Sam tells himself things aren't as weird as they could be. Maybe he's not the best judge these days, and things have never been what you'd call normal between him and Dean, but all things considered, they could be so much worse.
"Well, that's not suspicious or anything," Dean says under his breath.
Sam remembers that he's supposed to be working, too. He looks down at the toxicology reports and post-mortem photos spread out in front of him, face warming as he realizes he zoned out there for a minute, staring at his brother. He clears his throat.
"What'd you find?"
Dean turns the laptop on the coffee table so Sam can see. "Look like anyone to you?"
It's a newspaper clipping—an old one, if the typeface and layout are anything to go by. The photo is of a prettyish young woman, dark hair pulled back and horn-rimmed glasses. The headline reads, "OSU Student Still Missing: Police Baffled". She's a near-identical match for the woman they interviewed earlier that morning.
"Any relation?" Sam asks, trying to get his head back in the game. He pushes his sleeves up, trying for casual. Hopefully, the heat in his face doesn't show in this light.
Dean's gaze flickers, hesitating a second too long on Sam before he turns the laptop back around. "Can't tell. Aunt, maybe? The picture's from 1967."
Sam reaches out and pulls his phone towards him, scrolling through his recent contacts and tapping out a message. "Keep digging. I'll ask Lindsay if she knows who Sarah Carswell is."
He hits 'send,' and glances up to see Dean looking at him oddly. Sam frowns. "What?"
Dean's eyebrows arch slightly, but he looks back at his computer. "Nothin'."
Sam knows all his brother's shades of "nothing." He huffs out a sigh, and leans back in his chair. "Dude, what."
Dean shrugs, but doesn't look up. "Nothin', man. She’s cute, I get it. Just surprised you're texting her already, that's all."
"So? What's the big deal?"
"No big deal. I'm sure she's a perfectly nice girl, for a potential vic.” Dean clicks a few keys, the glow of the screen casting his face in soft planes of light and shadow. “It's not like you, that's all."
The first thought Sam has is: maybe he's right. Since Cas did whatever he did to Sam's brain, Sam isn't sure about much of anything, and he can't trust his own instincts any more. This week has proven that much beyond a doubt.
The second thought Sam has is: jealous?
And that, he decides, is a sure sign that despite their best efforts to pretend things aren't weird between them, it's a thin pretense at best.
"Whatever," Sam mumbles, forcing his attention back to the case.
They work in silence for a minute. Then Dean stands up abruptly, closing the laptop with a snap. Sam’s head comes up, startled, and he fights the instinct to tense against whatever’s coming.
“I need coffee,” Dean announces. “This shit is putting me to sleep. You want one?”
“Yeah, sure,” Sam says.
Dean’s already grabbing his jacket and heading for the door.
It isn't supposed to be easy. Sam knows that. You're not supposed to be thirty years old and stumble one improbable night into messing around with your own brother, then go back to normal like nothing happened. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to pretend it doesn’t change anything, of course it does.
Sam knows objectively that him and Dean messing around is not the most shocking development in the world, given everything they’ve been through. Maybe Ruby was right. She’s not the only one who’s hinted at the possibility—half a dozen supernatural beings and countless randoms have hit them with innuendo over the years. Maybe it was bound to happen sooner or later. At least, that's what he tells himself.
It’s not like he can pretend he’s never thought about it. There’ve been way too many moments he couldn't bury entirely beneath the huge mountain of denial he's been carrying around most of his life. Dean's the one who taught him that method of coping, and for all that Sam knows it's not healthy, when it comes down to it, Dean's right about a lot of things. Sam's maybe not as good at it as Dean is, but then, Dean's the grand master of denial, and Sam learned from the best. So, yeah, he’s thought about it—off and on since he was fourteen, if he’s honest.
The thing that’s messing with him, though, is that it’s happening now. If it was going to, it should have been years ago. They’re not teenagers any more. Sam’s not even sure they’re friends any more. Dean’s an enigma to him, most days, for all that Sam knows him better than anyone. He can tell you every single thing Dean likes to eat, everyone Dean’s ever loved, everything that scares him and every hurt he carries. He can tell you what it means when Dean puts Creedence on, what day Dean got his driver’s license, and when (and how) he lost his virginity. But he can’t begin to guess what Dean’s thinking when he looks at Sam these days. What he wants from life. Whether he’s glad they’re back in the game, or wishes nothing more than to be free of the Sam-shaped anchor around his neck.
Whether he wishes like hell they could call do-over, and make it so the other night never happened.
