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For the Dead Keep Naught

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The night is clear and there's a last hint of spring in the crisp wind that blows through the parking lot. It's a welcome contrast to the smoky heat of the bar behind him and he tips his head back to stare at the sky, distracting himself by trying to remember the names of the constellations.

There's a blast of noise; loud music and raucous laughter spill out as the door to the bar opens. The sound is cut off suddenly as the door slams shut again. Sam doesn't turn to look, keeping his eyes on the stars and pretending that he isn't listening to the footsteps coming closer, pretending that he isn't listening for the fading limp that Dean's trying to pretend he doesn't have. It's a bitter pill, realising that they're still pretending with each other; that they still won't or can't be honest, even now.

"Sam?" Dean's voice is a mix of annoyance and concern and just a touch of impatience.

It's clearly a question, but Sam doesn't think that either of them would like any of the answers he might give, so he says nothing, just stays where he is, slouched against the Impala.

"Sam?" Less concern and more annoyance now. Sam just knows that this conversation isn't going to end well, but he can't make himself speak, because he honestly doesn't know what he's going to say and he might be pissed at Dean, at the girls fawning over him in the bar, at the job, at life in general, but he's not pissed enough to risk making things even worse than they are already.

"Damnit, what the hell is wrong? One minute you're fine and then next you're storming out the door."

"I just needed some air." It's such an obvious, stupid lie and Sam is caught between hoping that Dean'll just accept it for the brush off it is, and wanting his brother to push, to make Sam spill all the words that are hovering on the tip of his tongue.

"Right. You wanna cut the bullshit and try the truth this time?"

Sam shrugs, hating himself for being too scared to say anything, hating himself even more for feeling this way. Hating most of all that Dean doesn't get why Sam's angry.

"Gods sake Sam. I am not standing in a cold parking lot when there is beer getting warm in that bar just because you've got your panties in a bunch over something. Either tell me what the hell's wrong, or I swear, I'm gonna go back inside and you can star gaze out here on your own."

"You can always get that little blonde to warm you up." The words are out before Sam can catch them and Jesus, he really does sound like the jealous bitch that Dean's accused him of being in the past.

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" It gives Sam a perverse sense of pleasure to hear the faint thread of hurt under the anger in Dean's voice. Gives him some hope that Dean feels as strongly about this; about them, as Sam does.

"You don't want to stay out here, fine. Go back inside. I'm sure Cindy'll be more than happy to keep you warm tonight." He doesn't even recognise himself now, spite twisting his voice into something harsh and bitter.

Dean barks a laugh, then stops. Sam hears him take a couple of steps closer; the crunch of old glass under his boots and the slightest falter in his step.

"What the hell? You're jealous?"

Sam's fists clench in the pockets of his jacket and he has to resist the urge to throw a punch, because Dean makes it sound even more stupid than it is.

"Come on Sam. It's just a bit of flirting. You know, having fun, living a little. You know I'm not going home with her." The certainty in Dean's voice drains all the anger from Sam and leaves only the hurt. He knows. But that doesn't mean it stings any less.

He tips his head forward, the sudden change in position making his vision waiver a little, before clearing. Dean's standing nearly within touching distance, watching him.

"I know. It's just, it's frustrating, OK? I can't touch you in public and they're practically hanging off you. And we've not... I mean... since you got hurt. It's been hard, not being able to do as much as I'd like to. With you."

"Jesus. I don't think this is the place for that conversation." Dean looks around, as if someone might over hear them, even though the parking lot is empty, no-one here even knows that they're brothers and this isn't the sort of bar where they'd be risking a fight just for being seen as a couple.

"What? There's no-one here, Dean. No-one cares."

"I care."

"No, you just don't want to have this conversation at all. God forbid you should risk blowing that macho image and actually talk to me."

Dean flinches a little and his eyes flick towards the bar. "If you don't want to go back to the bar, let's just go back to the motel. We can pick up some beer on the way, OK?"

Sam wants to tell him it's not OK. It's not OK that just over six weeks ago they somehow slid from being brothers to being lovers in the course of one terrifying, wonderful night. It's not OK that Dean got hurt in a hunt the next day. It's definitely not OK that between pain, painkillers, and Sam's fear of hurting Dean, they've barely been able to do more than a few clumsy handjobs that Sam's sure haven't really satisfied either of them. He hates that the loss of something he'd barely tasted has left him feeling so uncertain.

He wants to blame Dean; for getting hurt, for not being able to give Sam the reassurance he wants, for acting like nothing has changed, for flirting with the girls in the bar instead of with Sam. He can't though, without blaming himself just as much.

He should have been more alert, should have stopped Dean getting his thigh ripped half open and nearly bleeding out on the backseat of the Impala before Sam could get him to the hospital. If he's honest, his own guilt and fear have kept him from looking for anything physical from Dean. He's been waiting for Dean to show him when he's ready.

If Sam's honest he's known all along that he was always going to have to be the one to take the first steps in their new relationship. He made the first move the night they kissed for the first time and he'll need to make the first moves again before they can get back to where they were before Dean's accident. And yet, he hasn't pushed, hasn't tried to take things further. And he knows that at least part of his reaction tonight is frustration with himself as much as with Dean.

