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Winter

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Ellen got them the cabin, through a friend of a friend of somebody her husband had rescued. It didn't have heat, running water, or electricity, but it was miles back along an abandoned dirt road, buried in twenty years of underbrush, and there wasn't a hole in the roof Dean couldn't fix by nightfall.

"I can—" Sam said.

"You can go inside and clean up the mess I'm gonna make," Dean said, and tossed his leather jacket into the car before he pushed up the sleeves of his sweater.

Sam sighed and went into the cabin. Dean watched him go up the stairs, satisfied: the limp was mostly gone.

There was a tree with low-hanging branches near the house, and Dean hauled himself up to the roof pretty easily and rammed a long stick down the chimney a few times—"Goddammit, Dean!" came faintly from below to tell him he'd had perfect aim as usual—and then pretty soon warm wood-smelling smoke was coming out. Dean could hear Sam puttering around inside cleaning up, while he worked on the holes, nailing down tar-paper and loose shingles.

When he was done, he stayed up there a few minutes more, sat on his heels and stretched his arms up and back, liking the comfortable burn of hard work in his muscles. It felt good after six weeks of terror and stillness: sleeping in a hospital chair for a week with monitors beeping in his ears, and then the phone call from Bobby that had got him and Sam out of the hospital parking lot about five minutes before ten vans full of cops and FBI agents had pulled in, Sam shaking and sick and heavy in his arms while Dean wrestled him into the back seat.

He'd risked motels to keep Sam sleeping warm, risked drug stores to get him antibiotics on forged prescriptions, risked gas stations to keep them moving, but every other minute he'd spent behind closed doors and curtains, gun cold and heavy in his right hand, Sam asleep and shivering under his left, dry stale motel air hissing through the vents. Now the cold open air tasted like snow and freedom, nobody on their backs for the first time in a year and six weeks, or maybe for the first time in twenty-four years, and while he sat there breathing it in, a couple of small white-tailed deer came poking through the trees, unafraid and delicate, nibbling at the low bushes around the yard. He couldn't see a road or even another wisp of smoke, anywhere for miles around.

He climbed down from the roof after the deer trotted away again, and stood in the yard rubbing his arms as the sweat cooled off him. He felt strange, like he was a knot that had come untied and now he was just loose ends all over the place; like he'd been wanting this so long, a chance to just stop for a while, and now he had it and there didn't seem to be anything more to want, except he felt hungry at the same time, for something he didn't know.

Snow was starting to come down again, a few fat flakes drifting lazily. He put his jacket back on and got the tarp out of the trunk and covered the car up, stood there and patted her flank some more. He still felt weirdly reluctant to go inside, even though Sam was cooking in there, soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with onion and loads of butter, and it was the best thing he'd smelled in his life, seemed like.

"Dean?" Sam called. "You almost done?"

"Crap," Dean muttered, as he realized he was standing outside in the snow angsting. He squared his shoulders and went up into the house.

It was crackling warm inside from the fire and the cookstove, a big brass kettle steaming on the hearth with a potholder next to it, for the bathtub. Sam was already clean, standing at the stove in sweatpants, barefoot and naked to the waist with hair damp and curling against the back of his neck. "Hey," he said, without looking up, "this is almost ready."

And just that easy, Dean knew what he wanted, what that hunger in his belly was for. It wasn't like figuring something out, it was like waking up a little slow in the morning and taking a minute to remember where you were. He was across the room and all the way up to Sam before he even thought about it, pulled in like gravity. Sam looked at him puzzled, and that was the first Dean realized what he was doing. He stopped, confused. It had come out of nowhere and everywhere at once, and he had no clue what Sam was going to think about it.

Then Sam's face changed; he swallowed once and ducked his head, color rising on his cheekbones, and he said softly, "Go get washed up," and Dean could hardly breathe.

"Yeah, I'll," he said, meaninglessly, and hung up his jacket by the door, snowflakes already melted. He took off his boots and stripped down, sneaking glances to see if Sam was watching, feeling stupidly body-shy for the first time he could remember, for no good reason. The big old galvanized-metal tub behind the screen was already filled about halfway with melted snow, ice cold. He poured in the hot water from the kettle and climbed right in, cool and hot water still separate for a minute or so as he sank in, dirt and sweat and the last traces of fear lifting off his skin. Sam had left a bar of soap unwrapped on the windowsill ledge nearby, and Dean scrubbed all over, even washed his hair with it and bent himself double to duck his head under the water to rinse, climbing out again dripping and cold and clean.