Sam gets up, unable to sit in the plastic chair any longer. He rubs his hands through his hair, eyes skimming over the strewn photos and reports, then wanders into the bathroom to splash water on his face. Then he faces his own reflection, steeled against the flinch that tries to betray him.
The first thing that comes to mind is: not a kid any more. It’s the truth. He looks every day of his thirty years, every mile of the long road they’ve traveled. But there’s no sign of that other Sam he can see; no sign of the ultimate darkness he once carried. Just him, Sam Winchester—a little lost, a little weary, more than a little out of his depth.
The second thing that comes to mind is: why me?
That’s what he could never figure out, with Dean. He’s spent his whole life trying to get his head around it, and it still doesn’t make any more sense than it ever did. Yeah, he gets that their dad messed Dean up in some pretty significant ways, putting responsibility on him the way he did. That has to mess with anyone. But since Sam came back—since he got his soul back, and became him again—he’s been at a loss. He doesn’t understand how Dean can go on accepting him the way he always has. Over and over, like there’s no limit, no terms under which he won’t sell everything he has, give everything he has, to try and save Sam. Nothing he won’t sacrifice.
Might as well try and count the stars in the sky, he thinks.
His reflection’s face twists in a wry expression, and he combs his hair back with his wet fingers, wipes them across his mouth.
They still have a case to solve, he reminds himself. And because he’s a professional, he puts aside the sense-memory of Dean’s hand on his dick, Dean’s desperate, panting breaths against his neck and the incredible silken heat of his brother rutting against his hip, and gets back to it.
They’re at opposite ends of the couch, the laptop between Sam’s knees, when Sam’s phone chimes. Dean’s up before Sam has a chance to move, crossing to the table and glancing at the screen. “It’s your girlfriend,” he says, and tosses the phone to Sam, who catches it.
Sam makes a face at him. He glances at the phone; Lindsay Martin’s sent him a text that reads: Nope, sorry, never heard of her.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Sam says, like a chump. Dean doesn’t dignify that with an answer, just folds a leg under him and drops back onto the couch.
“Guess we dig a little deeper, see if we can find a connection,” he says. He sounds bored out of his mind, and Sam knows it’s a matter of time before they drop the research tack and take off to do some hands-on digging.
“Doesn’t seem like a shapeshifter M.O.,” Sam says. He’s got an entry on doppelgangers up on the screen, but something is nagging at him, some detail he hasn’t quite connected yet. He brings up the list of victims again, and reaches for his cappuccino, taking a sip. Whatever the connection is, it has to have something to do with Lindsay Martin. Her resemblance to Carswell is too much of a coincidence. And if she’s denying any knowledge of Carswell, maybe they’d been too quick to write her off as innocent. Maybe she does know something.
He becomes aware, between one breath and the next, that Dean’s watching him. It makes him flush beyond any ability to stop it, and his mouth goes suddenly dry. He tries not to react, but his eyes flicker to Dean’s beyond his control.
“You got foam,” Dean says. He makes an aborted gesture toward his own mouth, then shuts up, like he didn’t mean to say anything. His eyes falter.
Sam sticks his tongue out without thinking about it. He licks the corner of his mouth, and Dean’s eyes flick up and follow the motion like he can’t help himself. Color rises in Dean’s face, flushes his lips. Suddenly, Sam’s chest feels tighter than it should, his stomach unsteady.
“No, you—“ Dean stops. And then, before Sam can fully register what’s happening, Dean leans toward him.
Is he— Sam thinks. And then, Oh, God, a tangle of confused hope and terror and anticipation knotting in his stomach.
Dean’s tongue touches his lips. It’s a hot, searing flutter of contact, and Sam forgets to breathe. He closes his eyes, unable to think.
It never should have happened, he tells himself. If Dean hadn’t been so messed up over Lisa and everything else, if Sam hadn’t been so desperate to make things better between them. If Dean hadn’t come home wound up and frustrated from that bar, if Sam had been asleep like he should have been. If either of them had any place to turn these days but each other.
“Dean,” he says, not meaning to. It’s just that he doesn’t know where to go from here. If they do this. If they kiss, if they do this again, for real, like it means something.
If they do this again in the light of day, it does mean something, and there’s no going back from that.
“Sorry,” Dean says. And pulls back. Dean clears his throat, and Sam aches with wanting Dean’s mouth on his again, wanting the taste of him on his tongue. He pulls back and reaches for the computer again like it can provide some kind of salvation. Like the case will be enough to make him forget that Dean just kissed him, and then stopped himself.