"Sam?"

He must have spent too long lost in his thoughts, because Dean's moved closer, so he's standing right in front of Sam, looking worried. Suddenly, Sam's too tired to be angry anymore. He just wants to go back to their room and sleep.

"Sure. Let's go back."

Dean hesitates, then rests a hand on Sam's arm. It's probably the most awkward touch Sam's ever received from Dean, but he's clearly trying. Sam lets himself lean into the touch, soaking up what comfort he can. Dean moves a little closer still, fingers curling around Sam's bicep and tugging Sam towards him until Sam gives in and bends forward resting his forehead against Dean's.

"You know I wouldn't do that to you, right? I know it's been awkward, this last couple of weeks, but I don't, uh, I don't regret it. I thought you knew that."

Sam knows flirting comes as naturally and easily to Dean as breathing. Dean probably didn't even realise he was doing it. It makes Sam feel like an ass, and he tries very hard not to resent Dean for that too.

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Always said you were a girl."

"Fuck you."

"You wish."

And Sam does, oh he really does, even though he still hasn't shaken the lingering voices that tell him they shouldn't be doing this. But he's not sure they're ready for that yet, so instead he moves, pulling one hand from his pocket and using it to nudge Dean's jaw until he tips his head back far enough that Sam can kiss him, soft and gentle. Dean's stiff and unresponsive at first, then he relaxes a little and the hand on Sam's arm slides up, curling around the back of Sam's neck and sending shivers down his spine.

The sound of music as someone opens the door to the bar makes them both jump and Dean takes a couple of steps back, hands dropping away from Sam, grimacing a little as his leg obviously protests.

"Come on, let's go. My beer will have gone flat by now anyway."

Sam nods, body still wanting to press up against Dean's. Instead he waits until Dean's limped around the car and gotten into the passenger seat, then he takes a breath and pulls the car keys out of his pocket. He slides behind the wheel and nearly jumps when Dean's hand lands on his thigh.

"Gonna show me a good time, big boy?" Dean's got an obnoxious smirk on his face and his voice is all fake seduction. It's possibly the cheesiest, most ridiculous thing Sam's ever heard and yet, it still sends a trickle of arousal down his spine.

"Idiot." But he can feel the smile stretching his mouth, and Dean leaves his hand on Sam's leg, a warm, welcome weight as they pull out of the parking lot and head back to the motel. It's only a ten minute drive but Sam's conscious of Dean's touch the whole way.

It's crazy, the way Dean can mess with his head, with his emotions. He's flipped from anger and hurt to desire and wanting in no time at all.

He misses the warmth when they park and Dean pulls his hand away as he gets out of the car. Sam pretends that he didn't hear the faint hiss as Dean stretches the stiffness from his leg. He wants to offer help, but Dean probably doesn't really need it and sure as hell won't welcome it.

So he unlocks the door to the room and leaves Dean to follow. He starts fiddling with the coffee maker, then gives up when he realises that he's about to make coffee that neither of them will drink just to stop himself helping his brother. He's not sure which of them is the bigger idiot.

Sam turns when the door slams shut and the bedsprings creak alarmingly as Dean sits down heavily, left leg stretched out in front of him. He half-heartedly massages the thigh and just like that, Sam's done with standing by just to appease Dean's sense of independence.

He walks over to stand in front of his brother. "Come on, get undressed. That leg's all cramped up."

"I'm fine, I don't need mothering."

"Don't be an ass. You're crap at pretending it doesn't hurt and I want to help. So shut the hell up and strip."

"You know, I'd kinda thought hearing you telling me to strip would be hotter."

"Yeah, whatever. Here." He holds out his hand and Dean only hesitates for a second before taking it and letting Sam pull him to his feet. He pops the buttons on his jeans and Sam kneels, unlacing Dean's boots and pulling them and the socks off. He's very aware of his position and the way Dean shifts; the way his grip on Sam's shoulder tightens, tells Sam that Dean's aware of it too.

Dean takes a breath and then shoves his jeans down, over his hips and halfway down his thighs before Sam takes over, peeling the heavy denim off. Dean shrugs out of his jacket and the unbuttoned shirt he was wearing, leaving him in t-shirt and boxers. Sam sits back on his heels and looks up. It makes his pulse jump when he sees that Dean's half hard as well.

"Sam..." Dean's fingers tighten on Sam's shoulder.

"Sit down." Christ, his voice sounds rough. When Dean doesn't move, Sam puts his hand on Dean's stomach and pushes gently, feeling the muscles twitch under his palm, even through the fabric of Dean's shirt.

Dean sits, dropping back to lean on his elbows, watching Sam with narrowed eyes, legs splayed around Sam and God that image of his brother should not make him want to pin Dean down and drag his nails over his belly, nor sink his teeth into the jut of his hipbones.

He contents himself with trailing a hand up Dean's calf, feeling the hairs prickle against his palm. When he reaches Dean's thigh, he sits straighter and brings his other hand up, tracing the still pink and tender looking scar that starts just below Dean's left hip and curves down. The scar is about five inches long and about an eighth of an inch wide. The claw that tore through the skin was razor sharp, but fortunately not long. It didn't penetrate very deeply, but the wound wouldn't clot and Sam couldn't apply enough pressure to stop the bleeding, nor get a tourniquet above it. He'd been absolutely convinced that Dean was going to die. The memory still carries the bitter aftertaste of fear that had burned his throat the whole way to the hospital.