He wiped off quick and went to sit by the fire to finish drying off, his back to the foot of the old heavy captain's bed in the heart of the room, pretending he wasn't thinking about it at all. Sam had made it up, stripped the plastic off the mattress and dug out their own worn sheets, sleeping bags unzipped all the way and piled up on top.

Sam came over with a big platter of grilled cheese sandwiches and the pot of soup, and they sat eating together shoulder to shoulder in front of the fire. They didn't talk, but a slow sweet thrill ran over Dean's skin every time they brushed against each other. He wasn't scared, he just felt like he ought to be, like this ought to be harder. Maybe it would be, later on. Never be able to let on to anyone, never be able to stick too long any one place—they were already as wrapped up in each other as they could get, but this was going to be like stuffing themselves into a box and pulling the lid shut over them, closing out the rest of the world.

"Dean," Sam said. "Seriously, now you need me to tell you to quit overthinking?"

"Shut up," Dean said, giving him a quick shove with his shoulder. "Give me another beer."

The fire started to die down after a while. Sam's hand slid over Dean's, half laced their fingers. Dean tipped back the last of his beer with his other hand and set the bottle down, and then he leaned over and kissed Sam, easy and sure.

Sam licked his lips when they broke apart, a smile half-curving his mouth, breaking wide and getting back under control. "I'll build up the fire," he said. "You get the dishes."

"Yeah," Dean said, his voice a little rough. There wasn't a lot to scrape, he carried them all to the dishtub and washed them down with more snowmelt. Cold was already creeping into the room from the walls as the temperature fell outside, but Sam had put hot water bottles in the bed, and they crawled in between warm sheets and curled together, shucked their sweatpants under the covers. Dean was panting so hard and quick he could hear himself, Sam's naked thigh sliding between his, heavy and firm, Sam's hand on his waist.

"Dean," Sam said, low and hoarse, and kissed him again, not easy this time, and they were all over the place, groping and tussling and yelping as the cold snuck in every time they kicked some of the covers off by accident.

"I'm older," Dean said, squirming to try and get on top.

"I'm bigger," Sam said, grinning against his neck, and bit his ear.

"Hey," Dean said, outraged, and then Sam's cock dragged up against his, just a little slick, and he forgot to care. They traded places a dozen times anyway, working up to it, kissed and rubbed up against each other, the old sheets getting tangled around their legs until they got cocooned together so tight they couldn't even keep making out. Sam leaned his forehead against Dean's, hiccup-laughing against him, and the happy curve of his mouth tipped Dean over the line from breathless to crazy.

"Fuck, come on," he said, yanking on the sheet pinned under them. He got them loose and gripped Sam by the meat of his hips, and Sam quit laughing to shudder, Dean's fingers pressing into Sam's ass and Sam's leg thrown heavy over Dean's hip, rocking into each other side by side until Sam said, "Oh, God."

Dean rolled them so Sam was on top, coming all over Dean's belly, braced up over him with a blissed-out daze on his face, mouth open and slack. "Yeah, baby," Dean said. "Yeah, Sammy, like that," and he jerked himself the rest of the way off with his hand wet, looking up at Sam's face.

Sam wanted to just snuggle down onto him after. "No way," Dean said, holding him off like a bench press. "You came first, you handle the cleanup."

Sam made a low complaining noise but finally crawled out. "Ow! Damn, floor's cold," he said, and scurried across the floor, came back in a rush and managed to slap the wet washcloth down on Dean's belly before Dean could block him.

"Goddammit," Dean yelled.

"Aw, sorry, was that a little cold there?" Sam said, grinning, but he wiped Dean off quick and had a couple of paper towels ready to dry him off after, and then he climbed back in and cuddled around him.

"Bitch," Dean grumbled, for form's sake, and then he lay back and settled in, Sam's head resting on his shoulder and his leg thrown over Dean's thighs. The fire was quietly popping and crackling to itself, and they were safe, and their breath hung white in the air, but there was nowhere warmer in the world.

= End =

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