Sam’s had his brother’s hand on his cock, had Dean’s come all over his skin, but none of that prepared him for the jolt of Dean’s tongue flickering against his, the idea that Dean might want to do more with him than they’ve already—
“I think maybe we should stake out Lindsay Martin’s house,” he says, with no real idea of what he’s saying. “Maybe she’s not what she seems.”
“Yeah,” Dean says. His voice sounds wrecked, though, and Sam feels it like a caress, his stomach soaring unsteadily, out of his control. His heart feels like it might pound itself out of his chest.
“Maybe we should—“ Sam says, and that’s as far as Dean lets him get.
“Yeah, we should.” Dean’s already moving when he says it, straddling Sam where he sits, fingers lacing in Sam’s hair, tugging his head back. “We really, really should.”
“Dean,” Sam gets out, but it’s not a protest. It’s as close to begging as he’s ever been.
Dean’s tongue flickering against his makes him shudder and reach out, makes him groan and open his mouth and pull his brother down against him, desperate to have more of him. Dean’s heavy, hot and hard against him; Sam moans aloud, unashamed, and writhes under Dean’s weight, arousal licking hot through his body as Sam registers the feel of him, the slick insistence of Dean’s tongue in his mouth. God. It’s the first time he’s kissed Dean for real, and already he knows he’s never going to be able to stop. It’s wrong. This is Dean, his brother. They’ve made it this far, and if they fuck it up now, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do, but God, he can’t stop. Not when Dean’s rocking down into him, his erection rough and hot against Sam’s, his mouth so perfect and wet. Sam can’t breathe for kissing him. He’s wanted this for so long, imagined it, and never let himself admit it even to himself—but the reality is so much better.
“Sammy,” Dean breathes into his mouth, and it’s all Sam can take. He grabs hold of Dean’s hair, fingers knotting, and thrusts up. He wants to come just from this, from Dean’s tongue in his mouth, and thinks he could. Mindless, he grips Dean tight and licks deep into his mouth, feeling their lips slide sweet and hot against each other. God.
He breaks away, desperate. “Fuck, Dean, can we—“ He’s panting, ragged, a mess. If Dean doesn’t do something, Sam thinks he might die right here from how good this feels.
“Anything, man. Just tell me.” Dean sounds just as bad. Sam kisses him again, because he can, and the sweet pressure of Dean’s tongue licking against his lights him up, makes him feel like he’s dying. He really is going to come from this, he thinks, and even his embarrassment pales in the face of how bad he wants it. He’ll die happy, right here, if Dean just keeps on rocking against him like that, owning his mouth like that.
“Dean,” he manages, and it‘s all he knows how to say.
“Yeah, Sammy,” Dean whispers. He rocks down against Sam’s cock, sweet and hot and oh, so good. His face is hot against Sam’s, the smell of his sweat and hunger thick in Sam’s senses. “Yeah.”
He licks Sam’s lips, touches Sam’s tongue, and Sam starts to come in a slow, powerful spasm. He moans, lost, and licks Dean back. God, his mouth. His brother’s fucking gorgeous mouth. He comes and comes, deep pulses of ecstasy as Dean rocks against him.
“Such a little bitch,” Dean protests, grinding against him in frustration. His teeth sink into Sam’s throat, sharp contrast against the sweet ecstasy singing through the rest of him. Sam laughs, breathless.
“Your fault,” he says, shaking with his release, holding on to Dean with all he has. “Your own damn fault. Jesus.”
“You had foam,” Dean says, like it explains everything.
“We done working for today, then?” Sam asks, winding both hands in Dean’s hair and holding him still, licking and biting his neck. He thrusts up gently into Dean’s erect cock, not caring that he’s wet and still throbbing in his jeans. Dean’s asking for it, and all he wants is to taste him, to do dirty things to his brother that make his face burn—to have Dean do those things to him. Sam pulls him down, kisses him like it’s the last chance he’ll ever get.
“Gonna let me?” Dean whispers when he breaks free at last, rough against his neck. “Huh, Sammy?”
Sam can feel how bad he wants it, the hungry shiver of Dean’s body against his, and it’s more than he knows how to take. “Yeah,” he whispers, because there’s no way he’ll ever say no to Dean again, not about anything that matters.
He’s not the only one, he thinks. It’s both of them. Somehow, it’s both of them, and there’s no part of him that isn’t grateful. Maybe it’s weird, and maybe it’s wrong, but maybe it’s where they were headed all along—and if so, he can only breathe thanks that they’re in it together.