand out to shake with hers.
“Sam.”
“Jo,” she replied, flashing him a brilliant smile, “So, are you a customer, or a family friend?”
“Ah, neither,” Sam responded, lifting the beer, “I’m…scoping a job opportunity.” Jo nodded, chuckling.
“I see. Obviously not a waiter…I highly doubt that we need help with books…so, I’m gonna assume dancer.”
“You got me,” he replied sheepishly. She patted his shoulder, grinning.
“No, that’s cool,” she said, “Of course, I’m a bit biased, but seriously. Everyone who works here is really amazing. I mean, these guys are like family. My mom is in charge of the bar and the kitchen. She wouldn’t ever let me dance, as much as I wanted to, but she never really stopped me from hanging out with everyone. I think you’ll like it here.”
“Thanks,” he said, flashing her a hesitant smile. She looked up, nodding at a girl who was motioning wildly to get her attention.
“Duty calls,” she said, standing, “But hey, hope I see you around, huh?”
“Yeah, me too,” Sam said, giving her a halfhearted wave.  

He heard the music fade away, his attention turning back to the stage. Intermission was over, and the headliners of the night were three dancers, two women and one man. He scanned the list on the table, noting the names.
“Eisheth, Evangeline, and Emmanuel,” he muttered to himself, trying to keep the names locked into his mind so he could put stage names with faces.

Balthazar was on the stage now, a sharp suit jacket and a deep v-neck shirt in olive green replacing the white t-shirt and black vest he had on earlier. Sam smiled a bit, he liked that style. He mostly lived in jeans and layered shirts, but he wouldn’t mind dressing like that. Hell, maybe here, he’d have a reason to dress that sharp. Balthazar smiled welcomingly to the crowd that had gathered at the many tables, Sam suddenly noticing how full the place was. He was a little surprised to see men and women alike, some dressed casually and some dressed like they were out on the town. It seemed that Heaven and Hell catered to everyone.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Heaven and Hell Erotic Entertainment Club. It is a lovely evening, and we’re all delighted to see you here. We have quite a show for you tonight- plenty of familiar faces and some not so familiar routines-  so sit back, relax, and enjoy the tantalizing moves of our first performer, Eisheth,” he said, stepping off the stage onto the stairs as the music started.
 

Ruby tossed aside the curtains, smiling beguilingly at the crowd. Sam sat back, shocked and mesmerized.  He hadn’t really taken the time to imagine what Ruby could look like, all decked out like something out of a movie, he figured he didn’t need to- he’d met her in just a sports bra and a pair of spanks. But on stage, she was dressed to the nines and in her element.

“Come my lady,  Come come my lady,  you're my butterfly, Sugar. Baby.”

She strutted down the stage, her hips rolling and swinging as she circled the pole, her leg hooking around it as she spun, her hair flying. His mouth was dry as she climbed and moved, grinding against the pole. She pulled herself up, swinging around as her legs gracefully hooked around, her whole body sideways as her arms were free to be spread out wide. She pulled herself back up, whipping her hair as her thighs gripped the pole tight, sliding her down until she was a mere in from the floor. It was impressive, stunning, her palms flat on the stage as she rolled her entire body forward, her legs perfectly straight as she rolled into a split. She crawled across the stage, rearing back on her knees as her hands ran over her body, her hips rolling as her hands ran down to her thighs.  Sam was entranced. If nothing else, he loved the way she moved, the way she knew how to toss her hair so they always saw her face; the way her lips were parted in a constant sigh.  He felt as though she was dancing just for him, as if he were sitting completely alone as she strutted forward to the end of the stage, her bending and snapping, her hands roaming her own bare skin. He noted the flash of fingers and hands as she made her way around, sliding across her bare skin, Ruby’s eyes never resting on them long as she bit her lip and swung her hips. He could’ve been imagining it, but he felt like she was always looking right into his eyes as she came forward, sliding down into a split. His breath caught in his throat as she rolled onto her back, her legs spreading as she spun around, her legs a long, lean line as she curled her finger at him, licking her lips and biting them. His breath was stifled as she slid back, her hands running over the tan expanse of her thighs, her eyes locked on his.
He knew he wasn’t imagining it.

He was so caught up in the dance that he didn’t notice Balthazar sitting next to him, jumping out of his skin as he heard the older man whisper, “Isn’t she gorgeous? She was a natural.”
“Was she?” Sam croaked, his eyes still locked on her.  He wanted to know more about the girl who had recruited him and talked him up.
“Oh yes, she knows how to make a man feel like he’s the only one in the room,” Balthazar stated, smiling with approval, “She has this quality, it’s very addicting. Most of the people here are her regulars. Some of them don’t even order lap dances, but every night that she’s the headliner, they’re here by the droves.”
“I can see why,” Sam mumbled as the dance ended, Ruby straightening. She winked at him, a flash of beautiful white teeth before she strutted off the stage, blowing kisses to all the people cheering for her. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was wishing he’d appreciated her hand kneading his ass more that morning.  She was amazing, and if everyone here was as good as she was, he certainly had his work cut out to match that. Balthazar clapped politely, turning back to Sam as the announcer announced the next dancer.

“That was Eisheth. For a personal session or lap dance, order item 13 off the menu. And now, give it up for Evangeline.”

The next song started to play, the redhead from earlier, her style clearly different from Ruby’s. While Ruby exuded a sense of intense sexual prowess, Anna seemed sweet, innocent, a school girl. One look in her eye would tell you otherwise, but on stage she was…what was the word? Demure.  She mounted the pole, doing a bullet spin to a superman. Though she was trying to look as sweet as possible with her face and gestures, her work on the pole was neat, proficient, and almost robotic. She looked over the crowd as she rolled her hips, her thumbs hooking in the barely there skirt, batting her eyes and pursing her lips, a display that made Sam feel vaguely uncomfortable. She looked too young, like a 16 year old trying to impress her boyfriend, and the men were eating it up. He looked away, noting the Balthazar was writing notes on his clipboard. He leaned forward, scanning over Balthazar’s nearly illegible cursive script, an eyebrow raised.

“What are you writing?” Sam asked. Balthazar leaned close, speaking over the music.
“This is the first time we’ve put her in 8 inch heels. I thought she could pull it off, but we’ll have to put her back in the 6 inches. It’s too much for her. See the way her back is curved?”  He asked, using the tip of the pen to point like he had earlier with his cane.
“Yeah,” Sam replied.
“She’s off balance. She usually does the ‘sweet and inexperienced’ routine nicely, but now she looks like a baby giraffe just discovering it has legs.”
Sam felt bad, Balthazar’s words probably hurtful to the girl, but he could tell that Balthazar’s statement rested less in her not looking as good and more in his hopes that she wouldn’t roll her ankle and get hurt. Balthazar continued to scribble away, speaking in a hushed tone as he did so.
“We’ve only tried this routine a few times, and generally the male demographic enjoys it, but I’ve told Gabriel a thousand times that the couples and women throw a hiss fit,” he muttered.
“Do they?” Sam asked. Balthazar didn’t look up from the board, waving his hand around.
“Of course,” he snapped, “Just look around. They’re leaving in droves. But don’t worry- they’ll be back. They always come crawling back.”
Sam raised an eyebrow, a little confused. What would make them come back if they so hated Anna doing this particular routine? He continued to watch with a vague sense of discomfort, squirming a little. It wasn’t that Anna was unattractive, quite the opposite. She was gorgeous, but she looked like a child on the stage.

Finally, her routine ended and he felt Balthazar nudge his arm.
“Watch this one.” Sam nodded as the DJ announced the order number for Anna and introduced a man named “Emmanuel”. Emmanuel.  This was the last headliner of the night, the first male he’d see here, and he was actually pretty excited. He could feel the Goosebumps rising as the music started, the curtains separating. He jolted in his seat, looking at Cas in nothing but a thong and…were those heels and stockings?

“Holy shit,” he gasped, noting that the man wore them well. Balthazar nodded with a smirk of approval as Cas stalked across the stage, not even doing a walk around before hoping the pole, his hips gyrating against the pole as his head swung around. Apparently the set in the club liked Cas, because a large group of people surged forward, taking seats close to the stage, sliding hands along his stocking clad legs and ass as he crawled past, hands lingering a bit longer than necessary. He watched as Cas rose up again, the pole becoming the main focus on his performance as he climbed, his powerful thighs gripping the pole as he bent backwards, grabbing the very bottom. Sam was drawn away from the performance when he heard the quiet shuffle of a chair being pulled out close to him. He looked over to notice a short man with a permanent smirk carved on his face sitting down with them, a sharp suit on and a laughter dancing in his eyes. The man looked interesting enough, but Cas on a pole was more interesting, especially now that he had dismounted and began to move again. He turned his attention back to Cas, the idea of him being a Dom seeming even more unimaginable and yet ever the more feasible. His muscles rippled and moved tantalizingly, his hips grinding the pole and making Sam gasp.  Sam crossed and uncrossed his legs, trying to catch his breath.

“Wow,” he murmured, “I can see why Dean loves him.”
“Oh yeah, we make dreams come true here,” the man who had just sat down said with a grin, holding his hand out, “Gabriel Milton, co-owner and operator.”  Sam looked down at the hand and back up, really taking in his new employer, until the last name hit him.
“Milton?” Sam sputtered, shaking his hand, “Are you…?”
“Yup, sweet Cassie’s big brother. And you and Balthazar know each other well, I see,” he said, gesturing to Balthazar, “Old biddy could never pass up a chance to be seen with a hot stud.”
“Yes, we’ve been talking for a spot,” Balthazar snapped, ignoring the last half of Gabe’s statement, “So, this is the one I told you about.” Gabriel looked him over in the low light, nodding with approval.
“I can see that. He’s huge, we haven’t had anyone here to beat Cas and Dean’s heights in years,” Gabriel remarked, “Built nicely too. But that hair- it needs trimmed.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Balthazar replied, picking up his clipboard, “No allergies, prefers not to do the S&M shows, but doesn’t mind dancing with and kissing men.”  Gabriel nodded, rubbing his lip.
“Sorry to be blunt, but are you gay?” he asked, his face completely indifferent.  Sam opened his mouth and closed it again.
“I kinda just go with queer, to be honest,” Sam said, shrugging, “I don’t really know for sure what I am. I have a lot of conflicted feelings when it comes to my sexuality, but all I know is that most people don’t consider them normal.”
“Fantastic!” Gabriel said with a wide grin, slapping him on the shoulder, “I like a man who has no clue what he wants!”  Sam laughed with relief, not realizing that his leg had been bouncing from the tension and shaking the table. He looked over at Balthazar apologetically, but Balthazar seemed untroubled by it. In fact, he looked like he didn’t even notice.

