Dean Winchester: a criminal with a leather jacket and a bad attitude, hunched shoulders and hands that shook. Sam's first real case as a public defender, and it was almost hopelessly airtight, solid evidence against him for every crime.
"So what were you doing there?" Sam asked again. Wearily, this time. Thing was, clients lied. That was a constant. They lied well and poorly, white lies and elaborate back stories, but every single time they lied because they cared, because they wanted out and this was their best shot at that.
Winchester didn't care. Winchester didn't give a shit. He drummed his fingers against the tabletop and shrugged, said, "Told you, skinwalker. Dicks who like to make messes for other, more handsome people to clean up and then hightail it back into the filth they came from."
"Right," Sam said skeptically. "So this... skinwalker." He paused, and Winchester cocked his head, go on. "It, what? Pretended to be you in order to kill Mr Bay, for no apparent reason, then shed its skin and fled into the sewers?" Sam shook his head. "It's a bad plan, Mr Winchester. As your lawyer, I advise against it."
Winchseter raised an eyebrow. Just one, like Sam'd spent hours in front the bathroom mirror trying to do when he was fourteen and had never gotten down. It looked just like he'd thought it would then, casually dismissive and challenging at once. "You got something to say, why don't you say it?" Winchester demanded.
"Insanity is not an easy sell," Sam said.
"Well, lucky for us I'm a paragon of mental health."
He laughed without quite meaning to. "Yeah, I'm sure, Mr Winchester," he said, looking down at his file. Winchester smiled, cocky in a way that made Sam's fingers itch.
"Call me Dean."
"Okay," he replied, dubious. "Dean. Your arraignment on the breaking-and-entering is on Thursday. You'll be held at the county jail until that point. Bail doesn't seem likely considering the charges you're facing at this point."
"And remind me again," Dean said, "Green River County Detention Center, right?"
Sam narrowed his eyes. "Yeah," he said slowly. "You're not from around here. How do you know that?"
"Call it a hobby." Dean leaned back in his chair. "Well, thanks for the help, Matlock."
"Now, wait a minute," Sam said, brows furrowed. "Seven states have filed extradition papers. We can stall maybe a week, but you don't—"
"Perfect," said Dean, flashing him a grin, and that was that.
The thing about Dean Winchester was that he had string of crimes trailing after him from Maryland to California, but anyone Sam spoke to would swear up and down he was a saint. Still, whenever he pushed, there was nothing they could tell him. They'd say he saved them, but never from what.
Sam did not believe in ghosts. He did not believe in werewolves or vampires or wizards or talking dogs. And he certainly did not believe in shapeshifters. But at this point, he was starting to think Dean Winchester must at the very least be the leader of some sort of cult.
"Maybe you should just leave it alone. He obviously doesn't mind facing twenty-five to life," Mara said, perching on his desk and sifting through the papers. Sam shook his head, scribbling down one last sentence before looking up at her.
"He didn't do what they say he did, Mara. I just. I can tell. He obviously did something, because some of this is just. Weird. I mean, grave robbing? But not that. Not cold-blooded murder."
"You develop a gut instinct over time," said Mara gently. "Don't push for too much your first time out, kid. You're a good lawyer, but you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped."
Sam's breath left him in a heavy sigh, and he ran a hand through his overgrown hair, trying to recall the last time he'd gotten it cut. "Maybe you're right," he admitted, and Mara smiled.
"Of course I am," she said, catching his hand on the way down and threading her fingers through his. "Now let's get some dinner in you."
They ate at Manny's, same as always, and when Sam went back to his apartment alone, rubbing at his lips, he wondered why, when she'd kissed him goodnight, he'd wanted to pull away.
Sam's apartment had come pre-furnished. He had a maid who came on Tuesdays and a plant that moved one step closer to decay every day. He'd gotten it for his own birthday in a fit of sentimentality, but watching it slowly wilt just made him lonely. He watered it each night anyway, then brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and slipped into bed.
He watched shadows dance across the ceiling as cars passed by that night. He did not turn on his side. He did not get a glass of water. He did not go over the case in his mind, examine each shred of evidence and turn of phrase until they'd been stripped of meaning.
He did not think of Dean Winchester. At all.
He left the moment he got the call.
"You want to know where a Nurse Glockner is buried," he repeated slowly. Dean looked about one step away from rolling his eyes, but he nodded, switching his phone receiver to the other ear.
"Anything you can find on her, I wanna know. But yeah, how she died and where she's buried are the big ones."