He doesn't realise that his hands are shaking until Dean rests a hand on one of Sam's. He can't help the way he clutches at it, squeezing too tightly. Dean doesn't say anything, just lets Sam hold on for a while. When Sam finally loosens his grip, Dean sits up and raps Sam's other hand with a small bottle. Sam recognises the unscented oil he bought to use on Dean's leg, to help ease the sensitivity and the tightness of the scar. He lets go of Dean's hand and takes the bottle.

"Smooth. Real smooth." He can't look at Dean yet, every raw emotion is going to be written across his face and he doesn't want to risk killing the tentative mood.

"If I wait for you to start, I'll probably die of old age." He pokes Sam in the side with his right foot and yeah, there are times when Sam's actually grateful for Dean's smart mouth and emotional repression.

His hands barely tremble when he opens the bottle and coats his palms liberally with the oil. He can feel Dean watching him, but he keeps his head bent and concentrates on working the tension from Dean's leg. Dean still tends to favour that leg a little because of the way the scar pulls sometimes, and the cramp that hits him is usually a direct result of Dean not taking things easy when he should.

Dean drops onto his elbows again, and lets his head fall back as Sam starts at the knee, digging his fingers into the muscles and forcing them to relax. He hisses when Sam reaches the scar but doesn't pull away and Sam gentles his touch, pressing lightly over the tender flesh. It's almost entirely accidental, when his hand moves further up and his fingers brush the sensitive skin between hip and thigh. Dean sucks in another breath and spreads his legs even more.

Sam feels a rush of desire and this is what he wants, what he's been craving the last few weeks. He slides his still greasy hand up the leg of Dean's boxers and God, Dean's hard, his cock heavy and thick in Sam's grip. The angle is awkward and the fabric restricts his movement, but he doesn't care, not when Dean starts breathing harder, arching his back and shifting his hips under Sam's hand.

"Sam. God. Get your ass up here, damnit." Dean's voice is wrecked. Sam rocks back on his heels and stands, stripping as quickly as possible, all the while trying to keep an eye on Dean as his brother pulls off his shirt and boxers.

It takes far too long for Sam to get naked, greasy fingers slipping buttons and zip. By the time he's finally done, Dean's shuffled up the bed and is leaning naked against the headboard, idly stroking his cock. The rhythm of his hand falters when Sam crawls up the bed on all fours until he's hovering over Dean. For a second he's unsure what to do next, but then Dean grabs a handful of Sam's hair and yanks his head down so they can kiss.

Sam settles onto Dean's lap, knees either side of Dean's hips, careful not to put too much weight on Dean's left leg, and wraps one hand around both their cocks. Dean shivers against him and his hips try to thrust. It's ridiculously hot and nothing like the awkward fumbling in the dark they've done until now, with Sam scared he's going to hurt Dean and Dean half stoned on Vicodin.

There's just enough oil left on Sam's hand and Dean's cock to make the friction bearable, but even if there wasn't, Sam doesn't think he could make himself move away to find the oil. Dean's fingers are pulling on Sam's hair and he's squirming against Sam, panting around a kiss that's getting messier by the second. Finally, he yanks Sam's head back, gasping for air and arching hard enough to almost lift them both from the bed as he starts to come. The sudden slickness makes Sam shudder down to his toes and he shakes Dean's suddenly limp hand out of his hair and buries his face in his brother's neck, biting down as his own orgasm washes over him. Dean jumps under him and his cock twitches against Sam's and the urge to bite down harder is almost impossible to resist, but Sam does, moving so he can press his forehead against Dean's shoulder instead.

There are several minutes where all he can hear is the frantic beat of his pulse and their gradually slowing breathing. Finally though, Dean moves under him, hands pushing gently at Sam's chest.

"Come on, get off me."

Sam half rolls, half flops down next to Dean. He's sticky and greasy and his hair smells of smoke from the bar and he could care less, not when he's pressed against Dean from shoulder to hip, his sweaty skin catching on Dean's every time one of them moves.

Dean's breathing slowly evens out and Sam lets himself close his eyes for a minute, intending to get up and have a quick wash and turn out the light, but before he can move, he slides into sleep.

Sam's awake before Dean the next morning, neck stiff from the awkward angle he fell asleep in, belly itchy with dried semen, and roastingly hot from where Dean's pressed up against him. He slides out of bed carefully so he doesn't wake Dean. His brother isn't usually a heavy sleeper and startling him awake has lead to more than one black eye for Sam. This time, Dean doesn't even stir.

The bathroom floor is pleasantly cold under his bare feet and he quickly turns the shower on, stepping under the spray the second it's warm enough. He keeps the shower short, just long enough to wash away the reminders of last night. The cool air makes his skin rise up in goose bumps as soon as he steps out. He wraps a towel around his waist and shaves absentmindedly in the half fogged mirror.