“I was considering putting him with Ruby,” Balthazar said conversationally, looking over his list. Gabriel’s face lit up, nodding eagerly.
“The height difference alone is aesthetically fantastic. And their complexions…God, you are a genius,” Gabriel said excitedly, “You’re absolutely fucking genius.”  
“Of course I am, that’s why I’m the older and more attractive brother,” Balthazar replied. Sam blinked, looking between the two of them. Was everyone related in this place? Gabriel was staring at him with a wide smile, making Sam squirm.

“Stop looking at the new dancers like they’re your dinner,” Balthazar said, not looking up from his clipboard.
“It’s my club,” Gabriel replied.
“I’m the older brother,” Balthazar snapped, “So he isn’t your dinner unless you pay- and not out of the till.”
“Kill joy,” Gabriel muttered. Balthazar laughed, reaching over and tousling Gabriel’s hair affectionately.
“Ever the child,” Balthazar sighed.  Sam watched the exchange, feeling a twinge of sadness. Gabriel was clearly in his early thirties, but he was being treated like a little brother still and it was something Sam couldn’t help but long for. He brushed it aside, finding his voice.
Sam leaned forward, his nervousness apparent.

“I don’t know if that’s a great idea, ah, me dancing with Ruby,” Sam murmured, “I mean, I know Ruby is really into me…and I at least find her…”
“Really fucking sexy?” Gabriel added helpfully. Sam nodded, lowering his head. Balthazar chuckled, patting Sam’s shoulder.
“That’s actually a good thing. If the sexual tension and attraction is real, it adds a whole new level to the dance, draws more customers,” Balthazar explained, “So I think putting you two together would be the best idea.” Balthazar paused, looking Sam in the eye, “Of course, if you don’t want to, we won’t force you.”
“Okay,” Sam conceded, “I can do that. I was just a little worried-“
“Let me do the worrying, sweetheart,” Balthazar said dismissively, “It’s a carefully honed talent. I’ll do it much better than you will.”  Sam laughed, leaning back in his chair with his beer in his hands. It had long since gone warm and unappealing, but it felt comforting to have something in his hands, something to do with them.
“We need to find a stage name,” Gabriel said, rubbing his hands together, “Something sexy, something that just screams…” he winked at Sam, “Sex appeal.”  Balthazar rolled his eyes, sighing.
“We have stage names to protect our dancers from the…more obsessive patrons,” Balthazar explained, “It keeps them from getting too close, and of course, your name needs to fit the club’s theme. It’s not as easy as you’d think.”
Sam frowned, trying to think. The place generally had a theological theme, Emmanuel, Evangeline, Eisheth…

“Baal.”

The three men looked up to Ruby, a smile on her lips, fully dressed again. Sam shuffled in his seat, watching as she gracefully took a seat between him and Balthazar, “I think Baal is the best choice.” Balthazar opened his mouth, only to be cut off by Gabriel’s enthusiasm.
“I like it. Fantastic as always, Ruby,” Gabriel said, reaching out and pinching her cheek. She rolled her eyes at him, laughing.
“You just keep buttering me up, bossman,” Ruby said with a wide grin, “And I might actually stick around. “Gabriel laughed at her, taking a sip of his drink.
“Baal is alright,” Balthazar said, putting his two cents in, “But we’re not making it official. I’d like to pretend that I actually run this club.”
“Come on,” Gabriel chuckled, spreading his hands, “It’s great! And besides, we’re gonna pair him with Rubes, right? Why not let her have a say?”
“Thank you,” she said smugly, winking at Gabriel. She turned to Sam now, a wide smile on her face.
“So, want a ride home?” She asked, licking her lips. Sam stared at those lips, plush and pretty and perfectly kissable with a hint of nervousness. It should be a sin for lips to look like that, hell, everything about Ruby screamed sin and he’d never wanted to go to hell so bad. He nodded weakly and she smiled, nodding, “Great. So what have we got set up for Dumbo here?”
Balthazar flipped back a few pages on his board, the tip of the pen pressed to his lips.
“He’ll start training with Dean and Cassie in the morning before classes,” Balthazar said, looking over the clipboard and flipping another few pages, “Then we have him with you for duo training. You mind?”
“Of course not,” she said, smiling. Sam squirmed in his seat, imagining just the sort of lessons he wanted from her, his cheeks flushing red.
“Fantastic. You two work out a time that works for you as far as practices go, and do the same with Cas and Dean,” Balthazar directed Sam, “And we’ll see you when they think you’re ready. That sound good for you, sweetheart?”
“Yes,” Sam muttered. He felt Ruby’s hand slide across his thigh under the table as she asked, “Are we all set then?”
“Yes, I think that’ll do for tonight,” Balthazar said with a smirk, “Don’t wear out the poor boy, we just got him.”

She smirked back, standing and pulling Sam up with her. He barely got the chance to say goodnight to his two new employers before she was dragging him out to her car, sliding in the small thing and starting it. Sam almost had to fold himself up to fit inside, noting to himself not to buy a little ass car when he did. Maybe a pickup truck- he’d like that.  The smell of her perfume hit him, a smoky, sweet smell, like incense. He wanted to gulp it in, to never forget it, the smell of Ruby and her tiny car and tiny body just inches from him. He fidgeted a little as she pulled out, unsure of what to say. What do you say to the girl who just recruited you into a strip club? What do you say to a girl you just watched do something that most girlfriends wouldn’t even do in the privacy of their bedroom?

“So, Sam,” she said conversationally, “You like what you saw tonight?” She peeked over at him, smiling as he rubbed his mouth, trying to find his voice.
“Uh, yeah, you guys are all really, um, fantastic,” Sam stuttered, blushing. She laughed, tossing her hair a little.
“We’re together for duo practice,” she commented, “What time works for you? My days are free other than Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday- my class days. And even those are just a few hours. Otherwise, I’m free.”
“Ah, I have a break between classes from 2 till 4:30 usually, is that a good time? I mean, I have no classes tomorrow so…”
“Sure is,” she replied, “We’ll just set that for our time tomorrow. Now, tell me where I’m going. I’m just heading towards campus at the moment.”  He gave her a quick set of directions before falling silent again. She pulled up in front of his apartment building, turning to face him.
“I like you,” she said, trailing her fingers across his thigh, “And to be honest, I am really looking forward to training you.”
Sam couldn’t reply, barely breathing. It felt as if all the blood in his body had rushed to the place where her fingers had just brushed against him, his heart roaring in his ears. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
She laughed, unlocking the door as he scrambled out rather ungracefully.

Way to go, Sam. You’re acting like a hormonal teenager.

He sighed, his shoulders sagging. Today was just too much, and he could hear his bed calling him. He closed the door, turning to walk away before he heard the sound of the window rolling down. He looked back to see a huge grin on her face, a cute dimple showing up in her cheek.

“Goodnight, Sam,” she said with a wink, starting the car and pulling out.

He needed a cold shower.

Chapter Text

Sam walked into the practice gym, his bag hitched on his shoulder and trying to roll the sleep out of his muscles. He hadn’t exactly slept well, not after his close encounter with Ruby. It wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning that his eyes finally shut, and even then, he tossed and turned. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, groaning softly. He was wired with exhausted energy, but he knew that if he sat down he’d end up falling asleep in an instant.
He needed to get awake, and get awake quick.
He looked around to see the whole place was empty, groaning again.
“Don’t tell me I drug my ass out of bed just for him to be late,” he mumbled, tossing his bag down on the floor. He kicked off his shoes, hopping on one foot as he stripped off his socks, bundling them and whipping them across the room.
“I’m gonna fucking whip his ass if he doesn’t get here soon,” he muttered, lifting his arms over his head and stretching, a loud yawn escaping from him.

“Hey, Sammy!” Dean called. Sam jumped and looked around, not able to see where Dean was until he looked up.

Dean was lounging comfortably on an Aerial hoop, eating an orange as if it was as normal as his greeting. Sam let out a surprised laugh, shaking his head. He didn’t think he was ever going to get used to Dean’s devil may care attitude with him, the way he acted as if this was the millionth time they’d met here. That was something that he kept noticing about Dean- he lulled people into this sense of safety and familiarity. He noted that Dean was sporting some rope burn and nail marks down his back. He planned on asking at some point- was that the results of a BDSM show? He was just starting to warm up to the idea, and it all went cold after seeing Dean. No way in hell was he doing that.

“Hey man,” Sam said, marveling at how Dean was keeping his balance and eating. He could barely keep his ass parked on the low walls around campus without nearly falling- and here Dean was, sitting on a 4 inch hoop like he’d been born doing it. Sam chuckled- maybe he had been. He tried to imagine a little Dean sitting on an aerial hoop doing homework, eating dinner, and he laughed out loud. Dean raised an eyebrow, looking down at him.