Sam stared. Dean looked worse for the wear, lip split and temple bruised, but the look in his eyes was as determined as ever. Sam wasn't sure what to make of it. "You've got a week, Dean," he said. "You could go away for the rest of your life. You know that, right?"
Dean did roll his eyes then. "Your concern is touching, really. Let's save the heart-to-heart for after I send this psycho bitch back to hell."
"Do you—do you have family around, Dean?" Sam asked. "Maybe someone to talk to?"
"Oh, for the love of—" Dean sat back. "I don't know what you think, that I'm lonely or making shit up or what. But innocent people in here are dying, and I'm gonna stop it. Now are you in or out?"
It was Dean's face he pictured as he sat at his desk later, fingers resting on the computer keys. Dean's heated green eyes, the straight, serious line of his mouth.
Dean's smile he saw as he clicked print.
Dean Winchester disappeared from lockup twelve hours before his trial, got the drop on some schmuck and crawled into an air vent. Dean's agent was at Sam's house within the hour, and Sam never even had to think about it.
He sent them running in the wrong direction.
Sam was bent over reaching for a dropped dollar bill when he first heard him. "A Bud," said a voice, and it tickled at the back of Sam's mind, some vague familiarity that made him flush. Sam straightened, slipping the bill into his pocket, and there he was, sitting on a bar stool a foot away in the same leather jacket and scowl Sam remembered.
Dean seemed as surprised to see him as he was to see Dean. "Peachy," Sam heard him mutter, already half turned to search out the door through the throng of people, and a frantic, "Wait," left Sam's lips before he'd even given it a decent thought. Dean eyed him suspiciously, poised on the edge of the stool but unmoving.
"I'm not gonna call the cops," Sam said.
"Always an awesome start to a conversation," said Dean wryly.
All the questions Sam would have liked to have asked were frozen on his lips as he stared at Dean. In the dim light, he could see a hooked scar ran down Dean's face now, from his temple over the slope of his nose. His hair was slightly longer, darker.
What was he doing here?
"Are you crazy?" Sam crowded him, trying to keep his voice hushed. "They don't just stop looking for you because a few years pass by, man."
Dean grimaced. "I have more important things to worry about than a couple of pansy-ass cops with a—"
He stopped, suddenly, reaching a hand into the air in front of him. Sam shivered. Between the two of them, he could see the shimmering, white cloud of Dean's breath. "Dude, how cold is it in here?" he asked. His voice came out a whisper without his consent on the matter. Above them, the lights flickered, and the conversation around the bar lulled as everyone glanced up.
"Great," Dean said. "This is just freakin' fantastic. Why haunt a deserted cabin when you could haunt a crowded bar, right?"
"Haunt?" Sam echoed. Something flickered past his ear, there and gone before he could focus his eyes.
"Yeah." He patted Sam's shoulder once. "You sit tight, I left something in the car."
"Left something in—Are you crazy?" he asked again. "What is going—"
But Dean was out the door without another word, and Sam slumped back against the bar as he watched him go, listening to the whisper of conversation around him. "Can we ask them to turn the heat back up?" asked the leggy blonde next to him. Her friend shrugged and started to answer, but then she stumbled, letting out an ear-splitting shriek.
Behind her, a figure appeared, translucent and ever-moving, and put its hand straight through her chest.
There was no blood, only a sort of weird electricity, a crackle in the air around them. The girl threw her head back and moaned, and the figure disappeared, flitting back into existence in front of her this time. She collapsed, her head hitting the tile with a sick thump.
"Jesus christ," Sam muttered. There was chaos all around him, some people clamoring to help and some to get as far away as they could. Sam grabbed a knife from a nearby table and stepped forward, brandishing it. "Get out of here, go," he ordered. The ghost—and it was a ghost, wasn't it—met his gaze, and between one blink and the next, he was in front of Sam, a smile on his lips as he reached for Sam's heart and—
A shot rang out.
The ghost disappeared in a swirl of color, leaving Sam backed against the table on his own, chest heaving. Standing silhouetted in the doorway, Dean reloaded a shotgun, ignoring the gasps of the people watching. "Everybody to the back of the bar!" he shouted. When no one moved, he raised the gun. "I said out of the way, people!"
The crowd cleared a path, some huddling to the far right and some escaping into the night. Dean headed straight for him, holding out a second shotgun and asking, "You know what you're doing?"
"I—Yeah," Sam said, still trying to catch his breath. His head swam as he took the gun from Dean.
Dean cocked his gun and nodded. "Cover me."