He catches sight of himself, and wonders, not for the first time, what the hell he's doing. There are so many, good, rational, practical reasons why he shouldn't be sleeping with his brother, not even taking into account the moral and legal implications. None of those reasons are enough to make him want to stop though. He needs this connection with someone and no-one knows him better than Dean; no-one accepts him, flaws and hang-ups and fucked up issues the way Dean does. Dean might tease, might mock, but Sam doesn't think there is anything he could confess to that would make Dean turn away. He doesn't have to hide with Dean, doesn't have to pretend he's something, someone, different.

The first time he'd looked at Dean and wondered, seriously wondered, what it would be like to kiss his brother, to touch him like a lover, he'd thought it just a passing fad and although it unnerved him, he brushed it aside and tried to forget it. But the idea kept resurfacing at random moments. The more he tried to ignore it, or pretend it didn't fascinate him in ways he didn't understand, the more persistent it became.

The day he jerked off in the shower and came with Dean's name caught on the tip of his tongue was the day he finally gave up pretending that he was disgusted or horrified by the thought.

He never meant to actually act on those thoughts. While he'd been pretty sure that Dean wouldn't ditch him, he wasn't keen on putting the theory to the test.

That evening was a complete accident; he'd watched Dean wipe the back of his hand across lips shiny with whisky straight from the bottle and had found himself leaning in to lick the lingering taste of cheap liquor from Dean's mouth without thinking about it.

Kissing Dean hadn't been as much of a shock as Sam had thought it would be. Feeling Dean kiss him back, hand fisted in Sam's shirt was the real surprise, at least until Dean had suddenly shoved him away, eyes wide and full of shock and something horribly like fear, breath coming in gasps. Sam had landed on his ass on the floor, staring up at Dean on the bed, sure that his eyes were just as wide as he tried to stay calm, but inside he'd been waiting for Dean to throw a punch or walk out. When Dean raised his hand, Sam closed his eyes and waited. He didn't expect the hand that had tangled in his hair and dragged him back up onto the bed.

"You sure, Sam? You better be sure, damnit." Dean's voice had been low and frantic and slightly broken and God, Sam'd never been more sure of anything in his life.

He'd never gotten chance to tell Dean that, because Dean had just pushed against him, mouth and hands stealing Sam's ability to form any kind of coherent thought.

In all of Sam's daydreams about showing Dean how he felt, he'd never imagined the way Dean's need would match his own; the way the years of training and working together would spill over into sex; the way seeing him coming undone beneath Sam's hands would be so powerful, so intense that it'd make something in Sam's chest ache.

They weren't gentle, that night. Fuelled by alcohol and a strange kind of desperation they'd wrestled as much as embraced; scratched as much as caressed; bit as much as kissed.

The finger shaped bruises had barely started to darken on his skin when the whole thing went to hell and he had had to deal with the possibility that he could have lost Dean when he'd felt as though he'd only just found him.

And that's enough to remind him that whatever reasons there might be for not pursuing a physical relationship with Dean, the only thing that really counts is what he, what they want.

Dean's still asleep when Sam leaves the bathroom; he's sprawled across the bed on his stomach, one hand curled under the pillow, sheets draped over the curve of his ass. Sam's tempted to crawl back into bed, but it feels a little strange and he hesitates. Sharing a bed isn't something they've really done; Dean too uncomfortable and too short tempered with the pain and Sam too worried about hurting him. In the end, he settles for getting dressed and heading out for coffee, because if he gets back into that bed, with a sleep pliant Dean, he's pretty sure he won't want to leave it again for the rest of the day.

Dean's in the shower when Sam gets back. The random thought that if Sam wanted to, he could join his brother there floats through his mind and he's caught unawares by both the flush of arousal and the sudden uncertainty. He knows it always takes time to feel comfortable with a new lover, but it unsettles him because it's Dean and some part of his brain thinks the fact he knows his brother better than anyone else still living should make this easier than normal, not harder.

He opens one of the papers he picked up with his coffee and flicks through it. He's not really looking for a hunt, but he knows that Dean's getting twitchy and restless and maybe he can find something to keep Dean from driving them both insane. He gets caught up in reading the local newspaper, unwillingly fascinated by the stories of a life and world he's never really been a part of, no matter how hard he tried to pretend he was.

A cool, damp hand on the back of his neck makes him jump and almost spill his coffee. Dean just laughs when Sam swats at him and curses. He steals one of the newspapers and the coffee that Sam brought back for him. He sits on the broken down old couch, coffee in one hand, newspaper spread over the ancient coffee table. They sit quietly for a while, just the soft rustle of paper as they read.

Eventually, Dean stands and stretches, grimacing slightly as he works the stiffness from his leg. The towel slips lower and if Sam wasn't so damned hungry, he'd definitely tumble Dean back into bed so he can run his hands over the smooth skin of Dean's belly and hips, maybe even learn how Dean likes his cock sucked. He's glad Dean isn't looking at him when a small shiver of desire crawls up his spine, although he can't help watching Dean dress. There's nothing overtly sexual about it, but the efficiency and the unconscious grace still makes him want to lock the door, close the curtains and strip every piece of clothing that Dean's just put on from his body.

They walk down the block to a cafe that serves a halfway decent breakfast. Dean's limp is almost entirely absent and he doesn't wince when he drops down on to the cracked vinyl seat. He looks more relaxed than he has at any time in the last month and a half and it makes something in Sam ease just a little.