“What’s so funny, bitch?” he asked teasingly.
“Just thinking about how pretty you look, jerk,” Sam replied sunnily, only to get pelted in the head with a piece of orange. Dean finished the orange, wiping his hands on his shorts before flipping around, hopping down onto the floor and grinning. Sam couldn’t help but smile back, shaking his head. Dean had the type of personality that could put anyone completely at ease with him. He clapped his hand against Sam’s shoulder, making Sam visibly wince.
“Strip down, kiddo, we got shit to do,” he said with a grin, “Your ass is mine, and I plan on tearing it up.”
“You’re mixing up porn and real life there, Dean,” he replied with a chuckle, stripping off his shirt and tossing over with his socks. He shuffled out of his jeans, his back turned to Dean, letting out a loud yelp as Dean landed a hefty slap on his ass. He fell forward, his hand flying back and grabbing his asscheek.
“What the fuck, man?” Sam demanded, his face flushed. Dean just stood over him, grinning stupidly.
“Amazing how bad I can make it with just my hand, huh?” he teased, “Don’t like your ass smacked? Good to know- now I know how to motivate you.”
Sam kicked off his jeans and stood, stripped down to his boxers and shivering in the cool air. Dean was already in his own shorts, shirtless and looking eager to start. He clapped his hands together, snickering.
“Okay, first is strength training.”


Sam collapsed against the cool floor two hours later, his body sticky with sweat. He wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination out of shape, but Dean was a slave driver. They’d done something he could only compare to P90X on steroid, Dean breathing down his neck every time he slowed down at all. Dean came over, squatting next to him.

“That’ll wake ya up, huh?” he asked with a grin, “Okay, we’ll take a break. You’re pretty damn good though, for a newbie. Most of them fall down and puke after the first hour,” he laughed, patting his head affectionately, “I’m gonna get you for depriving me of my barforama.”He sat down next to Sam, rolling the younger man onto his back, “You won’t be able to catch your breath laying like that. Your chest will be too constricted and you’ll pass out. Passing out is bad, Stanford.”
“Thanks,” Sam panted, “I’m law, not med.”
“Law, huh?’ Dean commented, rocking, “That’s pretty fucking cool, not gonna lie.”
Sam finally caught his breath, looking over at the older man.

“So, what’s the deal with the marks?” Sam asked. Dean shrugged, looking unconcerned.
“Occupational hazard,” he said with a grin, “You should see Meg.”
Sam’s nose wrinkled. He was kinda bothered with the whole idea of hurting any woman, even for money…even if she liked it. It just wasn’t really in him. Or, at least, he didn’t think it was.
“So you beat your girlfriend for money?” Sam asked, a disgusted tone creeping into his voice. Dean let out a loud laugh, looking a little upset.
“You serious kid? Meg loves the lifestyle- who the hell do you think did this to me? It gets us both off,’ he said, shaking his head, “I don’t know what the hell gives you the idea that I do anything she doesn’t want me to do- that’s a huge rule in a scene. She uses the safeword, I stop. Meg just isn’t very well known for using her safeword.”
Sam blushed, his mind going places- what would it be like to let Ruby do that to him…or maybe do it to her? The idea of someone leaving such obvious evidence on his body was particularly appealing to him. He shook his head, swallowing shallowly.
“Oh, Sorry man,” he murmured, “So, what, that’s a thing in your relationship?” Dean shrugged, nodding.
“Yeah, it’s not really a big deal. Me, Cas and Meg all switch around…sorta. Sometimes they both dominate me, sometimes she dominates me, sometimes I dominate her, but most of the time Cas is in charge. I think that’s our favorite way- Cas just kinda has this…I don’t know. Presence. Cas is the reason we’re really together, so him being in charge always just made more sense than anything else.”

Sam nodded, absorbing the information Dean was laying out. He was kinda surprised- he didn’t expect him to be so forthcoming.
“So, Cas was the one who got you three together?” Sam asked, sitting up. Dean nodded again.
“Yeah. I was with Anna for a long time, and then Cas wanted to get in on us,” he said, pointing at Sam, “Stretch a little while we’re talking. Your muscles will cool down too fast and you’ll be sore as hell.”
“Okay,” Sam replied, stretching his legs in front of him and touching his toes. His head was bent to his knees as Dean moved behind him, his hand resting gently on his back.
“Spread your legs, close your eyes and just relax. I’m gonna gently push you down and help you stretch, okay? If it hurts, say stop,” he said, pushing gently. Sam nodded, letting Dean’s hand guide him down.
“Stop,” he said, hovering in the same position for a moment. Dean chuckled.
“Imagine the muscles opening up,” he coached, “Deep breaths, and relax.”
Sam did as Dean told him, noting his muscles starting to loosen as Dean’s hand propelled him forward again at a measured pace.

“Stop,” he said again, his breathing a little tight, “Anna? As in, Anna Milton, his sister? That’s pretty fucking weird, man.”
“She’s adopted,” Dean replied, “Cas was 16 when they adopted her, and she was 12. They were basically all grown up when they met. It’s not like they really grew up together. Anyways, I was with Anna, and I still wasn’t over Cas- and neither was she. So it worked for all of us,” he explained, “Take a deep breath, we’re gonna try to go a little further.” Sam nodded, taking a deep breath as Dean pushed him down again, his chest coming to rest on the mat. “See what you can do when you just take a chill pill?” Dean said teasingly, “Okay, we’re gonna hold that for a bit.”
“Anna wasn’t over him?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, she was Cas’s sub for like, a year. They waited until she was 18 before they did anything. Cas was a real stickler about it- Anna said he’d never take her up on her throwing herself at him until she was on ‘legal age’. He’s weird about stuff like that, but considering the situation, I can hardly blame him. Anyways, the three of us were together for about, 6 months, and then Meg walked through the door and I’d never seen Cas fall over someone like that. I think it was the fact that she was such a dominant person with everyone, but she always was submitting to him.” Sam chuckled as Dean removed his hand from his back, letting Sam sit up straight.
“Meg, submitting to anyone? Hard to imagine, especially Cas,” he said. Dean chuckled.
“Lay down on your back and lift your leg,” he said, pressing his hand against the heel of Sam’s foot, “Second verse, same as the first kid.”

He pressed Sam’s leg gently, stopping at Sam’s request.
“Back to what we were saying- you’d think she wouldn’t submit to anyone, but Cas kinda has that effect on people. I didn’t like Meg so much at first…but Cas loved her, so I dealt with it. But one day, when I needed someone the most, Meg was there and we just kinda…clicked. I can’t imagine my life without either of them.”
“So, what’s it like when she dominates you?” Sam asked interestedly as Dean continued to press his leg back. Dean had a blissful smile on his face, chuckling.
“It’s amazing. There really aren’t words- same with Cas. I mean, yeah there’s the arousal factor, you know- but it’s also therapeutic, in a way. I had to be in charge of so much in my life, since I was a kid. My Mom died when I was little and my Dad…well, he wasn’t very good at pulling himself together. So I kinda took care of both of us. For me, I have to be in control of everything- or I used to be like that, until Cas and Meg. When they dom me, I don’t have to be worried about anything- they’re gonna take care of me and make sure everything is okay. And I need that sometimes. See, Meg went to college for psychology, and she says that being dommed helps me ‘regress’ without all the bad. She says it helps me deal with my fears and anxieties from childhood without having to directly confront the problem.”
“Meg went to college?” Sam asked, wincing a little as Dean released his leg and moved to the other, “Why is she still a stripper then?”
“Same reason all three of us are,” Dean replied, shrugging as he helped Sam stretch, “Money’s good, It’s family, and we like it. Not everyone who strips is looking for money or can’t do anything else. Some of us just kinda like it.”
“So she was into hypnotherapy?” He asked, “Everyone says that it’s a crock of shit.” Dean laughed, nodding.
“Oh hell yeah, it’s a crock of shit,” Dean replied, “Meg didn’t believe in hypnotherapy. She hated it- but she said some of the ideas they had weren’t shitty, in her opinion. She thought that certain levels of conscious regression were good for people, like me. We tested it just like anything we test- I had a safe word if it was going too far. But it worked out pretty good.”
“So, being dommed…it’s mostly psychological for you?” Sam asked. Dean shook his head. “No. Like I said, there’s also the fact that it’s fucking sexy to me. There’s a difference between a regression scene and a regular scene. It’s the same in the level of comfort because I don’t have to control everything; but in regression scenes everything is lighter. In a real scene, things are rough. There are rules, and I’m what Cas calls a ‘pain glutton’. I get off on pain- not blood and gore kind of pain, but whipping, wax, slapping, hair pulling- it gets me off.”

“How can pain get you off?” Sam asked, looking confused.
“Well, the pain isn’t exactly pain. Depending on how hard we’re going in the scene, yeah, it fucking hurts. But then the pain kinda mixes with this warm throbbing. And it goes straight to my dick.”
“Okay, TMI,” Sam joked as Dean released his other leg. Dean laughed, slapping his thigh.
“Don’t be a bitch,” he replied, grinning, “So a lot of the time, it’s Meg or Cas domming. Cas is the man of the house, and I need that. So does Meg.”

“So what’s it like when they let you dominate?” Sam pressed. He was intensely interested in this- he never thought that there could be so much behind something like BDSM; and he felt a little stupid, writing it off the way he had. Dean leaned forward.
“Have you ever wrapped your hands around someone’s hair and pulled their head back?” he asked. Sam thought it was a weird question, shaking his head no.
“You’re completely in control. They trust you completely, and it’s a rush. It’s your job to take care of them. For someone like me, the rush of complete control is great, but it’s also satisfying the person depending on you- for me, it’s exclusively Meg. She knows that I’ll never hurt her in a way that she doesn’t want me to, that I’ll never break her trust. There’s a weird, deep satisfaction in making your lover come apart at the seams. The way she moans, screams…it’s incredible. I can do that to her, and it’s an intense rush. Only me and Cas can do that to her. Only we have that much trust from her. And anyways, she’s a writher. It’s fucking gorgeous.”
“A writher?” Sam asked, “What does that mean?”
“She thrashes, moves around. You know; writhes. Like a snake. She’ll twist and turn and bend her body, and it’s like she’s dancing on the bed, laying down and moaning. It’s…it’s something else.”

“And where is Cas during all this?” Sam asked, his mouth dry.

“He’ll let me Dom Meg and just watch. He loves that. He likes recording it too- but most of the time when I dom Meg, he just watches. Hand in his pants,” Dean replied, “We get off on making it a show for him.”