They left the bar at a run, sirens blaring just down the street and racing toward them. "This way," Dean panted, inclining his head toward a black car parked to their left, and Sam fumbled the door open and swung into the passenger's seat.
It was surreal, sitting in a car with a fugitive, listening to Enter Sandman and fleeing from the cops. Four hours ago, Sam had been at his desk filing paperwork and eating takeout, trying to ignore the tension of working with an ex.
His head had never been so clear.
"So Wesson, right?" When Sam looked over, Dean's eyes were on the road. "Still defending the common man?"
"It's Sam. And uh, yeah, I—I guess."
"Well, thanks, man," he said. "I appreciate your help with the salt and burn last time. Sorry about tonight. It was just supposed to be recon."
"Is that what we're doing now?" Sam asked. "Grave robbing."
Dean nodded. "Yeah. Gotta burn the remains or the son of a bitch'll hang on. Ghosts don't know how to take a hint."
The night whirled past outside Sam's windows, a blur of lights that made him dizzy. He'd never gone so fast. "So this is what you do?" he asked. "You hunt ghosts. By yourself?"
Dean's fingers clenched on the steering wheel. His jaw clicked. "I had a partner." He paused a beat and Sam waited, and then, "He died."
"Oh," Sam said. "Uh—"
Dean held up a hand. "Don't emote on me, princess. Hazards of the job."
He didn't believe it. Sam could see in the way he held himself, the tension in his shoulders and his purposefully blank expression. Still, Sam could tell this wasn't a place where he could push. Dean would either push back or crumble under the pressure. "How'd you get into it?" he asked instead.
"Right," Sam said incredulously. "What, did you get home from school one day and your dad went, 'Son, here's a gun, let's go hunt some ghosts?'"
"More like, 'Son, let's get the demon that killed your mother.'"
Sam's eyebrows raised. "Uh. Wow. A demon, like a demon from hell, or—"
"No, from Uganda," snapped Dean. "Yeah, a demon from hell. Black-eyed, slimy son of a bitch. Dad got him a couple years after he started hunting, but he couldn't just go back and play soccer dad. Not when he knew what was out there."
"Doesn't seem like any way to raise a kid," Sam said gently.
Dean slapped a hand against the steering wheel. "You know what, screw you, buddy. Everybody acts like this white bread, apple freakin' pie life is so great, but you gotta turn around and drug yourselves up to the gills just to keep from going out of your skulls. At least I get to kill shit when I'm pissed off instead of bottling it up until I shoot up a post office somewhere or something."
"Okay, okay," Sam said, raising his hands in acquiescence. "Where are we going, anyway?"
"You are going back to whatever IKEA catalog you probably walked out of, and then I'm going to go salt and burn me some pissed off construction worker.
Sam spun in his seat. "What? No way, man. I'm coming with you."
Dean snorted, shaking his head. "No dice, dude. I do not need to babysit some tag-along amateur."
"I didn't hear you complaining back at the bar."
Dean raised one eyebrow again, exactly like Sam remembered, and Sam's stomach sank. "Give me an address," he said, "or I will drop your ass on the side of the road."
The car sped off, leaving Sam standing there in the glow of a streetlight, slowly becoming aware of his stringy hair, of the sweat stains under his arms. "See you around," Dean'd said, and if Sam had never expected to cross Dean's path again the first time he'd vanished into thin air, he was even less hopeful now.
There was a six pack waiting for him in the fridge, and he headed straight for it, his apartment suddenly so empty it seemed to echo. He sat at the kitchen table, hands in his lap, and did the only thing he could think of: he called his father.
"Sam?" Mitch Wesson sounded groggy, confused, and to be fair, it wasn't often Sam called him at eleven o'clock at night.
It wasn't often Sam called him at all.
"Sam, that you?" Mitch prompted after a moment of silence. Sam was quiet one beat, two, and then he sighed, dropping his head into his free hand and massaging his scalp.
"Look, son," Mitch said, interrupting the static. "I'm glad you called. About what I said the last time we talked. I know—I know you were only trying to help, Sam. I know you didn't mean for it to end how it did. I shouldn't have said what I said. I was wrong. And your mom, she'll come around about—about everything. We're so—"
Sam hung up. He was surprised he'd made it that long.
He spent his work hours researching the supernatural after that, through lunch, dinner, until even Mara, who'd been determinedly ignoring his presence, began casting worried glances his way.
And then he found it, in the archive of some hick town two hours west. Waiting for him. Calling to him.