When he orders the same as Dean, bacon and pancakes, and Dean smirks at him, he waits until the waitress has turned away before sticking his tongue out at his brother. Dean kicks him under the table and Sam raps his knife across the back Dean's hand before he can snatch it out of range. It's childish and stupid but he can't help echoing the grin on Dean's face.

Dean's brought the remaining couple of papers and they bicker over who reads what while they're waiting for their food. Sam wins, but only because he distracts Dean with the sports section. There's nothing in the rest that's worth even a cursory look and in the end, he gives up.

They've been in the same area since Dean was hurt and while the respite has been welcome, for him at least, and he knows that they can't carry on like this forever. He fires up the laptop, shifting it out of the way when the waitress returns.

He doesn't realise how engrossed he's been in trying to find them a gig until Dean jabs him with his syrup sticky fork and tells him to eat his breakfast before Dean does. He manages to resist the urge to pour salt over Dean's breakfast when his brother looks away, but it's a close thing.

He almost reconsiders when Dean finally gets bored with the paper and gestures with his knife, flicking butter over the table and narrowly missing Sam's coffee.

"Hey. Anything worth checking out?"

"Possible water sprite in Arkansas?"

"Yeah?"

"Lives in Mary Devonshire's garden pond, apparently. She's 87."

Dean pulls a face and licks a trickle of syrup from his thumb. Sam doesn't know whether to be disgusted or aroused. He settles on mildly disturbed and flicks to another site.

"Black dog sighting in Iowa?"

"Iowa? Probably a midget cow."

Sam makes a face this time, mostly to stop himself laughing. Dean just grins and pushes his plate away, curling his fingers around his coffee cup. Sam is briefly mesmerised by the idea that the same hand touched him last night. He shakes the thought off and flicks through the next few web sites quickly.

"Apparition in white in Memphis?"

"Dude, that's just Elvis."

This time Sam can't stop the short bark of laughter escaping. Dean's looking relaxed and playful and it's been so long since Sam saw either of those things on his brother's face that he'd forgotten how good they looked on Dean.

He jumps, banging his knees on the underside of the table and slopping the coffee out of his cup when Dean kicks him again.

"What the hell?"

Dean just leans back, slouching in his seat, a knowing grin on his face and Sam feels the faintest hint of heat in his cheeks.

"Shut up. And keep your feet to yourself."

He ignores the way Dean holds one hand up, as if in surrender. He turns back to the laptop as the waitress comes over to refill Dean's cup. When he looks back, Dean's used a couple of napkins to mop up the spilt coffee and he's just watching Sam. He doesn't realise Sam's watching him back at first and the expression on his face is calm, almost peaceful. Sam looks away again, feeling as though he's seen something he shouldn't have. He can't help wanting to put that look on Dean's face more often though.

He's so caught up in that thought that he nearly pages past a potential lead.

"I think I've found something."

Dean sits up, calm expression wiped away by eager anticipation.

"Come on then, what is it?"

"There's a manor house in Ohio; it was brought over from England in pieces and reassembled, complete with the contents about a hundred years ago. Apparently, it's got something of a bad reputation locally. Owners never keep it for long, tenants don't stay, or disappear without trace. There's also reports of wildlife and livestock that wander into the grounds dying of some wasting disease."

"Anything recently?"

"A year or so ago a couple of kids went missing. Their bodies were near the house. There wasn't a mark on them, but the cops who were first on the scene said that they looked about ninety. No cause of death was found, although supposedly, the coroner said it seemed as though they'd died of old age."

Dean grimaces and Sam knows exactly how he feels. All too often it seems to be kids that get hurt.

"There was some local petition to have the house pulled down, but nobody knows who actually owns it now, so instead it's been boarded up, contents and all, ever since."

"What do you think?"

"Sounds like there's definitely something odd happening, but I've no idea what it could be."

"Ohio. That's only a days drive or so. We could be there by tomorrow morning, even if we don't push it."

"OK. I'll see what else I can find out about the place on the way."

Sam closes the laptop and they leave. It takes them no more than twenty minutes to pack up and check out. Sam returns the room key to the hotel reception; when he gets back, Dean's got their stuff in the car and is waiting behind the wheel. Sam hesitates for a second with himself about suggesting he drive instead, but Dean looks so pleased, that he bites back the words and climbs into the passenger seat.

They stop three times on the drive. Once for lunch, once because Dean got an urge for coffee and danish at four in the afternoon, and finally at a motel for the night. Dean's driven the whole way and although he hasn't complained, Sam can see the awkward way he climbs out of the car while Sam's checking them in.

By the time Sam's crossed the parking lot, Dean's half perched on the hood of the car. He looks tired and as much as Sam wants to berate him for his stubbornness, he can't. He knows Dean hates being physically dependent on other people. Emotional dependence is another matter entirely and one Sam's not touching with a ten foot pole. He's learnt that trying to analyse and understand all the ways their family is fucked up just leaves him drained and frustrated. He might hate to admit it, but sometimes Dean is right. They aren't like other people and it doesn't matter what Sam wants or think he wants, he's always going to be different just because of what he knows; what he's seen.