Sam was speechless, the thoughts rushing through him making him sweat. He wanted to see that…he wanted to do that. The idea of being in total control, or having no control…for some reason, both appealed to him. Dean leaned forward, in Sam’s space and making him jump a little.

“Trust me, it sounds freaky- but it’s amazing.” Sam moved back, blushing. Dean laughed a little, leaning back on his hands.
“Things a little stiff down under?” Dean joked, nodding towards Sam’s bunging boxers, chuckling. His face turned scarlet, his hands flying down to cover himself as Dean laughed again.
“Dude, relax. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a boner. Anyways, I’m half hard just talking about it. You just can’t tell as easily because…well, spandex keeps everything in its place.”

He stood up, rolling his hips teasingly, “If you like the description, you should drop by and watch sometime. I’m sure Meg would lose her fucking mind over that.”
Sam stood, shuffling awkwardly as he worked up the courage to ask the question he really wanted answered.
“Is…ah, Ruby into that?” Sam asked quietly. Dean raised an eyebrow, snorting.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said with a smirk. Sam huffed, trying again.
“Well, what is Ruby into?” he pressed. Dean laughed, walking backwards towards the fornt of the room, his arms spread wide.
“How about you let your balls drop and ask her?” Dean asked, turning and rummaging through his bags, “Look, Ruby’s like…well, saying a sister is kinda freaky, but like a best friend. If you’re into her, you need to go to her, not me, man. Anyways, it’s not like she’s gonna swallow you whole…well, not literally. But…” He glanced down at Sam’s slowly dissipating erection, “Though if you get lucky, she just might try.”

Sam covered his crotch again, blushing harder.
“Oh haha Dean, very funny,” he snapped. Dean chuckled.
“Point still remains, Sammy,” he said, “Ask her, not me.”

Sam gave in, shrugging and letting silence settle between them. They were both silent as Dean pulled out two bottles, tossing one to him.
“Drink up,” Dean said, “Cas makes it. Cucumber lemon water. He says it’s better for you than Gatorade.” Sam chuckled, taking a few tentative sips before downing half the bottle.
“That’s actually…really fucking good,” Sam said, looking at the bottle, “Cucumber lemon water, huh?”
“Yeah,” Dean replied, “It sounds really fucking dumb, but it tastes great and gets Cas off my ass about one more thing. So why not? But shit- you think this is good, I gotta bring you come of this fucking apple cinnamon water he makes. It tastes about half as good as an actual apple pie. And that’s saying something in my book.” Sam nodded, drinking more of the water as he plucked up the courage to ask another question.

“So, Balthazar said about relationships being good for business,” Sam said conversationally.
“Yeah. And our threesome is the most lucrative relationship they’ve had for a while,” Dean snapped, “We’re real cash cows.”
Sam nodded, dropping the subject at Dean’s tone of irritation. He was again surprised by what Dean seemed okay with sharing and what he didn’t- apparently their relationship being a hot ticket item at the club was a touchy subject for him.

They both looked up as Cas walked in, unwinding a scarf from around his neck and sliding his shoes off, humming to himself. He didn’t greet them or really acknowledge they were there, he just seemed lost in his own world. Sam glanced over at Dean, whose face had lit up with excitement. Dean was on his feet, bounding over to Cas like an overly excited child. Cas, on the other hand, was as calm as ever, still humming as he gave Dean an affectionate smile. It was cute, Dean the self-professed hard ass getting excited over his boyfriend coming in unannounced and apparently unexpected. Sam stood and joined them, smiling when Cas greeted him.

“I was coming in to see if you two were finished,” Cas said, looking at them in turn, “You have a tanning appointment, Dean, and you know how I feel about punctuality.”
Sam saw the way Dean flushed slightly pink, nodding. Well, he could see that Cas was the Dom now, and he himself started to flush, thinking about how exactly Dean learned about Cas’s feelings on punctuality.
“I know,” Dean mumbled, grabbing his stuff, “Hey, Sammy- Balthazar wants you tanned, right? Come with us, they have walk-ins!”

Sam was trying to find an excuse not to go until Cas rested a firm hand on his shoulder.
“Come with us,” he said invitingly, flashing Sam a smile. Sam couldn’t say no, nodding. Dean had the ability to make anyone comfortable in a moment, but Cas had the ability to make you say yes in four syllables or less. He smiled weakly, picking up his clothes.
“Okay, I don’t see why not,” Sam said, starting to dress, “I haven’t got anything to study for, and it’s my free day.”


Sam had been in the mall several times in his time at Stanford, mostly just wandering around and trying to get a change of scenery, but he’d never really known that there was a salon in it. He hadn’t had a particular need to know in the past, but he had a feeling that he’d become a regular here if Balthazar had his way.
And as things were shaping up, it didn’t seem like there was often a time when Balthazar didn’t get his way.

He listened to Cas and Dean go back and forth absentmindedly, chatting about normal things. It was strange to him- he hadn’t realized how biased he was in the way he viewed anyone who was openly involved with fetishes and sex work until he found himself shocked by Dean and Cas discussing a shopping list and needing to pick up Dean’s allergy medicine from the pharmacy.

“Why can’t we just get rid of the fucking cat,” Dean moaned, “I wouldn’t need the medication if we got rid of the cat.”
“Meg has had Nuno for years,” Cas replied patiently, “You agreed to allowing the cat to live with us as long as she agreed not to get another one.”
“Well, it was a shitty agreement and I’m sick of it.”
“And who’s fault is that?” Cas asked, smirking and raising an eyebrow. Dean huffed to himself, folding his arms over his chest and laughing.
“Okay, fine. You have a point. Whatever makes her royal pain happy,” he joked, “Speaking of- what’s she up to today anyways?”
Cas looked at his watch, humming to himself again.
“She said that she and Ruby were going out for lunch and mani-pedis, and something about Facials. They should be at the salon right now, as a matter of fact…”

Dean’s smile changed to a smirk quickly, a devilish gleam in his eyes as he nidged Sam.
“We gave Meg facials last night, I don’t see why she’d pay for one,” he sniggered. Sam noted the way Cas stiffened, his voice low and hard as he admonished, “Don’t say things like that.”
Sam resisted the urge to laugh when Dean fidgeted a little at the command, but he managed not to. He could definitely hear the dom in Cas when he was scolding Dean, and he felt a little justified in at least guessing that part of them right. He still felt guilty about being so rude in his thinking at first, but to him it made this little venture all the more fun.

They walked into the salon, and over the smells, Sam picked up one he recognized. Incense.

“Cas, Dean!” Ruby called from a chair where she was getting a manicure next to Meg, “Hey!”
Cas only nodded to Ruby, resting his hands on Dean and Sam’s shoulders.
“Say hello while I make sure everything is in order,” he said in an authoritative tone, gently propelling them forward, towards the seated women. Sam rubbed the back of his neck, willing himself not to think about his earlier conversation with Dean as he looked at them. His eyes began to trace the long, tanned line of Ruby’s legs, her shorts sinfully short in his opinion. He jumped a little when he heard Meg say his name, his head jerking up.
“And Sammy, what a pleasant surprise,” Meg purred, giving Ruby a knowing look, “Here to get buffed and waxed, Tinman?”
“Ah, tanning,” Sam replied, blushing at the way Meg looked him over. He didn’t bother correcting her on his name, finding that there was yet another person he knew now who could get away with calling him Sammy. It was surreal to him, how easy it was to sink into their lives, as if he’d always been there. Cas was still with the desk attendant, talking with her animatedly and pointing at her appointment book. Sam looked at Dean pleadingly, who was ignoring him in favor of Meg and her chest.

“How you feeling, Meggy?” Dean asked, grinning. Meg made a face, rolling her eyes.
“Isn’t that sweet, checking up on me,” she replied, “I’m fine, Deanie. How’s your back?”
“Smarting.”
“Good,” she replied with a sly grin. Sam half-heartedly watched the exchange until he felt someone looking at him. Ruby’s attention was focused on Sam, and now his was focused on her as he shuffled in place.

“So, Sam. Excited for our lesson later?” she asked. Sam felt his mouth go dry, nodding. He was trying desperately to banish the thoughts of Dean and Meg and Cas from his head, and trying even more desperately to not insert Ruby where Meg was.
“Ah, yeah. You?” he mumbled, looking at his feet.
“I’ve been counting down.”

Sam didn’t know what to say, feeling naked under her eyes as she looked over him, her gaze raising goose bumps on his skin. He was relieved when Castiel returned, his hands on each his and Dean’s shoulders.
“They have a double room open, so why don’t you two go on in and get started,” he said, pushing them towards the rooms.
“See ya later, Jolly Green,” Meg called. Ruby didn’t say anything, just watching him go. As they went into the room, Ruby turned back to Meg, her face alight with excitement.

“So it isn’t just me?” she asked. Meg laughed.
“He’s got it bad,” Meg replied, “So, are you gonna try something?”
“I don’t know. I don’t wanna scare him off, you know?” Ruby replied, biting her lip. Meg let out a low whistle.
“He’s your unicorn,” she said with a grin, “Got you all wrapped up in knots. That’s so cute.”
“Shut up, bitch,” Ruby snapped half-heartedly, “So you think I should?”
“Oh, definitely. Climb that boy like a tree, sugar,” Meg replied, flicking through her gossip magazine, “Climb him like a tree.”

Chapter Text

Sam followed Dean back to the double room, looking around curiously. It was just a white room with a shelf, tanning oil, towels and stickers resting there. He moved closer, lifting a bottle of tanning oil and unscrewing the cap. He sniffed it, wrinkling his nose and capping it again before turning to Dean.

“What the hell are those for?” he asked, pointing at the stickers. Dean looked up, grinning as he reached out, peeling one off.
“You put one on and get in the bed, then your skin tans around it,” he explained, sticking the sticker of a star on his hip, “Y’know, kinda like a tattoo, except all natural. Girls usually like them- the playboy bunny is the most popular. I don’t know why- I’ve known some Bunnies in my time, we even have one working for us, and the last thing they wanna do is have something that marks them as Bunnies. It’s mostly a chick thing. When Meg tans, she usually gets a star on each of her hips. I think it’s fucking sexy, but Cas doesn’t like it- he says it looks juvenile.”
Dean’s fingers ran over the shelf, his tongue caught between his teeth as he tried to pick a tanning oil.