It wasn't until the cord had managed to wrap completely around his neck that Sam was willing to admit perhaps he was unprepared. His vision faded, a flash of color and a gunshot the last thing he could remember, and the next thing he knew, he was coming to in the back seat of a car. He sat, world swimming before him, and was met with the back of Dean Winchester's head. "What's goin' on?" he mumbled.
"Are you freakin' stupid?" asked Dean.
Sam blinked. His head began to clear, if not cease throbbing, and he leant forward. "Were you following me?"
"No," Dean snapped immediately. Then, "Well, yeah, but only because I could tell you were dumb enough to try something like this. Seriously, a handgun? That's it? You couldn't even grab some salt off the kitchen table?"
"I figured that was just superstition," he admitted.
Dean swung the car over to the curb, and for the first time Sam realized that they were in his neighborhood. They pulled to a stop in front of his apartment building, and Dean got out of car, leaning against the side and looking at Sam expectantly. Sam took a deep breath and climbed out after him.
"You don't wanna do this," was all Dean said. He looked away, hand on the back of his neck. "Hunters, they only got a good forty years in them. Alone. You don't keep some family on the side. That's monster bait."
Sam shrugged. "Look, I hate to burst your bubble here, but I've got no family to keep."
"No girl?" Dean hedged. "No mom waiting somewhere to make you milk and cookies?"
Sam laughed. It sounded bitter even to his own ears. "No," he said.
Dean worked his tongue between his teeth for a moment, considering Sam. "Fine," he said eventually. "Meet me here at noon tomorrow."
"Meet you here?" Sam repeated. Dean nodded as he got into the car and started to pull the door shut, but Sam caught it with one hand and held it open. "Meet you here for what?"
Dean grinned. "Training."
Salt was not a superstition. "They weren't bullets in the shotgun," Dean told him. "Rocksalt rounds. Came up with it myself," he added with a touch of pride.
In fact, Dean's whole world was makeshift. He lived out of a hotel under a fake name and kept a stash of fake IDs in the glove compartment. "No wonder you got caught," Sam pointed out, and Dean rolled his eyes.
"All part of the plan, dude. All part of the plan."
They worked out a rhythm that fit Sam's schedule, an easy give-and-take. Dean moved hotels every week, "One step ahead of the credit card companies," he said, and Sam was a lawyer, Sam should feel guilty about this, about breaking the law so cavalierly. He didn't.
They did easy hauntings in between Sam's cases. A lot of grave digging, which was harder than Sam would have expected, but he liked the ache in his shoulders afterwards. There was a rhythm to their work, too, a pattern in the research, the surveillance, the easy slide of metal against the skin of Sam's palm when Dean threw him a gun. Salt 'n burns, Dean called them, and they were so simple, so blandly routine, that Sam was coming out of his skin in no time, ready to do more. "Gotta learn to walk before you jump headfirst off Mount Everest, Sammy," Dean told him one day, sage as he snacked on day-old takeout from the motel fridge.
"Ha ha," Sam said dryly, tossing a pencil at him from the desk.
Dean leaned back on the bed and looked over at him, head in his hands, said, "Gotta put the swimmies on before you tie yourself underwater in the deep end." He smirked when Sam huffed in exasperation, then schooled his expression into something more serious. "When I'm confident you won't shoot your eye with the gun and ruin Christmas, we'll move on to bigger fish," he said, firm, and Sam shrugged but didn't push, waited for his bigger fish to come along.
Turned out, when Dean said 'bigger fish,' that meant demons.
"You're nothing," the girl spit. "You've got no one in the world, do you, Dean Winchester, and now you're dragging this poor sap along for the ride, huh? Isn't that right?"
"Shut your cakehole, sweetheart," Dean said, sprinkling the demon liberally with holy water. It sizzled on its skin like acid, and Sam averted his eyes. Dean glanced over at him expectantly. "Get on with it."
"Right." Sam looked down at the text in his hands and began to slowly sound out the words, the Latin heavy and clunky on his tongue.
"You'll regret this, Winchester," the demon growled. "Your daddy's down here with us, and he is just such a convenient punching bag."
Dean delivered a swift kick to the chair they'd tied the demon to. It rattled dangerously. "Nobody asked for your villain speech."
"Nobody's the villain here but you!" it yelled at Dean over the drone of Sam's voice. "Without you, Daddy Winchester would still be alive, wouldn't he? Without you, Mr Lawyer here wouldn't be tanking every chance he has at a life to spend the day with some loud-mouthed high school dropout. Now w–would he, Dean?"