He's driven himself half mad the last few weeks, wondering how and why he's ended up attracted to his brother; trying to pin down some reason, some aspect of their dysfunctional upbringing that could have caused it. He's read studies and papers online about incest and upbringing and he's pretty sure that he and Dean are textbook cases. But that doesn't make what he feels for Dean any less real or visceral. It doesn't change the fact that he wants Dean. He wonders if it should, but in truth, he doesn't much care.

He's read case studies of siblings who ended up sleeping together because their home lives were disturbed in some way, but however hard he's tried, he just can't see himself and Dean in those people.

Sam knows that he has no excuse; he's lived with near death experiences and sudden traumas since he was old enough to hold a weapon. He can't point to one specific event as some kind of tipping point He can't blame grief because while losing Jess will never stop hurting, over time it's become a dull ache that he hardly notices anymore. It wasn't alcohol and it certainly wasn't the adrenaline high from a hunt. It was as if the need, the attraction, had always been there, it'd just taken him a while to see it for what it was.

In the end, he came to the realisation that even in this, he and Dean just don't fit into someone else's neat little boxes. What they have, what they are, can't be labelled or tagged. He's still not sure how he feels about that. There will always be a small part of him that yearns for ignorance and the safety of bored domesticity and a house with a white picket fence.

He probably should be disturbed by the new, sexual side to his relationship with Dean; that's what all the textbooks tell him. And yet, he's never felt calmer, more content than when he's with Dean, even when they're fighting. Dean's a constant presence, a rock, the one unchanging, unfailing, unflinching thing in Sam's life. Dean can be a stubborn, contrary, childish, obnoxious dick without even trying, but Sam knows he would give his life and soul for Sam and that devotion scares and humbles him.

When he walks back to his brother, and Dean looks up and smiles, that real, honest smile that virtually no-one else ever gets to see, Sam knows it doesn't matter why they've ended up lovers, or what society might think of their relationship. He tells himself it doesn't matter that people would condemn them if they knew the truth and, when Dean's smiling like that, looking young and carefree, it's almost true. It's easy to ignore the problems when he's there in front of Sam; when he's Sam's, to have and to keep, just like Sam is Dean's.

So he bites back any comment about Dean's refusal to accept his limits and just tosses him the room keys. Dean slides awkwardly off the hood of the car and limps for a couple of steps. Sam grabs the bags from the trunk and follows him. He kicks the door shut and watches Dean make a show of dropping heavily onto the bed by the door, bouncing on it as if he's testing the springs.

When they don't squeak or groan, Dean throws Sam a look that somehow manages to be both coy and lewd at the same time. That hint of shyness is more seductive than anything else Dean could do as far as Sam is concerned. Dean's no stranger to sex and he's obviously had lovers of both sexes, but that glimpse of uncertainty soothes some of Sam's fears about how seriously Dean takes what they're doing.

"Wanna test out the bed, Sammy?"

Sam's caught between doing just that and laughing at the cheesy porn dialogue and the way Dean winks. Dean laughs then flops back onto the bed.

"Don't trip over your tongue there, stud."

"What are you, twelve?" Another laugh is his only answer. Sam drops Dean's bag onto his brother's stomach as he passes, dodging the leg that tries to kick him.

He ignores Dean's muttering and pulls the laptop and a jar of coffee out of his bag before tossing the bag onto the other bed. He fills the lime scale encrusted kettle and turns it on, before finding two cracked and chipped cups out of the cupboard and dumping a couple of spoonfuls of coffee in each mug.

While he's waiting, he starts up the laptop, flicking through some of the stuff he'd bookmarked earlier, before leaning back in the chair and looking over at Dean. His brother has pushed the bag onto the floor and he's lying half on the bed, feet still on the floor, fully dressed. His eyes are closed and Sam realises that he's dozed off. For a moment he just sits there, listening to Dean's soft breathing.

The sound of the kettle boiling pulls him from his thoughts and he gets up to make the drinks. He sets one cup by the laptop and crosses the room to where Dean is sleeping. He touches his brother's shoulder gently. Dean blinks slowly and looks at him blearily. Sam bends down and drops a light kiss on Dean's lips before he can talk himself out of it. It's a simple, almost chaste, but when he straightens, Dean sits up, as if following Sam's mouth.

There's something fiercely needy in the way Dean reacts, as if he's so starved for affection that he'd chase any sign of it, any touch. Sam's caught wrong footed and he doesn't quite know what to do. It's always been so easy, to take what he's needed from Dean, even before they were lovers, that sometimes he forgets that Dean needs too, far more than Sam does. Yet now, when it's clearly something that Dean wants, he hesitates, suddenly scared that he's making things worse; that he's taking advantage.

"Sam?" Dean's voice is sleep soft and he looks confused. Sam can't blame him; hell, he's confused.

"Hey, I, uh, made you some coffee." He holds out the cup, wincing internally when he realises he's holding it between them like a barrier.

"Thanks." Dean sits up fully and takes the cup. He curls his fingers around the mug, but he doesn't take his gaze off Sam. "What's up?"

Sam shrugs and Dean narrows his eyes. "Nothing. I mean, it's just... You're happy right? This is what you want? Us?" He didn't mean to say anything, but the words slip out before he can catch them. He hates that he sounds as whiny as Dean often accuses him of being, but he needs to know; needs to hear it from Dean.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

He starts to turn away "Forget it, it's nothing."