“We have a Playboy Bunny working for us? Err, the club?” Sam asked, looking stunned and confused. Dean nodded, pulling a bottle off the shelf and stripping off his shirt.
“Yeah, Bela was a Bunny for like, 6 months. She managed to get a spread in Playboy and then she said she was done,” he explained, tossing his shirt on the floor and rubbing the oil over his chest and arms. Sam looked at him, slack jawed. A fucking Playboy Bunny worked for Heaven and Hell? And it was…Bela? Bela wasn’t exactly the playboy mold; her hair was honey brown and while she did have a decent sized chest, it wasn’t anything like the ones in the playboys he’d seen as a teenager.
“Are...are you serious?” he asked.
Dean stripped off his boxers and turned to Sam, his hands rubbing oil over his legs, “Yeah,” he said, shrugging, “I mean, it wasn’t a big deal. She wanted a spread, and she knew that you didn’t get a spread unless you fucked Hef. So, she did what she had to, got what she wanted, and hit the pavement,” he explained, “Dude, can you get my back? Usually Cas or Meg do it but Cas didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable around him.”
“Oh, ah, yeah,” Sam muttered, pouring the oil in his hand and rubbing it over Dean’s back. He felt his cock twitch with interest as Dean’s shoulders slumped forward under his fingers, a low groan slipping out.
“Dude, you got fucking magic fingers,” Dean purred, “Stop, before I fucking melt.”
Sam jerked his hands away from Dean’s skin, wiping his hands on his jeans. Dean straightened up, stretching a little before looking Sam over.

“Dude, you gonna get undressed or just stand there and ask me about Bunnies some more?”

Sam blushed, looking over Dean’s body again and looking away quickly. He pulled off his shirt, tossing it on the floor as Dean had, his fingers fiddling with the fly of his jeans. Dean smirked, pointing at his pants.
“Down to the skin, big boy. Balthazar doesn’t like tan lines, and if he sees ‘em he’ll throw a fit and personally escort you to your tanning appointments for the next month. I made that mistake once- I’m okay with stripping down to nothing in front of him now, but it was pretty bracing to have him watching and clucking at me the whole time. You don’t want that.” Sam nodded, quickly stripping down to nothing and covering himself with his hands. Dean looked over him hungrily, an eyebrow raised.
“Come on man,” he said with a smirk, “I showed you mine, show me yours.” Sam blushed, turning away from Dean.
“Dude, that was simultaneously the most childish and perverted thing I’ve ever heard,” he whined. Dean rolled his eyes, opening up his bed.

“Oh come on,” he said, “Some art shows are done in the nude man, you’re gonna have to get used to it.”
“Art shows are done in the nude?”
“Yeah, some. I did one about a year ago- private art show event. They painted me gold from my feet to my ass crack to my head. It was something like “Gods of the Modern Age” or some shit. Real ritzy. Good booze, shitty food- they would’ve been better off hiring Ellen for the catering. Me and Cas did our silks routine- the one you saw the first day I met you. Ruby was pulling silks too- but she and Meg were mostly on the hoop. Damn, Meg was so fucking pissed- she hates doing hoop.”
He punched a number in the control panel for his bed, coming over and punching in the same number for Sam’s.
“I set you up for 20 minutes. We’re not really supposed to go for that long, but it takes me that long to tan. Checking out your skin tone, it’s probably gonna be the same for you. I hate it- if I tan for 15 minutes; I just end up looking like a ginger kid who dyed his hair out of embarrassment. But 20 gets me nice and tanned. You have any trouble with freckles?”
“No,” Sam replied, watching as Dean opened up his bed, pressing a button on the top.
“Good. Makes things easier for you. Just press the green button on the top there,” he said, pointing, “You’ll have 30 seconds to get in a situated. They tell us to wear these stupid goggles, but I don’t. It’s up to you- but I wouldn’t. Just close your eyes.” He laid down in his own bed, looking at Sam expectantly.
“Well? It isn’t gonna eat you, dude,” he said with a chuckle.

Sam rolled his eyes, laying down the way Dean had and shifting a little. He heard another chuckle from Dean, watching as he turned to lay flat on his back and closing the lid. Sam mimicked his motion, closing his eyes tightly as the lights came on.
“I don’t know why you’re embarrassed dude,” Dean said from his bed, “You’re packing pretty heavy there. I’d wager you’re about the same size Cas is.”
“Dude, I don’t wanna think about your boyfriend’s junk,” Sam snapped. But he was lying- he’d already thought about it a few times, what it would be like to feel Cas’s hips pressed against his ass, whispering rough commands in his ear, pulling his hair…

“Liar,” Dean replied.
“Shut up,” Sam mumbled, “So anyways, about these art shows…”
“Oh yeah. Well, Art Shows tend to be a strictly look but don’t touch affair. We’re basically part of the exhibit, moving art. It’s always a ton of body paint or flashy costumes and artsy music. We’re usually in just thongs, but some people don’t like the aesthetic, so there are nude shows. Thing that sucks about nude shows is that we have to tailor our routines to account for the fact that we’re flopping all over the place. Nude shows never involve the pole, and no guys on hoops. Balthazar always specially choreographs the routines for Art Shows, since 90% of the time we’re picked because of his reputation.”
“His reputation?”
“I keep forgetting, you don’t know everyone. Balthazar was a really well known dancer in Europe for a long time. He was one of the best until he blew out his knee. He was doing a duo routine on the hoop and his partner was supposed to catch him, and he didn’t. He landed funny and all the sudden- no more career. So he packed up and headed home.”
“So, that’s why he has the cane?”
“Partially. It’s mostly in the winter that he really needs it- his knee gets stiff in cold weather and he has a bit of a limp, but a lot of the time it’s for intimidation. You know, speak shrilly and carry a big stick.”
“So, he blows out his knee and starts a club?”
“Well, not exactly. He did a lot of choreography work. Music videos, stage shows, stuff like that. But he hated it, he said there was no artistry in it anymore. If you wanna hear him go apeshit, let him watch a music video. He’s worse than Gordon Ramsey with an overcooked dish. Anyways, he and Gabe started Heaven and Hell as a joint thing, and Balthazar was the one who started marketing them as erotic entertainment for different events. He called up all of his old contacts and set up a bunch of shows, built up a rep. The club rakes in the cash like nothing else, but the real money is in the shows and events. On a weekend, we usually bring in about thirty grand, which isn’t bad. But one 5 hour event can be thirty grand, and if they opt to cater through us we bring in closer to fifty grand.”
“How do you know so much about the revenues and all that?”
“Cas used to do the books until Anna started doing them.”
“It really is a family affair, isn’t it?”
“Now you’re catching on.”

Sam was quiet for a moment, absorbing all the information Dean had just laid out. Frankly, he’d learned very young to play fast and loose, and keep the truth close to the vest. He kinda marveled at the idea that someone didn’t feel the need to filter everything they said- and Dean distinctly lacked a filter.

“Don’t you worry about telling me all this?” he asked, “What if I don’t get hired, and write an exposé or something?” Dean let out a little snort of surprise.
“Never considered you not getting hired, to be honest,” he replied, “Just kinda figured it was a sure thing.”

Sam was pleasantly surprised- it was rare for anyone to have that much faith in him, especially someone he’d just met. No one had faith in him. Ever.

“Thanks,” he said quietly, “That’s…the first time someone actually believed in me.”
“Get used to it,” Dean replied, “We all believe in you, Sammy. You’re one of us now. We take care of our own.”

Sam was quiet, lying still as sweat began to glisten on his skin, his eyes squeezed shut. Dean’s words kept running through his head, leaving a swell in his chest.
You’re one of us now. We take care of our own.

“I know what that’s like,” Dean said quietly, “No one believing in you. The way I figure, people who don’t believe in you don’t even believe in themselves. It’s sad.”
“I never thought of it that way,” Sam replied, “Was it…ah, your dad who never believed in you?”
“Old man didn’t believe in anything after Mom died,” Dean said, “Figured he couldn’t. What about you? Who didn’t believe in you?”
“My birth mother,” he said, his voice close to the edge of tears, “Didn’t believe in me, so she gave me up.”

He felt his body go rigid, fear rushing through him. He’d never told anyone that- and here he was, telling a dude he’d known less than 48 hours.
Dean sighed softly.

“That’s heavy, dude,” he whispered, “Fuck her though. You’re going places, and where the fuck is she? You did it. You don’t have to share that with anyone. It’s yours, and no one can take that.”

Sam opened his mouth to reply, but the lights went off before he could, making him jump. He listened as Dean opened his bed, getting out and spraying his bed, wiping it down. He didn’t want to move yet- part of him felt like he’d fall down, or throwup. But after a few seconds, it was clear that Dean would probably think he’d passed out or something was wrong, so he opened his bed and got out. He took the spray bottle and rag from Dean’s hands, mimicking his actions while his mind swirled.

It’s yours, and no one can take that.

He bumped shoulders with Dean, opening his mouth to apologize and feeling it die in his throat. Dean was looking at him with something he’d never seen before, his eyes red. Dean was looking at him as if he was something special. As if he was something special to him.
Dean wrapped his arms around Sam tightly, and Sam melted into the embrace, hugging him back hard. Dean pulled away, chuckling and wiping his face.

“Fuck, look at me,” he muttered, “Getting all fucking sentimental in a fucking tanning salon. That’s about the girliest thing I’ve ever done.”

Sam blushed, turning away as they dressed in silence. Dean didn’t even know him, none of these people did, and they had already shown him more kindness in the past forty eight hours than anyone had since he was a kid. Dean broke the silence while pulling on his shirt, looking over his shoulder at Sam.