The demon's skin was clammy now, beads of sweat dripping down its face, fingers clenched so tight around the arms of the chair that they'd gone white. It threw its head back with a scream, straining so hard against the restraints that Sam could see its host's veins. A cloud of black smoke poured from its mouth suddenly, the stench so overwhelming Sam gagged, and then Dean was rushing toward the slumped figure of the victim.
"Shh, it's okay," he soothed as she sobbed. "It's okay, you're okay."
He was strangely quiet on the ride home that night. Usually a job well done left him grinning for hours, needling Sam about everything from his hair to his car, scrolling through Sam's iPod for something to use against him later. But he hadn't taken his eyes off the road since they'd gotten into the car, and something about that made Sam's chest ache. "Hey," he said when he couldn't stand it any longer, breaking the silence. "About what the demon said—"
He didn't get any further than that before Dean bit out, jaw clenched, "He made a deal."
"What?" Sam asked.
"My dad. He made a deal with a crossroads demon. I was dying, and he sold his soul for me."
Sam felt dazed. "Dean," he said, then bit his lip, at a loss for words.
"I never asked him for that," Dean barrelled on. "I never asked the son of a bitch to do that, Sam. It was my time, I was okay with that, but he did it anyway, and I never asked."
He seemed frighteningly, dangerously close to a breakdown, and Sam reached out to him hesitantly, squeezing his shoulder. "Pull over, okay, pull over, Dean," he said, and the impala swerved toward the shoulder in a crunch of gravel.
Neither of them spoke for a long moment. The sounds of their breath were loud between them. And then, finally, Sam said, "My brother got killed because of me." When Dean didn't respond, he went on anyway. "I was just a stupid kid, and I thought doing the right thing telling our mom he was out when he wasn't supposed to be. But he rushed back, and he was drunk, and he, uh." He took steadying breath. "He hit a tree. He was gone before he even made it into the ambulance."
His throat was tight, head throbbing, so caught up in the memory that he about jumped out of his skin when he felt Dean's warm hand brush his arm. Dean didn't say anything, and neither did he, but he felt calmer with Dean's hand there. Grounded.
They didn't make it back into the state that night. When the rumble of a passing semi woke Sam up the next morning, he felt better rested than he had in years.
Between one day and the next, Sam's once-dying plant sprouted flowers. "Hey," Dean said with a grin when he noticed. "I thought that thing was just one of those ugly weeds schmucks get to make themselves feel like less of a plant murderer."
"Yeah," Sam said absently, stroking a finger over one of the purple blooms. "Yeah, me too."
He laughed, tossing the gun into the back seat of the car. "That was amazing," he said. His smile felt too wide for his face, like the muscles just couldn't accommodate. Dean ducked his head and smiled back.
"Yeah, we, uh. We make a good team."
"Team, huh?" Sam asked. "The great Dean Winchester, giving up the opportunity to brag." Dean made a face, and Sam laughed again. "Look, I've got court tomorrow, but there's a case in Washington I could do over the weekend," he said, waiting for Dean's nod of ascent before turning back to the car. He'd just started toward the passenger's side door when Dean stepped closer, pressing him against the cool metal frame. Sam turned, a question on his lips, but Dean slipped a hand around the back of his neck and pulled him in before he'd had a chance to say a word.
Sam had kissed other guys before. Once or twice, when he'd been drunk or just curious. He'd thought—well, he'd thought it hadn't been for him. There'd been no heat in the pit of his stomach, no need. But Dean's lips, warm and wet on his, they made him ache, and Sam groaned into his mouth, palming his hips through his jeans and pulling Dean flush against his body. Dean bucked, his fingers clenching in the fabric of Sam's sweatshirt. Sam wanted to flip them, wanted to push Dean back against the car and nip at his neck until he threw his head back, surrendered.
And with that thought, it all caught up with him.
What was this? What were they doing?
He broke the kiss, one hand on Dean's chest, and Dean looked up at him, dazed. "Wait, wait," Sam said. "What's going on here?"
Dean flushed. "Nothing. Never mind. Sorry." He stepped back, shoulders hunched and hands in his pockets, lips still swollen and red where Sam's tongue had teased. Sam wanted to reach out and touch more than anything.
"No, Dean, I didn't mean—" He moved forward and Dean backed away, scowling when Sam caught his wrist.
"No," Sam said, stubborn. "I didn't mean it like that, Dean."
"Well, I did." Dean yanked his hand away, looking one wrong word away from breaking into a run. Sam fell back to a safe distance.