Dean's hand darts out and grabs Sam by the wrist. "Tell me the truth. One minute you're kissing me, the next you're acting like I've got something you don't wanna catch. What's going on?"

"I just wanted to know that you're doing this because you want to, OK? Not because you think I want it. I just wanted to be sure we're on the same page, here."

Dean's fingers tighten until Sam can feel the bones start to grind together, but Dean's looking at him intently, like he's looking for something, so Sam lets him look, gritting his teeth against the slowly flaring pain. He almost staggers when Dean lets go of his wrist without warning.

"Of course I want this Sam. Christ. You think I'd fuck with you, with us, like that?"

"No. No, I didn't mean it like that." He tries to catch Dean's eye, but his brother is looking away, fingers clenched so tightly around the coffee cup that Sam's half afraid he's going to break it. He wraps his own hand around Dean's, feeling the tension under the skin. "Dean. I needed to know I wasn't just taking. I gotta be sure this goes both ways with us. I gotta know we're equal partners in this. That's all, I swear."

Dean takes a breath and some of the tension eases from his body. "Yeah. We're partners. Always have been." He glances up at Sam and there's just a hint of that familiar smirk now, though there's still something tight and tense underneath it. He flexes the hand around the coffee mug and his fingers lace with Sam's for a few seconds before he gently pulls away and takes a sip of the drink. "You find anything else about this job?" He nods towards the laptop, still open on the table.

Sam hesitates, because he's not so sure this conversation is actually over, but whatever is still upsetting his brother, he won't get to the bottom of it by forcing the issue.

He flops down in the chair and picks up his cup, as much for something to do with his hands as because he wants a drink. He sips the now cooling coffee and tries to get his mind back on the job.

"Not much. The house was built in 1793 in Warwickshire. It was built over the site of a previous building that had been destroyed a few years before."

"Destroyed? How?"

"No-one seems to know, or at least, there are no records of what happened. But it seems that the locals considered the house and the land to be cursed. The guy who had the house re-built stayed there for three months after it was finished, then had a nervous breakdown and was taken to the nearby asylum."

"Any idea what caused the old boy to flip?"

"None, unfortunately."

Dean snorts and takes a gulp of coffee, "Typical. So what happened after that?"

"The usual. Like I said, there's been a string of owners and tenants. No-one stayed long and those that did had a nasty habit of disappearing or dying in odd ways."

"How odd?"

"Drained and withered, desiccated, I think was the term that they used a lot. As if all the life had been sucked out of them. Or as if they'd aged a few decades overnight; like those kids."

"Yeah, that's definitely odd. And disturbing."

"No kidding. Anyway, the house was empty for several years before being bought by an American, Samuel Kent. He had the whole thing, main house, contents and out buildings packed up and shipped over to his home state of Ohio in 1901."

"Great idea. Buy a house with a curse. As if we don't have enough of our own, we gotta import the damned things too."

"Yeah. Looks as though trouble followed and started again pretty much as soon as the last brick was laid. Kent disappeared a couple of weeks later and was never been seen again. Ever since then, the story has been the same as it was back in England; people disappearing and occasionally turning up dead and dried out. No-one's lived in it for over 30 years, but livestock have still been dying near the house. Only a few a year, but..."

"But enough that everyone made sure to stay away from the place?"

"Exactly. At least until those kids."

Dean grimaces. "So, what could do that to people and animals? Drain them like that? It doesn't sound like a vampire, or a striga and it's obviously connected to the house itself."

"Or something in it. Remember, Kent brought the contents over from England as well."

"Great, well, that narrows things down." Dean drinks the rest of his coffee, pulling a face when he obviously finds it cold anymore. He sets the cup on the floor and bends down to unlace his boots. Sam tries to concentrate on finding more information, but when Dean stands and practically shimmies out of his jeans, he gives up. He only realises he's staring when Dean walks over to him, naked. He extends a hand to Sam, who just looks at it, stupidly.

"Hey, wanna save water and share the shower?" Dean's obviously trying for his usual cocky tone, but it's off kilter and God, they really are bad at this. He takes Dean's hand, lets his brother pull him to his feet. Dean starts stripping him and Sam's powerless to resist, letting Dean pull his clothes off, one piece at a time. There's a reverential, dream-like quality to the way Dean undresses him and he just goes with it, gives himself over to his brother, trusting Dean to take care of him, just like he always has.

When Sam's finally naked, Dean goes to pull away, but Sam's quicker and he catches Dean's shoulder, pulling Dean close enough that he can wrap an arm around his brother's waist and slide a hand up Dean's jaw, thumb pressing gently into the soft flesh under his chin. Dean doesn't fight, just lets him tip his head back until Sam can't wait another second, tempted beyond reason by the hint of stubble and the vulnerable line of Dean's throat under his fingers.