"We’re a bit more alike than you think, Sammy,” he said, straightening his clothes, “Well, besides the fact that I’m prettier than you, and a lot wilder in bed.”
Sam let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, feeling the tension from their confessions slide away in favor of a dirty joke. He’d have to remember to thank Dean for that, someday.
If he was still around.
“You don’t know shit about me in bed, jerk,” he replied, grinning.
“That an offer to find out, bitch?” Dean joked back, opening the door, “Come on. You got a hot date with a girl and a pole.”


Sam was quiet the entire ride back to the training studio, picking at the threadbare knee of his jeans as Dean and Cas chatted casually. Dean had given no hint of the soul-baring they had done in the beds, and though he was sure Dean would probably tell Cas later, it comforted him to know that Dean respected him enough not to talk about it in front of him.

“Are you and Meg still planning on going out tonight?’ Cas asked, his long fingers drumming against his knee. Dean nodded, shrugging.
“Yeah, I think so anyways,” Dean replied, “I think she just needs to let her hair down for the night. You know how stressed she gets. She’s been losing her mind over that floor routine Balthazar has her doing for that birthday show we’re doing in a few weeks. She’s having trouble sticking the landing on that laydown thing.”
“Layout step out,” Cas corrected patiently.
“Yeah, that. She thinks it’s something with her ankle. I keep telling her to just tell Balthazar that it’s a move she can’t do on such short notice, but she’s being fucking pigheaded.”
“She was a gymnast for several years, Dean,” Cas said, “A layout step out giving her trouble is sure to bother her. She’s a perfectionist.”
“Yeah, well. I’m taking the perfectionist out to get shit-“

Cas gave Dean a hard look, making Dean amend his sentence quickly.

“-Ah, to get a few drinks and relax. We might do a scene tonight.”
“Before I get home?”
Dean shrugged.
“I dunno. Depends on how long Meg wants to be out. Don’t worry, you’re not home, we’ll text you and get the ETA and set up the camera if we don’t wanna wait.” Cas nodded, looking back at Sam.

“I’m sorry we’ve been neglecting you, Sam,” he said, “How was your first tanning session?” Sam smiled at him warmly, shrugging.
“It was nice, actually,” he said, looking at the back of Dean’s head, “I don’t think I’m gonna mind doing it. It was nice to have someone to talk to.” Dean’s eyes flicked up to the rearview mirror, his lips quirking up.
“Anytime, Sammy,” he said, “My pleasure.”

They pulled in, Dean looking back at Sam with a wink.
“Go get ‘em, Tiger,” he said, grinning. Cas smiled at him encouragingly.
“Ruby is a very experienced and talented dancer; you’ll do very well under her tutelage,” he said, “Pay attention and work well.”
Sam smiled, fidgeting a bit.
“Thanks guys,” he said, opening the door, “Here goes nothing, I guess.”


Sam could hear rise of the track she was playing, opening the door and watching quietly. She walked around the pole as the thumping beats began, swinging around and making eye contact with him. It was the same as yesterday evening, that sultry look as if he was the only person in the room- but now, he was.

Hello, again, friend of a friend, I knew you well

She rolled her hips, looking at him and crooking her finger, beckoning him closer. He undressed quickly, grabbing the pole and facing her.

Our common goal was waiting for the world to end

He spun around the pole, facing her as she stood opposite to him. She reached out and grabbed his face, both of them pressing their hips to the pole and rolling their hips.

Now that the truth is just a rule that you can bend

She let go of the pole, shoving him back and mounting the pole, swinging around in a backwards showgirl into a corkscrew. He slid down in a split, hooking his leg around the bottom of the pole and pulling up, her body pinning him against the pole. She rolled her hips, wrapping her legs around his hips and hanging upside down. He grabbed her waist roughly, pulling her back up and into his arms, their faces inches from each other. He reached up, gripping the pole as he slid down it, rolling his hips against hers. She let herself fold down, dismounting Sam in a Cleopatra as he swung around in a floater transition. As he landed, she rolled forward, pressing her ass and back against Sam, rolling her hips. His hand snaked down her thigh, the other gripping her hip hard as he spun her around to face him. She leapt up, wrapped her legs around his hips again, her hands tangled in his hair and pulling it gently, their bodies moving in sync. Suddenly, her mouth was on his, kissing him hard and passionately, driving him to lose his rhythm. He broke away from the kiss, his breathing short and heavy.

“Don’t!” he said harshly, making her jump off of him and back up.
“What?” she asked, “I just kissed you!”
“You can’t just do that!” Sam yelled, his face flushed red, “You can’t just-“
“Just what, Sam?” she demanded, “Kiss you?”
He turned away, his hands clasped on either side of his head.
“No, you can’t just kiss me!” he yelled, pulling on his jeans, “I can’t do this right now. I can’t do this.”

He pulled on his boots hurriedly, yanking open the door even though he wasn’t wearing a shirt.

“Sam!” she yelled, “Sam, don’t!”

He didn’t look back as he ran down the stairs and out the door, running hard as his heart beat wildly in his chest. She couldn’t just kiss him like, that. She didn’t know anything about him, he didn’t know anything about her. His boots clomped heavily against the sidewalk as his pace slowed to a jog, his body dripping with sweat in the warm evening sun. He pressed his back against the hot brick wall he’d stopped at, trying to catch his breath.

You can’t just let her kiss you. She’ll think you like her, and then she’ll say she cares about you, and then she’ll hurt you, and you’ll hurt her back and you can’t get that close. You can’t.

He hit his head off the wall behind him, grunting in frustration. Ruby wasn’t like other girls. Ruby could handle his problems, not turn and run scared when she found out. Ruby would listen, wouldn’t she? She might even get it. The way Dean got it. But what girl wants to get a guy as fucked up as him? With no family, a fucked up past?
He swore to himself, his nails digging into his palm.

She was right. She knew that Sam was just a no good, snot nosed state shit. Just another fucking foster kid, trying to get around the system and claw his way to something better, only to fail.

Sam swore again, punching his leg.
No, he decided, that’s horseshit. He wasn’t a failure. He made it Stanford, he made it past the first steps to join this club, he made someone as beautiful and talented as Ruby interested in him- and he wasn’t going to give anyone, especially not the fucking She, the benefit of him throwing it all away.

He squared his shoulders, turn back to face the way he came. He had to go back, and he had to make it right with Ruby. She’d understand, fuck, if Dean was telling the truth about all of them, she’d get it.

That was all he needed.

Chapter Text

Meg sipped her drink, staring daggers into Dean’s back. He was supposed to be out with her, but he’d walked in and suddenly she was alone, ordering her drink. She’d stubbornly decided to just take a seat and wait for him to come back, but that had been an hour ago. She slammed the glass down on the counter, throwing her hair in irritation. This was supposed to be helping her relax, getting her mind off of that stupid fucking layout, something that shouldn’t be giving her any trouble at all- she had done gymnastics for years, and suddenly, she’s choking? She’s choking, and one of her boyfriends ditched her for someone she hated with all 5 foot 4 inches of her body. She snapped at the bartender, pointing at the large wall of liquor.

“Jack double. No ice,” she hissed, throwing another glance at Dean. The bartender, Garth, chuckled. Garth had done bartending at Heaven and Hell for a year or so, but he’d ended up getting on Balthazar’s nerves. So when he asked for his hours to get cut a bit since he was going to school for dentistry, he found his hours cut off completely. She’d felt bad, he was a sweet guy, if a bit goofy. She let out a puff of air, leaning forward against the bar. Now she felt bad for being so rude to him.

“Old Dean is at it again, huh?” he said, pouring her drink, “He never learns, does he?” She shook her head, knocking back the drink quickly and pushing the glass forward again. Of course not. Of course he wouldn’t- because she was Just Meg. She wasn’t Cas, or Anna, or…her. She would always forgive him and cover his ass- and he knew it.
“No, he doesn’t,” she said, softly. Garth eyed the glass and shook his head.
“Sorry Meg. You know I can’t serve you anymore,” he said apologetically. Meg’s eyes burned as she stared at Garth, her mouth set in a thin line. She didn’t have the patience for this bullshit.

“Excuse me, Fitzgerald, but it just sounded like you told me you weren’t gonna get me another drink. Care to amend that statement?”

Garth laughed sheepishly, shrugging.
“Sorry, Cas is in charge of your tab, and he says that three drinks and you’re done,” he said, “If, ah, you wanna go off the tab, I guess I can get you another…but Cas might get mad.”

She dug in her purse, slapping her bank card down on the counter. She was getting a little sick of being on such a tight leash. She wouldn’t have the limit on her drinks if it hadn’t been for her, and all of the stress that situation had brought. She was sick of getting punished for something she didn’t even cause. She was sick of being treated like she wasn’t important.

“Let him get mad,” she said, “He’ll get mad at me for drinking, but not at Dean for…that.” Garth took the card, sliding it through the card reader and giving it back to her.
“Y’know, you don’t usually get that mad when Dean goes off hounding girls,” he said, filling her another drink. She drank it quickly again, pushing away the glass miserably. Garth was entirely too perceptive for his own good.
“I hate it when you do that,” she sighed. Garth raised an eyebrow.
“No you don’t. You’re so busy cleaning up messes that no one helps you clean up yourself. I’m just doin my duty as a decent friend and bartender,” he replied, “Lay it on me. Why’s it bugging you so much?”
“He’s usually hounding girls so they’ll buy him drinks without The Pizzaman getting on his ass,” she replied, resting her chin on her hand, “But as you can see, it’s just us tonight, and we both have plenty of money to go off the tab. And it’s…her.” Garth whistled, his eyes darting to look at the dark haired, olive skinned woman that Dean was chatting up. Her could only mean one person when Meg said it like that, as Garth knew well.
“You mean, her her? The one you came in last year and killed a bottle of Jack over, her?” Garth asked, “Damn…that’s pretty cold.” Meg nodded, her hands curling into fists.
“Yeah, Her. Lisa fucking Braeden. Lisa “I’m Knocked Up And It’s Yours” Braeden. Lisa “Don’t Be Like Your Father Dean” Braeden. Lisa “You Deserve Better Than Being A Third Wheel” Braeden.”