"That doesn't even make sense."
Dean seemed for a moment like he would argue, jaw clenched and hands in fists at his sides, and then his shoulder slumped and he turned away. "I'm sorry," he said again, and then he shouldered past Sam, slamming the door to the impala and pulling out so fast, Sam fell back onto the asphalt.
He rubbed his own lips, still tingling and warm, and wondered what in God's name just happened.
Of course, that's when it really went to hell, and Dean's face started showing up all over the local news.
"Like I said, I haven't seen him since I defended him in 2006," he insisted.
Dean's agent, Henricksen, slammed a fist against the table. "Don't give me that, Wesson. I know you and your buddy Winchester gave been seeing a lot of each other. In fact, the manager of the Motel 6 puts you in the room of someone exactly matching Dean Winchester's description just last week."
"Well, he was wrong," said Sam. "Now do I need to call my attorney, or am I free to go?"
The scowl on Henricksen's face darkened. "I'm watching you, Wesson," he said quietly. "One wrong move, and I'll have you both in jail so fast, you won't have time to say 'harboring a fugitive.'"
"Noted," Sam said, grimacing, the beginnings of a migraine pounding dully at his temples.
His apartment was dark and quiet when he unlocked the door. He let out a sigh, trying to tell himself he hadn't been hoping Dean would be there waiting when he got back. There was no one, just the dishes he'd left in the sink and Dean's beer on the counter, Sam's briefcase lying on the loveseat where he'd thrown it after work Saturday and hadn't touched it since.
It had been just shy of two months since Dean had shown up in that bar. Two months of hunts, of rocksalt and shotguns and holy water. Two months of Dean eating Sam's food and blaring his music, refusing to go home when Sam kicked him out.
Two months, and Sam already didn't know how to live without it.
"Sam." There was a small, soft hand on his arm, and he looked up at Mara from the file he'd been pretending to study, a meaningless jumble of words. "Sam," Mara said again, "I'm worried about you," and the concern was there, written clearly and painfully across her face.
"I'm fine," he mumbled. She shook her head, disbelieving.
"I know things didn't—didn't end all that well between us. I know that. But I can still tell, I know that something's off with you. Is this about what's his name, Winchester?" she asked. "You had a soft spot for him, Sam. He was your first client. I know you wanted him to be okay."
You don't know anything, Sam wanted to say. But he said nothing, turning back to his file, and eventually the warm weight of Mara's hand left his arm, and he was alone again.
A week passed. Two. Sam sat on his couch every morning, staring stone-faced through the morning news, waiting for the day someone would say Dean Winchester's name.
They never did, but Sam still couldn't quite remember how to breathe anymore.
In the end, Dean just climbed through his window one night and smiled a cocky smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. Asked, "Miss me, Sammy?"
Sam sat up in the bed he hadn't really slept in in days, ran one hand through his hair angrily and gestured Dean away from the window with the other. "Jesus fucking christ, Dean," he spat. "Where the hell've you been?"
"Big brother's been watching the apartment."
Sam cursed. "You shouldn't be here," he said, and Dean's smiled slipped. Sam sighed, closing his eyes. "I didn't mean it that way. You can't get caught, Dean."
Dean stepped closer, the light from the street lamp splashing across him for a brief moment before he was back in the shadows. "I needed to see you before I left," he said. He sounded painfully open, stripped bare. Sam stood, walking toward him, and Dean shook his head, his back hitting the wall with a thump. "I needed to—about the last time I was here—"
Sam reached out and grabbed his wrist, sending him pitching forward into Sam's chest. "Shut up, Dean," he said, palms on Dean's soft face, fingers curling around the back of his head. He leaned down just as Dean pushed forward, and their lips met suddenly, almost violently. It was the worst kiss Sam had ever had. It was the best.
The whole world seemed still when the broke apart. He tangled his fingers in Dean's hair, not ready to let go.
"Come with me," said Dean in a rush, muffled against Sam's neck. "Come with me, Sam, I can't do this alone."
"Yes you can," Sam argued. He stroked the back of Dean's head softly, listening to the wet pant of Dean's breath. Dean's fingers dug into Sam's skin where he held on.
"Yeah," he whispered finally, "but I don't want to."
When Sam looked back on it, on everything, he wondered if he'd really had a choice, if it hadn't all been set in stone from the first moment he'd laid eyes on Dean Winchester in the interrogation room.
He wondered if he even wanted one.
"Come on, Dean," he said, turning toward the window. "Let's get out of here."