He kisses Dean, and he opens up beneath Sam's lips, welcoming and eager. Sam shifts his grip, fingers sliding over Dean's jaw, while his thumb presses against the corner of Dean's mouth. Dean pulls back a little and his tongue flicks out to lick the tip of Sam's thumb. Dean's eyes are half closed, but he's watching Sam all the same. He traces the line of Dean's lower lip, then pushes gently and watches the digit slide into the warmth of Dean's mouth. There's a hint of teeth and God, all he can think about is pushing Dean to his knees and sliding his cock between those lips in the same way. Something dark and desperate in him wants to fuck into Dean's mouth, wants to watch those cheeks hollow as Dean takes him all in, teasing him with tongue and teeth and sweet, sweet suction.

It's easier than he expects to lean forward and kiss Dean again. He doesn't pull this thumb out and the feel of their tongues sliding against one another and his thumb is so damned good.

When he pulls back, and drags his thumb out of his brother's mouth, it leaves Dean's bottom lip slick and shiny and Sam breathless with longing. After Jess, he wondered if he'd ever feel this kind of desperate, all consuming need again. He certainly never expected to find it with Dean. But he can't deny that he has and he doesn't need to be told how lucky he is to have had it once, let alone twice.

It's what gives him the presence of mind to ease back, to quell the urge to just tumble Dean onto the bed and fuck him, just like this, with just spit and fingers; to force Dean to take it. Instead, he lets his hand drift from Dean's mouth, over his collarbones, across his shoulder and down his arm until Sam can take his hand. Dean looks half wrecked, but he grins when Sam pulls him gently towards the bathroom.

He presses Dean against the tiled wall and swallows his gasp at the cold ceramic against his back. He moves closer and tucks his own body tight against his brother's. It's impossible not to splay his hands over Dean's hips, his ass, to drag the tips of his fingers between the cheeks and feel the way Dean shivers under his touch.

Dean shifts against him, restless and needy and Sam pins him to the wall with hands and hips, holds him in place and spares a brief moment to wonder if he's strong enough to fuck Dean standing up, face to face with Dean wrapped around him, trusting Sam to hold him safely. Just the thought has his hips twitching, grinding into his brother, breathe coming in pants and gasps.

When Dean moves again and makes a sound, less pleasure, more pain, Sam realises that the position is putting too much strain on his still healing leg. He pulls back and turns them both, then shoves Dean down onto the fortunately closed toilet seat. He drops to his knees in front of Dean, caught by the way Dean's eyes widen and he seems to struggle for breath.

"Sam..."

He can guess what Dean's going to say and he doesn't want to hear it. He plants a hand in the centre of Dean's chest and pushes him back, then curls his other hand around the base of Dean's cock. Dean's hips buck, just a little and when Sam glances up, he's biting his lower lip, staring down at Sam's hand on his dick like it's the holy grail. There's a rush that's as much power as sex and he has to close his eyes as the sensation hits him in the gut.

He bends his head and Dean goes absolutely still beneath Sam's touch. Sam's not experienced in this, has only done this a handful of times and most of them while drunk, but it's really not that complicated and he's pretty sure Dean isn't going to critique his performance.

It's easier than he remembers, hand and mouth working together. He knows it's sloppy; he's drooling over his fingers and sometimes his rhythm breaks, or he draws back a little further than he intended and Dean's cock slips from his mouth with a pop that makes an perverse counterpoint to Dean's hitching breaths and gasped curses. Nevertheless, his jaw is starting to ache a little when Dean finally breaks; breathy murmurs of "Oh God, oh God..." that tell Sam it won't take much more.

Dean's hips stutter under Sam's hand when he comes and the taste and texture is just as bad as he remembers; he has to fight to swallow, only because it's marginally quicker to do that then stand up and spit into the sink.

He looks up and sweet lord. Dean's flushed and sweaty and panting, hands wrapped around the edges of the toilet seat, knuckles white. His bottom lip is red and swollen where he's been biting it. Sam wants to come on him, wants to mark him and complete that picture of perfect, delicious debauchery. He's standing up before he knows it and then Dean's dragging him down, making him spread his legs until he's sitting in Dean's lap, Dean's fingers stroking his cock with firm, sure movements, his other hand rolling Sam's balls and then pressing further back, just a hint of pressure and that's all it takes to push him over the edge. That and Dean's voice, whispering to him, promising they'll make every dirty little fantasy that Sam's ever had a reality, as if he's got a direct line into Sam's brain.

When Sam can think again, he's half ashamed, half territorially pleased to see that Dean's wearing long smears of his semen over his chest and belly and dripping from his fingers. Dean grins, and before Sam can do anything, he strokes Sam's slowly softening cock once, hard and Sam shudders. It's intense, almost painful and he really can't tell if he likes it or not. When Dean does it again, he has to grab his wrist and pull his hand away. Maybe another time they can play that way, but now, Sam just wants to get cleaned up and then sleep.

"Too much?"

"A little. Maybe... maybe another time."

Dean grins, pulls his wrist from Sam's grip then shoves Sam off of his lap. It's only Sam's quick reflexes that save him from being dumped on his ass.

"What the fuck?"

"You're heavy, I'm sticky and I want a shower." Dean wipes a hand down his chest. Sam wonders how he got to a place where seeing his brother rubbing his semen into his skin became a turn on.

They share the shower, bickering over the temperature and who gets to use the soap first and who's hogging all the water.

When they go to bed, it's the same bed and Sam falls asleep with Dean's hand resting on his hip.