Garth nodded sympathetically, leaning against the bar as they talked.
“Yeah, I remember that messed up Dean really bad. Did you guys ever find out if the kid was his?” Garth asked. Meg nodded her head. Of course they had. She’d marched up to her doorstep and told her that until there was a DNA test, she needed to stay away from Dean, and keep her mouth shut.
Because Meg fixed everything- that was her job. She was the fixer- she fixed any problem that plagued her own.
Whatever it took.

“It was some other dude,” she replied, “And who was there to pick up the pieces? Who was there to put him back together? Me! And this is what I get?” Her lip trembled as she willed the tears to go away. She reached in her bag and pulled out her cellphone, texting Cas.

U need to deal with HIM.

She hit send, her phone vibrating a few seconds later with his response.

Him?

She swore softly, her fingers clacking noisily on the keyboard.

Your fucking sub.

What is he doing? Do I need to come out and get you two?

Lisa Fucking Braeden.

She clicked her phone closed, powering it off and shoving it back in her purse. She didn’t want to talk to Cas anymore- he’d scold her for being jealous, he’d defend Dean and say that it was all he knew, he’d always let people who hurt him and manipulate him get him back under their thumbs; but right now she didn’t fucking care about Dean’s poor broken psyche. She wanted to be the one who mattered right then, and she knew she couldn’t pretend with Cas texting her.

“Can you get me 6 shots of tequila and a tall glass, Garth?’ she asked sweetly. Garth looked at her nervously, taking off his cap and scratching his head.
“Ah, Meg, you sure?” he said. She nodded, smiling. If everyone wanted to treat her like nothing or like a silly, overreacting bitch, then she’d live up to their expectations.
“It’s not for drinking, sugar,” she said, “Well, not for me, at least.”
Garth shrugged, walking over and pouring 6 shots worth of tequila into a tall glass as she requested, handing it to her.
“Thank you,” she said, standing, “I’m gonna go. When Cas inevitably shows up, will you tell him I’m at the studio?” Garth nodded.
“Good Luck,” he said, tipping his hat to her. She curtsied back, walking up behind Dean and folding her arms.

She stood there for a moment, listening to the conversation.

“I am just so sure that there was a mistake in that test, Dean,” Lisa said, rubbing his forearm, “Can’t we do another one?” Dean shrugged.
“I mean, I guess so…but we’d have to make sure Meg and Cas don’t find out. I know I’m gonna get my ass chewed out already when Meg tells Cas that I was talking to you…”

Meg reached out, grabbing the back of his shirt and turning him to face her.
“Really, Dean?” she hissed, her voice teetering close to tears, “Well, I found out!”
She threw the tequila in his face, throwing the cup on the ground and marching away. She was amazed at how much she didn’t fucking feel better, despite how satisfying it had been in her head when she had the idea.
“Fuck!” he yelled, trying to wipe the liquor from his face, “Meg, Jesus Christ, would you just fucking wait?”

She ignored him, pushing past people as she got closer to the door. She didn’t have time to listen anymore, not if this was what she was gonna get. He grabbed her arm roughly, dragging her back as she struggled against his grasp.
“Fucking listen to me when I’m talking to you!” he yelled in her face. She tore her arm out of his grasp, pointing up in his face.
“Don’t you dare speak to me like that!” she spat, her whole body shaking, “I did listen! And this is what I fucking got!” she yelled at him, “After everything, after all the shit…this is what you do, the first night we’re alone in weeks? I just wanted to have a few fucking drinks with you, and you had to go and fucking start planning secrets with her!” She backed up, shaking her head, “Forget it, Dean. Just go back to your precious Lisa. After all, what am I compared to her?
Dean reached out for her arm again, making her whirl around again. He just wouldn’t take a fucking hint, would he?
“Meg!” he yelled.
He was crossing the line, pushing her way out of her comfort zone. She moved away from him quickly, her back pressed against the door as she yelled, “Extinction!”

Dean’s hand jerked away from her and she ran out of the bar, the tears breaking out as she ran down the sidewalk, having perfected doing just about anything in heels.

Fuck this, fuck him, and fuck everything about him. Everyone treated her like an object, and she was fucking sick of it. Balthazar treated her like a windup doll, Cas treated her like fine china, Dean treated her like a blowup doll and emotional punching bag. She was furious, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She could handle being fine china, hell, sometimes she liked that- the idea that someone looked at her and saw something beautiful and delicate, something to be treasured. She could handle being Balthazar’s windup doll, if he’d just stop cranking the key in her back so hard. But she couldn’t handle that, and Dean treating her the way he did. Like a Swiss army knife. Pull here, and she’s a mother. Pull here, and she’s a therapist. Pull here, she’s a domme. Pull here, she’s a sub. Pulling all the tabs but never pulling the tab that was just Meg.

She slowed to a walk, now only a few blocks from the studio, crying hard. She never cried in front of anyone- crying was weak, and Meg Masters was a lot of things, but not weak.
“Fuck!” she screamed, stopping and tearing the heels from her feet. She picked them up and whipped them into the middle of the road, running hard again until she collapsed against the studio doors, her hands shaking as she fiddled with her keys. She dropped them and swore again, picking them up and barely getting the door open. She felt so weak, so stupid. She was acting like a child, and absolute, snot nosed, runny faced child. Of course, those two jack doubles and three margaritas didn’t help.

She stumbled into the studio, going straight to the practice gym and slamming her phone in the deck, flicking through her music library quickly and cranking the volume. She needed something to make her feel in control, and if there was nothing else she could control at that moment, she could control her body. As the music started, she ripped off the loose blouse she was wearing, pitching it across the room and letting out an enraged scream.

Another one bites the dust, Oh why can I not conquer love?

She tore at her jeans, stripping them off and whipping them into the opposite direction and letting out another scream. She pulled a hair tie off her wrist, sweeping her long curls into a messy bun, tying it up quickly. She couldn’t please Dean, and more and more the fact that she couldn’t please Dean seemed to take Cas away from her. If she couldn’t please them, at least she’d please fucking Balthazar. She was gonna nail this fucking layout. She was done playing games.

She ran full speed across the room, throwing a Gainer and sticking the landing. She closed her eyes, sliding down into a split and rolling back into an elbow stand. She stood, throwing herself into a layout step out and landing hard, her balance off. She fell down, slapping her palms against the padded floor and screaming again.

It wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t anything go right?

“No!” she screamed, “Fuck!”

She was too angry. She needed to breathe; she needed to do something that took all of her concentration.
She needed focus.

She got up, running at the hoop and jumping, grabbing onto it and swinging up into it, taking a deep breath. She hated the hoop because it was something that Balthazar always wanted her to do with a partner, but she couldn’t focus as well with another person on the hoop with her. It wasn’t something that bothered her on silks or the pole, or even floor routines- it was only the hoop. She seated herself in the hoop, letting swing before pulling herself into a stand, lifting her leg and hooking it around the top.
Breathe.
She leaned back, hanging by that one leg, her other crooked at a ninety degree angle. She closed her eyes for a moment, letting her arms move gracefully and spread wide.
Focus.
She gripped the edges of the hoop tightly, unhooking her leg and swinging forward. She swung her legs back up, landing on her back and draping herself over the hoop, her legs together and feet pointed, her head and hands hanging free. She let her entire body slide forward, bending her legs to catch herself, breathing deeply.

She couldn’t let this hurt her so much. Dean would always cling to people who hurt him. Dean always clung to people who hurt him, because it was all he understood.

She pulled herself upright, sitting in the hoop, closing her eyes and forcing herself to remember it all. To remember why this hurt, to burn it into her retinas, to chisel it on the inside of her skull. This is why it hurts. This is why it’s not gonna get better with an apology and some puppy eyes. This is why she had to steel her resolve, no matter what Cas or Dean said or did, even if they left, because she couldn’t fucking take this pain anymore. She was tired of being demonized. She was tired of being a plaything.This is why it hurts. Because she'd gone out of her way to protect him, to heal him, and he'd run straight back into the arms that he'd ran to her to escape from.


“We have to talk, Dean.”

Dean ignored her pointedly, swinging in the hoop and not looking at her. He was in a pair of jeans and nothing else, a bottle of whiskey in his hand. She had managed to track him down with a little ingenuity (and 20 bucks paid to Bela who pointed her in the right direction), and without Cas finding out. She was pretty pleased with herself, but not with the situation.

It had all started with a phone call, one that she had picked up at the same time Dean did. She heard his voice on the other end, and she was about to hang up until she heard her.
“We have to talk, Dean,” Lisa had said harshly.

And when he stormed downstairs, after the phone call had finished, he’d slammed into her and hadn’t even looked back or said anything. She’d sworn at him, and he turned around and called her a slut, his usual remark. And that’s when Cas said it, too.
“We have to talk, Dean.”

“We have to talk, Dean,” he repeated, taking a drink, “We have to talk, Dean. We always have to talk. We’re always talking, and nothing ever gets better!” He looked down at her, an angry grimace on his face.
“You sound like fucking Castiel,” he snapped, “Of course, you would sound like him. Seeing as you’re the only person he fucking gives a shit about.”

She took a deep breath, folding her arms over her chest. She was going to deal with this the way no one else had- everyone was so ready to throw their hands in the air and call Dean a lost cause, even Cas at times. She knew what it was like to have everyone throw their hands in the air and give up. She wasn’t just gonna stand by and watch it happen to someone else.

“Dean,” she said patiently, “You’re acting like-“
“Like what, like my father? You wanna say something, Meg?” he snapped, taking another drink, “Go ahead, tell me how I’m so fucking shitty. Doesn’t matter to me, bitch. I’m still fucking better than you.”
“I’ve never said you were like your father,” Meg said, “That was you.”
“That was you,” he mocked, “What, you gonna try and pull that psychobabble bullshit on me again, Meg? Not all of us are fucked up like you!”
“Whenever you wanna stop projecting your insecurities on me,” she said, leaning forward and spreading her arms, “Just tell me when you’re finished!”

He laughed loudly, taking another swallow.
“You’re just a fucking slut. Look at you! You have a fucking college degree, and you’re a fucking stripper! Your parents must’ve fucked you up six ways from Sunday, bitch. And now you act all high and mighty, walking through this door like you’re gonna fix me? You wanna know how to fix me? Get the fuck away from me!”
“Dean, tell me what happened,” she said patiently, “Is it something with Lisa?”
“Oh, fuck you,” he said, “Like you fucking give a shit. You trying to score points with Cas? What, you didn’t fuck him right? Maybe you fucked up a scene?”
“You’re not in control of this,” she said, “That’s why you’re angry. You don’t have control and it scares you.”

He took a long pull from the bottle, turning and spitting the whiskey at her.

Oh hell fucking no.

There was upset and emotionally lashing out, but he just fucking spit at her, and she wasn’t dealing with that. She jumped back, picking up one of the fitness balls and whipping it at his chest and knocking him out of the hoop. He landed hard on the mat, the wind knocked out of him as she grabbed the whiskey bottle from his hand.

“You fucking listen to me!” she yelled, whipping the bottle across the room and into the cinderblock wall, “I have been busting my ass to help you! Who do you think covers for you when you don’t come home? Who do you think diverts all of her fucking phone calls? Who do you think has been fucking lying her ass off to make sure you don’t fucking ruin your relationship with Cas?” She grabbed him by the waist band of his jeans, pulling up into a sitting position, “You wanna spit whiskey at me and call me names? Go right the fuck ahead. But you are not gonna sit there and act like I don’t give a shit about you- because from day one, I have tried to fucking help you and you just keep shitting on me!”

She pulled back as Dean tucked his chin into his chest, a universal symbol in their relationship- submission. She sighed, putting her hand under his chin and lifting his face. At least this was something, a start.

“Dean,” she said seriously, “I’m not an idiot. You need to talk to someone. You refuse to talk to Cas, to Balthazar, anyone- you’re acting like you’re an island. Talk to me.”
“No,” he said stubbornly, folding his arms. She sighed, sitting across from him and mirroring his position.

“Scene rules,” she said simply. He looked up at her hesitantly, biting his lip.
“And if I safe word?” he asked.
“Then we stop.”
“Cas doesn’t have to know?”
“No.”

Dean took a deep, shuddering breath.
“You remember my safe word?” he asked quietly, not looking at her. She nodded.
“Millennium for yellow, Enterprise for red,” she replied, “I do actually pay attention to you when we share scenes, Dean. I wasn’t joking when I said I care.” He nodded, biting his nail.
“Lisa, she, ah, she’s pregnant,” he said quietly, “But we’re…we’re not exclusive. She has a boyfriend and…I swear, I wore a condom every time. And I told her that, and she…she told me not to be like my father.” Meg nodded encouragingly.
“God, you’re gonna make me say it, aren’t you?” Dean said, looking at her hesitantly. She shrugged.

“You can safe word, Dean,” she said lightly, “No shame in it.”
“Fuck off Meg, you know safe wording is for pussies,” he snapped, trying to hide the smile on his face.
“Don’t let Cas hear you say that,” she teased, “He’ll be furious.” Dean rolled his eyes, chuckling.
“You feel the same way,” Dean retorted, “You never safe word.”
“I only safe word when I need to,” she replied, “In a scene and out of scene. Sometimes you just have to safe word out.” Dean nodded.
“I wish life was that easy,” he said quietly. She smiled, reaching out and touching his hand.
“It is for me,” she said, “I will never do anything I don’t feel comfortable doing.” She breathed deeply, squeezing his hand. “Dean, do you wanna safe word out of talking about your father?”

“No,” he said quietly, “No. I…I’m good.” She nodded, waiting for him to proceed.

“My Dad, y’know, he’s a good man, you gotta understand that. But losing my mom just wrecked him. For weeks, we were living in this motel room, and he just…stared into space. He didn’t move, not really. Didn’t eat, didn’t bathe. He’d just sit there, and stare at the wall. They declared the case closed and Dad just snapped. Suddenly he was always gone, always out and I was alone. Everything was so chaotic. He was always trying to get a new job, or getting fired, or doing odd jobs, we never had the same house for more than 6 months, random women coming in and out of the house. Sometimes they’d stop, and they’d try to mother me, but…for the longest time, I didn’t talk. I was scared to. And the women, they stopped caring. I wasn’t cute anymore. I was creepy, scary, that’s how they used to describe me to Dad. But Dad didn’t care. He was too busy trying to forget Mom. So he forgot about me.”

Dean paused, taking another shuddering breath.

“Nothing was ever the same. Dad would go on these kicks, y’know. One month it was his dream of becoming a welder, the next, it was owning his own construction company. He’d decide one month that time outs worked best, then stress positions, then holding me by the sides of my head and screaming at me. I was never in control of anything. You’d think that with him being so wrapped up in himself that I’d be free to do what I wanted, but I wasn’t. I was trapped. He blamed me for looking too much like my mom, for being too obedient, and when I’d start disobeying him he’d lose his fucking mind on me. One minute he’d be screaming at me to think for myself, the next he was screaming at me for not doing something exactly as he told me. I never knew what was gonna happen. It was so out of control- it was like being on one of those carnival rides that spins and shakes you and it doesn’t matter how loud you scream or how sick you feel, it’s not gonna stop until it wants to.”
“And that’s why you’re so afraid and angry.”
“I wore a condom so that she wouldn’t get pregnant. I was in control of the situation, and now suddenly it’s out of control and I can’t fucking fix it!”

Meg moved forward, wrapping her arms around Dean and squeezing him.
“Then let me fix it,” she whispered, stroking his hair, “Let me fix it for you.” He pulled back, looking at her with wet eyes.
“What?”
“Let me have the control, Dean. Give it to me, and I will make sure that everything is okay,” she said soothingly, stroking his cheek, “Give it to me, and let yourself go. I’m gonna take care of you. I’m gonna make sure the ride stops.”
“How?”
“I have my ways,” she said, “Can you just stop fucking treating me like nothing? I’m not just here for Cas. I’m here for you too, asshole.”
“Even though I’m an asshole?”
“Especially because you’re an asshole.”
“I’m sorry…for all the shit.”
“I’m not,” Meg said, smiling and kissing him hard. She wasn’t, if he would just let her in and treat her like an equal member, she didn’t give a shit how bump the road there was. And his lips, his mouth, they felt like heaven and hell all at once.


 

“Meggy?”

Meg opened her eyes, looking down at Dean. This was too close to the scene she had remembered, the day they finally clicked. The day that Dean started treating her like she mattered- and now, he made her feel like nothing again. Like he had for weeks. She closed her eyes again, breathing deeply.

“Meggy, come on,” Dean said quietly, his hands shoved in his pockets, “You safe worded out.”
“That should give you a clue of how serious I was,” she replied, rocking on the hoop. Dean bit his lip, looking down.
“I know-“
“No, you don’t,” she said, laughing sadly, “That’s the problem, Dean. You think you know. You think I’m some kind of fucking rock. I’m a person. You didn’t think that cozying up to Lisa when we had plans together wouldn’t hurt me? What, did you think that I stopped being angry about what she did?”
“No,” Dean said softly. She jumped down off the hoop, stumbling and falling into Dean’s arms. She shoved him away, tears prickling her eyes again.
“I have tried so hard, Dean. So fucking hard, harder than I have ever tried for anyone. And you still treat me like shit. Don’t you think that fucking kills me?”
“Meg, I…” he paused, trying to find the words, “I just…”

“I’m not a fuck toy, Dean!” she yelled, “I’m not your emotional punching back, I’m not your fucking toilet. I’m a person, with feeling and emotions that range beyond rage and lust. But you’ve treated me like a fucking blowup doll for the past month.” She walked across the room from him, pacing, “Don’t you think it sucks enough that at the club, I have to be Miss Sass, Class and Ass, Miss Bad to the Bone, and I can’t even rest at home with one of the people I trust most?”
“I’m sorry, okay?” Dean exploded, “I fucked up. I always fuck up. Tell me how to make it right.”

She folded her arms, turning away from him. No. He wasn’t going to just cry and get his way, she refuse d to let that happen. But she could feel her resolve breaking, crumbling under the weight of two syllables, two syllables that only ever came from one person.
“Dean, don’t,” she said quietly, the plea threading its way into her voice. He knelt down in front of her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his face into her stomach.
“Please, Meggy. I can’t do this on my own. Cas can’t help me with this…not the way you can.”

She sighed, stroking his hair. It wasn’t fair. She knew that Dean always lashed out at her because he knew she’d forgive him, that she’d take it, that she could take it, but it didn’t make it hurt any less. She could feel it in the tension in his arms, the stuttering breaths against her bare skin. He wanted her to make him tll, to make him deal with it because he didn’t have the strength to do it on his own.

“Have you been hiding something from me, Dean?” she asked quietly. He nodded, not moving his face from her stomach. Of course he was, she wasn’t an idiot, but she didn’t know if it had something specifically to do with Lisa, or if it was something else. Usually it took only one person in particular to put Dean so far out of sorts that he’d treat her so shitty for so long, but she wasn’t going to make assumptions.
“So you tried to antagonize me, so I’d ask for a rough scene.” He nodded again. She pulled away, cupping his face in her hands. She wanted to shake him.

“Dean, Dean, Dean. If you want a rough scene, you’re gonna have to wait,” she said, “We’re doing a regression scene, unless you want to tell me what’s going on.”
“I can’t,” Dean muttered. Meg sighed again, shaking her head at him. That was really all she needed to hear- she knew where the root of the problem was, if not any of the details. She needed to deal with this, and Dean was right- she was the only who knew how. Frankly, she was the only one who could do it.

She walked across the room, picking up her blouse and pulling it on, balling up her jeans.

“We’re going home and dealing with this- now,” she said, snapping her fingers, “Let’s go.”